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Steamtown, USA

posted Aug 6, 2017, 1:02 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Aug 6, 2017, 1:08 PM ]

While my wife's parents were down for a visit, my father-in-law and I escaped to Scranton, PA for a day to visit Steamtown National Historic Site to check out the trains.  This place is really cool with a lot of locomotives and rolling stock.  They also have some extensive display exhibits and the whole site oozes the atmosphere of riding the rails.  We both agreed this is one of the best National Parks in the US.  Here are a few of my shots - Alllll Aboard!

Here is some of the train yard. All of the tracks here are usable, if needed.

A look from above at some of the extensive display exhibits.

This is a restored steam locomotive and on the other side it has been cutaway to illustrate the inner workings. (Next photo)

The cutaway view.

The Lackawanna 889 Caboose.  There were many claims that the Lackawanna railroad was the most advanced in both technology and safety.

A locomotive in mid-restoration.

One of the site's crown gems was this fully restored US RR PO Car.  What a life these workers had!

Sorting bins and bags on board the US RR PO car.  These trains didn't just pick up and drop off bags of mail, they also handled all of the sorting in between towns and kept the mail running on time!

Individual slots for specific towns along the route.

Here is my father-in-law in the engineer's seat.

Here's my Casey Jones impression. (According to my father-in-law.)

The nose of the Union Pacific 4012 "Big Boy".  This is another of the site's crown jewels.  Only 25 were made and just 8 survive.

Info about the 4-8-8-4 Big Boy.  With its tender car, it is longer than the Wright Bro's first flight!


A really fun trip and a great place to visit if you're ever near Scranton, PA!

-PHIL

New Shower

posted Jul 4, 2017, 2:17 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Jul 4, 2017, 2:18 PM ]

One of the glaring shortcomings of our new house was the lack of a shower in the master bathroom.  Well, after a couple of months of research, design, and estimating, we found a solution we liked and had it installed.  Yay, shower!  Here are the photos of the progress...

This is the starting point, and we didn't want to give up the swimming pool-sized soak tub.

First, we need an access panel to swap the tub faucet.  This is a true commitment to quality - tiling all the way around!

Access achieved!

Installing the new tub faucet.

New faucet with a shower riser pipe!

Faucet and shower riser pipe.

The job "supervisor"!  ;-)

The new ceiling mounted shower curtain ring.

New shower curtain ring and LED light fixture.

Complete view of new hardware, all installed.

Final look at the new shower with new curtains!

It looks great, works well, and maintains our ability to "swim" in the soak tub should we want to.  A job well done by our master plumber, Keith!

-PHIL

White Mtns Road Trip - Day 4

posted Jun 11, 2017, 6:55 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Jun 11, 2017, 6:55 PM ]

With a few hundred miles left to go, we traveled through central Vermont and found a couple of great spots in Woodstock.

Here is Middle Covered Bridge, just off Main st.

And, last shot of the trip - Sleepy Hollow Farm.  Not usually my type of subject, but this one was too spectacular to pass up!

All and all a great trip - looking forward to the next!

-PHIL

White Mtns Road Trip - Day 3

posted Jun 11, 2017, 6:44 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Jun 11, 2017, 6:46 PM ]

Day 3 of our road trip brought rain, flat light, and more driving... but we loved it!

The iconic Mount Washington Hotel - steeped in history, a hot spot in the Whites!



Another icon - the Cog Railway climbs to the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast at over 1 mile in elevation!


Journey to the top.

How the train gets to the top without slipping backwards.

More Lupines!  And daisies.

The North Conway Scenic RR crossing the Swift River bridge.

Another classic spot in the Whites - the Albany Covered Bridge.

Sometimes you have to get a little wet to get the good shot!

The Swift River.

We saw quite a few of these Tiger Swallowtails out and about after the rain cleared.

Another great day on the books, and sadly the last before heading back towards to NY.

-PHIL

White Mtns Road Trip - Day 2

posted Jun 11, 2017, 6:23 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Jun 12, 2017, 7:40 AM ]

After a lovely evening spent at my parents' house, we headed North to the White Mountains in hopes of finding some fields of Lupines backdropped by mountains...  While the day started out with blue skies, the clouds eventually rolled in and gave us some very tricky light to deal with.

Before hitting the road, my Dad treated us to this very rare and protected Pink Lady's Slipper within walking distance of their house.  Read about it here:  https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/new-hampshire/state-flower/pink-ladys-slipper

While scouting the area we got permission to shoot this Covered RR Bridge on the property of the White Mountain Scenic RR.


They also sported a few antique steam engines...



And, finally the Lupines of Sugar Hill!



An old timey street sign - cool!

A fantastic lunch at a New Hampshire landmark - since 1938!

An additional claim to fame for the Sugar Hill area.

A classic White Mountains scene - the East Branch Pemigewasset River.

Here is Rod scoping out his shot of Silver Cascade.

Ivie Memorial Church of the Messiah Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, NH.

The Bartlett Snow Roller - used on the streets before snow plows and snow blowers!



A great Day 2 and another couple of hundred miles on the road!

-PHIL

White Mtns Road Trip - Day 1

posted Jun 11, 2017, 3:55 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated Jun 12, 2017, 7:30 AM ]

Itching for some new and majestic scenery, shooting partner Rod and I decided to try our hand in the White Mountains of NH, specifically for the Lupines, in early June.  Since this area was my old stomping grounds from growing up in NH, I thought we'd have no trouble finding places to shoot - and I was right!  We amassed quite the collection of shots over our 4 day road trip.  Here is day 1 - enjoy!

Crossing over Southern Vermont, we enjoyed the views from Hogback Mtn, which boasts 100 mile views - and we got them!


Here is the Appalacian Trail (AT) footbridge over a local creek.


Do not tilt your head!  This is not an optical illusion.  I've meant to stop and take a photo of this leaning barn for over 20 years, and finally did - before it eventually falls.  Phew!

Here is the Twin Stone Arch Bridge - a well known landmark in Southern NH.


A playful shot of the Stone Arch Bridge through a crystal sphere - just to try something new.

To end the day, the moon rising over Drew Lake with a nice reflection.

On to Day 2!

-PHIL

Exploring Ithaca

posted May 29, 2017, 6:07 AM by Phil Spitze   [ updated May 29, 2017, 6:08 AM ]

After moving to Cortland in April, Ithaca is a much closer photography destination for me now.  So Rod and I headed to the Cornell campus and surrounding area to try our camera luck.  We didn't do too badly, and I believe there are many other trips to come.  Please enjoy!

We started in the Cornell Botanical Gardens and came away with a few macro shots.

Some intense squawking by nearby birds alerted us to the presence of this mink as it ran upstream on the opposite shoreline.

The real winner of the day was Judd Falls - a gorgeous little multi-tier cascade.


Close-up of a single cascade and outflow.

Here is Rod working on a shot below me.

An angle from further downstream, including ducks!

Ducks taking it easy on a lovely Spring afternoon.

More to come!

-PHIL

Test Kitchen - Pancakes!

posted May 16, 2017, 10:49 AM by Phil Spitze   [ updated May 16, 2017, 10:50 AM ]

Many, many years ago (maybe more than a decade) I signed up to be a member of the King Arthur Flour Consumer Advisory Panel.  Over the years, all that was required was to complete an online survey once in a while.

But, a couple of weeks ago I got notice that I had been selected to test bake two different pancake mixes that were in development by KAF, and to keep an eye out for a shipment!

Well, last weekend (Mother's Day) Kerry and I set up for our test bake, and better yet taste testing of the two mixes.  It was fantastic fun and there was a clear winner.  Here are the photos...  don't drool on your keyboard!

The box!

Supplies ready to go.

Buttermilk A and Buttermilk B - ready to mix.

The final batter.

Buttermilk A on the griddle.

Buttermilk B on the griddle.

First batch after cooking - side by side comparison.

Buttermilk A is crowned the winner - with whipped cream!

Kerry very smartly detected the slightest hint of maple in the Buttermilk A batter, which we felt made them a slightly sweeter pancake.  Also, we found that the Buttermilk B pancakes had the slightest hint of a pastry-like texture, almost like a croissant, that made them a bit different.


A great time in the kitchen on a Sunday morning!

-PHIL

New House - Friends, Furry and Feathered

posted May 4, 2017, 5:49 PM by Phil Spitze   [ updated May 4, 2017, 5:50 PM ]

Now that we've restocked the bird/squirrel feeders, we're starting to see quite the collection of friendly critters at our new house.  At times it can get quite active and is great fun to watch!  Here are some photos - enjoy!












Did you identify them all?  ;-)

-PHIL

New House - Lots of Flowers

posted May 1, 2017, 10:54 AM by Phil Spitze   [ updated May 1, 2017, 10:55 AM ]

We recently moved into our new house in Cortland, NY and couldn't be happier!  What adds to our joy is the number of flowers coming out, where each new bud brings with it a mystery.  Here is the first round that I've got photos for.  Yay Spring!








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