Friday, June 25, 2010

Heat Waves, Storms, and Travel

During this week, I have been tuning in to the Weather Channel on and off keeping an eye on the weekend forecast. This was due to plans to visit Point Pleasant, NJ with family. Early this week, the forecast seemed all clear. On Wednesday, things did a 180 with rain and storms being called for Saturday through Tuesday.

We've had some scorching hot days and severe thunderstorm warnings two days in a row, Wednesday and Thursday. I didn't know until afterward, but my area was under a tornado watch for part of Wednesday. We did get a thunderstorm, but it wasn't so bad here that day.

Yesterday, however, it seemed as though we were in for one mean storm...very high wind gusts, cloud-to-ground lightning included. I looked out my front window at one point and the sky still wasn't stormy or ominous looking. Less than five minutes later, I looked out there again and a very dark cloud was looming overhead. That is when I took the photo below of the huge storm cloud.

These two photos I took were of the stormy view out back, another reason why severe thunderstorms always have me on edge! It makes me wonder how I'd be as a storm chaser...or someone who goes on storm chasing adventures with the pros. I doubt I'd really have the guts to do that, what with how nervous I get from the severe thunderstorms here.

The thunder and lightning started shortly after and the rain was pretty heavy towards the end as the wind whipped it around.

As the storm approached, I noticed that I had lost my internet connection...although that happens here sometimes even during decent weather. That, of course, is a total hassle for me as I use the internet to research for term papers, share photos, blog, tweet, etc. Below is a screen capture I made, which shows the disconnected internet icon on my computer's task bar. To the left of the speaker volume icon, the double monitor icon was missing a blue indicator not to try the internet because it's down.

Once I was able to get back online, I found out that some friends had lost power, saw large hail coming down and even big trees getting knocked over. Similar stories were also being shown on the Weather Channel and via story links posted by news outlets that use Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Weather Channel's weekend forecast changed again...this time calling for a sunny and hot day on Saturday. So, that was good news to see that once again it may be sunny instead of rainy and stormy on a day of plans. We'll see what happens, although I am looking forward to visiting Point Pleasant. These plans were already held off once because of car issues and other things, and it will be my first trip to this particular NJ shore point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Exploring Near Arcadia U

For a while now, I've been wanting to visit Grey Towers Castle at Arcadia University or catch a glimpse of it for photos. I searched online to see if there were any scheduled public tours between semesters for those interested in architecture photography. Not really finding much on that, I did come across some other places of interest. I found out about them while researching the route to Arcadia University. The route, following Skippack Pike, has many historical buildings that I'd like to check out. However, there is one more very stunning place of historic significance that is entirely new to me...further to the East / Southeast of Arcadia.

That stunning place is Lynnewood Hall, not too far from Arcadia University as it turns out. So my search about Grey Towers Castle led me to the blog page of another person on here. From that point, I learned that efforts are in progress to save Lynnewood Hall and I'm so glad to find that out. It is always a great thing to find others who care about saving historical places. I feel that these places need to be saved, especially because you never know what stories from history may be found in the process.

Last year, at the beginning of October, demolition on the La Ronda mansion began after preservationists tried to save it. I had only just heard about La Ronda about a month or more before it was lost, and went to take some photos of the beautiful structure. I hope that for Lynnewood Hall, the preservation community sees a better outcome of a building saved for restoration.

Below are some of the photos I took when I went to see the La Ronda mansion early last September. I also have a slideshow of more La Ronda photos on my youtube channel.

Although it was lost, maybe La Ronda can serve as a preservation example of why Lynnewood Hall should be saved. I'm thinking of it in these terms...that we don't want to keep losing our history, and so Lynnewood Hall should remain standing. With each historic building we lose, big or small, it means more parts of our story in America lost. That is why I believe in preservation.

There is a tour coming up at Lynnewood Hall, so I think that will be a good time to explore the area surrounding Arcadia. I'll make it a roadtrip to Grey Towers Castle and Lynnewood Hall, along with any other interesting points in between.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Very Pretty Preserve

I'm backtracking a little bit with this post, back to April 18th, when I did some volunteer photography for an event hosted by Natural Lands Trust. Held at the Hildacy Preserve, the event was in appreciation of members who have been supporting the nature organization's efforts for a number of years. The preserve is just off of Providence Road / Route 252 in Media, PA after you drive the stretch of road over the Springton Reservoir heading north.

