Posts Tagged ‘maryland’

Last Wednesday, my friend and I went to a ropes course at the Adventure Park in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Going there, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into, but it sounded like fun and I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, so I didn’t see any harm in it. Having never heard of a ropes course before, I was in for quite the surprise. For those of you who are like I was prior to last Wednesday and don’t know what a ropes course is, it is a type of obstacle course suspended in the air. The use of many, many steel cables, harnesses, clips, and, in the one I went to, sturdy trees, makes it very safe.

Since the whole thing is kind of hard to explain, I’ll give an example of an obstacle that a ropes course might have. A hypothetical obstacle would be a steel cable stretched tightly between two trees with planks of wood at intervals of a few feet. In this hypothetical obstacle, there would also be a steel cable stretched tightly between the same two trees but at a higher height. You would be clipped to the top steel cable and would also probably hold on to it for support as you edged across from one tree to the other. This would be one of the easier obstacles. The real obstacles range from very easy to very, very difficult requiring strength, balance, agility, or all three.

Anyway, it was really fun. In addition to fun obstacles, they had things like ziplines. My friend took a video of a zipline in action on his phone. We tried a series of easy obstacles, then a harder series of obstacles, and then we moved right on up to the hardest set of obstacles that they offered. That probably wasn’t the best idea since it was my first time there, but I lived. When I was about half way through the hardest set, I ran out of time and had to quite early.

Overall, it was quite the experience. I think the word that I used most frequently on Wednesday was “terrifying.” In addition, I think my biceps were mostly non-existent for a large portion of Thursday. And now I know what a ropes course is!

This past weekend we drove up to Philadelphia to visit our brother. It was a very jolly visit with lots of fun and interesting catching up.

We walked along the old Schuylkill River path and saw a new sculpture they put up. At the Art Museum (the Rocky museum), we turned around since our dad’s knee was bothering him.

We enjoyed a nice supper with lively conversation. Then we went out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle of our brother’s favorite whiskey. People drank varying amounts upon returning to his apartment.

Our brother does some funny things, most of which he probably would rather us not reveal. He did agree to let us share his new toilet flushing system, though.

After it broke, he twisted up a lot of those twisty things you get at the grocery store. He twisted up enough that they came up the back of the toilet and out far enough for him to grasp and pull when he needed to flush. Then one day he saw some string in a delivery of pineapples to his school (or something like that). He thought to himself, “Hmmm. That would make the perfect pull string.”

He dismantled his twisties (although a remnant was left) and attached his new string. He likes it so well that even when our dad offered to fix it, he declined his offer. We had a great time.

The one sober thing which happened was that we passed by the massive funeral procession for two deputy sheriffs who were shot for no reason whatsoever at a Panera restaurant. Every overpass was crowded with people and the sides of the highway in both directions had cars parked as they waited for the procession. Police cars, and only police cars, drove down in the opposite direction than we were driving for at least 1-2 miles. The whole scene was at once beautiful, sad, and terrible. Pictures could not capture the emotion felt on I-95 Saturday afternoon. The horrible thing that happened to those deputies and their families and communities and the horrible thing that is happening to law enforcement officers all over our country.

About a week ago there was a bank robbery in Maryland. The police suspected that the robbers were on Interstate 270, so  they closed the highway in both directions. Every lane was closed and the traffic was stopped for approximately 30 minutes, while the police donning automatic weapons searched for the suspects. Specifically, the  police were checking all the cars that looked like the car the robbers were suspected of escaping in. The police did wind up catching the robbers, which is good, but in closing the interstate, we think they put everybody in danger.

If the robbers saw that the road was closed and knew that the police were checking cars and looking for them, the robbers would know the police would probably catch them eventually. This would make the robbers desperate and at this point they could have taken people as hostages. What if the robbers were armed? Would the police really have been prepared to have a shoot-out with them while cars were forcibly stopped all around them?

While the police did catch the robbers, they also put everyone on the highway in harm’s way. To us, something’s not right with this. What do you think?

Sugarloaf Mountain

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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On Christmas day, we did something different. We hiked on a mountain called Sugarloaf in Dickerson, Maryland. The term Sugarloaf Mountain is pretty funny because the “mountain” is really just a big rocky hill (elevation of 1,282 feet). It is privately owned and closes at sundown. There is no entrance fee, and for us at least, it is close by (when we are in Maryland). The owners of this mountain have a website (which can be found here) to see more information and possibly to see more pictures in order to figure out whether or not you want to go. The hike is not very steep and is relatively short, but the view from the top of the mountain is very nice. It is also possible to get up the hill without taking the path. Dink and Niles climbed up the side of Sugarloaf pretty easily. Signs say any rock climbing is done at your own risk. We usually go to Sugarloaf when it isn’t convenient for most people to come. That is because when Sugarloaf is crowded, it is really crowded and that defeats the purpose of going there for us.

Once we all got to the top, we took some pictures of the scenery and some more of us making fun of models 🙂

by John

Stinkbugs in Maryland

Posted: August 24, 2013 in Articles
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About three years ago in 2010, farmers around our area experienced a problem with a brown species of stink bug that are known as Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. These stink bugs originally came from Korea and Taiwan, whereas green colored stink bugs are native to the Old World as well as the New World. Anyway, in 2010, it wasn’t just farmers that had a problem with these stink bugs. We had problems as did everybody who lived around us.

Around 2010, stink bugs started covering the sides of our house in late summer. When we went outside, we always had to look out for flying stink bugs to make sure they didn’t get into the house. While we were walking through our garage, they were all over the place – on the ground, on the ceiling, flying, on our bicycles, everywhere. Just outside our garage, if you looked up at the side of the house, there were tons of stinkbugs – flying off the house, flying onto the house, and sitting on the siding. This wasn’t necessarily a problem, but it was a little annoying.

It did become a little more problematic when they started to come into the house in autumn. Most of them, we didn’t know how they got it, but you always had to be ready to run and get some toilet paper or a Kleenex to dispose of a stink bug. We had to pick them up and not squash them because they smelled bad if we did. We also couldn’t vacuum them up for the same reason. Since it was autumn, we had to take out the air conditioners in the windows (we didn’t have central air yet) and when we did, stinkbugs came flying out of the inside part of the window and into the house. Unfortunately for Dink and me, it was particularly bad in our room. We had to kill a lot of stink bugs that year – probably hundreds of them. Good thing they’re so slow and unawares, or we would have had a much harder time of it.

Our neighbors also had trouble with dozens of stink bugs clinging to their siding. I think one friend of ours used soapy water to knock them down and kill them. People came up with a lot of remedies for controlling stink bugs and thankfully, there are a lot less of them now. There are still a lot, but it is definitely not as bad as it was a couple of years back. The pictures up top are some Brown Marmorated Stink Bug nymphs under a leaf with one adult among them. I took another picture of two stinkbugs together on a leaf. One is an adult and the other is a nymph in its fourth nymphal stage so you can see the difference. The adult is the one on the right. At first, we thought that the nymphs were another species of stinkbug, but it turns out that they are just a younger version. There are a lot of them on our tomatoes….

by John