Posts Tagged ‘photos’

I used to think Michigan had some crazy weather but after living in Philly I realize MI’s weather is not crazy, just reliably terrible.  Here it’s a total guessing game.  For example, winters here can be so extreme– it will snow for 28 hours straight, leaving behind 11 inches of snow and shutting the city down for days.  Then 3 weeks later it’s warm enough to wear spring jackets (and mini-skirts for those brave enough).  Yesterday there was a high of 68!

Valley Forge, PA

So we had a breakfast of champions, did some quick Bike Garage, hit up Lee’s Hoagie House and then got out of dodge.

Mmmm, fuel!

Before we left I hooked up the simple bike computer I got Pat for Christmas, it’s quite nifty.  It records a bunch of stuff but we biked 48.2 miles and hit a maximum speed of 21 mph.  Sweet!  

The Manayunk tow path was a slightly soupy mud pit at points.  I was grateful for my new hardcore tires and fenders.  My body is still pretty wary of falling though so I kept having to remind myself to chill and not tense up on every bump.  Mind over body!  Once we got to the paved part of the path we kept a good pace in spite of the slight, unceasing headwind.  Even with a sammie break we reached Valley Forge in about 2 hours and enjoyed a king-sized Snickers bar each at the visitor center.  Too delicious.

Outside Valley Forge visitor center

Pat occupied himself by harassing, I mean coaching my speed from behind most of the way home. 😉  I was pretty exhausted and crashed out from all that sugar but we kept a good speed most of the way.  The Schuylkill path was absolutely packed with oblivious runners on the way back into the city.  Though I guess I shouldn’t be grumpy when we all have the same awful spring fever!  Yesterday’s ride was challenging but not as bad as I thought it would be after 4 months of no long rides.  I’m really looking forward to spending this summer getting in shape for our trip!

Today it’s chilly again with insane wind gusts whipping in all directions.  I had to shift into grandma gear while riding into the city today, that would be pretty pathetic under normal circumstances.  I was sitting in the cafe at Pat’s work when their front door whipped open and smashed the front window.  See, crazy weather!

Good thing it's safety glass

Hopefully this early spring holds– Pat has a plan for a time-lapse photo project on the tow path.  I don’t think we’ll get the same awe-inspiring effects as Planet Earth but it should be pretty fun.  Stay tuned for more on that 🙂

Fossil watch ad??

Another weekend come and gone… sometimes they seem way too short!


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I’m going on vacation next week—back home to Michigan to see my family and enjoy a little R&R.  Since I’ll be gone next weekend Pat and I spent a beautiful day enjoying one another’s company yesterday—he’ll be holding down the fort/bringing home the bacon while I’m away. 

Regatta grand stand and crew emblems

The ride out of the city was heavenly.  I could feel the air clear as soon as we got to the river path.  I can’t stand humid, smoggy city air in the summer.  I felt my lungs gratefully expand as we whisked down the empty path.

There is a very nice picnic area a little bit beyond the turn-off to Valley Forge Park.  It even has real toilets and a drinking fountain.  We took one of the mountain bike/hiking paths a teeny bit north off the main path until we found a nice shady, breezy picnic area.

Chillin' in nature's air conditioning

I feel so lucky to have our bikes and good health to ride them to places like this.  While there we saw a doe, cardinal, a ton of groundhogs, chimpmunks and a couple bunnies.  I love seeing wildlife.

Pat telling a bug to go away/looking at his bicep

While perusing my new issue of Afar Magazine I spotted this contest: Blog Your Way Around the World.  My jaw is still hanging open from when I read about the main prize:

A travel package valued over $70,000 for eight of the world’s greatest adventures for the winner and a friend…”

All you have to do is write a 400-word essay on why you should be chosen and how you will blog about the adventures they are sending you and your equally adventurous husband on.  Then you get your wonderful family, friends and hopefully a ton of other people to vote for you to win. 

There are several entrants who have a lot of prior travel and blogging experience.  But I think I should win for most genuinely excited about the whole thing.  So stay tuned for updates on that, I just need to find my “hook” for the essay.  Pat had some suggestions that I won’t mention here but would probably make a good storyline for South Park…  Thinking caps on!

