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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Belief be-gone

I used to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it but now I think it's possible that not everything is believable no matter how hard you try.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hawk Mountain

Hawk Mountain is a wildlife refuge and raptor conservation center in Berks County PA. It is an excellent place to hike and view mother nature and observe many raptors like Hawks and Eagles. There is of course plenty of other wild birds, but the area is best known for its Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles Along with Red Tail Hawks, Sharp shinned Hawks, Coopers Hawks and many other species.

The weather was fairly warm for late October, about 72 degrees, but it started out a bit more overcast then I had hoped for. The trails were a bit more challenging then expected on our first branch of trail so we had to retrace our steps and choose a new path. The trails improved for a bit until we got closer to the North Lookout. As the trails became more rocky a light mist from the low clouds we were entering started creeping in.

The view from atop the North Lookout was amazing and certainly worth the short hike. The panoramic vista is so beautiful and on a good day I'm sure the view goes on and on to the horizon. As we retreated to the car, the clouds began to wring out their moisture as the light mist increased to a steady drizzle. As we passed previous outlooks it was clear that we had made it just in time to appreciate the views which were now obscured completely by clouds. We made it to the car just in time for the rain to start, then a stop at the Port Clinton Hotel warmed us up and filled our bellies before heading home. I look forward to hiking here again very soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hike at Lake Ontelaunee

Lake Ontelaunee is a man made lake in Berks county. It was formed when the Dam was built in 1926 on the Maiden Creek to aid in the water supply of Reading and the surrounding area. This 1,000 plus acre lake is now refuge to water fowl and much of the forest around the lake is used by the PA Game Commission for "wildlife propagation" and is protected from public entry. Much of this lake is visible but inaccessible to the public. There are few trails, and limited parking areas. It's a shame that Berks County Park System doesn't utilize this beauty as a gem to share with the community. Although I visited this area a bit early in the fall, there was already a hint of color on the northern shore of the lake. I look forward to exploring this area more as the leaves change and probably into the winter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Haverford Township Day

I grew up in Havertown PA and recently they have been throwing an event called Haverford Township Day. They close off most of Darby Rd, the main drag through town and some of Brookline Blvd and some other side streets to hold a festival for the residents of Havertown and our close and distant neighbors. They have a variety of vendors selling crafts and other goods. There were food stands selling goodies like funnel cake and pizza, Live music and bouncy rides for the kids to play in, and so many people! It was a great turnout and everyone was so friendly. For a group of probably 20,000 people it was quite orderly and well, neighborly. I guess Havertown does still have that small hometown appeal after all these years away.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daughters for life even after

This time last year I was a simple man with simple dreams and desires. I was confronted with my biggest fear that became my greatest joy then my worst nightmare. I found out that I was going to be a father. My first response was that I was not prepared for this, I didn't want children. But then I found out that not only was I going to be a Dad, there were twins on the way. Wow! Not just a dad, a father and sole provider for two precious lives. I went from overwhelmed to overjoyed in only a few heart beats. When I found out that it was twins, I somehow knew that I was prepared to be a father and that I would provide them with the best home and life. I began seeing life in a new way and looking forward to sharing lives events no matter how small or large with my little cuties.

I wanted to share what I enjoyed with them hoping that they would appreciate the splendor of the outdoors and nature and life from birth. I was planning on hiking with them in tiny little back and front packs or twin strollers with big wheels. I was looking forward to taking them biking in a trailer behind me so they could see the world from another viewpoint other then a car seat or the TV. I wanted so much for my children to see the world as I see it and as I was shown as a child and encourage them to make the world what they want it to be.

I was also looking forward to sharing my little ones with the world because of course my children would be the cutest ever born. I know, every father thinks that, but mine would be so cute I would have to protect them from people that just wanted to hold them as much as I did. I wanted to be their guide, their light, and I wanted so much to learn from them. As parents we may tell them right from wrong but they tell us fun from fud. I could see myself singing along to my arch enemy Barney if that is what made the kids happy. I would eat sand with them if that brought a smile to their face. They were my world and their love and joy and happiness was all that mattered.

