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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Idaho Day Four: Idaho Falls To Salt Lake City, On The Road Again

 After experiencing the total solar eclipse on Monday , I slept well in my budget hotel in Idaho Falls, falling asleep thinking of plans to view the next total eclipse which will be closer to my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania in 2024. Econo lodge room Idaho Falls

I awoke early ,  packed, but before heading to Salt Lake City, I decided to drive to downtown Idaho Falls to take a closer look at the famous falls.Water tower near pond downtown Idaho Falls

I parked at the local library and walked to the river walk along the Snake River. waterfalls on Snake River Idaho Falls Idaho

The sun had not yet risen and it was chilly, in the low 50’s  considering it  was close to 90 degrees  the afternoon the day before. The falls were visible from the start of the river walk.LDS Mormon temple in distance along Snake River Idaho Falls

Even though it was early, around 7 a.m the river walk’s paths  were  busy with walkers, bikers and runners enjoying the beautiful view and unique grass sculptures. There were a number of hotels in the area and I hope to return to this city someday and stay at one of them, within sight and sound of the falls. grizzly bear shrub Idaho Falls Idaho

The sun rose as I was walking across the Snake river  from the LDS Mormon Temple.Sunrise LDS Mormon temple Idaho Falls

Again I wish I had more time to explore and enjoy the city but I had to move on, it was a 3 1/2 hour ride to Salt Lake City and I hoped to visit some sights along the way. So I returned to my hotel, checked out and was on the road again. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. Morning walk photographs.Snake River falls Idaho falls

I was soon heading south on Interstate 15 and found little traffic on the highway. I enjoyed the passing scenery, many buttes, hills and ridges of the high desert.View of high desert Idaho on Interstate 15

I wanted to get to Salt Lake City early so I would have time to explore the city but I soon made my first detour. I came upon the Shoshone Bannock Casino and saw a sign for a museum. I love museums and I am especially interested in all Native American history and culture. Fort Hall Casino Idaho

Unfortunately, Google maps misdirected me and I drove a few miles out of my way but enjoyed a nice conversation with a member of the local tribe and got to see some of the old building associated with the old fort that was located here. old house at Fort Hall Idaho

I eventually found the museum and spent about a half hour learning about these two Native American tribes and their peaceful co-existence and love of  the land they lived on. Native American couple on horse pack in traditional attire

And also about the sad history of how they were mistreated by the new “immigrants” and how many of the  treaties made with them were  broken.  And, as I have said so many times I wish I had more time to spend in this museum. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the museum. Shoshone-Bannock Museum PhotographsShoshone Bannock tribes insignia

I was back on the highway and made good time until I got into Utah. Road construction slowed me down to almost a dead stop and it took me almost an hour to travel 15 miles. traffic on Interstate 15 Utah

But this is what travel is about, unexpected delays, sights and situations.  Once I was out of the construction I again made good time but was I late in arriving at my next planned stop, Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island Utah welcome sign

I had wanted to visit this famous lake since I first saw a photograph of people floating in it’s salty waters in elementary school. I had come close twice before, once on a cross country trip I took after I graduated from law school. I tried to make it to California but I ran out of money in Jackson Hole Wyoming and had to head home. Salt flats near Great Salt lake utah

I also was planning to visit the lake on another trip across country, in 2011, but torrential rains caused me to change my plans. So I was very excited to finally see this beautiful lake surrounded by mountains . view of Great Salt lake

I would have loved to have had the time to take a swim in the lake , but, wanting to get to Salt lake City, I decided to visit the famous Garr Ranch and the bison that roam this section of the island. view of horses, clouds and mountains near Great Salt Lake

The scenery on the island was spectacular. I would love to return and hike some of the many trails that crisscross the island. Here is a link to some more photographs on Antelope Island. Antelope Island PhotographsBuffalo in grass on Antelope Island

I spent about an hour on the island when I realized my gas tank was almost empty. I mean empty.  There are no gas stations on the island.  I just made it to the first gas station after I left the island  before I ran out of gas . I was on the road , finding heavy traffic again, and watched some rain clouds move in from the south as I neared Salt Lake City. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Salt Lake City.  Drive  from Idaho Falls photographs Highway near Salt lake City Utah

It was now late afternoon, later then I wanted to arrive, and I decided to first check into my hotel near the airport.  I was debating with myself whether I wanted to drive into the downtown traffic to do some sightseeing or just call it a day  since I had a very early flight the next morning. While checking in, the girl at the front desk informed me there was a train from the airport to the downtown. After getting settled in my room I drove to the airport, returned my car, and was soon on the green line train to downtown Salt lake City. inside train car on way to Salt Lake City from airport

