Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Graubner Library

Years ago when visiting Michigan I remember going by a Graubner orchard.  First of all you have to understand that my last name isn't common.  It is rare that I come across anyone with the same last name who either isn't related, or isn't in Germany.  My paternal grandfather had cousins who lived further south in Michigan including one named Roland.

Born March 4, 1904 [four years after my grandfather], in what was then North Grove, Michigan, (between Mayville and Caro), Roland Graubner grew up on the family farm.  His father, William, died when Roland was 6 years old, leaving his mother, Nettie Johnson Graubner, brothers Franklin and Willford, and sisters Carrie and LaBelle, to run the farm.  "There was a big family to support," Mr. Graubner stated.  "When we got through high school we had to move out.  I went to Detroit. 
He married in 1933 and "In 1958 the Graubners moved from Detroit to the orchard at 65885 Van Dyke after the death of Mr. Graubner's aunt, Florence Brice, who, with her husband Gideon, owned the orchard.  Mr. Graubner purchased the property from the estate and moved his family quickly because, "The cherries were ripe and the peaches were just beginning to come in.  At home in the thumb my grandfather set out an orchard--cherries, and a few grapes.  Anyway, I was always a frustrated farmer."
--from Graubner Library dedication pamphlet
Orchard sign preserved in library hallway
When we visited the library I asked at the desk to see if anybody could tell me more information about the origin of the library.  I also poked around and took pictures of all the signs that I could find.  The orchard doesn't exist any more as the land it occupied was donated for the library.  The reference librarian asked around and eventually got permission to give me a copy of the pamphlet given out at the dedication of the library that contained a short biography of Roland Graubner (excerpted above).

Outside I made sure that both Amy and I had pictures next to the sign.
She hasn't been a Graubner as long as I have, but she still is one!
It was a fun place to visit, and I'm glad that I talked to the staff inside to explain who I was in my quest for more information.
I also picked up several library brochures just because it was cool to have things with my last name on them, ;-).  And I thought that the Lego Club looked like a pretty neat idea!

~Matt

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

West Yellowstone

Driving outside of the park for the second time in two days (though it was our first time off of NPS land in several days) we headed to West Yellowstone, which is directly outside of the West Entrance of the park.


Located at an elevation of 6,666 feet in the southwestern portion of Montana and just four miles from Wyoming and eight miles from Idaho, West Yellowstone, Montana is the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded on the remaining three sides by the Gallatin National Forest, this community enjoys the daily wonders of nature.  
To say West Yellowstone is small might be an understatement. On just over 360 acres of land, 1,200 year-around residents reside. Tourism is the economic mainstay of the town that has been hosting visitors since before the turn of the last century.  
Incorporated in 1966, West Yellowstone adopted a self-governing charter in November 1980. Currently the community runs under a strong-council form of government with a Town Operations Manager responsible for day-to-day operations.  
You’ll find West Yellowstone easily located 90 miles south of Bozeman, Montana and 100 miles north of Idaho Falls, Idaho.
--from Destination Yellowstone website
As the description above notes there isn't much to West Yellowstone.  We drove through it on our way into the park, just stopping long enough to fill up (knowing that as high as prices were there they were sure to be more expensive inside the park).  However, on this trip back out to the area I had certain plans.  A stamp and a movie were involved!  Our first stop was at the visitor center, which did indeed have a passport stamp.
There is apparently an interesting historical trail around town that follows bear paws printed onto the sidewalks.  If we go back to the area at some point I'd like to spend some time following it.
FREE West Yellowstone Historic Walking Tour - Follow this informative self guided tour and relive early West Yellowstone. The green Bear Paw Trail that’s painted on the sidewalks will lead the way! Pick up your map at the Chamber of Commerce or at one of the 21 site locations!--from Destination Yellowstone website [pdf download available at site]


There weren't any exhibits per se in the visitor center, but a few displays on the wall and plenty of brochures, including one that had a discount on the neighboring IMAX theater.  Amy was enough of a guest to ask to stack the brochure coupon with the matinee discount, and it worked.

