Rainbow Sunflowers

Rainbow Sunflowers

You may have noticed I've been talking about sunflowers a lot. Well, it's sunflower season and I really love sunflowers! Since they only bloom for a few short weeks time is of the essence my friends. 

The Story

I wrote about the Elverson Sunflower field in the August 2018 issue of Lancaster County Magazine, so I've been focused on sharing more about that destination. I've been driving down there and taking pictures of the sunflowers in their various stages. Now, the field is getting towards the end of its bloom, so this weekend will be a prime time to visit. Thanks to all the rain It's a bit mushy out there, and the flowers are a little soggier, but it's still a very lovely scene to photograph. It's really cool to see so many people enjoying it.

I've been keeping an eye on all the rain we've been having recently. I've been impatiently waiting for the rain, and the light, to come together so I could capture a rainbow at the sunflower field. When it first started to bloom I saw all the rain in the forecast and hoped it would all come together. I spent a few rainy hours in the parking lot with no luck. Last evening I was on high alert. 

I was headed toward the sunflower field but had stopped at Grocery Outlet in New Holland quickly. Coming out of the store I looked up to spot a dim rainbow stretched across the sky. Now I was certain "tonight's the night". A quick look at the radar indicated that we should be on pace with the storm. I told the kids the rainbow hunt was on, and off we went.

We spent a few soggy minutes in the parking lot, but as soon as I spotted some openings in the clouds we headed over to the field. The rain drops continued to fall on us while we waited for the clouds to open up. That's good though, it's all part of the recipe for rainbows. Within a few more minutes the clouds opened up and a full arching rainbow stretched across the sky.

So where's it at you say? Well I can't spill all the beans at once. After you get done below checking out the video and pics from last evening, scroll on down to the "Magical Sunflowers" banner to check out my story on the Sunflower field and where to find it. This will be a great weekend to get out there before they start their decline, hope to see you there! 

Video

More Pics


Cameras Used:

Interested in Photography? For these shots and the video, I used my Sony a6000 and GoPro Hero 5. These are my go-to cameras, and since there are updates models of each you can get a lot of quality for a little bit less money.

These cameras work well from beginner to Professional. Check them out below, and when you buy through Amazon we'll earn a little comission for the refral.

 
 

1328 - Sunflowers - Elverson Patch Panorama

"Magical Sunflowers"

Discover this gorgeous Sunflower field in nearby Elverson, Pa in the August 2018 issue of Lancaster County Magazine.


Rain, River, and Rainbows

Rain, River, and Rainbows

We're finally ending a really wet week with some sunshine. Tropical weather dumped rain on us earlier in the week and the waters began to rise. Sit back and join me on a little virtual road trip as I piece together clips and pics our adventures in and around Lancaster County. 

Elverson, PA

The video starts out with a time lapse of some rain at the Elverson Sunflower field. Sunflowers don't bloom for long, I went to the field early in an attempt to catch a rainbow, didn't quite work out.

East Earl, PA

I did manage to capture this rainbow on the way home along Weaverland Road in East Earl. The farm wagon produce stand at the bottom of the hill is one of my favorites!

Falmouth, Pa

The boat access at Falmouth, Pa completely under water. This section of the river was RAGING and the roar of the dam was wild.

Bainbridge, PA

Access closed to the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail in Bainbridge, Pa.

East Donegal Township, PA

I think the #awayproject is going to have to return to East Donegal Township's River Front Park. This tunnel is the only public road in or out.

Columbia, Pa

Flooding at Columbia Crossing

More flooding at Columbia Crossing

New Holland, PA

At first a lonely beam of sunlight poked through one tiny hole in the clouds.

Within a few minutes, the clouds broke apart and the sky was filled with a massive arching rainbow. Honestly, when I look at this picture I like to pretend that farm to the left is shooting the rainbow across the sky. The second arch is very faint, but it was there as well.

Rainbow farm

Jimmy's Chicken Shack 

One more because I really enjoy rainbows! 



also check out this view ...


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Lancaster Archery Academy

Lancaster Archery Academy

Last week we stopped by Lancaster Archery Academy so my daughter Zoe could take their "Discover Archery" class. This little lady has been talking about shooting a real bow and arrow for as long as I can remember. I suspect the Disney movie "Brave" largely played a roll in this obsession.

Well, last Christmas my parents got her a gift card so she could try it out and see if she would enjoy it. She did, immensely! Our next trip will probably include a stop upstairs in the pro shop to buy her first bow. Check out these clips from her class below...

 

A bit about Lancaster Archery Supply

I first discovered Lancaster Archery Academy a few years ago while capturing the shop's official Google Street View. I had driven by the place for years, but had never stopped in to see what it was all about. The shop and Academy are located on the Old Philadelphia Pike just a mile east of Route 30 behind King's Kreamery (a nice spot for Ice Cream after the range, just sayin). When I finally stepped into the building it was amazing.


