Puerto Rico Day Three: Copamarina Resort And The Guanica World Biosphere Reserve.

I continued my drive on Route 333 beyond the small town of  Guanica in southwestern Puerto Rico.  The road was  winding and narrow. Soon,  beautiful, but distracting,  views of the ocean could be seen far below the road.  There was barely enough room for two cars on the narrow road. There was  no place to pull off and take in the spectacular views. After a few miles there was a pull off and I stopped and walked to the pristine  sandy beaches between rocky cliffs. .Tree on isolated beach

I had the beach all to myself and enjoyed listening to the crashing of the waves on the shore. trees along beach

I didn’t stay long  at this beach.   I wanted to get to my hotel and begin to explore this rare region of our planet. The Guanica World Biosphere Reserve  protects the dry forests found here. This is one of the few areas remaining on our planet  were these tropical desert like conditions exist.

I drove a few more miles to the Copamariana Resort where I would be staying the next three nights. The beautiful resort is secluded in this remote  location.  I thought it would be a perfect place to explore this unique natural area. It was around 1 p.m.when I arrived.  I  was glad to find my room was available.Entrance to Copamarina Resort

After settling in my room I had  a quick lunch and  was  ready to explore the area . I was told by the clerk at the desk that there was a beach about two miles down the road past the hotel.  I decided to walk the narrow road and find the beach. tree lined narrow road

Well this  wasn’t a very good idea. It was sunny and hot with  temperatures in the high 80’s. I immediately noticed the dry vegetation to be much  like that you would find in the deserts of the southwestern United States and not on a sub-tropical island. dry forest vegetation Guancia dry forest

Much of plants were unfamiliar to me but I did notice plenty of cacti growing along the road. And that was the problem. There was little room for a car to pass on the narrow roads. And when they did pass they  came way to close for comfort. I was unable to get off the road in some areas because of the prickly cactus and other desert plants.

I still tried to continue my walk observing the strange vegetation and also seeing quite a few turkey vultures flying overhead. I was hoping they weren’t looking at me as possible road kill.  turkey vulture in flight

I also saw a few brown pelicans stray from the nearby ocean,brown pelican in flight

and a few of these magnificent frigate birdsfrigate bird in flight

After walking  about a mile, and a few close encounters with a speeding automobiles,  I decided to turn back to the hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk. Puerto Rico Day Three Copamarina afternoon hike.

It was now late in the afternoon and I decided to drive the narrow  road to the beach and watch the sunset. After a two mile drive, I came upon some beautiful beaches crowded with local residents enjoying a Saturday afternoon.  I drove to the end of the road, parked my jeep, and walked a trail to some more secluded beaches. 

I soon found that I had the rugged shore line all to myself. 

Well I shared it with a few brown pelicans that flew overhead. brown pelican in flight

I again  noticed many strange plants, including this cotton like plant,

these large milkweed like plants, milkweed like plant Guanica dry forest

and many cacti. Of course there  were  many more strange and  unique plants,  too many to photograph all of them.cactus in Guanica dry forest

I walked out about a mile and found myself alone on a beautiful, rugged and isolated shore. I listened to the crashing of the waves and enjoyed the always present trade winds for awhile . shore at Guanica dry forest

I wasn’t sure I could see the sunset out here so I decided to head back to my hotel. I ran into a pair of American oystercatcher birds on the way.American oystercatcher along shore

I drove back to the hotel and watched the sunset from the private beach of the hotel. palm trees at sunset

 I had a nice dinner at the resort’s restaurant. Afterward I spent some time on the beach enjoying the stars and warm ocean breeze. It was a great way to end an exciting and fulfilling day exploring the beauty island of Puerto Rico. And I was looking forward to some more exploration early in the morning. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening hike. Puerto Rico Day Three Copamarina evening hike. sunset  Copamarina resort

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth – Rachel Carson, Our Ever-Changing ShoreAmerican oystercatcher closeup

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Puerto Rico Day Three: A Rainy Drive Through The Mountains To The Sunshine In The South

I awoke a little earlier my final day in San Juan, Puerto Rico . I always try and watch the sunrise and sunset on my travels.  I  knew I would have to walk to the other side of the massive walls of Castillo San Cristobal to see it.  I was soon walking along the old city wall with it’s spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. palm trees and clouds along Atlantic Ocean shore

I was surprised with the many joggers I encountered. I have walked at dawn in many cities around the world but I would have to say I have not seen so many folks running in the streets so early in the morning as I did in San Juan. Puerto Rico Capitol at dawn

I walked around the walls of Castillo San Cristobal and found  the sun was still too far to the south to see it rise. And there were a lot of clouds obscuring the southeastern horizon. Capitol of Puerto Rico

It was still a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Capitol of Puerto Rico in the early morning light.Capitol of Puerto Rico at sunrise

I returned to my hotel via the cobblestone streets of old San Juan one last time. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan Morning walk. February 10 2018.

