Harrisburg, PA - 10/04/2012

Published at 11:38 PM in ,

On the grand staircase

Today we visited the Pennsylvania state capitol in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  It was a beautiful building, even though the day was humid, rainy, and dreary.  Today also happened to be the 106th anniversary of the building. They have a neat plaque built into the floor that shows the President Theodore Roosevelt stood there on October 4, 1906, at the dedication of the capitol.

Where Teddy stood

This capitol was almost as fancy as the one in Illinois.  It has gone through a complete restoration and it is fabulous.  All the wood - doors, trim, desks - are the original mahogany.  The gold throughout is 23K gold leaf.  The light fixtures are all diamond cut, which sends the light in all directions while using just one bulb in each fixture.

Dome of the Supreme Court

We took a guided tour with 'Dan', the tour guide.  We visited both the Senate and House galleries, as well as the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has a beautiful green dome.  Pennsylvania is unique because all three parts of the government are housed in the one capitol building.  It is also unique because it is one of the few states whose legislators work full-time.  Most other states only have a part-time legislature.

The quote done in glass tile mosaic

Inside the rotunda of the capitol, there is a quote by William Penn:
There may be room there for such a holy experiment, for the nations want a precedent. And my God will make it the seed of a nation, that an example may be set up to the nations, that we may do the thing that is truly wise and just.

The quote is done beautifully in thousands of glass tile mosaic, each the size of a postage stamp.  I asked the guide and he said they were put on the walls as is, not laid on canvas and then hung on the wall.  What craftsmanship!

After our tour, we headed back to the RV.  In front of the capitol was Occupy Harrisburg...with one guy.  Kind of interesting.

Blowing their hair up

We headed over a few blocks to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, another great science museum.  The kids had an absolute blast here.  They did all the normal science experiment kinds of things, but there were several things new to them, too.  We built paper airplanes and launched them with a special machine to see how far they would fly.  Jim built race cars and raced them on a track (think Pinewood Derby).

Concentrating on that ball

Another section was all about the body.  You could see how your heart rate changes with exercise.  One machine would take you picture and then would show you how you would look as you age.  There was a rock climbing wall.  The neatest thing in this section was the "Mindball."  Two players strapped this band with little electrode type things on it around their heads, making sure the electrodes touched their foreheads.  There was a display of each players brain waves.  Supposedly how it works is based on how relaxed the player is.  Using brain waves, this little ball can be moved from one player's side to the other player's side.  Every time we did it, the person that was the most relaxed is the one that won.  It was crazy! 

Hurricane force winds

On a lower level, there was a wind tunnel where you could experience wind at tropical storm and hurricane levels - which took our breath away!  There was also a 'Backstage' section, where you could record animations and electronically spray paint on a wall.

We had a blast...such a good day.  Tonight we are driving a bit, and tomorrow we will be in Gainesville, NY.

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

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