We started the day with breakfast at the hotel- a free breakfast! We had stayed at the Baymont Inn near downtown. It was clean and efficient. The breakfast was a big selling point. My entire family ate well! We made our own waffles, had oatmeal, bagels, biscuits and gravy, boiled eggs, coffee, juice, danish, cereal... so much to choose from! Then we headed back to the room to pack up and get to our fun filled day!
First stop was Science Central. This is a great place but would have been better enjoyed by kids older than mine. Actually, Jeff and I would have had a great time there on our own. We started downstairs and there are a bunch stations and each stations has 3-4 different puzzlers on it. Great fun to try and solve them! Then there was the fun mirror section. The kids had a blast with that!
We also enjoyed the Hubble exhibit- but it didn't hold the kids' attention. This was one area that Jeff and I would have enjoyed more time in.
Next, we headed up to the section designed for kids age 7 and younger. It was fine for a bit- until it got infiltrated by a summer camp group that was definitely older than 7. Their counselor barked at them to watch out for the little kids… but the fun was over. It was a nice little section of the museum. There was a deconstructed piano that you could play, a step on keyboard, a water area, a bubble window, and a great playset. Lots of great stuff my kids would have enjoyed playing with.
We went out and played around in the other exhibits and my kids had fun but most of it was designed for kids a bit older than mine so it was over their heads. But there was a ton of hands on exhibits- little work stations covering a wide variety of science related topics. There was also an up high bike thing and a giant tube slide- my kids were both too small for those.
We finished up the museum in about an hour.
Next up, I scheduled a stop at the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum. This was a real find!! We got to see some great classic fire trucks, a fantastic collection of antique equipment, and learn about firefighting over the decades. There was also a mock up of a bedroom and a kitchen and different fire hazards in those places.
I found a dashing, brave firefighter!
Fire engines used to be pulled by horses. The museum is located in an old fire station and we got to see the area where some of the horses lived and some of the original equipment.
This was cool- the hose tower! Fire hoses, unraveled and hanging down from a tower.
An old hand pump truck.
An old steam engine- the back end is where the coal was scooped in.
An iron lung! The museum curator explained to us that the fire station used to run the iron lungs for people impacted with polio. The equipment was available but no one was able to volunteer to operate it so it became a function of the firestation and fire fighters. The second picture shows the iron lung set up from the height of the polio crisis.
The “House of Hazards” was an old teaching tool used in the 1950’s and ‘60’s to teach about fire safety in the home. They used flash paper to start fires to demonstrate how carelessness in the home created fire hazards.
Now comes the hard part of the day… the part I wish I’d planned ahead for… Lunch.
It was hot and sunny and we are in the downtown are of Fort Wayne and none of us are familiar with the city. So where to go for lunch? We asked the museum curator and she gave us some leads. Jeff had heard of a little hot spot that she mentioned- Coney Island. Hot dogs, coneys. Sounds great. We walk the 4+ blocks- only to discover they only take cash and we had used up most of our cash the day before. We walk back to the car and decide to try and find somewhere on the way to the art museum. We get there and haven’t passed anything. We go in and hope they have a little cafeteria… nope. The front desk person recommends a restaurant about a block or so away called Don Hall’s Old Gas House.
This saved the day.
The food was good. The atmosphere was unique. Teagan felt like a special big girl because she could order fish (they had a fried cod kids meal). Zach was sound asleep and stayed asleep on the booth seat for most of the meal. Jeff had a burger, I had that yummy seared tuna salad. We walked in and I told the host that we were hot and frustrated and tired and cranky and needed to be taken care of. And they did. We had great service and food. Our waitress really stepped up to take care of us and our kids. There is great history in the building, too. And Teagan and I both found the bathroom to be completely charming!
Feeling rested and refreshed, we walked back to the art museum, ready for a good afternoon visit. Which it mostly was.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art is a small art museum. Just a handful of small galleries… but such treasures!! I shared several pics while we were there- some that I was moved by, some that I just didn’t get. But there were 2 exhibits that I really enjoyed and would have loved to have spent a great deal more time experiencing.
The first was Soft Tissue: Sculpture and Works on Paper by YaYa Chou. Very unique and interesting. The works on paper were what I really got to look at and enjoy. There would be a scientific looking rendering of a piece of anatomy of a human or other animal and then little labels of what was what. But the labels didn’t always just say what they were pointing at- sometimes there would be little quips or statements that were maybe a jab, maybe a description, maybe a statement on society but done in this succint and almost gentle but maybe not kind of way. This was one of my favorites- Mammary Gland:
I really encourage you to click over to the website to see more.
My personal favorite exhibit was one where I could have spent a lot more time. I would have liked to have gone around the exhibit 3-4 times.
Here is a link to Cara Lee Wade’s website and you can see the images presented in Through the Glass Nightly. In college, I came to be open minded when it came to different lifestyles and people. I was raised pretty conservatively and it was a big change. I think it all happened at the end of high school when I was hospitalized to deal with all those pent up, boiling over hurts and angers and such from my childhood. I suddenly began to realize that every person has their own path to follow, their own life to lead. And that it isn’t my place to judge, to determine who is or isn’t living the right or wrong way. I started to get this clear picture… once I found my worth and inner beauty… of what my purpose is. To love. And, in so doing, be open to accepting the love that other people- all other people- are putting out into the universe.
No, I wasn’t smoking pot.
In college, once my best friend (Jim) came out of the closet and our friendship was rebuilt after he had worked very hard to destroy it, he and I started hanging out at a gay bar in Cincinnati called The Dock. Our favorite nights were the drag shows. If you’ve never been… go. And then go a few more times. The entertainment is awesome but there is also this really special sense of community. You can’t help but be impacted by it on some level.
So Cara Lee Wade’s exhibit… it really captured all of that for me all over again and I found it very moving on so many different levels.
Anyway. Due to my daughter’s behavior… we had to make alternate arrangements for enjoying the museum. Which meant no luxury of staying and taking in anything or going back to see something again or from a different angle. She had done remarkably well for some time- answering my questions about different paintings (What do you feel when you look at this one? What do you think she’s looking at out that window?). I was really amazed by her reaction to a small series of photos in a hallway that was a tribute, of sorts, to women who have survived domestic violence. The close up faces showed make up representing bruises on different parts of the face and part of the make up included beautiful rhinestones in the color of the hurt- the blue bruise, the red strike mark. It was disturbing but also powerful and moving if you are an adult who knows something about domestic violence. Teagan… remarked that she didn’t like them… that she felt… bad seeing them. And that was certainly part of the artist’s intent. We made sure to point out the jewels, the beauty.
It was a good visit to the art museum and Jeff and I decided that our next daytime date opportunity will be to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art and that we will go there with the kids at some point, too.
So if you’ve made it this far and read all of this… yay for you!
Here’s what I learned. The things we did in Fort Wayne, 2 hours from home, are things we could have done in Indianapolis. We have a zoo, a children’s museum, an art museum, and many other great places to take kids. But there is something really special about going to a hotel and eating in restaurants and going to these “same” places that are still completely new and unexplored. So, like our summer vacation last year to Cincinnati, quick getaways to places a few hours drive away will continue for our family. Because it isn’t about the thing you see or do. It’s about the time spent together. We will be talking for a long time about the kangaroo that jumped across Zach in the stroller and about Mommy catching the marketing event staff soft squishee ball and about Daddy dressing up like a firefighter and about Zach naming his stuffed giraffe “Freak” and… and those are the things that matter. So thank you, Fort Wayne, for being a place that offered lots of fun things to do and lots of time for our family to spend together.