Category Archives: connecticut

Barker Character, Comic And Cartoon Museum (Cheshire, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: August 12, 2017

Location: 1188 Highland Avenue, Cheshire, CT

Cost:

  • Toddlers (3 & Under): Free
  • Children (4 – 17):  $3.00
  • Adults (18+):  $5.00

Hours:

Sunday CLOSED
Monday CLOSED
Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Thursday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Friday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Parking: The main parking area has room for only about half a dozen cars.  But, there is a parking area behind the museum you can park at.

Website: Barker Museum

Highlights: collection of toys, dolls, figurines, lunch boxes and many other memorabilia and collectibles.

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Memories and nostalgia fill the aisles of Barker Character, Comic an Cartoon Museum in Cheshire, CT.

You’re bound to find something among the nearly 80,000 items in the two floors at Barker museum. Whether it is an action figure (and there are tons of them there to view)

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or board games (you know before they had video games)

you’re bound to find something that catches your eye or reminds you of your youth.

There are even old Wheaties and other types of cereal boxes, Pez candy and dispensers and other candy.

The oldest item at the museum is a cast iron elephant ramp walker manufactured by the Ives Company in 1873.  The value of this toy is estimated between $225 and $250.

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There were some other unusual toys and collectibles at Barker.

I had a ton of these while I was growing up.  I remember saving up my allowance each week and saving so I could buy the new figures. It was quite a smurfy collection.

I also recognized this lunch box from my younger days.

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There are many other lunch boxes on display at the museum.

The deceivingly looking main building that looks like any other residency has art available for purchase from many of the most popular movies, cartoons and other types of entertainment.

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There are also sculptures of Dr. Seuss characters and other toys and figurines in the main building.

Outside of the buildings there are murals, statues and signs with drawings of famous cartoon characters on them.

As you can see, Barker’s is a fun for people of all ages!

Below is a video of some of the fun things to see at Barkers.


The Farm At Carter Tree Hill (Marlborough, CT)

Date Of Visit: July 22, 2017

Location: 86 E.  Hampton Rd, Marlborough, CT

Hours: the website says to call for hours (860-906-7866)

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for a couple dozen cars.  More parking may be available in nearby lots when they have special events

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: Family-friendly working farm with an eatery, general store, bed and breakfast, carriage house for events and farm animals

Tips:

  • It’s easy to miss the farm if you’re not looking for it

Website: The Farm At Carter Hill

Now that I have posted most of my posts from Salem up (I may have a few more to post later), I am catching up posts about places I visited this past summer and this fall.

One of the more enchanting places I visited this summer was a place I found by happenstance.  During a trip to a park in Connecticut, my passenger and I noticed an old pickup truck parked by the side of what appeared to be a farm.

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Tucked away off Route 66 in Marlborough, CT, Carter Tree Hill Farm has a farm, general store, barn used for entertainment and  events.

The animals in the farm area are very playful and friendly.  They really seem to like to play on their car.  My favorite part of the farm, the farm area has several goats, chickens, ducks and even a peacock.

It was late July during my visit and the flowers were in bloom.  Vibrant flowers were scattered around the farm and gardens.

The peak time to visit Tree Hill Farm is probably during the warmer seasons and fall.  It must look very pretty there during the autumn with all of the leaves on the trees changing color.  I also think it must feel good to be able to spend one of the first mild spring days there drinking a beverage outside after one of our long cold winters.

During the summer, Carter Tree Hill Farm shows movie on their projection screen.

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The Carter Tree Hill Farm consists of a general store, outdoor eatery, bed and breakfast, ice-cream and outdoor pavillion for weddings, carriage barn for private parties or events and Hogs Breath Tavern as well as an animal farm.

The friendly staff made us a coffee and pored me an orange juice at no charge and allowed us free rein to explore the property.

The affable staff at Tree Hill Farm work hard to keep the garden and flowers clean and pretty.  You can tell they take a lot of pride in their work by the way the property is kept after.  We also spent a while talking to a worker about how much he loves to work on his plants and vegetables at the farm.

There is also a an old time filling station (not in use) and a barn where you can buy home made jellies (try the marmalade), other snacks and other merchandise at Carter Tree Hill Farm. Look at that gas price!

With its ample space, colorful plants and flowers and barns and animals to watch, Carter Tree Hill Farm is a great place to bring the entire family.


Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: Hartford Rd Rt 185, Simsbury, CT

Hours: open daily, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 10 cars to park.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park

Highlights: biggest tree in Connecticut, boat launch, bench to sit

Tips:

  • It may be better to see the size of the tree in the fall, winter and spring when the trees skeleton is visible to fully appreciate the size of the tree
  • The park is the right just before the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge on Rt 185 or just after the bridge, depending upon which way you’re traveling
  • Despite what your GPS says the best road to take to get to the tree is probably Cobtail Way

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Everyday, hundreds, if not thousands, of people pass by a historic landmark without even realizing it.  It is interesting  that so many people miss out on viewing the biggest tree in Connecticut and never know it.

When it was most recently measured in 2016 by the Connecticut Botanical Society, the trunk of the Pinchot Sycamore Tree was listed at 28 feet (8.5 meters) around and 100 feet (30 meters) tall.  It is estimated to be at least 200 years old and could be as old as 300 years.  The tree’s branches sprout in various directions.  With its thick, far reaching limbs, it could easily be used in a horror movie.

The tree was named in honor of influential conservationist and Connecticut resident Gifford Pinchot in 1965.  There was a re-dedication  in 1975.

There are two markers located by the tree.  The first marker (on the left below) is a thank you to all of the groups who have worked to make the park possible.  The second marker (on the right below) is the marker from the original dedication in 1965.  You’ll note the tree’s circumference was recorded as being 23 feet and 7 inches (as opposed to the 28 feet it was measured at in 2016).

To get a better sense of the size of the tree, take a look at the trunk of the this tree in proportion to this model.

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There is also a bench located near the back of the tree that is dedicated to Pauline Schwartz.  The note on the bench states, “Come Have A Seat By Pauline Schwartz’s Favorite Tree” with some designs and, although it is slightly worn, an image that appears to be a person’s face.  Pauline, a native of Bridgeport, CT, passed away in 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.  A bench was dedicated in her honor because of her love of the park.

Behind the tree, almost hidden from the park is a boat launch that offers views of the Farmington River.

The entrance to the park is a little hard to find, unless you know where.  ON Rt 185 just before or after the bridge, there are two green poles that mark the entrance to the park.  The road to the parking lot is short but a little narrow.

As I mentioned in the tips section, it’s probably better to fully appreciate the size of the during the fall, winter or spring when the leaves are off the tree, so you can see the full size of the tree without the leaves hiding the skeleton of the tree.  Below is a photo of what the tree looks like without its leaves (from foursquare.com).


Heublein Tower (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, Route 185, Simsbury, CT

Cost: Free

Hours: The trail to the tower is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Hours for the museum in the tower are as follows:

Memorial Day Weekend through September 30th, the museum is open Thursday through Sunday only.
October 1 – October 31st the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Pets, food, drink, and walking sticks are not allowed in the museum.

Parking:

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Trail Size/Difficulty: 2.5 miles round trip/moderate with some sharp inclines.

Website: Friends Of Heublein Tower

Talcott Mountain State Park

Highlights: tower, scenic views,

Tips:

  • There is no parking lot at the park.  Parking is allowed on the side of the road at and near the trail to the tower
  • Don’t forget to check out the scenic views on the way up to the tower by taking the trail closest to the ledge (the trail on the right after the trail splits
  • The trail has a steep incline at the beginning but evens out and becomes easier about halfway to the tower
  • If using a GPS: Parking is located on Summit Ridge Dr. Simsbury, CT 06070

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Once the home of Gilbert Heublein (pronounced “High-Bline”), Heublein Tower offers some of the most pretty views in the Connecticut River Valley.

As legend has it, during a hike of Talcott Mountain with his fiance Louise M. Gundlach, he promised her that one day he would build her a castle there.  He would make good on his promise in 1914 with the Heublein Tower.

Heublein manufactured such delicacies as A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka.  Anyone else hungry for some steak and vodka? A barbecue, perhaps?

Heublein Tower is located along a trail that begins at Talcott Mountain State Park.  Parking is available along the sides of the road to the tower.

Along the trail to the tower, you can take the trail on the right to see some pretty views of the Farmington River Valley.  As you can also see by some of the photos, the trail does have some inclines.  There are also some benches along the trail at the beginning of the trail.

During certain days you can enter the tower and view the rooms in the tower.  The at times arduous hike is worth it for the views of the tower and the self guided tower of the inside of the tower.

