Sunday, March 24, 2019

Rock & Roll Ain't Noise Pollution

Alternate Title for this post - I Sold My Soul to Rock & Roll
This morning everyone got a well deserved late start, as we did not leave our hotel until 9:15. We then headed a mere 20 miles to Cleveland and checked out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Hall of fame has offered something different each time we have traveled there. They have completely redone the signature wall, which features the autographs of everyone inducted into the hall of fame. The group was able to walk through an exhibit of Pinball machines (with free play) that had a music theme. There was also a new exhibit about the influence television has had on the industry. From the early days of The Ed Sullivan Show & American Bandstand, to the impact of MTV, Soul Train and Saturday Night Live, among others.

Finally we were homeward bound. As is custom I asked the students to write down what they thought was the best part of the trip. I was surprised at how many of them responded with Eastern State Penitentiary. I shouldn't say surprised, because the students talked a lot about that tour in particular.  We have never been there before, but will definitely return in the future. I try to put in something for everyone. Individuals may not like every moment of the trip and every place we visit, but the goal is to find at least one place where they can say "That was amazing." The moment I enjoy the most is seeing the look on the students faces when they discover that "amazing" moment. 

I would like extend a huge thank you to Lamers for their help organizing a phenomenal trip. An even bigger thank you goes out to our bus driver John who impressed everyone on the trip with his driving ability not only in New York, and specifically Midtown Manhattan, but also through the Allegheny Mountains. Finally a big thank you goes out to the students and chaperones for their help, cooperation, flexibility, and overall greatness this past week. At every turn and every stop I was proud of this group and how they acted and carried themselves. They truly made everyday a "Great day to be a WILDCAT" 

Final Trip Stats: 
Steps Taken Today - 9,098
Steps Taken Overall -74,851
States Visited - 07
Movies Watched - 4.75 We added Hoosiers driving through Indiana of course, and 3/4 of the movie We Are Marshall there was an issue playing the movie after a rest stop in Ohio
Cups of Coffee - 10 (of which I would consider 2 of them "good" cups of coffee)
Purple Powerade Zeros Consumed - 03
Mr. Yeska's final cribbage record against Mr. Barbarich 2-9 with an additional win in a doubles game
Two decent songs to summarize the trip: Because we stopped at the Rock and Roll HOF, and were given a lot to think about on this trip Reflections - The Supremes
Finally since we saw a decent amount of America I submit for your consideration - America - Simon & Garfunkel 
Two final quotes to remember from the trip, First from Nick Wilbert, who insisted on reminding us "No Yelling on the Bus" and from Mr. Yeska "NO STOMPING THE BLEACHERS...THANK YOU"

Sure plays a mean pinball

He's a Pinball Wizard

Ladies & Gentlemen...The Beatles!

The Boss


Saturday, March 23, 2019

(Hershey) Kiss the East Coast Goodbye

There was not of excitement today as it was largely a travel day with a stop at Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We were able to purchase all our Chocolate needs at this stop. Outside of that if was time on the bus, a sub party, and pool time.

Our final day features a late start, a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then it is "Second Star to the right and straight on til home."

Trip Stats: 
Steps Taken Today - 8,005 (not enough)
Steps Taken Overall - 65,753
States Visited - 07
Movies - 03
Cups of Coffee - 09
Purple Powerade Zero's consumed - 03 (Found one)
Mr. Yeska's Cribbage Record against Mr. Barbarich 2 Wins 9 Losses and 1 win a game of doubles

Links to another bad song about a state we visited: Love Rollercoaster - Ohio Players (Not sure the song is about Ohio, but the band's name has Ohio in it).
Link to a good song about a place we visited, but has been ruined because... Billy Joel.
Allentown - Billy Joel 
One more - how about a Polka about a place we visited - Frank Yankovic - Pennsylvania Polka 

Yeah, well Picture This...

Here are a few pictures from our time in New York City. It was a Whirlwind tour, but it was worth it!

The Flat Iron Building

Artwork inside the 9/11 Museum

9/11 Memorial which stands in the footings of the original building

1 World Trade Center which reaches 1,776 feet

"Look kids - Times Square"

The squad in Times Square

New York Skyline from Liberty Park in New Jersey

Ellis Island, you can see the Statue of Liberty if you look between the two towers on the left

The Great Hall at Ellis Island

Statue of "Nolan"-ity

Statue of Liber-"Cole"

The Crew

The Full Crew

The stage at Radio City Music Hall

The Piano from Big

Friday, March 22, 2019

"I'm Walkin' Here"

If anyone in the group was worried about getting steps in, today was the day for that. The weather was not cooperative either with a steady rain, basically from the moment we got off the bus at 8:30a until we got bask on the bus at 9p. Plus Billy Joel caused us problems, but more about that later.

