Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Freedom's European Vacation with Marley

I traveled to Scotland and Paris with my dad. We had a great time!

First we went to my Grandma's wedding in Scotland. We did Scottish dances. It was fun! 

Then we took a plane to France. We took the subway to Paris.

We saw the Mona Lisa and went up the Eiffel Tower. We also ate crepes and visited cafes.


Then we took the train to England. We had fun. I met my cousins for the first time. We also rode horses. It was the second time I had ridden a horse.

Next thing we knew, we were on a plane. I was a little sad to be leaving. But I was glad to get home too! 

Now I am telling everyone my story, and I just told you!
That was the story of my trip.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Freedom Tours Australia with Kate and Alex

Freedom traveled with Kate and Alex to Australia this summer.  We were all exhausted after traveling for 33 hours to get there, but it was worth it!
We spent most of our time on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, visiting family and friends.  Even though it was winter in Australia, the weather was very warm and we had a lot of fun swimming at the beach.  Luckily there were no sharks or crocodiles!
We visited the Australia Zoo, home of The Crocodile Hunter. We saw lots of interesting animals, including koalas, emus, wombats, kookaburras, crocodiles and more.  We even got to feed the kangaroos!
We also spent a week in Cairns, which is in far north Australia and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.  We went on a catamaran out to Green Island, where we snorkeled to see the reef.  We saw lots of pretty coral, as well as colorful fish, an eel or two and even a reef shark!
Another highlight of our trip was a visit to the Tjapukai Aboriginal cultural park. We learned a lot about Australian Aboriginal culture and history there.   We had a lot of fun learning to throw  boomerangs and spears and tried playing a didgeridoo.  It’s a lot harder than it looks!
We had a wonderful month in Australia and can’t wait to go back again!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Reenactment of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with Liberty and Mrs. Rizzo

One hundred and fifty years ago, our country was divided and fighting in a Civil War.  There may be no more popular event in American history than the Civil War.  It was a very important time in our history during which many events happened that changed our country and continue to have an impact on us even today.  Today, many men, women, and families take up the hobby of Civil War reenacting because of their love of exploring and experiencing history in a tangible way, as well as a desire to educate the public.  They participate in living history encampments and commemorate battles fought by Union and Confederate soldiers. Civil War reenacting actually began about fifty years after the Civil War ended.

Mrs. Rizzo’s brother, John Nash, has been a Civil War reenactor for over twenty years.  His love for the Civil War began when he was in high school at which time he began purchasing Civil War things at auctions.  He studied about the people and events of the time and visited Civil War parks.  When he got older he began reenacting and joined an artillery group which meant he got to be a part of a group that fires cannons.  Over the years, he and his wife have collected, purchased, or made all of the things they need to be authentic reenactors.  This includes not only the cannon and limber (the gun carriage that holds the ammunition boxes), but all their clothing and accessories, tents, cooking supplies and much, much more. 

I joined Mrs. Rizzo and her brother’s artillery group, Pulaski Battery, for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.  For six days, we roughed it in a Civil War era encampment without electricity or running water.  Our tent was one of several in our group and was quite comfortable. Everyone pitched in helping unpack the truck and pitch tents.  
Our tent had front and back flaps that could be tied open to let air flow through.  We put a large tarp and canvas on the ground that worked like a carpet.  We slept on cots that were actually very comfortable. Because tourists might come by to see how we live, we did our best to make the inside of our tent look authentic by covering up anything that didn’t look like it was from Civil War times.  It was home for six days!

Cooking our meals had to look authentic too.  They were cooked over a fire using cast iron pots and pans.  We had bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee each morning and some type of stew in the evening.  We really liked the campfire food!  During the day, when in camp, we sat shaded under a tent fly, but in the evening we liked to sit around the campfire, and even roasted marshmallows.

The main purpose for our trip was to participate in reenactments of battles. There were approximately 11,000 reenactors from all fifty states and several foreign countries.  In addition to all the people, there were 140 cannons and 400 horses.  There were several battles each day.  Some were just for infantry and cavalry troops, but most included the artillery.  We participated in one to two battles each day from July 4 to 7 culminating in the reenactment of Pickett’s Charge on the afternoon of the last day.  Sixty thousand spectators came out over those four days to watch the battles and visit the Union and Confederate encampments.

Though Mrs. Rizzo had planned on dressing in Civil War era gowns and spending most of her time around the camp, her brother thought she might enjoy being part of the cannon crew.  To do so, she had to dress as a boy. She did her best to try to disguise herself as a boy!  Though the other men in her artillery group wore the standard wool pants, Mrs. Rizzo borrowed a uniform that altered to fit her.  Her pants were a white cotton like those that would have been worn by men in the Navy or Marines. Her shirt was blue.  She also had to shorten the suspenders used to hold up her pants.  When out on the battlefield, she also put on a wool vest.  The heavy cotton pants, long sleeve shirt, and wool vest on a hot summer day gave her an appreciation for how difficult life was for men during the Civil War.  She, and all the men, wore a brimmed hat to keep the sun off their faces. In her canvas haversack she carried her camera and water.

