Our Little Pirate turns 5 this week! To celebrate, we did what he likes best: camping! Hubby found us a fun state park about 3 hours away and we hit the road for a weekend of new adventures. We love trying out new parts of the country and this weekend we ventured deep into Georgia farmland. We saw miles upon miles of peanut farms and ate lunch near Jimmy Carter’s old home. We saw a watermelon bus (literally a school bus, windows gone, filled to the brim with watermelons) and made fresh blueberry pancakes for a birthday breakfast in the forest. Our park had an excellent campground, miles of trails, a playground, and a big lake. It rained a lot this weekend, but we still had fun! Camping is the ultimate family experience. Get out there and explore some place new! Life is too short to say home all the time.
Albany’s Flint Riverquarium– For the Love of Fish!
Bubba loves fish and he loves aquariums. The kids were clamoring to visit the aquarium in Charleston, but it is very expensive and small. When we got home, I began researching things to do near our campsite. There was very little nearby, as we would be pretty much in the middle of Georgia farmland. However, Albany, Georgia, was an hour from our campsite and there were not one but two Blue Star Museums in Albany! One of which was an aquarium! Woohoo!!!!
On Saturday morning, we enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls and fruit before piling into the car for the drive to Albany. The Adventures of Tin Tin kept us occupied ( I LOVE audio books) and we saw some very interesting farms. Only a few hours away, this part of the country looks totally different from NE Florida. Albany itself was not what I expected. The brochures were glossy and beautiful. The city? Very run down and dilapidated. We drove downtown to find the majority of the buildings were boarded up. Then, unexpectedly, a state-of-the-art aquarium! It seemed rather out of place but was beautiful!
The Flint Riverquarium is located right on the Flint River and features a super deep blue water hole and over 100 water creatures living within the spring. The fish and animals were engaging and the exhibits were very clean and pleasing to the eye. The kids LOVED it! The various turtles were a huge hit, as were the alligators. I was surprised at the delicate black sea horses and could have watched them swim for hours. Our only really challenge was getting the kids to stop and look at each aquarium before running on to the next. Unlike the Atlanta Aquarium, the Flint Riverquarium was not busy at all. There were not too many other guests, so we were able to view each area for as long as we liked. Lovely! I was pleasantly surprised!
Blue Star Museum number 7 was a roaring success! Had it not appeared on the Blue Star Museum list, I never would have known it existed. This military family truly enjoyed the new adventure. Thank you to the Flint Riverquarium and Blue Star Museums for offering military families such a great opportunity! Aquariums are generally quite expensive, so spending a day there for free was really great!
The kid area was phenomenal. The kids climbed through tunnels and got a great view of the deep blue water hole. They played video games and did one hands-on activity afer another. We gazed at huge catfish swimming around us (LOVE!). We got to pet alligators and snakes too. We loved it so much, we walked the entire Riverquarium twice! Check them out at: http://www.flintriverquarium.com/. If we’re ever in the Albany area again, we’ll most certainly visit the Riverquarium.
We stopped by a southern cafe for lunch and had a buffet of real Southern food (fried chicken, okra, lima bean, black eyed peas, etc). Would you believe that they serve fried pork fat? It was called something like “fried back” and I’m not a fan but we did try it! Jimmy Carter was from these parts and his home was not far from where we stopped for lunch! I’m not really a Carter fan, but it’s still an interesting piece of history. He was a peanut farmer and we saw lots of peanut farms! D thought that was neat. He discovered a love for peanuts when we stopped at Texas Roadhouse last weekend. Seeing peanut plants as far as the eye can see was an interesting experience.
Thronateeska Heritage Center– Space, Hands-On Exploration, and Trains!
After lunch, we checked out Albany’s history and science museum: Thronateeska Heritage Center. Blue Star Museum Eight this summer! We watched a fantastic planetarium show for free, then explored all the great hands-on exhibits. The kids saw what the inside of a weather station is like, checked out a cool model of the solar system, learned about archaeology, and spent lots of time putting together dinosaur bone puzzles. Perfect for a rainy day! Like the Riverquarium, the Heritage Center was a beautiful place right in the middle of deteriorating buildings. Even looking outside the museum’s windows was like looking into a junk yard. The area was scary, but the museum was great. There were not many other people there and the whole family enjoyed the exhibits. Thank you to the Thronateeska Heritage Center and Blue Star Museums for supporting our troops!
A liked the star chart we could move and see what the skies looked like on any day of the year. Birthday boy loved the trains! There was a big model train exhibit inside an old box car and we got to get up close and personal with 100+ year old engines. Cool! What a cool place to visit. Check out the heritage center at http://www.heritagecenter.org/.
Albany is a worn old town hurt badly when the military and railroads moved out of town. Yet as with anything, there’s always something beautiful to be found. The Riverquarium was phenomenal. The Heritage Center was very educational. The riverfront was lovely. The best part of our day was the fabulous memories for our Birthday Pirate. Second best was that, apart from gas and lunch, all of our outings were entirely free. An aquarium and a planetarium in the same day? What a great birthday celebration!
Camping is so relaxing (apart from the packing, driving, unpacking, cleaning, etc). Even one weekend away is rejuvenating. Sitting by the fire and watching the kids play and explore nature is great. Getting to read a book while they play and I don’t have to entertain them? Priceless. There are so many incredible places in this great, vast country just waiting to be discovered. Who knows what we may find next? Even the tiniest town, far out there among the peanut plants, has something worth experiencing.
Happy birthday to our big 5-year-old!