GETTYSBURG

Horse and carriage

Real carriage. Fake horse.  It’s a small lane in the middle of the old Gettysburg.

This is one of the many things I love about tourist towns. I know people get all snobby about “tourist traps,” but towns set up for the tourists, while heavily commercial, also have plenty of places to eat, lots of motels, and activities for everyone. Best of all, they are always glad to see you.

Tunnel-Lane-Gettysburg

That’s no small matter, especially if you have been harassed in less hospitable destinations. No matter what your color or nationality, your money is good in a tourist town. It’s also an easy venue for people who have disabilities and special needs. These towns are ready to cater to your unique requirements.

Blue and gray souvenirs

There’s always a reason a town becomes a tourist mecca. It holds attractions or is very near them. Nice beaches. Historic sites. Skiing. Roller coasters. Gambling. Fabulous food.Terrific views. Wonderful weather. Amazing shopping.

Gettysburg faux horse

A town doesn’t draw crowds without a reason.

The down sides to popular destinations are obvious. Higher prices, crowds and traffic. If you want to travel  where everyone else also wants to go, try to find schedule it off-season. Even a few days before or after peak can make a huge difference in the size of the crowds and the price of accommodations.

Ghoul Soldier

 

But check it out. Some places close down right after Labor Day, or have nothing open except during peak periods. Beach towns are particularly likely to be locked up tight by early September.

main street Gettysburg

Martha’s Vineyard, for example, bustles with life on Labor Day. The next day, more than half the restaurants and shops are closed. A few stay open longer or are open year round — but that may not be what interests you.

Just make sure the stuff you really want to do and see is available before you book a bargain vacation.

Gettysburg buggy

CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE: BLACK AND WHITE STUDIES

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

yellow summer squash black and white

Vegetables are delectable in color and in monochrome. Different, but mm, good! Summer squash (summer not).

apache junction black and white

Apache Junction is a conveniently located ghost town, not far from Phoenix. It’s actually the first non-city “place” when you are trying to escape the urban sprawl. I was hoping for tumbleweed, but alas, none appeared.

Quality of Light - Black & White

In color, it’s all about the quality of the light. In black and white, the picture is an architectural study.

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Rooftops in downtown Boston, just down the block from symphony hall. Black and white emphasizes the texture of the bricks and roof as well as the lines and angles of the rooftop.

1788 FORGE HOUSE MONOCHROMES

It is on the corner of Route 140 and Chestnut Street in Upton. I don’t know who maintains it, but somebody takes pretty good care of it. Maybe it’s the state, perhaps some private party has undertaken its upkeep.

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It was a shoemaker’s shop from 1788 until 1938, when it became a forge. It is still known as “Forge House.” It has remained essentially unchanged since its conversion in the 1930s.

LITTLE OLD HOUSES WITH SMALL BARN

You could tell this was down by Cape Cod by the weathered wood siding on the little houses and barn, as well as the old — but still sturdy cedar pickets.

72-OldHouse_23

72-OldHouse_19

I think these were originally cabins for hired help, probably ground workers. The barns are clearly not for cows. Probably to stable a couple of horses and maybe store a small rig.

Today, they are “out buildings,” decorative and useful for storage.

Week 27 — STILL SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2014 Week 27

If you were the architect of one existing building, which building would you select?

carnegie-hall

I’d sign up for Carnegie Hall. It’s got superb acoustics. It was built more than 100 years ago (opened in 1891) and remains one of the premier concert halls in the world. carnegiehall-inside

What is one of your favorite quotes?

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton

What color do you feel most comfortable wearing?

Black. It’s not a statement. I like the way it looks and it’s sort of a New York thing. I’m from New York. Did I ever mention that?

What is something you learned in the last week?

I learned I am an expert, a referenced source. On stuff about which I know next to nothing. This comes as a complete and peculiar surprise.

facts expert

FROM MONEY PIT TO MANSION

Reviving Bricks — You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?

Author’s Note: It’s obvious to me that most of the responders to this prompt have never tried to renovate and/or restore an old house in the real world. I have. And I would never, ever, under any circumstances want to do it again. No matter how much money I have, I’d rather build something brand new. Old houses are seductive and hide their lethal intent. An old house can kill you. I know.


It helps to start off independently wealthy because odds are you will be poor when you are done.

Start by hiring a dependable contractor. Since the term “dependable contractor” is an oxymoron, you should also get a copy of the movie “The Money Pit.” It may help you survive the days ahead.

Old House in Hadley

Make sure the electrical system and plumbing are completely replaced. Old houses always need infrastructure upgrades — plumbing and wiring are always bad. Also, install new heating and cooling systems. Put in central air while the place is under construction.

You’ll need a new roof, gutters, leaders. Don’t forget to have the chimneys repointed. Make sure the dampers work, too. Some, if not all, of the windows will need to be replaced. Since money is no object, replace them all with double-hung thermals.

Restore interior moldings and woodwork. Many old homes have beautifully carved woodwork that’s been painted. When restored, it’s magnificent and often made of rare wood such as elm and chestnut. Rip out linoleum to discover the oak floors beneath. Refinish the hardwood.

Replace falling down porches and porticoes. Install new doors and lintels. Get an engineer to check the drainage. Do what you need to do to prevent flooding, especially if you live on a downhill slope. Your insurance won’t cover water damage from rising waters unless you live in a designated flood plain. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s the law, so put in a sump, a pump, drains. Whatever you need to keep your feet dry.

Pave the driveway and walks. Widen them if you live in an area where snowfall is heavy. Make sure your garage is big enough for the cars you own and will own in the future. And while you are at it, buy a garden tractor. You will need it.

If you have a well, replace the pump. Get a full inspection to make sure your water system is healthy. Ditto if you have a septic system. Water and septic are non-negotiable issues. And expensive.

Make sure you obtain all licences and inspections required by local law. You want to live in your house after spending all this time and money, right?

As for the exterior, it depends on the house. Some houses need siding, others paint, masonry repair … and many need a combination of all of these. If you bought an old Victorian — and you are not yet bankrupt — there are specialists who can restore the gingerbread moldings to their original glory.

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Gardens will no doubt need to be replanted and cleared out, patios rebuilt, gazebos restored. I would also want ramps and chair lifts installed. Make your bathrooms senior-friendly. Everyone gets old, even you.

Finally, the kitchen. Have some fun. Get a restaurant-quality range and double oven, a full upright freezer, refrigerator, dishwasher. Install as much cabinetry as a clever kitchen designer can arrange. Remember: No matter how much counter space you include, you will have no more than 14 inches of unoccupied space when you are done adding all the stuff that lives in the kitchen.

Make storage a priority everywhere. Build bookcases, closets and other storage areas everywhere. You cannot have too many closets. Nature abhors a vacuum, so they will all be full immediately.

Ah the splendors of an old house. It will eat you alive, leave you a gibbering wreck on the floor … but you will love that house. With a bit of luck, it will have some friendly ghosts who will love you in return.