Tag Archives: travel

A message to Garcia

Turn right at the stop. If you're in the creek, you missed it.We were chatting over breakfast about that bridge in Atlanta that collapsed, closing a part of Interstate 85. One of the guys wondered whether that affected I-75, so we Googled the news reports, and were treated to detailed instructions such as:

From Peachtree, take the Cheshire Bridge Road, under Lindbergh Drive – or was it over Lindbergh Drive, under the Cheshire Bridge and across Peachtree … there were a bunch of other streets and roads mentioned. All of them, probably, of significance to the locals. If I were headed to Atlanta in the next week or so, I believe I would head somewhere else.

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Father seeks family haven

Millions of our fellow residents are driven bare handed by the ravages of war.Let’s call him Jimmy. He is 31, more or less, from the town in which his father and mother were born. As a youngster, he knew nearly everyone within a mile or so of his home, and several who lived farther away. He rode his bicycle around the town, the way some kids where I live ride their bikes around Gettysburg.

“Sometimes we stacked concrete blocks in an alley, to hold up the end of a two-by-ten board,” he said. “Then we raced our bikes to see who could jump the longest.”
“I usually won,” the now father of four boasts.

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Leaving the jet planes and Interstates behind

covered bridge in snowy woodsDriving the Interstate is like flying in a jet liner. There’s a whole world racing past your window, patterns and big green signs with white reflective lettering hinting at places we would like to stop – sometime.

… our attention was arrested by a giant cast iron gas pump, about four times taller than I.

May it please the court, we offer Exhibit A: a road trip I took last Thursday with a fellow photographer.

We drove out to Greensburg, where we had business to perform, on I-76, cruise control set on “Quick,” legal libations close at hand.

“We are going to have to stop there sometime,” one of us said as we blurred by St. John the Baptist church, at the top of a staircase leading from beside the turnpike in New Baltimore.

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“Not all those who wander are lost”

Stairway to unknown placesThe title quote comes from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkein, but it is something I knew without knowing I knew long before reading the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Many of us who enjoy “nature” go hiking. Down Under, I’m told, Australians go on a walkabout. I always have preferred to aimlessly wander even on seemingly well-defined pathways, with little or no clear destination in mind.

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Feline wizardry makes some enjoyable joe

Plastic-lined burlap bags of in-house roasted coffee beans wait to be brewed(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/17/2014)

The Tuesday Noon Coffee and a Movie Philosophical Society meets here, as does a Wednesday night knitting club. During the day, shoppers stop by for conversation and a cup of joe.

“Here” is Merlin’s Coffee, at the far end of a short alley at the Outlet Shoppes, on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Sometimes called by customers “the cat house;” owners Donna and Eric Burns, of Hanover, are deeply invested in rescuing cats, have named the business for one of the animals, and have decorated the interior with cat art and knick-knacks. All their employees agree to allow Eric and Donna to donate the tips to animal rescue efforts.

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A tunnel of lilacs

Imaging a tunnel of purple lilacsFirst printed in the Gettysburg Times, 6/14/2013)

I love motorcycling. I haven’t ridden in nearly 20 years, but it’s like another unmentionable pastime – it’s a bit risky but once you’ve done it, you don’t stop wanting to do it.

When we lived in Norfolk, Va., a favorite ride was the Colonial Parkway, through a tunnel of lilac trees towering and bowed over the roadway from both sides, forming a roof to trap the sweet perfume the way tunnels a few miles east kept the river from pouring into the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel.

It was a sight and aroma not often allowed to penetrate our enclosed vehicles. Continue reading

Carly came with the wine

The waitress recommended a wine, then brought the bottle.I’m pretty good at remembering who people are. I’m not worth a flip at remembering names – at least until I’ve sat down and chatted several times with a person, and then written about them.

We had stopped at our favorite winery in North East, Pa, one to be lauded for its Port – a good Port being sometimes difficult to find, in a vineyard or a storm. After chatting a few minutes with the clerk – an Australian lass whose husband had brought her back to Pennsylvania – we headed for a restaurant at which we had dined on our previous trip. Continue reading

Save gas, clear the air, promote retail traffic and get a little exercise; downtown pedestrian-only should be an attractive idea

Kloggers perform in a pedestrian-only stage area in Burlington, Vt.A recent thread about sidewalk cafés in Philadelphia reminded me of a thread I’ve followed many years in the town where I live – making a portion of downtown pedestrian-only. The idea benefits everyone who shops, works and even breathes in the burg that tries it.

It’s a hard sell, though. We Americans have a long independent streak.

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Lucky find in a town beside the interstate

A youngster gazes through his reflection at cupcakes and other pastries behind the glass case
I didn’t know there was a Boonsboro, Md., until Granddaughter had a soccer game there. (I think her team came very close to winning.) All that running around made several of us hungry, so we headed into town to see what was available, preferably not something with a name we’d recognize.

We like to experiment with local places, and we found one, right there on North Main Street – the Icing Bakery and Café. I had a bowl of chicken rice soup, a couple of us had hot sandwiches, and the little guy in the picture had some of his dad’s. Lunch topped off with cheesecake cupcakes.

Follow the link to Icing Bakery

Computers are good at step-by-step, but only a human can be, well, human

r-pod camper and Jeep Grand Cherokee tow vehicle in campgroundWe had picked up the Messeder Space Pod in Myrtle Beach on a Thursday afternoon and headed home. Somewhere a little south of Petersburg, Va., we decided to start looking for a place to pull in for the night.