We drove to the assigned location on the battlefield and then the cannon and limber were offloaded from the truck. Artillery units, during Civil War times, used a variety of cannons.  Ours was a three inch ordnance rifle. Once unloaded, the truck was driven away out of sight.  All of the men in the group knew exactly what to do and in no time they began drilling.  It takes several crew members (cannoneers) to prepare, load, and fire the cannon and each man practiced his assigned position.  Because the cannons fire a blank that is made from gunpowder (inside aluminum foil), to ensure that it is done safely, it is very important that the men practice, especially when someone wants to learn a new position.

While we were setting up and practicing, and the battle had not yet begun, and because the spectators were far away and could not see me, I could come out and watch the men practice.  There are usually six or seven cannoneers in an artillery group and person performs a specific job.  It was necessary, during Civil War times, for all men to practice all positions on the cannon in case someone became injured and needed to be replaced.  The men in our group follow this same practice and everyone learns how to perform each job.

Mrs. Rizzo took my picture in front of the cannon while the cannoneers practiced.  Since I was not dressed appropriately for battle, I knew I would have to hide when the reenactment began.

After watching and asking questions over the next four days, and reading a little on the Internet, I learned a little about cannons and what you have to do to safely fire one.

The #1 cannoneer gets the rammer sponge and wets the sponge end in a water pail.  #2 man steps inside and waits to receive the round of ammunition.  Because the cannon is hot after it is fired, #3 man has a special piece of leather on his thumb, called a thumbstall, that he places over the vent hole at the back end of the cannon.  With the vent covered to prevent any remaining gunpowder from igniting, #1 pushes the rammer sponge into the cannon. This is done to extinguish any fire that may still be in the barrel from the last firing.

There are one to two other men back behind the cannon, in our case at the limber where the ammunition box was stored, who hand the round specified by the gunner to #5.  When instructed and inspected by the gunner, #5 advances the round to #2.  #2 would keep his back to the enemy so that a bullet could not strike the round.  He loads the round into the barrel and then steps outside the wheel base.  #1 rams the round into the muzzle  and seats the charge by pushing the cartridge to the breach of the cannon directly under the vent.  The vent hole is still being covered by #3.  When finished, #1 steps away followed by #3.

All during this time the gunner has been sighting the cannon and its target and would instruct for the barrel to be raised, lowered or the cannon moved if necessary.

At the ‘ready’ command, #3 and #4 step inside the wheel base. #1 and #2 step back and make their bodies flat against the end of the barrel. #3 takes out a vent pick and pokes a hole through the vent into the powder bag.  #4 has prepared a friction primer and attaches it to a lanyard.  The friction primer is put into the vent hole.  #3 places his hand over the lanyard and #4 steps to the side far enough to stretch the lanyard.  Once #4 is in position with the lanyard taut, #3 steps away. 

When given the order to fire from the gunner, #4 yanks the lanyard and turns his body away from the cannon to protect himself from the snapping lanyard.  The wire pulls through the primer and sends a flame down into the powder bag.  The explosion would send a projectile down the battlefield, however, we did not have a projectile (cannon ball), just the powder bag.  Fire and smoke, however, did come out of the end of the cannon and a puff a smoke comes out of the vent.  Over the course of the four days of battles, Mrs. Rizzo took hundreds of pictures trying to get one good one that showed fire coming out of the cannon.

Cannoneers wore wool jackets when working on the cannon as the wool offered some protection.  When firing the cannon, the lanyard can snap back and hit the body with surprising force.   Also for protection, everyone wears ear plugs because the cannon blasts are very loud.  Because there is so much noise on the battlefield, many of commands are done by hand signals as well as being shouted.

Once fired, #2 uses a tool called a worm that would remind you of a cork screw.  Spinning it down the barrel, he pulls out any debris left in the cannon, which in our case, was the aluminum foil used to make our rounds.  It is necessary to clean out the barrel before loading another round.  During the Civil War when firing live rounds, this step would not need to be done unless the round did not fire.  Once the barrel is clear, the process starts all over again with the rammer sponge.

After participating in the first battle, Mrs. Rizzo decided she wanted to do it again because she had so much fun.  Even though she had planned to mostly participate as a Civil War lady, she decided to continue pretending to be a boy so she could go back out on the battlefield and be a part of the cannon crew.  She didn’t want to stay in camp and miss all the fun! 

