Puerto Rico Day Two: So Much To See In Enchanting Old San Juan

After my tour of the historic Castillo San Cristobal,  I  again wandered off to explore the streets of old San Juan. I first made my way through  the now familiar Plaza Colon and it’s towering statue of Christopher Columbus. trees and Christopher statue Plaza Colon

I decided to walk up one of the most famous streets in  old town San Juan, El Fortaleza.Colorful cobble stoned street

Like all the streets in old town it was paved with blue cobblestones. These pretty stones were brought from Spain and used as ballast on the ships. Once in San Juan they were removed from the ship and were replaced  with gold for the journey back to Spain. The residents used the discarded  cobblestones to pave the streets. 

shops on cobblestone street

The  street is now lined with many small shops and upscale stores, selling all kinds of souvenirs, clothing, electronics,  luxury goods and any other thing that can be sold  to tourists from the cruise ships,gist shop old San Juan

and restaurants and outdoor cafes of all types  ranging from  five star gourmet  to local eateries. outdoor cafe old San Juan

I followed the busy narrow street and found myself once again at the Governor’s mansion near the old front  gate to the city. There is no motor vehicle traffic allowed on the street near the mansion.  cobblestone street leading to Governor's mansion

Next to the mansion I saw what I thought was  a church. I love to visit churches, temples and mosques on my travels and tried to enter. The door was locked.Hospital and shrine House of Health operated by Servants of Mary nuns

A friendly caretaker approached,  told me the chapel was closed, but  he would see if the nuns would allow me to visit. Shortly a young nun appeared and waved me inside.photograph of Blessed Mary in hospital

I remember very little Spanish from my high school days.  The  nun spoke no English.  She was  kind and friendly and we communicated through gestures. She lead me to a beautiful  chapel and she left me alone to  take photographs. shrine and chapel House of Health Servants of Mary

As I was leaving I encountered the young nun who was now accompanied by a middle age nun. I tried to explain to them that I was taught by Bernadine Sisters as a child. My attempt was not successful.  Statue in House of health

A third older nun now appeared.  I again  tried to explain to them my schooling by Bernadine nuns. Finally the young nun got the caretaker, who spoke English and we had a wonderful conversation with the help of our translator. We laughed about the nuns who thought me  and how they  hit us with a ruler when we were bad. One nun laughed and pointed to the oldest one. She shook her head, no, not her. We all laughed.  We also talked about the the 1960’s  television show, the Flying Nun. They, of course, all heard about it. Three Servants Of Mary sisters

Now I was their friend and the oldest gave me a tour of the facility which was a convent and hospital for the old and poor. She took me to a balcony with spectacular views of San Juan bay, and the Governor’s Mansion. It was truly a blessed experience which I will always cherish.  I learned the building was built in 1524. The nuns cared for the sick here for over 125 years. Here is a link to some more photographs of my wonderful encounter with the sisters and their mission. . Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan Convent February 9 2018.

I next  walked to  the Puerta de San Juan or the main  gate   and up atop the old city wall. The views were again spectacular. view of San Juan bay from city wall

I saw  more sculptures, old houses and some beautiful flowering gardens. sculpture old San Juan

I made my was back to the park in front of  “El Morro” when I decided to begin my return journey. park and view of "el Morro"

I meandered through the pretty streets,calamari and rice revisiting many of sites I saw the day before. I wish I had time to visit the many museums in the city. I did stop for a nice, and reasonably priced snack, calamari and rice, with all the lemonade you could drink a restaurant located in one of the museums. 

I returned to my hotel mid  afternoon and spent some time editing photographs and exploring the many art filled rooms at the Inn. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike through old San Juan. Puerto Rico  Day Two: San Juan afternoon hike.

I wanted to see the  sunset and decided the best place would be  the high ground of “El Morro”  It was a beautiful evening in Puerto Rico. Huge billowing cumulus clouds floated on the ever present trade winds. 

I walked along the old city wall and came to a beautiful cemetery situated above the Atlantic Ocean. 

I spent a few minutes taking in the serene scene.  And I was delighted to watch a rainbow appear over the ocean. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to YouTube. Cemetery video.

I walked up to an old battery wall near the fortress and joined a group of local residents and tourists also waiting for the sunset. Unfortunately clouds moved and we only caught a brief glimpse just before it set. It was still a  great place to be. 

I  walked back along Fortaleza Street  enjoying the sounds of tourists and residents at the many cafes, bars and restaurants.  I ate dinner at a quaint  French restaurant, Trois Cent Onze,  recommended by a friend. The food was excellent. I finished my meal and returned to the streets which, despite a passing showers were still alive with the sounds of folks enjoying the warm tropical evening. 

It was an uphill walk to my hotel but I soon heard the crashing of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the rocky shore. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk. Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan evening walk. February 8 2018.

I also listened to the music rising up from San Sebastian street from a balcony in my room.  I was tired  and soon  fell asleep listening to the sounds of music and partying that lasted until sunrise. Here is a link to a video of the sounds of San Sebastian Street from my room.

“Fall in love
with the energy
of the mornings

trace your fingers 
along the lull
of the afternoons

take the spirit 
of the evenings
in your arms
kiss it deeply 

and then
make love
to the tranquility
of the nights.” 
― Sanober Khan

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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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More Of My Short Visit to Boiling Springs, And Gettysburg , I Will Be Back, So Much More To See.

Back to my recent visit to Boiling Springs and Southern Pennsylvania. We were up early on Saturday morning, my nephew to try to catch some trout in the famous Yellow Breeches,  and me to explore the quiet and quaint town of Boiling Springs. Boiling Springs-18

It was a warm and muggy morning and a mist formed over the cool waters of the Children’s Lake outside our bed and breakfast home. . I took an early  walk around the lake a few times, watching the ducks, geese and swans enjoy the summer morning and rising sun. Boiling Springs-20

I also saw a few blue herons and followed this fellow, who seemed to want me to take his photograph. Blue Heron -3

He would fly a short distance along the sure, almost inviting me to follow, and when I did, fly to another spot a short distance away.Blue Heron -21

I enjoyed watching him and the other waterfowl but wanted to explore the town itself. I love walking the side streets and alleys of a town, you learn so much about the folks and history that way. Here is a link to some more photographs of the blue heron. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/boling-srings-blue-heron-saturday-july-30-2016Boiling Springs-40

Boiling Springs began as an early industrial town, with the creation of the iron furnace that was built even before the Revolutionary War. It also had grain mills, one of which still remains along the lake. Boiling Springs-22

The businesses created wealth as evidenced by the many beautiful residences along the lake and Front Street, some of whose owners  helped the fleeing the horrors of slavery through the Underground Railroad. Boiling Springs-52

I walked the streets, again enjoying some of the beauty of the town,  this time many of the flower gardens the residents planted and proudly maintained. Boiling Springs-38

It was a nice little town, very quiet on a Saturday morning. I returned to the lake, to again enjoy the waterfowl, including this mom taking her family for a walk.I met up with my nephew and we returned to our bed and breakfast where we shared a wonderful breakfast with a fellow visitor and enjoyed the wonderful stories of our hostess,  the well traveled Kitty. It was a delightful morning. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/boiling-springs-friday-evening-saturday-morning-walks-july-2016Boiling Springs-3

After breakfast, and some more pleasant conversation, since it was another hot and sweltering day, too hot to fish, we decided to drive back to Gettysburg. We  made our way to the battlefield Memorials . And they are everywhere around the town of Gettysburg.Gettysburg -19

We decided to first visit Culp’s Hill. I had only visited here once, years ago, and didn’t get to see the impressive monuments erected by the States, both northern and southern, to their  fallen soldiers. I was immediately reminded of the National Park at Vicksburg Mississippi that I visited a few years ago.Gettysburg -25

I decided to visit  Culp’s Hill since a Hazleton  native, Colonel Ario Pardee, of the 147th Pennsylvania Infantry, led his troops in battle here and there is a field named after him. We hadn’t planned the trip, and had no maps or information so we couldn’t find the field.  We were given directions by Facebook friends but the road is one way and by the time we exited it had started raining.Gettysburg -21

We drove past the impressive Pennsylvania memorial and took a quick drive through the town of Gettysburg. We headed back to Boiling Springs since there were severe thunderstorm warnings. We got back to our bed and breakfast just in time. I listened to the wind, thunder and torrential rain from my room, thinking how the original residents would have experienced similar weather, when the first built the house,  not long the horible battles of  the Civil War was fought nearby. Here is a link to some more photographs of our short tour of the Gettysburg battlefields. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/gettysburg-saturday-afternoon-visit-july-30-2016Gettysburg -36

Once the storms past we drove into Carlisle for a nice dinner at the Rustic Tavern. We drove back into Boiling Springs were my nephew did some fishing and I enjoyed some quiet strolls around the peaceful lake. I was in bed early and up before dawn the next morning since I wanted to take a hike on the Appalachian trail which passes through Boiling Springs.Boiling Springs Sunday-8

I hiked north, as the trail meandered through  wooded tracts of land  between corn and soybean fields. I enjoyed the songs of the birds and saw a few deer on my walk.Boiling Springs Sunday-18

As I hiked on the trail, which was once part of the Underground Railroad I  thought of the fleeing slaves, who used these same trails to escape to Canada, and freedom, and wondered what they were thinking as they walked here, probably under the cover of darkness.Boiling Springs Sunday-16

When I was young I had dreamed of one day hiking the trail from Georgia to Maine but never got the opportunity. Maybe I still can some day. I know I would love it.Boiling Springs Sunday-12

I walked out a few miles and returned to enjoy another nice breakfast, and conversation with Kitty, and then my nephew fished the Yellow Breeches one last time while I explored it’s banks.Boiling Springs Sunday blue and green herons -9

I came upon both a great blue and green heron fishing in the stream and spent some time hoping to see them catch a fish. The blue heron made one lunge at a fish but appeared to come up empty. It was a peaceful way to spend a Sunday morning. Here is a link to some more photographs of the herons.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/boiling-springs-great-blue-and-green-herons-sunday-july-31-2016Boiling Springs Sunday blue and green herons -4

