Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Philadelphia!  The home of the famed Liberty Bell and the former capital of the United States.  We could not miss coming to the historic district of this city, where within a square mile, literally, we, as a people declared our Independence and determined our form of government. An appropriate place to focus on being thankful on Thanksgiving Day!
Team Breitmann's Urban Assault Vehicles and troops at our Philadelphia encampment.  It is no small task finding campgrounds in these parts that are open year round and aren't total "rat traps".  We were happy to stay here at the Homestead Campground just north of Lansdale, PA, which is about 40 miles north of Philadelphia.  As is our modus  operandi, near big cities, we camp out in the country and take the train into town.  We took the Landsdale regional rail into downtown and walked.  Perfect! 

Hailey gets into the Thanksgiving spirit and makes our dog Molly a "pilgrim" head covering!
And I'm now an Indian!  A sick Indian!  I was suffering from a bad head cold this day. I look great, don't I ?!(sarcasm is intended!)
Hailey sports a turkey feather she got at the Chaparral Campground in Wisconsin.  She loves that thing!  She is sitting in the hall at the Homestead Campground, where we spent Thanksgiving day.  We originally had no plans for Turkey day and were kinda dreading it, assuming we'd be all alone at some restaurant.  Well...we were certainly ALL WRONG about that assumption!  Donna, the campground owner, coordinated a HUGE Thanksgiving dinner at the hall!  We brought pies and others brought various other dishes to include turkey, ham and beef!  What a great time we had meeting new people and sharing our adventures!  
I guess our girls made a favorable impression on someone at the Thanksgiving festivities because for two mornings afterwards, we received anonymous gifts of donuts and pastries on our door step!  Yum, yum is right! 
The girls in downtown Philly, in front of Christ Church.  This Church was founded in 1695 and the building behind them was built between the years 1727 and 1754.  The steeple and bells were added in 1754 and financed, in part, by a lottery organized by Benjamin Franklin.  The Church itself is a testament to the success of William Penn's (founder of Pennsylvania) "Holy Experiment", wherein the Charter of Privileges of Pennsylvania allowed all denominations freedom of worship, even the Church of England, from which the Quakers had dissented on their native England's soil.  Christ Church is often called "The Nation's Church" because it's history is so closely tied to that of colonial Philadelphia, the birthplace of America.  George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, 15 signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Patriots all worshipped here!  Christ Church's first rector, the Rev. William White, served as a Chaplain to the Continental Congress, while in Yorktown. A little known fact is that many Loyalists were counted among members of Christ Church.  With respect to America's religious history, in 1789, Christ Church was the place where the American Episcopal Church was created.  And it was also the site of the 1804 ordination of Absalom Jones, the Episcopal Church's first African-American priest.  Christ Church is still active in the city and the nation. 
The symbol of freedom...the Liberty Bell, a national icon!  I find it ironic that those who wish to remove all religious expression from government discourse fail to recognize the Judeo-Christian roots of our foundations that produced a country like ours, where all are free to worship or not without compulsion.  The very inscription on the Liberty Bell is from the Old Testament book of Leviticus, Chapter 25 verse 10 (KJV): "...Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof..."attests to the fact of our religious heritage. Check out more about the Liberty Bell here: Liberty Bell
The girls in front of what is commonly referred to as Independence Hall.  Interestingly enough, this is not the name of the building!  It is the Pennsylvania State House.  The Marquee Lafayette, the French advisor and close friend of George Washington, remarked, in French, that the Pennsylvania State House was a "Hall of Independence"! Of course, we Americans liked that and switched around the words to say; the "Hall of Independence", which has stuck ever since. You can read more here: Independence Hall
Here it is...the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was constructed, approved and signed!  The chair in the center back of the room is the actual chair that George Washington sat in during the Constitutional Convention, which birthed our US Constitution!  How awesome to be in the room that was the birthplace of the document that over 24 years ago, I publicly swore to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic! All the men who met in this room to sign the Declaration of Independence knew that they were potentially signing their death warrants.  What are you willing to put your life on the line for? All these men had much more to lose in this venture than gain,  by opposing the most powerful government with the most powerful army and navy the world...the King of England!
Stacey and Hailey at the Christ Church burial grounds. You can read more about the burial ground, like who's buried here:  Christ Church Burial Ground 
You've all heard the term "Founding Fathers".  How 'bout "Founding Mother"?  No?  The gals stand in front of the home of Betsy Ross, who, not until recent times, is considered to be the "Founding Mother" of our country.  She truly endured much (one husband killed in the war and one afterward and losing a child) for the cause of freedom and steadfastly supported the revolution, never knowing the acclaim, in this life, that others did in the pursuit of making America.   She lived and worked here in this house during the American Revolution.  Betsy Ross was a successful upholsterer and is credited with making the first stars and stripes flag, upon request of General George Washington.  She also secretly produced musket cartridges in her basement for the war effort.  She went on to produce flags for the government for over 50 years. She was a skilled artisan and she represented many women of her day that supported not only their families but the war effort, during the Revolution and early Republic.  You can learn more here: Betsy Ross House
Inside the Betsy Ross house we learn about chocolate use in early colonial times and how it was prepared in drink form.  Unlike our chocolate of today, it was used like an all purpose medicine and something like "Tums" to aid in digestion and to be taken after meals.  It did not have the added caffeine and sugar content of today's chocolate.  Hailey says: I like chocolate!
We learned a great deal here in Philadelphia and are looking forward to our next stop...Washington, D.C.!!  C-ya there! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Big Apple

There she is..."Lady Liberty".  I took this picture from the Miss Liberty, a New York harbor tour boat.  None of us, with the exception of Stacey, had ever been to New York City.  What an experience for all of us! 
You might be wondering where the heck we would camp and see New York City!  Well, we found a place about 15 minutes southeast of West Point Military Academy near the town of Croton-on-Hudson.  As the name implies, we were right on the Hudson River.  You may be able to see the river in the picture above.  Across the bridge was the Croton Harmon regional rail station.  If we wanted, we could've walked there from our campground.  We simply took the train and about 45-50 minutes later we would arrive at Grand Central Station! If you're interested in the campground, you can read about it here: Croton-Point-Park
Just up the road from our campground we stumbled upon the Croton River Gorge Dam and park.  Very nice!  You can read about it here: Croton Gorge Park
Hailey is psyched to catch the train at the Croton Harmon regional train station, that will take us into New York City's Grand Central Station.  If your interested in reading more about the train that runs from here into NYC, you can read more here: Croton–Harmon_(Metro-North_station)
Hey, it's "Grand" and it's "Central"...must be Grand Central Station!  Wow! What a cool place!   It is amazing how clean and efficient this place is considering the volume of people coming and going.  Very impressive! Check it out here: Grand Central Terminal
Of course, what visit to NYC would be complete without a yellow taxi ride!? 
Hailey let's ya know where we are!  Uh, no we did not get arrested!
Heidi and Hailey are amazed at the hustle, bustle and HUGE T.V. screens in Times Square.  Truly a sight to behold! 
Hailey in the entry foyer of a NYC iconic art deco building, the Empire State Building!  I have always wanted to go atop this building and take in the view! it is...the view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building...improved with Heidi's smiling face!  Ain't the view pretty?!  And the city isn't half bad either!  You can read all about the famed Empire State Building here: Empire State Building
Heidi poses with another famous icon of NYC...the Brooklyn Bridge.  Before the Brooklyn Bridge was built, Brooklyn and New York City were two entirely different cities.  You can read about the Brooklyn Bridge here: Brooklyn Bridge
The gals with the Manhattan skyline behind them.  You can see the new One World Trade Center towers rising behind them.  You can read about Manhattan here: Manhattan
Beautiful!  And the city is nice too. 
The girls pose in front of the Statue of Liberty.  Unfortunately, we could not stop and visit her due to storm damage from Hurricane Sandy.  You can read about Lady Liberty here: Statue of Liberty
Hailey and Stacey at the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial.  Hailey was born in October 2001 and did not know much about the events of that day until we visited here.  And Heidi was only two years old at the time of the attacks.  They both learned much here.  You can check out the memorial here: 9/11 Memorial
I took this picture from within the 9/11 Memorial site.  It is of the new One World Trade Center building.  It and Two World Trade Center building are both under construction and will be taller than the original World Trade Center twin towers.  