Fifteen years ago when I visited Yellowstone with my parents we stopped in West Yellowstone to see the IMAX.  It made enough of an impression on me that I bought the film on DVD many years later, so I wanted to take Amy to see it at the theater where I first saw it.  It was definitely worth the trip, especially with the cheap deal we got.


I also got a smashed penny inside the theater, so I was happy about that.


After this we walked around just a bit, looking at a tiny taste of the area's history.
 This building apparently houses a museum now, but used to be a train station.

 On the front porch were several old vehicles like this Gilmer & Salisbury Mud Wagon/Mail Coach:
Imagine yourself riding on top of tie piles of mail and freight as this coach bumped along dusty roads.  Sometimes that was how early travelers caught a ride.  A coach this size was pulled by four to eight horses, depending on the size of the load and the conditions of the terrain. 
This coach has been restored and was originally painted red.
--exhibit signage


This vehicle is an antique 1964 Arctic Cat snowmobile.  Compare this to a snowmobile you might see today. 
To learn more about winters in West Yellowstone, please step inside the Museum.
--exhibit signage
We didn't actually venture inside the museum, but the next time I visit West Yellowstone I would like to explore inside the place.  We did step over to the front of the building and then we took a look down the road also.
It looked quite touristy across the street, but I still think that it would be an interesting place to stroll around.
The buildings may not all be antiques, but they certainly seem to have character.

When we headed back into the park we could skip the lanes where people paid their entrance fee and go through the fast lane.  Of course it didn't actually move the fastest, but that was beside the point, ;-).


~Matt

PS Here are all of the album pictures:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jumbo the Elephant

When I was in kindergarten my teacher (her name was Mrs. Knault and I remember that at the time she seemed to be really old) read us a book about Jumbo the Elephant.  As a caveat I'll note that I don't remember all of this story personally, some of it was related by my parents.  That summer we were on our way to Michigan by driving through Ontario (after seeing Niagara Falls).  My parents discovered that there was a statue of Jumbo in the small town of St. Thomas (or perhaps I knew that from school), so we drove by to see it.  I discovered recently that it had only been erected in 1985 (just a couple years before we saw it).  I still have a picture of me standing next to the elephant.  So when we knew that we'd be driving through Ontario on our own way to Michigan from Niagara Falls I knew that I had to stop by the statue and see it again.
August 1988

When I sat down to type up this entry I also did some searching on-line and discovered that the St. Thomas public library has a timeline of Jumbo's life.  I've included several excerpts below, but if you want to see the full list please visit their website, which also includes several vintage photographs.

Jumbo was born in the Sudan in the 1860s and captured young.  He was taken to Paris and then purchased by the London Zoo.  He grew to a prodigious size and became quite famous.  In 1867 "A howdah, the traditional elephant saddle, [wa]s placed on his back and he [began] giving rides to children."  Among others, he was ridden by "the Prince of Wales and the other children of Queen Victoria, a young Winston Churchill and a number of children of the titled heads of Europe."

In 1881 he was sold to PT Barnum, the famous American circus entrepreneur.  The sale was disputed for a time but eventually went through and Jumbo was shipped across the Atlantic.  Barnum quickly made back his investment (due to court costs and transport fees the original £2000 cost ballooned to £6000) in a few weeks and went on to earn well over a million dollars, partly due to Jumbo's popularity.  On April 10, 1882, just a little bit less than 100 years before I was born, Jumbo was displayed in America for the first time at Madison Square Garden.

