I've been meaning to take the kids to some newer museums in Salt Lake City for quite a while so I decided fall break (last weekend) would be the perfect time to fulfill my "one planned activity" assignment and do a special field trip. And the idea grew into something bigger and better than I imagined initially as things got rolling.
The kids and I got so excited as we looked at all the possibilities of places to visit (we never really spend time in SLC unless it's for family stuff). We decided on the Leonoardo museum and the Living Planet Aquarium. Then I had the idea to surprise the kids and made Jared really happy by booking a cheap hotel room in SLC for Thursday night - so while everyone was sleeping, I searched for and booked the cheapest decent place with an indoor swimming pool and free breakfast. The kids LOVE swimming pools and can eat their weight in free breakfasts and think staying at any sort of hotel is simply amazingly fun. And it was so nice for Jared to not have to make the 1-hour commute to work on Thursday night or Friday morning.
Thursday morning, I packed up PJ's and swimming suits while the kids were at school, hid the bag in the back of the car, picked the kids up from their half day at school and we headed straight to the Living Planet Aquarium. The kids absolutely loved it - the otter show, the penguin feeding, learning about baby sharks, watching the amazing jelly fish and octopus. We were there 4 hours and the kids just drank it all in and loved it so much.
I think God had a lot of fun designing fish. Wow are there a lot of amazing things under the sea!
Lion fish are crazy beautiful.
The otter feeding and otter talk was a big highlight. Those guys are so fun to watch (my kids and the otters). Wish some of those otters would have held still for a photo but no luck.
Jelly fish are so very beautiful. I love watching them - it's so restful and mesmerizing. The kids were great about watching them with me for quite a while.
LOVED this quote on the wall of the aquarium - went so perfectly with our day.
When the aquarium closed, we picked up Jared at work and headed to the Training Table restaurant for dinner (the kids think ordering on the phones they have there is super cool and they're all for burgers and fries) where they were pleasantly surprised to find that their cousins and aunt and uncle came to join us.
At the end of dinner, we made the kids say their sad farewells to their cousins and told them we really needed to get on the road since we had to drive an hour to get home. But instead of turning north on 1-15, we drove into a hotel parking lot and I said, "this looks like a pretty nice place. Maybe we should just stay here tonight. Maybe they'll even have a swimming pool and free breakfast." The kids were SO excited about the idea and when Jared and I said we'd go ahead and stay, they were over the moon! Then when their cousins joined us at the pool for a night of swimming fun, it was the icing on the cake.
|no one wanted to pose for a photo - oh well|
We spent all day Friday at the Leonardo Museum (I really mean ALL DAY - we were there at 10 am when it opened and left at 6:30pm with a couple hours break for lunch and to explore the beautiful gardens between the museum and the really cool library next door). It was the perfect museum for our kids - a step beyond the Treehouse or Discovery Gateway as far as age-range, totally hands on, totally interesting to me as well as to them. They loved this "tinkering garage" place where they could build all sorts of really cool things out of cardboard and rubber bands and electric wires and other random things. They learned all about how water impacts us in so many ways in this beautiful photography exhibit on water. They made little animated movies. They learned about prosthetic limbs. They learned about genes and DNA.
We had fun to get this "reactive art" to react to us - it had all these sensors and lights and moving parts that would change based on light, movement and noise.
Here are some photos from the water exhibit which taught us all a lot about how water is so precious for both religious and practical reasons. We all came away really really grateful for the clean water that miraculously comes out of our taps whenever we want it.
Isaac wanted this picture. These kids pick through garbage to find things that might be worth something. They burn the plastic off old wires to get the copper out to sell it. They bathe in and drink from this filthy river full of raw sewage.
We learned about prosthetic limbs and were amazed at the strides that have been made. But we felt pretty grateful we don't need man-made limbs right now.
The kids LOVED all the materials and ideas offered in the "Tinkering Garage" where they could endlessly make cool things out of cardboard, rubber bands, wires, batteries, bits of cloth, you name it. They had samples of cool inventions made with the supplies available to give the kids ideas and some great staff members there to help make the kids' ideas into reality. We're thinking we'd better turn our basement into a "Tinkering Basement."
Here we are with all our "creations" (and that cool thing behind us tells the weather and the wind pressure and lots of other stuff based on what color and speed the lights on it are going...)
My parents joined us for a while and we had a lot of fun exploring the beautiful museum and library grounds and going up to the beautiful roof gardens on top of the library then the kids showed my parents all the most awesome parts of the museum and all the things they'd made in the tinkering garage.
My dad took the kids up and down and up and down in the super cool glass elevator in the library.
Oh, how I love these kids of mine. And my parents are pretty darn fun too.
One of the best and cheapest family vacations ever!