Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for February, 2015

Chillin’ Out at the Columbus Zoo

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival.

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival. That soon changed.

Have cabin fever? Put on your warmest clothes and visit the Columbus Zoo for an entertaining, learning experience. Upon arrival,  a few snow flakes bounced through the air, but before long the zoo was blanketed in a cover of white.

Even on a crisp, cold winter day, the zoo had many visitors, although just a small portion when compared to a summer visit. Many animals were inside display areas or tucked away in barns just waiting for the summer season to arive, but there was still much to enjoy.

Snow covered Asian Quest very soon.

Snow quickly covered Asia Quest.

While the present Columbus Zoo opened in 1937, Jack Hanna, graduate of Muskingum College, developed the zoo into one of the best zoos in the United States. Hanna served as director from 1978-93 and still serves as director emeritus. Today over 9,000 animals live there.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium provides something for everyone through five main areas: North America, Asia Quest, Australia & Islands, Congo, and Heart of Africa, the newest exhibit, which was closed on this visit. Still numerous displays make a visit worthwhile and memorable during the winter months, without the usual stops at the many gift shops and snack stands along the way.

While it’s impossible to mention all the adventures this winter day, here are a few gypsy highlights.

Hank, the largest elephant in a North American zoo weighed in at 15,600 pounds and measured 9’5″ tall. That’s one big elephant! People had the opportunity to pet and feed one of the smaller elephants, who kept looking for more treats.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Outside on Tiger Walk, several Siberian Tigers lounged in the snow, while one snuggled up in a corner of a stone cave. They watched movements carefully, probably ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Discovery Reef's Aquarium provides a break in the day.

Discovery Reef’s Aquarium provides a warm break in the day where you can sit and watch the fish among the coral reefs.

On a winter day, you might want a break from the cold, and a chance to rest your legs. Several possibilities exist. The giganitic Aquarium at Discovery Reef provides bleacher seats to watch the antics of the fish in a 100,000 gallon salt water aquarium. When you observe all the different species of fish from around the world swimming peacefully together, it seems there might be a lesson for those watching.

Close by, manatees also entertain as they pull lettuce and cabbage as a tasty treat from the surface of the water. Or perhaps you might want to slither over to the Reptile Building to see the snakes, lizards, and even turtles.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Visit North American’s Polar Frontier, which opened in 2010, to watch polar bears enjoy the new fallen snow. They like to be clean and dry as dirty fur provides little insulation, so they take a bath by rolling in the snow. Imagine the polar bears thought the weather perfect.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Of one thing you can be certain, every day’s a different experience while at the zoo. You never know what the animals will do next. Go to the zoo any season of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

Advertisements

Blackwater Falls – A Powerful Experience

The roaring falls of Blackwater River can be heard for miles around. Located near Davis, West Virgnia, these falls have become one of the most photographed sites in the state.

Steps at Blackwater Falls

Steps to Blackwater Falls

When you arrive at the Blackwater Falls sign, you notice that it says 214 steps to the falls. As you start down the first steps, it seems like an endless adventure as group after group of steps appear. Youngsters step gingerly down the steps, counting as they go to see if that number is actually correct. Several viewing platforms have been placed for enjoyable viewing, as well as a spot to rest.

mountain laurel

Mountain Laurel already produces blossoms for next spring.

Along the way, the forest flourishes with mountain laurel plants, already forming blossoms for next season. In the fall, autumn leaves add color to the greenery of the pines.

Posted signs give interesting, helpful information regarding the falls. One sign points out that the walls of the falls are composed of “Salt Sand” used by drillers. This Conoquenessing sandstone strongly resists forces of nature, and forms the canyon walls and Blackwater Falls. This special sand assists in the production of oil and natural gas in West Virginia.

Sandstone began to form here over 230 million years ago as deposits of sediment were deposited in large basins that covered present day West Virginia. Over millions of years, most sediment deposits squeezed and changed the underlying sediment to rock. The large boulders at the base of the falls were once part of the cap rock.

