Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forgive Me God - There Will Be Potholes In My Legacy

As we unravel the fabric of our personal story, we are left with a mixed bag. This is the time for a spiritual guy like me to come clean - to make amends for unruly behavior. The urgency to make things right stems from an aging process that leaves me feeling vulnerable when I look at the landscape of my life. I need closure from the times in my life when I "missed the mark."

My children have heard my "sordid" stories because I used them as teachable moments for behaviors to avoid. I typically tried to provide "real-life" stories about my misdeeds and those of others as a way of promoting character-building qualities. This concept failed quite miserably, because my kids followed in my footsteps anyway.

When I was a young teenager, my parents departed for a business trip. I was left behind in the care of my older brother. Like most teenagers, I yearned for the day that I would turn sixteen so that I could move through the rite-of-passage of getting behind the wheel of an automobile. For me, that day didn't come fast enough and those keys hanging near the front door presented a serious temptation. Without considering consequences (a typical problem for kids), I took off on a joy ride with my friend Chrissie. I was feeling very adult-like until we cruised through a neighboring town as a police officer was traveling toward me in the opposite direction. Chrissie spotted the cop and freaked out. I responded by over-turning onto a side street and nearly ending up in the front yard of a nearby house.

The officer spotted my brilliant move and pulled me over. After asking me the question I didn't want to hear, "Son, can I see your license?" we were escorted to the local police station. My brother came to the station where we were released into his custody. "Wait until Mom and Dad get home," Rick kept repeating. I wanted to hide under a rock and stay there indefinitely. I wrote a long "how could I have done this" letter prior to my parents return. I even included various punishment options within the letter's body. When my parents returned home they received the news from my brother. Although they were not as angry as I expected, they indicated that I was to appear in court to respond to my behavior. I remember that fateful day when my father and I made our way to the county courthouse where I was vigorously lectured by the judge and then released to my father because I said that I would never to stupid tricks again.

Chrissie was a chatter-box, so the news of our adventure permeated the halls of our high school. We instantly became risk-taking, law-breaking heroes. It is interesting how teenagers can reframe things and make behaviors appear so awesome, even back in the days of my youth. I still have my high school yearbook which is full of quips about the "adventure," "the ride," and the good-natured teasing about my anti-social behavior.

That same school year, I took Latin because my parents thought it would help me with all those long medical terms. For some inexplicable reason, my Latin class was inhabited by all the "jocks" from every imaginable sport (no girls allowed). Things were complicated by the fact that the teacher was a first year rookie who was also the head cross-country coach. Mr. P. was known by many in the class for his coaching skills. No classroom introductions were necessary. The class period was split due to a lunch period which was squeezed into the middle of Latin.

The split-class option with lunch posed various sneaky "boys will be boys" possibilities. We brought red Jell-O back from lunch and conveniently placed it on page thirty two of Tony P.'s Latin book. I think this translation page was about Caesar's Gallic wars. I remember Mr. P. retorting in his nasal tone, "Boys, your not being very funny at all." On another occasion, we tortured our poor teacher by taking the onions out of our hamburgers and putting them in the radiator of the classroom before he arrived. Then we waited... As the aroma permeated the air, Mr. P. responded with, "Boys, I don't think that was a very wise thing to do." In spite of our antics, we actually formed a very positive relationship with Mr. P.

In the mid 1990's, more than thirty years after the fact, I learned how potent a legacy I had left behind. At that time, I worked as Director of Guidance and Counseling for a midwestern high school. I was charged with the responsibility of helping formulate a new comprehensive guidance plan for our school. In order to accomplish the task, a colleague and I visited various exemplary school models throughout the state - one of them which happened to be my old alma mater. As I visited my school as an alumni, memories of my past began to envelope me. When we entered the counseling department office, we were greeted by retired counselors who were volunteering as part of their retirement package. When I mentioned my name and that I had attended the school decades ago, the gentleman laughed. The counselor replied, "We have heard of you and your antics along with some of your classmate's behavior." "Throughout the years, your story has repeatedly been mentioned by alumni and the Latin teacher." I said, "This is quite amazing. "Is Tony still teaching here?" "He certainly is and you will find him in the teacher's lounge." the volunteer remarked.

As I entered the teacher's lounge with my co-worker, I immediately sat down to have lunch. After we ate, I looked around the room to find Tony. I asked a teacher where he was sitting and as I moved toward his table I noticed the older version of my teacher. I introduced myself, but it was unnecessary. Tony grasped my arms and immediately began laughing. It was his last year of teaching and we sat at that table and he reminisced with his colleagues about a story that has touched so many lives.

Forgive me God - there will be potholes in my legacy! All of my memories constitute the nature of who I am. They remind me of my humanity and the ways in which I touched the lives of others for better or worse. I have one story. I don't have the choice to take parts back. I just hope that in the end that I am appreciated for the sum total of all its parts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bring Home the Joy of Illumination With Kichler Lighting

A house, even with an excellent decor, is considered incomplete without a proper lighting system. Whether naturally or artificially lit, a well lit house creates an ambiance conducive to happiness and peace. A well designed house, with huge windows strategically placed, provides ample natural light. But, it is the quest for the right indoor lighting that raises many questions and doubts. Kichler Lighting, with its wide range of indoor products, eliminates all worries regarding selection of light and its fixture.


Kichler, a company manufacturing decorative lights and fixtures since 1938, is committed to excellence and consumer satisfaction. What sets its product above others is the quality of its products and the loyalty towards its customers. That is why Kichler has earned the ARTS Manufacturer Award for four times. The quality and performance of this company's products is impeccable. Innovation, to increase the range of products, without any compromise to the quality, is the trade mark of Kichler.


1. Manufactured keeping in mind the varied needs and requirements of the ultimate users, all the products boast the latest trend, exclusive style, superb designs and beautiful colors.
2. The product range comes in varied sizes and includes different styles like classical, transitional, periodical and also the simple functional style.
3. The lighting fixtures guarantee a good fit and are available in various finishes such as rubbed bronze, legacy bronze and old bronze finish, rubbed nickel finish, black and white gold finish, white finish, steel finish, unpainted black material finish and distressed copper finish, to add to the style and elegance of the user's home.
4. Kichler offers a warranty of one year for defects in material and workmanship.

The Kichler range of products and fixtures include Kichler outdoor lighting, Kichler under cabinet lighting, Kichler bathroom lighting, Kichler Chandeliers, Pendant lighting and Ceiling lights.


For a beautiful home, a good lighted indoor setting alone is not sufficient. A well lit exterior that brightens up you neighborhood is also required. Kichler Outdoor Lighting and fixtures transform the outdoor space around the homes with a style and design, unique to Kichler.

Kichler outdoor lighting and fixtures include the Outdoor post lanterns, the Landscape lighting system (in-ground lights, water proof lights, deck lights, and path lights), the Outdoor chandeliers, Dark sky panel sets and the simple, fluorescent and LED outdoor wall brackets.


A bathroom is the place where time is spent grooming oneself to look the best and hence, must have the right light and a good fixture. Kichler Bathroom Lighting offers a selection of modern bath and bar lights that add to the style of the bathroom.

