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Day 29 (9.30.07) - Bustling Around Buffalo (Video Added)

We didn't really make it past Buffalo, New York - but saw another Frank Lloyd Wright house and also a Carrousel Factory Museum...

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Starting Mileage: 114547
Ending Mileage: 114615
Weather: Sunny, low 70's (very nice), cool at night

Before we left Evangola SP (State Park ), we drove over to the beach area to check it out. Holly, from the park registration office offered to take our picture which was very nice of her. Mom must have been feeling pretty good because she climbed onto a picnic table to pick a leaf for her collection.

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We decided to take the scenic route into Buffalo, which resulted in an unexpected delight. It turns out that there are six Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the Buffalo area, including "Graycliff" along the Old Lake Road that we took along Lake Erie. Quite by accident, we drove right to it - so decided to go ahead and take the tour. Our tour guide was Joanne, who has been a volunteer at this house for 10 years and has seen it progress from a near basket case to today, where the exterior looks great (the restoration on the interior is still a work in progress, but it was interesting to see what these houses have to go through for those trying to save them).

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Mom decided to take this tour also, there weren't as many steps as Fallingwater. This was also an older house (but not by much), so it was interesting to see the evolution in his design techniques. As far as the conservation group can determine, this is the first example where Mr. Wright used steel window frames. He also designed the house to reflect the natural environment it was in, using stone quarried from the property and using a house layout that reflected the Lake Erie waterfront (flatter, with overhangs, "L" shapes, and cantelevered features. A lot of the house is designed to "bring the outside in and the inside out". When you are inside the house, especially on the main floor, you really can feel that it is an extension of the outside area. There are a lot of windows and three plate glass mirrors to draw the view to the lake and park like setting outside.

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Fortunately for you, gentle reader, I was not allowed to take pictures inside the house...

After we left Graycliff, we drove on into Buffalo. Mom wanted to go to the Erie Canal next, since on the map it seemed closer than Niagra Falls. Unfortunately, we had a little difficulty navigating (some small part was some street closures in downtown Buffalo that we got trapped inside of somehow). A couple of very nice local folks noticed us and another couple looking at maps and offered to get us going in the right direction. We followed them back onto the right direction of the Skyway and were finally able to get on track again. (Buffalo NY folks were well represented here in the category of Friendly, Helpful Locals!)

We drove on up to "Tonawanda" and found a park near the beginning of the Erie Canal. The canal is on the left, it is larger than the original at this point as it has been expanded into a new canal that replaced the Erie Canal on much of the route.

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While it had some nice signs, it didn't seem to have much else (museum or ???), so we rechecked our travel guides and decided there might be other places more informative. Again taking the side roads to Niagra Falls, we passed a brown (sightseeing) sign saying there was a Carrousel Museum nearby. Whim's being the rule of the trip, we turned. After several blocks, it appeared I had taken a bum steer - so I told Mom I would turn around. However, I decided to give it just a couple more blocks and sure enough, we found it.

This was the former factory of the Allan Herschell Co., which was one of about a half dozen or so companies that built Carrousel's (also commonly spelled Carousel, but not by this company). They primarily built carrousel's that could be moved from place to place, which affected the design in several ways. Their horses tended to have ears laid back, hoofs turned up and wood carved tails - fewer things to break off while packing & moving! However, they would also use parts & horses from other sources, so had a conglomeration of things to ride on. They also built other things for carnevals such as small ride on trains. Here are some shots of the factory and the woodshop carving operation.

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Many people consider Carrousel Horses and other animals to be a form of art, not just a carnival ride. Looking at some of the rides these workers produced, I can see why (Check out the saddle on the Black & White horse):

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In addition to the the carrousel exhibits and information at the museum, a section has been included about music boxes (or barrel organs). Since a carrousel ride wouldn't seem right without the distinctive music that goes with it, that makes sense. It also explains perhaps why some of the organ makers were also located in Tonawanda, where the Allen Herschell Carrousel Factory (now Museum) is located. These organs didn't have people sitting at them to play the music (most carnivals could hardly afford that), so the machines were made like player piano's. They used a roll of paper to control what notes were played. The music was recorded on a master roll, then a perforating machine was used to make multiple copies of the music roll.

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In a rebuilt building that was once used to test their products, the museum has a working 1916 Carrousel set up. We rode on it of course! The operator's name is Ward. His grandfather actually worked at the factory and he explained a lot of the exhibits and history of the place during our visit. We had actually arrived only 20 minutes before closing, so didn't spend as much time there as we would have wanted, but Ward and the other staff were very accomidating and left the gift shop open long enough for us to empty our wallets a bit (as well as ride the Carrousel).

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrousel

By this time it was too late to visit Niagra Falls, so we drove on up to Lake Ontario to another NY State Park, 4 Mile Creek SP, and are camped here for the night. I (finally) noticed that when I have my Sprint Data Card plugged in, my laptop keeps flashing "International" - I'm concerned that this might mean I'm paying international phone rates - rather than my unlimited (US?) data plan. Just in case, I'll do the blog update just on my laptop and try to upload it later when I'm clearly using a US signal (I'll check with Sprint tomorrow…Update, Sprint SAYS there isn't any problem, no internation charges on my account. I'll probably feel safer when I can check my usage myself later, but in the meantime, uploading is back in full swing...)

Posted by jl98584 19:11 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Hi Phylis - I know its taken me long enough to get on line - its been fun reading your blog and following across the good ol' u.s. of a. I must admit I like travelling by following on-line better than always being on the road. Gary and I were in the DC area a couple of weeks ago. WE didn't get to do any sight-seeing but we did get to eat alot of good Indian food and see a few of my frineds from India. It was lots of fun. I'll do better about checking up on you now that I finally found the address. Winnetta

by w. martin

Glad you're enjoying the blog. We're enjoying the trip, but I do also miss my friends back home.

by phylisej

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