It was now raining outside, as our train made the 15 minute ride to Temple Square, making about five stops along the way. View from train on way to downtown Salt Lake City

Fortunately, the rain had stopped as I departed the train and I soon found my way to the famous LDS Mormon Temple. Temple downtown Salt lake City

And the even more famous Tabernacle Building. Mormon Tabernacle building Salt Lake City

I have enjoyed so much wonderful music performed by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and it was truly a joy to sit in this building. Organ and interior of Mormon Tabernacle Salt Lake City

I walked around the beautiful grounds of Temple Square and was impressed by the many beautiful displays of flowers which were planted everywhere. flowers on Temple Square Salt lake City

The grounds were crowded with visiting Mormons, tourists and even local folks, like this couple who found the lake and surrounding gardens as a good place for wedding photographs.Couple posing for wedding photographs Temple Square

It was getting late, and starting to rain again and I decided to eat in one of the few restaurants on the Temple Square grounds and was pleased to have chosen the Roof  Restaurant and it’s spectacular views of the Temple. 

And the food, served buffet style was very good too. I ate way too much, and I think I am still walking off the many delicious desserts I sampled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my dinner at the Roof Restaurant. Roof Restaurant photographs. desserts at Roof restaurant Salt lake city

After dinner, I made my way back to the train stop in a light rain, and after a short ride to the airport, I was picked up and returned to my hotel. I finished packing and was soon asleep since I had an early flight.

I was up early the next morning, at the airport and soon,  heading home. I  hope  to see, at least one more during ,my lifetime , one of the most amazing natural phenomena that occurs on our planet, a total eclipse of the sun. It is amazing. Here is a link to some more photographs from my brief visit to downtown Salt lake City.  Temple Square photographs.

“Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.” 
― Amit Ray,

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My First Total Solar Eclipse And AWEsome It Was

I guess the way to begin this post is to say the total solar eclipse I experienced was not what I expected. I had visions of the moon bringing total midnight darkness to the middle of  day. Not how it happened. I t happened very differently  but still so awesome. More on this later but now first on  how and where I got to  observe it. corona of sun during total eclipse

I was up early in my $387 dollar a night Econo Lodge in Idaho Falls. Actually, although overpriced for the eclipse I had a  nice clean room and the staff was very friendly and  welcoming.  I was up early, around 5 a.m. and worked on a blog post until sunrise, around 7 a.m. here in southern Idaho, had a coffee and some oatmeal and was on the road heading north to Rexburg, a town in the path of the longest totality of the eclipse. highway with no traffic Idaho Falls

I was surprised to find so little traffic, with the reports of traffic jams in Oregon and warnings from park rangers to avoid traffic and stay at my hotel and watch it. cars at parking lot southern butte Rexburg Idaho

I, of course, wasn’t taking this advice and, after talking with a few local photographers I met, took their suggestions that anything in the Rexburg area and particularly two buttes west of the city, would be the best place to view the eclipse.  I was told I may not get there with the traffic but I was surprised to find  my way to the town Menan and it’s two buttes with very little traffic.parking lot northern Menan Butte Idaho

There were two buttes the first I reached was private and they were charging $40 dollars to park. I was told the northern Butte was the better location so I drove on and found a large parking lot and no fee to park.parking lot Northern Menan Butte Idaho

There  were a lot of vehicles, buses and campers but no were near what I was expecting. I arrived early, around 8:30 am and decided to hike the northern Menan Butte before the moon arrived to block the sun.trail to Northern Menan butte summit Idaho

The local Idaho officials sure went out of their  way to accommodate the visitors. Police directed and slowed traffic, fire fighters and emergency folks were at the ready and rangers provided water, eclipse glasses and information about the eclipse and the natural environment of the butte. emergency tent at solar eclipse

I began my walk up the butte, were many folks were going to observe the eclipse.  Canadian couple waiting for solar eclipse

I decided, on my way to the summit, that after my climb, I would set up near this group of photographers and astronomers, who had the big cameras and telescopes, and observe the eclipse. photographers at Menan Butte Idaho for total solar eclipse

I walked up the sandy, slippery and rocky path to the summit of the butte, having to admit I took a few breaks along the way. trail sign for Menan Butte at solar eclipse

Aside from a few birds, including a hawk, the only critter I saw on my hike  was this beetle. beetle on ground on trail

There was a steady stream of climbers, of all ages, and from all over the country and world. trail up to Menan Butte summit

I was glad to see the many families struggling up the winding paths with their children, with some dedicated fathers even carrying infants. trail up to Menan Butte summit

The hike took about and 45 minutes to reach the top and I enjoyed the view on some rocks near the summit.View from atop Menan Butte summit Idaho

It was a much easier,  and quicker,  hike back down the butte and I returned to my car around 10:15 am. , 15 minutes before the eclipse was to begin. View from atop Menan Butte Idaho summit

I heard the excited voices of some Asian tourists shouting it had begun and put on my protective glasses to watch the moon begin it’s two hour journey across the face of the sun.  I took this photograph of some of the many folks who climbed the butte to watch the eclipse. People atop Menan Butte Idaho watching total solar eclipse

I walked over to the group of photographers and set up my camera equipment. I am not, by any means, a professional photographer, I let the cameras do the work fir me, and was worried I had purchased an incorrect eclipse lens. I did take a few photos of the start of the eclipse with this being the best result .Moon starting to eclipse sun

I spent the next hour taking peak at the ever diminishing disc of the sun through my protective glasses and watching a slight change in the intensity of the sunlight.moon eclipsing solar disc

It was amazing how, even at 95% of coverage of the solar disc, the intensity of the suns rays were still blinding without the glasses. Folks in the group next to me did  notice a change in the shadows cast by the diminished sunlight,shadow cast during total solar eclipse

and there was a slight noticeable change in the lighting  in the landscape.lanndcape during start of total solar eclipse

However at totality everything changed so quickly. It was wonderful and magical. view of sun during total solar eclipse

The skies rapidly darkened  and the sun became a black hole in the sky surrounded by a halo of bright light. It was amazing..view of total solar eclipse

Mars and Mercury appeared and a red sky, as seen on the eastern horizon at sunrise, and the western horizon at sunset, ringed the entire horizon. I was glad I was on the flat plains of Idaho to  view of horizon during total solar eclipseobserve it. 

There were shouts of joy from the group of people around me, dogs barked and babies cried. The temperature dropped and I reached for my IPhone to take this video, which can be seen on my YouTube channel at this link https://youtu.be/k0M_iZCyGv0I also reached for one of my cameras, my Canon 5D Mark III and took this and a few other photographs. 

The two minutes of totality went so fast,  I didn’t get a chance to take  any landscape photographs of the butte as I planned and I missed seeing some of the stars other folks near me said thy had seen. It never good totally dark, just a late twilight feeling. Still something you could never really exactly describe without experiencing it. 

It was a truly remarkable experience, but if I could do it over, and when I see my next one in 2024, I will  spend more time enjoying it and not try to video or photograph this fantastic cosmic event.  Here is a link to some more photographs of my visit to Menan Butte to watch the eclipse. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Three-Solar-Eclipse-At-Menan-Butte-August-21-2017

As soon as the shadow moon  moved  just past the sun it once again became bright and you now again had to use the eclipse glasses to watch the event. After about ten minutes I decided to leave this area and get to the highway to finish watching the eclipse there, in hopes of avoiding traffic. Unfortunately, the local police directed me, and others with the same idea, in a northerly direction where we ran into a lot of traffic. I decided to try a shortcut from looking at Google maps on my IPhone but soon came to a dead end.

A local resident explained to me that my best bet would to re-trace my path and make my way to the major highway. I did and found the major highway route 20 with traffic at a standstill. All back roads heading south were also congested. 

I decided to head back to the nearest town Rexburg, which to find something to eat and explore the town until the traffic subsided.  I found traffic in the town to be heavy and all of the restaurants with long lines of folks doing the same thing as me. I waited in line at a Thai restaurant where I had a nice lunch. 

After lunch I walked the streets of Rexburg for a bit and got back on Route 20 for my journey back to Idaho Falls. It was congested, but moving traffic for 15 of the 20 mile trip but traffic stalled again 5 miles from my hotel. I once again took to the back roads and this time did find my way to the hotel after driving some rural roads. 

It was late afternoon when I arrived, and after a meal at a nearby Mexican restaurant I was back at my hotel. With a long day planned early in the morning I was soon fell asleep reflecting on the marvelous eclipse I had experienced and thinking about plans to observe the next, visible much closer to my home in Pennsylvania in 7 years. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive back to the hotel. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Three-Drive-to-hotel-August-21-2017 

 

Nothing is there beyond hope
Nothing that can be sworn impossible
Nothing wonderful, since Zeus,
Father of the Olympians
Made night from mid-day
Hiding the bright sunlight
And sore fear came upon men.
[Perhaps written having seen the eclipse of 6 Apr 648 BC.] 

 

 

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Total Eclipse Of The Sun: The Journey Begins. Utah And Idaho Are Beautiful States.

