Tag Archives: museums

Mariners’ Museum 5…. toys, a submarine, weapons, an Enigma and a 3D coral reef.


I realize this is the 5th post of our trip to the museum, but fear not…. it will also be the last.



Oh, stop being so dramatic and admit you learned something. Even if it was just how to use seashell toilet paper.

We’d spent all day roaming these halls and closing time was approaching before we were even a quarter of the way through.

So we literally trotted from exhibit to exhibit.




Vintage naval toys?








The hull of the Oracle that won the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010?




A ginormous check!




Submarine cutout?




Got it.




WWII memorabilia?




Yup. Tons…




They even had an Enigma!

How cool is that?




If you haven’t seen The Imitation Game about the life of Alan Turing, the man who broke the unbreakable code and then tragically took his own life… with an apple?

You should.




Teddy Roosevelt was there…




As was this precious little sword wielding cherub.




Because yeah…. what could go wrong with that?



There was too much to see…




And too little time.




Look… interesting, not to mention decorative, ways to kill people!




And I didn’t have a chance to read all the details.




And that.

What was that?

I don’t know!

Because the husband was bound and determined to watch the 3D movie about the coral reef before they closed. So we ran to the theater, put on our plastic glasses and found a good spot to watch and take pictures.




Until this woman moved seats and put her head in front of my lens.

Rude. Very rude.




The Great Barrier coral reef?





The Great Barrier coral reef in 3D after I moved away from the back of that woman’s head?








It looked like all these little things were reaching out for you….




And I swear the husband jumped a foot when he thought this fellow was right beside him.




Beautiful. No two ways about it.

So that was it.

We spent 8 full hours in the museum that day….




And were too tired to go out to eat.

Oh, stop screaming.

We got Chinese take out and went back to the condo.




The absolute worst Chinese takeout I think I’ve ever had… but there.

Still a food picture.

Mariners’ Museum 3…. some sweetness and a little toilet humor.


Yes, we’re still at the museum. But this post should make everyone smile.

Done with the Civil War Ironclad section….



Oh, stop. You learned something… and that’s never a bad thing.

We saw a large board filled with children’s drawings.




Every child that visits is encouraged to add one and some of them were wonderful.




We saw it too, and yes…. it was.




This one melted my heart for obvious reasons.




And this one made me laugh. They love the water, but have a ship marked with a big red X so the circling sharks can find them.

Nicely done little Peter Benchley.

And then, because I teased it on yesterday’s post…. some toilet humor.

Since we’d spent half the day exploring the museum, I had need of the ladies room where I found this on the inside of my stall door.




How great is this?

Not the latrine duty, that had to suck… but reading historic toilet facts while you’re on the toilet? Pretty great.

You don’t often find that kind of symmetry in life.

It must be celebrated when you do.




So you know I had to go stall to stall and photograph them all.

(Apologies to the woman in the last stall. I wasn’t stalking you… really. I just needed a picture.)




Ouch indeed.




Now that’s historical trivia at it’s best. Impress your friends the next time you play Jeopardy.

You’re welcome.




There you have it.

Proof positive museums can be fun.

Or at the very least, museum restrooms can.


Mariners’ Museum 2… the movies, the Monitor and the turret.


So class, yesterday we learned about the CSS Virginia and how most people call her by the incorrect name of…..?

The Merrimack.



Sure you do… you just haven’t realized it yet.

It’s okay. I’ll wait.

Today, we’re going to the movies.




In a surround sound theater that promised an ‘edge of your seat exciting’ depiction of the Ironclad battle.

“You’ll feel like you’re right there!” exclaimed the docent.





About that…




It was a cartoon.



An informative cartoon, I grant you…



But a cartoon all the same. And even with the rolling smoke that issued from the walls and floor…. I didn’t feel any more there than I did watching Bugs Bunny as a child.

Oh well, there were better things ahead.




Like the USS Monitor… famous for her spinning gun turret.




Is it me, or does that thing look like a drunken owl?



She was built in 100 days, which was an amazing accomplishment for the time.




And the museum faithfully recreated what the officer’s quarters looked like upon completion.




Not too shabby.




If a wee bit small.




There were lots of interesting artifacts to examine.




As well as photos of the men who served aboard her.




Of course, being me…. you know I had to find some reference to alcoholic refreshment.




And then, in the next section of the museum….




A replica of the recovered Monitor’s turret.

The original is currently on site and being slowly and painstakingly preserved. Read about it’s discovery and journey to Newport News here.




This was basically what it looked like on the ocean floor.




All that rusty metal! You know my other half was thrilled….




But one of the most impressive aspects of this museum’s exhibit?




A life size USS Monitor right outside.




Of course it was raining and they advised you not to walk on her slippery deck….




So that’s exactly what we did.




Stand on the bow of an Ironclad?

Uh… yes. I will!




Husband even rung the turret’s bell for good measure.




Cool beans!

And if that wasn’t awesome enough? Back inside and down a flight stairs….




Took you inside the turret.




And literally inside the ship itself.




Admittedly the engines and engineering diagrams were above my pay grade.




But the display really gave you a feel for the ship.




And my inner history nerd was sighing with satisfaction.

We did climb up to the observation landing to peer into the lab where the original pieces of the ship are being restored, but it was just giant vats of seawater with electrical current running through them.

Not very photo worthy, so I’ll spare you the shots.



Fear not.

The second half of the museum starts tomorrow…. and it will be a little more fun.

Here’s a little preview.















Day 4…. the Mariners’ Museum


If you’re not a fan of museums, or history, or naval war battles and the Civil War Ironclads?




Please feel free to skip the next dozen posts because that’s probably how long it’s going to take me to document this amazing place in Newport News, Virginia.




It was an overcast day that was threatening rain so I thought this would be a good choice. I had no idea what to expect and was ready to pay a large ticket price… so imagine my surprise when I saw this.




My first reaction was… man, this place must bite.

But oh, was I wrong.




Upon arrival this magnificent eagle greets you.




It’s a remarkable carving and was lovingly restored from it’s original perch on the bow of this ship.




Look closely, it’s there. And gives you some perspective of how large those ships really were.

Next up was a light.




But not just any light.




And if these were the items in the lobby?




I knew we were going to have a great day.



There are 2 distinct areas of the museum to visit, but being a Civil War buff? I had to choose this first.




The Ironclads.




If you know nothing about them? Hang on.




You will by the time I’m through with you.




Let’s continue….




Turning the corner, we entered this bizarrely blue movie theater that told the story of the Monitor’s sinking.




Turn another corner…. and there she was.

Right under your feet.



And by watching the films, you come to realize how truly dedicated these people are to preserving history.



I found it quite moving.

Around the next corner…




Some interesting artifacts and a glimpse into our Naval past.




I tend to read faster than the husband and am always a few exhibits ahead.




Interestingly enough most people think of the Battle of the Ironclads as the Monitor vs the Merrimack, but technically that’s incorrect.




This was the Merrimack.




She was originally a Union ship that was captured by the Confederates when Gosport fell.




She was damaged, but thanks to this man…




Would be overhauled, covered in iron plate and turned into the CSS Virginia.




The Confederate’s Ironclad.




This is the museum’s recreation of her outfitting.




And what she looked like upon completion.




The Merrimack no longer.




There, you’ve learned something.

Now that wasn’t so bad… eh?



No! Not boring.

It’s history!




And how many of your friends can say they’ve seen inside a Civil War Ironclad?




None, I tell you!





But now you have…

And are sure to be the envy of all your neighbors at the next block party.




Cape Cod, Day 2… Hyannis, JFK socks and creative pooper scooping.




As many of you probably know, John F. Kennedy’s family’s compound is in Hyannis… and when you’re there it’s pretty hard to escape the fact. Streets, housing developments, restaurants…. they’re all named for some part of the Kennedy legacy. So we said if you can’t beat em, join em….. and visited the JFK museum.