I wanted to explore more of the Gallery Inn before I left.  However  I had to get to the airport to pick up my rental car at 8:30 a.m. Entrance to Gallery Inn old San Juan

I wasn’t able to see all of the many rooms, filled with paintings, sculptures and other works of art, during my short stay. .  There are also five  famous Steinway pianos in this  charming hotel. Nor did I even get to see the famous view of San Juan and the Atlantic Ocean from the rooftop lounge.sculptures in room in Gallery Inn

I did get to meet the gracious and talented owner, Jan. She is also a famous sculptor and artists. She is an ardent supporter of the arts and a strong advocate for protecting the natural resources of our planet.Painting and sculptures in Gallery Inn

This place was so much more than a place to sleep. Unfortunately, because of the beauty of old San Juan, and the hours I spent exploring it,  that is just about all I was able to do . I am hoping to visit again someday. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Gallery Inn. Puerto Rico Day Three Gallery Inn February 10 2018room in Gallery Inn

I took a 15 minute taxi ride to get my car at the airport. I wanted a jeep but was told when I reserved my car they only  had  a Toyota Rav  available.  I was pleasantly surprised when a Jeep Patriot awaited me. I have owned a Jeep Cherokee for 20 years and love it driving it. I was happy.  Jeep Patriot rental car at airport

I left the airport and began my drive on the roads of Puerto Rico. I had read many warnings in the travel guides about driving in Puerto Rico. They said some drivers could be aggressive.  I found the highways pretty much the  same as in the States. Well maybe the fact that there  really are no  rules about passing another car. And the side roads, now  that was a different story. trees and clouds on Highway 52 Puerto Rico

I drove Highway 52, the equivalent of one of our interstate highways, on my way to Guanica Dry Forest on the southwest coast of the Island. It was congested at first but traffic became lighter as I approached the mountains.

Unlike in  old San Juan, there were many sign of the damage from Maria along the way. Many traffic signs and trees were still lying on the roadside.road sign destroyed in hurricane

Unfortunately, it began to rain, which prevented me from enjoying the mountain scenery. I was able to still see the many fallen trees from the hurricane but it was not safe to pull along the roadside in the rainy conditions. I was able to stop a few times to observe the hurricane damage. 

I had planned to stop in  a few small towns in the mountains and walk around to see the extent of the damage. The rain changed theses plans. I still left the highway of at one exits but could not really explore  the town because of the pouring rain. I did notice many electrical repairs along the way and saw many downed electrical lines.

I also saw many roadside food stands, most of them closed but I am not sure whether that was because of the rain or damage from the hurricane.

I returned to the highway and soon was through the mountains. As I descended to the southern side of the island the rain stopped and the thick forests became more sparse, and soon non-existent,  I was now in a much drier climate, resembling southern California. 

I drove through the city of Ponce where I left highway 52 and followed Route 2 for about 20 miles through some very picturesque towns and villages. 

I next followed Route 116 through the outskirts of the small town Guanica. 

This area  is were Columbus landed on his second voyage to the New World.  A town was established here in 1508 and it was the Capitol of Puerto Rico for a number of years. It was here that the first United States troops landed in the Spanish-American War. Lot of history here. 

But it  is also near the famous and rare  Guanica Dry Forest Reserve, one of the last remaining in the world, and the reason for my visit. 

I was now near the eastern part of the preserve and my hotel the Copamarina.  I drove the narrow road and after a few sharp turns came upon beautiful views of the ocean. 

 More about this unique and beautiful area  in my next blog post. Here is a link to some more photographs of my drive to Guanica. Puerto Rico Day Three Drive to Guanica February 10 2018. 

 

‘You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

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Puerto Rico Day Two: San Juan: Castillo San Cristobal

After a light breakfast at my hotel, I began my second day in San  Juan by heading to the massive fort that prevented me from observing the sunrise earlier in the  morning.view of ocean and Castillo San Cristabol

Construction of Castillo San Cristobal was started by the Spanish in 1634 and took over 150 years to complete. It was the largest fortification in the New World. 

I was able to enter the castle with my admission receipt from my visit to “El Morro” the day before. entrance to Castillo San Cristobal

Once inside I again learned so much history about the fortress and San Juan  from the many exhibits throughout  the castle. They ranged from the defenses of the fort to how the soldiers were housed and fed. soldiers sleeping quarters

The fortification was built because of land assaults on San Juan by the Dutch and British in the 17th century. This newer  fortress protected the city for the next 300 years 

I roamed the many passages and tunnels throughout the fortress.tunnels in castle

Along the way I visited the dungeon which had these drawings on it’s walls. They were probably made by some poor soul awaiting a long prison sentence or execution. You probably didn’t wind up in the dungeon for petty crimes. drawings of ships on dungeon walls.