C'mon, who wouldn't want to follow these Long Haul Truckers around the world??

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This morning we woke up early (for a Saturday…) to join the Bicycle Coalition on a hike along the Schuylkill River.  Unfortunately we did not realize we had the wrong date until we got home.  We were a little perplexed when we go to Bartram’s Garden, the starting point, and found no trace of other hikers.

We decided to set out after them, looking forward to the free breakfast at the end point.  I worked at Bartram’s Garden for a couple of months so I led us out through the meadow to the path.

Can you see the city through the haze?

This meadow used to be a “brownfield,” a former industrial site where the soil is polluted.  The site was treated about 30 years ago and is now thriving.

I could not believe we were still in Philadelphia.  This part of Southwest Philadelphia is only a half mile from our house but it felt like we were miles out of the city.  I imagined John Bartram and his wife strolling along the same stretch of river.  Taking in the fresh country air, feeling the same June heat and walking hand-in-hand like us.  I wonder if they had pancakes for breakfast, too.

Urban Meadow

We carried on.  The walk was supposed to end at Grey’s Ferry Ave at a section of the path we have seen them working on for several months.  I recently snapped this on the way to the grocery store:

Next to the Recycling Center

Since it was the wrong date we never caught up with the group.  We turned around after the trail terminated in the Street’s Department’s parking lot.

I see this bridge from Grey's Ferry all the time

By the time we got back to our bikes I was really feeling the heat so we headed home for a second cup of coffee and work in the studio.  Pat gave his mom this illustration for mother’s day, isn’t it beautiful?

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As I mentioned a few posts ago, my museum is putting the finishing touches on the world premiere of “Cleopatra…” scheduled to open this Saturday.  I spent the past few days putting together and testing out a prototype for an educational program I’ll be running during the exhibit.

The idea is for visitors to get a better idea of what archaeologists do and how they work on an excavation.  All of the artifacts in the exhibit were excavated either from the desert or the harbor at Alexandria.  I also wanted to show how an archaeologist differs from a treasure hunter (careful, methodical excavation with the intention of recording all findings, etc) so a big part of the prototype is finding the right “digging medium”.  Too soft and they’ll sift right through, too hard and they’ll never find anything

Waiting for some visitors

So after much thought and research I settled on a mixture of sand and melted wax.  When the wax hardens the sand is suspended in it, created a nice firm medium to scrape/brush at.  *If you’re trying this at home, be prepared to say goodbye to one of your saucepans… I plan on getting these nifty crock pot liners to throw in our beat up crock pot at work*

I made “stone” walls from modeling clay and arranged/hot-glued them in a shadow box frame to represent the foundations of an ancient Roman dwelling.  Then I poured the sand-wax on top and let it dry over night.

Ancient Roman walls

I tested it on our visitors this weekend and received almost 100% positive results.  There are a few kinks to be worked out but nothing a little bit of tweaking won’t solve.  I definitely want to make sure more of the “walls” are visible above the sand-wax, makes it much easier to start somewhere.  I also want to make flipbooks showing real archaeological dig sites– a lot of kids have a hard time figuring out what we’re looking at (“these are weird dinosaur bones…”)

Progress after 1.5 hours of testing

This is definitely a “family” activity so I think it will only come out on the weekends, rather than our crazy busy weekdays.  I really like that visitors stay for a decent amount of time; it gives me a chance to find out what they know and to guide our conversations along those lines.  You would be amazed at how much kids already know about archaeology and how interested they are in digging around!  I had a really interesting conversation with a young visitor (~8 years old) and her dad today about archaeology in Philadelphia– a few years ago the city dug up the foundation of George Washington’s house before a parking garage was put in.  They were both excited to learn that archaeologists don’t have to work in the desert, sometimes they start in their own backyard!

Covered with dig medium and the floor plan

Final product should be out on the museum Floor in 2-3 weeks, I’m excited!