 A Hudson river view of the new World Trade Center building complex.  When completed, the very tip of the tower will measure 1,776 feet tall.  Does that number ring a bell..."1776".  You can check out the One World Trade Center here:  World Trade Center
When we were in Chicago, we had to do the deep dish thing and now in New York we naturally have to try the NYC "style".  Sorry, New York, good stuff...however,  Team Breitmann is a Chicago-style family!  
Window shopping in NYC!  Hailey loves all the good! 
Of course we had to visit the famous FAO Schwarz toy store!  Here the girls ham it up with the door man! You can read about FAO Schwarz here: FAO Schwarz
Big store...BIG treats! 

Holy huge Snickers bar, Batman!
Hailey, our Star Wars fanatic, loved the Clone Wars Storm Trooper made entirely of Legos!  
Hailey loved dancing on the "Big Piano".  We could've had it sent home for only $250,000.  What a steal, eh?!
Heidi and Stacey pose in front of the center of the financial world...the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.  You can read a bit more about this famous street here: Wall Street
Oiy, vey!  Another must do in NYC is to eat a a kosher deli.  We ate dinner at the famed Carnegie Deli near Broadway.  Wow!  It was AWESOME!  You can check them out here: Carnegie Deli
With our bellies full of kosher food, Stacey takes Heidi to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway!  Heidi was blown away!  You can check out the Phantom here: The Phantom
And I get the honor of taking Hailey to see the Broadway production of Annie!  We had a blast! You can check out Annie here: Annie
I thought this was a cool picture I took that encompassed a few NYC images...a yellow cab whizzing past, Grand Central Station and the Chrysler building. 
Team Breitmann in front of Rockefeller Center.
What a great treat to meet up with my former Vice Commander, Col "Vinnie" Barberides (Ret.).  I owe much to this great American!  And it was awesome to have dinner with him in the "Big Apple".  Team Breitmann, salutes you, Sir!

A classic NYC scene...the Rockefeller skating rink! Check out Rockefeller Center here:Rockefeller Center
Holy high rise, Batman!  Heidi poses next to a model of the Empire State building built entirely of Legos.  We saw this in the largest Toys R Us store I have ever seen!  It made FAO Schwarz look small!  
Heidi says, a picture is worth a thousand words....this is how we can some up our visit to NYC! Look out Philadelphia, here we come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


First snow of the winter season!  Team Breitmann experiences our first Nor'easter while camped at Hanscom Air Force Base near Bedford, Mass. 
I take the girls to nearby Lexington, Mass., the town famous for sparking the American Revolution into an armed conflict.  Here the girls sit upon a monument inscribed with the words of the local militia Captain Parker; "Stand your ground!  Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it be here"! 
The gals on Lexington Green, where the local militia stood their ground and took the first casualties of the American Revolution on April 19th, 1775. 
We take a tour of Buckman's Tavern, where the town militia waited for words about the British march towards Concord.  The British had to come through Lexington on their way to Concord, where they were under orders to confiscate weapons the American Rebels had them stored. Paul Revere came to this tavern to warn them of the impeding British troop's arrival. You can read more about the tavern here: Buckman's Tavern
Contrary to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem about the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Revere was captured by a British patrol as he left Lexington on his way to warn Concord.  Also, contrary to popular myth, Revere was not alone in his ride that evening.  There were estimated to be 60 some riders criss-crossing the countryside, alerting town militia as they rode.  Hailey shows the spot marked on the old Concord Road, as it was then.  He had at around two o
clock in the morning on April 19, 1775, got thus far on his way from Lexington to Concord, alarming the inhabitants as he went, when he and his companions, William Dawes of Boston and Dr. Samuel Prescott, of Concord, were suddenly halted by a British patrol, who had stationed themselves at this bend of the road. Dawes, turning back, made good on his escape.  Prescott, clearing the stone wall on his horse, and following a path known to him through low ground, regained this highway at a point further on, and gave the alarm at Concord.  Revere tried to reach the neighboring woods, but was intercepted by a party of officers accompanying  the patrol.  They detained and kept him in arrest.  He was carried by the patrol back to Lexington, then released and that morning joined John Hancock and Sam Adams.
Hailey on the North Concord bridge, where an overwhelming force of militia confronted the British.
Hailey stands by a monument commemorating the battle at Concord with the inscription; "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world."