I continued to walk along the stream and headed back into town where I made one last walk along the peaceful lake. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning hikes. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/boiling-springs-sunday-morning-walk-july-31-2016Boiling Springs Sunday-23

We had to be back home in the afternoon, but I made one last stop in the college town of Carlisle to introduce my nephew to this famous Revolutionary war heroine, the famous Molly Pitcher. She is buried here in a famous old cemetery. We took a brief walk in the sweltering heat  through the tree lined streets of Dickinson College before we drove up the interstate and back home. It still amazes me how there are so many things to see and do so close to my home. I love to travel but, in my opinion,  there is no better place to live than in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Here is a link to some more photographs from our brief visit to Carlisle. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/carlisle-sunday-july-31-2016Carlise -5

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Eleanor RooseveltGettysburg -5

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Boiling Springs: A Perfect Place If You Like Nature, History, Culture, Or All Three.

I had planned to take my nephew Mike fishing out in Montana this Summer, but had to change those plans for  number of reasons. I told him, instead of taking that , trip I would take him fishing anywhere in Pennsylvania. I was hoping to head into the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. He is a fly fisherman and said he wanted to fish the Yellow Breeches near Boiling Springs, in Southern Pennsylvania. .Boiling Springs -27

I have visited here before, when my nephew Charlie was attending law school in nearby Carlisle, and I did want to come back again so it was a good choice for both of us.  It was foggy and overcast when we left Hazleton but, after driving the 90 miles south, the skies cleared and we entered  the quaint little town of Boiling Springs under hazy, hot and humid skies.Boiling Springs-42

I recalled the famous tower and the excellent restaurant, the Boiling Springs Tavern from my earlier visits. Upon arriving my nephew visited the local tackle shop and I walked around the beautiful lake, surrounded by old Victorian homes, and  populated with hundreds of ducks, geese and other waterfowl. I have to admit I also caught a few Pokemon, since I have become somewhat  addicted to this new craze.Boiling Springs-44

We were too early to check into our bed and breakfast so I dropped my nephew off at the Yellow Breeches creek, which has some of the best trout fly fishing in Pennsylvania because of it’s cool limestone  waters. The town is named after the springs which “boil” or “bubble” up from the ground. The water temperature is 52 degrees all year, so in the cold of winter condensation occurs, giving the appearance the springs are boiling.Boiling Springs -28

After dropping off my nephew I hiked around the lake and passed many townsfolks and visitors taking in the beauty of the old town  and watching the ducks, geese and swans. Here are some photographs from my walk  around the beautiful Boiling Springs lake. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/boiling-springs-morning-walk-july-29-2016Boiling Springs-50

After a filling and delicious lunch at the 601 Restaurant, we checked into our bed and breakfast, the Gelinas manor , a circa 1869 Victorian home along the lake. We meet the hostess Kitty, a world traveler, who entertained us with her travel stories and history of the area, and provided us with gourmet breakfast the next two days.Boiling Springs-1

We learned far too much history to recount in this blog, but the town was first settled in the 1730’s and was the sight of a large iron furnace that produced rifles and ammunition for the Revolutionary.Boiling Springs-24

It was also a stop on the “Underground railroad” which helped many escape the horrors of slavery in the south. Boiling Springs -22

It was a hot afternoon, too hot to fish or hike, so we drove to historic Gettysburg and visited the Museum, which was air conditioned. I  had only been in Gettysburg once, a short visit on my way to law school, and was so impressed with the museum and especially the Cyclorama. Amazing. The images were so real and the presentation made you feel like you were transported back in time and were on the battlefield. It was an awesome and emotional experience. Here is a link to some more photographs from this spectacular oil painting. So life life like. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/gettysburg-cyclorama-july-29-2016Gettysburg Cyclorama-19

We only had a short time to visit the museum and it’s many wonderful displays and exhibits, but I am hoping to return soon. On the way back to Boiling Springs we made a quick stop, in the oppressive afternoon heat,  at the National Cemetery where President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg address. here is a link to some more photographs from our  short visit to Gettysburg. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/gettysburg-friday-afternoon-july-2016Gettysburg afternoon-21

We drove back through the scenic countryside of Adams and Cumberland counties and enjoyed some time at the beautiful Gelinas manor before we had a nice dinner at the famous Boiling Springs tavern.Boiling Springs-47

Built in 1832 this historic roadside inn served many a travel a meal over the years, and was once owned by   Adolphus Busch, the founder of Anheuser -Busch. In addition to the beautiful and historic decour, we had a excellent meal. I truly believe it is one of the better restaurants in the Commonwealth.Boiling Springs-45

After dinner my nephew headed down to the stream for some late evening fishing and I enjoyed  few walks along the lake with many other town folks and visors, taking in the beauty of the mid summer evening.  It was well after dark before I returned to our bed and breakfast and I immediately fell asleep . It was a long day in the heat but I looked forward to exploring the town in the morning. I always do. Even if I was only  less than a  hundred from my home Boiling Springs-15

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of HippoBoiling Springs-7

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Another Visit To Doylestown; An Evening At An Enchanted House And So Much More.