Collections of Kichler Bathroom Lighting include

1. The Hendrick Collections, suitable for aesthetic environment, offer fixtures with a clean look. The style adopted in these fixtures is an intermediary between the modern and traditional style.
2. The Wharton Collections, a two-light bath fixture, adopts a design that is neither contemporary nor fully traditional.
3. The Structures Collection offers versatility in style and design. It has a Structures motif, has a clean look and fits in any decor.
4. The Ansonia Collection, linear and futuristic in its design, offers a range of delicate and ultra modern fixtures. It can also match with any decor.
5. A fixture with an innovative curvilinear design and dual etched linear textured glass panel, The Freeport Collection, gives a dramatic effect to light.

Another great way to provide a full bathroom lighting system is to use Kichler's Beauty Wraps with a variety of light pendants along with the customary bath bar.


The places where lighting is difficult to reach, such as under the cabinet areas, Kichler under cabinet lighting provides a solution. The Design Pro LED Under cabinet Light and the Design Pro LED Under cabinet Disc are innovative products of Kichler Lighting. They provide gentle accent lighting under the cabinets. These under cabinet lights can be linked together and the illumination level can be adjusted. This helps to create the right mood in the room.

The Design Pro LED Under cabinet Light and the Design Pro LED Under cabinet Disc has to be configured according to the user needs. The user can opt between the LED light or the Disc and then select between dimmer switch or nightlight, the quantity and size of the inter-connect cables and the mode of power supply. Once done, the perfect Kichler under cabinet lighting system is ready.


Kichler has brought about a revolution in the lighting industry. Dedicated to customer approval, great product value and excellence in design, Kichler has emerged as one of the best companies in decorative lighting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Landscape of Dali

The Catalan region of the Costa Brava in north-eastern Spain is usually associated with beaches full of tourists and package holiday trips. However, turn the clock back 100 years and the region was somewhat different. Untouched by tourism until the mid 1960's, the Costa Brava was mainly a fishing region, with small fishing villages and towns pocketed along the Costa Brava coastline.

This was the landscape into which the surrealist artist Salavador Dali was born in 1904, and the spectacular scenery and lighting of the region inspired many of his finest paintings. Dali was born in the town of Figueres which is approximately 35km north of Girona (Gerona) Airport, and around 150km north of Barcelona. Apart from his artwork, Dali has left 2 legacies to his admirer's - his home in Port Lligat near Cadaques, and the museum which he designed in his hometown of Figureres, both of which are open to the public.

Dali's House, Port Lligat
Cadaques is a small fishing village around an hour and a half drive north-east of Girona. Cadaques is where Dali spent many of his later years, and the spectacular coastline provided the inspiration for many of his best known paintings. Cadaques itself is a former fishing port, but is now an exclusive tourist resort, popular with the French and Spanish. Dali's house is located in the small village of Port Lligat, slightly to the north of Cadaques. Dali's house is open to the public, but check opening hours before visiting.

The house itself was formerly a number of small fishermen's houses which Dali purchased and converted into a single palatial home where he lived with his wife Gala, and painted many of his most famous paintings. There are many strange exhibits inside the house such as a stuffed polar bear which greets visitors, and a tiny cage in Dali's bedroom which once contained a cricket. Dali loved the sound of the cricket singing. Don't expect to find many of Dali's paintings at the house, although there is a large unfinished work in one of the rooms.

The Dali Museum, Figueres
The Dali museum in Figueres was designed by the artist himself, and although it contains the world's most comprehensive collection of his original paintings, it is the internal design and architecture which is possibly even more striking. Dali was a big fan of the visual arts, and many of the works in the museum are visual experiences which were intricately designed by Dali. In the busy summer months there may be queues at the museum, so it is worth booking tickets in advance.

Getting to Girona
Girona Airport is served by Ryanair, so if you want to visit the region please check their website for flight information.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Going Green Saves Green

Maintaining buildings is expensive. The top culprits: electricity, heating, cooling, taxes. There really isn't too much you can do about taxes. But electricity, heating, and cooling are areas you can have some sort of cost control.

Many companies are going green. Why? Because when you make a few changes, being more green saves green. Here is how:

  • Using electricity wisely and efficiently decreases monthly bills and reduces your carbon footprint.
  • Updating your existing heating and cooling systems with either new HVAC parts and HVAC control boards is an alternative to purchasing new units.
  • Instituting a recycling program, which encompasses a "use less policy," will also save money.

The kicker is that there is a green support system, which makes going green even more attractive. The US government provides tax credits to encourage green building. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) provides guidelines and for green certifications.

Tax Credits

Indeed, money does our wallets. Taxes speak even louder. You don't want to pay any more than necessary. It's perfectly ethical, even helpful. In fact, the government understands. And the government wants you to help spur the economy and save the planet at the same time. Now that's a good deed that lasts a long time. Here are few possibilities:

Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning (HVAC)
The problem is that existing homes have older units with outdated HVAC parts and HVAC control boards. For many, it may be easier to buy new units. The credit allows up to 30% of $1,500. This includes furnaces and central air conditioning units. This credit expires December 31, 2010.

Windows and Doors
Again, this expires December 31, 2010 with a tax savings of 30% on an expenditure of $1,500. Energy efficient doors, windows, skylights, and storm doors and windows qualify.

Be careful though. Not all products that claim to be energy efficient qualify for the tax credit. Before you buy, make sure you check and make sure you get the product that qualifies.

LEED into the Future

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has taken the initiative of providing building owners, architects, and contractors with guidelines for constructing and retrofitting buildings to be more environmentally friendly. The USGBC offers a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Getting certified is a way for companies to identify themselves as green. They're working in a building that has very little environmental impact. The premise is to reduce a company's carbon footprint and increase innovation, corporate responsibility, and energy savings.

LEED certification for an existing building is based on seven principles and sub credits with assigned point values.

  1. Sustainable Sights (26 points) focuses on maintaining the existing geologic environment, reducing further damage to the surroundings, protecting the habitat with appropriate landscaping, integrated pest management, erosion control, reducing the employee carbon footprint, and reducing heat island effect (area around a building that traps heat and pollutants).
  2. To meet this standard, businesses institute carpooling, use rocks native to the area in landscaping, paint the exterior a light reflective color and implement a green roof (to decrease the heat island effect).
  3. Water Efficiency (14 points) essentially encourages using water wisely through landscaping, plumbing, and water management.
  4. Simple fixes can help businesses attain this standard. Installing water efficient toilets and using landscapes that require very little irrigation saves water and reduces your bill.
  5. Energy and Atmosphere (35 points) is all about efficiency. An energy efficiency best management practices document is required along with minimum energy performance documentation, and a refrigerant management system. Renewable energy source, a building automation system (BAS), and building commissioning are also included in this standard.
  6. Ways to earn points for this category would be to install solar panels. Although there may be upfront cost, the loss of dependency on grid electricity saves money and the environment in the end. Perhaps the easiest option is to update old HVAC parts that are not nearly as efficient or to purchase new HVAC control boards to regulate temperature. A system that shuts down heat or air conditioning based on current temperature reduces use and cost.
  7. Materials and Resources (10 points) is about sustainability and waste management. This includes office components that are sustainable in terms of food, construction, and other consumables and ways of disposing waste.
  8. Instituting a recycling program within the office is a first step for this category. Encouraging staff to print on both sides of a piece of paper, using scrap paper instead a new notebook for notes, electronic files instead of physical, and anything that reduces waste helps. Buying recycled paper and non-toxic products helps earn points.
  9. Indoor Environmental Quality (15 points) is more about reducing harmful chemicals causing air pollution. Air quality performance assessment is required to meet minimum standards; a no smoking as well as a green cleaning policy must be in place.
  10. Using sustainable, non-toxic methods of cleaning is very important. Checking labels and doing a little extra research for companies providing eco-friendly cleaning products will mean employees won't suffer from headaches from cleaning fumes (saving on potential doctor visits).
  11. Innovation in Operations (6 points) encourages creativity and ingenuity in making a building and company practices more environmentally friendly. Thinking outside the box to meet a goal and extending efforts beyond the expected will help meet requirements for this category.
  12. Regional Priority (4 points) is concerned with local environmental issues and helping reduce impact. Simply paying attention to the area that is home to your business and doing what is needed to preserve and make it "a better place" may help.

