Thursday, September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON CROSSING, PA AND NJ

When we reached this site, the visitor’s center was closed and only open on week-ends during the winter months. But being able to see where George Washington crossed the river and learn the history behind this move made me appreciate even more what these heroes did in their fight for freedom.

It was a desperate act at a time when his country needed it most. George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in the dead of the night on Christmas and his subsequent victories in New Jersey energized a tired and sad Colonial Army and gave the American people cause for celebration. It was a desperate gamble, and it worked.delaware

Painting by Emanuel Leutze.

Here's how:

The British forces had occupied Boston and New York, forcing American evacuations of those two important cities. Frankly, the British were coming dangerously close to eliminating resistance in the north. The Declaration of Independence didn't make them any happier, either.

IMG_7038As the year 1776 drew to a close, the American army looked for a way to restore its people's faith in the cause. Against what surely was hundreds of years of military advice, George Washington took a big chance.

It was Christmas, and the Hessians on the other side of the Delaware River, in New Jersey, were sure to be drunk and tired. (The Hessians, German soldiers fighting for Britain, were known for their drinking and their partying, especially on major holidays like Christmas.)

By waiting until nightfall, Washington was able to achieve maximum surprise. But he had to get across the river first.

IMG_7036It was cold that night, ice cold in fact. The boats carrying the American soldiers barely made it across because of ice in the river. But make it they did, their commanding officer proudly leading the way, all 2,000 of them. They made it to shore, regrouped, and marched toward Trenton, where the Hessians were camped.

Chaos followed, but it was chaos on one side only. The Colonial forces routed the Hessians, sending them running from cover. The whole affair lasted only 45 minutes, and Colonial soldiers took 900 Hessians prisoner. The tired, hungry Americans also found food, supplies, and especially ammunition.

Building on their success, the Americans marched onward, toward Princeton, where they defeated the British a few days later. These two victories drove the British out of New Jersey and gave the American army and the American people a tremendous sense of achievement. Victories had been hard to come by lately, and the victories in New Jersey, emphasizing the daring of George Washington as they did, gave the people new hope that their cause was right and new determination that they could win their independence at last.

IMG_7034 The crossing of the Delaware and the victories at Trenton and Princeton were certainly not the end of the Revolutionary War. But they did give both army and populace a reason to keep fighting and a story to tell for later battles and later generations.

RINGING ROCKS – PENNSYLVANIA STYLE

RinginIMG_7031g Rocks is a county park near Upper Black Eddy, PA. We had visited the ringing rocks in Montana and we really wanted to find the ones in PA. The only other place in the world where the rocks ring is in Australia and I seriously doubt we’ll ever get to see them.

The rocks in Montana IMG_7029were piled on top of each other in a large, high pile. These rocks were spread out over a 7 acre area. We drove directly to the rocks in MT (a not for the faint of heart or regular cars) but here we had to park and then walk down to them. The walk wasn’t too long but, of course, we then had to come back up it.

Here’s a video of Jim playing the rocks!!

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WAY TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!

IMG_7007 We left beautiful Bald Eagle State Park and headed east by 8:00 a.m. I wanted to get to Quakertown, PA early enough that we would have time to do a lot of sight seeing.

IMG_7012 Traffic was pretty heavy – lots of trucks but when we got to the 234 mile marker, it almost came to a complete halt. About four miles back there were signs about an accident ahead. That was definitely a true statement.

IMG_7017 Traffic was down to one lane because this truck had shattered about a mile of guardrail and ended up on it’s side. I’m pretty sure the driver was okay – probably fell asleep.

According to state police, the tractor-trailer flipped on its side around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Troopers said the truck's load of plastic pellets had to be unloaded before the truck could be moved.

IMG_7018 We finally made our way past this mess and about twenty miles down the road there was a van on fire. It had just happened because the fire department hadn’t arrived yet. There was one patrol car on the scene.

IMG_7019 A truck driver ahead of us made the statement that fire extinguishers wouldn’t be any good because it was too far gone. Another true statement.

I’m pretty sure the guys in the van were standing with the officer (you can barely see them in the picture) and it appears they are okay which is a good thing.IMG_7020

I could do without this kind of excitement when we’re traveling but I’m glad that nobody was hurt.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SUNSET AT BALD EAGLE STATE PARK, PA

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PENNSYLVANIA AUTUMN COLORS

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ZIPPO/CASE MUSEUM

Much too soon it was time for us to get Linda back to Sheffield so she could get her car and return home. A week really does fly by when you are having such a great time.

