TICA Cat Show (Crowne Point Plaza, Natick, MA)


Dates Of Event: February 18, 2017 – February 19

Location: Crowne Point Plaza, 1360 Worcester St, Natick, MA, 01760 (about an hour west of Boston)

Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Cost: Free

Parking: Ample free parking is available in the parking lot of the Crowne Point Plaza hotel

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: cats of a variety of breeds being judged


Talent and obedience shows aren’t just for dogs.

Yes, cats can pose, follow orders (ok they’re more like requests with cats) and be just as cute as dogs if given the chance.  And did they ever get the chance.

The TICA (The International Cat Association) held it’s annual cat show for a wide variety of cats to show off their talents and beauty.  The cramped venue had 6 different stages, more like booths, for these felines to show off their stuff.

The cats were grouped by kittens, household cats, alters (cats that have been neutered or spayed; “altered”), kittens and, of course, championship for the lucky few who get to advance.  I was warmly surprised to see the “household cats” category.

While there were so many cats being shown, I was unable to get all of the cats names, breeds and ages.  Since I am a detail-oriented person and I love giving as much as information as possible I was a little disappointed by this.  I do hope you don’t mind too much.

I did manage to get the name and breed of this cat.  She stood out to me because of her unique fur and markings.

Julia is an 8 month old Selkirk Rex.


The cats were showcased by the judges.  It was interesting to see how each judge had their own personality and methods of showing off the cats.  Some spoke scarcely and were efficient.  Others spent more time with the cat, explaining their breed and sharing other fun facts.  The woman in the first photo I posted was my favorite judge.

It’s also interesting watching how the cats react to being judged.  Some are pretty chill and don’t seem to mind at all, possibly because they are very used to being judged.  Others…not as much.  However, they were all very compliant and well adjusted, even if you can tell it’s not their favorite activity.  It’s also funny to see how easily they can be distracted by shiny objects and feathers.

The cats were judged on Breed, Color and Division and win ribbons with letters corresponding with the first letter in each category (B for Breed, C for Color and D for Divison).  The Breed (B) ribbon is the most sought after ribbon.

Cats move around a lot.  A lot.  Sometimes it’s easier to get their photos while they are being held or when they are in their cages or crates.

Also, as an aside, the hotel where the show was held, the Crowne Point Plaza hotel, is a very cool hotel, at least the function rooms, bar and lobby seem hip.  I would highly recommend it, even if it just to go tot eh bar for a few drinks and dinner after work or during your vacation and leisure time, if you happen too be in the area.

I still think this cat tops them all.  But, I’m biased.  I do know the name, breed and age of this cat.  Bailey is a 7 year old Long haired domesticate.  Maybe I can enter her next year.


Below is a video of some of the cats at the show.


Greenfield Arctic Blast Winterfest (Greenfield, MA)

Dates Of Event: February 3-5, 2017 (the first weekend in February each year) photos taken February 5

Location(s): All over the town of Greenfield, most events held at Beacon Field, 61 Beacon St, Greenfield, MA)

Cost: Free (there are small fees for some activites such as $5 to skate at the public outdoor ice rink)

Hours: 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Parking: limited parking can be found at the parking lot for Beacon Field.  Street parking is also available

Highlights: carnivsl hockey, sleigh rides, sled making contest, k9 keg pull, ice sculptures, family friendly activities (see web site below for more info)

Web Site: Greenfield Artic Blast Winterfest



It’s that timee of the year again.  You know that time in between the “fun” part of winter and the coming spring.  The holidays have passed, the seemingly never-ending chill is still fast upon us, snow has stopped looking “pretty” and everyone is just eager to be able to go outside without layering so much that they look like the Michelin man.  So, to bring a little cheer to the frustrated masses, many cities and towns have organized “winterfests” or “winter carnivals” to get everyone out of their ruts and bring some cheer to the frozen masses.

Winterfests are not some new fangled celebrations.  In fact, this was Greenfield’s 95th winterfest.  I guess people got the doldrums back then, too.