The views from Heublein Tower are stunning.

The trails are not too hard for man nor beast.  Dogs of a variety of sizes and breeds were on the trail during my visit.

Hiro is a 7 month old Cobberdog

Monte is a 2 year old Tibetan Terrier.

Kaiser is a 2 year old Airedale.

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Roscoe (on the left) is a 3 year old Rottweiler.   Love his bandanna!

Onyx (on the right) is a 2 year old boxer.

 

 


Mystic Seaport – Part III (Mystic, CT)

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Date Of Visit: September 2, 2017

Location: 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT

Hours: Open daily, 9:00 – 5:00 (hours may vary depending on the season)

Cost:

Adult – $28.95
Senior (ages 65+) – $26.95
Youth (ages 4-14) – $18.95
Children (3 and younger) – Free

Parking: there is a free parking lot across the street from the Seaport Museum.  There is also additional parking across the street from the parking lot for overflow

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, but not all of the buildings are accessible to the handicapped.  Approximately one-third of our buildings have wheelchair-accessible entrances; interior access varies. The village’s unpaved roads are generally firm and stable suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. All roads are basically level with a few slight inclines located near the Children’s Museum, Treworgy Planetarium and Membership Building.  (see link below for more info)

Mystic Seaport Accessibility Guide

Dog Friendly: Yes, but they are not allowed in the buildings

Website: Mystic Seaport

Highlights: living museum with character actors, boats, replicas of historic homes, figureheads, lighthouse replica, play area for children

Tips:

  • For an after museum viewing treat, Mystik Village, an open area shopping mall is a mere.9 miles away on Coogan Blvd
  • the museum’s main parking lot can fill up quickly if you don’t get there early.  Additional parking can be found in the lots off Rossie St on the other side of the main parking lot

In my previous posts about Mystic Seaport, I shown you the figureheads and the ships and boats of Mystic Seaport.

In this final installment, part three, I am going to focus on some of the buildings and historical items at the museum.  I hope you enjoy!IMG_0009

The first exhibit room at the Thompson Exhibition Hall has many interactive exhibits and artifacts and exhibits from a bygone era.

The first interactive exhibit is called “Sea States.”  At this exhibit, you can watch video of the water from calm

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to blustery

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and every other weather condition you can think of.

In the Thompson Building is a very large room packed with lots of historical items. And many of these exhibits and items have interactive devices that give more information and historical context to the items.

These carved etchings were made on teeth and bones of whales.

People may think captains and other sailors were not attached to their families, being away from them for so long and because of traditional family dynamics.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Sailors seemed to have a very strong connection to their families, especially their children.

Pictured below are a glove box, photo of Captain Richard Columbus Mears and his Nellie, his daughter (Nellie Goodsell Mears Van Valkenburgh) and some wood carvings he made.

Captain Mears, born in Accomack County, Virginia in 1829, was a merchant ship captain based mainly out of New York.

The black and gold item on the left is a glove box that Captain Mears sent to Nellie for her 13th birthday.  Believe it or not before plastics were invented people made these objects out of turtle shell.  This particular glove box was made out of a hawksbill turtle shell.

The photo next to the glove box is a photo of Captain Mears with Nellie.  To the right of the display are wood carvings by Captain Mears.  The napkin ring, also carved by Captain Mears has the letters N E L L I E with a heart next to it.

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This crib also has turtle shell in its design.  In the second photo you can see the turtle shell reflected in the mirror under the crib.

Most museums do not want you to touch their exhibits.  But, the Seaport Museum has this replica of a turtle for people to touch to see what they felt like that.  It was smooth and silky.  I want one.  A real one.

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This bed from that era, pictured below, had some interesting designs on it.

These carvings are miniature figureheads.  They are models of life sized figureheads that adorned ships of those days.

There are also several models of boats from the earlier days of the seaport.

Nikki McClure’s book To Market, To Market was on display at the Mallory Building.  McClure, a papercut artist based out of  Olympia, Washington, is an author and  illustrator who mainly writes children’s books with an environmental theme.  I love her art!

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The were other works of art from her books Waiting For High Tide and Life In Balance.

I liked these pieces from her exhibit best.

I also loved the educational historical buildings with the re-enactors.  The people in these buildings are very knowledgeable and friendly.

In this building, The Cooperage, coopers (barrel makers) were making barrels.  The old fashioned way.

