Great Stalacpipe Organ Making Music in a Cave!

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler the Boy on the Move, once again bringing you the best in last-minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months…So on this move, I got to hear the Great Stalacpipe Organ!

My parents just got a job down in Luray, Virginia, a sort of sleepy little town with some interesting history. While my parents were at work, I liked to walk around downtown to its cool shops and restaurants. The Page Theater is also pretty fun…

Cool Stuff in the Shenandoah valley

On the weekends we did some sightseeing together, checking out the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, hiking up Stony Man Mountain, and exploring the Shenandoah Heritage Village. However, by far my favorite was the stop we made to the Luray Caverns — Luray is known as “the town where caverns meet the sky” after all!

 

The Great Stalacpipe Organ

 

Inside of the caverns (and covering just about 3.5 acres) is the world’s largest musical instrument. The Great Stalacpipe Organ! Whenever its played, little mallets strike different stalactites all over causing a beautiful and haunting tune. The whole cavern seems to pulse with the echoing sound!

The Great Stalacpipe Organ is technically not an organ at all (rather a lithophone)! Electric engineer and mathematician Leland Sprinkle, who worked at the Pentagon, designed it. When Sprinkle visited the caverns in 1954, the guides inspired him when they tapped the stalactites to show him their tonal range.

If you’re sold on hearing the “organ” but not on the tight spaces, you can always listen to recordings of the instrument (though it isn’t as cool as hearing it in person). However, if a giant musical cave isn’t for you (which I don’t know why it wouldn’t be because IT IS AWESOME), Luray does have plenty of other fun stuff too.  I mean, even the drive through the Shenandoah Valley is pretty amazing! You could also visit the Hawksbill Greenway, the Luray Rescue Zoo, the Warehouse Art Gallery, or the Luray Singing Tower.

Thanks for stopping by!

See you next time!

~ Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida”. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name, and keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being the best vacation you ever had!

Watch Out Grand Canyon, Here Comes Palo Duro!

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler the Boy on the Move, once again bringing you the best in last-minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months…

When my parents got a contract in Amarillo, I talked to my friend Sadie Hofmeester because I knew her grandma came from down there. And she told me all about Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon, Texas outside of Amarillo. She even sent me this neat photo of her grandma when she was around my age horseback riding, cowboy style, in the canyon!

After seeing that, I knew I needed to plan my own adventure! I talked it up to my parents, and they agreed to make a weekend out of it. For just under $25, we had our campsite in the middle of the canyon, the second biggest in the country!

If you look carefully, animals seem to be everywhere in and around the canyon! Driving into the canyon, we had to stop short to avoid a greater roadrunner crossing the road — I guess he isn’t as clever as he seems on TV (meep meep)! As we set up a quick base camp amongst the cactus and sagebrush, my mom and I found a Texas horned lizard sneaking around our newly erected tent hunting grasshoppers! A few minutes after that we heard a tap tap tapping and turned to see a golden-fronted woodpecker! It was really cool!

After our camp set-up, I set out to explore (and to see if I could find any more creatures). I’m pretty used to exploring tight spaces like urban tunnels and maybe an underground bunker or two, so the vastness of Palo Duro was striking. Even though you’re so far down from the top of the cliffside, almost everywhere you go within the canyon, you can see brilliant blue sky offset by flaming red stone.

Wandering on one of the innumerable trails, I found a plaque explaining Palo Duro’s history. The canyon has been home to Indigenous Peoples for over 10,000 years. About 12,000 years ago, the Clovis and Folsom People lived in the canyon, hunting herds of North American mammoth and giant bison. In more recent history, the mighty Apache, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa Peoples lived in and used the canyon’s numerous resources. As settler-colonists moved into the area, violence erupted. Though some chiefs called for peace and signed treaties, U.S. troops repeatedly broke their promises and attacked to seize the land. From 1874 to 1875, U.S. American soldiers attacked the Native Peoples to gain the use of Palo Duro Canyon in the bloody Red River War. Perhaps this violence is what stained the soil red.

After I walked around for a while, I got pretty hot (the sun sure is strong in the panhandle!) and headed back to camp for a well-deserved dinner: some barbecued brisket. At sunset, we managed to see a ram on the top of the ridge which was pretty cool. My parents and I roasted marshmallows under the stars that night. Looking up, the stars seemed so brilliant…somehow both close and far away. It looked like a giant quilt of the night sky.