A total of 100 points, the standards mentioned above contribute to a certification level. There are four certification levels: certified (40-49 points), silver (50-59 points), gold (60-79 points), and platinum (80+ points).

Being green and environmentally friendly has different implications for different people. Most realize though, that by reducing and reusing, you're saving money. No matter what your reason may be, know that by jumping on the environmental bandwagon, you're doing a good deed. You're making a positive impact for your family as well as your colleagues and fellow working adults to enjoy now, but also leaving a legacy for everyone in the future. You're saving more than just money by going green.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Having a Custom House Built on Beautiful Land Is a Great Way to Begin a Legacy

Having a beautiful home can have a lot to do with the craftsmanship. If you would like a new home that has the craftsmanship of homes built hundreds of years ago, then you will want to have a custom house built by a respected building company. With the years, new tools have been developed that should make houses stand the test of time. Make sure that you find a company that has craftsmen who believe in homes that can be passed down to future generations.

If the home that you live in now is one that your kids would never want to move into when you are gone, then you might want to consider building a custom house. Not every child ends up moving into their parent's home, but it is nice when it can happen. Keeping homes in the family is a nice thing. Somehow doing so preserves a part of your family that could otherwise somehow cease to exist.

A custom house means you can have that giant kitchen island with the built in grill and sink. You can have the breakfast nook with the windows overlooking the beautiful landscape that you have always dreamed of having behind your home.

Some things to consider before choosing a custom house building company include the following: experience, attitude, and results. Each of these plays an integral part in the type of builder that you would want to build your home.

Experience is important for fairly self-explanatory reasons. It is important that a builder build has built a few homes before they begin on yours. Everyone on the team should really have at least two or three years of full-time home-building experience.

Attitude is also important as you consider building companies. Some builders might not be willing to accept that they made a mistake. It is not wise for the home-owners to hang around constantly nagging the builders about little problems. If the homeowner does see an issue that needs to be addressed however, the main contractor should be willing to accept the possibility that he or she or one of the other workers made a mistake and they all should be willing to fix it.

Results are essential when it comes to building a custom house. Without going to actual homes built by the crew, it might be difficult to see results. If the crew has not always been in the general area or if they often build elsewhere, you may have to get the names of clients and ask if you could see a picture of their home. While talking to them, you might ask if they would recommend the crew. Individuals who have hired a crew in the past should be able to tell you something about the group's experience, attitude, and their results so that you will have a beautiful home to pass on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yachts in Turkey Makes Travel Fun

Turkey has had a tumultuous past, which has contributed to its legacy. History buffs can find a vast amount of fascination information about Turkey that can date back as far as before the dawn of civilization. Turkey's past is deeply reflected in the present. For centuries, Turkey has been at an intersection of, not only the philosophies of Islam and Christianity, but also of many others. There is a shrine, or monument devoted to almost, any religion available. The tumultuous past has a created country, rich in physical beauty, but also in cultural diversity, that has made it one the world's most popular tourism destinations.

Bounded by Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west, and Black Sea in the north, Turkey has a substantive offering for visitors, including breathtaking natural landscapes, unique pictorial perspective reflected in the archaeology, and building architecture. The 8300 km of the Turkish coastlines are dotted with numerous marinas, making sailing on yachts in Turkey, not only convenient, but also a memorable experience. Much of the landscape remains untouched, and the country is often described as Europe meeting Asia, and the modern world meeting the old world. One of the best ways to observe the rich diversity is to travel along the coast in one of the yachts in Turkey.

Marmaris is now one of the attractive resorts that has been transformed from a fishing village. The transformation is not unlike like that of so many other locations worldwide. The only difference, being that, Marmaris experienced a dramatic a touristic explosion in the 80s, while other regions took centuries to develop. Today, its main income is from Tourism.

The countryside in the southwest of Turkey is delineated by a coastline that is composed of many peninsulas that stretch out into the ocean, making it one of the more picturesque parts of the country. This provides some breathtaking views of the landscape when sailing on one of the Yachts in Marmaris.

The closest airport to the city is located 100 km to the east in the city of Dalaman, which means, that air travel may be sometimes be inconvenient, if not properly planned. Far more convenient and enjoyable is by travelling on the water by one of the yachts in Marmaris. The infrastructure for travelling around the Mediterranean on the water is constantly improving as there are ferries and hydrofoils that travel to and from Greece.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Go Green - Visit America's National Parks, Your Great American Real Estate

Many Americans don't realize that they are co-owners to some of the most incredible landscape on the planet, our National Parks. That's right, co-owners! On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill to establish the Yellowstone area as our first national park, thus starting the tradition down through history, of a new social concept to preserve similar areas across this great land.

President Teddy Roosevelt, during his presidency, actively pursued the proliferation of this new social concept by establishing the United States Forestry Service, 5 new national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, 150 national forests and 18 national monuments. To his credit, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in North Dakota, received national park status November 10, 1978.

America's national parks have always been open to all people without discrimination epitomizing democracy at work and offering all an equal share in the wealth and beauty of the land.

Today the National Park Service, the care-takers of our investment, tend 391 areas that cover over 84 million acres in almost every state. The largest park is the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Arkansas, with over 13 million acres and the smallest is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Monument in Pennsylvania with only 0.02 acres. The most popular national park destination is Glacier National Park located in Montana, and the favorite park for viewing wildlife is the Channel Islands in California.

The governmental support of  these wondrous treasures of the American public falls under the  Department of the Interior which provides the annual budget to the National Park Service. When you consider the size and scope of the parks and the fact that there are over 272,623,980 visitors a year, you can see why adequate funding is of paramount importance.

The National Park Foundation is the charitable partner of America's national parks. It works to connect the American people and the parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships and increasing public awareness. The National Parks Conservation Association advocates for the national parks and the National Park Service. The NPCA works on the ground in and around national parks, conducting research, and working with the National Park Service staff, community leaders, park advocates, and state and federal legislators to ensure that our parks are well funded, managed and protected. Both non-partisan organizations are private, non-profit organizations that have contributed mightily to the well-being and support of our national parks and welcome new members and donations.

An awesome and inspiring six-part series for PBS, titled The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a film by Ken Burns, will debut on September 27, 2009. This production was filmed over a more than six year period amid the back drop of some of the most breath-taking scenery ever captured on film, and chronicles the legacy of the American people who committed themselves to preserving these great park lands. It might surprise you as to who those people are. The series is a modern day reminder to us that we too must rise to responsible stewardship of the park lands and see that they are preserved and cared for so that future generations can enjoy them too.

To take advantage of reviewing the marvelous lands that you as an American own visit the National Parks.Org website and request or download your 2009 Owner's Guide filled with detailed maps, information and travel tips and plan to visit your American investment. Or visit the National Park Service website and purchase your annual "Parks Pass" for all federal recreation lands and national parks.

It is your property, it is your legacy, and it is your responsibility to protect for future generations. Come and take possession and share it with others. You can participate in a very active way to make this country a better place for all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Northern Lights on a Canvas

The northern lights are a unique phenomenon. They have inspired painters from Canada and Alaska throughout human history. Painting the Northern Lights is considered a genre of its own. The Aurora Borealis is liked by both traditional artists and those that tend to prefer Modernism. People that enjoy long vacations can sign up for an art class and learn how to paint the Aurora first hand.

Paul Gauthier is a very talented artist. He is not only a painter, but a photographer as well. Gauthier's passion for the arts can be compared to his passion for preserving the beautiful Canadian nature. Paul Gauthier's Northern Lights was painted in 2003, and it is a very vivid representation of the gorgeous night's sky. The landscape provides a view of tall mountains straight ahead that are reflected in a lake's water. The Aurora is reflected in the lake as well. Gauthier is a recognized artist. Some of his work is purchased by Texaco, Bank of Montreal, the Canadian branches of IBM and GE, Meryl Lynch, Sears, and others. In 1991, Paul Gauthier received an award for his artistic and cultural contribution to the community.

Larry Wowk is another great Canadian painter that knew how to appreciate and recreate the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, Wowk passed away in 2009, but his paintings reveal a passionate legacy about capturing the Aurora lights on canvas. Wowk was a master of oil on canvas paintings. In order to create the Northern Lights, he used an airbrush. 

Some artists prefer to have a Modernist approach when painting the Borealis. Scott Adami is a United States painter who does wonders with acrylics. His painting Aurora Borealis is acrylics on canvas. Adami has chosen to combine strong colors with very elegant brushwork. Even though this is unusual abstract art a viewer can almost see how the Northern Lights move in the night's sky changing their form. Scott is the creator of many incredible works with bright colors and unmistakable style. 

Another gorgeous representation of the Northern Lights is that of Rani Priya Mullane. The artist has completely captured the essence of the Northern Lights in the painting Cold Aurora Lights. The landscape art is created from a frozen lake and a gorgeous fantasy forest. 

Painting the Northern Lights requires a lot of skills. First of all, knowing how to properly recreate a landscape is a must. A second skill is dealing with the lights themselves. Some artists prefer to use an airbrush in order to create a more realistic effect. Painters who spend time in the north cannot resist the temptation of painting the Lights. Everyone sees these lights in his or her own way. However, thanks to every artist's unique talent, people can purchase a painting and enjoy the spectacular display for themselves.

Of course, a beginner artist can try his or her skill by trying to paint the Northern Lights. This can be done with oil paints or acrylics, since they have the most pigment. Canvas or silk is a great surface for such paintings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Most Extensively Grown Northern Blueberry Varieties and Other Popular Northern Varieties


Blueberries are the most extensively grown fruit crop in the U.S. The heart of blueberry country is in the north with Michigan producing more blueberries than any other state.

The most common cultivated variety in north America is V. corymbosum, the Northern highbush blueberry. Northern varieties are generally for climatic growing zones 3 to 6 depending on the variety. The other important climatic factor is chill hours, northern plants generally require 500 to 1200 chill hours to produce blueberries depending on the variety. When you select plants be sure you select those for the right growing zone.

Hybrids of northern varieties with other rabbiteye species are adapted to southern U.S. climates. Significant numbers of blueberries are now grown in the south.

The highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corimbosum L, is a highly specialized crop with exacting soil and climatic needs (1). It is a perennial plant and consists of a superficial root system. The root system is very fibrous but is devoid of root hairs that make the blueberry plant very susceptible to changing soil water situation. A mature cultivated blueberry plant, five to eight years old, usually has about fifteen to eighteen canes. Growth habit varies among different varieties. Some bushes grow upright; others have a spreading growth pattern.

The following are the most widely grown northern blueberry varieties for each of the three seasons.

Duke -: This is a northern Early Season Variety. It is very prolific producing medium-sized fruit. It blooms late but ripens early and has good flavor blueberries. They can be eaten fresh or frozen. Vibrant red/orange fall leaves. It yields 10 to 15 pounds per bush. USDA Planting zones 4 - 7

Bluecrop -: This is a northern Mid-Season Variety. Bluecrop is the industry's reference for excellence, most dependable and by far the most extensively planted of any variety. It can survive spring frosts quite well with high dependable yields. Thought to be the superior all around variety for consistent yields, large, high quality blueberries, and disease resistance. There is no other variety that is better in the garden. It has Vigorous upright growth. Drought tolerant. Fruit is great for making preserves, baking, freezing and fresh eating. Vibrant red fall leaves. It yields 10 to 20 pounds of fruit per bush at maturity.

USDA Planting zones 4 - 7.

Jersey - This is a northern, late - Mid season variety, Self-pollinating. Growing 5 to 7 ft tall at maturity, has excellent productivity. fruit size small/medium known for having the best flavor of all, fruit quality good, Berries have a good shelf life. Self-pollinating. Jersey is the most important variety in Michigan for over 20 years. yields 7 to 10 pounds per bush at maturity HARDINESS ZONE - SOUTH: 9, NORTH: 4

Elliot - This is a northern Late Season Variety..It blooms late and ripens late. It has an excellent attractive bush shape with sized sky blue fruit. The berries are small, sweet, and slightly tangy.
It is great for baking, making preserves, freezing and fresh eating. It has vibrant red/orange fall foliage. It yields 10 to 20 pounds of fruit per bush. USDA Planting zones 4 - 7

Other popular northern varieties

Early season

Earliblue - This is the first ripening of all blueberries. Produces 5-10 pounds of fruit annually.

Hannah's choice - represents an improvement in flavor, sweetness, and firmness over currently grown early cultivars. The flavor of the fruit is exceptional, being very sweet, sub-acid and mild-flavored with hint of a peach accent. Each plant yields 10-12 pounds of medium-large fruit when it is mature.

Patriot - It is Self-pollinating with an average stature of 3 to 5 feet tall. Patriot makes an excellent container and landscape variety. Yielding 10-15 pounds per bush at maturity.

Spartan - The berries are consistently regarded as among the very best tasting of all blueberries, and the large, glossy green leaves turn orange and yellow in the fall.