I had to file some more legal  papers for my nephew  and  law partner Charles  in the Bucks County  Courthouse in Doylestown last week. This time I decided to stay overnight in this quaint little historic  town  in southeastern Pennsylvania, about 90 miles from my home. I learned that the bed and breakfast at Highland Farm was once the home of  Oscar Hammerstein II, so, of course, I had to stay here.Doylestown Highland farm -1

I left, with my nephew Mike, late Thursday afternoon and arrived  at the bed and breakfast in early evening . We were greeted by a most friendly,  and knowledgeable,  hostess  Christine who gave us a tour  of the house,  told us some history, and showed us our rooms. Doylestown Highland farm -6

I always enjoy staying in the homes of historic or artistic people and I  really feel the presence of the individuals who lived their daily routines here. I became even more inspired as I learned more of the  life highly talented Mr. Hammerstein. I learned he composed most of the lyrics to his many famous songs here. It was a very special place. Doylestown Highland farm -8

My nephew is a fisherman and so I walked with him to a nearby pond.  I walked through and explored the streets of Doylestown.  Doylestown evening walk -3

I walked past  the beautifully maintained residences under  the canopy of  ancient trees on   E. Ashland Street.  Doylestown evening walk -6

Almost all of the homes had  gardens with roses, day lilies, and many other flowers in bloom including these  colorful clematises. Doylestown evening walk -18

I walked past the cultural district which I had visited on my last trip here and again enjoyed the lush gardens, old churches and homes. The streets were crowded with people taking walking tours of this beautiful district. I walked past the Michener and Mercer  Museum and into the more commercial areas of Main Street. Doylestown evening walk -15

It was getting late, and I was getting hungry, so I headed back to the pond where my nephew was fishing and we walked back to Highland Farm. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through the streets of Doylestown http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/doylestown-evening-walk-june-16-2016Doylestown evening walk -20

After a quick shower we headed for a nice meal at the Pennsylvania Soup and Seafood House and returned for a reflective evening at Highland Farm. I spent some time reading the many beautiful lyrics written by Mr. Hammerstein .I fell asleep with the songs of the Sounds of Music echoing in my head  and I was transported back in time, imagining Mr. Hammerstein composing this timeless lyrics under this same roof.Doylestown Highland farm -9

I had a peaceful sleep and was awoken at dawn by the  birds singing in the trees in the nearby trees. I wondered if they could have been the offspring of the same birds that may have inspired Mr.  Hammerstein compose his beautiful lyrics. After enjoying the songs of the birds and watching the dawn in the gardens I walked my nephew back to the pond and I again explored the streets of Doylestown.Doylestown morning walk -1

This time I walked along more well maintained house of  East Street toward the famous home of Mr Mercer, Fonthill Castle. Mr Mercer operated the Moravian Tile Works nearby and built this impressive concrete structure in 1910.Doylestown morning walk -12

I walked back into town and into a cemetery. You can learn a lot about a town and it’s history and people from visiting a cemetery and once again I did. The residents here sure made it known that they honored their departed Veterans as evidenced by the many  Memorials dating back to those who served in the Civil War.Doylestown morning walk -18I left the cemetery and again found myself in some beautiful residential  neighborhoods with a lot of history. I never heard of this famous man  who share my ancestry and who lived in this wonderful little town, as did so many other famous men and woman.Doylestown morning walk -27

I walked past the Courthouses and into the center of town which I learned was not only a famous crossroads dating from the days of Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn, but even further back in time.Doylestown morning walk -33

I learned that Main Street and State Street were once a major crossroads of the Native Americans who lived in this area for a thousand years. I love visiting these historic  sites and wondered  if some of the Native Americans who frequented these paths may have made their way to the lands I hike in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I sat here for awhile and reflected on the many folks who traveled this crossroad before me. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/doylestown-morning-walk-june-17-2016Doylestown morning walk -35

I then headed back, retracing my walk on E Ashland Street from the night before. I met my nephew at the pond and learned he had a good morning catching trout and we both headed back to the Highland Farm for a wonderful breakfast and some pleasant conversation with some fellow guests from New York City,  I wish I could have spent more time at this enchanted house but I had to file those papers at the Courthouse. Here is a link to a few more photographs from our stay at Highland Farm.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/highland-farm-june-17-2016Doylestown Highland farm -3

After taking care of business and  doing my filing at the Courthouse I took my nephew to visit  The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, one of his grandfather’s most cherished places. My dad was proud of his Polish heritage and was a devout Catholic and enjoyed visiting this Shrine.Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -2

I told my nephew how my dad and I shared a love for mockingbirds and how one  landed and sang on a statue my last visit. And sure enough a mockingbird  again landed on the same statue while we visited and serenaded us with it’s beautiful song. Dad was happy we were there.Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -3

After visiting the Shrine we drove to the reservoir at Peace Valley located in the valley below the Shrine. We first stopped at the nature preserve and watched some geese, blue herons, , ducks and turtles from the bridge where Neshaminy creek enters the Peace Valley Reservoir, including this young snapping turtle. Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -8

We drove to the other end of the reservoir to the fishing pier and I walked along the scenic  shores of this popular recreational spot while my nephew fished. . Doylestown Highland farm -23

