Wednesday, October 30, 2013

National Aviary

  Overall the aviary is small but the major exhibit areas are large free-flight enclosures with many different species of birds. A little patience is required to spot some of the birds so sit quietly for awhile to observe the bird interaction. We saw a lot of nest building which surprised us because in seems like the wrong season.

  Everything is accessible. All of the doors are automatic- opening with a push button, a nice touch.

  Vans and small RVs will fit in the lot. Metered parking is located along the street.  Aviary
  40.45352, -80.01086

Monday, October 28, 2013

Frick Art & Historical Center

  Henry Frick played a big role in Pittsburgh’s early steel industry, owning or managing coal mines, coke ovens, and steel mills. His legacy includes partial responsibility for the bloody fiasco of the Homestead Strike and the disastrous Johnstown flood which was caused by the failure of the dam at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, an exclusive mountain retreat for wealthy industrialists and their families.

  The Frick Art and Historical Center includes the house where the Frick family lived from 1882 to 1905 before they relocated to New York. The house stayed in the family even though they didn’t live in it. Frick’s daughter, Helen Clay Frick, built a museum on the property in 1970 to house her art collection. She spent her last years living in the house and made provisions to have the property opened to the public after her death. The house is restored to the time period when Henry Frick occupied it. Most of it is original and very lavish. Taking photographs is not permitted in the house or the museums.

  Also on the property and opened to the public are a Car and Carriage Museum,  greenhouse, and visitor center. The museums, greenhouse and visitor center are all free. Admission to the house tour is free to visitors with an NARM membership.

  The site is partly accessible. The art museum has a ramp to the entrance. The doors are a little heavy. The Car and Carriage Museum is accessible. The greenhouse is not accessible due to steps at the entrance. The visitor center, where the house tours begin, has a short ramp without a level landing making it awkward to enter the building.The first floor of the house is accessed by a lift. Some of the tour is missed because the accessible entrance is not the one used by the tour guide. One interior doorway is narrow and all wheelchairs may not fit into that area. The upstairs floors are not accessible but a short video is available for viewing.

  Vans and short RVs will fit in the parking lot. Larger RVs can be parked along the street.  Museum
 40.44655, -79.90189

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mt. Washington Overlook

   We were hoping for some fall color but the view of Pittsburgh is still beautiful no matter the season. A sidewalk follows along the cliff with viewing decks that hang out over the treetops.
The sidewalk is a little rough in places but it and the viewing decks are accessible. Parking spaces are located along Grandview Ave. at the overlook.  A small RV will fit in the handicapped spaces.

  Pittsburgh, especially the Mt. Washington neighborhood, is very hilly with narrow streets. I don’t recommend driving a large RV to the overlook. Large parking lots are located at Station Square below the overlook. From there you can take the Duquesne Incline, which is wheelchair accessible, to the overlook.  Overlook
40.43444, -80.0111 
    We used to live in a house like these ones, narrow with many stories and steps because of the hillside, but we didn’t have a nice view.  While we’re back in our hometown, visiting friends and taking care all of our yearly appointments, I’ll be posting very sporadically but in a few weeks we should be back on the road, heading for warmer weather.  :- )

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ohio Historical Center and Ohio Village

  One of the most unique exhibits in this museum is an original Lustron house, furnished and decorated as it would have been in the 1950s, and opened for visitors to explore. During the housing boom after WWII the Lustron Corporation manufactured the house components which would be trucked to a building site and assembled. The framework was steel and all of the surfaces – the interior and exterior walls, the ceilings, and the roof – were steel with a baked on porcelain enamel finish. Some of the models had built in steel furniture. The company was in business for just a few years and built about 3,000 house so existing ones are a rarity.
  The rest of the museum has exhibits about the natural history of Ohio, the frontier and settlement of the cities, and the early Native American mound building cultures, including many finely crafted artifacts. The layout of the exhibits is a bit maze-like so it’s easy to miss some of the smaller exhibits. A recreated 19th century village comprised of over a dozen buildings is located on the grounds and included in the admission price.
  The museum is all accessible. The village is only opened from Memorial Day to Labor Day so we didn’t visit it.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum
40.00404, -82.98649

