Posted in: Animal Sightings, 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
click to enlarge

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
click to enlarge
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.

click to enlarge
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: Animal Sightings, 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: Animal Sightings, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Delaware Water Gap & The Appalachian Trail

We’ve moved to Pennsylvania and although pretty, there were not many activities close to the campground except hiking.

For Mother’s Day, we headed to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to go on a hike. The Delaware Water Gap is an elongated park, and we were hiking to Mount Minsi, which was towards the bottom of the park. The park had several hiking trails and a beach area.

I used our trail app and found the Mount Minsi via Appalachian Trail hike. It was supposed to be 5 miles, listed as moderate, and followed part of the Appalachian Trail. Ben has wanted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail for a while, so we wanted to take advantage of the fact that it was pretty close by (about a 30 minute drive). I looked at the pictures and thought it didn’t look too bad and it had great reviews. (Spoiler: I was wrong.)

The trail was a lot more crowded in on the way up than we expected. There was a small parking lot by the trailhead that was almost completely full. There was also a smaller lot a little up the hill, which was also full. I thought that on Mother’s Day, that it wouldn’t be that busy, but I was wrong. It still wasn’t super packed, but still had about 30 people pass us.

Now, I know I already gave the spoiler that I was wrong about the trail difficulty. Our hike ended up being 5.6 miles (Ben’s tracker said 5.8 miles and I did accidentally pause the recorder at one point on mine, so somewhere in that range) with an elevation gain of 1086 feet. My theory was that people were too busy trying not to trip and fall that they didn’t take pictures of the hard parts for their reviews. 😉 The trail was mostly a loop, which we always like in a hike. It started as an out and back, then splits to the right and left. We ended up taking the right side of the path, which probably is the only reason we finished the hike. The left side was a lot more narrow, rockier and had more climbing (at least for my shorter legs) over rocks. Either way, you are climbing uphill and coming downhill on the way back.

Parts of the trail

There are bears in the area, so we did bring our bear spray. We did not see any though. We heard birds, but the only wildlife we saw were several millipedes along the trail. We looked them up when we got home and discovered they were the ironworm/American Giant Millipede.

The top of the trail has two lookouts, and I would recommend seeing both since you are already there. The first overlooks a neat rocky hillside and has a nice space to sit and take a break. The second lookout also has a few nice large rocks to overlook the Delaware River.

Views along the trail

I’m glad we did it, although we (especially the adults) were exhausted at the end. Ben and I were sore even the next day. Hikes like this one make me miss having a tub to soak our feet in!

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free, except for beach or river access. COVID Restrictions: Visitor Centers closed, masks required
  • HOURS: Most is open 24 hours, per website
  • PARKING: Yes, but some lots are small
  • BATHROOM: Not at trailhead. Visitor Centers are closed, although we did see a bathroom that was open on the other side of the Bushkill Meeting Center.
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-4 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking

Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve

Our second hiking trail we took was at the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve.

This preserve is tucked back in among farms and private residences. hiking, saw a few farms/peacocks/sheep, nice view of the bay and lighthouse. We heard a few birds, but didn’t see that many. We did see a skull of some kind along the path and a few white tail deer rain in front of us.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. COVID Restrictions: masks required/social distancing
  • HOURS: Dawn to Dusk
  • PARKING: Small lot (only about 5 spots)
  • BATHROOM: NO
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Assateague Island National Seashore

We went to check out Assateague Island based on the recommendations from the Pearl Market. The park spans the border of Maryland and Virginia. We decided to go to the Virginia side, as it was closer. The Virginia part of the park is also the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

We stopped first to see the beach (Atlantic Ocean) and the Visitors Center. The Center was closed, but they did have maps, passport stamps, and a Ranger there to ask questions. The park has hiking trails, the beach for swimming (does not always have a lifeguard), and allows fishing/crabbing.

Virginia fences the horses to keep them away from roads, which is good but also means that the horses are farther away. At times, it seemed like you were just looking at a farm/ranch’s fenced in horses. Maryland does not fence the horses, so they do wander into the road, etc.

We did a couple of hiking trails (the Woodlands and Lighthouse). Both trails were either nicely paved, a boardwalk, or pretty even dirt paths. The Woodlands trail wandered through the woods and had a few areas to view the horses if they were nearby. The Lighthouse trail had a vault toilet and a parking lot, and (surprisingly) led to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed, although you could walk around it. The one thing I wished they did was put the trail lengths on the maps. There was a map at each trail head sign, plus the ranger gave us a trail map at the Visitor Center; however, neither of the maps, nor the app, had the trail lengths listed. When I looked later, I did find the trail lengths on a separate website. We had a nice time walking around.