I didn't care what it would take, I wanted the best for my children. I found out that the mother was not as interested in raising the children as she was in her personal interests that were clearly not conducive to a safe upbringing for my twins. I found myself in a battle trying to prove who was more suited to raise my little ones rather then enjoying their upcoming arrival. I did my best preparing their home and my life for their joyous entry into my arms and into my family. Meanwhile the mother found every opportunity to exploit them by bilking the state for every cent, every perk she could benefit from, while continuing her selfish behavior regardless of how it hindered the growth and safety and well being of my growing children.

It soon became clear that most of the agencies I dealt with were willing but unable to help me thanks to new laws. Many were familiar with the mother and her history, which I was not aware of until too late. Several agencies were even willing to ensure that they would support my claim for full support upon the birth of the twins. I contacted a huge number of hospitals between Pennsylvania and Arkansas to apprise them of the possibility that the mother may flee the state and use an alias to deliver my little ones in order to evade the CYS system or Children And Youth Services and other authorities. I was amazed by the caring and understanding of complete strangers, and I could feel the pain in their voices, some times over tears, when they said that they couldn't help me due to privacy laws.

I had fought my hardest, tried to support the mother and prepare for their arrival into my life when I received a call that I had not anticipated. I had never prepared for this call from the mothers mother on January 19th telling me that the twins were delivered still born two days prior. They were over five months premature and severely under-developed. The cold-hearted nature of this call left me in disbelief and I had to find out the truth for myself from the delivering hospital. I will always be grateful to them for the information that they provided me with. I could not be more heart broken to find out that my only children had not survived the mothers poor care even long enough to see the light of day at the miracle of birth. The heartache was beyond anything I had ever felt even beyond the loss of my own brother. I found out that I was the father of two beautiful daughters at the same moment that I was told that they had not survived to come home with me and I was not even informed that they were to be delivered so I could be there for them. As helpless as I felt, I can't imaging how they would have felt given the chance.

If not for Dee, an angel brought to me from above, I might have gone insane with this news that my precious little babies would never be coming home with me. Instead, she brought clarity to the situation and showed me that it wasn't about the loss of my children, but of the joy they had already brought me before they were even born and to celebrate their lives even before they had a chance to live. We gathered our composure, our thoughts and a few butterfly balloons and proceeded to honor my children by ceremoniously releasing them from this world to Gods hands. It was so touching and I am so grateful that I shared that moment with a woman of such purity of spirit and understanding.

Within a few months my life had gone from casual boredom to immense joy to overwhelming sadness. Without the love and support of friends and family I might have given up on life and love and caring, but I know that I have found the greatest joy through this madness. I found out who I am and who I can be and who I want to be, and I know that I can be better then I am and that's ok as long as I never stop trying.

I may never have my own children, and I can't promise that I will ever be the best father or step father to Dee's children, but I can promise that I will always strive to be the best person that I can be for them, and try to guide them through life as though they are my own children. I am willing to keep trying if they are willing to let me fail now and then and I will let them be who they want to be and I will always be thankful that they are in my life.

Cheyanne and Aspen, you are and always will be my beautiful daughters and I wish I had met you. I can't thank you enough for enriching my life. You will continue to guide me for the rest of my life.

I miss you and I will always love you.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Blue Marsh Exposed

Recently there was a large release of water from the dam at Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County PA to help diminish the effects of drought in Delaware. This dam release lowered the levels by roughly 6 to 8 feet and exposed shoreline that has not been seen in many years. As I rode my mountain bike on the newly risen beach like shores surrounding the lake, I was taken aback by the realization that where I was riding would normally have me well under water. It was so interesting to see the rough shale like surface with mingled broken rocks and formerly submerged tree trunks. With the water level this low a few of the foundations from former homes re-emerged to once again feel the footsteps of people upon there floors. It was almost surreal to see the outlines of homes with side walks leading to roads which used to pass through here before they dammed off this area for a reservoir. The asphalt of the sunken roads was in surprisingly good shape and it felt odd to ride along a road that had been under water for so long but is now here to remind us of the past.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Web oopsdates I mean updates

Just like the seasons there are changes in the air and on my websites. Some for the better, and some didn't go so well, but all are meant to make your visit to my sites more enjoyable and easier to use. To ease your experience here I am trying to migrate my forum to its own domain but I don't want to hinder your access to any of the prior articles so this may take some more work and time. Who would have guessed that I wrote so many articles within the few years since I started this blog. I am honored and never would have guessed that so many people would be linking to many of the posts.

