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Disclosure: I am hopeless at keeping plant life alive. Before I was an almost recovered lawyer (i.e. when I was a more than full time lawyer), Mr. Excitement and I realized that our home was a living example of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Any living thing that could survive with the amount of care we were able willing to provide could stay. Apparently, flora was unable to adapt to conditions in our abode. Fortunately, our sons and the dog managed to flourish.

Notwithstanding my personal incompetence at sustaining plant life, I love other people’s gardens. My walks in our summertime New Jersey beach town, Brigantine, are slow affairs because of all my stops to admire our neighbors’ cultivations. New Jersey has a reputation for a certain post-apocalyptic, gritty vibe, but it’s car license plates proclaim it to be “The Garden State“. Based on these photos I’ve taken within its borders, you can see that’s not entirely false advertising.

And speaking of places with gritty, post-apocalyptic reputations. I’m from Philadelphia. But, even in the hardscape of Center City Philadelphia, people find ways to cultivate beauty.

During our travels, any time we can, we visit botanical gardens. One of our favorites was the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden just outside Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hump Day Zentangle Challenge #5: Flower Power via Organic Tangles

For today’s Hump Day Zentangle Challenge, let’s focus on so-called “organic” tangles. In TanglePatterns.com, Linda Farmer has done us the favor of using “organic” as one of her tangle classifications. You can use your own personal favorites or expand your organic tangle repertoire from Linda’s organic tangle list, complete with links to step-outs. Feel free to stick to the “pure” Zentangle method or let your inner color genie escape. (If you live in the United Kingdom or a British Commonwealth nation, that would be your inner colour genie.) I’ve done both.

Here’s my first tile without shading. I think I maybe should have stopped here. As usual, I’m not very good at knowing the names of the tangles I’ve used, except that along the left side, that’s Aloha, my own tangle. Across the bottom is Pokeleaf, one of the “official” tangles. Can anyone identify any of the others? It’s possible that I imagined them or, more likely, that they’re tangleations or amalgamations of other tangles.

Here’s the same tile after shading. I can’t say I think it’s an improvement. Do you think it makes the tile look too “busy”?
Here’s my second tile before adding color.

For this tile, I am again not sure of the names of tangles other than my own. (Embarrassing). The one that looks leafy is one version of Dinoflor.

And, here it is after I added color. At the moment, I’m separated from my favorite Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, (affiliate link) so I used some Crayola colored pencils. I find them to be overly hard and not as vibrant. I think a solid dose of using them could lead to case of carpal tunnel syndrome. (Disclosure: I am not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV).

We’d Love to See Your Response to the Organic Tangle(s) Challenge

Please share your response to this week’s challenge with us in the Hump Day Challenge Facebook Group and/or on your Instagram or Twitter feeds. Use the hashtag #hdchallenge4 . The Facebook group is a “closed” group to discourage axe murderers. So, assuming you’re not an axe murderer, please just search for the name of the group in Facebook and submit a request to join. There are no pre-requisites to join the group — other than relatively good manners and the afore-mentioned not being an axe murderer.

We also have a Pinterest group board to share our Hump Day Challenge responses. Email me at suzanne@boomeresque.com if you’d like me to add you as a contributor to the Pinterest board or you can mention that in a comment below. (PS: The first 2 times you comment, I will have to moderate the comment. It will show up once I’ve done that.)

BTW, feel free to share your work for this challenge at any time—even next week, next month, next year, ad infinitum.

How does your garden grow? Do you have a green thumb?
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I’m dedicating this week’s Hump Day Zentangle Challenge #4: Perspective Edition to Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) Kelly Barone and her son, Travis. Since becoming a CZT myself at the Providence Seminar #18 in 2015, I realized I joined an immensely supportive community that shares not just our artwork, but also our joys and sorrows. When we were dealing with a family tragedy, a friend shared a Swedish saying which feels relevant:

Shared joy is a double joy. Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

On April 27th, Kelly’s son was a 17 year old, looking forward to his high school graduation. On that day, Travis wasn’t feeling well, so Kelly took him to an urgent care center to get checked out. Within a few hours, he had been transferred to a hospital, was paralyzed from the neck down, and was being prepped for emergency surgery to address a large clot discovered in the epidural space of his spine. The diagnosis was a rare “spontaneous epidural hematoma” not caused by trauma. The prognosis was “we’ll do the best we can”. Another complex spine surgery followed.

Travis has been hospitalized since April 27th and Kelly has been by his side almost continuously. Through Travis’ grit and determination, and the work of his skilled medical team, including talented and dedicated physical and occupational therapists, Travis has regained some use of his hands.

Travis, Kelly and their family have a long, difficult road ahead of them. When Travis leaves the hospital, in order for him to be able to live with his family, he will require a motorized wheelchair, a specialized van with a lift, and the family will have to find and move to an apartment with no stairs, and with structures adapted for a wheelchair bound resident. At the moment, in addition to the never ending concerns about Travis’ medical condition, Kelly is dealing with the “through the looking glass” world of trying to figure out how to find and fund the services Travis will need, including housing.

A GoFundMe campaign was started for Travis. If you’d like to contribute, you can do so at:

Team Travis GoFund Me Page

Hump Day Zentangle Challenge #4: Perspective

(If you are wondering what Zentangle is, you should start here.)

When I originally thought about the theme for this week’s Hump Day Zentangle Challenge, I was thinking about perspective in the visual sense. According to Mr. Google, in this sense, perspective is defined as:

The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
“a perspective drawing”
One of the most satisfying concepts in the Zentangle method for me is the technique of “drawing behind” as with the tangle Hollibaugh. I’ve also learned to use shading to curve surfaces, make them appear to be lower than an adjacent surface or to add shadows that can make shapes appear 3 dimensional. I also remember being quite young and being somewhat awed when I learned about drawing converging lines to give the illusion of distance.
This week’s Hump Day Zentangle Challenge is to share a composition using perspective techniques to convey depth and/or distance. For my challenge “tiles”, I again traced a “regulation”  Zentangle 3.5″ x 3.5″ tile on Bristol Vellum, a heavy cardstock. Here a few of my attempts at this challenge:

In this tile, I used the technique of “drawing behind” for depth, along with tapering lines. I tried to make some of the perfs look like cut outs and the others I (shaded) to look raised. I should not have so darkly outlined the ones I wanted to look raised. Tangles used: Cadent; our old friend, Nzeppel , Tripoli, and a tangleation of Knightsbridge.

Tangles used: Paradox, an “official” Mother Ship tangle by Rick Roberts; and, I’m not sure about the stripey one. Can anyone help with the name of that–if it has a name?

And then this — because I was having so much fun being “perspectivey”. Here we have Paradox again, and again I need our Zentangle hive brain to identify the other tangle.

The Other Kind of Perspective

The other kind of perspective is defined as:

A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Having inhabited this planet for over 6 decades (!) now, I’ve learned the more life throws at us, the more perspective we gain. To survive with some workable mental health, we have to learn to have perspective, to be able to understand where individual events belong in the “grand theme of things”. I even wrote a blog post about “the grand scheme of things“.

I think Kelly and Travis’ situation is a huge wake-up call for anyone who thinks the world has stopped turning on its axis because their Amazon delivery is a day late, because the refrigerator is making a funny noise, because the dog wants to go outside at 3:00 a.m., etc. ad nauseum.

When I was growing up, I used to roll my eyes when my now 94 year old mother would announce, “Any day you can walk outside is a good day.” Now, I understand that being poor during the Depression, losing her mother at age 12, and having a sister with polio, taught her to have perspective, and to be resilient.

