Category Archives: Get Interested

History Comes Alive in Boston

I homeschool the kids, which I’ve mentioned before. Last week we learned about the Revolutionary War for history. Several months ago I took a trip to Boston, I knew I was standing in spots that held historic significance, but, I’m also 13 years out from my last history lesson. So, to read them this information, and know I had stood there just months before was so cool.

I love Boston. We stayed in a small town outside of Boston. I think it was about a 45 minute drive, or train ride into the city. Brad and I shared one car, so, he drove to work, while I took the train into the city. The first day, I decided to take the train, so he dropped me off at the station. I was concerned because this was a 730a train. Brad wouldn’t get off work until 5p, so if I got bored and wanted to come back to the hotel, I was out of luck. I’d have to bring the train home, then walk about 3 miles back to the room.

I didn’t need to worry, I had all day in Boston. I walked 11 miles. I was not bored.

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This is the train station. I got off the train and had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I like to wander, so I walked a couple blocks, through the Financial District. Then, I came out into a very crowded area, where a red line is painted on the sidewalk, in front of a very old building. This red line is the Freedom Trail, it is 2.5 miles that will take you through 16 different historic sights. I felt like, every time I turned one way to see something, I missed 3 other interesting sights the other way.

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This is the Old State House, this is where the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston for the first time. This was also the site where the Boston Massacre happened. John Adams declared the Revolution began here. This is Boston’s oldest public building, built in 1713. I used this all week to figure out where I was.

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This is the Old South Meeting House. You walk in, and walk where George Washington one stood. Where the colonists prepared for the Boston Tea Party. It was built in 1729, and Benjamin Franklin was baptized here. It was the largest building in all of colonial Boston. FIVE THOUSAND colonists crowded into this building to decide what to do about the ships full of tea in the harbor.

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Next we have Kings Chapel.

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I loved Kings Chapel, enough I went back every day. I even went to a church service there, and I’m not particularly religious. The church was founded in 1686. When it was time to build a new building, they weren’t able because there was no more land. So, they build this stone building around the old wooden one, in 1749, then carried the wooden one out, piece by piece. The pulpit from the original church remains in the building. Over 30,000 sermons have been preached from this spot. IMG_5238

It was very powerful to kneel at this alter where so many people have been. Where people were worshiping before the United States even existed!

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The history of the pews was very interesting, in my opinion.

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The pews are not in rows, they are in high-walled boxes. You could “buy” a pew, and pay a yearly rent. This allowed the family that owned it to make it fit their needs. The walls kept the area warmer in the winter. These are original pews, from the 1600s. The owners could decide how the seating was set up. This one held the most people. I saw many with a single row, and one with just 2 seats in it. While the upholstery has been redone, the padding is still the original horse-hair! The owners were able to decorate them as they wished until the twentieth century.

I did not go into the bell tower, though I wish I had. in 1772 a bell was shipped for the tower from London. It fractured in 1814 and Paul Revere offered to remake the bell. It was one of the largest bells ever cast in the Revere foundry and it was the last one made by Paul Revere.

That is all for today, if I include everything I’ll be writing for days!

Auctions America, Auburn Indiana

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This is my dream car. I go to this auction every year just to search out  Hemi ‘Cudas.

Every Labor Day weekend since 1971 there has been a collector car auction in a small town in Indiana called Auburn. If you have an interest in collector cars this is the place to be.

As usual, there is some interesting history to the auctions beginnings, and the town itself. But, that will be another post.

This is the largest collector car auction in the world. Though, I suppose we need to wait for this year’s numbers to come in before we claim that.

There is a $15 admission, parking is free. Kids 12 and under are free. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes, the activities cover 235 acres of land.

When you enter the gates, there are tents immediately in front of you. Those tents hold the cars that have already been auctioned.

In the first tent last night we saw a Maserati.

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And more than a handful of Mustangs from the 1960s

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My intent was to photograph the cars with the signs that told about them, but, apparently I wasn’t close enough to be able to see many of the words later, and the lighting kept messing me up.

After you’ve wandered the tents, you head indoors where there are more cars, waiting to be auctioned.

Cars like these

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As you keep walking through these giant rooms, you will notice it is getting louder. You are getting closer to the actual auction. In a giant room are two spinning displays, with a car on each. Bleachers surround the center, and big screens display photos of the cars, as well as the current bid. When the auctioneer calls “sold”, the spinning stops, and 3-5 people, all wearing white gloves, so they don’t put fingerprints on the car, rush up to push the car down the ramp so the sound of a 1,000hp engine doesn’t drown out all going on inside.