Unfortunately it was under construction when we visited…




So there won’t be any good exterior shots…




Or good interior shots for that matter because photography was prohibited. I’m not really sure why, as there were very few vintage artifacts to flash damage. And to be honest, the whole place was disappointing. It consisted of multiple rooms filled with large photos, prints and news clippings that I could have just easily researched online. From my couch, in my pajamas.  The real museum is in Boston… so my advice? Skip this one and drive to beantown.

Unless you’re in desperate need of some  presidential socks…




Which I bootlegged a picture of.

Since it was a beautiful day, we strolled to the harbor next.




Where the husband made friends with a seagull..




Who didn’t seem too pleased with the rules.




Being off season and November, the art shanties were vacant…




But it must be wonderful to walk there in the summer and watch local artists at work.




This time of year the harbor was home to charter and fishing boats.




As most of the tourists have fled for warmer ports.




But it was a pretty spot to watch the ferry come in from Martha’s Vineyard.



And enjoy the day.




Unless you’re a dog walker….




Who apparently have to follow closely behind their pets and strategically aim a saucepan at Fido’s butt.

Good times.




He volunteers, I do all the work.


So we’ve established my husband is a collector of  vast piles of junk,  boatloads of crap,  too much rusty old stuff,  some eclectic treasure.

Lots of people know this, and think being an antique expert goes hand in hand.



They constantly give him items and want a full history,  description of use,  plus what it’s worth.

Problem is….. more often than not he has no frickin’ clue.



Which is when he hands it off to me.

I research, investigate, and compare so he can go back and look knowledgeable. Which leads to more people giving him more items to identify. It’s a vicious circle.

*Note to self – stop researching, investigating and comparing*

Last month he came home with two items that were beyond even my scope of reference.

Supposed Native American artifacts.




A medicine man’s turtle shell rattle…







And a warrior’s breastplate.




I admit, even I was clueless here.




His friend gave him some accompanying paperwork that was, to say the least….. a wee bit strange. It was a statement from a man named Silver Wolf who said he saw the items at an antique show 10 years ago and was then visited in his dreams by the original owner Red Hawk, who lived in the late 1700’s.


A man named Ernie then purchased the rattle, and took it to a Pow Wow to “awaken it”. A red tail hawk flew overhead during the ceremony and apparently that was the spirit of the original owner.


Later, a chief said the rattle had a person named Many Eyes bound inside of it and the spirit needed to be set free.

So, yeah.

How the hell do you research that?

I tried. And the closest I came was this:




Pretty damn close. (Red tailed hawk and trapped spirit not withstanding.)

As for breastplates? They’re everywhere… in hundreds of designs, made with multiple materials, some old, some new and I have no utter clue how to differentiate.

So I went to the Maine State Museum….

Where no one had a clue either.



But they gave me the name and email address of a supposed expert…. so I contacted her and sent photos.

This was her response:


Boy. I’m not the expert, At All. The breast plate looks modern to me, but don’t take my word for it! And I have never seen a rattle like that so I really can’t judge. It could be Plains, but equally, could be new. It looks dirty, as opposed to worn, which sets off alarms for me. 

That said, I am NOT that versed. If you want to talk to someone who is, my ex-husband is very knowledgable.

Best of luck in your search!

And thank you for thinking of the Maine State Museum.





So after wasting more time than I thought possible on this, I was done.

I passed along what I learned to the husband to give to his friend, with the expert’s ex husband’s phone number, and called it a day.

The next morning after having breakfast with his friend? The husband came back with the items and said his friend wanted me to sell them for him.



Personally… if the items are real Native American artifacts? I’d give them back to the tribe of origin, or at the very least a museum. So much Native culture has been bought and sold over the years, I felt bad even having them at our house.

And if they’re reproductions? You wouldn’t get any serious money for them so why bother.

This is what happens when your husband can’t tell his friend no.

It’s a simple process…. and one I need him to learn.