Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Colonial Williamsburg in the Spring

On Monday we visited Colonial Williamsburg.  As the kids are still young we didn't stop at every place we could have, but we tried to relate things to them and show them some of the fun to be experienced around the city.

It has been a while since we'd actually visited the city as guests.  The past couple times we've been by (including last Friday) we just walked around the historic district, but didn't have tickets so we couldn't go inside any buildings save for the stores.

It was also nice to visit during a time that wasn't too busy.  Yes we're in spring break season, but the crowds were never crazy as we were walking around and some places were even almost empty for a time so it was easier to ask questions of the interpreters.

We started out driving down the Colonial Parkway from the timeshare unit where we're staying for the week.  We're in the area due to a wedding in Virginia Beach that we went to on Saturday.
The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three mile scenic roadway stretching from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown. It connects Virginia's historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Several million travelers a year use this route to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Virginia.--From Colonial National Historical Park website
It didn't take us too long to arrive at the visitor center, but once we did we discovered that we had left our work badges back at the unit.

I drove back to get our badges as Colonial Williamsburg extends a discount to fellow "museum professionals" who visit.

 The visitor center.

 A relief map/model of the historic area is out front of the visitor center.  Amy and the girls had stayed behind while I ran back to get the badges and I found them here when I got back.

 Inside the visitor center are several stores, a cafe, and a large ticketing area.

You can rent costumes for the day.  Perhaps when the kids are older we'll do this--or maybe we'd make our own for them to wear.


While waiting in line we got to listen to some music.

I thought the hat displays at the market were quite colorful and made a great shot.

An auction was going on when we arrived.  I've participated in one before and it was quite a bit of fun.

Of course we needed to go to the stocks to get a few pictures.  Unfortunately they were crowded (after this shot) and so we didn't get as many pictures as I would like.

Right before noon we headed over to watch the firing of the noon gun.  It was an interesting presentation and I captured two videos.


Watch this video if you just to see the gun go off.


Watch this video if you want to see the entire presentation surrounding the firing of the noon gun.  Pardon some wobbling as I was holding my camera, my iPhone, and had a toddler in my lap--it wasn't easy to keep everything steady.


As we were about to leave the area some sheep got close and then ran off.

The kids were starting to get hungry and restless after the noon gun firing so we looked for a place to eat.  I found Retro's Good Eats nearby (just at the edge of Merchant's Square).  It is a small diner that looks like it came out of the 50s, except for their square cash registers.  Amy and I had hamburgers and the girls had hot dogs and we all had fries.  It was a good place to relax and enjoy lunch.

When we headed back to our explorations we first stopped by the pasture on Nassau Street to see the lambs.
I think this picture is begging for a caption.  I imagine the older sheep imparting some wisdom to the baby lamb.
The gardens had some beautiful flowers already.
We enjoyed stopping by the carpenter's shop.  I've done quite a bit of woodworking with my dad and brother over the years (though with power tools) and I always enjoy the sights and smells of a woodshop.
The blacksmith was working on making nails when we stopped by.


Here you can see some of his process.

It was fascinating to talk to these carpenters.  The work they were doing to split logs for their new building was not something that they would have worked on historically.  Carpenters would have bought the finished wood they needed from timber merchants.  However, today there aren't any historic timber merchants so they do all of this work themselves.  Buildings take longer to complete, but they have more work going on for people to watch.

I also stopped by the brickyard.  It isn't open for the season yet as they have to wait until they're sure there will be no more frosts.

For a little while I was the only person in the area and so I got to chat with the brick maker.  It was fun asking him questions and being able to go into a bit more detail than is possible when large numbers of people are present.


The brick maker on duty explained the whole process of using the clay in molds, drying bricks, and then burning them at the end of the season.

These are the three types of bricks you'll get from a burning.  On the right is one that is slightly overdone, but very waterproof.  You might use this for a cellar.  The left-hand brick is underdone and not waterproof (closer to a sun-dried adobe brick), so it would be used on the inside of a wall where it wouldn't get wet.  The middle brick represents a "perfect" brick that is finished and waterproof.  It is also the classic red color we associate with bricks.

This was an HDR shot of one of the houses by the governor's palace.

 We didn't have time to go inside the governor's palace this trip, but we did walk by.

 As I walked back to the visitor center I saw some cows.

 This windmill isn't open at the present time but a sign says they're figuring out how to use it for interpretation.

Finally I ended up walking through in to the visitor center.  It was a good day with only a tiny bit of rain and not too much heat.  I thoroughly enjoyed walking around and revisiting the historical areas of the city.

~Matt

PS Here is a link to all of the photos that I uploaded.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Enjoyable Fall

Today was a day to enjoy fall weather.

My sister Laurie is in town for the weekend. She helped Amy to make applesauce and she and I made an apple pie using some Northern Spy apples we got at an Indiana orchard earlier this week.

In the evening after dinner I started a fire outside. While Amy and Laurie thought it was too cold they did enjoy the heat of the fire.
I'm looking forward to the rest of this wonderful season.

~Matt

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow commute

This morning's commute wasn't a short one. Normally I drive into Cincinnati in 15-20 minutes (it is 10 minutes sans traffic). Today it took me 50 minutes, which I'm sure isn't as long as some.

I saw some interesting tracks on the front porch as soon as I walked outside.


Here was the view out front (last night the road and sidewalk had been completely clear after Monday's storm).

The view down the street.

A closeup of my car.

Dixie Highway was the clearest road along my route. 

As I approached I75/71 I could see traffic was nasty. 

At one point the lanes had shifted out of alignment. We were creeping along under 5 MPH for most of this stretch. 

The lower deck of the Brent Spence wasn't terrible. 

Here was my first glimpse of Union Terminal. 

The last bit wasn't clear, but not too bad. Thankfully the employee parking lot was mostly clear. 

On a positive note I got to listen to plenty of my current audiobook, a lecture on the early Middle Ages.

~Matt

-- Posted from my iPhone
 (c) 2015 iWolff Ltd.   

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hiking the Dunes - Part I

Last Wednesday we left Abigail with my sister in Indianapolis and headed up to northwest Indiana for a couple day vacation.  We were staying at a bed and breakfast and check-in wasn't until the evening, but we wanted to see some sights before we arrived so we stopped by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore's 15,000 acres will continually enchant you.  Hikers will enjoy 45 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers, and peaceful forests.
--Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore website
I always like to visit National Park sites whenever we're nearby, especially since we get a pass each year, so once I knew we'd be near the dunes I knew it would be a perfect place to visit.  The park was established almost fifty years ago and surrounds an earlier state park (which has the largest dunes in the area in its boundaries).  We first visited the visitor center.
We ate lunch outside--the weather was beautiful if a tad windy.
Inside the visitor center space had a few small exhibits and shared space with the state park and local tourist bureau.
Since we didn't have too much time we decided upon a short hike at the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm.
There were plenty of longer hikes, but we just took the shortest full-circle route to see the homestead and circle back around through the farm.
Sadly the ranger station was closed--which seemed strange for July, which should be in the busy season.  But according to the website it is only open during special events, which is a shame since there is apparently a passport cancellation stamp there.
The walk was shaded most of the way, which combined with the cooler temperatures (in the 70s) made for a great hike.
It was fun to just have the two of us out to explore.
I snapped a few pictures of interesting sights.
The trail was obviously not too remote as evidenced by the trash can.
After a short while we came upon an open area that we realized was the Bailly Homestead.
Joseph Bailly, one of the first settlers in northwest Indiana, arrived here with his family in 1822.  He chose this site to establish his trading post becasue it was on the Little Calumet River.
--site signage
I found these orange flowers and managed to get a clear shot with a log structure in the background.  This is one of my favorite shots from the day.
Although Indiana became a state in 1816, northwestern Indiana was essentially a wilderness when Joseph Bailly arrived in 1822 from Michigan with his wife Marie and their children to build their homestead....  During the fur trading years the homestead consisted of six log structures which served as living quarters, kitchen, storehouse and warehouses for the trade goods.  material from the original buildings is being preserved in the log structures you see today.
--site signage
Beaver felt hats, the fashion style in Europe and the eastern United States created a demand for beaver pelts.  This demand and the Potawatomi Indians' desire for trade items such as blankets, knives, metal hatchets, fabric and clothing enabled Joseph Bailly to operate a modest fur trading business in the 1820s.  Potawatomis brought the beaver pelts to Bailly in the spring of the year; he shipped them to Mackinac.  From there they traveled to Montreal and eventually to Europe. 
By 1830 Bailly's fur trading business had nearly ended.  Overtrapping had nearly depleted the beaver population in the area and the beaver felt hat had gone out of style.  In the early 1830s Joseph Bailly opened a tavern northwest of the homestead on the Fort Dearborn to Detroit Road (present day U.S. Hwy 12) to supplement his income.  The fur trading era in northwestern Indiana had come to an end.
--site signage
Change is the best way to describe the Bailly Homestead since 1822.  In the 1820s when the Potawatomi Indians brought their beaver pelts by canoe to trade with Joseph Bailly, the main house was yet to be built.  Made of white oak logs with weatherboard siding, it was under construction in 1835 when Joseph Bailly died.  The structure was completed after his death and has been altered on a number of occasions by the Bailly heirs.  The exterior of the house has been restored to look as it did in 1917, the earliest year for which an accurate appearance could be documented.
--site signage
The brick house, built for Bailly's grandaughter, Rose Howe, was constructed in the late 1870s.
--site signage
We especially liked the back porch on the main house.

Next time I'll talk about the rest of the hike and the farm that we saw.

~Matt