I'm working on the efficiency and load time for the pages since I know that you have better things to do. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my stories so I will make your stay a bit more enjoyable by not having to wait so long for my pages to load.

I am also doing something that I never thought that I would do, display advertising! Wait, it's not so bad, don't go clicking away yet. The advertising will be minimal and with your help it will be tailored to what you are interested in. Why add advertising to my site? I want to keep this site up and running number one. Since I will be getting married next year I need to justify every expense and I'm hoping that this site will pay for itself, and yea, a couple of extra bucks might be nice too.

Since this little blog of mine only exists because of my faithful readers like you, I want your input. If you don't like something, tell me. If you think I should do something differently let me know. I want to make this site worthy of your time.

Thank you for your patience while I make these changes and I apologize for any inconvenience.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Union Canal Trail, Angelica Creek Trail and the SRT

I'm finding that there are quite a few good trails in Berks County PA. My most recent cycling trip was on the Union Canal Trail to the SRT and a bypass on the Wyomissing Creek Trail and the Angelica Creek Trail. I love meandering my way through the mix of urban and wooded trails on paths of dirt, crushed stone and sometimes asphalt. I feel so lucky to have a chance to see the sites and take in nature as you only can on foot or by bike (bicycle). To step through history while on the Union Canal or to cruise along on the old rail bed of the SRT is so invigorating. The only thing wrong with these trails is that it's hard to say when to stop. A casual ride led to another long cruise to Birsdboro PA.

On my journey I was lucky enough to stop and explore an 18th century cemetery slimmed down between the highways Route 422 and Route 10. This poor cemetery has been robbed over and over again, but not by grave robbers, but first by the Union Canal taking land back in the 1800's, then the railroad taking more later that century into the 1900's, but then twice by PENDOT in the mid and late 1900's to build the current highways that crunch this poor cemetery into such a slim little parcel about a third of its original size. Once with room for 200 plots, now a mere 27 graves remain. Moving the remains of 2 children seamed a bit morbid even for PENDOT, but at least they came to final rest nearby.

The angelica Creek nature trail was born from the damage caused by the earthen damn breech on route 10 which emptied the Angelica Lake in 2001 and returned it to its prior state as a stream weaving its way to the Schuylkill River. The Berks County Parks Dept has done a wonderful job of preserving this quiet little sanctuary and improving it since 2001. Birds and other wildlife are calling this little patch of heaven home now.

A trip off of the beaten path up stream from the SRT led me back a long access road that is not suitable for riding unless you like riding on the baseball size stones similar to those you would normally find along a rail bed. This would even be a difficult walk, but it was still a nice diversion. If you have ever driven on RT 422 near Reading and noticed a huge painted rock in the middle of the Schuylkill River, I can now say, been there, done that, and I don't need to do that part of the ride again. But after that bone jarring ride I still felt up to continuing South on the SRT all the way to Birdsboro.

My next trip on the SRT will start where I left off with the hope of winding up in Pheonixville PA, Oaks PA or maybe even go as far as Manyunk. We'll see how adventurous I feel and how well the trails are marked and whether I can pry myself away from Dee for the day. Without her love and support I would not enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cape May and Atlantic City camping trip

Our camping trip to the New Jersey coast.

We camped in Birch Grove Campground in Northfield NJ and traveled first to Atlantic City to have some fun at the casinos with the loose change we had saved up over the year. Neither of us are much for gambling but the free drinks and entertainment made it alot of fun. We actualy walked away with $3.15 in winnings more then we walked in with.

After we recovered the next day we drove south to Cape May NJ and reveled in the massiveness of the Cape May Lighthouse. It is 157 feet tall and we are both afraid of heights but we had to climb it all the way to the top. We even walked the entire way around the observation platform surrounding the light. I was so proud of Dee and so happy that we had overcome our fear to see such a wonderful structure from bottom to top.
We then spent a glorious evening watching the sunset on Sunset Beach in Cape May.

We ended our 3 day trip in Margate at Lucy the Elephant which is a must see marvel for kids and adults.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dyre Quarry hike

I found a hole in the Earth on satelite images that I just had to explore. After several wooded, trail-less miles I came across an abandoned road then found myself on a rockface 295 feet above the quarries blue green water watching the twin water falls below and looking for miles across the mountains. What a Beautiful site!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vacation with Dee

I enjoyed my first vacation in many years with a wonderful woman who I plan on spending the rest of my life with. We spent over a week in Virginia Beach and traveled as far as the Outer Banks in North Carolina enjoying the sites like Hatteras and Bodie Island Light houses, and Nags Head along with other beautiful sites. We also visited the Wright Brothers Memorial Site in Kitty Hawk which was quite interesting and educational. The time we spent on the beach and in the pool and even kayaking on the Rudee Inlet reminded me just how special Dee is and how lucky I am to have her in my life.

If we can enjoy ourselves every day both good and bad and get along on a long trip and endure traffic and weird little dining spots along the way then we can make it through anything. That and the fact that she makes me so happy is why I asked her to marry me and I plan on making her happy for the rest of our lives and I think that is why SHE SAID YES!!!

I am truly blessed to have met her after all that went wrong last year she is making this year right and I can't wait till she is my wife.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Returning to normal

Well. It's been awhile since I wrote anything here or anywhere. The loss was difficult to deal with, but life is good and I'm making time for my self and the wonderful woman that has stood by my side and laughed and cried with me throughout all of this years ordeals, triumphs and pleasures. I can't undo the past, or pretend that I didn't lose the twins or ignore that I was used and hurt by the mother, but it's time to put that part of my life in the back of my mind and move on so I can enjoy the present.

March has been a wonderful month full of love, joy and exploration. I am moving to the Reading area of PA and We have been visiting some very nice places recently. We have been to Blue Marsh Lake a few times because it is so big and beautiful that you simply can't see all that it has to offer in just one visit. We'll be back again and hopefully bring a boat one of these days to go sailing or canoeing on this big man made lake in the center of Berks County PA.

It was fun checking out Blue Marsh lake then visiting Gruber Wagon Works. They actually moved the big Yellow building from where the Blue Marsh Lake is now to its current location. That must have been quite a site to see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.

Yes, Back to Blue Marsh to see the lake at full level and to replace a damp log book in a letterboxing cache that we stumbled upon during a previous hike. Letterboxing doesnt seem to be as popular as geocaching, but I still wanted them to have a dry log to show who was there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.

Dee and I had a great lunch with Meia at Grings Mill overlooking the pond. A skunk meandered around the lawn looking for lunch himself and chased a few people off but I think he was just enjoying the beautiful day and the fresh air. I wonder if he could smell the fresh air? We led Meia on a walk around the grounds and along the canal. She kept us safe from the attach Geese and the wild ducks that acted like the water was their playground. Meia was also kind enough to point out every bird and squirrel within 60 feet of us. Without her I might not have gotten a chance for my jog that day. We all sported our Green for Saint Patrick's Day, and Meia and Dee were so cute that every Irishmen would wish they were me that day.

Today I went geocaching and hiking at Nolde Forest State Park. I had never heard of it either and had no clue what to expect, other then trees. I was not disappointed, there were plenty of trees, but also a variety of birds and other wildlife scampering Along the forest floor. The Chipmunks are so cute here in Berks County! I found the geocache and hiked quite a few miles on the trails but I only saw a fraction of what is in this park so I will have to return to see the sawmill and so much more. This is a very nice peaceful place to hike and also a good place for picnicking and bird watching.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.

Friday, January 29, 2010

For my little girls

In loving memory of my twin daughters
Cheyanne Autumn and Aspen Dawn
Released from this world
January 13th, 2010

Their time here was far too short,
but their impact on my life will live forever.

I love you girls! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Precious Children

Please read this beautiful poem about the love and loss of life. My children were short for this world, but there impact will last a lifetime.


