Battleship Memorial Park

Battleship Memorial Park is located in Mobile, Alabama. 

Admission price includes self-guided tours of the Battleship USS ALABAMA, Submarine USS DRUM and the Aircraft Pavilion.
Visitors are given a 4 page guide with color coded tours in Red, Green and Yellow. The ALABAMA has color coded numbers throughout for visitors to follow as they read the information on their guides.

You must be careful going through the small doorways (hatches). I suspect this was much more challenging for tall crew members.

The battleship was a seemingly endless maze of ladders, corridors, and tiny rooms.

These beds were stacked 5 high! 

This is the deck of the Battleship
Battleship USS ALABAMA was commissioned on August 16, 1942. She earned 9 Battle Stars, and shot down 22 enemy airplanes during World War II. The ship is 680 ft long and 108 ft 2 inches wide. She weighs 35,000 tons (70 million pounds), but under battle conditions, she weighed in at well over 45,000 tons (90 million pounds).

Inside the aircraft pavilion
The aircraft pavilion is the only place in the world that houses the complete collection of "F" series fighter jets.

The park has more than 25 of the nation's finest military aircraft on display. 
There are also aircraft and tanks located outside throughout the grounds of the park.

The USS DRUM was commissioned November 1, 1941. The ship is 311 ft. 8 inches long with a beam (width) of 27 ft. 4 inches. 

Inside the Submarine USS DRUM
She earned 12 Battle Stars during World War II. 

The most important advice for visiting Battleship Memorial Park would be to wear sturdy footwear. There's a lot of very narrow metal ladders to climb within the USS Alabama and the Drum. Keep in mind that if you're not able to climb up and down the ladders then you'll only be able to view the outside of the battleship and the submarine.  If you are claustrophobic, this tour might not be for you. Space is very tight inside the DRUM as well as the ALABAMA.

More Florida

Last week my husband and I set off on another adventure. We took an unplanned road trip through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Unplanned trips are great because there's no schedule to keep and no expectations. We didn't book any accommodations, we made no reservations and did no research into museums or activities. We just got in the car and drove. 

Our first stop was right here in our own town at the Port Saint Lucie Botanical Garden where they were having their annual free tree giveaway. 

First you had to register and get your ticket. Then you had to go to 5 out of 7 educational booths in order to get your tree. The booths were manned by volunteer Master Gardeners who were there to teach us how to take care of our new trees.

 The topics covered information about each type of tree, climate, soil, planting, pruning, watering, pests, fertilizing and more. 

I have to say that I learned a lot of useful information from each Master Gardener because this New York native is really not great when it comes to living green things. Once our ticket was punched from all 5 booths we were allowed to select a tree.

We chose the Southern Live Oak. This is a picture of it in the back of our car. We had to fold down the back seats and lay it down in the trunk. It reached all the way to the front. 

Eventually this tree will grow to be 40 to 60 feet tall and will have a spread of 60 to 100 feet. We planted it next to our hammock so that in 30 years we'll have shade!

Once we adopted our tree we were back on the road and drove north to Lake City, Florida. This area of Florida is about as country as it gets. You know you're in the country when you have a store that sells thousands of cowboy boots in every size, design and color imaginable. 

There's not much to do in this area except for the boot store and the Florida Welcome Center where you can get discounted theme park tickets, free orange juice and see a 14 foot stuffed alligator. The reason for this stop was because it's located near Ichetucknee Springs State Park. (Click this link for address and hours of operation information)

The Ichetucknee river is the best place for tubing in Florida. It costs just $6 per car to enter the state park and you can rent tubes at various stands located along the road outside the park. The river is 6 miles long and stunningly beautiful. It was one of the most relaxing activities I've ever done. We got there early and so there was only a few other people in the river. As the current took us down the river we watched the morning fog rise off the water. We listened to the birds wake up and start to sing while we gently floated by. I only wish that I still had my GoPro camera so I could share pictures but it's just more incentive for you to go and see for yourself. I know that I can't wait to go back again. 

