After our stay in Anaheim to visit the Disney parks, we spent a couple of hours on Friday at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. They’ve got a large collection of historic and iconic cars including vehicles from Hollywood movies featured in various changing exhibits. There’s currently a large Tesla exhibit there which was unexpectedly pretty cool.
Tag Archives: museums
As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we decided to check out the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose after seeing it in Atlas Obscura. Jim was our friendly tour guide for several hours and it proved to be quite an amazing collection of old west artifacts. Very easy to recommend – check it out – but you’ll want a guided tour as as a lot of rooms are now cordoned off for self-guided visitors. (They kept having thefts.)
Darlene and I enjoyed a weeklong trip to New York City over Christmas this year just doing a lot of sightseeing. It wasn’t a first visit for either of us but there was still plenty to go see and do. We started off with a midnight visit to the top of the Empire State Building – and discovered that’s the way to entirely avoid any lines or crowds.
We enjoyed thoroughly exploring the lower half of Central Park and we walked around mid-town a lot, taking in the Christmas shops at Bryant Park, visiting the gorgeous Grand Central Station as well as the New York Public Library – home to specters from the movie Ghostbusters, which kicked off a hunt to seek the other filming locations including the Ghostbusters firehouse HQ, the “spook central” apartment building on Central Park West, the Tavern on the Green, Lincoln Center, etc.
Of course we visited Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas displays there and along Fifth Ave. We also saw two musicals on Broadway over our visit: The Lion King, which was just completely fantastic and amazing, as well as a repeat of Cats which happened to be the first musical each of us had ever seen. I found I didn’t care for Cats at all this time though – I guess my tastes have changed a bit in 30 years!
We did the VIP tour (tip: not worth the extra) at One World Observatory and stayed for dinner after sunset. The ride up the “time traveling” elevator was very cool (see YouTube video) but over too quickly to enjoy all the detail! We saw the 9/11 memorial that night as well – really well done.
We walked the High Line (an elevated rail line converted to a green space) and walked around the financial district and down to Battery Park where we discovered and rode the wonderful Seaglass Carousel. We slipped in a visit to the art collection at the Frick museum and we finished off with a lovely trip on the Staten Island ferry on our last crisp cold day.
Click through for the full gallery of pictures and video clips.
While we were in the Columbia River Gorge area last month, Darlene and I had the chance to spend half a day at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum in Hood River. This place is only ten years old but it has a huge and fascinating collection of antique, but still operational, cars and planes. They hold numerous events and classes. For example, every second Saturday is a “play day” where they bring out and fly or drive a number of the cars and planes to let people experience them. They also hold classes to learn about and get to drive antique Model T’s (which sounds very cool) or drive classic cars from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. They do restoration work on site, and they host an annual “fly-in” event where you get to see a lot of these antique planes in the air.
I particularly liked how they juxtapose old airplanes and automobiles from the same era. And I thought it was pretty interesting how old cars look so different and so obviously antique; whereas airplanes from the same time period don’t look so different than planes today. It was also fun to be reminded of how seat-of-the-pants flying and driving was back in the early days.
Click through for the full gallery, which is only a sampling of what they have on display.
After showing Darlene around Bishop (where my brother and I went to high school), I took her out to see the Laws Railroad Museum. In some ways, it’s much the same as I remember from riding out with Glenn on our bikes for a day long adventure but it’s also much improved and expanded. It’s now even more of a great place to visit while touring the Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra.
Click through for the full gallery.
Darlene and I spent several hours at the Manzanar National Historic Site on our visit to the Owens Valley in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle in mid-May. I went to high school in Bishop in the 80’s, so I’ve certainly seen Manzanar before, but it’s quite different since I last visited. They’ve converted what had become a county storage shed but was originally an auditorium in the internment camp into a very impressive and engaging interpretive center. You can now see some of the belongings and artifacts of the people who were forcibly relocated there during World War II as well as hear recordings of their stories and enter restored versions of some of the camp buildings. It’s an incredibly well done exhibit and all the more relevant today with all of the new fear mongering going on. It’s definitely worth half a day or more to visit.
Click through for the full gallery.
