Vacation Day 6, Part II

June 3rd, Vacation Day 6, Part II
So, today was the birthday of my lovely korean princess. It was my day to blog, but as you can see below I let Sharayah blog about the first part of her birthday, the horseriding adventure.

After that and after lunch, we went to the Ripley's Believe it or Not, since I had been to one in TN as a kid and Sharayah had never been to one. I really couldn't remember if Ripley's really was cool, or if I had just thought it was cool because I was a kid. Either way, it was still pretty interesting this time around. As always there were plenty of things that I might be more inclined to think were -not- real, although supposedly all of it's real. I always think the world's tallest man is just crazy. They had a lifesized model or manequin or whatever you'd call it. He was 8'11", and even knowing that's ridiculously tall, the model still seems unreal it's so tall. There was also the heaviest recorded man, I don't remember his exact weight but it was something like 1500 pounds at his highest weight. I don't know how that happens. They listed what all he would eat 3 times a day to sustain that weight, and it just sounded exhausting to me, really. I'd be too tired to weigh that much, apparently, because I couldn't make it through the meals.

There was a lot of other stuff there, if you've been then you know the type of stuff. There was some interesting art. We saw several building replicas made out of matchsticks, which were pretty impressive. There was also some tiny art, as in you have to look at it through a powerful magnifying glass to even know there's anything there. I don't know how they get such detail on something so tiny. There was a video of a Chinese guy who would write huge amounts on grains of rice. The craziest thing about him is that he did it without the magnification, but you could barely read it even with the magnification. This may not count as art, but there was a sundial that was a miniature cannon with a magnifying glass positioned perfectly so that the sun would light the fuse and set off the cannon at exactly noon. I think that's a pretty cool, creative idea.

My favorite parts weren't so much believe-it-or-not exhibits as just cool things they made. First, they had a big screen that played different action sequences that had been filmed by a high-speed camera (like you'd see on Mythbusters, it's called high-speed because there are lots more frames than usual per second, so that when you play it back it's actually in -slow- motion, so if it helps you just think of it as a low speed camera). It had stuff like a glass landing on the ground and shattering, a building demolition, a bullet going through a watermelon, water drops landing in a pool of water, some plants growing in time-lapse. Now, all of these things I'd seen before, but the coolest thing about this was that there was a little wheel you could turn forward and backward to control the direction and speed of the video. So you could watch it as slow as you wanted, and go back and forth over the coolest parts if you wanted. It moved really smoothly, like they must have kept every single frame in memory constantly, I don't know how, and the effect was awesome. It was especially cool to see the watermelon get shot. The rind just peeled back. If you've never seen anything like that, you can check out this video, which is not nearly as good as what we saw (and not actually a bullet), but still gives you a sort of idea.

My other favorite thing was this dark tunnel that you go through on a suspended bridge. The only lightsource is coming from the walls, which actually aren't walls but more like a tube around the bridge. The walls are black but have some glowing shapes scattered over them and that lights the room so you can see - I think they're illuminated by a blacklight, that's about the lightlevel you get in the room. Around the doorways on either side are mirrors, although in the tunnel they don't look like mirrors, they just look like the black glowing tube extends too far past the door for you to see where it ends, which of course makes the door look like it's floating in the air and somehow is like a portal out of the tube. Ok, if you're still with me, maybe you're thinking, so what, maybe that's a little cool but what's the big deal, how could that be your favorite thing from the whole museum? Well, the last thing is the tube is rotating pretty fast, and even though when you look into the tunnel from outside you can see that the walls are moving and the bridge is (probably) not, as soon as you step through the door it feels like the bridge sways to the side and you're flung into the railing. As you walk across, you're continually stuck against the left rail (or the right rail when you go back through the tunnel) and it's very difficult to stand up straight - nearly impossible to walk straight, we practiced several times. So is the bridge moving? No. The first time I went in and fell against the rail, Sharayah couldn't even figure out why I fell, because she was still outside the tunnel. She could see that nothing moved, and yet I inexplicably flung myself against the railing. But even knowing it doesn't move, if you try to walk down that tunnel, you always end up falling against the railing before you get across - and it's only about 20 feet. I tried walking across with my eyes closed, and that was no problem. That bridge was completely solid and definitely not moving. Something about the lighting and that rotating tube just really did a number on the balance part of your brain, and it felt crazy. We probably spent a good 20 to 30 minutes just going back and forth across that bridge, it was ridiculously fun. If you ever find yourself in Williamsburg, go to Ripley's just for the tunnel, it's completely worth it.

