Archive for Travel

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse In Review- Tiffany Lindsey

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the outer banks of North Carolina for a few days. My trip included many different sights but for this review I will be focusing on  Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  The Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in America and you and your family can climb the 268 steps to the top of the lighthouse for an amazing view of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the surrounding national parkland and the coast but down south and to the north. Hatteras is an 1 and 15 minuets south of Nags Head, NC, Hatteras is a small area so you’ll likely want to stay in the area of Nags Head unless you just want beach time. The lighthouse has quite a history behind it! Read this background info on the lighthouse before I continue my review

Original lighthouse

On July 10, 1797, Congress appropriated $44,000 “for erecting a lighthouse on the head land of Cape Hatteras and a lighted beacon on Shell Castle Island, in the harbor of Ocracoke in the State of North Carolina.” The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was constructed in 1802.

The Cape Hatteras light marked very dangerous shoals which extend from the cape for a distance of 10 nautical miles (19 km). The original tower was built of dark sandstone and retained its natural color. The original light consisted of 18 lamps; with 14-inch (360 mm) reflectors, and was 112 feet (34 m) above sea level. It was visible in clear weather for a distance of 18 miles (29 km).

In July 1851, Lt. David D. Porter, USN, reported as follows:

“Hatteras light, the most important on our coast is,   without doubt, the worst light in the world. Cape Hatteras is the point made   by all vessels going to the south, and also coming from that direction; the   current of the Gulf Stream runs so close to the outer point of the shoals   that vessels double as close round the breakers as possible, to avoid its   influence. The only guide they have is the light, to tell them when up with   the shoals; but I have always had so little confidence in it, that I have   been guided by the lead, without the use of which, in fact, no vessel should   pass Hatteras. The first nine trips I made I never saw Hatteras light at all,   though frequently passing in sight of the breakers, and when I did see it, I   could not tell it from a steamer’s light, excepting that the steamer’s lights   are much brighter. It has improved much latterly, but is still a wretched   light. It is all important that Hatteras should be provided with a revolving   light of great intensity, and that the light be raised 15 feet (4.6 m)   higher than at present. Twenty-four steamship’s lights, of great brilliancy,   pass this point in one month, nearly at the rate of one every night (they all   pass at night) and it can be seen how easily a vessel may be deceived by   taking a steamer’s light for a light on shore.”

The improvement in the light referred to had begun in 1845 when the reflectors were changed from 14 to 15-inch (380 mm). In 1848 the 18 lamps were changed to 15 lamps with 21-inch (530 mm) reflectors and the light had become visible in clear weather at a distance of 20 miles (32 km). In 1854 a first-order Fresnel lens with flashing white light was substituted for the old reflecting apparatus, and the tower was raised to 150 feet (46 m).

In 1860 the Lighthouse Board reported that Cape Hatteras Lighthouse required protection, due to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1862 the Board reported “Cape Hatteras, lens and lantern destroyed, light reexhibited.”

At the behest of mariners and officers of the U.S. Navy, Congress appropriated $80,000 to the United States Lighthouse Board to construct a new beacon at Cape Hatteras in 1868. The Light-House Board was a federal agency under the direction of the Treasury Department but was headed by a multi-agency committee. The Board consisted of two Army Engineers, two Navy officers, two civilian scientists, and one additional officer from both the Army and Navy to serve as secretaries. Congress established the Board in 1852 for the purpose of creating a unified, continuous system of navigational aides along the coasts. Prior to 1852, lighthouse construction generally rested with local authorities, ultimately leading to a disjointed, ineffective national system. Under the Light-House Board, Navy officers determined where new lighthouses were needed; Army Engineers selected exact locations, designed, and built them; and civilian scientists developed new technologies and techniques for displaying bright, consistent beacons.

