"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 27, 2016

Covered Bridges

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Take the road less traveled."

Pennsylvania is one of the leading states with the remaining number of covered bridges and Columbia County, where Kyle now lives, is home to the states third largest concentration of covered bridges (23). Once there were 14,000 wooden covered bridges in the United States, today there are less than 900. Time and technology has taken its toll on the bridges. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Vermont have a combined total of 550 authentic covered bridges with Pennsylvania leading with 198. Many of these bridges are over 150 years old.

A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof and siding, which create an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structure from the weather, but there are other explanations for covering the bridges. The spans were built to resemble barns so farm animals would feel more at home and not stampede as they were driven across the streams and rivers. Other explanations were to keep snow and rain off the bridge to keep the oiled planks of the roadbed from becoming dangerously slippery, to cover up unsightly trusses, to provide shelter to travelers caught in a storm and to provide a place to court your lady and secretly give her a kiss (the "Kissing Bridges”). The roof also strengthened the entire structure.

Here are a few of the ones we’ve seen and some pictures of the pretty countryside around Columbia Count. Here is a link to a map of their location.

Hollingshead Bridge located in Catawissa, built in 1851
Snyder Bridge built in 1900
Davis Bridge located in Cleveland, PA, built in 1875
Homes and barns are built right next to the road...very different from what we are use to in Texas
Esther Furnace Bridge located near Cleveland, Pa, built in 1881
St. Paul's United Methodist Church located near Esther Furnace Bridge
Parr's Mill Bridge built in 1866
More small farms and rolling hills
Richard's Bridge built in 1880
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June 24, 2016

June 24 – Bloomsburg, PA

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." ―Helen Keller

We've spent the last week helping our son and his family move and get settled into their new home in Pennsylvania. It's a pretty little town and the surrounding countryside is beautiful.

Bloomsburg is a small historic town located deep in the heart of the Susquehanna River Valley. It’s the county seat and home to just over 14,000 residents. James McClure was the first European to settle here in 1772 and it became the only incorporated town in Pennsylvania in 1802. The town was just a small village, until the 1840’s when iron ore was discovered in the nearby hills. The flourishing iron industry lasted 75 years.

Bloomsburg Town Hall built in 1890
Bloomsburg Courthouse built in 1891
The whole town is full of historic old homes
Town Fountain at Market Square 
Watching the movers bring in the boxes and furniture
Graham helping Paw Paw
Graham having fun in one of the empty boxes
Fishing Creek merging into the Susquehanna River. This is one of the rivers that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay
The Rupert Covered Bridge was built in 1847. It is one of 24 covered bridges in Columbia County, it is also the oldest. We're hoping to drive around soon and find some of the others.
A swimming hole under the covered bridge...just one of many on the Fishing Creek
Fields around Bloomsburg are a little bit smaller than the ones in Texas...but oh so pretty
It hasn't been all work...we've been having a great time playing too
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June 13, 2016

AC Unit vs. Jellies (Part II)

Rockport Harbor

A year ago I wrote about moon jellies (Part l) clogging up the strainer on our air condition intake. This year the problem is worse, the culprits are larger...this year it's cabbage heads. They're too large to be totally sucked in, so they come apart and get stuck in the line. Pieces and parts of them get hung up in the thru hull…here’s a picture of what our thru hull looks like. A gooey slimy jellyfish can plug these up faster than Stan can clean them out! When the thru hull and strainer get plugged…our cool air stops blowing, that's not a good thing in South Texas this time of year.
Cabbage Head is another name for the Cannonball jellyfish. Their dome-shaped bell can reach 10” in diameter and the rim is sometimes colored with brown pigment. Underneath the body is a cluster of oral arms that extend out around the mouth. These arms function as a way of propulsion and aid in catching prey. 

Cannonballs live in warm, estuarian waters, with an average temperature of 73.6° and are found along North America's eastern seaboard all the way to Brazil, but are also found in parts of the Pacific. One of the main predators of cannonball jellyfish is the endangered leatherback sea turtle (I think we need more turtles). 

Cannonball jellyfish are commercially harvested as food for humans. Along the southern coast of Georgia, jellyfish are a valuable export, which end up on dining tables across Asia. They are dried, preserved and packaged before being sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China, and Thailand. Recently, the blooms of jellyfish have increased along the Mexican coast. In 2012 20,000 tons ($3.5 million worth) were harvested from late April to early July. I’m thinking this could be a good opportunity for someone in Texas to make a little money and help the boating community stay cool.

Rockport Harbor
Cabbage Head (Cannonball)
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June 5, 2016

Tropical Vacations are Good for the Soul

Saltwater can soothe your soul…it’s a proven fact. Anyone who has spent time by the sea already knows that it does something to your body, mind and soul. For some of us that connection to the sea is even stronger and we thrive even more the closer we are to it and feel lost when we’re away from it for long.

A trip to the beach awakens all our senses. Besides the soothing qualities of being close to the water, spending time in or near the ocean can also provide real health benefits. The salty sea air fills our lungs with pure, clean air. As we swim in the salt water, our skin is revived. Walking on a sandy beach barefoot is an overall rejuvenation and gives our feet a natural scrub. To smell the sea and to hear the waves while sitting on the warm sand is deeply cleansing to our soul.
Swimming in warm seawater activates the body’s healing mechanisms to fight conditions such as asthma, arthritis, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases, as well as common aches and pains. Magnesium-rich seawater supposedly can relax your muscles, reduce stress and help induce sleep. Our bodies can also absorb beneficial things from the seawater like vitamins, mineral salts and other trace elements. Even if you don’t swim, the sea spray alone can give your skin a dose of iodine and negative ions, which can strengthen the body’s immunological defense mechanisms.
Stress is a major cause of illness and the blue and green colors of the ocean are cool and relaxing. It’s said that certain shades of blue, especially light blues, can decrease our respiration and blood pressure. Listening and watching the waves can almost put you in a trance, an effortless form or meditation. A tropical vacation can truly be a healing experience that helps us relax and let go of the worries and pressures we feel in our every day lives…so when is your next trip to the beach?

June 1, 2016

Wordless Wednesday