Tag Archives: Small Towns

A Treasure Trove Of Memories

The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont

As promised in a previous post, here is a selection of my photos from the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee Gorge Village near Hartford, Vermont.  The museum’s website is down, possibly due to the recent AWS issues, but I got the following from Atlas Obscura:

Nestled above a charming general store near the Quechee Gorge, the Vermont Toy Museum’s vast collection of dolls, action figures, lunchboxes, yo-yos, and matchbox cars is a hidden treasure right off the White River Junction. Around 100,000 toys are housed inside the museum. 

The museum’s items largely came from members of the local community. They were collected and compiled decade-by-decade, which displays the evolution of toys and games from the 1950s to the present day. Though it’s unknown who operates and maintains the museum, it’s closely watched by the employees at the downstairs Cabot Cheese Store and the antique mall next door.

The museum also houses an intricate model train exhibit that takes visitors through the four seasons of the Green Mountain state for only a quarter. This museum’s tireless attention to detail, nostalgia, and cozy atmosphere make it a must-see for travelers on Route 4.

The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont

It was a fun visit.  A place we might have spent a lot more time, but just like the camera museum in Staunton, Virginia, there is only so much time…. 😉  As it was, we spent a lot of time saying things like, “I had that!” or “I remember those” or “the kids had these.”  Fun stuff!

Almost forgot!  I have completed processing my photos from our New England trip and have posted them on my Adobe Portfolio site.

The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont
The Vermont Toy Museum, located in Quechee Village, Vermont

Mystic, Connecticut: More Than A Famous Pizza Shop

Sunset along the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut

I’m not sure what attracted me to Mystic, Connecticut.  It wasn’t ‘Mystic Pizza,’ the pizza shop made famous by the movie by the same name.  I haven’t seen the movie, although I was familiar with the name.  No, it had something to do with something I had once read or heard about ‘Mystic Seaport.’  And we found it to be an excellent home base for our short but busy exploration of Connecticut.

The Mystic River Highway Bridge over the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut. The Steamboat Inn on the left side of the photo is where we stayed.
The Mystic River Highway Bridge over the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut
View of The Steamboat Inn along the river in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport is the name of the Mystic Maritime Center, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading maritime museum.”  I’ll write about our visit to the museum in a separate post, so for now I’ll just talk about the town of Mystic itself.

The Mystic River Highway Bridge over the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut
Morning in Mystic, Connecticut

The town of Mystic itself proved to be a quaint, albeit busy, seaside town.  The Mystic River flows through the town, and there is a drawbridge on Main Street that opens once per hour to let sailboats and other larger vessels pass through.

Morning along the river in Mystic, Connecticut
Morning along the river in Mystic, Connecticut

We stayed at the Steamboat Inn, a small B&B right next to the river and the drawbridge, and it was the perfect location to explore the town while still making it easy to get out of town to see other places.  I loved being able to walk out the door and photograph in the early morning, while Kathy caught a few extra Zs in our room.  I’d get back in time for coffee and breakfast before starting off on whatever we had planned for the day.

Sunset along the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut
Morning along the river in Mystic, Connecticut

We’re not big shoppers, so a few hours wandering around the town on afternoon was all the time we needed.  We did buy ice cream, and yes, I did take a few obligatory photos of Mystic Pizza.  There were several good restaurants within walking distance, including one we visited twice.  S&P Restaurant & Oyster Bar impressed us so much on the first visit that we went back a second time.  Fresh fish, excellent service and a decent wine selection is what we look for, especially at the coast, whether it is the northeast or the southeast.  It fit the bill nicely for us.

Morning along the river in Mystic, Connecticut
Replica village at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut

In addition to the Maritime Museum, we ventured over to Groton, on the Thames River, to visit the USS Nautilus.  The Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine and, among other feats, was the first to complete an underwater crossing of the North Pole.  I remembered reading about the sub as a kid, and at one time seem to recall having a toy or plastic model.  That was a long time ago!  Photos from that visit and from the Maritime Museum are included in the gallery 2021-09 New England Part II on my Adobe Portfolio page.

Mystic Pizza, restaurant made famous by a movie in Mystic, Connecticut

Now THIS Is Oatman!

The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.

Skipping ahead a bit because I’m processing photos faster than I can write about them.  If anyone is interested in seeing more of my “vacation photos,” head to my Adobe Portfolio page, where I’ve been adding galleries with more photos from places we visited.  I’ll keep adding more galleries as I go and will eventually have a whole album.

