Cool Places in America~ Grand Canyon Caverns and the Coolest Hotel Room

What a Cool hotel Room..

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

My parents had a gig near the Grand Canyon off of Route 66. If you sing that song I will give you your kicks, kicks in the pants (My father edited this..). Well they were working for a company that created a video game in which some hikers stumbled upon an ancient civilization of aliens that were hiding in the canyons. It was a very strange game.. Never less, I got to go exploring in the Grand Canyon Caverns.

In 1927 a cowboy named Walter Peck almost broke his neck falling in this hole on the way to a poker game. Later he came up with the idea to charge a quarter per person to lower them into the caverns. Now you can take a guided tour or go on your own through them. They run more than 63 miles, so bring lots of string.

The other cool thing about them is in one part is a hotel room. Imagine that a hotel room that is:

  • Largest. 200 feet by 400 feet with 70 foot ceiling
  • Oldest: Caverns and walls over 65 million years
  • Deepest: 220 feet below the surfaces, access via elevator
  • Darkest: absent of any light
  • Quietest: the only sound is your heart beating and your breath. You are the only living thing in the caverns… The only living thing
  • Driest: zero humidity, nothing lives in the caverns, not a fly, not bat, nothing!

It only costs $700 a night. So needless to say, we did not spend the night.

One other cool thing we did there was to watch the Goonies in the cave theater next to the room. It had seats donated from the American Film Institute and had amazing sound as the audio echoed through the cave. The best part of the film was when they were in One Eyed Willie’s cave at the end. Lights reflected in our cave just like in the movie. My father said the only thing better than this was a private screening of the Blues Brothers in the original Blues Brothers bar in Harvard Square with the house sound system.

Then like many places on Route 66 there was this Dino Statue outside of the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn. I know, dinos did not drag their tales, but it is an old statue.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being your best vacation you ever had!

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Cool Places in America~ Mutter Museum Philadelphia

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Yuck. That is all I can say. Then again I always though that yuck was pretty cool! My parents were in Philly installing a new interactive display at the Franklin Institute in when I strolled down the street and found this other museum.

The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia is bizarre. The museum is housed in a two-tiered gallery, encased in the dark hardwood cabinets and wavy glass panes. It is the public display area of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a school founded in 1787 to promote such noble goals as bioethics, the relevance of medical history to public policy, and the recognition that medicine is both an art and a science. The Mütter Museum is also a medical freak show of deformed bones, diseased organ specimens, instructional wax models of various pathologies, and things in jars that still give me the creeps.

Before I go on to talk about the truly disturbed things in this museum, let me take some time to mention the beautiful. The Benjamin Rush garden was wonderful. Benjamin rush was one of the many signers of the Declaration of Independence. It was filled with many herbs and medicinal plants. I got to sit here for a long time while I was trying to recoup from my strange visit in the museum.

Giant colons, Siamese twins, a horn growing out of a ladies head, the Soap Lady, giant feet, and a piece of tissue from the dead body of  John Wilkes Booth. I do not know about the tissue, my parents moved me to a town which said Booth survived and became one of the town’s favorite bartenders… The rest of it scared and disgusted the hell out of me. It was so cool! Thomas Dent Mutter was a real cool sick puppy.

 

Yuck, but Way Cool!

~Tyler

 

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and become the best vacation you ever had.

Come back Every Thursday at 3pm for another post from Tyler the Boy Who is Always on the Move!

Cool Places in America~Staten Island Stonehenge

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Yep, I lived here too. My parents got a contract working for F.A.O Schwarz making an interactive website for them for Christmas. We lived out on the shore. While taking a long hike I found this place. Staten Island Stonehenge is to be found just south of the Lemon Creek Pier in Mount Loretto State Park on Staten Island. The GPS location is 40.506552,-74.213588. The sculptures were built near the ruins of the old Raritan Bay clamming industry. I was amazed by them. They are best to be seen from a distance so you can appreciate it as a whole. Then again what was even cooler than the sculptures was meeting Doug, the guy who built it.

 

There, a lifelong Staten Islander, Doug Schwartz, has been creating rock sculptures on the beaches of Mount Loretto State Park for over a decade. Doug is the zookeeper at the Staten Island Zoo responsible forStaten Island Chuck, the famous groundhog. I met Chuck too..  I got to ride the bus to the zoo with both of them. It reminded me of my friends in Gibsonton FLA. In Gibsonton I got to walk down the street with a guru and rhino, but I never took a bus before with a groundhog. Me and chuck would read from various cool books from Salem House Press on the way to the zoo. I had spent a lot of time with Doug and Chuck on the beach and the zoo.