Northcountry - Fruit is small to intermediate in diameter. Quality of fruit is good. This bush is most outstanding for landscapes. Yield is 2 - 7 pounds.

Mid season

Blueray - The fruit size is very large and the blueberries are firm have small picking scars. It yields 10 to 20 pounds of fruit when mature.

Nelson - The berries are relatively large, quite firm, and have good shelf life. Each plant yields 10 to 15 pounds of fruit.

Rube - A true wild selection. Rubel is a wild blueberry that has continued to be popular because of it's tasty full flavor and small berries just right for pastries such as muffins. Rubel has an exceptionally high level of anti-oxidants. Yields average 8-10 pounds per bush. Twice as high in antioxidants as other commercial blueberries.

Bluegold - Produces large amounts of truly outstanding fruit, up to 12 pounds per bush at maturity.

Draper - Highly productive, early midseason variety with outstanding fresh blueberries

Northland - It is trouble-free to grow and can grow in many different soil types and has a mid-season ripening time Yielding 15-20 pounds per bush at maturity

Top Hat - Top Hat produces full-sized fruit on dwarf plants! This beautiful, mound-shaped, compact shrub bears many white flowers in spring, and bears plentiful round, firm, dusky-blue fruit. Top Hat is fast becoming a favorite of bonsai enthusiasts since it can be easily restricted in small containers and shaped into a decorative accent, while still flowering and fruiting. Yield 2 to 6 pounds.

Late season

Legacy - The blueberry fruit is very high quality. Legacy stores well, lasting up to five or six weeks without spoiling. Pickers refer to it as the "Gold Bush" due to its heavy production.

Darrow - Darrow boasts among the largest blueberries of all blueberry varieties with some fruit actually growing as large as a half-dollar in size!

Grow your own

Choose blueberries for your growing zone that are organically grown to avoid the possibility of getting blueberries that may contain pesticides and herbicides ingesting pesticides. You can also grow your own in your yard on in containers on your patio to insure your blueberries are pesticide free. You can freeze blueberries you grow and have them for year around use. In addition growing your own can be enjoyable and rewarding. You can purchase blueberry plants free of pesticides from a reliable nursery.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Australian Gardeners - Future-proof Your Garden Against the Drought

With water restrictions in place in just about every state, Australian gardeners have to take a new approach to how they manage their gardens.

Australia is the driest continent in the world, but for decades we've had a plentiful supply of water. With the onset of global warming, however, it's become clear that we can no longer sustain our current water consumption levels. Most capital cities now have water restrictions, meaning you can no longer waste water on washing your car, and you're restricted to watering your garden on certain days and certain times.

With such restrictions in effect, Australian gardeners should not just look at how to minimise their water usages, but how to ensure that they minimise their garden's water requirements. Here are a few simple tips to help you start reducing the amount of water your garden consumes.

Go native:

Native Australian plants have evolved to deal with the Australian environment, and are ideally suited to dry conditions. Once established, chances are you won't even have to worry about watering them on a regular basis. Another benefit is that they are also a haven for native Australian birds. Contrary to popular belief, there are also many beautiful flowering Australian natives that you can select. These days, most decent nurseries will have their own section dedicated to Australian native plants. Ask one of their helpers to give you a brief introduction to the different species.

Grass be gone:

For decades grasses have usually been the main feature of any Australian garden, but let's face it, grasses are a legacy of our colonial times, imported from rainy England. They're not really suited to our hot, dry, conditions and even though there are new breeds which require less water, they're still water hungry. Consider getting rid of your grass and moving towards something that requires less water and maintenance. If you've got a small backyard, going for the Mediterranean courtyard look with paving can be both classy and water efficient.

Mulch is your friend:

Having a thick layer of protection will mean that any moisture that is in your soil will be trapped for longer and reducing evaporation. Mulch is ideal, not only does it slowly release valuable nutrients, but it also acts as a great insulator. It's also great at keeping pesky weeds at bay, reducing your garden's maintenance requirements.

In further articles I will look at a few more tips and tricks to make sure your garden manages to thrive, with less water, in the harsh Australian environment.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Ancient Iron-Age Kingdom Leaves a Legacy As Well As Some Mystery

The World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe while being of enormously significant historical value has had a rocky past and seems destined to face future difficulties. The discovery of the site in 1933 confirmed the existence of a population of commercially active indigenous people that thrived and traded in this area of Southern Africa in the 13th century. The exciting discovery was kept relatively quiet. Of course, the history books told a different story of a dark continent liberated by colonialism. This premature revelation was not welcome.

The Mapungubwe Hill (meaning- Hill where the Jackal eats- in the Venda language) was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The hill marks the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers and was the site of the capital of an advanced and successful African Kingdom between around 1030 and 1290 AD. The site of the iron-age metropolis is strategically placed where today, three countries, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, meet. The hill of Mapungubwe juts boldly out of the surrounding landscape, a long, flat-topped sandstone hill with vertical cliffs and two visible levels.

At the time of the discovery, the hilltop and the remains of the settlement were covered with a substantial layer of soil. Careful excavations have disclosed a fascinating Iron-age settlement that was deserted when climate change forced the community to move north. The lower terrace appears to have been inhabited for approximately 260 years from AD 1030 to 1290 and the hilltop itself for only the last 70 years of the dynasty. Archeologists have linked Mapungubwe to Great Zimbabwe and suspect that this was the forerunner to that great Kingdom. It is thought that as many as 5000 people lived in the city and surrounds. Archeologists believe Mapungubwe to be the first class-based social system in southern Africa. Evidence suggests that the leaders were separated from, and higher in rank than, the inhabitants. Royalty lived and were buried on the Hill of the Jackal. There is a natural amphitheatre at the base of the hill where it is likely that royal court was held.

Excavations have yielded gold and ivory artifacts and other items of Arab origins as well as articles from places as far flung as Indonesia and China. An outstanding discovery was the famed Golden Rhino which is now on display in the Pretoria Museum. The golden rhino and a royal scepter were recovered from the Mapungubwe graves. These objects were fashioned from gold sheet or gold foil gaining shape from wooden carvings. The wooden works were wrapped in delicate gold sheeting that was secured with tacks. The gold was then decorated with punched indentations and incised patterns and lines. The golden rhino and scepter were obviously associated with royalty and were buried with the deceased leaders in accordance with traditions and beliefs. The suspected royal skeletons were found buried in a seated position. Crude pottery figurines of animals and humans that were recovered are believed to have had symbolic significance.Jewelry was common and these iron- age villagers adorned themselves with pieces made from the shells of giant land snails and ostrich eggs, ivory, bones and cowie shells as well as imported and traded artifacts from far afield. Also found were many practical every-day articles, notably spindles for spinning cotton cloth as well as bone needles, proof of the manufacture of clothes from animal skins and crude cotton cloth. Arrowheads of polished bone similar to those used by the San have been found. The skilled smiths at Mapungubwe appear to have further flattened the front end of these arrow heads and fitted iron tips.

