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  • If you build it they will come - Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania




    If there was one town in Pennsylvania that had my attention from the get-go... it had to be Jim Thorpe.


    Yep. Jim Thorpe is the name of the town.


    It's a small Victorian borough, comfortably set at the southern entry of the Pocono Mountains. It's very well maintained and is known for being a kind of an artsy community with museums, galleries, and music venues scattered throughout the old coal town.


    The town was originally settled under the name Mauch Chunk, meaning 'Bear Mountain' in the native Lenape language, as one of the mountains looked like a bear sleeping on its side. But in 1953, following the death of Olympic medal winner Jim Thorpe -- his widow and third wife, Patricia, became so upset with the government of Oklahoma (because they refused to build a monument to honor Jim) that she sought out the small PA borough, who was desperately seeking to attract new tourists, and made a deal with civic officials to create a roadside attraction of Jim's tomb.


    The unusual agreement also included the borough changing its name to Jim Thorpe -- not to mention, importing soil from Oklahoma and the Stockholm Stadium where Jim won his Olympic medals.


    As you can imagine, this event was not without controversy as Thorpe's children wanted him to be buried with his family on the reservation in Oklahoma and have filed numerous lawsuits to try and gain control of Jim's remains. (For more on this, check out NPR's story at the bottom of the page.)


    So it final came were my travels took me through Jim Thorpe, PA. I was stoked! 


    But, you know what? It was just a grave with a couple of nice statues that looked out of place. "The greatest athlete in the world" (according to King Gustov V of Sweden) is awkwardly laid to rest in a town that he never set foot in, nor is associated with in anyway, except that his burial was meant to take in cash from tourists...but that really didn't happen either.


    The funny thing about Mauch Chuck is that it really doesn't need Jim Thorpe there to make this place worth your while to visit. It has art and music and shopping and restaurants and outdoor recreation and a lot of Pennsylvania charm -- it really is one of the state's best locations. Of course, if you do get there, be sure to stop by Jim's memorial...and remember...just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come.

     

    {NPR's report: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/03/138524619/a-fight-for-jim-thorpes-body}

  • Ringing Rock Music & The Columcille Megalith Stones




    In June of 1890, Dr. JJ Ott went out to a sprawling, natural quarry field in northern Bucks County, PA to collect a bunch of rocks. When he arrived, he made sure to pick up a variety of rubble, enough to “play” a chromatic scale of  pitches. These rocks were special as they made a “ringing” sound (like a metal pipe) when struck by a mallet. Dr. Ott turned the stones into an instrument and at the Buckwampum meeting in Stony Garden, he had the Pleasant Valley Band accompany him, at what may have been the first ever “ROCK CONCERT”. {Wah, wah, waah -- cue the Muppet Show music}


    If you’re like me, a fan of Stonehenge or the giant heads on Easter Island, then eastern Pennsylvania is a must-see location you need to check out.


    There are two drastically unique rock gardens located approximately thirty miles apart from each other -- Ringing Rocks County Park and Columcille Megalith Park.



    Ringing Rocks is a natural deposit of oddly placed volcanic basalt. These boulders have small tubes running throughout the rock which, when struck, makes a ringing sound. Not all rocks in this river of boulders will chimb, but that’s part of the fun. You can spend hours just hiking around the area, trying to make your own rock music. Be sure to use a rubber mallet though, as metal hammers leave damage to these natural wonders. Also, the park is home to Bucks County’s largest waterfall (which stands alone in seeing). (More info: http://www.davidhanauer.com/buckscounty/ringingrocks/)


    Columcille Megalith Park is located a few miles north of Bangor, PA and is a collection of local rocks, boulders, and megaliths, put together to recreate the Isle of Iona (off the coast of Scotland). This outdoor sanctuary, made up of over 350 rocks, is the vision of a Celtic spiritualist, Bill Cohen Jr., who wanted to create a gateway to another world. St. Oran’s legend is promoted throughout the park, reminding the seeker that “the way you think it is may not be the way it is at all." (More info: http://www.columcille.org/index.html)


    Both parks are free and fun for the whole family and make for a mysteriously fanciful day trip.


