Wonderful Visit at the FREE Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin

August 28, 2011

Grandpa Ron and I have been traveling every weekend for almost two months! I hope it won’t be so long between posts from now on, but I’m not sure if the traveling is going to settle down soon or not! We experienced first-hand a wonderful family place for those of you in the Madison, Wisconsin area.

We discovered a fun and FREE zoo when we were in Madison two weekends ago for my niece’s wedding. It is called the Henry Vilas Zoo. We got some great pictures!

For the 5k/10k runners and walkers reading this – on Sunday, September 25th at 10 am, the 6th annual Zoo Run Run (a 5k/10k walk and run) will take place past the zoo and through the beautiful Vilas neighborhood.

Here are some videos on the zoo website. The first one is a tour of the zoo.

I’ll post some more photos below.

Seems like the polar bear is saying, ” I forget… Do I even like carrots?”

The promise of another train ride is what prompted us to visit the zoo. However, in our usual fashion, by the time we meandered around the zoo and found the train, the train was already being put to bed for the night. Oh, well, maybe we’ll get another chance some other day! This is a beautiful zoo and a wonderful outing for the famly!

Check out other ideas and activities to do with kids on https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com by the author of the award-winning children’s book Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too!

Morgan’s Wonderland – A Special Needs Special Place

November 6, 2010

Inspired by my friend Rob’s Facebook status today about Special Education Week, I decided today had to be the day I shared an old article I ran across the other day. I had saved it because I wanted to share it with friends whose new baby has spina bifida. It is Ticket to Ride in the October 4th People Magazine.

Because I know several families with special needs kids, the article struck me as very special. Here was a dad who could do something – and DID it – to make the world a better place for not only his own special needs daughter Morgan, but for others as well.

Gordon and Maggie Hartman created Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas. It is a place where kids can ride a train, a carousel, a swing or they can experience sensory activities such as the interactive music garden – all independent of their physical or mental abilities. Actually it is even better than that because special needs adults can also have these great experiences – maybe even for the first time in their lives.

ABC News ran a special report American Heart: Spreading Joy to Special Kids about the new park that opened last April 2010. Here is the vision for a park for special needs people as documented by Gordon Hartman in its conceptual phase.

The hours, pricing and directions are here.

Check out ideas and activities to do with kids on https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com by the author of the award-winning children’s book Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too!

California State Railroad Museum Lincoln Exhibit

November 8, 2009

Grandpa Ron and I had a great time at the California State Railroad Museum yesterday in Sacramento, CA. We wandered through the Lincoln Exhibit and learned many new tidbits of information. For example, neither of us knew that Abe Lincoln floated down the Mississippi River on a flat boat to take items to market in New Orleans. It gave him a small impression of how large the United States is and helped ground his firm belief that railroads were a way to unite the country. The name of the exhibit is “The Rail Splitter and the Railroads: Lincoln, the Union and the Golden State.” It will be showcased in the Museum’s Theater Mezzanine Gallery through February 15, 2010.

We also got to tour the inside of the beautiful Gold Coast Observation car which was a special treat not normally offered during regular visits to the museum. From the museum website: “Georgia Northern No. 100 Gold Coast Central of Georgia 1905 Private Car Ex Central of Georgia No. 97; Georgia Northern No. 100; Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg’s private car. Gift 8/1969 of R&LHS, Pacific Coast Chapter. Restored by CSRM to 1948-50 appearance.”

Here’s the special Kid’s Corner.

We were there for a special Trainmaster Reception event for museum donors. We had a really wonderful time meeting other patrons of the museum and tapping our toes to the music of the Black Irish Band as they sang lots of railroad songs along with their Irish and Italian numbers.

The museum is a great place to take the grandkids and family – the kids get to see up front and close just how big the train cars are! Train rides are also possible. Here is visitor information. Here is the 2009 Calendar of Events.

See more of my website at https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com

Fun Filled Family Favorites

August 12, 2009

Oprah has suggested 13 fun family activities for creating family memories as our summer winds down. If you need some ideas, be sure to check this list out! Some of the activities have already come up on my blog. Do enjoy!

Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge

May 17, 2009

A friend wanted suggestions for a romantic getaway to celebrate a 1 year milestone and I thought but a minute before coming up with Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge, located about 30 miles from Seattle, Washington. Grandpa Ron and I enjoyed a weekend there many years ago and we still talk about it! It is where we adopted Bear, our first of now very many bears. He was sitting in the middle of the pillows on our bed when we arrived. We paid his adoption fee in the Gift Shop and he has gone on almost every trip we’ve taken anywhere ever since!

Salish Lodge has many scheduled activities that you can participate in. Even if the lodge is too high end for yur budget, Snoqualmie has other hotels and there are other nearby cities to stay. There is hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, whitewater rapids, fishing and golfing galore – and a Railroad Museum!! We loved the train ride and the informative interpretive tour.

Verde Valley near Sedona, AZ

April 27, 2009

Montezuma Castle — many years ago I passed the road sign several times before I knew Grandpa Ron but I never took the road to find out what it was. Then one weekend Grandpa Ron took me to Sedona, AZ, for my birthday so we could explore the luring area. We did follow the sign to Montezuma Castle and began a whole new journey of Native American Indian studies. It wasn’t a castle. It wasn’t built by Montezuma. We explored the Sinaqua ruins that had been abandoned in the early 1300s that afternoon and talked about our impressions all night long.

The next day we explored the nearby Tuzigoot Monument and added to our newfound interest. Since then we have explored many Southwest Indian National Monuments but there are still a lot left to see.

We also enjoyed the Verde Canyon Railroad trip. The station isn’t far from Tuzigoot. The scenery is fantastic. We pointed out many cliffs and caves where the Sinaqua may have lived so many years before us. It was a very spiritual experience.

Orange County Model Engineers

April 20, 2009

Michele told me about this train ride when she heard about our train activities yesterday. The Orange County Model Engineers give free public train rides on their 7 1/2″ gauge Mackerel Flats and Goat Hill Junction Railroad over 5 miles of track on the second full weekend of every month. They are in Fairview Park in Costa Mesa, CA. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the layout.

Skunk Train – Fort Bragg and Willits

April 20, 2009

Grandpa Ron and I took the Skunk Train from Willits to Fort Bragg and back several years ago. It is a great family trip through the redwoods. Here’s their photo gallery.

What is a skunk train??? Here’s the explanation from an April 1, 2009, Skunk Train press release:

With the occasional whistles as it chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal “Redwood Route” as it has since 1885. Built as a logging railroad, the Skunk line began that year as a logical vehicle for moving massive redwood logs to Mendocino Coast sawmills from the rugged back country. Steam passenger service was started in 1904, extended to the town of Willits in 1911, and discontinued in 1925 when the self-powered, yellow “Skunk” rail cars were inaugurated. The little trains were quickly nicknamed for their original gas engines, which prompted folks to say, “You can smell ’em before you can see ’em.”

Griffith Park Travel Town

April 19, 2009

Today Grandpa Ron surprised me and took me to Travel Town in Griffith Park in LA. He hadn’t been there in a VERY long time. We strolled around all the old steam engines watching the kids climbing all around wherever they could. We rode the train where we sat behind a little boy who was very concerned that we didn’t bring our son with us. We explained we had no sons, just daughters – but we do have two grandsons. They just lived too far away to come with us today!

We visited Walt Disney’s barn and the Los Angeles Live Steamers, too, since it was right next door to Travel Town. We rode around behind the steam engine and enjoyed the trip around that part of the park. We saw Thomas the Train and got some pictures I’ll have to post later.

The visits were free except for the modest tickets to ride the trains.

I’ll write more later….

Earth Day Celebration at WRD on April 18

April 17, 2009

Just got a phone call about an Earth Day Celebration tomorrow, April 18, 2009, at the LA Water Replenishment District Offices in Whittier, CA, from 10 am until 2 pm.

Earth Day 2009 is a free community-wide event that seeks to promote environmental awareness and education for the whole family. The event features educational booths, interactive workshops, water recycling tours, puppet shows, train rides, arts and crafts, activities for children, and entertainment such as music, an environmental magician, and more. Learn what you can do to conserve and protect the environment!

Take the Crossroads exit off the 60 Freeway and follow the signs! The link has a map!

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