This was my first visit to the Hildacy Preserve and while there, I saw many things that added beauty
to the picturesque location. Below are just a few of the photos I took as I explored the grounds of the preserve.

Many trees at Hildacy had ivy vines climbing up their trunks. Also, the little stone bench was a really nice part of the scene here. It reminds me of a garden piece you might see at an old literary site in England. Of course, some British writers were inspired by nature's beauty, which is another reason little details like this make me think of English literary sites.

I took this photo from inside the nature-oriented office building on the grounds when I noticed the leaf-shaped wood cut-outs.

Ivy also climbed the side of the big red and white barn at Hildacy.

I'm looking forward to any chances I'll have to visit other Natural Lands Trust preserve areas in the
future. The Natural Lands Trust field guide of preserve areas includes photos showing very beautiful, scenic places...great for local eco-outings.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Filmed On Location

There are so many movies that are filmed in locations I would love to see with my own eyes and of course take pictures of. Those I listed on the right side of my blog are only a few of just such movies, using a mix of historical and natural places. Below are two photos I took at Independence Hall a few years ago. Besides the history, this stairway is featured in the scene of "National Treasure," as Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) and his friends go in search for clues to the treasure.

I'm hoping to go on a movie tour in Philadelphia soon, which covers a great deal of other movies filmed in the area. Of course, as my list of movies shows, my favorite locations on the silver screen go beyond the local scene.

A few days ago, "Rebel Without A Cause" aired on the Turner Classic Movies in honor of Dennis Hopper. If I ever get the chance to visit California, Griffith Observatory is on my list of sites to see. It was a great setting for the teen characters that James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo played in the main roles. Griffith Observatory seems to be a very popular filming location, also featured in "Transformers."

Within the past week or so, I saw an article online about Astoria, Oregon...home of one of my favorites when I was younger, "The Goonies." The article was about tours focused on the locations used in that movie. Well, besides being featured in a favorite 80's movie, I'd like to visit that area for its dramatic coastal views.

The 2010 remake of "The Wolfman," was added onto my list of favorite film locations just from seeing the trailers. I loved the spooky, atmospheric scenes set in late 1800's England and couldn't wait to see the movie. I actually didn't see it until today, but it was worth the extra wait. The filmmakers did a great job with the look and feel of the classic monster tale, with haunting scenes indoors and out. My love of old architecture, historic settings, and even those with an eerie vibe to them draw me to film locations like those in "The Wolfman." The same goes for many other movies filmed in the British Isles.

I consider myself to be a growing fan of movies, with new interests watching not only the blockbusters, but indie films and documentaries. No matter what the genre, I find many film locations used that I would love to see. When it comes to movies in general, I feel that they inspire people in some way or another. They definitely inspire me in terms of travel and places that I would love to do photography.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Around Lancaster

I have been out to the Lancaster area many times over the years, mostly to have lunch or dinner at the popular Shady Maple Smorgasbord. This time was to celebrate my Mom's birthday, so I rode up there with her and my Dad. The variety of food is always enjoyable, as is the overall atmosphere in the dining establishment of rural settings. A bowl of Apple Crisp is what I love to top of my meal there. It just seems like the perfect country dessert.

Something else I enjoy about going out the Lancaster is the wide open space scenery, dotted with farms just by the road or off in the the distance. It's a whole different world from my area, which is suburban, yet sometimes I feel like it is too congested. So, I always say that I want to move to a rural area for a more relaxed pace among pretty scenery and any nearby historic attractions. Another thing about wide open for horses. I've always loved horses and wish I could be around them more. While in the Lancaster area, I tried to take some photos of some horses in their paddocks. However, I didn't have too much luck trying to capture such images from my front passenger seat on the way to Shady Maple. The best horse photo I took is this one below...blurry, but I still like it, and the horse is beautiful! I'll have to try for better horse photos next time out that way...less blur, more close-up, etc.

