The 2018 Road, Day 23: A Father’s Greatest Joy

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June 17, 2018, Philadelphia-

We began the day with what was billed as “A Farewell Brunch”-and it was enough to last me, at least, until late afternoon.

Here are a couple of scenes from the morning.

Son is explaining to his  second cousin about his work on a ship in the Navy, whilst YH and the little guy’s parents look on.

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My younger brother, Mom and the lovely bride are enjoying the morning.

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Once we had indeed made our farewells to the family, Aram, YH and I headed over to the Korean War Memorial, just inside Penn’s Landing.

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We headed back towards the Independence Historic District.   A few late model buildings caught our attention. The Ritz-Carlton is mostly high rise, but uses this domed structure for its lobby, convention center and main dining room.

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Here, you get a view of Philadelphia City Hall.

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We took in the Alexander Hamilton exhibit at The Constitution Center.

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Then came a visit to the Liberty Bell.

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I managed a selfie with the former Pennsylvania State House bell, now a national symbol.

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We then returned to Independence Hall, checking out the East Wing and courtyard, for a bit.

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The last act of the day was to head to Jones Restaurant, on Chestnut Street, and enjoy a Midday repast of  tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, hearkening back to my childhood.          The best present, though, was having Aram here and getting to meet his love.

Leaving the happy couple to enjoy the Philadelphia evening, I headed south, to Baltimore.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 22: No Greater Heights Than This

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June 16, 2018, Philadelphia-

It doesn’t surprise me, in the least, that this family of mine has given my mother’s youngest grandchild a spectacular launch into her own little family unit.  She is much loved, across the board and has maintained a solid, unifying presence among us, and well before the advent of social media. B helped me with her aunt, when I had to get Beloved to a restroom, down a freight elevator, and through an obscure section of an old hotel, years ago. She maintained contact with those of my nephews who were off, alone, at colleges that were some distance from the rest of the family.  She kept in touch with my son, when it would have been easy to leave him to his own devices, in the days of his naval  basic training and early regular duty.

So, we all came to Christ Church, expanding our family by one new grandson-in-law and one future granddaughter-in-law for our blessed matriarch to cherish.

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The above should give readers a frame of reference.  We were asked, by the rector, to not photograph the ceremony or the inside.  The newlyweds have plenty of photos to share, in that respect, and I leave it at that.

The ceremony did not start, however, until 4 P.M., so there was time for me to look further around the Independence Historic District, before Aram and YH were ready to meet for lunch.  Here is Congress Hall, where the Federal legislative branch met from December, 1790- May, 1800. .

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The Main Gallery of Independence Hall is below.

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Here is Old City Hall, which also served as the first U.S. Supreme Court Chamber.

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Below is the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery.

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Here is a view into the Independence Hall courtyard.

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Having to meet Aram and YH, I hurried on over to the Center for Art in Wood.  They were suitably impressed by the gallery and by its shop.

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The three of us enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole, across the street from CAIW.  We then strolled around Betsy Ross House and briefly considered purchasing a 13-star flag.

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For now, though, this shadowy replica of the original Stars and Stripes will suffice.

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We will keep the wedding photos within the family, but I do want to share a few of the reception venue:  Knowlton Mansion.  Once again, the staff did their parts admirably, as did the band and vocalist.  As for me, I cut loose and danced more this evening than I have in about eighteen years.

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I do wish to share the intact wedding cake- always an affirmation of  good fortune and fertility.  The first, I wish for the new branch of the family.  The second is their business, alone.

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In any event, this day will long live as among the most beautiful with which I have had the pleasure of being involved- in at least seven years.

NEXT:  Father’s Day, Full Tilt

The 2018 Road, Day 21: In the Streets of Brotherly Love

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June 15, 2018, Philadelphia-

Once upon a time, a teenaged girl looked at her uncle, and wondered aloud whether anyone would care to attend her wedding, when the time came.  Uncle said, unequivocally, that he would be there and that anyone who called themselves his family would be there, too.

In reality, there was never any question. Everyone from her youngest cousin (my son) to the family matriarch (Mother) made the wedding, that will take place tomorrow, a top priority.  It’s been a few years since B was a teenager, but there has been no break, whatsoever, in the love I feel for that compassionate and powerful young lady.  She has made a solid life for herself, following her father’s example of being largely self-reliant and choosing the field of education-which probably had little or nothing to do with her uncle and aunt, on the other side of the country, being educators. I’m glad she chose teaching, anyway.  She’s darn good at it.

