A Cajun Christmas In New Orleans

NOLA Panorama

NOLA Panorama

We’ve been wanting to spend time time in New Orleans ever since we hit the road. This year (2016) we finally got here. Another sticker for the RV map. That only leaves 3 states in the lower 48 we haven’t camped in West VA, Ohio and Connecticut). We chose Bayou Segnette SP on what is referred to as the westbank area. Good choice as it has large sites, free wifi, free laundry and is only a 10 minute drive to the Algiers Point ferry to downtown New Orleans. The parking for all day was $5 and senior rate on the ferry is $1 each way. If you are lucky you might even get serenaded by the calliope from the Steamboat Natchez.

Steamboat Natchez In The Fog

Steamboat Natchez In The Fog

We spent the first day with friend and fellow volunteer from Red Rock Lakes, Marilyn, touring two of the six sites that are part of Jean Lafitte NHP. The first was Chalmette Battlefield (site of the 1814 Battle of New Orleans) and the other in Thibodaux, LA at the Acadian Culture Center. We arrived in Thibodaux just in time for a Ranger led walking tour of town covering history and architecture of the area. If you enjoy discovering the small towns and hidden gems of our country, don’t miss this walk. We saw original Acadian homes, Victorian homes, Art & Craft homes, Beau Arts buildings and even one of only two Second French Empire homes in Louisiana. We also learned about the Louisiana seal which depicts a pelican with 3 chicks ripping her own flesh to feed them. This was created based upon what the first governor thinks he saw. Truth, per the Ranger, is that pelicans never have more than two chicks and usually only one survives, no bird would rip itself to feed young and that until the late 20th century the seal also showed blood droplets. The Center hosts free events such as a Cajun music night and a local dialect of French discussion group to preserve the language. At one time it was illegal to speak the Acadian language. We ended the day with a meal at Fremin’s, once a pharmacy cum restaurant. Oh, those smoked oysters and gumbo!

Seal Of Louisiana

Seal Of Louisiana

Chalmette VC and The Battle Of New Orleans

Chalmette VC and The Battle Of New Orleans

Malus-Beauregard House

Malus-Beauregard House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victorian Home In Thibodeaux

Victorian Home In Thibodaux

Second Empire French Home

Second Empire French Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thibodeaux Cemetery

Thibodaux Cemetery

Day two was a walking marathon through the French Quarter. We started at the Old Mint, the only mint to have coined currency for both the US and the Confederacy. Currently it is also being used as the Visitor Center for the New Orleans Jazz NHP. Then we walked and photographed ourselves silly on the fabulous architecture and seasonal decorations. We returned to the Jazz park for a Ranger led walk on music and cuisine. If America is the melting pot of the world then surely New Orleans is the epicenter. We knew about the Spanish, the French, the Acadians, the Caribbean influence but Canary Island Islenos … we had no idea. We were still able to catch half of the free jazz concert by the NPS Arrowhead band too. Starving we stopped for a muffuletta and jambalaya.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

The French Market

The French Market

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic

The Cornstalk Hotel

The Cornstalk Hotel

Mardi Gras Beads On Balcony

Mardi Gras Beads On Balcony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

muffuleta-sign

Landmark Eatery

OMG! The Food!

OMG! The Food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans Architecture

New Orleans Architecture

French Quarter Scene

French Quarter Scene

All That Jazz!

All That Jazz!

 

New Orleans From The Ferry At Sunset

New Orleans From The Ferry At Sunset

Being in a vibrant city at holiday time is special. We loved the decorations, the lights at The Oaks and most of all the Cajun custom of guiding Papa Noel with bonfires along the levees. Steve has put together a video of these events and our visit to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

 

 

 

 

Heading South To Tucson

Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro NP

Saguaro National Park Panorama

With the DreamChaser back in one piece we turned south toward Tucson and prime snowbird country. While at PEFO Steve had made contact with two visitors from the Tucson area who volunteer at Saguaro National Park. We’d followed up with them and had made plans to visit. They’d give us a personal tour of the park and had even agreed to let us use their address for a mail delivery. We chose Patagonia State Park which is a bit south as closer in parks were booked. OK. I hate it when people use a blog or other social media to expound their views but I do have a complaint about Reserve America. They aren’t accurate in describing campsites. So you arrive and find (as we did here) that the 60′ site you booked is halfway down a 30 degree hill! We got into the site but keeping us on the level portion meant our slides barely missed trees, the campfire ring and a wall. Even at that we we not level. Reluctantly we closed up and headed to the nearest Walmart as the park was booked. Exiting the site we scraped going downhill and knocked our spare tire out of it’s holder. So while Steve crawled under the trailer, I cranked the holder down so he could push the tire back into place. So we spent the night uneventfully in Nogales on the US/Mexican border.

The next day we felt lucky when we  located a private park about ten miles away that had open sites. As we drove in we had our doubts but beggars can’t be choosers. We paid and drove to our site only to find our neighbor partially blocking the entrance and not home to move his car. The only other open site might have worked if it weren’t for the corner of a building sticking out just where we would be swinging wide to get in. Back to the office for a refund. Now what? We finally located an upscale RV Resort park at more than twice our normal fee. This is the type of place where people come and park for months. All blacktop, ten feet or less between rigs and very poor facilities for anyone who needs to walk a pet. We reluctantly decided to stay. While it isn’t our cup of tea we had a few good days in the area and finally met up with our hosts. Later we learned about a lovely county campground that does not take reservations and would have been a better solution. Live and learn!