Share Your Perspective

Please share your response to this week’s challenge with us in the Hump Day Challenge Facebook Group and/or on your Instagram or Twitter feeds. Use the hashtag #hdchallenge4 . The Facebook group is a “closed” group to discourage axe murderers. So, assuming you’re not an axe murderer, please just search for the name of the group in Facebook and submit a request to join. There are no pre-requisites to join the group — other than relatively good manners and the afore-mentioned not being an axe murderer.

We also have a Pinterest group board to share our Hump Day Challenge responses. Email me at suzanne@boomeresque.com if you’d like me to add you as a contributor to the Pinterest board or you can mention that in a comment below. (PS: The first 2 times you comment, I will have to moderate the comment. It will show up once I’ve done that.)

BTW, feel free to share your work for this challenge at any time—even next week, next month, next year, ad infinitum.

Have you had a life experience that taught you about perspective?
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You know how we try to teach our children not to leave things til the last minute. I had to tell our sons:

Do as I say, not as I do. Emulate your father, that guy over there focusing like a laser beam on his work.

My husband working in an airport not distracted by music, people talking, PA announcements, or me. (Note: if you are too intently focused, someone could take your picture without you knowing it.)

Unlike Mr. Excitement, I do my best work with deadlines looming in the windshield (and hopefully, not in the rear view mirror). I’m a pretty good judge of how long something will take me to do a competent job, and that’s how much time I leave myself. Of course, the problem with this approach is that “sh*t happens”. For example, here it is Tuesday night. I’m happily working on my blog post for tomorrow’s Hump Day Zentangle Challenge. All of a sudden, the wind is howling. I take a quick look at weather.com. And this is what I see:

So, there could be a power failure or more likely, I will need to spend time huddled in the bathroom with a freaked out dog. It could be a loooongish night, but I’m a practiced hand at all nighters. (If you’re a Baby Boomer, that was me hunting and pecking on my manual typewriter, keeping you awake at 3:00 a.m. in the college dorm.)

Our dog, Dino, doesn’t handle thunderstorms very well.

I’ve decided that people are born procrastinators or proactivators (made up, but descriptive, word). Actually, there’s a linear continuum from procrastinator to proactivator, and I’m more to the procrastinator side of the scale.

We have 2 sons, now in their 30s. The younger one takes after his father. When he was in first grade, without a word from anybody, the child would have his school bag packed and ready to go outside his bedroom door before he went to sleep. If he brought home a form from school that a parent needed to sign, he would follow me around the house until I stopped whatever I was doing to read, digest, and sign it. (Yes, I believe in the Oxford comma, but I digress).

On the other hand, his older brother had to be pried from his bed in the morning for school. This is the point at which he would remember he had to bring colored pencils to school — that day. Why didn’t I know of this before!?! Because the notice he brought home from school informing me of this fact has been crumpled at the bottom of his school bag for 2 weeks. (Lest you think ill of our older son, he recently earned a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania while also working full time. Like his mother, he gets his stuff done, it’s just more of a self induced stressful experience.)

What is Tangle Choice Day?

(If you are wondering what Zentangle is, you should start here.)

In our household, every once in a while, when asked what’s for dinner, I declare, “It’s choice night.” This means everyone gets to have whatever they can find want to eat.

As the self-anointed Queen of the Hump Day Zentangle® Challenge, I’m declaring the first Wednesday of every month to be Tangle Choice Day. On tangle choice day, I will pick a tangle that should be incorporated into your tile/composition. You can use this tangle as a monotangle (i.e. the only tangle you use) or add others as you see fit. If the tangle I pick is the one tangle in the world for which you have developed an irrational hatred (sort of like me and bananas), you are free to “choose” another tangle to feature in your work. Unlike certain people such as                                              (fill in the blank in accordance with your personal political proclivities), I have no desire to become a dictator. I’m from Philly. We’re heavily into Phreedom.

I Choose “Nzeppel for This Week’s Tangle Choice Day Challenge

“Nzeppel is one of my “go to” tangles for when I need something malleable to fill in a space. There’s even a version (tangleation) called “Crazy ‘Nzeppel” which is even more forgiving. ‘Nzeppel is an “Official Tangle” from the Zentangle Mother Ship. You can find links to several step out examples on tanglepatterns.com .

In my tile, I’ve used “regular” and what I call a “reverse ‘Nzeppel where the interstitial web-like spaces are filled in.

Please share your response to this week’s challenge with us in the Hump Day Challenge Facebook Group and/or on your Instagram or Twitter feeds. Use the hashtag #hdchallenge3 . We also have a Pinterest group board to share our Hump Day Challenge responses. Email me at suzanne@boomeresque.com if you’d like me to add you as a contributor to the Pinterest board or you can mention that in a comment below. (PS: The first 2 times you comment, I will have to moderate the comment. It will show up once I’ve done that.)

So, are you a procrastinator or a proactivator?
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Some Boomeresque readers know that in addition to being addicted to Zentangle®, I’m also very fond of Mr. Excitement, travel, sunsets, flora (even though no plant species is safe in my care), and dogs. Most blog gurus strongly recommend niche blogs; that is, pick a narrow topic and only write about that. It turns out, I’m just not a narrow topic kinda person. So, Boomeresque, is more of a webzine where I write about various topics, but mostly travel and Zentangle. One of these days, I’ll get to the site redesign I’ve been meaning to undertake — for several years.

Gratuitous photo I took just after sunset earlier this week. in Brigantine, New Jersey.

(If you have no idea what Zentangle is and you care, start with this post about Zentangle basics or this one where I explain more about how Zentangle drew me in — so to speak.

I first discovered Zentangle where else, but from a Google search I did in Hawaii in April of 2014. I was recovering from a brief hospitalization in Paradise and I had what I can only describe as an inexplicable urge to draw or doodle or something like that. Soon after, I discovered Laura Harm’s Zentangle Diva Weekly Challenges. Until this year, pretty much like clockwork, Laura found the time to post a challenge on her blog every Monday. In addition to challenging us to explore  particular tangles or a technique, Laura used her weekly post as a compelling diary that made us care about her and her family.

Laura let us know she needed a break from her weekly challenge post. She last posted a challenge in March of this year, an impressive 387th challenge! Since then, I’ve checked on Mondays to see if she resumed her challenges, but there have been none since then.

Why I’m Starting a Friday Zentangle Challenge

I realize there are a gazillion Facebook Zentangle groups, and no doubt virtual Zentangle gatherings on other social media and websites, but I decided to see if I can resurrect a weekly challenge along the lines of what Laura did for several reasons:

  1. I consider this a character flaw, but I do best with externally dictated deadlines. This might be the result of practicing law for over 25 years or I selected myself into that profession because it fit my personality. (The old chicken or egg conundrum.) When I did Laura’s weekly challenges, they inspired me to write a blog post virtually every week which usually verged somewhat into what was happening in my life and travels. I’m hoping I can resurrect the discipline by posting an unimaginatively named “Friday Zentangle Challenge” each week — on you guessed it, Friday. I figure that gives people a chance to work on them over the weekend if they are so inclined.
  2. I miss my Zentangle Diva Challenge peeps. Through viewing and commenting on other people’s responses to Laura’s challenges, I felt a bond with many of the “regulars”. I even met some of you IRL (in real life): for example, Margaret in Birmingham, England; and Charlotte in San Diego, California. It’s a small Zentangular world.
  3. The weekly challenges inspired me to go to Providence, Rhode Island in April of 2015, to do the Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) training #18 where I met trainees from around the world. I even visited one of them, Alicia, in Spain.
  4. Zentangle and Zentangle Inspired Art has proven vital in preserving at least some of my sanity as I watch too much cable TV news. Maybe my challenges will help others get through what seems like an especially fraught time in my country and the world.
Friday Zentangle Challenge #1: Back to Basics

My first Friday challenge is inspired by Debbie New, CZT from Singapore. I met Debbie in Providence, Rhode Island at our CZT 18 training. On Facebook, Debbie encouraged other members of our group to do a tile reflective of the number 4 because we met at our training in April of 2015, and April is the fourth month, and 2019 is the fourth anniversary of our training group.

