Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13, 2017      Irma Changed Our Plans

Our original plan was to return to Texas by way of Virginia, Carolinas, and Georgia.  Instead, we decided to go west from New Jersey and spend a few days in Johnstown before heading west into  Ohio.  We thought it best to stay away from the coast during the peak of hurricane season.

Highlights of the past week:

Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey
Washington's Headquarters during Winter 1779-1780
 Museum at Morristown NHP


We had a nice visit with Mindy and Al Wasilewski in Newtown, PA and visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  We did not get to see it on a previous trip due to summer crowds and not getting tickets. (We did see the Liberty Bell a few years ago.)  I think the visit here was especially interesting as we made connections with other historical sites that we have seen in the past few weeks (Minute Man NHP in Concord, MA, Adams NHP in Quincy, MA).

 The tour guide claimed this is the most important room in the U.S,
The Continental Congress met here and the Declaration of Independence was signed here.

Independence Hall - we heard the bells chime on the hour while waiting for our tour.
Our next destination was Pinelands National Reserve in southern New Jersey and a visit to Cape May. (We finished the New Jersey County Geocaching Challenge while there.)

 Cape May Lighthouse
 (Attention Mindy W. - Brian touched the lighthouse!)

 Sunset Beach - Cape May - you can see the remnants of SS Atlantus (WWI concrete ship - we are
wondering if the one near Galveston is a sister ship.)
 seen in the dunes

World War II Lookout Tower -  Cape May
Back to Pennsylvania to visit Valley Forge National Historical Park and Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site.  There was a state park campground conveniently located next door to Hopewell.
The house GW rented at Valley Forge

GW really did sleep here

Valley Forge National Historical Park Visitor Center
National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge NHP
reconstructed soldiers' huts
Washington Memorial Chapel and Bell Tower


Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site, Penn.
The ironworks here produced Hopewell cast iron stoves and other iron products from 1771

 until the last blast in 1883.  It was interesting to see the advancements in ironmaking technology since the Saugus Iron Works were in operation (ca 1640s) as well as the similarities.


anthracite furnace

Picking apples in the orchard at Hopewell Furnace NHS (I made yummy apple crisp
with them in Johnstown.)

We took Brian's mother to the Flight 93 National Memorial and enjoyed a drive in the country spotting the first trees beginning to show fall color.

 Crash site of Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001
 The walls of the memorial are aligned with the flight path of the airplane.
 Wall of names of the passengers and crew

We can't pass up a covered bridge while out on a drive in the country.
Brian waited in line to buy fresh corn-on-the-cob in Johnstown.

In a few days, we will leave Pennsylvania and head west.  There are some national park service sites we want to visit in Ohio and Indiana before heading south in the general direction of Texas.  Love and best wishes to all!


Seen while geocaching:

 The 'Burg in Trenton, NJ - Broad Street near "Plum Cache"
(for you Janet Evanovich fans out there)



 Mister Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium near Chambersburg, PA
We resisted the temptation to go inside and buy candy.
 Miss Penny Candy is her name

Newsboy Statue in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Perrine's Covered Bridge near Tillson, NY

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fall is in the air!     Sept. 5, 2017

We have been in Massachusetts for the past 10 days and are just beginning to see hints of fall color in a few trees.  Here is a rundown of our travels since returning to the U.S. on August 21

We drove across Maine and into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We loved it so much two years ago that we decided to spend 4 nights and take advantage of half-price camping in the national forest.   We didn't repeat our drive up to Mount Washington, but rode the Conway Scenic Railroad up to Crawford Notch and back.  We enjoyed the sights along the Kancamagus Highway again and spent one day driving north up to Lake Umbagog near the Maine stateline.  Nice waterfalls and rivers and mountains in the area!  This is about the time we got word of Hurricane Harvey.  Luckily, our house didn't flood and our kids and family member were okay.  I wish I could say the same about some of our friends and acquaintances who are now trying to clean up and rebuild.

Conway Scenic Railroad, New Hampshire

crossing a high trestle

view of Crawford Notch from the train

White Mountains National Forest, NH

Swift River, Lower Falls

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area

Early morning at Falls Pond, White Mountains National Forest, NH
(funny how the clouds in the sky didn't show up in the photo, but their reflection did)

With the Labor Day weekend fast approaching, we made plans and campground reservations in Massachusetts and headed south.  (A word about geocaching now - we found the oldest cache in New Hampshire and 5 old caches in Massachusetts - each of them requiring a hike of a half-mile or more in wooded areas - the best kind of geocaching!)

 Now for our history lessons:

Lowell National Historical Park and a boat tour of the old canals that provided water to the textile mills.  We saw power looms in action and experienced movement through a lock on the canal in the boat.  Two friends from high school days joined us for a trolley tour that allowed us to get a close-up look at really old water-driven power system (turbine, huge flywheel and buffalo hide belts) dating from the early and mid-19th century.

Power looms at Lowell NHP, Mass.

Huge wooded flood gate overhead

waiting for the lock gates to open

The park ranger gives some scale for the size of the flywheel that was connected by buffalo-hide belts to the looms.
with Martha and John Shelton in Lowell, Mass.
We visited Minute Man National Historical Park and saw the site of the "shot heard round the world" in Concord.  Our history is so much easier to understand when you can see the actual locations and get the real stories from expert national park rangers.

Minute Man Statue with excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn"

view of the North Bridge over Concord River - Patriots were on one side and the British Regulars on the other side when "the shot heard round the world" was fired in 1775

Another great National Park Service site we visited was Saugus Iron Works and another well executed tour with a ranger.  It began operating in 1646 and today you can see the huge waterwheel in action and learn how the Puritans took bog iron ore and refined it into wrought iron in an operation that rivaled any iron works in Europe at the time.  A young man in the blacksmith shop demonstrated out nail rods iron cut in the rolling and splitting part of the iron works was made into square nails.  This NPS site was one of the best we have visited (and we have been to more than 200 so far)!

huge bellows at the base of the blast furnace

We were pleased to see this young man working in the blacksmith shop so maybe the skill
 won't die out.
Our next base of operations was a state park in Sandwich, Mass. just over the Cape Cod Canal - we spent 5 nights there over the Labor Day weekend.  With foresight, we spent Thursday at the national seashore and took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard on Friday before the craziness of Labor Day weekend began.  We spent one day in Quincy to visit the Adams National Historical Park and learned so much about four generations of the Adams family.  Another day was spent in New Bedford at the Whaling NHP where we took a walking tour of the harbor area with a ranger and heard about the Underground Railroad activity in the area.  Frederick Douglass ended up in New Bedford for a time and the town was known for its acceptance of runaway slaves and different foreign and ethnic groups that were vital to the whaling industry.

Highland Light, Cape Cod National Seashore

Proof that we got our feet wet . . . cold water!

Large dunes - Cape Cod National Seashore


 approaching the Oak Bluffs ferry landing, Martha's Vineyard
 East Chop Light, Martha's Vineyard
 Colorful cottages, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard

 Statue of Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful"
in Falmouth, Massachusetts

 birthplace of John Adams, Quincy, MA
 Home of John and Abigail Adams, Quincy
 Stone Library built by John Adams' grandson separate from the house
so the 12,000 books inside would not be harmed if the house were to catch fire.
 Seamen's Bethel in New Bedford; Herman Melville worshipped here before his
whaling journey.  The pulpit is shaped like a ship's prow because that is how it
was portrayed in the movie version of "Moby Dick" and visitors expected to see it
that way so it was changed. 
 Cenotaphs dedicated to men lost at sea lined the walls of the chapel.

 New Bedford mural
Today we made a point to pass through Amherst, Mass. to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art because we didn't get to see it two years ago (it was closed because we arrived on a Monday).  Another disappointment today - the Eric Carle gallery was closed because they are working on a new exhibit, but we saw a special exhibit of work by David Weisner and a gallery of pieces by well-known children's book illustrators and the work that inspired each of them.  One of the artists featured was Ashley Bryan, an artist we discovered two years ago on Mount Desert Island, Maine.  (If you go back to our September 2015 blog post, you should see examples of his beach glass stained glass windows in a church on Little Cranberry Island.)   Another of my favorite artists is Charley Harper and I just had to buy a jigsaw puzzle with his artwork today.  We just love it when we discover connections between some of the wonderful places we have visited.  Example: In New Bedford, we saw a cartoon of two whales celebrating the first oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

 Logan and Caleb Kissell will recognize this guy (Grandad, too.)

 from "Flotsam" by David Weisner
 What we could see of the Eric Carle Gallery through an open door.
work by Ashley Bryan

 Mo Willems was inspired by Charles Schultz.
 Red Elephant by Mo Willems

tiles on the restroom walls

A side note:  We are saddened to hear about the devastation in Houston and other Gulf Coast areas.  It has been quite different to be so far away from local news.  We hope the recovery is complete for those affected.

Seen while geocaching:

Highest Point in Rhode Island 
Highpoint log in the ammo can, not the geocache.


 Town Pound in Foster, RI

 House of Seven Gables, Salem, MA
We didn't pay to take a tour but could see this from the geocache.

 Memorial wall with names of 19 people hanged in Salem, MA in 1692 after the infamous witch trials.  We were in town to visit the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.
 Signpost for towns in western Maine       

 100+ year old English weeping beech tree in Yarmouth, Massachusetts
 Martha's Vineyard - the owner of the restaurant is from Houston.

 Who knew there would be dragons on Martha's Vineyard?

 We hiked around this pond in White Mountains National Forest at 6:30 a.m. because there was a geocache on the far side. We wanted to avoid the summer crowd and were rewarded with this gorgeous sight!