Posted in: Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hi this is Nick. This a post about one of the best museums I have been to. It is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is amazing.

So, the first floor is the check in, food court and gift shop. It is where you get your bracelet/pass. It is a paper bracelet that has a barcode on it. You use it for interacting with some of the exhibits. The food court has salads and different snacks like chips. They also have coffee.

The gift shop is also really cool. It has some fun rock stuff like guitar pics and drum sticks. They also have guitar straps as well. There is a ton of other cool stuff that is also worth checking out in there.

Next, there is the bottom floor. It is where the Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson exhibits are. There are some other groups down there. Next is the 2nd floor. It is one of my favorite floors. You can learn how to play the drums, guitar, and the bass. There is also a sticker printer, where you can print your band’s sticker.

Finally, there is the 3rd floor. This floor has the Hall of Fame. On the walls it has all the band names that are in the Hall of Fame. There is also an interactive exhibit. You scan your bracelets barcode and you can submit a band that can be in the Hall of Fame. There is also a show that you can go to as well on that floor.

That is my post, hope you liked it.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $30/adults, $20/child (ages 6-12). COVID Restrictions: masks required if unvaccinated, prepay/timed entrance
  • HOURS: Hours vary by season. July to August: Daily 10 am-5pm, Thursday to Saturday 10am to 8pm. September to December: Daily 10am-5pm. Thursday 10am-9pm.
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street or nearby lots
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-4 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Hey guys here’s another blog post with Will! Today I will be talking about the James A. Garfield National Historic Site! For those of you that don’t know who James A. Garfield was, don’t worry I didn’t either! Apparently he was the 20th president of the United States of America. We learned all about him from the park center that is actually located inside of the carriage house of Garfield’s farm.

Garfield was the last president known as a log cabin president which means that his family were settlers and built their house themselves. He grew up on the land his father had bought for two dollars and fifty cents an acre. His father was a farmer and a canal construction man, but sadly his father died when Garfield was just 2 years old. His mother tried to educate Garfield and his siblings, and convinced Garfield to go to the nearby school. Garfield learned of his love of education and earned money to go to college and high school through odd jobs, teaching, and working on the farm. He stayed at the school teaching and learning for 4-5 years and then went to college for 2 years. After that he became president of the school he went to originally, but soon grew bored. This was how he started his career with politics. He was in the House of Representatives for 17 years. He was then nominated as president by surprise. He was visiting to nominate a fellow senator when he found out he had become nominated. He immediately rushed home to tell his family and get started.

This is where I am going to pause in the story for a minute to tell you about his house as most of the story after this involves his house. James A. Garfield rented houses for his family, but soon realized that they needed a stable home where they could set up home base. He also wanted his children to learn the morals that he had when living on a farm, and so he bought 160 acres of land out in the countryside. The farm he had bought was run down, but with some hard work he and his family fixed up the house and grew it. He started growing orchards and plants to sell, and he also was very interested in making his farm a modern farm. He bought the latest equipment and pure bred cows to make his farm the most modern farm around. He expanded the old house that had originally been on the property and added new rooms for him, and his wife, and 5 children, and his mom. Once he was nominated for President, he went into the craziness of trying to win. He was told by a former president that to win you sit back, cross your legs, and look wise. This was how most presidents did it. They let the speakers of their party run their election campaign and sat there looking wise. Garfield felt this was not good enough because he was one of the best speakers in his party, so he started having campaign speeches on his porch. Many different people started coming to his house, and since he was near both the road and the railroad many people had access to his house. This caused the railroad company to make a new stop that was right on his property. Over 17,000 people came to see him talk and he won the election! The problem with having so many people come to see his speeches on a working farm, was that when people got hungry they would eat his crops. This left the farmer devastated and he had to re-sod all of the grass that had been trampled.

