Week 22-  Feb 6 - 12 Week: Family and Fun

Yet another first in the church experiences this week…  We joined my cousin Deanna’s family and visited First Baptist Church of Woodstock.  Even compared to some of the mega-churches we have visited to this point, the sanctuary of this church was the largest we have been in.  Without the huge screens, we could barely see Pastor Johnny Hunt.  He is an excellent preacher. and the service was nice, but Brenda and I are glad that our church home isn’t so huge.  We kind of felt like spectators at an event more than participants in worship. 

Superbowl afternoon was a beautiful day, and we just enjoyed being outside.  Jenna and Amanda ran a lemonade stand, a February novelty for us.  Everyone had a great time being together except for my cousin Deanna, who was hit hard with the flu and couldn’t enjoy most of the fun. 

We got a very early start on Monday to circumvent the Atlanta metro area during rush hour for a morning tour of our Covington East cereal plant.  The kids are rapidly becoming cereal scientists as they have now seen each different process that makes Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs/Trix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch!  Plant Manager Cindy Hultine and Processing Manager Jason Schierling were so gracious to work out a personal tour for us… again testimony to the great folks at General Mills. 

After our early start, everyone was hungry so we took the opportunity to experience a southern tradition called Waffle House.  There are over 1,500 of these breakfast counter restaurants, seemingly at every intersection.  We sat on big stools at the counter watching the cook make our brunch, while enjoying the chatty waitresses.  I felt like I was back in time about fifty years as the regulars would come in and out, each personally known to the employees!

Our Civil War education continued this week in a couple of venues.  In Atlanta we visited a museum called the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama.  The main attraction is a 360 foot long, late 19th century painting displayed in a continuous circle.  You sit in theatre seats that rotate in the middle of the painting with a diorama that blends into the foreground of the painting.  A multimedia presentation describes various points of Sherman’s famous campaign against Atlanta that led to the end of the Civil War. 

The horror of the Civil War was personalized the next day after we left the Sparks to head to Florida.  Even though it was late, Brenda and I decided to take a jaunt out of our way to visit the Andersonville Civil War prison camp site.  My great, great, … grandfather, Hugh Kirkwood was one of nearly 14,000 who died in the holocaust there. 

Hugh and his sons went to war from New Castle, Pennsylvania.  The sons returned but Hugh didn’t.  He was captured in North Carolina and was held in the prison until he, like most who died, succumbed to dysentery.  Up to 30,000 prisoners were held in a 27 acre stockade.  The prisoners’ water source was a creek that flowed into the camp making a swampy area as the creek’s outflow was impeded by the stockade walls.  The stagnant water soon became contaminated by runoff from the nearby latrines and resulted in many deaths.  Many also died from malnutrition as the bankrupt Confederate government could not adequately supply the prison. 

We continued driving on into the evening to get closer to the Orlando area for an early arrival at Disney’s Fort Wilderness RV Park the next day to officially start our spring break!  We did our first rest stop boondock night near Gainesville Florida and it wasn’t too bad.  The continuous rumble of the diesel trucks surrounding you actually makes pretty good white noise… 

I won’t spend too much time chronicling our Disney times as this was really a “Spring Break” vacation during our educational adventure.  The reasonably priced Fort Wilderness RV Park is a gem of a way to experience Disney World.  The sites are nicely spread out and you almost don’t even have to go into the theme  parks to have a great time.  There are pools, marina, bike trails, tennis courts, planned events, all done with Disney’s top notch quality.  Once settled with your RV, you can take bus or boat transportation to any of the Disney parks and attractions.  If you are planning to experience Disney, beg or borrow an RV and check out Fort Wilderness! 

During this week, we used two days of our four-day pass to visit Epcot and the Magic Kingdom on Thursday and Friday.  The family favorites included Honey I Shrunk the Audience, the Living Seas Aquarium, Buzz Light Year’s Space Spin, and Mickey’s Philharmagic.   

It was good to plan the weekend off to recover as these first two days were fun, but exhausting!  Everyone appreciated Saturday as a day reserved just to hang around Harvey and enjoy Fort Wilderness.  We also met up with the Burritts, a family with whom I had corresponded during the planning of our trip.  We knew they would be at Fort Wilderness while we where here, and it turned out their campsite is probably only ten sites away from us! 

The Burritts did this kind of adventure almost ten years ago.  They took their two kids to all of the states and their daughter had a goal to interview each governor.  She subsequently wrote a book about the experience as part of her home schooling.  It was especially fascinating to hear how their trip had affected, and continues to affect, each of their lives.  In twenty years, I wish I could see a list of how the sites, experiences, and people of this adventure have affected the kids’ relationships, outlook, future education, and choices they make!