I arrived in Philadelphia, around 2, by way of Camden.  This was a simple matter of not getting good directions from Google Maps, finding myself on the bridge to New Jersey and turning around to get cash from a bodega, near the Camden side of the bridge.  Once that was done, I picked up my pre-ordered wedding gift and headed to the Alexander Inn, my residence for the next 2 days.

With time to spend, until the Rehearsal Dinner, at 6 p.m., I ventured to check out Philly’s street art.

Here are  a few of those scenes, from the west side of the Independence Historic District.

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Here, a father is showing his little girl the power that comes with community working together.  I found this appropriate to the present situation.  My brother has been a guiding light to all three of his children.

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The above long mural has a caption that speaks of the eternal juxtaposition of right and wrong.  The young man in the foreground is giving this matter a lot of thought. From the look in his eyes, I would say he will choose right, more often.

Well, the dinner was second to none.  The Panorama Restaurant, right on Front Street, did it up fabulous.  I am admittedly an hors d’oeuvres hound, anyway, and the grilled ahi tuna did not fail to satisfy, either.

Tomorrow, greeting Aram and meeting his sweetheart, then attending the wedding of the year (sorry, Harry and Meghan), will be a most assuredly full day.  Good night, all.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 3- Washington Slept Here

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

The area on the west side of Valley Forge National Historical Park lies between the village of Valley Forge and the Schuylkill River, with General Washington’s Headquarters and its support buildings dominating the area, during the period of regrouping.

This residence was used by the Quartermaster for the Continental Army at Valley Forge, General Nathaniel Greene.

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About a half-mile east, Washington’s main encampment was established, after he moved the Marquee away from the Artillery Park. His personal guardsmen were housed in these cabins, with a spring house immediately below.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The building below was a bakery for the Continental Army.

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Here is the house that served as General Washington’s Headquarters. The downstairs was office space and a kitchen. All officers, including George Washington, slept on the second floor.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington’s office.

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Washington slept here.

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I grabbed a late lunch and gassed up in Valley Forge Village, with Freedom Deli and Catering being right next to a Sunoco station.  I took a brief look at Freedom’s Foundation’s grounds, which I remember from Frankie Laine’s pitch on the radio, in the late 1950’s.  Funny, what sticks in your head. I didn’t get photos, as the place was closed and I would like to do it justice, on another visit.  Valley Forge left me with a deeper appreciation for the truth of all those stories of hardship and endurance, we heard in my school days.

Back to Oley, I’m headed, and thankfully there is no rain in the forecast.

NEXT:  Brotherly Love and The Wedding of the Year

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 2- The Commander’s Chapel

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

Coming around the bend,as it were, from Varnum’s headquarters, I saw a tall castle-like structure, fronting a sizable cemetery.  This is the first section of Washington Memorial Chapel that greets the visitor, from the north.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Chapel is not part of Valley Forge National Historic Park, but being surrounded by the park, it is well-visited by thousands, in the course of a year.   It was constructed from 1904-1917, at the behest of Dr. W. Herbert Burk, a local Anglican minister, with the blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The design and materials evoke the sturdiness and timeless aura of the enduring stone churches of Europe.

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Homages to the power and endurance of history are contained, in the commemorative discs, embedded in both the outside patios and the interior floors.

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In the foyer of the chapel, there is this memorial tribute to Dr. Bodo Otto, and his sons, who staffed a combat hospital in nearby Yellow Springs. The Ottos had come to Philadelphia, from Gottingen, in what is now Germany, in the 1750’s.

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These views are of the north side of the structure.  Note the Carillon and Bell Tower, in the background.

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This is a statue of Rev. William White, Chaplain to the Continental Congress and first Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia.  It is located in the Chapel’s courtyard.

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This Justice Bell hangs in the foyer of the Chapel.

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These arches lie on the east entrance to the Chapel.

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This Wall of Honor has names of many veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.

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Here is  a view of the Chapel’s interior.

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This memorial, erected by the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter, in 1993, represents a concerted national effort to recognize the diversity of our nation’s builders, from the beginning of America’s story.

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A small Gift Shop and Cafe is operated by parish volunteers.  The cafe was welcomed by me, after a day of exploration in the heat.

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The only identified grave at Valley Forge is that of Lieutenant John Waterman, of Rhode Island, d. April 23, 1778.  This obelisk was erected at his gravesite, in 1901, by the Daughters of the American Revolution, in honour of all those who died at Valley Forge, during the American encampment.

