Hire a Photographer Abroad

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These are the crappy photos we have from our adventures. Lol

I just read this article about Dovetail and I’m hooked! You’ve seen my one-handed selfies from around the world and perhaps now it’s time for something different. Perhaps it’s time for good photos of our family?

We have visited some amazing sites in Japan, Peru, South Africa, etc. and probably don’t have one good shot in any of those locations. Lol Now that we have the babies, it would be nice to have photos we would actually want to hang in our homes.

Next time I’m drooling over taking my babies somewhere …  perhaps I’ll contact a professional, local photographer to take photos of us.

Find out more about the Dovetail Experience.

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Things I Would Have Liked To Do in Mass

When we started thinking about this trip to New England, I figured I’d hit the big cities and learn a bit more about American history. As it turns out, I should have thought a bit more about the small towns if I really wanted to learn about American history. Since we probably won’t get a change to see it, here are the places I would have liked to see:

Florence, MA – Sojourner Truth lived here. She made more than 100 trips into slave states to save her family and other enslaved people. After emancipation she worked as a spy.

Springfield, MA – Six Flags. We have season passes. It would have been nice to go.

Springfield, MA – Museums. There was a promotional pamphlet about Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dr. Seuss exhibits. There are five museums and you get into all of them for $25 per adult. Would have been nice.

Great Barington, MA – The childhood home of W.E.B. du Bois. I’m not a huge fan of his politics but he wanted Black folks to win so I give him all due respect.

Perhaps next time.

Niantic, CT

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The boardwalk in Niantic, Connecticut.

We originally planned to stop in Niantic, Connecticut on the drive from NYC to Boston. Imagine our surprise to find out that it is a cute little town with a cute little beach (that charges non-residents $30 to visit) and a few other things we wouldn’t mind checking out. We added another day, pushed our Boston reservation back, and set out to explore Connecticut.

2018 Niantic CT boardwalk signWe headed to the boardwalk in our swimsuits thinking that we’d walk for a bit, perhaps grab a clam fritter, and then get in the water. To our surprise, the parking attendant told us that parking and walking the boardwalk is free but heading down to the public, town beach is $30 per car for non-residents.  *blank stare* I asked an older white woman if there were any free beaches in Connecticut. After thinking a bit, she said she couldn’t think of one. Oh well …..

We headed down to the boardwalk, which ended up being a concrete slab next to the ocean with no businesses, let alone eateries, of any sort. Our oldest lost it when he realized that we couldn’t get in the water so we had to find a solution quickly. On the drive from NYC I’d seen a sign about a state park so we called. It turns out that Rocky Neck State Park charges $15 per car for non-residents. Though we didn’t want to pay at all, it was a price we could live with and was only a seven minute drive from the beach we were at.

Driving past the camping part of the park was nice. There were tons of tall, green, trees but I kept wondering where the beach was. At one point we drove past some marshy bogs and I hoped that these pools of murky water weren’t what Connecticut-ians??? considered a beach. We arrive at a sign that said parking for beaches so we pulled in. I still didn’t see a beach but I saw Black families hauling coolers and chairs, so we parked and followed suit.

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After passing the dressing rooms and following a dirt path that lead to a wooden bridge under a stone bridge, we came out onto a beach. A packed beach. We kept walking until we found a place to put our things and let the kids loose. They played in the water while I sat on a towel and He stood in his socks and slides. Lol  He doesn’t like the beach but he does it for us.

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The beach is on the other side of this bridge.

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They finally got me in the water.

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The kids enjoying the shore.

Eventually, I got in on the fun and walked out quite far with my oldest. There were no food stalls (though there was an ice cream truck) and no businesses that rented umbrellas, chairs, cabanas, etc. We ended up staying for three hours so I ended up with a light sunburn. It was a good day.

After driving into a neighboring small town, we visited a Goodwill and found Goodnight Connecticut children’s book for $3, then tried a lobster roll at D’Angelo’s, after realizing there weren’t too many other options (though there were two sushi places) we hopped back in the car and returned to our amazing hotel.

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Motel 6 Niantic, Connecticut. Great, simple rooms, with lovely staff. They take large dogs too.

We stayed at the Motel  6 in Niantic originally because since we’re traveling with our 100 lb pit we have few other options in our price range but it ended up being a really good choice. It was SUPER CHEAP, the people were lovely, and the room was large, clean, and functional. Even the free internet was enough to stream Tru and the Rainbow Kingdom (aka “Wishing Tree” in our house).

On the way out, we decided to hike the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve for a bit. It’s pretty dense and there aren’t too many vistas. They do allow dogs on leashes and it was free so it was a good way to get the kids and pup some exercise before heading off to Boston.

I really enjoyed our time here. I wish I had known that Hartford was a city and was so close. There are a few things I’d like to do that I didn’t get a chance to do. Things I’d like to see next time:

Pequot Museum

Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum

 

 

Philadelphia in One Afternoon

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When you can’t afford Hamilton tickets, hear the reading of the Declaration of Indepenence from docents in period costumes at a national park for free in Philadelphia.