There were spectacular views from atop the walls of the fortress, including this view of the Capitol of Puerto Rico. View of capitol of Puerto Rico from castle walls

While enjoying a view of the ocean from one of the casements I saw a rainbow form over the water. The weather is usually sunny here this time of year but there were a lot of showers during my visit.rainbow over ocean

The exhibits told the history of how the lives of the  soldiers who defended the fort changed over the years, ending with the American troops who were stationed here in World War II. flags waving in wind

Once again time prevented me from seeing all there was to offer in this spectacular and historic fort.clouds and city view from fort

Hopefully I will get the chance to return to San Juan and visit it again. But there are so many countries to explore and I am running out of time. So I am glad I can share this visit with my blog readers. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the castle. Puerto Rico Day Two Castillo San Cristobal. February 9 2018. clouds over castle

 

On 
My 
Travels 
i have been 
A guest in 
Many castles 
Yet the 
Monument 
Which i 
Find 
Divine 
Is the oasis 
Where the heart 
And the silence 
Intertwine.”

~silent lotus” 
― silent lotus

 

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Puerto Rico Day Two: Up Early In San Juan But No Sunrise For Me.

Despite the night long celebrations on San Sabastian Street I slept well my first night in San Juan. I was up before my alarm went off,  hoping to see a sunrise. I thought I could see it near Castillo San Cristobol, the large fort to the east of my hotel. clouds over ocean near walls of fort

Sunrise was around 7 a.m. and I hurried along the wall overlooking the ocean to be on time. Well, as I approached the fort I realized it was obscuring my view to the east and I would never get around it to see the sunrise. narrow San Juan street

Instead I walked back down toward the cruise ship pier again on the narrow cobblestone streets. Christopher Columbus statue old San Juan

I came upon the Plaza Colon where a towering statue of Christopher Columbus overlooks the plaza. The plaza was surrounded by restaurants and gifts shops but there was no activity at this early hour. colorful buildings old San Juan

I made it to the pier where I found a contrast of the old and the new, a  sail ship and a gigantic cruise ship. sail ship and cruise ship in morning sunlight

This is were you can also find more contrast between the old town and the new growth from tourism. There was a Walgreen store next to a Sheraton Hotel,hotels and stores in old San Juan

and there even was a Ralph Lauren store. Philadelphia doesn’t even have one of these anymore. Lot of tourists dollars flow around here. ralph lauren store old San Juan

I meandered through the streets of San Juan observing the colorful buildings and many shops and outdoor cafes and restaurants, of course, closed at this early hour.outdoor cafes in old San Juan

I next  walked back up the steep streets to Norzagaray street were the entrance to my hotel is located. It is the last street along the massive wall that was built to protect the city. graffiti old San Juan

I noticed the many building located below the wall, next to the ocean and remember reading about this residential community, La Perla.La Perla sign along Atlantic Ocean

The guide books I read said to stay clear of this poorer neighborhood, so, of course, I had to visit. I walked through the narrow old gate into the village and found a few folks who were pleasant and friendly.old gate in wall La Perla

The buildings were run down and appeared damaged by the hurricane. Unfortunately it appears many of the residents could not afford to make  repairs.colorful house on street in La Perla

I walked to the ocean and enjoyed watching and listening to the waves crash along the rocky shore.

I also watched a large cruise ship enter San Juan Bay, giving an illusion it would crash into  “El Morro” .cruise ship near "El Morro"

I made my way  up the steep road to Norzgaray Street and back to my hotel. I spent some time exploring it’s many room. All adorned with the art work and sculptures created  by  the owner, Jan. I had  a small breakfast and was soon off for more explorations of the wonderful city. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk.  Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan morning walk. 

room in Gallery Inn

“Life is an experiment in which you may fail or succeed. Explore more, expect least.” 
― Santosh Kalwar

 

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Puerto Rico Day One: Getting To Know Old San Juan

After  my arrival in Puerto Rico  at the Luis Munoz Marin  airport I took a taxi to  old town San Juan .  As soon as  walked up to my hotel, the Gallery Inn, and entered  the gates I fell in love with the place. It was like walking into an art gallery. I was greeted by a pleasant young lady at the desk  and this noisy but lovable parrot. More about this wonderful place later.  campeche the white parrot at the Gallery Inn

I quickly settled into my  cozy room, unpacked,  and  was off to explore old   San Juan. My hotel is situated on the northern end of the city overlooking the old city wall and Atlantic Ocean. I walked south into the old town on the  blue cobblestones of narrow  San Justo Street. San Justo Street old San Juan

I soon discovered  all of the streets in old San Juan are narrow and made of this unique blue cobblestone. blue cobblestone street

Like my first visit to any city,  I was, at first, disorientated. I forgot my map at the room.  I  knew enough  from my research for the trip to somewhat find my way around. ( As I write this post I know the old town  like the back of my hand). I made my way down the narrow street to the newer areas of the town near the cruise ship docks.street vendor and cruise ship in background

The tourists from these ships provide much revenue to the city. I believe it is  why the water and electric infrastructure in old San Juan was almost completely restored after the devastation of Hurricane Maria last fall. Old San Juan was  again catering to it’s many tourists. colorful building old San Juan

I continued my walk westward on the Paseo de la Princesa. This street lies outside the massive walls that protected the city.old city wall San Juan

I welcomed the  many trees that lined this street. The sun was intense, and, even with the ever present trade winds, it was still hot. Temperatures were in the mid 80’s. tree lined street old San Juan

I also found many interesting statutes  and sculptures along the way. sculpture of family

I walked  to the Fuente Raices, a monument depicting  the different races of people  that contributed to,  now make up Puerto Rico. monument old San Juan

I next followed the street as it continued outside the city wall providing spectacular views of San Juan Bay. San Juan bay from outside old city wall

I entered the old city through the Puerta de San Juan, the main gate to the city. It is through this gate sailors, soldiers and dignitaries would first enter the New World after a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You could almost feel the history and ghosts  of the many people who walked through here over  the past 500 year. old city gate San Juan

I entered the old city and it’s beauty and enchantment were everywhere. Old trees, brightly painted buildings, and cobblestone streets made you feel you walked back in time. trees and old buildings

There was so much to do and I had so little time to do it. I have always been fascinated by Ponce de Leon and his search for the fountain of youth. I had to visit his final resting place in the impressive Catedral de San Juan. Ponce de Leon tomb

I explored the beauty of this church for awhile and, like always, wish I had more time. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful and historic church. San Juan Cathedral February 8 2018.altar Cathedral of San Juan

I roamed the many narrow streets just talking in the many sights of tourist and residents enjoying this delightful city. people feeding pigeons

I took  in so many sights it would take hours to describe them in this short blog post, but there were so many restaurants, shops, tourists sites and museums one could spend weeks exploring them all. outdoor restaurant old San Juan

And I only had two days. So I  made my way to Castillo San Felipe del Morro or “el Morro”,  the large fort that was built almost 500 years ago. This is  one sight   you cannot miss. El Morro fort San Juan

The large fort was built by Spain to protect the harbor used to replenish ships making the long voyage from Europe across the Atlantic. view of Atlantic ocean rocky shore

There are many exhibits in the fort explaining the strategic significance of the island of Puerto Rico. It was the first land encountered as ships crossed the Atlantic that had fresh water and was vital to controlling access to the “New World” .Spanish canon

I roamed the fort for over an hour and learned so much history while enjoying spectacular views of the ocean and city. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to “El Morro” El Morro February 8 2018.walls of Spanish fort El Morro San Juan

Once gain time was not my friend. It was getting late and I was getting hungry and tired. So reluctantly, I had to walk back to my hotel. I still was able to enjoy  many more  sights of old San Juan along the way . Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. San Juan Day One afternoon hike. old cemetery on shore

I got back, showered, and realized it was near sunset which around 6:30 pm. I was saddened to learn the only place to watch it would be from “El Morro” and I had no  time to get there.  I was starved so I walked to dinner at a restaurant famous for it’s local food, El Jabirito.  narrow blue cobblestone street

It was a family style restaurant with much chatter and laughter coming from the many local residents dining their. local restaurant

I had the fried red snapper and mofongo de yucca (mashed cassaba)  a local specialty. red snapper fish and mofongo

After my delicious meal I made my way through the noisy and bustling streets of old San Juan. They were filled with music and laughter and would be, I learned, throughout the night. It is like New Orleans, the city never sleeps. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk and meal. San Juan evening walk February 8 2017. narrow street at night San Juan

I was soon in my room, and despite the music and noise rising from San Sebastian,  I quickly fell  fast asleep, looking forward to another day of exploring  San Juan. San Sabastian street old San Juan

What I can tell you is that for Puerto Rico being such a small island, it has culturally impacted the entire world. Fat Joetotem monument

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Puerto Rico: Day One: Travel To, And Arrival, In Old San Juan

I began  writing  this post somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. I was on my way to historic and hurricane devastated Puerto Rico. I was thinking of a place to visit closer to home than my usual more exotic adventures. I love to travel but  have not traveled since the tragic loss of my sister and brother-in-law. I was reluctant to leave home. It has been a hard four months for all of us. Much joy has left my life.  But, with  encouragement from mom and family, telling me it is what I enjoy to do and what my sister Linda would want me to do, I decided to visit Puerto Rico. cumulus clouds over Atlantic Ocean

My trip began early this morning. I left my home at 4 a.m and drove the 45 miles to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport. I was worried about the winter weather but the roads were ice and snow free. After a quick check -in and short wait I boarded my plane.  De-icing delayed us a bit but I was soon on a short 30  minute flight to the greatest city in the world,  Philadelphia.control tower Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport

I had a very short layover and had to dash through the airport to make my connecting flight. I have done this many times before on  my travels. jets on ground in Philadelphia airport

The A330 airbus was not a full flight and I was lucky to have an empty seat next to me. This is traveler’s heaven. I wish I had this luck on my flight to Australia. view of clouds from airplane

We took off on time and I was able to read, start this blog post and relax on the 3 hour flight to Puerto Rico.  I love airplane flights, especially when I get my window seat. As a child I would always stop what I was doing and look up at passing airplanes. I wondered who was on the plane, where they were going and what their lives were like. I also wondered if they were looking down at me. I now know some of them were. There was no meal on this flight and I purchased a “cheesy” and not so good fruit and cheese tray for $9. cheese tray lunch on airplane

The flight went by quickly and I soon was descending through puffy  cumulus to the sub- tropical island of Puerto Rico. I have been seeing the reports of the damage done by the hurricanes and thought I could help their economy recover and see for myself the extent of the damage. I also  read the island has an interesting history, an abundance  of wildlife and beautiful beaches so I made my decision to visit.  view of coast of Puerto Rico

We flew over the old and new sections of San Juan. Unfortunately I will only have time to visit the old city. 

We arrived at a small, but efficient and clean airport, and I soon had my luggage and hailed a taxi for the 15 minute ride  to old San Juan. 

It was sunny, warm and humid outside. And very green and alive. A welcome relief from the cold, gray winter back home. 

We drove a major highway, lined with hi-rises, commercial districts and businesses, as is found in all major cities is the world.

This changed when we neared old San Juan. The buildings were older, the streets narrower and covered with blue cobblestone. My driver soon left me off at the wonderful and unique hotel, the Gallery Inn. I had once again made it safely to a new foreign land. And I will admit I was once again excited to begin to explore it, knowing that the joy I have will never be the same. But life is short, and all our days are numbered, so, despite the sadness, pain or setbacks were are given, living the life we left  have is all we can do. It is what we were created to do. So here I am and I am glad to have you all here with me. Here is a link to some more photographs from my trip to San Juan.  Puerto Rico Day One San Juan February 8 2018.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” 
― Leonardo da Vinci

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A Frigid Walk Through Downtown Philadelphia.

I was sound asleep five minutes after returning to my hotel room  while  in  Philadelphia for the Eagles football  game last Saturday. It was a long but exciting day. I was  still up early the next morning and  decided to take a quick walk through the streets of the City of Brotherly love before my brother and I headed back home. view from Broad Street Philadelphia

I left  the DoubleTree hotel located at the corner of Broad (16th)  and Locust Streets in the morning twilight  around 7 a.m. There was almost no traffic on the usually congested Broad Street. And only a few people, mainly homeless folks,  shivering  in the frigid arctic air. Broad street Philadelphia

I have walked the streets of downtown Philadelphia for about 25 years now, usually while staying overnight while attending   a legal seminar or a Philadelphia Phillies or Eagles  game. I love Philly,Broad street Philadelphia

I walked north on Broad Street, toward City Hall. I still remember when the statue of William Penn once dominated the skyline of Philadelphia. Zoning ordinances prohibited any building from  being taller than William Penn’s hat atop his statue. Clock tower city hall Philadelphia

I still remember  when the laws were changed and construction began on One Liberty Place in the 1980’s. The skyline of Philadelphia has changed considerably since then and many building now tower above our founder Mr. Penn. Lamp post City Hall Philadelphia

I walked past City Hall, once the tallest building in the world and made my way to the area of the Convention Center. This large building was  built, and  I began attending seminars here, in 1993. City Hall Philadelphia

I usually stayed at the Marriott Hotel adjacent to the Convention Center and would stay for a few  nights allowing me time to explore my favorite city. Marriott hotel philadelphia

I  spent many hours roaming the aisles and shops of the famous Reading Terminal.Reading Terminal sign Philadelphia

I  ate many breakfasts at the Downtown Dinner. Before this dinner opened  28 years ago  I would eat breakfast  at a another dinner  located on a site where the Convention Center now sits. dinner sign Philadelphia

I continued my walk in the frigid morning air and found a number of homeless folks trying, as best they could, to survive in the harsh Winter weather. I reflected on how blessed, even with the recent tragedies I experienced,  my life has been.homeless person sleeping on frigid street

I next walked to one of my favorite Philadelphia neighborhoods, the colorful and usually busy Chinatown. Arch in Chinatown Philadelphia

I have spent many hours exploring the exotic shops and eating in the many wonderful restaurants in crowded area along Arch and Race Streets. There was little activity on this cold Sunday morning.Chinese restaurant sign

And I was getting cold too, so I decided to cut my walk short and head back to the hotel. I normally would walk to either the Delaware or Schuylkill Rivers and the many historic sights in between. Not on Sunday, I made my way back as the rays of the rising  sun were shining  on William Penn.  I was soon warming up in my hotel room. William Penn atop City Hall Philadelphia