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Both the Chapel and the obelisk overlook the Grand Parade, where the Continental Army trained, whilst at Valley Forge.

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So, it was with humility that I stood and gave thanks for their long ago sacrifice, which started the process, far from perfect and far from finished, of building our nation.

NEXT:  General Washington’s Headquarters and the western sector of Valley Forge

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 1-The Battlefield and Encampments

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June 14, 2018, Oley, PA-

That moniker above could apply to this little farm, where I am camped, until tomorrow morning.  It more immediately applies, however, to Valley Forge, where I spent most of the day. Like Steamtown and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, admission to Valley Forge is free of charge.  The value of the stories it tells, though, is priceless, eternal.

The day will be recounted in three parts:  This post will focus, as stated, on the battlefield and the main encampments, which also feature most of the memorials.  Part two will focus on the Washington Chapel.  Part 3 will feature Washington’s Headquarters.

For exploration of the encampments, I chose the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named for a private in the Continental Army, who kept a journal of his experiences during the terrible winter of 1777-78.

The first stop along that trail takes in the Muhlenberg Brigade’s encampment and redoubt.   The commander of the Virginia Line, of the 8th Brigade, was Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg.

Several cabins were open for us to check out.

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This berm is an example of the cover used by Continental troops, to guard against any British cannon fire.

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Inside another cabin, the only source of heat for the people billeted here is shown.  Some cabins had not only the soldiers, but family members who followed the Army on its mission.

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Here is a longer view of the encampment.

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This signboard explains the situation to which I referred above. Some cabins had not only men, women and children, but household animals, as well.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington Memorial Chapel, a mile or so to the east of Muhlenberg encampment and the National Memorial Arch.

Moving further north, I found this memorial to the soldiers from Massachusetts, who served at Valley Forge.

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Here is the National Memorial Arch, honouring all who served the cause of independence.

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This small encampment, north of the present-day Arch, was commanded by Gen. Enoch Poor, of the New Hampshire Regiment.

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Here are the Pennsylvania Columns, which honour American Revolutionary War generals.  At the base of each column are bas-relief busts of Colonel William Irvine and Adjutant General Joseph Reed.

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Here’s a glimpse of Wayne’s Woods, named for General Anthony Wayne, who unsuccessfully tried to invade Canada, in 1775.  He didn’t encamp here, but the woods were named for him, anyway. Today, the woods are a popular picnic area.

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This marks the site where General Washington pitched his sleeping tent, when he entered Valley Forge, in December, 1777.

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The next two photos show Artillery Park, where Continental artillery was stored and repaired.

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Here is a statue of the great Prussian general, Baron Wilhelm von Steuben, who instilled unity and discipline in the Continental Army, during its time at Valley Forge.

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This house served as the quarters of General James Varnum, commander of the Connecticut and Rhode Island Brigades.  He shared the home with the Stephens family, who owned it-paying rent to David Stephens, during his stay at Valley Forge.

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Although my visit took place in the heat of early summer, a sense of what was endured by the  troops and local residents alike was easily conveyed. My tour of the encampments ended here, and the focus now became Washington Memorial Chapel, the subject of Part 2 of this set of posts.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 19: A Steamtown Experience, Part 2- Turntables and Roundhouses

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June 13, 2018, Scranton-

I bypassed the Steamtown Shopping District, mostly as I was itching to get to the National Historic Site and was saving my appetite for a stop to see my friends at D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre.

The docents at Steamtown National Historic Site are intensely passionate about trains, and rightly so.  Until the advent of mass-produced trucks, in the 1950’s, locomotives were the most efficient way to move goods across country.  They still have staying power, and freight trains, at least, have held their own, over the last forty years.

Here, then, are scenes from Steamtown.  Please note that this site is free of admission charge.

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The Visitor Center, above, provides all that one would expect from such a place- knowledgeable docents, memorabilia and a fascinating introductory film.  Below, in the Turntable, is an Illinois Central Railroad engine car.

Below, a Baldwin #26-0-6-0 Switcher Locomotive (right) is activated, once a day, by a trained rail engineer, for the enjoyment of visitors.  A caboose is seen in the middle.  To the left is an observation car.

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Below is a depiction of rail setters, doing the backbreaking work of establishing our transcontinental network.