Our first stop today was Liberty Island State Park where we got spectacular views of the NYC skyline. Then boarded a ferry, where to quote John Hancock "We are about brave this storm in a skiff made of paper." Only our skiff was made of steel. The ferry took us to Ellis Island, the main port of entry for thousands of immigrants in the late 1800's and early 1900's. As students walked through the Great Hall, and the exhibits, they could find out exactly what those arriving to the new world went through. After Ellis Island we boarded another ferry to go to Liberty Island and see the Statue of Liberty. The weather, being cool, rainy, and windy did not dampen the spirits of the group when we arrived on Liberty Island. This symbol of America stands tall and serves as a beacon all those who visit or emigrate here. If you listen as you walk around the Island you hear different languages from all around the world. One can't help feel inspired by Emma Lazarus' poem The New Colossus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Following Liberty Island we found our bus, back in New Jersey and headed once again through the Lincoln Tunnel into Midtown Manhattan to tour Radio City Music Hall. We were originally scheduled to tour Madison Square Garden, but no one Billy Joel was performing there Thursday night, and would be doing sound checks, that he apparently didn't want 41 people from Central Wisconsin to see. Because of this I included a Billy Joel song in the bad songs about a place we visited list.  We adjusted and the tour of Radio City Music Hall was good, the group even got to meet one of the Rockettes.

Those looking to shop in Times Square were given about an hour and a half to do so before dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Following dinner we headed over to and up 5th avenue to Rockefeller Plaza, where we could see where they broadcast The Today Show and explore the Plaza before ascending 67 stories to the Top of the Rock. One history teacher was overheard to say "I'm taking you to new heights." Unfortunately with the weather many of the buildings were occluded, but it was still amazing to look out high above the city. The fortunate side was with the weather was that we were almost the only ones up there. Those brave enough to go to the very top, myself included, were met with a strong wind and could see and feel the fog drop in and roll over the Top of the Rock. After that we headed down to the street and said goodbye to New York City one last time.

This is the third time I have organized and conducted a trip like this. Every time without fail, the day we visit Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty, is the day I am the most proud of the students, and proud to be a Wildcat. We encounter many other school groups, and I look at those groups and realize how fortunate we are to not have to deal with the behaviors exhibited by others in those groups. It was and always will be A GREAT DAY TO BE A WILDCAT!!

Photos from NYC coming in a separate post.
Friday features a stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania and long haul back to Eastern Ohio.

Trip Stats:
Steps Taken today - 17,850
Steps Taken Overall - 57,748
States Visited - 07
Movies - 03 (Should increase beginning tomorrow)
Cups of Coffee - 07
Purple Powerade Zero's consumed - 02 (I have run out of these and cannot find more)
Mr. Yeska's Cribbage Record against Mr Barbarich: 1 Win (that is correct), 6 losses, and 1 win in a doubles game.
Links to another bad song about a place we visited: Billy Joel - New York State of Mind
Golden Earring - 42nd Street

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Its Hip to be Times Square

Wednesday was a very long day, but what a day it was. We left our hotel at 8a, and didn't return to the hotel until 11:40p. After taking an an hour and twenty minutes to go 12 miles including through the Lincoln Tunnel, we met our step-on tour guide who took us up, down, and all around Manhattan. Highlights of the tour included: The UN Building, Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central Station, The Flat-Iron Building, The Garment District, and the Financial District. We stopped at the 9/11 memorial and museum. We were there for about an hour and a half. There is so much in the museum and at the memorial that we could have spent 3 hours there. After the museum we walked through the Oculus, past the Port Authority subway station and arrived at our lunch spot. Following lunch we headed up the West Side Highway where we went through Chelsea, Greenwich Village, all the way up to W. 125th street. This allowed us to see Harlem, Yoko Ono's Apartment, and the West Side of Central Park. We dropped south on the East side of Central Park. Due to traffic and time constraints we were unable to get off the bus at certain points.

We had dinner at Ellen's Stardust, then the group had time to walk around Times Square before we headed to the historic Lyceum theater to take in the new Broadway Show Be More Chill. Following the show it was back through the Lincoln Tunnel and back to the hotel to get ready for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. I will update this post later with pictures from the day. 

Steps Taken Today: 12,136
Steps Taken Overall: 39,898
States Visited - 07 (We added New York)
Movies: 03
Cups of Coffee: 06
Purple Powerade Zero's consumed: 02
Mr. Yeska's Cribbage Record against Mr. Barbarich: 0 Wins 5 losses 1 win in a doubles game (no games were played this day, like MLB we had an off day)
Link to another bad song about a state we visited:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Visiting The Pen, be it -sylvania or -itentiary, but not -tagon

Today began with us saying goodbye to Gettysburg. A short 2.5 hour bus ride later, complete with a detour through a residential area due to a car fire on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Our first stop was lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. This market is one of America's oldest public markets, being housed since 1893. We walked in and were, for a moment, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food options. Many in the group looked for one of the many places to get an authentic Philadelphia Cheese-steak. Not only were there restaurants, but also several shops where you could by fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, and meat (you know like a grocery store) only spread out and broken up into different stores.

