Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

Fade to Rust

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

“Look at all that old junk.  Why would they put that here?” Words spoken by the unappreciative.  The seemingly discarded and forgotten old trucks and farm machinery scattered around the grounds of the Blue Heron French Cheese Company’s property is art.  Prized possesions of a knowing collector.  The collection of former workhorses doesn’t get the same attention as the collection of cheeses and wines on the inside of the establishment’s interior but it is definitely worth looking at.

Faded patinas, flat tyres, cobweb filled cabins and peeling signs make the old Macks, Whites and Willys more appealing.  If you stop long enough you can almost hear the stories being told – conversations of the men and women that drove them, maintained them and treasured them.  Cursing, laughing, crying – it all emanates from these proud rusty hulks.

For a selected few these beautiful old “out of action” chassis are collector’s items.  Indeed, with a lot of sweat and money, they could be restored to their former glory and driven once again.  Not a likely outcome in the short term.

If you are planning a trip to Oregon’s beautiful north coast don’t just visit Tillamook for its famous cheese.  Take some time to savor the delights of some of the other attractions too.  Hidden gems that make the mouth water are right under the nose.  They might not smell like cheese but they do make you salivate – if you’re into old metal that is!

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Colouring The Waterfront

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Terrified faces of shipwrecked fisherman.  The permanent smile of an all knowing whale.  Watchful eyes of coral fish. These expressions are captured beautifully on the murals and wall art that adorn buildings in the historic waterfront in Newport, Oregon.

Local artists have beautified the walls of old buildings and, by doing so, make the stroll along Newport’s “Bayfront” area a pleasurable experience for young and old.  People stop and stare at the detailed artwork and marvel at the size of “as large as life” whales and “larger than life” humans that adorn the wood and brick vertical surfaces of the variety of buildings located along the busy street.

You can’t help but be impressed by the talent and effort of the artists that spend their time creating works of art on otherwise drab walls.  The legacy they leave is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors to Oregon’s coast and the city of Newport.

If you’re planning a trip to the US west coast make sure you factor in a stop over in Newport, OR and stroll the SW Bay Boulevard in the historic waterfront precinct and soak up the colour and detail in the street art.

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Chillin’ Over Coffee

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Today’s conference session was quite short – the conference concluded around lunchtime.  The final pieces of the “puzzle” were put in place and we all departed with a completely different outlook on the way forward with our business.

We shared lunch with some of our business partners at another one of the funky restaurants lining the streets of Austin then headed back to the costume shop to drop off the costumes that we had rented for the 80’s party.

We met a wonderful couple here over the weekend – Rafael and Jasmine.  Rafael is a doctor from Laredo, Texas and he and his wife a lovely people.  They are an example of the people that are a part of Agel.  People who know that they are a part of something very special and people willing to work with others to help them achieve their maximum.

Rafael and Jasmine drove us to/from the costume shop before they departed on their 4 hour drive to Laredo.  It was great to be able to spend some more time with them.

After returning to the hotel we caught up with Diane (Sandra’s sister) before she flew out for Calgary.  She had a 12 hour!! layover in Houston on her return – yuck!!  She was returning to Calgary’s -43 degree weather so she probably didn’t mind a few extra hours in Texas.

After saying goodbye to Diane we went back to a very unique little coffee shop that we had found a couple of days before.  We met up with some of our team there and spent a few hours catching up on emails and immersing ourselves in training.

The training continued into the night as we all went out for dinner together too.  The outcomes from this training were and will continue to be very powerful for us and the business partners that spent time with us yesterday.  We will all be moving forward with a significant amount of momentum – great stuff.

We managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour after starting our packing for the flight to Amsterdam tomorrow.

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Toronto – Niagara Falls

Friday, August 20th, 2010

We were not in a hurry to get going this morning – particularly after a late end to the time we spent with Barb, Victor and their two beautiful girls.

We left the hotel around 11.00 and  drove back through the city but only after picking up the compulsory Starbucks morning heart starter!

The traffic heading south was rather chaotic.  It was a Sunday and it is a big city however, we didn’t expect it to be as busy as it was.  The estimated drive time to Niagara falls was around one and a half hours however we soon came to the realisation that this was not going to be the case today.   It seemed that most of Toronto was heading for Niagara Falls.  This seemingly mass exodus and the large number of roadwork spots made for a slow trip.  Having said that, there were quite a few “boy racers” out in their low flying Japanese sports cars and they were in a hurry to get somewhere.  They ignored the very low speed limits and drove like they were filming a car chase in a Hollywood movie!  If the three to four lanes were not enough then the service lanes were negotiated at speeds that denied belief.

After about 3 hours we arrived in Niagara Falls, ON.  Barb and Victor had recommended that we stay on the Canadian side of the falls so we booked a room online at the Days Inn.  It was a good choice.  The room was well appointed and close to everything that we came to see and experience

After sorting ourselves out and changing into something more comfortable we, grabbed some camera gear and went in search of some the Falls.  Finding the access steps down to the falls was not as easy as one would expect given that this is a tourist haven.  However, we persisted, and arrived on the promenade as the light was starting to fade – not a bad thing for photography.

We took a lot of photo’s of the incredible falls and took in the wonderful atmosphere of this natural wonder.  The temperature was perfect for walking along the top of the cliffs that the Niagara River has made of the years.

We did not take the tripod on the first outing in Niagara so as the light faded we called it quits for the photography and started the walk back to the motel.

The walk back took us through the very “tourist centric” area of Niagara Falls – an area that is set up for all things “touristy” and not a place we had any desire to spend time in.  In short is was “cheap and cheesy” and it didn’t appeal to our senses.

