Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Never too old for a Scavenger hunt

So, it all started one day in early August when we went up to Norfolk to partake in some festivities happening on August 7th. We enjoyed tours of the stained glass windows at Battell Chapel and at the Immaculate Conception Church. Other booths on the green offered interesting information about hiking trails. It was when we went to the Historical Society that we were presented with a challenge. We signed up to be a part of a scavenger hunt that would close on September 4th. Now, I love games and George, although he doesn't like board games, enjoys road rallies and letter boxing--both of which involve figuring out clues. Maybe he just loves solving mysteries. Whatever, this scavenger hunt was right up our alley. We happily accepted the challenge.

George grew up in Norfolk and we moved there the first year we were married and lived there ten years before settling in Barkhamsted.
The theme of the scavenger hunt was "Hidden in Plain Sight". We were given 15 clues that we were to decipher, locate the subject, take a picture and submit it via email. We read all the clues and a few we automatically guessed. We decided to start there and then that day.
One of the ones that immediately stood out to George was "Fire trucks no longer drive under me, but I ride on their doors." He knew right where this spot was in the center of town. 
Now we watch the Amazing Race enough to know that you have to read the clues carefully and yet, we were caught up in the excitement and knowing these were the doors, we took this picture and moved on to another clue. We got credit for this but they said it was supposed to be what "rides on the doors". We never found out exactly what they meant by that and might have to check that out next time we go to Norfolk.

The other clue that we read too quickly was "In a building where once a tennis court graced the lawn, we are a set of pins that gave Norfolkians a good workout."
We knew the town hall housed  bowling alley at one time and we took  picture of the town hall.
Again the clue was looking for a set of pins that must be inside the town hall, which was closed the day we were there. Again, they were kind enough to give us some credit for this answer. Phew.

Another obvious one to us was, "Although I was built of a native material on a hill for a local doctor's parties, now I am a shell of my former self." We knew it was the shelter on Dennis Hill.
It was a definite advantage to us when we lived in Norfolk that we knew of John Thew and his wonderful craft of making weather vanes, so this clue was a cinch too, "A man named John makes us--find any of our kind as we give directions." George knew where he lived and we were off to another part of town.

Another obvious clue read, "In one room Norfolk's children were taught; today I stand at a crossroads." This was obviously the one room schoolhouse. 
Now for the clue that read, "Cornelius Brown got here first, and I stand in honor of him," we end up a little perplexed. George knew which house belonged to Cornelius Brown, but he didn't know of any statue or plaque in honor of him. We started to drive up the driveway to the house, but I reminded him of the rules that all answers would be found on public property. This had us scratching our heads. We did check other parts of town and ended up submitting this sign on the green that mentioned him. They accepted it because the organizers had heard there was a plaque but never sought it out and forgot it was not public property!

Cornelius Brown house

When I read this clue, "In a building you can plainly read, find the bust of our 16th President," I figured it had to be a bust of Lincoln in the library. Sure enough.
 I deciphered that liberty could be a reference to a bell in the next clue. We then realized this clue pertained to the bell we always hear rung on Memorial Day at the parade we attend. "I am at Liberty to tell you that Miss Mary Eldridge gave me to the town and Alfredo Taylor housed me." 
We drove around the town reading the clues and thinking of possibilities. George had an idea about one of them, the reference to Sabbath clued him into a church (there are three in town) and it proved right. "My family name on a board still marks the place in this building where I sheltered my ride on the Sabbath; the name is what townspeople say all winter long." 
Note the name "Burr"--what the townspeople say all winter long. :)

There was one more that we thought we had tracked down on the first day, but later, finally using what we learned from Amazing Race and reading the clue correctly, we corrected it on a subsequent visit. "My three brothers swim free but I am caught in a net." I knew the three brothers had to be the fishes in this fountain on the green but we couldn't figure out the one caught in the net but when we came back another day, there it was on the backside of the fountain. How many times had we seen this fountain and we never noticed the fish in the net?

Those were the semi-easy ones. From there we had to do some thinking and researching. We consulted "Crissey", the actual name is "The History of Norfolk" by Theron Wilmot Crissey, a comprehensive history of the town that the natives just call"Crissey". I googled and we also studied pamphlets of hiking trails that had been handed out on that first day that we went. We also searched our brains, especially George's for just what the clues could mean and just rode around all parts of Norfolk searching on a couple of different days. We kept reminding ourselves it was on public property to narrow it down a little.

This one, "I complete this saying, "A wise man is strong, yea a man of knowledge...."  I googled the phrase and Norfolk and found out it was on a stain glass window in the library. Tricky....who would have thought there would have been two answers in the library?

There was one clue that had two parts. "We are twins who used to grind away together at our work, but now are in two separate places, benched and tabled (find us both)."  We guessed it was a grinding stone and one day when we were just riding around, we got out to walk by the church and the chapel and I said, "Could this be?" and it was--the tabled half of the clue.

But the benched part haunted us to the end. We pictured a grinding stone stood up so the back was the back of the bench. We drove all around town looking for it and even hiked a few trails that we thought might have a bench. We only got half credit for this clue. On the day they awarded the winners, we found out where this stone was hidden in plain site. It is buried in the center of the green underneath two benches. We had to push leaves away to get this picture.
George now thinks he remembered this in the back of his mind. 

"My Irish name has fallen apart, but don't cross me (today)."  We would have never figured this out by memory as we never knew about this. I happened to be looking at the hiking trail pamphlets and I saw a Killarney Bridge. That had to be it! So, off we went on a hike.
On the way I got side tracked by interesting trees and rocks.

Again they gave us credit for this when I think the original bridge is nearby to the left of this. Close enough, they gave us the point.

These last two were the hardest. "Although we are on holy ground, folklore says we were soaked in whiskey to achieve our rounded shape."  We figured holy ground was either a cemetery or a church. There are several cemeteries and three churches and a site of a former church. We checked them all. One of the cemeteries even has a sign that says something about it being on holy ground which made us think it was there, but we knew something rounded was probably not stone but had to be wood. Still we checked out gravestones We saw some really interesting ones.

But there was nothing that fit the clue. We finally had to guess. It seemed like a good guess and it was. The shakes on the Church of the Transfiguration were rounded. We couldn't find any reference anywhere about them being rumored to have been soaked in whiskey, but this was the correct answer.

This was the clue that stumped us the most and we just couldn't figure it out. "Although very poetic, I stand alone mostly unnoticed on the way to a place crowned with laurels." Our first thought was a street named Laurel Lane. We ended up driving up and down it numerous times. I also did some research online--when you google mountain laurel and Norfolk, CT up pops Haystack Mountain. There was something about a plaque on the tower itself, but nothing about anything along the way. So, we decided we would just hike it. We knew what we were in for, as we had done it years ago on a few occasions. But now we were a lot older and the hill had grown also--it was a lot steeper, must be a phenomenon  of nature. We attempted to climb it on the same day we hiked to the bridge. We just couldn't do it. So, we saved it for another day as our first stop.
As we hiked up, we had to stop often and found little diversions like this.

I questioned whether I would make it and wondered how lifestar was ever going to land? And how would we call them without cell service?
But we actually made it! We never saw a poem and thought maybe the tower was standing poetically, so we took a stab at sharing a picture of the tower. Then we said good bye to Haystack Mountain for the final time, as I know we will probably never return.

When we asked about the correct answer for this one in the end, we were told that there was some kind of old poetic sign along Route 44 before you get to the gas station. On our way home we looked for it but they were off. It was after the gas station and technically I guess not public property but it was in front of someone's yard. We never remember seeing these ever before.

And now the real irony of this. Look at this picture of this sign post. Look in the background and see that driveway? Just past that is a driveway to a home that was called "Stony Hill". That was where we lived in Norfolk for ten years! Talk about not knowing your "neighbors". The driveway was 450 feet uphill and when we could, we drove up or down and didn't walk around the neighborhood, such as it was. We walked when blizzards and or heavy snow storms in the ice box of Connecticut, forced us to hike it when it hadn't been snow blown or shoveled by us. Such unfond  memories. The irony of the toughest clue being three houses from where we once lived! Maybe since we haven't lived there in over 30 years, we just forgot. That is quite possible at our age. 
So, that was some of our adventures on this scavenger hunt. We did do a little other hiking that ended up being wild goose chases but not without some rewards of seeing something new.

The fruits of all our labors came when we received the word that we were the team with the most correct answers and that we had won the scavenger hunt! We were very happy to be presented with a framed Marie Kendall photograph of 1800's Norfolk. Marie Kendall was a prominent woman photographer. This print was made from her actual negative, so it is not a reprint. Similar photographs have brought in $500.

Having lived in Norfolk, we were pleased to receive this prize and will give it a place of honor in our home.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Once in a lifetime tour

This week we took advantage of a rare opportunity. We went on a tour of the new Mormon temple in Farmington, CT. After the temple is dedicated, non-Mormons will not be allowed inside. Because it is a special holy place to them, we were only allowed to photograph outside. I can only tell you the marble (white Italian accented by dark marble from Pakistan) and the chandeliers (one with over 9000 crystals) and murals and huge paintings were amazing. Outside in a tent where I was allowed to take pictures, were pictures of other temples, which I will share below to give you an idea.

This is the second temple in New England. Temples are different from the churches where anyone is welcome. Only Mormons who show identification can enter the temple after it is dedicated. The temple is a scared place for ordinances of wedding, baptisms and a place of higher learning. One must wear white upon entering.

This 32,000+ square foot temple is located on 11 acres. Constructed of 13,000 pieces of hand carved white granite from China, it is built to last one hundred years or more.

At the top of the 115 foot steeple is a statue of Moroni, an angel found in Mormon literature, who they feel is the angel mentioned in Revelations 14, This statue is more than 13 feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds. It is wrapped in 22-karate gold leaf.

Inside the temple are various rooms for different purposes. Here are pictures in the temporary tent outside that I was allowed to photograph. They are not of this temple, but others.

This is a Celestial Room. The chandelier in Farmington is much more amazing than this one pictured below.  It is a 9500 piece crystal chandelier--so awesome.

The baptismal in Farmington is similar to this one pictured here. The oxen below represent the twelve tribes.

 A statue of Jesus in the reception tent.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped.  

I highly recommend anyone of any faith taking the opportunity to tour this amazing structure if only for the architecture which is breathtaking. Tours will run through October 23, after that the general public will never be allowed to enter again, so if you are not Mormon, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

If you are going to view just the architecture, they don't explain much of the details that I have included in this blog. I did some internet research. The price tag seems to be a secret, but I did see someone quote 60 million dollars. I actually think that may be a low estimate. One Mormon there stated that they didn't know the cost but that it was worth more than whatever the dollar amount was. That is how sacred this is to them. You can sign up for a tour, which takes about an hour, by logging onto their website. It was an interesting and jaw dropping tour.