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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hatfield Remembers - Memorial Day 2015

Hi Blog! Monday, May 25, 2015 was Memorial Day - a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving. The holiday was originally known as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, designated a day as the time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. It wasn't until 1967, that Congress passed a resolution which officially recognized Memorial Day as a national holiday to remember those who died in service to our country.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars. The Hatfield Parade was no exception to this long standing tradition. Many local community organization were present - Elks, Moose, Kiwanis, but my favorite was the Ancient Order of Hibernians. What's not to love about kilts!

The crowd favorite was the civil war re-enactors. Every couple blocks they fired their guns.

The guys in the crowd liked all the cool sports cars.

The Boy Scouts were out in force.

Bikers Against Child Abuse got the crowd revved up.  These are clearly not 1%'ers.

All this flag waving built up an appetite. Lucky for us, Herr's was on hand to give out free potato chips to the hungry crowd.

Here's Dave showing off his booty!

The parade came to a climax with dozens of local fire trucks all with their lights on and sirens blasting!

The crowd fell in behind the fire trucks and made their way over to the American Legion Post 933 for a remembrance ceremony.

All the local dignitaries were assembled on the band stand.

All eyes were on the American Flag as the DJ played the National Anthem.

After all the speeches, the ROTC cadets set the Missing Man Table in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members.

With one final salute, the crowd headed into the banquet hall for a free Memorial Day BBQ lunch. We stopped to admire the mural of the raising the flag on Iwo Jima based on the historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. 

The mural depicts five United States Marines and a United States Navy corpsman raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. We thought it was very cool how an actual flag was incorporated in the mural.

We are glad we took the time to attend. We hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Letter to William

Dear William,

Every morning, we go on a walk.  Today, we walked over to the pond behind our RV park.  Do you remember that we walked there before and saw a family of geese?  We saw them again this morning.  The babies are getting big!

"Why did the geese cross the road?"  To get to the other side!

We also saw on our walk a really, really, really big snapping turtle.  Snapping turtles have very strong jaws.  If they bite you, they could snap your finger right off!  Stay away from snapping turtles!

We puppy-sat Mackie again today.  We took him for a walk to visit some of our neighbors.  Here, Mackie says "hi" to Andy:

Andy is very old.  Do you like the way Andy smiles when you take his picture?

We know you are very good at smiling in your pictures.  Make sure Mommy and Daddy send Ye Ye and Nai Nai lots of pictures!

See you on Skype!


Nai Nai
Ye Ye

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia

Hi Blog! As noted in our prior blog, Saturday, May 9, 2015, was a very busy day. After taking in the Dad Vail Regatta and dinning at The Belgian Cafe, it was time to head over to experience Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Convention Center is a huge place. We had no idea where registration was, but luckily there were plenty of superheros around to help out. The Flash was eager to point the way!  (No, dear reader, as much as that looks like just one superhero running VERY fast, it's actually six different costumed fans...fooled ya, huh?)

After registration, we headed over to the Dealers Room. Here is where the serious people-watching begins. There are several types of attendees. There are those interested in shopping. If you can't find your favorite comic, sci-fi or superhero on this tower of t-shirts, then you won't find it anywhere.

Perhaps you would like one of these new multi-colored light sabers to hang from your Jedi belt.

For the more subtle fan, you can adorn your sash with I.D. badges of your favorite characters.

For other attendees, this is a chance to have a little cosplay fun. Who doesn't love Mario! Apparently, the pink and blue mushrooms don't, they wanted to do him in.

Perhaps you want to let your inner vixen out. Here's a chance to let your fantasies run wild.

Maybe you have a favorite movie, and making an exact replica of the costumes the actors wore makes you want to go out and bust some ghosts!

Comic Con covers a large spectrum of interests from comic books, movies and TV shows to WWE Wrestling and horror films. There is even stuff for the Trekkies in the bunch.

While Super Heros were the most popular....

 ...we also came across a few villans. This guy would give anyone nightmares.

However, the good guys clearly outnumbered the bad. Sometimes it felt like we were seeing double (well sort of).

If just putting on a costume didn't get you in the right frame of mind, you could sign up for the Weta Workshop where professional makeup artists would teach you how to transform yourself.

Unfortunately for Dave, by the time this guy was done in the make-up chair, he was totally in character.

If you were looking for something a little more permanent than t-shirts, costumes or make-up, you could sign up for a REAL tattoo from the folks at Epic Ink.

We had a great time strolling through the Dealers Room and engaging with all the various characters.  The entire convention center floor was filled with dealers and artists.  It took us two-and-a-half hours of strolling the floor, and we didn't even cover 3/4 of it.  We found the actual content of the convention to be pretty lacking. Once we were done in the Dealers Room, there were no panel discussions or celebrity Q&As that really interested us. This was definitely not Comic-Con International of San Diego. However, if you are a local gamer or love any excuse to cosplay, then this is a great excuse to get out for a little fun.

The Dad Vail Regatta

This weekend Philadelphia hosted the Dad Vail Regatta, an annual rowing event offering competitions for colleges, high schools and corporate teams.  The event is named after Henry Emerson "Dad" Vail, a famous Canadian-born rowing coach for the University of Wisconsin.  The event is run on the Schuylkill River about 2 miles north of Boathouse Row, a series of historic boathouses used for team rowing since before 1860:

("Boathouse Row-wide" by Jeffrey M. Vinocur - Own work. Licensed under 
CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

We wandered up Kelly Drive to the festivities on Saturday, the day of the final races.  However, we had other plans for the afternoon, so we just watched the preliminary races in the morning.