A little bit of everything in Oatman
Pretty sure it isn’t Burro Jerky
Shotgun Weddings?  Yeah!
It’s hard to tell the burro food from the burro poop, so watch your step.

The first stop on our Route 66 adventure was Oatman, Arizona.  We had no idea what to expect, but suffice it to say that we could never have imagined it!  We were expecting a sleepy little place with old buildings, a shop or two and some tumbleweeds blowing through town.  But no….  We got there late morning on a Sunday, and the place was jammed with people, cars, motorcycles and…burros!  Turns out it is a pretty happening place.

Security cameras?  Why?
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.
The Best Little Orehouse in Oatman
Someone is having an identity crisis

Our first concern was – oh, crap.  Is this what Route 66 is going to be like the whole way?  But no, I think we actually came across more people at one time in Oatman than we saw anywhere else on Route 66.  It was amazing!

Daily “gunfight” on the main street of Oatman, Arizona
Daily “gunfight” on the main street of Oatman, Arizona
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.

We didn’t stay long, only long enough to walk up and down the street, take in one of the “gunfights” that happens several times a day, then join the parade of vehicles out of town.  But once we left the town limits the road was deserted, pretty much from there to Kingman.

Not your typical Oatman transportation
Well, maybe
More likely….
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.
A must-have on Route 66.  Especially the leather….
The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.

A North Carolina Ghost Town

Abandoned looking downtown in Fair Bluff, North Carolina

We were only gone from home for a little over 24 hours, but I came back with a number of stories.  This is the last one from our vaccine quest.

Abandoned looking downtown in Fair Bluff, North Carolina

On our way home from Southport, we decided to stop for lunch in Whiteville, a town just off the main route.  The Chef & The Frog, by the way, was excellent.  On our way there we passed through the town of Fair Bluff.  I had seen a billboard promoting their “Depot Museum” and wanted to stop.  As we entered the town it was clear that the place was nearly deserted.  The main street was almost completely devoid of shops.  A former car dealership sat empty with parts of the building on the verge of collapse.  Directly across the street was a building marked as being the Municipal Building, but it was boarded up and silent.  Urns along the sidewalks contained plants that appeared to be reasonably well cared for, or as well as could be expected for late winter.  Farther up the street a gas station was open, and a pizza shop showed signs of life.

Former car dealership in Fair Bluff, North Carolina
Abandoned looking downtown in Fair Bluff, North Carolina

So what happened here, I wondered?  As it turns out, Wikipedia summarizes the events leading up to the situation we came across:

“In 1999, Fair Bluff experienced a 1-in-100 year flood event.

In 2012, the Police Chief of Fair Bluff Marty Lewis was arrested, tried and convicted for selling and delivering oxycodone and possession with the intent to sell and conspiracy to traffic while acting as police chief. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and fined $100,000. On April 9, 2015 Marty Lewis filled an appeal of his case. On November 3, 2015 the verdict was unanimously affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, leaving in place the 90 to 117 month prison sentence originally imposed. Lewis will not be eligible for parole before November 2022.

In 2016, the town was devastated by flooding on the Lumber River caused by Hurricane Matthew, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents. As of June 2018 the rebuilding effort was still underway but several hundred residents who had fled rising floodwaters never returned and a number of businesses remained shuttered.

In September 2018 Fair Bluff was flooded again by the impact of Hurricane Florence, again forcing evacuations and leaving the downtown area under water again, and devastating the town for the third time in under 20 years. After Florence, many buildings in the downtown area of the town lay abandoned, with no plans to reoccupy or fix the buildings.

The population was 951 at the 2010 census but is believed to be lower following the two disasters, some estimates going as low as 450 people.”

Old building that appears to have possibly been a railroad building in Fair Bluff, North Carolina
Old building that appears to have possibly been a railroad building in Fair Bluff, North Carolina

That pretty much explains it – a town with a troubled past and cloudy future.  But they do have a very nice train station.

Train station in Fair Bluff, North Carolina now used as a museum
Train station in Fair Bluff, North Carolina now used as a museum

New Shoe Syndrome and Other Thoughts on the Vaccine

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

I’ve gotten a few questions about our experience with scheduling and actually getting the vaccine, and thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts.

The Process: I’ve mentioned previously how frustrating the registration process is for many of the county and health agency websites.  Kathy & I are fortunate to be registered with the two major health providers in our area, so we were able to use our login credentials to access those sites, which likely led to a slightly better experience.  We ended up with the Moderna Vaccine through Novant Health.

We were fortunate to find any locations at all on the very first morning of our eligibility.  The fact that the one we found was 200 miles away was no big deal for us.  We have the flexibility to go wherever we need to, and it was easy for us to make the trip.

The vaccination  site was in the parking area of a community college near Wilmington, NC.  The approach was well marked, there were National Guard personnel directing traffic into several lines, checking to confirm appointments and providing forms for completion.  The one glitch was that we had pre-filled everything online, but they still had us manually complete paperwork with the same information.  Taking the paperwork pre-filled and printed would not have helped.

We arrived at about 10:40 for an 11:00 appointment, and although the lines looked long, we queued up and were directed to the actual vaccination line promptly at 11:00 (not due to any process on their part, it just happened to work out).  We sat in our car until someone came around, asked us a few more questions, explained the process and handed us each a card with confirmation of our follow up appointments for the same time and day of the week in four weeks.  Shortly thereafter two nurses came up with the vaccine, plunked each of us in the arm, wrote the time on a paper stuck to the windshield, and told us that after the prescribed waiting time we would be released.  We rolled out of the parking lot at 11:30.

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

The Vaccine: Did we have any concerns about getting the vaccine? None.  We feel strongly that the vaccines have been adequately tested, we trust in the scientific validity of the data and believe that getting the vaccine has a much lower level of risk than not getting it.  Everyone makes their own choice, but we feel that in order to do the kind of travel we want to do, more states, countries and companies will require a vaccination than not and we don’t want to be left out when the time comes.

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

Side Effects: None really, but it surprises me how hyper-aware we become when we’re looking for something.  I call it “new shoe syndrome” because of how when we buy a new pair of shoes we spend days paying attention to every little twinge or pinch.  We recently bought new tires for the car, and for the first few drives I paid close attention to the sound, feel and ride.  After a while you forget about it.  We stopped at a restaurant for lunch, and while there a guy came in wearing a really strong cologne.  Strong odors like cologne and smelly air fresheners always bother me, so when my throat got a little scratchy I wrote it off.  No big deal.  Our arms hurt for a few days, especially while we slept.  But my left hip is often sore anyway, and since I got my shot in my left arm, I just spent more time on my right side!

Dilapidated building near the train station in Rowland, North Carolina

Eligibility: We’ve read about people gaming the system by falsely answering the questions, crossing state lines to states with more favorable rules or otherwise getting the shot before they should have.  Kathy & I waited for our group to be called, answered all the questions truthfully and lucked into an early appointment.  Could we have waited?  Sure, but why?  Everyone who wants a shot will eventually be able to get one, so it really doesn’t matter when we go.  Could we have gotten an appointment closer to home?  Perhaps, but once we got our appointments I stopped looking.  I read somewhere about local appointments now booking out into May or June, but it doesn’t matter any more.  The owner of the restaurant we had lunch at told us that someone called him the other afternoon to say that they had 15 Johnson & Johnson shots that were going to expire at the end of the day and to send along anyone who needed them.  That happens too, you never know.

I don’t really have a lot to add.  If anyone has questions I’ll be happy to answer them as comments or emails.  Ultimately everyone is going to make their own decision and have their own experience, but I’ll help where I can.

The Photos: These photos are from the town of Rowland, NC which is on the NC side of the NC/SC line near South of the Border.  They are in-camera JPEGs taken using the Kodachrome 64 recipe from Fuji X Weekly.  The conditions were less than ideal for Kodachrome and look a little warm/brown for my taste, but I’m not sure I got the white balance right.  I’ll try them again under sunny skies and see how they look.  I also shot in RAW and will process those my usual way for comparison.  It’s an interesting look and I’ve been enjoying playing with them.

The Murals of Lake Placid, Florida

Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

I did a postcard from Lake Placid a few weeks ago but wanted to share a few more of the photos.  I know 25 seems like more than a few, but there are a lot of murals!

Mural celebrating the path to Eagle Scout. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

Small towns these days have to work hard to attract tourism, and these murals are a testament to the pride of the community and the hard work required to see the project to completion on such a grand scale.  It was an enjoyable day, we had a good lunch and enjoyed a few hours walking around this pleasant town.  Thanks to our friends Bill & Cathy for sharing it with us! 🙂

Series of murals celebrating the history of Florida at Rotary Park. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Series of murals celebrating the history of Florida at Rotary Park. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the harvest of pine resin for gum terpentine and sold by Consolidated Naval Stores of Lake Placid. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the harvest of pine resin for gum terpentine and sold by Consolidated Naval Stores of Lake Placid. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting Lake Placid’s championship-winning basketball team in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the medical profession. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

I have a number of “non-mural” photos too, and will save them to illustrate some future post.

Mural depicting Lake Placid’s championship-winning basketball team in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural at the Post Office in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting early telephone communication. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Celebrating the history of the orange industry. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the fishing in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the printing industry. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting a bank robbery that took place in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

An Unexpected Treat

Rock Island Railroad Depot in Fairbury, Nebraska

Kathy & I like to seek out train stations during our travels, especially ones that appear to be historically significant or that have some amount of architectural uniqueness.  That’s what took us to Fairbury, Nebraska on our recent trip.

Rock Island Railroad Depot in Fairbury, Nebraska

When I photograph these train stations, they are usually locked up tight, so I mostly walk around the outside, documenting interesting features and taking overviews of the building and surroundings.  Since most of these stations are in fairly busy towns I get my usual curious looks from passersby, but for the most part no one pays any attention to me.

Rock Island Railroad Depot in Fairbury, Nebraska
Rock Island Railroad Depot in Fairbury, Nebraska
Old Diebold Safe

The station in Fairbury houses a museum, but I knew when we were on our way there that – even if the museum wasn’t observing a Covid-related closure – that we would arrive well after their normal business hours.  But as we pulled up, a good 30 minutes after closing time, a woman was coming out of the building on the opposite end of where I parked.  I got out and started my usual walking around.  The woman drove down to the end of the building where I had parked.  I said hello and told her – as if she hadn’t made the assumption – that I was just a train station buff out to take a few photos.  Then she said, “would you like to see the inside?”  Uhhh, sure (it didn’t take me that long to say yes)!

Timetable
Rock Island Railroad Depot in Fairbury, Nebraska

As it turns out they were having some kind of meeting there that evening, and she had been there to make sure things were set up.  With evidently nothing else to do she talked to me and Kathy for about 30 minutes while I wandered through and took a few pictures.  She told us that a local train club was in the process of building a model train layout in one of the upstairs rooms and apologized for that room being locked, but otherwise I had the run of the place.

Self-Explanatory
Telegraph Equipment
Old radios and typewriters
Old radio equipment

Not wanting to overstay our welcome and knowing that we still had several hours of driving left, we politely said our thanks and goodbyes, and headed off for the rest of our adventure.  It was a special and unexpected treat to be able to get inside this old station, if only for a few minutes!

You never know what you’ll find!

Roadside Finds: Jasper, Indiana

Historic train depot in Jasper, Indiana

Our first overnight stop on the return home from Wisconsin took us to the town of Jasper, Indiana.  We chose Jasper primarily because it was just about the right distance for the day, but also because it looked like it had an interesting downtown area for us to check out.

Historic train depot in Jasper, Indiana
Historic train depot in Jasper, Indiana

I was initially attracted by the fact that Jasper has a train station, but we noted that the train station was an anchor for a new mixed-use development called River Centre.  A brand new Fairfield Inn sits along the Patoka River and is connected to the Jasper Riverwalk, a 4.5 mile multi-purpose trail that connects several businesses and restaurants, and winds through a scenic section along the river.

Fairfield Inn & Suites in Jasper, Indiana
Fairfield Inn & Suites in Jasper, Indiana
Fairfield Inn & Suites in Jasper, Indiana

Across the river from River Centre and connected by a very nice steel bridge is the historic Jasper City Mill.  The current mill building is a replica of a mill that was established on the site in 1817 and was in operation until 1933.  Among the customers of the mill is said to have been Thomas Lincoln and his son Abraham Lincoln, who bartered goods for corn meal in 1828.

Jasper City Mill in Jasper, Indiana
Jasper City Mill in Jasper, Indiana

We got into town late and left early, and it was a Sunday so not too many businesses were open.  But we got a good look at the town – enough to determine that it would be worth a re-visit.  It is “on the way” to a lot of places we hope to visit, so we will be sure to add Jasper to the itinerary on a future road trip!

Jasper City Mill in Jasper, Indiana