Some stories and emotions are too large to capture in photos. Words too, can fail – so we’re left with thoughts. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania is such a place.
This Tuesday marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On that day, United Flight 93 had left Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco. Hijackers seized control and were likely going to crash into the U.S. Capitol. The memorial commemorates the extraordinary courage and heroism of the 40 passengers and crew, who fought with the terrorists and saved many other lives.
“A common field one day, a field of honor forever. We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.” —Congressional Gold Medal
A Field of Honor
Final rest – The Wall of Names, flight path, and large boulder that marks the impact.
The Memorial opened in September 2015, and today (9/9/18) they’re holding a dedication ceremony for the Tower of Voices – the final phase of the park. It’s a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the 40 heroes.
We went there to pay our respects back in July on our way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Thinking about the courage and actions of those 40 souls is somber, moving and inspiring. It’s an experience every US citizen should have.
The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World). I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!
When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.
We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address. We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one. Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues. If you go, here are the numbers we used.
Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania
The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds. But the sky got grayer the farther we went.
Covered Bridges in Florida? I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research. www.dalejtravis.com has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings. His page for Florida lists many covered bridges. Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state. You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!
Guitars are another long-time fascination of mine. It began when my folks got a piano and my sister started lessons. I must have been jealous because Mom and Dad bought me a Harmony Guitar (but no lessons!). I learned a lot with it and kept it for over 30 years. I finally sold it at a garage sale sometime in the late 90s – wish I hadn’t.
When people ask, I usually say that I “play at” guitar. I think the small amount of natural talent I have comes to me from my Mom’s side of the family. Her father played in a band on the radio in the 1930s.
Granddad Harrison’s Band, about 1939. He’s the one in the middle with the fiddle.
Anyway, Martins are a sort of ‘holy grail’ for guitar players and I wanted to visit. Since we were already in Pennsylvania, I talked Lynn into stopping by the C. F. Martin & Co. Factory in Nazareth. They have a wonderful behind the scenes tour and I signed us both up.
Ed, outside the Martin Guitar Factory. Lynn said I looked like a kid in a candy store!
We got there a little early and spent some time in their museum. It’s interesting to see guitars that many of my favorite musicians played. Martin started in 1833 and their collection of memorabilia and more than 200 instruments show off the history and timeline of the company.
The factory tour itself was wonderful and lasted about two hours. Our tour guide (Ben) was the retired plant manager. He certainly knew a great deal about how they’re built.
Panorama from a walkway overlooking the factory
The first thing I noticed walking in to the factory was the delightful aroma. I won’t soon forget the smells of all the wood being worked.
I built a guitar (from a kit) once, so I’m familiar with how they go together. But seeing the factory in action, with its blend of hands-on craftsmanship and modern machinery / robots was spellbinding.
Robot Neck Carving
Using machines on some pieces (e.g. necks) increases the accuracy and precision of the parts and fit. And they can apply finish and polish without exposing humans to the fumes and dust.
Robot Body Polishing
There’s still a lot of hands on work, especially in their custom and Retro Series guitars.
Hand carving top braces
Custom back and fretboards
Almost done – these are waiting to be strung up and tested
They’re very photo friendly on the tour. They don’t want you making any video, but photography is fine, except for a couple of locations (they’ll let you know). The light is pretty good inside. I used ISO 400, f/1.8 – f/2.8, and my shutter speeds varied from 1/13 sec. to 1/200 sec. You’ll need to be careful if something’s in motion, but otherwise image stabilization should take care of the slower shutter speeds in dimmer light.
The 1833 shop is next to the museum and sells Martin branded items. And their “Guitar Maker’s Connection” is located in the old Martin Factor a little bit away from the main site. The behind the scenes tour is $25, requires a reservation and begins at 9:30. Highly recommended if you’re anywhere nearby. Check Martin’s site for more details.
I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays. I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well. But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.
The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington – what a spectacular view of the city! Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.
On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group and that’s highly recommended too. Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.
Pittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers
Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington
When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year. We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived. At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania to be with my Dad’s family. I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped. As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh). But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around. I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!
Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River
After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Indian Springs is about six hours by car from Central Florida. It’s east of I-75 between Macon and Atlanta and well worth the drive. Lynn discovered they have cabins and suggested that we go up for a few days to see if any leaves are changing. They definitely are!
I think peak color will be in a week or so. We get very little fall color in Florida – so it was a treat to see.
The cabins are nice – some of the best we’ve stayed in. They must have been refurbished not long ago. They have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, a screened porch, and are fully furnished. And the location on a gorgeous lake was wonderful. This was the view just a few steps from the back porch:
Good morning (three Frame vertical panorama)
There were other things to see in the park too. This creek runs along the road by the entrance.
