Sunday, July 8, 2018

White Mills, Pennsylvania: Dorflinger Glass Museum

All right, this is a slightly odd tourist attraction.

Dorflinger was one of the biggest manufacturers of cut glass in the country in the 19th century. Starting around 1860, the company in Northeast Pennsylvania made beautiful products that was used by the rich and famous around the country - including some Presidents.

It worked for about 50 years. But when founder Christian Dorflinger died in 1915, the company started on a path downhill and soon went out of business.

The land was turned into a wildlife sanctuary. At some point in the 1980s, it was decided that a museum dedicated to preserving the land's glass-related heritage should be created. The Museum was opened to the public in 1989.

Therefore, it took almost 70 years to salute the past in this way. There are a couple of rooms with some beautiful items located in the museum, and the traditional gift shop is at the far end of the building. Admission was only $5 during our visit. If you like this sort of thing, it might be worth a stop if you happen to be in the region.



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Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania: Zane Grey Museum

Zane Grey thought he was going to be a dentist at one point in his life. He had used his baseball skill to get a scholarship to Penn's dental school, and graduated in 1896. Grey played baseball and practiced a little dentistry for a few years.

Then he moved to rural Pennsylvania, where he wrote about his life in the outdoors. After giving up dentistry, Grey got married in 1905 and headed west on vacation ... and fell in love with that region. He started writing books about the West ... and books, and books, and more books. Grey stayed until 1918, before Hollywood called. It seems the moviemakers liked Grey's work as source material.

The so-called "Father of the Western Novel" worked until his death in 1939. The house back in Pennsylvania was sold to a family friend, who eventually turned it into a Zane Grey museum. And in 1939, the building was sold to the National Park Service, which maintains it today.

It's a great spot, right on the Delaware River. The bottom floor is open to the public, with several decorations still intact. The main room is shown in the photo here. A gift shop is part of the place too. There is no admission charge.

By the way, Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio, and a museum about him is maintained in nearby Norwich.

Here's a view of the grounds in PA that I couldn't have shot:

 

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Minisink, New York: Roebling Bridge

Does the name John Roebling mean much to you?

It does if you have gone over the Brooklyn Bridge ... or at least seen it.

Roebling designed that masterpiece, and he did this one too. It crosses the upper Delaware.

The bridge was originally the Delaware Aqueduct, and constructed in 1847. It's the oldest wire suspension bridge in the country. Back in the day it eased traffic on the river, as timber often was floated downstream to Philadelphia. The bridge connects Minisink with Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. The place received a facelift, courtesy of the National Park Service about 20 years ago.

The pillars at the bottom of the bridge are designed to break up the ice. On top, there are two paths for pedestrians, and a one-car lane for people to use when driving from one state to another.

It's all very impressive, and you might see some eagles if you go for a walk to the other state.



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Minisink, New York: Minisink Battleground Park

Sullivan County (NY) is located near the point where New York comes together with Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It might surprise you to know that it only had one battle during the entire Revolutionary War.

It didn't go so well for the good guys.

Captain Joseph Brant thought he had a chance to demoralize some of the people of the colonies, so he, some British forces, and some Natives pushed up the Delaware River Valley. The people of the colonies urged a response, even though the odds weren't exactly on their side.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Tustin led a relative handful of American troops into the region. As advertised, it didn't go so well. The Colonials were routed, and the British suffered relatively minor losses. We are talking less than 200 soldiers in all, so this was not exactly a major battle. But since it is the only battlefield of that era, Sullivan County turned it into a park. You can see a monument to perished on the hiking trail, as well as some key landmarks in the immediate area. It's a nice place to collect a little history and have a pleasant walk.

Brant, by the way, kept going. But he ran into bigger forces just east of Elmira, and was defeated.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Boulder, Colorado: Celestial Seasonings Tour

It had been about a quarter-century since our last visit to the Celestial Seasonings Factory in Boulder. It supposedly had been updated since then. Therefore, it was - once again  - tea time.

The plant is located a few miles east of downtown Boulder. Naturally, its address is 4600 Sleepytime Drive. Visitors can sign up for a free tour upon arrival, and try a variety of teas (and buy some pastries) while they waited.

The tour started with a video that explained the history of the company and the story of the manufacturing of the team in a straight-forward, pleasant manner. Then it was on to the factory itself. Everyone puts on a hairnet and beardnet (where applicable) before starting. We went on a Sunday, so getting in the way of workers was not an issue. The guide said that in the fall and winter, the plant is running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since tea is somewhat seasonal in terms of sales, things slow down a bit in the spring and summer.

