Planes Trains Automobiles – Dad’s Gonna Lose It!
Planes trains and automobiles…
On our latest miniature road trip –
My family and I went to the Discovery Park of America in Union City, TN. It was a spur of the moment idea and we didn’t realize it was storming outside. Regardless of the weather, though, we jumped in the car and took off into a thunderstorm, determined to have fun and possibly teach our child something.
The guardian to this oasis of knowledge is a 8 foot tall cave bear. We walked in and saw him snarling poised to deliver a death blow with his mighty jaws. My son, fearless as ever, walked up to the bear touched it’s leg ever so softly and said “Nice puppy.” Don’t worry it’s stuffed.
On the inside there are exhibits on history including Native American history, torture devices, and settlement history. There are displays and interactive exhibits to teach about space and wildlife. There are huge dinosaur skeletons, skeletons of ancient water dwellers and massive crystals and geodes. You can learn about meteors and their composition. There are play areas with scientifically geared toys for children. And a wooden block design this that I failed miserably at.
We wandered through this trove of information toting the little guy on my shoulders most of the time, or chasing after him because it is really hard to get a two-year-old interested in anything that he doesn’t want to be interested in at the time. He did amaze me with his knowledge of our solar system, though, when he named the planets by sight.
After chasing and scolding for over an hour; running after a two year old and taking pictures of the whole ordeal like
idiots we conceded defeat. We made our way over to the transportation areas of the park. There are cars ranging from 1900 up to modern vehicles. There are planes hanging from the ceiling, a huge helicopter that he was able to climb into, tanks, army vehicle. There are a lot of planes and automobiles. A lot. And he wanted to touch, look at, or climb into every one of them. After another hour looking through all of them it was time for the outside exhibits.
There was a steady cold mist that almost immediately soaked us and a pleasant 50 degree wind that would not stop. Still we went on. We walked through a replica of a homestead complete with cabins and barns and a mill. We wandered through Greek gardens, and Eastern Asian zen gardens. The whole time my son played with rocks and tried to jump in puddles when we weren’t looking.
Going to the other side of the park took us to a mid-19th century Main Street in a replica town with a courthouse, firehouse and general store. My son was, again, not impressed. He liked the firetrucks in the fire house, but, I get the feeling he likes the modern ones better.
After trying for hours to show our son anything that might help him learn something and failing. After having gotten soaked wandering outside. And after walking until my wife sounded like she might make me carry her and the child we came to the last exhibit. A Train.
A real, full size, passenger train that you can walk through. We all kind of geeked out about this as none of us had ever been in one. We walked around inside it my boy squealing with delight and me echoing him because I’m a dork.
Finally after having doubled my step goal for the day and seeing everything there was to see we were chased out by a faceless voice over a loud speaker telling us the park was closing. Our feet and backs ached. My head was pounding, but we had had fun and got to spend time together. All the chasing, scolding, neck-breaking should rides, sore feet and bones chilling cold had been worth it.
That feeling of togetherness even kept my wife from telling me how horrible of a driver I am for at least 30 miles after we left. It was a good day.
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