Hidden Treasures

Yes, I know. Most people head to Cape Cod or Florida for Spring Break. What did we do? A road trip. All we needed was a Winnebago, but we didn’t have that. We had a minivan packed full with two parents, two grandparents, two kids and a loaf of bread and peanut butter. Still, what we discovered was mind-blowing. Everyone needs to drop what they’re doing and visit these amazing sites. They will make you proud to be an American, and you will go home with fluorescent rocks in your pocket.
The first is the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Has anyone else been here? When we entered, we had only one enthusiastic member of our party, my dad, the retired Naval Commander. When we left, we gave it a “Top Ten” ranking for museums in the U.S. History comes to life there. I had learned about the famous Civil War Battle of the Ironclads in my history classes, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of this event until the hands-on exhibits at the Mariner’s Museum. I felt part of the battle at sea while watching a movie on this famous clash between the North and South. The Monitor’s revolving gun turret is housed here, raised during a 2002 expedition off of Cape Hatteras. See, amazing: http://www.marinersmuseum.org/uss-monitor-center/conservation-uss-monitors-turret-webcam. While exploring the museums many corridors, my daughters learned how to tie sailor’s knots, and lift cannon balls like those used by Admiral Nelson.
 I had a whole new appreciation of the amazing characters who have graced my history books of old. 
 And if you haven’t heard of The Miniature Ships of Winnifred and August F. Crabtree, check this out. This minature took him years to make.
All I can say is, good thing his wife was “onboard” with his project. All this for the low cost of $12 for Adults ($11 for Seniors/Military/AAA, $7 for Children Ages 6-12, and Children 5 and Under are free.
And, while I’m on the topic of hidden treasures, the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey is another. http://sterlinghillminingmuseum.org. As they say, “There’s No Other Place on Earth,” and I am witness to that. I am learning all about mines for a “some day” novel I’m working on. Boy, was this the place to go. Bill K was our expert tour guide. A geologist, civil engineer and all-around educator, Bill taught us all about the life of the miners and, in this case, the “glow-in-the-dark” fluorescent minerals they were mining. Would you want to work down here? It was like taking a roller coaster ride to work.
While it was back-breaking and hazardous at times, it was nothing compared to the dirty, dusty job of a coal miner. At least zinc mining is relatively clean. Plus, we learned fascinating tidbits. 

Look, this is how the miners kept their clothes.

See all these beauties. 
And just to add frosting to the cake, everyone selects a rock to take home. Priceless!