Day 775: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP, Saratoga NHP

Today we continued southwest back into Vermont:

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Our first stop of the day was Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, which preserves the history of the modern conservation movement, forefather of the environmental movement.  A portion of the estate is now a dairy farm museum:

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We walked through the park, which includes the mansion occupied by the Marsh, Billings, and Rockefeller families from the mid 1800s to the 1990s:

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We didn’t know what to expect at this park, but we were very glad we visited here.  The park does a great job of explaining the history and motivation of the roots of the environmental movement.  The park movie was fantastic.

The kids completed their Junior Ranger books and received their badges with quite a bit more ceremony than they’re accustomed to.  They were suitably embarrassed:

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We continued on to Saratoga National Historical Park, site of the Battles of Saratoga in 1777, the first significant American military victory of the American Revolutionary War.  It was here that General Burgoyne’s successful campaign from Canada along the Hudson River was halted, with Burgoyne ultimately participating in the first-ever surrender of a British military force.  This British defeat convinced the French to join forces with the Colonial Army and declare war of Britain, ultimately leading to American independence.

The kids tried on period costumes:

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The visitor center has a movie and a fiber-optic map with narration that describe the sequence of battle:

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Canons from the battle:

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Looking out over the battlefield:

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The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and received their badges:

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Continuing south, we are overnighting at the Walmart near Albany.  Trish did a bit of rug hooking:

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See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 774: Saint-Gaudens NHS and the American Precision Museum

Shabbos in the White Mountains was pleasant.  The leaves are starting to turn, and the air was crisp and clean.

Today we drove southwest towards Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, which preserves the house and studios of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s most prominent sculptors.  We arrived at the town of Windsor, Vermont, and discovered that we could not get across the river as the bridge there is the Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the world with a height clearance of less than ten feet.  We left the RV in Windsor and drove to Saint-Gaudens.

  The sculptures at the park are castings from the same mold as the first casting, and are considered originals although the more well known casting is installed elsewhere.

The David Farragut Memorial, which also stands in New York City:

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This building housed smaller works by Saint-Gaudens:

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Saint Gaudens started his artistic career as a teen apprentice to a cameo maker.  These samples of his work were on display:

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Gaudens was asked by Teddy Roosevelt to create coinage for the US.  Gaudens’ $20 gold Double Eagle coin is considered one of the most beautiful coins of all time, but the coin had such high relief that it took nine strikes of the coin stamp to create the coin.  The designed was later flattened to a three-strike version, and finally to a one-strike version which was practical for commerce and put into production.  The US Mint ran created a set of the ultra-high relief nine-strike coins in 2009.  Its hard to tell from the photograph, but the coin is about three times the thickness of a quarter and the design has much more depth to it than a standard coin:

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We spent some time talking to the artist in residence, who is producing a commemorative sculpture for the 50th anniversary of the site.  We learned that the initial sculpture is made in clay, then a mold is made with flexible rubber, then a wax positive is made, then a plaster mold of the wax is made and into that mold the brass is poured for the final sculpture:

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The Adams Memorial, which also stands in Washington, DC:

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The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, which took thirteen years to create.  The original stands in Boston:

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The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and received their badges:

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Back on the Vermont side of the river, we visited the American Precision Museum, birthplace of the precision tool industry and the first factory in the US where interchangeable parts were made.  Here in the 1850s, rifles were made for the first time by machine, with each worker producing one part of the gun, rather than an entire rifle being manually produced by a single craftsman:

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The museum had a “you build it” play area:

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An early lathe with a granite bed:

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This sanding machine creates wooden rifle stocks from the steel master form in the background:

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An inletting machine, which carved out a portion of the gun stock to allow the insertion of the steel lockplate:

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A barrel rifling machine:

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Trying out a test gauge, which can be quickly used to check if a part is machined to the correct size:

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The docent demonstrated how to make a gear from a brass disc blank:

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The completed gear, as well as two brass goblets made from a length of half-inch brass rod stock:

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Part of the museum was devoted to John Aschauer, who spent 25,000 hours making miniature models of machine tools.  Even the screws were made by hand:

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A universal milling machine, built in 1861:

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This Bridgeport Milling machine, made in 1938, is serial number “1”:

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It’s a mill, it’s a drill press, it’s a lathe, it’s the Gillman 4-in-1 machine built in 1940, used on Navy ships where there wasn’t room for a full machine shop:

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After leaving the museum, we hitched up to the RV and drove north to overnight at the Walmart of Lebanon, New Hampshire. 

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 772: Climbing Mount Eisenhower

It turns out that we’re dispersed camping about 15 miles from my PPG school classmates, Glen and Rhonda.  Glen drove up this morning and together we hiked to the summit of Mount Eisenhower:

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The trail is pretty rough in spots:

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Eventually we climbed above the tree line:

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In the distance we could see the Mount Washington Cog Railway:

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The final ascent of Eisenhower:

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Looking south from the summit.  This was definitely the most impressive views I’ve seen in the Eastern US:

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Mount Washington in the distance:

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Heading back down:

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We also stopped by the AMC center, where the kids turned in their workbooks and received their AMC Junior Naturalist patches:

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Good Shabbos from the White Mountains!

Day 771: To the White Mountains

Today we left Portland, Maine, driving northwest to Conway, New Hampshire, home of one of the visitor centers for the White Mountain National Forest.  The kids completed the Junior Ranger workbooks and received their patch:

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We pulled over in the picturesque Crawford Notch for a photo:

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Like the BLM, the US Forest Service allows dispersed camping.  After consulting the White Mountains National Forest MVUM map, we found a dispersed camping site a few miles up Old Cherry Mountain Road.  With our directional cell antenna deployed, we’re getting three bars of cell service with no data service.  We haven’t been able to do any dispersed camping since Colorado, so we’re looking forward to a few quiet days up here:

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See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 770: Sailing Portland Harbor

We had a nice Rosh Hashanah in Old Orchard Beach!  Before the advent of cheap air travel, Old Orchard Beach was a major Jewish summer destination, and the town had several kosher hotels and a large, albeit seasonal Jewish population.  Today, folks travel far and wide for their summer vacations, and the Jewish side of Old Orchard Beach has shrunk considerably.  Nonetheless, the turn-of-the-century synagogue had about 100 attending at least part of Rosh Hashanah services.  One of the highlights of the holiday was walking on the beach to and from the synagogue.

We had a nice time having meals with our old friends from Portland, Baruch and Elise and their son, and their neighbors in Sharon, Massachusetts, our new friends Burt and Alice and their daughter and her husband and son!

Today we hitched up the RV and left Old Orchard Beach.  Thanks for hosting us Alan!  We drove north to a marina just north of Portland where Alan’s brother Neal moors his 38-foot sailboat.  Neal invited us to join him for an afternoon sail in the harbor.  The first order of business was to raise the mainsail:

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We headed out into the harbor.  The winds picked up to about 15 knots, which caused the boat to heel over considerably as we tacked up-wind:

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Hang on kids:

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I did a bit of manning the wheel.  The boat weighs about 10 tons, so there’s a considerable delay between wheel inputs and change of heading.  It was a challenge avoiding over-steering oscillations, especially as the wind changed intensity and direction:

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We passed Fort Gorges in the harbor:

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A local high school was practicing sailing:

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Irving takes the wheel:

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Sailing back to the marina running wing and wing before the wind:

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B called her friend on the way back.  I imagined her saying something like “Yes darling, just out on the yacht, you know.  Lovely day, just lovely.”:

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Entering the marina:

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Back on shore, the sails were tied down and covered:

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We plugged in to charge the boat’s battery:

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Thanks for the amazing experience Neal!  I had been sailing once in high school, for the rest of the family it was the first time.

After tying down the boat, we all drove to the synagogue in Portland for Mincha and Maariv and to break the fast.  The rabbi invited us to overnight at the synagogue and attend Shacharis the next morning, so we will be staying at the synagogue tonight.

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.