Most of the time Mrs. Rizzo just took pictures so she’d have them for this story and could share them with the other men in the artillery group.  However, she did get to participate as a cannoneer twice.  She was in the #4 position once and got to fire the cannon.  She was amazed at how hard she had to yank the lanyard.  She was also glad she was wearing a wool jacket because the lanyard snapped back and hooked itself into the jacket.  On another day, she was #5 cannoneer and received the round of ammunition and advanced it to the cannon.  The round is placed and carried in a leather haversack to prevent accidents while the cartridge is being transported.

After each battle, we loaded the cannon and limber back onto the truck and drove it back to camp, until it was time to go to battle again. Mrs. Rizzo enjoyed riding on the cannon on the way back.  Passing the spectators on the road, it felt kind of like being in a parade.

Over the four days of reenactments, the Pulaski Battery group participated in six battles in front of sixty thousand spectators.  Sometimes we were way far away, and once we were right below them.  If the spectators came all four days, they would have been able to see Union and Confederate artillery, cavalry and infantry up close participating in the battles.  Mrs. Rizzo really enjoyed her experience and would like to do it again some day.
Infantry troops in battle

Signal flags were used to communicate

The members of the Pulaski Battery are a very special group of men.  They take their hobby very seriously and are dedicated to teaching others about the Civil War.  They welcomed me and Mrs. Rizzo into their group, and wouldn't even allow us to do dishes!

Though Mrs. Rizzo didn’t dress as a lady at Gettysburg, she did the previous weekend in Roswell, GA at a living history event at Barrington Hall, an antebellum home built before the Civil War.  Her brother brought his cannon and her sister-in-law played the dulcimer with her friends. They also danced the Virginia Reel. Mrs. Rizzo learned she had to be very careful when she sat down in her hoop skirt!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Justice Goes on a Field Trip to the Aquarium with Ms. Cannon's 5th Graders

Hi, I’m Justice and this is my trip to the Aquarium with Ms. Cannon’s 5th grade class and Mrs. Down’s 5th grade class. It all started when we packed up the bus and hit the road. It was about a 30 minute drive and everybody had a way of entertaining themselves. 

When we got there the two classes split up into two groups. First, we did the water experiments. We tested the water salinity and got to look at some amoebas. Then we took the little sheets of paper and determined if the water in the bowl was salt, fresh, or brackish water. 
After that we went on a scavenger hunt throughout the aquarium. We went all throughout the aquarium looking for the type of animal our paper described. We finally got to the fun part.....THE MARSH!!!!! I heard it was really fun getting in the water, but I couldn’t get in because I didn’t bring a change of clothes. Everybody caught something whether it was snails, fish, or mud. In the end we caught two crabs and too many fish and snails to count. 

After we left the marsh we washed up and ate lunch. After we finished eating we got back on the bus (most of us fell asleep on the way back). When we got back it was almost time to go, so we just did some work and went home. And that’s my story about my trip to the aquarium.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Justice’s Fun-filled Trip to San Diego with Kate and Alex

Justice was very excited to travel to San Diego with Kate and Alex.  It took us nine hours on two flights to get there and we were all very tired.
The next day we went to Legoland, which was so much fun! We rode on roller coasters, drove the Lego cars, watched the Fire Show and met some Lego characters.  We had such a good time that we spent 2 more days at Legoland later in the week!

Our next stop was Balboa park and the San Diego Zoo.  We saw many interesting animals and learned a lot about them.  Our favorites were the polar bears and pandas! Kate got her face painted too!

The next day we visited Sea World and got to meet Shamu the whale.  We watched a really cool dolphin show, rode another roller coaster and even shook “hands” with a star fish!

We all enjoyed a wonderful week in San Diego, with beautiful weather and so much to do.  We were all very sad that we had to leave and hope to visit again soon.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Liberty's Great Day in Washington, DC with Brooke and Michael

We are loading up the car and getting ready to drive 373 miles to Washington D.C.Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Brooke and my brother is Michael. This is about our trip to DC with my dad and Liberty, the Parsley mascot. 

After a 5 ½ hour drive, our first stop was at Georgetown Cupcakes (where DC Cupcakes is going to be filmed).  This place had phenomenal cupcakes! My favorite was the vanilla-chocolate.  My dad had the eggnog cupcake and Michael had a peppermint swirl. Yum!!

Our next stop was at the Lincoln Memorial.  It is made entirely out of marble and took eight years to build.  The monument is very detailed and Abraham Lincoln looks just like he did in pictures. The Lincoln Memorial  was the place where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

We also visited the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum.  We got to see Amelia Earhart’s bright red plane and a couple of old space shuttles.  We also tried astronaut ice cream.  It was dry and didn't taste very good!   The Natural History Museum had displays of mammals and a display of a real dead squid. My favorite exhibit was of the ocean and the great white sharks. I was surprised to learn that its teeth were as big as my hand!  
Our last stop was at the White House. We walked along the south fence and saw Mrs. Obama’s garden. The White House was decorated for Christmas and looked really pretty. We didn't see the president though.

We had a great day in Washington DC and Liberty had a fun time!