Monday, July 3, 2017

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Missouri

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in Southwest Missouri is worth a visit if you are in the area. The Visitor's Center includes an introductory film that runs near half an hour. The museum includes storyboards giving the historical context of this early battle, which was decisive for the slave-holding state of Missouri--and perhaps for the nation.

I recommend reading the information on the website to get an overview along with additional details regarding hours and fees.

The staff are helpful. And there are special events, which are listed on the webpage. Following the film, we viewed a musket firing demonstration. Notice the clothes of this man representing Col Franz Sigel's German troops. This was 10 August, 1861 before the Blue and Gray uniforms clarified which side a soldier represented.

Later, a volunteer told the story of the Ray family house, which became a field hospital during the battle. General Lyon, the first Union general killed in the war, was brought there before eventually heading back to his family in Connecticut. Read more on the John Ray family.

Ray House, Wilson's Creek Battlefield

Gen Lyon brought to this bed

The tour road is accessed via a token-operated gate and is a one-way blacktopped road to the left. There are turnouts and parking areas along the route. Storyboards tell about local places and battle events. A phone number provides an audio message along the route.

In addition to the historical information, the site offers the beauty of the Ozarks -- green rolling hills in the spring and summer, various birds, white-tailed deer, wildflowers, and a variety of trees. And of course, there is Wilson's Creek. There are many well-marked trails as well.

Wilson's Creek itself is worth a few moments of tranquility and reflection.

White-tailed deer at Bloody Hill

Rest rooms are available in the Visitor's Center.

And there is a picnic area nearby.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

City Market Kansas City MissouriCity

City Market Entrance Kansas City MO/ Geoff W Sutton 2017

We walked about the City Market during a June 2017 visit to Kansas City. It's a good place to mix with people from many cultures selling a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers, and various items suitable for unique gifts.

An historic marker identifies an old trading post.

There are several restuarants offerring a variety of ethnic foods in addition to other vendors. Many offer tempting samples. It's a good place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

We found parking nearby and there's a local city tram serving the area.

The market is also home to the Arabia Steamboat Museum- also worth a visit.

Arabia Steamboat Kansas City MO

Arabia Collage Geoff Sutton 2017
We are glad we went to see the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

The local explorers display tons of buried treasure they found when the excavated this pre-Civil War Steamboat, which sank in 1856. The museum tells the story of the ship and the discovery along with the process of restoration, which the explorers learned as they sought to preserve the contents of the mud-covered horde along with parts of this iconic 1800s boat.

Tons of treasure but only a few cents
We were fortunate to meet two of the explorers who answered questions following the brief introductory video. The film provides an overview and though not like those you will find in the best museums, you get a sense of adventure as you join in the exploration and awesome find. The authenticity comes through in a way that glitzy presentations can not capture.

An award-winning pitcher/ Arabia Steamboat/ Geoff W Sutton 2017

The displays are nicely designed and the lighting is much better than in some museums so you can actually read the inofrmation boards and take decent photos without flash.

Arabia Steamboat Treasure

Many of the items were for sale at area stores so some displays capture life in pioneer days as seen from the perspective of a frontier shop. Whether from the US or elsewhere, the Arabia Steamboat Museum offers a unique glimpse into this segment of Midwestern US history.

Ready for an 1800s store
One exhibit offers a hands-on educational talk on preserving sunken cargo.  There will be more to see in the future. The museum appears full yet there were some 60 of the 200 tons left to explore and restore.
Brief history of the Steamboat
Notes and tips

Check the website for times and more details.
There are clean restrooms near the exit.
There is a museum store on the main floor where you purchase tickets and shop.
The first part of the tour is guided.
Toys and working models make it interesting for young and old.
There are places to sit within the museum.
There's adequate parking neaby.
The area is served by a local city tram.
There are many fine restaurants in the nearby City Market.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

National World War I Museum Kansas City Missouri USA

WWI Museum 2017

The National World War I Museum in Kansas City is worth a day's visit to appreciate the mutliple history-changing events that are a part of the guiding timeline. The U S entered the war just two months ago plus 100 years, 6 April 2017.

In addition to typical storyboards, many objects are on display including large guns and vehicles. An audio tour is available in addition to the audio-visual presentations, storyboards, and answers from staff.

Entry is via a two-day ticket purchased at the lower level-below the large tower. Visitors are ushered in to a circular timeline after crossing poppy fields seen through a floor of glass.

The introductory film adds little to the presentation unless you have not recently read or learned about the war from another source.

A second film is not far along in the museum and heldforth some promise of greatness based on the lifesized diorama below the screen. unfortunately, the diorama was not not incorporated into much of the video. The seating is limited here and mostly without support unless you sit agains the back wall. Lighting is poor and reflects off the glass barriers.

The collection of objects is a primary reason to view the museum in order to get a better sense of the context of the war- there's a plane, tank, vehicles, field guns, and many display cases containing weapons and uniforms. 

