New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

When my brother and niece visited Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to check out the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show, which runs until January 21, 2019. It was amazing! My youngest asked, “Why haven’t we come here before? I loved trains as a kid!” I had no answer, but I know we’ll be going back next year!

My way too many pictures don’t capture the scale and artistry of the buildings, train tracks and trains but, in the next few posts, I’m going to share them anyway.

Choo chooooo!

Model trains navigate painstakingly crafted miniatures of New York City’s built environment, all made entirely out of plant parts. The Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium are among the 150 landmarks that form a fantastically rendered city landscape built from seeds, bark, leaves and twigs, serviced by a robust half-mile of track, all nestled within the stunning and historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This year’s train show showcases Lower Manhattan’s famous skyscrapers with replicas of the Woolworth Building and One World Trade Center—and some vintage ferry boats, too. Other events coinciding with the train show include a cappella performances, classical music concerts, a poetry reading and activities for kids.  nycgo.com

Museums 

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Skype-a-Thon with Second and Fourth Graders

California Connection

Sometimes a week is just a week, and sometimes you do something awesome like Skype with second and fourth graders at Stagg Street Elementary School in the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District)!

Shout out to Vickie Waite, ITF, Instructional Technology Initiative who reached out to me through Microsoft Educator. I read chapters from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and we discussed what makes the book fantasy. I read chapters from two The Terrible Two books by Jory John and Mac Barnett, and we discussed what makes the books humorous. The kids prepared questions, asking where I get story ideas, do I have a favorite manuscript, who is my favorite author, and what’s it like to be a writer? Then the kids met Lucy! Fun! 

According to Waite, our session was “timed for the Skype-a-Thon, which provided much-needed funding for impoverished countries calculated on the cumulative miles Skyped.”

The Microsoft Education site reported that 23,629,665 virtual miles were traveled!

“Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and guest speakers in 102 countries gathered over Skype and in 48 hours helped raise the funds needed to educate up to 35,000 children in need in WE Villages – supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal Quality Education.

It was amazing!”

Top 10 Family Halloween Costume Ideas

My youngest dressed as an Easter Bunny, circa 2013.

Halloween Fun!

A friend, her hubby, and three young kids are dressing up as characters from the Wizard of Oz. (Shout out to Sherry!) As a tribute to her fun family idea and anyone else out there who is trick-or-treating or dressing up as a unit, here are my favorite Top 10 Family Halloween Costumes, discovered on LDS Living.

Hon, has your family ever coordinated costumes? I’d love to hear from you!

Water Week, Historic Waters

We had to get to the Atlantic Ocean! Hannah at Sullivan Island, SC

In June, one of my daughters and I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. On a sunset cruise with Adventure Harbor Tours, we not only enjoyed the relaxing ride and beautiful views, but got a history lesson to boot! Here are some highlights.

  • Fort Sumter: historic fort, start of the Civil War, Confederate forces fired shots upon Federal troops on April 12, 1861

Since the American Revolution, Americans have built systems of forts at harbors along the coast to strengthen maritime defenses. Following the War of 1812, several major weaknesses in the American coastal defense system were identified. To fill these voids, Congress and the US Army Corps of Engineers planned the construction of forty-two forts, primarily located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Louisiana. These forts are collectively known as the Third System of Seacoast Defense.

Charleston Harbor made the list of sites vulnerable to attack, prompting the construction of Fort Sumter. Construction on the man-made island began in 1829. Thirty-one years later, sectional tensions exploded at Fort Sumter into armed conflict.

  • USS Yorktown: tenth aircraft carrier to serve in United States Navy, built in 16 1/2 months

 YORKTOWN was commissioned on April 15, 1943. World War II’s famous “Fighting Lady” would participate significantly in the Pacific offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. YORKTOWN received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II.

In the 1950s, YORKTOWN was modernized to operate jet aircraft as an attack carrier. In 1957, she was re-designated an anti-submarine aircraft carrier, and would later earn 5 battle stars for service off Vietnam (1965-68). The ship also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule (December 1968). YORKTOWN was decommissioned in 1970 and placed in reserve.

In 1975, this historic ship was towed from Bayonne, NJ to Charleston to become the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

  • Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge: opened on July 16, 2005, the longest cable-stayed bridge of its time in North America, the tallest structure in South Carolina

The new bridge had to be high enough to accommodate ship traffic to a world-class port, strong enough to withstand seismic events like Charleston’s 1886 earthquake (magnitude 7.3), sturdy enough to weather hurricanes like Hugo and aesthetically pleasing enough to satisfy the discerning public eye. The new structure also had to meet long-term traffic needs. To that end, it has eight vehicular lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.

The awe-inspiring, cable-stayed main span boasts a deck almost 200 feet above the water of Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel and two diamond towers almost 600 feet high.

Have you been to Charleston, SC? Did you tour some of these sights? 

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Sources: National Park Service,  South Carolina Picture Project, Patriot’s Point

Water Week, Mystic Boat Adventures

It was two to a boat on Mystic Boat Adventures’ motor-boats-fitted-with-foam-pontoons. We rode through Mystic Seaport and out to the open water where, not only could we we could see Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island waters, we “let it rip.” So fun!

We passed under the Mystic Drawbridge, an 85-foot bridge that lifts with 460-tons of concrete counterweights! Click here if you want to see the drawbridge in action.

The Mystic River Bascule Bridge (often called the Mystic Drawbridge) was built in 1922. The bridge opens, drawbridge-style, to let boats up and down the Mystic River. When it’s closed, locals and tourists alike travel over it to visit many destinations along Main St. and beyond. The bridge is raised every hour at 40 minutes after the hour between 8:40 am and 6:40 pm.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a Bascule Bridge is one that can be raised or lowered using counterweights (bascule is the French word for seesaw). What makes the Mystic bridge even more interesting is the fact that the mechanism that’s used to raise and lower the bridge is not enclosed, so you can see all the moving parts. This particular style of Bascule Bridge was patented by New York City engineerThomas E. Brown in 1918. No doubt an engineering marvel of its time, it’s still fascinating to watch now.

We also got a a close-up view of the Mayflower II, a replica of the 17th-century ship Mayflower. It’s being restored for the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620. Click here if you want to learn more about the restoration.

Sources: Mystic KnotworkScenic USA, Mystic Seaport Museum

Water Week, Argia Mystic Cruises

Sailing Schooner Argia

Welcome to Water Week!

Despite the fact that I’m over–really over–the ridiculous amount of rain we had this summer and continue to have this fall, I love water. Being on the water in any kind of boat. When my family visited Mystic, CT in July, we had perfect weather for a sunset sail on a beautiful schooner, the Argia.

ARGIA is built of Honduran Mahogany on White Oak frames. Her masts are of Douglas Fir and her bowsprit of Cyprus. Her bottom is Chesapeake Bay dead-rise planking of Long-leaf Yellow Pine. ARGIA’s rig is that of a 19th Century East Coast trading, or packet, schooner and is most properly described as that of a Two-Masted Gaff Topsail Schooner.

Crosby, Still and Nash’s song, Southern Cross came to mind. It was always one of my favorite songs, but now that I’m in the query trenches, it’s even more meaningful.

Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure.
And you know it will, and you know it will.  Chorus for Southern Cross

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Mushrooms and Fairies

It must be all the rain, but I’ve seen more wild mushrooms in the past few weeks than I’ve seen, maybe, in my entire life! Wild mushrooms make me think of fairies, especially when they look like little umbrellas.

 

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. C.S. Lewis

Since I’m always drawn to children, I was curious where a bunch of little kids were running. They’d piled out of a car and were headed to the Fairy Trail.

Related Posts:  Fairy Furniture, Part 1, Fairy Furniture, Part 2, Fairy Trail Finale