I actually worked on my tiles during April, but that was also the month we moved, so I never managed to share it. If you’ve ever moved, you know how disruptive and exhausting that process can be, especially for members of the baby boomer demographic. We are usually downsizing which calls for a lot of mental and emotional exertion as we decide whether we really should hold onto Grandma’s china and those letters from our first boyfriend.

For my tile for Debbie’s challenge, I decided to revisit the first tile we did in our CZT training. We were told to use a “Z” string and to use the tangles Knightsbridge, Crescent Moon, Printemps and Hollibaugh (links to step out are below). These were all tangles first introduced by what I call the “Zentangle Mother Ship”. Most people refer to tangles deconstructed by Zentangle® founders, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, as “official” Zentangle tangles.

For this week’s challenge, incorporate the 4 tangles Knightsbridge, Crescent Moon, Printemps and Hollibaugh into a composition. You don’t have to use a Z string, but that’s an easy way to divide a tile into four spaces. This is also what I have my Introduction to Zentangle classes do.

This is an example of a “Z” string. For the uninitiated, a “string” is part of the Zentangle process where you divide your tile lightly with pencil into shapes that will guide where you place your tangles. Usually, the string will disappear as you work.

Official Zentangle tiles are 3.5 inch squares. I traced mine on white card stock. In addition to using 4 tangles, I decided to take the “4” theme one step farther and to use four tiles with my “Z” spanning all four. My first effort looked like this:

For my first attempt, I drew a large Z string across all four tiles. Note: My Knightsbridge is really a tangleation (variation).

I thought this seemed somewhat ungainly, so I decided to try again with smaller zig-zags for the string.

For my second attempt, I used thinner zig zags for my strings on each tile while still having them spill across all four tiles. (I like perfs in my Hollibaugh tangles. That’s not part of the original tangle).

If You Respond to my First Friday Zentangle Challenge, Please Share Your Work With Us

Please share a little about your experience doing this challenge with us in a comment below. If you would like comments from others about your work, include the URL to where people can find what you did in your comment below.

I am not using Laura’s “Mr. Linky system” because that is not a secure site. I’ll look around for something else as a substitute, but for now, please use the comment system below. For the first 2 times you leave a comment on here, I will have to moderate your comment, so it won’t appear until I do that.

When you leave a comment here, you are asked to provide your name and email. If you would like your comment to link to your website, you can also include the URL for that. PS: My site has a security certificate. However, if you prefer, your name can be Mickey Mouse and your email address can be: ThisIsNotMyRealEmail@gmail.com and you can leave the URL field blank.

Warning Tech-speak: I need to redesign the theme for my blog. Therefore, right now, you cannot subscribe by email to receive a notice when new challenges are posted. If you would like me to send you an email to remind you when the next challenge is posted (hopefully, next Friday), please send me an email to: Suzanne@boomeresque.com 

Happy Tangling!

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In early spring, I traveled to Portland, Maine to attend the Women in Travel Summit conference. I was happy to learn that some of my baby boomer travel blogger peeps would also be attending. Even better, a number of them are “foodie” bloggers and they invited me to tag along as they ate their way through Portland. These women had done their homework! (P.S.: They don’t like the”f” word, so don’t tell them I referred to them as “foodies”. )

The Time I Was a Foodie Travel Blogger Mascot Groupie
in Portland, Maine Emilitsa for Greek Food in Portland

For the first dinner of my visit to Portland, Maine, Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris of the the Food Travelist blog invited me to join them for dinner at Emilitsa, a restaurant featuring “rustic Greek cuisine”.  I was very happy with their choice. Mr. and Mrs. Excitement often seek out Mediterranean food on our travels no matter where we are–i.e., like in London, England, and Dublin, Ireland. We are food wimps enjoy the tasty “clean” flavors, not masked by overwhelming “hot” spices.

Emilitsa is rated the 3rd best out of 391 restaurants in Portland on Tripadvisor. This is no faint praise given that Bon Appetit named Portland, Maine its 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. Our table was not quite ready, but we were happy to spend our short wait getting started with craft cocktails prepared by a friendly, knowledgeable bartender. (Tip: Try Persephone’s Lullaby if you like vodka and lavender).

The restaurant is a handsome space with exposed brick walls and nicely spaced tables. Our baby boomer sensibilities were comfortable in Emilitsa’s relatively quiet, candle lit ambiance. There was no sense of hustle and bustle. Our waiter was just the right amount of attentive and patiently answered all questions.

One of our mezethakia (appetizers) at Emilitsa.

One benefit of eating with food bloggers is that they are all about sharing, so we enjoyed several tasty mezethakia (appetizers), followed by equally good entrees. We ended the meal by sharing some killer (in a good way) baklava. (The bad annoying thing about eating with food bloggers (or actually any travel blogger), is that you’re not allowed to start eating until they have photographed your food from every angle.)

We had no trouble convincing ourselves that you can’t finish any Greek meal without baklava.

If you go to Emilitsa:

The restaurant was full, even before the most popular tourist season, so reservations are recommended.

Emilitsa’s Website 

A Portland Maine Lobster Roll Crawl

The next evening, I was invited to tag along with 5(!) food bloggers on a carefully researched lobster roll crawl through Portland.

(True confession: I don’t really like lobster. I think it has something to do with not wanting to think about creatures being boiled alive. That, and you know how you would think a physician-scientist who spends his days trying to cure lung cancer would be sober and mature? Then explain why Mr. Dr. Excitement feels compelled to chase me around the kitchen brandishing a clawing live lobster at me.)

The Eventide Oyster Company

Our first stop was the Eventide Oyster Company, a place receiving high marks on Tripadvisor for its lobster roll and fresh raw oysters. They were able to accommodate us at a counter along the front window of the restaurant. Apparently, in season, there is usually a line outside this establishment. Reservations are only accepted for parties of 6 or more, but there are certain reservation black out dates during the summer. Check the Eventide website for more information.

Eventide is known for it’s special brown butter lobster roll. We shared two among us and it was a different take on the lobster roll. Instead of chunks of lobster on a plain white bread roll, the lobster was more shredded in texture with an Old Bay-ish tasting seasoning. The foodies among us (i.e. everyone except me) thought this was the best lobster roll of the 3 we they sampled that evening.

Eventide’s brown butter lobster roll was unique among the 3 lobster rolls sampled on our lobster roll crawl.

We were seated next to an impressive looking raw oyster bar replete with different types of oysters. I’ll never make it as a food blogger. When it comes to consuming raw shellfish, I can’t help but hear my mother’s dire warning ringing in my ears, “Eating shellfish is like playing Russian roulette“. My mother is now 94. I can’t be sure her longevity has anything to do with eschewing raw shellfish, but the two facts do coexist. My companions each sampled a raw oyster, waxed poetic about them, and lived to tell the tale.

The Eventide oyster bar had no fewer than 10 choices of their signature bi-valve.

Some of the food bloggers stuck to water — either because lobster rolls and oysters are expensive or because they didn’t want to sully their palates. Given my anti-lobster predisposition, I did not feel so constrained. I enjoyed one of Eventide’s specialty cocktails, a Spanish spritz, that was a mixture of fino sherry, ginger and cava (Spain’s apple based version of champagne).

Gilbert’s Chowder House

Our next stop was Gilbert’s Chowder House at 92 Commercial Street, the main drag along Portland’s waterfront. We had no trouble finding a table. The feel of the place is mostly bar/pub. The food was served on paper and Styrofoam with plastic utensils.

I’m bit of  a clam chowder snob and Gilbert’s clam chowder didn’t impress me. It was somewhat too viscous for my taste and had too much potato and not enough clams. However, most Tripadvisor reviewers disagree with me, so you might just have to try it for yourself.

