Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dover Dilemma!

Outside the Johnson Victrola Museum - Dover, Delaware
May 9, 2012

Who knew there would be so much to do in the little State Capital of Dover, Delaware?  Being raised in the south as the first-born daughter of an avid NASCAR fan, I knew I'd want to see what's known as "The Monster Mile," a one-mile oval track known as one that chews up race cars and spits them out!  But beyond that and the Capitol itself, we thought it would be a quiet day.

The helpful lady at the Visitor Center declared that the Johnson Victrola Museum and the Biggs Museum of American Art were "must-sees!"  Since they were located within walking distance of the Capitol, off we went.

And we are so glad we did..............The Johnson Victrola Museum was an absolute delight.  What an amazing collection and we learned so much.  We both knew Thomas Edison had something to do with the "talking machines" and both believed he had "invented" them.  Not so!!  He entered the picture later on and was an instrumental figure, but the original Victrola Talking Machine was invented by a gentleman named Berliner and his patents were then purchased by E.R. Johnson who continued to develop the product.  This museum is a tribute to their stories up to and beyond the purchase of the company by RCA in 1929.  

For those reading the journal from home, tell us the answers to these two trivia questions and there may be prizes involved.   1) The RCA symbol, "His Master's Touch,"shown in the above picture that we all recognize was actually a real dog.  What was his name?   2)  As you see, neither "inventor" of the Victrola Talking machine was named Victor or any form of Victor.  Who or what was Victor?  (We realize our past year's trivia questions have created great competition amongst our friends for the fabulous prizes.  Surely you didn't think there would be no trivia simply because the journal is in a different place!!  LOL!)  


We really loved this museum! 

Next up was the Biggs Museum of American Art.   I'll be the first to admit I don't know a great deal about art, but I know what I like.  There were some things in this museum I really enjoyed and some thngs I didn't.  But one thing I do know is that I appreciate the hard work that has gone into making this a lovely art gallery boasting several permanent exhibits as well as some temporary or traveling exhibits.   We enjoyed our time here.

One thing NOT on our Dover agenda was a trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.  I just didn't think there would be time.   But with it raining, we weren't able to walk around as much as we usually do, so found ourselves finished with the Heritage Park (capitol area) things much earlier than anticipated.  While trying to find out how far we'd have to drive to get to the refuge, I learned that it is listed as one of the Top Ten Scenic Drives in NWR's.  It was only a few mile away, so after some lunch, off we went.  The scenic drive is a 12-mile drive through woodlands, marsh areas (both salt and fresh water), swamps and open fields.  It is known as a birding paradise.  Again, something we don't know much about, but as with art, we know beautiful.  And we saw some birds of the most beautiful color patterns you can imagine.  I only wish we'd been more prepared to call them by name!  And the highlight was watching the most spectacular bald eagle I've ever seen in the wild.  Too far away for decent pictures, but I know, and Bill knows, that watching that eagle soar and being the only car around to do so was just special!  On the entire drive, we saw only three other vehicles!  I wouldn't have missed this for the world and we almost did!  

Sometimes, I do wish I were a better photographer - I promise that is a HUGE bald eagle in that tree!

By the end of the scenic drive, we were tired, but so happy with the way our day in Dover had turned into something really special.  One last thing remained and that was to visit Dover Downs and The Monster Mile.  Not sure what to expect as all NASCAR tracks are different in how open they are for people to just see the track!  Dover Downs is hard to explain because it's a speedway, a horse racing track, a large hotel, a shopping area and a giant casino all in one complex.  It's certainly unique!  After wandering around in the casino for awhile looking for any signage pointing us to a place we might just be able to SEE the racetrack, I finally approached a security officer who said, "oh sure, you can even walk out ONTO the track."  OK, this is getting better.   We followed his directions and sure enough, exited out of the casino into the premium indoor grandstands (in other words, where the rich people watch the race!!) and proceeded right on outside onto the apron of the track itself.  Pretty cool!  We were able to walk all around and eventually exit without having to go back through the casino.  

Where the wealthier set watches the race!

 Hard to see in the picture, but the darker gray area just to the right of the grass is the horse racing track, the lighter gray between the horse racing area and the grandstands, is the very high banking of the speedway.  It is certainly a unique setup and I'm glad I got to see it!
Close up view of the speedway surface.  No picture can show what banking looks like.  If you stood at the inside edge of this track, you would NOT be able to walk up it to the grandstands! 

Thankfully, our hotel was just up the street from Dover Downs.   We were exhausted and ready to be in our room relaxing.  But a day like this is why we travel.  Woke up to pouring rain thinking we only had a State Capital building to visit.  Turned into a most terrific day with a variety of experiences one couldn't have possibly predicted!

The next day was a travel day to Branford, Connecticut!  Another update coming soon!  

Thanks for reading!   Don't forget the trivia questions!


  1. I'm enjoying your trip. Branford, CT! You're in my corner of the world.

  2. I'm not sure how I know this (or think I know this), but the dog's name is...I'll spell it out so as not to ruin it for the other readers...*N-i-p-p-e-r*. I have no idea for the second question.

    Those unexpected discoveries are some of the best memories of all. You just know you were *meant* to be there in that moment.

    Wishing you continued safe travels! And better weather.

  3. We actually own a Victrola, along with some very old, dusty records. Pretty amazing invention, and that museum looks really interesting.

  4. I loved all the pictures, but the last one of the track was fascinating! glad you are having fun on your adventure.

  5. Hi There, I'm trying to catch up after being gone for a week. Love reading about your trip.. I'm proud of you for that bike trip!!!! You are quite adventurous.. We are not as 'active' these days as we used to be when we were younger. BUT--we did LOTS of walking each day ---so that we could eat that delicious seafood!!!!! ha

    Dover looks like a neat place. I've never been there. Have no idea about Victor.. Was that the dog's name????


  6. Great vacation! I don't know the answers to your questions but will look them up because now I am curious.

  7. WOW!! You almost make me want to travel again. But not until I stay home for a year or two LOL. Reading about all your adventures will educate me on how to make my travel more meaningful.

  8. Oh my goodness, it would be worth going to that museum just to see the giant Nipper! Did you know he got that name because he nipped at peoples ankles? I'm not sure about the "Victor" question...perhaps it came from the word "victory?"