Blackwater Falls

Beautiful Blackwater Falls

The first glimpse of the falls even from afar takes your breath away. When you get closer, you can actually feel the spray from the water on your face. As it descends the falls, the water appears amber, or tea colored as it plunges straight down about sixty feet before it twists and turns down the eight mile long gorge. Since the color appears darker than most waterfalls, it received the label of “black” water. The color results from tannic acid emitted by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.

Blackwater River flows on.

Blackwater River flows on.

As you watch the bubbling mountain stream at the top of the falls, it suddenly picks up life as it tumbles over the edge, swirling as it goes.But it’s pure pleasure to sit on the deck of the overlook and listen to the powerful sound of the falls with its unending flow. Sometimes during the year, the falls either slow down to a trickle, speed up to a torrent, or even partially freeze over.

Everytime you visit will be a new experience!

Blackwater Falls can be found in northeastern West Virginia near Davis. Natural treasures like this remain off the beaten path so directions vary greatly depending on your direction of travel. Definitely worth the trip!

Peaceful Hindu Temple near Pittsburgh

Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple

Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple

High atop a hill east of Pittsburgh, PA sets a beautiful Hindu temple, Sri Venkateswara. In such a far-off corner, you really wouldn’t expect many people on a winter day, but the temple was crowded with devotees of all ages worshipping God in their own way through prayer and meditation.

Beautiful Child dressed for worship service.

Beautiful Child dressed for worship service.

Sri Venkateswara is one of the earliest traditional Hindu temples built in the United States back in 1976. Their service involves much ceremony with many statues of their different Gods and Goddesses forming visual images of the invisible divine entities. Diwa lamps burning butter, or ghee provided by the sacred cows, passed through the people assembled. All wished to gather the light to be blessed with spiritual energy. Fruit and nuts were given by temple priests to bless and nourish the body, as worship nourished the soul.

In the small sanctuary, people showed humility by prostrating themselves before God as the bells rang out their invitation to join in the ceremony. This vast congregation of worshippers showed extreme dedication to their beliefs. Children also enjoyed the day swirling and dancing with smiles and laughter. One small girl captured my heart as she twirled happily in a beautiful yellow dress with embroidered vest and red scarf. Her smile lit up the room.

Women dressed in the most beautiful saris, and walked with grace and dignity. They attend temple services to give honor to their Hindu traditions, while receiving peace and energy from being there.

Car Puja

Car Puja

This beautiful building had three floors, two used for worship, while one was for social purposes. After the worship service, which was basically a time of honoring the dieties, as well as meditation, most adjourned to the dining hall for a light vegetarian lunch.

As we were leaving, smashed lemons appeared in the parking lot. Why would they be there? This area was designated as Car Puja, where new cars are blessed to rid the car of any bad influences. The tradition claims that if you run over lemons with all four tires, your car will be blessed and safe.

A long flight of steps led to the temple.

A long flight of steps led to the temple.

On the way home, a stop for a friend at India Bazaar completed the day with the purchase of chapati atta (whole wheat flour), jasmine rice, haldi (tumeric), and til (sesame seed) for them to use in future meal preparations. An extremely polite shopkeeper carried the purchases to our car.

India Bazaar was the perfect stop for Indian food.

India Bazaar was the perfect stop for Indian food.

Never say no to an adventure! You might be surprised at the interesting things found along the way. The beautiful day lifted my spirits because those attending were very kind and understanding to visitors, even if I was the only blond in attendance.

Sri Venkateswara Temple can be found on the east side of Pittsburgh, PA from I-376, Exit 80. Head to Route 22, Old William Penn Highway, and drive about three miles to Old Thompson Run Road. From there, follow the blue and white Temple signs as they are clearly marked.

“Digging the Past” at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio

Dig into the past and discover facts about people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago. At Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio, those interested in archaeology had an exciting day called “Digging the Past”. Special displays by area people, who are interested in what is under the ground, provided valuable information for anyone who wished to listen.

One of the speakers at Archaeology presentation

One of the speakers at Archaeology presentation

Five knowledgeable archaeologists and collectors gave slide show lectures on various archaeological subjects. Some of my favorite dealt with the various groups of mounds around the state of Ohio. Bruce Lambardo, ranger at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, explained why we should change the term “mounds” to “earthworks”. These structures are not just piles of dirt built by early Native Americans, but precise, geometrical art works that were not only enormous in size, but also aligned astronomically. He described the Hopewell Culture site near Chillicothe as the most spectacular configuration of Earthworks in the world.

Dr. Jarrod Burks, Director of Archaeological Geophyics at Ohio Valley Archaeology, discussed the earthworks throughout the state including Newark, Chillicothe, and Marietta. While many of the mounds have been destroyed by farming and housing developments, there are still new ones being discovered in the last fifty years.

Mound City Artifacts explained.

Mound City Artifacts explained.

There seemed to be a strong connection between the Newark and Chillicothe Earthworks when they were constructed in 300 B.C. – 400 A.D. These earth architects constructed these ceremonial mounds, where the circles had the exact same diameter, and squares measured the same corner to corner. Even more exacting was the fact that the circle would fit perfectly inside the square. How did these early people perform such mathematically correct shapes and even have them aligned to the winter and summer solstices? How did they construct Great Hopewell Road directly between the two mound centers? Either they were geniuses or perhaps they had some extraterrestrial help. Keep your mind open to all possibilites.

Wes Clark explained his finds at The Castle Museum, where pottery and earthworks artifacts have been discovered. Nathaniel Clark Pottery (1808 -1849) existed on the same site as today’s Castle, so many pieces of pottery have been discovered from red earthenware to stoneware. Earthworks artifacts also frequently appear, including flint arrowheads.

From all the buttons found at the military sites, Archaeologist Greg Shipley remarked, with a smile, that the thread must not have been very strong. A wide variety of buttons appeared in archaeological digs in western Ohio military sites while looking for footprints of an outpost there. The hot spot for buttons seemed to be in the area of the taverns.

Flint Knapper demonstrates skills.

Flint Knapper demonstrates skills.

Flint knappers displayed  the intricate methods they use to shape the pieces of flint found. Their methods are beyond my description as they magically formed arrowheads by chipping and shaping the layers of the flint. Long ago the Indians used either stone or bone to shape their arrows from flint, in much the same manner. After use, the arrowheads would need re-sharpened by removing flakes to reshape, so they would get smaller and sharper as time passed. The flint knapper at Marietta had been creating flint pieces for fifteen years so was quite excellent at his craft.

Archaeology displays filled the lobby of Campus Martius Museum.

Archaeology displays filled the lobby of Campus Martius Museum.

Numerous displays throughout the lobby included historic artifacts from collections around the state. Not only were there Indian artifacts from the Adena and Hopewell people, but also artifacts from military camps of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as well as historic Marietta.  The Pipe Tomahawk intrigued me with a head that has an ax on one edge with a pipe bowl on the other. It enjoyed multiple uses as a pipe to smoke, a ceremonial instrument, and also a weapon.

Tomahawk Peace Pipe

Tomahawk Peace Pipe had several uses.

Campus Martius Museum in Marietta holds informative speakers throughout the year on a wide variety of subjects. If you are interested in Ohio history, check out their schedule at Campus Martius Museum website.

Marietta is located on the beautiful Ohio River just off I-77. Take Exit 1 to downtown Marietta and follow State Route 7 / 60. Turn left on Washington Street and one block down on the right hand side, you’ll see Campus Martius Museum. There is parking to the right of the building or one block behind at the Ohio River Museum. Visit both museums if time permits.

 

 

Tag Cloud