Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Badlands, Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse


We spent a night at Badlands National Park campground and then drove the Badlands scenic loop the following day.

I really enjoyed driving through the loop that looked like this.

Much of the Badlands reminds me of the Colorado Plateau.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial was more impressive than I expected. I mean, I knew the sculpture itself would be impressive, but the whole setup is wonderfully done - the visitor center, museum, hike through the park, sculptor's studio, etc.

There are many places to take pictures of Mount Rushmore to get different angles and views.



In the sculptor's studio is a model of what Mount Rushmore was intended to look like when finished.

It rained while we were there and I got a shot of the half-soaked faces.

We also drove over to the Crazy Horse Memorial. When finished, it'll be the world's largest sculpture at 563 feet high and 641 feet long. Right now, only the face is done. You can see the actual sculpture in the background of this model.

Here it is zoomed in a bit.

Crazy Horse's face is 87.5 feet high and 58 feet wide. Compare the presidents in Mount Rushmore whose faces are about 60 feet high.

There's so much to see and do in South Dakota. Definitely a place worth spending some time. I still have one most post to add to this blog from South Dakota. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Another Music Museum


The National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD is part of the University of South Dakota and has a collection of more than 14,500 musical instruments.

There are lots of guitars. Here's a whole room full.

I thought this harp guitar was interesting.

Here's a guitar that was autographed by B.B. King for the museum. It's a Gibson, Artist Collection "Lucille". You can read about how B.B. King named his guitars "Lucille" here.

There's a room full of keyboard instruments.

I never realized there were so many different kinds of keyboard instruments. Below is a choralcelo built between 1888 and 1908. It's an electrified (not electronic) instrument containing rotating electromagnetic tone-wheel generators that supply power to sets of electromagnets that cause the strings to vibrate. Built for theaters and resorts, only the console would be visible to the listeners. All the other hardware - power supply, speakers, tone-wheels, etc. - would be in another room.

I liked this banjo made of a baseball bat and Chevy Camaro hubcap.

Here are two of the 4 instruments made by Antonio Stradivari in the museum. The violin, on the right, was made in 1693.

This trumpet, made in Hollywood in 1978, was a prop for the movie "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

There are lots more interesting instruments in this museum. You can see pictures and descriptions of many of these instruments on their website here.

This museum is in a lovely area and worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

USAF Museum


Since Brion and I were both in the Air Force, we made a detour to the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, OH.

They have all kinds of aircraft inside and outside the museum from the very first military plane, a 1909 Wright Military Flyer (this is a replica - the original is at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.)

to a B2 stealth bomber.

There are big planes and small planes, grouped by era. Here's a shot from a balcony. Right in the middle is the SR-71 Blackbird.

And check out the B-52. As you can see, this is a HUGE museum.

There's also a fair amount of space stuff like rockets and the Apollo 15 Command Module pictured here.

We were surprised to see the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. Brion and I both worked in the program office in L.A. where these were contracted to be built. I also did computer programming of the satellite positioning system while in Denver. Here's a picture of the satellite with Brion standing in front of it so you can see how big it is. You can read about DSP here.

There are also some flight simulators and Brion just had to get into one to check it out.

My favorite plane, a C141 Starlifter, was outside. I worked on these back in the 70's and early 80's as an avionics radio technician. I really liked doing that.

Loved this museum. There's so much more than is pictured here. There are videos, information on various areas of operations, etc. Two special exhibits we saw were of the Holocaust and a tribute to Bob Hope. If you like aircraft or military history or the Air Force, you should check it out when you're in the area.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rock and Roll


We visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum this week. The building is beautiful inside and out.

There are many different kinds of displays. One area has the different types of music that preceded and influenced rock and roll. Here's one with various artifacts from The Blues.

There's a large exhibit about the protests against rock and roll in the early days, including quite a few video clips.

There's lots of video and audio going on all over the museum. This was a big screen with benches across from it where you can sit and watch many different performances. It was kind of like being at a concert with some of the all-time greats in music. The little Porsche in front of the screen belonged to Janis Joplin.

There were lots of outfits and instruments owned by those inducted into the Hall of Fame. Here's Bonnie Raitt's jacket and guitar.

Here's Billy Joel's original handwritten lyrics for his song "My Life".

I was impressed by how well-done all the displays were and they even had an ATM that looked like a jukebox which kept it "in character" with the rest of the museum.

Inside the entrance is a very large poster of the Rolling Stones. The band is featured in a special exhibit that celebrates the band's 50 years.  FIFTY!! Holy smokes!

This is just a small sample of what you can see. More importantly, there's plenty to HEAR too. It's a beautiful, well done museum and I highly recommend it if you're ever in or near Cleveland.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Niagara Falls


I'd never been to Niagara Falls and when Brion said he'd like to go there, it sounded good to me.

Here's a shot of Horseshoe Falls from the top at the Niagara Falls State Park in New York. You can see the mist before driving into the park.

Here you can see one of the boats called "Maid of the Mist". When you go on the boat (tho we didn't), you get a rain poncho. It's quite wet down there.

The American Falls is in the foreground and Horseshoe Falls in the background. I took this from an observation platform.

Brion went to the Cave of the Winds which he said was awesome. He came back to the rig smiling and WET. He got a rain poncho there but his jeans were soaked from the knees down. He said it was totally worth it.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Old Sturbridge Village


Old Sturbridge Village is an 1830s New England Living History Museum in Sturbridge, MA. I went there when I was a kid and remembered that I enjoyed it, so went back when I left CT.

I like that the people there are in the dress of the 1830s and can tell us how things were back then, like in the general store.

And in one of the houses where a quilt was being made.

There was a demonstration of a black powder gun being loaded and shot. That was LOUD!

A tinsmith made pieces that were used throughout the museum houses and were sold in the store there.

A printer showed us how books were printed.

You could even go for a ride in a stagecoach.

This is just a small sample of what you can see and do at Sturbridge. It's a place you can spend many hours if you enjoy living history museums.

On the way to Sturbridge, we stopped at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT.


Sam Clemens lived here with his family for 17 years. It's where he wrote some of his most famous books, like "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". They don't allow pictures to be taken inside the house or museum. The film they had there was the best part of the place, though it was all pretty interesting.

Now that I'm traveling after spending time in CT with family, I plan to post more frequently for a while, so stay tuned.