Just outside the auction arena is the food court with the types of food you expect at almost any outdoor event. Elephant ears, corn dogs, twisty fries.

Then, you are at the other vendors. Have you ever felt you needed a giant, neon, Pontiac sign? Do you have $2000 spare to spend on it? You came to the right place. What about an old gas pump?

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You can venture out of the first set gates on the far side, this is where you will find the car corral. This is basically a 900 parking spot, used car lot for really cool cars. If you want to pic up a ’79 Trans Am (great choice, I used to have one) you can probably find one here.

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Maybe you’ve had your eye on a Roadrunner? Or a Duesenburg. You can find those here too. The cars in the car corral won’t be going up for auction. You bring enough cash and you can leave with the car you’ve wanted for years.

There is also a car parts swap meet outside the car corral, in case you leave with a project.

This year they also have helicopter rides for $30. And, on Saturday and Sunday they are having a monster truck show, free with the price of admission, as well as free monster truck rides for the kids.

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As you can see from the pictures I’ve chosen, my heart is with American muscle, from the last 60s, early 70s. But, there is a lot more to see here. And, learn, because many of these owners are very proud of their cars and know the history, from the factory until they put the last mile on last week. I’ll leave you with some more pictures.

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Important Info:

  • $15 admission, kids 12 and under and free. There is a $50 pass that gets you in all weekend.
  • It only goes on over Labor Day weekend. There is another, somewhat smaller auction in the spring.
  • Kids are welcome, but they need to know not to touch the cars. The owners will flip out if they see it.
  • Gates open at 8am, auction starts at 10am.
  • Plan on spending 3 or 4 hours, and that is just to walk the entire grounds. If you want to watch the auction or browse the swap meet, you’ll be there longer.
  • Parking isn’t too bad, but it is in a field. So, if it’s been raining you might want to be careful where you park.

Auctions America, Auburn Fall Auction

Visit Fort Wayne

Just a side note, Auburn is not a very big town. It has a population of about  13,000.  An estimated 300,000 people come into town to buy, sell, and look at the cars. Traffic can be a pain. Usually there is NO traffic, unless you count the cars lining up behind the tractor waiting for a place to pass, and this is a weekend where you can count on traffic jams.

Exploring the Cleveland Area, Part 2

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Trying to fit a lot into 2 days, made a busy day 2.

I went to see the submarine the U.S.S. Cod. It is a World War II era submarine. It was actually hard to find. I know you are thinking “How can this giant thing be hard to find”. Well, water doesn’t have much of an address. So, if you want to visit, make your way over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and if you come in off 9th, the Hall of Fame will be in front of you, turn right. You’ll head towards the Burke Lakefront Airport. It will be on your left, there is a small, gravel parking lot. Parking is free. You will pay your $10 admission at a small booth that looks like the kind you’d find in a carnival to buy tickets to the tilt-a-whirl. Across that sidewalk is the “gift shop” which is a bulletin board with examples of things you can buy. I don’t know where they keep those things though.

You walk up a ramp, and then you are on the submarine. To get into the sub, you go down a hole, with a ladder on the side. So,needless to say, it is not handicap accessible.
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The sub is interesting, there are a lot of signs to tell you about the areas in the sub. There are 4 or 5 audio “tours”. You push the button, and hear about the area you are in. You can sit at a table or lay in a bunk.
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Or, you can pretend to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I really found the kitchen the most interesting part. Just to think about having to cook for that many people in such a tiny space.
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I began to write you out a history of the sub, but it’s really interesting and deserves its own post. So, upcoming is a U.S.S. Cod history post.

After the sub, I decided to go to the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.

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So, I will admit it, but it’s embarrassing. I walked past this museum several times, trying to find it. The GPS was clear, the building LOOKED like a contemporary art museum. But, the only sign is the one on the door. That says “Mocha a la Carte” the hours talk about lunch time. And, there is a small script on the door that says something like “healthy, nourishing” So, I saw this and thought “what a strange restaurant.” and kept walking. Like, 10 minutes later I decided to go in and ask, and wound up in the gift shop.

It was a bit disappointing in my opinion. There were only 2 exhibits. One was by a nun. The Art of Corita Kent. That will be on display until August 31, 2014. Her art is very pop art inspired.

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The next exhibit was Staging Silence by Hans Op De Beeck. There were only 3 photos, but there was a room where a video was shown, and he slowly moved pieces to create beautiful landscapes. This is also on display until the end of August, 2014.

The admission is $8.

Finally, I ended up at Euclid Creek Reservation. I had read there was once an amusement park there, and some parts remained, such as the entrance, and the beach walkway. I drove through the whole park and found several playgrounds and picnic shelters. Also, there were many places to pull of and view the creek. IMG_7525This pretty flowered area is a monarch stop station, designed to draw the butterflies in on their migration.

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There are a lot of beautiful views of the creek, and the park is just as nice as the one previously mentioned.

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There are signs warning you to stay out of the creek. The creek is only a few inches deep, but many people have drown in it because it is really bad about flash flooding because it is surrounded by all the rock, and the creek bed is rock, so when there is a heavy rain, the water has no place to go, except to flood the creek.

I never found the old amusement park markers, and left very disappointed. Once I got home and could do some more research, and not just look on my phone, I found that this particular park has 2 sections. That are oddly far away from each other. I was in the wrong section. Now I know for next time.

Information

U.S.S. Cod- General information about the submarine

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art 

Euclid Creek Reservation

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I just thought this was cute, it is the bike rack outside Starbucks.

Photo Friday- Boston Chipotle

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Photo Friday, where the picture makes the story. This was supposed to be a quick post, but as I began trying to find the information to give you, it became very interesting. And, really, this is one of the reasons for the blog. So enjoy reading about a restaurant and history.

We were in Boston last month. That is going to require a few posts on its own. It seems every turn you take, you see something historical, but miss 2 things for the turn you didn’t take.

For example, one evening Brad and I decided to go to Chipotle. The restaurant is in an old building.
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Once you order, you can go upstairs. That section was added later, so the stairway is on the outside of the old building. The wall you see in the first photo was built in 1718. The United States didn’t even exist yet!

This building was once known as the Old Corner Bookstore. It was also once home of a printing press, where the first editions of The Scarlett Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Walden were printed.

It was the first building to be saved by Historic Boston, it had been scheduled for demolition in the 1960s.

Repurposing these building is called “adaptive reuse”. It has been used multiple times in Boston with great success.

If you are ever in Boston, go have lunch in a 300 yr old bookstore. It’s pretty cool.

Chipotle Moving to Historic Boston Building

I found this in my search, which while not about travel, is about adaptive reuse and how it may be facing opponents.
Saving the Plant, One Old Building at a Time

The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.
The sign on the outside of the building, giving a brief history.

Niagara Butterfly Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

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My American readers will need their passports for this one, but it’s worth it.

The Butterfly Conservatory is located in Canada, just north of Niagara Falls. There are over 2000 butterflies flying around.

You will enter a large dome, where the butterflies fly around freely. The signs say not to touch, but, the butterflies do what they want, and it isn’t hard to hold them. Be careful though!IMG_4453

There are about 45 species located in the conservatory. And, they are all beautiful, but some are more so than others. I don’t know what you are all used to seeing, around here we have lots of orange and/or white butterflies. The greens and blues there were beautiful.

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Interestingly, the butterflies are not able to reproduce in the dome. This is done on purpose, so they don’t overcrowd the area. The butterflies will only lay eggs on certain food sources, so those flowers and plants are kept out of the dome.

You can walk the conservatory at your own pace, and read the signs as you wish. The employees are helpful and informative.

My son did find out, if you spill syrup on yourself at breakfast, then go to the conservatory, you will end up with lots of company. :)

NEED TO KNOW:

  • Probably not a good place for small children, or kids who may be creeped out by things crawling on them. Lots of kids crying there, and even my 10 yr old got a bit overwhelmed when the 10th butterfly landed on him.
  • It is $13.50 (Canadian) to get in for adults, and $8.80 for children 6-12. Under 6 is free.
  • Parking is $5, but if you plan to go back, there is an annual parking pass for $10. They only take cash at the gate, but luckily they will take American.
  • Plan on maybe 2 hours, tops, to walk the whole dome. It isn’t a huge place (600 ft of pathways), but you might want to wait around for the perfect picture.
  • The hours are varied throughout the year, so check before you go.
  • The parking lot is shared with the Botanical Conservatory, so, that $5 is for both attractions.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens surround the Butterfly Conservatory. They are free to enter, but parking is $5.