We did not get to the Wildlife Loop, as it is pretty long and we would have had to wait for a couple more hours to drive it. It is open only for walking or bicycles until 3:00 pm. After 3:00 pm, you can drive the Loop.

We had a pretty mild day, but in the summer I would bring lots of water, sunscreen, and bug spray. The Ranger told us the mosquitoes are horrible when it gets warmer.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Included with Interagency Pass (America The Beautiful annual), or $10/1 day, $25/7days. There is also a refuge annual pass option and a beach parking pass option. COVID Restrictions: masks required/social distancing. Visitor Centers closed, lighthouse closed.
  • HOURS: Park hours vary based on season. January-March 15th 6:00 am-6:00 pm, March 15th-April 6:00 am-8:00 pm. May-September 15th 5:00 am-10:00 pm, September 15-October 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, November-December 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. The Visitor Center also has different hours of operation.
  • 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: Hiking, Sightseeing

Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve

Although it is very pretty to look at the Chesapeake Bay, we normally aren’t ones to just sit and stare at the ocean. We found a couple of hiking trails/boardwalks/paths in the area. The first one we tried (other than the great Wildlife Refuge) was the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve.

This preserve area was a little weird. The parking lot was right next to a Fuji company building and it also bordered on a construction site for parts of the trail. There were two paths you could take at the small parking lot. To the left was a boardwalk that went over a pond. That one was a little boring. To the right was a dirt path that changed into a boardwalk. It went through the woods, where it also branched into two paths. The left path went through the woods and ended with a small seating area. The right/straight path meandered parallel to the construction site for a little bit, and also led to a view of the Bay. There was no beach access however, as the boardwalk stopped a little before the sand.

We heard some birds in the woods, but didn’t see a lot of animals along the paths.

I would definitely bring bug spray during the warmer months. I would also take my time on the boardwalks. There were several boards that were loose or felt a little soft, as well as sections that seemed to sway when we were walking on them. It wasn’t a bad trail area, but it was a little boring.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. COVID Restrictions: masks/social distancing
  • HOURS: Dawn to Dusk
  • PARKING: Yes, limited
  • BATHROOM: No
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Animal Sightings, Frequently Asked Questions, Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

What Is Your Favorite National Park?

We’ve been to quite a few of the National Parks this year. The America The Beautiful annual pass is really quite the deal at $80.

There are so many to choose from, and I think we all have our own favorites.

The Parks, Monuments, Preserves, and Historical Sites we have been to so far are:

  • Mount Rushmore National Monument
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Tetons National Park
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (BLM)
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve (Barataria and Chalmette)
  • Everglades National Park
  • Biscayne National Park
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
  • Colonial National Historic Park (Jamestown, Yorktown)

Sarah: My favorite is Yellowstone. There is so much to see and the landscape changes. One minute it is a flat field, then rivers and bison herds, then thermals (hot springs, geysers). There is something for everyone.

Yellowstone National Park: hot springs and geysers, creeking, elk, bald eagle, bison by river

Ben: My favorite is Bryce. The landscape was very different; but beautiful with the hoodoos and different colors. I had a sense of accomplishment when we were done, as during part of it I didn’t know if we would finish the hike.

Bryce Canyon

Will: My favorite is Colonial National Historic Park because of all the history.

Colonial: Jamestown and Yorktown

Nick: My favorite is Zion. I liked hiking the Narrows.

Zion: The Narrows, a lizard, Canyon Overlook Trail

Honorable Mentions: Carlsbad Caverns (it is quite the experience, it’s a little other worldly) and Everglades (so much wildlife)

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

Historic Jamestowne, Virginia (National Park)

Hey guys! Here’s another blog post with your favorite friend…Will! Today I am here to talk about another significant site from history, the Jamestown Settlement. This is the first settlement that successfully settled in America. It was led by Captain John Smith, who as most of you know befriended Pocahontas. She convinced her father to help the settlers, which allowed the first successful colonization in the New World.