We are having this cross country adventure with our family of five (two parents, two kids, and one dog). We have been on the road for a while and everyone is tired. We also happen to be here during a heatwave. Taking all of this into consideration, we put all of our eggs into one basket and ran through Philadelphia in one afternoon. We visited:

  • Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site
  • President’s House
  • Liberty Bell
  • Once Upon a Nation benches
  • Congo Square
  • Sisters Park

 

It was a whirlwind afternoon but it was all free and pretty easy to do since four of the things (President’s House, Liberty Bell, Once Upon a Nation benches, and Congo Square) were all within three blocks of each other.

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Edgar Allen Poe mural across the street from the national park.

 

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The basement that may have inspired the short story “The Black Cat”.

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My oldest engaging with an exhibit.

 

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                President’s House where you can learn how George Washington                                          rotated enslaved people to flout the laws of the day.

 

 

 

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When you don’t wanna wait in the line to see  the Liberty Bell and there’s a perfectly good image of it in the Visitor’s Center. Lol

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Free 5 minute stories anyone?

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Our youngest exiting Congo Square in Philadelphia.

Y’all call it Washington Square. I call it Congo Square.  #Philadelphia

 

The history of Congo Square in Philadelphia.

Learning About John Brown & Black History at Harpers Ferry

When we realized how close we were to Harpers Ferry, we decided to head out for a visit. I read about four blogs about the park and heard all about the rivers, the Appalacian Trail, and the adventure center. I didn’t expect to learn much about John Brown and I certainly didn’t expect to learn anything about the Black experience.

Color me wrong, two times.

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Harpers Ferry & John Brown

The park has made a real effort to educate visitor’s about who John Brown was, why he felt so strongly that Black people shouldn’t be enslaved, and the backstory to the raid that was meant to get guns and ammunition to help Black people achieve the goal of freedom.

Not only is the firehouse where he and his men holed up available, but there are plaques that tell the story. You can’t miss them while you walk from the main street over the Appalachian Trail (over the bridge). There is also a museum called ‘The John Brown Museum’ that has videos, wax statues, and lots of background to the American John Brown experienced.

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Harpers Ferry & Storer College

I was surprised to learn that the first college for Black students was right there in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia! Apparently, there was a guy that believed that Black people should be education so strongly that he donated $10,000 in 1861 to create a college for Black folks.

Storer College had an uphill battle ahead (white people HATED the idea and went so far as to physically attack the staff and students) but managed to educate Black people until the mid-1950s. The campus still stands in the town. We didn’t walk up there because we are lazy (don’t judge me it was HOT) but next time, we’ll head over there.

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Harpers Ferry & Black History

There was also an African American Museum. It was closed due to water damage but when I peeked in the windows, you know I peeked in the windows, it looked really interesting. I’d go back again just to view this museum based on how well done the other historical parts of the park were.

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Harpers Ferry & The Niagra Movement

While in the museum about Storer College, there was a section about The Niagra Movement. Do you remember learning about Booker T. Washington (of Tuskegee Institute aka get-up-off-your-ass-and-make-it-happen fame) and his efforts to encourage Black folks to not worry about what others are doing and instead focus on building up their communities? Do you also remember that he had a difference of opinion with W.E.B. du Bois (Mr. We-need-the-white-folks-to-acknowledge-and-love-us fame) about the direction Black folks should go after slavery was abolished? Well, du Bois created The Niagra Movement and held the first big meeting of the group right there at Harpers Ferry. Go to the Storer College Museum. You can read all about it.

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Hiking

We also hiked the Appalachian Trail for about ….  .4 miles. Lol We walked near the river and crossed the bridge. We ended up under the railroad tracks and the large, stone, tunnel sign proclaiming the town of Harpers Ferry. It was a cute, short walk with our toddler and preschooler.

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Logistics

  • There is a fee if you don’t have an annual National Parks pass.
  • The tram will take you to a Civil War battle site (don’t get off) and then go to Harpers Ferry. The tram is free and comes about every 30 minutes.
  • The tram will let you off right outside of the downtown area. You walk into the town, pass the Book Shoppe, the mercantile, see a few folks in period costumes, stop at a few museums, grab something to eat at one of the restaurants, and do some hiking. All of the lower town can be walked in 5, maybe 10 minutes if you don’t stop.
  • You will see people in period costumes. You will see bills up for ‘runaway slaves’. You will see metal contraptions meant to enslave Black folks. It’s a bit scary but everyone was nice.

 

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Overall, we loved the park and look forward to returning. There is a fee, but if you have the America The Beautiful annual pass (or any of the other annual passes) you can park, take the tram down to the lower town, and enjoy everything for free.

 

 

 

Washington DC With Kids

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This isn’t our first time in Washington DC but it was our first time visiting the African American Museum. We try to visit every African American memorial site) we find in the cities we visit (hello Knoxville, Chicago, Birmingham, Los Angeles, etc.) but this one was special because of Lead designer David Adjaye. He is a Ghanaian British architect.

We drove into DC (we stayed a little outside of the Towson area so it was an hour and a half drive) and looked for a place to park. I figured we’d have to pay $15 to park in a lot but we found a spot a block away from the African American Museum on the street. Since it was Saturday, there were no time restrictions.

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2018 DC AAM Hip Hop room - Salt N PepaWe walked past the World Trade Center and showed up at the museum without passes. It was Solstice Saturday so we were able to go through the metal detectors and walk on in. It’s a pretty large space. Most people start at the bottom (the history starts around 1400 with the colonization of Africans by Europeans. We started on the interactive floor to let the kids play. There was a large set of screens where people can learn how to step, there was a half of car that had a choose-your-own-adventure touch screen game that touched on the legacy and importance and The Greenbook, and a few other things we didn’t get to see with two little ones in tow. What surprised me most was the section on hip hop! It was so validating to see MY generation in a museum setting. Seeing Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa and the Stop the Violence Movement highlighted swelled my chest!

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When the kids got wiggly, we put them in their toddler Tulas and headed downstairs. As expected, there is lots of information about the Middle Passage and the enslavement of Africans on American soil. What surprised me what the emphasis placed on resistance. As long as Africans have been enslaved on this continent (yes, Mexico and Canada too) there have been people that fought back and escaped. It was nice to see that not all Africans were docile and accepted their lot.

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My favorite part of the museum was the focus on Black women’s contributions to the Civil Rights Struggle. Ever since I read My Soul is Rested, I’ve clamored for a more complete truth about recent history. There was a great video that talked about women that worked and organized and were jailed for their work. There was the video of Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 Democratic Convention talking about how she was beaten. I knew that women were on the front lines (with the dogs and the hoses and the billy sticks) but I hadn’t realized that when they were jailed, that often meant sexual abuse.

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I didn’t try to the cafeteria, but I’d like to. It was very crowded the day we went so I’m thinking of going again before this trip is over. We’ll see.

After the African American Museum, we headed down the mall to see the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. On the way, He got them popscicles so their faces and clothes were covered in stickiness. It’s a good thing museums are used to seeing filthy children! Lol

In the Natural History Museum, the oldest was intrigued with the storytelling of the house painting of the Tshimshia. He made me watch it seven times and cried when I had to drag him away! Remember the storytelling at the Tmasklit Cultural Institute?

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After that, we headed down to the ocean area and ended up in a Discovery Room. The topic was pollinators, so they dug in the “dirt”, played in the flowers and cut pieces of wooden fruit but the best part was story time. I knew my oldest would be fine but my youngest really got in on the action! She let the teacher wrap her up like a crystalis, used a straw to ‘drink’ the  nectar, and let the woman put butterfly wings on her. They even helped the teacher clean up at the end. If you know the baby, you know that this was HUGE for her.

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By the time we left, it was about 8pm so we thought we’d better start the 1.5 hour drive back to the hotel. It was a really fun, FREE day. I can’t wait to return.

My Kid Misses Home

I am so excited to be on these adventures. Over the last month we’ve visited:

  • Mexico City
  • Puebla
  • Xalapa
  • Cordoba
  • Yanga
  • Oaxaca
  • Cancun
  • Tulum
  • Akumal
  • Merida
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • South Dakota
  • Iowa
  • South Dakota
  • Kentucky
  • Louisianna
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Texas
  • Arizona

Are you tired? I’m tired just writing it. I love, love, love to be on the road with our family of five (yes, I include our pup in that number). As we’re packing up to visit NYC, Newport, Nova Scotia, Niagra Falls, and hopefully Manchester, New Hampshire (where the Credit Union Museum is) we dropped by our old house. I thought some mail may have ended up there, so we dropped by to check.

OMG!

My oldest lost it. He wasn’t screaming. He was sobbing …  quietly but insistently. He wanted to go home. He told me that he missed home. He begged me to drive us back there and go inside. He wanted to go home.

I felt terrible.

I think I forget that kids remember things. I think I forget that kids like or don’t like things. I forget that he is getting older and has an opinion about where we go and what we do. We’ve been traveling so long (he started flying domestically around 6 months and internationally around 12 months) and he’s so easy-going that I forget ….   and now I feel terrible.

Our business is traveling but really, I could leave everyone at home and go by myself. It seems like such a waste to leave them out of so many wonderful adventures but …  maybe they don’t want adventure. Perhaps they want to stay at home and “be normal”, whatever that means.

We’ve already scheduled this trip so we’ll get underway but ….  as they get older perhaps  I should ask them. At what age do they get 100% say? Hmmmm ……