For Darlene’s birthday this year, we went to Old Town Sacramento for the weekend and stayed on the steamboat-turned-hotel “Delta King”. We spent a good part of Saturday checking out the fantastic California Railroad Museum which makes up almost all of the pictures in my gallery:
No pictures, but we also spent time wandering around Old Town and checking out the shops. That afternoon we participated in another “escape room” and successfully solved “The Study” at Escape Sacramento and then, after dinner, went to a fun play put on by the B Street Theater in town. (Take note: skip the Suspects Mystery Dinner Theater option on the Delta King – it gets terrible reviews on Yelp and TravelAdvisor.) Sunday was filled with a long bike ride out and back along part of the 30+ mile bike trails along the American River.
Well, “almost summer” anyway: Iceland (and most of the North Atlantic) experienced the coldest summer in decades this year – this after one of the warmest and wettest summers ever last year. So while we remained bundled up from the cold, wind and rain, Darlene and I had a fantastic time. It’s a very beautiful place and full of so many places to see and experience that even with 19 days in Iceland we were still forced to skip so much. Iceland is definitely a wonderful and easy place to visit. The hardest part is having to pick what not to see (and trying to pronounce or even just copy down the Icelandic place names). I tried to book lodging to give us multiple days to stay and explore in each area and we consciously left off whole large areas of the country but even so it wasn’t enough: we still felt like we didn’t have enough time in any given area. Gotta go back! And yes, I’d like to see it in winter too.
Click through here for my full gallery of pictures and videos from the trip. Here are just a few highlights from our trip though:
This is an incredibly colorful (and popular) mountain area to explore in the highlands. Many will set out to do the two-to-four day Landmannalaugar backpacking route to Þórsmörk (I’d like to someday) but we just enjoyed a day of hiking some of the nearby trails through this colorful terrain, followed by dipping in the natural hot springs there. This was also our first taste of the many rough, gravel roads (including river crossings) that are needed to access many parts of the country.
Skógafoss and the Fimmvörðuháls Trail
This is a gorgeous waterfall to begin with, particularly how it falls on to a flat plain, and even though Iceland is covered with incredible waterfalls, the trail that starts here covers the most fantastic series of waterfalls I’ve ever encountered. It’s not just the sheer number (as in dozens) of falls that you see along the trail, but the incredible heights, splendor, variety and ferocity of the various falls that tumble down this beautiful gorge that lead up to where the two glacial ice caps (Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull) meet at Fimmvörðuháls Pass. Many people will hike this trail up and over the pass to Þórsmörk (or all the way to or from Landmannalaugar) but if nothing else, you’ve got to at least spend a day hiking as far as the bridge crossing (as we did). While there’s an overnight hut at the top of the pass, they say you can do the one-way hike to Þórsmörk in 10 hours or so but I don’t see how it can be done so quickly if you try to take in all the incredible views along the way.
Askja (Vatnajökull National Park)
This was to be our deepest adventure into the highlands of Iceland. Askja is a large volcanic caldera (and crater lake) in the remote central highlands and part of the vast Vatnajökull National Park of volcanic formations, glaciers, lava fields, and the largest ice cap in Europe. (Notably, this was the area that the Apollo space program used to train their astronauts in geology.) This excursion was potentially going to be trouble for our little Subaru Outback due to some potentially deep river crossings. As it turned out, the cold weather played in our favor and the river in question was not running too strong (and the weather clear), so we were good to go on our own rather than needing to sign up with a tour operator and their monster trucks/busses. We camped out at the base of Herðubreið but, once again, there was much more to see here than we had allotted time for and I would love to come back and explore more of the area.
This lake region is filled with tons of different geologic formations: geothermal areas, volcanic cones, lava formations, caves and lava tubes, etc. The name Mývatn means (“the lake of midges”) and oh boy, we can attest that there are a bajillion of them along the water. I know we short-changed this popular area, having only a day left to hit up the some of the many sites before having to head on to Akureyri. We did get to see the fissure and water-filled cave Grjótagjá, the tephra crater Hverfell, the lava formations of Dimmuborgir and walk around Höfði to see some of the lava pillars in the lake (and the aforementioned bajillion black flies). Lots more to see, like the Lofthellir cave and its ice sculptures but it would be a half-day tour just for that.
