Mirth in Maastricht (2018)

travelnetherlandsMaastrichtrealizationsSeries: Western Europe 2018

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

history of computingmuseumschester countykennett squareSeries: Attractions of Pennsylvania

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

high pointssomerset county paforbes state forestmt. davis natural areawestern paSeries: Attractions of Pennsylvania

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