Virtual Field Trip: Greenfield Village, Part 6

Hi, Boys and Girls! Are you ready to go on another virtual field trip? I sure am! I am excited to share with you more of Greenfield Village, a really cool outdoor history museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Have you ever seen a train before? Today I’m going to focus on the train ride, roundhouse, and Smith’s Creek station at Greenfield Village.

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The roundhouse here was originally built elsewhere in Michigan, but the remains were brought to Greenfield Village in 2000 and refurbished to the truly beautiful structure that exists today. It is one of only seven working roundhouses in the U.S.!

This is where all the work and repair on the steam engines is done. Plus, it’s where the engines go to “sleep” at night. Basically, it’s like a garage, but for trains. It is really fun to walk through it and see all the trains.

Below are some pictures of what was Henry Ford’s personal favorite engine, which he had restored.

You can even walk right underneath it!

There is also a fun painting on the wall, with a working wheel, that helps kids understand how the steam engine works. As kids turn the wheel, lights light up and show what exactly is going on.

You can even find a grandfather around the roundhouse every now and then! 😉

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Nearby to the roundhouse is the Smith’s Creek train station. This is the actual station that young Thomas Edison once worked out of. For a part-time job he sold newspapers on the trains. Because he liked to experiment, he begged the train conductor to let him have one baggage car just for his experiments. Everything went well until the car caught fire, and the conductor threw Edison off at this very Smith’s Creek station! But, besides that tidbit of history, it is just neat to see inside an 1860s train station. It was a real center of activity for the community, and served as both home and office for the stationmaster and his family.

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One of my favorite parts of the Village is the steam train ride. Smith’s Creek is one of the three stations where you can board. Here are some pictures of the train for you to enjoy!

The conductor and fireman checking to make sure everything is good to go!

Toot, toot!

 

 

…And back at the station!

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I hope that you have enjoyed this post! It really is so much fun to see history come alive at places such as Greenfield Village, and experience in real life what you would otherwise just have to imagine. Of course, while words and pictures do a decent job of getting the point across, there is still a lot left out — like sound! And, one of my favorite parts of riding a steam train is the sounds. So, this month I have included not only my videos of the roundhouse and Smith’s Creek station (you’ll get the tour spiel from the trained interpreters rather than having to put up with me), but also my train ride video. I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds! 🙂

Until next month, keep having a blast with the past!

~Austin

Wanderlust and the Great Commission

 

Kids resting after hiking the Upper Javalina Trail, Marana, AZ

Have you and the family caught the travel bug? My wife and I love to travel, and our kids are happily infected as well. To date, we have visited 46 states, and more than a dozen countries. Our two children, ages eight and four, have been to more than two dozens states.  

Many parents argued that they would rather wait until their children much older before they travel, “because they won’t remember it anyway.” I disagree. That’s like saying “don’t cuddle or don’t spend time with your kids anyway because they won’t remember.” One of our favorite Friday evening activities is to watch slideshows of “old” pictures and videos. We are often surprised by the details that our kids remember from many of our trips. They will mention things we don’t even remember. If traveling is something you dislike or are not accustomed to, allow me make a case for it and shed some light on why wanderlust is essential to your family growth, to your children’s development, and to your spiritual growth.

As homeschoolers, you should already know that off-season traveling is one of the prime benefits of homeschooling. You can travel to places that are usually packed during school breaks and make the most out of it without long queue lines, and the fees are often cheaper when it is off season. There are lots of great deals online during off season — flight, car rental, hotel rooms, tourist attractions, museums, etc. In most places, car rental includes unlimited miles (read: leave your car at home).

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This year we had a blast at Six Flags and City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri; saw the amazing Niagara Falls; hiked to see the gorgeous cascading waterfalls of Glen Watkins,Max Ringling Museum New York; marveled at the eclectic art collection at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida; and then explored Arizona’s truly Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Utah’s fantastic Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. These places were beyond amazing! Words and pictures cannot explain the feelings when your mind is blown by the beauty of God’s creation, the scale of the Grand Canyon, the stunning sunset view from Bryce Canyon and Siesta Beach, and all the wild animals we encountered.