In my dreams, you are alive and well
Precious child, precious child
In my mind, I see you clear as a bell
Precious child, precious child
In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart, there is hope
'Cause you are with me still
In my heart, you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart
In my plans, I was the first to leave
Precious child, precious child
But in this world, I was left here to grieve
Precious child, my precious child
In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart there is hope
And you are with me still
In my heart you live on
Always there, never gone
Precious child, you left too soon,
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart
God knows I want to hold you,
See you, touch you
And maybe there's a heaven
And someday I will again
Please know you are not forgotten until then
In my heart you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart 

In Memory of my twin Daughters
Aspen Dawn
Cheyanne Autumn

Thank you so much Dee for your kindness, support  and understanding

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Facebook Chat Emoticons

Do you use Facebook chat?
Did you ever wonder how people make those cute little faces in the chat window?
Well it's pretty simple just type a few characters and hit enter if you know the keys to type.
I made a simple list of the available emoticons or smilies that you can use in Facebook chat.

Here is a list of facebook chat emoticons and smilies :)

Facebook Chat Emoticons
facebook-chat-emoticons-smiler   :)
facebook-chat-emoticons-bigsmile  :D
facebook-chat-emoticons-cat-smile  :3
facebook-chat-emoticons-happy-eyes   ^_^
facebook-chat-emoticons-wink  ;)
facebook-chat-emoticons-sad   :(
facebook-chat-emoticons-errr :/
facebook-chat-emoticons-crying  :’(
facebook-chat-emoticons-aiya  >:o
facebook-chat-emoticons-doh   >:-(
facebook-chat-emoticons-wink-kiss   :*
facebook-chat-emoticons-tongue   :p
facebook-chat-emoticons-pacman  :v
facebook-chat-emoticons-gasp   :o
facebook-chat-emoticons-woot   O.o
facebook-chat-emoticons-angel   o:)
facebook-chat-emoticons-devil  3:)
facebook-chat-emoticons-sunglasses   8-|
facebook-chat-emoticons-glasses   8)
facebook-chat-emoticons-heart  <3
facebook-shark-emoticon  (^^^)
facebook-chat-penguin-emoticon   <(")
facebook-chat-emoticons-robot  :|]
facebook-chat-emoticons-putnam  :putnam:
These are all of the Facebook chat emoticons that are currently available.

You can use the list from here, or download it to your desktop.

I hope you enjoy the list and have fun on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cabelas to Cabaret

After some very distressing news from the mother of my twins I spent the weekend away from home so I didn't have to see the nursery and be reminded of my loss. The mere thought that my becoming a father was reduced by half with no more concern then a text message from the mother. Thank God for the support of my friends and family and a dear woman that I can't possibly thank God enough for bringing into my life.

After finishing up a few things I ventured half heartedly to spend time with an Angel and her family who have opened there lives to me. I knew that I would appreciate their company, but I didn't want to burden them with my cares. I was amazed that they simply melted my cares away and brought joy to the forefront. Without saying so they reminded me that it is more important to be thankful for what we have then to grieve for what we may have lost.

We started our day revisiting Cabela's which is a huge and very interesting sports and outdoor goods supplier. we wandered through the massive building enjoying the sites and sounds and offers, but what I enjoyed the most was the company and the sense of family and the joy that was brought to the surface. My worries fell away like a winter coat to be stowed in the corner until the cold returns.

After a wonderful time at Cabela's we all went out for a great dinner before going to an event at her Alma Mater. The Schuylkill Valley Panthers On Parade held an Alumni Cabaret at the Middle school and it was quite the show. There were performers from the past and present including her mother and other family going back as far as 1964. I have to admit that I was never one much for show tunes or cabaret, but I had such a great time. I recognized more of the music then I expected and enjoyed it all.

This year is already turning out to be full of blessings and challenges but I can see that I will not be alone on this journey and I am so grateful to have someone by my side to share this new year with.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A great new year begins

Well, it appears that this is going to be a great year!

I could not have asked for a better first day of the new year.
This was the best and shortest 14 hour day filled with good news, great people and a feeling that tells me that great things are coming my way.