The light displays a highly visible black and white diagonal Daymark paint job. It shares similar markings with the St. Augustine Light. Another lighthouse, with helical markings—red and white ‘candy cane stripe’– is the White Shoal Light (Michigan), which is the only true ‘barber pole’ lighthouse in the United States. Its distinctive “barber pole” paint job is consistent with other North Carolina black-and-white lighthouses, “each with their own pattern to help sailors identify lighthouses during daylight hours.”

The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure. The Hatteras Island Visitor Center, formerly the Double Keepers Quarters located next to the lighthouse, elaborates on the Cape Hatteras story and man’s lifestyle on the Outer Banks. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, tallest in the United States, stands 208 feet (63 m) from the bottom of the foundation to the peak of the roof. To reach the light, which shines 191 feet (58 m) above mean high-water mark, a Coast Guardsman must climb 268 steps. The construction order of 1,250,000 bricks was used in construction of the lighthouse and principal keeper’s quarters.

Relocation

 

In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. Due to erosion of the shore, the lighthouse was just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and was in imminent danger. International Chimney Corp. of Buffalo, New York was awarded the contract to move the lighthouse, assisted, among other contractors, by Expert House Movers. The move was controversial at the time with speculation that the structure would not survive the move, resulting in lawsuits that were later dismissed. Despite some opposition, work progressed and the move was completed on September 14, 1999.

The Cape Hatteras Light House Station Relocation Project became known as “The Move of the Millennium.” Expert House Movers and general contractor International Chimney won the 40th Annual Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999. The prestigious Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award recognizes and honors outstanding civil engineering leaders whose lifetime accomplishments and achievements have made significant difference. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest masonry structure ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons).

So now you have the back story of the lighthouse, now we can talk about the climb!

So as I stated before you and your family can climb the 268 steps to the top of the lighthouse for and awesome view. There are a few things you should know first…

The lighthouse is open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Climbing hours will are 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily in the spring and fall; and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Tickets are required.

Climbing tour tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children (11 and under, and at least 42″ tall), and the disabled.

Special night climbing tours are offered weekly during the summer months. Check the schedule of events or park newspaper for the weekly tour schedule. In addition to the weekly night tours, a full-moon climbing tour is offered monthly during the summer.

There are 248 iron stairs to the top, that equals climbing a 12 story building, they only have a handrail on one side and a landing every 31 steps. It isn’t air conditioned and it may be noisy, humid, hot and dim inside the lighthouse. There is two-way traffic on the narrow stairs aswell.

The day we were there is was a nice brezze blowing so it wasn’t hot inside and they had their windows open so it felt good. Of course if you have heart or respiratory or have trouble climbing stairs you should you your own discretion as to whether to climb or not.

If a storm does come then the lighthouse is shut down as it acts as a giant lightening rod!

The following safety rules apply:

  • Children must be at least 42″ tall and capable of climbing all steps on their own.
  • Children under 12 must be escorted by an adult (16 years of age or older).
  • No person may be lifted or carried.
  • Running, jumping, or stomping on stairs and landings is prohibited.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew tobacco.
  • No pets, other than service animals.
  • Do not arrive in heels over 1 ½ inches high or in bare feet.
  • Leave umbrellas in your car.
  • Backpacks, tripods, coolers, beach bags, surfboards, fishing poles, etc. also need to be left in your car.
  • Throwing of objects, including frisbees, boomerangs, etc, off the lighthouse is unsafe and may get you in big trouble!

Let me tell you, if you have any second thoughts about whether to go or not, GO if you can! It’s so pretty and so worth it!

So go, enjoy and spend your day at the seashore!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Review: Gray Line Tours – New York City

We saw parts of Manhattan that we certainly would not have had the opportunity to see without the Gray Line Tour Bus.  The Uptown tour on our double-decker bus took us past Lincoln Center, Harlem, Central Park, Times Square, and so much more.  The Downtown tour took up through the Financial District, SOHO, Little Italy, Chinatown, Canal Street, and more.

There was so much to see, and we did not want to miss a thing.  The drivers were extraordinary as they maneuvered through the busy streets.  Both tour guides were knowledgeable about every aspect of the city.  The tours really were hop-on/hop-off adventures as advertised.  No one would be disappointed after either of these two tours.

Review: Statue Cruises – New York City

The Statue Cruises ferry to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a “must do” for all New York visitors. We reached the launch area in Battery Park by taking the subway from Penn Station. Before boarding, there was a security check exactly like those found in airports. Once aboard, passengers may choose to enjoy the trip on any of the three decks. We chose the third level because the weather was fabulous and the view spectacular. If passengers wished to debark on either of the two islands, the next ferry docked about thirty minutes later. We enjoyed every minute of the cruise and highly recommend it to all New York visitors.

St. Louis’ Forest Park- IN REVIEW~ By Tiffany

Being new to St. Louis it is exciting to me to get out and explore all that STL has to offer! One of those things is Forest Park, here is a brief look into the history of Forest Park from Wikipedia…

‘Forest Park is a public park located in western part of the city of St. Louis, Missouri in the United States. It is a prominent civic center and covers 1,371-acre. The park, which opened in 1876 more than a decade after its proposal, has hosted several significant events, including the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 and the 1904 Summer Olympics. Bounded by Skinker Boulevard, Lindell Boulevard, Kingshighway Boulevard, and Oakland Avenue, the park is known as the “heart of St. Louis” and features a variety of attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and the St. Louis Science Center.

Since the early 2000s, it has carried out a $100 million restoration of its facilities through a public-private partnership aided by its Master Plan. Changes have extended to improving landscaping and habitat as well. The park’s acreage includes meadows and trees, and a variety of ponds, man made lakes, and freshwater streams. For several years, the park has been restoring prairie and wetlands areas of the park. It has reduced flooding and attracted a much greater variety of birds and wildlife, which have settled in the new natural habitats.’

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You can learn much more about the park at this link…Forest Park (St. Louis) but today’s post is all about my review of the park.

I’ve been to Forest Park twice now, once to visit the St. Louis Zoo and the other to visit the Missouri History Museum (both a recommended entertainment!). My most recent visit to Forest Park occurred on Good Friday 2013, it was a beautiful day and I think most of St. Louis was out and about exploring the park.

There is lots to do in Forest Park, the zoo, the museums and the science center but also it is just a great place to walk your dog or get your daily exercise in. The park has lots of walking paths and even a golf club and tennis center and a lots of open areas to fly kites or play ball with your friends.

While on my visit we parked and walked to the great basin which is a man made lake in the park, it has six fountains and is front and center to Art Hill and the art museum. They offer paddle boats and you can paddle around the lake if you like on a beautiful day. The other areas of the park offer picnic areas and wildlife areas. The park also had loads of street parking and parking lots, there is also a trolley (bus) that you can ride around the park and take in all the sites.

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So if you ever find yourself in St. Louis, take a drive to Forest Park and have yourself a wonderful fun filled day! Till next time, keep traveling!

Missouri History Museum- In Review ~ by Tiffany Lindsey

Missouri History Museum is located in Forest Park in St. Louis Missouri, I had the opportunity to visit it for the first time on the 29th of March. I have been living in St. Louis for almost three years now and I’m finally getting out and exploring more of the city. Before my review here is some history on the museum…

“The museum is operated by the Missouri Historical Society and was founded in 1866. The main galleries of the museum are free through a public subsidy by the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

The Jefferson Memorial Building, built in 1913 with profits from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is the current home of the museum.

In 1988, the Museum joined the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District and began receiving sales tax revenue.

In 2000, the Emerson Center, a significant building addition was completed, boosting attendance and exhibition capacity. The Emerson Center, featuring a ground-to-roof southern glass facade, was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, and included substantially more exhibition space, as well as an auditorium, classrooms, a restaurant and gift shop. The Emerson Center was selected by the American Institute of Architects’s Committee on the Environment as an example of architectural design that protects and enhances the environment. It is an example of a green museum.