Budgeting with focus. Some people complained their budgets won’t allow for much traveling, but their closet is busting at the seam, they always shop for clothes every few weeks, either online, at Goodwill, or at the mall; eat out several times a week; have the newest gadgets, phone, games, new cars, or nice gently used cars with hefty payments; travel with kids’ sports teams frequently; or spend quite a bit on online gaming every month. The issue truly is not just budgeting, but focus or priority. 

Travel is important to us, so we focus on it and make plans far in advance to save up for trips. We make adjustments in other areas of life. While we have a 2013 Honda Odyssey to haul the family, I still drive my fully paid for, 190,000-mile, 38-mpg-average favorite car — my super-hot, four-door, 13-year-old, 2003 Toyota Echo…that we have had since we got married.

Don’t make the common mistake of saving up for one big trip a year or one big splurge. That would be akin to fasting on water for days or weeks, and then binging on a big expensive dinner in one sitting. This is not fun, likely to cause more stress afterward, leaving people to often say, “I always need a vacation after a vacation.” Right? Instead, take multiple small trips throughout the year. Visit nearby national parks or camp grounds, and camp out “roughing it” or stay at their lodge. Look up “Things to Do” on TripAdvisor.com, read reviews, find kid-friendly activities to do. 

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have you ever thought much about the fact that you only get to “have” your kids for 18 years? It somewhat bothers me that I only will “have” my oldest child for 10 more years or so. Making memories is an important goal in our family, which is why we spend more on vacations and experiences than on tangible gifts. We let the grandparents spoil them on birthdays and holidays, to a certain extent. Anything else they want, they must earn from their commissions (we don’t call it allowance) for completing their chores and schoolwork. Harvard graduate psychologist Matthew Killingsworth published his findings in the journal Psychological Science — that spending money on experiences “provide[s] more enduring happiness,” and that waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good.

Buy experiences, not things. Soon after we got married, we immediately made plans on places we wanted to visit and things to do, etc. That was 12 years ago! The cool part of looking back over these written plans, is that we have accomplished many of the goals, and visited many of the places we wanted to go to, and that has made us feel very grateful to look back and count our blessings. Did we accomplish every single goal? Nope, only most of it. Does it mean we failed? Of course not.

It’s easy to make wishes: “Someday I’d like to visit the Grand Canyon, Alaska, Australia, and Bali Indonesia.” But remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Even if you have money and resources to go, if you don’t make plans for it, it will never happen. So first, write it down. We write down our top 25 destinations. Then we break it down based on priorities: “I definitely must visit these five first, before the rest.” Then we divide and conquer: write down the 25 destinations over a 10-year period, and then break it down further into spring trip, fall trip, or winter trip. The next step is to figure out the cost to do each of those trip, and then start saving. Once they are written down on a calendar (use Google calendar for the next 10 years) and cost is figured out, it’s easier to see how it will happen.

As the years become months, start doing more research into things to do in that area (TripAdvisor will help you there), and places to stay at (rental homes at homeaway.com, home exchanges like hsneighbor.com, RVs, hotels, or even old friends you know who live nearby). Map out your route, and even find out which month of the year is best to visit, considering the weather, off-season travel, local events, etc. This will build up excitement for the kids and the whole family. There is one catch. You cannot explore the world with a poverty mindset. You must think big. You and your spouse (or your whole family) must write down these lists with an abundance mindset. If your mind gets stuck on the “how will we be able to afford this” poverty consciousness mindset, stop it immediately, and say this out loud: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want, I shall lack nothing.”

Would you want your kids to whine daily and tell people that their parents are dirt poor, and never dream to achieve anything great when they grow up?  How do you think your heavenly Father feels when you daily focus on being poor and defeated? Your present state does not determine your future state. Your past does not determine your future. Ask the woman at the well. Ask the lepers. Ask Joseph. Ask Moses. Ask Nick Vujicic.