As a child, my first interest in the sky and stars was when my dad took me outside on a cool, clear July night and showed me the Milky Way. I fell in love with the stars and spent many clear nights observing the stars, moon and planets. . So when I heard there would be a total eclipse of our star, I knew I had to see it. So I mad plans to head to Idaho to make sure. Idaho has some of the least cloudy skies in the country. I began my trip early Saturday morning from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport. airplane at airport

It was a nice flight, with a short layover in Detroit and I spent it like I always do, watching thee changing landscape pass beneath me and thinking about the folks who live there and how they live their lives. This trip was a bit more comfortable since the seat next to me was empty. Why couldn’t that happen on my trip to Australia.  Here is a link to some photographs I took from the plane. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-One-Airplane-photos-August-19-2017-landscape from airplane

I landed in Salt Lake City around 10:00 am and I was soon in my rental SUV, a Highlander, heading north on the scenic highways of Utah. The traffic was very heavy until I reached Ogden. highway in Utah

I was hungry and stopped in the tiny town of Tremonton where is was surprised to see the large corn fields growing in the dry hot climate. The temperatures were near 90 and the grass along the interstate highway was parched.cornfields and mountains in Utah

I found a tiny restaurant, J. C.’s Country  Diner where I stopped  to have a very hearty and delicious breakfast and enjoyed some wonderful conversation with my waitress , some local folks and the owner.  My waitress convinced me to try the local corn and I did. It was awesome. small diner in Utah

I continued my journey, with surprisingly, light traffic through the mostly desolate countryside. I heard reports of traffic jams in Oregon but none so far on my journey. desolated building in Utah

I entered Idaho and continued through the “high desert” country wishing I had more time to explore but I had over three hours of driving to get to Twin Falls and I had a few stops planned on the way. highway sign  into Idaho

The first was in the small town of Hazelton Idaho. I first became aware of this town in elementary school when looking up my home town of Hazleton in an atlas.sign about Hazelton Idaho

I always wanted to visit and today I did stopping for some  fuel, coffee for me and gas for the car. buildings in Hazelton Idaho

I took a quick walk through the quiet town wondering if any of the folks ever thought about the other Hazleton. Some cool old buildings and this old truck  along the streets of this small town.old white truck Hazelton Idaho

I now drove through areas cultivated by irrigation from the Snake River and saw crops of corn, soy beans and I am not sure what this is, I think Swiss chard. crops being irrigated in Idaho

And of course potatoes. potato crops in Idaho

And there were some other interesting sights. Seeing this tin man reminded me I was not in Pennsylvania anymore .tin man sculpture Idaho

I drove to the tiny town of hunt to visit the location of a darker part of our Country’s history, the Minidoka Japanese Internment Camp. Internment building Minidako camp Idaho

As I walked past the guard tower I couldn’t help be reminded of my recent visit to Auschwitz and the horrors that occurred there. Fortunately our Nation is a Nation of laws and even though is was wrong to round up these United States citizens, they were not mistreated, and  our Government did try and provide them, pretty much everything  but what is most important, their freedom.  It was still far too high a price for these Americans to pay. guard tower Minidako Idaho

I will try and do another blog post on my visit here but two things occurred on my walk I would like to mention, first, I saw a hawk in the sky, and too a few photos. I checked the photos and discovered I had my close up setting on the camera. Disappointed I looked up and saw a sky filled with the majestic birds. A birder Facebook friend identified them as Swainson Hawks. hawk in flight

I was amazed at watching these birds soar through the sky, and as I walked along the replicate barbed wire fence I thought of the imprisoned Japanese Americans and somehow felt this was some of the departed saying they are now free. barbed wire fence

Then as I walked along the fence I noticed a dragonfly. It hovered around me and then alight on the barbed wire. Again an interesting sign, I will say more in my post on my visit but for now here is a link to some photographs I took on my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-One-Minidoka-August-19-2017dragonfly on barbed wire

I left the camp and it was not later than I planned almost 4:00 pm. I did not arrive at my hotel, a Quinta Lodge in Twin Falls until almost 5:00 pm and found my room was still not ready. I decided to talk a quick walk to the Snake River Canyon rim and was treated to a spectacular view of the river. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Twin Falls. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-One-Travel-to-twin-Falls-August-19-2017-Snake River Idaho

I  hadn’t known a lot about this area and soon learned much of the history at the visitor center. Bridge over Snake River

I was tired and hungry and finally checked into my room after 6:00. After unpacking, recharging my electronics and taking a quick hot shower, I drove over to a nice restaurant Elevation 486.Snake river idaho

Unfortunately, the restaurant was crowed and I couldn’t get a seat with a view but I still had a nice meal and then wandered along the canyon rim for a while before I drove back to my hotel.  I think I was sleeping in ten minutes. It was a long day but it was sure great to be back on the road. Glad you were able to come along. Here is a link to some more photographs taken after diner at the canyon rim. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-One-evening-at-Snake-River-rim-August-19-2017Snake river

 

Adventure is worthwhile.”- Aristotle

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Poland Day Fifteen Sopot And Oliwa. So Nice To See The Sea Again.

After our tour of Gdansk we  boarded a local train for the short 15 minute ride to Sopot. Along the way we passed the famous shipyards of Gdansk where Lech Walesa began the solidarity movement that, with the help of Pope John Paul, brought down the Communist regime in Poland. gdansk poland shipyard

We soon arrived at the train station in Sopot and walked through this resort town  seeing some of it’s famous landmarks,

including the famous “crooked house”.

We walked into the square which contained many restaurants and shops. One of them was serving this delicious looking treat, waffles, ice cream and strawberries. 

It was well past lunch so we decided to eat,  and this time, something besides traditional Polish food.  So we stopped in the Avocadoa Japanese style restaurant.  The food was delicious, one of the best Japanese meals I was ever served and I have eaten in a lot of Japanese restaurants on this planet. I never would have thought I would have such great Japanese food in Poland. 

After lunch we walked down to the beach. It was good to see the  Baltic Sea again. I last saw in it Helsinki Finland when I toured Scandinavia. Photographs and comments about this trip can be found in the archives of my blog. 

As my sister, niece and guides walked the pier I found myself photographing the many shore birds in the waters next to the pier. 

I enjoy watching the seagull and other shore birds and can spend hours at a beach photographing them. I was watching three seagulls interact and was ale to learn it was a family and mommy was feeding her youngster. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw  at Sopot. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Sopot-birds-April-22-2017-

I wish we could have stayed here for a few hours, or days, or weeks, but it was now getting late in the afternoon and we still had a few stops planned before our train ride back to Warsaw. . We walked back to the train station and took a short trip to Oliwa a section of Gdansk.   Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Sopot. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Sopot-beach-April-22-2017

Our guides chose a visit to Oliwa for two reasons, one was the beautiful 16th century Oliwa Cathedral, and the other a visit to, reportedly, the best pierogi restaurant in Gdansk, Mandu. 

We left the train and walked the peaceful streets of this quiet town to make reservations at the Mandu restaurant. We were told there was a line and it would be an hour wait. Kasha volunteered to wait in the line in the hope of getting a seat for us and we continued on to the Cathedral. 

It was a nice walk in the late April sunshine, and we made our way through a tree-lined park with canals, 

flower gardens,

and ducks. 

As I had  found in every city, town and neighborhood during my visit to Poland there was always some sort of remembrance to the horrors of the Nazi occupation during World War II.

We arrived at the Cathedral

just as a local orchestra was starting to rehearse  for a concert. So we were able to view the beautiful altars, 

painting and

relics as they performed soothing classical music. Here is a link to the music on. my YouTube channel https://youtu.be/ddWQ8HUrk9s

As do most churches in Poland there was a memorial, altar, painting or statue of the Polish Pope, Pope John Paul II. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Cathedral. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Oliwa-Cathedral-April-22-2017-

We were hungry but we hadn’t heard form Kasha so we walked back to the restaurant to still find long lines and a half hour wait. We all tried to implore the hostess of our plight, we had a train to catch, and we wanted to try the best pierogi in Poland, but it didn’t work.  

We left, disappointed and hungry and took the local  train back to Gdansk. As we waited for a train we all watched the antics of this local cat in a yard next to the train station. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Oliwa. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Oliwa-walk-April-22-2017

After a short wait at the train station in Gdansk, and an interesting visit to the bathroom,  we were soon on our way back to Warsaw. I had a surprisingly good meal, for train food, on the ride. .

We arrived back in town late and I was soon in the hotel, realizing the next day would be my last in Poland. I also started planning my return. It is a wonderful country. And I have so much more to explore.  

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”- Andre Gide

 

 

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Poland Day Fifteen A Train Ride To Gdansk And Poland’s Baltic Coast.

It was another early start on Saturday morning.  No time for breakfast. We met our young guides Kasha and Karol  in the lobby of our hotel around 6:00 am We  then proceeded to the nearby  train station. Our train left Warsaw at 6:15 am. 

It was a three hour ride to the city but the train was modern and comfortable and I enjoyed watching the passing scenery under the April sunshine. .  Our train crossed over the bridge I walked to on my first morning in Warsaw and we were soon outside the city limits. 

The train traveled through mainly rural areas, farms,

and woodlands, occasionally passing a small town or industrial area. 

It was a pleasant ride and the countryside again reminded me of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We began to pass larger  towns and commercial areas  and  I knew we were near Gdansk when we passed the magnificent Malbork castle, home of the famous Teutonic Knights. We wanted to stop here  but there was no time on our schedule this visit. Hopefully I will get back to visit it since it is one of the largest  castles in Europe. 

We arrived at the grand old train station in Gdansk under sunny skies but still cool temperatures. Here is a link to some more photographs taken from the train on the ride to Gdansk . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-train-ride-April-22-2017- 

We set out on our walking tour of this 1000 year old city, once a member of the Hanseatic league and one of the richest cities in Europe. 

Unfortunately, like so many cities in Poland there was much destruction during the war but much of the city has been rebuilt. 

We walked the busy streets of the city and entered the old town through the Highland Gate that was built in  the 16th century. The gate is the beginning of the Royal  Way that takes one through the medieval city and ends at the Green Gate. Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk to the Highland Gate. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Walk-to-city-gate-April-22-2017 

Once inside the gate,  you immediately were transported back in time and felt like you were walking in the city of the Middle Ages. 

The narrow streets were filled with many statutes and artifacts that were salvaged from the ruins of the destruction left by World War II. 

And there was  the splendor of the reconstructed Gold Gate that was the entrance to the main Avenue of the city,  Ulica Dluga. 

We leisurely strolled the old street taking in the many wonderful sights including the small shops along the way. 

It was now late morning and we decided to have breakfast.  We  found a charming little place,  the Cafe Bar Mon Balzac  where we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. 

After breakfast we walked over to the impressive Church of St. Mary. This massive church is the largest medieval brick church in Europe. 

It’s construction was began in 1343 and took over 150 years to complete. 

We first made the long, and exhausting climb  up the 410 steps to  the tower,

and we were rewarded with spectacular views of the city below and the surrounding towns and Baltic Sea to the north. 

To the west were the shipyards which Lech Walesa and the solidarity movement made famous. We enjoyed the magnificent views in the strong northerly wind and then made the long climb down the 410 steps to continue our visit to the church. Here is a link to some  photographs  from the church and tower. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-St.-Mary’s-Church-part-two-April-22-2017-

The church was filled with may splendid paintings and artifacts which adorned the many altars. 

I enjoyed the medieval astronomical clock, it reminding me of the one I  visited in the cathedral in Lund, Sweden. Here are some more photographs of our visit to St. Mary’s church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-St.-Mary’s-Church-

After leaving the church we continued our walk through the old town and past the town hall and the famous Fountain  of Neptune. 

We soon came to the Green Gate, which ended the Royal Route. We walked through the gate and onto the old streets and rive walk along the Motlawa River. Here is a link to some more photographs of our walk through old town Gdansk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-old-town-April-22-2017-

 

Passing through the gate was like walking into another world. We gazed up the blue waters of the Motlawa River canal and the ships, buildings and Ferris wheel, which seems to be present in all river and port cities around the world these days. 

The large ships in the canal attest to Gdansk’s importance as a port and trading center, and to which it’s wealth over the centuries could be attributed. 

We walked along the river walk taking in the beautiful scenery and watching this crew team practice on the calm waters of the river. 

We also had time to visit one of the many amber shops in the city. Amber, fossilized tree resin is another source of the wealth of Poland’s Baltic coast over the centuries. My sister and niece enjoyed the many items for sale and even I, not  being  a big shopper, purchased a small insect encased in amber millions of years ago. 

We walked along the river and the many shops but had to leave this wonderful place and exited  the river walk area of the city through one of the many ancient  gates. 

We walked the  streets of the city, passing  quaint, well maintained housed, many adorned with symbols of their proximity to the sea. 

As we made our way back to the train station we passed a number of squares churches and monuments depicting the long history of the city. 

And like all cities there  were all kind of products for sale. I just photograph, I don’t judge. 

We passed another nice park before finally arriving at the train station, where we were going to take a train to another part of Poland I have not yet explored, the sea coast! Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the river. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Motlawa-River-walk-April-22-2017

“You have sea, you have boat, you have oars, and then why on earth you are rotting in the port?” 

Mehmet Murat ildan

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Poland Day Fourteen. Our Walk Through Warsaw Continues.

After leaving St Ann’s church we continued  our tour  of Warsaw, now walking along the Royal Route and the many beautiful buildings, churches and monuments that are found there. 

We walked past this impressive statute of Adam Mickiewicz, a famous Polish poet, 

There were many statues along the streets which were crowded with tourists taking in the sights and local residents walking on to the many restaurants and shops in the Old and new Town just visited. 

We passed the  residence of the Polish President, 

and made our way to Pilsudski Square where many historic events have taken place over the centuries and where Pope John Paul II held a mass on his first visit to his native Poland after  becoming Pope. 

Near the square was  the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by two young soldiers. 

We next made a short visit to the beautiful grounds of the University of Warsaw, and some of it’s buildings.   Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk along the Royal Route. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Royal-Route-walk-April-2017

Before leaving this area we visited the church of the Holy Cross. 

The Church is resting place of Frederic  Chopin’s heart.  It was removed from his body, which was buried in Paris, by his sister who brought it back to Poland. 

We spent some time here admiring the beautiful altars and relics. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to this famous church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Church-of-the-Holy-Cross-April-21-2017-

We had one more stop in this section of Warsaw, one of particular interest to my niece Kelly, the Frederic Chopin Museum. 

Kelly is a very accomplished pianist and she often played Chopin for my dad, her grandfather. He was so proud of this Polish composer. And even more so of his granddaughter Kelly when she played his compositions. 

We spent about an hour in the Museum learning much about the life of this talented man. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Museum. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Chopin-Museum-April-21-2017

It was now getting late in the afternoon, but we had one more place to visit, And we arrived there after a short bus ride,  the beautiful buildings and gardens of Lazienki park.

The weather turned cooler when we arrived and the skies threatened rain so hurried through the tree lined paths of the park, quickly viewing the many statutes and monuments, such as this one of Chopin. He is very popular throughout Poland. 

We walked past the many stately buildings in the park, 

and encountered some local residents along the way such as the many peacocks that live here, 

and  a few of these beautiful ducks. 

We made our way to the Palace on the Water and the famous baths the park is named after.  Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk in the park. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Lazienki-park-April-21-2017

It was now  late in the afternoon and starting to rain so we had to end are daylong tour of Warsaw. We took a cab back to the Old Town section of the city where we enjoyed a great dinner. I started with a  very flavorful sorrel soup, 

and local trout for my main course. 

It was already dark when we finished our meal and arrived back at our hotel. It was an exhausting but exciting day, having learned so much about the history, people and culture of Poland. I was soon asleep, since we had a 6:15 train to catch to Gdansk the next morning. 

 

 

 

“Put all your soul into it, play the way you feel!”
Frederic Chopin

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Poland Day Fourteen: A Walk through The Heart Of The City, The New And Old Town Warsaw

After breakfast at my hotel in Warsaw we met our tour guides for the next three days. A young Polish couple, Karol and his girlfriend Kasha. They are relatives of my niece Cassidy’s best friend and they offered to show us some of Warsaw and northern Poland. After our introductions, we began our tour of the city at the nearby  metro station and shopping center.Bus ride and New town walk -7

The shopping center or Złote Tarasy (Golden Terraces) is housed in an award winning modern building and, it and the nearby  buildings attest to the modernization of the city taking place. Bus ride and New town walk -2

After a brief tour of the area, we soon boarded a bus and headed to the New Town section of the city. The name is misleading in that  the New Town dates to the 15th century. Bus ride and New town walk -8

Our bus left us off near the Monument to the 1944  Warsaw Uprising. We would learn so much more about this heroic effort to rid the city of the Nazi invaders, the betrayal by the Russians, and the destructive retaliation of the Germans, later in our stay in Warsaw. Bus ride and New town walk -14

We walked the busy streets and made our way to our first visit to one of Warsaw’s  many historic churches, St. Jacek or St Hyacinth. St Hyacinth Church -1

The original church was constructed during the early 17th century but, as we learned, like so many other churches and historical buildings, it was destroyed by the Germans in World War II. Like many churches and buildings, it was rebuilt and now houses some of the relics, paintings and treasures that were salvaged from the ruins. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to this church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-St-Hyacinth-Church-April-21-2017-

We walked the streets of the “New Town” visiting an old square and these odd looking bear statutes. Bus ride and New town walk -30

We continued our exploration of the square and then made our way to the banks of the Vistula River. Bus ride and New town walk -32Bus ride and New town walk -46

It was a cool April day but I imagined how nice the parks along the river would be on a sunny and warm Spring or Summer day. And  I thought how many people enjoyed these days over the centuries. Here is a link to some more photographs of our walk through the New Town. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Bus-ride-and-walking-tour-New-Town-April-21-2017-

Our guides next took us into the Old City, separated from the Old City by the Barbican or city wall. There is little remaining form the original destroyed during the war. The wall was rebuilt from bricks from buildings destroyed in the war. Old Town -7