Please come back next week to read all about the next leg of our adventure in Alabama.

Florida Everglades Airboat Adventure

Touring the Everglades in an airboat is the quintessential Florida experience. We went on our airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston. We saved a few bucks by buying tickets online. They can be used any time which was great because our first attempt to go was rained out so we wound up going a few weeks later. Tours leave about every 20 minutes so you don't need to reserve a specific time. Just show up and get in line. 

My best friend begged me to go on the boat wearing big sunglasses and a head scarf. Oh the things I do for my friends! This wound up being a very practical move since it gets extremely windy once the boat starts moving.

This woman in front of me had the right idea too. It was like a glimpse of my future self! 

Here's a view of the dock, boats and the Everglades. Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species.

Our driver had 30 years of Everglades knowledge and Airboat driving experience but I won't spoil it for you by revealing the cool things we learned from him. 
Below is a photo of the 14 foot gator that swam right up to our boat and bumped it with his nose! I only wish I took a video of the woman who grabbed her two teenage boys and jumped up onto her seat screaming for the driver to start moving. That was definitely my favorite part of the trip!

The ticket price also includes admission to all 3 animal exhibits.

The best part is that Florida residents are able to use their tickets for free admission for a whole year. You and your family can go on as many airboat rides as you like and receive 10% off at the gift shop as well as discounts on 10 other South Florida parks like the Miami Zoo and Lion Country Safari. So what are you waiting for?

New Project

These are some illustrations I made for the subway component at a new children's play space in Brooklyn, New York.

My family members did a great job modeling for me so I could create the perfect image of subway riders. (Grumbacher watercolors and Prismacolor pencil on Fabriano paper)

My husband is the happiest MTA subway conductor ever.
(Grumbacher watercolors and Prismacolor pencil)

   This is the view from the conductors windows. (Prismacolor pencil and Nupastel on Bristol vellum) 

Work in progress

This is a simplified subway map for kids created using a combination of hand drawings, Photoshop and Illustrator.

Photos of the finished subway car below. (Photo credits: Paul Orselli)


Wells House and Gardens

Wells House and Gardens located in Co. Wexford, Ireland claims they have something for all generations to enjoy and share. I decided to put this claim to the test. Our group consisted of a 2 year old, a 30 something, a few 40 somethings, and a pair in their 60's and 70's. The estate which includes the house and land sits on 450 acres so there's a lot of walking and most of the things to see and do are outdoors so you'll want to keep that in mind when planning your visit.

We picked a beautiful day to explore and set out on a woodland walk. 


With many hidden treasures to be found such as fairy doors, a wishing well, fairy castle, climbing trees and sculptures, the forest felt enchanted and the the experience was magical. 

We also toured the gorgeous terraced gardens and played a giant game of chess.

Wells is a working farm so you can get up close with the animals. They have chickens, pigs, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits and raccoons. If you're feeling really adventurous you can book a Hawk Walk with Wells House's Falconer. You'll have the opportunity to handle and fly birds of prey in their natural habitat!

When you get hungry you can stop for refreshments at Mrs. Stone's Restaurant where they serve delicious lunches, snacks, tea, coffee and desserts. Their produce and beef comes right from the Wells estate. If you prefer to bring your own treats to eat, there's plenty of areas for a picnic as well as picnic tables. There's a really fun playground for little kids as well as a zip line, a 3D archery course and clay pigeon shooting for big kids and adults. 

There are indoor activities to do as well. We took a stroll through the Craft Courtyard and visited an art exhibit. There's also lots of quaint shops and galleries selling art, crafts, treats and fairy doors of course!

You can also take a tour of the 350 year old house. Guests are allowed and even encouraged to touch and examine objects in the house. We didn't have time to take a tour of the house on this visit but I definitely plan on going back to Wells House and Gardens again. I think everyone in our group had a fantastic day and we all agree that they truly do have activities for everyone.

Contact info:
Wells House & Gardens,
Ballyedmond, Gorey,
Co. Wexford.
+353 (0)53 9186737