Thursday, October 15, 2009

Washington, DC... in 5 Hours?

Is it possible to do Washington DC in one afternoon? The answer is no, of course, but then again, if you're nearby enough to pop in on the train, there is plenty to see and do in a few hours, and the experience can be quite rewarding.

After the Baltimore Comic-con, I stopped in Silver Springs Maryland for the night, and the next day took the metro to the Smithsonian stop in Washington. I had to change trains twice, but things went pretty smooth, and it was only 20 minutes or so until I was standing within an area surrounded by the Smithsonian Museum buildings, and gazing over at the Washington Monument.

Now, being there for the afternoon, I had to prioritise, so standing in line was out. It was well worth it just to walk around the Washington monument, tilting my head back ever minute or so to see just how high it is, and looking for the secret inscription that Dan Brown mentions in his new book. From there it was a short walk to the Lincoln Memorial, with several other memorials to see along the way.

The biggest disappointment so far was that big long pool of water you see in all the movies, including Logan's Run, where it was full of weeds from centuries of neglect. In reality, the pool looked a LOT like it did in Logan's Run, having green water that was overflowing in places onto the dirt path that followed alongside. Stick to the sidewalk about 20 meters away is what I recommend, although I stuck to it and followed the pool all the way to the steps. Looking left you can see the Jefferson Memorial, by the way, and turning around you can sometimes spot the Capitol Building in the distance, behind the Washington Monument.

See how much we've seen already?

The Lincoln Memorial is awesome in it's own sobering way, and definitely one of the monuments worth going in and walking around for a bit. Take time to read Lincoln's words on the walls, and to just stand there gazing up at the man himself.

I then walked back to the Smithsonian making a slight detour east to see the Whitehouse, which unfortunately had a big white tent in front of it, marring the view. It just didn't seem worth going any closer since there was no time for a tour, so back across the park under the Washington Monument, and back to the Smithsonian.

Once there, there were many options from Art museums, an information Castle where Mr. Smithson is interred, the Air & Space Museum, and the Natural History Museum. I love Natural History Museums, and was curious to see how much the Night in the Museum resembled it, so spent my few remaining hours there, where I saw a LOT of cool stuff, and even learned a few things. Highly recommended, especially if you have kids. Be warned, though, that food inside is expensive, but good, and the gift shops are marked up considerably. Still, you gotta buy something while you're there. :0)

After that it was another short train trip back, and then into the car for the ride home. A very good afternoon, indeed, walking amongst our nation's history, and seeing close-up all those things you see in the movies, which is really what travel is all about, isn't it? Experiencing life first-hand.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Drawing the Line

In America, England, Australia.... just about anywhere, you can find history. Prehistoric peoples wandered the land and cluttered it up with burial mounds, henges, rock carvings, standing stones... you name it. All kinds of stuff that was so very important to them. Then Historic Man came along and decided everything would look nice plowed over and plundered. Then Modern Man came along and decided he could profit by building as many shopping and eating establishments as possible, and making sure there was plenty of parking to go along with it.

In the Uk recently an ancient long house was excavated quickly so a car park could go in on schedule. Here in Ohio archeologists had to move fast to save some very important artifacts so that a new runway could go in at the airport. Even at Stonehenge, that most famous of monuments, there is a sign at the car park saying that some 3000 year old giant carved trees had once stood on that spot, somewhere under the tarmac!

Obviously, these ancient sites meant a lot to their builders. Obviously, modern man needs places to sleep, shop, and eat pizza. So where do we draw the line? In a recent post here I was moaning about the loss of so much Native American prehistory here in Ohio. "Why oh why did they have to destroy so much?!" I cried! Then I looked at "Prehistoric Earthworks in Ohio by William C. Mills, from the 1914 Archeological Atlas of Ohio. There were thousands of earthworks, including burial mounds, ceremonial temple mounds, fortifications, village enclosures.. and then there were petroglyph sites, stone piles, and others. That's a lot of red dots on the map! See this link if you don't believe me:

So where Do we draw the line between preserving the past and making way for 'progress'? A compromise would be nice, such as living alongside the monuments from the past, but in many cases it's much too late for that. The decision should have been made years ago.

In all fairness, most people simply do not care about the past... just a bunch of rocks and dirt, some people say. So let's have a dialog here.

"The Native Americans moved into Ohio perhaps 15,000 years ago!"
"Yeah, but we is here now."
"Only because 'we' forced them from their homes!"
"Might makes right, loser!"

