Tag Archives: museum

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Overview

Jean Lafitte was a New Orleans “privateer” (a.k.a. pirate) who assisted General Andrew Jackson in the fight with the British after the War of 1812 had officially ended.  In addition to three Acadian Cultural Centers spread throughout southwestern Louisiana and a small visitor center in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the NPS also offers trails and boat tours (fee) through the bayou.

Lafitte

Highlights

Barataria Preserve, Chalmette Battlefield, French Quarter, boat tours

Must-Do Activity

Every American needs to visit the French Quarter at least once in their life, but also make sure you visit the 24,000-acre Barataria Preserve to experience the bayous of Louisiana, whether you hike or take a boat.

Best Trail

South of downtown New Orleans off Highway 45 in the Barataria Preserve, keep your feet dry by hiking the boardwalks on the Bayou Coquille Trail.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Look up when hiking in the bayou to find huge spiders, like this golden silk orb-weaver.

IMGP1546.JPG

Peak Season

Summers are muggy and buggy, but the park’s many visitor centers are closed only two days per year: Christmas and Mardi Gras.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/jela/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

None in the park, but in 2016 we camped at Bayou Segnette State Park in the suburbs of New Orleans.

IMGP1506
Learn about the region’s music, food, and culture at the French Quarter visitor center in downtown New Orleans.
IMGP1519
Exhibits in the Old U.S. Mint are free
IMGP1564
Hiking the boardwalks on the Bayou Coquille Trail.
IMGP1562
Spanish moss drapes from the trees in the humid climate of the Mississippi River delta.
IMGP1567
The bayou stretches for miles in the undeveloped areas around New Orleans, Louisiana.

Explore More – Which president is mounted horseback on a statue in Jackson Square?

1WonsTiny2

WONDON WAS HERE

Mammoth Cave National Park

Overview

Archaeologists have found evidence of exploration dating back 4,000 years when torches of cane were used to light the way.  Mammoth Cave does not get its name from hairy prehistoric mammals, though, but rather from the vast size of its tunnels.  It has been a tourist attraction since the 1700s when slaves served as tour guides, but only became a national park in 1941.

December 2014 024

Highlights

Bottomless Pit and Fat Man’s Misery on the Historic Tour, Frozen Niagara flowstone formation on the Domes and Dripstones Tour, Wild Caving Tour

Must-Do Activity

There are many great options to explore the cave, including the Violet City Lantern Tour, but we most enjoyed the Wild Caving Tour.  Make an advanced reservation online to secure your spot (and your blue jumpsuit to keep the mud off your clothes).

Best Trail

There are nearly 80 miles of hiking trails in the park, but start by hiking downhill past the Natural Entrance of Mammoth Cave to the River Styx Spring, a short walk from the visitor center.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Keep your eye out for 2-inch long cave crickets on the Domes and Dripstones Tour.  Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed on the Wild Caving Tour.

December 2014 180.JPG

Peak Season

The park receives the majority of its half-million annual visitors in the summer, making December a great time to visit the park (though not all tours are offered).

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/maca/planyourvisit/operatinghoursandseasons.htm

Fees

No entrance fee, but cave tours have varying prices.

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

A large, shaded campground is located near the visitor center, as well as a smaller one at Houchin’s Ferry (not suitable for trailers or RVs).

December 2014 019

December 2014 046
Tiff at the Natural Entrance to the cave where you start the Historic Tour
December 2014 070
Scott on the Historic Tour
December 2014 215
Frozen Niagara flowstone formation on the Domes and Dripstones Tour
December 2014 107
Tiff traversing Fat Man’s Missery.

December 2014 247

October 2017 Ohio 009
Ready for the Wild Caving Tour
LR MACA.jpg
This design we created to celebrate Mammoth Cave National Park is available on a variety of products at Cafe Press and Amazon.

Explore More – Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the entire world; how many miles of cave have been explored and mapped?

1WonsTiny2

WONDON WAS HERE …TWICE

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Overview

The only National Park Service (NPS) site named for a court case.  The one named started here in Topeka in 1951 when segregation was the law of the land.  Five cases were consolidated when the issue escalated to the Supreme Court by 1954, when they finally overturned the 1896 ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson.  In his decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “Separate education facilities are inherently unequal.”

Brown.JPG

Highlights

Monroe Elementary School, Hall of Courage

Must-Do Activity

Tour the former African-American-only Monroe Elementary School, restored to its 1950s appearance with some classrooms turned into exhibits on the civil rights movement worldwide.  If you visit on a weekday, you might hear the halls filled with the sounds of children again, since it is a frequent fieldtrip destination.