IMG_6976 On the way back to Sheffield we did make one stop at the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford, PA. There was a big billboard advertising the museum and we decided Jim really did need a break.

IMG_6978 Their parking lot was not designed for RV’s but we were able to find a parking spot outside the fence.

IMG_6969Really an incredible place showing the history of the Zippo Wind Proof Lighter and Case Knives. The Zippo lighter was invented by George C. Blaisdell in 1932. During WWII all lighters made at the plant in Bradford were sent overseas to our troops.

IMG_6975 Case’s original V-2 Stiletto, used by the First Special Service Force (also known as “the Devil’s Brigade”) remains one of the most sought-after collectibles of WWII.

This lighter was definitely one of Jim’s favorites.IMG_6973

WOMEN’S RIGHTS – SENECA FALLS, NY

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The First Women’s Rights Convention held on July 19 and 20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, marked the formal beginning of the women's rights movement. At the time of the convention, women were not allowed the freedoms assigned to men in the eyes of the law, the church, or the government. Women did not vote, hold elective office, attend college, or earn a living. If married, they could not make legal contracts, divorce an abusive husband, or gain custody of their children.

elizabeth cady stanton Five women organized the First Women's Rights Convention - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M'Clintock, and Jane Hunt.

After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlined grievances and set the agenda for the women's rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.

IMG_6953 The Wesleyan Chapel is sometimes called the “Great Lighthouse” because it hosted the First Women’s Rights Convention and other reform gatherings in the 1800’s.

I am so glad we had time to visit this National Historic Park. I’m sure that if I had lived in those days, I would have been one of the signers of this document. I am grateful that these women had the courage and fortitude to stand up for themselves and all of us who have followed them in this land.

WATERFALLS IN THE FINGERLAKES AREA


There are several waterfalls in this area and we were able to visit two of them while we were here.


IMG_6923Taughannock is 215 high, the tallest free-falling waterfall in the Northeastern United States. Taughannock means “in the trees” in the Algonquin language.






IMG_6940She-Qua-Ga Falls – name means Tumbling Waters. This time of year, there is not much water flowing in these waterfalls but they were still beautiful to see.






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More signs of Autumn.


FINGERLAKES, NY

fingerlakes2 According to Native American legend, the lakes are the divine handprints of the Great Spirit. In blessing the land, the spirit's outstretched hands were placed over the region leaving each finger-shaped impression. The hollows that were left quickly filled with crystal-clear water - thus the Finger Lakes were formed.

IMG_6932This is a gorgeous area of New York and has more than 70 wineries. Since we don’t drink wine, the wineries were wasted on us, but not the beauty of the lakes and the lands around them.

IMG_6948 We took several drives through the area and were able to enjoy the beautiful fall colors and the lake vistas.

IMG_6957We stayed in a wonderful campground near Cayuga Lake and even had a view of the lake through our windshield.

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PALMYRA, NY – ANGEL MORONI

After Joseph was visited by God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, he tried to share his wonderful experience with others in Palmyra. Needless-to-say, a lot of people did not believe him and the other church leaders in the area found this 14 year old boy to be such a threat that they riled up the people against him and the persecution started.

But no matter what others said or did to him, he knew what he had seen and heard and would not change what he knew to be true. For the next four years he continued to mature and study and learn.

IMG_6899On September 21, 1823, after Joseph went to bed, the angel Moroni appeared to him with additional instructions from the Lord. Every year for the next three years on the same date, Moroni returned to Joseph.

Quoted from Joseph Smith’s testimony: “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

IMG_6916 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

Also, that there were two stones in silver bows--and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim--deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted "seers" in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.”

IMG_6917 These plates were hidden in the Hill Cumorah not too far from the Smith home. On September 22, 1827 Joseph received these plates and began to translate them. This book became known as The Book of Mormon which is another witness that Jesus is the Christ and is the Word of God. (Without being aware of the date, we arrived at the Hill Cumorah site on September 22 making the day even more special.)

IMG_6902 Joseph had told others about these gold plates and many times mobs broke into his home trying to find them. One of the spots used as a hiding pace was under the bricks of the fireplace. During the time of the translation, the persecution continued and grew worse until the Smith’s were driven from this area into Kirtland, OH.

A statue of the Angel Moroni can be found on LDS Temples such as this one in Palmyra.IMG_6900

PALMYRA, NY – THE FIRST VISION

After Joseph read in the Bible that he should ask of God which Church to join, he went into the woods to pray. The following is once again quoted from Joseph Smith’s testimony.