Never mind... this kind of conversation inevitably leads to disaster, since both sides have very different points of view. The truth is.. in most cases it is too late. Here in Ohio I've been told that everything was plowed over, so that even the monuments we see today are not truly their original selves. I've been here two weeks now, and in two different walks have seen evidence of artifacts that were ground into pieces.. broken pottery, a broken adze, a piece of clay pipe... the last two were not far from a certain burial mound I featured here, so even that was 'spoiled'.

Even in our attempts to preserve the past, I believe we are failing. Some believe that letting the land go fallow is allowing the sites to be seen in their 'natural' state. Well, just what IS their natural state? We are not sure of the purpose of many of these sites, so how do we know what they should look like? The Native Americans did not have lawn mowers, unless you count sheep, but letting grass grow on earthworks is a better method of preserving them than letting them grow fallow.

Case in point, the Jeffers Mound as seen in the photo above. The Jeffers Mound is all that is left of a vast complex that included huge earthworks, a burial mound, a ceremonial mound (the Jeffers Mound), two circular enclosures, and longhouses. Who knows what else? The land was farmed for years until it was subdivided and sold into housing lots. Mr. Jeffers thankfully did not sell the land the Jeffers Mound was on, so this is all that remains of this once great complex.

Now look at the photo above... can you even see the mound? It's like 25 feet high, but I had some people with me on the visit and they all saw a 'bunch of bushes' until I pointed out to them that it wa a mound. What bothers me though is the trees. If left in the woods, nature would eventually destroy these mounds on it's own,(see first photo above of Cole Earthworks) but this mound is supposedly being preserved, and there are 40 foot high trees growing out of it! That means there are 40 feet of roots burrowing through the mound, and when those tipping trees fall, there goes the mound.

Oh well... let's just help nature along, shall we? This site is just wasted space, innit? Let's put up a bus shelter with matching car park and put this space to use, eh?

Just remember one thing, though. These ancient peoples lived a long time ago, so we say 'their time has passed', and plow over the graves of their ancestors. Well, how would you feel if those were YOUR ancestors being plowed over? It could happen, you know. And not just in the movies. Case in point, the Pool family. They plowed over the two mounds I mentioned in my earlier blog, and lived here for some time in the 1800's. Not too long ago, right? And their gravestones were found 'somewhere south of Highbanks Metro Park, and no one is sure where their bodies are. Their stones now sit together in a little fenced off area... a 'pretend' burial plot.

And progress and history march on... :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Site-seeing: a Lesson Learned

I have to point out that when it comes to ancient sites, it is best to see them in person, as opposed to simply reading about them in a book or on the net. These sites were made by people, and I believe that to truly understand them, we should look upon them in person and try to imagine them when freshly made. Even if the pyramids of Egypt were made by slaves, I'm willing to bet that some of those slaves stopped to look at these wondrous monuments and say to themselves, "I made that!".

Of course, they were probably summarily executed afterward, but still, there's always that bit of pride that comes from doing something special.

Now then, we can't always see sites in person, and although the net is no substitute for experience, it does come in handy as a reference tool. And here is today's lesson... If you are going to go visit a historic site, then please do some research ahead of time, or you too might find yourself in an embarrassing predicament such as the one I am about to discuss. :0)

So. My first Saturday morning in Ohio, and I am very anxious to get out in the field... any field... and see the sights. I had heard the day before that a local park featured some Adena Burial mounds, and so had to go. The weather was fair, and having done no research at all, I set out for Highbanks Metro Park, and their burial mounds.

Yes, I did no research at all. Why? I figured, "it's a park, there'll be signs, how hard can it be?"

And it wasn't! A few minutes after entering the park, I pulled into a parking lot and there it was... a huge mound, recently mowed, and standing there so majestically! This was my fist view of an Adena Burial Mound, and wow, was I impressed. I ran around taking about 50 photographs from every angle, including panoramic views, and climbed the summit several times to capture the scenery. I recorded everything, and then, exhausted, set out to find more.

It was at the next parking lot that I found a map. A map that showed the wondrous mound behind me to be a Sledding Hill for local youngsters to risk their little necks in winter time. NOT an Adena Burial Mound. No, the two Adena Burial Mounds, and the Cole Earthworks, were only accessible by hiking through wooded trails... about a mile in each direction... to each site.

And then the rains came.

It rained so hard and so long that when it ended, and the sun came out, I felt safe enough to hike those trails after all. And so I set out.

And then the rains came. Again.

Believe it or not, but there were actually other people in the woods, in the rain, jogging or hiking. I met one couple who said the Weatherman had predicted zero percent chance of rain for today. Hmph.

So, regardless of weather I continued, and eventually came to a rock with a plaque that said Adena Burial Mound. I rounded the corner and there it was. A tiny little bump in the earth, behind a little fence, with golden twilight sunshine casting a glow over its little patch of grass.

My first burial mound. To some it may not seem very impressive. It's just this little bump in the grass, on top of a wooded hill, surrounded by trees. Very wet trees, at that.

But this is why I like seeing sights in person. It was quiet there, and that golden glow of the filtered sunshine gave the place a special atmosphere. A quiet almost holy atmosphere that gently guided one into quiet contemplation... a contemplation that made me realise that here was someone buried. A once living human being that was loved, or respected, or feared enough for his or her people to create this little mound for them on top of this hill, so that they could be remembered.

And suddenly that little bump became very meaningful indeed, and I wished at that moment that all the people who plowed over, built over, or ruthlessly plundered the dozens or other burial mounds in the area to destruction could have seen those little bumps in the landscape in this same manner. These are burials. They meant something to somebody once, and we should respect that.

I walked two hours in the rain that day... got muddy, and caught a cold, and my bones are still aching. But it was worth it. Every minute.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Alligator Mound: Ohio

The Alligator Mound of Granville, Ohio, USA

High upon a bluff, overlooking the Racoon Valley, lies one of two effigy earthmounds that we know exist in Ohio. As this report goes on, it will become obvious that there may have been others, but like so many native American earthworks and endeavors, they have become car parks, plowed land, and housing developments.

I have just moved to Ohio, and this is the firt bit of history that I have been able to visit in person. (Astral projections don't count because I can't take me camera with me) Anyways, I am writing this as an international exchange of information, since I believe we cannot understand any ancient work without adding a human element to the archeology, and I also believe that many ancient peoples were probably just regular joes, and we should tryu to view ancient monuments through their eyes.

As I mentioned, the Alligator mound lies high on a bluff... probably the highest bit of land around, and offers spectacular views of the valley. It is probably not an alligator, by the way, but Europeans named it that after the Native Americans told them the creature was a 'vicious water creature that ate people'. The mound is only 4 to 6 feet high at it's height, and at 200 feet long, is hard to see from the ground in all it's glory. In England, many burial mounds were built on the top of hills so that their chalky sides could be viewed from far away, and serve as boundary markers on the horizon. Here, from the bottom of the mound, the earthworks do make a bump across the top, but not a big one, and without your white chalk only serve as a mysterious silhoutte.

Why build a mound in the shape of an animal that only the gods could see? Well, perhaps that's the point. There is no evidence of this being a burial mound, and that weird bump from the Alligators side seems to stand out, so it is suggested that this was a ceremonial site. What kind of ceremonies were performed here is not known, but we do know that Native Americans had their gods based on Nature, and so it is no surprise that they would have performed significant acts here on the top of a mountain, perhaps during a glorious sunset (speculation on my behalf, but this is big sky country, and the sunsets from this point would always have been fabulous).

A few miles down the hill and road is a very large ancient city made of many earthworks, including a large circle. All of this is now a country club, where the well-to-do can golf upon these ancient walls and parapets, but the early native Americans lived here. I'm not sure if they built the alligator mound, since several ancient cultures overlap here, but if so, it can be argued that they climbed that very steep hill on special occasions to do their stuff.

All over this land are farms that are slowly giving way to housing developments and shopping centers. The ancient cultures of the Hopewell, Adena, and Fort Ancient peoples were here for thousands of years. In the last 200 years or so, people have managed to plow over, bury, and basically destroy earthworks, burial mounds, and who knows what else? Looking at the Alligator mound, it is easy to see that other effigy mounds could easily have been overlooked of their significance, and cast aside in the name of progress.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Travelling One Way...

I guess the ultimate travel would have to be a one way trip, if you see travel as a way of exploring new places and learning new customs. As you may have gathered, I have recently undertaken a journey to Columbus, Ohio, for an indeterminate amount of time!

Day 2 in the new house: Our furniture arrives tomorrow, and our belongings, enough to fill one van, are scattered about in a house much larger than the one we left. Going from a ranch to a two story sounds great until you awake in a house with no curtains and blinds and can't remember where you're clothes are! Trust me, the stairs get real old when you're running about from suitcase to suitcase looking for a pair of shorts, wondering why you were so daft as to leave each suitcase in a different corner of the house.

The 'decency' scramble over, you find yourself wishing for at least one chair to sit down in as you catch your breathe. Standing all day yesterday was new and exciting, but today you'd trade two pints of blood for a box to sit on, or a folding chair. At least we have a fireplace to sit down on, if we take turns, and mind the sharp edges.

Next up you wish Target had stayed open later, as it was ten o'clock the night before that they informed you that they were sold out on the coffee maker you wanted, and that there was no time to run to another store. Target also doesn't sell chairs, and the only nightlights are priced as family heirlooms, not practical items.

Did I mention that we don't have a washer or dryer yet? The quality of life is going to drop steadily as each day passes without a place to wash clothes! And did I mention there are no screens in the house! If we want fresh air, we'll have to share it with the mosquitoes...

At least the new fridge has an automatic water and ice dispenser, so dehydration is one thing we don't need to worry about. And we know where the grocary store is, but without plates and silverware, we're seeing enough local restaurants to write a Diner's Guide to Local Eating.

Amidst all this chaos, the doorbell rings. It's the nice couple from next door, with a bevy of beach chairs. They saw us fighting over the back step as a place to sit and eat breakfast, and came to help keep the peace. :0)

Good neighbors... what to look for when you buy a house. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, May 11, 2009

NYC: The Little Mermaid

There's lots to see in a big city, but in London or New York you definitely want to check out the Theater Scene. And in my opinion, you can do no better than Disney's The Little Mermaid on Broadway.

I first saw the show a while back, and the cast was fantastic, with Sierra Boggess as a fabulous Ariel. Sierra truly captured the wonder and innocence of the character, and though she must have performed the show hundreds of times, her performance was fresh and real. However, it seems like Sierra is leaving the show, to be replaced by understudy Chelsea Morgan Stock. Is it possible for someone to compete with Sierra Boggess's performance?

Believe it or not, but the answer is YES. I do not want to do a side by side comparison, because that would not be fair to either. Both perform the role with their own flair, and both capture the spirit of Ariel very well. The performances are both very convincing, and very fresh, and utterly delightful. So... though we wish Sierra all the best, we welcome Chelsea, with all the confidence that she can fill Sierra's... fins!

The rest of the cast has seen some changes as well, but it appears that the Actors must meet with Disney's standards. All of the performances are top notch, although Rogelio Douglas's Sebastion has a fantastic voice and energy, and the blond kid who plays Flounder really holds his own with the rest of the cast.(Sorry, can't find his name)

I haven't seen the movie, but I am assuming the story is much the same. The Broadway show offers several new songs, though, and outstanding sets. To me, a theater show resembles a comic strip. You have one 'panel' in which to set a scene, and place the characters against. All the action happens on one stage, yet Disney is able to show us under the sea, inside a castle, and on the beach and on a ship. Disney does a great job of this, and the Actors rolling along on inline skates give a realistic feal to the speed and flow of swimming sea creatures.

The story itself is timeless. Dad does what he thinks is best for his kids... the youngest rebels... runs away... changes species... and eventually everything works out in the end. Even though Dads get a bum rap in the story, I hope the lesson sinks in that King Triton is only doing what he thinks is best for his daughters, and trying to keep them safe.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Friday, April 10, 2009

High in the Middle, Round on Both Sides

What state is high in the middle, and round on both sides? O-hi-o, of course! Hahaha. I've been telling that joke for years, and must have made it up because noone else has ever seemed to have heard it.

Anyways.... still getting to know the place, slowly. The 'no handguns' sign on the door of a cell phone store was alarming, but many of the people I've met have been friendly, and the restaraunts I've visited have all had excellent service.

Hoover Dam, next right? Am I really that lost?!

My home base is still Easton Town Center, so this humongous upscale shopping complex is probably not giving me the real Ohio. I did eat at a fun, family friendly place called Hoggy's, and hopefully this place is more indicative of the times to be had here in Columbus.

No, that's not MY Mini, though it looks like it. But hey, THAT guy just shouldn't have been driving!

Have seen some farmland, and some nice parks, and have been reading about the history of the area, and the things to do downtown. Apparently the German villiage has a book store that's 32 rooms of books! Sounds like a place to visit! There's also the world famous Zoo, and the Indian Caverns, and all kinds of things yet to explore.

But first a nap... I've caught a darn cold!

JOHN :0)

Abuelo's... a really nice place to eat in Easton Town Crossing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Day in Ohio

Welcome to Ohio

[Note: In the spirit and style of Brian Hughes, one of our generation's finest bloggers, you may find quite a few Editorial Comments added to this blog as a humorous effect. Cheers, ye Editor]

Since my last trip to Columbus was cut short, I decided to return again. This time, I thought it would be great to drive the ten hours there, and really see this vast nation of mine. (@#$%! airline fares...)

Time seems to slow down the further you drive. Sure, the first two hours seem okay, but the clock slows, and the miles stretch, until the pain in your backside can no longer be described. But let's go back to the beginning, shall we?

Indian Country, Pa.

First thing, I woke up late (of course), and then, while packing, heard what I thought was thunder. Looking out the window I saw... snow. In April. And though it stopped for a while, it managed to follow through the first half of Pennsylvania. (of course). While looking at the snow which shouldn't have been there, I noticed that there was quite a bit of traffic in my neighborhood. Turns out that they decided to tear up half the road around the corner... the way I was going, of course.

The construction didn't end there. There was construction nearly every twenty minutes of the ten hour trip, meaning that I probably could have gotten here in 9 hours, considering how long I sat or crawled past orange traffic cones.

So 2 McDonalds and three rest stops and twenty construction sites later, I arrived in Ohio, where it was bright until 8:30, which was a plus for the drive, considering it gets dark about 7:30 in NJ. Of course, it was well after dark by the time I arrived.

Falling Rock Zone in the Mountains of PA.

Driving did give me a better perspective of the land, and a bigger appreciation for air travel! Ohio still looks pretty flat to me... definitely big sky country... especially after driving through PA, which was all beautiful mountains, including one spot which had a sign which I think claimed the spot was the highest elevation east of the Mississippi, but it was hard to read a long sign while zooming past it. Driving, though, did give me a better appreciation for Ohio. I finally got to see stretches of farmland, vast panoramas, and signs for places like Grandpa's Cheese Barn.

Big Sky Country

And speaking of difficulty reading signs, here's a travel tip. Try to avoid driving East, as you'll have the sun in your eyes most of the way, and when you finally get to the unfamiliar places, all of the road signs will be black silhouttes. It's a round planet, so I suggest you make life easier and only travel westward from now on.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Columbus, Ohio, Day 2

Short post today, since I don't have a good wireless connection. No photos, but I promise more tomorrow.

First impressions... people tell you a lot of things, but don't listen to them! The taxes in Ohio are not 25% of what you find in NJ, contrary to popular opinion. Property taxes are as high as any place in Jersey, at least in the areas I visited. I spent most of the day north and west of the city, and the entire place seems to be under development, which is why the taxes are so high. From this point of view, the place reminded me of New Jersey, where the greed of the developers eliminates the natural beauty and history of the State.

Again, I was close to the city, and also, I suppose a booming locale is better than a dying one. There were many beautiful areas to live, and to shop, and some cute downtowns. Like the rest of the world, there are quite a few Irish pubs that look promising, and Columbus has a terrific zoo and aquarium to offer. I was surprised to see Amish shops, and to hear that there were Amish communities not far away. There is also an ancient Native American cavern that I look forward to exploring, and some nice farmland that hasn't turned condo yet. There are two large lakes that are state parkland, and free for everyone to enjoy, and one huge momma of a shopping area that could be a small town in itself.

All in all, an exhausting day, and so of course take everything I say with a grain of salt. You can't judge a place on one day's visit... it isn't fair.

I was surprised to see how close it resembled jersey, although truth to tell New Jersey has a lot of trees and wooded areas, and justly wears it's title of Garden State. From Ohio, I expected a lot of farmland and a slower paced life and hopefully a better cost of living. The people did seem very friendly, and the cost of living will probably be founf to be more reasonable if I get away from the tourist areas.

More later, after I get some sleep. If you're reading this without photos, please come back in a day to see those. (update: photos added.)

Cheers, JOHN :0)


1) Downtown Dublin, a cute little town that apparently had one heck of a St. Patrick's day parade.
2) One of two beautiful and large lakes that residents can enjoy.
3) The Public Library in upscale New Albany.
4) A farm with a horse.

Notice that the land is fairly flat out there, a least where I've seen. New Jersey is very hilly, and has it's share of mountains, and lots of wooded areas. Again, though, I never strayed far from the city, so I'll have to report again later when I've seen more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Columbus, Ohio, Day 1

So I'm in Columbus, Ohio, doing some research for a future project, amongst other things. Only a brief visit, but I will share what I can.

Tonight I am in a swanky part of town called Easton Town Center, a collection of shops and restaurants not far from the airport. The taxi ride cost $20 bucks for a 3 mile trip, and at least as far as Easton Town Center goes, prices are not any cheaper here than in New Jersey. From the crowd, though, and the number of hotels here, I am guessing this is a touristy area.

Many of the restaurants are familiar to me, which just goes to show how the world is getting smaller in some ways. The above photo is of a miniature railway displayed outdoors here, and the horse statue can be found outside of a Chinese bistro.

So far, Columbus reminds me of Philadelphia, or Boston, perhaps, in the sense that things are spread out as opposed to crowded into a massive downtown area. I did little research before coming here, though, and I'm more familiar with other areas of Ohio, so this will be a learning experience. Sometimes it's good to get away to somewhere you haven't been before and just experience.

Tomorrow I will see the rest of Columbus. I've already done some research on the area in a local bookstore, but have a lot to learn yet.

Hopefully this last picture is NOT an indication of things to come. :0)

I'll try to post tomorrow!
Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where I've Been

FaceBook has an endless number of applications to 'enhance' the user experience. Some are silly, some are plain dumb, and some are quite useful, and some are fun. One of the applications I like is called Where I've Been, and it acts as a virtual map with virtual pins that mark 'where I've been'.

To be honest, the app is not always perfect, and for me at least, it isn't always easy to get into, but at least it saves your progress automatically, and it does seem to improving over time. One of the excitements of travel, of course, is seeing where you've been, and just as important, where you haven't been. An application like this is fairly easy to use, although it is limited to facebook. There are similar apps with facebook, if you want to experiment, but I like this one best.

I have yet to research a similar program for desktop use, that you can share with everyone. I'm sure one is out there, and I will let you know. Meanwhile, if you can recommend something, let ME know.

It would be great to have a world map on your wall, and place pins in it to mark your places of visitation, but honestly, that would take a big chunk of wall space, and what if the pins fell out? Of course, if I leave facebook, or the power goes out, I can't access Where I've Been, but since it is a program, there are some neat aspects like giving you a percentage of the planet that you have visited.

For me, WIB says I've visited 10% of the planet. Now, I don't know if this is 10% of land mass, or the whole thing. If the whole planet, then 10% isn't bad, considering how much is water. My problem with the app is that it has been saying 10% for some time now. In fact, I've gone to considerable effort to add places, just to try to get it to 11%, but no... it hasn't changed. What irks me is that I've seen similar maps from other people, and one guy has 15%, but has visited less of the world thatn I have!

I think the problem is that it gives you credit for an entire country, so the guy who hops over the border into Mexico for a quick margarita gets credit for the whole country. That's quite an edge, so I hope the application works these kinks out.

The above photo is an actual screenshot of my travels. It shows I have quite a few places to visit yet! When in the program, you can actually zoom in and out like on google maps, and see individual towns and other places you can truly add most places you've been. One thing lacking though is places of interest, like Mount Rushmore or the Taj Majal. Hopefully they will add that to the cities feature some time.

Meanwhile, it is a fun tool for a traveller, but only if you are on facebook. Maybe they'll expand beyond social networks one day?

So how do YOU keep track of Where You've Been?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snow on the Beach

Went to the beach yesterday. The nice thing about living in New Jersey is, when you can forget for a moment the high cost of living, the high taxes, the over-development, the crowds, and especially the noise, well, at least you're close to the beach. Not that all beaches are the same, but at least in winter time there are fewer people and hopefully less garbage to tread on.

Do I sound annoyed? Yes, because it is unbelievable that people can go to the beach and leave their garbage behind them. Broken bottles, rusty cans, miscellaneous items of clothing.... you name it.

However, I want to encourage travel, so let's speak of the beauty. I always enjoy a trip to the shore, and the ocean will always manage to impress the heck out of me. I love the beach in winter time, but yesterday was the first time I actually saw snow at the beach. Not a lot, but enough to be admired.

I wanted to visit the twin light houses at Navesink, but unfortunately they closed early. I did get a few long distance shots, though. Supposedly there was a whale stranded at nearby Sandy Hook, but that was a week or so ago, so I'm hoping that situation was resolved, and the whale is on his merry way.

And no, didn't see any sharks this time. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)