The Mint Room remains a highlight. Tourists stroll into a room filled with mint, and it's almost overpowering. In fact, it some cases, visitors ask to leave the room. From there, it's on to the packaging area, as the tea is shipped throughout the world, Naturally, at the end of the tour, you go through a door into the gift shop. A variety of tea-related items are sold, including the product itself. The variety is wide and the prices are fair.

It's always interesting to go through a plant like this and see how things are made. While it helps to have a taste for this beverage, it's not a requirement.

Since photos aren't allowed on the tour, this video will show you what the tour includes:



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Estes Park, Colorado: Aerial Tramway

A little tip for those of you visiting Rocky Mountain National Park:

It can be crowded. Really crowded.

Weekends have gotten to be quite popular, and multiply that a time or two if it is a holiday weekend. So be prepared for a long wait to actually enter the park, especially in the morning or early afternoon.

If you didn't have much time to see the area, you can spend some happy hours in the jumping off point to the park, Estes Park. And, a way to see the high peaks is via the Aerial Tramway.

The facility opened after World War II and heads for the top of a nearby mountain - about a five-minute ride, one way. There you can see some of the Rockies' biggest peaks as well as the city of Estes Park. It's all quite spectacular, actually.

Each car holds about nine adults, and I'd bet the lines can be long. We waited about 40 minutes for our turn to go up. By the way, there is a good souvenir shop, etc. at the top. It's much more down-to-earth than the one at the bottom, which is more "arty." You can even get a drink and look over the countryside; there are worse ways to spend part of an afternoon.



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Allenspark, Colorado: The Chapel on the Rock

This scene might make you stop while driving along a highway in the Rocky Mountains.

It's the Chapel on the Rock, located a handful of miles south of Rocky Mountain National Park. If you like your churches to be inspirational, this is your place.

The facility was completed in 1936 after several years of fundraising and construction. The building's highlight came in 1993, when Pope John Paul II visited on his trip to Colorado. He blessed the building and took a walk in the area.

A nearby retreat center was burned up in a 2011 fire, and the surrounding area was wiped out, more or less, by a flood and landslide in 2013. Luckily, the chapel is fine, and a fundraising effort to construct a visitors' center is underway.

We had never heard of this before driving by it one day. It's a good idea to stop and look around.

The full tour:



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South St. Vrain Canyon, Coloardo

Interested in getting to Rocky Mountain National Park from the south? Here's a good tip passed on by a local.

One of the entry cities in the region is Lyons, located in the foothills of the Rockies. There are two ways of getting to the National Park. The best way to enter is to take Route 7, which climbs up South St. Vrain Canyon. I believe the area is part of the Roosevelt National Forest, but don't hold me to that.

In any event, the drive is spectacular. A creek runs down along of the road, and the path is surrounded by beautiful mountains. As the photo shows, it's particularly nice on a sunny day.

Eventually, Route 7 becomes part of the Peak to Peak Highway, which if a fine mountain road with some great views. It goes to Estes Park, where the main entrance is located. Route 36 then goes back to Lyons, and the road then goes to Boulder and points south.

By the way, there can be bunches of cyclists on the road - this being Colorado and all. So be careful out there. 

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Denver, Colorado: Confluence Park

Many major cities are located on rivers - big or small. The South Platte River isn't particularly mighty at this point of the country, but it does pick up a little volume at the point where Cherry Creek runs into it. That geographic point has been turned into a park area by the wise city leaders of Denver - Confluence Park. Supposedly, the city was founded there - which makes some sense.

It was a hot day when we were there in May - plenty of dogs were frolicking in the water in an attempt to cool off, and their owners didn't mind standing in the river either. It's surrounded by some nice parkland, and it is convenient to a variety of attractions in the area.

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Denver, Colorado: Millennium Bridge

If you head west on foot on the 16th Street mall, eventually you'll run into some railroad tracks and a light rail system. What do you do to get to Lower Downtown?

Walk over a bridge, naturally. And this bridge is a spiffy one, the first bridge using post-tensioned structural construction in the world - according to Wikipedia. We'll assume they know what they are doing.

The idea was to make it easy for pedestrians to cross over the tracks without having to go up and down a lot of steps. The beams apparently cut down on the size and depth of the bridge, so there's less walking involved.

From there, it's an easy walk to the riverfront. And you won't be too tired when you arrive.

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