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We didn’t get a chance to go on a big bike ride this weekend.  Friday was my sister-in-law’s birthday so we threw her a BBQ bash in our backyard.  I love our “private” backyard!  Here’s my “signature cocktail” for the party:

Spiked Strawberry Lemonade

Juice 8-10 lemons, removing the seeds but keeping the pulp

Mix lemon juice, pulp, 1/2 cup sugar and 8 cups water in a large pitcher; add 2-3 cups sliced strawberries. Refrigerate.

Pour 1.5 oz Lemon Rum (I like Bacardi) over ice in a highball glass; top with the lemonade (strain it); garnish with a strawberry or lemon slice– or both!  Taste the summery goodness.

We did get a chance to ride down to the Delaware River on Thursday night to see this mean looking storm roll in:

B. Franklin Bridge and storm

Luckily we were on the right side of the weather this time and dodged raindrops the whole way home.

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Another weekend come and gone… how is it that my days off seem to move at a speed 10 times that of my working days?  I hope our 365 “days off” move at a snail’s pace!

On Friday we set out to Fairmount Park for some sketching and picnic in the woods.  We stopped by the Bicycle Coalition’s Bike Pit Stop on the way.  One of the Bicycle Ambassadors was really excited for our Long Haul Truckers– he had recently completed a cross-country journey on his (only to have it stolen upon his return to Philly… nice).  We got some free pretzels and stickers and headed on our way.

Pat's bike

After several relaxing hours at the edge of a baseball field in the West Park we decided to head for home.  I thought I knew how to navigate us through West Philadelphia so we didn’t have to go all the way back into Center City just to head west again.  Plus we had just received a free map I thought we could use.  I was wrong.

Magical path

We ended up cycling in a HUGE circle around Bala Cynwyd.  Very nice, ritzy neighborhood, but not OUR neighborhood.  We ran into a (I kid you not) 75-year old Girl Scout who finally pointed us in the right direction.  Along the way I hit a massive, hidden pothole and thought I had broken my bum.  It really, really hurt.  But I survived to tell the tail (get it, tail=tale?? ha!).

I will admit that we should have had a better navigation plan BUT the map was absolutely the pits.  Most roads didn’t have names, and those that did were not laid out in real life the way they were on the map.  This just solidifies in my mind the importance of having a GPS on our trip.  Patrick thought he disagreed– he suggested we just get a map for each place we visit– I reminded him that a GPS does exactly that.  I think we agree to disagree.  See, who needs compromise in marriage?? 😉

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What a nice, relaxing weekend.  Patrick and I spent Friday cruising out along Forbidden Drive.  It was practically abandoned, very different from our last visit on Good Friday.  We found a nice patch of grass to spread our picnic blanket on and chilled out for a few hours.  A goose heard me opening a bag of trail mix and came up to investigate.  I was too scared to throw him a bite; I think he would have settled in with us!

Feed ME!

On the way back we noticed that they are doing some repairs on one of the bridges.  There is a huge net hanging under the bridge to catch any falling debris or anyone trying to walk a tightrope I guess.

Cirq du Bridge

Speaking of which, when I walked past our park yesterday I saw two guys practicing on a tightrope strung between two trees!  They were being coached by an old, old grandma smoking a cigarette.  And I thought Ann Arbor was strange… West Philly is the best Philly, that’s for sure.

Anyway, on the way home from Forbidden Drive we checked out all the regatta action happening on the Schuylkill River. This weekend Philadelphia hosted the annual Dad Vail Regatta (named for Harry Emerson “Dad” Vail, what a nickname…) which attracts over 100 crews.  I was on the novice team for a year at UofM so I convinced Pat to let me reminisce and watch a few starts.

Riding my bike reminds me of rowing sometimes.  Great for your legs, you get to enjoy the outdoors, and you’re encouraged to wear spandex.  I’m just glad my bike doesn’t have a tiny person strapped to it screaming at me to go faster.  Though I’m sure I’ll redact that statement in a few years…

Getting set

On Saturday we rested and watched a ridiculous amount of “My Name is Earl” on the Xbox.  I think it’s funny that the show has the exact same premise for every single episode and yet it continues to be pretty entertaining.  I guess if you find the right premise you can make a show about anything.

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