Posted in: Exploring Ohio, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

The Voice of America Museum: Exploring Ohio

We have driven by the Voice of America Museum for years, but have never gone through it. As part of our New Year’s resolution to act more like tourists in our own home state and to see more local things, we finally made it there.

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As you turn onto the long driveway, you get a great view of the Museum building. The museum is housed in the former Voice of America Bethany Station. There is parking along the front and side of the building. They are only open Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. During your visit, you can walk around on your own or go on a guided tour with a docent (included with admission). The Docent provides a lot of helpful information and can answer questions you might have during the tour. The Voice of America Bethany Station (named such due to its proximity to the Bethany phone exchange) opened in 1944.

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The Voice of America began broadcasting different radio programs in 1942. The purpose of the radio station was to send news and the “truth” to other countries where information was limited and outside radio contact was frequently banned. Although you can hear the broadcasts (including a program where they teach basic English), the broadcasts are meant for international audiences.

During World War II, Germany sent out propaganda over the radio. To counteract Nazi propaganda, The Voice Of America sent out broadcasts through five different transmission stations, including the VOA Bethany Station. All content was created in Washington and sent out via special lines to the Bethany Station. The broadcasts were sent out in over 50 languages. The VOA Bethany station would send out the programs through their multiple antennas, including two curtain antennas (a new type of antennae at the time that could send radio waves out farther than before). There were also several relay stations located throughout the world.

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During the Cold War, the radio broadcasts were aimed at countering Soviet propaganda. One of the coolest relay stations during this time was a Coast Guard vessel called the USCGC Courier. This wartime vessel was converted to be an unarmed ship with the ability to transmit strong enough signals to get through the Iron Curtain. It was stationed at Rhodes, Greece from 1952 to 1964. It received the VOAs signals and would then broadcast them into the USSR and nearby countries.

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There were a lot of entertaining things to look at during our tour. They had a mix of informational signs and original equipment (control room, transmitter room) from the days when the station was still up and running. There was even some of the original copper grounding throughout the building, including in the floor.

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Behind the museum building, you can walk out and see the antennae switch station. When engineers had to go outside to switch the antennas, they could only be near the switch station for 10-15 minutes a day! They had to do this even in the cold and rain. Could you imagine having to be near those electrical currents while it is raining or snowing around you?

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Click To Enlarge. WLW tower Corona Ball. It sat at the top of the tower. The holes are from lightening strikes.

Because of the changes in technology, the Bethany station became outdated and closed in 1994. The antennae towers were removed beginning in 1997. The Voice of America still transmits programs, but it is now done digitally and by satellite. The original land of the Voice of America Bethany Station has been converted to a shopping area, a county owned park (Voice of America Metro Park), and the Voice Of America Museum. You can still see some of the concrete antennae bases throughout the Voice of America Metro Park.

If you really want to see a large radio antenna, you can still see the huge WLW tower further down on Tylersville Rd.

There were other exhibits at the museum as well, including a room full of inventions made by the man who helped make VOA Bethany possible. Crosley was a native Cincinnatian who began in his work in the automotive industry. He then transitioned into radios, where he made radios cheaper and more available for everyone. He began his radio station WLW radio. WLW had its first broadcast in 1922 and also helped with broadcasting during World War II. After World War II, Crosley began making appliances, including a refrigerator with an ice maker.

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There was also a History of Radio and Broadcasting in Cincinnati room. It had items from several local shows like the Uncle Al show, Ruth Lyons, and Nick Clooney. Ben even starred on one of the Uncle Al shows and it was fun to show the kids something from the past.

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The museum is also now home to ham radio/amateur radio enthusiasts. Their current set-up includes ham radio, Morse Code, digital, and a high-powered broadcast. They use about a dozen amateur radio satellites. The white dish that remains outside the museum is used to bounce the signal off of the moon! There are competitions for amateur radio and the current VOA amateur radio has quite the cool collection of QSL postcards from around the world. These postcards are from around the world, from South America to Asia!

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There is a small gift shop in the museum. It has some note cards, books, etc. No postcards though!

DETAILS:

  • WHERE: 8070 Tylersville Rd., West Chester, Ohio 45069
  • HOURS: Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • COSTS: $10/person. Under 16 free.
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-3 hours
  • COVID RESTRICTIONS: Masks are required (as of January 2022).
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.

If you would like more information on The Voice of America, check out these sites:

Posted in: Exploring Michigan, Food, Sightseeing

National Cherry Festival, Traverse City, MI

The first day we ventured into Traverse City was a bit of a let down. We ended up going after work was finished, so a lot of places we wanted to check out were closed. The city was very cute and we wanted to explore it more. We happened to luck out and discover that the National Cherry Festival was coming up.

We came back a couple of days later for the Festival. Our first stop of business was the breakfast pancake flip tent. Ben had done this before, but it was the boys and my first time experiencing catching our breakfast. We walked into the tent and there were three large griddles lined with pancakes. We grabbed a plate and got in line. Once you are at the front of the line, they would flip your pancakes out to you and you had to catch them. We all did pretty well catching ours. You headed down the next line of tables to pick up butter, syrup, sausages/bacon, juice/milk/coffee.

After enjoying breakfast, we wandered around looking at all the other booths. We grabbed a cup of fresh cherries, split a slice of cherry pie, and found some cute souvenirs.

After the Cherry Festival, we walked around Traverse City for a little bit and saw the Open Space with a water feature/playground, a nice area to sit and rest facing the water, and lots of fun shops to explore.

Next, we went to Costco. The closest one was right next to the airport. When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw a lot of people standing in the parking lot, in the field/tree area between the store and the airport. We realized that President Biden must be arriving soon, so we waited a few minutes just happened to be able to see Air Force One land! We didn’t get to see President Biden, as it was a little bit away (and we thought pulling out binoculars while peering through the trees was probably a bad idea!), but it was really cool to see the plane.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Ohio, Hiking, Sightseeing

Deep Lock Quarry Trail

We found this trail on AllTrails app. The Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park was next to the National Park, so we only had to drive a couple of minutes to get to this trail.

The trail was about 1.4 miles, although we added a little bit on with a side trail. It had a few informational signs about things along the trail. There were remains of Quaker Oat millstones, the remains of sandstone blocks from a loading dock, bases of old derricks used to load boats/trains.

Quarry Trail Signs
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There was the old quarry as well. You could see the layers of cut out rocks.

We took a side trail to see Lock 28, which was the deepest lock of the Ohio Erie Canal and was nicknamed Deep Lock. The lock was a little overgrown, but still easily seen. It was really neat to see the remains of the canal system.

Lock 28 Signs
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Posted in: Exploring Ohio, 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, Exploring New York, Hiking, Sightseeing

Beaver Island State Park (Grand Island, NY)

We were out exploring the island and stopped at Beaver Island State Park. Normally there is an entrance fee, but there was a sign that said that since there was no attendant on duty, there was no fee. It was located on Grand Island, so it was just a short drive.

This park had a marina, a small beach area, a concessions area (only open on the weekends per the sign on the window), and a Frisbee golf course. The park also had a playground and picnic area by the beach.

It was a decent park, but there were a ton of flying bugs.

Bottom right: Bug swarm “cloud” in front of the trees
Posted in: Exploring Maine, Sightseeing

Exploring Bar Harbor, Maine

We finally made it to our Northernmost Eastern Coast stop: Maine. For our stay here, we focused on being near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

We had never been to Maine and were eager to explore. Bar Harbor is a cute waterfront town. There are several parking lots and the streets are lined with parking meters. We saw a sign stating that paid parking was in effect May to October. The lots are pay by machine or app, and the parking meters are pay by credit card/quarters or app. The weekend was very busy and parking was hard to come by. I was not expecting it to be this busy so early in the season. The town itself didn’t really open up until around 10:00 for most stores.

Town: fountain, park overlooking water, playground and little library, shops

We found the one pressed penny machine in town inside a store. (The National Park did not have one, so if you collect pressed pennies, you have to go into town.)

There was a great walking path around the water called the Shore Path. There were also historical signs around the town called The Museum In The Streets. There was some interesting information on them and are found throughout Bar Harbor.

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Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Massachusetts, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Gateway To Cape Cod (Thousand Trails) Campground Review

We stayed in Rochester, Massachusetts at a Thousand Trails campground called Gateway to Cape Cod.

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The laundry room was open. Laundry machines ran off of credit cards or an app. Washers costs $2.75/load, and dryers cost $2.50/load. The camp store was open but was limited in their selection. The store sold ice for $2/bag and firewood for $7/bag. The pool was closed (supposed to open Memorial Day). The campground was located behind a neighborhood, near a cranberry farm, and had a walking trail that led to a lake.

The campground was within a 15 minute drive to grocery stores (Walmart and Target) and some restaurants. There were several homes nearby that sold firewood (we found one for $5 for soft wood and $10 for hardwood). Cape Cod was about an hour way, Salem was about 1.5-1.75 hour drive, Plymouth Rock about a 30 minute drive, and Boston about an hour.

Sites were decent sized with lots of trees. Sites were a first come/first serve policy, as with most Thousand Trails. Some of the turns were tight with larger rigs. The interior roads were also a little rough with potholes. The rest of the campground seemed pretty well maintained and the campground staff was nice. There was visitor parking by the office that many people took advantage of. However, with the visitor parking and the island, it made leaving tricky for larger rigs. We had to drive down the campground, turn on one of the other lanes to work our way out.

VIDEO: Campground Walk-Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2.5 out of 5 hitches

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

Laundry: Yes (credit card or app only)

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through and Back-in, grass

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

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill at site, playground, pool, walking trail

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, very small

WiFi: No free WiFi, paid only

Accepts Mail: Yes

Fishing: Yes

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring New York, Hiking, Sightseeing

New York’s Central Park

We spent a couple of hours walking around Central Park. It is so much bigger than I thought it would be. It is 843 acres! There are several bridges, a playground, a zoo, a fountain, a lake, and a castle. We didn’t even see all of it. If we had more time, we would have taken the Blue Line bus tour around the park to hear all of the different tidbits about it.

We didn’t really have a plan in mind, just wandered through the park enjoying the beautiful weather.

There was a large open field in the park where we saw people throwing the Frisbee, picnicking, reading, and sunbathing. We saw a lot of Speedos.

Ben brought us to Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond. Nick enjoyed seeing all the turtles; they were swimming and lounging on the rocks. Belvedere Castle was open, but there was really only one room open. The stairs to go up were closed off.

It was an amazing park in the middle of a huge city.

LINK: MAP OF CENTRAL PARK

Posted in: Exploring New York, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing

New York City: Big Bus Tours

One of the best ways we spent our money in New York was the Big Bus hop on/hop off tickets (we bought the Classic ticket). It was a double-decker bus (open air on the top). The tour was prerecorded, but they gave you headphones that you plugged in to the bus. You also had some volume control. This worked out great for me because I sometimes have trouble hearing on the tours.

The tour bus has an app where you can track where the buses currently are, so you can find one to hop onto. There is a red line and a blue line. The blue line really only circles Central Park, while the Red line goes through different spots in the city. Their audio portion contains a lot of fun facts and trivia about the sights along the way.

During our trip, the Red Line had stops at the Empire State Building/Korea Town, SoHo, Chinatown/Little Italy, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty/Battery Park, Circle Line Sightseeing, and M&M World (Times Square). The Blue Line stopped at Times Square.

The experience of sitting on the top floor of the bus was really neat. We had to duck under a few trees, could (but didn’t) touch the stop lights as we drove under them, and had a good view of things near street level (we could see over the other cars).

Views of the High Line (old railroad track made into walking path), Little Island
Wall Street, Chinatown, library (Ghost Busters was here), Flat Iron Building), Empire State Building

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $47.20/adults online price ($59 on-street), $39.20/child online ($49 on-street) (ages 3-12). COVID Restrictions: masks required. They have a few options, these prices were for the Classic Ticket.
  • HOURS: Red Line: first bus is at 9:30 am at the M&M stop, last bus 4:30 pm at the M&M stop. Blue Line had stops at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00.
  • PARKING: No
  • BATHROOM: No
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: Min 90 tour per line (tour time without getting off)
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Exploring New York, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

New York City: Walking Around The City

Once we got off the ferry at the Brookfield terminal, we walked around New York City to see some of the sites before our tour bus was due down at Battery Park.

We stopped by the 9/11 memorial. The area was gated off and the museum wasn’t open yet for the day. We could still see the fountains/pools that were made in the footprints of the towers. Ben and I both remember hearing the live broadcasts over the radio. The boys have learned about it in school, but it is something else to see it in person.

We walked to see Wall Street and the Charging Bull statue. There was only 1 other person there, so we didn’t have to wait in line long at all. I will say the backside of the bull had some very shiny parts.

We made our way down to Battery Park and got to see the Statue of Liberty! Ben and I saw it on the ferry coming in (the boys had fallen asleep), but we still enjoyed seeing it. We did not take the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty island, as you could not walk up to the crown (COVID restrictions). NOTE: Currently, the ferry is only available from the New York side at Battery Park. The New Jersey terminal should open May 29.

Will liked seeing Castle Clinton, although it seems like this battery is now used mostly for tickets to the Statue of Liberty. There were not a lot of informational signs available, as the only two we saw were hidden behind construction items. It looks like they are doing renovations. The restrooms were open, which were a big plus as many others were closed (COVID).

Battery Park had some nice green space and a fun looking carousel (Seaglass Carousel). There was a Starbucks across the street, so we got a coffee and a bagel to enjoy while we waited for our bus tour.

Later in the day, we visited Times Square and explored the M&M Store. Nick found a pressed penny machine and added two new ones to his collection. Will got a large warm pretzel from a street food vendor. The Krispy Kreme had the Hot Now light on, so we stopped in to get a warm donut. There was a little bit of a line, but it moved pretty fast. We got to see the donuts getting glazed on the conveyor belt. There was one cool looking donut, The Big Apple, but it was $11.99! The kids loved being able to finally try the hot glazed donuts (it only took us 10 months to have the right timing!).

At the end of the day, we had over 25,300 steps from walking. We were all exhausted, tired, and sore. The city was incredibly empty compared to what it used to be. It did get a little busier in the afternoon, but was still really down from what the city was pre-COVID. It did make for easier sightseeing though.