The world is our classroom. One way to NOT grow and accomplish big things is to stay small, stay within the comfort zone, and be safe. Toddlers, innately, choose to fall hundreds of times a day in order achieve the ability to walk on their feet and explore the new worlds around them. We were made to explore, to wander, to move. What would happen if a toddler is chained to the ground for a few years and not allowed to walk?

Sadly, today’s kids are “chained” to their school chairs for almost 50 hours a week, and then their parents “chain” them to electronics (TV, computers, phones, video games), ensuring a less-than-bright sedentary future with forward head posture, degenerative disc disease, obesity, diabetes, prescription drugs, back pain, and arthritis. As adults, many choose to stay within the comfort zone, choose to stop wandering, choose to stop exploring, choose to stop getting to know and hanging out with neighbors of different customs, cultures, or economic class. Many adults choose to live in a safe bubble of hanging out with the same people who look like them, speak like them, dress like them, have homes like theirs, have cars like theirs, eat like them, and believe the same things they do.

Is this wrong? No. Would Jesus do this? No. Would Jesus and his disciples stay in their hometown forever, chill with the same peeps forever, and stay comfortable forever?

Was the Great Commission really meant for us to reach only those around us? On past trips our kids tried new kinds of foods everywhere they went, observed and even played with wild animals, saw amazing human-built and nature-built landmarks, met various kinds of people with various kinds of manners and customs. They learned to enjoy bikcactsweating and hiking at 100-degree-plus temperature when we were in Arizona, and they also learned not to bike or play tag among cacti. They learned by falling on their bottoms (because they didn’t listen to Daddy) that greenish slime on rocks on the streams are slippery. They cried as they laughed as their eyes, noses, and mouths secreted watery substances as they chose to try different kinds of spicy peppers wherever we went. We have seen our kids being a lot more open to people than most kids, flexible to different kinds of food, cultures, and environment. They have also learned a lot about patience when traveling, about preparation, about handling stress — all which have helped them to be independent, confident, mature, resourceful, and compassionate toward others.

At the end of the day, it is all about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). There are two important words I would like to point out there: “go” and “nations.” It doesn’t say to stay where you are. It does say to go, to move, to travel. Nations, in plural form, means we are to reach out to those outside of our tribe, culture, custom. When that happens, when all eyes and ears have heard of Him, then he’ll come to take us home. Not before that has happened. How should we shape our children? How should we encourage their development and spiritual growth and prepare them for the Great Commission? How can they be comfortable talking to, eating with, and playing with people who look, act, and speak totally different than they do?

Remember that Jesus traveled a lot during his short years on earth. By one account he walked approximately 21,000 or more miles, which is to say, he walked almost the distance around the world — 24,900 miles (the distance around the earth at the equator). A certain woman by the name of Ellen G. White, who wrote some of the bestselling and most translated Christian books in the world, lived and traveled to Maine, Oregon, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington, Australia, England, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and more, from 1827 to 1915.

What have these two figures accomplished? Were these two figures financially rich? How did they travel? What’s holding YOU back? What are your excuses? How has your spiritual health been this past year or two? Need some shaking?

BecakGo out there. Let the kids actually go feral without electronics for days or weeks, let them interact with strangers and learn their cultures, let them learn to wait patiently. Yes, there will probably be weeping and gnashing of teeth in the beginning, but they will thank you for it. Let them catch frogs, donate blood to hungry mosquitoes, learn about self-sufficiency, recite Psalm 8 and Psalm 91 nightly under the stars around the campfire. You’ll be amazed at how much these trips will benefit you and your family, and others you meet along the way.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to stay at home. Families who travel together, stay together. Share with me your experience when your family catch the wanderlust bug at loveyourlegwarmers@gmail.com.

Maranatha!
~Arthur

A Field Trip Adventure

Just recently the children and I took a summer trip to the East Coast of the United States. My husband was unable to attend as he stayed home to work. We journeyed by car and covered five states on a 2 1/2 week adventure. We tried to see every site we could and visit family and friends, which wasn’t the easiest plan.