The three day event (the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February) is a family friendly extravaganza.  Besides what I photographed dueing my visit Sunday, there are a bonfire, fireworks and a “family fun fest” event for kids to play and do a variety of events with other children and their parents.

The first thing I noticed, and I was looking for specifically, was the winter carnival hockey game between the Greenfield Sheriff’s Department and the Franklin County Firefighters.  The shortened rink and lack of goalies (they used boxes with holes in them to try to score goals), allowed for more action and more scoring chances.

There wasn’t much checking and not one fight (perhaps a first in a game between firefighters and police).  But, it was still entertaining.  I didn’t get a final score.  But, the Sheriff’s department (in the green jerseys) had a comfortable lead when I left to check out more of the winterfest.

In between breaks, some kids came out and practiced.  Future players for sure.

Most of the events during my visit took place at Beacon Field.  In some of the photos, you may notice the Poet’s Seat Tower which I posted about in May of last year.

The first thing I noticed was the sleigh rides being provided.

Some children took advantage of the hill at the park to do some sledding.


Some of the children brought their home made sleds to the park for a contest.  The sleds were judged but they didn’t take them on the hill perhaps due to the lack of a good snow covering.

The big event for most of us, though, was the K9 Keg Pull.  Dogs from a variety of breeds, sozes, shapes and physical prowess participated.  The size of the (empty) kegs and cans the dogs pulled were commensurate to their size.  There was a small registration fee ($25 I think) and all of the proceeds went to a animal shelter.

There were over 60 participants and they all did great.  The parents or guardians would usually run with their dog ot urge them on from the finish line.  Sometimees it seemed like the parents were having more fun with it than the dogs!

Bodie and Clarence (left to right) were twoo of the bigger competitors.

Not all of the dogs there were participating in the keg pulls

Sadie is a 2 year old Lab mix.

Duncan is a 14 week old mini-poodle.

There were also ice sculptures scattered around the town.  Of course, most of them had been damaged or destroyed by revelers.  I was able to photograph a couple of them.

Below are 2 videos from the keg pull



Salem’s So Sweet (Salem, MA)

Dates Of Event: February 10-12, 2017 – usually the second weekend in February of each year (photos taken February 11)

Locations: Throughout the city of Salem

Hours:Visible 24 hours a day, until they melt

Cost: Free

Parking:Metered street parking is available and there are two big parking garages on New Liberty St and Congress St

The Downtown Garage (New Liberty St) costs $0.75 per hour.

The Waterfront Garage (Congress St) costs $0.25 per hour.

Both garages operate from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Sunday through Wednesday and from 7:00 AM to 2:00 AM Thursday through Saturday.

Public Transportation: The MBTA’s Commuter Rail has a stop which deposits its passengers right at Washington St.  $15 for a round trip ticket from North Station (fares vary depending upon where you leave from and where you are going)

MBTA Commuter Rail

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, but some roads and sidewalks are not shoveled well

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: 26 Ice Sculptures scattered throughout the city of Salem, many sculptures are lit up at night, some shops and businesses offer discounts as part of the event

Web Site: Salem’s So Sweet


Proving once again they are not exclusively a Fall destination, Salem Massachusetts has outdone itself with a sweet display of ice sculptures.

Widely known for their Halloween festivities, Salem has been trying to make their city a year round attraction for some time.  In fact, this weekend’s festivities were the 15th annual “Salem’s So Sweet” event.

The Salem’s So Sweet festivities began Friday night, February 10, with a chocolate and wine tasting at Colonial Hall at Rockafellas ($30 tickets).  Yum!

The sculptures look so much better when they are illuminated.  This was only the second year they illuminated the sculptures (at 5 p.m.) and not all of them were illuminated during my visit.  I was able to photograph all of the sculptures (except for the Han Solo sculpture which was not completed when I visited) and I photographed almost half off the illuminated sculptures.

The illuminated sculptures look better the later and darker it gets.  So, I stayed as late as I could to capture the beauty of the lighting against the dark background.  I also thought the holiday lights (still up in February) and of course the snow gave the photos a nice touch.

Since we had some inclement weather and the roads were snowy and icy, I elected to take the train into Salem.  It took a little longer than driving (not taking into account any accidents that may occur) but the transfers can be a hassle, especially having to cross the street from Park Street to get the train at North Station.

