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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Puerto Rico Day Two: San Juan: Castillo San Cristobal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

~silent lotus” 
― silent lotus

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

room in Gallery Inn

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

 

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Puerto Rico Day One: Getting To Know Old San Juan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Frigid Walk Through Downtown Philadelphia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reflection in mirror

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

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Fly Eagles Fly! Football, Family And Philly

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Independence Hall lit at night

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

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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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Idaho: Day Two Rivers Of Water And Lava, Atomic Energy And More.

As I almost always do on my travels, I awoke early, before the sun, my first morning in Twin Falls, Idaho. Wanting to get on the road, I packed, had some coffee and  left my hotel to drive to Shoshone Falls Park to watch the sun rise.LDS Morman Temple Twin Falls Idaho

Twin Falls, located along Interstate 15,  was a typical interstate highway exit city.  Near the exit were hotels, gas stations, restaurants and a Walmart and other chain stores. And  like every town I visited in Utah and Idaho there was a LDS (Later Day Saints) Temple too. Close up of sun rise at Shoshone Falls

I drove the 8 miles to Shoshone Park and just caught the sun rising over the high desert of Idaho. 

I first visited a nice  local park, Dierkes Park, which had a man made lake used by the locals for swimming and fishing. There were already a few people trying to catch the many fish I heard jumping in the calm waters. The park also provided a view for a picnic or for a hiker like me.scenery of sage and brush in high desert near Shoshone Falls

I proceeded to the Shoshone Falls, also know as the Niagara Falls of the west, but was disappointed to find only one small waterfall along the massive drop off  of the Snake River.I t is summer, usually the dry season, and this year there was even less rainfall than usual.

I walked along the park for about an hour enjoying the many informative exhibits  describing the geology, history of the area and the Native Americans who first lived here.  Here is a link to some of these exhibits  and other photographs I took on my morning hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Shoshone-Falls-Morning-hike-August-20-2017Snake River at Shoshone Falls

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, I was soon heading north on Route 93 and was very surprised to find that there was little traffic on the highway. I enjoyed the scenic 2 1/2 hour ride to the Craters of the Moon National Park. Route 93 highway near Twin Falls Idaho

In addition to some beautiful scenery I also saw a few critters along the way,Mountains and grassland scenery Idaho

a number of horses on the many ranches I drove past, Horses on ranch Idaho

ducks on some of the ponds along the highway, ducks on pond Idaho

and these interesting critters enjoying the Idaho high desert sunshine. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Craters of the Moon National Park. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Drive-to-Crater-of-Moons-National-Park-August-20-2017-alpaca along highway Idaho

As I approached the Craters of the Moon National Park traffic did increase and the parking lots were filled with automobiles, recreational vehicles and tourists buses. 

I did not have a lot of time but I decided to do the loop drive and got out a few times to explore the ancient lava flows and other geologic formations. lava cones Craters of Moon National park

I hiked one of the trails and again learned so much about this unique and beautiful area of our Nation.

lava rock formations Crater of moon National Park I wish I had a lot more time to explore this other worldly park but I had to move on. Here is a link to some more photographs from my brief visit to the park . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-sol20-2017ar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Craters-of-The-Moon-National-Park-August-scenery Craters of Moon

I now had about a half hour drive to my next stop, the first city in the world to be powered by atomic energy, Arco Idaho. 

I had planned to spend some time in this town but I was running late and so just had to take a few photographs and move on. landscape scenery Arco Idaho

I drove on to find another stop I planned on my route to Idaho Falls, Atomic City. This area  of the Idaho high desert was home to the first atomic energy research facilities in the United States. nuclear reactor information roadside sign

There were dozens of nuclear plants here in the 1950’s and a number of nuclear disasters, including a nuclear melt down that resulted in a number of deaths . Atomic City was once a booming town  due to these facilities but was largely abandoned after the meltdown. abandoned gas station Atomic City

The highway was re-routed and I had to drive 8 miles on an unpaved gravel road to reach the almost deserted town. gravel road Atomic City Idaho

I arrived in the town and did see a few of the 25 residents still living there , two men sitting next to the drag racing track and a family in one of the old homes that remain. old car Atomic City Idaho

I took a ride through the deold gas station Atomic City Idaho serted streets wondering about the people who lived and worked here when it was a boom town in the 1950’s.

This old bar must have many tales to tell.  old bar sign Atomic City Idaho

Again I wish I had more time to roam the streets of this near ghost town but I wanted to get into Idaho Falls before I did encounter any of the predicated traffic. Here is a link to some more photographs from my briefs visits to Arco and Atomic City. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Atomic-City-and-Arco-August-20-2017fire engine Atomic city Idaho

I drove back over the gravel road, which further delayed me, and I got back on the major highway for the last leg of my journey to Idaho Falls. I was fortunate that traffic was still light and I found myself at my hotel for the next two days, the Econo Lodge, at around 3 p.m. 

After checking in, unpacking and taking a short rest I decided to walk to downtown Idaho Falls. It was late afternoon but the sun was still hot during the 1 1/2 mile walk to downtown and the Snake River walk. 

The walk to the river was through a commercial district but once I made it downtown I cam upon the very scenic Snake River and the park that is located on both sides of the river.

I rested a while under the shade of the many trees in the park and enjoyed watching the many people taking advantage of a sunny Sunday afternoon in the park. I was tired but wanted to see the famous Idaho Falls LDS Mormon temple, so I walked the few blocks from the park to the temple. 

You are not allowed to enter a temple but I did enter the visitor center and learned a little more about this religion. The staff was very friendly and happy to answer the questions of the many tourists who were visiting Idaho Falls for the total eclipse. Statue of Jesus in Mormon temple visitor center

It was still hot and late afternoon so I decided to walk back to my hotel, where after a shower I had a delicious meal at D’railed a very fine restaurant in an old building along the railroad tracks near my hotel. D'railed restaurant building

After diner I was back at my hotel uploading and editing photographs and soon asleep, excited to see the total solar eclipse the next morning Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Two-Idaho-Falls-Afternoon-walk-August-20-2017interior of D'railed restaurant Idaho Falls

 

Of  all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

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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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