Saguaro National Park consists of two sections. The second section was added when the iconic saguaro cactus in the original park were failing and it was feared they’d disappear. Then scientists discovered that the cattle grazing being allowed was the cause. Turns out the cattle were eating and/or trampling the nurse trees that young saguaro need to protect them. After the saguaro get to near full size the nurse tree (usually mesquite) dies. Ungrateful kids! After grazing was prohibited in the 1970s, the saguaro have made a wonderful comeback. We took the scenic drive and had a picnic. Along the way we learned that saguaros live to age 150 but don’t develop their iconic “arms” until after age 60. With mountains ringing the city of Tucson and the lush Sonoran desert fresh after winter rains the park put on a glorious show. While we didn’t spend as much time as we’d have liked this is a park we’ll visit again and see in more detail.

Sonoran Desert, cactus. octillo

Sonoran Desert Beauty

An Iconic Saguaro

An Iconic Saguaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With only three days remaining in the area we packed in a lot making visits to a Titan Missile museum, Tumacacori National Historic Site and the Sonoran Desert Museum. The Titan Missile Museum is the only remaining site of this type. For those of us who grew up during the Cold War era and did Duck and Cover Drills all through elementary school it brought back memories. Entrance to the site is via tour only. Our guide was excellent and we learned a lot.

Titan Missile, Cold War

In The Control Room

Looking Down The Silo

Looking Down The Silo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tumacacori, Spanish Mission, history

Tumacacori National Historic Site

Tumacacori National Historic Site is one of the early missions established by the Spanish as they explored and settled the southwest. Here we learned that in 1736 silver was discovered nearby. Juan Bautista de Anza was sent to investigate whether the silver was a natural vein or a buried treasure. If natural the King of Spain would get 20% and if a buried treasure the entire amount would go to the Spanish treasury. During the investigation de Anza stayed at a ranch called Arizona, a Basque word meaning the Good Oak Tree. After ten years he found the silver to be natural. Due to the numerous mining documents filed here the entire area became known as Arizona. When promoters needed a name indicating great mineral wealth for a new territory they chose Arizona. Lincoln established the Arizona Territory in 1863.

Tumacacori served as a mission, a fort and a pueblo for priests, soldiers and Native Americans. The Apache migrated into the area shortly after the silver strike. The region’s wealth attracted raiding parties until Geronimo was arrested about four miles away.

Tumacacori Chapel

Tumacacori Chapel

Tumacacori As Fort

Tumacacori As Fort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tumacacori As Pueblo

Tumacacori As Pueblo

Mission Cemetery

Mission Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our last day in the Tucson area we went to the Sonoran Desert Museum. It was Presidents Day and very crowded. This is a botanical garden, a zoo, an aviary, an art gallery and a wildlife performance venue all wrapped up in one. A day is not enough to take it all in. We will definitely be back when hopefully we can roam freely. They do a raptor flight show twice a day. Lesson learned… get there early or be stuck fighting to see. I felt like a five year old yelling “I can’t see, I can’t see!” Sure wish Steve could have put me on his shoulders. No Way! Here are a few pictures to give you an overview.

Butterfly On Verbena

Butterfly On Verbena

Color Contrast

Color Contrast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Saguaro

Crested Saguaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Desert In Bloom

The Desert In Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Name Is Boojum

My Name Is Boojum

 

 

 

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Hummingbird Aviary

In The Hummingbird Aviary

Cardinal Posing In Another Aviary

Cardinal Posing In Another Aviary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lizard Sunbathing

Lizard Sunbathing

Pipevine

Pipevine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raptor Flight Show

Raptor Flight Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl During Flight Show

Owl During Flight Show

We’ll end with a bit of roadside humor from a bumper sticker we saw…………………..

bumper sticker humor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.E.I. Means Particularly Enchanting Island

Prince Edward Island, P. E. I.

A Mural Of Rural P.E.I.

We hadn’t originally planned to visit Prince Edward Island on this trip.  A call from some RV friends we’d met in Florida in 2011 changed our plans. They were work camping as hosts in Maine and wanted to visit P.E.I. before returning home to Pennsylvania.  Would we like to meet up? What are plans for if not to change? Prince Edward Island was named for, can you guess, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820), the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria.

We picked a park close to the Confederation Bridge, Linkletter Provincial Park, for our stay.  Many of the P.E.I. parks offer full hook-ups.  The Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge in the world crossing ice covered waters. It opened in 1997 and cost one billion dollars to construct. When you cross the 8 mile Confederation Bridge in a car the concrete barriers block much of the view.  When you come over in a truck or RV you’re above the barrier and get a great view. There’s no charge to cross over from New Brunswick but going back with an RV be prepared for a hefty toll (almost $50 Canadian). While the park itself was very nice, if you were coming for the beach it isn’t the place we’d recommend. The beach is strewn heavily with seaweed and at high tide almost disappears.  As a base for sightseeing it worked just fine. Most visitors to P.E.I. come for the miles of red, sandy beaches. Unfortunately, we arrived the same time as a tropical storm worked its way up the coast. It was very rainy and windy the majority of the week.

Our friends had gotten tickets for a new play debuting this summer, Evangeline, a musical based on the Longfellow poem.  It was playing at the Confederation Center in Charlottestown, capital of P.E.I.  Other shows that play annually in Charlottestown are Anne of Green Gables and Ann and Gilbert based on the book, Anne of Green Gables. Evangeline was terrific! It was Broadway quality for the cast, scenery, choreography and music. If it is playing when you visit, consider this a must see. We wouldn’t be surprised if this show tours other cities in the US and Canada. We didn’t have time to sightsee in Charlottestown but would love to return.  Hey, give us credit, we haven’t said when we come back for quite a while!