Here, David stands in the special "picture postcard" frame set up by the race sponsors:

Each race is run in heats of six boats.  Races are rowed by boats of 8, 4 and 2 ("pairs").  Over 80 colleges competed this year - among them Vassar and William & Mary.  We didn't see the Vassar team, which may have only competed on Friday; but we did see both the men's and women's rowers for William & Mary.

The races finish in front of a modern grandstand:

The race organizers post cameras at strategic spots along the course, to record and televise each heat as it progresses:

We chose to wander up through the festivities from the south, or Center City, end.  Strolling up the Fairmount Park path along Kelly Drive, we saw row after row of boat trailers, where the colleges had them parked while the boats were being raced:

As each heat was called, the teams would grab a boat and their oars and march up to the piers where they put in to row up the river to the starting line:

We spotted the William & Mary crew hanging out at their boat trailer.  There weren't many boats or crew members because both the men's and women's boats were getting ready to race:

Here, the William & Mary women's crew is putting its boat in the water...

...pushing off from the dock...

...and making haste to turn upriver as the Philadelphia Zoo hot air balloon rises in salute in the background:

We posted ourselves at the finish line to watch the William & Mary crews finish their heats.  Most of the observers were in the grandstand or on the banks of the river, but there was one observer who insisted on getting closer.  He did keep a respectful distance away from Lane 1, so no races were impeded.

Here, the William & Mary men's fours put up a gallant fight and cross the finish line:

We strolled on up the river past all the alumni tents and corporate tents, past clothing and gear vendors, past food trucks, through a mass of humanity including crew members, cameramen, reporters, family members, college alumni, mere spectators like ourselves, and many, many dogs. Bicycles were mainly a nuisance, and anyone who tried to bike through the crowds should have regretted trying.  Overall, it was a festive crowd, and periodically the entire population of an alumni tent would stand up and cheer as its favorite daughters and sons pulled through the water in competition past their tent.

Once the preliminary heats were ending and the racers took a lunch break before the final collegiate heats in the afternoon, we started our walk down to Center City.  Along the way, we saw the beautiful remains of blossoms just past their bloom:

Our destination:  The Belgian Cafe, on 21st and Green Streets, one of our all-time favorite restaurants, known for stocking a seemingly unlimited assortment of Belgian style beers from all over the world.  Kathy had a Brussels mixed greens salad topped with chicken, and David a veggie burger. Of course we also each sampled a brew:  Kathy tried a 'T Gaverhopke Extra and David scored a Nogne O Sunturnbrew.  We loved them both, and, together with a Weierbacher Insanity we didn't have room to order, we've got our list started for a visit to Oliver's, our go-to international beer distributor when we're next in Albany, New York!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Our Old Friend The Pinnacle

Hi Blog! Today is Friday May 8, 2015.  Dave had his pre-op physical yesterday and he is good to go for surgery on Tuesday.  This gives us just a few days to get out and about and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. Since coming back to the Hatfield area on May 1st, we have been itching to get out and explore some of our old favorite hiking trails. One of the first Appalachian Trail hikes we ever did was to The Pinnacle on Blue Mountain in Hamburg, PA. Many Appalachian Trail thru-hikers claim the views at the Pinnacle are the best views on the Pennsylvania stretch of the AT. We happen to agree with them. Here is Kathy at the trailhead located on Pine Swamp Road.

We started our hike with a very steep uphill walk along an old woods road which took us us to the Appalachian Trail. The first part of our hike is through State Game Lands which is why Dave is wearing his orange hat. Kathy's hat is still hanging on the back of her pack. Here we are at the trail junction.

After a mile or so on the AT, we passed this cool beautiful sun-dappled babbling brook. (If I think of any more adjectives to describe this wonderful little spot, I'll come back and add them.) In the meantime, just enjoy this photo. If you try real hard you can almost hear the water splish splashing on the rocks.

Spring has sprung! All of the trees are turning green again.

After a few more miles, we came to this wide open clearing known to the locals as the helipad. This area is kept open so helicopters can land in case of medical emergency. It was last used on Saturday, October 13, 2013 when Lara Louise Kadambi, 38, a hiker from Pike Creek, Delaware, was critically injured after falling about 30 feet from the Appalachian Trail near the Pinnacle. Although there are frequent sprained ankles and other non-lethal injuries along that section of the Appalachian Trail, Kempton Fire Chief Ethan Kunkel believes this is the first time in five years that an emergency helicopter evacuation was required. But just in case, the helipad is ready.

All around the perimeter of the helipad are bunches of little white flowers. It almost looks like someone planted them on purpose to mark where the helicopter should land.

After five miles of uphill walking, we finally made it to The Pinnacle! Here Kathy adds another rock to the cairn.

The trail guide warns that this trail can get a little rocky, but this is ridiculous!

Now for the big pay off. Unfortunately, all the warm weather we have been having has brought with it some humidity. The early morning fog almost burned off by the time we reach the lookout.

The hazy view didn't stop Dave from enjoying his peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

We picked a nice big,flat rock so we could stretch out and relax. We kept one eye out for rattlesnakes who frequent The Pinnacle. Lucky for us, they seemed to be elsewhere.

Before long it was time to put the boots back on and head down the trail.  But first, a little summit selfie!

Remember that cool beautiful sun-dappled babbling brook? We need to add refreshing! After Kathy soaked her head in the water she decided cool should be changed to icy cold!

The remainder of the hike was uneventful, but what made it memorable was that is was almost 10.5 miles, which is long for us.  With the ups and downs, it made for a challenging day.

There is nothing better than spending the whole day hiking and coming home and having dinner all ready for you. Three cheers for the crockpot! Who ever invented it should get a medal.