All posts by Troy

The First Place to See the Sun

Sunrise

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the first place in the United States to see the sun rise during the winter months. This is because this location is far enough east in Maine and high enough to see the sun rise before areas that are further east. People like to be the first to do many things or experience something for the first time. Here is a place that anyone can do something before anyone else in the United States – watch the sun pierce the horizon. Unfortunately we did not make it to Cadillac Mountain to witness the sun rising but we still enjoyed setting foot in the beautiful Mountain. Even if we had it was during the summer so the first place to see the sun rise would have been Mars Hill, Maine.

Cadillac Mountain

My first impression of Cadillac Mountain was looking at it on a map while looking for the highlights of Acadia National Park. It was puzzling how this could be considered a mountain at only 1530 feet above sea level. I’m use to mountains being several thousand feet above sea level. After getting there and learning more about this place, I now understand why it’s considered a mountain. First of all the steep ascent from sea level to the top suggests a mountain. Also, according to geologists, what is currently the top of Cadillac Mountain was the center of the volcano which helped to shape this area. Apparently the mountain use to be considerably taller until the glaciers moved through and cut it down giving us the scenery available today.

The Big Dipper

After watching the sunset in other areas of the park we headed back to the top of Cadillac Mountain to witness a beautiful star filled sky. Most impressive was seeing the Milky Way. I have not seen it in a number of years so it was nice to be reminded of its’ spectacular display. Also, fewer and fewer people are able to see the Milky Way so it was nice to show our children what it looks like. Unfortunately I need to work on my photography skills capturing stars so I don’t have a picture that shows the milky way in all its glory. I was able to get a nice photo of the big dipper.

Acadia

Being Chased by Irene Continued…

Creeks Nearing Roads and Bridges

Further into New Hampshire we started encountering road closures due to flooding. It seemed as though every detour ended in another closed road requiring yet another detour. Crossing rivers became more nerve racking as the water was getting closer and closer to the roads that we could drive on causing me to wonder if the road was ready to give while driving over it. After about an hour and a half we made it out of this perpetual detour and found open roads again. Finally, the Vermont state line, not far now. At least this is what we thought. Daylight was once again leaving us making our task a little more difficult and discouraging.

Raging Rivers

Many of the creeks and streams were now raging rivers and nearing the roads that were open and covering the rest or washing them out. Once again there were constant detours as more and more roads where being closed. As the night wore on the only roads not closed in the areas we wanted to get to where interstates. Unfortunately there are only two interstates in Vermont and to get to Montpelier we need to drive south to almost the southern border on one interstate to get to the second one in order to get to this capital city. That was going to add 3-4 hours to our trip and we had been driving for 11 hours now. One last road and if this one is closed we’re going to find a place to stay and admit defeat. You guessed it – another road closure. Irene had won! It was time to quit driving for this day and re-evaluate our final destination another day.

More Flooded Waterways

At the worst point during the night there were 250 road closures in Vermont with video of cars and houses tumbling down the rivers. I felt frustrated and defeated because we were unable to get to Montpelier but also thankful that we were all safe. Our hearts went out to those who had lost so much and not sure of where to go and what to do. My desire to experience a hurricane is now gone. I enjoy storms but hurricanes are primarily wind and rain. The enjoyable parts of storms are the thunder and lightning so really the hurricane was disappointing. Also, being in the winds that hurricanes can produce for the length of time they can produce them is unappealing. Fortunately Hurricane Irene was less than expected but still provided plenty to remember.