Saturday, October 19, 2013

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

    Hundreds of aircraft, from a replica of the Wright brothers’ plane to a Gemini space capsule, are displayed in three huge hangers and a tall silo. The history of U.S. involvement in all major wars and the role of the U.S. Air Force along with stories of individual servicemen are told through displays and artifacts.  Smaller exhibits explore the build up and aftermath of WWII in depth. A shady park with many memorials - some simple plaques, other elaborate sculptures - is located on the grounds. There’s also an outside air park with a few more planes and WWII era buildings. Allow a lot of time to see everything. It’s all free except for the 3D movies and flight simulator rides.
  Everything is accessible except for the flight simulators and a few cockpits that visitors are allowed to sit in.

  The parking lot is very large. RVs and buses should be parked at the far end. The sidewalks are in good condition but it’s a long way to the museum entrance.  Museum
39.77885, -84.11467

Friday, October 18, 2013

Indianapolis Museum of Art

  Give yourself plenty of time to visit. The museum has four floors of exhibits with works ranging from 4,000 year old Chinese earthenware to contemporary experimental art. The museum site includes the mansion and gardens once owned by the Lilly family, founders of the Lilly pharmaceutical company.  An additional hundred acres of park with trails and sculptures is located along the west side of the museum grounds. Every things is free except for the large parking lot and garage - $5.00 fee that is waived if you have a membership card.

  The museum is accessible but some of the exhibits in cases have labeling that’s hard to see because of the elevation and angle of the label. We ran out of time and didn’t tour the mansion or visit the 100 Acres. Accessibility information is available – here. The mansion gardens are minimally accessible. A very small, accessible “Garden for Everyone” is located to the north of the tree lined mall.

The parking lots do not have long spaces. Small RVs will fit backed up over the landscaped edges. Another small lot is located at the entrance to the 100 Acres.  Museum
39.82521, -86.18497

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

  This is more an experience than a museum. The story of Lincoln’s life is told with dioramas featuring realistic full size figures and elaborately detailed scenes. Overall it’s very well done but lacking in substance. Both of us thought that the “Lying in State” scene was kind of creepy.

   Visitors follow passageways through the two main exhibits from one scene to the next. The passageways can get crowded and hard to navigate through with a wheelchair especially after an audience leaves the theater show. Waiting for a short while until the people move on and visiting later in the day solves that problem. Everything is very accessible and the theater even has special sections on the floor so wheelchair visitors can feel the effects.

  A parking garage is located north, in the next block, on the opposite side of the street. The garage also has a lot for buses and RVs – $5.00 a day. Pay at the booth at the garage exit on 5th Street. Museum
39.80318, -89.64767


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Illinois State Museum

   The main exhibit in the museum documents the changes in the physical environment of Illinois as it progressed from a shallow sea to tropical forest and swampland. Later the effects of the ice ages were felt as glaciers spread into the northern regions.

  The”At Home” exhibit explores the lives and decision making processes of immigrant families – where they came from, why they came and how they made Illinois feel like home. Life size dioramas depict the the Native Americans tribes who inhabited Illinois before the European settlers arrived. An art gallery displays changing exhibits.

   The museum is accessible.

   A free parking lot is located on Edwards Street, one block west of the museum. Large RVs will not fit in this lot but there are metered parking spaces along the street. Visit on the weekends to avoid traffic and crowds. Visitors can park in either of the large State parking lots to the east and west of the building on weekends and State holidays.  Museum
39.79639, -89.65557

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

   Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher, characters featured in Samuel Clemen's classic adventure stories, were based on Samuel Clemen's boyhood friends. Both Tom Blankenship’s (Huck) and Laura Hawkin’s ( Becky) family homes have been restored and are part of the self guided tour which includes the interpretive center, the Twain house, the Mark Twain Museum Gallery, and the exteriors of his father’s office and the Grant’s drug store. Live performances are held at the Museum Gallery several days a week.

   Most of the site is accessible but the Mark Twain house, pictured above, is not due to steps and narrow passageways. The interpretive center, Huck’s house and Becky’s house all have ramps at the entrances and are accessible inside. The office and the drug store have displays that can be seen by looking in the windows but they’re hard to view from a wheelchair. The Museum Gallery has a slightly sloped entryway and heavy doors making entering awkward. The interior is accessible with an elevator to  the upper floors and movable chairs in the room where the performances are held. The brick street by the Twain house is a little rough and uneven.

  The parking lot across the street from the interpretive center is large enough for any RV.  Museum
  39.71237, -91.3578

Hunnewell Lake Conservation Area

   Not only does this little campground offer free camping but it also has row boats that are free to use for fishing or waterfowl hunting. There are about 20 campsites with tables and fire rings. Two accessible vault toilets are located close to the campsites. The entire campground slopes slightly down towards the water so you may need levelers.  Campground
39.71182, -91.86286

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walt Disney Hometown Museum

  Walt Disney’s family moved to Marceline when he was five. Even though he only lived there for four more years, he remembered the town and the family farm fondly. Marceline and the state of Missouri played a big role in the creation of Disneyland. Main Street was patterned after Kansas Ave. in Marceline. The railroad, Mark Twain’s riverboat, and Tom Sawyer Island were all inspired by his childhood memories.

  The women who volunteer in the museum grew up in Marceline and remember meeting Disney when he visited the town in the 1950s and 60s. Visitors are given a short guided tour then may roam the rest of the museum which includes family memorabilia donated by Disney’s sister, Ruth. A separate building houses exhibits about the Sante Fe railroad.

The website states that the museum is accessible. The front entrance, which we used, has a couple of steps. No one mentioned an accessible entrance  but there may be another door with a ramp that we didn’t notice.  Once inside everything is accessible. A lift accesses the second floor. The path to the railroad building is surfaced with large, loose gravel which is very difficult to push through.

   RVs can be parked along the street.  Museum
  39.71608, -92.94771
                 Photographs are not permitted but I snuck one. ;-p

Friday, October 11, 2013

Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site

  Waltrus Watkins and his wife, Mary Ann, bought 600 acres of Missouri prairie land in 1839.  Over the next  41 years their holdings grew to 3,660 acres where they raised cattle, mules, sheep, horses, and swine. They grew corn, oats, hay, fruit, and vegetables. A gristmill built to grind the farm’s grain also served the other farmers in the area. The bricks for the woolen mill and the house were made on site. The mill produced cloth, blankets, yarn, and batting. At full production, 40 people were employed and the goods were sold in every town within a 60 mile radius. This was a busy place!
  The site has a free visitor center with a short film. A walking tour map is available. Guided tours of the mill and the house are given several times a day - $4.00 for both. The visitor center is accessible. The walking tour and the building tours have many accessibility problems but some of it may be done with help. The paths are loose gravel or grass and hilly. The buildings are multilevel with staircases. The first floors have high thresholds or steps. The floor of the mill is very uneven brick. The website has very detailed information about the accessibility of the entire park.
   The campground has five really nice accessible sites, three electric and two basic. We stayed in a basic site, very close to the restrooms and shower house. The accessible campsites have large parking pads and  pavement under the table and around the fire ring. The tables have long overhangs. Missouri is one of the few states that gives a discount to out of state visitors who are 65 or older or who are disabled. It’s just a $2.00 discount but with it our site was only $11.00 a night. An added bonus is fast, free WiFi  but I’m not sure how good the coverage is over the entire campground.
  A paved 3.75-mile trail circles the lake. The access point closest to the campground has a steep slope. The trail has gentle up and down slopes with a few steep areas. The asphalt is rough and bumpy for about half of the distance. Most wheelchair users will need to have help to complete the loop.
  Many sites are large enough for any RV but I didn’t see any pull throughs.  Information and photographs for each site are available here. A road goes from the campground to the mill site. There’s a 12’ 6” underpass but it’s possible to use the Watkins Road entrance to the mill if your RV is too high. The visitor center has long RV spaces.  Mill    Campground
39.41066, -94.25864