Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bridge Conditions at Delco Area Train Station

I was on an assignment for my college campus news, taking photos at a train station on Nov. 19 for a Septa story. The assigment was to take photos of the Septa trains, people boarding and getting off of the train.

While waiting for the train, I was taking photos of other subjects and the bridge going over the tracks was of particular interest. I noticed that the bridge had piles of bricks used as added support going across under both lanes. It brought to mind the infrastructure problem across America, with many bridges and roads needing serious repair.

Here is a link to one photo I took of the bridge: http://bit.ly/ihlvYh. The link will take you directly to my photo in the http://www.allaroundphilly.com news site's user photo gallery.

I've been told that this particular bridge in on a list for some major work, although I don't know when that will happen. I haven't been on a Septa train in a long time, so I'm not usually down by the bridge. It shocked me to see just how bad the bridge looks when viewed from the train station parking lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I Love Classic Cars

What I love about classic cars is the whole nostalgic feeling that they bring to people. It is a rare treat to see these classic cars outside of a car show. They are appreciated by multiple generations and I feel that they are the "ancestors" of today's cool cars. People love the Camaro, Corvette and the Mustang as well as other cool cars that continue to be made. The love of cool cars is still visible today as new models of the Camaro, Corvette, Mustang and others are designed.

So when word goes around of an upcoming car show, it's usually put on the calendar of local things to do. The most recent one was held near the end of August and featured a variety of cars from multiple decades.

I first heard about the car show from a friend that lives nearby and who was planning to check out the cars on display. The car show was held in a shopping center parking lot and just outside of a local diner with a 1950s theme. The Beach Boys and music by other classic bands could be heard throughout the parking lot, emphasizing the nostalgic event.

My classic car show favorite has always been the '57 Chevy Bel Air, convertible or not. What would a classic car show be without them?

My favorite car with current versions is the Camaro, also represented at the car show as a 2010 "Bumblebee" painted one entered the lot. As the owner drove through the lot, people turned to admire the bright yellow Camaro featuring two racing stripes as it cruised by slowly.

Memories Grill was the place to get lunch that day, continuing with the nostalgia of a classic cars and classic music. The diner features 3-D wall decor of various classic cars, including a pink cadillac driven by Marilyn Monroe.

While finishing some lunch at the diner, a guy sitting at the booth behind me suddenly said, "Elvis has entered the building." Everyone seemed to light up with smiles when they saw the elderly man dressed in a likeness of Elvis' white jumpsuit. Of course, a few moments later, he left the building just as my booth was being cleared.

I caught up with the Elvis impersonator again outside and he posed for a photo, then said, "Thank you, thank you very much."

I'm looking forward to the next car show held in the area or further away for an interesting road trip. I know that a 1950s weekend is held at the Jersey Shore, but I'll have to wait until it is scheduled for next year. No matter where they are, car shows are always a fun Summer excursion to go on.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Day at the Renaissance Faire

It's been a while, but as promised, I'm reflecting back on a late Summer excursion to New Jersey for the Lakewood Lions Renaissance Faire.

It was a family excursion that started out with my mom, grandmother and I heading across the Delaware River bound for Lakewood. Once there, we stopped at an aunt and uncle's house since my cousins and I had arranged getting together for the event. My aunt and one cousin's boyfriend decided to join us for a day of renaissance festivities as well.

Taking two cars, we were on our way to the recreational park where the renaissance faire was to be held. We arrived within 15 minutes of leaving my relatives' house and were directed to park by some men dressed as monks for the faire. A girl in a purple velvet renaissance dress handed out programs of the day's scheduled events that would take us back in time.

With our cars parked, we then had the option of either walking about 10 minutes or taking a three-minute bus ride into the faire grounds. We opted for the short bus ride since there were varying walking abilities in our group. The blue and white Township of Lakewood bus winded its way through a wooded area, bumping here and there as it passed by lion-themed shields.

The bus unloaded and we entered into the renaissance faire grounds, filled with tents of vendors selling a variety of crafts. A few knights on horseback entered behind us before we began our way down a slight grassy hill to souvenir shop. One vendor, "Celtic Chairde Creations," caught my eye with a front table covered by a Celtic knot work tablecloth.

