At the southernmost point of Eastern Russia’s Pacific Coast is the bustling port city of Vladivostok. It is tucked into a large bay off the Sea of Japan, with the border of China only 100 kilometers to the west and the border of North Korea 150 kilometers to the south. Millions of tones of shipping pass through the port every year but thanks to its beaches, cafes, night life, beautiful scenery, monuments, museums, and amazing summer weather it has become a premium vacation destination as well.
One Sunday each February, the Thompson Ice House Museum in South Bristol, Maine, gives visitors a chance to step back in time and actively participate in the art of ice harvesting. This year the annual event fell on Valentine’s Day and it was picture perfect. The sky was clear and blue and it reached a high of six degrees – perfect ice harvesting conditions. I was excited to see the operation because I have long been fascinated with the ingenuity humans have demonstrated over the years to solve the challenges of everyday life before the advent of electric technologies. The Thompson family began laying up ice back in 1826 for their farm’s needs but eventually began providing ice for neighboring farms and many of the local fisherman. Before modern refrigeration Maine ice was harvested by the ton and traveled in trains all over the country and in ships all over the world. Since the museum opened in 1990, the laborious task of cutting, breaking, floating, lifting, and stacking an ice house full has been relegated to a once a year, participatory event, complete with hot drinks, baked beans and whoopie pies (more on these in a later post!).
Over the weekend, we spent a few hours in Leavenworth, Washington during their Autumn Leaf festival. Leavenworth is a small town in Eastern Washington State that was at the center of the local timber industry in decades past. When the industry changed, so did Leavenworth. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains the town took advantage of the fact that the local terrain looks much like the Alps of Germany and redecorated in a Bavarian theme.