The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

My walking tour of Salisbury

We finished the official 5k volkssport walk in Salisbury, Maryland, with almost 2 hours before the bus came to pick us up and drive us off to the racetrack in Dover, Delaware.

Dunkin Donuts had alerted me via their app that the Ravens won yesterday so I could get a free medium coffee. I googled the nearest Dunkin from our hotel (La Quinta) and asked Gayle if she were up for another adventure. She said sure.

Off we went.

On the way we passed a Wawa and a Goodwill. My ears perked up.

After a straight shot one mile walk, I got my coffee and a spider donut with a munchkin head. We stopped at Family Dollar and also at Goodwill. I bought a shirt, a blouse, a dress, and two sweaters for $31.

We still got back with an hour to spare.

Brief update: Cape May Eastern Shore Maryland volkssport trip

Today is the third and final day of the Liberty Bell Wanderers bus trip to Eastern Shore Maryland.

These trips include volkssport walks of 5 or 10K daily and some sightseeing highlights.

Unfortunately internet and free time have both been unpredictable so I’ve been posting more on YouTube and Instagram that blogging.

On Instagram, check out the hashtag #theadventuresofPJtheBear.

This is a tractor trailer at the grain mill at Purdue Chicken in Easton, Maryland:

https://youtu.be/cLMjk0Rol7E

This is a brief video of the weird little rail system in Cape May:

https://youtu.be/rpsziLk0vtA

Now, I am just starting to edit video on my phone so these are poorly & sloppily edited but this ferry might have been my favorite part of the trip:

https://youtu.be/FbJ4SkUyiAY

This cruise on the Patriot in The Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michael’s are definitely my second favorite:

https://youtu.be/S0ZtdAtQnd0

https://youtu.be/3ZiQCLar6xM

On the road again…

I’ve meant several times to blog but PJ and I are on the road again, with Gayle and her niece/practically twin sister Bonnie (oh the joys of having a large family), on the Liberty Bell Wanderers weekend bus trip.

This three day adventure will take us to Cape May and the eastern shore of Maryland so stay tuned.

I woke at 4:30 this morning and some household snafus had me running at least ten minutes late. This bothered me as I am an extremely punctual person.

I am wearing my Wilson Warrior Marching Band t-shirt as red is the Liberty Bell Wanderers color and today is homecoming. I will be missing the big alumni band and halftime performance, featuring the song, “Africa.”

This group is part of the American Volkssporting Association, so we will be doing a series of volkssport walks.

So I’m almost to Cape May. I look forward to sharing PJ’s newest adventures.

State Parks Weekend with the Liberty Bell Wanderers

I have had a great month in October. My boot is off. I had a fantastic ortho who released me from his care on Wednesday (Thanks, Dr. Sacco.) I also have a team of physical therapists who have taught me so much in the four short weeks we’ve been together. (And I will probably have my final session with them on Monday.)

This weekend my family and I joined the Liberty Bell Wanderers in Willow Grove where we will visit four state parks. Today we walked 10 miles on trails and more around town.

We arrived at the hotel where most of the group was staying at 8 a.m. We were on the road fairly early for our first stop: a 10K walk through Fort Washington State Park. By about mile 4.5 my ankle had that mild soreness, but we came upon a playground so the swings, monkey bars and, no lie, FOUR WAY SEE-SAW soon made me forget a twinge of discomfort.

Oh! And we saw hawks swirling around at the Hawk Observation Deck.

Lunch was at Feliz Cantina. There we experienced a true culinary miracle: gaucamole with candied pecans, bacon and blue cheese. And I tried fish tacos. And I liked them!

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We went back to the hotel where we moved from (my friend and fellow walker) Gayle’s room to our room. She’s staying with us tonight. After a very brief respite, we headed out to Tyler State Park which reminded me of our local park, Jacobsburg.

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We only attempted a 5K, and to keep child happy we let her take photos of people’s dogs. I’ll have to do a count and perhaps a gallery of her dog photos.

Once again we found ourselves at the Hampton Inn in Willow Grove where child immediately hopped in the shower. I had brought cake pops from Starbucks, microwave popcorn and board games in my suitcase. Gayle and I went out for beverages (found a 7-eleven a half mile away) and somehow ended up with a pizza. On foot.

We had pizza, cake and chocolate milk and played Ticket to Ride (the board game). Child crawled in bed without a fight at 7:45.

And we’re walking

Since my trip to Niagara Falls with the Liberty Bell Wanderers, my family has joined me as official members of that group and the American Volkssporting Association. With their help, I recently finished my initial 10-event book and will now have my own walker number.

I am thrilled with this activity. Volkssporting is non-competitive walking or bike riding, typically for 5k or 10k distances, though sometimes 6k or 15k. The local group that sponsors the walk will have a start location posted on the AVA website. At that location, usually a hotel or a YMCA because of the flexible hours of the facility, there will be a “start” or “walk box.”

In the walk box, there’s a registration form, a start card and a stamp. You fill out the registration form, stamp your book(s), and fill out a start card. Also in the box are directions and envelopes. The envelope allows you to mail your completed start card and payment to the walk administrator (otherwise known as point of contact.)

From there, it’s like a walking tour/scavenger hunt. I usually ask my 11-year-old to read the directions and the map because it’s a good skill for her to practice.

We have recently done North and South Bethlehem, New Hope PA/Lambertville NJ, and Doylestown, PA.
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In Bethlehem, we visited the grave of poet HD.

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In Doylestown, we hob-knobbed with the history.

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Apparently, Doylestown has concrete castles similar to the Edison-inspired concrete house neighborhood in Phillipsburg NJ.

New Hope had lots of artsy views.

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Not to mention a mansion that could have belonged to one of my husband’s relatives…

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But Lambertville NJ had the most amazing falafel and kufta…

My daughter, who’s struggling to transition from her active elementary school years to a more sedentary middle school life, is outside again and moving so that makes me happy. My husband likes to walk and likes our adventurous day trips. I am so thankful for such a fun family activity.

And unlike bowling, it doesn’t require heavy equipment or ugly shoes.

Destiny USA: Carousel & near miss

We stopped at Destiny USA, which I’m told is the sixth largest mall in America, for lunch. The options were plentiful, but we were on a tight time frame and some restaurants had wait times.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have ridden the carousel first, but how could we resist?

 
It was a great carousel. 

We decided on Uno for lunch and we told our server we had to be outside in 45 minutes, by 3:30. The server assured us it would be no problem. The food came out, after we inquired about it, at 3:20. I put my burger, broccoli and mac and cheese into a to-go box and ate it on the bus.

And when I finished we were still waiting for 4 more of our group. It’s 3:49 and no sign of them yet.

But the carousel was amazing, $1 per ride. 

Just found the missing people. They also ate at Uno.

Canandaigua Steamboat Landing

It’s rainy and cold but the Liberty Bell Wanderers stepped out for the final 5 and 10K walks of the trip. 

Today we visited Steamboat Landing and the nature conservancy at Canandaigua, N.Y. 

 
I only did 5K because of the rain, but it was a beautiful walk even in the 40-something drizzle.

   

  

  

  

 I’m hoping later to post a photo gallery of my favorite photos from the trip.

Highlights from Liberty Bell Wanderers trip

The extended weekend with the Liberty Bell Wanderers and Hagey Bus Tours has been an amazing experience. I am very impressed with the organization of the group and the bus driver; it is obvious that the two work well together and have a good relationship. I was dreading the prospect of so much time on a bus, but the walks break it up nicely and the group has distractions here and there (like a PBS documentary on the falls) to keep me from losing my mind.

Plus, they generously distribute water, which if you know me, is a key ingredient to maintaining my contentedness. In all honesty, I was a tad disappointed, or perhaps even more than a tad, that we didn’t see corner shops in Niagara Falls where we could buy water or snacks. Among those who travel, it’s commonly agreed upon that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls offers better views, more attractions, more items to do that are free, and has a healthier economy than the American side. Some of us who have visited the area before are, again, surprised by the lack of tourism on the American side. We expected a bustling environment since it was an early summer weekend.

  
I really loved that Indian restaurant, Bollywood Bistro. I also really enjoyed my eggplant from The Secret Garden Café. 

Another traveler in our group asked me what my favorite part of the trip was. I thought about it for a moment and I had to answer Buffalo. This shocked him. He asked me why.

The answer was simple. I found the people in Buffalo pleasant, with a wide variety of coffee shops (remember that I said Niagara lacked shops— this is the kind of place I would like to see on the American side. Coffee shops). I loved the train that sliced its way down Main Street, and Buffalo had some of the most unusual train stop shelters I have ever seen. 

The theatre district had several theaters, ghost signs, and a monument to locals in the film/theatre industries. In the midst of all that, the downtown and the theatre district showcased such a diverse offering of American twentieth century architecture. And, as I said before, City Hall is one of the most spectacular buildings I have seen. Even when considering I visited Paris and Moscow earlier in the month.

  
What made yesterday a little special for me was the fact that I earned my 35,000 step Fitbit badge. It was my first 15 mile day since I got my Fitbit less than a year ago. I occasionally hit 30,000 steps in a day. 

It’s the first day of the trip we’ve experienced bad weather. High 40s and rain and wind. We’ve amended our plans in our last stop of the trip to minimize rain and exposure… Will report later.

Hopefully it’s not an inland version of this:

  

O Canada

I can’t believe the trip with the Liberty Ball Wanderers has reached its final night in Niagara Falls. A tad sad really. Today I hit my 35,000 steps in one day milestone from Fitbit. I’ve gotten close many times but never made it…

But let me take a small step back. We went to Bollywood Bistro last night, a vegetarian-Jain Indian restaurant (one of nine Indian restaurants nearby), for dinner. I ate about $30 worth of food by myself I was so hungry after the 14 miles I covered during the day. The food was scrumptious.

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After that meal, we went on a 5k around Goat Island. I collapsed in bed around 10 and woke up still stuffed from dinner. I wandered down to the lobby for my first cup of coffee and managed to eat another oversized breakfast before embarking on the boarding crossing walk into Canada. We walked about 4 miles along the Canadian side of the falls, exploring various gardens and historical markers in addition to the breathtaking views of the falls.

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We came back to the hotel to play the Hampton Inn version of Mr. Potato Head.
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Then back onto the bus we went to visit Cave of the Wind (otherwise known as the place where you get dressed in a yellow garbage bag, wear cheap sandals, walk along some wooden steps and stairs to be sprayed with ice cold water). All kidding aside, the views of the falls were amazingly majestic. I think it may have been more fun than Maid of the Mist.

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We reboarded the bus for our long awaited border crossing into Canada as a group. Our first stop in Canada was the gardens near the Butterfly Conservatory. My husband and I visited here about 15 years ago and we adored the Butterfly House. But time did not allow it today. From the gardens, we traveled to Niagara on the Lake which I heard compared to New Hope and Cape May. It was cute.

We did a 5K that took us down to the waterfront, to the park across from Old Fort Niagara (which I visited once with my grandmother probably nearly 30 years ago), along Queen Street and back to the main drag.

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We bought butter tarts (a local dessert) and wine. We had to buy the wine after we had an amazing wine flight and cheese platter at Shaw’s Café and wine bar (named after George Bernard Shaw the playwright).

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Not to mention our waiter Andrew was a sweetheart and easy on the eyes. Okay, so the restaurant was gorgeous too, with winding stairs and a path through the kitchen to get to the washrooms…
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I’m so tired right now I have to postpone any further thinking… We leave at 8 am for another town and another 5k before we head home. Hopefully I can post a gallery of some of the pictures I have here, including phone booths and mail boxes.

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