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

Walking the Hall of Courage gives some idea of what it would have been like as an African-American student attending a desegregated school in the 1950s.

IMGP4264.JPG

Peak Season

Spring seems to be popular for school fieldtrips.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/brvb/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All paved with a designated NPS parking lot.  Check the address (1515 SE Monroe St.) for Monroe Elementary School on the NPS website as our GPS sent us to the park headquarters inside Topeka’s main post office.

Camping

None at the site, but nearby Lake Shawnee Campground is run by the county.

Scott in a kindergarden classroom
This is how a classroom at Monroe Elementary School would have looked in the 1950s (note the fireplace for heat).

IMGP4269

IMGP4266
There is plenty to see and read in the visitor center, including the story of Nelson Mandela.

Explore More – Which future Supreme Court Justice headed the legal team for the Browns?

1WonsTiny2

WONDON WAS HERE

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Overview

This site in northeastern Iowa contains 206 prehistoric earthen mounds, thirty-one of which are in the form of bears and birds.  Some of the rounded mounds have been dated back 2,500 years, but the images of animals (called effigies) began only about 1,400 years ago.  In addition to blades and beads inside the mounds, there is often evidence of fires burned in the effigy’s head, heart, or flank, perhaps as part of a burial ceremony.

Echo with Effigy Mounds

Highlights

Marching Bear Mound Group, Little Bear Mound Group, Mississippi River overlooks

Must-Do Activity

After perusing the museum inside the visitor center, take the steep trail that leads past Little Bear Mound Group to multiple overlooks from 300-foot tall bluffs above the Mississippi River.

Best Trail

Located a short drive from the visitor center, a trail in the South Unit climbs 2 miles one-way to the impressive Marching Bears Mound Group, the densest collection of effigies in the park.

Instagram-worthy Photo

It is very difficult to photograph the effigy shapes, so the best shots are found at overlooks of the Mississippi River.

05-Northwoods 2013 1090

Peak Season

Summer, but on our second visit during April we found the animal shapes were easier to discern.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/efmo/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All paved except the parking area for the South Unit which may not be suitable for large RVs.

Camping

No campground in the monument, but nearby Pikes Peak State Park has RV hookups and Yellow River State Forest offers more primitive sites.

03-Northwoods 2013 1083

Little Bear Mound
The mounds can be hard to discern in the summertime

Tiff next to two of the tallest mounds in the park

09-April 2017 138
In April, we saw these bear shapes located at the end of the Marching Bear Group, a 4-mile roundtrip hike.

11-April 2017 150
There is a picnic area at the southern trailhead on the banks of the Mississippi River.

12-April 2017 558
Coots in the Mississippi River

07-April 2017 129

Explore More – What is the wingspan of the largest effigy bird?

1WonsTiny2.jpg

WONDON WAS HERE

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Pullman National Monument

Overview

South of Chicago, Illinois, the town of Pullman was built in 1880 as one of the first master-planned communities in the nation.  It was constructed by the Pullman Palace Car Company for its employees to rent houses with modern amenities typically unavailable in the city.  Due to the grassroots efforts of its residents over the years, the town was spared demolition in the 1960s and it remains incredibly well-preserved architecturally.  Pullman National Monument was established in February 2015 by the executive order of former Chicago resident Barack Obama.

Pullman.JPG

Highlights

Historic buildings, introductory film

Must-Do Activity

The National Park Service (NPS) visitor center in the neighborhood shows a 20-minute film and offers walking tours.  You can also take a self-guided tour past the historic homes, most of which remain private residences.  More buildings may open to the public in the coming years as the NPS develops this unique historical site in cooperation with its current inhabitants.

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

Greenstone Church was made with serpentine quarried in Pennsylvania, giving it an interesting color that doesn’t even require a photo filter.  Also, it has gargoyles.

Green!

Peak Season

Open year round, but Chicago is known for its harsh and windy winters.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/pull/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved and there is a free parking lot at the visitor center.

Camping

None

IMGP6272
Operated 1881 to 1975, the Hotel Florence had the only bar in Pullman until the 1900s and was under renovation in 2016, but may now be open to tours.

IMGP6258

The green rock church

IMG_3087
It will take a lot of restoration work to get the Pullman Factory Administration Building open to the public.

Pullman is known for making the fancy train cars
Scott inside the Visitor Center and museum.

Explore More – Why did President Grover Cleveland direct federal troops to disrupt the 1894 strike by Pullman Palace Car Company employees?

1WonsTiny

WONDON WAS HERE