Back in PA!

We had just barely made it back to PA when our first guests showed up..  a co-worker from the campground and her sister and King, the dog,  were passing through, and we encouraged them to spend the night with us.. so they did!   you can see that it took King no time to get comfortable in his new surroundings…king feeling at home in bear creek

Before continuing their trip south, they stopped by the orchard where the annual festival was taking place.. King stayed in the tiny house while the girls explored the festivalnikki and rachel at tiny house

We lent a hand at the festival and for a few days afterward..   we made cider and picked apples..   we were blessed with weather that was almost too hot!  making cider 1 making cider 2by the end of the day we had pressed close to 600 gallons of cider…

Then we decided that it was time to get serious about a job for the upcoming months..  we saw a listing for a warehouse in our area.. made a call and went for an interview..   it was not really an interview –  no one actually asked us many questions.. instead, we sat behind computers and filled in forms and took a psychological test  which we apparently, passed.. because next we were invited to take a drug test..  passed that too.. and now we have a job 🙂

Thursday morning we met a former colleague for breakfast..  and then stopped by school to pay the last bill for my step daughter who graduated in June..  chatted with the Dean for a few moments..  and then took off before we ran into the crowds associated with a class change..

Friday evening we returned to school to see a performance by the fine arts department  –  the kids did a wonderful job, and it was fun to see so many of them participating.   it was also enjoyable to connect with a few more colleagues from the past 15 years..   we will not wear out our welcome at school, but it felt good to be back on campus ..

Today we ventured over to the Bear Creek Preserve and decided to explore a trail that was new to us..  the grey trail which parallels Shades Creek..  what a spectacular trail.   often it leads right through tunnels of rhododendron … this must be an awesome experience during the bloom..  I should probably edit the number of pics.. but maybe I will just go overboard and post them all  🙂oct 25 hike 2 oct 25 hike 1 oct 25 hike 3 oct 25 hike 4 oct 25 hike 5 oct 25 hike 6 oct 25 hike 7 oct 25 hike 8 oct 25 hike 9   we are looking forward to  following this trail a bit further  next time…

Tomorrow evening is our orientation for the new job , and we start next Sunday..  between now and then, we have chores to attend to here at the house..    and the  big event of the week is a community campfire down in the lehigh valley at some friends whom we met at the campground this past season..    it should be a full and productive week  🙂

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A busy day!

Two major initiatives today –  one was a hike on the preserve with friends..   and what a day for a hike!   On the way in we discussed the fact that we heard recent reports about bears being on the move..  it is about that time – we did not happen to run into any today, however.   

Instead, we were fortunate to be able to enjoy the area with many beautiful spots along the trail.  Image this is a little stream that eventually leads to Shades Creek, which, in turn empties into Bear Creek and then the Lehigh River..   and the Lehigh empties into the Delaware at Easton PA..  and the Delaware flows past Philadelphia on its way to the Atlantic Ocean..    wow.. I don’t often think about that! 

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There is a fair amount of water in the area as the last remnants of snow  have yet to  disappear.

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This is where the stream unites with Shades Creek.   It seems like a pretty secluded spot – not that easy to get to..  and very beautiful!  After a hike of just over three miles we returned home and enjoyed great conversation and a nice dinner prepared by my step daughter.. the future chef!   What a great way to end the day!

Winter Hiking

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  It does not exactly look like a winter hike,  but the date is  Sunday, the 12th of January,  and it was about 34 degrees when we left the house.   Yesterday it was 50 degrees and raining.  The snow disappeared, and I am afraid that the slopes at Jack Frost were deserted.   We stayed indoors and made the best of it, but this morning, my wife suggested a hike first thing – she obviously has her priorities straight!   So we headed off to the preserve.  And we considered the benefits of winter hiking:  no sweltering heat,  no ticks,  no rattle snakes… how good can it get!   

