Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Philly

Philadelphia Skyline from City Hall
Today was our day in the slightly smaller east coast city. We (Noelle, Eric, Mom, and Dad) drove through Mount Airy, some other slightly scary neighborhoods, then into Fairmount for our tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary.
Eastern State Sign
Wow! This place is amazing. From the outside it looks like a castle. Once you're inside it looks like a crumbling jail, which is essentially what it is.
Noelle in Jail
On the Winter Adventure Tour they take you into a few different cell blocks, give you some hot cocoa, and let you see Al Capone's apartment, I mean cell.
Al Capone's Cell
If you're ever in Philadelphia, get yourself to Eastern State.

After Eastern State we did some of the usual tourist fare: Comcast Center, the holiday light show at Wanamakers (Macy's). We ate lunch at Nodding Head Brewery (very good) before concluding our visit with a trip up into the City Hall Tower.
Parkway from City Hall
Noelle in City Hall
This was the highlight of our visit to Philly. Despite the fact that my mother and father had lived in the City of Brotherly Gun Violence, I mean Love, they had never before seen the view from the top of City Hall. Amazing.      

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Patterson Great Falls and Morristown National Historical Park

This morning Noelle and I used our well deserved Sleep in Late Card. It was nice to sleep until nine. When we finally got moving we packed up and got into the car headed northwest to Paterson and the Great Falls of the Passaic River.
All I can say is this place is a hidden gem. The falls were impressive
Photobucket
and the history of the place interesting.
Hamilton Statue
SUM and Falls
After the Great Falls we headed south to Morristown where we checked out the National Historical Park.
Canon
Morristown House
 After a tour of the Ford Mansion (Washington's Headquarters) we headed into town for lunch. From there it was southwest into the great state of Pennsylvania.     

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day Two in New York City

We woke up this morning, showered, and walked to the train station to catch the 8:14 into New York. We arrived at Penn Station about a half an hour later, then walked to Dunkin Donuts to get some bagels and coffee. From there it was onto Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.
Theodroe Roosevelt's Birthplace
Eric was definitely in heaven! The tour was great. It was neat to see where it all began for Eric's favorite president. (Even if the house was not original.) From the Roosevelt Birthplace we walked southeast to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. We went on the Confino Living History Tour. It was definitely worth a visit as the tour was excellent. After the tour it was lunchtime so we opted for the local deli Katz's. This place is pretty famous for its pastrami and also known for a scene from the movie When Harry met Sally. We thought it was overrated, crowded,and expensive. It was difficult to even find a place to sit in there.

After lunch we headed south to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge Fog Panoramic
We walked across the bridge and into the borough of Brooklyn.
After that we took the 1 train north to General Grant National Memorial, better known as Grant's Tomb.
Gant's Tomb
By the time we had seen Grant's Tomb we were very tired so we headed to Penn Station where we caught the train to Elizabeth Station. Then we got a cab (an expensive one)to our hotel where we showered, relaxed and ate dinner. Another great day in the Big Apple.   

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Manhattan Sites

Noelle and I woke up early this morning, 5:45 to be exact for a drive north on the New Jersey Turnpike to Elizabeth, New Jersey. We would park the car in our hotel's parking lot, then walk a few blocks to the North Elizabeth train station where we would hop on a train to Penn Station. Well, our plan went off without a hitch. We were in Manhattan by 9:30. At Penn Station, we bought a Metro Pass and hopped on the Subway north into the Bronx. We got off at the last station Dyer Avenue, then walked a few blocks north into Mount Vernon, New York where we visited Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site.
It was certainly a neat place. The church was built in the 1700s and the cemetery contains some very old headstones.
Old Grave
Perhaps the coolest thing about our visit was going up into the old steeple where we saw the old church bell
St. Paul's Bell
and were offered a commanding view of the Bronx and the northern suburbs.

After our tour of Saint Paul's, we hopped back on the 5 train south to Battery Park. After lunch at Chipotle, we checked out Castle Clinton, Federal Hall,
Washington Watches Over the NYSE
and the African Burial Ground.
African Burial Ground
Then we headed north to Times Square where we ate dinner at the Heartland Brewery before our show: the Lion King at the Minskoff Theater.
Noelle and the Lion King
It was a long day, and we were quite tired afterwards, but we had a great time. The show was amazing. After the Lion King was over we walked to Penn Station and took the train back to North Elizabeth. We checked into our hotel and fell asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows.  

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chirstmas Day

It was a great Christmas. It reminded me of some of the ones of my youth. Gifts were exchanged as usual. A hearty breakfast was eaten. in the afternoon we even got to do some hiking, just like the Christmases we celebrated in Carlsbad. My father, Noelle and I grabbed the dogs (all four of them)
Black Dogs
and drove them over to Valley Green where we walked Forbidden Drive from Northwestern Avenue to Rex Avenue.
Covered Bridge
From there we hiked up to the Indian Statue
then back to the car where we cleaned up some muddy dogs, then headed back to the homestead for some food, drink, and a Wii bowling tournament.
Kris Wii Bowling
A lot of fun was had by all!   

