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In May last year we joined large crowds of locals to watch the Radnor Hunt Races.  It is a series of steeplechase races around a 1 mile track across the hilly Pennsylvania countryside. The all-day event attracts 20,000 fans for high-class tailgating around the race course.


The races also give a nod to the Radnor Hunts (fox hunt), by guiding fox hounds around the 1 mile track.  We think about halfway around the hounds figured out it was too hot and there were no foxes.  The hounds started to stray into the crowds, which got the kids pretty excited.


We hope to return this year with friends and family.


Most guys in attendance sported an East Coast style with khakis and boat shoes… Nathan added a little SoCal flair with his flip flops and hiking shorts.


Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area near Reading, PA is only about an hour from our house and attracts thousands of snow geese and other water fowl every winter. We decided to take a early morning visit in March to watch 50,000 geese rise off a frozen lake right at sunrise!  This lake is a regular stop on the snow geese migration route bringing in over 100,000 geese at its peak.  We were about a week late for the peak, but even with only half the geese it was still an amazing sight to see.


In March the sun was rising around 7 am, but it is best to arrive in the dark around 5 am.  You want to arrive before the geese have started moving around, and you also want to claim a photography spot.  This is a popular event and people from all over the East Coast come to watch.  Bring a head lamp or flash light to guide your way for the 1/2 mile trail to the peninsula view point, which was a bit icy when we were there.  You can hear the geese waking up honking and stretching out their wings.  Other V’s of geese start arriving in the dim light.

The geese and photographers start getting anxious as the sun rises and the noise of honking geese grows.  There are several roosting groups on the ice and everyone wants to know which one is going to take off first.  At some point the one group leads off rising in the dim morning light.  It is hard to see the thousands of geese until they break the horizon and the crowd of people erupt in oohs and ahhs and then are overwhelmed by camera shutters as if a celebrity had just stepped out on the red carpet.



The first few groups to rise just circle the lake and return to the ice.  Sometimes a few thousand geese passing overhead trigger another group  to take off creating a chaotic scene of geese flying overhead.  When staring in awe of a thousand geese flying overhead its always a good reminder to keep you mouth closed!



The local Amish are also in the crowd enjoying one of nature’s phenomenons.  The ironic thing is they are surrounded by photographers, but there is little risk of anyone is taking their photo.


At some point, the geese feel the sun has warmed their wings, and the entire flock rises like a rogue wave consuming the blue sky.



The entire event only lasts 90 minutes, and the majority of the geese are feeding in the surrounding fields by 8 am, but it was well worth the trip.  If you’re a birder, then you’ll also enjoy the many other species that are also flying amongst the snow geese.


This year was really our first full fall season on the East Coast, so we tried to do a few hikes and activities to enjoy the weather and changing leaves. The warm weather of summer lingered this year, which extended the fall foliage season, but also meant there wasn’t a real ‘peak’ to the color. Still, before we knew it, the leaves were falling and winter was setting in! So we were glad to get out on the trail a few times.

Tohickon Creek Gorge & High Rocks Trail

Tohickon Creek Gorge is over an hour north of Philadelphia near the New Jersey border.  This was a short 4.5 mile hike starting from the Pleasant Valley Park parking lot winding through the woods to the High Rocks Trail.  There were a few nice views overlooking the Tohickon Creek Gorge, but the best colors were at the edge of the creek.

 Overlooking Tohickon Creek Gorge


Pulpit Rock & Pinnacles Loop

This hike is about an hour and a half northwest of Philadelphia.  This was a longer 8.7 mile loop with 1,300 feet of gain.  Much of the trail follows the AT (Appalachian Trail) including the two best views on the entire Pennsylvania stretch!


 View of Lehigh Valley

 Pulpit Rock

After reaching Pulpit Rock and Pinnacles we headed back down along Furnace Creek.


On our way back we ran into a couple lost kids about 10 years old who got separated from their mom and other siblings.  Luckily we were able to point them in the right direction, and their mom was eagerly waiting a mile down the trail.  The boys were only wearing shorts and looked very cold, definitely not prepared to spend the night out there!

This was our first hike over 5 miles in almost 2 months, so we were feeling pretty out of shape, but we kept a steady pace and still had smiles at the end!


Canoeing the Brandywine River

Nathan’s parents came to visit us and see the fall colors in October.  We thought what better way to see the leaves then from the slow moving Brandywine River in our own backyard!  This was our third time down the river this year, but it was our first time with the autumn colors.



Making it Challenging

Paradox Winery

We also all met up with Katharine’s parents at a local winery and enjoyed a few fall activities.

Nathan’s parents first corn maze after living in Iowa for almost 30 years!

Pedal Go-Carts!

Corn Cob Sling Shot!

Corn Cob Air Cannon!

It was a great fall season, but felt like it went too fast… We already have ideas for what we want to do next year!

Check out some of the other photos.

Looks like it’s time to catch up on some really old posts…

We spent our July 4th weekend working on some home improvement projects, but we decided to take a break and check out a Friday night Polo match at the Brandywine Polo Club.


It was a casual game played by all ages.


It turned out to be a good match for first-time viewers like us since the announcers spent some time explaining the rules and strategies during the game.


When a group of 4-5 polo ponies ran down the sideline you could feel the hooves pounding the ground.


We were also surprised that each player had multiple polo ponies and would swap them out after each chukka (period).


It was a casual afternoon event with families having a picnic on the lawn with wine, cheese, and crackers.  It is definitely something we’ll be doing again next summer.

