Summer Road Trip, Part Six: Going Home: Two More Science Museums Plus Big Cats

The weekend project that I was going to tell you about today (or yesterday, really) was rained out, so instead we’re going to have travel and adventure week around here. Maybe. Or maybe it will stop raining and we’ll find some time to finish the weekend project, and I’ll talk about that after all. But today, at least, I’m going to finally finish recapping our big road trip that happened two months ago. I need to warn you, though, that this is going to the saddest installment of them all.

When we left off, we had just finished up our last full day in DC. So the first sad thing is that we had to say goodbye to everyone: first to Dave’s parents who left early to catch their plane, then, after a quick stop for some goodbye ice cream and coffee at a local place, to Dave’s aunt and uncle and to his sister/brother-in-law/the cousins.

After that, our plan was to make the two hour drive to Richmond, grab some lunch, and spend the afternoon at the science museum there, mostly because we’d been a few years ago and seen rats playing basketball, and once you’ve seen rats playing basketball once you really can’t focus on anything else in life until you see them do it again.

Sadly, it wasn’t really a two hour drive at all. There was tons of traffic, and we ended up not making it to the museum until an hour before they closed, long after the rats were all finished with basketball for the day. See? More sadness. And THEN I started a stupid fight with Dave because I felt that he was being condescending about my parking lot navigation abilities, and that further increased the day’s sadness.

But! We have a membership to the science museum in Atlanta with reciprocal benefits at science museums all over the place, so it didn’t cost us anything to go in and spend an hour hanging out. We saw their temporary exhibit, “How to Make a Monster:”


And then spent the rest of our time checking out Boost, which is a new exhibit since we were last there. You get a little card to insert into machines by all the stations, then do the activity, having to do with health and wellness and all that, and it will tell you how you did and keep track of your results (you can bring the card back the next time you visit):

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They finally kicked us out of the museum, and we kept on driving until we got to our hotel in Durham, NC. We picked Durham as our stopping point because of its proximity to the next day’s stop, the Conservators’ Center in Burlington, NC.

We found this place on Trip Adviser awhile before our trip, and everyone had been really looking forward to it. The reviews were uniformly glowing, and they have wolves and lions and tigers. What more could anyone ask?

The Conservators’ Center is a nonprofit organization that preserves threatened species through rescuing wildlife in need, responsible captive breeding, and providing educational programs and support worldwide.

….says their website.

We had reserved our tour and bought our tickets before we left DC, and we managed to get out of the hotel and to the Center in plenty of time. Everything started off so well. We sat on this deck:


And then we headed out with a few other people and our tour guide for the “Treats and Toys Tour” (they have several different ones with different focuses and aimed at different age groups; this one was recommended for all ages). And it became immediately clear that Abe was not going to handle this very well. The paths were not stroller friendly, so we had him in the Ergo, and he did NOT like it. Not one bit. He was restless and squirmy and complained loudly. By the time we made it through the first couple of animals, I’d given up all hope that Abe was going to get interested in looking at animals or fall asleep, and I reluctantly–and SADLY–asked to be let back through the big gates with Abe while everyone else went on without me. SO SAD. I was sure Abe would fall asleep the second there was no turning back, but, instead, he spent the next hour and a half attempting to systematically disassemble the little visitor center while I chased after him. Sometimes we heard wolves howl and lions roar to remind us of what we were missing. Well, to remind me. Abe didn’t care.

When Dave and the other kids finally got back, I asked, “So was that the best thing on our whole trip?”

Dave laid it all out there: “It was pretty great,” he admitted.

Here. Dave took pictures. You get really, really close to lions and tigers, but they still don’t eat you. Amazing. Sometime I’ll see for myself. Sniff, sniff.

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Then we got back on the road for the ride home. It would have been nice to make it all in one stretch and get home at a reasonable hour, but….Abe again. He generally takes nice long naps in the car (longer than at home), but he isn’t happy for long once he wakes up. We made a last minute decision to get a little more use out of our museum membership and stop at Discovery Place in Charlotte, reasoning the kids could all burn off some energy here and then we would end up doing the last stretch of our trip after Abe’s bedtime (it would end up being WAY after Abe’s bedtime, since it was Saturday night and we would end up spending forever waiting to be seated when we eventually stopped for dinner…but we didn’t know that yet, so we were able to enjoy the science in blissful ignorance of the last sad thing on the trip).

We’d never been to Discovery Place before. It’s right downtown and on the small side compared to a lot of museums we’ve been to. There were fish to look at:


And a little kids’ area with much water:

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And a show involving dry ice, which is always fun:


And they had a traveling exhibit on “Alien Worlds and Androids” just opening that weekend, which meant there were a lot more 20-something men in geeky t-shirts there than, I’m guessing, is typical for them:


We only stayed here maybe a little under two hours, but it was a much needed stop.

And that’s it! Then we got home very late that night! Two months ago.

In case you missed any of the other installments:

Jamestown and Yorktown

Colonial Williamsburg

DC: Monuments, Archives, and Spy Museum

DC: Zoo and Natural History Museum

DC: Airplanes and Postal Museum


Summer Road Trip, Part Six: Going Home: Two More Science Museums Plus Big Cats — 5 Comments

  1. Oh I have so been there with B. When he just wouldn’t stop fussing and you just had to leave. I am so sad that you didn’t get to see the animals, but Dave’s pictures are really good.

    Frank and I have our parking lot moments too. He is always asking me where the entrance is when we are out driving someplace new as if I have some special insight. Drives me nuts 😀

    • It sounds like maybe you are the Dave and Frank is the Gretchen in your parking lot arguments ;). It’s possible I get a wee bit irrational when I drive in towns I’m not used to.

  2. You guys do such an amazing job centering your trips around your kids…making sure they are always learning something! Loved those shots of Abe up there!!!! Wishing you a great week lady! Nicole xo

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