Celina, OH – March 2017 – Mineral Collection

Most people go to the library to find a book, a CD, or even a DVD. We went to the Celina, Ohio Mercer County Library to find minerals. We were not disappointed.

Ron and Ruth Langsdon collected minerals from all over the world through dealers for many years. The librarians told the story that Langsdon’s wanted to donate their collection to the library or schools in their nearby hometown of St Marys, but nobody wanted them. Celina did – and built special cabinets for them. They have 21 cabinets full of them, and now other branches of the county library are adding their own portion of the collection

I am not a geologist, but the minerals displayed in the mirrored cases, with direct lighting was tough to photograph, but look great when you get it right.

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Columbus -December 2016 – Franklin Park Conservatory Holiday Lights

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a classic old building that has both indoor and outdoor gardens, exhibits, and a glass studio. During the holiday season they have a lighting event called Merry & Bright.

As you make your way through the 4 main indoor garden areas they have interesting lighting casting unusual looks and shadows on the plants. On the way home we stopped by downtown to check out the lights, of which there were few, but the view off the Town Street Bridge was very nice.

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Cape Cod & Plymouth, Massachusetts – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 5

We drove to Cape Cod National Seashore, home of the first transatlantic telegraph line.  With this being a National Park, our annual pass that we purchased almost a year ago at Pictured Rocks, Michigan was still good – the best $80 we spent all year.

Once in the park we went to a cliff overlooking the ocean and beach where you could see obvious evidence of erosion wearing away the cliff. It occurs so much here that the Salt Pond Lighthouse was moved 600 yards inland, with the original lighthouse site now in the Atlantic Ocean.  The beach now has natural grasses and rose hips shrubs on the cliff trying to deter further erosion. This area is a glacial deposit and the land diminishes quickly, so much so, that it is only a mile wide where the Marconi Wireless Station is located.

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Inventor Guglielmo Marconi erected large antennae of four 210-foot wooden towers on this site, and established a transmitting station powered by kerosene engines that produced the 25,000 volts of electricity needed to send signals to a similar station in Poldhu, Cornwall, United Kingdom, after building ones earlier in St Johns, Newfoundland. This was also the location of the first trans Atlantic undersea cable.

Later we moved on to Chatham, where there is a Marconi RCA Center. Here is the original building where messages from ships were interpreted by the US Navy in WWI and WWII, now a museum housing exhibits of machines related to Morse code sent by radio waves from ships at sea then transmitted over telegraph wires on land were keyed into a machine here that printed a ribbon of coded dots and dashes that were then decoded into an alphabetic message.

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The US Navy worked in the attic of this building decoding messages of German u-boats very close to stateside, where the Naval ships would then use this information to sink German submarines.

Also located in the museum is a Turing machine. Jane, a volunteer of the museum, referred to”The Imitation Game a movie about a decoding machine created by three Poles and Alan Turing, a Brit, who completed the decoding machine that decoded thousands of German messages to help win the war.

One of Cape Cod station’s most notable roles occurred with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 when operators at the station were able to alert the RMS Carpathia so that rescue of some of the Titanic‘s passengers could be saved.

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After we left Cape Cod we drove into Plymouth to see the rock where the pilgrims of the Mayflower landed.  The rock was not noted as significant until 120 years later when a wharf was to be built there and the rock should be moved.  It was at that time that a preservation group established the historical importance of Plymouth Rock, creating America’s first tourist trap.  Plymouth Rock with the date of 1620 etched into the face of it sat at the center of a pit below a covered granite shelter for spectators to peer over the rail and see the rock.  A replica of the Mayflower II is docked nearby Plymouth Rock but we chose not to board.

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We had lunch at a small stand called Pebbles where we had lobster roll and a shrimp platter, both were excellent.  Plymouth erected artistic statues of lobsters around town similar to Cleveland’s guitars that stand throughout the city. A lobster with a broken claw and crutches and another lobster dressed in a tuxedo stood not far from Plymouth Rock.

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We drove to the edge of town to see the National Monument to the Forefathers, formerly called the Pilgrim Monument. The 81-foot solid granite monument was completed in 1889. It is thought to be the world’s largest solid granite monument. The monument faces northeast to Plymouth Harbor and roughly, towards Plymouth, England.  On the main pedestal stands the figure of “Faith” with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible. Upon the four buttresses beneath the figure of “Faith” are four seated figures of the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth; Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty.

Each was carved from a solid block of granite, posed in the sitting position upon chairs.  On the face of the buttresses, beneath these figures are reliefs in marble, representing scenes from Pilgrim history, a quote of William Bradford from the Mayflower, as well as the names of the pilgrims that reached the new land.  It was had to believe that we were the only visitors at this site looking at this magnificent monument.

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It was a cloudy but warm day when we arrived in Boston, and after quickly checking into our favorite lodging, The Longwood Inn, we headed downtown to see our daughter, meeting her near her workplace. From there we all took the Red Line train to Harvard Square where we stopped for a cocktail and appetizer at a small tavern called Beat Brasserie. Afterward we walked to another restaurant, Alden and Harlow for dinner. This restaurant served everything family style but the portions were the size of tapas. We tried lamb, rabbit, steak, potatoes, broccoli and pickled green beans.  The food was good and the place was packed.

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We all took the green line train back to Brookline where we crashed for the night.

Columbus – August 2016 – State Fair Revisited

As previously noted we rarely revisit an event, but we did for the Doo Dah Parade, as well as the Ohio State Fair and the Twins Day Parade.  The fair highlights were:

Cloaked Sheep

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Strutting chickens

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People dressed like giant chickens

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Queens and Cows

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Butter sculptures celebrating the Cleveland Cavaliers championship

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Butterflies

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New born chicks

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Flying Cowboys

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Flying Riders

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and spooky dolls

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Portland, Oregon – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 14

Our 15th day of this road trip started out in Astoria, Oregon at the amusingly named Pig N Pancakes provided breakfast for us before going to the Maritime Museum to watch the ships on the river. Frame by a coast guard pilot ship sitting in the parking lot of the museum, the interior appears to displayed a coast guard rescue ship in the front window but we saw no more than that of the museum since it was closed until later that day and we were ready to move on. Docked behind the museum was a ’boutique cruise ship’ and a coast guard ship with crew at attention saluting the U.S. flag while “reveille” played over the speaker for first call. It seemed a bit late in the day for this at 8:30 a.m.

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It was time to refill the car with gas and in Oregon there is a law that bans car owners to fuel their own car. New Jersey is the only other state that has this same law. All gas stations have attendants who pump gas for you. It seemed very odd and old fashion so I always get out of the car to talk to the attendant each time while in Oregon because I don’t know what else to do.

We made it to Portland and found the Japanese Gardens despite the wacky directions given by our GPS system, entering the gardens by wandering the paths in Washington Park. For a wonderful hour we walked up and down steps and crossing bridges presenting ferns, azaleas, moss that completely covered hills and beds that looked like short grass.

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Temples, arches and monuments decorated the Japanese gardens as we ambled along the path lined with a decorative fence of red cedar and/or bamboo artistically carved and tied together. Water flowed among the paths to verdant shrubs and trees, finally leading to a Zen garden. The Zen garden was made of a few large dark rocks set in a floor of small white pebbles in perfect concentric circles. It was very peaceful sitting on a bench staring at the Zen garden wondering how each pebble was arranged so flawlessly.

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The highlight of the Japanese Gardens is the bonsai area where a few well sculpted trees were on display. A coastal redwood, the tallest tree in the world, was clipped to a three foot potted work of art. Bonsai means tray planting as these art forms live in shallow trays and need styled and restyled over time.

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Ryan Neil created his own American bonsai style for this exhibit. The setting on the patio of the Japanese house at the gardens in view of Mt. Rainier offered a beautiful atmosphere.  The bonsai were each framed in a custom modern wooden structure. Maple trees, red cedar, pine and juniper were used in the other bonsai art displayed.

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We continued onward through the park to see the rose garden. Portland is known as the City of Roses. The rows and rows of roses covered a large section of the park. There was a test garden, a master rose garden, and many more rose gardens of varieties, size, and color.

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Visitors from around the world were there to see the exceptional bright colorful flora. Another area of the park had a statue of Sacajawea and a tribute column for Lewis and Clark for their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

The Kimpton River Hotel near the harbor was our hotel of choice for Portland. While the hotel was very nice hotel, it turned out that our room faced the windows of the next wing of rooms. Oh well, we had mostly beautiful views on this whole trip and we spent little time in our room, heading back out to the riverfront that border the hotel.

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Soon we were on the streets of Portland exploring the city on foot, exploring the central business district, stopping for lunch at Joe’s Burgers. After lunch we did some shopping, going to the home store for Columbia outerwear. To finish our downtown walking tour we went to Pioneer Courthouse Square where the city placed hundreds of 4-inch pots of flowers on the square to make a greenspace in the urban hard space. We sat in the lounge chairs at the square enjoying a warm sunny day of 88 degrees. The humidity was low and the weather felt perfect.

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The highlight of the square was a visit to the Portland tourist bureau information center, where we met Arnie, who was extremely helpful in giving us ideas for things to see and do in the city  as well as recommendations for a day trip up the Columbia River Valley to the east of Portland.