Being Chased by Irene

Path of Hurricane Irene 

The itinerary for the last part of our trip to New England was to drive from Bangor, Maine to Montpelier, Vermont. We just finished seeing the areas of Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island in Maine and decided it was time to move away from the coast as Hurricane Irene was expected to move in within the next 24 hours. The day was growing long with any remaining light fleeting. It was about an hours’ drive to Bangor where we decided to find a place to sleep and weather Irene. Forecasts called for the Hurricane to diminish by morning giving us hope that we could still travel. Before falling asleep the girls were a little nervous and scared of being in a hurricane as this was a new experience for all of us. I assured them that they would be alright because this hurricane was losing strength and we have been in storms with a lot of rain and wind before.

rain falling

During the night we could hear the rain falling, heavily at times forcing the realization that this was it, Irene was here! I wondered on occasion if we would wake to find a lot of trees blown down or other storm related casualties. Once the morning light began entering our room we turned on the weather and began discussing what to do for the day. Hurricane Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm with winds gusting to 65 miles per hour and periods of heavy rain. We have driven in these conditions before and what else was there to do if we stayed put? At the very least we wanted to get to a hotel that has a pool for the kids to swim in. Our decision was to head for Vermont. The drive time should be about 6 hours and then we could relax for the rest of the day in the hotel.

Tree Causes Street Closure

After breakfast we packed up and headed out. Driving was as expected with rainy conditions and the occasional compensation for wind gusts. There were occasional downpours which required traffic to slow down but all in all we made it to New Hampshire without any problems. After getting a ways into New Hampshire our first detour was encountered due to a tree which had fallen over power lines and onto the road. This was only a 10-15 minute delay in our overall trip and we were back on our way. This detour was actually quite a nice drive going onto gravel roads by a couple of small waterfalls and swerving for the occasional small tree in the road. It felt like we were going to a cabin on a lake -a very comfortable and serene feeling. Little did we know that this was going to be the easiest detour to take.

To Be Continued…

Discovering Paul Revere

Exploring the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts provided several experiences that led to a greater appreciation for our Independence and freedom. Witnessing the sights of the Boston Massacre and Bunker Hill where the first battle of the Revolution took place to the Old North Church made famous for the ‘one if by land and two if by sea’ begins to make you realize some of the things involved in bringing about our Independence.  History classes teach of Paul Revere warning about the British by signaling which direction they were coming from and his famous ride through Boston shouting “the British are coming, the British are coming!” Apparently he was involved in many planning sessions leading up to the Revolutionary War and was integral during the war as well.  But what else did Paul Revere do?Paul Revere's Ride

I was surprised to learn that he was a metal smith working with copper, gold, and silver. Many of his works were put into a number of building which can be seen on the Freedom Trail such as the Massachusetts State House and the USS Constitution. We visited Paul Revere’s gravesite along with other recognizable names from that time including John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Seeing all of these places brought a further appreciation for the freedoms I enjoy every day and also a few questions. There are people often saying the government is getting to much control. What conditions did the people of the 1770’s have to contend with that war was justified? What conditions would cause the American people today to revolt against the government? I believe we would have to lose a lot more freedoms to justify severe actions like the colonists took. When I compare what those colonists lived with to what we deal with today, we are very fortunate. Staying involved in our government is still very important to prevent those conditions from every becoming reality.

Paul Revere's Grave

Another interesting occurrence surprised me while visiting these places. I continued to have difficulty in believing that I was seeing these historic landmarks. I kept saying that even though I was physically at a location, it didn’t make the events that occurred there any more real. Trying to believe that what happened over 300 years ago was in that exact place was difficult. I know buildings have been re-furbished and updated making them less
realistic to me. Also, the surrounding buildings make it hard to imagine what people such as Paul Revere lived like and the difficulties in coordinating revolutionary activities. Even visiting the grave site didn’t help to bring me to the 1770’s. Some of the issues were many of the building being brick. Looking at renderings of these building when they were originally built show them mainly built out of wood. Also, Paul Revere’s house is still standing and that was made out of wood.  Historical buildings being remodeled along with the skyscrapers that exist next to them now give a very different perspective. Even so, what a great learning experience!

