Posts Tagged ‘North America’

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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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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Stroudsburg, Falls and Indian

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

After yesterday’s long drive down from Niagara Falls we decided that we deserved a little “lie in” this morning.  This was not a difficult thing to achieve considering the beautiful bed, the magical surroundings and the peace and quiet that surrounded us at Bischwind.

Upon waking we readied ourselves and headed straight down to breakfast – the shower could wait.  This was our first morning here at Bischwind and it was a real treat.  The breakfast surroundings in this magnificently decorated establishment meant that we were continuously looking around.

We were joined at breakfast by a couple from Pennsylvania and we enjoyed swapping stories of our travels to different places in the world.  It was nice to learn about the travels of another couple and to get some great “intel” on the Poconos.

After breakfast we showered and changed and headed out into the grounds surrounding Bischwind to take some photo’s.  However, the sun was a little too high in the sky and this lead to some harsh light and challenging photography.  I guess it is all learning!

Today our aim was to take in the sights of a town called Stroudsburg.  This small town is located near the Delaware Gap and it came to our attention after reading an article in a flying magazine that I get – Pilot Getaways.  Indeed, this is how the Poconos came to our attention and the reason why we are now here.

The drive to Stroudsburg took around 50 minutes – a pleasant drive along some well made country roads and some very large freeways.  Our Nokia GPS kept us on the rails and finding the town was an easy affair.  Love the GPS!!

On driving into the small town’s main street we spotted a Starbuck’s store and quickly found a car park out the back.  Nothing like a morning heart starter and the ambiance of a local town.

After our morning coffee we walked the main street and went found info center.  We took some photo’s however the town was quite small so it did not take too long to capture any of the sites that presented as “photo worthy”.

From the main street of Stroudsburg we drove out to the small airport that was featured in Pilot Getaways magazine.  I love small airports and it was a real treat to drive around this picturesque little place.  There were a couple of very interesting hangars located on the field.  They looked like big clam shells.  The Princess and I just had to take a look at them so we parked the car and walked around for a while.  Some local aviators were happy to share their knowledge about the design of these interesting structures.

We left the rural airport and headed off (with the help of “surfer dude” – our talking GPS) to Dingman’s Falls – about 20 minutes from Stroudsburg.  The information that we had picked up at the tourist information center in Stroudsburg highlighted this lovely little place so we thought we would take in some of the local scenery and capture it on our Canons.

After arriving at the falls area carpark we took a beautiful short walk through the forest to the subtle yet very picturesque falls.  We took quite a few photo’s of the falls and spent some time talking to a couple from Florida.  We took some photo’s for them and their grand daughter took some photo’s of us in front of the falls.  We also used the tripod to take some self portraits with our cameras.

The early evening sun was getting low in the sky just as we left the falls carpark – a sign that is was time to put the cameras away for the day and head back to Bear Creek.

We drove back toward Stroudsburg before joining the highway toward Tannersville.  On the way down to Stroudsburg we passed “The Crossings” premium outlet stores and we decided to check out this huge outlet mall area on our way back “home”.  We spent around an hour meandering in and out of shops and picked up some “bargins” to add to our already “too full” suitcases.

While walking around the outlet area our stomachs let us know that it was time to eat so we headed off in the direction of Tannersville in search of a place to eat.  After a very short distance we found an Indian restaurant called the Tandoor Palace.  This “not so interesting from the outside” restaurant served excellent food and our table was located inside an old train carriage.  The family dining next to us (from New York) were interesting to talk to over dinner – a very pleasant evening indeed.

We were still some distance from Bear Creek so this meant a late evening drive back to our “digs” at Bischwind. “Surfer dude” came in very handy and guided us back with expert precision.  We are becoming very big fans of GPS technology for our road trips!!

What a great day out – photography, falls, aviation, some retail therapy and some great Indian food to finish it all off.  Happy holiday makers!

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Driving New York and Pennsylvania

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Today was the day we had chosen to leave Niagara Falls and travel through New York state and down to the Poconos region of Pennsylvania.  With quite a long drive mapped out for the day we decided to rise  early and get on the road by around 8.00am.  To achieve this we got up around 5.30am had a shower, packed the car and headed off in the direction of the USA.

We crossed into the US via the Rainbow bridge and, fortunately, at this time of the day is was very quiet (another reason for getting up early).  There was some confusion with my entry permit because when I came into the US (on the 2nd of August in San Francisco) the immigration officer didn’t give me the “arrival/departure card”.  Fortunately I had a copy of my electronic travel authorization (ETSA) and the immigration officer at Rainbow Bridge was happy with this so he let us through.

After leaving the immigration post we drove down to Buffalo Internationl airport in order to sort out the new contract for the car.  When we arrived in Toronto we hired the car under a Canadian contract and to reduce the cost of the hire they suggested that we “return” it to the company in Buffalo and rehire the car in the US.  It saved us a lot of money so we didn’t argue with the logic.  The staff at the Buffalo airport were wonderful and we were sorted out and back on the road in less that 20 minutes (same car). We drove into a nearby strip mall and found a nice Starbucks restaurant in a place called Cheektowaga.  We had a lovely mid morning “breakfast” – coffee and a bagel whilst sitting outside in the small dining area they had setup.

We returned to the road and traveled via the beautifully paved Interstate Highway 90 (i90) toward a place called Clifton Springs.  Just past Clifton Springs we left the i90 and turned south onto Highway 14 and drove down the western edge of Seneca Lake (one of the beautiful lakes in the “Finger Lakes” region of New York state) before heading east on the across to the i86 toward Binghamton.

The last part of our 6 hour trip saw us arriving in Pennsylvania from the north on i81.  The relatively short trip from Binghamton to Scranton, past Wilkes-Barre and onto Bear Creek was a pleasant drive along the now forest lined highways in the beautiful Poconos region of Pennsylvania.

With our very trusty “surfer dude” talking GPS (Nokia x6) guiding us around the side roads near Wilkes-Barre, we found our palatial accommodation (the beautiful Bischwind B & B in Bear Creek) around 5.00pm.

Our lovely host, Billi, met us on arrival and checked us into our beautiful room – The Bear’s Den.  What a beautiful place!  This incredible family home is an icon in the Bear Creek and Wilkes-Barre area and we felt like royalty in the place.

After settling into our stunning room we returned to the main dining area a met the “Queen Mum” (Barb). Barb is Billi’s mother and it was a real pleasure to be able to spend time with this beautiful lady and learn more about the history of Bischwind.

After familiarizing ourselves with the house and the environs we headed back into Wilkes-Barre to pick up some take-away pizza and a bottle of wine.  I had my mastermind call on this evening so we decided to “eat in” and relax after a long drive down from Buffalo.

Falling to sleep in the delightfully comfortable bed in “The Bear’s Den” was very easy and we achieved this task around 2300.

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