In any event, the train ride is comfortable and there are some pretty views along the way.

The 26 ice sculptures (25 not including the missing sculpture) are scattered around Salem although many of them are located in about a mile or two mile radius (on Essex, Washington and Hawthorn streets/boulevard).  The trickiest part is trying to get to the sculptures that are located on the outskirts (such as Bridge St and Derby St.  A trolley was planned to transport visitors to each of the sculptures but due to the inclement weather that plan was scrapped this year.

It’s a great activity for families and I saw quite a few parents and children looking for each sculpture and excitedly checking the sculpture off their list.  The children especially seemed to like hunting for each one.  Each sculpture is clearly marked and pretty easy to find if you use the map.  The Visitor Center also has bigger maps than the one on the web site and they are of course very helpful.

While they are generally located near each other by number, sometimes it’s easier to map out your own route and find them on your own regardless of the number of the sculpture which is what I did. I have included photos of the sculptures lit up as well if I was able to see them illuminated.  They look so much better when they are lit up!

The first set of photographs were located at or near Lappin Park, near the Bewitched Statue.  The first ice sculpture is Globe, sponsored by The Journeymasters

Han Solo is the second sculpture on their list.  Unfortunately, Han’s Falcon got stuck in traffic so his sculpture was not available to be photographed.

As if you haven’t seen enough of them yet, the third sculpture is a snowflake sponsored by Laura Lanes Skin Care.

Some of the lighted sculptures changed colors like this one sponsored by Salem State University; Opening of Sophia Gordon Center.

Accross from Lappin Park, on Washington St, is the ice sculpture at Rockafella’s.  The Rockafella’s Ice Bar is like a frozen patio.  The cold weather and icy bar didn’t stop them from grilling and enjoying the fresh air. At least you didn’t have to worry about your beer getting warm.

Farther down Washington St is Champagne sponsored by Adriaatic Restaurant & Bar.

Sponsored by Creative Salem, Hawthorne Hotel and Retonica and located on Front St is the ice sculpture Reflections.  This one was cool because you could stand behind the sculpture and act as though you are the reflection.

Next to the Reflections sculpture is Cinderella’s Carriage, also on Front St,sponsored by  Maria’s Sweet Somethings.  From a distance, if you look at a certain angle, you can almost see some driving the carriage with a top hat on.  Go on, let me know if you see it too.

The next ice sculpture on the list is Fish sponsored by Koto and located on Washington St.

The next ice sculpture is Lobster Love located at Turner’s Seafood on Church St.  This sculpture also changes colors when illuminated.

This sculpture is located by the Salem Cinema.  It is called Salem Film Fest 2017.

On St Peter St at Bit Bar is Arcade.

The next group of sculptures are all located on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and one on Central St which is an alley off the pedestrian mall walkway.

Green Tara, sponsored by Coon’s Card and Gift Shop, Penelope’s Pet Boutique and Tibet’s Art & Healing.

On the other side of the walkway, very close to Tara is Bella The Goat sponsored by Bella Research Group.  Bella’s sculpture also changed colors while it was lit.

Off Essex St on Central St is the Steampunk Heart ice sculpture.

The next two sculptures are both back on Essex St Pedestrian Mall.  This ice sculpture is located in front of the Peabody Essex Museum.  It is called Red Stiletto with Honda Engine and it was sculpted by David Crow.

On the other side of the walkway in front of the Museum Mall Place and very close to the red stiletto sculpture is the Winnie The Pooh ice sculpture.  Winnie doesn’t look very happy!

The next sculptures are located on Hawthorne Blvd and Essex St.  Sweet Jane’s Sweet Savings is located on Hawthorne Blvd.


Queen Of Hearts is located across the street on Essex St.


The following ice sculptures are located on or off Derby and New Derby St.  Mug is located at the Notch Brewery and Tap Room.

These two sculptures are located at the Waterfront Hotel and Regata Ice Bar.  t first glance, it looks like one sculpture but they are actually two separate sculptures.