I can’t comment on the lobster roll because by this time, the foodsters had decided I wasn’t worthy of wasting any lobster on.

J’s Oyster

Our Their last lobster roll tasting stop was at J’s Oyster at the beginning of a Portland Harbor pier. Their motto is: “If it swims, we’ve got it on our menu!” However, they also claim to buy only the best catch of the day, so they might not have everything that swims every day.

J’s had a Cheers vibe with tables surrounding a bar. At our early spring visit, a majority of the customers seemed to be locals — usually a good sign. Maybe I was reminded of Cheers because our Down East waitress reminded me of Carla, Rhea Perlman’s character on the show — tough, but with a heart of gold, and patient enough to show one of our group how to eat the steamers (clams) she ordered — but only after giving her a hard time about not knowing how to eat them.

Again, I missed the point of being on a lobster roll crawl by not having any of the lobster roll. I’m pretty sure I had some clam chowder, but I also had some vodka, so I don’t remember what I thought of it.

Even though I didn’t partake of this lobster roll, I was self respecting enough to at least take a photo of it. This one looks more like a traditional New England lobster roll than Eventide’s version.

Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream

There’s a counter culture, independent, New England vibe at Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream.

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is the baby of a burned out web and multi-media developer. In 2005, he decided he no longer wanted to work for The Man, so he left and started to produce small batch, artisanal ice cream. Once he realized the demand was there, he opened 2 ice cream shops in Bar Harbor. Business got a significant boost when the Obama family stopped in and the President proclaimed, “This stuff is terrific. Excellent. I strongly recommend it.”

Presidential endorsement goosed demand sufficiently to open a Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Portland.  Along with traditional flavors, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream experiments with cleverly named concoctions such as Bay of Figs and London Fog.

I have to agree with this meme painted on the front window of the Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream store in Portland, Maine: Without Ice Cream There Would Be Only Darkness and Chaos.

Portland Pie Company

One night, Sue Reddel (see 2nd paragraph)  invited 12 of her closest baby boomer travel blogger lady friends to join her at the Portland Pie Company. I’m not gonna lie. I was hoping the Portland Pie Company was a place to consume actual pie—as in apple, blueberry, coconut cream, pumpkin, etc. so I was a little disappointed to learn it bills itself as a pizzeria and pub.

I didn’t remain a little disappointed for long. The Portland Pie Company menu had an impressive array of pizza toppings options. They even let you choose from four different types of dough: basil, beer, wheat, and garlic. If you need gluten free, they have that too. Most of us opted for “personal” sized pizzas. I washed mine down with a local hard cider. An assortment of local craft beers were also available. One lucky person with a kitchen where she was staying got to take home all the leftovers.

My experiences of going out to eat with groups of 10 or more people had me expecting a long, drawn out experience with mixed up orders, and surly waitstaff. To the contrary, our one Portland Pie Company waitress, took all our food and drink orders, and presented everyone with the correct food and individual checks, all while remaining remarkably cheerful.

Andy’s Portland Pub

I did have one fortuitous good meal on my own. I went on a history walking tour on the coldest, windswept day of my visit to Portland. The tour ended well after lunch time across Commercial Street from Andy’s Old Port Pub, near the Custom House Wharf. All that shivering left me with a good appetite, so I seized on the tour guide’s recommendation and sought warmth and sustenance at Andy’s. Voilà: nicely seasoned clam chowder of the perfect consistency (IMHO) followed by a serving of an interesting bacon and lobster mac n’cheese that caused me to forget that I’m not particularly fond of lobster.

I wish I could have shared this with Mr. Excitement. Bacon and lobster are his favorite foods.

I feel like a food blogger poser. If only I could fit the word “redolent” into my food description.

Conclusion

If you attend a travel blogger conference, hang out with the foodie food bloggers!

My second solo meal was at the Portland, Maine International Jetport while waiting for my delayed flight home to Philly.

Lesson learned: do not order clam chowder at the Portland, Maine International Jetport.

Gross does not begin to describe the clam chowder at the Portland Maine International Jetport.

Pin this post on Pinterest so you won’t forget where to eat in Portland, Maine:

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Many countries around the world celebrate the day they became independent from their colonial overlords. Here in the United States, our big deal Independence Day celebration occurs on July 4th.

Independence Day is a super duper really big deal in my home town, Philadelphia. After all, Philadelphia is where the “we’re really doing this”, declaration of independence from Great Britain actually happened. This is why we like to invite everyone to come celebrate July 4th in William Penn’s City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection).

During the summer of 1776, some audaciously insanely optimistic forward looking men from the then 13 British American colonies met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and definitively started the experiment that is the United States of America.

This oil painting titled “Congress Signing the Declaration of Independence” was started by artist Edward Edge Pine in 1785, and completed by Edward Savage in 1790. It was used as a guide by historians recreating the chamber in today’s Independence Hall. (Lic.: Public Domain)

Armed conflict with Great Britain had been underway in the American colonies for over a year before delegations from each colony met in sweltering Philadelphia in June of 1776 to draft an “official” declaration of their grievances, and to declare they no longer considered themselves British subjects.

Five delegates were appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. They in turn prevailed upon one member of that committee, Virginian Thomas Jefferson, to pen (literally, pen–quill and all) the first draft. With edits by the others, this is the document adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776.

John Adams of Massachusetts (later the second President of the United States), grasped the magnitude of the event. The following day, he wrote to his wife:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. 

Wait? What? July 2nd?

O.K. So, maybe he got the date a little wrong, but he was remarkably prescient about how we in the United States would each year celebrate the anniversary of this momentous act of leaving the then formidable British Empire:

I am apt to believe that [July 2nd] will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

After a few more edits by the entire Congress, the Declaration was finally sent to the printer on July 4, 1776. The Declaration wasn’t actually signed by representatives of all 13 colonies until August 2, 1776, but July 4th is the important date that stuck and is exuberantly commemorated every year.

We are accustomed to seeing this 1823 facsimile of the Declaration of Independence prominently featuring July 4th, 1776 as the date of the document.

3 Reasons to Celebrate the 4th of July in Philadelphia 1)  You Can Walk in the Footsteps of the Founding Fathers

Thomas Jefferson slept here in Philadelphia. So did Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and 53 other signers of the Declaration of Independence. (BTW, George Washington was on a military campaign and did not sign it). They were willing to stick their necks out and admit in writing they were committing treason —  from the British point of view. After all, one man’s revolution is another’s rebellion. Benjamin Franklin was spot on when he noted sardonically that:

We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.

Here in Philadelphia, we claim to have “the most historic square mile in the United States”. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Two historic sites are most relevant to the Fourth of July celebration:

Independence Hall

The southern facade of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, you can visit Independence Hall. The two foundational documents of the United States of America (the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the United States Constitution (1787) ) were debated and signed in this building. At the time, it was the State House of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The construction of this fine example of colonial Georgian architecture started in 1732.

Combine your visit to Independence Hall with an up close and personal visit to the Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell

Looking at the Liberty Bell from the outside of the Liberty Museum. Independence Hall is reflected in the window.

When I was growing up in Philadelphia (a loooong time ago), anyone could simply walk into Independence Hall and touch the Liberty Bell, then displayed simply next to a staircase on the first floor.

However, in 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved to a stand alone pavilion for the Bicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence. In 2003, it was moved to the current Liberty Bell Center and museum where it can be viewed inside the museum with Independence Hall visible beyond. At night, it can be seen illuminated from outside.