The Mapungubwe Hill and site of this African Kingdom; fall within the newly formed Mapungubwe National Park. The National Park is home to elephant, rhino, lion, hyena and many antelope species including the uncommon red hartebeest and eland. Visitors can stand on the ridge overlooking the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers and the landscape of ancient valleys studded with enormous baobab trees. The Limpopo Valley is a birders paradise with over 400 species having been sighted. The riverine forest, wetlands and sandstone cliffs interspersed with Mopani Bushveld offer diverse habitats and attract an impressive diversity of birds. Here, within this valley, sacred rock shelters can be found with superb specimens of San rock art. These diminutive people left a legacy of ancient art painted on rock with an underlying message to us; the custodians of the future.

Recently interested parties have called for and been working towards the declaration of the Limpopo Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area (LSTCA) thereby ensuring the findings at Mapungubwe and their significance should benefit the entire region, regardless of international boundaries. There is an encouraging commitment to careful, sustainable development and tourism, with the primary aim being the preservation of this cultural treasure.A new challenge in the chronicle of Mapungubwe has since surfaced in the form of the granting of the largest land claim in the history of South Africa. Concern about the future of Mapungubwe is once again an issue after the hill of Mapungubwe and 56 surrounding farms were awarded to the Machete royal family in August 2009.Tele Mapoto, - land claims commissioner for Limpopo Province- says his office and South African National Parks are currently in discussion with the Machete family to work out some negotiated agreement regarding Mapungubwe. He says the commission has done years of research and remain convinced that the Machete family are the rightful owners of Mapungubwe.

A journey to Mapungubwe can be pleasingly combined with the many attractions of the area. The culture, wildlife, birding, romance, history and magnificent landscape of this area can be built into a safari of a life time. Spanning 2 spectacular countries, South Africa and Botswana, travelers can choose from open safari vehicle game viewing, foot safaris, cycling in the bush, Big Five5 horse safaris and rock art tours at any one of the well-recommended lodges in the area.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Loss of the Urban Treescape Throughout Britain

One constant concern I have had for a number of years, and the reason for this article, has been the gradual loss of the urban treescape throughout Britain, especially in London. To define urban treescape, I mean the collective term for all the public and privately owned trees that sit amongst the built environment. I am talking particularly about trees that grow above and beyond the roofline. The urban landscape has always been a passion of mine because it forms the backdrop of a town or city, setting the tone and atmosphere around it. The treescape is a crucial element of that landscape and essential to any city.

It is as important as the architecture, theatres and museums and it needs to be valued, protected and enhanced. Part of the problem is that significant trees are valued by everyone except those that live close to them or wish to develop land around them. To those that live close to the big trees they are now considered to be a threat instead of an asset. The litigious society that we all now inhabit has changed the perception of trees in the eyes of the general public, local authorities, highway departments, statutory undertakers etc. This pressure has created an unfounded fear of trees by claiming "they are dangerous" "they undermine houses" "someone will sue me" etc. House owners have become neurotic, Building Control officers have become paranoid and insurance companies have a vested interest in removing trees. The changing attitude has resulted in a decline in the number of large mature trees and what appears to be an embargo on the planting of any trees that might achieve any real stature.

Even highway departments now only plant small garden trees that do not have the potential to influence the environment beyond the road they are planted in. Individual authorities do their best to protect existing trees that are perceived to be at threat with planning legislation e.g. tree preservation orders and conservation area legislation. But the pressure on trees grows all the time and the time is running out. Something needs to be done to protect the key trees in London whilst we still have them, to replant new stock for the future and to change the public's perception of trees. The benefits of trees in cities are many: they "humanise" the built environment by giving scale to buildings, they reduce particulate and gaseous pollution, absorb co2, reduce wind speed, support wildlife and make us feel good. It is no coincidence that the most sought after residential properties are in tree lined avenues or surrounding garden squares. The problem, as I see it, is that no-one has overall control over London's treescape.

I believe there is an urgent requirement for the employment of a person (or committee) who act as the "Guardian[s] of London's Treescape". This person or committee would have two main duties;

1. To comment on all Council tree work applications to prune or fell trees above a certain height - say, 10m. The guardian would have the power to over-rule the Council's decision if it is for the greater good of the landscape. Only in situations where the tree is deemed (by an independent expert) to be dead, dying or dangerous would consent be granted for pruning or removal. Otherwise, the assumption would always be in favour of retaining the tree for the greater good of London. This procedure should also apply to tree works carried out by statutory undertakers and Local Authorities.

2. The "guardian" would have a budget set aside to identify sites for the planting of "significant landscape trees" and "groups of significant landscape trees". They could then take suggestions from the public, schools, local interest groups and anyone else about street corners, schools, and parks etc that could support and benefit from a substantial tree. These can then be planted, denoted as significant London trees, automatically protected and benefit society for the next couple of centuries.

Overall, people need to be re-educated to love trees and not be scared of them. We all need to value our urban trees and take pride in them and treat them as an asset in our environment. We also need to act now to preserve what is left of the urban treescape and without delay; we need to replenish lost trees stocks with trees that have the potential to make a really significant impact upon future generations. To achieve this, the financial impact would be minimal but the net benefit to Londoners and visitors would be immeasurable, not only now but for generations to come. The costs would be for the employment of the Guardian (or committee) to oversee expenditure, the employment, either directly or indirectly, of a small team to carry out the works and the costs of the purchase of trees and associated material.

Beyond that there would need to be a budget set aside for publicising the work and for the key element of education. This is a low cost, high benefit initiative that can only have a positive impact upon our city. In conclusion, what greater legacy could we provide for the future than by securing London's tree stocks for future generations and by initiating a rolling program of planting significant landscape trees that will be appreciated for decades, if not centuries, to come?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buying a Home in Westminster

The city of Westminster is centrally located in the Denver metropolitan area. Its easy access to amenities in both Denver and Boulder really coax investors into buying a home in Westminster. The eclectic region is also the center of attention because it possesses a variety of natural landscapes including mountainous views, rolling hills, flat plains and plateaus. Westminster is known as the city of choice for over 100,000 residents who are fortunate enough to utilize numerous major highways, corporate businesses, and beautiful housing.


What's the point of buying a home in Westminster if you are unaware of the exciting activities the city offers? Any resident can confirm there are an endless number of activities to do here. First of all, it is the place to be if you value the arts. You can witness live theatrical performances or take informative tours in one of Westminster's museums. Even the intellectuals have their own nook. College Hill Library is a great place to study or hold conferences in comfortable settings. Westminster thrives on its outdoor activities. You can take pleasure in the mountainous settings encircling the Legacy Ridge Golf Course or greenery near the Heritage Golf Course. Nothing is better than playing your favorite sport in the midst of the breathtaking wonders nature carries. You may even want to combine the pleasures of entertainment and the great outdoors by taking the family to Westminster Promenade where everyone can bask in the city's pleasant setting while witnessing some of the best amusements.

Open Landscape:

Living in Westminster's open environment will leave you free to roam the town's sublime venues or adore nature's beauty from the comfort of your own home. Being close to the natural environment of this town will enable you to experience firsthand the smallest benefits of buying a home in Westminster. These peaceful domains are rich with fresh air and mountainous lands exemplifying the splendor of the town. A spacious single family residence or townhouse could work wonders for you in this type of setting.