Across the street from the Waterfron Hotel is the Rumson’s Rum ice sculpture.

Candy is located in front of the House Of The Seven Gables and, aptly, across the street from Ye Olde Pepper Company (America’s oldest candy company).  Yes, those are real candies.  No, I did not eat any of them.

From Derby St, you would have to backtrack towards N. Washington St, near the Salem Commons to find Ruby Slippers located at the Salem Witch Museum.  And, yes, I agree.

The next ice sculpture is a little bit of a walk.  Bakery is located in the parking lot of Coffee Time Bake Shop (96 Bridge St).  In fact, you may want to drive to this sculpture.

And, yes, of course, there were lots of dogs in Salem checking out the sculptures.

Emmett is a 4 year old Cockapoo.  Look at those cute shoes!

Mattie is 7 years old.  She was bundled up for the cold weather!  She is also very well trained.

All of the dogs in Salem were prepared for the cold weather.  These dogs had some beautiful sweaters on keeping them both warm and fashionable.

I am not sure how long the sculptures are being displayed.  Between our erratic weather and hooligans who seem to get their kicks smashing ice art, I would suggest going soon to check them out before they’re gone!

Below is a video of the Bella The Goat ice sculpture changes colors.

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Lego Wall (Boston, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 5, 2017

Location: Next to Dunkin’ Donuts, 330 Congress St, Boston, MA

Hours: Accessible everyday, 24 hours a day

Dog Friendly: Yes

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: Art display of Lego tiles in a brick wall



You never know what you’ll see while you walk along our city streets.  Statues, dog, lego walls.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A Lego Wall!  But, this is not the first work of art to appear on a brick wall on Congress St.

Well, the display doesn’t look like a Lego display but more like a wooden cut out. The “Lego Wall” name is actually a holdover from an earlier display on Congress St.

After noticing a hole in a section of the wall on Congress St, a artist took notice and decided to do something about it.  Nate Swain, a former landscape architect, stealthily filled in the gap in the wall at 342 Congress St one Sunday night with a rather unusual material, Legos.

Weeks, months passed by while people stared, pointed, giggled and maybe weven shook their heads a few times at the work of art by an anonymous artist.  Until recently.

Nate Swain finally publicly came forward as the artist who created the first Lego Wall.  Imagine the joy he got as he walked past the display as other passersby scratched their heads or had a chuckle.  There’s nothing like being in on an inside joke.

Unfortunately, the parking lot which stood next to the Lego Wall has been closed to make way for “affordable luxury housing.”  Oxymoron aside, it also meant the Lego Wall had to go.

For some time, the brick walls of Congress St laid bare without a Lego Wall or any other work of art to admire or photograph for that magtter.  However, in December of 2016 a different artist decided to put her own work of art on display on Congress St.

Boston artist and writer Daisy Razor (not her real name), decided to put her own brand of art on the walls of Congress St (next to the Dunkin’ Donuts at 330 Congress St to be exact).

The art is still there as of post.  But, with our weather elements and other “forces of nature” (the original Lego Wall had been vandalized at least on one occasion) it’s unclear how long it will stay there. 

Fun fact: this trend of fixing up walls with Legos is not limited to the United States. German artist Jan Vormann has also used Legos to dress up some architecture he has come across in his travels.

Who would ever think there would be so much history and background to Lego art?

Buttonball Tree (Sunderland, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 5, 2017

Location: 158 N. Main St, Sunderland, MA

Parking: You can park on the side of the road at or near the tree.  It’s a residential area so please be safe when viewing

Cost: Free

Hours: everyday, 24 hours a day

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: “widest tree this side of the Mississippi”, biggest sycamore tree in Massachusetts, 300 plus year old tree


On a nondescript road in Sunderland, MA, stands a tree.  A big tree.  But, no, this is no ordinary “big tree.”  This is the widest tree in the Eastern part of the United States.

The Buttonball tree, located on N Main St,  is over 113′ high, with a girth of 24’7″ and has a spread of 140′.  Pretty big, huh?  The locals think so.  Because of its size and its legendary status, locals have dubbed the Buttonball Tree, “The widest tree this side of the Mississippi.” It is also considered, wrongly, to be the “biggest” this side of the Mississippi.

