Sunday, October 23, 2016

There Better be a Hawk up there!

Back in late March or maybe it was April a bunch of us went to Hawk Mountain. We climbed to the North Lookout and back on the main trail. We decided that coming back in the fall would be great! Only two of the four who hiked that day could make it today. Life has a way of doing that.

Today we took the River of Rocks Trail to the top. Combined with a return to the visitor center via the North Lookout Trail it's a 5 mile loop. The River of Rocks Trail lives up to its name. Not hard to do given it's found in "Rocksylvania".

The signs claim the River of Rocks trail is a moderate hike to the top. Moderate is relative though. Compared to the Skyline trail which is nothing short of death defying, the River of Rocks trail IS moderate. For us, it was a pretty good workout and as we neared the top one member of our group swore that there better be some hawks up there for all the work we put in getting there. Being the organizer of this trip I did not want her to be disappointed and was determined to lasso one if I had to. Fortunately I did not have to. Although we really couldn't tell one bird from another (except for the Turkey Vultures) there was a man at the top of the calling out the birds as he saw them through a gigantic camera lens.

If we had not seen any hawks, it still would have been tough to be disappointed because the view was fantastic.

After a rest at the top to enjoy the view and the birds and a snack, we began the trek back down to the visitor center.

On the way down, a man on the way up called out to Julius.

And the countdown began. Tick Tock Tick Tock. ...........and Julius won! He recognized his friend Bryce before Bryce introduced himself. Maybe you had to be there or maybe you have to be easily entertained as I am but I thought it was amusing.

Today was a gorgeous day to be on the mountain with friends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I treated myself to a community pool membership. It's at the local middle school so it's only open when school is open but it's a good deal so you take what you are given. Open/lap swims are 7-9 Monday - Friday evenings. There are morning and weekend hours too but I think I will likely go mostly in evenings.

I've been twice now. The first night there were two of us and tonight only 4 - so we each had our own lane. Eventually, I imagine, there will be a need to share lanes. The thought of that intimidates me. I'm a good swimmer but not a fast one. I worry about annoying someone faster. For now, though I can try to get into a routine of going and build some confidence to feel that I belong there. 

The pool is just over a mile from my house.Ideally, I'd like to walk there, swim and walk back. Tonight I just didn't have the energy so I drove. Work has been stressful lately (and will be for awhile) so I'm happy that I even went at all.

I'm swimming 500 meters total for now and I'll build on that through the season. My muscles seem to handle that distance just fine. But I'm having to get reacquainted with the breathing aspects of swimming. It'a amazing how we take breathing for granted until we have to pay attention to it!! 

Stay tuned. 

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It's All About that Base

Here is the post I wrote in my head while on the yellow trail at Ridley Creek State Park this morning.

Here we go again! Restart number 6352. Ok maybe a slight exaggeration. It's only 6349. But really whose counting besides me, right? Over the span of my August vacation time I decided that when Labor Day got here I'd try to get back to running.....again!

But this time I would go slow. Build a nice solid base. Hence the title in case you are not paying attention. I would start, I thought, by getting back to "just a mile" runs during the week and a little longer on one of the weekend days. So, on Tues, Wed and Thurs this week I ran just 1 mile around my neighborhood. So far so good. I read several somewheres that a weekly long run should be 35% of your total weekly mileage. So factoring in a "just a mile for tomorrow" I backwards mathed myself into a 2.1 mile run for today.

Today, I went to the yellow trail at RCSP for a change of scenery and because my fitness bucket list includes a trail race. Today I ran by feel but starting next week I will go back to using my heart rate monitor to keep me in a base building zone. I like the concept of heart rate training because it's more or less the same as keep smiling keep moving. If one must walk to stay in the zone so be it. One is still moving. The smiling part is hard though when the walking happens two feet into the run. And given my low level of aerobic fitness I'm sure that is exactly what will happen. :(

Hiking, boot camp and sporadic strength training on my own keep my body ready to go but my heart needs way more work. It let me know this when it went flip-pity flop less than a half mile in. :( :( Flip-pity flop is for the Amtrak Board not for running.

I wasn't going to make this effort public because I have failed so many times in the last three years it's embarrassing. But accountability is important so by sharing I'm hoping one of these times it will stick.

I need new running shoes. I've been alternating between two pair of older ones which are ok for biking or boot camp but not for running. There is a blister trying to form on my right foot. I generally get the blisters and hip flexor pain when my shoes are done. The hot spot made it difficult to do some movements at boot camp this week because I ran before class. The hot spot also caused me to change up my footfall during my trail adventure this morning trying to avoid the sensation and this happened.....

*sigh* I'm an idiot. It's not horrible. I can put weight on it but it's not happy flexing to the right. I'm investing some time in RICE therapy to hopefully speed up the healing process.

