So we spent the next 2 days either trapped in our hotel room or throwing rocks into Lake Michigan. The view was beautiful but that lasted 10 minutes and we had 23 hours and 50 minutes to come up with something else for our kids to do. Enter the Raven Hill Discovery Center.
I spoke with the concierge and she told me about this discovery center that the kids might enjoy. There were inside and outside activities so it seemed promising. I was thinking it would be like a COSI (Center of Science and Industry) we have in Columbus. The only downside was that it was 45 minutes away. But it was Friday and it was raining, so this would be our day trip and we could spend 4-5 hours there and get back to the hotel in time for bed time. Well we made the trip out into the Boonies. I am talking way out there into the fertile plains and backwoods of Michigan. We began to see signs for this place which is common for large places of interest, which was a good sign. We are following the directions from the concierge and next thing I know, turn on to this dirt road. This was when I became suspicious but still hopeful. Well we start traveling on this dirt road and began passing a bunch of mobile homes with old cars and junk in their front yards, and then we approached an enormous 45 degree angle mud covered hill.
(Yeah, we took pictures)
Well, luckily our minivan made it but I began to think this road is not heavily traveled on so how popular could this science center be? We continue down the muddy road (because it was raining) and I almost missed the entrance because it was literally a large warehouse building off the road. We pulled in to the rock covered parking lot and Lindsey says to me, "I am not paying $8 per person to go in there." And we didn't but there was a road to go further into the property which we took to check out the rest of this "discovery center."
To the right of the parking lot was a weird assortment of what looked like various doll houses or model train scenery with no toy train in sight but an uncompleted brick walkway where you could supposedly "discover" creepy dwarf houses and barns.
The next "exhibit" was a pile of bricks which was probably the "hands-on" interactive part of the center where kids could feel like a real mason and learn how to build brick walls.
Further into the property was a large building called "The Print Shop" your one stop shop for wedding invitations and death notices. It was closed but there was a sign stating you could show yourself around or contact a staff member for a guided tour...of that building.
Next to the Print Shop was the one room school house where you could ring the school bell or pump the non-connected water pump on the side of the deck, another 2 interactive activities for the kids. My favorite was the sign on the door.
So pretty much, you are at risk for wasp/bee attacks no matter where you are at the Raven Hill Discovery Center. Next to the wasp nest/school house was an open field that contained their space exhibit.
It was a shed painted over with a space mural most likely by a 10 year old. And if you can't see from the picture, on the rocket is an eye-balled, hand printed "NASA." But my favorite part of the place was across the street from "The Print Shop." It was a walkway surrounded by a large display of various skulls. Prehistoric man, animals, bigfoot, la chupacabre, etc. It was a creepy walk down skull memory lane.
The tag line for the Raven Hill Discovery Center was "where science, history, and art come together." But it seemed more like Uncle Jo Bob in the sticks had a hundred bucks and a dream. One day he turned to ol' Mildred and said, "I thinks I's gonna open up a discovery center. I mean I gotta do something with my large collection of bricks, weird skulls and creepy doll houses. And didn't your 10 year old niece just learn how to paint. We'll have her paints us a space center. She can put 'NASA' on the rocket to makes it official."
Needless to say, we high tailed it out of there and headed back to the hotel room. So we spent 45 minutes there, 5 minutes "discovering" the place, and 45 minutes back wasting 70 miles of gas for nothing. That was supposed to be our whole day there. We arrived back to our tiny room with frustrated kids with pent up energy and aggression toward one another for being in the car for one and a half hours for nothing and now back to where we started with nothing to do. We decided to take them swimming in the misty rain. So Lindsey left to get our swim stuff out of the car and stayed in the room breaking up fights and manning the complaint department. I was so defeated. The day didn't turn out, the hotel didn't turn out, the vacation was not turning out. I was spending gobs of money on unappreciated and usually un-eaten kids meals at expensive restaurants and now we were going to a pool in the rain that would probably last 2 minutes before Drew gets out complaining about being cold and Zachary yelling about Drew complaining. Lindsey walked in the room and saw the defeat in my face and at that exact moment, Nate ran up to me and punched me in the crotch. And as I lay writhing on the floor in pain, I had an epiphany, "Metaphorically speaking, this day is like a punch in the crotch."
We ended up leaving a day early because we could not handle another day like today and ended up going to our friend's house in Toledo and spending the day and sleeping over there. Our kids got to play with their friends, we got to talk and have adult conversation without any interruptions, and everyone had fun. Except when I went out on the porch to check on Drew, at the same time I heard Lindsey scream behind me, I felt liquid running down my leg as I turn and see Nate standing in the doorway, half-naked, peeing on me. Apparently he either no longer likes to uses toilets or he was giving me another good metaphor for this trip, "It was like getting peed on."
We returned home the next day and within an hour of arriving home, my wife and I were out the door on a date to spend some alone time together and be away from the kids. Now that date was our official "vacation" - a time away without the kids.
May all your trips become vacations,
The Joyful and Tired Dad