Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Today was my beautiful daughter Sarah's birthday. She is gorgeous inside and out. I love these photos of her with her sweet family--hubby Miles, daughter Elle and baby son Beck. I am very proud of the woman that Sarah has become and know that she makes her little corner of the world a little bit brighter just by her presence. Happy birthday, Sarah! We love you and miss you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Monday's One Fun Thing

I just re-discovered I used to love it, lost interest somewhere along the way, and now I am back into the fun of finding lots of new and interesting websites. So I was browsing along tonight and found Out of Print--a site with shirts that "feature iconic and often out of print book covers." I had to order this Animal Farm shirt! Check out the site--you might find something you can't live without. And the additionally cool thing is that they send a book to a community in need (through Books for Africa) for every shirt sold.

So every Monday, I am going to post one fun thing I've come across (not necessarily through stumbleupon, but wherever!) and maybe more if I can't decide on just one. :) Two other fun things this week are the new blogs I've added to my blogroll on the sidebar, written by two fabulous young women. Saving November is by Audra, daughter of one of my best friends ever, and someone I've known since she was born. She's documenting the lead-up to her wedding next year, and life along the way. And she's just the cutest and sweetest! :) The other is Alyssa in Alaska, by Alyssa who runs our Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is another sweetheart who overflows with friendliness, enthusiasm and talent. Take a look at both of their blogs!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Philly and Jersey and U2 and Back Home

We took the scenic route back to my mom's instead of fighting our way through Allentown again (we got lost the first time). Although most of the drive was spent in the countryside, we ended up in Philadelphia before crossing over to Jersey.

Philly sights

Crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge to the Jersey side (please sing "Jersey Girl" here)

Back at Mom's, we picked up the laptop from the repair shop, had a bite to eat, hung out for awhile, and then headed back to Philly for the U2 concert that night. What a great way to end our vacation!

Tailgaters in the stadium parking lot

So you can tell I live in remote Alaska and have not been to a concert in a long time. In my experience, no cameras were ever allowed in concerts. In fact, I have a distinct memory of Randy Allen and I having to walk what seemed like MILES back to his car to put my camera away when a group of us went to an outdoor music fest in Memphis one time. A long, frustrating walk! So I decided to leave my camera in the car, along with my phone. At the gate, sure enough, my bag was searched. We got inside and found our seats and the young couple in front of us asked if we'd take their photo. I said, "You got your camera in?" The woman replied that she'd had it in her pocket and they didn't look there. I said, "Good thinking." As time went by, I realized that everyone and their dog had a camera and/or a smart phone with them. As the concert began, the people in front of us were taking photos left and right and posting them on Facebook. It finally dawned on me that it's a new day and no one cares any more if you bring in a camera...or at least they've decided it's not worth fighting. I was so bummed! Rich was laughing that if I'd had a fancy phone, he knew I'd be live blogging or something.

Despite having no photos to document my joy at seeing one of my favorite bands again, let me just say that Bono and Company were in fine form and put on another fabulous show. We even had Rep. Gabby Giffords' husband Mark sending us a hello from the space shuttle (and reciting a verse of "Beautiful Day") and we all got to sing "Happy Birthday" to Nelson Mandela at the end of the concert. It was so much fun. I will always be a rock and roll gal at heart.

Later I looked on U2's website and everyone was encouraged to "post your photos and reviews of the show." LOL Next time I will be better informed and prepared.

They also had a "FanCam" which took a huge photo of the whole crowd. Wouldn't you know it, I found us in the photo and we are barely visible because a woman is standing up right in front of us!

We got home after midnight and chatted with my mom for a little while--she was still up. The next morning, we went out for breakfast, repacked our suitcases and said our goodbyes. Another vacation ended, but what a good one it was! We had to drive back to Newark, turn in our car and catch a plane to Seattle. Overnighted at the Hilton ($55 at priceline...yes!) and off to Anchorage and Unalaska the next day. We came home to some sunny, warm weather--nice! And now we're just back to work and the daily routine. :)

Tannersville, PA and Bushkill Falls

We continued to Tannersville where we checked into Cranberry Manor, a bed and breakfast that my mom recommended. She and her friends have stayed there a couple of times and had nothing but good things to say. One of the owners, Ric, met us, showed us around and took us to our room on the third floor.

Part of the room, which was cute and comfortable. It was getting late so we decided to drive over to the nearby casino for some dinner and a little gambling. The buffet was about the worst we've ever had (yuck) and Rich won 15 bucks. haha

The next morning we had a fabulous breakfast and chatted with our fellow travelers before setting off to hike Bushkill Falls. Here are a couple of buildings along the way.

Bushkill Falls is called "The Niagara of Pennsylvania," with 8 waterfalls along the trail. There are four trails of various difficulty, and being seasoned Unalaska hikers :) we were sure we could do the "red trail," the hardest, which was supposed to be "steep" and would take about 2 1/2 hours. Part of the trail consisted of wooden steps and the rest wound through the forest.

The day started out drizzly so I brought a light jacket, which I never needed. It was almost a perfect day and we were sheltered from the sun by all the tall trees.

We were actually feeling pretty smug, making fun of the description of the trail as "difficult" or "steep." Some parts indicated that they were only for "serious hikers." Honestly, it was super easy. What the heck!

We had a great time and Rich took a lot more (better) photos than these but he has not edited them yet. :) I'll put them up later.

When we finally started climbing back out of the falls and up to the exit, I had to admit that the hike got quite a bit harder. There were SO many steep steps and they seemed never ending. We had to eat our words a little bit by then! Arriving at the end, sweaty and tired, I took back some of my arrogance and bought a Tshirt that says, "I survived the red trail--1267 steps." Whew!

The next morning, we sat out on the porch and visited with our housemates before breakfast.

Sherry and Bill from CT listening to one of Ric's funny stories. Our hosts were extremely personable and made our stay extra nice.

Amanda and Jim were from PA. Jim was telling us about his adventures the day before, when he got to ride along in a race car at the nearby NASCAR track. Pretty exciting!

My half eaten breakfast--one of Sharon's specialties--peach upside down pancakes. Wow!

That's our lovely hostess Sharon (owner with Ric) and Ted, a visitor from Canada. I love B&Bs--really enjoy interacting with people and having a little bit of a personal touch. In fact, Rich and I were talking about how it might be fun to have a B&B ourselves one day. We have had this conversation before--I like chatting with people and I don't even mind cleaning house (haha), and, of course, he'd be the chef. Who knows! Maybe you can all come to see us in our own little B&B one day! I even looked at B&Bs for sale on line when we got home. I am amazed at the disparity in price--you can get some for less than you'd pay for a house (but I wonder what condition they're in and whether we'd ever get any guests!) and others are millions of dollars. Well, you know we will not be buying anything in the million dollar range. It's probably just another one of those ideas that never goes anywhere but it's fun to think about.

Soon after breakfast, we packed up and turned the car toward south Jersey--back to Mom's for one more night. And--oh yeah--a U2 concert in Philly!

York, PA

After getting lost in DC, we drove through a huge thunderstorm on the highway, could hardly see in front of us and I was scared we were going to get in an accident! We finally drove out of it and stopped for some Chik-Fil-A since there was no chance we'd get to York in time to go out for a nice dinner. Again, we had the address for the Yorktowne Hotel, but no directions but we figured we could find it. Wrong again! After several confusing turns, I called the hotel and got a desk clerk who thought I was an idiot. He did not seem to understand that we had no idea where we were, that the roads became one-way and we couldn't turn onto the street where the hotel was located, and so on. He also told us he had no reservation for us and that "everyone was already checked in for the night." But he told us to come on and we would work something out. His directions were completely inaccurate but we finally figured it out for ourselves and found our way around several one way streets to a parking garage on the side street next to the hotel. Upon checking in, I was trying to be friendly and said, "Here are your wayward travelers!" He was nice enough, checked us in, and then turned to Rich to say in the most condescending manner, "Pay close attention--the elevator is right over there," as if we had no sense at all!

It was late and off we went to sleep. The next morning, we roamed the streets for awhile, finding these flowers growing in the pavement and the First Presbyterian Church of York, with its old cemetery.

There were lots of cool buildings around the hotel.

We wandered back to the Yorktowne, where we had a lovely breakfast out on the patio and watched the people walking by.

We checked out of our room and drove downtown to check out the shops and the public market.

Even the parking meters had peace signs on them! My kind of town!

The market was pretty quiet and not nearly as plentiful as many of those we've visited around the country but we still enjoyed walking around and browsing.

Fresh fruits and beautiful flowers

Wow, anyone up for a pancake bigger than your head?

Another peaceful place!

This was a very cool little shop where I bought some jewelry and some soap.

York seems like a neat little town and we enjoyed our brief stay there, other than our dealings with the rude hotel clerk. :) Next, Tannersville, PA and Bushkill Falls.