The Bottle House

Entrance To The Bottle House

The Bottle House Through The Fountain

The Bottle House Through The Fountain

Flowers At The Bottle Houses

Flowers At The Bottle Houses

For a touristy but interesting spot to see go to The Bottle Houses. Long before recycling was in vogue, Edouard Arsenault, fisherman and carpenter of western P.E.I., transformed over 25,000 bottles into small buildings on his property in the Acadian town of Cap-Egmont.  His inspiration was a postcard from the bottle castle in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Unfortunately, this attraction no longer exists.  Between 1980-1984 he built six structures. The structures deteriorated after their creator’s death.  Not wanting them to disappear, his grandson lovingly restored them. The attraction is still owned and operated by his descendants.

Canada

Bottle House Church

Drinking In The View

Drinking In The View

Hydrangea In Bottle House Garden

Hydrangea In Bottle House Garden

Bottle House Bar

Anyone Seen The Corkscrew?

Another unexpectedly interesting place was the Potato Museum. PEI is flat and sandy and grows a lot of potatoes. So here’s the answer to our Roadside Trivia #6. The two places which were first to put slogans on license plates: P.E.I. and Idaho.  What did they have in common, potatoes, of course! While one side of the museum is about potato farming, the other side depicts life on P.E.I. between 1880s and 1950s. Here, you’ll find everything from old suitcases to an iron lung.  Of course, today potato farming and processing is done by large corporations and you’ll see huge processing plants as you travel the island. However, it hasn’t lost it’s rural charm.

Canadian Potato Museum on P.E.I.

This Spud’s For You

Harvesting Potatoes

Harvesting Potatoes

Picking Potatoes

Picking Potatoes

Potato Sacks

Potato Sacks

Potato Tools In Black & W

Potato Tools In Black & W

At least on the west side of the island, where we did most of our sightseeing, there are several Acadian communities. During the summer farm stands are plentiful and in the Fall new potato stands with honor system boxes take their place. If you like old churches or cemeteries you’ll find driving backroads enjoyable. We didn’t get to Cavendish NP or the east side of the island. Another trip?  Well, if you insist.

P.E.I. Landscape Photo

P.E.I. Landscape Photo

Picturesque Barn On A Backroad

Picturesque Barn On A Backroad

When you come to P.E.I. a must is going to one of the lobster suppers. Some are sponsored by local churches so just look for signs along the roadway. Others are commercial enterprises.  It really doesn’t matter. The meal is all you can eat save the lobster. That you order by the size you want. We had 1 and 1/2 pounders which was more than enough!

Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel

Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel

A View For Eternity

A View For Eternity

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

With this we end the posts about our glorious summer in the Canadian Maritimes.

Halifax Is Our Kind Of Town

Halifax Composite

We love doing the slide shows and videos to music but they do take a while to construct. So we’re posting on those places we just need to insert pictures while we’re working on our Academy Award winning movies. Here’s where we hold up the LAUGH sign and if you don’t laugh we’ll insert a laugh track.  On to Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.

Steve and I are not “city people” and don’t go out of our way to visit cities but when we do we always find some interesting sights.  Smaller cities are our favorites.  Maybe that’s why we feel so comfortable in Halifax.  It’s a compact and walkable city offering great sightseeing, history, restaurants and museums. Continuing to use the Provincial Parks we parked the DreamChaser at Laurie Park about a half hour outside of Halifax. This is a lovely wooded park on a lake. There are no hookups so it’s dry camping only. There were only a few sites large enough for our 35′ rig and none of them were close to a water source. This wasn’t a problem as we’d filled our tank before leaving Cape Breton. We’ve gotten used to dry camping, limiting our water use and we could run the generators to refresh our batteries. The bath house was spotless and well designed. This is a very popular park and was full the whole time we were there. So if you plan to go here in the summer, do make reservations. We spent a week in the area and three of those days were spent exploring Halifax.

Halifax Waterfront

Halifax Waterfront

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax Harborwalk

As with most visits to cities we had to find a place to park the truck. At first this seemed to be a problem as street parking was for two hours or less and the open lots we saw were already full. Our first visit was to go to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic so I called them and asked where we could park an oversized vehicle. They directed us to some large open lots near the railroad station and Pier 21. Turns out this was better than if we’d found parking in the other open lots. There you pay by the hour all day and here you pay a maximum of 6 hours and can stay for 24 hours. It is a short walk to where the harbor boardwalk begins. Halifax has turned their harbor into a beautiful open space full of restaurants, bars, harbor cruises and the Maritime Museum.  As we walked the boardwalk we picked up some tidbits of history such as learning about the founder of the Cunard Shipping lines, Portuguese explorers landing here in 1520, looked at the “drunken streetlight art, listened to a bagpiper, talked with representatives at the tourist bureau kiosk and picked up a discount coupon for a tour of the Alexander Keith Brewery.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a must see museum. Plan at least an entire day to prowl through all of the exhibits and the two museum ships in the harbor. We decided to purchase the Nova Scotia Museum pass which gives you entry to all 27 museums. The break even point is at four museums so if you go to more than that you are ahead of paying individual entry fees. There is more here than we have time or space to write about but we’ll note a few highlights: the Acadia, a hydrographic charting and exploration ship, was celebrating it’s 100th year so the museum had a special exhibit about arctic exploration, the extensive model ship collection, the history of the Halifax Explosion in 1917 and the Titanic artifact display. Until the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima the Halifax Explosion was the largest man-made explosion yet we’d never heard about it. The cause was a collision in Halifax Harbor during WWI involving a munitions ship. The resulting explosion leveled two square miles of the city. To this day the city of Halifax sends a Christmas tree to Boston in memory of all the help they provided following the disaster.  Just a  few nights ago we were watching History Detectives on PBS and they had taken a picture frame thought to be made  from railing salvaged by seaman on a cable ship sent to recover bodies from the Titanic. The final authenticating expert was from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. He compared the artifact with one on display and identified who had made the frame.The frame had been made from a piece of the Grand Staircase aboard the Titanic. This is the second time we’ve seen items featured on the show. The museum was running a photo contest for the centennial of the Acadia. Steve and I entered. Although we didn’t win it was fun to participate. The special arctic exploration exhibit was called  Cold Recall and used lecture manuscripts and lantern slides from Roald Amundsen’s Northwest Passage exploration in 1903-1906. 