Residential Neighborhood:

If you would much rather be in a sociable environment, there are plenty of admirable subdivisions that will provide you with the advantages of living near friendly neighbors. You are encouraged to invest in an apartment, condo, luxury home, or even a vacant space in an office building that will give you security in a close-knit community. Westminster's residential area is equipped with the finest schools, transportation, restaurants, shops, and other services to cater to your needs.

Buying a home in Westminster can certainly enliven your lifestyle with modernized features near the best landscapes that nature has to offer. Come and look at what could be your property today!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rajasthan Tour Packages for Heritage Hotels

Rajasthan heritage hotels bear great resemblance to the defensive castles, Rajput fortress and composite havelis of a bygone era. This state has the maximum number of legacy hotels. They are part of Rajasthan holiday packages, allowing you to take back with you, a part of Indian history. You are welcomed with traditional royal privileges at birthright hotels. Heritage Hotels in Rajasthan has its historical charm intermingled with modern amenities to suit international and domestic travelers.

Heritage Hotels

Most of the heritage hotels retain their age-old furniture, to add the extra royal impression to your sojourn. A Rajasthan holiday spent in a heritage hotel is unique with ample time for exploration. Some of the admired birthright hotels are found in Raipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner. These hotels were former royal homes and havelis of royal families. Rajasthan birthright hotels offer lavish accommodation and warmth apt to royal homes.

Delightful views

Several heritage hotels are tented camps, with a unique, peaceful and friendly environment. These provide an exposure of rural Rajasthan. One of the finest legacy hotels are situated on the banks of a lake in Rohet. It is a peaceful and relaxing rural surrounding, with lush green gardens and an enticing swimming pool. The lounge, verandahs and terraces are the perfect places for relaxation.

In a Rajasthan holiday package you can stay in one of the erected forts close to Jodhpur. Visiting sand dunes, Camel safaris and Black Buck jeep safaris are some of the leisure activities undertaken. A travel tour to Udaipur would display the royal show and abundant decorum of Heritage Hotels in Udaipur.

In the midst of the Manvar wilderness, surrounded by the sand landscapes is the impressive and secluded Manvar Tent camp. This Camp consists of colorfully decorated 30 safari-style tents ordered in a semi-circle around the 'durbar' Hall. These tents give a massive view of the dessert lands.

Staying at these hotels are unforgettable experiences. You can live like a prince or princess in these brilliant mansions surrounded by assistants dressed in regal style. And as you walk down the verandahs and corridors you feel the presence of a different epoch.

The Rajasthan holiday package provides you a stay much beyond a holiday. The history of the palaces becomes a reality. Personal attendants are gracefully dressed in traditional colorful costumes, welcoming you with melodious chants. The Rajasthan legacy hotels are a major attraction to many tourists across the globe because of its enchanting elegance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Classical North India Tour

The grand Himalayas in the North, the Ganges in the south, the rugged desert landscape in the west and Sunderban Delta in the east gifted North India with an array of fascinating destinations. These destinations known for their diverse culture, customs, traditions, monuments, exotic flora and fauna, majestic landscapes and seasonal variances that summons scores of tourists round the year from several parts of the globe. The Classical North India Tour is the best customized tour package that gives a chance to experience some of the enchanting destinations of North India with their world famous attractions. Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Mathura & Vrindavan, Orchha, Khajuraho and Varanasi are the enchanting attractions of this tour package which showcases the grandeur of incredible India.

The journey of this tour package embarks with Delhi the Capital City of India. This city showcases the fusion of the ancient and the modern world which holds the vibrancy of this place. During stay at this place you can witness Mughal past narrating its legacy through Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, Qutub Minar, Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk. Along with this the colonial era vibrancy can be felt through the India Gate and the President's House.

Jaipur the pink city of India is next in this itinerary where you can visit City Palace, Jantar Mantar (Observatory) and Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). This are among the most charming attractions of India where one can see and feel the legacy of bygone royal era preserved in these structures.

Next on the package is Agra known worldwide for the undying symbol of love the Taj Mahal. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Apart from this tourists can also see the panoramic and mesmerizing beauties of Mughal architectures like Agra Fort, Sikandara and Fatehpur Sikri.
Feel the spiritual and religious nerve of Indian ethos during stay in Mathura and Vrindavan. Visit the Shri Krishna Janmabhumi Temple, Bankey Bihari Temple and ISKCON Temple to feel the immortal saga of Lord Krishna and his blessing to this land.

After visiting Orchha Fort, Jahangir Mahal, Raj Mahal and Ram Raja temple in Orchha move to Kahjuraho the land of architectural delight. This temple city of Central India is among the world famous tourist destinations where one can see the immortal saga of Hindu art and culture engraved in stone. At this place visits the Western Group, the Southern Group and the Eastern Group of Temples which are known for sensual and erotic carving and marvelous stone sculptures.

And at last visit Varanasione of the holiest cities of India and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. This place is also known as the city of Ghats which can be best explored with Boat Ride. After enjoying the religious fervor of this city enjoy excursion to Sarnath. It is the place where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. This is one of the four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage.

Doggin' Philadelphia: 10 Cool Things See When You Walk Your Dog

"If your dog is fat," the old saying goes, "you aren't getting enough exercise." But walking the dog need not be just about a little exercise. Here are 10 cool things you can see in greater Philadelphia while you hike with your dog.


In 1855, a hotel entrepreneur built a new inn on Rex Avenue. To draw attention to his hostelry he constructed an Indian from old barn boards and propped it up on top of a rock overlooking the Gorge. In 1902, when the Indian Rock Hotel was long gone but with the silhouette still there, artist Massey Rhind was commissioned to make a representation of a "Delaware Indian, looking west to where his people have gone." The kneeling warrior has gazed up the Wissahickon Gorge ever since. A switchback trail leads to the Indian Statue where you can get close enough to pat his knee. And take in a breathtaking view.


The Multi-Use Trail rolls past reconstructed huts and parade grounds that transport you back to the Revolution. The National Memorial Arch, a massive stone tribute dedicated in 1917, stands out along the route. The inscription reads: "Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery. Washington at Valley Forge, February 16, 1778." In the southern part of White Clay, reached by the Twin Valley Trail, is the Arc Corner Monument marking one end of the 12-mile arc which forms the Pennsylvania-Delaware state line, unique in American political boundary-making. The circular divide dates to William Penn's directive of August 28, 1701, when Delaware was still a part of Pennsylvania, known as the Lower Three Counties. A little more than 1/2 mile to the west is another monument marking the tri-state junction of Delaware,Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Breaking out of the woods at several points on the hilltops you are greeted with an unparalleled view of Granogue, one of the more spectacular of the American castles dotting the Brandywine Valley's chateau lands.


Flying concentric circles outward from Philadelphia, Hollywood location scouts for Oprah Winfrey's movie project, Beloved, spotted the Fair Hill terrain and selected it as the backdrop for the film's rural scenes. A ramshackle 19th-century tenant farm was constructed and much of the movie shot here. The producers decided to leave the movie set intact, to deteriorate naturally. You can wander among the fake buildings and even knock on the styrofoam stones.