The museum tells the story of the Liberty Bell. I’m not sure what transatlantic consumer protections were available in those days, but in 1752, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the bell from an English foundry. The bell cracked when rung for the first time in Philadelphia. Local metal workers melted that one down and recast it here in Philadelphia. It did its ringing job, hanging in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House until some time in the early 19th century when it cracked again. It acquired its Liberty Bell moniker in the 1830s when it was adopted as a symbol by Abolitionists opposing slavery. The impressive crack with which we are familiar today represents an unsuccessful attempt to “fix” the bell.

In our modern day celebration of July 4th in Philadelphia, descendants of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence symbolically “ring” the bell.

Plan your Visit to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center 

You can plan your visit to these 2 historic sites and others in the National Independence Historical Park on the website of the National Park Service.

Museum of the American Revolution

As long as you’re in the neighborhood, take the time to visit The Museum of the American Revolution, one of Philadelphia’s newest history museums and a mere 6 minute walk from Independence Hall (according to Google Maps). 

2) Philadelphia Celebrates July 4th for Six Days!

Benjamin Franklin was right in predicting that Independence Day would be celebrated with “Illuminations” (fireworks).

We don’t mess around in Philadelphia when it comes to July 4th. We celebrate all week!!! We call it the “Wawa Welcome America” celebration. While we Philadelphians admittedly love to whine, especially about potholes, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and our professional sports teams, in this context “Wawa” refers to our regional version of Seven Eleven.

From June 29th through July 4th, Philadelphia hums with free public events celebrating the nation’s birthday, in the place it was born. There are block parties, movie nights, and parades, ending with what John Adams would call spectacular “illuminations” — fireworks to us 21st century types.

Before the Fourth of July 2019 fireworks, Philly will host a free concert on its favorite big stage—the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. If it was good enough for Pope Francis, it’s good enough for Jennifer Hudson, Meghan Trainor, the Philly Pops and YOU!

Check out the full Welcome America schedule.

3) Philly is More Fun When You Sleep (and Eat) Over

A chandelier from the historic 1904 Hyatt at the Bellvue Hotel, the Grand Dame of Broad Street. This hotel, built in the French Renaissance style, is one option if you “sleep over” in Philadelphia.

I admit I stole borrowed this slogan from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. I borrowed it because it’s true. If you sleep over, you can enjoy a night cap or two or three at one of Philly’s many restaurants and bars.

Of course, you’re always welcome to have a cheesesteak because cheesesteaks occupy an entire swath of the Philadephia Phood pyramid. However, on a healthier more upscale note, at least one food writer thinks Philadelphia is currently experiencing its third restaurant renaissance , thanks in large part to Stephen Starr’s restaurant empire.

Center City Philadelphia is eminently walkable and public transportation is good. So pick a Center City Philadelphia hotel and join us as we celebrate the Fourth of July. We even have historic hotels.

We’ll leave a light on for you.

Here’s an image to add to a Pinterest board to help you remember things to do on the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.  If you pin this image from here, you will automatically save the link to this post. 

Have you ever celebrated the Fourth of July in Philadelphia? No? Have you ever visited Philadelphia? No? Have you ever heard of Philadelphia?
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When Mr. Excitement and I had the chance for a two day getaway in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I immediately knew I wanted to build our visit around exploring historic sites north of Philadelphia.

It has been many a number of years now since I was a college history major, but I’ve continued to be drawn to the subject. Maybe that’s because I grew up and live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We claim to have the “most historic square mile” in the United States no matter what they say in Boston. We even live on Rittenhouse Square, a city park included in founder William Penn’s 1683 plan for Philadelphia, his “greene country towne”.

After spending the night in Pipersville in an 18th century Bucks County farmhouse, now the Galvanized America Inn and Gallery, we set off to make our way back to Philadelphia along the Delaware River with stops at Washington Crossing Historic Park and Pennsbury Manor. However, before heading back to 18th and 17th century Bucks County, we took the innkeeper’s suggestion and made a nature/ geology stop at Ringing Rocks County Park.

Ringing Rocks County Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Despite putting the official park address into Google maps, it wasn’t easy to find the entrance to the Ringing Rocks County Park. However, persistence paid off and with only a little bit of marital discord, Mr. Excitement and I finally found the park entrance .

We pulled into the small parking lot and located the beginning of a loop trail that would take us to the boulder field containing the “ringing rocks”. Apparently, many of these rocks make a characteristic ringing sound when struck with a hammer. I say “apparently” because we must have missed the memo about needing to bring a hammer with which to strike the rocks. A couple we met in the parking lot told us we would find a hammer hanging on a tree that we could use to “ring” the rocks. Somehow, the hammer tree eluded us, but we still enjoyed our half hour hike walk around the forested loop trail marked by white blazes.

With apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary, “if I had a hammer” we would have heard these ringing boulders.

Even without a hammer, the Ringing Rocks boulder field is an interesting geologic feature. I fulfilled my college science requirement by taking Geology 101 and 102 which helped me kind of understand a report by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey about the ringing rocks — something about intruding magma, faulting and folding, weathering, and “periglacial” conditions over a period of 230 million years.

The Ringing Rocks loop trail also passes by Bucks County’s largest waterfall. Having said that, I must add that it seems waterfalls aren’t really Bucks County’s “thing”. During our visit, the waterfall was more like a water trickle, but a sustained rainy period considerably augments the flow — or so I’ve read.

The Ringing Rocks County Park waterfall wasn’t exactly gushing during our visit, but it was still a pretty sylvan scene.

If you go to Ringing Rocks County Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania:

Address: Ringing Rocks Park; Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, PA  18972, but you will probably be better served by using the geographical map coordinates for the parking lot:
latitude: 40.56011, longitude: -75.12878  Open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Accessibility: The loop trail is not paved and has rocks and tree roots, but it is not difficult for someone with “normal” mobility. The trail would not be suitable for anyone in a wheelchair or who is unsteady on their feet.

Remember to BYOH (bring your own hammer), so you can make the rocks ring! Washington Crossing Historic Landmark Area in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

“It was a dark and stormy night…..”

On Christmas night of 1776, this was not just the hackneyed beginning of a poorly written tale. It really was a dark, stormy and bitter cold night along the Delaware River on both the New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania sides.

Although the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain during a hot and humid Philadelphia July in 1776, Britain’s King George III was determined to crush what he considered a colonial rebellion.

By December of 1776, the Revolutionary War was not going well for the Americans. The British captured New York City and harried General Washington’s retreating Continental Army through New Jersey. Washington’s troops managed to escape across the Delaware River into Bucks County, Pennsylvania, ahead of pursuing British regulars and Hessian mercenary troops.

During their retreat, the Americans commandeered or destroyed every boat they could find to keep the British forces on the New Jersey side of the Delaware. The British then returned to New York, planning to spend the winter in garrison there. They left outposts of Hessian soldiers in New Jersey to prevent an American counterattack against New York City, but they believed the Continental Army would also stand down during the winter.

In its cold encampment around McConkey’s Ferry on the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, side of the Delaware River, the Continental Army was dwindling in size and morale as Washington lost soldiers to desertion and the end of enlistment terms. However, in a bold surprise move, Washington decided to have his army recross the ice choked Delaware River during a winter storm on Christmas night. After a forced 10 mile march through snow and ice, the Americans surprised the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey, securing its surrender. Although the Revolutionary War dragged on until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, historians see this victory as an inflection point towards the eventual American victory in the armed struggle for independence.

Emanuel Leutze’s famous 1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain).

Today, there are Washington Crossing State Parks on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River. Together, they form the federal Washington Crossing National Historic Landmark area.

Because of a road detour, we ended up visiting the Washington Crossing State Park on the New Jersey side of the river where we saw a film about the famous event and its historical context. Each state park has a visitors’ center with educational displays and possibilities to tour local historic buildings, along with opportunities to enjoy the riverside outdoors.