Lancaster Archery Academy is located on the first floor, while the Pro Shop is located on the second floor (both are handi-accessible). The large range and seating allow the academy to host a variety of large groups and events throughout the year. There's even a separate building with a second range for the really big crowds. A few other interesting activities of note include their TECHNOhunt video archery range and their Tag Archery parties.

Meanwhile, the friendly staff in the pro shop upstairs have a little bit of everything you might possibly need for archery, as well as a service desk to maintain and/or repair your equipment.  While they are a local company, thanks in part to online sales, they have become a well-recognized face in the archery industry nationwide. 

 

Classes at the Academy

The Discover Archery class was a great introduction to the sport. Before the class Zoe had never held a bow before. The instructors were very helpful, friendly, and patient. There were two other children in the class that were a little bit younger than her and everyone seemed to be learning and enjoying themselves. 

They began the class with a simple introduction to range safety. Then they introduced them to their bows and the fundamentals on how to shoot. For a first timer I thought she did pretty well, only one of the arrows didn't stick in the target and none of them missed completely. Later in the class they gave a few more pointers on aiming and switched from classic targets to balloons to make it a bit more challenging ... and ultimately more fun.

Discover Archery is just the first step. The Academy offers a variety of other classes from beginner level all the way up to competitive coaching. Now that she's completed the Discover Archery class we can head back for some per hour range time. The pricing for range time and equipment rental is very affordable. We will definitely be going back!

Zoe at Lancaster Archery Academy

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Inaugural Fireworks Lewes Beach Delaware 2018

Inaugural Fireworks Lewes Beach Delaware 2018

Going to see fireworks and going to the beach are two of our favorite summertime activities. This year we celebrated Independence Day by doing both.

I heard the news that Lewes Beach in Delaware would be hosting their Inaugural Fireworks event. From what I read online there was a lot of excitement about bringing a new tradition to one of our favorite beaches. Not only is Lewes a fun area to explore, but we like Lewes Beach for the kids due to the calmer waters. This definitely topped our list of Fireworks displays for the fourth of July.

If you've never been, Lewes Beach is located at the southern end of the Delaware Bay, with the Cape Henlopen Peninsula curving northward between the bay and the Atlantic. I like waves a lot, but I've been known to enter "unsafe" waters. These days I have to think about the kids' safety so places like Lewes Beach are generally much more attractive to us. 

We’ve been to Lewes as a family before, and we've been wanting to explore the Cape Henlopen State Park for a while. Looking at the map it seemed like the area might provide a great view of the fireworks as well as a quiet spot on the bayside where we could let the kids roam a little. We were not disappointed!

View of the Delaware Bay off Cape Henlopen

We checked the view on the bayside and it was excellent, so we took an opportunity before the fireworks to walk over and dip our toes in the Atlantic. Since it was only a short walk to the Ocean side we left most of our stuff in the car and didn't stay long before heading back to the bayside.

There was plenty to keep us entertained on the bayside. This area was filled with sea creatures including small fish seen breaching the surface, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and other yet-to-be-identified creatures. The northernmost tip of Cape Henlopen is off limits as it’s a bird nesting sanctuary, but I was fortunate enough to see some deer grazing the dunes from the overlook next to the parking lot. We love beaches with plenty of wildlife, so this is definitely a park we’ll be getting back to in the future. There are also some observation towers and a disc golf course we want to checkout next time.

 The bayside offered calm shallow waters as the tide went out.

The bayside offered calm shallow waters as the tide went out.

With a cloud front over the western sky we didn’t get a very good sunset, although I’m certain this park has plenty of those. Dusk began it's lengthy approach as the skies turned darker and darker shades of blue. The crowd slowly began making their way over from the Ocean and other parts of the park. Brightly colored folding chairs and blankets soon dotted the beach. As everyone awaited the big show many small arial fireworks could be seen for miles along the bay's shoreline. Looking around the anticipation was at it's peak.

This being the first year for the Lewes fireworks display everyone seemed kind of confused about exactly where to look. We knew the fireworks were going to be set off from a barge offshore, but we weren't sure exactly where it was positioned. Every time a small firework went into the air the kids asked "is that it?", then suddenly one shot went much MUCH higher ...

The Big Show ...



The Photos

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Little bit of lemonade ... 

I have to mention one MAJOR downside to this event. Apparently, the fireworks planning commission severely underestimated the traffic this event would cause. If you’ve never been to Lewes Beach there is a canal which essentially makes the area an island, and that forces all traffic over just two bridges. This created the worst traffic jam I’ve ever witnessed personally. The worst part was that coming from Cape Henlopen put us at the tail end of all this traffic. Once we pulled up to the traffic we were at a complete standstill for almost 2 hours (literally a few minutes short of 2 hours, no joke). We’re going to keep this in mind for next year for sure. We'd love to go back, but that traffic jam was painful when we were trying to make it back the Pennsylvania the same night. We wish we had booked a campsite well in advance, but maybe next time.

After an hour and a half of not moving everyone parked and turned off their cars, or at the very least turned off their headlights. The few remaining wisps of clouds broke up and the night sky was twinkling with stars. To make the best of a bad situation I got my camera out and snapped a few shots of the Milky Way overhead ...
 

 

The Milky Way as seen at Cape Henlopen State Park while we waited for the traffic to ease up after the fireworks

 
 

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ROAD TRIP: Swatara Falls

ROAD TRIP: Swatara Falls

As a nature lover, there is one natural feature that gets me really pumped. A feature that can take a bit more planning, a bit more walking, and sometimes a bit of physical ability to actually get there. The extra effort is typically rewarded as you approach the scene of any one of Pennsylvania's dozens of cascading waterfalls. Join us for a look around Swatara Falls near Tremont, Pa.

This week we seized the opportunity to make the most of a day off and take a day trip to Swatara Falls,  which has been on my "must-see" list for a while now. This 25-30 foot cascading waterfall sits along the Swatara Creek just a couple miles south of its headwaters in Schuylkill County. Roughly 40 miles away from the falls the Swatara Creek empties into the Susquehanna River just up stream from Lancaster County in Middletown, Pa. Although, it's nearly 70 miles if you follow the creek as it twists and turns through Schuylkill, Lebanon, and Dauphin counties.

 

Our Trip to Swatara Falls

A little bit of a gripe I have about life in Lancaster County is our lack of spectacular waterfalls, but what can you do? If we want to see great waterfalls it's just gonna require a road trip. Then you can find hundreds of waterfalls around the state ranging in type and as sizeable as 150 feet at Raymondskill Falls (Pennsylvania's tallest). This week we were looking for a waterfall that was not too far away BUT sizable, wooded for shade, rustic for a short hike, with the ability get our foot or more in the water. 

Getting there was quite easy. Due to a detour for lunch we took I-81 to get there. Headed northbound we hopped off at Exit 112 to Route 25, we turned right and the trail runs off of Route 25 just up the street. The trail will be to the left and you will see a fairly open pull off area to the right plastered with “No Parking” signs. There were a couple of other trails leading into the woods, but I was told to take the last trail on the left BEFORE the pull off to the right. I imagine parking can be tricky on a busy day, but fortunately we didn’t have a problem. Be careful, there are a lot of heavy trucks zooming along this road. The route back later was a little more rural as we headed towards Route 501 for a stop at the Applechian Trail Overlook, a good reason to come through that way.

On The Trail

As we headed down the trail we were first greeted with a large illegal, or at the very least unfavorable, dump site. The path it small as it snakes it’s way through, but then it widens out again. From there you’ll notice some intersecting trails, but the trail to the falls is quite notable. It wide and well worn. As you continue on you’ll start to hear the familiar sound of falling water getting louder and louder. This trail pretty much leads right to the falls. According to AllTrails it’s about 1.7 miles round trip with only an overall elevation change of 200 ft. The only real hazard along the trails are some patches of large loose rocks. So not stroller ready, but a fairly easy hike for everyone.

The waterfall itself is quite stunning. As you approach the falls the trail opens up to a spectacular hillside view. It’s a bit steep to get down to the creekbed, but again it’s not unmanagable for most hikers. Since there weren’t many people we were able to claim a little spot and throw on our watershoes to cool off a bit in the creek.

 

The flow here varies. When we went we recently had some rain as could be evidenced by recent erosion and debris along the sides of the creek. However, I’m told it can slow to a trickle in a long enough dry spell. With a good flow, we were able to cautiously get right up under the falls and feel the mist and water coming down on us.

Man interwting feature at this waterfall is that this area was heavily mined for coal in the past and the creekbed is filled with many interesting geological finds. We found a number of pieces of coal that were extremely smooth with a very unique highly polished shine to them. 

On the opposite side of the creek, a trail leads to the top of the falls. It was fairly easy to climb to the top with a lovely view close to the edge. There were some lovely smaller falls upstream, but I didn’t want to overextend the kiddos so we kept it simple this trip and stayed around the base of the falls.

It's my understanding that the popularity of Swatara Falls has been growing quite a bit in recent years. It's not hard to see why, but I wanted to share a word of wisdom. It's not entirely clear who owns the area around the falls. While no one owns the creek, there is always the potential that access to the creek could become problematic if we don't treat this area with respect. There was litter and graffiti in the area, as well as general signs of human wear and tear. If you decide to visit, be sure to respect the area.

This is one short day trip we highly recommend. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and videos. Below you’ll find a map to discover this amazing destination for yourself. Be sure to drop a comment below let us know what you think l, or if you’ve ever been to the falls, we’de love to hear from you!