On September 15, 1885 the circus stopped in the booming railroad town of St. Thomas, Ontario to put on another successful performance.
After the show, the elephants are being moved from the circus grounds to their train. It is 9:30, but the elephants are meant to have been loaded after 9:55. Along the Grand Trunk railroad track, Special Freight train #151 is travelling with its engineer, William Burnip.  Several hundred yards down the track Jumbo and the little elephant Tom Thumb are the last elephants being loaded in. They are walking along the tracks to reach their train cars. Burnip sees the elephants but it is too late. He sounds the warning horn and puts the train in reverse. It screeches to a halt and strikes Tom Thumb first. He is struck by the cowcatcher and is thrown into the ravine. Jumbo is struck on his hind end, causing the train to derail. His trunk is impacted and his injuries are fatal. Scott manages to leap free of the incident, but now tends to the mortally wounded Jumbo, weeping as he strokes his head. Eyewitnesses would relate how Jumbo reached out and gently clasped his trainer with his trunk. Jumbo dies in a few minutes.
His body was parceled out to different locations, and eventually a fire destroyed most of his skin, though I presume his bones are still intact.  In 1935 the story of Jumbo was revived in St. Thomas and in 1977 a plaque is erected (I didn't know about the plaque before we visited or I would have tried to find it during our visit).  I think the last two entries on the timeline are the most fascinating.


June 28, 1985 - The Jumbo statue is unveiled in St. Thomas, sculpted by Winston Bronnum and transported from his workshop in Sussex, New Brunswick.

October 22, 1985 - Ruby Copeman dies. She is the last St. Thomas resident alive to have seen Jumbo’s accident. She was 7 at the time, and dies at 106. Ruby, then 98 years old, was on hand when the Jumbo Plaque was unveiled in 1977. Four months before her passing, Ruby had the honour of officially unveiling the new statue of Jumbo on June 28, 1985.

Looking at the year, this means that I first saw the statue when it was only about three years old.  I also had no idea that at the time there was someone who remembered the original incident.

It was raining when we arrived in St. Thomas and we'd had to navigate our way across Ontario using maps we'd downloaded to Amy's iPad before we left our campground in New York (more about that here).  Thankfully it wasn't too far off the road and we found our way to the statue even without GPS or a really good map.  I did actually miss one turn off, but then we drove past the statue and saw it, so I knew to make the next turn and come back on the road that ran right in front of it.  There was a railway car next to the statue that appeared to be a small seasonal tourist information spot--needless to say we were visiting after tourist season.

Despite the rain I climbed onto the platform (no signs said not to and I wanted to recreate the original photograph).  Unfortunately I didn't remember exactly where I'd stood in the older picture so I wasn't in exactly the same spot.
September 2012

The drive was well worth it (not really being that far off our route) to visit something I hadn't seen in so long.

~Matt





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Road to the West

Once we left Artists Paintpots behind we drove on a short ways and then stopped at a hot spot along the Gibbon River and Beryl Spring.  I recorded myself on video mentioning Beryl Spring and I can find it on a map, but the hot spot along the river isn't anything that I can figure out, I don't think it is part of Monument Geyser Basin, which is marked on the large Yellowstone map (and which we forgot to visit).  So perhaps it doesn't have a name and can just be known as the Gibbon River hot spot (as I entitled my YouTube video of the feature).




Further along, as I said, we stopped to see Beryl Spring.




I also grabbed a couple shots of ice melting off pine branches.

One of the stretches that we drove along had a sign similar to those that I'd seen in other places, indicating that the area was naturally reseeded after the massive fires of 1988.
 We saw this elk sitting peacefully and chewing her cud.
 In this video you can see a bit more of the elk.


These birds were swimming directly next to the elk.
There have been quite a few people traveling through Yellowstone over the years, from Indians, mountain men, and the Nez Perce.

If you'd like to see a few more pictures then check out the entire album:


~Matt

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Exploring Canada - Part II

After resting for a time in the park area we continued walking towards Horseshoe Falls.  After some research on-line just now I discovered that it was Queen Victoria Park we were walking through.