Acadia, photography

Steve’s Entry For Acadia Contest

Acadia, photography

Chari’s Entry For Acadia Contest

The Citadel is another must see landmark.  It is operated by Parks Canada so if you have the annual pass there is no admission charge. You can walk up the steep hills from the waterfront or drive up. Not wanting to leave our good parking spot we walked. Whew! We hadn’t done that in a while. During the summer the Citadel is staffed by students from local military schools who dress in period uniforms of the 78th Highlanders Regiment and provide tours of the fort. Built on top of the hill overlooking the city to protect Halifax harbor the  existing fort was never engaged in battle. As a result it provides one of the best archeology sites of the era. The time period of your visit is 1869.  Much of the ritual changing of the guard and cannon firing is for the tourist trade. Go beyond that and take the tour, go to the uniform shop and try on the 35 pound wool uniforms and be sure to see the 50 minute movie Tides of Time in the theatre.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

View Of Halifax From The Citadel

Halifax Citadel, changing of the guard

Changing Of The Guard At The Citadel

78th Highlanders, Parks Canada

On Tour In The Citadel Schoolroom

Citadel

Steve Tries On Regimental Uniform

Basilica Ceiling Built Like A Ship's Hull

Basilica Ceiling Built Like A Ship’s Hull

From there we walked back down the hill stopping at two beautiful old churches and the Old Burying Ground. St. Paul’s Church is the oldest Protestant church in Canada and the oldest surviving building in Halifax, c. 1750. A timber hurled almost two miles during the Halifax Explosion was imbedded in the wall of St. Paul’s and it remains there today. A docent was on hand to provide a tour. The Old Burying Ground was the original city cemetery started in 1749 when Halifax was founded. It was turned over to Saint Paul’s in 1793 and closed to further burials in 1843. Like many historical sites it deteriorated until a citizens group formed in the 1980s to restore and maintain it. What I found the most fascinating was to be standing looking at the grave of British Major General Robert Ross. Why? Well, he was the commander of the British forces who raided and burned Washington, DC in 1814. He was killed shortly afterwards in a raid on Baltimore. The second church was the Cathedral Church of All Saints. It is known for the beautiful woodwork and stained glass windows. In 1763 when it was built no local craftsman knew how to build the vaulted 7 story ceiling so they hired shipbuilders who knew how to construct a hull and built it upside down. If you’d like to see more about the above sites Google them. Each has a very interesting website.

Major General Robert Ross

Major General Robert Ross

250px-Halifax_-_NS_-_St._Paul’s_Church

St. Paul’s Church

Halifax, church

Cathedral Church Of All Saints

Keith's 2By now we’d worked up quite a thirst. Time to use our discount coupon for the Alexander Keith’s Brewery.  The Halifax site is the original brewery which has become incorporated into a shopping plaza. A modern brewery located elsewhere still produces beer. Tours are run frequently throughout the day and your ticket includes two beers if you are of legal drinking age or if you prefer, soft drinks. Costumed summer players escort you on a history tour of the brewery. Quite frankly, it is way over played until you get to the tavern where the players sing and dance while you imbibe. These young people were very talented.

Old Keith's Brewery

Old Keith’s Brewery

Alexander Keith Brewery

Alexander Keith Brewery

Another day brought us back to the city to see Pier 21. This is the Canadian equivalent of Ellis Island. While immigration to the USA peaked between 1880-1920, Canadian immigration reached its high point following WWII. Both sites were closed as active immigration ports when ship transport was surpassed by air arrivals. Currently Pier 21 tells the story of immigrants processing through Halifax on their way to other locations. Soon an expansion of the museum will include all points of entry to Canada.

Pier 21

Pier 21

Remember we were going to take a sailing cruise aboard a  schooner for our fourth anniversary but got rained out? We finally had time and good weather so spontaneously we decided to take a harbor cruise on the MAR.  I wasn’t really dressed for being out on the water. Shorts and tee shirt were fine during the day but not for a sunset cruise. Fortunately the ship offered blankets. So I stayed wrapped up while Steve took photos. There’s nothing like gliding along on the water with the wind in your face. If we could learn to sail the RV just might get traded for a boat! Just as we returned to shore the most beautiful sunset appeared. What a great way to say goodbye to Halifax.

Schooner Mar Sailing Past Halifax Harbor Lighthouse

Schooner Mar Sailing Past Halifax Harbor Lighthouse

On Board THE MAR In Halifax Harbor

On Board THE MAR In Halifax Harbor

Drunken Lampost Sculpture

Drunken Lampost Sculpture

Halifax Waterfront At Sunset

Halifax Waterfront At Sunset

Goodbye Halifax!

Goodbye Halifax!

A Day With Silent Cal

In our last post we said you’d see where the trivia was going. One of the answers to “What Vice-Presidents Assumed the Presidency upon death of the President?” and “Which of the above men lost a son while in the White House?” is the topic of this post. It is none other than Calvin Coolidge. Known to many as “Silent Cal” for his brevity of answers, Calvin Coolidge was actually a lawyer and a very skilled public speaker. He was typically a New Englander in his manner, not one to participate in small talk. He holds the record for meeting more often with reporters than any President before or since. His 1924 address to Congress was the first one ever given over radio. He was the first President to appear in sound film.

While we were touring a church next door to the Adams National Historic Site Visitors Center in Quincy, MA we talked with our guide and learned he was an actor. He performs one man plays about several Presidents, John Quincy Adams and Calvin Coolidge for example. When he heard we would be in Vermont, he said we’d be near the home of Calvin Coolidge. He told us this was one of the best restored Presidential birthplaces. He also mentioned that he was hired to do the interactive displays at the Visitors Center.

Born and raised in the small farming community of Plymouth, Vermont Calvin Coolidge grew up loving the farm and the community. He attended Amherst College and opened a law practice in Massachusetts. Gradually he moved up the political ladder. Coolidge became Governor of Massachusetts and gained nationwide attention during the Boston Police Strike of 1919. In 1920 he was made Harding’s Vice Presidential running mate. He was known for being a decisive leader. He assumed the Presidency when President Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack. Coolidge was visiting his home in Vermont when the news reached him on August 2, 1923. As his father was a Justice of the Peace he gave his son the Oath of Office using the family bible in their living room. It is thought that another oath ceremony was most likely done when he returned to Washington, DC.

presidential photo, Coolidge, history

Calvin Coolidge as President

President Coolidge, Vermont, history

Where President Coolidge Took His Oath Of Office

US Presidents birthplace, Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, Vermont

Plymouth, VT was about 30 minutes from Winhall Brook Campground. The first time we drove up there we were just out exploring and arrived at the Calvin Coolidge State Historical Site and Museum about 4pm. Since they closed at 5pm we decided to just visit the Notch Cemetery and return another day for the tour.

cemetery,Calvin Coolidge

President Coolidge’s Grave

His Son, Calvin Jr., age 16

His Son, Calvin Jr., age 16

We knew from having watched the old Masterpiece Theatre series Backstairs At The White House that Calvin Coolidge Jr. died from what today would be a preventable cause. He developed a blister on his foot (per the series from learning to dance) and the blister became infected. In the days before antibiotics this often led to septicemia which was the cause of his death.

Our return trip about a week later was on an overcast day with very threatening skies. We arrived with just enough time to buy tickets and join the scheduled tour. We began at the General Store once owned by President Coolidge’s father. The family lived in a small apartment in the rear. This is where Calvin Coolidge was born. As the family became more prosperous they built a larger home, sold the store, farmed and raised livestock on this site. They attended church at Union Christian Church located next door to the store. Calvin Coolidge’s father helped establish a dairy cooperative and cheese factory here too. The Vermont Cheese Coop still makes cheese today. We bought Hunter cheese and other goodies.

general store, history

Coolidge General Store Today

Calvin Coolidge, Coolidge Birthplace

Calvin Coolidge Was Born In This Bed

Coolidge State Historic Site

Coolidge Home Behind The Store

horse drawn carriage, Coolidge

Carriage Used By Coolidge Family

cheese, Vermont, food

Plymouth Cheese Corporation

church, Vermont, Coolidge

Church Attended By Coolidge Family

Coolidge, President, history

Inside Church Flag Shows Presidential Pew

Coolidge, history

President Coolidge With His Father At The Vermont Homestead

As a young man Calvin Coolidge admired Thomas Edison. His father arranged for him to meet the famous inventor for an hour. Upon meeting the future President, Edison was so impressed and that he spent the entire day with him. The Coolidges entertained many famous people at the Plymouth home during his Presidency. The picture to the below shows them with Henry Ford, Harvey and Russell Firestone and Thomas Edison. Many tourists came to Plymouth in hopes of meeting the President. They would mail letters back home with the Plymouth postmark as souvenirs. The postmistress at the time was paid a $50/salary plus a portion of postage sold. Because of the tourist business her income skyrocketed to $1500 in just one summer.

Ford, Firestone, Edison, Coolidge

Coolidge With Ford, Firestone Brothers And Edison

old post office, Vermont

Post Office Inside General Store

President Coolidge liked to spend summers in Vermont. If you’ve ever been in DC in August you know why! He needed a place for his staff to work. Being the ever practical man, he put up folding tables in a room above the store normally used as the community social hall. This became the Summer Oval Office. When the President was not there the room featured a band called the Old Time Plymouth Dance Band with Coolidge’s 80 year old Uncle John on violin. (He is second from the right in the photo below). I love human interest stories and was fascinated by this one. An agent from the William Morris Agency heard the band play and arranged for a nationwide tour. The band had a special clause inserted in the contract … the tour would not start until spring planting was completed. After shows in thirteen states Uncle John became homesick and returned to Vermont. The remaining shows were cancelled.

The Summer Oval Office

The Summer Oval Office

music, Vermont

Plymouth Old Time Dance Orchestra

Calvin Coolidge was elected on his own merit in 1924. The Coolidge administration enjoyed a period of relative calm after the Harding Teapot Dome scandal and due to the prosperity of the Roaring 20s. He is best known for being able to represent the desires of middle America and for streamlining governmental expenses. He saw to lowering and for all but the richest 2%, elimination of federal income taxes while reducing the national debt. He had an ongoing fight against farm subsides and vetoed legislation at least twice. He was against the federal government taking on flood control measures even after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. He was in favor of civil rights. President Coolidge sought but did not obtain a federal anti-lynching law. He signed the Indian Citizenship Act giving American Indians citizenship along with the right to pursue cultural customs and retain tribal lands. As for foreign policy he is best known for the Kellogg-Briand Act in which the USA, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan renounce war as national policy when dealing with each other. We all know how well that worked. It did however serve as a framework for post WWII international law. Under his administration the US government continued to refuse recognition of the Soviet Union. He declined to run for a second term in 1928. 