Maybe the running gods are telling me to give it up? (Sticks fingers in her ears) I'm just not ready to listen yet.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gravity Railroad Reading PA

Today's hike featured an out and back on the Gravity Trail starting and ending at The Pagoda in Reading, PA. Last April I hiked Mt. Penn to the Pagoda and then followed the Ferndale Trail The Ferndale Trail travels with the Gravity Trail for a part of it's trip in a 'northerly' direction. 

The Gravity Trail follows in the 'rail' steps of the Gravity Railroad which ran an 8.5 mile round trip of the mountain. You can read more about the Gravity Railroad and its history here. The railroad took passengers through picnic grounds, near hotels, vineyards and more. 

When I first picked this as my hike destination I had plans to hike 'south' toward the city then turnaround and go 'north' as far as Antietem Lake and back. The weather however changed that. In fact, the weather almost kept me home. The forecasts were calling for thunderstorms of varying descriptions all week; from scattered, to isolated to just plain storms.The only constant was 'some may be severe'. Given the high humidity today and the call for cooler weather tomorrow, severe was easy to believe. However, the arrival time of the storms kept getting moved later so I decided to go for it. Still the soupiness of the day - it was 99% humidity I'm sure - did cause me to cut the hike in half. I was drenched inside of 10 minutes and if I had any inclination to keep going when I approached the return spur to my car, the bugs encouraged me to stop. Despite all that I had a great time. 

There is a lot of history still along this trail. 

This building is now the East End Athletic Club built around the remains of the Mineral Springs Hotel.

Here is a photo I took of the Spring House remains next to the hotel. 

Here is a photo I took of the area just to the right of the Spring House today

I didn't hike as far as planned today. It seemed like a long way to drive (1 hour and 15 minutes give or take) for a 4-5 mile hike but it was totally worth it. Plus I like to drive so that wasn't a chore. As it was, I missed a turn on the way up to the Pagoda (the street sign was missing) and ended up at Antietem Lake, where the Gravity Trail should come out according to the maps. I'm pretty sure I found the parking area marked on the trail map but I could not see the trail markers. However, I was driving windy roads trying to avoid an accident. If I parked I probably could find it. I'm thinking that may be the place to start to do the second half of the hike I didn't do today. :) 

Keep smiling and Keep moving

Sunday, July 31, 2016


The US is experiencing a political debate unlike any other that I can recall clearly in my lifetime. I have vague recollections of a LOT of Nixon-Humphrey-Wallace nastiness in 1968. I was 8 then and I'm not sure if my memories are true or not. Our country was in similar turmoil back then....... but I don't have time to corroborate my memories right now and it's not the point I wanted to work on.

Back to the present day --- I find the social media and news media chatter upsetting. It used to be that negative campaigning was limited to the politicians themselves. The mud slinging, the name calling, the loud talking over each other was limited to the candidates. Today, it seems we have all been drawn into it. Maybe i'm more sensitive than most. I do have a low tolerance for conflict and loud noises. But I think it's more than that and it's scary. Come November, no matter who is elected, we all have to continue living, working and caring for each other. If we don't ..... like I said it's scary.

I think it would be helpful if we could stop and THINK before we post. Social media has made it far too easy to post and share without pause. It's created a frenzy of frantic discord.

T is for true. This one is challenging because much of the talk is opinions or interpretations of what's going on. And in the eye or mind of the speaker it IS true. I'm not suggesting that just because everyone doesn't agree - it's false. Nor am I suggesting that we all must fact check before we post. What I am suggesting is taking an extra pause before posting or sharing--- "is this really what I want to say or is it being said or shared in response to an emotional reaction I had?".

H is for helpful. Not everything must be said. Again, the question we could ask ourselves is "am I reacting or am I truly (there's that truth concept again) trying to further a valuable exchange."

I is for inspiring. Merriam Webster defines this as "causing people to want to do or create something or to lead better lives". This is a challenging one as well. There are many who when the say "vote for __________ or else" or "if you don't vote for ___________ you are no better than ____________" could say they are trying to inspire others to change the world by voting a certain way. And I'm not in any position to say the speakers are wrong.

I'd like to challenge folks to adopt the "Yes, and" strategy used often in improvisational entertainment. The "yes" portion allows for acceptance/respect that the other person has an opinion; the "and" statement adds new information to the conversation. I don't have to agree with you to have a "Yes, and.." conversation with you. "Yes....and" also forces us to stop and think before we speak or post.

I'm not completely naive. I get that the 'yes...and' conversation can be easily abused if someone really wanted to. Being a generally positive person though I do believe most of us, would find the strategy useful.

N is for necessary. I don't have much to say here. I think the H and the N go together.

K is for kind. When all is said and done (while it is being said and done in this case) is there a way to say what we need to say in a way that is kind. "Can I say what needs saying without shaming, slamming or ridiculing others?" I think if we manage T,H,I and N the K comes naturally.

In my opinion, if we are not careful in how we share our words - especially if our words are meant to bring about a certain action - we run the risk of causing the opposite of what we intended.

