Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pony Express Muesum in St. Joseph, MO

In St. Joseph, MO, we visited the Pony Express Museum. Again, the camera wasn't working properly, so unfortunately I don't have photos.

This museum was wonderful! It had a great handout that you carried with you that explained some things and told you special things to look for. We all enjoyed moving the mochilas (mail bags) from one pony to the next. You were supposed to time yourself.

Alexandra loved the play area where she got to dress up and play like she was a pioneer lady. They had a neat, handmade wooden kitchen area & some pretend food, etc.

Altogether, we spent about 2 hours here. I highly recommend it. (Photo is of 2 postcards and Alexandra's Pony Express horse, Brownie.)

Independence, MO

Besides the Truman Presidential Museum, we did the following in Independence last week:

  • rode in a covered wagon pulled by 2 mules through historic Independence - including riding in a swale made by wagons in the mid-1800's - very nice, but it was very cold
  • ate a delicious lunch at Clinton's, an old-fashioned soda fountain that Harry S. Truman worked at when he was young - we also had delicious shakes
  • visited the Frontier Trails Museum - I was not impressed with this museum as it had new things mixed in with it's artifacts, but it didn't tell you that - we did like the hand-on part: you got to load a wagon with whatever you thought was essential for your trip west & it would tell you if it got too heavy. You also got to pack a mule. Their gift shop was great - we spent a lot there.
For all the souvenir photos, I had placed a pink jacket over a chair. Well, Alexandra wanted to get in this picture, and she put the jacket on while it was still on the chair. The photos include a postcard & button from the covered wagon ride we took with Pinoeer Trails Adventures.

Union Station in Kansas City

We also went to Union Station in Kansas City. Last year was the first time we'd visited KC and we went to Union Station that time, too.

We did 3 things at Union Station:
  • IMAX film called Olympic Glory - Amazing! We almost didn't go to it, but Alexandra really wanted to, so we did. She really was hooked on the Olympics this year. Anyway, I'd highly recommend this film!
  • Science City - very good hands-on children's science museum. We'd went there last year and spent a lot of time, so this year was a little quicker. They had added a new part to their dinosaur exhibit. Real scientists are there, behind glass, working on real dinosaur bones! One was there cleaning some bones while we watched. Pretty neat!
  • KC Rail exhibit - about the history of trains in KC. We got to walk through quite a few cars on a couple of different trains - that was our favorite part

Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City

The first museum we went to while visiting Kansas City this year was the Toy and Miniature Museum. We had never been there and we weren't sure what to expect. It was wonderful! I highly recommend it.

It was very large. I think we were there 2 hours and didn't see everything. What I enjoyed most were they tiny china dishes & crystal glasses. The detail was amazing. And, I also loved the miniature woven rugs. Who could make such a thing? Wow! My souvenir was a pair of very inexpensive miniature muffin tins to remember those beautiful dishes.

Alexandra's favorite part was the marbles. There were many on display and drawer after drawer to open and explore. She spent a long time looking at them. Her souvenir was a miniature ceramic box that has a table, a little girl, and a teddy bear sitting at it having a picnic. Also in the picture is a souvenir "smashed" penny. She got those from several places we visited.

Truman Museum & the Miniature Whitehouse

While on our vacation last week, one of the places we stopped in Independence, MO was the Truman Museum. We found it kid friendly and I would highly recommend it. We did walk very quickly through the section about the atomic bomb. Alexandra was scared and we didn't explain any of it - just walked right on through!

Alexandra really enjoyed a little computer terminal where you could press on different presidents and hear some interesting things about them. Pres. Polk was one of them and she got excited about him because one of her ancestors was a cousin to the president! Also, I share a birthday with Washington and she shares a birthday with Teddy Roosevelt, and they were both there, too!

There were also some hands-on exhibits - a dress up area, a mail area (she wrote a letter to Truman), an area to make a campaign button (her's says "I Love Truman"), and a few others.

Another highlight was the traveling exhibit of the miniature Whitehouse. Incredible! And, it had just been decorated for Easter! There were tiny eggs & bunnies in many rooms and on the lawn. We had our own personal tour as one of the guides walked along beside us explaining the various rooms, etc.

Unfortunately, the digital camera we use had a defective chip so all of our pictures were ruined. So, I took a picture of our souvenirs. The campaign button Alexandra made says "I love Truman." And, she loves the postcard that says "Dewey Defeats Truman." We've seen that picture several times since and I think it's neat that she knows the story behind it.

(updated 4/13/06): A friend loaned me some books about the White House. We didn't have time to read them all right now, but I wanted to save this resource list for later:
  • The White House: An Illustrated History by Catherine O'Neill Grace - we enjoyed looking at the pictures of this one
  • A Kid's Guide to the White House by Betty Debnam - great book with some activities - I'm going to try to buy a copy of this book
  • First Pets: Presidential Best Friends by Nell Fuqua - cute book with cartoon illustrations - shows some very unusual first pets and some neat, sometimes funny, stories about them
  • First Kids by Gibbs Davis (Step Into Reading book) (we own this one) - antedotes about some of the First Kids
  • Smart About the First Ladies by Jon Buller (a Smart About History book) - another series we like - we just got this in the mail this week and are still reading it - it goes through each First Lady (including Laura Bush) and tells some about them - neat stories!
  • Woodrow, the White House Mouse by Barnes - we read this one and Alexandra really enjoyed it - there are others in this series