When I woke up the next day, I went exploring again. I wanted to see if I could find an artifact, maybe an arrowhead from the War, but all I found were a lot of yucca plants and red dust. Just as we were leaving, I saw a bunch of collared lizards scurrying off of the rocks, they were sunning themselves on. I bet if you keep your eyes peeled, you can spot some collared lizards too — and if you’re fast like me, you can even catch some of them.

I hope you go and have as much fun as I did!

~ Tyler

 

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida”. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name, and keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being the best vacation you ever had!

A Massachusetts Road Trip for All Ages: Ice Cream All Day…

It is your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler the Boy on the Move, once again bringing you the best in last-minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months…

And this week I’m shining a delicious spotlight on one of my favorite road trips throughout the state of Massachusetts. With all my moving around, I’ve built up quite an appetite…the best way to quench that hunger? A big bowl of ice cream! Or make that twenty!

During one of the times my parents had a contract at MIT, we took this amazing road trip around the state trying to stop at the best and most famous ice cream stands within the great Commonwealth. Commonwealth? I didn’t end up with common-health! The trip was great but would have been even more amazing if I didn’t get such a stomach ache afterward.

Since we were so close to Toscanini’s Ice Cream, we started day one off there before heading up to White Farms Ice Cream. We sped down Route 2 heading West to make sure we could sneak in as many stands as possible. After spending so long on the road the first day, we spent the night in Northampton — what a cool town! We stayed up late checking it out. I got to get some great stuff at the Vintage Cellar like this neat French military shoulder bread bag to keep my tablet in! My parents just love antique stores. Usually, I end up looking at the old tin toys while they freak over some old computer or desk thing.

We started the next day off with Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream and ended all the way at Peaceful Meadow’s Farm. I don’t remember too much of the drive home. I got to stay up real late the first night and passed out on the drive back to Boston the second. I crashed hard after eating all of that sugar…

As the Summer begins to really heat up, why not drive around The Bay State and eat your fill of ice cream, soft serve, sorbet, and sherbet too! If I had to pick one go-to place, it would have to be Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge. A no-brainer with funky flavors like Kulfi and Burnt Caramel! They were my favorite. Good thing they were close to MIT; I got to eat a lot of them while we were in the area.

 

 

As you head out, try not to get too much of a brain freeze!

~ Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida”. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being the best vacation you ever had!

Salem Fagin and the First Boy’s Club in America

The First Boy’s Club and Tunnels…

The First Boy’s Club in the country was held in a building attached to this tunnel. In fact, the three locations that the club first resided in were all attached to the smuggling tunnels in Salem MA. The first was the Downing Block next to the Peabody Essex Museum. The second location was in the Salem Lyceum that previously housed a lecture series where Alexander Graham Bell introduced his phone publicly at. The third location was in the old Essex County Bank building built by Charles Bulfinch who became the Architect of D.C. who built all the tunnels under our capitol.

The Boy’s Club learned an important early lesson; keep the kids in a brick building. For the one time they were housed in a wooden building, the Lyceum, they burned it down.  The location where James Russell Lowell introduced the Dante Club’s translation of The Inferno was burned to the ground by these children.

So why was it so important to have these economically challenged children in the building attached to the tunnels? Were they helping the sailors and captains smuggle in town? Were they assisting in the runaway slaves’ attempts at gaining freedom? Or were they run by a Salem Fagin who had them act like the Artful Dodger and break into the homes that also were attached to the tunnels?

Who is to say, but it makes you think…

For more info read Sub Rosa to find out how Salem shaped America and your lives! Available at Remember Salem, Jolie Tea, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. Also to learn more stories like this first hand, book a tour with the Salem Smugglers’ Tour!

Salem House Press
http://www.salemhousepress.com

Cool Places in America~ Jerimoth Hill and an Angry Old Man

Well they moved me again. This time they got a contract with Brown University to email students when they were late returning books to the library. Good thing was there was someone else on campus who irritated students even more than the software they were paid to write.

You know from my previous posts how much I love the stars and places that can afford gorgeous views of them. So I was excited to hear about Jerimoth Hill and its observatory. But…

For many years, hikers could not access the hill because the only path to the summit crossed the driveway of a private property owner, Henry Richardson, who prohibited entry the state’s highest point. Richardson posted “no trespassing” signs and installed a security system that alerted him whenever people entered his property. Richardson’s belligerence toward hikers made him something of a legend in the community. Eventually, Richardson’s son worked out a plan to allow access to the path four times a year. After Richardson’s death, his property was purchased in 2005 by the Mosby family, who opened up access and eventually ceded the land to the state. In 2011, the state began the process of acquiring the summit itself from Brown University; this was completed in 2014. It is open every day, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. local time.

So on our second trip back, I got to go on up! There were some cool professors up there that showed me all the cool stuff. One guy even had an asteroid he showed me named after him.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ The Wave Organ

Over this summer, my parents have moved us to San Francisco. They thought they were getting a good salary, till they calculated the cost of living in the city… but while I was there I got to listen to this amazing organ played by Njord.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Hamilton Pool

Heading out of Austin this summer on the way back to the Pines to have my parents work for the Mad Scientist  again. We stopped to cool off and take this swim in a cave right out of James Bond. I kept looking for tattoo…

Just 23 miles west of Austin, Texas, is a breathtaking emerald pool and cave. It was Awesome. I kept looking for the secret laser hidden under the water.  Our host in Austin reserved our day there. We had an amazing time.

To get there it is 23 miles west of Austin, on Highway 71. Surrounded by the Hamilton Nature Preserve. They require reservations from May 15 to September 30. So book early.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ The Dream House and the Sound of Motion

We were just stopping in NYC (Tribeca) on our way back from the Mad Scientist of the Pines when we stopped to check this out. I got to dance to my own band…

 

Created in 1993 by modern composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela; they welcome you come in and become your own composer to the soundtrack of your life. You can be just as bad as Samuel Jackson walking down the street with his own theme playing. Or stand still like Clint Eastwood in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and have your own cool song play.

Then just give up and dance from corner to corner and the light changes to the same frequency of your movements.  Whirl like a Dervish and make some paisley…

Young and Zazeela, the creators,  invite you to dive into their dream world, Wednesday through Saturday from 2PM-Midnight. Check them out and prepare to dance…

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places of America~ Heidelberg Street Detroit

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

My parents had a gig in Detroit that lasted two weeks. While I was there I found this street with polka dot houses and houses covered in Teddy Bears. The Heidelberg Project was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey (“Grandpa Sam”) as an outdoor art environment in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood on the city’s east side, just north of the city’s historically African-American Black Bottom area. The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Guyton described coming back to Heidelberg Street after serving in the Army; he was astonished to see that the surrounding neighborhood looked as if “a bomb went off”. Now the road looks like a paint bomb went off, which is way cool.

Tyree runs community art projects in one of the houses and supports local kid education. I got to paint a few polka dots on the houses too. It was great. Come check out this street.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking this blog for cheap vacation ideas that might become your best vacation ever.

Cool Places in America~ Las Pozas

Well technically, this place is not in the United States, but it is still in North America. So I guess it still counts… Yep my parents once took a contract outside of the country. My friends on Snapchat thought we were nuts, but my Norwegian relatives go to Mexico all the time. Dumb Americans…

Edward James made his surreal vision of Paradise, right in the heart of Mexico. Located in the North of Mexico City, Las Pozas is a combination of nature and sculpture.  From natural pools to small waterfalls and a wide range of trees, flowers and plants decorate this fairy tale-like garden. It looks like if Dali’s Destino was animated in a jungle instead of a desert.

From 1949 to 1984, the art collector and his guide, Plutarco Gastelum, gradually designed the garden. Over 35 years and $5 million Plutarco Gastelum prepared the jungle for the sculptures, James created columns, spiral stairs leading nowhere, doors made of stone, concrete flowers and other unique sculptures.It was paid for by Edward James selling his art collection at a private auction. Even Dali though this guy was nuts, but then look at his museum in St. Petersburg FLA…

A man’s endless passion for surrealism, his imagination and over 150 employees created this wonder of the world.  You can find it at Camino Paseo Las Pozas s/n, Barrio La Conchita, 79902 Xilitla, S.L.P., Mexico.

 ~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…