Friday, August 1, 2014

Vacation Photos

Hello! Returned from a week's vacation and here are some photos from our trip. 

The National Memorial Arch, Valley Forge National Historical Park. "...dedicated in 1917 to commemorate the 'patience and fidelity' of the soldiers who wintered at Valley Forge in 1777-78."

I'm sure that plenty of people come to Valley Forge during business hours to learn some history, but if you go after hours, as we did, you'll see scores of parents romping with their kids on vast open fields, plus horseback riders, runners, cyclists and walkers like us. With a network of multi-use paths and a hilly terrain, it's an excellent place for exercise and outdoor play. 

A short while after this picture was taken, we saw a group of serious young men with serious photography equipment (tripods, large cameras) set up in a row near the arch. They were getting instruction from an older man, probably on tips for sunset photos. But since they were speaking in a foreign language, I didn't really know what was being said. I hope they got some good shots - they had a nice evening and a great location. 

The next several photos are from the Enchanted Woods (children's garden section) at Winterthur, near Wilmington, DE. I found it to be very charming, hence the several pictures I took. 

Child-sized seating - all you need is your teddy bear, some lemonade and some cookies!

Giant toadstool "house".

And a giant-sized "nest" with three "eggs" inside it. 

Words embedded in stones. 

Squirrel carved into a picnic table inside a play house. 

Along one wall of the play house. These chairs are on a raised platform, so I wondered if kids pretended they were kings or queens sitting on their thrones. 

Unfortunately for us, the Enchanted Woods wasn't put in until after we moved away from the region. Our daughter turned three shortly before we moved, so we would have taken her to this section of the Winterthur gardens had it been there then. The children we saw the day of our visit looked to be having a great time there! 

A few more pictures from Winterthur's gardens, all taken in the Reflecting Pool area:

Reflecting pool.

Statue at one end of the Reflecting Pool. 

Just beyond the Reflecting Pool was this sweet statue. The plaque near it mentioned that the statue was dedicated to one of the Du Pont women (the Du Ponts were the original owners of Winterthur) and said she was noted for her "silvery laugh". Not sure what a silvery laugh is, but it sounds like a nice thing to be remembered for. 

Moving on and north of the Delaware Valley region, we used Williamsport, PA as our home base for exploring local and not-so-local places of interest. 

View outside a window in our hotel. Westerners would likely sneer at those mountains, since most are no taller than 2,000 ft, but that's still plenty tall for us!

No shortage of funky signage in Ithaca, NY:

We lunched at Ithaca Bakery. 

The next set of signs were on a message board inside a mini-mall building. 

Just don't see this variety of businesses where we live, so I enjoy seeing such message boards in hip college towns! 

I liked the above sign for "Bodacious Cheeseballs", with several varieties of such offered for sale. I never would have thought of starting a cheeseball business, but someone in Ithaca had! I wondered how well their business was doing. 

Back to the Williamsport area again:

No visit to the area would be complete without a stop at Purity Chocolates near Allenwood, PA. If you go during the week you'll likely see some candy making in action; large windows at one end of the retail store offer views of the small factory behind the store. Above, pretzel rods are being enrobed in chocolate. You can see the bare pretzels awaiting their coating on the right side of the photo, and on the left the pretzels are finished with their "bath" of dark chocolate. Not shown but to the right of the uncoated pretzels was the employee whose job it was to arrange those pretzels in orderly rows on the conveyor belt. 

Purity always has some gigantic chocolate pieces ready for a special purchase. When we've come in the fall it's huge solid turkeys, but this time we saw:

Above, a 3 1/2 pound milk chocolate football, surrounded by small foil-wrapped chocolate footballs. It retails for $39.95. Just the thing to reward your son if he scores the winning touchdown in that big game! There was also a similarly-sized/packaged basketball. 

Enjoyed a 5 1/2 mile walk along the Pine Creek Rail Trail after visiting Purity. 

Typical scenery along the trail. 

Lots of wildflowers, as shown above. The lower photo of the two shows thimbleberries, but they weren't quite ready to pick.

After we were done with our walk it was time to start heading west back toward home. We went as far as Dubois, PA that day. Thanks to Yelp, I'd learned of Luigi's, an Italian restaurant in downtown Dubois, so that's where we ate dinner. I can recommend the stromboli option; it sure was good. It helped that one could pick up to three choices for the filling, similar to ordering pizza toppings. I selected sausage, hot peppers and fresh spinach. What arrived on my plate was a huge stromboli, big enough for two dinners. Of course it was fattening as could be, but worth the calories. My husband ordered the mushroom ravioli and enjoyed that as well. We also gobbled down some slices of delicious Italian bread - made on the premises, we were told by our waitress. (we were hungry after that walk on the Pine Creek Rail Trail!)

Also not photographed, but also recommended, is Zwahlen's of Audubon, PA (yes, the same Audubon who did the famous bird paintings - he had lived nearby). We'd done some serious walking on the Saturday of our trip, on a hot and humid day. Had a relatively light dinner too, so I felt ice cream would be a good ending for the day. We weren't up to driving very far to get some, though. 

Was in luck again when I searched on Yelp - it turned out that an ice cream parlor, Zwahlen's, was literally right across the street from our hotel! (Homewood Suites) We'd seen the building as we'd driven up to the hotel, but didn't realize it was an ice cream parlor. The building looked more like it housed a restaurant. 

Zwahlen's ice cream is very good and reasonably priced as well. They also make a variety of chocolate candies. It's worth a stop if you're in the area - say, to learn some history at Valley Forge (or go to the nearby casino if that's your thing!)

Lots more I could have shown off, and lots more I could have taken photos of, but I hope you got a sense of the scenic, historic areas we visited.



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