history, Coolidge

President Coolidge Signs Kellogg-Briand Pact

We went back to the Visitors Center to see the film about Calvin Coolidge and the exhibits. The exhibits showed Calvin and Grace Coolidge at the White House and enjoying their favorite sport, baseball. We came not knowing a great deal about this man and left feeling like we’d just visited a man instead of a place. We hope this post tweaks your interest in making a visit for yourself.

first pets, dog, Coolidge

Coolidges w dog at White House

baseball, Coolidge

President Coolidge Throws Out Ball At Season Opener

There’s Always Something To Do In Philadelphia – Part 2

Philadelphia, sailboat

Checking Out Penns Landing

We returned to Philadelphia during the following week. Not wanting to have problems with the PATCO folks again we decided to drive into town. There is an open air parking lot at Penns Landing. Although they charge $20 a day to park that was comparable to taking the train. Then it is just a few blocks to walk into the historic area. Today would be an exploration on foot, just out to see the area. After parking we took a few minutes to check out a sailboat that is used for river cruises. If we are ever here in warmer weather that sounds like fun.

Our first stop was the Ben Franklin Post Office which still functions as an active Post Office. His home no longer stands but a metal frame has been erected to give you a feeling for size. They’ve marked where his privy and well were, just ten feet apart. No wonder folks got sick drinking water back then!

On to the Federal Reserve Tower just a block down and across the street from the Visitors Center. Here you will find a free exhibit about the history of our monetary system and the role of the Federal Reserve. There is tight security here including a body scan machine. No photos allowed either. We didn’t always have a true national currency. The First Bank of the United States was located in Philadelphia and can be visited as can the building that housed the Second United States Bank. Both failed to have their charters renewed after the first twenty years. It would be 75 years until the Federal Reserve was created and the system we have today would be created. At one time someone traveling from Illinois to New York would find the money in their pocket (state issued) was worth only 50 cents on the dollar! There is a display of counterfeit money and you need to decide if it is real or fake. Some are fairly easy but some really require an expert to detect the flaws.

Now for some walking and just seeing the sights. The Betsy Ross House was mobbed by school groups so that was crossed off the list. We passed the Arch Street Meeting House, a Quaker Meeting House built in 1804. Then on to the Carpenters Hall. The building was constructed by a trade group prior to the American Revolution. The Carpenters Hall functioned much as a union would today minus collective bargaining. Ben Franklin had a history with the Carpenters Hall as one of its members built his home and he used the upstairs of the Hall to meet with a French spy before the Revolution began. It was the site of the First Continental Congress and a set of chairs used by them is on display.

Walking on toward the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial you pass the Todd House. You may not recognize the name Dolley Todd. She was married to John Todd, a lawyer, and had two children. In 1793 she was widowed when her husband died of yellow fever. She also lost one child the same year. You most likely do know of her as Dolley Madison after she married James Madison and became our 4th first lady. The 1776 home is open only for tours by the National Park Service.  Further down the block we saw a sign stating that Casper Wistar lived in this home. Who was he? A noted physician, anatomy professor and abolitionist, he instructed Merriweather Lewis in medicine and paleontology prior to the Corps of Discovery heading west.

Just a block or two further was an old church, St. Mary. Several plaques hung on the front wall telling of her part in the early history of our country. On July 4, 1779 the Continental Congress and numerous dignitaries were here to celebrate the first public religious celebration of the Declaration of Independence. On November 4, 1781 another service was held to give thanks for the victory at Yorktown. Besides our leaders, the ministers of France and Spain attended as well as numerous French troops. The conquered flags of Great Britain were laid upon the altar. Another tablet noted that John Barry, father of the United States Navy, was buried in the adjoining cemetery. John Barry came to America from Ireland. He was the first captain of the first ship owned by the Continental Congress and served as commander of the Navy during the Revolution. George Washington then appointed him the first supreme commander of the Navy. Yet another plaque notes this as the resting place of Thomas Fitzsimmons (signer of the Declaration of independence), George Meade (grandfather of George Gordon Meade the Union general at Gettysburg) , General Stephen Moylan (George Washington’s aide-de-camp and Commander of the Cavalry at the close of the Revolution) and Matthew Carey (leading publisher and a chief force in the creation of American literature). If you’d like to read more about Matthew Carey please see the information photo below. To make it easier to read, enlarge to full screen and zoom in. A walk through the grave yard lead to more interesting signs. Philippe Charles Jean Baptiste Tronson DuCordray was a French military artillery expert and engineer who volunteered to come to America to assist the colonists almost three years before France officially entered the war. He was made Major General and commanded the works along the Delaware River. He drowned crossing the Schuylkill River and was given a state funeral and the Continental Congress attended. Another foreign dignitary so honored was Don Juan de Miralles, an agent of the Spanish government in 1780. Colonel Charles von Kusserow was a Prussian born army officer who fought with the Union Army during the Civil War at Antietam, Fredricksburg and Yorktown and received many honors. The sign by his grave says he suffered sunstroke twice during his service and died at age 46 in 1879.

There was a small sign at the street side next to a building called the Powel House. It told about how in 1931 Frances Wister and Herman Durhing, an AIA architect, formed the  Philadelphia Society for Landmarks. They bought and restored the Powel House. Then they lobbied not to have historic properties razed and for new buildings to be built in a harmonious design. Some of Philadelphia’s treasures that were saved are the Franklin Institute (now the Atwater Kent Museum), the U. S. Customs House and Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America). They were instrumental in getting Independence National Park established. The Society now manages four properties that are open to the public: Powel House (home of patriot Mayor Samuel Powel), Physick House (home of the Father of American Surgery), Gumbelthorpe (summer home of the Wister family) and Waynesborough (home of Major General Anthony Wayne). Maybe we’ll see them on another trip.

