Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Obviously, I am explorer. On a recent evening after an unseasonably warm day, I began to follow Spring Creek eastward from Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte. I had no set route in mind. Along South Potter Street, I was still "at home". It fell away behind me as I departed from the road to trace the railroad tracks. At spots where streams flowed into the main creek body, cool air flowed freely, and it felt good.

As creeks will do, it wandered away. I stayed with the railroad tracks.

Visual interest was not high, but it was quieter. A great environment for thoughtful meditation and prayer.

In about 45 minutes, I reached the western edge of Milesburg. According to road signs, Milesburg is only 2 miles from Bellefonte, but I was energized by the idea that I had reached another town, small though it may be. I heard my "friend", the rushing creek again. Across it, a lovely bay horse grazed quietly behind a white farm house.

With limited daylight left, I returned the way I came. My energy still high, I interspersed bursts of "skipping" (that is, jumping onto every other railroad tie) with my rapid walking pace. While not the most scenic short travel (I have no photos), it was worthwhile for the restoration I found.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Primarily a rural state with agriculture its number one business, natural areas are well-preserved in Pennsylvania. It's covered with hiking trails. The range of trails accommodates mountain bikes, horses and ATVs. In winter, some are open for cross-country skiers as well as hardy hikers. Some of the most challenging are in Rickettt's Glenn State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania. Although I haven't visited it for decades, I remember crossing -- carefully -- a slippery spot consisting of slanted flat rocks with water streaming over top.

Three friends and I walked part of the Shingletown Gap trail in June on a late Saturday afternoon. Shingletown is between State College and Boalsburg in central Pennsylvania.

There are two trails, one blue and one white. Marked trees serve as a guide.

We traversed the easier blue road for several hours at a leisurely pace. The steeper white trail branches from the blue not far from their shared starting point. A creek gurgles along most of the white trail. Nice for keeping the temperature down. And dipping hot bare feet or hands.

Early along the way, we took pictures ! Sean, who was passing by, volunteered to photograph all four of us. I think Mary and I encountered him when she and I last hiked this trail. Sean sometimes rides his mountain bike here. When the steeper route split from our trail, we saw a few mountain bikers navigating up the rocky incline like they were defying gravity.

Only one part of the trail is difficult to me. About 30 minutes or so after our picture-taking stop, the trail became rocky and uneven. The footing was not easy. Thankfully, this section was short.

The filled-out trees provided shade. The more we hiked, the more variety of plants we saw. Ferns covered the ground in places alongside other foliage such as rhododendron.

Quite a bit up the trail, the rhododendrons flowered abundantly.

We've had quite a bit of rain, so I wasn't surprised to see this: It was about 4-5 inches in diameter. I noticed others alongside the trail.

Volunteers maintain the trail, and that includes trimming branches off trees that fall across the path.

We discussed the future possibility of parking one car at the trail's far end, which is supposed to be at Tussey Mountain, then driving another car to the beginning. We'd then hike the whole way up to a waiting and welcome car.

The sun was getting low as we returned downhill. On the way, we stopped to sit and chat, and so I could take photos. I startled this little creature by almost sitting on the log hiding it.

I'll leave you with these amateur videos:

Map of Pennsylvania trails


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Time for a Pow Wow

"Pow wow"
1: an American Indian medicine man 2 a: an American Indian ceremony (as for victory in war) b: an American Indian social gathering or fair usually including competitive dancing 3 a: a social get-together b: a meeting for discussion


Susquehanna, Macanaqua, Nesquehoning, Nescopeck, Wapwallopen --
all local Native American Indian names I grew up hearing and speaking. My mother spent her youth in Shickshinny, up the road from my hometown (Bloomsburg). My ninth grade civics class spent sessions digging for artifacts in a field next to the school -- grounds of an old fort -- hoping to unearth that prized arrowhead.

As with many things in life, new interests develop with age. I acquired appreciation for parts Native American culture, namely artwork. I've used the colors, swirls and characterizations of the sun and animals in my amateur painting on wood items.

My first genuine pow wow was about five years ago in Tipton, Pa. Loved it. I have gone to a local pow wow several times, most recently last weekend. Since then, I've learned that I have a few Native ancestors of both sides of my family.

I share some of my pre-digital photos of the event (at the link below), the highlight of which was the dancing. Each type of dance has a different purpose and often a historical meaning based on when it would be performed by members of a tribe. Often the final dance is a group where all registered participants and family members parade in a circular path. What an eye-pleasing ceremony.

