Saturday, October 31, 2015

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

We moved on to Westwood, NJ, close enough that we could go into New York City if we wanted to. I really didn't want to, but I did take the ferry from the NJ side to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I got a good view of Manhattan from as close as I wanted to get.

The first stop was Ellis Island, where more than 12 million immigrants arrived in the US between 1892 and 1954.

It was abandoned in 1954, but 30 years later underwent a 6-year, $170 million renovation, reopening to the public as a museum in 1990.

This is what the end of the Great Hall looked like before the renovation.

There were lots of exhibits and photos in the rooms around the Great Hall.

We then ferried over to the Statue of Liberty. The statue sits on top of the remains of Fort Wood, and was a gift from France in 1886.

It also underwent an extensive renovation in the 1980s.

If you get tickets far in advance, you can go up to the crown. Of course I didn't plan that far ahead of time.

Instead, I just zoomed with my little Canon camera with it's 30X optical zoom. To see my camera, click on this link:

Canon PowerShot SX700 HS Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled (Black)

I never realized that Lady Liberty is walking. It symbolizes her freedom from oppression and servitude.

And I got to see some of the country's newest immigrants!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Forts, Lighthouses, and Even Other Stuff!

Our WIN group was staying in Groton, CT and there is lots to see in the area. First up was the Submarine Force Library & Museum, home of the Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, launched in 1954.

There is a nice self-guided tour through the submarine. They provide headphones that tell you all about the ship, and lots of stiff guys to demonstrate what things looked like "back in the day."

Some of the tour was a bit challenging...

Leaving the sub, we saw some fish swimming around in circles.

And now for a few of the lighthouses in the area. Across the Thames River in New London, CT is a lighthouse that is now private property.

And on the campus of the U of Conn in Groton is the Avery Point Lighthouse.

But my favorite was the New London Ledge Lighthouse at the mouth of the New London Harbor. How cute is that!

Groton has its own fort, Fort Griswold, now half buried, but interesting anyway.

But across the river, New London has huge Fort Trumbull, with a nice self-guided tour.

Those guys are getting ready to fire...

New London has some other cool things to see, like this Whaling Wall.

This whale is right in front of the train station -

And across the street from the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse, where Nathan Hale taught school for a few years before the Revolutionary War. It was supposed to be open, but wasn't, so we had to be content with looking in the windows.

On the way home we stopped to see the Old Town Mill, also not open. I guess you need to get here before Labor Day.

Back "home," we found this poor little racoon in the dumpster. I was afraid he'd get dumped and squished, so I put a log in so he could climb out. He was gone later, so I guess it worked.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mystic, CT - Seaport and Pizza!

Our first stop in Connecticut was the town of Mystic. Of course, the big attraction here is Mystic Seaport.

It's quite a bit larger than I remembered from the last time I was here. There are now over 50 buildings, ships and exhibits. One showed how these old lobster traps were made.

There's a lighthouse out on Lighthouse Point, although it's a replica.

One of my favorite things was this very old Australia schooner. I was surprised they let you go in it, because it looks ready to crumble any minute.

There was a long building with an exhibit on how rope was made.

But the star of the show is the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. Built in 1841, it had an 80-year whaling career, and still sails occasionally.

We were allowed on deck, but now below. I did catch a glimpse of some of the many barrels below. Whaleships went on trips lasting about 3 years, and would not return until all of their many barrels were filled with whale oil.

We went on a short boat trip around the seaport area -

Where we got a different perspective on the park.

After that we were hungry. And where would we go other than Mystic Pizza, which inspired the 1988 film of the same name, starring Julia Roberts.

I was so hungry I forgot to get a picture of the pizza, but I did get one of Julia.

Walking back to the car, we crossed over this drawbridge with its unique counterbalances. It carries US 1 traffic over the Mystic River.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall River and New Bedford

Our next stop was Fall River, MA, whose most famous citizen was none other that Lizzie Borden.

We went to Battleship Cove, where we saw several ships, including the USS Massachusetts, enshrined here in 1965 as Massachusett's official World War II memorial. It was built in 1942.

I was more interested in the swans and their family, the ugly ducklings.

We also went to Newport, RI, and walked a bit of the Cliff Walk.

Some cormorants waved to us!

We saw many huge mansions, including The Breakers, which we toured later.

The walk got a little harder, but still doable.

More mansions...

We then went on the tour of The Breakers. No photos were allowed, but are readily available on the internet. This is the dining room, which I thought was the prettiest. Built in 1895, The Breakers was the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

We also spent a day in New Bedford, the whaling capital of the world, and home of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Three huge whale skeletons hang from the ceiling - a Right Whale, a Blue Whale, and a Humpback Whale.

There's also a large scrimshaw collection, mostly done on Sperm Whale teeth.

The Lagoda is a 1/2 size model of the original whaleship. It's the world's largest shop model. The original was built in 1826 and the model 100 years ago.

There's also a Sperm Whale skeleton -

With a helpful human skeleton standing by to show the correct scale.

Close by was the Seamen's Bethel, a non-denominational church built in 1832. The Pulpit looks like a ship's bow.

We then walked along the waterfront, where I found some great rusty stuff.

Wow - I love it!

But how can they afford these docking fees?