Keep smiling keep moving (and consider more *T*H*I*N*K*ing)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Horseshoe Trail: Warwick County Park to Hopewell Furnace and back.

When a heat wave strikes and the temps are predicted to be at or near 100 for the day it's a good time to plan your hike nearer to "civilization" than not. I had contemplated an urban hike for this weekend but sidewalks and streets were not the best place to be in this weather. I'll save that idea for another weekend. At the same time another AT hike seemed foolish. My gut was telling me to stay closer to places where I could get more water and head indoors if that became necessary.

After way more thinking than is necessary to be sure, I settled on a round trip hike on  Horseshoe Trail between Warwick County Park and Hopewell Furnace National Historic site. The two end points provide rest rooms and water fountains and St Peter's Village in between.

My plan was to start at 8 a.m. but I was awake at 5:30 and ready to by 6:30. Warwick officially opens at 8:00 a.m. I was likely to arrive there too early. I left anyway figuring I could simply start at St. Peter's Village instead. I was in luck, though, as the park ranger was just opening the gate when I arrived at 7:30. I gathered and check my gear slowly to give just enough time for the ranger to get the rest rooms open. :) I fastened the strap of my Garmin through a loop on my backpack. I brought it along this trip because it beeps at me every mile. After last weekend's hydration and fueling fail I wanted the reminder.

From the restrooms at Warwick you have to head down the park trail heading East to pick up the Horseshoe trail heading West. From there the trail climbs to the top of the ridge and follows it along the park boundary and then back down to the same level as the parking lot. It's a great way to start a hike. You get your blood moving and the views are awesome.

The HST leaves the park across County Park Road and a field before climbing again to about the same level as you were on the ridge. At the top of the hill is a trail register. I signed in using a pen that I had left there 2 years ago when I found no pen in the box. I was very surprised to see it still there and working!! I signed in and continued on my way.

As I mentioned a the beginning of this post it was predicted to be a very very hot day. About 15 minutes in I could slurp the sweat off my upper lip without touching it. It tasted like salt with a side of sunscreen.

Shortly after this the HST dumps onto Ridge Road for a trek downhill to route 23. It's the most boring part of this stretch. And despite having done it before and knowing that the big dog at the bottom of the hill is behind an invisible fence, I still jump when he starts charging. Once you cross Route 23 (carefully) you descend the trail and follow along French Creek

On my way  back through this section a group of boys
was jumping off the ledge you can barely see in the
back of this photo.I'm not sure the water is deep enough
but boys will be boys and judging by the laughter they
were having a blast and - so far - no injuries

The HST bears left just before the edge of St Peter's Village and follows the top of the hill past the village eventually turning away from it and the creek onto Trythall Road. There is a lot of graffiti along this part of the trail. :( I am more nervous on the graffiti filled trails than anywhere else. I always try to be aware of my surroundings and alert for trouble but I feel more concern when the trails are trashed like that. I think if someone has that little respect for the woods then they likely have none for me. Fortunately, I've never had any trouble.

Just before the trail turns left to head toward the road I met a couple and their dogs. Two gigantic dogs. But they were on leashes and the man was saying "It's OK. They won't hurt you". While he is saying that he left his female companion holding the dogs and kept walking toward me. Ummm.. ok the dogs won't hurt but what the H*** are you doing? (I said to myself). Then I saw the third dog, not on a leash. She had been camouflaged among the plant growth along the trail. She was directly between me and the approaching man. He was going to grab her leash. Both humans were seriously apologetic for the scare. They had let the dog go into the growth to do her business. I thanked them, starting breathing again and walked on.

Across Trythall road the HST goes into Crow's Nest Preserve and State Game Lands. I was wearing my orange hat today. It's not hunting season but the memory of trying to come through this section once before still lingers. I felt safer with the orange. It's a pretty but rocky section of trail from here across and onto the other side of Northside road. Weaving in and out of woods and open space.

Once on Green Lane (a gravel lane) I was in the boundary of Hopewell Furnace. Along Green Lane and through the Hopewell Big Woods  was the worst part of the trip. The bugs were awful. I wasn't getting bitten, thankfully, but it was as if they were playing a big game of tag and I was the home-free pole. They just kept bouncing off my head and arms.

Finally, I popped out of the woods and had arrived at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. I cleaned up as best I could in the rest room then headed to the visitor center to get my passport stamps; the regular park stamp and their 100th anniversary stamp. Back outside I found a shady spot to enjoy some lunch.

My lunchtime view.
Lunch consisted of peanut butter, honey and cinnamon on whole wheat bread
with a side of grapes and water from the fountain just to
the left in this photo. 

Refreshed and fed I began to explore the park. I had arrived just in time to see a molding demonstration. This was happening in the furnace hut next to the big water wheel. It was quite comfortable with natural air conditioning from the creek and water wheel. There were several families there watching as well.

Before heading on my return trip, I checked my water levels. Being later in the day, it was hotter and a bit more stifling so I knew I'd need more for the return trip. I had taken in half my 3 liter supply on the way out. I guesstimated that I should at least have enough to make it back as far as St Peter's Village.

I dreaded the beginning of the return because it meant going through the bug infested Big Woods and Green Lane. I don't know whether it was the fact that I had cleaned up (taken a lot of sweat off my face) or that it was a different time of day (I had spent about an hour at the park) or that I was just resigned and used to it but the bugs did not seem to be as much a bother and as a result this section seemed to go by much quicker.

I could feel the heat starting to take it's toll, though. I drank more as expected and worried just a bit about not having enough. I arrived at St. Peter's about 2 hours later with about 1/2 a liter of water left. I sent straight to the Ice Cream shop and ordered a bottle of water and ice cream! :) The water went straight into my pack and I judged it to be enough to make it back. I was less than 2 miles from Warwick at this point.

My view during my ice cream break.
Two scoops; salted caramel and coconut almond joy
Consumed slowly to allow sufficient rest and to avoid
ice cream headache :) 
I followed the blue trail from St. Peter's up to the HST and out to route 23. Here I made a decision to skip Ridge Road. My hiking shoes are great on the trail but are a (literal) pain on streets. I was not in the mood for walking up the hill on a paved surface. So I turned left on Route 23 and then right just a short distance away on County Park Road to the entrance to the park. I was still on a hard surface but for less than half the time of Ridge Road and flat. I felt I had earned the shortcut.

The side trip into St. Peter's and cutting out the trail going up Ridge Road made for a total of 13.9 miles. In this weather I think that was my limit. I was definitely ready to be done but not down at the end.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Are you a Scout or a Soldier

One of  a series. Visit the Mediation Tab to read more.

Are you a soldier or a scout? This is the question posed by Julia Galef in this TedTalk. It's a short (11 minute) Talk that includes a history lesson. I encourage you to listen.

Ms. Galef describes the soldier personality as "prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs" and the scout  personality as "spurred by curiosity".

When two or more people have thoughts or ideas on a topic, disagreements WILL happen. What a boring place the world would be if we all believed the same thing in the same way, right? Conflict is not in and of itself a bad thing. Some of the biggest discoveries in life came out of disagreement and subsequent 'scouting'.

It's only when there are too many soldiers and not enough scouts in the conversation that conflict escalates and becomes nasty. If all participants in the debate are soldiers - "prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs" - there is no room for acceptance of new or different ideas. And I mean acceptance not acquiescence.

A mediator helps conflicting parties feel the emotions that put them in soldier mode and then helps them move into scout mode so that they can be receptive to the other party's ideas. This is the foundation for creating a space where common ground can be discovered leading to mutual agreements. It's not about giving up your beliefs, but rather being curious enough to accept that it's ok for someone else to believe differently. Sometimes it's about being ok with being wrong. And above all finding a way to move forward together despite our differences.

The next time you find yourself on the 'other side' of an argument with someone(s) take a moment to check your soldier personality and allow your scout to do some listening. It's hard work that leads to great rewards.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Applachian Trail Hike; Port Clinton to Windsor Furnace

For this hike, I met Tootsie at the Hamburg Reservoir. This is the same place we met with Julius for our Pinnacle Hike two weeks ago. We car pooled to an AT parking area on Route 61 just south of Port Clinton and then hiked North back to Windsor Furnace and our cars. The AT maps and guidebook say this is 6.1 miles.

Our hike begins with the 'blue trail' from the parking lot to the AT. The guidebook simply says (the parking lot) "connects to the A.T via a blue blazed trail" and "blue blazed trail on west leads 100 yards to parking area." Notably absent is the word that best describes this trail STEEP.

Looking back up the
blue blazed trail after
descending from the parking lot. 
The blue blazes are scarce and at first we were not going to descend the hill until we realized the stones formed steps of a sort into the side of the hill. Once we began to trek down we saw more blue markings freshly painted on them.

At the bottom we turned left on to the AT. The trail climbs slowly back to Route 61 and passes under the road. Once on the other side we crossed Blue Mountain Road and a big wooden AT sing that I should have taken a photo of but didn't. From here the trail climbs steeply 900-1000 feet in the first 1.5 miles. I was disappointed in my inability to speak smoothly on the way up but my breathing returned to normal pretty quickly after we reached the ridge and I felt better.

As is typical for PA we did a lot of rock and boulder balancing across the ridge. The breezes were nice up there. There were some intermittent views of the town and the river below but the humidity and dense leaf cover did not make for great photos. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Unfortunately as we started to descend off the ridge and and the vegetation got thicker the humidity rose and the bugs were almost unbearable. I alternated between glasses on and off. For awhile it seemed the glasses were keeping the bugs out of my eyes but then they got smart and went around and got caught between the glasses and my face. Then one went up my nose and set the left side of my face into contortions. My nose itched and my eye watered. As annoying as all that was, it was still a great hike even though I still feel like bugs are trying to get in my ears.