The streets of Philadelphia had awakened and there  was much more people out and about on Broad Street. Traffic was bustling and we could  hear the noise of cars, fire engines and ambulances even on the 23rd floor of our hotel. We soon packed and were on our way to have breakfast with my nephew Brandon at Bob’s Dinner in the Manayunk section of the city.tour bus

Once again we made a good choice and soon enjoyed a hearty breakfast and more good conversation. After breakfast we said goodbye to Brandon and  were on our way back home to  Northeastern Pennsylvania.  We were only gone for a day but it was one good day. And know I will be back soon, hopefully for an Eagle’s Broad Street parade. GO Eagles!!!! Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk.  Morning walk January 14 2018. 

reflection in mirror

“I never walked through the streets of any city with as much satisfaction as those of Philadelphia. The neatness and cleanliness of all animate and inanimate things, houses, pavements, and citizens, is not to be surpassed.” 
— Frances Wright

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Fly Eagles Fly! Football, Family And Philly

 

In addition to my love of the outdoors, travel, reading and a lot of other things I  am also an avid Philadelphia Eagles football fan. Have been since I started watching them with my  dad when I was about  six years old. Philadelphia Eagles flag

Well the Eagles made it to the playoffs this year , and my baby brother Mike, also an avid fan,  and I decided to travel  to my favorite city, Philadelphia, to watch the game last weekend. William Penn statute atop City Hall Philadelphia

It was a cold and snowy start here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The roads were icy and snow covered when we departed. However, we left the snow behind once we drove through the tunnel  under the Blue Mountain.   But we couldn’t escape the cold. It  was sunny and  windy with temperatures in the upper 20’s when we arrived at the DoubleTree  Hotel in downtown  Philadelphia. I love this city. view of Philadelphia skyline from hotel room

We checked into our hotel and, after settling into our room, decided to have lunch in the downtown. My nephew Charles recommended a Mexican restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, El Vez.

We walked the bustling streets of the city and found this popular restaurant. It was a good suggestion as we enjoyed our meal and the company of many Eagles fans getting ready for the big game. We shared an interesting, and delicious crab and cactus taco and I had the sea bass tacos as my main course. Awesome. The food was excellent as was the atmosphere of the restaurant. crab and cactus salsa

After lunch I took a quick walk in the cold brisk Philadelphia sunshine to Rittenhouse Square,  one of my favorite parks in the beautiful City of Brotherly Love.Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia

My love for  this city  began with a visit to the zoo when I was around five years old. It has continued all of my life. I have spent many days walking it’s streets. Still, there is just so much to see and I find something new on every trip to this historic city. . Broad Street and City Hall Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square did not have the crowds of people who gather here in the warmer months but there was still some folks out and about  on a frigid day in January.  I enjoy watching folks go about there everyday affairs in big cities. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk in Philadelphia.  Walk to Rittenhouse Square. Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia

After a short rest at our hotel my brother and I boarded the express trains in the Philadelphia subway for the ten minute trip to South Philadelphia, the home of the Philadelphia  Eagles. subway Philadelphia

The train cars were packed with excited Eagles fans and there were numerous Eagles chants roaring from the fans on the short trip to the Philadelphia Sports Complex. 

We arrived at the subway stop near the stadium and mingled with  the thousands of fans tailgating in the frigid air or making their way to the Lincoln Financial Field or the “Linc” in the January sunshine. Lincoln Financial Field

The excitement of the Eagles fans was everywhere along the ways.  Philadelphia has the greatest fans in the world,  my humble opinion anyway. 

There was a lot of security  both in the parking lots and at the entrances but fortunately it was not needed. police officer on horse

We entered the stadium and roamed through the crowds, taking in the festive atmosphere. Lincoln Financial Field

As we made our way to our seats once again the reality of the recent loss I have endured  crept into my mind.   I remembered the first time I walked to these seats, It was the night  the stadium opened and I attended the game with my brother-in-law Charles. It was a wonderful experience. Sadly I reflected on those memories realizing he will no longer share them with me. I was again reminded of the emptiness the tragic loss of my sister and her husband has made in my life.  Their loss  will always be with me as I roam this Earth. But I also know they would want me, and the rest of their family, to live and enjoy life. It will not be easy.

I reflected on the past and was thankful to have such good memories.  The excitement of the start of the game soon had me cheering the Eagles with the  70,00 other crazy fans in the stadium. football players on field

It was a close and exciting game but I will admit I was cold. The shouting, applauding and jumping helped a bit but my toes and fingers were still frozen. Lincoln financial Field

We endured the cold and it was worth it. The outcome of the game came down to the final play The Eagles defeated the Atlanta  Falcons by defending our goal line in the final seconds of the game. The stadium erupted when the Falcons failed to score. We endured the cold and it was worth it. We made our way back to the subway and our hotel in the company of crowds of ecstatic Eagles fans. 