Where else can a dog climb into an actual battery and scan the Delaware River where gunnery officers once aimed guns capable of accurately firing 1,000-pound projectiles eight miles like he can at Fort Mott State Park? Fort DuPont, named for Civil War fleet commander Admiral Samuel Francis duPont, saw active duty in three wars before becoming a state park. The 1-mile River View Trail, a grassy loop path, begins in the marshland along the Delaware River and finishes in shaded woodlands. The trail takes you past several ruins of the military installation, camoflauged to river traffic, and features sustained views of the Delaware River and Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island.


In the farthest northern section of Tyler State Park is the longest covered bridge in Bucks County. The 117-year old Schofield Ford Covered Bridge burned in 1991 but after five years of fundraising the 166-foot, two-span crossing was entirely rebuilt by volunteers on its original stone abutments using authentic period materials and methods. An elaborate, reinforced wooden railroad trestle bridges a ravine on the Glen Trail. The trail runs by a stream under the trestle and there are sweeping views of Wenonah Woods from the top.

A walk through Brandywine Park provides a quick lesson is the history of bridge architecture. The classical arch form is represented in grand style with the magificent stone viaduct across the river and numerous reinforced concrete spans. There is even a small iron arch bridge over the mill race. A prototypical 19th century pier and girder iron bridge transports trains over the Brandywine. And the pedestrian footbridge across the water, the Swinging Bridge, is a little suspension bridge employing the same engineering principles as the mythical Brooklyn Bridge.

A floodplain is a safety valve for the release of a raging creek's overflow. Along the Paper Mill Trail, just off the Creek Road Trail, is an exhibit on managing these protective wetlands that create a unique wildlife habitat. The stone double-arch bridge next to the floodplain exhibit was built in 1847. The fall line on the Pennypack Creek was the natural choice for fording the creek back to Indian days. William Penn was not so patient in waiting for the tide to take the water away each day and in 1683 he asked that "an order be given for building a bridge over the Pennypack." Each male resident was taxed in either money or labor to build the bridge, which, when completed in 1697, became the first Three Arch Stone bridge in America. Designated a National Civil Engineering Landmark, the bridge over Frankford Avenue in Pennypack Park is the oldest stone bridge still carrying heavy traffic in America. Germantown Pike was the first road to be started in Montgomery County, dating to 1687 when funds were allocated for a "cart road" from Philadelphia to the Plymouth Meeting settlement. Later extended to present-day Collegeville, an eight arch stone bridge was built to span Skippack Creek in 1792. An equestrian trail crosses the bridge, which is the oldest bridge in continuous, heavy use in America. Ashland Covered Bridge, built in the days before the Civil War; the adjoining Succession and Flood Plain Trails visit meadow, marsh, pond and forest landscapes.

Theodore Burr built a bridge spanning the Hudson River at Waterford, New York in 1804. He added an arch segment to the multiple truss bridge popular at the time, attaining a longer span. Patented in 1817, the Burr Arch Truss became one of the most common in the construction of covered bridges. The Larkin's Bridge, a 65-foot long, 45-ton "Burr Arch" covered bridge erected in 1854 and rebuilt in 1881, was relocated to the northeast section of the park in 1972. Larkin's Covered Bridge is the only remaining legacy of Milford Mills.

In 1850 Albert Fink, a German railroad engineer,
designed and patented a bridge that used a latticework of rods instead of cables to reinforce stiffness. This construction was cheap and sturdy, making the Fink Truss one of the most commonly used railroad bridges in the 1860s, especially favored by the powerful Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Only one Fink Truss bridge remains in the United States - an abandoned 108-foot span in Zoarsville, Ohio. A wooden reproduction of a Fink Truss is in a field at Warwick County Park for you and your dog to climb.


Pennsylvania's first canal system was cobbled together in 1815 using 120 locks to stretch 108 miles from the coal fields of Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. Railroads began chewing away at canal business in the 1860s and the last coal barges floated down the Schuylkill River in the 1920s. Today, the only sections of the canal in existence are at Manayunk and Lock 60, built by area name donor Thomas Oakes, at the Schuylkill Canal Park. In 1985 the Schuylkill Canal Association formed to keep the canal flowing and maintain the lock and towpath. In 1988, the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


The Taylor Memorial Arboretum provides a 12-Tree Self-Guided Tour. The collection is especially strong in Far Eastern specimens and spotlights three Pennsylvania State Champion trees: the Needle Juniper, the Lacebark Elm and the Giant Dogwood. Also on the tour is a Dawn Redwood, an ancient tree known only through fossils until 1941 when a botany student tracked down living specimens in rural China. Some of the first seed to come to America resulted in this tree. Liberated from their sun-stealing neighbors of the crowded woods, the "King" and "Queen" White Oaks have spread out into a massive canopy of leaves. The "Queen" measures seventeen feet around at the thickest part of the trunk and the "King" is closer to twenty. The two trees are part of the "Penn's Woods" collection of 139 trees standing when William Penn arrived to survey his Pennsylvania colony.

The arboreal oldsters reside at the last stop of the nature trail. bacterial infection. Awbury Arboretum in East Germantown was the summer estate of 19th century Quaker shipping merchant Henry Cope. Across the 55 acres are plantings of groves and clusters of trees set amidst large swaths of grss fields in the English landscape garden tradition. You can investigate more than 200 species, mostly native, in your informal explorations of the grounds. Old macadam paths lead to most areas of the odd-shaped property. Also on the grounds are wetlands surrounding an artificial pond.


While many of the Hospital Farm's buildings have disappeared, the unique dairy barn remains. Built in 1914, it is shaped like a wheel with four spokes. The fame of the hospital's dairy operation was widespread. In 1961 alone, nine cows produced 1.1 million pounds of milk - more than 300 pounds of milk per cow per day.The Visitor Center is a restoration of a 1923 Sears & Roebuck mail order barn. A century ago Sears sold anything and everything by mail - including kits for building houses and barns. The kit, which could cost as little as a few hundred dollars depending on style, would include rough lumber, framing timbers, plank flooring, shingles, hardware, sash and paint. Usually shipped by train from the west, the barn kit would be loaded onto a freight wagon and hauled to the building site for assembly by local carpenters.


Forty million years ago an igneous explosion occurred underground here and cooled very quickly leaving behind a particularly fine granite rock. Tourists and students of geology alike made the pilgrimage to the Falls of French Creek to study the rock formations. Granite quarries mined the rock and granite from Saint Peters once received an award at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago as "a fine-grained polished cube, a good building and ornamental stone." The quarries closed in the 1960s and many pits can still be seen. Today the giant boulders in French Creek are ideal for your dog to sramble on - or just lie in the sun. Mountain in State Game Land #157. The mountain is essentially a ridge of diabase boulders and the trail to the top calls for almost continuous rock-hopping, a technique called bouldering. The basaltic rock provides incredible traction.

And our vote for the coolest thing of all on Philadelphia trails - the "Ringing Rocks" in Ringing Rocks Park where the rocks ping when struck by a hammer - or thud on "dead " spots.

copyright 2006