Friday, August 9, 2013

Ripley's Believe It...Or Not

Remember back in the "olden" days, before cable or satellite TV, before Netflix or Hulu or DVD's or any form of television viewing other than the 8-10 local channels available to everyone?  When the whole family had to watch whatever the parental units wanted to watch because they had control of the one and only TV in the house?  Yeah, we're going back in time....

There were programs that my mom or dad would watch that didn't interest us kids.  At.All.  News programs, for instance.  My mom watched the evening news every night, right after the cartoon shows were over, and we'd skedaddle.  Our toys had much better stuff to offer.

If dad was home it was sports.  Specifically baseball.  My dad was a baseball enthusiast.  None of us kids were.  He also watched Spanish channel programming, comedy shows, variety shows, some we'd watch, most we didn't care for.  Now that I look back, us kids didn't watch anywhere near as much television as kids today, mostly because there wasn't much to watch after the cartoons were done, and they were only on from 3pm to 5pm.

There were a few shows that we did enjoy watching as a family.  The Wonderful World of Disney.  Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  And a freaky sort of show called Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Ripley's showed the world that, no matter how weird you think you are, there is always something much weirder out there.  We were mesmerized by the strange discoveries of Mr. Ripley.  It was a sad day when the show went off the air.

What I never expected was to one day take a trip to one of Ripley's Museums.  And not just any Ripley's Museum.  The very first one ever.

Ripley's St. Augustine was originally Warden Castle, the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling.  Mr. Ripley was invited to her home once and fell in love with it; so much so that he tried to purchase it.  Mrs. Rawling said no.  He asked again several times, and the answer was always no.  After Mr. Ripley's passing, his heirs were able to purchase this mansion he loved so much, and convert it into a museum to show off the oddities he'd collected during his lifetime.

We visited the Ripley Museum on Saturday because it had started to rain.  I'd already purchased the tickets online before leaving home, and we'd decided we'd go when it wasn't possible to be outdoors.  We didn't think it would be the first full day we were there!

Walking in the door we were greeted by a statue of Captain Jack Sparrow made of car parts.  I was so excited to see that not everything in the Ripley's museum would be old items found by Mr. Ripley.  There are old items, but there are also newer and fun finds.  This was a great way to start our tour of Ripley's.

The first floor contained a few older finds, then we went upstairs and gasped.  A two story ferris wheel made from an erector set greeted us - a WORKING erector set!  We knew there would be extraordinary stuff to see, but this really caught us off guard!

"Strange Heads of the Primitive World."  Need I say more?

Isn't this a lovely castle?  Would you believe it's made out of matchsticks?!

So is this pagoda!

Can you imagine dating a guy that's 9 feet tall?  My poor little girl felt even shorter than usual.

It's Florida's golden boy, Tim Tebow!  This portrait is made out of air soft balls.

The Pirate Room.  There was all sorts of information on pirates, plus a laser shooting range.  My kids liked that!

After going through three floors of exhibits we still had much to see outside.  This horse statue, for instance, that is made out of old car bumpers.  Hi ho Silver, away!

This anchor was pulled out of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine.  Many French soldiers were slaughtered in this bay.

This is just a small sampling of all the great things we saw at Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum.  Tickets were $14.99 per person but well worth it.  We spent over 2 hours seeing what they had to offer and learning about some of the crazy things that can be found on Planet Earth.  This was my youngest son's favorite place to visit...after the chocolate factory, of course.  We didn't see everything; there was lots to see and we were exhausted!  But what we did see was incredible, and we are glad we decided on Ripley's as part of our vacation.

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