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.
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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!
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.
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 ...
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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 ...
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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.
Absolutely delighted and disgusted with what we found today 🤢#dumping #trash #litter #refuse #plasticpollution #tires #rurex #wanderlust #stopthemadness #keeppabeautiful #keepamericabeautiful #keepearthbeautiful #pollution #nature #outdoors #wildflowers #travel #pennsylvania #uncoveringpa #pennlive #visitpa
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!
It's time again for one of the coolest events I've ever attended! It's a short drive for those of us here in Lancaster County, but it's definitely worth it! I would even recommend it for folks further away than us. I'm talking about the Light City event in downtown Baltimore.
When I heard about the first event last year I instantly knew I would like it. Afterall, photography is essentially the process of capturing light. So an entire festival devoted to light is right up my alley. The festival is a full fledged takeover of downtown Baltimore. In addition to the light art installations sprinkled around the city there are a number of mini-events focused on innovation in electricity, and a fair amount of music to get the feet movin.
As the first city to embrace electric street lights Baltimore compliments the festival nicely. The inner harbor also provides a fabulous environment with the rays of light flickering off the surface. It also opens the conversation on the innovative work that is going into cleaning the harbor and the Chesapeake Bay every day.
There is so much more to say about this event, but the best source of information can be found at LightCity.org. I would highly recommend downloading their smart phone app too. It's very helpful in navigating visitors to all of the installations, music, and other events.
Get PUMPED for 2018!!
April 14-21, 2018
Light City Baltimore 2017
Unfortunately I only had one free night to make it down to the festival in 2017, and it was pouring down rain. I tried to make the best of it and took a few 360 photos whenever the rain slowed down for a second. Check it out ...
Topaz Glow Remix 2017
Since I only had a few photos I decided to try something a little different. I edited the photos I had using the Topaz Glow 2 Photoshop Plugin. Here's what I came up with ...
2016 Light City Mashup Video
360 fun on Instagram
Cruisin through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel yesterday with the 360 cams on the roof. Searching for lights in the middle of the day and getting pumped for @lightcitybmore March 31 - April 8. Capture @kodakpixpro #sp3604k, edited with #insta360studio by @insta360official #lightcity #lightcitybaltimore #visitmaryland #baltimore #bmore #bmoreart #360 #tinyplanet #360life #wanderlust #tunnel #ontheroad #grandlancaster #kodakpixpro #kodak #natgeotravel #natgeocreative #citylights #maryland #instacrew #pocket_family #all2epic #transfer_visions #jj #jj_community #fx_member #everything_imaginable
2016 Photo Gallery
In case you somehow hadn't heard the news since Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. A historic win for our friends down in Philadelphia. I’m not much of a football fan myself, but I am a fan of the Eagles I’ve had the opportunity to capture around the area. This seemed like a good opportunity to tell you a bit about my feathered friends, and another Pennsylvania Eagles success story.
As the national bird and national animal here in the United States the, Bald Eagle is an iconic symbol of our nation. Images of the eagle can be found all over the place from hats and t-shirts, right down to cash that’s in our pockets. It’s not hard to see why. They are beautiful and majestic creatures, while their massive size and razor sharp talons instill a sense of dominance within the wild kingdom.
Darks Days ...
I don’t remember the story of the Bald Eagle being quite so cheerful when I was a kid. At the time these beautiful creatures were struggling to recover from the effects of the agricultural use of DDT in the 1950s and 60s. DDT was a synthetic organic compound used as an insecticide. It was widely available to the public by the 1940s and used heavily in agriculture before it was banned for commercial use in 1972.
Ten years early Rachel Carson had published the book Silent Spring against the widespread use of DDT. It was believed to be a carcinogen and was beginning to show effects on wildlife. The book is considered foundational in the modern environmental movement, and help lead the way for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The known nesting population of Eagles in Pennsylvania was only three pairs in 1980. Eagles were one of the species severely affected by DDT, and the recovery effort has taken decades. When DDT was being used the pesticides were applied to the fields, which naturally runoff into nearby rivers and streams, and as a result, the local fish populations essentially lived in the pesticides. Eagles are opportunistic feeders, but their diet largely consists of fish. While the pesticides were not directly toxic to Adult Eagles, it interfered with the bird’s calcium metabolism. It was believed to make some birds sterile, but it was mainly causing their eggs to be less dense and more brittle. Such that they couldn’t support the weight of a brooding adult. As a result, the Eagle population was aging without new offspring.
In the 1980s the damage was done here in Pennsylvania. However, there was a glimmer of hope in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's eagle reintroduction program. The program ran from 1983-89, and through many years of hard work, the nesting populations continue to rise to this day. In 1990 there were 8 active nests, 48 in 2000, 100+ in 2006, 150+ in 2008, 200+ in 2011, and more than 270 in 2013. Similar trends are also happening around the Chesapeake Bay and New York, but it is expected to slow at some point due to available territory.
The Bald Eagle was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 1995, and later removed from the Endangered and Threatened Species List altogether in 2007. Here in Pennsylvania its status was changed from Endangered to Protected in 2014. Despite their upgraded status, the Eagles are still protected under three federal acts, and they are heavily monitored.
There is a lot to know about Bald Eagles, and the Pennsylvania Game Commision has a lot of valuable information on their website including species information, LIVE STREAMING NEST CAMS, where to watch for Eagles, and a lot of information about the years of work put into restoring the Eagle population here in Pennsylvania ...
Ready for A closeup?
Among the many mascots that can be found in South Philadelphia is Noah, the 3-foot tall Bald Eagle with an enourmus 7-foot wingspan. Noah is one of the Educational Birds from the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. He is not an exhibit animal, and only makes appearances for educational programs within and outside the Zoo. Noah suffered an 80-foot fall when he was only eight weeks old and underwent extensive rehabilitation for years before coming to the Elmwood Park Zoo. Now he entertains and informs the public about Eagles and the importance of protecting them.
While Noah isn’t an exhibit animal, a few of his friends can be seen hanging around the Zoo. After you get your tickets in the gift shop the Eagle exhibit greets you as you enter the park. There are a number of bald and golden Eagles hanging out on their perches and soaking up the sunshine in a fairly realistic environment. The open-air pen gives visitors a great view of these beautiful creatures, unlike anything I’ve seen before.
A visit to Elmwood Park Zoo is enough for a post of its own. It’s a relatively small zoo compared to the Philadelphia Zoo. They fit a lot in the space they have for a reasonable price, and the close proximity you get to the animals provides an up-close look that is hard to get elsewhere. Particularly the Eagles!
@roadkill4512 Goin WILD ...
When I think of Bald Eagles, there is one of my photography buddies that instantly comes to mind. His name is Steven Maerz, and he captures some awesome shots of Eagles ... and waterfalls, and the stars, and ... well a whole lot of awesomeness! When I started thinking about writing this post I reached out to him immediately and asked if he would be interested in sharing a few of his photos.
Steve and I met through the Lancaster County Instagrammers Group on Facebook and have been following each other for a few years now. So i know that like myself he's a fan of Elmwood Park Zoo, and you can also find him along the shores of the Susquehanna River near the Conowingo Dam with some long range gear in hand. His dedication and practice in capturing these eagles has resulted in some amazing photos and I'm stoked to share them with you here. Take a look and give him a follow on Instagram ...