Now we come to sad part of the story. 120 days into his presidency on his way back home, the president was shot twice in the back. One only clipped his shoulder, but the other buried itself deep into the president’s back. 200 days into his presidency the President died. A memorial train carried his body to the graveyard and thousands of Americans lined up to grieve the death of the late President. Another late mourner of her husband sent her regards to his wife Lucretia. That person was Queen Victoria. Her husband had also died and the Queen had sent a letter of regards and a wreath for the late president’s coffin. Lucretia had the wreath laid on the coffin and then had it dipped in wax to preserve the wreath. Sadly, back then the president’s job was not as good as it is now. The President, when he was alive, couldn’t even afford a carriage for the White House horse shed. The White House was also in tatters. The Garfields had planned on fixing it up during the presidency, but he was not able to fix it up before his assassination. His wife’s friend realized that Garfield’s wife would not receive any payment, as there were no advantages or benefits the president received back then. He started a fund raiser for the wife and raised about 350 thousand dollars ,which today would be equal to about 10 million dollars. With that money his wife added extra renovations including gas powered lights and fireplaces, water running into the house powered by the windmill, and additions to the house. She also paid for her children to go to college, and bought a second house and rented it out to make easy income. She also added to the farm and kept it as modern as she could with the help of her children and brother who came to live in the house with her.

Whiling adding the extra house renovations, the team of carpenters and labor discovered natural gas which was then used to power the house by lighting the house and providing heat. This allowed the family to be entirely self reliant through having water brought to the house from the windmill, crops from the farm, milk, meat, and hide from the animals, and heating and lighting from the gas. She also finished all of the indoors of the house and later built playrooms and areas for her grandchildren to play at. Soon after her death, the house and the farm became a financial burden on the rest of the family and they eventually sold it.

Thank you guys for reading this blog post from me and please keep reading our blog for more cool stuff from around the country, and watch our YouTube channel for some cool places! Thank you guys and have a good day!

Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Riding Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

For Father’s Day we took a train ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We had heard it was a good way to see the park, but the only tickets available when I looked were the Donuts With Dad for Father’s Day.

We had a friend in town visiting, so I booked tickets for all of us. The ride was 2 hours long and everyone got a drink and a donut.

Masks were “required”, but it seemed like most of the passengers took them off as soon as they boarded the train.

The train was neat looking and had a variety of different seating arrangements based on the cars. We were in a table car, but I would have loved to have been in one of the other cars. I think it would have made the train ride more enjoyable. You can purchase an all-day pass to get on and off the train. There is also an app where you can track the train and listen to audio clips. When we tried it, it did track the train pretty well, but we could not get the audio tour to work. However, it was a free app, so we weren’t too disappointed. If you are a runner/biker/kayaker/hiker, you can purchase a one way Explorer Pass ($5/bike/hiker, $10/single kayak) and jump on at a stop.

There were several seat types: Coach (padded seats of 4 looking at each other), Table Top (4-seater table and chairs), and Executive Class (this one looked really nice, padded seats, more room). All seating was assigned.

The train also had a snack car that sold drinks (even some alcoholic drinks, but not on Sundays until after 1:00), bagged snacks, granola bars, candy, popcorn, hot dogs. The snack car also sold some souvenir type of items (key chains, shirts, train hats, train whistles, toys).

We did see some things along the way. We went by a state park, a neighborhood, a farm, parts of the National Park.

VIDEO: WALKING DOWN THE TRAIN

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Prices vary based on ride and seat selection. Tickets start at $15/adult, $10/child. COVID Restrictions: Masks required.
  • HOURS: Vary based on ride schedule and pick-up location.
  • PARKING: Parking on street or nearby lots.
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-3.5 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

Niagara Power Vista

We saw a brochure for the New York’s Niagara Power Vista. The power plant offers free tours. On our last day in New York, we hurried over to the Vista when Ben was off of work. Unfortunately, the brochures were not updated with COVID restrictions and they now required reservations and were full for the day. The woman at the office did give us directions to a service road that led to a fishing pier at the base of the plant. She told us the views there were pretty good too.

click to enlarge

She was right! There was a small visitor parking lot at the base of a hill (before the gated employee entrance). We walked down a few flights of steps to the metal walkway. The waves from the river and plant occasionally splashed up onto the walkway. It was right on the river and we saw butterflies, a snail on the fence post, fighter jets, and some birds.

If you are in the area, I think this is worth a stop!

Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (Buffalo, New York)

Hey guys, this is another blog post with Will! I am here today to talk about something I love…HISTORY! Today we are going to be talking about the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where President Roosevelt was sworn in as president. You have to make a reservation for the site because of Covid, but if you are fine with that I would recommend going. The front of the building is much like it was except with the addition of a modern stairway so that guests don’t ruin the old stairway of the house. The house originally belonged to Roosevelt’s friend who was living in Buffalo at the time. The entrance to the building is where the National Park Service set up their office and reception area.

To start off the tour they play a little introduction with an actor playing Theodore Roosevelt. After that you are allowed to enter the room to the left which is an exhibit for the “Rainbow City”. This is an exhibit on the Pan-American Exposition featuring Edison’s light bulbs, the finished monograph and other wonders of the modern world. See how Americans have welcomed immigrants into the workforce, and how we have tamed the natives of these lands. See our power over nature, and visit the moon in our exhibit: Visit the Moon! Sadly when President Mckinley visited our great city it would be for the last time. While talking to the crowds of onlookers an anarchist shot our fair president. Vice-President Roosevelt has left the city after being told that the President would live bringing his family into the wilds to explore. Sadly I bring news that our president has died. Roosevelt is hurrying back to Buffalo to mourn with the rest of the city over the president’s death, but he is still somewhere in the wild back roads of America.

This is the spiel of the guide as he walks us through the exhibits and shows us several pictures and videos that have been gathered by the park service. Next we walk through a narrow corridor to the right of the entrance to the room, and come into the main part of the house. To the left is the dining room where Roosevelt dined with his friend’s family, and up ahead is the front door. To the left of the front door is a room that our guide brings us to, but first we must go to the room on the right. This room features the problems that Roosevelt faced as the new president, such as what to do with the military, how to face racism, and the problems of the working class. Then we watch a short video on president Roosevelt’s inauguration, or swearing in, as president. Then we get to walk in to the room on the left which is where all of the action really happened. This is the recreation of the room that Roosevelt was sworn in as president. There are even some original pieces such as the book shelf in the right hand corner of the room which was originally going to be thrown in the garbage, but was saved by the neighbors. They also have books from before the 1900’s that might have been featured in this room. Sadly, there are no photographs of the inauguration as Roosevelt wanted the attention to be more on McKinley’s death rather than the new president.

Next the guide led us up the steps and through a barren room with a fireplace, and through another room decorated as a parlor. Next we are led briefly through another corridor filled with signs, which I wish we could read, but our guide had other ideas. Lastly, we enter an interactive room where we can pretend to be president and make decisions and see what Roosevelt did instead. We also got our pictures taken in the president’s chair, and got it sent to our emails.

After the tour we got our National Park passport stamps, and left. Thank you guys for reading my blog and make sure to check out our YouTube videos where we have a lot of good content. See you guys next time!

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $12/adults, $7/child. Included in the America the Beautiful pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, prepay/timed entrance (does require a $1 fee if you are an America the Beautiful pass holder)
  • HOURS: W-F (10:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour), S-U (11:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Maid Of The Mist

One of the things that had been on Ben’s bucket list, was to ride the Maid of the Mist. He has wanted to ride it since he saw then on a trip to Niagara Falls when he was a kid.

We bought our tickets online the night before and headed over the Niagara Falls State Park when Ben was done with work. The ride lasts about 20 minutes, so even though there was a line, we didn’t have to wait long.

