Friday, October 30, 2009

New Jersey

Although a neighboring state to me, New Jersey is another place that I have not explored all that well over the years. I have family Clarksboro and Lakewood, and have been to a few other areas including some of the shore points. However, there are a number of places in the Garden State that I have found out about online and would like to see as well.

For starters, there is the town of Lambertville which I found something interesting about after someone on Facebook posted photos of a trip there. In particular, the photos were of the old abandoned Lambertville High School and of course that was intriguing to me right away. So I’m planning to stop in that area when I visit New Hope, PA as Lambertville is just across the river.

Another town I’d like to check out is historic Smithville, having seen something about that on the Travel Channel. The town was featured on of the Travel Channel’s programs about weird destinations due to being linked to the Jersey Devil legend. Well, with or without the Jersey Devil legend, I know I’ll enjoy a visit to Smithville for some historic small town scenery. I’ve always been more into settings like that instead of a big city life.

Also, I am hoping to go back to Cape May on Halloween this Saturday and if I do, I’ll write about that and post photos as soon as possible. I love Cape May, yet unfortunately, never get to go there on a regular basis; my last two visits there being in the late 90s and before that in 1993 on a high school trip. As for shore points I haven’t been to…those include Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Barnegat and Avalon…but those will be for other trips to the shore. A boat tour of New Jersey lighthouses would be nice, too, now that I’m thinking of multiple shore points.

While writing about New Jersey travels, I’d like to recommend the River Winds Restaurant in West Deptford to anyone who is looking into holding a special event somewhere. I went there this past weekend for one cousin’s baby shower and everyone loved the location with its beautiful maritime themed detail and great views of Philadelphia.

The restaurant is new, having still been in construction back in the late Spring / early Summer part of this year. Here are some photos I took of both the restaurant and its riverfront views.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taking Flight

I was always very interested in the story of pioneering woman aviator Amelia Earhart, so I’ve been waiting a while for the release of “Amelia” in theatres. When I first heard about it, it was as though filmmakers knew I had wanted to see a movie about this brave woman. Now that I’ve seen the preview, I am already amazed at Oscar-winner Hilary Swank in this role and the scenes shown so far. So, for this post, I decided to write about places I’ve been to (and hope to go to) that are linked to flight history.

With the family connection on my Mom’s side to the Outer Banks, there has always been an interest in aviation history going back to the Wright Brothers. There are no ancestral ties to Orville and Wilbur Wright that we know of; our interest comes from the connection between the Outer Banks and humans taking flight. So, in a way, I guess that is what draws some of my family to that particular part of human history. Below are some photos I took during my visit to the Outer Banks in June 2004.

My grandfather (on my Dad’s side of the family) worked on helicopters at his job. As a kid, my Dad was interested in space exploration programs such as Apollo, collecting related memorabilia along the way. Later, he was a part of the 101st Airborne division in Vietnam. From all of that comes his interest in going to air shows including those at Willow Grove, PA and Millville, NJ. Below, some of my photos from at least one air show I went to a few years back.

So my family is where I inherited my own interest in aviation history from. I always wanted to go to the Air & Space museum and D.C., see the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds perform aerial stunts, and see a space shuttle launch in person. The slideshow in this post includes photos I took of the displays at the Air & Space museum (including that of Amelia Earhart), and aerial stunts by the Blue Angels and other planes over the Millville air show grounds.

Having visited the Air & Space museum and watched the Blue Angels fly overhead, there is one more flight-related goal I have. I still haven’t seen a space shuttle launch in person and there aren’t many launches left at this point. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit Titusville, FL soon to witness one of the final moments of the space shuttle era. As the part of space exploration that my generation grew up watching, a space shuttle launch has always felt like something I should see in person.

I think in general, everyone has some degree of fascination with flying; maybe because to fly means escaping our natural ground setting and going into new territory. Humans became curious about it at some point, and a handful of pioneering people began to see what we could do in the skies. Below is another photo I took while in the Outer Banks and visiting the Wright Brothers museum.

Having not flown anywhere myself yet, the skies are still new and unfamiliar territory for me and I hope to see many places. Eventually, I’ll have my own first flight experience to help me on my way to all those far off places. The pink-tinted skies over my area one day prompted me to wait for a plane to fly overhead and take the picture below.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Next Stop - Philly

I have been to Philadelphia, the closest big city to me, a number of times and it is amazing how much I still haven't seen. So, while in the City of Brotherly Love next weekend, I hope to visit multiple sites.

The photo below is one I took during my last visit into the city, which was fairly short; just to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Other times, I have only gone to Penn's Landing for fireworks and stadiums for concerts. It has been years since I visited the zoo and major museums of the city. As for what I would like to see / do in and around Philadelphia for the first time, the list includes:

  • The Betsy Ross House
  • Old City Tavern
  • The Mutter Museum
  • National Constitution Center
  • Elfreth's Alley
  • Fairmount Park
  • Boathouse Row
  • Laurel Hill Cemetery
  • Museum of Art
  • Dining on the Moshulu
  • Cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia
  • Carriage ride
  • Ride the Ducks
  • Double decker bus tour
With all of those things to see and do, I probably couldn't get it all done in one day's time and I'll only be in the city for one day.

I'm actually not much of a big city person, although I do like day trips into the city. One other trip into the city, by train, was for a job interview years back. It was the first time I went into Philadelphia by myself and I was so nervous, but only half of that was because of the interview. I didn't get that particular job in the end, but everything else went well. One thing is for sure though; it is somewhat hard to believe that I ventured into the city by myself back then. Only the job prospect made me do so, but it was a moment of adventure for me when I think about it.

That adventure is still in me, only for the sake of travel itself...although fulfilling travel goals has been difficult what with the economic situation these days. I think about all of the places I want to visit, local or not. I hope I get to see as many of them as possible because of the inspiration that these places give to people.

Being in a big city for just a day is exciting to me, with so much going on and so much to check out; definitely a source of inspiration. So I'm looking forward to next weekend and how many sites I'll cover while in Philadelphia this time around.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Spirit

The season may officially start in September, however it is October that really makes me feel the spirit of Autumn. The festivities are in full swing for Halloween all month and there are so many to choose from.

I found out about an apple harvest festival taking place near Gettysburg, a town that I would love to go back to soon. I have not been back since a camping trip at Artillery Ridge Campgrounds in 1994. Anyway, along with the apple festival during the first two weekends this month, why not check out the best-known haunted sites of Gettysburg?

Other military-related and thought to be haunted sites I'd like to visit include Fort Delaware and Fort Mifflin. Chances are better that I'll go to Fort Mifflin first, or else wait until next year to see both forts with earlier planning.

There are a few events and places in particular interest me the most regarding the spirit of the enchanting Autumn season. These include a train tour of Fall foliage in West Chester, PA...a haunted trolley tour in Cape May...and the legendary town of Sleepy Hollow, NY. I have never been to Sleepy Hollow, so going there has its own little bonus.

If I could fit it in this year, I'd also love to visit another place for the first time...and especially close to Halloween. That place is the historic seaport town of Salem, MA...but that will definitely have to wait until next year.

As a fitting end to this post, below is a photo I took years ago on a family trip. For the longest time, I could not remember where we saw this place. I hadn't written anything on the back of the photo or in a photo album about it. I just knew we had seen it either on the way to Williamsburg, VA, or to Johnstown, PA. But then, I stumbled across something about it on the internet. The info on the internet revealed that it was located in Ashville, PA (Cambria County), confirming we had seen it on the way to visiting relatives in Johnstown. I just wonder if this place is still standing and if so, if it still looks like this.

Happy Haunting!