This is the Nautical Instruments Shop.  They have many clocks and timepieces as well as  nautical devices such as compasses in this building.

The Mystic Print Shop is a true to life replica of the print shops of the 1800’s.  If you look closely at the photos in the corner, you will see how the template or blocks on the metal pad match up with the words on the printed sheets.

The people at the Shipsmith Shop and Hoop Shop reenact ship and mast builders.

There is also a replica of a lighthouse that you can enter.  A short documentary plays on a loop in the lighthouse.

There are also several shops that are replicas of the buildings of the 1800’s.

The Geo. H. Stone & Co store is a replica of the stores of the time.

 

Of course no living history museum would be complete with a school house.

The drug store had some interesting remedies of the time.

The Seamen’s Friend Society was a place the seamen could go to read, learn to read or have a book read to them.  Since sailors spent a lot of time at sea and began working at a very early age sometimes they were not literate.  They came to places like to be tutored or just to have someone read to them.

Formerly located in Saybrook, Connecticut, the Buckingham-Hall House is a two story building with two bedrooms and several sitting and family rooms.  Being self-sufficient people, there was also a sewing and quilting area with a variety of fibers.  The house was owned by William Hall Jr., from the estate of Samuel Buckingham.  I love how they used to design the windows in those days.  They weren’t big as many windows are these days.  But, they were much more fancy and, despite their small size, allowed for a good amount of light.  There was also an open hearth cooking demonstration in the kitchen during my visit.

One of the other homes at the Seaport Museum is the Thomas Greenman House.  The house was originally built for Thomas and Charlotte Greenman in 1942.  THomas Greenman was originally from Westerly, Rhode Island but made his way to Mystic later in his life.

TH kitchen and the second floor are not accessible to visitors.  But the rooms on the first floor are decorated and furnished in the Victorian style of the 1870’s.  I always think I want to live in these types of houses because of their ornate designs and their charm.  Then I realize just how oppressive it must have been during the hot summers and frigid winters.  Not to mention they didn’t even have WI-FI.

The Burrows House is a very small home, yet almost as big as apartment, that stands as an example of many of the homes of that era.  The house, which is said to have been built between 1805 and 1925, was the home of storekeeper Seth Winthrop Burrows and his milliner wife, Jane.  That is some tight stairwell.

The Stillman Building has a variety of interactive displays and historical items collected over the years of the seaport’s history.  My favorite part of their exhibits in this building are the notes children wrote about whales and the sea.

This timepiece, found by the children’s play area, acts like a sundial and gives precise times throughout the day.  But, people seemed more interesting in using it for coat and backpack storage.  I was tempted to check out that boat there.

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Lastly, the walkways to the different buildings is level and handicapped accessible (although some of the older historic buildings are not).  And there are lots of pretty views along the way.  I love the old pumper, which had to be moved manually.

Mystic Seaport is a dog friendly museum (although they are not allowed in the buildings).  These two cute curly dogs were hanging out by the bench with their guardians.

Fuzzy (the white dog on on the left) is a 4 year old female Goldendoodle.

C-Doo (short for Colossus of Doodle), on the right, is a 1 year old Goldendoodle


Mystic Seaport – Part II (Mystic, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 2, 2017

Location: 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT

Hours: Open daily, 9:00 – 5:00 (hours may vary depending on the season)

Cost:

Adult – $28.95
Senior (ages 65+) – $26.95
Youth (ages 4-14) – $18.95
Children (3 and younger) – Free

Parking: there is a free parking lot across the street from the Seaport Museum.  There is also additional parking across the street from the parking lot for overflow

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, but not all of the buildings are accessible to the handicapped.  Approximately one-third of our buildings have wheelchair-accessible entrances; interior access varies. The village’s unpaved roads are generally firm and stable suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. All roads are basically level with a few slight inclines located near the Children’s Museum, Treworgy Planetarium and Membership Building.  (see link below for more info)

Mystic Seaport Accessibility Guide

Dog Friendly: Yes, but they are not allowed in the buildings

Website: Mystic Seaport

Highlights: living museum with character actors, boats, replicas of historic homes, figureheads, lighthouse replica, play area for children

Tips:

  • For an after museum viewing treat, Mystik Village, an open area shopping mall is a mere.9 miles away on Coogan Blvd
  • the museum’s main parking lot can fill up quickly if you don’t get there early.  Additional parking can be found in the lots off Rossie St on the other side of the main parking lot

In part I of my blog posts about Mystic Seaport I showed you all of the figureheads and some other decorations and statues at the Seaport Museum.  Since there were so many interesting things to see and photograph there, I decided to break the blog post into two or three installments .  In this installment I will include photos of the boats and ships from the Seaport Museum (it is a seaport museum after all).  I hope you enjoy!

