Monday, July 27, 2009

Fischer's Park, Towamencin Township

I need to get out of the house and off the computer for a bit this afternoon, and although it is one of the hotter days since we have been back in PA, it is still bearable (i.e. no A/C turned on at home). We made a quick stop at Freddy Hill Farm, so Tara could get a scoop of Mint Choc Chip ice cream, and then we headed to Fischer's Park.

Fischer's Park is a beautiful township owned and maintained park, on the grounds of what used to be Fischer's Pool. During the summer they have outdoor concerts, and this is also the park in which the youth athletic league plays baseball.

When I was growing up swim club we belonged was on this property. I remember summer days, packing a lunch and heading to the pool with my mom to meet my Aunt Marie and cousins, Donna and Diane. Some evenings after dinner, we would head back to the pool with my dad for an evening swim after a hard days work. Somewhere around the time I turned 10, we stopped joining the pool, as we started camping, and we did not spend many weekends at home. We would also go to this pool, and the surrounding picnic groves for school picnics. Many fond memories on these grounds, but as of this writing, not one picture to share!

We did not spend too much time today, but it was enough for Tara to realize it is a great place, and she asked if we could return. It is a park with many walking trails, a shallow stream in which the kids can walk, and you can also bring dogs to the park. I think once Princess gets through her surgery this week, this will be some place she would like to romp and play!

Here are a few shots I took today, we will surely go back and check out some of the other trails, and I will take a romp in the water as well....

The rock in the middle of the photo reminded me of a heart.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lansdale Memorial Park

I know I still owe a post on the Plain and Fancy Restaurant from out trip to Lancaster, but that will have to wait.

Today was a cloudy, then rainy day here in Lansdale. With nothing really planned to do, the weather did not matter. Tara and I decided to go for a drive, and I wanted to take some pictures, so I headed to "downtown" Lansdale's Memorial Park. This is another location in close proximity to us that my brother is remembered with his name etched in stone. If you don't recall previous posts on the subject, my brother Robin, was killed in Viet Nam, 40 years ago this past March.

It was raining and breezy (which made the rain blow off of the tree leaves as well), so we stayed just long enough to walk around the path, and stop and visit the war memorial. This memorial represents those that have been killed in both World Wars, and Viet Nam that were from the town of Lansdale. Each Memorial Day there is a ceremony held at this park after the annual parade.

Also in the park is Weaver Field that is used for baseball. It was home for one season to the Lansdale Dukes that were part of the Class D North Atlantic League in 1948. They were REALLY bad, and left town after only one season. The field is still used for other baseball leagues (I'm not into local ball, so I do not know what they different leagues are called!)

Bark of a sycamore tree... I think it looks like jungle camouflage

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Our Day in Lancaster County, Part 1

On Thursday, we took a ride to "Amish Country". I wanted to do something that I knew my mother would be able to enjoy with us, and figured most of this trip would be driving and enjoying the scenery. She is 85, and although she still does great, she is not up for too much walking at one time.

I did a little research, and decided we would head toward Plain and Fancy, in the little town of Bird-In-Hand. This is a little less than 1 1/2 hrs from home. I have been in this area many times, but not in recent years (since we had been living in FL and all!) Rt 340 is a beautiful road to drive along!

Tara watched "Twilight" on the way, and I enjoyed seeing all the things that had changed along the way. Part of this route was my daily commute at one time, so it is interesting to note all the changes, and the "remember whens".

Once you get closer to the Lancaster area, the area turns more rural with lots of farms. This area was originally settles in the 1700s and much of the land was granted to the Amish people by William Penn. There are farms that have been in the same family for 300 years. If they were to sell this land today they would be millionaires many times over, not having to work another day in their life, but that is not the Amish way! That is not to say that they don't find ways to make some extra money.
This is what gives you the FIRST clue that you are close!

We arrived at our destination and of course the 12 yo had to be difficult and was going to "stay in the car". I told her we planned on taking a "buggy" ride, and she might have a long wait. Seems her stomach was bothering her. So there are no pics of her on this day, or my mother as a matter of fact, as she does not really like to be photographed!
We signed up for our buggy ride at Aaron and Jessica's Buggy Rides which is found right near the "covered" bridge on the property of Plain and Fancy. ($8 per adult, $5 for child for 1/2 hr. I had printed a $2 per adult discount coupon on line). To let you know, recently Tara and I went on a carriage ride through several of the historic areas of Philadelphia. We did have the carriage to ourselves, but that ride set us back $80!!!