In fact, another tree in Massachusetts may hold this claim.  Or, at the least it may be the tallest this side of the Mississippi.  The Eastern White Pine in the Mohawk State Forest in Charlemont, Massachusetts, is listed at 174 feet in height.  And there are many others that are taller than the Buttonball.

For instance, the “Boogerman Pine” (186 feet tall) located in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, is considered by many as the tallest tree in the U.S. east of the Mississippi.

In addition to these trees, there could be some huge, crazy big tree in some forest or park somewhere that has yet to be recorded.  As you can see, it is a hotly contested claim!

So, the claim of “largest tree east of the Mississippi” is a title that has been debated.  But, the Buttonball still holds the title for widest tree this side of the Mississippi.  OK, enough fun tree facts.  For now.

Who knew it would be such a contentious subject!  Who knew there was so many details about these trees? But, there’s more to the tree than it’s girth and height.  Besides, it’s not the size…never mind.

While the title for largest tree east of the Mississippi may be up for debate, one thing is for: the Buttonball Tree is one big tree!  It is the largest sycamore tree in Massachusetts and one of the largest trees of any kind in Massachusetts.  Once part of the Sunderland forest, the tree now stands in a residential area.  I bet the neighbors just love all the attention.   (another) Fun fact: because of their longevity, during the 17th and 18th century sycamores were sometimes planted at the door of new house for newlyweds as “bride and groom” trees.  The trees lasted much longer the marriages I am sure.

Not only is the Buttonball Tree big, it is historically significant.  And old.  I mean really, really old.  The tree is estimated at being between 350 and 400 years old.  And you thought you were getting long in the tooth.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen…the Buttonball Tree….


In 1987, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of signing of the Constitution, a plaque was engraved in a stone and placed in front of the tree.  The plaque is engraved with the following:


Don’t forget to Connect with me on Facebook (this isn’t part of the inscription)

Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show (Eastern States Exposition Center, West Springfield, MA)

Dates Of Event: February 4 and 5 (the dates may vary but usually it is the first weekend in February)

Location: Better Living Center at the Eastern States Exposition Center (1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, MA)

Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Cost: Free (there is a fee to park)

Parking: $5 to park at Gate 9 for the entire time you stay.  There is ample parking for the event

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly:  Of course!

Web Site: Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show

Great Barrington kennel Club Web Site: Great Barrington Kennel Club


The Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, MA has gone to the dogs.  Literally.

The Exposition Center hosted the Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show this weekend and there were a wide variety of dogs to view, sometimes pat and of course photograph!  Every dog was beautiful in her or his way and there was dogs of all kinds for any dog lover to appreciate!  I tried to photograph dogs of a variety of breeds and sizes.  There were so many cute dogs so this wasn’t a problem.  I hope you enjoy the photos of these cute beasts!

There were large dogs like this 2 and a half year old Great Dane named Leo.

And small dogs like this 15 month old Pomeranian named Scarlett.

And there were dogs of all shapes in between!  As you can tell, there were dogs of all sizes and colors.

The dogs were judged in groups at different times throughout the day and the winning dogs received ribbons.  One of the things that stood out to me There were so many cute dogs to see at the event.  Below are some of the beautiful dogs I saw at the show.

Annie is a 1 year old Belgian Tervuren.

Albert is a 15 month old Lhasa Apso

Cooper is a 4 year old Irish Setter.

Charlie is a 6 month old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

This smiley 18 month old Siberian Husky is Squishy.

But, how does he see?  Jambo is a 2 and a half year old Briard.

Named after the hot and humid southeast to southwestwinds originating as hot, dry desert-air over Northern Africa, Sirocco is a 4 and a half year old Portuguese Water Dog.

As you may be able to tell the second photo, the Portuguese Water Dog is often groomed to show off his posterior.  In addition to their tails, which act as rudders, the short trimmed fur helps them swim.

What would a dog show be without a Golden Retriever? Sometimes you just gotta have Faith, a 4 year old Golden Retriever.

Jubi (short for Jubilee) is a 1 year old Samoyed.

Sadie is an 8 month old German Shepherd.

Tess, a 1 and a half year old Airedale Terrier, is a search and rescue dog in training.

This affectionate 2 year old Burnese Mountain Dog is Dylan.

Breanna is a 7 month Clumber Spaniel

Blaze is a Portuguese Waterdog.

Lucca, named after the Italian city by the same name, is a 3 year old Belgian Shepherd.  All of that posing makes you hungry!

Kensi, an adorable 6 month old English French Bulldog, barked at my camera while he posed for me.  Cameras can be scary things!

Tasha is a 2 year old Gordon Setter.

Believe it or not, even Saint Bernards are small at some point in their life.  Night Blu Sky is a 3 month old Saint.



That’s one way to get his attention!  Hampton is a 3 month old Skipper Key.

Harleigh, a 9 month old Great Pyranese, is a therapy dog for special needs people and seniors.

Dizzy is a 2 year old French Bulldog.

Clyde is a 1 year old German Short Haired Pointer.

Billy is an 11 month old Irish Setter.

Flair is a 19 month old Saint Bernard.

Maikai Maika is a 13 month old Saint Bernard.

Eliza is a 6 month old Smooth Collie.

Sophie (in the back and on the left in the photos from left to right) is a 5 year old Newfie.  Berg, her daughter , is 5 months old.

Titan is a 9 month old Great Pyranese.

Limerick, a 2 year old Brussels Griffin, looks like he’s saying, “What are you looking at?”  Just looking at a cute dog.

Leo is an 8 month old Cavalier King Chafrles Spaniel.

Peyton is a 1 year old Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier

Benjamin is a 3 year old Corgi

Mac, a 15 month old English Mastiff, is a gentle giant.

Maybelline is also an English Mastiff.

Tabitha is a 7 month old Chow.

Apollo, a 200 pound and 5 year old Saint Bernard, won “Best Of Breed.”

Timber is a 2 year old Rodesian Ridgeback.

Brie is a 4 year old Standard Poodle.

Capone is a 2 year old English Mastiff.

Juice, named after the acclaimed singer Juice Newton (yes I am being serious), is a one year old Chinese Shar-Pei.

No, that is not “Cousin It.”  Sorry for the decades old reference. Mirror is a Bergamasco Shepherd.

Jasper is a 4 year old English Sheep Dog.

Elda is a 2 year old English Setter.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get the name of this cute Colored Bull Terrier

Mica is a 2 year old Wire haired Pointing Griffon.

There were also vendors at the event who sold everything from clothing and jewelry to pet treats and toys.

While the dogs were judged and winners were selected, they’re all winners in my book!

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Gun Totem (Providence, RI)

Date Of Visit: September 24, 2016

Location: S Main St, Providence, RI

Hours: Accessible everyday,  24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is on street parking and several parking garages in the area

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlight: concrete obelisk constructed with over 1,000 real guns embedded in the concrete of the structure



I found this group of photos from a visit to Providence, Rhode Island last summer.  I was originally going to post it on my Facebook page.  But, since not everyone has liked my Facebook page (you really should), I decided to post it here.  But, I do periodically post additional photos, videos and other fun stuff on my Facebook page that I don’t post on WordPress.  So, think about joining it.  OK, enough shameless self-promoting.

Built from 1,000 reclaimed guns from the Guns For Goods gun buy back program, the Gun Totem is a 12 foot obelisk made of concrete and 1,000 guns.  Perhaps not coincidentally, the totem is located across the courthouse in Providence, Rhode Island.

Award winning artist Boris Bally created the monument in 2001.  The concrete was chipped away to reveal the guns giving the guns a fossilized look.  Or, as Bailey is quoted and saying:

“All aboriginal cultures, including this country’s own native American culture, build totemic structures to serve as venerated symbols of a clan or family… It will act as a monolithic, metallic warning and ‘mojo’ to ward off evil and violence so prevalent in today’s society. A crew of volunteer ‘archaeologists’ aided me in carefully chipping away areas of the concrete skin to reveal the ‘fossilized’ handguns beneath.”