Mirth in Maastricht (2018)

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Western Europe 2018 • Tags: travelrealizationsriversMaastrichtNetherlands • Places: Maastricht

In this post, I finally explain why I decided to write about some random, fairly spontaneous travel to Western Europe in 2018. Bear with me.

Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.
Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.

Here's a quick recap. In 2018 I went on an impromptu work trip to Berlin, which was extended at the last minute to Aachen, Germany. This was stressful, but fun.

(If you want, you can read the previous posts in this series for more context. Otherwise, the next paragraph serves as a condensed recap.)

My boss gave me a few extra days off before I returned to the United States, so obviously I wanted to take advantage. My goal was to hit up some cool places and stuff.

I got some travel recommendations from colleagues, and picked a few of them to visit.

The first was Maastricht, Netherlands.

Low-Flying Hawks and the Onset of Winter

life updates

I haven't written anything along the lines of a "life update" since August, I think, so it's time to remedy that.

The truth is, I had a lot to look forward to coming into the Fall. I decided to actually go on a nice solo backpacking trip, and made a couple of plans for socially-distanced meetups with friends -- some of which actually came to fruition. But after that, at times I felt like I had little left to do but to wait out the rest of the year, and ride out the increased cold, darkness, loneliness, boredom and isolation that winter would bring. (I don't think I minced words with those adjectives.)

The truth is that the last few months have been much better than I was expecting. And no, not just because of birds.

One in the tree, one in the aire

Kennett Classic: A Vintage Computer Museum

• Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: history of computingmuseumsKennett Square • Places: Kennett Square

The Donner 3500 analog computer from 1959, used for analyzing audio spectra
The Donner 3500 analog computer from 1959, used for analyzing audio spectra

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a town best known for mushrooms. South of the town center, there are numerous mushroom farms, which lovingly spread a distinct aroma of the manure used as fertilizer.

The less aromatic town center of Kennett Square has many amenities, such as giftshops, books stores, and so forth. To my surprise, it also has a shop and museum dedicated to the history of computing, which opened in January of this year.

Its full name is "Kennett Classic – Vintage Computing Gallery and Giftshop." It's free to visit, and home to a lot of really cool, historically valuable devices.

During my visit, co-founder Bill Dengan was more than happy to chat about the collection and visitors' interest in computing more broadly. He was also more than happy to demo any of the computers, including an Atari 2600, on which a young visitor enjoyed a game of Frogger.

As Bill explained, the gallery highlighted the growth of personal computing, from Korean War-era technology, to developments that enabled computers to enter people's homes, and become something more usable and desirable.

Mount Davis: Pennsylvania's Highest Point

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: high pointsMt. Davis Natural AreaForbes State ForestWestern Pennsylvania • Places: Mt. Davis

Mt. Davis

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting Mount Davis, Pennsylvania with a couple of Pittsburgh-based friends of mine.

Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania, but you wouldn't know that if you stood there and didn't take a close look at its commemorative plaques. Surrounded by forest, the high point offers no sweeping vistas.

Even driving to the summit doesn't feel particularly special. Nearby towns are already at 2,000 feet, so ascending an extra 1,200 feet by car isn't all that particularly dramatic. (Mount Davis is part of a longer ridgeline which extends south into Maryland where it is very unfortunately-named Negro Mountain, which state legislators have failed at renaming.)

All is not for naught, though. Mount Davis High Point is home to a parking lot, a set of relatively short hiking trails, and some commemorative plaques.

Most importantly, it is home to an observation tower, which provides an expansive view of the surroundings.

Mt. Davis

James Buchanan's Birthplace

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: State/Provincial ParksU.S. PoliticsAmerican History • Places: James Buchanan Birthplace State Park

The pyramid, as cinema-worthy as I can photograph it.

In the early days of November 2020, we were all subjected to a multi-day anxiety attack. Votes trickled in, but no one knew what would happen. We held our breath as states slowly changed color, and news anchors told us it was too close to call.

And then, rather unexpectedly, on Saturday November 7th -- four days after Tuesday's vote, Pennsylvania was officially called as a blue state. Joe Biden officially became the 46th President-elect of the United States.

The bar for Biden is rather low.

I cannot imagine that it will be challenging to be less divisive, and more responsible, respectful, and professional than Donald Trump.

I also cannot imagine that Biden will not be regarded as the best Pennsylvania-born president in history.

Up until now, there has only been one President whose birthplace was Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately for my home state, and for the nation, that man was James Buchanan.

I visited James Buchanan Birthplace State Park on Saturday. I will discuss the man and the place in this post.

Old Logger's Path

✍️ 🕑 October 1-4, 2020 • Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: hikesstreamsbackpackinghiking and campingsunsetssunrisesbird photographyState Forests • Places: Masten

Okay, so I finally, finally, finally got around to doing some really serious solo hiking/camping.

I hiked Old Logger's Path, a 27.31-mile loop trail in the Loyalsock State Forest, up in Lycoming County in North Central Pennsylvania.

I spent the first four days of October there, Thursday night to Sunday morning.

This is the first time I went backpacking (hiking and then camping overnight) since... 2013, when I hiked a section of the St. Paul trail with my friend and classmate Allison, which basically consisted of a really scenic hike up a mountain, and where I made some incredibly stupid choices, such as... somehow carrying more lemonade on me than actual water.

Fortunately, I've learnt from my experiences.

Enough to backpack solo?

Warning: a LOT of images follow, which is part of why it took me so long to finish this post.

More of this view to follow...
More of this view to follow...

Six Penny Trail

• Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: trails of pahikingState/Provincial ParksFrench Creek State ParkHopewell Big Woods

The sign for the trail.

The Six-Penny trail is another loop trail in French Creek State Park. It is longer and more scenic than the sedate Turtle Trail, as it passes both the Six Penny creek, and some ruins of old campsites. The trail was also much less trafficked when I was on it, perhaps owing to the need to take a short hike to the trailhead itself.