The museum permanent collection includes both national artifacts, as well as Missouri and St. Louis related materials, such as local colonial and native artifacts, Louisiana Purchase Exposition artifacts, and items relating to Charles Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight in the “Spirit of St. Louis”.[ A replica of the “Spirit of St. Louis” can be found in the museum. A large amount of artifacts from the Lewis and Clark Expedition are also housed in the permanent collection, as St. Louis was the starting point for that venture.

Recent travelling exhibits and events have included items related to the Fox Theatre’s restoration and renovation,the Road to Freedom tour (celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act), and, prominently, the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Exhibition.”

Now that you have the back story on the museum you can read my review!

The museum wasn’t to busy on good friday so there was lots of space to spread out and not have to be piled into each other like some museums in the area. The architecture was beautiful, well laid out and branched out from a central area holding a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the main building.

Being it was free to get in and see most of the exhibits it makes for a wonderful thing to take the whole family to see and not empty your wallet! It even has a wonderful restaurant and express cafe on the second floor of the new expansion in the rear of the museum. The prices for them wasn’t to bad but they could get expensive quick! It also has a museum gift shop that you can pick up books about St. Louis, Christmas ornaments and other nick naks.

If you are worried your kids might be board and not enjoy this museum, don’t be! I came across several kid activities in the exhibits and I’m sure your children will love them.

Since Museum is located in Forest Park take a walk around the park and enjoy the wonderful outdoors and scenery, but that is for another review!

Take the opportunity to go downtown to visit Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum when coming to St. Louis, you won’t regret it!

Review: St. Louis Zoo

Hello everyone, I’m here today to share my review for the St. Louis Zoo. I’m originally from central Virginia so when my family and I moved out here to St. Louis County, MO it was something new for all of us. One good thing about moving to a new city and state means new and exciting things to do! Sure if you’ve lived in one spot for a while or your whole life going to an area attraction isn’t all the special anymore, like I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown so many times I know it like the back of my hand yes it’s still awesome but you’ve been there done that. Anyways back to present day here in St. Louis. Recently I had some family come from VA to visit and we went down to the zoo, I’ve been living here for 2 years now and hadn’t gotten to the zoo yet so it was a good opportunity  to visit.

It was a rainy cloudy day but it wasn’t a very heavy rain so we opted to still go (but with umbrellas and ponchos in hand!) We arrived early just after they opened so the parking lot and zoo was almost empty, and since it was raining it was a very quiet day there. The St. Louis zoo is spread out in Forest Park so it has a very roomy park like feel to it. They also have several exhibits from the 1904 world’s fair that was held in Forest Park, the Flight Cage and some of the other houses on property are from the fair so it’s a bit of a history lesson but with the fun of animals.

The zoo is divided into five animal zones: the River’s Edge, which includes elephants, cheetahs, and hyenas; The Wild, which includes penguins, bears, and great apes; Discovery Zone, which includes a petting zoo; Red Rocks, which features lions, tigers, and other big cats; and the oldest part of the zoo, Historic Hill, which features the 1904 Flight Cage, a herpetarium, and primate house. A sixth zoo zone, known as Lakeside Crossing, features several dining and retail options.

It was very cool seeing the new Sea Lion Sound exhibit they’ve recently added. Sea Lion Sound has above ground viewing areas and a tunnel underneath the water that you can watch the Sea Lions and Seals swim right over head, it was awesome! I’ve heard on weekends though you can expect quite a wait to enter the tunnel.

The Penguin house is really neat and very very cold! It makes you feel as if your right in the arctic with them.  It finally stopped raining and a bunch of the animals finally made their way out from under their shelters to soak up some of the sunshine that had finally started to appear.

We spent a whole day at the St. Louis Zoo and even ate lunch there at the Painted Giraffe cafe, the food wasn’t expensive as you would expect and it was very good. I would love to go back sometime and see their holiday lights event and their Halloween event they have.

Till next time!!

Review: Pacific Park – Santa Monica, CA

Grab the sunscreen, pack the kids in the car, and get ready to have some fun at Pacific Park – The Family Amusement Park on the Santa Monica Pier.  As LA’s only admission free amusement park, Pacific Park is the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier.  This iconic park has been seen in countless movies and TV shows through the years.  There are rides, games, and tons of fun things to see and do.

Let’s start with the rides.  Ticket prices range from $3.00 per ride to $5.00 per ride.  The best value, however, is the unlimited ride wristband for $15.95 for 7 years and below or $21.95 for 8 years and up.  The Pacific Wheel is the huge Ferris Wheel that can be seen for miles.  This is a must do if you want a panoramic view of the Southern California coastline more than 130 feet above the pier.  Older kids and thrill seekers will enjoy the West Coaster, Sea Dragon, and Pacific Plunge.  Younger visitors as well as those who don’t want the extreme rides will be drawn to Inkie’s Wave Jumper, Inkie’s Pirate Ship, Inkie’s Air Lift, Inkie’s Scrambler, Sig Alert EV, Sea Planes, Crazy Submarine, and the always popular Frog Hopper.

If you want a break from the rides, check out the many midway games and food options.  Try for a prize then grab some pizza, a taco, or even iced coffee and take a stroll around the pier.  There are so many souveniers to choose from its hard to what to take home.  Just browsing is fun too.  To get the layout of the pier, go to the website and download the park map to help you prepare for your trip.  You will also find cool discounts, party information, and details on location shoots for movies, commercials, or music videos.  There is even a Pacific Park app for your phone.

Taking a trip to Santa Monica Pier and visiting Pacific Park should be at the top of your vacation list when you are in Southern California.  There is something for the whole family to enjoy together.  I know we are anxious to go  back to Pacific Park- The Family Amusement Park on the Santa Pier as soon as we can!!

Review: San Diego Zoo

One trip to the San Diego Zoo will have you chanting, “Pandas and cheetahs and koalas, oh my!” Of course lions and tigers and bears also reside in the zoo so you won’t be disappointed. San Diego Zoo is an absolute must do if you are traveling in Southern California. This world renowned zoo is amazing! This size of the zoo is unbelievable. We only visited one day, but if you or your children love animals, you could easily spend multiple days exploring and learning about hundreds of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, insects, and even animals that are now extinct. We chose to just meander around using the map as a guide. We should have started with a bus ride. The Guided Bus Tour is a 35-minute tour on a double-decker bus covering about 70% of the San Diego Zoo. This would have been a great way to get an idea of the layout of the park. We truly had no idea of the size so we walked and walked and walked. We could have hopped on an Express Bus to travel from one area to another. Again, we walked. Clearly you need to pack some comfortable shoes when you visit the zoo. By walking, however, we were able to take time for the little details. The absolute most amazing sight involved a dog and a cat. Doesn’t sound too exciting until you consider the cat was a cheetah. These Animal Ambassadors are unlikely pairs.

You may find a cheetah and a golden retriever on exhibit together. You may see a cheetah with an Anatolian Shepherd. We had the unique experience to see the dog and cheetah outside of the exhibit…walking right past us! As we entered a path we were told to step back. Soon after, a cheetah walked past us on a leash-actually on two leashes. It was so cool! Where else are you going to see a dog and a cheetah walk right past you? Later that day our favorite animals were elephants, polar bears, koalas, pandas, and the tiny spider monkeys. There are so many unique animals to see that you lose track of time just observing a single exhibit. Like I said you could go back day after day after day. With special tours and behind the scenes programs, camps for children, and even facilities for weddings and social events, the San Diego Zoo has it all. You can even revisit the animals at home with live cams and videos on the zoo website. San Diego Zoo is like no other zoo that I have ever been to. A visit will be an adventure you won’t soon forget.