“It’s something inherently inside that you respond to that people long ago did, whether it’s the beauty of nature, wonderment of being alive.” – Doug Schwartz

Doug was a bit of a jester and a bit of a wizard with a sly wink. He showed me these rocks that were a million years old in which the local Indians used to paint themselves with. I used to go down there and paint my face red all the time running with a stick in my hand which I pretended was a tomahawk. Once, while I helped him build a new sculpture there was this guy playing the bagpipes in the distance which caused some teenagers to stop playing their guitars and listen. A little kid near by was making his own sculpture too. Doug loved it.

I asked him if he was related to the company my parents were working for and he only answered, “May the Schwartz be with you!”

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and become the best vacation you ever had.

Come back Every Thursday at 3pm for another post from Tyler the Boy Who is Always on the Move!

Cool Places in America: Grotto of Redemption, West Bend Iowa

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

I guess Iowa has more than corn to it? My parents dragged me here when they got this contract working for a large combine manufacturer. We went out for a hike and I got lost in a maze of maize; at any moment I thought the children of the corn were going to pop out and get me. Or even worse those strange kids from that Star Trek episode.  I was so scared that when I did find my way out I scared the bejeebers out of this couple as I ran out hitting my head with ears yelling “Corn, Corn, Corn!”.

Well I was so thankful I made it out alive I went to the Grotto of Redemption. Built by pastor Father Paul Dobberstein after his fight with pneumonia was the beginning of the grotto movement in the country! The grotto was built as a shrine to the Virgin Mary to thank her for healing him. The whole thing is built from agates, geodes and semiprecious stones, and it makes up the world’s largest collection of minerals and petrified material, with a geological value of $4 million. It’s a football field in length.The pastor took 50 years to build it. The grotto is thought as the largest in the world! I was so happy I made it out of the corn field alive, I had to come here. I just hanged with Jesus at different points during his life. I shared a chocolate milk with him in several places. We just hanged. It was cool.

So if you can get through Iowa without getting lost in the corn, you should come hang with the bearded guy and check out all of the cool stones here at the Grotto of the Redemption!

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and become the best vacation you ever had.

Come back Every Thursday at 3pm for another post from Tyler the Boy Who is Always on the Move!

Cool Places in America: Mystery Spot; Santa Cruz, California

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Remember when Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny would walk off a cliff and not fall…until. Until Bugs Bunny loaned Elmer his book on the laws of gravity. After a short read Elmer takes a long fall. Well I read the same book, but I forgot it all when I went to the shed at Mystery Spot. It reminded me of that hallway in Willie Wonka where he walked to the back of the hall and the room shrunk. In this place you do not shrink, but lean.

During a drive through the redwood forests of Santa Cruz, California, can stop to witness firsthand the effects of Bugs Bunny gravity. The Mystery Spot is 150 ft. in diameter and features a slanted shed that visitors walk through and witness strange variations of gravity, like an object rolling up a plank rather than down it.  When you walk in the house you fall sideways! The Spot’s web site speculates that aliens planted metal cones in the ground, scrambling the area’s terrestrial physics. After taking a guided tour, visitors can puzzle over whether this is truly paranormal or an optical illusion, and then trek on through the Redwoods.

Here is the spoiler:
http://www.sandlotscience.com/MysterySpots/Mystery_Spots_1.htm

Now I always thought my parents jobs were always a little slanted which explained why we kept falling out of one town into the next….

~Tyler
To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and become the best vacation you ever had.

Come back Every Thursday at 3pm for another post from Tyler the Boy Who is Always on the Move!

Cool Places in America: Ave Maria Grotto

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

I used to love the book and the movie the Borrowers. Imagine if they had their own city? In Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman, Ala. they do. Well I think they could of moved in and not had any trouble… There is this monk from Bavaria, Brother Joseph Zoettl, who made these wonderful miniatures of shrines and cities from around the world. It is real awesome. My parents and I lived in Cullman for 3 months before I found this place. Then we were off to who knows where 2 months later. It was a short contract…

Brother Joseph Zoetti

The builder of the miniatures at the Ave Maria Grotto was a Benedictine Monk — Brother Joseph Zoettl, O.S.B. Born in Landshut, Bavaria in 1878, he was maimed in an accident that gave him a hunchback, but luckily it did not hurt his ability to bend over and build the miniatures.

In contemplating the Main Grotto, which was to be the centerpiece of the whole park, Br. Joseph had yet to decide on the type of building materials he would employ. A solution was handed to him when there was a derailment of the L&N railroad. One freight car full of marble overturned and the marble was crushed. It was useless to the owner so he gave it to Saint Bernard. The monks went up and carted it down; it was exactly what Brother Joseph needed as the main stalactites to hang in the Great Grotto.

The material which adorned the works had been donated by people who admired and had seen the beauty in his previous works: the small grottoes enclosing Father Lawrence O’Leary’s bargain statues, crucifixes, ash trays, etc. People sent colored glass, marbles, cold cream jars, punctured commode floats, wrecked marble, broken bathroom tile, costume jewelry, gifts from every state in the union and from many foreign countries.

The first replicas were erected on the monastery recreation grounds, but because of the large number of visitors, a new site was selected and on May 17, 1934 the Ave Maria Grotto was dedicated. Brother Joseph continued his work for over 40 years, using materials sent from all over the world. He built his last model, the Basilica in Lourdes, at the age of 80, in 1958.

The Ave Maria Grotto, located on the grounds of Alabama’s first and only Benedictine Abbey, consists of over 125 miniatures, reproductions of famous churches, shrines and buildings. Encompassing an area of over three acres, this miniature fairyland sees visitors from all over the world.

More detailed information can be found in the book titled Miniature Miracle by John Morris sold in the Grotto gift shop. I got a copy of the book and I use it as reference as I construct houses for my train set.

It goes to prove in the most sleepy towns if you look hard enough you will find something that is truly amazing. For I did find something in Cullman. Alabama!

~Tyler

For more information about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy his latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com.

Cool Places in America: Nederland CO and the Dead Guy

It’s your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Today I am going to share with you this really dead town we lived in with this really dead guy. For one weekend at the beginning of March it becomes one of the coolest places in America.

During the Frozen Dead Guy Days coffin races, a slow-motion parade, and “Frozen Dead Guy” look alike contests are held. A documentary on “Grandpa Bredo”, called Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed, is shown. Other events include a tour of the Tuff Shed where Grandpa is still frozen; a “polar plunge” for those brave enough to go swimming in Colorado in early March (which generally requires breaking through the ice); a dance, called “Grandpa’s Blue Ball”; pancake breakfasts; a market showcasing local artists; snowshoe races, and a snow sculpture contests. Glacier Ice Cream makes a flavor called “Frozen Dead Guy” which is fruit-flavored blue ice cream with Oreo cookies and sour gummy worms. Tours of the Tuff Shed where Grandpa is still frozen were suspended after 2005, after Grandpa’s family “became frustrated with Frozen Dead Guy Days”, but they resumed with the 2010 celebration. So who is the Frozen Dead Guy?

In 1989, a Norwegian citizen named Trygve Bauge brought the corpse of his recently deceased grandfather, Bredo Morstøl, to the US. The body was preserved on dry ice for the trip, and stored in liquid nitrogen at the Trans Time cryonics facility in San Leandro, California from 1990 to 1993. In 1993, Bredo was returned to dry ice and transported to Nederland, where Trygve and his mother Aud planned to create a cryonics facility of their own. When Trygve was deported from the United States for overstaying his visa, his mother, Aud, continued keeping her husband’s body cryogenically frozen in a shack behind her unfinished house. Aud was eventually evicted from her home for living in a house with no electricity or plumbing, in violation of local ordinances. At that time, she told a local reporter about her husband’s body,and those of two other individuals,and the reporter went to the local city hall in order to let them know about Aud’s fears that her eviction would cause her husband’s body to thaw out.

The story caused a sensation. In response, the city created a law outlawing the keeping of “the whole or any part of the person, body or carcass of a human being or animal or other biological species which is not alive upon any property”. But public support made the town create an exception for Bredo, a grandfather clause. Trygve secured the services of Delta Tech, a local environmental company, to keep the cryonic facility running. Bo Shaffer, CEO of Delta Tech, is known locally as “The Iceman” and caretaker responsible for transporting the dry ice necessary for cryopreservation to the IC Institute, something he has done since 1995. In that year, the local Tuff Shed supplier and a Denver radio station built a new shed to keep the body of Bredo in. In the fall of 2012, Jane Curtis Gazit (Owner, Keep Magnolia Clean, LLC) and Mike Wooten became the new caretakers of Bredo.

Well I am glad we did not stay another year, just to have a single weekend be amazing. But then again, if you are traveling through Colorado in March you definitely should join the festivities.

~Tyler

For more information about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy his latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might surprise you and end up becoming the best vacation you ever had!