Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peek A Boo!

Downtime in Pennsylvania

Brian's parents own a small cabin in rural (read: very rural) Northern Pennsylvania. It's the countryside, complete with rolling hills, miles of corn and hay fields, and farm houses dotting the land. Growing up in the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, this was a place of respite, a haven for his family. Since we married nearly three years ago, Brian has been talking about making a trip out there, to share with me an important part of his childhood. For one reason or another, it hasn't worked out until now, so last weekend we packed up the car and headed West.
What a beautiful place (though it's so remote that I don't think I could ever find it on my own...unmarked dirt roads for the last five miles or so of the trip!) We had fun hiking around the property, Brian showing me what remains of what he loved about it as a kid (picture yourself with the imagination of an 8 year old boy out in the woods). The neighbors about a mile down the road are Amish, so I thought it was pretty cool to see them driving a horse and buggy (trying not to gawk and look like an idiot taking pictures--which I obviously did!)
We drove a couple hours further West one day and visited Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon...that's really what it's called. It's nothing compared to the one in Arizona, but it was a pretty, wooded canyon with a river flowing through it at the bottom. We hiked down to the bottom, with Jake in tow in the backpack, and then I donned the pack for the hike back up. I felt like I was backpacking on the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska again! Forty extra pounds going up a steep incline made for a great workout that day!
All in all, we enjoyed a much-needed getaway and would love to take advantage of going there again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Philadelphia and Galileo's Telescope

My husband loves astronomy. He was very excited at the prospect of going to Philadelphia and seeing Galileo's telescope that is on loan at the Franklin Institute from it's home in Italy. I'd never been to Philadelphia and I love an opportunity to get out of dodge so we took a day off last week and drove the 3 hours to see some history.

In front of the Liberty Bell (the crack is on the other side)...I never realized how much this was a symbol of freedom, especially as it's linked to the prohibition of slavery and the movement towards civil rights.

Inside Independance Hall...this is the room where the Declaration of Independance was drafted and signed.

Betsy Ross home...she designed and made the first American flag. Did you know that because the Colonies were still technically under British rule the making of the flag would have been considered treason had she gotten caught? Crazy!

Jake's favorite part of the trip...petting the "kitty" outside of the Ross home. He was so afraid of it at first and then didn't want to leave. :)

And, of course, Philly Cheese Steaks were a requirement for dinner. Greasy Goodness.

I don't have any pictures of the exhibit because they wouldn't let us take any. It really wasn't much to look at compared to the telescopes of today, but when you consider that it was the first of it's kind that actually allowed a vision of the heavens beyond our atmosphere and revolutionized the scientific world back in the early 1600's, it's pretty darn cool. (Just in case you're wondering, the description of the telescope says, that "Galileo fashioned the instrument using two half-shells of carved wood bound together with copper wire, wrapped in paper, and varnished.")
And then I have to add my own two cents about "Galileo"...the word brings to mind a song by the Indigo Girls that I was introduced to by my one of my college roommates. It was in my head the whole way home and I had to play it the entire next day, singing at the top of my lungs. The only thing missing was the harmony from my friend, Emily. Good memories. Good times.