The trails were crowded with runners, bikers and walkers, including many moms, dads and grandparents pushing strollers. The picnic areas were also crowded on this sunny hot day and there were even artists painting along the shores of this beautiful reservoir.Doylestown Highland farm -29

There was also some wildlife including some squirrels, robins, blue herons and sparrows including this one singing in a tree near the reservoir. Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -21

I also saw this young red winged blackbird looking lost along the trail. Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -27

It was a hot and humid day so I ended my hike  and walked back to the pier where  I left my nephew and watched him fish for awhile. He caught a few nice bass which he released .  I wish we could have stayed in this peaceful place but we had to head home. It was an enjoyable way to spend a June day.  I am sure  there are many more wonderful secrets hidden in  Doylestown and Bucks County and I sure plan to return to find them. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Shrine and reservoir. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/doylestown-shrine-of-our-lady-of-czestochowa-and-peace-valley-june-17-2016Doylestown Shrine and Peace valley -7

“There is a very real relationship, both quantitatively and qualitatively, between what you contribute and what you get out of this world.” Oscar Hammerstein II





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Off The Beaten Path In Dallas, Texas.

Sorry I have been neglecting my blog but it’s been very  busy since I got back from  Texas.  And the beautiful weather we’ve been having here in Northeastern Pennsylvania hasn’t helped. So back to Dallas.  As I related in my first blog from Texas, Dallas was a lot different than I had imagined it would be.

So, back to   Thursday, my first day in Dallas. I made my way back to the hotel and met up with my nephew Charlie and his girlfriend Stephanie. Like me, they are always looking for a good place to eat and we were told Lockhart’s smoke house was one of the best in the city. We had eaten already so just wanted to check it out.Dallas Bishop Arts district -4afternoon walk -1

It was located in the Bishop Arts section of the city.  I hadn’t had a chance to read any travel guides before my Dallas trip so didn’t know exactly what to expect except something like the arts districts in other large cities I visited. After experiencing my first Uber ride to get there, I soon realized it  wasn’t.Dallas Bishop Arts district -25

We were dropped off near the popular Lockhart’s smoke house and soon found the arts district quite small. It seemed it was in  small town and not located a  mile from central Dallas.Dallas Bishop Arts district -50

It had some wonderful little antique, art, and speciality shops and we spent some time exploring a few of them. There sure was some interesting items  to be found. The shops were located in old houses and added to the small town look of the Bishops Art district.Dallas Bishop Arts district -11

There were also a few nice restaurants, including one that sold what looked like some pretty delicious pecan pie.  We had just eaten so no time to sample the food but hope to get back someday.Dallas Bishop Arts district -19

I was surprised how few tourists were in the area.  The streets were almost empty.  What surprised me most was how, once you left the main street, you were almost in a rural neighborhood. I walked down a few unpaved alleys and it was hard to believe I was in a major city.Dallas Bishop Arts district -29

It appears this quiet and small town district may soon change. I learned from that they are extending a tram line from downtown Dallas to the Bishops Arts district. I am sure the increased traffic will change the character of this quaint little neighborhood, and, in my opinion not in a good way. I am sure the merchants would disagree. I am glad I got to see it before the change.Dallas Bishop Arts district -47

We took another Uber ride into downtown Dallas about a mile away. It was hot and we were tired from the time change, the early start and the heat so we only took a quick walk through the streets of downtown Dallas.afternoon walk -17

We walked past some of the historic sights and just got orientated to the layout of the city. afternoon walk -8

Of course we had to see the Texas School Book Depository building made infamous when Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I remember the event as a young child how it affected my life, and the life of my family. It seemed unreal to be here. What a great loss for our generation occurred on that day. We had planned to visit the museum the next day so we took yet another Uber ride back to the hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Bishop Arts distric and downtown Dallas. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/dallas-texas-afternoon-walk-april-7-2016afternoon walk -16

After a short rest we were waiting for my fourth Uber ride of the day, and of my life, this time to take us to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant atop the Reunion tower. Not only were we treated to a delicious meal  but we got to watched the sunset over the city of Dallas from the rotating restaurant high atop the Reunion Tower.Reunion tower-1

We returned to the hotel and I was ready for bed after a long day traveling and touring Dallas. It was a lot different than I had imagined but a city I grew to like. Here is a link to some more photographs atop the Reunion Tower. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/dallas-texas-reunion-tower-april-7-2016Reunion tower-9


Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation
in every sense of the word
Author John Steinbeck



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Cemeteries, Reclamation and Some Beautiful Scenery Near Upper Lehigh.

It was a clear and cold morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania today and I decided to take advantage of the clear blue skies and great visibility  and hike to someplace with a view. I decided to walk out to what is know as the “washout” on the mountain  north of the old mining village of Upper Lehigh.  I hiked out here before, but  in the past I hiked out  to the east through old abandoned strip mines. This morning I parked on a dirt road outside of Upper Lehigh. Upper lehigh  (44 of 44)

I heard of an old cemetery near here and decided to look for it on my hike. After walking through some old roads I found the abandoned cemetery. I did some research and learned  it was laid out in 1866. Upper lehigh Cemetery  (19 of 39)

I found that most of the legible headstones  were from the 1870’s. I always loved visiting cemeteries and reflecting on the lives of the departed. So many memories here. this one appears to have been abandoned in the 1920’s.  There was this  Memorial to the Civil War Veterans of the town placed here in the 1880’s. Upper lehigh Cemetery  (2 of 39)

And I found this tombstone of a young infant girl who only lived a few months. I wonder how the parents dealt with that loss so many years ago. And how many years did they come and visit their little girl after she was gone.Upper lehigh Cemetery  (6 of 39)

So much to ponder as I walked amid the weathered tombstones, as, appropriately, a lone raven cawed in the distance.  Upper lehigh Cemetery  (17 of 39)

Most of the tombstones were from the 1870’s through the 1920’s although I saw one new one at the far end of the cemetery. It was the only new one in the cemetery and the birth years were most interesting to me. They were the same year my dad was born, 1924, my mom in 1929 and the year of my birth 1958. I decided to head out here when I  was visiting my dad’s grave this morning and I feel he wanted me to hike out here. Look’s like I was right. Here are some more photographs from my visit to the Upper Lehigh cemetery this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/upper-lehigh-cemetery-december-20-2015http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/upper-lehigh-cemetery-december-20-2015Upper lehigh Cemetery  (34 of 39)

I left the cemetery and walked some old paths that were lined with very old oak trees. It was like the old forest in the Wizard of Oz. I would love to hike here in the summer. Upper lehigh  (11 of 44)

The old road or  path proceeded  up the mountain and headed north toward the “washout”.Upper lehigh  (39 of 44)

I was surprised to see that the entire area was changed and that  a rock channel was built to prevent the erosion from the streams running off of the mountain from the srip mining area. Upper lehigh  (17 of 44)

I stopped to admire the spectacular view of the mountains to the west. The lake at Beach mountains  was a dark blue under the December sun.  I could spend hours taking in this scenery. I love the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Upper lehigh  (26 of 44)

I hiked east toward the deep strip mines I had explored a few years ago and found that the vast majority of them had been reclaimed.  I understand that by filling in the deep mines and leveling the culm, slate and overburden reduces erosion and prevents acid mine drainage into the streams and creeks but I still feel sad to see this part of our heritage lost. This was one of the last strip mine pits that wasn’t yet filled.Upper lehigh  (33 of 44)

I had planned to look for fossils and crystals in these deep strip mines.  Looks like I won’t get the chance now. I relearned a lesson my dad taught me, not to put things off, since you may never get another  the opportunity once it is gone.Upper lehigh  (43 of 44)

It was a long, and reflective hike back to my jeep but no better place to spend a sunny December day than exploring the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/upper-lehigh-hike-december-20-2015Upper lehigh  (6 of 44)


“It is upon such stones that men attempt to permanently etch history so they will not exist in a vacuum; it is the final statement after a lifetime of scratching out divisions upon the ground, over ephemeral time itself, merely to give their short journeys meaning, to tell others “I was here – do not forget me, do not let my brief blast dissolve into nothingness.”
Rob Bignell


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Girard Manor And Torbert’s Glen: Long Gone And Almost Forgotten, Another Walk Into The Past.

I  visited  the Phinneyville Valley in East Union Township, a beautiful  farming area in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Known for it’s unspoiled beauty few folks know about the extensive history of the area.Girard Manor scenery   (13 of 16)

 “Torbert’s Glen, a wild, romantic and attractive pleasure resort, is visited during the summer and autumn by large numbers of people from various localities…” History of Schuylkill County Pa. 1881 page 213,

These words were written in 1881. when the valley was bustling with tourists and it’s many farms and mills were providing the nearby coal mining town with the food and raw materials to support the folks working in the mining industry. So much history and you can learn more by clicking on the bold red words to reach a link to the 1881 article.  The school house referred to in the article still exists.Girard Manor scenery   (7 of 16)

I entered the valley down the steep and winding back road from the village of Sheppton.  Across from some active farms and mills is the site of the old St. John’s church.St. John's Cemetery  (1 of 38)

The church is gone but the lovely cemetery, with it’s spectacular views of the surrounding mountains still remain.St. John's Cemetery  (26 of 38)

And some very old graves,  the inscriptions on the headstones of many  being erased by time and the weather. I did find many dating from the early and mid 1800’s including this man who fought in the Revolutionary War. So much to wonder about reflecting on his grave. Where was he born,  what was the mountains like when he arrived?  I love visiting graveyards. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful cemetery. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/girard-manor-st-johns-church-cemetery-november-1-2015

I drove through the scenSt. John's Cemetery  (18 of 38)ic valley and it’s fields of now,  brown, corn.Girard Manor scenery   (5 of 16)

And drove over the Catawissa Creek which, at that time, had some of the best shad fishing in the country. It has long been contaminated from runoff from the coals mines in the mountains to the east and no fish live in it’s waters now. There is an attempt to clean up the stream but I don’t believe it will ever be as it was. Here is a link to some more photographs of this scenic valley http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/girard-manor-scenery-november-1-2015Girard Manor scenery   (4 of 16)

