Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Heritage Museums & Gardens

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   In addition to over 100 acres of gardens and walking trails, there are three very good small museums – one with changing exhibits, another with antique cars in a round gallery designed after Shaker barns, and a folk art gallery which also houses a working, 1908, hand-carved carousel.

 The buildings are all accessible but the main garden paths, which lead to the buildings, have some very steep sections that are hard to do even with help. A shuttle will drop passengers at the buildings but it isn’t wheelchair accessible. Other garden paths are surfaced with wood chips, are hilly, and not accessible.

The parking lots are large enough for RVs but the street to the gardens is narrow.  Garden
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Nickerson State Park

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  Reservations are necessary in the summertime.( We lucked into a cancellation. ) There’s plenty of space between the sites but little underbrush so not much privacy. The actual vehicle parking areas are all fairly small although there are sites that will accommodate 35’ RVs. No electric or water hookups but showers in the restrooms and a dump station.

  Some of the sites in this campground are supposed to be accessible and near accessible restrooms but I have my doubts. There are only seven. Five are yurt sites and the other two are tent or popup sites so there aren’t any that we could have used. The restroom near our site was not accessible. Many of the standard sites are usable as long as they’re fairly level. The ground is hard packed sand and dirt. The tables have a short overhang.

  A paved bike trail runs alongside the campground’s main road and connects to the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The campground trail has some very steep sections but the rail trail is fairly flat and handcycles can be rented from concessionaires.  Campground
41.75325, -70.01659
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Cape Cod National Seashore

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  Cape Cod National Seashore encompasses 43,500 acres and has almost 49 miles of seashore. Most of the land is wild and undisturbed but there are six developed beaches, three bicycle trails, eleven hiking trails and a few historic sites.

  Very little is wheelchair accessible which is frustrating because it’s a federal site and should be held to the same standards as private properties that are open to the public. We didn’t visit all of the park but this is what we found at the places that we did visit:

  Fort Hill – no access to the informative sign or any way to get close to the sea captain’s house. Handicapped parking space at the overlook. Trails were too steep to be made accessible.
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  Salt Pond Visitor Center – all accessible. The museum is a little cramped in some sections with no room for a wheelchair to pass by if someone is looking at the exhibits. Trails are not accessible.

  Marconi Station Site – ramp to higher overlook is too steep. Lower overlook and signs are accessible.

  Pilgrim Heights -  overlook is accessible, trails are not.

  Province Land Visitor Center – ramp to the center is too steep and does not have landings. Railing at overlook is at a height that blocks the view.
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  Old Harbor Life Saving Station Museum – almost all accessible. Long ramp with landings, wide doors in the museum with a lot of room to maneuver. Stairs only to upper floor.
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  Park bike trails have very steep sections.

  The visitor centers have long RV/bus spaces. Fort Hill has a 20’ limit. Marconi Station and Pilgrim Heights lots are large enough for RVs. Old Harbor Life Saving Station Museum and some of the beaches do not allow any vehicles or the lots fill early and you must walk, ride a bike, or take a shuttle.  Park
41.83809, -69.97256
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Museum of Connecticut History

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   For a state that was colonized in the early 1600’s, this museum is surprisingly small. The walls of the beautiful large hall pictured above are lined with portraits of all of the Connecticut governors. It also has displays of important state documents and, in a special shallow vault with a heavy locking door, the original Royal Charter of 1662 granted by Charles II. An addition gallery has display cases containing  examples of many products that have been manufactured in Connecticut plus a brief overall history of the state.
The museum is accessible but entry is complicated. The wheelchair accessible entrance is at the back of the building. Push the button and hold to talk to the guard who will come and open the door. You’ll be led through a series of doors to the elevator, up a floor and through a storage area and up a ramp to the main hall. To get to the other section, go down the ramp, through the storage area and up another ramp. Some of the display cases are too high to easily view the contents.

  We visited on a Saturday and parked across the street in the state capitol building lot. Small RVs can back into the spaces and hang over the grass, larger ones can park across the spaces. The museum closes at 2:00 on Saturday and unfortunately the state capitol is not opened on the weekends. It’s a very elaborate building on the outside and we would have liked to get a peek at the interior. Museum
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Eric Sloane Museum & Kent Iron Furnace

001  Located on this site are three seemingly disconnected things, the reconstructed studio of artist, Eric Sloane; a large collection of hand tools; and the ruins of an iron furnace. The furnace just happens to be on the property but the tool collection was part of Sloane’s lifelong fascination with early American history. Besides producing thousands of paintings he also wrote and illustrated numerous books. Most people are familiar with his painting “Earth Flight Environment”, the mural in the lobby of the Air and Space Museum. We thought that the museum admission fee was a little high considering the short amount of time that it takes to see everything.

  Call ahead of time and the staff will place a movable ramp at the entrance door. The museum is all accessible. The furnace ruins are at the bottom of a slope. It’s possible to drive down and view them from your vehicle.

  The parking lot is large enough for all RVs.  Museum
41.73819, -73.46926
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mills Norrie State Park

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   Hyde Park and the national historic sites are just a few miles south of this park which makes it an ideal camping location when sightseeing in the area , however it’s much better suited for tents than RVs. The sites are very small and uneven. The roads are narrow with sharp turns and big dips. We didn’t have any problems but larger RVs would probably have difficulties. None of the sites have electric hookups but there are flush toilets,showers and a dump station.

  Most of the sites have very uneven ground so accessibility is limited.  Campground

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

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  Fredrick Vanderbilt was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and the son of William Henry Vanderbilt ,the two richest men in the world. Their enormous wealth, made through ownership of steam and rail lines, provided the means for the family to build mansions in all the fashionable neighborhoods and vacation spots. This house is one of the smaller ones , having only 54 rooms. : ) The d├ęcor and furnishing are all original to the 1890s.

The house is semi-accessible. A wheelchair lift provides access to the basement where the kitchen and servants quarters are located. A small elevator , original to the house, accesses the first and second floors. Most wheelchairs will not fit in the elevator. My wheelchair is narrow with a 70 degree angle to the footrest. To fit in the elevator I had to wiggle around until I was sideways to the door. There was just enough room for the door to close with no room in front of me or behind me. Visitors are also free to wander the grounds and gardens. The gardens are completely inaccessible as they are built in levels with numerous steps.

  The parking lot has spaces for buses and RVs. Mansion

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home Of Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Site

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   Roosevelt is the only president ever elected to a third and then a forth term, which unfortunately he didn’t serve, dying of a cerebral hemorrhage in March 1945. Being in office for such a long time allowed him to guide along many social programs and civic projects that are still in use today – social security, bank insurance, child labor laws, minimum wage, collective bargaining, dams for flood control and electricity, new schools, hospitals, airfields, museums and one of our favorites- roads, lodges, picnic shelters, tree planting and much more in national and state parks.

  The site includes a visitor center where a movie is shown ; Roosevelt’s home, Springwood; the presidential library and museum; the Roosevelts’ gravesite and gardens; and Roosevelt’s retreat, Top Cottage. The museum is being renovated and is scheduled to open in June 2013. In the meantime a very good temporary exhibit is opened with displays about both Franklin and Eleanor plus four large video screens with photographs and film clips.
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  The visitor center is accessible. The theater has movable chairs in the last row. The museum is accessible. The paths to the gravesite and gardens are surfaced with small gravel or pavement.The house has a ramp to access the first floor and a wheelchair lift to access the second floor. The second floor has narrow hallways so wheelchair users may have to wait until everyone has finished looking in the rooms before looking themselves. We didn’t visit Top Cottage but it should be very accessible as it was designed to accommodate FDR’s wheelchair.

  The parking lots are large with long bus/RV spaces. FDR Site
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Colton Point State Park - Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

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  The valley doesn’t come anywhere near matching the real Grand Canyon but it’s still pretty impressive – 47 miles long and 800 feet deep at this point. The park has a small ,primitive campground ,picnic shelters , overlooks and trails.

   None of the campsites are handicapped accessible and most are built on uneven ground making them hard to use. The tables have a long overhang on one end. Campers who are at least 62 years old or are disabled get a small discount. None of the overlooks are accessible. Of the three that are along the park road and easily reached ,one has steps , one has many exposed roots  and one has fencing with a narrow opening plus a rough trail. The Barbour Rock Trail , located outside the park in the state forest , is suppose to be accessible. It’s relatively flat and only about 1 mile round trip but it’s surfaced with large ,loose stone making a very bumpy ride which is impossible to do without help.

   Most of the sites are small with one or two that might accommodate a RV between 25’- 30’.  Park
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Buckaloons Recreation Area-Allegheny National Forest

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  This is a nice little campground right off of US 6. Most of the sites in the larger loop have electricity. We stayed in the smaller non-electric site which is used primarily by tenters. The non-electric loop has low hanging branches along the road and in some of the sites. Amenities include showers ,flush toilets , a dump station and boat ramp. There’s some traffic noise in the sites that are closest to the highway.

  None of the sites are marked as handicapped accessible but many of them are usable. The ground is hard packed and the tables have a short overhang. A private ,wheelchair accessible ,shower/toilet room is located in the main restroom building which, unfortunately, is not located conveniently to any of the campsites. The camp host will provide a key to accessible restroom.

  Some of the sites will accommodate any RV. Campground
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Drake Well Museum

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  Everyone thought that Edwin Drake was crazy when ,in 1858 ,he started to drill for oil in northwestern Pennsylvania. Up until that point the method of gathering oil was to dig a shallow pit at a natural seep. Drilling was used only to find fresh drinking water or salt water for salt manufacturing. When the drill hit oil in August of 1869 the world was changed forever. In the beginning the oil was used mostly in lamps , replacing whale oil which was almost depleted and becoming very expensive.

  The site incudes an exact replica of Drake’s original well and equipment ; a small museum ; a gift shop ; and many oil artifacts and buildings scattered around the grounds.

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  The museum and gift shop are completely accessible. A gravel and dirt path circles the grounds. Some of the signs and buildings are located off the main path in grassy areas. The path and the grass are both fairly hard packed so rolling around is just a little hard. The 1920s oil derrick building has steps without a ramp. The inside is large enough for a wheelchair to maneuver .

  The northern end of the Oil Creek State Park bike trail is located near the museum.

  The parking lots at the museum and bike trail are large enough for any size RV.  Museum

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Oil Creek State Park–Petroleum Center and Bike Trail

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  The park encompasses the land on both sides of Oil Creek from Rouseville to Titusville. For about a dozen years,from 1859 to 1871, this was the site of a huge oil boom with towns springing up overnight and thousands of derricks dotting the hillsides. Today it’s a peaceful valley , so quiet and remote that the only sounds are from bird song and trickling streams.

  A train station visitor center is located at the town site of Petroleum Center. It’s only opened on the weekends. Petroleum Center had a short life and ,since it was built almost entirely of wood ,nothing exists today however there’s a walking tour along the main road with good interpretive signs that tell the story of the town. The tour is along raised boardwalk which isn’t very accessible but it’s possible to roll along the side of the road and read the signs.
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  Just across the creek from Petroleum Center is the southern trailhead for the bike trail. The trail is almost ten miles long. It’s wide and smooth ,surfaced with asphalt. We spotted quite a bit of wildlife including this little black bear!
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   The parking lots at both the train station and the trailhead are large enough for all RVs. Trail and Town site
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fellows Riverside Gardens‎

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  Most of the gardens are spread across a grassy expanse so they aren’t accessible but those closest to the Davis Education & Visitor Center have paved paths. These gardens are very colorful with seasonal and perennial flower beds and a large rose collection. The visitor center was closed but it appears to be completely accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for any size RV.  Garden
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Youngstown Historical Center

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  For almost 100 years Youngstown’s major industries were iron and steel manufacturing. The decline of the industries and the closing of the mills in the late 1970s and early 1980s dealt the city a blow from which it may never recover. Most of the mills have been leveled , many buildings are vacant and boarded up but overall the city has been kept clean and neat and the city center is still thriving due to Youngstown State University located a bit north.

  The museum does an excellent job of explaining all aspects of  iron and steel making along with more personal stories of immigration and labor struggles.

   The museum is accessible with just a few displays that are too high to be viewed easily from a wheelchair. 

  The parking lot is large enough for vans and small RVs. Larger RVs can park at metered spaces along the street. Museum

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Arms Family Museum of Local History

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  The first floor of the house has been left almost exactly the way it was when Olive Arms was alive. Olive was the sixth daughter of a wealthy Youngstown iron manufacturer. She was also an artist and she designed the house , some of the furnishings and many of the details such as hardware , lighting and finishes in the Arts and Crafts style. The second floor has a brief history of Youngstown and displays about how the house was designed. The basement is a hands-on area for kids covering frontier life and immigrating to the US.

  The museum is all accessible. A small elevator accesses the second floor and the basement. The first floor has two short ramps because one room is slightly sunken.

The parking lot is large enough for RV parked lengthwise across the spaces.  Museum
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Road Sign Art

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   Artist Amara Geffen,working together with PennDot , college students and many  members of the community  created a very unique fence made from discarded road signs.It acts as screening for a PennDot storage lot and features scenes from the area.

  The best place to view the art is across the street in the shopping center lot – plenty of space for RVs. Sculpture
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Goodell Gardens & Homestead

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  The Goodell sisters , Carrie and Margaret ,spent most of their lives in Edinboro, Pennsylvania ,living in a small house that they inherited from their parents and leasing out the farmland. Their passion for gardening led to the creation of this little garden which they willed to the community.

The visitor center has a ramp to the entrance. The garden paths are wood chip or grass so rolling is a little hard but doable.

  The parking lots are large enough for RVs. Garden

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