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve


Noelle and I awoke to a sheet of ice blanketing the roads surrounding Harrisburg. After a delicious breakfast prepared by Dan, we braved the icy roads and detoured around a closed segment of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We drove through Hershey, but did not stop to see any of the tourist sites. We had one destination in mind: 23 Waverly Road in good ol' Wyncote. We made it to our destination by around noon and took Parker for a walk in my old stomping grounds: Ralph Morgan Park.
Ralph Morgan Walk
It was nice to see the old park and some of the changes that had been made to it. A lot of Honeysuckle had been removed (this made me quite happy), and one of the bridges was in the process of being replaced. From there it was back to my parents' house where we ate and went to church for the first time in two years. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Touring Western Pennsylvania NPS Sites

We awoke this morning, grabbed breakfast in the hotel and headed east into Maryland, then north into Pennsylvania. We made it to our first destination, Flight 93 Memorial by 11 am. It is a somber place, and very cold and windy as well. There's not much there yet, but hopefully they will begin construction of a permanent memorial soon. After Flight 93 we moved on to another somber National Park Service unit, Johnstown Flood National Memorial. Finally, after lunch, we visited the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site before heading further east to Harrisburg.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Driving to Pennsylvania


Noelle and I worked a half day today, then drove home to finish packing for our epic trip east. The weather was cold, but fortunately not snowy. The light traffic and good driving conditions meant that we were able to make it to Morgantown, West Virginia, our intended destination for the night by 8:30.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Red River Gorge Geologic Area: Red Byrd Arch


Well today I met up with a bunch of folks who frequent the Kentucky Wilderness website for a hike to the famed Red Byrd Arch. Red Byrd is reputed to be one of the most difficult large arches in the Red River Gorge to find. I know I would not have been able to find it without the help of my new friends. We met at the rest area in Slade at 8 am and drove to the trailhead together. We started hiking on some old logging roads that have been slowly reclaimed by the wilderness. It was a fun hike; not too strenuous. We made it to the arch by about noon. It was quite impressive.
Red Byrd Arch
After about a half an hour of poking around and snacking, we headed back to the vehicles. It was nice to meet some new people with similar interests. I hope to meet up with some of them soon for some more adventure! 

Friday, November 28, 2008

High Cliffs Park


Today Noelle and I went for a short walk to the most interesting little city park in Galesville.
Hiking High Cliffs
Okay, so it's the only city park in Galesville, but it's still worth a visit. High Cliffs Park is just outside of downtown and features high sandstone cliffs, an old mill dam, and some small sandstone caves and arches. For adventurers like us its a good place to get our outdoors fix when we don't have a whole lot of time. Despite the cold temperatures, it was a good hike and it made us feel not so guilty about all the food we've been eating lately. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The First Culvers and Natural Birdge SP of Wisconsin

Well Thanksgiving is finally near, so it means Noelle and Eric make their annual migration to either Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. This year is a Wisconsin year and so we packed up the Family Truckster and headed northwest to the land of beer and cheese. Last night we spent the night in one of the most disgusting Motel6s I've ever been to in Bloomington, Illinois. We awoke this morning, grabbed breakfast at Burger King and headed north. We made it to our obligatory hiking stop by noon, after lunch at the world's first Culver's restaurant in Sauk City, Wisconsin.
The hike was a short one of about a mile at Natural Bridge State Park.
Noelle and Parker in Snow
The bridge itself was astonishingly impressive.
After our hike we headed west to Onalaska and then north to fair Galesville, the world famous home of the Garden of Eden. It feels so good to have some time off and to be able to spend it with family. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Daniel Boone National Forest: Beaver Creek Wilderness & Moonshiner's Arch

Today we got to do two of our favorite things. We voted and we went on a little mini-adventure, a hiking trip into the Beaver Creek Wilderness of the Daniel Boone National Forest. We woke up early this morning and walked down the street to our local polling station where we voted, then headed home to pack our day packs for some hiking! We made it to the Three Forks of Beaver parking lot by 10 am, then hit the trail.
November Hike
It was gorgeous weather for being outdoors and we enjoyed every bit of it.
Three Forks of Beaver Overlook
This, despite the fact that some of the trails marked on our map (courtesy the US Forest Service) were non-existent. Since we couldn't find one of the trails we had intended hiking it meant we had time to make a side trip to Cumberland Falls. In addition, our third attempt at finding Moonshiner's Arch was a success. It was a nice, short walk with pleasant scenery. The arch was pretty impressive as well.
Moonshiner's Arch
Looking into Moonshiner's Arch
This will most likely be our last adventure until Thanksgiving. Looking forward to it!    

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gauley River National Recreation Area: Lower Gauley Raft Trip


Today we hit the Gauley River in West Virginia, home to the best whitewater rafting in the eastern US. We rafted the lower Gauley with a few class IV and class V rapids. It was a great time. Some really fun whitewater. I had fully expected to fall out of the boat at some point, but it didn't happen. Three whitewater trips this year, zero unintentional swims. Thus concludes the "Summer of Whitewater". Already looking forward to more next summer. Oh well back to school and work. Noelle and I will not have any days off together until Thanksgiving. Man, I can't wait until Thanksgiving in Wisconsin!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New River Gorge National River: Grandview

Yesterday evening, Noelle and I finally had the chance to spend some time exploring together. We packed up the Civic and headed east into West Virginia. We made it to Ace Adventure Center later than expected due to some road construction, made camp and went to bed. This morning we awoke to beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures. We headed to breakfast at Tudor's Biscuit World, then drove to the Grandview area of New River Gorge to do some hiking. We hiked the interesting Tunnels Trail,
The Tunnels Trail
the Canyon Rim Trail,
Fall Grandview
and the Castle Trail,
Castle Trail Cliff
Observe the Cliff!
but were not able to find the Turkey Spur Trail that was marked on my map. It was a great day for a hike. After our time at Grandview, we headed southeast to Sandstone Falls
More Sandstone Falls
where we looked at the falls and did some short hikes. Then it was back to our campsite for a beer, potato salad, and hotdogs.