The ship pictured above and the staple of the Seaport Museum is the Charles W. Morgan, the last of an American whaling fleet that once numbered more than 2,700 vessels. The Morgan, built and launched in 1841, is presently America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat.  In fact, it is only second to “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution, in terms of age.  It’s also very hard to fit the entire vessel in the frame of your camera’s view.

As I travel all over New England, I have become more aware of how all of the states in this region are interconnected.  Evidence of this is how the Morgan was launched in 1841 in the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, an area that enjoys a prominent role in American fishing and whaling history.

Clocking in at 106 feet, 11 inches in length on deck and a beam measuring 27 feet, 9 inches, the Morgan was and still is one of the larger vessels in the New England area. Her main truck is 110 feet above the deck and fully-rigged, and her sail measures in at 7,134 square feet.

But, lest you think the Seaport Museum is a one trick pony, there are lots of other sea worthy watercraft at the museum.

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The Calypso stretches 23′ in length with a 7’4” beam with a 2’5″ centerboard up.  It is made of fiberglass in an old French wooden boat design.  Built in 2004 at Latitude 46 Yachts, Ile de Re, France, the Calypso has a 9 horsepower Yanmar diesel engine.  Yeah I don’t know what that means either.

Calypso spent a decade racing and day-sailing along the South Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers in New Jersey.  After being damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the boat was fully restored.  The boat is on exhibit and used for museum programs.

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Designed by Nathanael G. Herreshoff, Aida was built in 1926 by Herreshoff Manufacturing Co in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Aida measures out to 33’6″ in length with a beam of 9’2″ and it has a draft of 3’1″.

Aida  was owned by author Maynard Bray who used it to sail the waters of Maine.  She is planked with Longleaf yellow pine and Douglas fir and is framed with white oak.  She is fastened with bronze.  She is available for charter.

While there are other boats both on exhibit and available for charter, some of them were not available for photography.  I did find this Smallboat Exhibit.

Originally launched as George Stage, the Joseph Conrad, an iron hulled sailing ship, is also docked at the Seaport Museum.  She served as a training ship for American and Denmark sailors, separately, and has been used as a yacht in the past.  She 100’8″ on her deck, her bean is 25’3″ and her draft is 12′.

They were raising her sails when I began photographing the vessel.

Speaking of figureheads and masts, check out the figurehead on the Joseph Conrad.

You never know what you’ll see at the museum.  Randomly, a man who works at the museum began singing on this boat.

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This boiler is from an old ship that was once sea worthy.

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There is also a replica of a Verande which was used in the planning of a much longer Viking longship.  The Verande would be sea tested by towing, rowing and sailing to test its seaworthiness, ease of handling, safety and speed.

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In the Stillman Building, there is a replica of a captain’s quarters for the 1883 ship Benjamin F. Packard.  It felt pretty cool being able to access the living quarters of a captain without actually having to go out on a boat.

It looks cozy for sure.  The articles in the last photo are the figurehead, a billethead, and some of the other items that would be on the ship.

This concludes the ships and boats installment of my blog posts from Mystic Seaport.  Next, I will post about the buildings and some of the historical items on exhibit at the museum.  Thank you for reading!

Outside of the Stillman Building, I saw these two adorable Longhaired Dachshunds.

Clair is on the left and Chloe is on the right.

 

 


Mystic Seaport – Part I (Mystic, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: September 2, 2017

Location: 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT

Hours: Open daily, 9:00 – 5:00 (hours may vary depending on the season)

Cost:

Adult – $28.95
Senior (ages 65+) – $26.95
Youth (ages 4-14) – $18.95
Children (3 and younger) – Free

Parking: there is a free parking lot across the street from the Seaport Museum.  There is also additional parking across the street from the parking lot for overflow

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, but not all of the buildings are accessible to the handicapped.  Approximately one-third of our buildings have wheelchair-accessible entrances; interior access varies. The village’s unpaved roads are generally firm and stable suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. All roads are basically level with a few slight inclines located near the Children’s Museum, Treworgy Planetarium and Membership Building.  (see link below for more info)