It was a pretty warm out, so we didn’t wear the poncho (per the recommendation of the staff). We did get wet, but it felt nice in the sun. We saw a couple of rainbows in the mist. The American Falls were easy to see from the boat and to get some pictures. The Horseshoe Falls had a lot of mist! If you wear glasses/contacts, I would wear contacts if you go so you can see better. I had my glasses on and they quickly became hard to see out of.

The boat did have speakers, but we couldn’t hear any of the recorded message being played.

Canada still had its borders closed, so we didn’t get to walk over the bridge to see the Falls from their perspective. I bet they are pretty amazing from there, although they were still great from the US side.

After the boat ride, we walked over to Goat Island and and saw the Horseshoe Falls from the top.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $25.25/adults, $14.75/child. COVID Restrictions: masks required.
  • HOURS: Depends on the season. (6/19-8/8 9am-8pm, 8/9-8/28 9am-7:30pm, 8/29-9/5 9am-7:15pm, etc. Check here for times.)
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street, nearby lots, or Niagara Falls State Park ($10-15)
  • BATHROOM: Yes in the buildings, not on ship
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 20 minutes+ Reservations are not accepted, so there may be a line. The ride is 20 minutes long.
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Campground Review, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Quechee/Pine Valley KOA: Campground Review

We had one goal in Vermont: maple syrup.

This campground wasn’t too far from a working maple syrup farm, a National Historic Park and Site, the Quechee Gorge, and New Hampshire.

The campground had an office camp store, laundry room, playground, a dog park, a fishing pond, and a pool. Trash was placed at the end of your site for pick-up. Recycling could be placed in a separate bag for pickup as well. The office sold ice, firewood, and bait. There were banana bikes for rent. They did a nice job communicating by text!

The KOA was 18 minutes from Sugarbush Farm, 7 minutes from New Hampshire, and from 4 minutes from Quechee Gorge. It took 18 minutes to get to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. There were two Walmarts at 8 and 18 minutes away, and a Hannaford’s 9 minutes (in New Hampshire).

VIDEO: Quechee/Pine Valley KOA Walk Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (grass/gravel)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site:

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill/cable/playground/dog park

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: No

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30, 20/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No (some grocery type items in store)

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Accepts Mail:

Fishing: Yes (catch and release)

Posted in: Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site

Will and I explored the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. This park was located across the river in New Hampshire, but was only about a half hour drive from our campground in Vermont.

Saint-Gaudens was a sculptor and the grounds contained information about his pieces and life. The house was closed, but the other buildings were open. I would not recommend this one for younger kids, as it was a lot of reading and not really interactive. There were some trails, including the Ravine Trail (which the Ranger told us was really more of a moderate path). However, since there was a heat advisory out (92℉), we did not do that trail.

The park also had a phone audio tour available, which was a nice feature to learn a little more about the pieces shown. Will completed the Junior Ranger program there, and they had a neat looking badge.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $10/adults, children 15 and under free. Can use America The Beautiful Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, House closed
  • HOURS: May 29-October 31 (9am-4pm)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Exploring New Bedford, Massachusetts

We ended our stay in Massachusetts by going to New Bedford to see the Whaling Museum. (Questions we got: What about Nantucket and Boston? My sister lived in Boston for awhile and we had visited her and explored the city. The main goal of the trip was to see new things. Ben really wanted Nantucket, but the ferry itself was $300, plus whatever we would spend in town.)

New Bedford is a fishing town. They were big in the whaling industry and now do a lot of commerce in scallops.

We managed to find parking on the street (it looks like it is all resident pass or pay parking) near the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. The Visitor Center was closed and only had a table open to get a map and Junior Ranger material. (The boys did not get their badges yet because the Visitor Center closed by the time we were done walking around. The ranger told us we could mail the booklets in to get the badges.) The National Park Service museum had a lot of outdoor signs around the town. The map had a nice outline of where the park’s boundaries were.