However, we did find a wonderful Mexican “cantina” on the trip back to the hotel and we opted to dine in this wonderful little place before returning to the motel.  The food was excellent, the paintings on the walls were worth photographing and the hostess was a lovely elderly lady that made our evening dining experience a lot of fun.

Our late’ish supper was “walked off” during the stroll back to the motel and after unpacking our camera gear we dropped into the very comfortable bed around 11.00pm.  A very nice first day in Niagara Falls.

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Rickett’s Glen

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Another sumptuous breakfast cooked to perfection by Billi – French toast and omlette for me and some “more than you can eat” delights for The Princess.

We were showered and packed by 1100 so we mounted our mechanical steed and headed off in the direction of Wilkes-Barre.  This large town is located around 15 minutes from Bischwind and it is a regional hub for this part of the Poconos.  The aim of our visit to W-B was to find a Starbucks – not a simple feat.  After driving around the town for around 30 minutes we came to the conclusion that there must be a ban on Starbucks in PA!  Fortunately, with our Chai Tea and Latte pallets in need of a serious recharge we managed to find an outlet inside a Barnes and Noble store downtown – what a challenge!

With hot takeaway cups in hand we headed out of town to the beautiful Ricketts Glen area.  Billie had sung the praises of Ricketts Glen and we were up for the adventure.  It took about 30 minutes to drive out to Ricketts Glen and despite a truck driver that must have been watching “White Line Fever” the night before we enjoyed the drive along the scenic country roads.

Ricketts Glen is home to a beautiful lake and an area that has two gorges that are home to spectacular waterfalls.  We spent 4 hours hiking “The Glen” and photographing the waterfalls in each gorge.  The walkways along the gorge are quite challenging in places so we had to pay attention to our footing.  To capture the falls we had to use our tripods and, at times, flashes.  The thick overhead flora made for some spectacular sunlight effects but it also meant that capturing some shots was difficult.  A great day of challenging photography.

We had a great day of hiking and working off some of the breakfasts we have been eating.  It was nice to get out and do some physical and mental exercise.  If you are traveling to the Poconos region then make sure you pay a visit to Ricketts Glen – you won’t be disappointed.

We left Ricketts Glen just as the sun was getting low in the sky (quite late at this time of the year) and drove back to Wilkes-Barre.  We returned to a mall area that we had passed by a few times and settled on dining at The Olive Garden Italian restaurant.  The meal we chose was very nice however the wine was a bit average – you can’t win them all!

We arrived back at Bischwind around 2115 and took some time out to update the website.  After a long day of walking and photography we were ready for a long sleep – this was achieved in no time shortly after our heads hit the pillows.

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Who’s Jim Thorpe

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

This morning we rose nice and early because we wanted to capture some of the beautiful sights around the immediate environs surrounding Bischwind.  The morning light is soft and this has a big impact on photography.  I guess we will become early risers if we want to make the most of this special time of the day.

After our early morning “happy snapping” session we returned to the dining room in this most beautiful establishment and sampled the delights of Billi’s cooking.  We sat at a different table this morning- making the most of the different settings and outlooks.

I decided to have a shave this morning (getting a bit “wooly”) so, after a delightfully long shower and a slow “get ready” we departed for our day out.

Our plan for today was to take in the sights of a nearby town called Jim Thorpe.  This historic town, located south of Wilkes-Barre, was renamed after one of the USA’s most successful Olympic athletes.  It was also the site of the legendary “Molly Maguires“.

The drive south to Jim Thorpe took around 40 minutes.  The American freeway system is extensive and a joy to drive on.  It makes for safe and efficient travel in these parts!  Nearing Jim Thorpe we left the main highway and followed a beautiful country road down through small mountain passes and past the changing deciduous trees that the east coast of the US is so well known for.  A beautiful drive indeed.

Being a weekday meant that we were able to find a parking spot quite easily – the town would be rather crowded during peak times!  We paid a quick visit to the tourist information center (located in the old train station) before setting off for a walk along the streets of this “lost in time” town.

The town was the site of the 1970′s movie that was made about the Molly Maguires (starring Sean Connery) and this lead to a quite a few dollars pouring into the town for renovation pre the movie being shot.  The end result is a picturesque streetscape that depicts the era of the Molly Maguires

The walk along the streets was very peaceful (this place is a sleepy little hollow) and there were many photo’ opportunities.  The variety of colours on the original old houses, the sunflowers and the antique “bric and brac” that adorned front yards and porches provided some great “some shot” options.

Located on one of the back streets was a small wine cellar.  The cellar featured local wines that were produced in the Poconos and The Princess and I were rather taken with one of the blueberry wines that we tasted.  In fact, we were so impressed with it that we purchased several bottles of this sweet wine.

Before leaving the town we purchased some take away rolls and coffee and drove a short distance to a very interesting named local lake – Mauch Chunk Lake Park.  Sitting beside the lake and watching people fish and kayak was a very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.  Indeed, it was so relaxing that we took some time to have a short sleep!  Ah, holidays in summer.

We drove back to Bear Creek via  a small town called Hazleton – another “lost in time” Poconos township.  As we neared the Bischwind B&B we took a back road to a local lake called Crystal Lake – a peaceful place on a quite Wednesday afternoon.

The Princess’ had her “mastermind” conference call this evening so I opted to take some late afternoon/early evening shots of the house exterior and the Bear Creek lake – located on the grounds of the Bischwind B&B.  This beautiful little lake provides a wonderful backdrop for late afternoon photo’s and it was a very pleasant experience indeed!

We opted to eat some of the left over take away that we had in the fridge for supper.  Of course, we washed it down with some lovely red wine.  The wine and the day’s exercise meant that we fell to sleep rather quickly when we lay down.

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