Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Annapolis Adventures!

When my sister-in-law asked if we had ever visited Annapolis Maryland, I told her "no, we just never had the chance", she suggested an outing there.  I didn't realize it was that close, and jumped at the idea!  I had always wanted to see the Naval Academy and to be able to do that now was really an unexpected treat.  So when we saw a break in the weather, we planned the day.

Off we all went, only a little less than two hours away it turned out, and what a cute little town!  Kathy had warned me to "wear my walking shoes" and she wasn't kidding!  Lots of cute shops, then off to lunch at the Annapolis Harbor.  Wonderful spot, right on the water's edge too.  It was a hot and humid day, so the breeze was sure welcomed.

Afterward, we headed over to the US Naval Academy.  I'm a "Navy Brat", so it kind of runs in my veins, so to speak, so I was like a kid at Disneyland...walking around with my mouth open most of the time.  ;-)   To say that I found the whole place "cool" was an understatement...  The only thing that would have been better would have been if school would have been in session, then we would have seen 4000 students (all in white!) walking or marching around!  ;-)

The best, was the Chapel.  Just beautiful.  And down below was the remains of John Paul Jones.. in a pretty gaudy crypt actually, but a nice memorial.

Afterward, while Jack and his sister Kathy rested, Bob and I took off to explore the Maryland State House (Capitol).  It is the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use and the only state capitol ever to serve as a US capitol.  Construction began in 1772.  The legislature first met here in 1779.  The most dominate feature is the beautiful, and largest wooden dome in the country.  We've seen so many majestic stained glass domes, but to see an all wooden dome, was really cool!

After seeing Pennsylvania's elaborate capitol, and so many other's, I really enjoyed the simplicity of this one.  It was still quite beautiful, but clean, not "over the top" fancy.  Because of it's day, it did have one thing that no other capitol has had (at least so far that we've seen), and that is a President's Niche & Dais!

They also had a nice replication of President George Washington resigning on Dec 23, 1783, with Mary Ridout watching in the gallery in the Old Senate House.

We didn't spend to much time there, quick in & out, since our spouses were patiently waiting for us, but I was so glad we went inside, what a thrill!

One last tour around town for a few last shots...

...and our visit was over.  It was time to leave Annapolis and then time to leave our family here as well.

A quick trip north to New York state to visit my son and grandchildren, then turn around and head west for a wedding of some dear friends!  Ah, the life of nomads!

...on the road, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Harrisburg, a Capitol City!

Our trips to Pennsylvania has mostly been about visiting family, and this time was no exception.  Jack's sister and husband had recently moved into a new home and we were excited to see it.  They said they were "downsizing", but when we actually got to see it...not by much!  A lovely brand new home in a 55+ community, still building homes all around them.

We mostly spent time just visiting with them, swimming in the lovely salt water community pool, driving around the area, seeing the other "models", etc. but we did manage to venture out a couple of days...

In all the times we've visited Harrisburg, we had never visited the Capitol!  So, off we went one afternoon to check it out.  Reading up on it, we discovered that when President Theodore Roosevelt attended the dedication of the building on October 4, 1906, he said, "This is the handsomest building I ever saw".  The Capitol was designed in the American Renaissance style, and was envisioned as a "Palace of Art".  Built and furnished at a cost of $13 million, the Capitol features paintings, stained glass and furnishing by some of the best artisans of the day.

The Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272 foot, 52 million pound dome inspired by Michelangelo's design for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  At it's completion, the building was the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years.

One of the Capitol's most noteworthy features is the colorful Moravian tiles that cover the first floor of the Rotunda and its adjacent corridors.  Designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, the floor is interspersed with close to 400 tile mosaics illustrating the state's history, animals, industries, occupations and modes of transportation.  The tiles are thought to be some of the finest examples of Pennsylvania folk art.

As you enter, you don't know whether to look up or down! The Capitol Rotunda is beautiful!  Many of the Rotunda's design features were borrowed from the Paris Opera House, including the Grand Staircase and three-tiered gallery.  Eight large murals by Philadelphia artist Edwin Austin Abbey highlight the Rotunda as a tribute to Pennsylvania and its history.

We made it just in time for a quick guided tour of the various rooms, each more "grander" than the next.  The Senate and House Chambers with their 24 stained glass windows... the Supreme Court and House of Representatives' fancy ceilings, art and light fixtures...

This was one very, gold, marble, stained glass, art filled building!  They didn't stop on the inside either...

Two of these flanked the entrance...

And this was behind the Capitol...Pennsylvania War Veterans' Memorial Fountain dominating the approach to the East Wing of the Capitol.  All in all, a lovely building and grounds.

On a "lighter" note, they, like many cities, decorate an "animal" each year.  Last summer it was a dinosaur ("Dino-Mite Summer"). This year it is cute, I couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures!

It was a great day and we were able to add one more Capitol to our list!

...kicking back in Pennsylvania,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, June 30, 2017

Goodbye Ohio, Hello Pennsylvania!

Our last stop before leaving the delightful state of Ohio was to spend a day in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  In order to do that, we moved a bit closer to it, and camped in Streetsboro Ohio.  We figured we only needed a day to do the whole park, so only booked two days there.

I had read an article that said, that if you liked the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you would also like this one.  Well, I LOVED that park, so it was a no brainer to go here!  This article went on to share that what this park had over the Great Smokey's was less traffic (yea), but still "inspiring waterfalls, forests, hills, open farmlands, and the Cuyahoga River which played a role in the American history as the site of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which opened Ohio up to settlement in the early-to-mid 1800s.  Today, the Towpath Trail follows the route of the canal, winding through the valley past historical sites and verdant landscapes.  They offer a scenic railroad ride as well.

As much as we love taking those scenic railroads, looking at the map, we were afraid we would miss the opportunities to see and photograph the waterfalls and covered bridge and maybe even some other interesting places along the way, so we opted not to take the train this time and do the driving ourselves.  We did catch a glimpse of it as it went by once though and it was cool.  The weather was lovely and only sprinkled a couple of times, not enough to even matter.

I have to was different.  I'm not used to towns and people's homes being inside a national park, that took some getting used to.  That said, the Brandywine Falls were indeed beautiful.  They must have had quite a bit of snow earlier, because the water sure was flowing!  The ranger "for-warned" us that it would be busy there, and "good luck finding a parking spot", but we didn't have a problem, so the article was right about "the crowds being less".

The Everett Covered Bridge was also quite nice and well preserved (no graffiti on this one!), even though they had to reconstruct it in 1986 due to an earlier flood.

The map's "not to be missed" Tinkers Creek Gorge, clear at the other end of the park, turned out to be just a whole lot of trees...but I guess if you were there in the fall, it would have been much prettier...

It was an enjoyable day...but to compare it to the Great Smoky Mountains I think was a bit of a marketing overstatement in my humble opinion.  Traffic or not, I'll take the Smokies any day of the week!

Jack is from Pennsylvania and he still has family here, so we try and visit at least every other year.  Somerset is the home of his cousin John and his wonderful family, and usually our first stop.

The boys' most favorite thing to do is to go target shooting, so they always set time aside to do that, and this trip was no exception!  ;-)  I'm fine with that, because it gives me "alone time", yea!  ;-)

Then, when they are done with that, John always has wonderful places for us to explore...this time it was to the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona.  It seems that back in the late 1800s & early 1900s, Altoona was the "railroad capitol".  6,000 Steam locomotives were built in Altoona alone with over 279,000 active employees at its height.  They were the only railroad that designed and built not only it's own locomotives, but each of its parts were designed, forged, hammered, molded and machined right there in their shops.

They also had their own Testing Laboratory where they tested everything from oranges to light bulbs to 270-ton locomotives.  They tested the oranges to see which ones gave the most juice for their breakfast service, the light bulbs on how long they lasted, etc.  They had a motto:  A penny saved times hundreds of thousands of units purchased was well more than a dollar earned.

They took care of their own, creating whole towns, lending money to buy homes so they wouldn't have to use commercial banks, etc.  Because they had shifts that went around the clock, the town stayed open as well, 24 hours a day!

The museum was really done well, lots of charming vignettes with motion activated sensors that as you came near, statues would begin talking to you, or TVs would come on showing you a film about something.  Outside they had a full-size round-house and turntable with quite a number of old, still being worked on trains.  Everything from baggage cars to dining cars to even an old Conrail Cabin Car (caboose).