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This diorama shows a full-service rail yard, in miniature.  In the middle, is the Roundhouse, with its Turntable at the epicenter.

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This caboose, made of wood, served as the train’s office. It is from Rutland (VT) Railroad #28.

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This is a Spang, Chalfont & Co. locomotive, where one may peer under the vehicle’s “skin”.

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Here, we get a good view of the Roundhouse.

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This is a Lackawanna & Western Railroad wooden boxcar.

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This is where the coal is shoveled into the engine, thus burning and producing steam.

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An engine is, of course, the lead car of any train, thus the yellow bell being attached to this early model.

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Here are some views of an early passenger train.  First is a view of the kitchen.

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Below, is the dining room.

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Here is the business lounge, where smoking could also be done, after a meal.

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I spent about an hour, after touring the Roundhouse, visiting the History Museum, which has fine details about all people involved in a railroad operation- including both official (Engineer, Conductor, Railroad Security, Executive, Porter and Ticket Seller) and “unofficial” (Hobo), who actually did some maintenance work, here and there, for the railroad, in return for the security “bulls” looking the other way.  It was, for many years, a FEDERAL crime to be caught on railroad property without authorization.

The History Museum features a postal car, from the Louisville & Nashville Railway. The Pony Express was only around for 18 months.  Before, and after, the rails were the fastest way to move mail.

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As with any technological advance, there were those naysayers, who tried to sway the public against railroads.  Here is a 19th Century version of NAMBY propaganda.

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Having seen how that DIDN’T work and how well the railroads DID, I headed a bit southeast, towards D’s Diner, to see how my friends have fared in their first full year of business.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 19: A Steamtown Experience, Part 1- The Hill District

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June 13, 2018, Scranton-

At least once, during a cross-country sojourn, I like to spend at least a few hours in a city which has contributed to the economic and material well-being of our nation.  In the past, this has led me to Oakland, St. Louis, Des Moines, Kokomo, South Bend and Canton, Ohio, to say nothing of Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Today, this meant several hours in Scranton, northeast Pennsylvania’s commercial and industrial hub, and the center of the steam locomotive industry in the U.S., particularly during the 19th Century.  Prior to locomotives, Scranton and nearby Wilkes-Barre were important centers for coal mining.  Anthracite, or hard coal, was abundant in northeast Pennsylvania, and provided the fuel by which steam could be produced, thus being the impetus for the steam locomotive industry-major to the transcontinental railroads, which have moved a major part of passenger and freight traffic, to this day.

I began my visit with a walk around the Hill neighbourhood, on the west end of downtown.  David Spencer bestowed the moniker, Electric City, upon Scranton, in 1886. Many of the large buildings of this side of downtown were among the first in the nation to rely exclusively on incandescent lighting.

Here are some of those fine structures.  The churches reflect the ethnic diversity of those who came to dig coal and to help build the railroads.

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Above is St. Nicholas’ Eastern Orthodox Church, which began serving Russian and Serbian miners, in the latter Nineteenth Century.

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Covenant Presbyterian Church was established by Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants.

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Spacious St. Matthew’s United Evangelical Lutheran Church reflects the central European architectural style of its German adherents.

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This unmarked building, west of St. Nicholas’ Church, is nonetheless impressive.

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Prominent, and well-marked, is St. Peter’s Cathedral, with Scranton City Hall in the background.

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This fascinating private home is certainly well-insulated.

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This is the Administration Building of Scranton School District.  There is a history of inventive minds coming out of the Lackawanna Valley.  This district’s mission is that this will long continue.

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Adjacent to the District Office is Lackawanna County Public Library’s Main Branch, and, to the Library’s right, Scranton City Hall.

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Here is a closer view of St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Downtown is bordered, at the east end, by the yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  The regional commuter trains’ main terminus is here:

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I hopped the tracks and continued slightly northeast, to the locomotives’ well-deserved resting place.

 

NEXT: Steamtown National Historic Site

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 2: The Grand Chasm of Ausable

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June 12, 2018, Lake Ariel, PA

I saw the sign for Ausable Chasm, ten minutes after leaving Plattsburgh. Remembering how I had briefly considered making a trip up to the Champlain Basin and Ausable, way back in my feckless University days, I took the exit and headed east.

Ausable Chasm, like Bushkill Falls (July, 2016), is billed as “The Grand Canyon of the East”. It is also, more credibly, called Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Both are relatively compact, especially compared to the Colorado River’s system of gorges and chasms. Both are privately managed, and charge a modest entrance fee-most of the time.

