A Place to Remember

IMG_9486 2When my daughter asked me if I could take the kids somewhere “educational” this week, I thought of a few places, but centered in on the Illinois Holocaust Museum, I had been there once before, but I knew the kids hadn’t been.

The museum is located in Skokie, a Chicago suburb, where at one time, the population was half Jewish. (That figure is from the 90s, not sure what it is today.) Precisely because of that demographic, the development of the museum had a lot of support from townspeople who had been through the holocaust or had family who had been through it.

The new museum (it use to be located in a storefront) opened in 2009.

You can take pictures in many areas inside, but I didn’t. So much to read and look at and we shared the space with a limitless amount of middle and high school kids on field trips. (Might not have been the best time of year to go.)

Although all the museum is interesting, the highlight of the trip was the Take a Stand exhibit – considered to be one of the top twelve museum exhibits in the world.

To design the exhibit, the museum took several Holocaust survivors out to L.A., where they sat in a green room and were asked questions for five or six hours a day over a period of a several days. Their answers were videoed. The producers then edited the video down to 28 answers to the most common questions and the entire project was made into a hologram.

So, as you sit in the auditorium, a man or women sits up front and tells his or her story. IMG_9491Then the audience can ask questions. Because of the hologram effect, it seems as if you are talking to a real person, but in actuality it’s a picture. In fact, the man we listened to died two weeks ago. As time goes on and the number of survivors decreases, I’m sure exhibits like this will become even more valuable.

I would highly recommend a visit.

Here are some tips.

*Knowing about the Holocaust before you visit is a good thing. That helped me grasp the meaning of some of the exhibits. Although, even if you know nothing, the museum clearly gives a timeline of the events. Both munchkins had studied the Holocaust and had a good understanding of what they were seeing.

*Give yourself a lot of time. We missed quite a bit of it because of time constraint.                           The Take a Stand exhibit is an hour itself. In other words, don’t expect to run in and out in a half hour.

*Consider the ages of your kids. I asked the munchkins how old they thought someone should be before visiting and they agreed with me – middle school and up. If you do take a  younger child, a lot will need to be explained. Pictures are also disturbing (for older teens and adults, too, but we are more understanding of the reality of what happened). And I did not see one child among the hundreds of people who were visiting on the day we were there.

IMG_9485*Beware that this time of year is when field trips happen. The place was packed with teens to the extent that we were often stuck behind them and had to wait to get to the next room.

*Know you will need to go through security to get in.

Would I recommend it? Yes! And I would recommend you bring your teens there, too. As we get further and further away from World War II, less people will be around to tell their stories and memories blur.

Yet, we must NOT forget.

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Evening on the Lake

I have always loved water – whether it’s being mesmerized watching a barge sail down the Mississippi, listening to the sound of river water bubbling over the rocks or … canoeing on the lake.

I mentioned that I wanted to take a picture of the sunset so Jeff said he’d go out on the canoe with me. I could take pictures. He could fish. (Last year I got my fishing license, but didn’t take the time to do it this year.)

No sooner had we gotten in the canoe, then the clouds rolled in. But we stayed … and sometimes clouds make for a more interesting sunset than no clouds.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took on the lake.

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Goldfield – Part 2

Here are more photos from Goldfield, Colorado (for more information, see my post from a few days ago.)

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Evening primrose (I think – please let me know if I’m wrong.)

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One of the large trucks on top of the current area where they’re mining. You can see the size by comparing it to the trees down below.

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Goldfield city hall from the 1800s

Garden of the Gods – Part 3

We didn’t see any rattlesnakes as we were wandering through the park, but we did see a mule deer, and a mountain bluebird and a spotted towhee and a family of pigeons that lived inside one of the formations. We all laughed as we watched them crawl (wait, I don’t think pigeons crawl) out of the split in the rock – they just kept coming.

DSC_0201Anyhow, I think my favorite was the spotted towhee because as I was standing on the path taking pictures, a tiny little girl walked up and stood next to me. Quietly she watched me take pictures for awhile and then she turned to her father, “What’s she looking at, Dad?”

I told her there was a spotted towhee in the tree and her father lifted her up so she could see it. She reacted with quiet reverence. The dad then repeated the name to her and she giggled. Later the father asked me what another bird was  – a pigeon/rock dove. (I didn’t even have to ask my brother to identify that one.) I don’t think the man was from the U.S. or maybe he just hadn’t been around a lot of birds, but he was friendly and inquisitive and his daughter was cute as she hopped along next to me waiting to see what other pictures I would take.

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Roger got its picture jumping over the fence, but I wasn’t quick enough.
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A mountain bluebird.
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A columbine – but not a good one – it’s on its way to wilting which I guess all flowers are – but this one was a few steps closer than some.
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a southwestern prickly poppy

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Garden of the Gods – Part 1

Most people who visit Colorado Springs visit Garden of the Gods. Surprisingly, this is a public city park and is free to all who visit. GOTG is also a National Natural Landmark.

We first headed for the visitor’s center. The center  has several exhibits which we quickly walked through, a gift shop and a balcony overlooking the park. A highlight is the dinosaur picture painted on the floor/wall with a 3D perspective – although it is painted on flat surfaces. My brother pulled out his famous red chair and we got our pictures on top of the picture.

Something I didn’t know, but maybe should’ve known is that Katherine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful after visiting the area – Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. (You can read about it all outside the ladies restroom.)

Last time I was at  Garden of the Gods was on a hot day in 2006.

This time we went early in the morning (right when the center opened)  when the weather was still fairly cool. We were early enough to get a parking lot outside the center – but already the place was filling up and getting crowded.

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View from the balcony of the visitor’s center.
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And another view from the balcony with Pikes Peak in the background. (Imagine Katherine Bates seeing this and being inspired to write America the Beautiful.)
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The sign by the ladies room.
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And the red chair makes an appearance.
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I look frightened …
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And Barb looks so calm.
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Another view from the balcony  …  my brother in the parking lot.

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Sunflowers in the Park

Another fun small Kansas town (where we did actually see other people) was Goodland. Although there are other things to see in town including a couple charming restaurants – we focused on the sunflower painting

Actually the picture idea started a long way from Kansas – in Canada where a Canadian artist decided to replicate seven Van Gogh paintings. He asked Goodland if they would accept Van Gogh’s sunflower picture since they are the Sunflower Capitol of the Sunflower State.

Unfortunately we didn’t actually see any REAL sunflowers – probably a little early in the year.

But the Van-Gogh-Canadian-artist sunflowers on the easel were cool –

The picture is 24×32 feet and the easel is 80 feet tall. Altogether, the painting/easel weighs 45,000 pounds so it’s good the picture didn’t topple over and hit us on the head or something.

Again – a quick stop on the way across Kansas.DSC_0126