Click to enlarge

We stopped at the other New Bedford Whaling Museum. This one was not part of the National Park Service and had paid admission. However, when we went to check it out, they told us the lobby was free to look around. The lobby had skeletons of different whales and some really neat information. The one skeleton has a piece of tubing attached to the skull and it leads to a beaker. It has been collection oil for 10 years!

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Next, we headed down to the Fishing Heritage Center. It was also free the day we were there. It ended up being surprisingly good! It was very interactive with a movie, multiple buttons to push to hear different sounds and fishing stories. There was even a fishing bucket the kids could pull up. It gave a nice detailed history of fishing, especially in the New Bedford region. It was really well done and everyone enjoyed it.

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click to enlarge

The town was pretty cute. However, I would stay near the museums. The farther out of the touristy area we got, it got to be a rougher part of town.

Posted in: Food, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

Exploring Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly was about a 1 1/4 hours from our campground (with using the toll roads). Almost everywhere is paid parking in the downtown area, and it was hard to find parking where the truck would fit. Our first parking spot was close to the Liberty Bell area, but was limited to 2 hours, so we had to rush through the area.

LIBERTY BELL:

We stopped at the Liberty Visitor Center for the Independence National Historical Park first and the boys got a Junior Ranger Program booklet. The NPS booth also had passport stamps available in a really nice display.

The Independence National Park Service was limiting the number of visitors allowed in the buildings due to COVID restrictions. They were not selling entrance tickets/reservations while we were there, but they were limiting the amount of people in the buildings, so there were some long lines. (*NOTE: The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.) Due to our parking meter, we had a very limited time of 2 hours. The line to see the Liberty Bell was 90 minutes, and the line for Independence Hall was 60 minutes. Luckily, you can view the Liberty Bell from outside the building through glass windows. You cannot see the crack from the windows, but you can at least still see the bell.

We walked to Independence Hall and talked to one of the employees to see what was offered, as it was a 60 minute wait. He told us that it was a 20 minute guided tour, but you wait about 60 minutes outside, then inside can be another 60 minute wait. He said he did not recommend it if we were short on time (or during the pandemic in general). He recommended walking around the outside of Independence Hall to be able to see the buildings, going to Second Bank and Carpenter’s Hall as they had no real lines.

Top left: Independence Hall. Rest: Second Bank

Second Bank currently houses portraits. Carpenter’s Hall has the history of the Carpenter’s Company, a trade guild that was founded in 1724. There are still current members of the Company today!

We drove around and saw the Chinatown and Italian districts. It really is a big city.

CHEESE STEAKS:

We wanted to experience an authentic cheesesteak while in Philadelphia. There are a lot of options to choose from. We first stopped at Campo’s Deli and tried a cheesesteak with cheese, onions, and mushrooms. We got a second one with peppers as well. We then drove to Pat’s King Of Steaks to try theirs. We got it with the Cheese Whiz and an order of fries. I think next time, I would order sliced cheese as well, as it wasn’t as cheesy as I thought it would be.

ROCKY STAIRS:

The Independence Visitor Center had a Rocky Balboa statue to pose next to. However, there was another (metal…brass?) statue near the famous steps that he ran up during training in the movie. The parking over there was packed and expensive $15 for the closest lot, so we ended up only driving by.

We really enjoyed spending time in Philadelphia and would like to explore it even more.

Final note: It was funny to compare the recommendations on what to see on a 2 hour window. The city Visitor booth recommended a variety of city and historic based items. The National Park Service booth was all historic sites. Both had good recommendations.

DETAILS Independence NHP:*

  • TICKETS: Free (except for Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is currently closed for COVID. National Constitution Center also charges a fee.) COVID Restrictions: masks required, limited items open, limited attendance (The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.)
  • HOURS: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Second Bank 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Carpenter’s Hall 10-4 select days
  • PARKING: Pay parking on street or nearby lots
  • BATHROOM: Yes, Visitors Center
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-5 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.