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Today, the ticket seller noticed my VA card, when I pulled out my wallet.  She asked whether I would be attending any special programs and i answered that I would be walking the trails.  She then admitted me for free, and thanked me for my service.

So, starting with Elephant Head, I followed the handiwork of the Ausable River, through 3.3 miles of sandstone.

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I began my walk at Elephant Head overlook, then headed back towards Rainbow Falls. After showing my armband at the main admissions kiosk, I started along the Rim Walk Trail, which offers a series of overlooks, at various waterfalls.

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Triple Falls shows how the Ausable River is flowing a bit more shallow, right now.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Nevertheless, gravity does its thing!

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I left the Rim Walk, went a little way on Dry Chasm Trail, then headed down to the Inner Sanctum.

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You can see one of the Inner Sanctum footbridges, below.

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Float trips are a big draw here. A group of twelve was getting ready to head out, as I descended from Dry Chasm.

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Once on the Inner Sanctum Trail, it is imperative to watch one’s footing, as the rock underfoot gets very slippery.

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The sheerness of the drop is impressive, from the bottom, as well as from the top.

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A set of cairns is intended to keep hikers from going into the cave, to the right.

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The narrow ledge and footbridge in the foreground are sometimes part of Adventure Trail, a more advanced exploration program.

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I stuck to the footbridge taken by the gentleman shown above.

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A short time later, I was back on the rim and returned to the Visitor Center, for a hearty lunch.  I was quite pleased with the views atop and inside Ausable Chasm. Comparing the gorges of the Northeast to the Grand Canyon is understandable, but not necessary.  These unique geologic wonders hold their own.

Intending to visit Fort Ticonderoga, I found that the hours did not accommodate a visit, today. I spent a few minutes in the town of Ticonderoga, and briefly visited the western shore of Lake George, Champlain’s little brother to the southwest. Lake George is just big enough to have its own tides, as well.

Lake George is connected to Lake Champlain by way of La Chute River.

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Ticonderoga is a somewhat busy town, with a small, hard to see traffic light, strung across the road.  I almost got fooled.

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Here are some west shore views of Lake George.

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i headed south from here, grabbing supper in the town of Queensbury and looking for accommodations, west and south of Albany.  My default spot, Port Jervis, must have had a special event. The nearest available room was in Lake Ariel, PA, a bit more than an hour from the Three Corners.  So, I spent the night in comfort, at Comfort Inn.

NEXT:  Homage to Steam

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 1: Where Young Estella Played

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My day along the Champlain Basin would have three parts.  The first, Plattsburgh, is important in my family’s life, because here was the place my maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born and raised.

She was a comforting influence in our early lives, helping my young parents, in what was not the easiest of times for a new blue-collar family. That she had earlier left all she knew, for the uncertainties of New England, in the 1910’s. is a testament to my Grandma’s hardiness.  Then again, Plattsburgh, in those days, was no picnic.

It’s a pretty place now, though still largely a company town:  Georgia Pacific greets the visitor, on the west side of town.

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Scomotion Creek Trail leads the foot traveler into town.

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A key chapter in the fortunes of our country, during the War of 1812, also resonates, along the water front.  Commodore Thomas Macdonough led the U.S. Navy to its signal victory over British, in the Battle of Plattsburgh, August-September, 1814.  The Riverwalk, and the lakefront, help to commemorate this key boon to our nation’s success in fending off attacks even worse than the sacking of Washington.

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This obelisk marks the resiliency of American forces in this area. New York and Vermont militias formed a unified front, under Commodore Macdonough.

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Here is the Saranac River, on its way to Lake Champlain.

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The lake itself looks calmer, this morning.

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The top of this driftwood almost looks like a figure from Angkor Wat.

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This is the ship’s bell from the USS Lake Champlain, which fought valiantly in World War II.

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Like many American towns of the Nineteenth Century, Plattsburgh is graced with fine stone architecture.  Here is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.

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The First Presbyterian Church is also impressive.

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Plattsburgh City Hall fronts the Riverwalk area.

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Plattsburgh’s bustling downtown,

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leads to its Romanesque county courthouse.

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Through all the hustle and bustle, this solitary creature whiles away its days.

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I am favourably impressed with the Myers family’s hometown.  One of my brothers once expressed a desire to visit Plattsburgh. I would heartily recommend such a visit, and would be glad to join him here.

NEXT:  Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East”.