My photos: click here
If this intrigues you, the fifth annual New Faces of An Ancient People pow wow will be inn State College, Pa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mt. Nittany Winery Fall Harvest Wine Festival, Oct. 21-22

Better weather couldn't have been ordered for Mt. Nittany Winery's Fall Harvest Wine Festival. Low 80s in late October, plus dry and sunny weather created comfortable conditions for a tour, a walk on the grounds, sitting at a picnic table or on the grass listening to the live band.

The winery is on the west-facing slope of Mount Nittany, and on that Sunday afternoon the descending sunlight seemed to add a gold tint to almost everything, even the air. Changing leaf color of the wooded mountainside surrounded the chalet, picnic areas, pond and vineyard that make up 65 acres.

Rows of well-maintained vines stretched over five acres downhill from the chalet where some of the harvested grapes were fermenting into wines that have earned medals in Pennsylvania and international wine competitions. Mount Nittany is in the background of this view:

On the tour, I learned that volunteers harvest the fruit, usually in August.

My friends Heather and Oranuj posed for photos on the porch with a rich green forest and light blue sky behind them. No hurry. It was so beautiful.

We each tried various wines in the tasting room on the top floor of the chalet. The Montmorency Cherry and raspberry wines I had hoped to sample were depleted.

Sweet wines may leave too much of their flavor in my mouth for subsequent samples, so I requested dry wine samples first. Of course I tried the Merlot, one of my favorites. It's good and would go well with a lot of meals. Other Merlots I've had are sweet or semi-sweet. This is a pleasant variety.

When I requested Spiced Apple, the server asked if I wanted it warm or cool. My interest was peaked. It tastes much like apple cider but since I chose to drink it warm it evaporated in my mouth like a cognac I tasted years ago. Very tasty. I've never been good at coming up with foods -- other than cheese -- to complement a wine. Still, this might go well with a gourmet cheese popcorn. Well, I still got cheese in there.

The Autumn Nectar tasted of honey and was good, although I'm not a honey fan. It's very, very, very sweet and leaves a little residue to lick off your lips. Hmm.

The wine that won my money for the day was Nittany Mountain Blush. It's semi-dry and like the winery's website description states, is very smooth. Who will share with me the bottle I purchased?

As my friends and I took a brief tour of the winemaking process, I learned that it ferments faster than I expected, over several days at most, as I recall.

After the tour, we walked the long sunlit rows of grape vines, which still had some fruit. Wine grapes are not enjoyable for eating. So, there was no temptation to snatch a few.

Should you decide to pay a visit, Mt. Nittany Winery's regular hours are listed on the website.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Garden Party at the Farm Show Complex

(Continued from previous post)

Exhibitors followed the Garden Party theme in some unique and some traditional ways. I was partial to the displays with small waterfalls, envious of those who can incoporate these features on their property. To hear water rolling over stones while sitting by a small pond filled with water plants and koi must be soothing on a summer afternoon in the shade.

My amateur photos don't begin to do the displays justice (especially with a disposable camera). Now that I have a digital camera, photos should be better in the future.

A trellis ...

... provided a colorful surrounding for a garden birthday party.

These Red Hat ladies were probably getting ideas for their own garden celebrations:

What is a garden party without a vase full of blooms? An outdoor bridal shower or even a wedding would be memorable with a lovely item like this:

... or a collection of flowers and greens flowing from a structural feature like this one:

A more whimsical and time-consuming setup is available for a gathering of locomotive enthusiasts:

An inexpensive day trip with some appealing ideas.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More Than A Family Stop

Tudek Community Park stretches continuously beyond the average family park. It has playground equipment and places for picnics like most. A walking path weaves in and out of wooded areas around the park, encircling a butterfly garden, dog park and community garden plots with a horse barn nearby. It reminds me of Central Park in New York -- a little respite in a small city. Of course New York City is more urban than most places with a park, including State College. Still, both parks offer the feel that you're away from the rush and clatter of traffic, booming car stereos, sirens and the rush of modern life.

In the butterfly garden, an alien-looking "pod" grows:

The walking path, which bicyclists and runners also enjoy, winds into State College, coming out near the eastern end of College Avenue where it intersects the bypass. Near Tudek Park, there's plenty to see.

After passing these inquistive and friendly horses ...

...continuing up the grass path alongside the fence takes you outside the community gardens. Flowers and vines erupt along the fence and within the borders.