We were in town for a wedding, but extended the trip to make a vacation of the excitement the Eastern states offer. Our trip included walking the cobblestone streets in Williamsburg, Virginia; touring the avenues of Washington, D.C.; strolling through downtown Philadelphia; getting a personal peek into the vaulted safe at the Ellen G. White Estate located at our General Conference Office in Maryland; and lastly, attending several high school graduations with family in New Jersey.

Being able to experience so much history was without price. It’s one thing to read about it in books or watch it on a TV, and yet another to see it first-hand, up close and personal. The children were in awe, for instance, being in such close proximity to the White House.

Our time in Washington, D.C., was all done by foot. When we got to the city, we parked and walked for 10 straight hours. The children were exhausted by the end of the day, but were filled to the brim with vivid imagery. The Holocaust Museum was our 16-year-old’s favorite. We were unable to witness all of the exhibits, as our younger children had listened to the Hiding Place too many times, and imagined the worst. They would not enter beyond the lobby. At the Smithsonian Institution we visited the Natural History Museum and American History Museum. I had no idea that the Smithsonian was a cluster of museums, not just one. We were surprised that there was such a smorgasbord, which made it hard to decide where to land. The view of the White House was a little disappointing, as there was so much activity in front of the gate, it posed a bit of a distraction; but, all in all, we loved it.

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In the City of Brotherly Love, my son was intrigued at the Rocky Balboa statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Lincoln Memorial was also a real treat. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was another interesting site. To see the actual money we spend each day being printed from sheets of paper was quite fascinating. Our two younger children had the opportunity to participate in a simulated recruitment of the Continental Army. It was a hoot. Additionally, historic Philadelphia offers a free program called Once Upon a Nation, which provides storytelling benches scattered throughout the Colonial section of town.  A storyteller shares a brief glimpse into Philadelphia’s past with excitement and humor.

At our General Conference Office in Maryland, aside from the beautiful White Estate tour from in the basement, another favorite site was the depiction of the Story of Redemption displayed by a very talented artist. The pictures tell the story along the walls covering the majority of the inside of the building. We had a great tour guide and even ran into Janet Page, whom I had only conversed with by phone. She’s given many talks on prayer which can be heard on Audioverse and YouTube. It was a treat for the kids and me to be able to pray with her and receive many prayer materials to bring back to our local church.

My kids have always loved C.D. Brooks. Though they never met him in person, I would often play his sermons in the background during school time. So, it was no coincidence that his funeral ended up being on the very day we were scheduled to attend the wedding. We stopped by the viewing to pay our respects, then enjoyed a lovely wedding celebration. It still seems strange attending a funeral and wedding within the same day, but the Lord knows…

The children and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On top of all of the touring, we were privileged to stay with an Indian host family where we learned so much. Anitha is not only a wonderful hostess, but an exceptional cook. We joined their family in early morning worship before her husband went off to work. We learned loads about Indian cooking, culture and the church.

We look forward to our next trip to places we’ve only read about in books — to hear, see, touch, smell, and taste all that the Lord has created with and without man’s hands is always a treat.

10 Fall-Themed Nature Study Ideas

Taking a fall nature walk!

Taking a fall nature walk!

Nature study can be as simple as opening a window to hear bird songs, or as complicated as…well, as complicated as you want to make it! Those following Charlotte Mason’s philosophy might wish to do a short nature study weekly (in addition to frolicking outdoors daily), while others might enjoy folding the study of nature into a unit study approach. There is no right or wrong to nature study!

My 10-year-old son just popped in to ask for another plastic container to catch a stink bug. I replied that I think we’ve used them all (for insects!)…and…didn’t he already have a stink bug? “Yes! But this is a different kind!” he answered. Insects are on our agenda for this month, and acquiring the Insect Honor for Pathfinders is providing impetus for our growing bug collection. (I have to admit that I’m really looking forward to studying birds soon! And no, there will not be a collection, other than abandoned feathers!)

Hopefully our bug collection and outside moth-hatching projects will pan out, but there are many other opportunities for fall nature study. I thought I’d share a few things we’ve done in the past during this season, as kind of a starter list. If you try any of these, or if you have other great ideas to share, please feel free to leave a comment.

  1. Begin a color wheel of seasons that will eventually (by the end of the year) document all four seasons with the predominant colors the children see outside. Credit for this idea goes to Clare Walker Leslie, whose book, The Nature Connection, has some great ideas!

    A color wheel of the seasons three-fourths completed.

    A color wheel of the seasons three-fourths completed.

  2. Go on a scavenger hunt. There are many scavenger hunt printables available online, or you can make your own. (Hint: If you make your own, you may want to pre-scout the area looking for unusual finds to include, such as special birds, trees, or animal tracks.)
  3. Participate in the National Bird Count or conduct a simple backyard bird count of your own. Watch for migrations of geese and other birds. In our area, there is a nature center which has a collection of stuffed birds, bird nests, and eggs, which makes a wonderful rainy day field trip. If you do find a feather or an eggshell, try looking at them under the microscope. I’ve purchased a CD of common bird songs for the kids to learn on our trips to and from music lessons, and am hoping that they will be able to recognize birds by sound soon.
  4. Prior to the big freeze, check out the insects in your own yard. If you have an aquarium or terrarium, praying mantises are around this time of year, and you might be able to find a female and watch her hundreds of praying mantis babies hatch out!
  5. This is a good time to search for pupae of moths and butterflies, too. By marking the spot and checking on it each day, you might just get lucky enough to see the adult emerge! There are wonderful online resources and books about butterfly migrations, and this can introduce a new geographical area to study, too. Follow the butterfly’s path from the ground, and learn about the bodies of water they fly over and the various countries/cities they pass through.
  6. A mid-day hike can refresh students’ minds during these cooler, but not yet cold, days. While you’re out note the fall leaves, and even nuts and seeds, on the trees. Collect a few leaf specimens and start on the Pathfinder Leaf/Tree Identification Honor! We love art projects around here, and painting fall leaves was a favorite when we were studying watercolor techniques.
  7. (Related to #6 . . .) We’ve been known to take drawing pencils and colored pencils along on our walks in a storage clipboard. This is great for documenting landscapes with fall color or drawing specimens you’d rather leave in the out-of-doors. Mushrooms, mosses, ferns, lichen, and tree fungi are wonderful items to capture at this time of year if you’re in the right climate! (Taking along watercolor pencils and then finishing the art project at home with a wet paintbrush is lots of fun, too!)

    Mushrooms: natural art pieces.

    Mushrooms: natural art pieces.

  8. A weather study is a fun project to begin in the fall. Search online for instructions for making your own weather-measuring instruments. If you’re traveling to another climate for the holidays, take along your weather kit for something to compare to home. We once compared weather in Kotzebue, Alaska — above the Arctic Circle — to weather in Arizona during the same time period. It was quite a study to compare such strikingly different biomes! Even a small contrast in weather and climate can elicit interesting results, though. Simply note which trees are out in full color, or which fruits and vegetables are ripening. (Samples are required, lol.)
  9. Fall can be a good time for planting trees, or starting a fall/winter garden. It’s also fun to initiate a seed collection, or plan for a spring garden, beginning with soil preparation and how to amend soil or plant fall cover crops.
  10. Fruit orchards and pumpkin patches naturally translate into wonderful field trips this time of year, and we like to follow up with pie-making and sauce-making, too!

A couple of final thoughts:

Local libraries usually showcase fall-themed books, and it’s nice to stock up for the occasional icky day. With the internet, it’s easy to take a book theme and explode it for indoor fun involving arts and crafts, science experiments, and even writing assignments. It’s a great unit study starter, or a fun “day off” from regular school work. The kids don’t even know they’re learning! LOL.