Yesterday  we watched a video about gratitude  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg

Now,  we tend to lag behind the times technologically speaking, so I suspect that this video made the rounds months ago,  but it sure struck a chord with me.   It was introduced  as an alternative to looking towards the new year with great expectations, but instead to look back and to consider the year that has just passed and to recognize all of the blessings that impacted our lives… to be grateful.  I had to stop and get a few tissues about half way through it..   what a softie!

But, we are wrapping up  a wonderful weekend..  good food,  snuggling on the couch watching the first episode of this season’s Downton Abbey accompanied by stove top popcorn,   sleeping later than the sunrise,   a  5 mile hike on a beautiful piece of property that will be preserved for years to come followed by  a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and  potatoes,   and  a variety of great music thanks to Pandora..   

The year is young, but we already have much for which to be grateful.    High on the list, however, is the family who donated the 3400 acres of land in our backyard to form the preserve and the Natural Lands Trust  and manager Joe Vinton for the  time and resources that they have invested up to this point as they develop a plan of stewardship for this remarkable property. 

Bear Creek Preserve

Today we hiked the red trail in a clock-wise direction, venturing beyond our familiar cut off and exploring a little deeper in the woods.   We spooked a number of deer and delighted in watching their graceful leaps over obstacles as their white tails flashed a message of danger…  How could they have known that we meant no harm and would have been happy to walk quietly by…     We took the second green connecting trail and returned via the black trail.    We were able to do some trail clean up as we went, and we did not run into anyone else along the way.    One goal for the new year is to share the trails with friends and family.  

And now it is time to turn our attention to dinner and a good night’s sleep as we prepare for another week of school.  Although I tend to be the first one to suggest jumping in the car to head out for a new adventure or a road trip, it sure is nice to have the luxury of spending a relaxing weekend at home!

A winter Hike

ImageFriday night we went to bed with the weatherman assuring us that a storm would be starting at daybreak on Saturday morning.   And, just as forecast, we awoke to light snow covering the crusty two inch layer of former snow on  our deck.   The highlight of the day was the wedding of a colleague of ours, but that was scheduled to begin at 5pm which allowed for plenty of time to enjoy the snow.  

After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and potatoes,  we set off for the preserve.  We noticed our neighbor, Dan, on the way out of Shades Glen and asked if he would like to join us.   We were delighted when he agreed to come along.   As the new couple in the neighborhood, we are anxious to get to know those around us better,  and, he happened to be wearing orange coveralls..  not a bad idea when hiking in the woods on the last day of deer season in PA! 

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The preserve is a pretty big piece of property..  close to 3000 acres in all.   We picked up the red trail  off of  115 and followed it to the first green cut off..  followed that to the yellow trail which brought us back to the maintenance building and parking lot.   We saw one hunter along the way out.    We could hear Shades Creek running below us for the first part of the trek, but then just the sound of snow falling softly surrounded us.   Dan is a hunter, and we picked his brain about hunting, deer habitat, and deer behavior as we hiked.   He pointed out deer rubbings on the trees and related stories about hunting with his family throughout his life. 

As we neared the end of our  hour and a half hike,  we encountered two hunters coming out of the woods.  They were disappointed not to have gotten a shot off and lamented the lack of deer relative to years gone by, but they appreciated being in the woods just the same.    With the number of dead deer along Pennsylvania’s roads, it is difficult to imagine that there were even more 15 or so years ago, but that seems to be a common story!

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 we paused to enjoy a snack and the view at a popular overlook along the trail.   As we passed Dan’s house on the way back to our house, he invited us in for tea.  We capped off the hike with tea and conversation with Dan and his wife Sheri while listening to Christmas music from an old LP produced by W T  Grant’s Department Store  a generation or, more likely,  two ago ( they went out of business in the mid 1970’s)!   Some of the best experiences in life are those that are unplanned! 

Of course, the wedding, which had been in the planning stages for quite a while, was beautiful.   The snow added to the scene as we entered the church, decorated for Christmas,  and celebrated the union of our colleague, Brian and his wife Jennifer.    It also made for a long ride home!  But a cup of hot chocolate by the stove was just the thing to complete a wonderful day.