Paul Revere's House

Where Everbody Knows Your Name…

Cheers on Beacon StreetWe arrived in Boston after a short delay in our flight and hit the ground running… I mean walking. Our goal was to get information about the Freedom Trail which is part of the National Park System and possibly see some of the sites on that trail. After quickly finding something to eat we were off and managed to visit a few sites including where the Boston Massacre happened and the oldest graveyard in Boston which opened in 1630. I was amazed at the detail engraved into headstones over 300 years ago.

These sites were closing down for the day so it was on to one of the other landmarks that was on our list:  Cheers. Or at least the bar that the TV show Cheers was modeled after. Fortunately this was within a few blocks of where we parked the car so there really was not a lot of walking involved. Obviously this is still quite a popular attraction as there were trolley loads of people coming to take their pictures by the Cheers sign. The original Bull & Finch Pub that was the model for the set used in the Cheers series is still downstairs however a replica set has been added along with a giftstore to where “Melvilles” would have been. It was great to see this in person after watching it in a number of Cheers episodes. I would never guessed it would be in the location it is with a lot of residential buildings and parks around it.

Off to explore more of the Freedom Trail…..

Would You Travel for Months at a Time?

calendar2011(1)

For a lot of people their immediate answer is “YES!”. I prefer to travel for a week or two and then return home. What do you think of when imagining traveling for months at a time? There is a wide range of thoughts anywhere from constantly on the go living as a nomad like Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere or Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt to traveling in Europe for six weeks and returning home.

National_Flags_of_Europe

My personal preference depends on where I’m traveling. If I’m traveling in or near the United States I like to go somewhere for up to two weeks and then return home to re-group and comprehend the recent experience. Also, I like the comforts of home in between new experiences. If I’m traveling overseas to Europe or Asia than two weeks is the minimum. My general guidelines come from the length of time it takes to get someplace.

airplane

Ideally I would like to go someplace new once every other month. There can be a lot involved in planning and executing a trip such as places to stay, air, passports and visas, ect. so some downtime in between is often helpful. There are some limitations to traveling like this. Trips are packed with more to do in less time because time is limited and it is more difficult to say I will do or see that tomorrow and stay in a location for a few extra days. This is of course an assumption since I have never really experienced the nomadic lifestyle. The costs are higher due to traveling home and then off to another destination as well as the expense of keeping a home which means maintaining a job.

nomad map

I use to believe that traveling from one destination and going to the next one would be great. Now… I would have to give up a lot of things I enjoy with having a home, family, and work so I choose to travel on occasion. Another belief of mine is that travel is a great lifetime of adventures. Traveling for a few years straight can lead to getting burned out after a year or two reducing the enjoyment of the next adventure. Getting burned out is something I have read from travelers who have been on the road for an extensive amount of time. I know, many of us would like to give it a try.  There are many new experiences and adventures that I look forward to from completing the National Parks Monopoly Board to diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Keeping that travel excitement and anticipation is part of exploring a different area.

The Car Rental Employee Encounter

What did we enjoy the most continued? (The most humorous portion of this board)

Enjoying the Freedom from the Parking Ramp

Back into the car with seat belts on we begin looking for the exit to the ramp. As we started driving around we ended up in the same circle we took before and there happened to be an employee who had seen us pass for the second time. The route we were on did not exit the ramp so we went around again searching for exit signs without finding one and ended up back by that employee for a third round a very short time later. He motioned for us to stop and we complied. I rolled down my window and he asked if we were lost. I’m not sure what the most obvious clue was but he was more than willing to help. This particular gentleman spoke with a foreign accent which prompted me to answer yes. Only yes came out as “sei” which apparently took him by surprise. It was obvious to me and everybody else in the car that he was not from a Spanish speaking country which may be why he had such a quizzical look on his face. Or maybe it was the fact that I don’t resemble a person who speaks Spanish in anyway. My German/Swedish heritage might be a good reason for that as well as the fact the I maybe know five words in Spanish. After this helpful man took a quick step back, I quickly relinquished with a ‘sorry, I mean yes!’