Hailey demonstrates the militia rifleman's tactic of firing from cover and harassing the retreating British all the way back to Boston. Not only were the British outnumbered on this day, they had no idea where or when to expect the next volley of fire.
We take the Alewife station "T" into Boston! 
We take in as much of the history of the Boston "Freedom Trail" as we can!  You can read more about the trail here: Freedom Trail
Of course, we have to visit this place...the home of "Old Iron sides", The USS Constitution. 
Hailey at the dock where the USS Constitution is moored.   She is the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.  She was named by President George Washington in honor of our United States Constitution.  You can read more about her storied history here: USS Constitution
Hailey poses by a plaque commemorating the point where the British landed forces in support of the Battle of Bunker Hill.  This point is just around the corner where the USS Constitution is moored. 
Along the trail, we came across this poignant plaque that has timeless implications.  It is part of Boston's memorial to the Holocaust of WWII.  The inscription is attributed to a German Lutheran Pastor named Martin Niemoeller. Early on  in the Nazi regime, he had delivered anti-Semitic sermons.  Later, he opposed Hitler and was sent to a concentration camp.  
The famous Old North Church. It is the oldest standing church in Boston. The signal lanterns of Paul Revere were displayed in the church steeple April 15, 1775 in order to warn the countryside of the march of British troops to Lexington and Concord. At the time, this church was by far the tallest point in Boston and the lanterns could be seen from over a mile away on a dark clear night.  
We took the "behind the scenes" tour of the Old North Church.  Here Hailey grimaces as we descend from where the church bells are this day on Sunday mornings. 
Here the girls learn about how the bells are rung.  As a boy, Paul Revere was hired to ring the bells from this very spot.  Some twenty years later, he remembered the commanding view from this church steeple and used that knowledge and lanterns, as a tool to warn the countryside. 
The girls in the sanctuary of the Old North Church.  Notice how the pews are designed as individual stalls.  This is to keep the parishioners warm on a cold winter day by keeping the warm air from foot warmers they brought  in from dissipating.  The Church had no central heat or fireplace.
On our tour, we went down under the church, into the crypt where over 1,000 folks have been interred.  This plaque denotes the resting place of the first commander of the USS Constitution. 

The gals in front of Faneuil Hall, the first public market and meeting house of Boston, where many "revolutionary" ideas were espoused.  You can read more about Faneuil Hall here Faneuil Hall
The girls inside the upstairs of Faneuil Hall.  Many figures of American history have spoken from the stage behind them including, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Fredrick Douglas, and Daniel Webster, just to name a few.
The Old State House, which served as the seat of the British Colonial government.  Also, of note, this is also the site of the infamous Boston Massacre.  You can read more about the Old State House here: The Old State House  You can also read about the Boston Massacre here: The Boston Massacre
On Veteran's day, downtown at the Quincy open air market place, the gals enjoy a little time out to watch some street performers. Oh, did I mention, as a veteran, I enjoyed a free lunch at a local Irish pub!  Nice!
What visit to Boston would be complete without a visit to the house Paul Revere lived in?!  This is his actual house he and and his family lived in. Pretty cool, huh?  It is the oldest house in downtown Boston.  You can read up on it here: Revere House
Hailey, like a good Patriot, confronts a British patrol outside Paul Revere's house!  These guys are part of a group that does reenactments at sites associated with the American Revolution. They play the part of the 16th Queen's Light Dragoons.  You can read about them here: 16th Light Dragoons 
And of course, we have to have a "tea party" in Boston Harbor!  We visited Boston's newest attraction on the Freedom Trail' The Boston Tea Party museum!  If you haven't been to this's a must!  It is a multi-media, hands-on, immersion of history!  You can find out more here:Boston Tea Party Ship 
The girls board one of the two tea merchant ships like the ones that the "rebels"would have boarded during the infamous "tea party" raid. 
The American rebel, Hailey, fearless and without disguise, hoists a box of United East India Tea Company tea and.....
Tosses it into the sea in defiance of the provincial governors orders to unload the tea and pay the tax!  Huzzah! Huzzah!
Soak it up , my little history buff!
Well, we learned a lot and only just scratched the surface of historic Boston and now it's on to another historic American city...New York!  Hang on, Big Apple!  Here come the red-heads of Team Breitmann!