We walked past the colorful homes situated on the streets leading to the Old Town and stopped to enjoy the view.Old Town -3

We made our way to the Old Town Square, surrounded by houses and building reconstructed after the war. It, like the square in Krakow, and most old town squares in Europe,  was a center of activity for both residents of the city and tourists. Old Town -19

As in all cities there  are many restaurants and  gifts shops lining the streets of the square. Old Town -32

In the middle of the square is a statute of the mermaid of Warsaw. This statute replaced the original one that fell into disrepair. There is a legend that local fisherman rescued her from a merchant who captured her in the Vistula river and she now protects the city in gratitude  to the fishermen. Old Town -16

As we   continued through the narrow streets of the Old Town I enjoyed taking tin the many site and watching the interaction  of the local residents and tourists. Old Town -29

We next walked past the impressive Royal Castle, again a reconstruction of the original,  that was completely destroyed during the war. We didn’t have time to visit the castle, but I hope to return. Old Town -42

It was now lunch time and we had walked all morning so we stopped and had a nice lunch at one of our guides favorite restaurants. Old Town -49

After lunch we visited another church. St Ann’s. across from the Royal Castle. St Ann's Church -14

First we went up the observation deck in the bell tower to get  a nice view of the Old Town and the rest of Warsaw. St Ann's Church -6

We  then visited the interior of the  church and the many beautiful altars, artifacts, paintings and relics. Here is a link to some more photographs of  the church and the view from the bell tower. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Warsaw-St-Ann’s-church-St Ann's Church -33

After our visit to St Ann’s we continued our marathon walking tour  along the Royal Route. Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk in Old Town Warsaw.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Old-Town-walk-April-21-2017Old Town -48

 

“Cultivation, old civilization, beauty, history! Surprising turnings of streets, shapes of venerable cottages, lovely aged eaves, unexpected and gossamer turrets, steeples, the gloss, the antiquity! Gardens. Whoever speaks of Paris has never seen Warsaw. […] Whoever yearns for an aristocratic sensibility, let him switch on the great light of Warsaw.” ― Cynthia Ozick

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Poland Day Fourteen: Warsaw. A Meandering Morning Walk To The Vistula River.

It was a cool and sunny morning when I awoke my first day in Warsaw. After a cup of coffee, I was off exploring the streets of the city. Warsaw morning walk -4

I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going,  like I often do on my travels, I just wanted to get acquainted with the city. I had a general ideal where the Vistula River was and decided to walk in that direction.Warsaw morning walk -6

 So I  meandered  the busy morning streets,  blending in with the many commuters heading to work and school, some stopping for a bite to eat at the many small pastry and breakfast sandwich shops along the way. Warsaw morning walk -3

I came upon, what,  I would learn later, is a famous square in Warsaw,  Plac Trzech Krzyzy or Three Crosses Square. I briefly stopped in the church as they were celebrating the morning Mass.Warsaw morning walk -20

I continued toward the direction of the river and found myself in a upscale residential neighborhood. Warsaw morning walk -29

The neighborhood was next to a park neat the river and I enjoyed strolling under the ancient trees. Most of the historic and other buildings in Warsaw  were destroyed by the Germans in World War II. Thankfully, it seems,  they let many of the parks alone.  Warsaw morning walk -28

I found this small pond in the park.Warsaw morning walk -32

And I heard, and saw  some of the many birds that make the park their home.Warsaw morning walk -38

I found my way to the Vistula River and walked up a bridge to get a view. It was good to see this river again, now a few hundred miles north of where I last saw it flowing through the middle of Krakow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk to the river. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-morning-walk-April-21-2017Warsaw morning walk -49

I decided it was time to head back to the hotel and made my way along the edge of the park and busy Jerozolimskie Street, which was elevated above the park.Warsaw morning walk -54

I eventually had to climb stairs to reach the street near The National Museum in Warsaw. Warsaw morning walk -58

I walked the busy street in morning rush hour traffic and enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle of the passing people, cars, trams and buses. Warsaw morning walk -71

And observing the many businesses and other buildings on the way. Warsaw morning walk -75

I arrived at the hotel, located near the central train station in Warsaw, with just enough time to shower and enjoy a quick breakfast with my sister and niece before we set out on a day long walking tour of the main sites of the city. Here is a link to some more photographs of my morning walk.. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-morning-walk-April-21-2017Warsaw morning walk -79

“A city isn’t so unlike a person. They both have the marks to show they have many stories to tell. They see many faces. They tear things down and make new again.” Rasmenia Massoud

 

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