Visiting the USS Albacore

My earlier plan to hide under the bed not-withstanding, we decided to head out into the weather to do something fun today. What to do?

We could have gone to the Science Museum, or the Aquarium. We could have gone to see the Constitution and the Bunker Hill Memorial (on Breed’s Hill, but who’s keeping track). Nope. We have several submariners in the family, and there is a submarine open to the public in New Hampshire. Here we come, USS Albacore! wpid-DSC_0206.jpg

The guys running the museum are fantastic. They clearly like well-behaved kids. The girls were told they could touch everything, get into the bunks, and drive the boat (who, apparently will veer towards dives).

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And touch and drive and try out the bunks they did!wpid-DSC_0202.jpgwpid-DSC_0194.jpg

According to both Dad and the girls, this is a much better submarine to visit than the USS Nautilus. The guys working the museum agreed. “We don’t talk about that other boat down in Groton. We clearly have the better boat.” We happily spent well over half an hour poking around, trying out bunks, and getting into mischief in the galley. It was just a fantastic day over all.

And we accidentally visited Kittery, Maine. Not many places you can say you accidentally visited a state just by taking the wrong bridge…

AGSS Albacore

When the weather outside is rotten, the logical thing to do is find some indoor activities.  Today was such a day so we went to visit AGSS Albacore, an experimental research submarine, in Portsmouth, NH.

Alpha child in a bunk

This is one of the more spacious bunks. Some were in dark corners with equipment dangling over the bunk – close enough that if you rolled over you would knock it with your shoulder or hip.

The main museum is the submarine, with a nearly-full-access self-guided audio tour.  By full-access I mean lying in the bunks, playing with the dive-plane controls, flipping switches, and turning dials.  The engine room is completely open (visually, if not physically, since some of the more dangerous bits have barriers).

Crew's mess; Alpha child fixing her shoe

The crew’s mess doubles as a recreation area. Backgammon and checkers; I don’t think anyone had time to play chess (not a reflection on submariners – I’ve known a few that could beat me handily at chess)

It was cool because it gave an idea of how the crew lived.  Tight quarters everywhere and no wasted space.  Fifty guys shared a couple of toilets; I can’t imagine the smell.

Itty-bitty toilet

Why did they tile the floor?

The submarine itself was an experiment and was refit several times over its lifetime with enhancements like new propulsion, including an uncommon twin screw design.

Twin screws

I read up on submarine design before the trip. Twin counter-rotating screws like this are unusual, but several Soviet-Russian submarines sported them as well. This is one of the only examples in the American fleet.

The experience is much better than touring the USS Nautilus.  The Nautilus is ok if you’ve never seen the inside of a submarine, but everything is off-limits so the tour takes five minutes (or less if you have small children).  The guys in the museum office “don’t talk about the Nautilus” and felt quite a bit of pride in the openness of the Albacore vs. the Nautilus.  We were in there for nearly three-quarters of an hour, and another half hour in the museum shop (including a video of how the got the submarine to it’s present location).

Cash

Aside

Quinn: “Did you take out cash when you deposited that check?”
Megh: “Yeah, I wanted some in case you asked if I had any cash.”
Quinn: “I ask you if you have cash so I can buy something off-the-books, which I shouldn’t do.”
Megh: “I get cash so I can buy things off-the-books, too.”

 

Hiking @ HP

Meghan, Alpha, and I have started hiking the Harold Parker State Forest today.  It’s pretty big, it should tide us over for the spring.

Our first leg was beautiful.

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Apparently there are beaver in that pond:

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This tree has seen a little more beaver-love:

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The trails in the HP connect with a ring of trails around metro Boston, the Bay Circuit.  It’s 200 miles from end to end, so we’ll be hiking it for a few years to come.

Its a nice replacement for our old hiking project, along the Hop River Trail.  The four of us hiked from Willimantic to Manchester over the course of a year, the Bay Circuit should take a bit longer.

Sledding at OSV

Alpha, Beta, and I went to Old Sturbridge Village this past weekend to see their Antique Sleigh Rally. Alpha is obsessed with horses so it seemed like a home run in the Dad of the Year game.

Alas, Alpha bored of it in under ten minutes. Even Beta was still having fun when she announced that she wanted to do something else. Wow.

At Beta’s request we made a beeline to the Freeman Farm so we could commune with the sheep and chickens. And there, behind the cooper’s shed, we found my redemption: sledding.

Sledding at OSV

Sledding at OSV

We lived a little on the wild side: both girls tried sledding while standing (pictured) as well as other orientations (backwards, in the lotus position, etc). Alpha was quite proud of herself after her first run while standing, and I was equally proud of her. Don’t tell OSV we did it, though – with no one policing the hill it was much more natural and fun.

Ice caves!

Under the wanna-be glacier

We had an ice storm last weekend, and I didn’t get a chance to clear my car off until today (took that long to dig out to it). As I was brushing off the dry powdery stuff from last night, I hit a layer of ice. Hard ice. Thick, white ice. “Aw, crap,” I think, “This is going to take FOREVER to get off!” So I continue brushing off the snow, and discover something.

That ice? Was 4″ above the car. In between was another layer of snow. My car had an ice COAT. I took these UNDER the layer of ice.

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On the sunny side of the wanna-be glacier

Ice caves! The light is so pretty in these! The car is now mostly clean. It still has a bit of a car-hawk (a Korean punk rocker look or something).

 

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Side shot so you can see how deep the snow was on the car