Trying to Escape the Parking Ramp

He quickly explained to us how to exit the ramp and watched us drive away. As I looked back I noticed everyone in the car had a smile and was trying desperately not to laugh while he could see us. We drove around the parking ramp one more time, taking a turn that this nice employee had suggested and found our way to the exit. FREEDOM! We made it out of the airport grounds and on to our next destination.  Talking or even thinking of this story continues to bring smiles to all of those in the car that day and gives us a memory that will bond us for life once again showing us why being Monopoly Travelers can be so much fun. Maybe you had to be there to really enjoy the humor.

The Best Parts of Exploring the Twin Cities Monopoly Board

What did we enjoy the most?

MT Twin Cities 012

I always enjoy exploring and experiencing new things so that is my favorite part of being a monopoly traveler. The Minnesota Zoo is a fun place to explore for the whole family. It was nice to see the new Minnesota Twins Stadium along with the new University of Minnesota Gopher Football Stadium. One of the highlights for the Children was the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where there are sculptures on a grand scale so that the kids can climb on them and play around. We were fortunate to be able to take in a Vikings football game and see the legendary quarterback Brett Favre. Like him or not he still was and is an exciting quarterback to watch.

The New Gopher Football Stadium

One of the more memorable events of this trip was getting the picture of National Car Rental. The location we choose was at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in one of the parking ramps. Not that there was a big choice as the only other location in the Twin Cities is at another terminal of the airport although it may have been easier to access. While entering the airport grounds we followed the signs to the car rental businesses and found National Car Rental. Now keep in mind that at an airport car rental businesses are designed for travelers coming off of airplanes and not arriving by car so there really is no place to park if you are not in a rental car. Well, at least none that we found. Since this is the case we drove by the first time trying to figure out where we wanted to take the picture and drove out of that level of the parking ramp. We were able to drive around the ramp and back to the National Car location but this time we had to decide where to park to get out and take a picture.

National Car Rental at the MSP Airport

Finally we found a spot between a yellow line and a barrier and quickly got out of the car heading towards a National Car Rental sign. I’m quite sure this was not a designated parking spot but we only needed a few minutes so hoped this would work and we would be back in our car before we got a ticket, or worse – had the car towed. On the way to the sign a helpful employee asked if we needed help. We responded a quick no and kept briskly walking towards the sign that was half way across the parking ramp from us. The pictures were quickly taken while other customers and staff gave us wondrous looks and we were off back to the car. Fortunately the customers that were waiting appeared to be weary travelers so didn’t really give us a second thought. Ahh success! We took care of the picture taking and the car was still were we left it without a ticket. Now that in itself was memorable but it gets even better.

The Employee Encounter….

Twin Cities Adventure Continues….

Board Surprises Continued….

The Old First Team Sports Location

The most challenging location to travel to was Ultra Wheels by First Team Sports. Apparently this company has been out of business for a few years now and I was finding very little information. After researching for a little while I came across a blog which explained that the company was no longer active. A small plug for blogs. I was able to find the old address and this became our picture spot to fulfill our traveling adventure in the twin cities. As you can see, GRACO now occupies this building.

Visiting a Nearby Raddison

There were a few other surprises that provided some challenges. The first was the Radisson Hotel St. Paul. Apparently this has now become a Crown Plaza Hotel. This required us to make a decision as to how to handle this type of situation. Do we take the picture in front of the Crown Plaza Hotel which use to be the Radisson Hotel St. Paul or do we find another Radisson Hotel (the closest one to that location)? It was determined that we would rather have the Radisson name for that board property instead of the location and since this is a business with a lot of locations another location would be possible. That was basically the same logic in deciding to use Target Corp instead of the Macy’s Minneapolis landmark store. This decision made it easier to decide what to do for another property on the board – National Car Rental. National Car Rental use to have regional office space in the twin cities which it no longer uses. In keeping with the rules we decided upon, we found another location still in use which turned out to be at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and probably one of the most memorable locations for us to get a picture of on this edition.

Discovering the Sculpture Gardens

Traveling the Twin Cities Edition of Monopoly would have been a great experience without all of these situations to adapt to. It is these decisions that make being a Monopoly Traveler an adventure. In addition to being an adventure, choosing to be a Monopoly Traveler in the twin cities provided some unrivaled family time that we can always look back on and share our memories of. By using a monopoly board to determine our destinations we have found some locations that we have not been to and will definitely return to. One in particular is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. I have never been there and neither have our children but we enjoyed the time we spent together there and will return another time to take in a beautiful Minneapolis day.

Enjoying One of the Sculptures at the Sculpture Garden

People may look at us a little strangely when we tell them we are monopoly travelers but once you begin explaining why they usually begin to understand – Family togetherness, new experiences, adventures, and many memories to share!

For the next chapter click here….

Twin Cities Edition of Monopoly

Discovering a new board

This edition of Monopoly has been completed and provided a fun and interesting adventure. There are many memories with a number of discoveries to last us a lifetime confirming why we are Monopoly Travelers.

Twin Cities Monopoly Board

Why did we choose the Twin Cities Edition of Monopoly?

The twin cities is an area that we are somewhat familiar with as we have been in that area several times. We wanted to experience how difficult or easy it is to be a monopoly traveler in an area that we are familiar with and let us know how familiar we actually were with this area. Another reason for traveling the Twin Cities Edition was to help us find out what is required to travel other editions of monopoly in areas that we are not familiar with.

While I knew of virtually every location on the board, I have not been to many of these destinations and this provided an opportunity for us to experience places that were new to us. We had a great time exploring these areas along with revisiting places that we have not been to in awhile such as the Minnesota Zoo, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the new Twins Stadium, and the new Guthrie Theater.

Visiting Delta Airlines

Board Surprises

The Twin Cities Edition of Monopoly is obviously a promotional tool used to highlight some of the better known local businesses at least for 1997 when this edition was created. It was amazing to discover how many changes there have been in the Twin Cities since 1997. There were six properties that have changed names due to mergers or acquisitions and one property that has since gone out of business. These are the situations were research is essential in order to complete a board. In my opinion, deciding to skip a property because of a name change for some reason or other is not an option when traveling a board. Figuring out what happened and adapting to these changes are what makes being a Monopoly Traveler more of an adventure.

Daytons which is now Target Headquaters

Some of the name changes were relatively easy to figure out such as Northwest Airlines and the Pillsbury Company. There have been numerous news stories highlighting Northwest’s merger with Delta Airlines and the Pillsbury Company being purchased by General Mills. Even finding out where to go for Dayton’s was not very difficult but deciding among a few different options took a few minutes. Dayton’s Corporation has become Target Corporation and the Dayton’s brand was ultimately changed to Macy’s so we had to decide if we wanted to find Target Corporation or Macy’s. As it turns out we visited both but took our picture in front of Target Corp’s Minneapolis headquarters since it is a Minnesota based business and the traveling adventure we were on was highlighting the twin cities. We walked by the old Dayton’s Minneapolis landmark retail store which is now a Macy’s landmark retail store.

National City Bank now M & I  Bank

Minnegasco has now become Center Point Energy and U.S. West is now Qwest and again these were not terribly difficult to research but without looking up these board properties, we would have not been able to complete this edition of Monopoly. The last business to change names was National City Bank. M& I Banks acquired National City Bank in Minneapolis which provided a little more of a challenge because upon first discovering National City was no longer in business I found PNC Banks had acquired National City Bank late in 2009. PNC Bank has no current presence in the twin cities so further research was needed. After looking a little harder I found that M & I Bank had acquired the Minneapolis location providing an opportunity to seek out that board property.

To read more click here….