Matanuska River Valley – Alaska

mat su valley (640x424)Here are some photos from our trip this summer through Alaska in a RV. Travel north of Anchorage and head east on the Glenn Highway and you will travel through the Matanuska River Valley. It is a beautiful area with a broad river valley and mountains on both sides. The Glenn Highway connects Palmer near Anchorage to Glenn Allan in the east. We also stopped by an old gold mine and were thankful that we did not have to live the gold miners life of deep snow, cold and one trip to town each year. Our travel in a RV was much more comfortable than what they had to face.

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The Matanuska Glacier

mat su 9 (640x424)More mountains…

manuska campsite (640x424)Our campsite along the Glenn Highway along the river

hatcher pass (640x424)Heading up the Hatcher Pass to the Independence Gold Mine

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Some buildings on the way up to the gold mine.

sheep mountain (640x424)This very colorful mountain is called Sheep Mountain

sheep (640x424)And this is the reason why

mat su 7 (640x424)And some final scenes on our way to Glenn Allan. Hope you enjoyed the trip!

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New Hampshire in the Fall

NH leaves 3 (640x420)One of my favorite areas is the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We spent several days in the Lincoln area at the end of September. It is near the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch State Park. There are lots of hiking trails, waterfalls and other beautiful scenery. Looking forward to returning again next fall.

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Alaska – Denali Highway

DSC_0784 (640x424)Denali Highway goes east-west connecting Richardson Highway with the Parks Highway in Alaska. It can only be called a “highway” in the very loose sense of the term. It is 135 miles of washboard gravel but goes through a vast wilderness area. There are a couple of lodges along the road but otherwise you are just driving and looking at the beautiful scenery.

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DSC_0866 (640x424)This was an unexpected sight along the road but very nice surprise.

Alaska

mountains flowers (640x424)I have been absent from the blog for awhile – too busy with work, family and chores at home. This summer my husband and I spent almost three weeks traveling around Alaska in a RV. We had visited 25 years ago when we did a stop-over on our way to South Korea. It was as beautiful as I remembered. If you like mountains, nature and wildlife, it is a wonderful place to visit.

Here are a few random photos. I will try and do some more organized posts of the trip in later days. Thanks!

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RV (640x424)Our home as we toured Alaska. Great visit!

Lehigh River Gorge State Park

Lehigh RiverIn early October we spent a week on the Pine Creek and enjoyed the rail trails in northern Pennsylvania. We continued our enjoyment of the fall colors and rail trails in late October with a day trip to the D & L Rail Trail which goes through the Lehigh River Gorge State Park.

Lehigh RiverThe trail runs along the Lehigh River.

Lehigh RiverRiver on one side, colorful trees on the other

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011 (640x424)Excursion trains go through the gorge, also

049 (640x424)The rail trail starts in the very scenic town of Jim Thorpe which is nestled at the base of the mountains

051 (640x424)The train station

057 (640x424)Another shot

047 (640x419)A great place to visit for riding trains, hiking, biking or just enjoying a scenic small town.

Wandering the Country Roads

farm scenary (640x413)I spent some time last weekend driving around the countryside and enjoying the farms and the scenery.  After the drabness of winter, it is so wonderful to see all of the “green” and the farmers working the fields once again.

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Rural Church Tradition

Mt Olive (640x480)I grew up in rural southeastern Arkansas and lived way out in the woods. The small church I attended until it disbanded was also way out in the woods but only a couple of miles from our house. Although the church stopped being active many years ago as the families who once lived in the area moved away, each year on the fourth Sunday in April we still have Homecoming.

arkansas road (640x480)As I said, I lived in the country… Go down this road about 8 miles and then take a right and go another mile. Or take a left and in a couple of miles, you arrive at the church.

singingHomecoming is when when the families gather once again at the little country church. The morning is spent singing the old southern gospel songs, I’ll Fly Away, Victory in Jesus, Camping in Canaan’s Land, Never Grow Old, I’d Rather be an Old Time Christian, etc. In addition to the old upright piano, recent years have seen the addition of guitars for the singing.

Lunch is “dinner on the grounds” – everyone brings potluck and it is spread out on boards on top of posts in the back of the church.

Homecoming used to be in July but the church has never had electricity (propane lights were used when the church was active) and after a couple years of people bringing generators in order to run some fans, the decision was made to move Homecoming to April when it is not so beastly hot.

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The day is spent renewing friendships, visiting the cemetery and chatting with family. And once a year, the old tiny church is filled with songs of praise and love among the people of Christ.

Auction Day

auctionWe stopped by the annual auction at the Fivepointville Firehouse last weekend. There was an abundance of farm and garden equipment for sale, along with household materials, bicycles and buggies. There is a large Old Order Mennonite community in the Fivepointville area plus Amish so many people arrived by buggy or bicycle. It was a beautiful spring day to enjoy the action.