Included in your ticket was a visit to the Horseshoe Curve which opened in February of 1854.  We had visited it a couple of years ago and was quite impressed.  Before the Curve, passengers traveling from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh took about 20 days, after the completion of the addition of the Horseshoe Curve they could now travel the the entire route by rail and the time was reduced to an average of 15 hours. Pretty cool.

We lucked out, and our favorite blueberry farm opened up just before we were to leave Somerset, so we got to go berry picking just before we left!  Yea!  One of our most favorite things to do while we are here...nothing like fresh, just off the vine, blueberries!  Yum!

A great way to end our wonderful, yet to short visit with family...

...on the road in Pennsylvania,  Marie

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cleveland Rocks!

Arriving in Cleveland on a Sunday (& it being Father's Day) doesn't help with getting all the things done "on your list" that you want to see and do in the 5 short days here...especially when so many things are also closed on Mondays as well!

We did our best tho, quickly setting up the rig, then scooting into the heart of Cleveland to the deli our friends told us was a "not to miss" place for the best place for great pastrami and bagel sandwiches!  They were right!  Jack's Deli (how could we not remember the name?) was closing early for Father's Day, but they let us in, just at the last moment, and we sure were glad they did too!  Yum, delicious!  Fortified, we decided to check out the city.  Great time to do it, as it was probably as empty as it would ever be!  Beautiful city with wonderful tall buildings, old and new.  Their theater district blows you away with the "world's largest chandelier" hanging smack dab in the middle of the road, 44' feet above it!  Wow!  4200 crystals sparkling in that beauty!  I understand it lights up at night, I bet it's really something to see!

That's not the only "world's largest" claim in the city, we also came across this fun stamp the message on the stamp was intended as a reference to the Civil War-era Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, located across the street.  The beautiful Terminal Tower building is the second tallest building in the state.

On Monday (with everything still closed) we went to their beautiful Lake View CemeteryPresident James A Garfield and his family is buried there and has quite an impressive memorial.  It's more like a small church!  We learned from the volunteer there that everything about it, the cost of building it and even maintaining it today is from donations.  No money has ever come from the family or government.  That's one loved man.

We also got a tour of The Jeptha Wade Memorial Chapel, which was entirely designed and built by Luis Tiffany.  When it was completed, he came, took a look around, said he liked it, and left.  To say "it's beautiful" would be an understatement.  It's truly majestic.

A couple of other "famous" folks there were Elliot Ness of Al Capone fame, and Alan Freed known to coin the phrase "Rock & Roll".  His headstone is appropriately in the shape and etched perfectly like a juke box!

Finally, on Tuesday we were able to get into The Cleveland Museum of Art.  We had heard it was one of the best, and a "not to be missed" attraction.  We were there all day... Beautiful exhibits of O'Keeffe, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, along with Warhol and sculptures like Rodin.  Collections of liturgical vestments from the 1700s, Armors & Swords etc from the 1500s, along with hundred and hundreds of other items from all over the world.  Oh my aching feet...

The following day we spent another eight hours viewing almost every inch of the incredible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Wow.  Powerful, I don't think they left anything or anyone out!  Lucky for us, they had several spots where they showed videos and had benches or seats so we could actually sit for a bit now and then (thank goodness!).  It also helped having upbeat music playing at every exhibit stop too!  ;-)  We left exhausted but feeling happy!

Our last day rain greeted us, but we were headed out to see the last lighthouse on our list and to pretty much "take it easy" today.  The rain stopped long enough (it tends to stop and start a lot here) for me to do my shooting...and to discover a second lighthouse we didn't know about too!  Found out it's name from a local nearby (yea!) and checked on it online.  Seems it was built after the first one closed down...makes sense.
top - Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse (c1925) bottom - Fairport Harbor Lighthouse (c1825-1925)

There are still several things I would have liked to explored here, just not enough time, guess we will have to come back!  We have one last town to explore before we leave this great state, so off we go tomorrow...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road in Ohio, Marie

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lovely Lake Erie!