We say two springs - Pocohontas and Minnehaha - both were flowing although the guidebook said Minnehaha is unreliable. (By the way I read the guidebook last night not while hiking). A deer darted across our path down the mountainside. Its buddy watched us walk by with some suspicion.

And we saw a snake. My first hiking snake. To be clear WE were hiking IT was slithering.

And of course we did exactly what you are not supposed to do. Stop and take a photo of it. We heard it first as it tried to slither away from us. Then it stopped and had just started to turn around when we left. Not sure what kind it is. I tried to look at photos on the Internet but it's too hard to tell what kind of markings this one has. It did not appear to be any of the venomous ones. :)

Shortly after the snake sighting we stopped to snack a bit and then finished the hike down into Windsor Furnace.

It was a hot, humid, mostly cloudy day and a great hike. I failed in hydration though and I'm still trying to recover. The headache is starting to get to me. :( I used my trekking poles today which helped on the climbs and the rocky sections, And on one of the descents they kept me upright when my foot slipped out from under me. The poles also kept my hands from swelling. Not having my hands free though made it awkward to reach for the hydration tube. I must fight the awkwardness and do it anyway. Lessons learned. :)

Keep Smiling and Keep Moving
- Paula

Friday, July 15, 2016

What is Mediation

One in a series. To read others click here.

Thank you very much to those who publicly "liked" and/or commented on my previous post. Your support encourages me to keep going. I look forward to more conversation, give & take on this.

I've been contemplating where to start the conversation. In my previous post, I proposed that the skills used by a mediator or learned by the parties in a mediation are useful in our everyday interactions. So maybe the best place to start is with an understanding of what mediation is.

Mediation is a type of negotiation. In a way we've all been dong it all our lives. If you are a parent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle, husband, wife, employer, employee - if you are a person who interacts with others in more than a casual acquaintance kind of way - I can all but guarantee you have been involved in mediation of some sort at least once in your lifetime.

Often when I bring up mediation as a resolution alternative for disputing parties one or the other will say things like:

"Look, I know I'm right. I do not want to compromise" or
"The other party is stubborn. There is no way they will compromise"

The thing is mediation is not necessarily compromise. Many situations result in compromise because through the process the parties come to see each other as fellow human beings. By separating people from problems we tend to be more inclined to want to compromise. By the same process - separating people from problems - many mediations result in the parties each keeping what the brought to the table because they realize that allowing that doesn't take away from who they are.

Mediation is magic. I've seen people start out barely speaking to each other, leave side by side smiling!

Keep smiling and keep moving

Sunday, July 10, 2016

High Hopes

" If you think you're too small to make a difference, you haven't spent a night with a mosquito." - African Proverb.

This appeared on the Facebook page of "Grok Nation"** on Wednesday of this past week. Seeing it - combined with the current events that prompted it - has prompted me to finally do something I've been thinking about for awhile.

I'm expanding the scope of my blog to include to include talk about mediation and conflict resolution. It's an area of study that I've become passionate about. Mediation is about resolving conflict by finding common ground and creating space for honest communication.

Sometimes people need a neutral third party - the mediator- to help find the common ground and create the space. However, the strategies a mediator uses can be used by anyone every day. It takes practice and varying degrees of conscious effort and I think it's worth it.

Talking about mediation and conflict resolution won't make everything better. We, the people, have to take action to do that. But maybe I can move people to create the space needed to communicate better. Whether it's about politics, guns, race relations, transgender rights or whose turn it is to take out the trash - we could all practice better communication.

And maybe I can't. I'm only one small person. I'm not sure I can say anything that anyone will care about. But I've decided to be a mosquito .........or maybe an ant. Moving rubber tree plants seems less painful.

Stay tuned. (To see related posts click here)

And for those that prefer reading about hikes and road trips, I'm still gonna do that too.

Keep Smiling and Keep Moving
- Paula

**Grok Nation is an online community founded by actress-neuroscientist-mom Mayim Bialik. For more about this site, read this letter from site founder.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Freedom Walk 2016

This year's walk (#4) combined the best of year 1 and year 2.

In year 1, I left from my house and walked straight down Baltimore Pike/Avenue; took a left at University City and a right down Chestnut Street.

In year 2, we left from the Media train station and followed the Leiper Smedley Trail along the blue route into Nether Providence; through Swarthmore and Morton on to Providence Road and through Cobbs Creek Park and eventually connecting to Baltimore Avenue. the Leiper Smedley Trail is nice but it added more hilly miles to the walk. Cobbs Creek Park was boring and added miles as well. Seeing the Aldan Borough Parade setting up was a highlight however.

This year we started at the Swarthmore Train Station. Septa Regional Rail is not running between Swarthmore and Media for the summer due to construction related to the Crum Creek Viaduct work.