If you plan to visit the Washington Crossing National Historic Landmark Area, you should check the websites of both Washington Crossing State Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Washington Crossing State Park in New Jersey for up to date information.

Pennsbury Manor, William Penn’s Country Estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

(Disclosure: Our fee to visit Pennsbury Manor was waived in exchange for a review; however, no promise of a favorable review was requested nor given.)

My first visit to Pennsbury Manor was as a 4th grader when we studied Pennsylvania history. A mere 56 years later, I made my second visit.

Meet William Penn: Pennsylvania’s Founder

In this 1666 oil painting, possibly by Sir Peter Lely, 22 year old William Penn is wearing a suit of armor before his conversion to Quakerism.

In 17th century Britain, William Penn, was considered a religious “noncomformist” for his Quaker religion and preaching. He spent time in an English prison for his beliefs.

Notwithstanding his religious dissidence, Penn was the son of an English Royalist admiral who helped finance the Royal British Navy. Thus, the British King Charles II, owed Admiral Penn a great deal of money. This debt passed to William Penn upon Admiral Penn’s death.

William Penn offered cash strapped King Charles II a “win win” proposition. The King was happy to accede to his request that the King repay his debt by giving Penn a large tract of land in British North America where he would establish a colony for religious nonconformists. Thus, William Penn became the proprietor of Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods), named in honor of his father, Admiral Penn.

Penn arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682, setting its capital a little over 100 miles up the navigable Delaware River at a town he called Philadelphia (the City of Brotherly Love), an area previously settled by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, Swedes and the Dutch.

Our Visit to Pennsbury Manor

The manor house William Penn had built for him and his family in 1683 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Archaeologists determined that the front of the house was brick and the rear portion made of wood.

Transportation was difficult in late 17th century Pennsylvania, but this did not keep Penn from venturing beyond his City of Brotherly Love. By 1683, construction of his “summer manor”, Pennsbury, was well underway 25 miles up river, north of Philadelphia, in beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Penn named Bucks County after Buckinghamshire, his home county in England.

The manor house was built fronting the Delaware River, emphasizing the importance of the waterways in 17th century transportation. There is a replica on site of one of the boats William Penn would have used to travel between Philadelphia and Pennsbury.

The front of Pennsbury Manor faced the Delaware River, a transportation waterway for William Penn in 17th century Pennsylvania.

Penn only spent a total of four years in his Pennsylvania. By the mid-1800s, only traces of  his Pennsbury manor and estate remained. However, archaeologists discovered the foundation of the manor house and some outbuildings in the early 1930s. Based on contemporaneous descriptions of the house and its contents, Pennsbury Manor was reconstructed between 1938 and 1940 with funding by the Works Progress Administration, the WPA, a Depression era economy stimulation program.

Today, visitors to Pennsbury view a video about William Penn and Pennsbury in the Visitors’ Center and can walk through an award winning museum exhibit, William Penn: Seed of a Nation. The exhibit provides well curated historical context about William Penn and his colony, Pennsylvania. Having learned that Quakers eventually led the Abolitionist Movement in the United States, I admit I was disappointed to learn William Penn owned several slaves at Pennsbury.

We also joined a small group for a guided tour of the reconstructed manor and some of the dependency buildings such as the kitchen and laundry.  As much as possible, the manor has been fitted with artifacts such as tiles and ironwork found during excavation of the foundation. It is furnished with 17th century antique furniture and reproductions based on detailed 1687 and 1701 inventories of the home. The tour takes about an hour and a half.

In Penn’s time, Pennsbury was a working farm. Some aspects of the farm are recreated at Pennsbury.

Seventeenth century Pennsbury was essentially a subsistence farm. Today’s Pennsbury occupies 43 acres, a little more than was cleared in Penn’s time. Check the schedule to plan your visit to Pennsbury when artisans in period dress use historically accurate methods to demonstrate life processes from William Penn’s time.

If you go to Pennsbury Manor:

Location:

Pennsbury Memorial Road
Morrisville, PA 19067

By car, Pennsbury Manor is a little over 30 miles north of Center City Philadelphia, a drive that should take between 40 minutes to an hour. It is between 71 and 90 miles miles from Manhattan in New York City, depending on which route you take.

Check the Pennsbury Manor website for up to date opening times, admission fees, tour times, and special events.

Accessibility: I could not find information about handicapped accessibility on the official Pennsbury Manor website; however, according to the Visit PA website, Pennsbury is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Based on our visit, I don’t believe it would be possible for people who cannot navigate stairs to visit the second floor of the Manor which is part of the tour

Visit Bucks County is the county’s official tourism site. There you’ll find more additional timely information about what to do, and places to eat and sleep in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The following are “affiliate” links. If you purchase one of these books from here on Amazon, Boomeresque will earn a very tiny small commission that as far as I can tell will never add up to more than I spend to keep this site up and running. If you click on the link, you will also see Kindle prices.

Learn more about George Washington. (I’m thinking that cutting down the cherry tree thing is apocryphyl.) This is Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington. Excellent reviews. On my “Books To Read” list:

The latest biography of William Penn. Excellent reviews. I just bought it!

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Do you ever let history guide your travels?
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We spent the first day of our mid-week escape from Philadelphia to Bucks County, Pennsylvania visiting the three sites composing the Mercer Mile in Doylestown, the county seat. When lunch time approached, we asked one of the employees at the Mercer Museum for a recommendation. Without hesitation, she recommended The Hattery. She explained it is her “go to” restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner whenever someone visits her from out of town.

The Hattery Stove and Still, Doylestown, Bucks County, PA

The Hattery Stove and Still is the restaurant associated with the historic Doylestown Inn. Apparently, at some time after 1902, it did indeed house a hattery. It can be entered from the Inn or from the street. There is a cozy bar area and another downstairs room, but arriving during a mid-day lunch, we were seated in the main, street level dining room. The other patrons seemed to be “ladies who lunch” complete with adult beverages. Since I was “working”, I settled for unsweetened ice tea.

The Hattery is connected to the historic Doylestown Inn on West State Street.

We ordered a chopped Greek salad and a quiche to share because Mr. and Mrs. Excitement are THAT exciting. Seriously, at some point, we apparently became our parents, lacking the ability to finish many restaurant size portions. If we’re eating out close to home, we are “those people” walking out with bags “to go”. (When we were growing up, these were called “doggie bags”. However, it is no longer necessary to pretend you’re taking leftovers home for the dog.) When we’re away from home, we typically share meals unless we’re staying somewhere with refrigeration and cooking, or at least heating up, facilities.

The quiche was rich enough that we both deemed it prudent we had decided to share. We enjoyed the decor, good service, and moderate prices. The Hattery is ranked number 12 of 101 places to eat in Doylestown on TripAdvisor. I find I usually agree with TripAdvisor rankings. The average TripAdvisor ranking for The Hattery is four out of five stars with the usual “worst restaurant in the world” – “best restaurant in the world” spread among the reviews, reinforcing the adage that “you can’t please all the people all the time.”

The attractive upstairs dining room in the Hattery.

If you go:

18 West State Street
Doylestown,  PA 18901

Phone: 215-345-1527

Hattery Stove and Still Website

The Historic Piper Tavern, Pipersville, Bucks County, PA

After checking into the the Galvanized America Inn in Pipersville, about a 15 minute drive north of Doylestown, we were served a glass of wine from a Bucks County winery and a snack. This caused us to call the Historic Piper Tavern, hoping we would be able to move our dinner reservation later. On a Tuesday night in October, this was not a problem.

It was dark when we left the attractively lit Historic Piper Tavern.

The Historic Piper Tavern was picked for us by Visit Bucks County which also generously picked up the tab. No promise of a positive review was requested nor offered, but I’m happy to report that we were quite happy with their choice. For one thing, it was less than a quarter mile up the road from the Inn. Had it not been dark, we would have walked. (After a scary experience walking along a road in the dark on Key Largo, in Florida, we are firm believers in discretion being the better part of valor.)