Visits to the towns of Ephrata and Lititz were also included in the day, however we were a little short on time for full tour of any sites. Both are charming places in my opinion and worth another visit sometime. It was actually my first time going out that far along Route 322, so I finally caught a glimpse of the historic Ephrata Cloister. Even just in briefly passing by, I didn't take a photo of it in either direction. However, I managed to take some photos of some old buildings here and there. I wish I could find a tour of some kind that would allow for more photos of all the old architecture. A lot of what I saw in the way of old architecture was spotted where it was hard to take a photo. Maybe next time out there, while stopping at a local business, I'll take a short stroll to capture more images of the pretty architectural details. Below are some photos I managed to take, which I think were from good timing.

I edited the color in the photo with the flag outside the window, mostly because in the original photo, the window shutters looked too bright. It was even difficult to see the middle section of open shades in the original photo's lighting. After the color editing, the column looked better against the dark porch.

In the photos below, the tower features some very ornate Victorian details that I don't see too often. This is definitely something I imagine on the exterior of my dream house...the whole tower with its beautiful detail.

The photo below was taken somewhere on the way to Shady Maple, and what caught my attention was simply the very unusual wooden detail. Like the Victorian tower detail, it was not often fact, I had never seen the rollerskate-wheel-like details featured on a house before.

This photo of the star-covered silo is my favorite of the farm photos I took during this particular Lancaster area trip.

As an end to a day of being in beautiful rural towns, I snapped this photo below. This are seen elsewhere in PA of course, reminding us to respect the state's natural beauty throughout it. Sometimes, I like taking photos that are more of a photojournalistic style even if the photo isn't of something happening. As a nature lover and communications student who isn't always near an event (for example, an environmental meeting), I would sometimes just take photos of something that represents the environmental issue.

I hope to enjoy more natural beauty of my home state as time goes on. I've been out toward Western PA as far as Johnstown, and going north, somewhere a bit west of Easton, PA. So I still have quite a bit of Pennsylvania to see.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rose Tree Park

This park is a place which I have driven by many times on the way to work over the years, but had never really explored before. However, recently I visited the park to check out a picnic area for a reunion my friends and I are planning. So for any tourists coming to Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, I have a few thoughts on why they should make a stop at Rose Tree Park.

The history / old architecture buff will love the historical buildings within the park. The Leedom House, in my photos below, is beautiful and features columns, a classic architectural detail in my opinion. It also has an arched walkway through the structure, a nice feature not seen very often.

There is also the stone-faced Rose Tree Tavern in my photo below, dating back to before 1750. The tavern was moved a few years ago from where it once stood, near the road, to further inside the park grounds. I'm curious to see whether or not it will be restored fully, up and running at some point. Even at its current state, boarded up windows and all, there is something interesting about it. It really gives the sense of how old it is, connecting you back to its earlier days.

Another old structure in the park came into sight from certain points near the picnic area. I didn't see any mention of it online, so I don't know anything about it. However, as someone who loves old buildings, it caught my eye. As you can see in the photo, it is a lonely, old structure...mysterious and hidden from view. You won't see it from most points in the park.

Rose Tree Park features a fourth historic building, standing along the left side of the driveway leading towards the picnic area. At the moment, I don't have a photo of it. However, it is a stone-face with columns along the porch. This and the Leedom House are currently in use at the park.

Another reason to visit Rose Tree Park is the scenic aspect, which includes an expansive view toward the rear of the park. The landscaping brings out the natural features within the park, such as in the photo below, which I took a few years ago. The fence seems to bring your eyes right to the tree's foliage.

I took the photo of this gazebo during my recent visit to the park...very pretty addition to Rose Tree. I would love to have one of these myself!

Here is another photo I took a few years ago...partly scenery, partly the entertainment venue of Rose Tree Park. During Summer 2009, I met up with some of my friends for one of the many free concerts held here. These free concerts are held all Summer long each year, and I'm looking forward to a few this year as well. So, for the music lover, this is a great place for Summer entertainment without worrying about budgets!

The Fabulous Greaseband is who my friends and I saw last year. They played 50s, 60s, 70s...a great variety! I definitely recommend seeing them...they rock!

Last, but not least...Rose Tree Park is very patriotic, featuring a huge American flag and memorials for fallen police officers and firefighters. I took the photo of Old Glory as viewed though the trees a few years ago, and the firefighter memorial photo was taken during my recent park visit.

So, these are the reasons why Rose Tree Park is worth a visit...history, scenery, free concerts, and patriotic displays. I'm looking forward to the reunion my friends and I will be having there this Summer.