Jamestown started out as a place to get rich quick. Half of the first people to come Jamestown were gentlemen, men who fought in battles and were rich enough to be able to buy their own armor and weapons and lead men. These men were used to fighting and tactics, but not hard labor which led many of them to dislike their new life in the Americas. It probably would have been a downhill spiral as the two groups of people, gentlemen and commoners, fought over who would do what work in Jamestown if Smith hadn’t stepped in and said if ‘you don’t work you don’t eat’.

Jamestown also suffered many problems when it was starting up such as the fact that they had settled in native territory and slaughtered the natives there which were a part of a confederacy of natives at the time. That soured relations quite a bit and soon the settlers and the natives were at each other’s throats. The problem was that most of the men were not used to hard labor and most were unskilled and did not know how to make anything or work. They only had two trained fishermen so their food was in short supply. The drinking water was also unhealthy and some of it was even tainted with arsenic. They were, under the guidance of John Smith, able to finally build the fort which was 1 acre in all, and with the help of John Smith, soon began to trade with the natives and with Pocahontas.

The next big issue that Jamestown faced was the Starving Time. This event was caused because the settlers got on bad terms with the natives again and trade soon came to a halt. With only 2 fishermen and winter coming things were getting dire. They were soon eating their dogs, their horses, and even their own people. The first person to be cannibalized in America was Jane, a young woman. Eventually two ships who had originally come with a large fleet of ships arrived right when the settlers were abandoning Jamestown to try and find food. Horrified by the skeletal people, the new people shared their food with them and they all sailed back to recolonize Jamestown. The first big issue was that, because most of the buildings were made of wood, they were quickly deteriorating. They soon rebuilt the wooden post-in-ground houses and rebuilt with stone bases so that termites and ants could not enter the wood and so the wood was not at ground level.

Soon things were looking brighter for Jamestown. They were soon turned into the capitol of Virginia because of a huge crop that was making its way to Europe as quickly as it could be produced. A cash crop that changed Jamestown from a desolate fort that was struggling for survival into a huge port city and the capitol of Virginia. Tobacco! The people in England couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It was soon being shipped out of Jamestown and making the whole town very rich. Soon the state of Virginia made it legal to only bring tobacco out of Jamestown so that Jamestown became even more rich. This caused Jamestown to grow huge in size and led to more indentured servants and then, sadly, slaves.

The downfall of Jamestown was when the capitol of Virginia moved to Richmond and the laws that tobacco could only go through Jamestown were abolished. Soon many were leaving Jamestown as the city was losing money, and without money, no people would come. Jamestown soon fell into disrepair and the only thing left standing over the years was the old church tower that had been built out of bricks. In the 1900’s conservation efforts were made. A seawall was built to make sure that the coast would not erode more, and restoration of the stone towers was attempted. At the time it was assumed that the erosion of the shoreline had made it so that the original fort had been lost to the sea. Excavation began and soon that was proven false as they found the original ditch for the fort, several wells and post in ground holes were discovered. They also found tools that belonged to a smithy and old waste and trash that was covered up in wells or in basements. This included a helmet, a halberd, and a dagger.

After several excavations the National Parks bought the land and Jamestown fort and took over construction of the fort. They added a museum and most of the things you can now see here today. That is the long and complicated story of Jamestown. Thank you for reading and make sure to look at our other channels like YouTube, and Facebook. Goodbye for now.

Sincerely,

Will

Ben and Sarah Notes: Don’t picture seeing a historic town like you would in Williamsburg. While it does have several buildings, Historic Jamestowne only contains a few original structures: the original church tower (since restored and the church recreated). a house ruin, and some foundations. The rest of the buildings are recreations. There was a lot of reading, including the more in-depth Junior Ranger Program booklet. The houses and archeology pits were closed, although the Visitor Center and museum were open. The boardwalk was nice way to walk into the town area. It passes over a marshy area where we saw lots of turtles in the water. There were a few turtles upside down, which we thought was bad. Nick asked the Ranger, and he replied that some turtles can turn themselves over and they may be sunning and trying to get more warmth through the thinner belly shell. Or, they didn’t make it through the winter. Ben and I did learn one new thing I don’t remember learning in school: there was a Starving Time (where food was scarce and the town resorted to cannibalism).

VIDEO: Turtles and Muskrat we saw at Jamestown

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: WITH Annual NPS Pass $10/adults, children 0-15 free. WITHOUT Annual Pass: $15/adult. COVID Restrictions: masks required, houses were closed to tours. (The extra fee, even with the NPS America The Beautiful Annual Pass, goes to Preservation Virginia.)
  • HOURS: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.