Keene Pumpkin Festival

Keene Pumpkin FestivalEvery October in Keene, New Hampshire.  Local families and visitors from afar are all welcome to participate by bringing a carved pumpkin to display at the Keene Pumpkin Festival. Rows of bleachers line the main street and hold thousands of jack-o-lanterns.  And at the town square, a huge scaffold is erected to hold a tower full of pumpkins. Last year there were 16,186 lit jack-o-lanterns- quite a sight!

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Brightside Garden

We live in a beautiful area of Chester County, Charlestown Township.  There is a community garden at Brightside Farm, and for a nominal fee, residents can get a plot that has rich soil, plenty of sunshine and water. It is a lot of fun to watch the vegetables and flowers grow, and a great place to meet friends and neighbors.  The variety of plants is amazing!

The garden is maintained by volunteers, and  we helped out by making the signs.  Jim cut up some old picket fencing, and Betsy hand-lettered the names for 53 garden plots.

This year for a project for the Chester County Camera Club, Betsy made a wreath of flowers from the garden, and hung it on one of the old barn doors at Brightside Farm.  It only lasted a few days, but we really enjoyed the colorful display of summer!

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Wooden Canoe Assembly

There is no display of  canoes that can rival the abundance of elegant, historic and finely crafted wooden canoes as there is at the annual Assembly of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association. Every summer, about 300 canoe enthusiasts and family members gather together for four days to learn about and enjoy these beautiful boats.  The Assembly features workshops and programs on canoe building and restoration, paddling skills, wood canoe history, kids’ programs, group paddling excursions and lots of friendship and fun.

This year’s gathering was at beautiful Paul Smith’s College set on the banks of the Lower St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks. All the beautiful canoes are set on the lawn overlooking the lake to be enjoyed by all.  And there is great paddling right from the campus.  We enjoyed a canoe trek to Keese Mill and Black Pond in search of loons, and a guided paddle with a naturalist on Barnum Pond and Heron Marsh. The sunset over the lake during our evening paddle was accentuated by the call of Redwing blackbirds and the soulful tremolo of the loon.

A favorite activity of the kids is the annual “hands on the teepee”.  Each year a different color hand print adorns the giant canvas teepee set up on the green.  There are quite a few handprints from Kenny and Alex from years past!

The winds kicked up during the day and presented a challenge to get across the lake.  And the winds did not cooperate for the final evening which resulted in cancellation of the annual “Paddle By” canoe parade.  The photos of the Paddle By in our album are from last year’s Assembly. But that did not stop us from enjoying music and laughter with lots of friends at a campfire overlooking the lake.  It is always bittersweet to say good-bye to our paddling friends from all over the country and Canada (and one from England!) but we know we will see them and share canoe trips and laughter once again next year.

The Wooden Canoe Heritage Association is a non-profit membership organization devoted to preserving, studying, building, restoring, and using wooden and bark canoes, and to disseminating information about canoeing heritage throughout the world.

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Baltimore Sailabration

Baltimore SailabrationThe Star-Spangled Sailabration is an international parade of more than 40 tall ships and naval vessels. These ships sailed into Baltimore in June 2012 for the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  In addition to tours of the beautiful tall ships, there were displays by fire boats in the harbor and an air show featuring the Blue Angels.

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Baltimore is a great place to visit any time of year and there is plenty to see and do at the beautiful Inner Harbor.  We also enjoyed exploring the town a bit and photographing some of the unique buildings such as the Bromo Seltzer Tower.

To see a gallery of photos, click here.

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Pine Barrens

Wading RiverHome of the Jersey Devil, cranberry bogs, and some of the best canoeing rivers, the Pine Barrens in South Jersey is one of the most sparsely populated areas and the largest body of open space between Richmond and Boston.  This heavily forested area of coastal plain covers 650,000 acres of  undeveloped land containing pygmy pines and cedar trees.  The Pine Barrens support a unique and diverse spectrum of plant life, including orchids and carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants. 

Many rivers meander through the pines.  The water is a rich, burnt-sienna color of some of the cleanest water anywhere.  The “tea-color” is a result of tannic acid from the roots of cedars lining the river banks.

Oswego River obstacleSome of the rivers we have enjoyed in the Pinelands are the Mullica River, Wading River, Oswego River and the Batsto River. Depending on the water levels, these canoe trails can be challenging; quick turns and obstacles such as downed trees can make navigation difficult.   Our most recent trip included members of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association – all seasoned paddlers.  But the fast waters and multiple obstacles resulted in some run-ins with nature.  Our friend Mike unintentionally tested  the waters twice, Barclay got pinned by a tree and had to battle the branches to break free, and Michael took a nice gash to the top of his head from a low branch.  But despite the unintended excitement, we had a beautiful paddle on a spectacular spring day.

Located in the Pine Barrens is Historic Batsto Village, restored to its mid-19th century state.  It is like taking a step back in time when visiting this bog iron and glass making industrial center which flourished from 1770s-1860s.

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for a gallery of photos, click here.

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Chester County Car Show

Chester County Car ShowLots of chrome and polish gleamed Memorial Day weekend at the Chester County Car Show in Kimberton, PA. As car songs such as “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Beep Beep” played over the loud-speaker, Jim reminisced as he saw models of some of the sports cars he had once owned or dreamed of owning. It was fun talking to some of the owners of these beautiful restored vehicles, obviously proud of their antique cars.

For a gallery of all car show photos, go to our Events web page

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Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower preserve

Columbine at Shenks Ferry

Columbine at Shenk's Ferry

There is a peaceful trail along a creek in the woods in southern Lancaster County that comes alive with color every spring.  Shenk’s Ferry wildflower sanctuary is quite impressive, boasting more than 70 species of wildflowers that bloom each spring.  Mid-April is usually a good time to see the greatest variety of flowers, but every year the blooms come out at slightly different times. So no matter when you go, there will be colorful surprises waiting for you!

One of our favorites is the Virginia bluebell; they unfurl from purple buds to become beautiful blue trumpet-shaped flowers.  We spotted this bumblebee on the trail wearing a bluebell party hat!

Each year we find different treasures.  This year the colorful columbine clung to the rock walls, while elegant white trillium dotted the forest floor.  We hope you enjoy our photos – you can see more day trip photos on our website.

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