We had to wait about 1/2 hour for our turn, but it was a comfortable day, and there is a nice shaded area to sit. We saw several horse and buggies drive by while we waited.

This was our ride, and as you can see, this is a wagon! Mike and Ike were the "muscle" that got us where we wanted to go. We were with a group of 7 from Denmark, Mom a nurse, Dad a doctor, and 5 children, the youngest a little cutie named Lukas! Also with us were a group of four from Rhode Island, mom, dad and two little girls. The three younger ones got to ride in the front with Abe our driver.

Abe was raised Amish, one of 11 children in his family. His father was a Bishop, and he said he and his siblings were raised to be examples, so they were very strict. Abe chose not to join the Amish way of life when he was "of age", which is the perogative of all Amish children. He laughed and said this means I can tell you anything you want to know!!! Because he chose not to join when he was "of age", he was not shunned by his family. Only when you join, and then choose to leave are you excommunicated. This is the only picture I have of Abe.... He was very nice and was great with the children.

Abe told us of some of the Amish ways, and some history. Having been raised in relative close proximity to the Amish, and having several family friends who were PA Dutch, we knew a bit more than the other folks, but still learned some things!

Many of the farms are predominately dairy farms. Hershey is about 40 miles from this area, and many of the farms sell their milk to Hershey for making chocolate. They also have crops like corn, tobacco and alfalfa. Yes, the Amish can smoke!

Our ride took us through this farm, but at the owner's request we were not able to take photos while on the farm. It was beautiful. One of the Amish men was out selling home made choc chip cookies, pretzels, lemonade and decorated horse shoes, as well as bottles of cold water! I don't know how many buggies go through each day, but he made $10 off of our wagon! The lemonade was fresh squeezed, and I don't know what they seasoned the pretzels with, but they were yummy too!

This is a scooter bike that the kids use to get around. Abe said these have not always been allowed, as they though the kids could get too far too fast on them! LOL

One of the reasons Abe told us that he did not join was that some of the rules (man made, not from the Bible) didn't make sense. Amish can not have electricity in their homes, nor own cars, but they are allowed to use gasoline to run generators for their barns, and they can hire someone to drive them if they need to get livestock, etc somewhere that they can't get with their buggies. They also use modern hospitals/doctors, as they do not have the education to go to medical school. Depending on the order of the Amish, these rules vary. They do not want technology to get in the way of the family!

The Amish children are still taught in one room schoolhouses with one teacher for all of K-8th grade. None of them have more than an 8th grade education. Each "district" within the community has it's own school, and all the children walk to school as they are never more than 2 miles apart. There is NO homework, as they have plenty of work to do on the farm and in the home!

A few random facts... I wish I could remember them all!
  • The average Amish family has 7 children.
  • Only about 4% choose to not join the Amish church when they are of age.
  • Amish can be found in 24 states, Central America and Canada.
  • Due to the large size of the families, they are moving into new places where they can find cheap land. Recently they have been moving to Colorado from the Lancaster area.
  • Lancaster has the 3rd largest Amish population in the US.
Thursday seemed to be laundry day, as we saw laundry at almost all the houses. They have a closeline that in many cases is connected to the house and to the top of the barn or other building, it is on a pully, and is pulled along so the person hanging the laundry does not need to move!

Next up, lunch at Plain and Fancy

Monday, July 13, 2009

Take Me out to the Ball Game - Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

It has been YEARS since I attended a Major League Baseball game, and Tara had only ever been to one ALPB (Atlantic League Prof Baseball) game when we saw the Camden Riversharks play about eight years ago.

A friend of mine had some extra tickets for Sunday's game, Phillies vs Pirates, so I grabbed the chance to go. I was not sure if Tara would enjoy or be bored.

I had not been to the new ball park (opened in 2004), and was quite anxious for the visit. Veteran's Stadium had seen better years, and was not the best for watching baseball! This park is gorgeous. I'm so glad they are no longer trying to combine baseball parks and football stadiums.

We headed down the Schuylkill Expressway about 2 1/2 hrs before game time, as I wanted to be sure we did not have to rush. The ball park is about 30 miles from home. We hit traffic in all the usual places, where we have hit traffic as long as I can remember driving/riding the Schuykill. A trip to Philly does not seem to be complete without passing by Fairmount Park, Boat House Row, the Art Museum and 30th Street station! (Traffic was heavy enough that I did not attempt any "drive by shooting"!)