By now we reached the Kosciuszko National Memorial only to find it closed. It’s open only on Saturdays and Sundays. Guess we should check the NPS website before starting out. The Edgar Allen Poe house was also closed for renovation. More reasons to return. Our last stop was the National Jewish American Museum which opened in 2010. There is airport type security here. Steve had to leave his pocket knife with security until we left. We had an hour and a half to spend but could have stayed twice as long. The six floors of the museum are packed with displays from early Jewish immigration through the present. There are rotating exhibits as well as the permanent collection. Maybe we’ll come back and finish some other time.

All of this sightseeing had given us an appetite. We couldn’t leave without having a Philadelphia cheese steak so we stopped at a local pub on the way back to the truck. While we did a lot there is so much more to see… there’s always something to do in Philadelphia.

Franklin Post Office

Franklin Post Office

post office, Ben Franklin

Still Working After All These Years

Famous Folks Have No Privacy

Famous Folks Have No Privacy

Philadelphia, Quakers

Arch Street Meeting House

Carpenters Hall

Carpenters Hall

cemetery, Philadelphia, history

St. Marys Cemetery

Matthew Carey Information

Matthew Carey Information

Todd House

Todd House

Arlington National Cemetery

HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD

March 28 was a cool and blustery day, and we decided to visit Arlington National Cemetery.  Again, we parked the truck at the Vienna Metro Station and took the train.  As Chari has mentioned, it’s a clean, efficient system, and really the only way to get around in the D.C. area.

We’ve visited a lot of cemeteries since we’ve been on the road, and we love wandering and looking at the old tombstones and markers, some centuries old, and wondering about the lives of the people interred there.  Sometimes we’ve visited military cemeteries, usually at the site of a National Battlefield, like Little Bighorn or Gettysburg.  It’s different in these places.  The battlefield graves are not of people who lived out their natural lives, but are of men and women whose lives were cruelly interrupted by the horrors of war and who never returned to the arms of their families and friends.  Other graves in these military cemeteries are of veterans of all American wars who survived their wartime experiences and were able to return to a normal life.

But this is different.  This is Arlington.  This place is special.  You feel it as you enter the gates, along with thousands of other people, both citizens of the United States and citizens of the world, who come to pay their respects.  This is not just another military cemetery, although in some respects, it is just that.  Veterans of all of our armed conflicts are eligible for burial here, and as at the others, you feel a profound sense of respect for those who lie in the thousands of graves.  But this is Arlington.  This place is special.  This is where we honor our greatest heros.  Arlington.

Arlington1

The first thing you see as you enter and look to the top of the hill is Arlington House, with the American Flag flying at half-staff.  Arlington house was built for George Washington Parke Custis, the step-grandson of our first President and only grandson of his wife, Martha Custis Washington.  Custis’ father, John Parke Custis, bought the 1100 acre property in 1778, and after the death of his grandmother, Martha in 1802, decided to build his home there and name it Mount Washington.  Family members convinced him to call it Arlington House, after their ancestral home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  An English architect, George Hadfield, who also participated in the design of the U.S. Capitol, designed the house.  Custis’ only surviving daughter, Mary, married her distant cousin Robert E. Lee, and in 1857 inherited the home.

At the beginning of the Civil War, President Lincoln offered command of the Federal Army to Lee, who declined and resigned to join the Confederate Army.  He reported to Richmond, and almost immediately wrote Mary advising her for her safety to leave her home due to its proximity to Washington.  Because of its high ground position overlooking the city, within days of her leaving it was occupied by Union troops.

View of Washington DC from Arlington House

View of Washington DC from Arlington House

General Irvin McDowel used the house as headquarters for his Army of Northeastern Virginia, and in 1864, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs, a Georgian who had served under Lee in the days before the war, believing Lee had made a treasonous decision in fighting against the Union, had Mrs. Lee’s prized rose garden dug up to bury twenty-six Union soldiers.

After the end of the Civil War, Robert and Mary Lee chose not to contest the Federal Government’s decision to confiscate the property during the war for “non-payment of taxes.”  But in 1870, when Robert E. Lee died, his oldest son, George Washington Custis Lee, who would have inherited the estate, sued to regain the property.  It wasn’t until 1882 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.  In 1883, in a signing ceremony attended by the son of Robert E. Lee and the son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln (then Secretary of War) the estate was sold back to the Federal Government for $150,000, about three and a half million in today’s dollars.

So much for the history of the estate.  Now on to the cemetery itself.

“BENEATH THIS STONE REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK.  THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED, BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS.  MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.  SEPTEMBER A.D. 1866”

“BENEATH THIS STONE REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED, BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE. SEPTEMBER A.D. 1866”

We took the bus tour through the cemetery.  The driver/tour guide spoke of various monuments and facts throughout the tour, but we only made three scheduled stops, at the John F. Kennedy grave, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and finally at Arlington House.  We were free to wander on our own at each stop, and then pick up another bus to continue the tour.  Since, as I mentioned, it was a chilly and blustery day, we didn’t spend a lot of time on our own, but someday we’d love to go back and spend the entire day wandering and exploring the cemetery.