After a brief stop back at the hotel to search Tripadvisor for somewhere to eat, we made dinner reservation for Higgins Restaurant and Bar on Broadway Street where we had an excellent dinner is what could only be described as a Portlandia like restaurant we had salmon and steak with water chestnuts and potato au gratin.

Finally we spent the sunset sitting on the hotel roof deck for a while sipping wine and eating a small appetizer. It was such a lovely day that we went for another walk along the harbor’s boardwalk and stopped for ice cream. The ice cream was not as good as Handel’s but the atmosphere was great on this charming evening.

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Southeastern Utah – National Parks Road Trip – Day 15 – Natural Bridges, Hovenweep & Four Corners

The Spanish Valley is south of Moab, and our initial scenery leaving in the morning.  As we made our way down US 191 we passed a natural bridge arch before coming to a giant rock with ‘Hole In the Rock‘ painted in 30’ letters on the side of it. Apparently it is a 5000 square foot house someone carved into this giant rock, but we were too early in the day for them to be open, so we continued on our way.

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South of Blanding we reached Utah 95, a narrow state highway  that runs out through the desert up and down small hills. As I turned onto this road a dirty old 4 wheel drive pickup passed me, which of course I took as a challenge to keep up with. It is 38 miles from Blanding to Natural Bridge National Park, and according to the GPS should’ve taken us 45 minutes to make the drive, but following Deliverance Boy I did it in 30 minutes.

Once we did land at the park headquarters we received instructions from the ranger on the best option for a couple of hours of time that we had. As with many parks they have a auto tour loop that we took, providing views of three natural bridges and as well as a view of Native American ruins. The trails were steep and strenuous so we skipped the longer hikes and soaked in the view from the overlook. The first natural bridge named Sipapu was large and had a lot of rock above it with trees and a river below it.

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Our next stop was at the Horsecollar Ruin overlook. Here pottery was once found that dates these ruins between 1 AD and 13 AD. The ruins were well preserved but accessed was denied to them. These ruins are considered to be the best preserved ancient Puebloan ruins ,mostly due to their isolation. Horsecollar Ruin earned its name because the doorways to two structures resemble horsecollars, the site was abandoned more than 700 years ago.

We moved on to see the Kachina Bridge where the White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon meet. Kachina Bridge, known as the middle bridge which spans the canyon equally from both Owachomo and Sipapu bridges, is named for the petroglyphs of dancing figures resembling Kachina dolls. Kachina Bridge is larger than Owachomo but smaller than Sipapu. Owachomo Bridge is a natural bridge 180 feet high and spans 106 feet across thin stone and is older than any other bridge. Erosion through the years has thinned the span of the bridge. It was beautiful and we were happy to see it since it will not last forever.

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Leaving Natural Bridges we continued south on Utah 261 another nondescript highway across the desert – for about 30 miles – then you come to the Moki Dugway, a dangerous road to drive made of dirt and gravel carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. It consists of 3 miles of steep, unpaved, but well graded switchbacks (11% grade), which wind 1,200 feet from Cedar Mesa to the valley floor near Valley of the Gods. A nerve racking but really cool drive down the mountain side.

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Just beyond Moki Dugway we arrived in the Navajo Nation to the town of Mexican Hat, Utah, where we stopped for lunch at the Olde Bridge Grille. The town is named after a large flat rock 60 feet in diameter perched precariously on a much smaller base at the top of a small hill. The village itself is small, home to fewer than 100 people We had a burger and vegetarian taco on Navajo bread. The Navajo bread was delicious.

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Just south of Mexican Hat is the Monument Valley, a place of mammoth rocks in the desert with beautiful thin spires on the Arizona border. The rock formation resembled a city from a distance and it is also the site where Forrest Gump stopped running in the movie of the same name, which of course I needed to recreate, much to the amusement of the European tourists parked along the road. Returning back through Mexican Hat we had gone just a few miles before we were stopped by the Sherriff’s Department while a Toyota commercial was being filmed on the road ahead.

By mid afternoon we arrrived at the Hovenweep National Monument. There are Pueblo ruins of a culture there that thrived from 1 AD to late 1200 AD. A variety of structures, including multistory towers are perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. We hiked the Little Run Trail to tour the ruins at Little Ruin Canyon which is made up of Square Tower, Tower Point, and Twin Towers. Towers at Hovenweep were built in a variety of shapes- D-shapes, squares, ovals and circles.

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These towers had different purposes, including tool and grinding work areas, kivas (for ritual/social functions), living rooms and storage. We started at the overlook to see the stronghold house which is the upper story of a large structure with well-shaped stones. Then we climbed down the trail for a close-up view of more buildings. The Holly group is at the head of Keeley Canyon. The five buildings at the site are known for a rock art panel that has been interpreted as a summer solstice marker.