According to a brochure I picked up at their tent, the word "chairde" means "friends." Their tent had a lot of bath and body products, along with some crafts such as this "Ireland" stitching and others below.

I didn't by anthing yet, wanting to work my way around and see what the other vendors had in store for us. So I began to leave the tent and rejoin my group, when who did I see walking up the hill but Captain Jack Sparrow!

"Hey, Jack Sparrow!" I called out, and the very good likeness of Johnny Depp's popular pirate character turned around, reacting in full character.

We continued down to the bottom of the hill, where a procession of costumed characters was beginning to go by. Knights on horseback, belly dancers, medieval maidens, fire baton twirlers, and pirates were all there walking to a beating drum.

After the procession made its way up where we walked down from, some of us stopped to check out a little pirate scene. Like a scene out of "Goonies," the skeletons of two ill-fated pirates lay slumped against barrels of gun powder (or maybe Jack Sparrow's rum). A skull and crossbones flag, ship's wheel, cannon and a pile of cannonballs completed the swashbuckling scene. My grandmother loved the ship's wheel in particular, as she loves maritime-themed objects.

We worked our way up the hill, completing a u-shaped tour of the renaissance faire vendor tents before finally reaching a stage area. A pirate reenactment was starting up, during which a few interesting things happened.

As the reenactment got under way, I turned away for a moment to see a mysterious and fully masked Paladin knight talking with my aunt. It didn't seem like anyone else in my group noticed yet, their full attention on the pirates and the display of swordsmanship. When they turned to see the knight, they got a kick out of him as well, not expecting to see him there with my aunt. He had signed a paper listing various renaissance faire characters that attendants could get autographs from.

The next thing that happened was a shock to my ears because I stood leaning against the right side of the stage. That turned out to be a little close to the pirate action going on in the coming moments. One pirate standing in front of the stage and closer to the opposite side seemed to look in my direction. He threw something at an enemy reenactment pirate who stood somewhere between us. Suddenly, a medium-sized cannon only two feet to my left went off and startled me! Of course, nothing was actually fired out of the cannon. However, my hearing was somewhat muted for the next few minutes. It sent a few laughs through those attending the renaissance faire with me that day, and I couldn't help but laugh as well at that surprise.

During one part of the pirate reenactment, Captain Jack Sparrow showed up again and seemed to be making a bargain with the other pirates. When the bargain didn't work out, he went running into the crowd standing opposite where we were. Picture the scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean II," when Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) doesn't want to leave the island without Jack. Then he sees Jack trying to outrun the island natives and catch up with the pirate ship. When Jack is shown from behind running along the beach, that is exactly what the renaissance faire Jack Sparrow looked like. As I mentioned, he was in full character and did a very good job with the voice and mannerisms of the movie pirate.

Following the pirate reenactment, the next big attraction at the renaissance faire was the jousting event. I was really into the renaissance spirit by this time and bought a flowery halo with streamers hanging down the back, deciding to wear it at the joust.

A crowd gathered at bleachers across from the vendor area of the renaissance faire and awaited the arrival of the knights. We could see them riding slowly around a bend to the jousting grous, or lysts, as you might hear them called in the movies. There were a few cars parked nearby, giving humor to any photo of knights in shining armor as they approached on horseback.

One knight with long, flowing blonde hair finally galloped past the crowd on a black horse and then began to address everyone. He announced the two jousting knights as they each took a turn riding past the crowd and waving. Before the joust began, the crowd was divided by the announcer, who assigned rooting sections to the knights. A little friendly verbal jabs were exchanged between the opponents, bringing laughter to their respective fans.

Then the action began with some surprising practice runs that included the knights taking turns trying to slice a cabbage while galloping by. But that's only part of it, because the cabbage was placed on top of a helmet worn by a brave renaissance faire character. The following practice involved jabbing, while mounted on their galloping horses, a target placed on some hay.

The jousting began shortly after that and early on, the knight who I rooted for was knocked off his horse. However, he eventually won the joust and I even got a piece of broken lance autographed by him.

I have more photos that I took at the renaissance faire posted on my flickr page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdwyerphotojourney.