Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 41: Cooperstown - Birthplace of Baseball

Today was spent in Cooperstown, New York, where the legend/myth says baseball began in 1839. We mostly spent the day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. We also had lunch at a little basement restaurant in town. Before heading back to camp we browsed some souvenir shops.

Browsing the shops was worthwhile as we are now back up-to-date with team stickers on the car, but at the same time kind of disappointing. They have a lot of cool baseball memorabilia with my favorite being the baseball cards, but pretty much nothing Nationals related. One shop did have some Ryan Zimmermann cards, but just plain rookie type ones. I really wanted one of the game used piece of jersey or bat type ones, but there was no player worthwhile in my opinion. Sure there were some well-known guys, but no Nats. Anyways, it was still fun looking at all the cards.

We are now back at camp and I do not have the patience for the slow Internet here, but I have plenty of posts ready to cut and paste to add photos to and post. I hope I get good Internet tomorrow on the road. At least we should get good Internet tomorrow night, as we are staying in a hotel outside New York City.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 37: Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum

On June 25, 2009, after going to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site we headed to the town of North Tonawanda to see the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. This museum only cost $5 per person. It was totally worth the price compared to the Theodore Roosevelt site in Buffalo that without Mik’s access pass would have cost us $10 a person ($5 for Mik’s age) and had very little to see or even learn about.

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is a rather small museum, but it is really well done. The museum is housed in the factory where the Herschell company once made the carrousels and other early amusement park rides. The self-guided tour begins in a room that has a carving station where demonstrators sometimes work live to show how the early carrousel horses were carved. No one was working when we were there, but they did have some pieces that are part of the process of carving a carrousel horse on display, such as legs and bodies. They also had a video showing how the carvers worked.

One part of the room that has the carving display has a display on Wurlitzer organs. According to Dad this is a famous organ brand, but of course I have not ever heard of them, however if you know me then you know I know nothing about the particulars of anything music related and can rarely even tell you who sings my favorites songs. It was an interesting display about the making of the Wurlitzer organs with a main focus on the drums for the automatic ones, such as the ones that were put in Carrousels. They even had a video showing the making of the organs.

The next part of the museum is a room with some of the carrousel designs the company made. This room is technically the second one to go through, but you do go through it on the way to the first room on the self-guided tour. This room tells the history of the company and the carrousels creatures. One of the interesting things I learned here is that the carrousel animals were usually elaborate on the side that was seen from the outside of the carrousel and the side that faced the middle was more plain.

On display are mostly horses, but they have some other animals including a rooster, a dog, a pig, the rare ostrich, and a zebra with a painted saddle. Interestingly the zebra model was originally made without a saddle because it was thought of as a wild animal and should be ridden saddleless (somehow the same thought did not apply to kangaroos, frogs, ostriches, etc.), however after most patrons refused to ride the saddleless zebra owners of carrousels often painted the saddle on it and people would then ride it.

In the hallway that leads to a big 1916 carrousel has some other kiddie rides the company made including a roller coaster. The room next to it is for young kids and includes a lot of things to entertain young kids including a kiddie carrousel.

Admission to the museum includes one ride on the carrousel per person. Being a 1916 carrousel it was not accessible and Mik was not interested in even being put on the bench part to ride on it, so just Dad and I went on it. It was fun to ride it. What was really cool is that the middle is open, so you can see the organ and such that is usually surrounded by panels.

Smashed Pennies: Niagara Falls

At Niagara Falls the other day we found a smashed penny machine near the visitor’s center that had a movie theater and a food court. I choose the design with the Rainbow Bridge that also said Niagara Falls State Park. Mik was busy eating some rainbow sherbet, so I choose for him. I got him the design with the Nikola Tesla statue.

Kj’s Baseball Collection: Niagara Falls

One would think that getting a baseball at Disneyland was as far as my non-baseball sightseeing stops part of the trip collection would go, but it is not. I actually was not surprised to find one at Disneyland, as Mik got me one from there once when he went on a camp trip to California. Finding one at the Maid of the Mist gift shop at Niagara Falls, however, really surprised me. At first Dad thought they only had the tee ball soft ones, but then he picked up one in the basket below an it was a hard regular baseball. While we did not actually go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride I just could not pass up getting this ball for my trip baseball collection. Besides it does still show Niagara Falls.