Sara, Mike and I left Swarthmore Station at 8 a.m. 

A bathroom break at The Coffee Station in Morton.
No idea who this is but the sign said take a selfie so I did. 

Sara found a fork in the road
(but no Muppets)

Having cut out the distance on the Leiper Smedley Trail
We arrived in Aldan around 9:15 a.m. so no parade the year.

Still miles to go...

After lunch at Mix Brick Oven Pizza we arrived.
It was super crowded and the man who took the
photo couldn't get back far enough to include
the tower. Trust us it's still there.

Note the guy in the background. Perched precariously on top of the Declaration of Independence. I guess he drew the short straw this morning.

Once again we had a nice walk. Humid and overcast but not terribly hot. All three of us were quiet this year. We walked for blocks on end without saying a word. And that was just fine. I liked that we didn't feel the need to fill the air with conversation just because.

If you are interested here is a link to our route.

Save the date for next year (July 4, 2017 in case you are not paying attention). Barring any road or train issues we'll be leaving from Prospect Park Train station; walking through the Heinz Wildlife Refuge and on through Essington over the Passuyunk Ave Bridge and through Southwest Philadelphia to Independence Hall. It's just under 13 miles and includes a walk through the Italian Market area.

2017 will be year 5!! I think we should do t-shirts. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Pulpit-Pinnacle Hike - Berks County, PA

With a little help from friends anything is possible.

A little over a year ago I tried to do this hike and ended up turning around before the first view. I reached a rock scramble that was over my head and not being able to see over it scared me. I had visions of having to balance on a narrow ridge once I got up there and I freaked out.

Today, in the company of friends I made it over the scramble and on to some awesome views.
Here is me being determined not to fail this time. 
And victorious

This hike is loop out of Hamburg Reservoir. Julius, Tootsie and I had plans to meet at 8:00 a.m. I made two wrong turns on the way there and then got stuck behind the clean up of an accident at the last stop sign before the parking area. So we didn't set off until about 8:15.

The hike begins with a long slow and steady climb along the Appalachian Trail. As you near the first view point called Pulpit Rock the terrain gets rockier and rockier. Climbing and boulder hopping are way to the top. But it's so worth it. I think it'd be worth it in any weather but today was PERFECT!

More rocks and a meandering walk along the ridge brought us to the Pinnacle.

Just beyond this rock pile is the view from Pinnacle
(We added our own rocks to the pile before leaving.) 

Out of the woods and rocks to this. WOW! 

The hike down is wider and less rocky.
Less being a relative term. 

Here is a video of the hike we did. It's someone else's video but if you want to see moving pictures of the hike. You can start about 1:40 into the video to start the hike. About 11:10 is the start of the scramble that I bailed on last time. :)

I had such a great time today. Can't wait to do another one soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The time we learned that there is a Septa Rail Yard in Frazer.

Dave and I had tickets for One Day University today. It's something we've thought about doing and just never got around to. So when Dave saw it advertised about 2 months ago we checked our calendars and booked it.

The day was almost de-railed (pun intended but you have to wait for it) by the NCAA. When we were checking calendars, Dave commented that this weekend would be for college softball super regionals (aka regionals round 2) but "The chances I will get a regional let alone a super regional are pretty slim this year". Guess who got assigned both a regional AND a super regional playoff. I'll pause now while you virtually high five my husband who underestimates his awesomeness. And despite the gloomy rain we've had so much here lately, the weekend tournament ended on Saturday so our plans were still on for today.

The train is our go to choice for travel into the city. Since tonight I am leaving on the Amtrak out of Paoli to Harrisburg, it made sense to take the train from Paoli to Jefferson Station and back. We'd have an hour and a half to find something to eat before my train to Harrisburg. Perfect! :) Obviously not, or there is no story here.

At 7:51 a.m. we boarded the east bound Septa train at Paoli Station. At approximately 8:00 a.m. train stopped halfway between Devon and Strafford. This can't be good. Then the engine stopped and the lights went out as the emergency lights came on. This really can't be good. Then the engineer comes out of his cage. Three strikes and you're out? It could have been worse. We could have been in a tunnel, right? Fortunately, the first thing the crew chief did was open a door. Now I could breathe. Those of you with claustrophobia know what I'm talking about.

We ended up sitting in place for over 2 and a half hours. Infrastructure problems caused delays on Amtrak, SEPTA trains

After opening a door, stepping outside and talking on the radio the crew chief re-boarded the train and announced "We are going to have to be rescued folks and it's gonna take awhile" As nervous laughter followed him and his announcement down the aisle, I thought to myself that this guy obviously missed the class on emergency crowd control.

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.
Who's in charge. Amtrak or Septa?  
Then they counted us (37) and the first suggested option was a bus. That really wasn't a viable option though. Unless they planned a helicopter "rescue" there were only two ways to get us to a bus. One was to climb down a short but steep embankment to the parking lot behind the Devon Whole Foods. One man even asked to be let out to do that because his house was three blocks "that" way. The crew said, No. If he got hurt they were responsible.

The other way to get to a bus was to walk along the tracks back to Devon or forward to Strafford. It's doubtful they liked the idea of 37 of us traipsing down the tracks especially with the Amtrak still running on the inside rail.

Option #2 was to get an Amtrak train to stop and pick us up. Most of us did not like that idea. Not that we really had much say but it was nice of the train crew to keep us informed of their thought process. By now many of us were plotting to bail on our plans and find a way back to our cars in Paoli if we could just get off the train nearby. The Amtrak option - we were told- meant non stop to 30th Street from here. Actually I think it stops in Ardmore too but I wasn't going to weigh in on that at the time.

Option #3 was the winner. Wait for the westbound Amtrak to pass and then have a Septa train come out of the Frazer Rail Yard on rail #2 so we could switch trains. I had Dave google the Septa Rail yard so I could see where it was. The things you drive be everyday and never knew.

By 10:30 ish the Septa train arrived and one by one we stepped off our train, two steps to the left and on to the "rescue" train. This is not an easy thing for short people. Heck it wasn't even easy for tall people. It's a long way down from the last step to the track. Getting back up on the new train required significant upper arm strength and serious grunting for most folks.

At the next stop, Strafford, we got off. It was too late to make our classes now. Plus we were worried about getting back out of the city after. First order of business was to find a bathroom. Thank you Rite-Aid. Then we called my Dad who lives in Devon. He wasn't home. Later we calculated he was likely on his way to the Phillies game. It's 4.5 miles back to Paoli so we had breakfast at Nudy's, waved to our stranded train, and walked back to the car. Along the way we saw more than one Amtrak train but no Septa trains. We also saw the "tow train" heading to the rescue.

As of right now, Amtrak expects my train to Harrisburg be on time. Let's hope there are no more delays. :)

Keep Smiling and Keep Moving

And when you can't move
just SMILE !! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Taking Advantage of a Dry Day....

Having been washed out last weekend, Sara and I decided to try getting out the bikes today.

We agreed on 10 miles. I haven't been on the bike at all this year and not a lot last year. Sara wanted to practice clipping and un-clipping her shoes. (it's likely I've got the terminology wrong there). Plus it was chilly and damp. While today is dry, it's been raining a lot all week and the forecast calls from more tomorrow. The air is full of moisture and the temperature when we started was mid-high 40s.

We completed a slow almost 10 miles on the Chester Valley Trail between East Whiteland Twp building and the end of the trail heading west. That's why it was almost 10. We resisted the urge to ride around the parking lot to make it an even 10. :) It was a successful 'get out the kinks ride. Nobody fell down! :)

I brought my running shoes with the intention of keeping Sara company if she wanted to run after. She is in training for the Atlantic City Ironman in September! (Go SARA!) However, she did not want to run today because she is running Broad Street tomorrow. I was not unhappy about this. :)

When I got home I decided to tackle the side hard where the weeds were taking over the Hostas. This is a perfect example of 'careful what you wish for'. Since the neighbors took down their tree we have lots of sunshine on the side and things grow. Yay! Some it's grass but most of it's weeds. Not so yay! I didn't take a before photo. So look at the after photo and imagine grass and dandelion puffs weaving in and around the Hostas.

Trust me it was a mess! The job's not finished but my hands and neck were. The azeleas popped this week. Unfortunately, by the time  I could take the photos the sun left again. Hopefully it comes back before the color leaves.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

When it Rains on Plan A

You go to plan B, right?

Well here's the thing. Plan A was a bike ride. When we set it up the forecast was good and even though it waffled during the week it still looked good for today. Rain showers to end by 8 am. Perfect. Well the clouds either really liked our hospitality or they were too drunk too float. By this morning it looked like we would have rain during out ride.

Plan B then was to run. I knew Sara and Maggi were planning to run after the ride so I wore my running shoes (bike still in the back of the car just in case). When I arrived at the meeting spot it was raining pretty steady and got more so as time wore on. By 8 am it was coming down enough that we didn't even want to run in it. *sigh* So we left. As I drove home it lightened up. But I was heading more or less East and so was the storm so I knew it would catch up with me if I tried to run at home.

Since my watch was already set for 1 and 2 intervals I decided to use it. First, 1 minute up and down our stairs. During the 2 minute interval I did 30 cross body punches (15 each side), 30 jumping jacks, 30 cross body marches (15 each side). Any remainder in the 2 minute interval was spent doing runner stretches, hip hinges or warrior 2. I had less time for stretches in the last few intervals as my body wanted to cheat on form and I had to work harder to avoid slouching while moving through the jumping jacks and cross body work.

My goal was to keep moving for the 12 intervals I had set up for running and I did. I worked up a very satisfying sweat too. Although, that may be just as much due to the humidity as anything else.

Sometimes you have to go to Plan C.

