After visiting more than half the state capitols in America, we still felt a sense of awe when we walked into the Pennsylvania state house in Harrisburg. It is a large majestic government building and the dome is green. That alone made everyone in our family pause as we admired the architecture. Inside the building is just as spectacular and grand, with stained glass, gold, and paintings. The female artists who painted all the murals did a great job and we just gawked at all the unique works of art. Miles was happy that the senate was in session and we were able to sit in the gallery while watching the inner workings of the state government. He quickly realized that sometimes things take forever in government and all we actually saw was the senate recognizing guests, commercial speeches promoting businesses, and a few senators putting up motions to make awareness months for various issues. Then they broke for lunch and although he has a lot of interest and patience, we didn’t want to sit in the empty chamber for a few hours till the senators reconvened. Of course by we I mean our five year old who finds the inner workings of government to be boring like most young kids. It was great to visit a lovely capitol building with a welcome center for the kids to learn at, but the best part was what we found outside the capitol building. We usually try to walk around the state capitols we visit so we can see all the statues and get lots of good pictures and often we find some great shots at different angles. Well outside the capitol building in Harrisburg they have a fountain that shoots water in a pattern and our kids sat transfixed by the show. It was a great end to a wonderful capitol visit and the capitol at Harrisburg became ours kids favorite, until we find another cool one of course.
When you are on the road traveling it is best to be realistic in your expectations. Sometimes you will find cool places, but occasionally somewhere is going to let you down. Unfortunately we found a National Park that we were disappointed with after visiting about 35 of them. Gettysburg was extremely commercialized and purchasing tickets is required to do almost everything, except walking or driving around. Well we roll with what life gives us and we just did what we could aside from the museum and giant oil painting (both of which were pretty expensive). Luckily the ranger programs were still free and the kids joined the Union army and earned their junior ranger patches. The ranger program really did save the experience for us too because the battlefield didn’t really have very many signs talking about what happened. We did visit The David Wills house where Lincoln put the finishing touches on his famous Gettysburg address and the National Park pass allowed us to visit it for free. It was a well preserved historical site with informational displays and we learned even more about Lincoln’s historic visit. It just goes to show you that sometimes something that you think is going to be bad can turn out good. Then we visited Soldiers National Cemetery where the kids worked on their junior ranger book and we took a few minutes to remember the soldiers who have given their lives for this country. Later we found an observation tower to climb that offered us a view of the entire area where the battle took place. Yes our Gettysburg experience started with some disappointment about how touristy and expensive the site was, but we just smiled and decided to have fun learning anyway. It wasn’t our favorite National Park site, but it was an important history lesson for the kids and what better way to learn than joining the Union army themselves.
We started out across the country one year ago and have no regrets about taking this grand family adventure to see every state in America. Everyone was excited about the one year anniversary and we celebrated it just like a birthday or wedding anniversary. We have visited so many museums and finding a different kind of museum has become something of a challenge. Sarah found a time museum on the ASTC list and we jumped at the chance to visit The National Clock and Watch museum. It was fitting that we marked our time on the road by visiting this epic clock museum. They have some really old clocks at this great museum and I was impressed by just the first room of the place. Then the security guard tells us that he is going to do a demonstration of the monumental clock if we wanted to follow him to watch and then he would lead us back to where we were. Well we went through room after room of clocks and watches to get to the monumental clock and I was blown away by how cool this museum was. Then he told us about this famous monumental clock that people used to pay money to watch and the artist who spent twenty years working on it. It is the fanciest clock I have ever seen and everyone was delighted to see all the action as the clock stuck different hours. We spent hours wandering around looking at James Bonds watches, old grandfather clocks, Japanese clocks with varying hour lengths, wall clocks, cuckoo clocks, atomic clocks, pocket watches and more! Everyone learned something new about how humans measure time and we even watched the monumental clock again. It was the perfect place to celebrate our anniversary, but we weren’t done yet. Next we took the kids to a working dairy farm to learn about where milk comes from. Everyone enjoyed Perrydell Farm Dairy and we even got to see the calves getting fed. Journey made friends with one of the calves and Trip wrinkled his nose at the smells. Yes it was educational and fun to see the cows get milked, but the corn maze was also a hit with the kids even though it was only a few feet tall. School might be out for public schools, but we just keep learning all the time because it is so fun!
After one year of traveling I thought we might want to settle down and stop, but when I asked everyone if we should stop there was a resounding no. Life on the road has its ups and downs just like a more traditional lifestyle. We love it though and will continue as long as we like it. Seeing every single state in the country even seems possible now after having visited half of them. We have gotten to meet some wonderful people at different camps and still find it odd that when people find out what we are doing they ask so many questions. It seems normal to us now to travel all the time. I guess anything can become a comfort zone after enough time has gone by and maybe the hard part will be when we stop traveling and settle down again. I only know that Sarah and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to go on this adventure with our kids. It is humbling to learn about the great men and women who built this country into what it is today. It is also great to have readers like you, who visit our website and follow our story. Writing a blog might feel like talking to yourself in the mirror sometimes, but we see how many people visit the site and know that you are out there. It would be our pleasure to pay it forward and help you with your adventure, write an article about a subject of your choosing, guest post on your blog, or answer any questions you might have. Just send an email, find us on Facebook, post a comment, tell a friend, share a post, subscribe on the about us page, or just visit us often. It all helps us to know that taking the time to write these articles is worth it because without you out there reading this, there is no blog. So thanks and have a safe adventure!
Here are some links and more pictures:
Pennsylvania State Capitol
Gettysburg National Military Park
National Watch and Clock Museum
Perrydell Dairy Farm