Friday, July 31, 2009

Day at the Jersey Shore, and Ethiopian Food in Philadelphia

Today I went to Ocean City, New Jersey for a day of sun and sand. The weather prediction was for scattered thunderstoms, but the weather forecast was wrong, as they sometimes are. I had a warm, bright mostly sunny day, with a slight breeze off the ocean. The thunderstorm rolled in at the end of the day as I was driving home.

It was a great day to splash in the ocean, walk the shoreline, and catch some rays. Of course I walked the boardwalk to browse through some shore kitsch, sample some boardwalk food, and do some people watching. It was somewhat nostalgic for me as I remembered some of my family vacations from childhood. It has been a very long time since I went to the Jersey shore, and many things are still the same!

A pier juts into the ocean.

Colorful umbrellas

On the way home, I tried Ethiopian food for the first time, at Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant in West Philadelphia. I had the vegetarian platter. We scooped up the food with the flat, thin, spongy, tangy injera bread. The food reminded me of the lentil dahls of Indian cuisine, but it had its own unique Ethiopian spices. It was a little bit hot. I highly recommend it and hope to try it again some time!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle

Today we hiked the nine mile loop that leads to Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle. It was a hot and humid day, so we needed frequent water breaks. There was a slight breeze along the mountain, which led to a very pleasant day!

View of Pennsylvania farmlands from Pinnacle.

Watch out! We thought this was a rattlesnake, but when I searched on the web, it resembles a copperhead. Either way, we avoided him. This was the second hike to this area where we saw a venomous snake.

Another vista view.

Relaxing on the rocks at lunchtime.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ricketts Glen State Park

Today we went to beautiful Ricketts Glen State Park, easily one of the prettiest trails in Pennsylvania. We hiked to Lake Jean, ate lunch, and spent time by the lake, then we hiked the waterfalls trail with its 22 waterfalls. The weather was in the mid seventies with bright and clear skies.

One of the first waterfalls we encountered.

Colorful wildflower

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Morristown National Historical Park

Today we went hiking in Morristown National Historical Park. This village served as quarters for the American Continental Army led by General George Washington. They camped here during the winter of 1777 and also 1779 - 1780.

There are miles of beautiful forested hiking trails.

Replica of shelter for Continental Army soldiers. A little hiking, a little history, a very pleasant day.

Vegetable and flower garden with beautiful calendula. This farm garden is similar to what would be found during the American Revolutionary time period.

Bee Balm in the Wick Farm garden.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Merrill Creek Reservoir

Today we went kayaking at Merrill Creek Reservoir. It was bright and sunny and in the eighties, a perfect day to be on the water. Merrill Creek is an ideal place to observe wildlife, we saw many varieties of birds, some turtles, fish, and a little snake who was very interested in us.

After a day of paddling, we then biked along the river from Easton to Bethlehem, had dinner, and biked back in the dark. The trail is very different after sunset! We saw a bullfrog jumping out of the way, an opossum, and a deer along the side of the trail.

The water as still as a mirror.

A nesting pair of eagles resides at the reservoir. One flew right overhead. In this grainy picture you can see the white head and tail feathers.

If you look closely you can see three cormorants perched on top of the dead trees.

Submerged forest makes for an interesting obstacle course and a home for fish, turtles, birds, and snakes.

We heard a pair of osprey calling to each other. One flew by with a fish in this talons, carried aerodynamically of course! This osprey found a high perch to search for fish.

Tree stumps sticking out of the water

This heron was very still.

He sensed my presence and looked around.

A slight breeze ripples the lake.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Call of the Wild: Protection of Wolves

Today we went to a wolf preserve and saw timber wolves, tundra wolves, and arctic wolves. These particular animals were raised in captivity. We learned about their feeding habits (35 pounds of food at one time!), territory, and pack and dominance behavior. We also heard them howl; the haunting sound can carry for several miles.

It was amazing to see these magnificent animals up close and observe their interaction and communication. More importantly, they need to be protected in the wild. Defenders of Wildlife has current information about their population and range, and also their legal status and protection. Gray wolves are listed as endangered throughout the United States except in several states. Certain subspecies of the wolf have been removed from the endangered species list which will allow them to be killed and result in further decline of their population. Please see Defenders of Wildlife for the most current information and what you can do to help protect these vulnerable animals.

Gray Wolf, also known as Timber Wolf

A dark variation of the Timber Wolf

The Arctic Wolf, a subspecies of Gray Wolf

Tundra Wolf, another subspecies of Gray Wolf

We finished out our day by walking along the Paulinskill Valley Trail.

Stream flooded with rain water

A cooling stream

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bushkill Falls, First Friday in Bethlehem, and Coplay Fireworks

Today was a fun filled start to the Fourth of July weekend. It was a pleasant afternoon to visit Bushkill Falls in the Poconos. A slight drizzle kept the crowds away but wasn't heavy enough to make hiking too difficult.

Bushkill Falls is 100 feet high.

Main falls plunging into the creek below

View from the bottom of the falls

Bushkill Creek winds through the Poconos.

A refreshing stream

Later that evening I headed out to Bethlehem's First Friday. Highlights included Ryan Hulvat's Photo Documentary Project Launch. Ryan is teaching photojournalism and job skills to disadvantaged youth. Salma Arastu was also in town with a gallery showing and a new book.

Then, in the evening, I watched the Coplay Fireworks in my neighborhood. Coplay has one of the best local firework displays around, and it's a treat to be able to walk there.

Coplay Fireworks 2009

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