“In accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

Image of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove looking up into a bright light

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction--not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being--just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

Image of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove looking up at Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

One of them . . . said, pointing to the other--"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”

We were able to visit this sacred grove where God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, had visited the earth. It was so peaceful – no sounds other than the wind in the tops of the trees, the birds singing, a few raindrops falling, and chipmunks and squirrels scurrying under the fallen leaves.

PALMYRA, NY – YOUNG JOSEPH SMITH

As I mentioned earlier, we are visiting Church history sites backward in their timeframes. In order to give you some additional background, I’ve quoted from the LDS Church website. The next few posts will cover the events that took place in this very sacred area.

“Joseph Smith was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. At the time this narrative begins, he was 14 years old, living with his family in New York, and earnestly considering which church to join. The following is Joseph's experience, written in his own words.

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness. . . . I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Image of Joseph Smith reading the Bible

While deciding which church to join, Joseph turned to the Bible for guidance. There he read, "Ask of God."

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.

At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to "ask of God," concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.”

IMG_6893 At this time, Joseph lived in Palmyra with his parents and eight siblings in this log home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NIAGARA FALLS

We are ready to leave the Falls but before we go, I’d like to share one more video with you.

niagara falls The picture shows what the Falls looked like in 1930 when they decided they needed to do some erosion control and shut off all water to the falls.

This is the video Jim took showing the falls as they look today. And remember – this is only 50% of the water because the other 50% is siphoned off before the Falls to be used for generating electricity. At night, 75% of the water is siphoned off.

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CANADIAN TOUR – SKYLON TOWER

As we left the Floral Clock, the sun was setting and we headed for the Skylon Tower in order to see the Falls lit up at night.

skylon A trip to the top combines an exhilarating 52 second ride with the awe of seeing Niagara from 775 feet above the mighty Falls. Notice the elevators are on the outside of the tower.

After our time was up at the top we had to try and get back down. They only had one elevator running and by this time the Asian tour buses had caught up to us and there were hundreds of people trying to get down in the one elevator. This was not a fun time but we survived it.

IMG_6883 Here are a couple of the pictures Jim took from the top of the tower.

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CANADIAN TOUR

After a short rest, we headed out on our evening tour of the Canadian side of the Falls. Tammy was our guide and she was fantastic. She is Canadian and was so passionate about her love of the falls and their history.

IMG_6834 We were running a little ahead of time so she stopped at the Daredevil’s Museum and let us take a look at some of the containers that people had used in their rides over the falls. I truly don’t understand why anyone would want to challenge Mother Nature that way.

IMG_6839 From there we headed over the border into Canada and that is where the Asians come into play. There were two large busses in front of us that were Asian tours.

IMG_6836 These people just do not understand the rules of the border patrol. They got out of the bus and were wandering around in places they weren’t supposed to be. It took us almost an hour to get across but Tammy kept us entertained with wonderful Indian legends of the Falls.

IMG_6866 She then took us to see the Floral Clock. The Floral Clock is 40 feet wide, with a planted area 38 feet wide, making it one of the largest such clocks in the world. Each year, the face of the clock is filled with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants and annuals, planted in unique, intricate designs.

The hands of the clock are stainless steel tubing: the hour hand is 14.5 ft, the minute hand 17.5 ft and the second hand 21 ft long. Their combined weight is 1,250 pounds.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AMERICAN FALLS TOUR – CAVE OF THE WINDS

IMG_6827 While there is no actual cave anymore, the original cave was a natural cave behind Bridal Veil Falls 130 feet high, 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep. It was discovered in 1834, and originally dubbed Aeolus' Cave, after the Greek god of winds. Guided tours began officially in 1841, and continued until a rock fall in 1920 made it clear the passage was no longer safe. The cave was obliterated in a massive 1954 rock fall and subsequent dynamiting of a dangerous overhang.

The tour officially reopened in 1924, allowing visitors to get close to the front of the Bridal Veil instead of behind it. Tropical storm-like conditions can be experienced, as winds can reach up to 68 mph underneath the falls.

IMG_6814You ride an elevator down 175 feet into Niagara Gorge. Then clad in a bright yellow poncho and wearing special footwear provided (no, we didn’t keep them because they were really uncomfortable), you climb up a series of wooden walkways to the famous “Hurricane Deck”. As you stand at the railing, you are only 20 feet from the torrents of Bridal Veil Falls.

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Rainbows are usually visible day and night. IMG_6819

But let me tell you, you do get drenched if you go up to the Hurricane Deck. Several of our group decided not to go for it but the three of us plunged upwards. And it was so worth it. What an amazing experience.

We loved the sign up on the Hurrican Deck.

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