When one thinks of Ohio, "lighthouses" are not the first thing that comes to mind, but there are actually a number of them here!  Ohio borders right up along lovely Lake Erie, the smallest by volume and warmest of the Great Lakes, and being so, the "most unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous".  It has a large surface area (making it the 4th largest of the 5 Great Lakes that way) but it's quite shallow, only being 210 feet at it's deepest point.  Because of this, it's the warmest of the Great Lakes, but the first to freeze in the winter.

Fishing has always been a huge industry here, both sport and commercial.  The two most common are Walleye and Perch.  We can attest to their deliciousness as we had to try them when we arrived!  Yum!

When we toured the Maritime Museum of Sandusky we learned that in the 1900s they used to earn their living (at $2 for a 10 hour work day) by sawing blocks of ice out of the frozen lake.  We also learned that the fishermen were part of the "underground railroad" for the escaped slaves, taking them to Canada.  Interesting...

Back to the lighthouses...the Ohio communities along the lake have been diligent in saving these old lighthouses and in some cases, having to raise a great deal of money to repair and/or completely replicate them.  We spent a wonderful day driving through several towns tracking them down, literally as they don't always promote them as well as they should (not like Maine does!).  Not a single brochure on "all Ohio lighthouses" etc. and even when talking to the people in the area where one was, they rarely knew much about the others.  Here's what we found...

Huron Lighthouse (c1939), Huron OH
Lorain Lighthouse (c1917) Lorain OH
Marblehead Lighthouse 65' (c1821), Marblehead OH
Port Clinton Lighthouse 25'(c1874 renovated 2016), Port Clinton OH
Vermilion Lighthouse (c1877), Vermilion OH
We spent a delightful afternoon enjoying the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky as well.  Actually, this was an "extra" see, just before we got here, as we were driving from Columbus to Sandusky, there is a Carousel Factory.  Jack had been calling them for a couple of days to see if they still gave tours, and couldn't get an answer.  I googled them and saw that they had a different number and called that.  I explained that we were "big fans" and were "en route, and wondered if, by any chance at all, would they give us a tour?"  I was put on hold for quite awhile, then a young woman came on line and asked if she could assist me, I again explained my hopes, and she asked "how many? & "when?"  She then agreed, and explained that they were working on a secret project and we wouldn't be able to take any pictures though.  I told her "no problem" and we were on our way!

She spent a wonderful hour with us, giving us a complete tour of their factory, every detail.  It was pretty much the worker's lunch time, but several stopped what they were doing to explain how wood was cut, glued, pieced together, etc.  She is a painter and showed us various pieces and techniques etc.  I can share a couple of pieces that they are working on (not the "secret" tho!), one is a restoration project from the turn of the century they are helping with from an east coast town, another is from a private collector of 1920s horses that he has his own carousel housed in a building he has and only lets family and close friends ride (he supplies sweat pants and shirts, so not to scratch them) and some special horses for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (the one picture I got to take).  Very, very cool tour!

Ok, all that said, so we go to this museum in Sandusky, and while we are waiting to take the tour, we happen to mention that we had just visited the factory in Mansfield, and the ladies there went "your kidding?!"  They hardly ever do that!  There are some ladies on the tour before you that were just saying how they had just called and tried to do the tour, and were told 'no', you are so very lucky!"   Yup, we are!  Must be my charm!  ;-)

It made the tour here all that more interesting too...Lots of wonderful animals from the 1900s on, with lots of history about the various carvers and their styles.  Simple "traveling animals" that had carved tales vs real horse hair, to very fancy horses with jewels and intricate carvings called "Coney Island style".   We even bought a couple of raffle tickets to win one (a zebra) at the end of the year, wish us luck!  (don't ask me where we will put it tho!).

All this touring and scouring the lakeside left us hungry, so, of course we sought out a "local favorite"!  Turned out to be Toft's Dairy, Ohio's Oldest Dairy (& Ice Cream), open since 1900!  We were advised to get the "small", but "choose more than one flavor!"  So, I did...peach-raspberry & chocolate-raspberry!  Yum!  "Small" turned out to be enough for dinner though!

Great way to end our stay!  Tomorrow we are off to Cleveland!

...on the road in Ohio,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: