Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A mini-adventure


After George said that we should go to all the Connecticut state parks (which will take us years), I said we should go to all the miniature golf courses. I have always been a miniature golf fan with most of my games having been played at Cape Cod with their elaborately decorated courses with waterfalls, pirate ships or statues of animals and playful characters. I have driven by several in Connecticut and since they are not as eye catching and siren-tempting as the ones at the Cape, we never ventured onto many courses. Also, miniature golf was always a vacation thing with us. Well, we are pretty much on vacation now, so we will be attacking the miniature golf courses along with the state parks and some museums too.

Today we started our maiden voyage at the Riverfront Miniature Golf course in the Unionville.

Ice cream was an option, but since we got there at 10 am, we did not partake. It was interesting, though, that you could get as little as one ounce of ice cream for 50-75 cents depending on whether you got hard or soft-serve. What is an ounce? A spoonful?

The games were $6.00 but we had a coupon from the Entertainment book, so we had buy one get one.  Spoiler alert: we enjoyed this course so much that we might one day consider the 10 round frequent golfer pass.

This course did not have any fancy figurines or other distractions. Rocks and water were the appropriate theme as it borders the Farmington River.

Being a rock hound, I loved the rock designs.

The only complaint I would have would be that on a couple of the greens, the hole had been swapped out to another and from the teeing off area, one could be faked out to think the other circle was the hole when it was blocked off. Our advice is to walk up and see where the actual hole is.
Beautiful view of the river

The course was challenging and quite enjoyable.

Of special note, this is one of several locations where you can "rent" bicycles for free to ride the trail. That is on our things to do list too.

Thanks for a great time, Riverfront Miniature Golf! When we continue these mini-adventures, I will post the score, even though I rarely beat George.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Barkhamsted Walk back in time

Today we went on a walk at People's State Forest led by Paul Hart. He stopped at various spots on the way and described how things were 100's of years ago--or in one case, thousands. He had us imagine the road being filled with a drove of cows or pigs or even geese coming down the road. This was typical in the day. This was just one example of our guide's way of bringing us back to the past. Or imagine anchors, of all things, being transported through here.
When we crossed the street to Squire's Tavern, we were greeted by a memorial to Walt Landgraf, who will undoubtedly go down in
in history as the greatest tour guide of Barkhamsted. That being said, Paul did a wonderful job too.

We were unaware of these new informative posts put up by the Barkhamsted Historical Society which we glimpsed at while Paul spoke of the family that owned the tavern and the hundreds of acres they owned. We even got a quick tour of the inside.

From Squire's Tavern, we took a short cut through the back yard up to the Stone Museum. On the way, we saw this bear!
Next stop was the Stone Museum where he told us more about the area and the CC camps followed by a short visit inside.

Some of the displays inside:

I'm kind of a rock hound. These brought back memories of where I grew up and when a new housing development was being built. When they dug the foundation holes there were many garnets. My friend and I enjoyed gathering them.

Speaking of rocks, had to take a picture of these beautiful ones that make up part of the stone museum.

George found this little guy hanging around outside the museum.
From there Paul took us to a charcoal mound and described all the work that went into making charcoal. There were many mounds throughout the forest where charcoal was made and sold.
I normally would take notes when attending a talk, but when it is a walking talk, I could not take notes to get facts straight, so I am not giving hardly any details here. I suggest you take this very informative walk for yourself when it is offered again. There was a lot of info presented in an interesting way.

We were next led back down to the East River Road where Paul paused and spoke about fences. Fences had certain specifications required to protect crops and lands. They were plentiful and sturdy.
Back to People's State Forest Park, Paul talked about the glacier age, the flood and the use of the river.

Rock with dedication of People's Forest.

Again this blog is more about showing you where we went rather than to teach you the history. I encourage you to take this excellent tour next year when it is offered again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Whirlwind Tour of our Connecticut State Buildings

Today we went on a free guided tour program that took us to the Legislative Office Building, the State Capitol, the Museum of Connecticut History and the Supreme court courtroom in a whirlwind 2 1/2 hour tour. Our first tour guide had us step lively to be able to fit in all she wanted to say before we had to go to the next program. The tours were informative and very interesting and we are glad to have been educated by the knowledgeable docents, but we would like to go back one day when we don't feel so rushed and do a self-guided tour. I didn't have time to photograph things the way I would have liked. It was hard to capture the awesome beauty of the architecture and gorgeous designs and statues as we rushed through, but here are what I was able to take.

These first ones are of the Legislative Office Building.

The floor.

Another time, I would take more pictures of these beautiful cherry wood doors. The middle panels were different in each door. This one had our state bird, the American robin.

Tribute to the armed forces.

From there we went to the State Capitol. Our first stop was this beautiful angel statue which one day will be placed on top of the building. It is called the Genius of Connecticut. The original one was removed when it became loose and during
the war was melted down. When this angel is put on top, we will be able to say that we touched her.

This is the view above the angel:

Next the docent spoke about our state hero as we gathered around the statue of Nathan Hale.

Looking up to the ceiling.
Then she took us to the statue of Prudence Crandall, our state heroine.
The rest of our Capitol tour:

Each state received a model of the Liberty Bell in 1950 to mark the start of the U.S Savings Bond Drive to raise money to help set off the national debt.

As a final treat our docent had each one of us sit in the Charter Oak Chair and took our picture.

From there we rushed over to the Museum of Connecticut History. There a tour guide gave an interesting presentation about Connecticut inventions. He only mentioned a few since there have been over 100,000! He mentioned things like helicopters and submarines to hamburgers, sub sandwiches, silly putty, the cotton gin and sewing machine to name a few.

When we finished, we had a few minutes to tour the rest of the museum.

Here is the Charter Oak:

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Pictures of some of the other exhibits there:

Civil War quilt

Voting machine

Colt firearms (this is a portion of a huge display)

Our final stop was the Supreme Court courtroom where Justice Richard Robinson addressed the visitors.

I wish this picture on the ceiling came out better. I appreciated the symbolism of this painting. The woman is reading to the boy from the book of knowledge. The spirits are bringing down torches to bring the knowledge to the dark ignorance and superstitions.

Thus ended our tour. Just from looking at these pictures, imagine seeing all this in a little over 2 hours. We will go back one day when we have time to see more, relish the history and beauty of the buildings. It was a treat that these buildings are free to tour, and parking in the legislative parking lot was also free. We enjoyed a reasonably priced lunch in the cafeteria. It is worth the trip and should be a must for all Connecticut residents.