With my family of boys I should just plan on doing some variation of this every summer — who can resist the lure of big machines that move?
I hurt my back over the weekend and had to stay home on Monday. No matter, the kids were more than happy when I suggested an entire day devoted to Lego. Since they build plenty of machines it even fit the theme, and Littlest Brother is finally big enough that he can participate, too.
Tuesday: Frontiers of Flight Museum
We had been to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, located at Love Field, a few years ago for Moon Day, and it was awesome. This year, going early in the day on the 4th of July, we had the whole museum practically to ourselves. It was amazing! All of the kids loved it, but my middle son most especially. He wanted a picture of every engine, every motor, and almost every plane. There are some you can go in and some you cannot, some things you can touch and some you cannot, as well as things to read and videos to watch.
Learn about the history of aviation from hot air balloons to present, learn about the history of some local airlines (including Southwest Airlines,) and learn about the development of the DFW airports.
The play area for the littlest visitors was a hit with my whole family, from climbing up the control tower to dozens of trips down the plane slide. We could have spent much longer there but we had ribs we needed to smoke, it being the 4th of July after all.
The Dallas transit scene is nothing like NYC, Vancouver, or pretty much any European city, but it’s better than many cities and DART is a convenient option for most downtown locations. It had been a while since our family had taken the train downtown, and our friends had never done so. Every time I take transit I ask myself why I don’t do it more often. I love not worrying about traffic and construction and parking. I love looking around and seeing the city from a different angle.
Once downtown we explored the West End district of Dallas. From the train stop it’s a short walk to John Neely Bryan’s Cabin in Founder’s Plaza, the JFK Memorial, the Old Red Museum, and Dealey Plaza. We learned about the origins of Dallas as a settlement, funny to imagine that log cabin without the modern city surrounding it. We spent some quiet moments at the cenotaph and discussed appropriate forms of disagreement and dissension. We didn’t go inside the Old Red Museum but read the plaques and learned a little about the history of women serving on juries (years after women could sit as judges!) Finally we spent some time at Dealey Plaza. We opted to skip the Sixth Floor Museum this time and instead take in the scene from the ground. (The Holocaust Museum is also in the neighbourhood but we knew this wasn’t the day for that.) My oldest son shared some of what he knew with the younger kids about the assasination, we identified the window at the book depository, and found the X on the road, and before we left witnessed two emergency vehicles pass by with sirens blaring. A coincidence, of course, but a poignant moment for us.
Thursday: Cavanaugh Flight Museum
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum has been on my radar since we moved to Texas, but this was our family’s first visit. When we arrived to the unassuming building just off the Addison air field my children expressed a little dismay that it was so small, but what none of us realized was that the building housed only the art gallery and the gift shop.
The rest of the museum was four hangars out back and some planes out in the open between the hangars. This museum is first and foremost a museum devoted to military flight. My middle son was in absolute heaven — military aircraft is a particular passion of his.
Friday: Frisco Museum of American Railroad
Word to the wise: always always always always double check the website before going adventuring. The Frisco Museum of the American Railroad had been on my radar for a while, and I knew from friends and yelp reviews a year ago that the museum was incomplete, but in my arrogance assumed that of course it would be up and running now and I set out. We got there to discover the rail yard is only open for tours during certain hours (we had missed it for the day) or by special appointment (which I obviously hadn’t done.) The museum is in a temporary location inside the Frisco Heritage Museum, but I was much more interested in looking at the trains than the exhibit. With a sleeping baby in the backseat I decided we’d just drive around to see what we could see, and heat home.
We devoted the afternoon to playing Mario Kart, in keeping with our theme, of course. (And it’s the only video game I can tolerate playing.)
If we were in Los Angeles this week we’d have filled our week with Travel Town, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and the Nethercutt Collection. And probably the California Science Center, too; the shuttle arrived after we moved away.
If we were in Chicago then we’d spend a lot of time at the Museum of Science and Industry where we have literally closed out the museum before.
Of course we could probably have spent the entire week at the National Air and Space Museum if we were in Washington, D. C..
Service: We thought we had this covered this week. With all the adventuring, and our trip to downtown Dallas in particular, we had granola bars and a homeless kit at the ready. We struck out spectacularly, finding no one along our way. I thought this week would be a home run for us in the service department but I was wrong. Maybe the heat has shooed everyone elsewhere because I have seen homeless people downtown before.
Movie: No, not Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. We watched The Right Stuff. It starts with the test pilots breaking the sound barrier and follows the Mercury astronauts for several years of triumph and challenges. It’s a long movie, but it’s a favourite in our house, and had been a favourite of my husband’s when he was a boy.
I received no compensation for any of my activities this week.
The opinions presented in this post are mine and have been written in my own words.