The gardens span over 100 acres, and are cared for by the students of the school of horticulture that is located on site. There are also several water features.

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They are beautiful to look at, and on a nice day you could easily spend several hours walking a couple miles. There is a rose garden boasting over 2,400 roses.

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The paths are easy to walk, and there are horse drawn carriage rides for a fee if you really want to sit back and enjoy the view. I did not check while I was there, but a couple websites say the carriage rides are $18.

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I went in early May and again in July. It is definitely prettier in July, but if you are at the Butterfly Conservatory anyway, wander the gardens and see what you find.

If you are there without a car, or don’t wish to worry about parking, the bus does stop right out front.

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Helpful links

Niagara Parks-Hours, admission, general information for the butterfly conservatory

Niagara Parks-same info, but for the botanical gardens. This also includes a link to download the app, which will take you on a guided walking tour of the gardens. Free wi-fi is available at the gardens.

Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory- Information about the conservatory, it is actually a really interesting read.

Fact Sheet- This is facts about the botanical gardens.

Whirlpool State Park

IMG_7003Whirlpool State Park in located in New York.

It is just off the Robert Moses State Parkway, Niagara Falls, New York. Do you know what else is off the Robert Moses St. Pkwy? Niagara Falls. So, that explains the lack of people when you pull into the parking lot of this state park. If you like people and touristy things, Niagara Falls is where you want to go. There are all sorts of places to spend your money. However, if you are looking for a bit quieter, or maybe you’ve spent all your money at the Falls, but don’t want to sit around your hotel room, than this is the place for you.

I read some reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The reviews are colored by people’s perspective. I saw many that said “nothing to see except water.” which,is almost technically true. But, let me tell you, it is worth it.

Both parking and admission into the park is free. There is a playground beside the parking lot, as well as picnic tables. There is a small welcome center, with some history, and a couple bathrooms.

If you are not in shape, or not a hiker, this is a difficult place to visit. If you are a hiker, you will think this is an easy day. I felt I got a great workout, and was able to go everywhere, even though I’m not in the best shape.

Come see Whirlpool State Park with me.

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This is toward the beginning of the trails. It looks nice, and simple. This is at the top of the gorge. After walking a half mile or so, there is a break in the railing.  You can continue along the railing, or you can look in the break, to see stairs.

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This photo is taken, looking up, from about the middle point of the stairs. This is the easy part of the stairs.  Take the stairs! This is how you get to the bottom of the gorge. You walk down 300-400 steps. I don’t know how many, I lost count. Please remember though, you have to go back up them.

The stairs will give way to ground. I’d like to tell you it is flat, level ground, but it isn’t. We found a rocky, steep, area, that might have been a path, but we aren’t sure. We took it anyway. (Watch out for snakes and ticks.) If you take these random, rocky paths you might end up somewhere like this.

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This is downstream from the whirlpool. If you look closely toward the top of the picture you can see the Whirlpool Aero Car (click it, it will take you to their website), taking people over the top of the river, to see the whirlpool. That was actually how I found this park, months ago I took the aero car and saw people standing on rocks, 300 feet below, and I needed to find those rocks. I did.

You can sit on the rocks and watch the jet boats, or you can keep on walking. We sat for an hour or so, just watching. Then, kept walking.

This is where you begin to lose the trails. Watch for neon orange spray paint on rocks or trees. Those are the trails. You will eventually find another rocky path. Take it. It leads you to flat rocks, directly under the cable car. Straight ahead, as you walk, you will see the whirlpool and the rapids. IMG_7063

Now, allow me to explain, this is not a whirlpool like you see in the movies. Where the water spins in a perfect circle and creates a sort of underwater tornado. The whirlpool effect is much subtler. It is caused by the river taking a sharp turn at this point, almost a 90 degree turn. The rapids are a category 6 in this place. DO NOT get in the water! You will die.

Once you’ve had your fill of this scenery, you can continue down the path. At some point, you will look up, and see how far you have come down.

IMG_7069The parking lot is at the very top of this rock.

This is about as far as we went, because we planned badly. And, that is actually part of what got this blog started.

Do I have you interested in seeing this? The next post will be the practical side of things, thing you need to know if you are going to visit. Things we’ve learned from experience.

I’m still figuring out how to organize this, so be patient with me.

 Whirlpool State Park