Like the 1754 farmhouse that is now the Galvanized America Inn, the Historic Piper Tavern was also present in 18th century Bucks County, opening in 1778. We entered the building through the welcoming bar area. People there by themselves seemed to be comfortable eating their meals at the bar, and it looked like they were having more fun than they would alone at a table.

On a Tuesday night at 6:30 in late October, we could have walked in without a reservation. However, our waitress said it gets crowded on weekend evenings year round, and even on weekdays during the summer. We were seated in a covered porch area next to a window. It was perfectly comfortable and is probably a coveted table during daylight hours. Despite the word “Tavern” in the name, we enjoyed white linen table cloth dining with artfully presented food.

Mr. Excitement (a/k/a Steve) has a theory, often borne out by experience, that the less crowded a restaurant is, the worse the service is. This was not the case during our meal at the Piper Tavern. Although it was a slow night in terms of numbers of diners, service was excellent. Our waitress was knowledgeable, just the right amount of friendly, and our meals were served at a comfortable pace for us. Our waitress clearly did not know we were dining as guests of Visit Bucks County, so our pleasant service experience was not influenced by the fact that one of us was a likely reviewer.

The menu was extensive. Sometimes this results in the quantity of choices being a substitute for quality. Fortunately, that was not our experience at the Historic Piper Tavern.

When they are on the menu, one of my “go to” restaurant test meals is crabcakes. You have to cross all of New Jersey to get to the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, so I was a little surprised to see crabcakes on the menu, presented as Seared Crabcakes Benjamin. Our first born is named Benjamin, so that sealed the deal on my ordering the crabcakes.

My Historic Piper Tavern entree, crabcakes Benjamin.

The menu describes them as two four ounce crabcakes “loaded with lump jumbo crab meat”, based on a recipe rumored to be from Benjamin Franklin, one of my all time favorite Philadelphia Founding Fathers. Crabcakes Benjamin did not disappoint. Indeed, The Historic Piper Tavern crabcakes rank among the best I’ve had.

Steve was similarly happy with his trio of filet mignon, “tournedos of choice Black Angus Beef” which were grilled as ordered and served with mushrooms and bordelaise sauce.

Both entrees were preceded by a fresh tasting Piper house salad, served with warm artisanal rolls with butter. The entrees were accompanied by a separate side dish of grilled asparagus and “real” mashed potatoes.

The house salad was served with a warmed artisanal roll.

The pre-dinner salad, rolls, and vegetables were included with the price of the entrees. At $25.95 (crabcakes) and $26.95 (filet mignon), we considered the meal an excellent value.

For a reasonable upcharge, more substantial appetizers can be substituted for the house salad. We each also ordered and enjoyed a generous 9 ounce pour of a house white wine (chardonnay and reisling).

An assortment of desserts were presented to choose from by our waitress. By this point in the meal, our aging appetites meant we were back to sharing—a chocolate lava cake served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

The Historic Pipersville Tavern is clearly a satisfying dining choice for both locals and visitors.

If you go (and you should):

The Historic Piper Tavern

Dark Hollow & State Route 413
Pipersville, PA 18947

Telephone for reservations: (215) 766-7100

Closed Mondays
Opens for lunch and dinner
Not wheelchair accessible.

The Historic Piper Tavern Website

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Disclosure: This post with travel book gift recommendations by travel bloggers contains “affiliate links” to Amazon.  If you follow a hyperlink from here to a book on the Amazon site and purchase the book, Boomeresque will receive a tiny small commission on the sale that does not affect your price, but will help a tiny bit to support my blogging and Zentangle habits. Supposedly, if you stay on the Amazon website and decide to purchase a projection TV, a rolex watch, and a year’s worth of dog food, Boomeresque will also receive a commission on those purchases. This has never happened, but hope springs eternal. 

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I was a card carrying member of the Nerd Club at an early age. In my case, the “card” gave me permission to borrow books from the Free Library of Philadelphia. I treasured my small collection of books I didn’t have to return. My parents indulged my reading passion at holiday time. Next to the pair of new socks, they always included a book. (I hope I have not conjured up visions of Oliver Twist. There was no gruel involved and I never felt deprived.)

Awww. (Photo credit: San Jose Library, CC Lic. 2.0)

I’m still happy to receive book presents. However, now, instead of finding them wrapped in colorful paper under a tree, they arrive by email, with an attached Amazon gift barcode. As much as I still love the feeling of curling up in a chair with a real ink on paper book, nowadays, I’m most likely to purchase ebooks. After several down-sizing moves, and my penchant for travel, ebooks just make the most sense.

I do a yearly blog post with holiday gift suggestions for book readers, but this year, I’ve enlisted the help of fellow travel bloggers. (From their spelling, you’ll note they learned English in different English speaking countries). I asked them to share their favorite travel books with a short review. Some are fairly new. Some you’ll recognize as classics. Some are novels. Some are non-fiction. Some were life changing. Maybe you’ll even find one for a gift to yourself!

(I’ve included the link to each book on the Amazon site. If you click on the link, you will also be able to see and purchase the book in other forms, i.e. digital, hardback, paperback, audio.)

The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafron
Recommended by Laura Hartley of the What’s Hot Blog


This book is widely touted as one of the best pieces of Spanish literature. It takes the reader on an adventure through the back streets of Barcelona as we follow the protagonist Daniel on a most strange quest. After discovering a book by a mysterious author, he ends up embroiled in a thriller involving a horrifying man with no face, determined to burn every copy of this author’s work. Alongside this is Daniel’s own coming-of-age story that is seamlessly woven into the main plot line. With every line you become more and more invested in Daniel’s story, rooting him on in every aspect of life.

This book captures your heart from the moment you opens its pages because Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s writing is so enchanting. His beautiful prose is almost poetic in nature and filled with vivid imagery and detailed descriptions, which is why its such a great read for those travelling to Barcelona. Although this is set in the years following WWII, many of the places and streets mentioned are still present in modern day Barcelona and popular amongst literary travellers.
This books transports you to another world and makes you want to hop straight onto a plane to Spain, which is exactly what the very best of books should do. The Shadow of the Wind should be required reading before any visit to Barcelona!
Wild
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Recommended by Claudia Tavani of  My Adventures Across the World


Wild is one of the most empowering novels for both men and women. It’s the true story of a woman who, after the death of her mother and the suffering that followed, decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from southern California all the way to northern Oregon. Throughout the trip she was mostly alone, but she also occasionally met other people who were hiking the trail and who helped her on various levels. It’s a story that shows that even after an incredible rough time, things improve and life somehow fixes itself. It’s a story that shows the importance of listening to our inner voice and proves that, for as much as the world is described as an unfriendly, scary place, people are actually nice and genuine and they do help one another. It’s an incredibly positive message that goes well beyond the traveling and hiking alone debate, and a book that everyone should read.