After warming up for a few minutes we soon taking a taxi to another restaurant recommended by  my nephew Charlie, Buddakan. We meet his brother, my nephew Brandon, and shared  another  delicious meal and good conversation about family, football and Philly. Statute of Buddha

It was about ten o’clock when we finished eating and my brother Mike and I took a quick walk to Independence  Hall the birthplace of our great Nation. I have been here many times before, at all hours of the day and night, but I still get goosebumps when I stand in this hallowed place. I always reflect on how Jefferson, Franklin and Adams stood in this same spot as the created our Nation. I love this city and it was a perfect way to end a very memorable day. Here is a link to some more photographs from the game. Eagles Game January 13 2018.

Independence Hall lit at night

“Sport is friendship; sport is health, sport is education, sport is life, sport brings the world together.” – Juan Antonio Samaranc

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Valley Forge: A Much Too Short A Visit To Such A Historic Place

I was in the Philadelphia suburbs  this past weekend, attending some Christmas shows with family and had a few free hours on Sunday morning.  Looking for someplace to hike, I decided to visit a park which played a crucial role in our Nation’s history.  It was in second or third grade that I first learned about how General George Washington and his troops endured the hardships of Winter at Valley Forge.tree lined visitor center

I have driven to Philadelphia countless times over the years and had always planned to visit this National Park, and I finally had the opportunity on Sunday.  The park is located about 20 miles from  central Philadelphia. It was cloudy and cold when I arrived at the park.  I first stopped at the  visitor center to learn a little about the history and layout of the park. tree lined visitor center at Valley Forge

I learned from the very helpful staff that there were a number of  automobile routes and hiking  trails in the park. I spent about a half hour reviewing the very informative exhibits about  Washington’s encampment in the Winter of 1777/1778. exhibits and displays at visitor center

There were also many displays of historical artifacts from encampment and the Revolutionary War. I could have spent many hours at the visitors center but I only had a few hours  available and so set out for a quick hike through the park grounds. Revolutionary war rifles on display

I left the parking area and followed what I thought was the trail to Washington’s headquarters.  I walked along the road and immediately noticed the large ancient trees, many of them oak that are found throughout the park. tree lined trail at Valley Forge

I love to see old trees and enjoy walking near them. I also found a few critters that also enjoy them, such as this squirrel, squirrel with nut in tree

and this large hawk that I saw flying overhead. I followed him and was able to capture this photograph of it in one of the large trees. hawk in tree

At first I thought I was on the Joseph Plumb Martin trail but didn’t recognize any of the landmarks on the map. It wasn’t until I saw the National Memorial Arch that I realized I was on a different trail,  County Line Road. National memorial arch at valley forge

I wasn’t disappointed since it was a nice walk and I loved the old trees and scenery. old leafless tree on trail in Valley Forge

I knew I would not have enough time to see all of the sights so I decided to turn onto Gulph road head toward the sight of Washington’s permanent headquarters near the Schuylkill River. Tre lined Gulph road in Valley Forge

I was amazed at the size of many of the red oaks trees along this road and imagined that some of them may have towered over the troops stationed here that cold Winter in  Valley Forge at the founding of our Nation. Here is a link to some  photographs fro my hike. Valley Forge hike part onelarge red oak tree

I walked up a trail to an artillery park where the small cannons used in the Revolutionary war were centrally located in anticipation of a British attack. Fortunately the attack never came.Revolutionary war cannon

Washington spent the Winter training the inexperienced young army and, although they endured many hardships, emerged as a much better fighting force in the Spring. There were replicas of the troops cabins scattered about in this area of the Valley Forge park. 

After inspecting some of the huts and cabins I realized i would not have time to visit the permanent headquarters of General Washington. I had to settle for this monument which marks the locations of the temporary tent headquarters when Washington first marched to Valley Forge. 

As I made my way to the Joseph Plumb Martin trail, I encountered many other folks enjoying the history, natural beauty and scenery of the park on this cool December morning. I  can only imagine how beautiful it is in the Spring and Summer. 

Along the way I came upon this old building at the entrance to an old cemetery .

I stopped in to take a quick peek  at the cemetery and I hope to return to explore this ancient burial ground. 

I finally passed the beautiful Washington Memorial Chapel and again was unable to visit for lack of time. 

