Where is this?

img_2191
Representation of the Roman Roads.

I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite places again recently – kind of a world tour if you will.  Guess where it is?  Here are some photos first.

img_2248
Short visit to Italy

img_2249

img_2250
Germany anyone?
img_2252
China along the way
img_2242-2
Patriotism for the U.S. is evident in this place.
IMG_2247.JPG
Inside the American Adventure there is patriotic music, flags of nations, special themes, video reflection on the USA.

img_2245

The Promise of America.  American Adventure showcases the importance of those who came to the U.S. over the ages and contributed to the building of a nation, and  allows those who want to enter for a new life and opportunity to do so under the law of the land.  The Statue of Liberty still shines bright.  (Rendition by Artist Herbert Ryman, 1982)

img_2243-2
Westword Ho!  From the east to the west those who ventured for a new life in the U.S.A. endured many hardships to create for themselves one nation under God, with Liberty and Justice for all – and the pursuit of happiness.  Countless souls lost their lives to experience the opportunities while establishing the western U.S. (Rendition by Artist Jack Martin Smith, 1982)
img_2254
Who is this?  Looks like part of the Scandinavian folklore.  
img_2255
Can you locate the vegetative images from a popular animated movie?
img_2256
This photo should confirm your suspicions.  You guessed it right!  Disney World Orlando – Epcot.  I returned this past week and decided to provide more updates.  

I’m curious.  Who has not gone to Disney World in Orlando, Florida?  If you haven’t what would you like to see if you were able to go?

For those who have gone, what is your favorite at Epcot?  I’ll post my favorite ones later.

(The Promise of America and Westword Ho! artwork in this blog is photography from Disney Imagineering in Epcot’s American Adventure.  Personal notes were added to the caption.)

Short venture at Disney – long in thought

disney-castle-front

I wonder how many people over the ages have been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida?  This blog is not an adventure to gather statistics but as a point of curiosity.

I have made countless trips in the Florida Disney disney-castle-sideTheme Parks and mostly venture to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.  My favorite thing to do is just walk around and pop in a ride if the line isn’t too long.

disney-splash-mountain

In 2016 I intentionally backed off of the visits but decided to return recently.  There remains that certain feeling of adventure, excitement and escape from the daily routine that I missed.

disney-frontierland-2This visit was only for a few hours just to see how the crowds were doing, and if nothing else, just walk around.  I don’t have to ride every ride before I find enjoyment .  In fact, I don’t have to ride ANY rides to find enjoyment.  Have you ever just gone there, or any other favorite park, and simply observe the people, architecture, landscape, colors, pageantry and the like?  That’s what I mostly enjoy. disney-near-aladdin-crowd

disney-retreat-ceremony-3After years of being at Magic Kingdom we just happened to be at the right place at the right time upon entering and noticed the retreat ceremony preparing to start.  I had never noticed this before.  We decided to wait and watch.

With Disney-like precision the honor guard members formed, the band appeared and the color guard stood at attention to receive the flag of the United States of America.

The band strikes the chord and the honors begin.  The sound of retreat is played by the brass section, signifying securing of the U.S. flag at the end of day. Crowds gathered and most rendered their own salute to the Star Spangled Banner (National Anthem), which renews the feeling of patriotism.

The flag slowly flows from its lofty perch on the staff.  It is now secure.  Respect has been shown and the show goes on as people from all walks of life, nationalities and cultures from the world express their excitement in the events that unfold throughout the park.

 

I wonder!  What do people from other nations think about this patriotism?  Also, as one looks over or through the crowds, can you determine who is from North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa?

Don’t we all want to enjoy life?  Don’t we all want to live in freedom, laugh, play, disney-frontierland-2rear our children, make life meaningful and prosper?  What if we had a similar peace throughout the world like we experience at Disney as we are respectful of one another and desire good will upon each.  Wow!  No doubt the world would be better for humankind and people won’t need to live in fear.

disney-carousel

disney-people-mover-2The People Mover is one of my favorite activities at Disney.   It’s just an easy, simple ride on a tram-like cart traveling through attractions and is quite relaxing.  I can’t believe there was a line for this one this time.  We usually walk right on.  However, the 20-minute wait wasn’t bad.disney-people-mover

 

As night erupted, mixed with the colorful sky and the various rides where laughter ring out, my mind focuses on the color exhibited by the vast array of showcases.  Actually, can you see the castle behind this picture of color at one of the attractions.  We traveled on the People Mover and the lights screamed out at me to get my attention.  I couldn’t resist.disney-lights-at-future-land

We get so caught up in instant success and instant gratification we often become very impatient while we’re trying to relax and have fun, right?

Well, I’ll look for another trip and plan around the time when I can just enter attractions without a line.  And, if there is a line, I’ll walk around again and take in the sights and sounds like before.

I am pleased though to see the laughter and excitement on faces of old and young alike, from all walks of life throughout the globe, as they too enjoy the moment to simply “live.”  What is your escape from the harshness and routine of life?

Well, my thoughts wondered again.  I wanted to see another of my favorite Disney hall-of-presidents-at-disneyattractions in the three short hours of this visit.

The Hall of Presidents is always an inspiring venue that reminds me of the leadership and sacrifices of our presidents over the years to keep the United States of America free as a democracy so that all those who seek freedom and peace can still see the beacon of hope.

disney-hall-of-presidents-night-3 disney-hall-of-presidents-great-seal

I often take a look at the items on display in the Hall foyer before proceeding into disney-hall-of-presidents-washington-teeth-scalersthe main auditorium.  I attempt to visualize and absorb what these plain, everyday-type artifacts represent.  To me these are small reflections of those who led our nation at their respective times and still carried on their daily lives as well.

disney-hall-of-presidents-lincoln-pencil disney-hall-of-presidents-hoover-items

 

 

 

 

 

The Hall has a great, patriotic presentation in the auditorium.  I enjoy seeing and hearing the comments from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, and in the future – Donald Trump.   It’s amazing to see the likeness and interaction of the figurines as each president is introduced.

disney-hall-of-presidents-1

disney-hall-of-presidents-washington

 

 

 

 

 

disney-hall-of-presidents-lincolndisney-hall-of-presients-lincoln-items

disney-hall-of-presidents-obama2

 

 

 

 

 

We may not have a long heritage like some nations do but we have a proud heritage – and one that we want to maintain so that other people of the world can still look to the U.S. as a nation that desires peace and prosperity for all, and that we still are a beacon for anyone who wants to live peacefully and make a life full of meaning to benefit the human race.

disney-hall-of-presidents-washngton-and-obama2As the U.S. embarks on another inauguration of a president, how different will President Trump be from President Washington, or Lincoln, Jackson, Cleveland, Roosevelt, Ford, on and on?  That’s what I wondered as I visited the Hall of Presidents again.  Just like all the presidents before, they were given the opportunity to lead a nation – “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  May God help us to still stand undivided in this nation, and the nations of the world, for those who yearn to be free and enjoy life to the fullest, without fear, threat or intimidation.

Life is too short to not enjoy it with full meaning and in peace.  Let’s allow time to become our ally.

From Virginia to Pennsylvania – home town America

countryside-from-nc-to-va

North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania – the miles click by.  I could have stopped in each small town and stay awhile but I was on a journey.

evergreens-in-ma
Evergreen trees – AKA Christmas trees – blanket some of the terrain from the northern part of North Carolina and into Virginia.  They’ve likely adorned thousands of homes during our recent holidays.

Sometimes the destination becomes the object of our focus and we pass by areas of interest on the journey.

These photos are glimpses of the “blink of an eye” travel. Sometimes you just have to stopped and pause.  I’m glad the camera helps us freeze, and seize, the moment when we see one.

penn-bridge-near-york-3
Farms along the open countryside in Virginia and Pennsylvania capture your attention as you cruise along.

penn-farm

While these picturesque sites are great to see, I wonder if the work behind the scene compensates for the beauty and peacfulness of farm life.  How about it farmers?  What do you say?

penn-farm-1 penn-farm-2

 

 

 

 

I love west Pennsylvania’s farms, rolling hills and the peaceful back roads.  It seems a different life when you compare the western side to the eastern side.   While larger cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have so much to offer, it’s hard to beat the easy-going routes between the cities.  Life just slows down.

One of my favorite places to stay, although it’s an international brand, is the Hampton Inn, part of the Hilton Hotel family.  I really enjoy staying at their facilities.  It is a relaxing hotel that gives you that special sense of cleanliness and comfort.  You can tell by the fresh smell.  Oh, did I mention the complimentary full breakfast.   Yep!

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in York, Pennsylvania. I’ve been through York previously but this time I wanted to gather a little more information about the area.

York, Pennsylvania is a city of about 40,000 people. Yorkcountypa.gov mentions that Pennsylvania’s York County was founded in 1749 and has a proud role in the history of the United States.

The formation of the new nation – USA had many challenges toward development.  One was an organized resistance during the American Revolution. The Articles of Confederations, which was the precursor to the U.S. Constitution, was drafted in York.

Yorkpa.org mentioned York, Pennsylvania as the first capital of the United States.

Laid out by the Penn family as the first city west of the Susquehanna River in 1741, less than four decades later York became the seat of power for the U.S. when it hosted a Continental Congress on the run from British troops in 1777.

William Penn, a Quaker who was born in 1644 in London, England, was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Wikipedia.org).

In 1681 King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to William Penn to satisfy a debt the king owed to Penn’s father.

York is also referenced as the “Factory Tour Capital of the World.”  According to Trip Advisor there are thirteen different factories open to the public.   You can learn about potato chips and how they’re made to how Harley-Davidson Motor Company makes their motorcycles.

The York Barbell Factory is also located here.  The USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame is included.

It’s amazing the locations one will encounter when you don’t have a specific travel agenda and take advantage of opportunities.

While traveling northeast from York we crossed the Susquehanna River.  I was intrigued by the railroad bridge that was parallel to our crossing but didn’t notice the very bridge I traveled.  Well, I decided to turn around and take a look.

penn-bridge-near-yorkI was amazed at the architecture of the bridge. Just think, you don’t notice the beauty around you until you pause a little to reflect.

This is the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in Columbia.  Construction began in 1929, opened in 1930 and renamed as the Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1980.

penn-bridge-near-york-2

More information about the bridge may be viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia%E2%80%93Wrightsville_Bridge.

penn-bridge-near-york-1

The area is serene and picturesque. The feeling underneath the bridge is peaceful and you don’t notice the traffic above.

leisure-boat-ride-near-york-bridgeThere is the calm along the river as well and locals enjoy it – whether pleasure boating, kayaking or just fishing.  You can’t go wrong with these options.

kayak-fishing-near-york-bridge

 

 

 

 

fishing-near-york-bridge

I can see why our ancestors who traveled to the various parts of this new world decided to settle and make a new life for themselves. Wouldn’t you?

Well, I know there are untold treasures around the globe and we write about them every day.  I just wanted to share little about my discoveries along the way.

Bubbles and palms reflect life too

bubble-in-flightIntentions of writing in 2016 were good but where has time gone.  Each of us has the same amount of time to use in what we call life, don’t we?  Life seems like a perfect bubble that enters the world and floats freely, with all of its beauty and glory.

This bubble reminds me of how life is actually short and at any point in time it could fade away, or someone could burst it.  So I think I need to “re-reflect” on my writing and enjoy it, when the opportunity presents itself.

north-carolina-apex-clock
Time is moving along – reminding me of the past, present and future.

No doubt blogging needs to be a regular occurrence and I have been a bit slack in 2016 trying to balance life and making intermittent travels.

I even took an unintentional pause from writing about our fall travels to the Northeast U.S., and now I feel I have a lot to catch up.  If we’re not careful blogging can become a burden instead of a joy, and sense of freedom.  Do you know what I mean?

So, before my bubble slips away from the moment, I want to share this thought.

I didn’t travel outside the local Florida area during the November and December holidays but something I thought was interesting last week was decoration of palm trees at Vilano Beach, just north of St. Augustine, Florida.

publix-tree-decorations

These decorated palms were noticed while taking a joy ride through the beach area, that had been damaged from Hurricane Matthew only a few months ago.

Just like life, when situations develop and we see destruction all around, there are opportunities to rise above the challenge and create beauty.  I think these holiday-decorated palms remind me of how people rebound from adversity and spread the cheer to others who choose to see.

publix-tree-decorations-2publix-tree-decorations-7

publix-tree-decorations-8publix-tree-decorations-4

Please guard against someone altering the flight of your bubble, or bursting it, as we enter 2017.  Let’s enjoy abundant life and the beauty that is around us, even through adversity.  I hope you have an Enjoyable, Safe, Rewarding New Year!  Let’s make it so!

Switch from traditional farming to solar farming?

Switch from traditional farming to solar farming?

crops-being-planted

We have traveled along the highways and observed the natural beauty of farmlands – seeds or immature plants installed into fertile soil to bring about the satisfaction to the palate and nutrition to the whole being.

What a delight to see these crops mature and experience the waves of grain or corn or – you name it.

solar-panels-with-pine-tree-farmHave you traveled along the roadway enjoying plush, green countryside and then practically out of nowhere you see a new type of farming?

Let’s consider solar or wind power for instance.  I never considered solar or wind turbine farms before but I believe it is beginning to take hold.

north-carolina-solar-panels1

While traveling torward Roxboro, North Carolina on U.S. Highway 501 – there it was!  A solar farm right beside the highway.  I’m not sure if the term is truly a solar farm but that’s how I would classify it.  What would you call it?

north-carolina-solar-park-and-grazersI turned the car around and had to take a closer look.  I then noticed a smart concept.  There were animals around the solar panels with sheep and cattle keeping the grass manageable, and a donkey.  I’m not sure how the donkey is used though.

north-carolina-solar-park-signPerson County, North Carolina has a solar park. They seem to be popping up throughout the rural areas.  It makes sense though so the individual communities could have alternatives for their power needs – and going green at that.

I had to investigate further and checked out Person County’s website about the solar park at http://www.researchtriangle.org/news-and-events/person-county-solar-park-expansion-nears-completion.

According to the website a new solar installation covering seven acres in the Person County Business and Industrial Center features row upon row of ground-mounted solar panels – 5,376 in all – angled toward the sun and visible from U.S. Highway 501.

The website identifies Carolina Solar Energy LLC in collaboration with Strata Solar LLC as designer, builder and operator of the 1.25 megawatt DC solar electric generator located in Person County for project owner Gehrlicher Solar USA.

With the new installation it appears the total annual estimated energy production will exceed 2.5 million kilowatt hours, enough to power 210 average North Carolina homes annually.

How would this compare to how many people could benefit from the crops harvested on this same land?

I like what Barbara Currier, director of the Person County Economic Development Commission, said about the use of the land for solar energy.  “This project represents all that is environmentally sound for our community, including the sheep that graze along side the solar panels keeping the grass trim without fossil fuels, an increasingly recognized ‘best practice’ in landscaping circles.”

wind-turbines-in-vermontWhile reaching one of our destinations in Vermont, I noticed the wind turbines.  They are not hard to see unless obscured by the mountains.wind-turbines-in-vermont-2

Do you think these wind turbines provide more power than the solar panels? Well, they certainly benefit those who live in the mountainous regions.

wind-turbines-near-elizabeth-nc-2

But, there are wind turbine fields in the coastal part of wind-turbines-near-elizabeth-nc-4North Carolina mixed with solar panels and agricultural farms as well. We discovered this while traveling U.S. Highway 17 Bypass near Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  I think this is an excellent mix of technologies combined with ancient techniques of producing food for our tables.

I’m not accustomed to seeing these large wind turbines, and I don’t notice them in urban the terrain. However, they appear more prevalent in rural areas. I guess they aren’t windmills any longer.

wind-turbine-in-germanyWhile traveling in Germany I also noticed the large wind turbines stretched across the vast land and they looked HUGE.  I really enjoyed watching them turn although I had to keep my focus while driving on the Autobahn.

According to AENews, future of wind power is bright and shining as detailed studies by American Wind Energy Association (EWEA) have already shown that power generation from wind energy is most economical.  “The consumers are reaping good benefits financially from wind power.”  The article further mentions that wind is already directly curbing European electricity prices.  http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/wind-energy-instruments-bigger-better/

AENews states “renewable energy production and demand growth is gaining momentum in many ways across the world. There is a booming demand of wind power today and all wind energy equipment manufacturers are gearing up to meet the demand and take advantage of it.”  Based on their estimate Asia should now be leading the world with installed wind capacity.

So … where are we today?  I surmise we can create our own electrical power, at least in rural areas, while creating fuel for the natural body through the continued creative use of our traditional farmlands?  I think there is a way to combine it all.

 

 

What’s in a town name?

north-carolina-apex-clockAs part of my journey to locate gems among small towns, here is another reflection of a community in North Carolina – Apex.   
Sometimes time seems to stand still in small towns where life slows and people enjoy their lives with close-knit communities.
north-carolina-buttercream-bake-shop
Buttercream’s Bake Shop on Salem Street has sweets to enjoy – some of the home town delight.
According to the Apex website, http://www.apexnc.org, and Wikipedia, the early history of Apex stems from a railroad station that was chartered in 1854, although the first train did not pass through town until 1869.
north-carolina-apex-csx-railroad
Railroads such as CSX keep the rail business alive through Apex.
The first settlers came to the area in the 1860s and the town was incorporated in 1873. The town was named Apex because the community was the highest point on the Chatham Railroad between Richmond, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s amazing to me how transportation creates opportunities for communities to develop and influences economic growth.
Apparently the town’s name of Apex was also warranted because water that accumulates on one side of Salem Street flows to the Neuse River while water on the opposite side of the street flows to the Cape Fear River.
A small community developed around the railroad station and the dense forests in the area were cleared for farm land. As one of the first towns to develop around the North Carolina’s state capital of Raleigh, Apex became an active trading and shopping center. Since the train station was located in the heart of a vast pine forest, Apex became a shipping point for such products as lumber, tar and turpentine.  By the turn of the 20th century, the little town of Apex boasted a population of 349.

north-carolina-apex-blistered-pig-and-tobacca-exchange
The Tobacco & Mule Exchange building that houses the Blistered Pig Smokehouse restaurant on Salem Street.

Tobacco farming became an important part of the local economy in the early 1900s when a plant disease forced many tobacco farmers in nearby counties to relocate. Many farmers discovered that the land around Apex produced excellent tobacco crops and decided to move to the area.

The first tobacco auction market in Wake County was established in Apex in 1905.
Based on website information, the town’s early growth was shaped by two disastrous fires in the early 1900s.
In February 1905, a fire destroyed a number of frame commercial buildings in the town.  A second fire in June 1911 destroyed much of the business district, including many of the old frame stores, the Merchants and Farmer’s Bank, and the postmaster’s house.
The fires provided merchants with a strong incentive to replace the old frame structures with fireproof brick buildings.
As the town hall was built to host government and community events the town began growing along with newer structures.  

apex-nc-shops-on-salem-street
Shops along Salem Street offer the quaintness of a small, friendly town.
The population of Apex had grown to 1,000 by 1920, but the tobacco market declined during the 1920s.  By the 1930 census, the population had dropped to 863. The great economic depression of the 1930s hit Apex hard and, by 1934, only 4 train stops were made at the Apex depot.
The town of Apex is still thriving, at least from this travelers perspective.  It provides the flavor of a small, quaint town and is only about 20 minutes drive from the major city of Raleigh.  The website http://www.visitraleigh.com states that Apex is restoring its turn-of-the-century railroad heritage.  In 2015 Apex was also named Money magazine’s Best Place to Live in America,
While the trains still run through Apex, isn’t it evident transportation again impacts small towns and economic growth?  How has transportation impacted your community and do you have some interesting town names?