By Nathan

Right before Christmas I bought the Canon 7D as a graduation present for myself!  Since most of my photography is of the outdoors I spent some time outside in the morninings getting more familiar with the camera.  It is very similar to my older 40D but I do enjoy some of the improvements such as the higher resolution sensor, better LCD screen, faster focusing and 8 frames per second.

I haven’t had a chance to really use the video feature yet, but from the short time I did use it, it was evident I need to shoot the video from a tripod.

This year the weather was pretty mild in Pennsylvania except for a few showers.  We took advantage of the weather and did a 5 mile hike in Fair Hill with Katharine’s parents.  One thing I’m working on is using the camera in full manual mode.  Before I would usually use shutter priority since I like taking photos of moving objects.  Manual gives you more control over the camera, but it can also lead to a lot of of poor photos when you’re first starting out, but I think I’m getting better.

Canon 7D, 28-135 @ 28mm, 3.5/f, 1/200 sec, 600 ISO

Since I’m an avid wildlife photographer I usually spent hours staring out the window of Katharine’s parents’ house waiting for some sort of wildlife to come by.  Last year I spent hours waiting for a red fox, which I finally saw and got some photos of.  Because there was no snow it was harder to determine the foxes common routes.  One evening while running out the front door to photograph a deer I saw the fox running through their front yard but he was too fast for me to get a crisp photo.

One afternoon Katharine and her mom spotted a hawk sitting in a tree in their backyard.  I quickly ran outside with my camera and snapped a few photos.

Of course there were lots of branches in the way and the hawk was still at a good distance.  It didn’t seemed to be disturbed by my presence so I crept down the deck stairs to get a closer look.  I then realized in my rush out the door I didn’t put any shoes on and the rain soaked ground wasn’t going to do me any favors in my wool socks.  Like any dedicated photographer I took my socks off and preceded to stalk the bird barefoot in the wet grass and cold mud.

After 15 minutes of playing a game of “red light green light” as the hawk looked away, I got pretty close.

This was the final photo before he turned and took flight.

As you can see I should have had a faster shutter speed to catch the quick movements as he leaped from the branch.

I did however catch one frame while his wings were at the peak of their extension, which I think is a little clearer.

Katharine has already planned a lot of trips for 2012 and I’m looking forward to expanding my photography portfolio.


There are some events you hear about, but you’ve never seen it done – like fish stocking!  We’ve always heard “oh this lake is stocked every year” but who sees it, how do they do it?  During our visit in Pennsylvania the timing worked out that we got to see the White Clay Creek get stocked with 2,000 trout!  The White Clay Fly Fishers raised the money for the fish stocking and were there to help introduce the fish into the creek.

Katharine’s Dad, Paul, White Clay Fly Fisherman

The trout were netted out of a truck and into large buckets.


The fly fisherman lined up in a bucket brigade and passed the fish down to the water’s edge.


There they were transfered to floating barrels which had small holes to allow water to flow in and out while they moved down the river.


There were actually two locations the fish were introduced but we just followed these barrels down the river.  The fish were then netted again and placed in areas they may normally be found.


By introducing the fish in smaller quantities throughout the stream it improves their chances of survival and has less of an impact on the creek’s habitat.


Most of the fly fisherman were older but it was fun to see the younger generation get in on the fun.


These types of events are always interesting and fun to see the behind the scenes of how people support their hobbies and interests.


While visiting Rick and Alex’s new place I took the afternoon to explore Valley Forge.  I learned a lot about the encampment and the hardships the troops faced during the winter (1777- 78).  The day I visited was cold, windy and cloudy but it seem inappropriate to complain about 20 degree weather when you’re standing on the ground where thousands of people suffered with little food or clothing.

I learned Valley Forge was not a battlefield but an encampment where 12,000 of the Continental Army stayed while the British controlled Philadelphia.  It was also interesting to learn it wasn’t so much the cold that killed, but the disease in the warmer months that claimed more lives.

Flag flying in front of the visitor center at sunset

National Memorial Arch

Washington Memorial Chapel- Grieving Mothers, 1914

View from the Chapel looking out over Valley Forge

Cannon at the Waterman Monument

Waterman Monument was dedicated in 1901 by the Daughters of the American Revolution

We had another wonderful Christmas with Katharine’s family in PA. This year we couldn’t arrive until the morning of Christmas Eve so we missed some pre-Christmas traditions like the famous cookie making extravaganza, but we were still able to take part in a coupe other traditions. We pricked cranberries while watching the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, of course) and we also made the miniature tree center piece.


Christmas morning was full of presents starting with fun science toys in the stockings.

Others were funny and slightly cruel

After singing some carols together we got to unwrap tree presents. There were some unique gifts like a level that was wrapped as a 4 foot tall snowman from Katharine’s aunt Lisa or the signed family tree from Katharine’s grandma, Edna. During our rehearsal dinner we had handed out family trees to everyone and Edna had everyone on Nathan’s side of the family sign it.


And it wouldn’t be Christmas without Katharine’s mom working her magic in the kitchen for days to prepare 4 or 5 delicious meals. We feasted well… Favorites like quiche, cranberry sauce, roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding, and berry pie were amazing, as usual.


After eating pounds of rich food we headed to the White Clay Creek Preserve to walk it off. Let’s be honest, some of us walked while others fished…


All in all we had a great time together. Wish we got some snow though… Maybe next year!