We arrived in just a bit over an hour, and parked in parking lot K near Lincoln Field, and directly across the street from the entrance we needed to be near our section. I envisioned parking on the wrong side of the park, and having to walk forever, so I did my homework. Citizens Bank has a 25 year "naming rights" contract for the stadium.

Neither Tara nor I had breakfast, so the first thing we did was grab a hot dog and iced tea. I shot a few pictures from the main concurse level, and then we headed up the escalator to the 2nd level, then walked up the stairs to our section, 309. The steps up too row 19 were steep and many!

We had about an hour to kill before the game started, but I didn't mind. The seats were shaded and there was a beautiful breeze, and LOTS of people to watch.

I think someone told them it was Hawaiian Day at the park. Tara wanted to throw stuff in their hats.

Once the game started, we got right into the action, and thankfully Tara had played softball in PE, so she understood the basics. We were treated to a run, and a grand slam home run in the 1st inning. The game slowed down a bit after that, but it was still enjoyable, and we really had a great time.

The Philly Fanatic came out at one point and was shooting hot dogs into the stands. That hot dog launcher launched one right out of the park!

The crowd started thinking after the 7th inning, but Tara wanted to stay until the end, so we did. The game ended with a score of 5-2.

As we headed out of the park, we decided to look for the Build-A-Bear, and Tara got a Philly Fanatic.

It took forever to get out of the ballpark and through traffic to Broad St. I then made the mistake of getting on 76 East... I thought I was getting on West, so we made an unexpected $4.00 trip across the Walt Whitman bridge. We got home just before 7.

It was an awesome day. Tara wants to go back again! Soon it will be time to start thinking about EAGLES tickets, after all we have to check out that new stadium as well!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July - Lansdale & Boulder Woods

This was the first July 4th, that we have spend in PA in 5 years. The last time we flew home to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday, and now she has turned 85!

We had a nice quiet day, that ended with a great a great meal al Fresco.

Tara was camping overnight with my niece and her family, so Mom and I got up and headed out to the American Star Diner, in Lansdale. It was a beautiful day!

What better place to eat 4th of July breakfast, with the 4th of July birthday girl? I had not eaten here before, and the few (very few) reviews of any type I could find on line were mixed. What we found to be the case was a very nice, diner, breakfast dining experience. The prices were reasonable, the restaurant was clean, the staff that we encountered was courteous, and the service was good. I had my favorite breakfast when we go out, Eggs Benedict (two poached eggs, two slices of canadian bacon, on english muffin with hollandaise sauce) served with hash browns. I also had a great cup of coffee. There is something I find very satisfying drinking diner coffee out of the standard white diner coffee mugs! My mom had the special, two eggs, two slices of THICK french toast, and two sausages. These sausages were not those skinny little links you get so many time at diners, these were nice substantial sausages. Mom had cranberry herbal tea to drink. On the way out, I commented that it was Mom's birthday, and they gave her a cupcake!

After breakfast we headed to the market to pick up the things I needed to make dinner, then realizing that it was the first day of the new Lansdale Farmer's Market. Since we were driving right by we decided to stop and wander through. They had a nice turn out for the first week. Lots of local produce and some crafts, etc. Hopefully the area is not too saturated with these weekend markets, and there will be more vendors in the future. These were the BIGGEST onions I had ever seen, called Candy Onions.

In "Railroad Square" we have a Kugel Ball, A dark granite ball with slight shapes of the continents visible in it. It weighs 2,200 pounds and made of dark grey granite. (There is a Kugel Ball in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom).

On the way to the car I was distracted by some weeds wildflowers in the train yard, and stopped to take some photos. I have always loved the train station, even in disrepair, but I believe it has been renovated while I was gone. It was built in the mid to late 1800s.

We then headed to the market to get "fixin's" for dinner, then home to get cooking. Since those that were camping had been eating, hot dogs, hamburgers and such since Thursday, I decided to make a traditional 4th of July dish LASAGNA. Jerry loves it, and it is easy to transport. Problem was, we didn't have a big pot, so I had to cook 16 noodles, two at a time, 10 minutes each... do the math! I also baked an apple pie.

I did not bake these

We headed to the campground around 3:15. It's only about 30 minutes from home. We had a great meal together. It was nice to have eight of us together to celebrate my mom's birthday. Tara was tired and Tyler (13 yo great nephew) had had enough of camping, so we headed on home around 6pm. Tara went directly to bed, and honestly I was in bed before 9pm. No fireworks for us!

And this is why it is called BOULDER WOODS, there are boulders like these (and bigger) everywhere, left over from the days of the glaciers!

It was a great day!