Graffiti!

Philadelphia Graffiti

Philadelphia Graffiti

There is surprising beauty in a very unexpected place in Philadelphia. Near Richmond Street is an old decaying pier that once was used to deliver coal by train to waiting barges in the Delaware River. What is left today are graffiti-covered walls on the cement arches that once held the railroad. The arches provide a catacomb-like atmosphere, and street artists provide the ever-changing fascinating artwork.

We joined our friends from the Chester County Camera Club on a recent outing to the site. To add to the intrigue of the place, about twenty young men in army fatigues carrying what looked like machine guns showed up and held a paintball battle, yet again changing the colorful walls by adding new splatters of paint.

Reykjavik Iceland Graffiti

Graffiti in Reykjavik, Iceland

We came across another unique graffiti treasure when we travelled to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. In a small courtyard artists covered the walls with dramatic, fun and colorful images.  This display of street art is quite a contrast to the rest of Iceland which is filled with glaciers, volcanoes, bubbling hot springs, waterfalls and vast open spaces.  In the country, one can drive for hours without seeing another person or sign of civilization – and no graffiti.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For a gallery of our graffiti images, see our “Photo Fun” page of our website.

Enjoy!

Posted in Photo Fun | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DCOne hundred years ago, three thousand flowering cherry trees were planted on the National Mall as a gift from Japan to America. The Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1935 and now attracts more than a million visitors and is one of the largest annual public events in the United States. “Hanami” is the Japanese word for cherry blossom viewing and it represents a Japanese tradition more than 1000 years old.

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DCThese enchanting white and pink trees surround the Tidal Basin in Washington DC and provide a delicate backdrop for many of our national monuments. The blossoms frame our views of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. The delicate branches provide a graceful compliment to the very powerful monument of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And it is wonderful to watch so many people enjoying a walk among the trees or a picnic underneath the branches.

Years ago we brought our kids to DC to enjoy the sights and watched as they and hundreds of other children gleefully climbed the cherry trees. Fortunately climbing is no longer allowed, and some of the trees are protected with fencing from some local beavers who thought the trees made better dams than scenery.

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

Yo no naka wa

Mikka minu ma ni

Sakura kana

“Life is short, like the three-day glory of the cherry blossom”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the complete gallery of photos, go to the Events page on our website and click on Cherry Blossom Festival.  We hope you enjoy our photos!

Posted in Destinations, Events, National Parks, Nature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Peepers

So many signs of spring, but our favorite is a sound, not a sight.  Sometime in March, swampy areas come alive with the unmistakable sound of spring peepers.  How can such a small  frog make such a loud noise?  And then multiply that sound by a few hundred, and the pulsating, vibrating sounds are amazing.

Betsy in swampFor years, we have heard the spring peepers, but never seen them.  So this year we decided to venture out in search of a photographic capture.  Betsy donned waders and went swamp hiking in the muck.  The peepers knew we were there, and became silent as we entered their swamp.   After about ten minutes of silence, they started calling.  It was very hard to see where the sound was coming from as they hide under leaves and mud. 

spring peeperBetsy finally spotted one, and was amazed to see the tiny frog make such a huge sound – it would enlarge the throat sac and emit the unmistakable call of the peepers.

As we watched and listened to the peepers, a hot air balloon soared over our heads – another sign that spring is here!  We hope you enjoy our photos of some other signs of spring.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Events, Nature, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Middle Creek Snow Geese

Middle Creek Snow GeeseSometime before sunset, 65,000 snow geese spread their wings in unison and lift off the cornfields into the air to swirl in the sky and eventually land on the lake for the night.  First you hear a low rumble which is the sound their wings make as they lift off the ground.  Then the thunderous cacophony of thousands of geese honking and beating their wings as they fill the sky.  This takes place each year at the end of February and early March as thousands of snow geese stop to eat in the cornfields and rest on the lake at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area  near Kleinfeltersville, PA.  There is a visitor center with interpretive displays, and a self-guided auto tour from March 1 through September 15.  But the highlight is the annual migration of snow geese and tundra swans.  A short hike to Willow Point from a parking area usually results in some great viewing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the full photo gallery and some short videos of the snow geese, go to our Day Trips page.

Posted in Day trips, Nature, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Union League in Philadelphia

Broad Street entrance to the Union League

Broad Street entrance to the Union League

With it’s roots dating back to 1862, the Union League in Philadelphia was started by a group of elite businessmen to support the policies of Abraham Lincoln and the Union during the Civil War.  The Union League continues today as a philanthropic and civic organization.  Although no longer exclusively a club of white, Republican males, it still maintains a very traditional and politically conservative identity. The League admitted the first woman member in 1986, and the first African-American member in 1974.

Today more than 400 guests attended the annual Black History Awards Luncheon in the Lincoln Ballroom at the Union League.  Hosted by the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continually running African-American newspaper in the country, the event celebrated African-American history and presented three History Makers awards.  It was wonderful to see the tremendous efforts of African-Americans being recognized in a grand room on whose walls hung three levels of oil painting portraits of the all-white former presidents of the club.

Equestrian Portrait of General George Washington

Equestrian Portrait of General George Washington

The Union League building is an architectural treasure in Philadelphia.  The French Renaissance style building welcomes members with two sets of sweeping staircases at the building’s entrance on Broad Street.  A distinguished collection of art adorns the hallways and many rooms that take up an entire city block.  The Lincoln Room features a dramatic statue of Abraham Lincoln standing underneath a mural of the Gettysburg Address. And a stunning twelve-foot high oil painting by Thomas Sully in 1842 depicts George Washington on his horse.

Many of the League’s historical artifacts and history displays are open to the public in the Heritage Center of the Union League .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Day trips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaskan Grizzlies

Grizzly Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! An up-close and personal visit with Alaskan Brown Bears at Lake Clark National Park was a highlight of the Wilson family trip to Alaska a few years ago. Full of adventure, we took a white-knuckle plane ride over Cook Inlet and landed on a desolate beach – desolate of all but huge grizzly bears. We spent the day riding in an open cart attached to an ATV, and walking in tall grasses among dozens of bears.  We were almost forced to spend the night there when the fog rolled in, jeopardizing the plane from coming back for us. Betsy's footprint and Grizzly print

We loved this adventure – the excitement and our apprehension of the bears, and the stunning beauty of such a remote part of our country.   We are happy to share more of our grizzly bear experience and photos here. 

 And please check out some of other Alaska photos. Enjoy!

Posted in Destinations, Nature, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chester County Balloon Festival

For two days in June each summer, colorful hot air balloons take shape in Chester County.  twenty festive balloons are inflated Friday night in preparation for the “Friday Night Glow”, when the colors come alive as fire lights the balloons up from inside against the darkening twilight.  Located at the Embreeville State Complex just west of West Chester, Pennsylvania on Rt. 162, this event is fun for children of all ages.  Rounding out the fun is live music and a variety of booths selling crafts and food.  So bring a lawn chair or a blanket and sit on the hillside and enjoy watching the balloons inflate and glow!   Click here to check for this year’s dates and information.  For the photo gallery or to see other area events, click here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Day trips, Events | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment