With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool. That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.
And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.
Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…
Rocks State Park, Maryland
Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland
Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower
One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges
All photos © lenalee
Now that the days are getting shorter, I am back to driving to work in the dark. Some mornings are darker than others, depending on the cloud cover. Although I only travel 6 miles from my house to my job, most of the roads I take are two lane with limited lighting. Driving in the dark means having to watch out for the various animals that are trying to get back home before dawn. It also means having to watch out for the deer that always seem to want to cross in front of my car. Note to the deer…stay where you are. It really isn’t better on the other side of the road.
If watching out for deer isn’t enough, we have to add the morning exerciser into the mix. While I salute those who actually have the energy to get out of bed and go for a walk or jog, doing so in all dark clothing is not a good idea. Why? Because we can’t see you! There are all sorts of fluorescent exercise clothing and shoes that have reflective things on them, so why can’t people actually wear them? They sell them for a reason. Companies don’t want you to get hit by a vehicle when you are out exercising.
But if you aren’t going to wear some bright neon shoes that light up with every step you take, could you maybe wear one of those lights that blink on and off? A light can be seen by someone in a car. If the light is too expensive, can you slap on some glow in the dark duck tape? I don’t care where you put it, but maybe a strip along your arm and leg that faces the street or wrap some around your running shoes….in other words, somewhere a driver can see it. That will help drivers and other exercising people see you and hopefully not run into you. Safety first!!!
In the past I have written about how my husband has become an east coast driver due to his daily commute on the beltway for work. He tends to drive too fast for me and when I am with him he hears a lot of things about speed limits and how we aren’t in a hurry to get there. A few weekends ago, we decided to take a drive up to eagle watch and if we just happened to stop at Philly Pretzel Factory on the way back home no one would be complaining. It was raining lightly, more of a drizzle and annoying than anything. We saw a few eagles and then drove up to see if I could get pictures of a covered bridge that was being used for engagement photos the last time we were up that way. This time a group of boy scouts were fishing off the bridge, so we decided to pick up the pretzels and head home.
I-95 was wet, but traffic wasn’t as bad as it could be on a Saturday and most people were actually driving a few miles below the speed limit. We were one exit away from ours and in the middle of three lanes of southbound traffic. My husband asked if I could get him one of the pretzel rivets. I reached for them from the back seat and handed him one, keeping the box on my lap in case he wanted another. All of a sudden a red pickup truck in the left lane goes zooming by, not noticing that the traffic in front of him was slower. He braked, fish tailed and then over corrected which caused his truck to start spinning, hitting other cars in front and on the side.
My husband saw what was happening and slowed down. Luckily the people on the side of us and behind us did the same. I envisioned us getting hit on all sides. Car parts were flying off and the tailgate from the truck flew off landing on the left shoulder. It was like a scene out of a movie. The car in front of us decided to move to the right lane instead of staying stopped and the truck slammed into them before coming to a stop on the right shoulder as if he parked the truck there. All told the truck hit 6 vehicles. We would later learn that there were no reports of injuries.
I looked over at my husband and he smiled, probably to counter the look of shock on my face. “I see at least three of these types of accidents each week on my way home from work.” He was carefully navigating us through the car parts littering the highway to get out of the way of the accident scene.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked
He shook his head. “Nope. Why do you think I want to talk to you when I’m driving home?”
“I have no idea,” I answered while thinking that I shouldn’t be critical of his driving anymore.
“It’s because if I get into an accident, you’ll know and be able to call for help. Nice save on the pretzels by the way. I’ll take another one now.”
Looking down, I realized that through the whole accident, I had held on to the pretzels like I was holding a football. “They’re good pretzels.” And they are.
Saturday was only supposed to be a slight chance of rain, so we decided to take a drive and see the sights. Of course, it rained most of the trip. Here are some pictures. Please ignore the rain drops on the lens.
All photos taken by Lenalee.
And no, I’m not referencing the 80’s band by the same name. I’m talking real ones. Before moving to Maryland, I had never seen a seagull up close. I saw them on television and had read that they could be pretty bold when it came to food and stealing it out of a person’s hand. They aren’t really seen in Kansas. Here in Maryland, I live near a river and the bay, so you see seagulls. Of course, most of those sightings are in the parking lots of stores. The gulls have learned that parking lots are a good source of food. After all, people love tossing things away and a few don’t care where they toss their trash and parking lots seem to find a lot of it.
Last weekend, my husband and I were running errands. He wanted to run into Target and I decided to wait in the car. Within a few minutes, a mom came out of the store pushing a cart with her child in the main section. In the upper section were two drinks and apparently some sort of food. The mom stopped and lifted her child out of the cart to put them in the car, and in the blink of an eye, a swarm of seagulls swooped in and picked the shopping cart free of the food. I thought I was seeing things when I saw a seagull with a bag of chips flying away. Another lifted a cup from the cart and dropped it. The mother turned and looked, screamed and dashed into the back seat of her car. The seagull with the bag of chips dropped it a few spaces away and the swarm was all over it. Chips disappeared quicker than snow on a hot grill. The gulls were hovering over the cars. Two literally hovered in front of my car. I wanted to get a picture, but my purse with my cell was on the backseat and there was no way I was getting out of my car in the middle of a scene from The Birds.
Once the food was gone so were the birds. A few minutes later my husband came out of the store. As we drove out of the parking lot we passed the seagulls sitting on the ground about twenty feet away. “I always wonder why seagulls seem to hang out in parking lots,” my husband stated. “You should have come out two minutes ago.” I replied. “You would know exactly why they hang out here. It was an all you can eat buffet. They apparently like potato chips.” I don’t think he believed me. But he will. Next time I’ll have my cell close at hand.
Okay, we have been having a rather strange winter. We have only really had one measurable snow fall so far and that was in December. Most of the days have been in the low 40’s, so we have been able to take more weekend road trips around the area. Because of my fascination with the eagles in Florida, my husband decided to take me to see some for real. We recently made the trip to Conowingo Dam in Maryland, which is only about an hour from where we live. It is an area where eagles nest along the water which is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
We were there for less than 5 minutes when we heard shouts of “Eagle!” and one was flying overhead, eventually landing in a nearby tree. We saw several eagles, as well as blue herons and sea gulls. I took some pictures with my phone. My husband looked at all of the people around us with these huge cameras and lenses more than a foot long. He looked at me and said, “You’re going to need a better camera.” As of yesterday, I’m the proud owner of a Canon EOS Rebel T6. Now I just have to figure out how to use it. Until then, I’ll leave you with the eagle from my cell phone.
(Photo taken by lenalee-2017)
I recently read a blog post on The Adventures of Travel Penguin and one of the things that stood out to me was a question of when was the last time you laughed. I admit that I had to stop to think about it for a few minutes. I mean we probably laugh several times a day, but I would say that most of them fall into the category of nervous laughter or laughing along with others regardless of whether we think something is funny or not. But when was the last time that you really laughed at something that was just stop you in the tracks funny?
I have to admit that it took me a few minutes to think back to when I truly laughed and it didn’t have to do with memory and age :), but had more to do with the fact that we really don’t have enough laughter in our lives. For me, I have been focused on dealing with work lately and that hasn’t been a fun situation. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. I should be able to put things aside that do not bring me joy and focus on those things that do.
So to answer Travel Penguin’s question of when was the last time I laughed, I will tell you that it was about two weeks ago and it involved our new car. I had a job interview after work so when I came home, my husband said that he wanted to go out to dinner. He said I could tell him about the interview and didn’t have to worry about dinner. One thing about our new car is that it is synced with our phones and it will read the texts out to you.We have chuckled once or twice when it reads a text that has words misspelled because it reads them exactly how they are written and the text will make no sense at all. On our way home, we were stopped at a red light and the car gave the notification that my husband had received a text message from a friend. He pressed “Read Text” and the car read off the text which was “Hahahahahahahahahahahah!” Hearing the car try to read a message of ha ha’s was just so weird and she sounded too funny and we laughed. We laughed for several minutes and I even texted him the same thing just to hear it again.
As we were driving, my husband looked at me and said, “Should we be worried that we are laughing at something so silly?” I looked over at him and said, “You’ve been making me laugh for 25 years, nothing is too silly to laugh about.”
So when was the last time that you truly laughed? If you can’t think of something and your car can read your texts, get someone to text you a bunch of hahahahahahahahaha’s and you’ll be laughing soon enough.
I have always been an obey the rules kind of girl. And when it comes to driving, I pay attention to the speed limit. If it is 65 mph, I go 65 mph. I don’t go 75 or 80 mph. I stay in the right or middle lane and let those that want to speed go around me. Living in Kansas, the roads were not as congested as they are on the east coast and the drivers were better behaved. Moving here four years ago, I pretty much left the driving to my husband. I occasionally remind him that the speed limit is 30 not 35 and he smiles and tells me he is going 30 mph. He knows how I feel about speeding and always does the best he can to stay at the speed limit when I’m in the car. Do I think he does when I’m not around? No. But it is different when I am with him.
Or it was different. Once he began commuting farther for his job, he has adopted the east coast way of driving, which is scary. If you have any doubts about east coast driving being considered one of the worst in the country, you can read more here. Now, when I drive with him, I always make sure my seat belt is secured, there are no projectiles that may go flying if we have to suddenly stop and I find myself closing my eyes so I don’t see the speedometer. It seems that the only way to drive on the Beltway is defensively. Fast. And pray that someone is looking out for you as you try to get from Point A to Point B. 65 mph is 80 mph. Too fast for me, but apparently too slow for those hurtling down the highway around us. If you have five feet between you and the car in front of you, someone will take the opportunity to pull their 10 foot vehicle between you. Conversation is virtually impossible as words such as a&%hole and stupid f*#k are uttered quite frequently to describe the latest near miss as we attempt to navigate our way around town. I have learned what white knuckled truly means and have learned not to eat anything heavy for fear of getting sick if we will be in the car for longer than a few minutes.
But last weekend, when another car pulled out from a parking lot and apparently didn’t see the 4 cars in the lanes next to them and proceeded to aimlessly drive towards us, we were saved a serious accident thanks to the quick defensive driving of my newly crowned King of East Coast Driving husband that saved us and the people behind us from getting hurt. And let me tell you, if they had damaged my new car, they would have seen a 5’ 2” Italian, Scottish, English, French (and the numerous other ancestries in my background) woman bring a case of whoop a$$ down on them that they would never forget. And I have a picture of your license plate. Just saying. 🙂