Monday, August 26, 2013

The Pool Has Closed, the Summer Has Ended...

An end of summer rite occurred this past weekend when the Mount Horeb Aquatic Center closed for the season. Just like last summer, we spent a lot of time there. She not only took lessons from the Parks & Rec department, she practiced swimming with us as well. By the end she could make it all the way across the pool by herself!

Teri & Freja Lutz enjoy the Mt Horeb pool.

Being that it's such a short walk, and most of it shaded, it's super easy for us to get there. In fact, we've even met a few of the town's residents on the walk to/from the pool. I also cart all our stuff, food, water, towels, chairs, etc., in our old baby stroller that we converted to a cargo carrier. Sometimes I get a few looks from folks who think I may have a baby in there, all covered with stuff and left in the sun, but it makes life easy and is always ready to go.

Freja Lutz always has to play on the cannon outside the Mt Horeb pool. Freja Lutz can never pass an opportunity to jump in a puddle after a summer rain storm.

The pool is rarely crowded and my wife and daughter have really enjoyed being able to play and cuddle. Our favorite spot is up on the little hill over looking the pool. There are giant Oaks and Walnut trees that also provide great shade. I have to admit I've fallen asleep in my chair more than a few times.

 Teri & Freja Lutz sun & snack while at Mt Horeb pool.

They also have a decent slide for little kids. It is not too fast, or steep, she loves it! Last summer I rode down with her, but this year she was all about going by herself. By the end of the season she was learning how to make herself go as fast as possible.

When the pool closes it a very definitive event for us. The end of summer is here. School starts in a week, with Freja beginning Kindergarten. Before I know it the snows will be covering the ground, and I'll be all alone during the day. Melodramatic? You bet. It was a fun summer at the pool. We can't wait until next year!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Winter Drive

In the winter of 2007 Teri & I decided to just pack up and go for a drive. It had been snowing a lot for a couple of weeks, but the weather was due to turn. It seemed like the time for a simple, romantic getaway. It was a chance to just do a little exploring Pennsylvania.

Hills Creek State Park

We planned a 3-day trip. The first was just about getting to the cabin, so while we did enjoy the drive, it wasn't exactly a meandering journey. We thought we'd leave that for the return trip. Our thinking was it would make going home a lot more fun, plus who doesn't like taking the long way home? As for the middle day, that was just about relaxing, doing a whole lot of nothing in a cozy cabin, and hiking around Hills Creek State Park.

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Our lazy, meandering "Sunday Drive" home along snow packed back roads was simply perfect. It was a very frigid February day. The skies had a light overcast to them, but not enough to be gloomy. We hardly saw a soul as we drove slowly along, taking in the scenery. We also bundled up enough that with the heater running we were able to ride with the windows open. The crisp, clean air, and being able to hear the sounds of blanketed forest added to the experience.

We found a picnic area along one road that hadn't had a visitor for a while. We stopped, made coffee, and enjoyed having the entire valley to ourselves. The hushed stillness of the day, with only an occasional sound of a chickadee, gave us the feeling we were the only people on the earth. A truly unique experience in a state where you usually can hear distant traffic, and airplanes, everywhere you go.

Ruffed Grouse

While we didn't see a lot of wildlife, we did come upon this Ruffed Grouse. It was not impressed, or alarmed by our presence. It's very lucky we'd also just eaten!

I've always loved traveling back trails, and to have found a wife that enjoys it as much as I is truly lucky. There're lots of reasons I ran off and married her. Having so many common passions, like this one for instance, is why I'm so happy we met.

When we reached Hyner View State Park we were surprised at finding a photo I'd taken used in their kiosk. I'd leased the image for use as the cover of the State Travel Guide, but didn't expect them to use it for other purposes. The fact that it impressed my new wife made up for the lost income!

We were surprised to find my photo of a hang glider in the display at the park. I'd leased for use as the cover of the state travel guide. They apparently wanted the wings to be red.

This image was published by the United States Hang Gliding Association as the full double page center spread, Volume 34, Issue 3, March 2004.This image was also the cover of the Pennsylvania State Travel Guide in 2005.

Notice that they changed the wing color to red.

It was a perfect road trip!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Let's Elope!

Recently I reprocessed the photos we'd taken when Teri & I eloped almost seven years ago. We'd only known each other for about 5 months, but we knew we were meant to be married. Instead of a traditional ceremony we chose to simply run off and surprise everyone.

We'd already planned an early fall getaway to Tioga County, in north/central Pennsylvania. I'd been exploring that area for years and wanted to share it with her. The scenic forests and streams are some of the most beautiful places I know. I especially wanted to show her Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the "Grand Canyon of PA." I also knew she'd love the town of Wellsboro, where we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast.

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Early October is my favorite time to go there. As I write this I can smell the fall odors of leaves, and can recall just how the cool winds feel as they rustle through the forest. There's a hushed atmosphere in the fall that has a quiet romance to it. I have to admit, it's one of the places I'll miss now that we live so far away.

Our plan was simple, drive up late on a Thursday, explore the area on Friday, get married on Saturday, and then head home Sunday. The weather can be hit or miss in October, but this weekend it was absolutely perfect! The skies were so clear on our drive up that we stopped in one dark stream valley just to get out and stare at the Milky Way.

Friday we simply ran around picking flowers for her bouquet and soaking in the scenery. We also kept an eye out for places to take our wedding photos, as well as how long it took us to drive around. Our marriage was to take place at a certain time in a park, and we didn't want to be late! That specific spot seemed to anchor our attention as we counted down the hours until we met the Mayor of Mansfield.

On the day of our wedding we donned the new clothes we'd so carefully chosen and headed out into a simply stunning Autumn day. The air was crisp, and the sky was as blue as I've ever seen it. The foliage was alive with color. We rode around to all the locations we'd chosen to take our photos, stopping to pick flowers.

Setting up my tripod, with a timer I was able to capture us quickly as traveled to the locations we chosen the previous day. At that time I didn't use flash equipment and my gear was pretty simple, but I think the images worked out well. Having spent a fun day scouting out locations also meant a stress free wedding day. We knew exactly where to go, and roughly how long it would take us to our nuptial site.

We headed there, even though we were a good hour or so early. We just couldn't wait. As pulled up to the park another car stopped as well. It turned out the Mayor had decided to arrive early as well!

As my camera snapped away at us on its tripod he conducted the ceremony. I remember the winds had become a bit stronger, and the clouds began to appear threatening rain. As he pronounced us man & wife things became a lot lighter as the clouds broke, and then two bald eagles flew overhead and made their screaming cries.

The birds then flew up the river valley, in the very direction we'd planned to explore, and take our wedding photos. For the next hour or so we would encounter them with each stop. We were usually busy taking photos of ourselves, so I didn't really even try to capture them.

As we began to head back to our B&B we were able to spot our eagle companions resting on a tree in the distance. Since we were done taking portraits my camera wasn't mounted on the tripod any longer. I was able to take one shot of them.

Sunday morning broke with us excited to be starting a new life together. We made our way back home very slowly, winding around the back roads of PA. Occasionally we'd stop to get out and explore. Eventually we made it back in time to start calling folks to let them what we'd done. I know we'd both do it all again, just the way we did before, if we had the chance.

You can check a few more photos from that weekend in our photo gallery, "Let's Elope!"