Keep smiling and keep moving
- Paula

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Banner Week

Blogger does not think Villanova is a word. One would think that wining the NCAA Basketball Championship (Div I) we could get official 'word' status without having to add it to a personal dictionary. Hmphh!

So anyway, because of that life in this area has been a bit wild and crazy this week. Police escorts back to campus, a parade and yesterday it snowed. April 9, 2016 it snowed. I don't think the events are related but it has been a crazy week.

A friend bought me a Villanova championship t-shirt. It says "Built on Banners" with dates and such. I'm really not sure what "Built on Banners" means. I know the team gets a banner to hang in their gym but it's not like we have tons of them having only won once before. And even if we had tons of them that's a weird thing to say on a t-shirt or anywhere. BUT we did win, it's a championship shirt and I will wear it proudly whenever I can even if I have to shrug when folks ask what does that mean?

I enjoyed a wonderful hike at Ridley Creek State Park today (as most of them are). The sun came out and the snow sparkled. I was  glad to have my hiking poles. I don't need them for inclines or declines in this park but I find that having my hands above my elbows keeps them from swelling. Today the polls also helped in some spots that were covered in ice as the snowfall last night turned to rain before stopping and then froze overnight. I enjoyed hearing my feet crunch through the snow and only almost wiped out on some black ice when making a road crossing. Almost but not quite thankfully.

Here are some more photos of the morning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trail Running

Tonight I went to Ridley Creek State Park after work.

The plan was to do the little trail loop (about 1/4 mile) off of Area 17 to warm up and then tackle the exercise court. The loop part was easy. It's pretty much flat there with just enough roots to make you have to pay attention but not enough to discourage.

The exercise court (a circuit of body weight exercises) proved more intimidating than I should have let it. Partly because I can't do a pull up to save my life and partly because other people showed up who seemed to know what they were doing and I felt like I was in the way. I have to figure out how to look or act like I know what I'm doing since I plan to go back.

Frustrated by what I felt was not enough of a work out I decided to tackle the longer trail loop. This was about 1.25 on the yellow trail mostly. Much more up and down than the smaller loop. A steep up and down and then one longish climb. Steep and longish are of course relative to one's experience and skill level on trails. I am a newbie.. you can do the math. Still I'm proud of having done it. It's all about just doing things this year.

On the way home, I marveled at how a mile in the woods is more fun than a mile on the road.

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Haverford Heritage Trail - 3/26/16

Sara and I went on a 'urban hike' today. We did go through some woods and traveled on off road trails in sections but the primary surface was paved roads and sidewalks.

Total mileage 6.5 give or take
I created our route starting with the Haverford Heritage Trail. Page two of the brochure found here shows the entire 14 mile trail. The trail is not fully traverse-able right now because the Darby Creek Trail is washed out in spots. So we did the route marked in blue in this photo.

From Ardmore Avenue and Golf View Road we wandered into the center of the map to visit my old house on Grasslyn Avenue. Hey, this was a heritage hike after all. ;)

From here we headed out to Eagle Road to pick up the Pennsy Trail which takes off behind the YMCA formerly the bubble gum factory for those that remember these things. I closed my eyes to see if I could still smell the bubble gum. Mostly all I could smell was chlorine.

I'm fairly certain the Pennsy Trial is new. Ok new is a relative term. It wasn't there when I lived in the area 40+ years ago. If it had been I'm sure I would have discovered it. The Pennsy Trail connects the Y to the Skatium.

We turned off the trail at Manoa Road to follow the Heritage Trail. The trail is nicely done. It connected us to all sorts of historic spots. Being the old fashioned dork that I am I printed out the descriptions to take with us. Yes, I know we could have looked them up on our phones but that uses data and battery unnecessarily (IMHO). Sara patiently listened as I read off the descriptions at various stops. Go ahead laugh. I'll wait.

Our tour took us past; The Glen; The Grange Estate; Old Manoa Road; Powder Mill Valley; Gunpowder Magazine; Lawrence Cabin (relocated); Nitre Hall; Beechwood Station/Park/Bridge; Leedom/Dickinson Mansion; Old Haverford Friends Meeting; St. Denis Church/Cemetery; Mary Kelly Ott House.

The spots were in various states from functioning structures (The Grange, St Denis Church and the Mary Kelly Ott House) to crumbling remains (the gunpowder magazine). I was grateful for the directions and descriptions or we wold have missed a few of the stops.

The trail is well marked in a variety of ways depending on what was available.

The Leedom/Dickinson Mansion fascinated me. I wondered if the folks who lived in the more modern houses surrounding knew what it was. There is no sign and it appears that someone does live in it.

We arrived back at our cars about 2.5 hours after we left them. We had mapped out another 3 miles but decided to save that for another day. With all the stops to check things out that 3 miles was going to take us farther into the afternoon than I wanted to go today.

The Haverford Heritage Trail is a great idea. More communities should do this!

-Keep smiling and keep moving