THE ETERNAL FLAME AT THE GRAVE OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

THE ETERNAL FLAME AT THE GRAVE OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

AND SO, MY FELLOW AMERICANS,  ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY MY FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, ASK NOT WHAT AMERICA WILL DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT TOGETHER WE CAN DO FOR THE FREEDOM OF MAN

AND SO, MY FELLOW AMERICANS,
ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU
ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY.
MY FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, ASK NOT
WHAT AMERICA WILL DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT TOGETHER
WE CAN DO FOR THE FREEDOM OF MAN

Today’s politicians, of both parties, who profess to revere Kennedy, would do well to remember these words instead of pandering to those looking for a handout.

From the walkway not far from Kennedy’s grave, I saw the back of a stone for Michael A. Musmanno, whom I had never heard of, but I was intrigued by reading that he was a presiding judge at the International War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg.  I looked him up on-line afterward, and found he led a very interesting life.  He served in the Navy in both World Wars, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.  In civilian life after World War II he served as a justice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania until his passing in 1968.  He must have been quite a controversial character, as in his tenure, he himself wrote more dissenting opinions then in the previous fifty years of the court combined!  I only saw the back of his stone, but was able to find a photo of the front on-line.

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The quote on the front of the stone reads:

“There is an eternal justice and an eternal order, there is a wise, merciful and omnipotent God. My friends, have no fear of the night or death. It is the forerunner of dawn, a glowing resplendent dawn, whose iridescent rays will write across the pink sky in unmistakable language – man does live again.’ 

The final words of Michael A. Musmanno in his debate with Clarence Darrow, 1932.”

I found another stone quite interesting.  Again, from my position I was only able to see the back, but it indicated that the person buried there was a veteran of the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II.  A long military career indeed!  There was a number on the back of the stone, so I did a bit of research on-line and found his name was Frank Fletcher, and not only did he serve in those three wars, he was a Medal of Honor recipient for heroism in the Mexican Campaign in 1914.  He was Task Force Commander at the Battle of Coral Sea in World War II, the first battle in history fought between Aircraft Carrier groups, and the first battle where opposing forces were out of sight of each other.  Two destroyers bore the Fletcher name.  The first, DD-445 was named for his uncle, the second, DD-992 was named for him.

This is all I saw.  Note the number at the top of the stone.

This is all I saw. Note the number at the top of the stone.

I found this picture while researching the number.

I found this picture while researching the number.

For a very interesting internet article about Admiral Fletcher, see:     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Jack_Fletcher

There is a memorial to the Battleship Maine, which exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898 and was a cause of the Spanish American War.  Was it truly sabotage, as the American press professed?  Or was the cause of the explosion a fire in a coal bunker?  The controversy goes on to this day.  Admiral Fletcher, by the way, at one point had served on the Maine.  The actual mast of the Maine is part of the memorial, as well as the names of the 261 fatalities carved into the monument.  I found it interesting while looking at the names of the marines and sailors that several of the sailors had rates which no longer exist.  Like John T. Adams “Coal Passer” (I envision a bare chested, sweaty man covered in black coal dust with a large flat shovel piling coal into a boiler), Charles Anderson “Landsman”, and Bernhard Anglund “Blacksmith”.  And how times have changed from when Orientals served in the American Navy as cooks or servants.  Suki Chingi “Mess Attendant” and Yukichi Katagata “Warrant Officer Cook”.

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We saw a memorial to the Challenger Astronauts.

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And a tribute to the Americans who lost their lives in the failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1980.

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But by far, the most impressive sight at Arlington is the Tomb of the Unknowns.  There are unknowns buried at most battlefield military cemeteries.  In wars up to and including the Civil War, the only way to identify a dead soldier was if someone who knew the man could identify the body.  Or if he had some personal belongings such as a letter or a bible on his person.  By World War I most soldiers were wearing some sort of identification, but oftentimes these were lost and the bodies remained unidentified.  After “The Great War”, it was decided to create a monument to The Unknown Soldier, thus honoring every soldier killed in battle whose identity was forever lost.  The soldier chosen would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The process of choosing a particular person to be so honored was quite complex.  The custom was followed for World War II and Korea, and again for the conflict in Vietnam, although by Vietnam, means of identification were much improved, and the remains selected were eventually identified and returned to his family.  For an extremely interesting internet article about the selection process, please see:  http://www.456fis.org/THE_SELECTION_PROCESS_OF_THE_UNKNOWN_SOLDIERS.htm

The Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater

The Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater, location of the Tomb of the Unknowns

STANDING GUARD

STANDING GUARD

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Inside the Amphitheater is a small museum, housing artifacts relating to the Unknown Soldier Tomb.  Honors from countries all over the world are on exhibit.  One I found very interesting was a letter from the King of England in 1921 thanking the American people for bestowing on the British Unknown Soldier from World War I the Congressional Medal of Honor, and so honoring ours with the Victoria Cross.  The flags that draped the caskets of each of our soldiers, from WWI to Vietnam are on display, along with the Medals of Honor issued to them.

LETTER FROM KING GEORGE

LETTER FROM KING GEORGE

MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION SIGNED BY PRESIDENT REAGAN AND CASKET FLAG FOR THE VIETNAM UNKNOWN

MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION SIGNED BY PRESIDENT REAGAN AND CASKET FLAG FOR THE VIETNAM UNKNOWN

Quite by accident, while visiting the rest room, we happened by a soldier explaining to a family including a young boy, probably about twelve years old, about the proper procedure for placing a wreath at the tomb.  The lad was extremely attentive, and I found out later he was being instructed because he was going to place a wreath there.

We were privileged to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and it was very moving.  Although there was a crowd of a couple of hundred people watching, including many children, there was dead silence.  You could hear a pin drop.  The following video lasts for about six or seven minutes.  It’s a bit shaky in places, I was holding my small pocket camera, but turn on your volume and note the silence and respect of the spectators.

And please, as an American, please make the effort to visit Arlington.