The Happiness of Pursuit
Author: Chris Gulibeau
Recommended by Lora Pope of Explore with Lora

This book inspired me to follow my travel dreams. In his book, Chris sets out to visit all of Earth’s countries by age 35, a personal quest he wanted to accomplish. Throughout Chris’ journey,  he realizes just how many people exist like himself, each one pursuing a challenging quest that’s important to them. Using examples from the people met throughout his travels, Chris reveals how anyone can bring meaning into their life by fulfilling a personal quest.
Reading this book inspired me in many ways. First, it made me realize that much of my unhappiness stemmed from the fact that I was not working towards my personal quest. In my case, the quest I want to accomplish is identical to that of the authors: to visit every country in the world. Reading about how Chris succeeded in achieving this, along with the stories on how others conquered their own quests, filled me inspiration and confidence to set out on my own journey. Today I am travelling the world and have made it to 49 countries and counting. The happiness of pursuit will help anyone fulfill a quest, whether it is travel related or not.
The Expatriates
Author: Janice Y K Lee
Recommended by Riana Ang-Canning of Teaspoon of Adventure

I picked up The Expatriates by Janice Y K Lee right before a family weekend on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada and I couldn’t put it down. I tore right through this book and was completely engaged the entire way. The Expatriates is a story of three women who are all expats in Hong Kong, but who lead very different lives, until events bring them together. The book does an amazing job of showing you what expat culture in Hong Kong is like. There are so many books about visiting a place, but not so many about picking up and moving there as an expat. The author also does a really beautiful job of sharing the expat experience from different vantage points – whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, single or married, parent or child-less, and Asian or Caucasian. I loved the strong female voices that drove the narrative and the unique stories they told. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a compelling read about women’s stories and an in-depth look into expat life in Hong Kong.
A Thousand Days in Venice
Author: Marlena de Blasi
Recommended by Maria Spyrou of It’s All a Trip to Me

As soon as we buy our plane tickets to some place new, the next thing I do is order two specific types of books, a guidebook and a novel set in the destination we’re visiting. My goal is to start reading the novel before actually going to the place mentioned in it and then finish it while there. But I almost never have time to do so. Therefore, I end up reading the book after we’re back home.

Our recent trip to Venice was no exception. I purchased A Thousand Days in Venice way before our departure date, but I only started reading it after we were back home in Athens. It actually somehow felt better this way as I was able to revisit every corner of Venice through the novel’s pages and the precious memories they brought back.

What I like most about this novel is the way the author narrates her life’s true story. In a sweet and nostalgic tone she writes about her relocation to Italy and the ways in which she managed to adapt to a brand new life in the name of love. The indisputable protagonist of the novel is Venice itself. Marlena de Blasi does an excellent job portraying the city’s unique beauty and enchantment. Another feature I love about this book is that it is sprinkled with mouthwatering Italian recipes tested by the author herself, a chef by profession.

So, either planning a trip to Venice or having just returned from one, this book is a good choice and it will surely make this floating dream of a city linger in your mind for a bit more.

Wine and War
Authors: Don and Petie Kladstrup
Recommended by Penny Sadler of Adventures of a Carry-On


The subtitle: The French, The Nazis, and The Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure, tells you a lot about the contents.This book is a fascinating read about winegrowers all over France who joined the resistance during WW2, to stop the Germans from drinking, and stealing, every last drop of wine in their country.

 At the time I read this book I was preparing for a trip to Alsace, France; the last place to be liberated from the Nazis. I read about the Hugels, a very well-known family with roots in Riquewihr since the 1600s. Their tasting room is located in the heart of this storybook village—just a few doors away from where I stayed. I was already excited about visiting the region of Alsace and this book just added to my interest. Wine and War is a culture, history and geography lesson. Ultimately it made my visit to Alsace more rich.

The Motorcycle Diaries
Author: Ernesto Che Guevara
Recommended by Priyanko Sarkar of Constant Traveller


One 500cc Norton bike, two best friends, Che Guevara and Alberto Granado, and an entire continent to explore. The Motorcycle Diaries was meant to be a travel classic even if Guevara hadn’t become a revolutionary after undertaking this epic journey.

At age 23, in January 1952, Che Guevara began exploring South America from Buenos Aires to the Atlantic Coast, on to Chile and then upwards through Peru, Colombia and eventually Venezuela. All along, Guevara notes his own interactions with the world around him as he goes from one destination to the next. As a reader, you see the change developing in Guevara as he begins to get affected by the plight of people in his own continent.
The Motorcycle Diaries is a strong reminder of how travel can change those who visit places with an open mind and its power to make us more tolerant of each other. The epic nature of Guevara’s journey is just an additional bonus for the reader of this beautiful travel memoir. In fact, this book made such an impression on me that I have begun preparing to travel South American for a year in 2020. Who says books aren’t transformative?
Only in Boston 
Author: Duncan J.D. Smith

Recommended by Stuart Forster of Go Eat Do

Only in Boston is the most recent publication in the Only In guidebook series written by Duncan J.D. Smith. It’s the third of the books that I’ve bought, after the London and Edinburgh guides, because I enjoy Smith’s in-depth look at urban hubs. Rather than just looking at a city’s chief attractions, he explores quirky and little-known aspects of a destination. They are fun to read and informative.
Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is known as ‘the cradle of liberty”. I’m currently considering a return to the city and have been drawing up a ‘to do’ list based upon places listed in the chapters of Only in Boston. The book is eminently readable because each of the 106 chapters is well-researched and runs to just a couple of pages. I’ve enjoyed picking it up while travelling on public transport and reading about unusual aspects of the city’s heritage. Myths are debunked. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the city and now can’t wait visit again!
Around the World in 80 Days
Author: Jules Verne
Recommended by Elisa from World in Paris


Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne is one of my favorite travel books, the kind of book I like to read again from time to time. This travel novel also inspired my own around the world trip, but I did it in one year instead of 80 days!

The book tells the adventures around the world of Mr. Fogg, a 19th century English gentleman living in the London, and his French valet, Passepartout. Fogg’s adventure starts at the exclusive Reform Club, where he bets a very high sum of money that he can travel around the world and be back to London in 80 days. During their journey, Mr. Fogg and Passepartout live through many adventures, but also some misadventures that threaten the success of the journey. Indeed the Detective Fix believes Mr. Fogg is behind a very important bank robbery in London and wants to arrest him during the tour!
Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France. He wrote many incredible travel novels, the source of inspiration for many travelers like me along with sea and space explorers.
The Beach
Author: Alex Garland
Recommended by Jenny of TraveLynn Family
The Beach by Alex Garland is a classic amongst travellers and for good reason. The opening pages describe a naïve young backpacker arriving for the first time on Th Khao San in Bangkok, perfectly capturing the mixture of excitement and trepidation which define the beginning of any travelling adventure. The souvenir-vendors, beer-shops, hostels and noodle-bars fighting for space on the backpacker strip evoke a sense of wonderment and adventure in any intrepid traveller.
The book goes on to perfectly contrast the squalor of backpacker life in Bangkok with the pristine sun-drenched islands in the south. The protagonist eventually joins an island community far removed from everyday life, free from mortgages, office work and bad weather. Despite the story not ending well for the community, the lifestyle it describes seemed very enticing then, and all these years later, it seems no less appealing!
I have travelled many times to Thailand over the years. First as a student backpacker on a shoestring budget and more recently with my family when my boys were just 1 and 3 years old  (you may like to read my itinerary for Bangkok with young kids). Thailand will always be one of my favourite travel destinations. It may be the food, the people, the temples, the beaches, but a lot of my obsession with Thailand was kick-started with Alex Garland’s evocative novel.
Shantaram
Author: Gregory David Roberts

Recommended by Lauren Monitz of The DownLo


If you enjoy international thrillers, Shantaram is a fast read and serious page-turner, perfect for long flights or lazy beach days. The best-selling story of an escaped convict from Australia, the narrator Lin flees to the slums of Bombay on a fake passport to start a free clinic amongst the seedy underworld of India. From criminal acts to seductress spells, drug dens, and mafia ties, it’s exciting, dangerous, and even sexy at times. Each character interaction highlights the human aspect of community, interpersonal relationships, and excitement of international travel. Inspired by a true story, it’s one of those “real world is stranger than fiction” plot lines where you learn not to judge a book (or character) on its face value. After a long bidding war and fan anticipation, it’s finally in the process of being turned into a TV series so read the book before you see it on the silver screen.

One Year Off
Author: David Elliot Cohen
Recommended by Lisa Lubin who likes to share her ultimate travel tips.

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