So we asked Sally G, our faithful GPS, to find one. She found several. We picked the closest one and dialed the phone number. A fellow whose gravelly voice came from National Geographic’s “Swamp Men,” only friendlier, listened patiently while I described where I was – some exit off I-95, northbound toward home.

“It’s not that I don’t want your business,” the proprietor said, “but I’m over on (Interstate) 85, and that’s pretty much out of your way.”

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Replacing humans with machines not necessarily a cost savings

NASA photo of Alan Shepard's launch of first US astronaut into spaceThe Messeder Space Pod (for want, at present, of a better name) finally is ready to go. My co-pilot in life and other travels went visiting her sister a couple months ago, and came home in love with an r-Pod, a small (18-foot) camper trailer not much bigger than the original space capsule that carried Astronaut Alan Shepard from Cape Canaveral to a wet spot in the Atlantic Ocean.

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EPA regs not to blame for refinery shutdowns

One of the real reasons East Coast refineries are shutting downAccording to several sources, including the refinery owners, the U.S. EPA is not the source of their woes – unless we count a planned 25 percent increase in U.S. vehicle gas mileage scheduled by 2015. … Continue reading …

So many colors in a rainbow

First Born's kids play on a Civil War battlefieldGoogle has started a new, free, travel opportunity. It’s called the Google Art Project, and offers young people of all ages opportunity to visit places many will never have opportunity to see – for instance, Freer Gallery of Art (Smithsonian), Denver (Colorado) Art Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art. Point your browser to www.googleartproject.com and start admiring.

Art, one of my college professors said, is the history of the tribe. To which I add, that and fiction. In both, the creators get to show life as they see it, without their stories being approved by Texas and California school districts.

“But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

(From “Flowers are Red,” by Harry Chapin, 1978)

When my son started school, … Continue reading …

Kids need (outer) space for dreams

Somewhere, below the water and above the trees, other worlds await young explorersI went for a walk in the woods one day with the granddaughters, in search of the source of a creek which flows from the county where I live in south-central Pennsylvania, across the state line into Maryland, and joins the Monocacy River east of Thurmont.

A paper company once owned the particular piece of forest, 2,500 acres of the first tree farm in the state that gave birth to the nation’s forest conservation movement. There was a time when men with axes and horses took to the woods to cut trees and drag them to a nearby road, from whence they could be carted to the mill. Axes gave way to chainsaws, and horses to huge, powerful tractors called “skidders,” but even then, logging was a slow process. I know; I was raised where logging and paper making was the primary industry.

Chainsaws have been replaced by machines with air conditioned cabs from which one operator can virtually denude a mountainside in a matter days, instead of the months or years once required, leaving the owner to pay taxes for several decades while waiting patiently for trees to grow to usable girth. Glatfelter, owner of that 2,500 acres, had decided to sell the land, to let someone else pay the taxes and “call us when you’ve got wood to sell.” … Continue reading …

Notes From a Road Trip

Bright colors and a stereotypic sarape and sombrero welcome travelers to South of the BorderYou can’t look out a window from 30,000 feet and see a flame burning on a wastewater treatment plant in Richmond, Va. I wonder what a wastewater treatment plant would have to burn to make that much flame.

I made that note on a drive last week to Florida, a purpose of which was to gather some photos and maybe contact some people working to get better wages for migrant farm workers. You can’t do either of those things in an airplane at 30,000 feet.

I sleep when I fly. When I drive, I think a lot, and talk to a voice-to-text app to keep notes. Such as, in 2,600 miles of driving, how much construction is putting people to work … Continue reading …

Songs you’ll wish you knew, and a few you do

The Willys perform at The Underside: Dan Chase on keyboard, Todd Mudd on bass, Neil Ecker on drums, Bill Serfass on lead guitar and Bill Mitchell on rhythm guitar.If you haven’t heard The Willys, you’ve missed a treat. We caught them one recent evening at The Underside, a restaurant and pub under the Altland House, on Abbottstown Square.

Their music is difficult to define. It’s been called “classic rock and beyond,” which leader Bill Serfass said sums it up about as well as any other description.

To my ear – I only know what I like but I’m not good with labels – it’s a mixture of gentle Rock-and-Roll and ballads. As my wife and I sat enjoying an appetizer of potato chips and sauce (both of which are made in the Underside kitchen) the group started one song I thought could have played in a Jimmy Buffett concert, though it wasn’t a Buffett song. In another number, Continue reading

Off the interstate, into history …

Ivy covers the gray stone walls of Gray Towers, Gifford Pinchot's childhood summer home.
At about the mid-point of a 450-plus mile journey home, we crossed the Delaware River westbound from Port Jervis, N.Y., to Matamoros, Pa. ate at the Perkins, and decided to see whether there might be less expensive gasoline if we followed U.S. 6 for a bit. We found the less expensive gas, but the real treasure was on the way uphill from the center of Milford back to the interstate. Continue reading

Castle Craig

Castle Craig pokes like a chess rook from a hill overlooking Meriden, C T

From Interstate 691, while enroute from home in Gettysburg to a nearly year-old great-niece I had not yet hugged, I spied poking out of the trees near the top of a granite mountain at the outskirts of Meriden, Conn., a  structure with the appearance of a super-sized rook from a giant chess set.

“What the heck is a castle doing out here,” I wondered aloud to my travel partner.

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