The ball says Niagara Falls on one side. It has a picture image of the bottom of the falls that includes the shoreline and the Maid of the Mist boat near the falls. Another side has a closer view of the Maid of the Mist boat. Opposite that is the Maid of the Mist Since 1846 logo.

Car Sticker Update: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates sticker Dad ended up choosing was an all white colored one. It is the Pirate crossed bats logo that says Pirates.

Accessibility Review: PNC Park

Parking around PNC Park was not that obvious to find nearby PNC Park. It is not that there is not parking, but rather that some of the most obvious stuff was not really all that close. When Dad dropped me off and went around the block while I got some cash for us to pay for parking, I spotted a small sign that pointed down an alley half a block from the park and we ended up parking there. The parking garage had handicap spots on every floor and several elevators. Even after the game when everybody was using the elevators it only took until the second elevator came to get on one (by the way it does bother us in the parks when able bodied people use the elevators, but we understand using them to go several levels up to your car after a game).

Getting into the park was pretty easy. We went in the entrance by the bridge, which only lets you into the river walk area that has basically nothing when they first open two hours before the game. From there it is easy to walk/roll on the concourse to the other river walk entrance where the elevator to where we were seated was located. There are steps down to the elevator area, but there is also a ramp in plain sight next to the steps. Here we waited about 20 minutes for the park to open and access to the elevators be granted.

At least going up the elevators was well managed with a person outside the elevator directing people on along with the normal ushers on the elevator. Coming down was a different story and we had to wait for the elevator to go down and back up before we could fit on and even then only one other group (one on crutches) really needed the elevator. It is not that we cannot wait for the elevator, but it was only a short wait because it was a rather low attendance game. It seems that every time there is not an usher outside of the elevator people take advantage of the elevator that do not need it and very few of the ushers inside the elevators seem to car about giving priority to those that actually need the elevator, which is almost always the official policy of the elevators at the ballparks.

The elevator situation really was not that bad, but the seating situation was and that is one of the biggest reasons we do not get why this can be the supposed best ballpark in America. Come on how the heck can a ballpark be the best if they do not even have cup holders? At least none of the upper deck around us did besides the handicap row. Even the ones in the handicap row were not that great and as you probably know by now one of the main things Mik looks for in rating accessibility and ballparks in general is good cup holders. Worst of all Mik did not even end up with a cup holder because of the lazy usher.

We sat in section 305 and when we got to the section we discovered that they have semi-permanent style seats for every spot in the handicap row. Every other two can be unscrewed and moved out of the area so that wheelchairs can roll into the spot. We showed the usher out tickets and he ended up just telling us to put Mik at the end of the row by the stairs to the upper section and sit in the two seats next to him. Mik did not seem to care, so Dad did not put up a fuss to be able to sit where we had tickets for. In the end, though it would have been worth it because Mik ended up feeling crowded when people sort of squeezed by him to get up the steps to their section. Also, Mik ended up with not cup holder, but this was not much of a loss since the ones the handicap row did have did not really fit the large soda cups and Mik would have been more frustrated trying to get it in and out on his own as having to keep asking for us to hand him his drink.

The real thing, though, is we should not have had to put up a fuss to have the seats we rightfully paid for. It might have just been this one lazy usher who did not want to have to deal with having the seats removed for it to become wheelchair spots, but I find it unacceptable, especially from supposedly the best ballpark in America. Apparently helpful ushers are not part of being the best ballpark. It worked out okay and we did still at least get a good view of the view and the scoreboard, however, I think if Mik was actually watching the game he would have had trouble seeing the batter because of his spot at the end of the row. Not to mention him being there was probably against fire code.

Kj’s Baseball Collection: Forbes Field 1909 World Series

The second baseball I got at PNC Park is one commemorating the 1909 World Series. I thought it was cool to get even though it does not say 100th anniversary. I could not settle for just this one, though, since it says Forbes Field instead of PNC Park, however I decided to get this one along with the PNC Park one since we did after all go to the site of Forbes Field before going to PNC Park. The ball has a Forbes Field 1909 World Series logo on one side and a Pirates P logo on the other side. It also says 1909 World Series Champions.