Queen Victoria Park is literally the "heart" of Niagara Parks. Bounded by the steep Fallsview moraine and the Niagara River Great Gorge, the Park contains a valuable collection of unique native and international plants and beautifully maintained gardens. 
Walking through the Park beside the Falls, from Clifton Hill to beyond Dufferin Islands, you can enjoy a rock garden, hanging baskets, a Hybrid tea rose garden and attractive carpet-bedding displays. Park benches and well-groomed lawns provide pleasant venues for relaxation and photography. 
--from Niagara Parks.com, Queen Victoria Park section
Whereas the American park encompassed mainly Goat Island and the Prospect Point corner of the mainland the Canadian parks were a thin strip stretched along the edge of the gorge.  There was a completely different feel.  On the American side all of Goat Island was a park--so the city felt far away.  On the Canadian side the city was always easily in view and sometimes just on the other side of the road from where you were walking in the park.  It was interesting though that both areas, the New York state park and the provincial park(s) in Ontario were created in the 1880s.

I'm not sure what building this is (this is the tower visible in the picture above), but apparently there were wires connecting it to a nearby structure or the ground.  Interesting...
This may have been part of an old power plant.  It is obviously of stone construction and the facade is very visible from the New York side.  It was an interesting view looking straight down at it after seeing across the gorge earlier.
As I mentioned before the mist obscured quite a bit of Horseshoe Falls from certain angles.

It was interesting to see the mist rise up.


I think this was the centrepiece of Queen Victoria Park, featuring a gift shop, restaurant, and carriage rides out front.
The Maid of the Mist boats appear to be quite misty.
We saw rainbows several places from several angles.  It was a great day with abundant sunshine and plenty of mist in the air.
This is the Canadian version of the Cave of the Winds tour.  It is apparently open much of the year--but it doesn't look anywhere near as exciting.  I'm sure that there is plenty of mist, but I doubt it feels the same as being on the Hurricane Deck at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls.
As I said, many rainbows.
Someone was nice enough to offer to take our picture.
This visitor center was located right near Horseshoe Falls.  There was a rather large gift shop, several restaurants, ticket selling areas for the Canadian attractions, and some small exhibits.
Amy chased seagulls in Canada also!

It was hard to decide when to take pictures as there were so many good spots--I'm there is a park and walkway along the edge of the gorge instead of commercial buildings obscuring the view. Eventually we cleared the area where the mist was in the way and I got this video of the breadth of the falls.


Can you see the double rainbow?  I thought it made a good picture to have the arch of the rainbows in front of the arch of Rainbow Bridge in the background.
I recognize the Canadian and American flags but I'm not sure about the left one.
From this angle you can see how the water falls out from the rock on Horseshoe Falls.
And one last picture in front of the falls!
On our way back to the Rainbow Bridge we headed up into the touristy part of town and walked around.  We ended up going into Starbucks where after some difficulties with the computer system Amy was able to use her Starbucks card to get a drink.  It was nice to sit down and relax for a bit.
We went into the gift shop for the Brick City attraction but didn't pay to go inside.  Perhaps next time we go back we'll explore it--it did look fascinating.
Ah, yes, and here is verification that my surmise it was QV Park we were walking through was correct.
If we'd have been driving we likely would have gone through this way. I find it interesting they make you go to the US with your duty free items.  I guess it is the best way to ensure that Canadians don't sneak in to avoid taxes.
This end of the gardens right next to the Rainbow Bridge appeared to have a very British feel with sculptures, manicured plants, and orderly paths.
Who doesn't like a fish fountain?
This is a better overview of the park with the tower at the end of Rainbow Bridge in the background.

It was a fun walk through the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  If you visit the area make sure you have your passport (or other accepted form of border crossing document) as you definitely want to go into Canada to properly appreciate the falls.  And walking is the best way to go (it is cheap and you'll see quite a bit!).

~Matt

PS All of my Niagara Falls pictures are in this album: