Archive for Vacations

The Amazing Henry B. Ford Museum

This summer Obe and Jill (our daughter) took their family and two nieces on a trip around the Great Lakes. One of their early stops was the Ford F-150 Manufacturing Plant and Henry B. Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, on the outskirts of Detroit. They weren’t prepared for the depth and massiveness of the facility and had only allowed one day. After circling the lakes, they swung back to the museum for another day and decided that we needed to go!

This past weekend they took us to Dearborn. It was a great trip, a lot of fun and an incredible history lesson, parts of which we have lived!

Dearborn is an eight hour drive from Harrisonburg plus however many times you “need” to stop for gas, food and other essential needs. Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike takes you most of the way there.

FORD F-150 TRUCK MANUFACTURING PLANT

Friday morning we had tickets to tour the Ford plant that manufactures F150 pickup trucks. It was in full production and it was fascinating to view the process from the overhead catwalk. If I remember my facts correctly, they produce 600 trucks a day. It takes 93 minutes from start to finish for a truck to come off the assembly line. Right now they are having trouble getting some needed computer chips from China. For a while they shut down but are back building the trucks and will install the chips later. All over the area, there are parking lots full of trucks waiting for chips. It is incredible. We watched a video with the story of Henry Ford. He is well known for making the first car but his innovative skills, knowledge, passion for inventing went way beyond cars. We had no idea. He developed farm equipment, steam engines, worked with innovative ways to use soybeans, built a hospital, two churches, the first assembly manufacturing facility, and had a passion for collecting Americana history.

Ready for the day…here we go. Had to wear masks inside the plant.
Just about everything you see here is part of the Ford Manufacturing Plant. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the plant but this shows the “green” roof. It is a 10.4 acre garden planted with a perennial ground cover known as sedum. It lowers the temperature in the building by 10 degrees, absorbs up to 4 million gallons of rainwater and converts carbon dioxide into oxygen improving the air quality. There are also plants growing up the sides of the plant and the little buildings on top are to let in natural lighting. Ford was a leader in innovative ways save on energy.
Solar panels at the manufacturing plant, and notice the fruit orchard with bee hives. Ford loved his trees, especially fruit trees.
While we were looking out the windows these trucks went down the road. I thought they were so cool and took a picture of them.

HENRY B. FORD MUSEUM

The museum is a display of HIS collection and it is huge. It was hard to wrap your mind around the fact that this was almost all his stuff, his collection. any items that weren’t his were labeled. The whole complex sits on 250 acres. He collected everything; cars (not just Ford), farm equipment, steam engines, horse drawn equipment and stagecoaches, trains, trucks, buses, airplanes, the Weiner hotdog car, household items, violins, guns, houses, barns, full line of Presidential limousines, the bloodstained chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot, Thomas Edison’s light bulbs and production equipment, the famous bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and was arrested, telephones, George Washington’s cot he slept on when in the field with his troops, and the list goes on and on. You wondered, how did he acquire all these things? Where did he store them? How did he have the time and energy for his never ending mission? How was HE able to acquire the limousines and Lincoln’s chair?

Henry realized people were not interested in preserving their own American culture and history. They were passionate about Egyptian artifacts, Persian rugs, Victorian period furniture and style, imports from France and Britain and other far away places while he envisioned a museum full of Americana history. Before he died on April 7, 1947, he had realized his dream come true. His museum was attracting thousands of people. Ford’s impact on Dearborn and the surrounding area is evident. There are Ford signs everywhere; schools, a hospital, water towers, manufacturing plants, billboards, a restaurant and too many places to name. He was well-known around the world and one of the richest.

The pictures inside the museum are all things Henry collected. He did not manufacture them all-some items he did. I had to pick and choose my pictures, I couldn’t show you all of them but tried to give you a taste of what it was like.

Entering the Ford museum complex. Everything was done first class.
This was a 1949 car. Gene said it was just like his first car! Ford built this car after World War II and people loved the clean-cut new look and legendary V-8 engine. It sold between $1420-$1638
1949 Coup. 6-cylinder, 95 h.p, top speed was 100 mph and fuel consumption was 20 mph. Price tag: $1420-$1638. Doesn’t look like much as changed on specs except for the price tag!!!
This was an innovative idea for an affordable house kit. All you had to do was put it together. This was the only one that was sold and lived in. The idea never caught on.

A huge steam engine used in his plant. We are standing on top of it. I don’t remember which engine, but one of these was moved to the location and the museum literally built around it.
Thomas Edison’s light bulb producing machine. It was his whole factory!
George Washington’s fold up cot when he was in the fields with his troops. He camped like his men. It fit into the case under his pillow.
The blood stained chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated.
The bus made legendary by the defiance of Rosa Parks to the racial inequity of her time. She chose to be arrested then move to the back of the bus.. We were able to sit on her seat.
President Nixon and Reagan’s 1972 Lincoln Limousine. This was the car Reagan was getting into when he was shot by John Hinkley.
President Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln
1961 Ford 100 pickup
Teddy Roosevelt’s 1902 Brougham limo! He was not fond of automobiles and preferred to use a horse drawn carriage. It was an elegant carriage for the rich and powerful.
I think this was a replica of the Wright brother’s first aircraft.
DC-3
This and the following three pictures show the progression of the home, especially the kitchen.

GREENFIELD VILLAGE

On Saturday we went to the village. You can easily spent a whole day there. The village encompassed 60 acres. It is huge and designed in an elongated oval. There is a lot of walking but not difficult walking. It is set up as a village with the houses and buildings he acquired; the house he grew up in, the two churches he built, the home of his favorite teacher, his doctor, the houses of Thomas Edison, Wright brothers, Firestone’s house, barn and out buildings, Robert Frost, Webster who wrote the dictionary, George Washington Carver and many more. Each were stocked with housewares, tools, equipment, animals, and information, most were the authentic belongings of each family. We peaked into basements, pantries, bedrooms and kitchens and barns. There was an orchard, gardens, and bee hives. There was a custard shop where they sold frozen custard using a recipe from England. It was so smooth and refreshing. There were working shops; pottery, weaving, glass blowing, printing, and a general store. There were display buildings; saw mill, grist mill, a spinning and cobbler shop, his soybean experiment, the shop where he built his first car, the Wright Brothers shop where they built their airplane, and Thomas Edison’s shop. These guys were all contemporaries and friends. Ford was especially fond of Edison who was older and a great encourager.

Circling the village were two trains; “Edison” is the oldest steam engine still working. Ford loved trains. Draft horses pulling stagecoaches and Model T cars were the only transportation in the village. At the gate you could purchase a ticket giving you access to ride as many times as you wanted. The train stopped at different locations and you could hop on and off or circle the entire village getting an overall view. The stagecoach and Model T’s left and returned at specific locations. The drivers gave a very informative running narrative. We were saving the stagecoach for the afternoon but because of the heat they were forced to discontinue them for the day. We did get to see them munching hay and swatting their tails under the shade trees in their pen. I was disappointed I didn’t get to ride one.

The first thing we did was ride the train around the perimeter of the village.
The Ford homeplace and farm. Henry’s father did not understand young Henry dislike of the farm and wanted him to eventually take it over. His mother recognized her son’s innovative spirit and became his encourager. It rocked his world when she died when he was twelve.


Ford House
Inside the Ford home.
Shop where Ford built his first car.
Wright Brothers House
If I remember correctly, this was the house of Firestone family.
Firestone’s barn.

Weaving
Model T’s waiting in line to pick up their passengers.
Passengers’ loaded!

Glass blowing
Extracting soybean oil.
Incredible. He truly had his fingers in many pots.
I loved the black cherry trees that were in the village. They were different than our cherries and not sure if they were edible.
The General Store. Jill said this would have been our store if we lived back then!

OLD FASHION BASEBALL GAME

We were fortunate that they had a live baseball game the day we were there. Gene especially enjoyed that. It was a beautiful setting, built like an oblong bowl with hillside seating under the trees for fans. The players marched down the street in a processional with a band playing to the field. The train track ran along one side and every 20 minutes a train puffed and chugged, blowing steam and whistled as it rolled by. The players would all pause, stand at attention and lift their hats as they waved to the iron horse as if it was the first time they had seen it. It was such an honoring and respectful sight to witness.

It was a brutally hot day but a gentle breeze was blowing. The players wore antique uniforms, no helmets or gloves, used wooden bats and pitched underhand. They played by the original rules which were somewhat different from today’s highly competitive version. There were no strikes, balls or umpire. If a ball was foul and you could get it on the first balance, it was an out. The announcer walked among the crowd and gave an interesting commentary during the nine inning game. It was a gentleman’s game, played to be fun versus competitive.

Lah-De-Dah Team parading to the field.
Our commentator for the game.
The train passing by and the outfielder saluting.
Pitching underhanded.

RESTAURANTS

In the evenings we ate at two very interesting restaurants; Ford’s Garage and Bone Yard.

The Bone Yard was a barbecue joint and the locals were out in full force. We became intrigued with the take-out line that went on and on and on. We have never seen the likes. It never stopped the entire time we were there. The platters were huge and the barbecue delicious. There was no way we could eat all the food.

Ford’s Garage was an experience, so unique and special. It was everything cars!

A tailgate used for the back of the waiting bench.
Hostess station
Gas nozzles were the handles on the entrance and bathroom doors.
The sinks in the bathrooms
Sign designating the location of the bathrooms.
Grease rags and stainless steel clamps for our napkin and holder.
Onion rings served on a funnel. We didn’t get any as they were out of stock for the evening!
Menu
Sign designating the kitchen
Food!

THE OSCAR MAYER WEINER HOTDOG CAR

The second evening when we came back to our hotel, parked in front was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Hotdog car. After we went up to our room I decided I wanted to see the car closeup and see if by chance I could get a ride!!! Gene and Jill were party poopers and laughed at me but Obe became my partner in crime and giggles. It was so cool. We laughed and laughed at ourselves acting like kids! We talked to the folks at the front desk of the hotel and found out that the car had been there all week, apparently participating in something around town. They said the guys had gone out somewhere for the evening and were not at the hotel. We got paper and pencil and I left a note taped to the windshield with my name and phone number asking it they gave rides.

Here is my proof!

I did not receive a call and the next morning the car was gone and my note was laying in the grass. I think the dew caused it to fall off and they probably did not even see it!! Bummer! But it was fun to just see and touch that iconic car!

LAKE ERIE

One afternoon we took a side jaunt over to Lake Erie. This is the dirtiest of the five freshwater lakes with the big cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Erie and Buffalo surrounding it and with that brings nuclear plants and manufacturing. It was neat to dip our toes in the warm water and enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Obe and Jill
Gene and I
Nuclear power plants in the background.

So folks, I hope you enjoyed a peak into our trip and it wet your appetite to go sometime. It was hard choosing pictures but decided against posting all the steam engines, farm equipment, cars and houses. This is a trip worth having on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed.

Flight 93 Memorial

Coming home from our trip to Detroit, we decided to stop at Shanksville, PA at the site of the crash of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. After 46 minutes of flying over eastern Ohio on that fateful day, hijackers in first class attacked at 9:28 a.m., incapacitating the captain and first officer. They turned the plane southeast, heading for Washington, DC. most likely the US capital. Thirteen of the passengers placed thirty-seven calls to family, friends and authorities and began to piece together the intent and seriousness of the situation. Their plane was part of a planned attack on America. They formed a plan to rush the hijackers, knowing that it would cost them their lives. The struggle lasted six minutes.

At 10 a.m. the plane was spotted flying low and erratic and at 10:03 it crashed, upside-down at 563 miles per hour into this Somerset County farm field. All thirty-three passengers, one unborn baby, seven crew members and four hijackers were instantly killed.

The plane came over the hill above the trees and went down the hill to where it crashed. The wall at the bottom of the hill marks the path and the large boulder sitting along in the field marks the spot of impact.

The Tower of Voices

Just after you turn off of the main road (Route 30-the same road that runs across the state into Lancaster), is the Tower of Voices. It is 93 feet tall in homage to the number of the flight. This is a musical instrument with forty chimes representing the voices of each of the forty passengers and crew members. Each chime has a different tone. It takes 12 mph wind to make the chimes ring and even though it was a very breezy day, only one on of the chimes occasionally chimed it’s sorrowful tone. A young fellow with a wind app on his phone said it was blowing at 7 mph. It was disappointing we didn’t get to hear it. The tour guide on site said she hears them about once a week. Even though it had an open design, the structure seemed to block the wind. There were quite a few visitors that day and it would have been so meaningful to have heard them ring. We were disappointed in the restrictive design and wondered why they chose one so limited.

View of the chimes.

The walls to the right and left of the gate represents the flight path. On the wall are the names of the victims. The gate faces the boulder sitting as a head stone on the crash site. The woods behind the boulder burned and was replanted with spruce. The families of the victims wanted a simple memorial. On that day, an ordinary, obscure farm field became a memorial attracting thousands and thousands of people and yet remains a simple, peaceful, burial site. Only family is allowed to walk to the boulder. No bodies were ever recovered.

if you turn and look back up the hill, there is a visitor center overlooking the site filled with the story and artifacts recovered from the site. There are bits and pieces of the plane and amazingly there are a few things that survived: several bent forks, the black box, and a bank statement of one of the hijackers were a few of the items. The black box was the only one recovered from the four planes involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and this site. Pieces of the plane were scattered over the forty aces and woods. There were too many people and we were too short on time to see all we wanted at the center. The design of the center also reflects the path of the flight. This site is 18 minutes flying time from Washington, DC. The heroic action of unarmed passengers and crew thwarted and defeated the terrorists’ plan, saving many lives and kept our government intact.

The design and position of the building also reflect the path of the plane.
A walking path goes from the visitor center down to the wall and memorial. There is also a road that circled down on the left side.
The boulder, chosen from the land surrounding the site, became the marker for the site., Note the beauty of the wild flowers growing naturally.
It is wonderful to have a good zoom on my camera!
To the left and through the trees you can catch a glimpse of the farm buildings.
A memorial at the beginning of the walkway to the wall.

I quote from the a plaque in the visitor center…. “A common field one day. A field of honor forever”.

Rest in peace, America will not forget.

“Ring of Fire”

In southwest Virginia, nestled in the Appalachian foothills in the town of Wytheville at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 77, is a dinner theater called Wohlfahrt Haus.

Us younguns!

We were looking for something special for the family to do to celebrated Gene’s 70th birthday and stumbled across this hidden gem. Southwest Virginia is known for foot stumping, fiddle dancing, bluegrass and country music and there are quite a few venues that are very unique and just plain good and fun. Wohlfahrt Haus did not disappoint.

It didn’t suit the whole family to go.

The website for Wohlfahrt Haus list six different musicals for the 2019 year, each running two months, including a 50’s special, Country Gospel, the story of little orphan Annie, Christmas special, etc. During the months of September and October they are presenting “The Ring of Fire: the Music of Johnny Cash”. The following quote was taken from their website.

The story of the legendary “man in black” told through his music, taking you on a journey of passion, humor, and salvation. “Ring of Fire” features over 30 great hit songs such as “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Jackson”, and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, all performed by a talented cast of singer/musicians. It will be a celebration of one of the greatest musical superstars of our time and the “world’s most famous rebel’- Johnny Cash!

Our evening started with a delightful, elegant, two hour, four course meal; pita chips and cheese dip, garden salad, roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, baked apples, hot dinner rolls and a luscious pumpkin cheesecake. We were at preassigned tables and served by a member of the cast.

Ryan and Lauren playing a card game while waiting for the musical to begin.

This turned out to be very special and made the evening over the top awesome! Our server, Jonathan Roth, was a very friendly, personable, high energy guy, who interacted with his guests and shared little tidbits about his role and life. He was really attentive and interactive with us and our grandkids and they had a blast. The dessert was served at intermission, again by the cast. Now, think about this. The cast not only served the meal and dessert but also performed in the two hour musical. At the end, they lined up in the lobby for guests to interact with them. Plus, they had already done the same thing for the noon matinee. It was very easy to want to tip our server and I suspect he did well!

Our three grandkids were the only youth in a theater full of mostly older people but they really enjoyed the whole venue. One admitted she didn’t know what to expect but it far exceeded what she expected. Karla and Ryan have participated in their school musicals so this was right down their alley. It has been really neat and special for our grandkids to really enjoy the good country music oldies with us.

The program was a collection of thirty songs, woven together with life stories and family photos. Personal and family tragedies marred his life and he battled demons of alcohol and drugs that he was never able to overcome. During times of drug rehab and remission, his songs often reflected faith and redemption.

If you are looking for something special, we highly recommend this venue. It was an evening we will remember for a long time. The 2020 season is already posted on their website.

No, you do not quite look like Mr. Nutcracker!

The Sights of New York City

We were the “old” folks who traveled with the young to New York City last weekend. They planned the trip, purchased the necessary tickets, made the arrangements, and led the way.  We had a wonderful time and it was also very special to be with daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, Obe, Jill, Karla and Ryan.

I am posting a few pictures of the fun and unique things we saw and enjoyed that are not on my other two blog posts.

You can’t say you couldn’t find food!

A pretzel treat!

The Saturday the streets were packed. This picture does not show how bad it was.

A Sunday morning bike race through Time Square in the rain. There were lots and lots of bikers.

A barbecue place where we ate. Yes, we are standing in line to get in. It really didn’t take long and it was easy to see why the place was busy. It was packed, all three stories, and the food was good.

Subway Station

Yes we rode the subway. It really is an incredible, amazing system of transportation. We were there during off hours and it was not overly crowded.

Deserted train station (This was on or way to Ellis Island).

“Raging Bull” the symbol of Wall Street.

Brooklyn Bridge

Jill, Karla, Ryan and Obe Hostetter

Gene and I.

Barge hauling trash on the Hudson River.

The famous New Year’s eve clock that strikes midnight….and then….

…the New Year’s ball that falls.

In the middle of the street in Times Square was this Focus on the Family stage.

They were in the process of dissembling it. It would be interesting to know what they were doing.

 

Fox News headquarters.

A beautiful foundation by Fox News.

ABC News

NBC News. We took a guided tour of this headquarters. They were the only ones who offered it. It was very, very interesting. Simply amazing.

One of the game show buzzers at NBC. Ryan had fun.

It was misty and foggy the whole weekend.

 

I even got a hug from Minnie Pooh!

After the hugs and photo session they wanted money!

Trump Tower.

 

Lego Store-Ryan was in heaven!

I was amazed he could even choose something.

Lindor Truffles!  You could buy a pound for $16.99 (about 16 truffles) or a bag of 75 for $20.00.  Guess which one I took! I was in heaven!!!

Grandma and Karla with their stash of truffles!

M & M Store-we didn’t buy anything.

One neat thing when traveling with “techie” people is their use of technology to navigate.  Of course GPS led the way, but they had apps for counting the number of steps we walked, gas, food, subway, city buses, Uber, walking in the city (found out this is a good use for google maps), etc. And they could use them fast. We were never lost or without an answer to a question.

A Trump Plaza was was bout 2 miles from our Air B&B in New Jersey.

We saw the Broadway show “Ain’t Too Proud,” the story of the music group Temptations.  It was really good.

The city is rich in history and beautiful, old architecture.  There were quite a few massive cathedrals. It is amazing to think they were built years ago, before modern equipment and yet so sturdy and stunning to look at.

This was the store Gene enjoyed.  New York Yankees!

Making a decision.

Grandpa and Karla sporting their new hats!

Shipping port for containers.

The last afternoon of our stay in the city, we attended a Yankees game. The 1 o’clock game got moved to 4 p.m. because of rain. It was a steady misty drizzle, the wind was blowing and it was cold. We had two blankets between the six of us and it was not enough. We had a good time but we ended up leaving after the sixth inning because of the cold and we still had a six hour drive to Harrisonburg for the night.

Yankee Stadium

Removing the tarp for game time.

The crowd was very small-I don’t know if it was a quarter full or not.

We toured the museum and Memorial Walk at the stadium.

Gene’s number all the many years he played ball was #7.

#3 was Karla’s jersey number.

 

 

As you can see we packed a lot into three days. Obe’s walking app clocked us walking 12.5 miles and that was almost all concrete! We traveled by subway, Uber, ferry, bus and car. We had a good time and it was hard for us to pick our favorite thing.

 

Other blog post from our New York City trip:

 

Hope for the Desperate

In some ways our stop at Ellis Island on our New York trip was the most meaningful for me. In 1748 my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johann Matheus Hutwohl took his wife and two little girls in search of freedom from religious persecution in Germany, booked voyage on the ship “Two Brothers” and sailed for the “New World”.  Their story can be read on my blog post “A Family Story: Death on the High Seas”.  The Hutwohls (later changed to Heatwoles), along with millions of other desperate immigrants who fled Europe, were driven by hope for a new life as they left behind relatives, friends, a church community, their homeland and all they owned. There was promise not only of religious freedom but freedom from war, poverty and the bonds of an oppressive tyranny government.  The New World beckoned with open arms.

The dock were the cargo ships carrying the immigrants would dock.  The immigrants were ill prepared for the densely packed conditions and lack of food and personal hygiene.

Ellis Island Processing Center

I had gotten myself a little confused when I was at Ellis Island and thought that was the port of entry for Matheus. I kept trying to visualize him in that great hall and seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship entered the Hudson River. I could almost feel his grief as he walked down the plank alone, a young widow in a strange land with an unknown tongue. He had buried his dear wife and two precious daughters at sea. When I got home and reread his story, I realized he landed on Mud Island at Philadelphia and entered America through that port of entry. But I am sure the process and feelings were the same regardless of which port they entered.

The Registry Room where shiploads of immigrants would come and wait for their name to called so they could be processed. The room has been restored to it’s original beauty. Most immigrants had never seen such magnificent buildings.

I realized as we toured the museum and read the history that immigration was as difficult emotionally, physically, and politically then as it is now. Most days Ellis Island processed 4-5,000 immigrants. There was concern about health, mental stability, crime and whether the immigrants could contribute to the new society to which they had come. The processing facilities, health resources and physical needs were stretched to the limit. They had to have money, the promise of a job, and people waiting for them to help them adjust and find their way. Each immigrant had to go through several screening processes:  legal hearing, and a mental and medical exam.  There was great concern about the many contagious diseases that the immigrants were bringing to the new land. Those who were sick were marked with white chalk on their clothes and taken to the “dorm” on the island for a designated period of time.  At the end of that time if they were not well, they were returned to their native land. Many lived in desperate poverty until they found jobs and could get on their feet financially. There were periods of years when all ports of entry were closed to immigration and for years no Chinese were allowed to enter.

The health dorm.

Cots for the immigrants to sleep on.

View of the New York skyline from Ellis Island on a misty, foggy morning.

Almost all Americans can trace their roots to immigration. Depending on different world crisis and situations, different ethnic groups came at different times. I found myself very grateful that Matheus took the risk and came to the New World.  He paid a heavy price. I realize that immigrates, whether today or in 1748, all have the same desperate hope for a new start. There is something that drives them from their native land, usually with almost no earthly goods, in search of a new home. There is a huge risk and they are willing to sacrifice all to make the journey. America has and still beckons as the land of promise, the land of opportunity, the land of freedom and hope. The big difference today is that illegal caravans are demanding and forcing their way in even when the legal option is there. Our forefathers came legally; their paperwork was in order.

I was especially interested in these to information plaques since my ethnic roots are German and my spiritual heritage is Mennonite.

 

We cruised in on a comfy ferry with a food concession stand and restrooms for the 20-30 minute ride from the mainland. This was much different to the conditions the immigrants endured during the weeks and months as they crossed the Atlantic ocean.

Other New York trip blog posts:

We Remember……when America’s heart was broken

There are tragic events that are seared forever in our memory: we remember where we were at, what we were doing and other details that surround the event. September 11, 2001 was one of those events. I was working in our retail feed store when a customer told us the news. The rest of the day was consumed with sitting in front of the TV, eyes glued to the screen, trying to absorb the horrific details of untold horror unfolding live in our nation.

Picture of a picture of the New York skyline before 9/11.

I remember feeling fear: fear of the unknown, fear of the unimaginable destruction and death, fear of what may happen next. I remember the eerie calm and quietness that settled over the land for several days as all planes nationwide were quickly grounded. I went outside and looked up. There was not a single white exhaust airplane streak or noise in the sky for several days.   I remember the pit in my stomach as we watched humans fall to their death from the burning inferno raging in the two World Trade Center towers.  I remember the dust-covered alien-looking ghost city as the collapsed towers crumbled into smothering heaps of twisted rubble. I remember watching people fleeing for their lives, running in heels and business attire. I could only imagine their fear, horror and confusion. I remember watching the towers burn, then crumble, knowing there were people trapped and unable to escape, experiencing unimaginable terror. I remember trying to imagine people attempting to flee the towers, descending more stairs than I can imagine or is physically possible. Some were even carrying other injured strangers.

I remember people helping people, saving others to only die themselves.  I remember feeling great sadness and anger that humans could and would impose such evil destruction on innocence people in the name of their “god” and their hate for a nation not their own.

This past weekend we finally got to visit New York City and the 9/11 memorial. It was a very well done and touching memorial. I would highly recommend it. It brought back the memories, the feelings and most of the pictures and videos we had already seen-in real time. It was eerie to see actual pieces that survived the destruction, pictures of those killed and stand on the actual footprint of the site.

One of the reflective pools that covers the actual footprint size (1 acre) of one of the towers. It was bigger than it looks but smaller that what you would think. The names of the victims were written on the edge. White roses are placed each day on the victim’s birthday.

 

The front of the new Freedom Tower.

Looking straight up. It was a foggy day and hard to get good pictures. There were two planes attached to the front of the building near the top.

 

There were at least four walls of pictures of the almost 3,000 victims, plus those killed in the bombing of the tower in 1993.

 

Survivors’ Stairsteps: the actual steps that survived and that people used to flee to safety.

Another set that survived.

An elevator motor.

The base to the signal tower on top of the tower.

 

New York Fire Department #3 Ladder Truck.

A steel beam.

As steel beam bent into a horse shoe.

Another beam.

Another beam. That is not graffiti. It is codes left by firemen to note their location.

Our tour guide. We were standing on the footprint of the tower with one of the walls in the background.

Column pillars.

“Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on.”

Trinity Church is located about 2 blocks from the towers. After 9/11, it opened it’s doors to the first responders and volunteers as a place of rest and refreshment. Food was served, the pews were used for sleeping, and spiritual counseling was provided.

 

The towers could be seen from the back street of the church. That is the new Freedom Tower in the background. I am thinking the dark strip marks the height of which the plane penetrated. But I do not know that for sure.

Another business very close to the towers that became a hangout for the many volunteers during the cleanup was O’Hare’s Restaurant & Pub. We ate supper there.  The walls and ceilings are covered with badges and shirts donated by the first responders from all over the country. Thousands and thousands of them. We found a few from Virginia by our table. The place was packed.

Another memorial that was very touching to me was the “Tear Drop Memorial”.

There is a lot of symbolism in this very thoughtful, sensitive and well designed 10–story sculpture by Zurab Tsereteli  and donated by the people of Russia.  Twenty-six Russians died in the trade center bombing in 1993 and 9/11. Freedom Tower can be seen through the eye of the memorial.  It was given to the state of New York who refused it. Finally, New Jersey agreed to accept it.  You have to know about it to find it. It is on a canal street by the Hudson River in Bayonne. There are no signs to direct you and no advertising to draw your attention to it. You think you could not possibly be going to the right place as you wind through a shipping area with containers, warehouses and sea ships. It is very disturbing to me that this lovely gift as been treated in such a disrespectful way.

The walk way around the memorial list the names of the people from New Jersey who died on 9/11 and the bombing of the tower in 1991.

 

Something about this does not set well with me.  To me, it is embarrassing to think that New York would refuse such a gift. Putin came for the dedication of the memorial.  I say to the people of Russia, thank-you for the beautiful, thoughtful and kind expression of sympathy for America and Russia’s grief. Our hearts were broken that fateful day, many tears were shed and the grief of loss is still felt by those who lost loved ones.

For more information about the controversy surrounding the sculpture click on this link.

We will remember…….

 Other New York trip blog posts:

Battleship Wisconsin-Norfolk

 

Yesterday (February 2, 2019) we took our family to visit the Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) who is berthed at Nauticus, in Norfolk, Virginia at the largest navel base in the world.  It was fun, educational and very interesting to visit this majestic battleship who, in her day, was queen of the ocean.

The Wisconsin, affectionately nicknamed “Big Whisky,” is 887 feet, 3 inches in length and 108 feet, 3 inches at the beam and could reach speeds of 33 knots. Her crew complement was 1,921 officers and enlisted men.  Despite its mammoth proportions, the Japanese had three battleships that dwarfed the Wisconsin.

This ship was actually the second ship so named. The first was called the BB-9 and was decommissioned in 1920 after over two decades of service. The second Wisconsin was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1941 and launched on December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Battleships are no longer used by the navy and have been replaced with Air Carriers and Destroyers.

Big Wisky enjoyed a service that spanned six decades, surviving two typhoons and participated in three major wars:  World War II,  Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm where she fired the last shot of the war.  In 1991, least than a month after returning from Desert Storm, she was decommissioned and relieved of active duty. In 2006, the US Navy deleted the Wisconsin and Iowa battleships from the NVR and made arrangements for the battleships to be donated to a museum.  The United States Congress was very concerned about the loss of battleship firepower and stipulated that the Wisconsin had to be maintained “battle-ready” for deployment if needed.   In 2009 all rights to the battleship were relinquished as it became apparent that $500 million was needed to reactivate the aging vessel and $1.5 billion for full modernization.  The battleship was then stripped of usable parts be used on other ships. She fought with distinction in three wars and is now enjoying an honorable retirement as a tourist attraction. An interesting tidbit…. it cost $1 million a year to keep the Wissonsin in retirement. In her active days, it cost $1 million per day to maintain her duty.

For Christmas this year, we gave our kids and grandkids an experience gift-a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin.  You can take a self-guided tour or take advantage of two guided tours: Command and Control Rooms and Engine Room.

  • Command and Control Tour was a 90 minute tour that covered four “decks” and included the Captain’s cabin, Admiral’s cabin, Combat Engagement Center, Flag Bridge, navigation Bridge and Quartermaster’s space.

Here we are sitting around the table in the Captain’s cabin. This was a very important place where meetings and decisions were made with some big name military personnel.  Norman Schwarzkupf Jr. a United States Army General who was Commander of Central Command sat at this table. We just don’t know who sat in his chair!

Pictures of the tour……

Boarding the ship

The Captain’s Quarters.

The captain is in command of the ship.  No one can tell him what to do. He is the final word.

Our tour guide was well-versed as he had served on the ship. Those numbers are very important and these signs are posted everywhere.  It tells emergency personnel the exact location of that room on the ship with each number or letter giving specific important information. I remember that the second row (89-95) refers to the numbers on the metal i-beams in the ceiling of the room.

In the Captain Cabin is this photo of the Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and New Jersey Battleships at sea.

The Control room where commands are given to “fire”. The brown chair is the captains chair.

A simulation of what it is like in that room during battle. The blue light was used to produce a calming effect during the flashing lights, voice commands and intense release of firepower.

 

Navigation Table where they mark and keep track of their location at all times.

This bubbles on this Clinometer tells us that the ship is floating level. If the bubble was at the top of the U-shaped curl on the far right,  we would be upside down-capsized and heading for the bottom of the sea! Incidentally, he said that divers always look for this meter as it tells them a lot about what happened.

These steep ladders were everywhere. For some of us it was easier to go down backwards.

And others preferred this way!

There were valves, levers, gauges, pipes, and equipment everywhere.

This door to the Control Room that is on top on the ship weighs 10,000 lbs. The solid steel and iron security was incredible. Attacking missiles can not penetrate it.

Sometimes it just feels good to “be captain”!!!

A view down a long walkway-over 300 feet.

  • Engine Room Tour was a 60 minute that took us seven “decks” down in the depths of the Battleship Wisconsin, where we learned what was required to power this massive city at Sea.

Pictures of this tour……

There were four engine rooms where huge broilers made steam to produce electricity and power the ship. We were in Engine Room #1.

The organized maze of electrical wires and pipes was beyond comprehension.  I can’t not fathom the engineer planning that went into producing such an incredible ship where everything fit, had it’s place and worked. And they knew what it all meant!

It was hard to get many pictures in the bowel of the ship. The spaces were so small and the equipment so huge. Some of these areas get so hot when in use because of the steam broilers.  The men worked in 130 degree temperatures with 100% humidity and no air conditioning. They can only work four-hour watches. There was one room that had crucial gauges in it that would get up to 150 degrees. That is the limit a human body can stand and they can only be in that room 30 seconds. Two go in and quickly read the gauges and come back out. No one is allowed to go in alone. Some of the pipes are 800 plus degrees. You do not accidently touch them or you deeply regret the moment.  We were down seven decks and saw the bilge-the floor of the ship.

We learned the ship has it’s own language: some examples.

  • Deck means floor
  • Hatch means door
  • Chow means food
  • Ladder means steps
  • Berth means bunk bed
  • Gallery mans kitchen
  • Scuttles means portholes
  • Speed is measured in knots
  • Bow is the front of the ship
  • Port is the left side of the bow
  • Starboard is the right side of the bow
  • Bilge-the very bottom of the ship

A destroyer always traveled with the battleship to help protect her from enemy attack and submarines. The battleship was incapable of detecting or destroying submarines. The destroyers were smaller, not as noisy, more agile and equipped with sonar equipment.

Our self-guided tour pictures….

 

Tomahawk Missile Launcher

They told the story from several years ago, when a man was visiting and touring the ship, and he asked why they didn’t raise the hatch on the launcher so people could see what it looked like. They had to admit, no one knew how. He said, “I did that job, I know how.” The next day the man returned and he took them to the right control, push the button, and the hatch raised.

The fire-power of this ship, the accuracy it could hit and the distance the missiles could go was fearsome and state of the art.