I drove past one old home, I think this is all that is left of the old resort. I drove onto Pennsylvania State Game lands and  into a deep glen, in which a small stream,  Messers Run flows.Girard Manor smokestack (17 of 27)

And near the stream is this huge and impressive smokestack and the ruins of many other old buildings.Girard Manor smokestack (8 of 27)

Since I first visited this place I wondered about the construction of this massive brick smokestack. When was it built? How long did it take? What did the neighboring folks think? Why was it built? Who worked here? Most of these questions remain a mystery. I have heard it was a power relay station or a pumping station but I feel it is older and had more manufacturing uses, maybe associated with the resort at Torbert’s Glen. If anyone knows the history please feel free to share it.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the smokestack and the surrounding buildings. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/girard-manor-smokestack-november-1-2015Girard Manor smokestack (2 of 27)

I again explored the old ruins, including the small pond aside the smokestack and then decided to hike the 3 1/2 miles out to the Lofty Reservoir. The road passes through the state game lands and is follows the meandering Messers Run Creek. It is a nice hike especially this time of year. Girard Manor Lofty Reservoir hike (7 of 38)

I passed a number of small streams,  many of which,  still have populations of native brook trout living in their cold and pure waters. It is like walking back in time. Girard Manor Lofty Reservoir hike (10 of 38)

I enjoyed the walk seeing a few deer, squirrels and chipmunks as well as, I think,  fresh bear tracks.  i was hoping to find out but no such luck. I got to the Lofty Reservoir and found it was very low from the shortage of rain we had this past summer.  It was still a pretty sight and I stopped and rested a bit before the long hike back. Here are some more photographs of my hike and the reservoir.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/gerard-manor-lofty-reservoir-hike-november-1-2015 Girard Manor Lofty Reservoir hike (23 of 38)

As I neared the smokestack  on the way back, I was surprised and delighted to see a bald eagle fly right over my head and over a small hill. I waited a while and approached the hill knowing there is a swamp on the other side. I thought I may sneak up on the eagle feeding but I think I  made too much noise. I got atop the hill only to see two bald eagles quickly ascending into the skies. I got some photos but not very good ones. It still was a great experience to see two of our national symbols flying into the November sky. It always is. It was a nice ending to another great hike here in beautiful northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs of the bald eagles. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/bald-eagles-girard-manor-november-1-2015Eagles - (1 of 1)


The memories of men are too frail a thread to hang history from. ~John Still,

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Oslo Norway: Part Three. Norsk Folkemuseum A Visit To Norway’s past.

After I left the group in Oslo Harbor I boarded a ferry to the Bygdoy peninsula, where we visited the Viking Boat Museum earlier in the day. This time I headed to the Folkemuseum. I enjoy learning about the history and culture of the country’s I visit so I thought this would be a good place to spend the couple of free hours we had.  Oslo Norway Folkemuseum ferry ride (3 of 32)

I enjoyed the short boat ride through the harbor. Clouds in the distance made for some nice pictures but they soon brought rain as I left the boat. I was glad I took along a camera cover and waterproof jacket.  This is a link to some more photographs of my ride to the museum. (and there are a number of albums, I took a lot of photographs, in the Scandinavia photo page of my blog) http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-ferry-ride-august-2-2015Oslo Norway Folkemuseum ferry ride (20 of 32)

The rain didn’t last long and I made my way into the museum. There were many exhibits about the history and culture in the building at the interest. I particularly enjoyed the exhibit on the native Sami  people who live in northern Scandinavia. Oslo Norway Folkemuseum (7 of 30)

After spending some time reviewing the exhibits, I headed on the spacious grounds, past homes planted with gardens, schoolhouses and made my way to the beautiful restored stave church, pictures above. Here is the link to more photographs from inside the museumhttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-august-2-2015

Oslo Norway Folkemuseum stave church (2 of 24)

This restored church dated from the 13th century. Almost all of the first churches in Scandinavia were made of wood and lost to time. This truly was a gem to history buffs like me. I stood in the dark wooded church and imagined the many Christmases wedding, funerals and other events that took place inside almost a thousand years ago. Here is a link to more photographs of the historic and beautiful structure. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-stave-church-august-2-2015Oslo Norway Folkemuseum stave church (1 of 24)

I enjoyed the church and a restored inn and then made my way down through a wooded area to the many exhibits of farms buildings of Norway throughout the centuries.  I was interested on how the thatched roofs were constructed and there were many on display.Oslo Norway historic farms (4 of 37) - Copy

Many of them were open with exhibits and information about the time they were built. Others had guides dressed in the appropriate time period who were happy to answer questions.  This is a link to the “historic ” farm houses. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-historic-farms-august-2-2015Oslo Norway Folkemuseum stave church (24 of 24)

I made my way to the 20th century and there was a “modern” farm dating from the 1950’s, I enjoyed seeing the old furniture and kitchen devises. Oslo Norway Folkemuseum modern farm (19 of 20)


The farms were complete with livestock. planted gardens and fields and really gave you a sense of traveling backward in time.  This is a link to the “modern” farm house. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-modern-farm-august-2-2015Oslo Norway historic farms (34 of 37)

I was amazed at how much I had learned about the farms of Norway and could have spent many more hours exploring the vast fields and many restored barns, sawmills,  smokehouse and other buildings and tools associated with the farming over the centuries.

It was getting late so I headed back to the ferry and was surprised to find that I had missed a large part of the museum and that there were building with exhibits from the 16th  to the 20th century showing how the folks of Norway lived in the towns and cities. Oslo Norway City 20th century town (10 of 19)

I quickly popped my head in the many old stores, dental offices, houses and other businesses. The amount of exhibits were amazing. I wished I had another month to explore this vast museum which really does show the history of Norway in a very detailed and pleasant manner. It really was like walking back in time.   Here is a link to some more photographs of the old town.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/oslo-norway-folkemuseum-old-town-august-2-2015Oslo Norway Folkemuseum dental offices (10 of 13)

I made my way to the ferry, and, with a half hour wait had a huge bowl of fish chowder, i got back to the harbor and met up with my sister and her friends just when a thunderstorm blew in. We sat out the downpour in a store and, when the rain  ended, I made my way back to the room. We had an early departure for Stockholm in the morning and I wanted to get up early to see Oslo one last time.

untitled (1 of 1)

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
Michael Crichton

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Copenhagen Denmark. Something For Everyone: Gardens, Palaces, Shopping, History And The Second Oldest Amusement Park In The World. Part One.

It is going to be very hard to summarize all I saw and did in my one full day in the  “city of green spires”.  I knew it was an amazing visit, from the opulent Christianborg Palace to the magical Tivoli amusement park.  But, in reviewing the photographs I took for this blog,  I realized just how much there is to see and do in this historic city. I am hoping the photos will help me convey some it’s great diversity. I sure took a lot of them. Copenhagen Denmark early morning walk (30 of 43)

I began the day early, up before sunrise to take a look at the “real” neighborhoods and how the regular folks live. One thing I learned they are up early, are active, and love their bicycles.Copenhagen Denmark early morning walk (27 of 43)

I walked down Farimagsgade, a major street, which had little motor vehicle traffic but plenty of pedestrians, runners and bicyclists.

I walked past the Orstedsparken  and Botanical Gardens and entered the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum.  Here I left the main streets and roamed the residential neighborhoods finding the usual playgrounds, churches and schools. Copenhagen Denmark early morning walk (42 of 43)

I made my way back along the beautiful reservoirs that are the homes to numerous swans, ducks, geese, blue herons and other birds. I love to watch a city wake up and Copenhagen woke up as gracefully as any I ever visited.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. (Of course you can also see them in my Scandinavia photo album on my blogs home page).http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/copenhagen-denmark-early-morning-walk-july-31-2015

After a shower and nice breakfast at the hotel I joined our group for a bus tour through the city streets were we saw many of the historic sights. including the canals and famous “old town” Most of the old town was seen from a distance since large sections are closed to motor vehicle traffic. Copenhagen   Denmark City Tour   July 31 2015 (18 of 50)

We than visited the splendid inner chamber of Christianborg Place, not only the seat of the nation’s  Parliament and Supreme Court but also the site of the Royal Reception Room and other rooms for Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.Copenhagen Denmark Christianborg Palace (31 of 49)


We learned so much visiting these magnificent rooms, adorned with all sorts of art. This is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Palace. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/copenhagen-denmark-christianborg-palace-july-31-2015Copenhagen Denmark Christianborg Palace (40 of 49)

My favorite was the tapestry room, were the finest woven carpets depicted the history of Denmark from the Viking age to the present.  The carpets were amazing. My favorite was the one depicting events from the 20th century, the good and the bad , and leaving an unfilled spot for us to complete. The guide gave a very emotional presentation about the hatred and evil of the NAZI years and how it is the desire of the Queen that we never forget the hatred on which it was based and never let it happen again. This visit would have, in itself, made the entire trip worth while. This is a link to some more photographs of the beautiful tapestries on display at the Palace. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/copenhagen-denmark-christianborg-palace-tapestry-room-july-31-2015Copenhagen Denmark Christianborg Palace Tapestry Room  (4 of 20)

We left the Palace, watched the end of the changing of the guard and then visited some more of the seemingly countless sites of the city, including the famous Little Mermaid,Copenhagen   Denmark City Tour   July 31 2015 (31 of 50)


We than we left on our own and  I had a very pleasant lunch with my sister Linda and some other members of our group. As I said there was just so much to see I will need more time to relate it all. So I guess there will be a Copenhagen Part Two.  Please check out the photographs, although the don’t do justice to the beauty of this city, they give some indication of the wonderful sights I experienced.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour of the city.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/scandinavia-july-26-august-8-2015/nggallery/scandinavia-july-25-august-8-2015/copenhagen-denmark-city-tour-july-31-2015

Copenhagen Denmark Christianborg Palace (20 of 49)



“…together we shall see what is in this great kingdom of Denmark, and on this journey you will put from you all the sufferings of recent years and regain your joy in the world.”
Rose Tremain




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