After Ripley's we went pedal boating on the lake where we rowed before. It's a really long, narrow lake; you might think it was a river except there's not really a current (except for the wind causing the surface to move) and if you go far enough in either direction you can see the ends. It was a little cooler out this time, but pedal boating was a little more tiring than rowing, I think just because we were pedaling nearly the whole time. We also went really far, almost the whole length of the lake, and it was cool seeing all the fingers the lake had. I call the little inlets (outlets?) fingers. Just to clear up ambiguity, I don't know what the opposite of a peninsula would be called, but that's what the fingers are - just places where the lake sticks out into the land like a peninsula normally does into water. Anyway this lake has tons and tons of fingers, a lot more than it looks like from the end we started at. At the far end we found a big finger (a thumb?) that had a mysterious square 15x15 brick building sticking up out of the water. As we got closer we could see that on the side facing the shore (away from us) there were the remains of an old dock leading out to it. All that was left were the posts. We went around the spooky house and saw that there were empty window-holes on the other side, the door was missing, and actually it had no roof. I have no idea what it used to be, but from the mysterious junk we saw inside, the large, intricate spider webs in the windows, and the ominous crow that perched on the corner, we decided not to stay and find out. Actually we were just halfway out of time and we figured if it took 30 minutes to get out there, it might take 30 minutes to get back. We abandoned that abandoned house and set off for the other side of the lake. It was a good time, although all that pedaling left our legs feeling like they no longer wanted to go biking on the trail next to the lake, which we had originally planned to do. Either way we still enjoyed the lake, and it also freed up some time for our next adventure of the day.

You may recall that on day 4 we saw some mysterious large heads from the highway and we didn't know what they were. You can go read the previous account if you missed it. Well, our curiosity was just eating us about it, so we went to the resort office to use their internet (I think Sharayah already explained that the in-room wireless did not work), and did some searching to find out what it was. It's something called Presidents' Park, and the heads we saw were in fact the first 43 presidents. They had Obama made as well, but apparently he was still in the gift shop when they went bankrupt and closed the park, so they never got to move him. Yes, they closed the park and we couldn't get that close to these giant heads we'd seen (it turns out they were about 18 feet tall, according to the website), but we did walk around the park and got a pretty good look at the ones that weren't hidden behind foliage. It's a real shame they closed down, because it looked like it would have been really cool to walk around inside. It was set up sort of like a topiary garden with the presidents interspersed throughout. The circle of heads we saw from the highway was only about 15 of the presidents, actually in a half circle. We were disappointed not to get in, but at least we found an explanation for the strange sight of a few nights before. And Sharayah was happy that she was proven correct about the heights of the statues. We also had a fun thought experiment about what the place might look like after decades (or centuries) of neglect and overgrowth of the garden. I think it'd be really spooky with only little bits of the strange giant faces poking out of the foliage. I imagined it being far enough in the future that no one knew who the statues were, or why the giant statues of them were made and hidden in a forest surrounded by thick bushes.

Finally, we got back to the resort, had some popcorn and tried to watch a movie. You can tell it was a really good day because we only made it about 20 minutes into the movie before we fell asleep. All in all, I'd say it was one of the best birthdays I ever had, and it wasn't even mine. It was for my kp, whom I love so much. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.

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