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bicycles (640x424)Old Order Mennonites ride bicycles in addition to using the black buggies (Amish do not ride bicycles). While Amish only use solid colors in their clothes, Old Order Mennonites dress plain but use small prints and different styles. Head dress is also different between the two groups. The round large brimmed straw hats in the top picture are Amish, while the black and natural straw hats with the more narrow brim are Old Order Mennonite.

Braids (1140x755) (2) (640x424)Don’t you love girls with braids?

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Aution Day buggy (1140x755) (2) (640x424)People arrived using all types of transportation. In general the black buggies are Old Order Mennonite and Pennsylvania Amish buggies are gray.

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sign (640x424)And a reminder to the buggy drivers!

Frosty Morn

Mennonite buggy 2013 (640x424)With temperatures hovering around freezing, it was a frosty morning for the horse pulling the Old Order Mennonite buggy. (The Mennonite buggies are black while Amish buggies in this part of Pennsylvania are gray.)

The Drive Home

Autumn LeavesDuring the summer, my drive home from work looks like this. The green leaves meet over the road to provide a feeling of driving through a green tunnel.

This time of the year, the green has changed to yellow, red, orange and all shades between. It is a delightful time to be out of doors and driving through the beautiful ever-changing woods.

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School’s Out

The Amish and Old Order Mennonite children enjoy a break from school during the summer. However, rather than spending time at the pool or playing video games, they are helping on the farm, working in the garden and manning the produce stands that are in front of many of the homes. Lancaster County has over 200 one-room Amish and Mennonite schools. More information on the Amish educational system and photos can be found here.

Getting Around Town

Some of the various type of Amish and Old Order Mennonite buggies in this area of Pennsylvania.

In the Adjoining Field…

In the field next to where the Amish farmer was baling hay in the previous post, his son was raking the hay in preparation for baling.

Hay Baling-Amish Style

Here are some photos of a local Amish farmer baling hay.

The hay is scooped up with the yellow roller and goes back into the baler.

Here the farmer is clearing the baler.

Time to turn and go the other way…

Now we will go the other direction.

Now watch….

Open wide…

Now it is time to close…

And on down the field.

Hay Raking

Local Amish youth using the draft horses to rake hay.

The Green Tunnel

One enjoyable aspect of the daily drive to work and back is the section of the road where the overhanging trees meet. This time of the year it is like driving through a green tunnel and it provides welcome relief when the hot summer weather arrives. In the fall, the “tunnel” turns into a yellow and gold. Another shot of the road….

Finding Treasures

This area of Pennsylvania is a mecca for antique and flea market lovers. Adamstown is home to Renninger’s, Black Angus, Shupps Grove and many other shops, both large and small.

A personal favorite of mine is Fiesta Ware and other kitchen objects.

At one time I collected Depression glass.

I also collect Pennsylvania redware pottery such as this by the late Lester Breininger. Continue reading

Spring Planting with Mule Power

It is time for spring plowing and planting. This is an Old Order Mennonite farmer with a team of five mules working his field.

There are two different “horse and buggy” groups who live in this area — Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite. They differ in their dress and customs but share many practices such as using the horse and buggy for transportation. Both groups grew out of the Anabaptist movement and share an agricultural heritage. I think they are planting tobacco in the photo above. Tobacco is used for a cash crop for many of the local farmers. Continue reading

Hazy with a Chance of Farms

Lancaster County Dairy Farm

As a complete newbie when it comes to photography, I learn something new each time I head out to take some photos. I spent an hour driving around this afternoon making photos of some of the local farms. I was wanting to capture all of the various shades of green at this time of the year. But I see the next thing on my list to learn is how to compensate for haze. Like many beginning photographers who also have full-time jobs, it seems the days with the beautiful blue skies and white puffy clouds, I am sitting in an office looking at a computer screen. And on the days when I am off, it is raining, overcast or hazy but I know that part of the learning process is how to deal with the less than perfect weather. Maybe tomorrow will be clearer but in the meantime, if you look through the haze, here are some local dairy farms.

Lancaster County Farm Continue reading

Covered Bridges of Berks County

We spent an afternoon during the Easter weekend making a tour of the five covered bridges in Berks County. Four of the bridges are still used by traffic and one is located in the Berks County Heritage Center park. The Greater Reading Convention & Visitors’ Bureau has a map and guide to the bridges which you can print by clicking here.

Wertz Bridge

Wertz Bridge is located in the Berks County Heritage Center.  It is believed to be the longest single span covered bridge in Pennsylvania and the third longest in the United States. It was built in 1867 and spans the Tulpehocken Creek.  Unlike the other bridges, it is no longer used for vehicular traffice but gets many walkers and bikers daily enjoying the Union Canal Trail.

Kutz Mill Bridge

This bridge is built in the Kutztown and Virginville area and is 93 feet long. The bridge spans the Saucony Creek and was built in 1854. Continue reading