Check out the Adventurer awards and Pathfinder honors that correspond with this season. Here’s the link to the Pathfinder requirements: http://gcyouthministries.org/Ministries/Pathfinders/Honors/tabid/85/agentType/ViewType/HonorTypeID/5/Default.aspx. There are 95 honors under the Nature category! The Adventurer Awards search tool is here: http://gcyouthministries.org/Ministries/Adventurers/Awards/tabid/83/Default.aspx. (Search under “Nature” for the list of almost 30 awards available. If you are following the Adventurer grade-levels, you can search specifically for nature awards corresponding to your child’s grade, too.)

Happy Nature Studying!

My six-year old daughter took this picture with my camera. I love it! Photography can be used in lieu of drawing or collecting from nature.

My six-year old daughter took this picture with my camera. I love it! Photography can be used in lieu of drawing or collecting from nature.

Virtual Field Trip: Greenfield Village, Part 1

Hey, boys and girls, moms and dads! My name is Austin, and welcome (once again, if you’ve been around here for a while) to my monthly “Virtual Field Trip” column on this blog. Each month I will virtually take you on a field trip to another awesome American historical site!

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For those who would like to know a little about me, I am a super-senior biology major at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. I was homeschooled all the way up, and loved it! I guess my mother did a good job — because I still love going on field trips! 😀 Whenever our family goes on vacation, I will film videos of the national parks and history museums that we visit, and I post the videos (a new one every week) on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/tnphotobug.

A while back my mother was asked to write some field trip articles for this blog. She asked me to help her write the first one, and she liked that one so much she said, “Why don’t you just write all of them?” …And, the rest is history! This is now the third year that the administrators and other authors of this blog have kindly given me the privilege of writing articles, and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience! The first year I wrote about Adventist historical sites, last year was about various history museums and national parks that I have visited, and this year I am going to focus on Greenfield Village. (If you are interested in reading my previous posts, just click on the “Virtual Field Trip” category link up towards the top left of this post).

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Greenfield Village is an incredible, outdoor history museum in Detroit, Michigan. It was started by Henry Ford way back in 1929. His idea of a history museum was not something dry, dull, and boring, but rather a vivid, alive, and real museum which helped you feel that you had really stepped back in time. Ford aimed to accomplish this by bringing buildings significant in American history — homes, labs, and the workplaces of Edison, Webster, and more — into a “village” of sorts. By preserving these original buildings, people could experience American history in a whole new way!

My grandparents live about an hour northwest of Greenfield Village, and for the past decade-plus we have gone to visit them each summer, and they in turn have treated us to Greenfield Village. So without further delay, buckle your seat belts and get ready to have fun learning some history!

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The first building in Greenfield Village that I would like to take you to is Henry Ford’s own boyhood home. This is where he was born in 1863. And, his home was actually not far from where Greenfield Village is today.

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When you enter that front door, you enter a hallway. The first room you see is off to the right, and that is the parlor. This is the room that would be used for entertaining guests after church or on other special occasions. It was not used any other time during the week!

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As you continue down the hallway, you can see some of the different bedrooms and the kitchen.

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I think it is very cool to see the actual home where Henry Ford grew up!

But, what I really like about Greenfield Village is that, here, you are not just a passive observer of history; you are an active participant.

One of my favorite parts of the Village is that you can actually ride on a Model T! The Model T was the inexpensive, wildly popular car (over 15 million were produced!) that Ford built between 1908-1927. The Model T was the car that really put America on wheels for the first time.

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It is always fun to get our picture in the Model T before we take off to drive around the Village.

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It is lots of fun! I especially like the chug-chugging of the Model T — through the sounds, sensations, and sights, you really feel like you have stepped back a hundred years. If you are interested in seeing the short videos that I shot of both the Ford home and a Model T ride, check out the links below!

Well, that’s it for this month! I hope that you enjoyed my photos, videos, and words. Future articles will cover the Wright Brothers’ home and cycle shop, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park lab where he invented the incandescent light bulb, and so much more! Until then, keep having “a blast with the past”!

~Austin