Monday, September 28, 2009

Blogiversary (One Year Old)

Friday, September 26 was the one year anniversary of when I started posting to Google blogger. It's been a fun project and perfect excuse to get off the couch to learn, discover, and enjoy my surroundings. As a result of the blog, I find myself not only composing photos, but words too, as I walk Max on the trails.

I hope you enjoy the photo journal. I do deviate from Berks County and the nature from time-to-time, but I think those subjects are photogenic and interesting too.

Please feel free to make comments. It's like Christmas when I see a Berks Awhile comment notification in my email.

Upcoming Posts
Keep visiting in October for I've listed no less then 13 different nature locales that I want to capture in fall color. The always fun Joana Furnace Apple Festival is on Saturday, October 10.

Also, I'm still word smithing the Las Vegas posts, but my ridiculous 2400 photos take time to organize and edit.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hopewell Furnace National Park

Continuing my Berks History tour from the Mouns Jones Festival, I made the short drive to the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. They were offering free admission celebrating the National Parks system.

I arrived in time to see the demo on furnace operation and watched the three educators make a replica "aluminum" piece from the infamous Hopewell Furnace cast iron stove.

They talked about the history of the area and how its natural resources of limestone, iron ore and hardwood forests are the key ingredients for iron and pig iron.

Skilled iron smiths and apprentices made high quality, durable stoves. The stoves actually were made of ten interlocking pieces which were shipped to purchasers who needed to then assemble.

Hopewell Furnace, similar to Joanna Furnace, was a whole little community dedicated to supporting the men that keep giant furnaces hot enough to smelt iron and manufacture goods.

Mouns Jones Festival

Old Morlatton Village in Douglasville was the site of the annual Mouns Jones County Fair and Harvest Festival.

Period dressed volunteers demonstrated how life might have been almost 300 years. A fundraising auction was on-going while crafters offered their wares and the Boy Scouts were selling home made food.

In the Mouns Jones house, bonnet-wearing women were demonstrating how they used to cook pies over an open fire and bake bread in the bee hive oven.

One of the highlights of the day for me was the Historic Preservation Trust opened up the old George Douglas Mansion for tours. It was very cool seeing and learning about the work-in-progress of rehabbing a piece of history.

You could see the impact of generations of dwellers on the building from additions, to the retrofitted 60+ year old electric wiring and fixtures. Layers, of peeling paint, wallpaper, and various levels of floor coverings uncovered the styles of the past inhabitants.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Middle Creek Wildlife Area (Waterfowl Festival)

Another cool event hosted by Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is Waterfowl Festival. The talent of the carvers is remarkable. Besides carvers, are a few painters, decoy makers, carver supply dealers, and duck call designers and sellers.

Wildlife Management is a paradox to me. Basically, the land provides an ideal habitat for wildlife to feed, reproduce and flourish so that the "excess" can be hunted.

I'm not opposed to hunters or hunting as a sport. It's fees are the means to preserve the great land masses for both hunters and non-hunters to enjoy. It truly is a balance, a scientific balance too, that seems to be working.

The gardens that were so photogenic a month earlier are waning, but still offered lots of color and bees to photograph. The fields are highlighted with yellow golden rod with lots of browns and greens.

Another great day of weather, capping a weekend of great early fall weather featuring cool 50-degree nights and 75-degree day temp. The broad temp swings and moisture are key elements to vibrant colors of the leaves that is forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

French Creek State Park (Late Summer, Fall's Coming)

Max and I lapped Hopewell Lake on a perfect late summer night. Temp in the 70's, sunny, and a calm lake was way better then the predicted rain and chilly weather.

The usual muddy spots were present. A few hikers were encountered, but lots of kayakers explored the lake. The beaver(s) recently gnawed chunks out of a big tree and made some very precise tool-like cuts.

Reflections and magic hour lighting are great subjects and plentiful at French Creek.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hay Creek Festival (One Dry Day)

Hay Creek Festival had one sunny day out of three. The grounds had some muddy patches so they did a great job sopping up them up with coincidentally, hay.

The usual cast of period demonstrations were present with some new ones and a few missing regulars, but overall it seemed bigger and better then ever. I liked the glass blowers, saw mill, iron master store, civil war encampment, antique tractors and cars.

The food is a big draw and dozen's of organizations and 100's of volunteers were cheerfully dishing out their homemade specialties. I happily left with two quarts of wood fired black kettle soups.

Plenty to do for kids too with strategically placed learning stations.

Still a can't miss event. The kid-oriented Apple Festival is coming October 10, 2009, 7A-3P.

Keystone Balloon Festival (Bird In Hand)

I've never been to a balloon festival and always wanted to experience, so when I learned of the Keystone Balloon Festival in Bird in Hand was coming to the area I put it on the calendar.

I presume the scheduled Fri and Sat launches were cancelled due to the rain so when the forecast was decent, I trekked out at 5:30 AM Sunday morning so I could catch the 6:30 sunrise launch.

Too bad the weather probably ruined the full schedule of activities, at least they had one pristine morning for the launch.

Six balloons were launched and I was shocked at the size/volume differences due to the size of the baskets attached. Some baskets could accommodate, what looked like 10 people, other baskets would be crowded with 4 people.

I think the coolest sight was at pre-dawn when they fired up the giant propane flames which illuminated the entire inside of the translucent balloons. Three giant silhouettes turned into back lit logos.

I know that they are safe, but the process firing a foot diameter by 12 foot long propane flame in a thin cloth bag does seem potentially dangerous.

However, I can imagine that the floating sensation over gorgeous Lancaster County farm land trumps the minimal risk.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calendar of Photo Walks

This calendar illustrates all the places I have visited and the month visited. Notice that only one visit is shown per month even if I visited multiple times.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shikellamy State Park Marina (Late Summer)

It was a foggy, surreal morning at the Shikellamy State Park. Half the park was shrouded in clouds, the other half was sunny. As Max and I walked around the paved mile trail, the lighting was changing virtually every minute.

The two railroad bridges were fun subjects as the fog, then morning "magic hour" light covered them. Even the butterfly garden was still pumping out color, but it was a little too early for the butterflies.

Tiny spider webs, one in nearly every fence rail opening, were covered with dew and showed that nature is nearly perfect.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Penn State Football (Perfect Day)

Incredible weather prevailed for the pomp and circumstance of the Penn State football home opener. The high scoring 1st half team couldn't find the end zone in the 2nd half and missed on several opportunities, but it was great to be back in the house that JoPa built.