Big Sandy Creek (using the new iPhone “Live Long Exposure” mode)
And we spotted this cemetery from the 1800s along the road to the cabins.
At rest in the wood (Infrared)
We saw a few deer and although I didn’t put much effort in, several kinds of birds. We had some fun watching (and listening) to Canada Geese on the lake. I managed to make this video one morning around sunrise. The flock took off just as the sun started to hit the lake.
There are several other places to see in the area. High Falls State Park is just to the east and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is to the west. We’ve explored several state parks in Florida, but after this experience, we’re going to expand our target zone! And Indian Springs is definitely on our “go back” list.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Editors note: Today we have another wonderful post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. Her report includes beautifully surreal landscape images as well as excellent wildlife watching tips and photographs. It’s well worth clicking the link at the end to view the rest of her photos. Enjoy!
In late September, I had the pleasure of visiting Monette and Jesse in Anchorage, AK for Emergency Birthday Six (our annual tradition of a last-minute birthday adventure). It was the second-to-last weekend of the tourist season, so we were excited to find a company still doing day cruises: Phillips Cruises & Tours 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier, Alaska.
To get from Anchorage to Whittier (population 214 people), we drove along the Seward Highway, one of my absolute favorite views ever. We saw two Beluga Whales fishing along the shore at Beluga Point – and reported them to the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project! I’ve looked for the Belugas every time I drive along this beautiful road, and this was my first time finally seeing them (unfortunately the only picture I have is the memory in my mind). From Beluga Point, give yourself plenty of time to get through the 2.5 mile Whittier Tunnel – the longest highway tunnel in North America!
View from Seward Highway
The 26 Glacier Cruise, as promised, delivered many stunning glacier views. Due to weather, we took an alternate route that the on-board Park Ranger told us he had only done several times in his career and got up close to some amazing glaciers.
View from Glacier Cruise
While the first few hours of the cruise was mostly scenic views, we began to see much more wildlife towards the end of the cruise including Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, and this Seal floating by on an iceberg.
Along for the Ride
But my breath was taken away in the last 30 minutes, when we were on our way back to shore, and the captain spotted a pair of Orca Whales! It’s always magical seeing these friends in the wild.
Male and Female Orca Whale Couple
I can’t wait to go visit Monette and Jesse again – in addition to being great friends, they live in an absolutely beautiful state, and I always enjoy exploring Alaska with them!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. More photos can be found in the album here. Now – go be amazed by wildlife and make some photos!
It’s been a while since our last trip to Wisconsin to see Mike and Sara (April of 2015!), so Lynn and I were excited to spend a week with them at the beginning of August. We were also quite happy to finally get to meet Avon – who is (probably) a mountain cur that they adopted from a rescue society. He’s a real sweet dog!
I didn’t realize how big of a crop Sunflowers are in Wisconsin. And fortunately for us, the beginning of August is peak bloom time. In fact, Bergsbaken Farms near Cecil Wisconsin was having a Sunflower Fest while we were there so we stopped by.
Riding in the rain through the sunflower fields
Even though it was a bit rainy that day, there was still a large crowd and we enjoyed seeing the seemingly endless fields of flowers. We also saw a few strange creatures:
Strange creature seen in Wisconsin field
There were several of these tall, happy looking beings along one of the paths through the field. Authorities didn’t respond to questions on where they came from or why they wore sunglasses in the rain. One of my Flickr friends commented: “A nice guy no doubt, but a little seedy, wouldn’t you agree?” Yes, I do agree!
Editors note: Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. This time from the middle of the Pacific Ocean – enjoy!
Back in May, I (willingly) kidnapped my youngest cousin Annie and took her to one of my bucket-list destinations and remaining states to visit: Hawaii! We were there for 5 days and 4 nights, so we stayed on Oahu the entire time (vs. island hopping) – which was a different and enjoyable experience for me since I’m usually on the go! We shared amazing outdoor experiences like snorkeling, reflected at somber memorials like Pearl Harbor, and discovered captivating views while exploring the island on the drive of a lifetime.
The most memorable experience was snorkeling off of Waianae. If you’ve read any of my past blog posts, you know I have a passion for wildlife, especially dolphins and whales. While we visited at the wrong time of the year to see humpback whales, I was really excited to see Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins in the wild.
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin
While snorkeling, we saw five Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, green sea turtles, and even a baby hammerhead shark. The tour company was respectful about keeping our distance, being quiet and still, and not harassing the wildlife.
However, while in Hawaii, I found the book The Lives of Hawaii’s Dolphins and Whales by Robin W. Baird, and was saddened to read that “because spinners do all of their feeding at night and all of their resting during the day…exposure to vessel traffic and swimmers may disrupt their resting patterns or cause them to leave the relative safety of their traditional resting areas. A recent study off Kona showed that spinner dolphins were exposed to humans, boaters, and/or swimmers within 100 yards of them about 82 percent of their time during the day.” Because of this, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering new regulations “to prohibit swimming with and approaching a Hawaiian spinner dolphin within 50 yards.” Knowledge is power, so I will cherish the memories I have from this experience and instead watch them from afar in the future – even if the rules don’t change. Pacific Whale Foundation has a great PDF with more information on how to Be Dolphin Wise.
Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin
If you make it to Oahu, definitely follow my brother Mike’s advice to rent a car and drive the island. We got a better feel for the place by seeing so much more of it. From Waikiki, we drove north up the middle of the island (stopping at the obligatory tourist stop: Dole Plantation), then to the north shore for some shave ice, lunch at the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, scenic views, and a tour at the Kualoa Ranch where movies like Jurassic Park and TV shows like Lost were filmed (can’t you just imagine a T-Rex popping out of the shot below?). The drive and the views are the destination, so take your time and enjoy the ride!
Kualoa Ranch – Home of Jurassic Park (if it’s a good photo you’re raptor, come here!)
Editors note 2: Thanks so much MK – it was wonderful to read about your trip. Hawaii is still on my bucket list! Also readers, if you’re going to visit, you might want to take a look at the Hawaii category on my on-line friend Jeff Stamer’s blog. He’s been to there several times and has some amazing photos and tips.
You can click on any of these photos to see a much higher res version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go be amazed by wildlife and make some photos!
Clouds, Mountains, Desert. Near San Augustin Peak, NM. 7 frame panorama.
I find western landscapes extremely appealing. Maybe it’s just that they’re so different from Florida. When I saw these mountains, I made MK pull over so I could make this image.
Volcano Cinder Cone. IR, B&W, 3 frame panorama
This is a view of one of the three Volcanoes visible from the Volcano Day Use Area in Petroglyph National Monument, a little west of Albuquerque. When I got back to the car, I realized I’d dropped a lens cap somewhere along the path. I did go back and look for it and of course, couldn’t find it. Does that happen to you too?
MK and I went out to New Mexico for a short visit over the July 4th holiday. I’d been there several times on business travel but never got to see much of the state. This trip fixed that!
One place we very much enjoyed was the Acoma Pueblo (also known as Sky City). It’s a lovely spiritual site, and provides a glimpse into what Native American life was like as long ago as the 13th century. The Pueblo is about 60 miles west of Albuquerque – it’s a lovely drive. Mesa Encantada – Along Route 23 just east of Acoma Pueblo (visible in the distance on the right). According to Acoma Pueblo oral history, it was their first home before they moved to the current location.
If you enter “Acoma Village” in your GPS, it will try to lead you up on the mesa, which you can’t get to unless you’re on a tour. Search for the visitor center instead!
Looking up – This B&W IR view of Acoma Pueblo is from about 360 feet below, just across the highway from their visitors center
At the visitors center you can learn about the culture and history of the area. Their tour includes a bus ride to the top of the mesa and a guided walk around the pueblo. Also included in the tour price is a “photo permit” for one camera. You’ll have to buy more permits if you want to use multiple cameras. I decided to just bring my Olympus Pen F with the 24-200 mm equivalent lens and it worked for most situations on the mesa. I used the extra space in my camera bags for two bottles of water. Nice to have while walking around in the hot sun!
The horno is a traditional outdoor, wood fired oven. People were selling bread made in these ovens in the pueblo.
Homes, horno and wood fuel
Even though there’s no electricity or running water up there, many of the homes on the mesa are still lived in. I liked how occasional colorful paint accents contrasted with the tan walls.
Door and windows – One of the homes on the mesa
Our guide told us that the Acoma adopted Catholicism from missionaries in the 1500s but they still practice their own spiritual traditions too. Although they’re very private about this, outsiders can attend celebrations during the Feast of St. Stephen(September) and at Christmas.
Kiva – The Acoma concealed their traditional worship places inside homes and entered via a ladder through the smoke-hole in the roof.
As you’d expect, the views from the mesa are spectacular and the visibility is awesome.
View north toward Mount Taylor (on the horizon, about 40 miles away). Ponderosa Pine used to build the mission was hand carried from Mount Taylor and up to the mesa.
Photography isn’t allowed in the cemetery (to the left of the mission) or inside the church itself. This spot is about the best vantage point I could find.
San Estevan del Rey Mission Church – Built between 1629 and 1641. According to Acoma oral tradition, their people were forced by Friar Juan Ramirez to build the mission.
For those of you that are wondering why I haven’t posted any bird or wildlife photos in a while, please be patient. We did some birding while we were in New Mexico and I’m planning to blog about that next.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!