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The Hackberry group was a medium sized Pueblo III village in the east fork of Bridge Canyon. The Horseshoe House is a D-shaped structure containing three rooms surrounding a possible central kiva. The architectural style suggests ceremonial or public use

As we hiked the loop we saw Rim Rock House that had peepholes built into the walls; the purpose of these peepholes is unknown. We continued down the trail to Hovenweep House which is one of the largest structures in the community. Next we saw Hovenweep Castle in the Square Tower Group. The Cajon Group is at the head of Allen Canyon, is primarily a remains of a tower, estimated to house 80–100 people, that was constructed on a boulder that sits below the rim of the canyon

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Cutthroat Castle group is in an offshoot of Hovenweep Canyon. Cutthroat Castle, the largest of the remains, is on the north side of the stream. Cutthroat is unique among the units due to the lack of a spring, the numerous kivas and the fact that much of the architecture sits below the rim.

Goodman Point group contains small and large clusters of pueblo buildings built partially underground.

Finally the Square Tower group, with the largest collection of pueblo buildings at Hovenweep. These towers still have lintels showing that these were some of the most carefully built structures in the southwest

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Leaving Hovenweep we passed Palomino horses roaming freely on our drive to the Four Corners. We arrived at the entrance to the Navajo Nation being required to pay the $5 entry fee per person to enter their tribal lands to get to the Four Corners monument. Prior to the trip I had read that with modern survey techniques the actual marker is really not at the point of the four corners, the original surveyor, using 19th century tools, missed where the spot should have been by about 1800 feet. The marker was placed in its current position and accepted by the U.S. Congress. From that time forward, the marker has been the legal divider among the four states.

We took turns standing on the spot of the Four Corners at the center where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah meet, contorting ourselves to place a body part in each quadrant of the circle. After our Twister exercise we strolled the booths of vendors with their souvenirs that surrounded the monument. There was no food available here so we went to headed back onto the road to Cortez, Colorado, where we came upon the Sky Ute Casino on a suggestion that someone had given us. The large casino had a restaurant but it was an hour wait before we could eat so we drove on to Cortez to spend the night.

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Checking into our hotel we found a nice casual restaurant called Destination Grill next door. We sat on the deck in the cool evening and enjoyed a very good dinner.

Columbus – August 2015 – Ohio History Center

The Ohio History Center Museum, located on 17th Avenue across the street from the State Fairgrounds, is filled with exhibits exploring everything from life in the 1950s to extinct and endangered Ohio species to an exquisite collection of restored Civil War battle flags.

At the History Center Museum is Ohio Village, a recreated 1860s Ohio town. Open only during the summer I wanted to visit it before we left on vacation

The 22 buildings that make up the village are a mixture of reproductions and historic structures moved to the site. Among those currently standing are the Town Hall, Print Shop, General Store and Masonic Lodge, Education Center, Pharmacy, Blacksmith Shop, Tinsmith Shop, Broom and Basket Shop, Cabinetmaker/Undertaker’s Shop, Harnessmaker’s and Weaver’s shops, Ladies’ Soldiers Aid Society, Village Bakery, Market House, Livery Stable, Schoolhouse, Doctor’s Office and Residence, the Ohio Village Bank, the Colonel Crawford Inn, Church and the Elk’s Head Tavern.

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The museum itself had a number of exhibits including the “1950s through the eyes of a family” living in central Ohio with a hands-on, walk through of their Lustron home. Step back in time as you explore the nooks and crannies, cupboards and drawers of the family’s real, full-size Lustron house, built right inside our museum

Featured in the same area were tributes to noteworthy Ohio products and companies, including airplanes, automobiles, tires, and White Castle. The history of White Castle, America’s first hamburger chain, is celebrated in this panel exhibit. Visitors get a taste of artifacts and images from White Castle’s 85-year history, nearly all of it as a Columbus-based company. Items on display include plates and mugs, fountain glassware, posters, burger boxes, matchbooks, employee recognition pins, paper caps for men and women, sacks and a White Castle “clock” that has no hands because “we’re open all day and all night.”

Another section featured some of the Society’s most significant archaeological artifacts, such as the Adena Pipe, the mica hand, and the Wray figurine, as well as many animal effigy pipes from Tremper Mound are centrally featured in tower cases. Fiber optic lighting enhances visitors’ almost 360- degree view of these, and other, unique and beautiful artifacts. We were able to explore multiple artifact drawers to see what the ancient people used on a daily basis, as well as for special purposes.

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All in all the Ohio History Center Museum is a nice way to spend the day, although the Ohio Village needs some serious work and upkeep.