The trail back to the visitor center parking lot ran along a busy highway but was still lined with ancient trees. I know it was a short visit to such an important place in our Nation’s history , and this post does not do it  justice, but I hope to return soon for a longer, and more intense exploration of this landmark in our history. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Valley Forge part two. tree lined road Valley Forge

“Our Men have all got comfortably covered in their Huts and Better quarters are not in the World…” Tench Tilghman to John Cadwalader, Valley Forge, 18 January 1778wood casbin at Valley Forge

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Turn, Turn Turn, To Everything There Is A Season

And turn life does. It has been over a month now since my life has so drastically changed as a result of the untimely and tragic loss of my sister and brother-in-law. During that time  I have continued my daily walks in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, trying to find  the peace and comfort the beauty of nature has always provided me.  I had been doing a lot of reflecting on life, death and this most unexpected tragedy.Lake Took-A-While in fall

It has been difficult for me to gather my thoughts and share the beauty I still  find on my walks, despite the pain and grief I am feeling.  But I know  Linda and Charlie would want me to continue with this blog,  sharing my love of life and adventure, now,  from such a different perspective. So I will try to  continue my message to enjoy, appreciate and protect nature during this short time we are given on this wonderful planet.  We must protect it for those who remain after we are gone, and for all future generations to come.  red berries

So I will again try and  share  some of my thoughts, and photographs, of the beauty I found  on my hikes this past month. 

Although it was a very mild month, Fall still came and the leaves donned their  brilliant colors for a few weeks. I tried to enjoy  that color on a number of walks at one of my favorite hiking trails, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township.  The beauty of the fall foliage did provide much needed peace as I tried to understand the great loss my family suffered so suddenly . Here is a link to some more photographs from one of those  hikes. PPL Wetlands hike October 14 2017.tree lined canal covered in duckweed

This past weekend I again returned to the wetlands.  There was still some color but now most of the leaves  have fallen to the earth exposing  the bare branches of  trees and shrubs. So quickly the seasons turn. As can life.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this past weekend. PPL Wetlands hike November 4 2017. bare trees in PPL Wetlands

They will wear this  Winter  attire until the warm days of Spring return. Change is the one constant in nature and life.  And, as I have learned, sometimes it comes  slowly, like the seasons, and sometimes quickly  like  an unexpected event in life.  leafless black walnut tree

I took many walks in  the beautiful Fall weather and  took some  photographs of the majesty of the fall foliage and scenery  here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past month. Most were at the PPL Wetlands but I also walked along the shores of  Lake Irene, at a  local Community Park near my home in Hazle Township. Here is a link to some photographs from that beautiful  hike. Community Park walk October 24 2017cloud reflection on Lake Irene

Although many of the robins, catbirds, and song birds had already left our area I still came across a number of  birds on my walks. kinglet in tree branch

Some were still in the process of migrating south. like this cedar waxwing,cedar waxwing in tree branch

while other will remain for the cold Winter that approaches including the downy and hairy woodpeckers.hairy or downy woodpecker on tree

On a hike at Lake Irene last weekend I was fortunate to encounter a number of water fowl still in our area, including this pie-billed grebe,pied-billed grebe on Lake Irene

that was  accompanying this cormorant on a cool morning swim. cormorant on lake Irene

I also saw this noisy pair of Canada  geese, mallard duckstwo canada geese on lake Irene

and a flock of bufflehead ducks that kept their distance. There were reports of a bald eagle in the area, the reason for my visit but I didn’t see it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds.  from my hike at community park. Community park November 4 2017.bufflehead ducks on Lake Irene

I didn’t see any of my favorite mammals, the black bear, this past month but I did see plenty of deer, including this late season young fawn,deer fawn leaping along path

and many chipmunks, a few voles mice and moles, and gray and red squirrels. red squirrel on tree trunk

The cooler weather eliminated much of the insect activity in the wetlands but there were a few bees, wasp and yellow jackets struggling about  in the lower temperatures, yellow jacket on a leaf

and the few dragonflies I saw also were looking tired and worn after an active summer. dragonfly on a branch

At the beginning of the month because of the unseasonably warm temperatures,  I  actually heard a few spring peeper frogs. But, as the day got shorter and colder  they, too, were silent. The many turtles that were seen along the canals in the Spring and Summer  were now rare although I did find this fellow on one of my hikes. 

As you may tell from reading this post, although my life is forever changed, I still find great joy in my hikes in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I always have loved nature , since those first walks with my dad as a young child. Hiking in the woods and gathering mushrooms with dad  was  a “boys” thing. Dad loved walking in the woods with his four sons. I learned so much on those hikes.

But my dad   loved his only daughter, his   “little princess” and “birthday girl” They shared January 29 birthdays.  Their relationship was so  special.  Like me she was devastated when  he left us. And once again I am devastated losing here much too soon. .  We miss her and her husband so much. Life we never be the same for me, my mom and siblings, and the four wonderful children they left behind. 

I know how much they loved life and I want to let the world know this, and so as I  continue to share the beauty I find in nature, my  blog posts will now  not only be dedicated to  my dad, but also to Charlie and Linda.They loved life and each other and their memory will accompany me on all of my journeys now. Until we meet again. For we are all dancing on this earth for a short time.

 “My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” 
― Jandy NelsonThe Sky Is Everywhere

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