    Happy exploring!

  • The tilted "O" in LOVE



    Happy Valentine's Day Here-A-Yearers!


    With today being a holiday in which 60% of Americans celebrate, it is only fitting that I post something that has to do with love -- and the first thing to pop into my mind was the LOVE Park sculpture! 


    So, I did a some digging and discovered a little-known secret about the well-known icon:

    Robert Indiana, the LOVE symbol’s creator, said the reason why the "O" is tilted is because love isn't perfect. (At the time, he was in his fourth marriage.)


    I hope your day is one full of love and that you're actively showing love to others too. 


    BTW... I'm very thankful for each one of you who takes time to read, enjoy, comment, and participate in the HAY adventure. I love what I do and I love having people to share in the journey.


    Valentine's Day cheers!


    {FYI--LOVE Park (officially JFK Plaza) in city center Philly is a popular spot for tourists to snap a cool pic. The iconic statue with the curved "O" has been featured in movies, t-shirts, and even on a postage stamp.}

  • Punxsutawney Phil & the Gobbler's Knob


    When I read the blog title, I think it sounds like a lost book in the Harry Potter series -- LOL! -- you never know... :)


    I'm in Punxsutawney for the 117th weather prognostication from the world's most famous groundhog, Phil. Promoters are expecting a large crowd (possible up to 40,000) to be at the ceremony, so I'm going to get there by 5:00am to see if I can get a good spot for the event at 7:20am. What a great tradition!


    For those of you who can't make it here, you're in luck, as you can watch the whole shebang go down **live** here. And for those who think the who thing is a little silly, let me tell you more about the tradition that dates back before the Roman empire. 


    (Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson)

    Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

    If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

    If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

    The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

    The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter."

    Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

    This passage may be the one most closely represented by the first Punxsutawney Groundhog Day observances because there were references to the length of shadows in early Groundhog Day predictions.

    The ancient Candlemas legend and similar belief continue to be recognized annually on February 2nd due to the efforts of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

    The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper is credited with printing the news of the first observance in 1886 (one year before the first legendary trek to Gobbler's Knob):

    "Today is groundhog day, and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen his shadow."


    To me, it's remarkable that this fun tradition survived and that it puts this town on the world's map -- everyone seems to know who Punxsutawney Phil is, and that he is the highest ranking groundhog in the New World.


    By the way, since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 100 times, and not seen it 16 times to predict an early spring. Also, www.groundhog.org has a ton of great info about Groundhog Day -- check them out. And let's hope that Phil's shadow stays away and that this winter will be done shortly. 


    Groundhog Day cheers Here-A-Year-ers!!

  • Pennsylvania Factory Tours




    There are over 14,500 manufacturing establishments housed inside Pennsylvania's borders. Everything from apple sauce to Zippo lighters are produced in the Keystone State -- then shipped all over the world to be enjoyed.


    I remember, as a child, watching Mister Rogers go through a factory each week on his show. It wasn't until I moved out here that I discovered Fred Rogers was a PA native and that the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, which made it easy to go down the road to the local marble/bubbles/chocolate factory.

    Of course, the tours aren't reserved just for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but are open to everyone who wants to see how things are made. There's even one county, York, in South Central PA that hails as the "Factory Tour Capital of the World" and hosts an annual Made In America Tours Event each June.

    I decided it would be fun to tour a handful of factories during the winter as the crowds are smaller and the heat from machines and ovens would be warm welcome to the weather outside. I took lots of pictures and put them together in a slideshow below. 

    The factories I went to were: Hershey Chocolate World / Harley-Davidson Assembly Plant / Martin & Co. Guitars / Renovah Pretzels



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