Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pennsylvania State Fair

Every year nearby Bloomsburg is the site of the Pennsylvania State Fair.  The fair is considered such a big attraction that even area schools are dismissed for the entire week it is operating.  Families go back multiple days in order to enjoy all it has to offer.

 Naturally, we had to see what the excitement was all about.

There were the usual food stands.  No Indian fry bread here, but there were apple dumplings and pierogies.

There were lots and lots of beautiful apples in competition to see which ones were the best..... any vegetable you could imagine.

Competition among farmers and homemakers was fierce.

If you had a collection, of any sort, you could enter it in the fair too.

I particularly liked this collection.

There was even a chance to learn a little about Pennsylvania history.

However, one of my favorite places, of any fair, are the livestock barns.

Pennsylvania has some good looking livestock too.

One thing we don't have at the Arizona State Fair are draft team competitions.

I don't think this little guy qualified but he certainly was cute.

There was also a busy fairway with rides and games but we passed that by.  The fair was a huge success and we had a great time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fort George and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

After viewing Niagara Falls we did a little shopping and a sales lady told us about a British fort and lovely little town on Lake Ontario just north of the falls, so off we went!

The British fort was built between 1796 and 1799 to guard the strategic river mouth and the town of Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake).  There was also great concern about the threat of an American invasion on this isolated and vulnerable settlement.

It was interesting to read about the British viewpoint of the War of 1812 in the fort's displays.  In Canada, Americans are viewed as the aggressors when, at school, we were taught that British actions were the cause of the war. 

 In fact, in May 1813 a massive bombardment by American artillery batteries pounded the fort into a smoking ruin leaving the powder magazine as the only building to survive.

Two days later, the Americans invaded forcing the British to withdraw.  The Americans re-fortified the site and occupied it, and the town, for the next seven months.  In December, the Americans abandoned Fort George and the British re-occupied it.

It was finally abandoned in the late 1820s but, more than a century later, was reconstructed to its pre-1813 appearance.  These are the blockhouses.  They served as barracks, store houses and the last line of defense for the garrison.

Officers were expected to live like gentlemen, even on the frontier.  They attempted to re-create their quarters to the standards they were accustomed to in Great Britain.

Some furniture was brought from home and some was purchased from local cabinetmakers or tradesmen.

Elaborate mess rules were established and social life because a military version of civilian "high society."  Dinners were sophisticated affairs complete with fine silverware and china.

Even junior officers were allowed to bring half a ton of personal belongings to make their stay at any outpost more comfortable.

This building provided the officers' mess with elaborate full-course dinners.  Army cooks and civilian cooks  hired in the nearby town were expected to be able to prepare traditional British delicacies.

Enlisted men didn't have it so easy.  Deserters, drunken soldiers, and other unfortunates were to confined to small dark cells.  Flogging was the punishment for most offences.

After touring the fort (I have LOT more pictures of it) we walked to Niagara-on-the-Lake for some lunch.  It is a beautiful little town.

We even got to enjoy a parade of Boy Scouts dressed in 1812 garb.  Canada is celebrating 200 years of peace and 2014 marks the anniversary of some of the heaviest fighting to take place during the War of 1812.

A couple more souvenir photos of our time in Canada.........

...........and we joined the crowd trying to get back into the United States.  Not to worry though - we're back in Pennsylvania and our adventures continue.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Niagara Falls

It wasn't our anniversary but we decided we should see the falls since it was only a four hour drive north of here.  Everyone said the best viewing was from the Canadian side and, fortunately, we had packed our passports.

The falls are located on the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario.

We're early risers so we had no trouble crossing the border at the Rainbow Bridge right next to the American Falls.  (It was another story coming back across!)

After paying $20.00 for parking we walked through the Welcome Center.......

.......and emerged for our first good look at the falls.

Niagara Falls actually consists of three falls:  the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.  Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful in North American falling 188 feet.

It's difficult to understand why 14 people have intentionally gone over the falls.  Some survived, some drowned and others were severely injured.

The American Falls, the smallest of the three falls, drop a mere 70 - 100 feet.

Tour boats from the American and Canadian sides get in close for a look at the falls.  On July 9, 1960 a seven year old boy, wearing only a life vest, accidentally went over the falls.  The tour boat Maid of the Mist got in close and threw him a life ring.  He was completely uninjured, becoming the only person to go over the falls accidentally and survive. 

Soon, we said good-bye to the falls and headed down river (which was actually north) to a beautiful little town called Niagara-on-the-Lake and the historic British Fort George.  We had to make the most of our time in Canada!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Corning Museum of Glass

Last weekend we went to Niagara Falls, but on our way through New York stopped at the Corning Museum of Glass.

The museum was founded in 1951 by the Corning Glass Works and is dedicated to all things glass - 
only glass.

Once through the doors, our first stop was a glass making demonstration.  Hand blown glass making is quite labor intensive and requires a lot of skill.  It takes five or six years of training to master the craft.

I'm not sure this glass chair is very comfortable.

The museum contains over 45,000 objects behind - glass!  Making it very difficult to take pics of this beautiful chess set - Jews on one side and Catholics on the other.

 They have objects that are 3500 years old here.  This glass table and crystal chandeliers were made for the St. Louis World's Fair.

After walking through many many galleries of glass we finally came to my favorite part - the gift shop!

Unfortunately, this was one of the most expensive gift shops I've ever been in so not very many items came home with me.  It was a nice way to stretch our legs before continuing on to Canada though!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Weekend in Connecticut

Our weekend in Connecticut was busy and wonderful!  My main purpose in going there was to see the tavern that my ancestors had owned in the 1700s.

The Keeler Tavern started out as a farmhouse build around 1713 and converted into a tavern and stagecoach stop in 1772 by my ancestor Timothy Keeler.  It also served as the Ridgefield Post Office for over fifty years.

Timothy was an outspoken patriot so the British fired at the Tavern during the Revolutionary War (April 27, 1777) and a cannonball still remains embedded in the wall.  The curators at the museum were delighted to meet another descendant of Timothy Keeler - but I still wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the tavern.

While we were in the area we searched several local cemeteries for family grave sites.......

..........and found quite a few!

Not far from Ridgefield, in Norwalk, is the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion built in 1868.  It was originally called Elm Park and has 65 rooms, including 17 (or was it 19?) bathrooms.  It had state of the art technology for the day.

If you ever watched the old horror soap opera Dark Shadows or saw the movie The Stepford Wives then you've seen the inside of this house.  Unfortunately, our tour guide cited "copyright laws" as being the reason I couldn't take pictures inside.  It is magnificent!

On our way to Hartford we stopped at the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market.  I have seen it on HGTV's Flea Market Flip and PBS's Road Market Warriors and I wanted to shop here myself.

I cannot tell you how many times Hubby and I said, "If only we could get this home!"  I still managed to find a few things to buy but I can't show them.  They're Christmas gifts!

Our next stop was the home built by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) in 1874.  It is a 25 room Gothic mansion and is impeccably restored with most of the original furnishings.

We had an excellent tour guide but he made sure no one took pictures inside this house either.

With all the beautiful historic homes in the area we were inspired to spend our last night in Connecticut at the Simsbury 1820 House.

When you stay at a historic inn you have to be prepared to climb stairs.

But the accommodations are always worth it!

After a delicious breakfast the next morning we said "good-bye" to Connecticut and headed back to Pennsylvania to plan some more adventures.