Although it is clearly an American Museum focusing on the role of the US in 1917-1918, the museum does include narratives and artifacts from the other major powers and tries to give visitors a true sense of the range of countries involved in this truly "world" war.

The roles of women and minorities are a part of the war and the crucial homefront. Some displays give a sense of other issues of the time-- for example-- women could not vote.

Above the main hall is a central tower that contains an elevator plus several steps leading to an impressive view of Kansas City. It is included in the entrance fee, which is good for two days. There are also exhibits in the two side buildings. On the day we visited, there was an outdoor photography display of scenes relevant to the story of the war.

There are plenty of places to picnic and park in the nearby park. Inside the facility is a cafeteria and gift shop.

There are plenty of places to sit and rest throughout the museum.
During our visit, all staff were friendly and helpful.
Restrooms are in several locations.

See the website for more details.

Truman Library and Museum Independence Missouri

The Truman presidency was marked by several major world changing events. A visit to the Truman Presidential Library in Independence Missouri offers an opportunity to view the rise of this uncommon "common" man from a small town to leader of the most powerful nation of the mid-twentieth century.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was born 8 May, 1884 in Missouri. He was vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and became the 33rd US president when Roosevelt died after less than three months into his last term.

After growing up on the family farm in Independence Missouri, he worked at several jobs before serving in WWI at age 33. He returned to marry Elizabeth Wallace in 1919. They had one daughter, Margaret.

After entering local politics, he became a U S Senator, the vice president and president. He ran for office and famously defeated the expected winner, Republican John Dewey.

The Library and Museum contains a number of papers and artifacts providing the backdrop to his career and the major events that marked his presidency. He will perhaps be best known for his much examined decision to drop the first and second atomic bombs, linked to the ending of the war against Japan in 1945.

President Truman's Famous Desk Sign
The Buck Stops Here

Some thoughts and notes on visiting

The introductory film is somewhat interesting and set in a large comfortable theater; however, it was very blurry, which may be due to the need to focus so check before sitting down.

The museum includes many storyboards, which include newspaper headlines and some artifacts. Scheduling your visit could depend on how much time you wish to spend reading. If you have read a biography and know the major events of US and world history during the Roosevelt and Truman years then, there will not be a lot of additional information in the major narrative.

The lighting in some parts is too low to read some displays.

Parking was not a problem when we visited in June, 2017.

The facility and the restrooms were clean.

There is an entry fee, which is good for two days. For us, a half-day was enough.

See the website for more details.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nathanael Greene Park Springfield Missouri USA

Lake at Nathanael Greene Park Geoff W Sutton 2017

Nathanael Greene Park located at 2400 South Scenic in Springfield MO (65807) is more than a place to enjoy a picnic in a pleasant setting. In addition to the usual park things like trails, picnic areas, play areas, and a small lake, this park has other attractions.

There are many gardens with a special focus such as dwarf conifers, roses, and an English garden.

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is a traditional Japanese Garden present since 1986. There is a fee so check the web site for details.

A Butterfly House is open on a seasonal basis- see the website for details.

Local life in the mid 1800s can be examined at the Gray-Campbell Farmstead. There's a cabin, barn, kitchen, granery, outhouse and school.

Trails circle the Lake and connect to the area Greenway Trail. On the trail outside the park is a marker for the Trail of Tears route.

Facilities: There are restrooms and a shop and classrooms in the Botanical Center.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Cost: No cost for the general park area but there are costs for some activities.
Parking: I have always found a place to park even on busy event days.
Garden Map:
Arboretum Map:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Osborne House and a Great Beach

Osborne House by Geoff W Sutton 2017

Osborne House is a beautiful mansion on the Isle of Wight, UK. If you have several hours, and enjoy Victorian art and furniture, English history, gardens, beaches, a pleasant picnic site,and childrens' play areas, you will probably enjoy the visit as I did.

There really is a lot to see and do at Osborne House, built 1845-1851 by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria as a retreat for them and their family.

You could spend a day here. The walk through the house is organised to move you through the available rooms. Staff offer insights into the contents of several rooms.

There's also an onsite guide at the Swiss Cottage, which includes children's activities.

Swiss Cottage for the children at Osborne House/ Geoff W Sutton 2017

I spent an afternoon and saw most of the estate but I had no children with me who might like the play areas.

Osbonre House Children's Play Areas

And there's a beautiful beach with places for a picnic.

Osborne House Beach Scene/ Geoff W Sutton 2017
There's also walking trails and well-kept gardens-- opportunities for exercise, birding, and relaxing.

I used public transportation from Ryde, which worked well for my needs.

There are large parking areas with many open spaces when I visited in April 2017.

Information about fees can be found on the website. It is an English Heritage site so there is no charge for members.

Location: York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight  PO32 6JX

See the Osborne House website for more details.