After lunch we began our walking 3 hour tour (I can hear people singing the theme to Gilligan's Island as I type this) of historic Philadelphia. We were split into two groups for this tour. The tour took us to see Ben Franklin's burial site, Betsy Ross' house, Christ Church, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell. I have been to Philly 6 times, and I have always discovered something new. This year as part of our Independence Hall tour we were able to go to Congress Hall. The hall was the Original Philadelphia County Courthouse, but held the House of Representatives and Senate from 1790-1800.

The majority of the group, felt that the place we toured, The Eastern State Penitentiary, was the highlight of the day. Opened in 1829, and in operation until 1971, this former prison was the first prison designed to be like prisons we have today. Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) looks like a castle from the outside featuring 30 foot high walls and and guard towers. Originally built 2 miles outside of Philadelphia, as the city grew it grew towards ESP, and the prison today is located in the middle of a neighborhood. On the other side of one of the prison walls is an Elementary School. Al Capone served time at ESP, for having an unregistered weapon. One group toured death row (although no prisoners were executed here) another was able to see the escape tunnel (but were disappointed to discover the tunnel had been filled in. 

After that we headed to dinner a mere 20 miles from Philadelphia, but it took us an hour and 30 minutes to get there due to an accident on Northbound I-95. The group handled this set back very well. After dinner we made our way up to Newark, New Jersey (going past the Joyce Kilmer, and Grover Cleveland Service Plaza) on the infamous New Jersey Turnpike. After settling into the hotel part of the group enjoyed time at the pool, while others played cards. Wednesday is a full rich day with a tour of Manhattan and watching the Broadway show Be More Chill. We depart the hotel at 8am, and will not return to the hotel until 11pm.  

Trip Stats: 
Steps taken today - 11,609
Steps taken overall - 27,762
States visited - 06 (We added New Jersey to our count)
Movies - 03
Cups of Coffee- 05
Mr. Yeska's Cribbage record with Mr. Barbarich - 0 Wins - 5 Losses - 1 win in a doubles game.
Link to another bad song about a state we visited: Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John    

The Liberty Bell

As a History Teacher it felt necessary to take a "Bell-fie"
Looking down one of the cell blocks at Eastern State Penitentiary while on the 2nd level

One of our groups outside the bust of Ben Franklin, made with keys
The signing room at Independence Hall. It was in the room the Declaration and Constitution was debated and signed
Our group in front of the Liberty Bell
A view of Independence Hall from the National Constitution Center

Monday, March 18, 2019

Try the Gettysburg-er with Cheese-heads

This morning was another early one, as we were on the bus and able to see the sunrise over Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Around 1pm we arrived in Gettysburg, but not before the adventure of going up and over a mountain shortly after turning off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The students & chaperones had mixed reviews of the trip over the mountain. Some felt uneasy, others (like myself) thought it was awesome. We all agreed our bus driver John did an amazing job navigating the curves and downhill.

Once we arrived in Gettysburg we started our journey at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum. We watched a short video New Birth of Freedom narrated by Morgan Freeman, with Sam Waterston as the voice of Abraham Lincoln then headed up an escalator to the Cyclorama of Pickett's Charge. While all worthwhile and interesting, nothing compared to being out on the actual battlefield.

We toured the battlefield on the bus with our tour guide Rich. Listening to Rich talk about how the battle unfolded you felt like you were there watching the strategic troop movements. Our tour had a Wisconsin edge to it, as our first stop was at the memorial to the 2nd Wisconsin, and we ended our tour learning about Artillery Commander, First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing from Delafield. Cushing died on the 3rd day of the battle (July 3, 1863), and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom 151 years after his death. For more information about Alonzo H. Cushing visit this link. 

One other person we learned about was General Dan Sickles, who due to a lack of training and a possible honest mistake, nearly doomed the Union's efforts on the 2nd day of the battle near Little Round Top, in the Devils Den. Sickle's was injured and had his leg amputated. He lived to be in his 90's and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, while his leg is on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC. For more information about General Sickles and how he nearly doomed the Union Army, check out this link.

Our final push of the day saw us charge into General Pickett's Buffet, located not far from where Pickett's Charge took place. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed the evening around the pool. Tomorrow we tour Philadelphia, and end the day at what will be our home away from home near Newark, New Jersey.

Trip Stats:
Steps taken today - 9,532
Steps taken overall - 16, 152
States Traveled Through - 05
Movies: 03 - Spaceballs, The Incredibles, & Gremlins (Don't feed them after midnight)
Cups of Coffee: 03
Rest Stops that had Purple Powerade Zero: 01
Mr. Yeska's Cribbage record against Mr. Barbarich 0 wins 4 losses
Link to a bad song about a state we visited: Guy Mitchell - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The view of the Battlefield from Little Round Top
Another view of the Battlefield from Little Round Top

The presentation at the Cyclorama

Checking out the Cylcorama
The State of Virginia Monument, the man on the horse is Robert E. Lee

The Monument to the 2nd Wisconsin, a part of the Iron Brigade. This side details their efforts at Gettysburg

This side of the 2nd Wisconsin Monument, made in Montello , details the battles they were a part of.