Herring Era Museum (Siglufjörður)
This sounds ridiculous, but the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður (on the northern coast) is a really wonderful experience. We almost blew it off. I mean, come on, “Herring Era Museum”? But it’s really well done. You get to explore several buildings from the “glory days” of Iceland’s herring fisheries from the early 20th century, including the living and working quarters. Every room is furnished and filled with personal belongings as well as tools and equipment as it would have been at the time – and not behind glass: most of it is just laying out open and unprotected. It’s deservedly won several museum awards. It really feels like walking into the past. You can pull out a suitcase from under a bunk bed and find it filled with clothing and mementos. It’s quite the experience! There’s another building housing a couple of fishing boats “docked” to a pier that’s staged and lighted and feels more like you’re on a movie set than in a museum. And of course, you can climb aboard and explore below deck or on the bridge.
The centerpiece is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the glacier-capped, volcanic mountain of Snæfellsjökull and the peninsula is surrounded in fjords, more cool geologic features, and rugged mountains and coastline. The hike between Arnarstapi to Hellnar was wonderful in particular (with a fantastic cafe at the turnaround in Hellnar…. oh, that skyr cake!!) We also checked out the Vatnshellir lava tube, the Sönghellir “song cave”, the impressive and intriguing cleft in the cliff Rauðfeldsgjá and made a driving tour of the northern coastal towns on the peninsula. We spied on a seal colony in twilight, tested our strength with the old fisherman’s lifting stones and tried hiking up to the glacier itself but the road was still closed due to snow and the visibility too poor to go very far without a trail to follow. After three nights at a guesthouse on the peninsula, there was still much we were unable to get to see or explore.
Langjökull and “Into the Glacier”
This is a new experience, opened in June of 2015, where they’ve dug out a series of lighted passages and chambers into the Langjökull glacier. After being driven up and over the glacier by massive, converted missile carriers, you get to walk down into the man-made tunnel, into the glacier, inside the ice and even see fissures and ice formations from within the glacier. Very cool! When we were there, it had just rained heavily the night before and so water was still dripping and seeping through everywhere in the glacier.
This short little gem-of-a-hike is definitely worth a half-day to enjoy. I’m very happy our host at Hotel Á recommended this to us on our final day as we would have missed it otherwise. It was a great way to cap our trip. Note that there’s a choice of paths to follow up once you reach the river Botnsá. I definitely recommend crossing the river and taking the eastern trail (or righthand side of the river). I think it provides more revealing and thrilling views of the gorge, falls and the valley back to the fjord and car park.
And More to Experience…
A couple of other little surprises to mention are Petra’s amazing stone collection in Stöðvarfjörður in the eastern fjords (and she was quite an interesting character) and the entertaining Settlement Centre presentation in Borgarnes of the Saga of Egil.
I was floored by how frequently and unexpectedly fantastic the meals were throughout the country, even in the smallest villages and most remote guesthouses. Iceland clearly has a disproportionate share of fantastic cooks and chefs scattered around their country to treat their mostly European tourists. It’s like being treated to French cuisine in terms of the care and skill… but also in terms of cost: it’s very easy to go US$60-$100 or more for two people. There is of course cheaper fare in a smattering of fast food, roadside cafeterias but it’s mostly not very appealing. If trying to keep to a smaller budget, I definitely recommend buying groceries and cooking meals yourself.
I wish we could also have gone to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Strandagaldur or toured the western fjords or gone backpacking in the Hornstrandir, etc. Like I said, much to see and experience in Iceland!
Click through here for my full gallery of pictures and videos from the trip.
While up in Portland, Oregon this past weekend for my brother’s birthday, Glenn, Michele and I made a day’s excursion to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, the current home of the “Spruce Goose” and a huge variety of other aircraft. All pretty cool and definitely a worthwhile visit, but it’s a little annoying that they charge extra (and separately) for tours inside two of the aircraft: a B-17 bomber (“Flying Fortress”) and the Spruce Goose itself.
Click through for pictures: