Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Farewell New York - in true Ranger style

By now, you have probably noticed we have been bargaining, bartering and generally trying to squeeze every last bit of value from every cent.

Leaving the hotel

This meant we could still afford the perfect transport for all of us and all of our bags to the airport.

Arriving at JFK

Hello Miss Liberty

Today we took to the water for a cruise around NY and past the Statue of Liberty

Our Centenary Mountain Moment

After an exhilarating night tour of New York, we took the lifts to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. The sights of the city were wonderful on a perfectly clear night.

At midnight, we said thank you to the Crystal Palace pioneers who 100 years ago started a movment for girls which has ultimately enabled us to do what we have been doing for the past 2 weeks. We then re-made our promises and pinned Centenary promise badges on each other.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Shopping the sights

Thanks for the advice on the dilemma of how to spend our time. Hopefully the below pictures will show you how hard we are trying to combine great sights and shopping.

New York shops have some interesting attractions...............

Tonight is our "Mountain Top" moment high in the Empire State Building. Look out for pictures tomorrow.

On the Town

Our bus trip worked out really well and by late afternoon we were checked into our downtown hotel and were heading out for dinner and some sightseeing.

The Empire Stater Building is a couple of blocks from the hotel and Times Square is about a 10 minute walk.

We're planning how to spend our last 2 days - sightseeing, shopping, sleeping or eating?

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Pretty in Pink

Our service project finished with a final flourish.

At midnight on Friday we were painting the beading to hold our screens in place in our pyjamas and on Saturday Chris and Heather finished nailing it into place.

Despite our slightly unconventional finish, Pat seemed very pleased with the result.

So farewell to our home on Camp Whippoorwill and a huge thank you to Pat, Donna, Jackie, Janet, Paula and everyone at GSCM who have made our stay there so memorable.

Next stop New York

6 Flags and yet another party

Friday was a fun packed day spent at the local theme park, 6 flags. Roller coasters, log flumes and games (pictures to follow).

In the evening, we had an evening learning about local Native american customs and ate some fantastic food prepared for us. The evening ended with S'mores as we said goodbye to many new friends...

Friday, 30 July 2010

Whitewater adventures, cobblers and a welcome storm

Thursday saw us heading across Maryland to Harpers Ferry for an afternoon of whitewater rafting on the Potomac. Yet more fun and adventure as we not only went down river in rafts but also on our backs, riding the eddies and currents.
The evening was memorable for arriving back to find white-tailed deer in the car park, a great supper of BBQ foods followed by MrP’s pear cobbler and ice-cream

followed by the most spectacular show of lightning in the skies over the bay. That meant a much cooler and pleasanter night in the cabins.

Hard work but fun too

A full day working on the service project brought it nearly to completion. All the new screens are in place, we just need to paint and replace the beading. A job for Saturday morning before we leave.
An opportunity arose for the girls to go “Tubing” – sitting in a large inflatable, being towed out into the bay behind a motor boat. Loads of fun, though we gained a few bruised behinds.
Overnight, the girls went to a new friend’s house (Tori – one of the local Girl Scout troop) for a pizza party and sleepover.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

DC in a Day

Our day started early to fit in everyones social arrangements. We departed for DC on the train and were greeted at the Grand Central Station - an AWESOME sight!

We had a guided tour of all the famous goverment buildings of DC such as Capital building

and the White House.

In the afternoon we visited the Air and Space Museum (free entry!) and watched an Imax film.
Our "pets" had a great time too.

This evening the Rangers have left the leaders for fun and games at a girl scout's house... with a pool.

Party in the woods

On Monday we continued working on the cabins in the morning and then prepared to host an evening party for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland We decorated the site with lots of Centenary pink and sparklies, baked scones and prepared a range of drinks and snacks.

We also set up a display about Guiding, the Centenary and Gloucestershire as well as constructing the telesopes and setting out the various Space Exploration activity packages the girls had made.

As guests arrived, the girls greeted them and took them around. They were presented with goodie bags by GSCM and we also presented Thanks badges, Friendship badges and Guide badges to the many people who had helped make this such a successful trip. (Pictures to follow)

The pleasantly warm evening ended with everyone around the campfire together

Sunday, 25 July 2010

All you can eat....

Sunday started slowly after a bit of a lie-in then we headed to the Marriott hotel on the harbourfront for a champagne brunch. Neville enjoyed himself too

Take me out to the Ballgame

An early start and baseball lessons in our pyjamas over breakfast.

Our day in Baltimore started with a visit to the aquarium where we came face to face with jellyfish, dolhpins and stingrays.

A BBQ at Fran's followed then it was off to the baseball for real. Although the Orioles were soundly beaten, we had a great time

Off to work we go

Our job is to replace all the screens on the cabins on Pinewoods campsite. After instructions from Ranger Pat, we started work.... We were told to keep an eye out for Black Widow spiders who like to hang out in dark corners but didsn't spot any!

As the day got hotter we went off to the pool to cool down then went on a tour of Columbia and Ellicott City.

Dinner was a $10 challenge in the foodhall of Columbia Mall - winner was teriyaki chicken and noodles for $7.41

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Make New Friends

Tonight we have spent a wonderful evening with the Girl Scouts who have become instant new best friends. On the deck, overlooking the Bodkin Creek we cracked crabs, ate corn, hamburgers and delicious desserts.

The girls spent time chilling together and planning lots more activities for our trip they can do together.

Credit cards and goldfish

After lunch we headed for a first real taste of retail therapy. Not only did we look at $3000 Gucci handbags (but bought some $7 jewellery), we found a shop selling nearly 1,000,000 goldfish. Having been eating them almost since we arrived, we decided we should re-stock.

Sky high picnic with dolphins

After moving onto the campsite in the morning we headed off across the Chesapeake Bay bridge (see below) and stopped at the Chesapeake Welcome centre to find out more about the Bay.

We carried our lunch up to the crows nest viewing platform and had a lunch with a view.

Afterwards we headed out along a boardwalk to look for the animals we'd been introduced to but instead enjoyed the antics of a pod of bottle-nose dolphins playing near the shoreline

Meet the turtles

After a day of exploring the campsite, signing up for our membership at the private pool and enjoying ice cream sundaes, we returned to camp to meet Billy, Taylor and Felix and a selection of mysterious boxes.....

One by one their secrets were revealed as we met a selection of local wildlife emerged. From a very fiesty snapping turtle to an amazing hognose snake, we came face to face with animals we might see during our trip. We had the chance to handle box turtles, rat snakes and chain kingsnakes.

We wait to get the official identification of the giant caterpillars Arabella spotted outside the house.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Hot and humid but a fabulous pool

Leaders fresh brewed coffee and cookies on the sun porch watching the sunrise (well we were a bit jetlagged).

Went birdwatching on the site (brilliant ospreys diving and swooping) then lifeguard spotting at the lovely Big Vanilla pool after lunch. Maybe tomorrow the Baywatch beefcake will be there..... However free wifi is around, hence this update.

Just about to go shopping before a Maryland wildlife night with Billy "Box Turtle".

Fantastic Journey

Every step of the way, the arrangements worked perfectly (apart from one body search, several attempts to get our fingerprints into the immigration system and one forgotten lunch). All the girls, the duck, the lamb and Olivia were guests of honour in the cockpit of the plane after we landed at Baltimore.

Arriving at the site, we were greeted by a huge banner wishing us welcome, a fridge full of cool delicious food and a quick brief from Pat the Ranger before we all collapsed into bed. (Pictures to follow)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

We're Off.....

7 Rangers, one duck, one lamb and Olivia...

and just "a few" bags

Monday, 19 July 2010

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

Situated on an island in New York Harbour, you can combine a visit there with one to the Ellis Island museum of immigration.

Ellis Island was the former federal immigration processing station which processed over 12 million third class and steerage immigrants between 1892 and 1954 and was named after the former owner of the island, Samuel Ellis. The island was added to the National Park System in May of 1965 by Presidential Proclamation however it took over a quarter of a century for part of the island to be restored. In September of 1990, the main building re-opened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Maryland Animal of the Day

Our final must-see creature. Bald Eagle numbers fell dramatically in the 1970s in the Cherapeake area due to the use of pesticides like DDT getting into the food chain, but today, this majestic bird can frequently be seen around the shoreline.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Staten Island ferry

The best free sightseeing trip in New York

The Staten Island Ferry provides 20 million people a year (60,000 passengers a day not including weekend days) with ferry service between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan.

The ferry is the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan.

The Staten Island Ferry is run by the City of New York for one pragmatic reason: To transport Staten Islanders to and from Manhattan. Yet, the 5 mile, 25 minute ride also provides a majestic view of New York Harbor and a no-hassle, even romantic, boat ride, for free! One guide book calls it "One of the world's greatest (and shortest) water voyages."

From the deck of the ferry you will have a perfect view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You'll see the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan receding as you pull away and coming into focus again as you return

•In the 1700s, ferry service was provided by private individuals with small twin mast sailboats called per augers.
•In 1817 the cost to cross the harbor was 25 cents and half price for children. This was the cost to ride the Nautilus, the first steam ferry to make the famous trip. The Nautilus was commanded by Captain John De Forest
•Three of the ferries that were built to make the trip across the harbor were bought by the U.S. Navy to fight in the civil war. The Southfield I, Westfield I, and the Clifton I. None of these ferries ever returned to New York.
•The 5 cents fare was established 1897. On October 10, 1972 the fare was raised to 10 cents. In 1975 the fare was increased to 25 cents. On August 1, 1990 the fare went up to 50 cents. Finally on July 4, 1997 the fare for foot passengers on the ferry was eliminated.

How not to remove a tick

We are sure to encounter the occasional tick whilst out and about. It is important to know both how to AND how not to deal with it

From the American Family Physician website

Ineffective or Dangerous Methods of Removing Ticks: What Not to Do
Do not use sharp forceps.

Do not crush, puncture, or squeeze the tick's body.

Do not apply substances such as petroleum jelly, gasoline, lidocaine (Xylocaine), etc., to the tick.

Do not apply heat with a match or hot nail.

Do not use a twisting or jerking motion to remove the tick.

Do not handle the tick with bare hands.

You'll be pleased to know that from this same source we do know how to remove a tick properly and have the specialist tweezers recommended to do so.

Maryland Animal of the Day

The American Oyster catcher

A distinctive wading bird seen all around the Chesapeake.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Ellicott City Maryland


In 1772, three Quaker brothers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, chose the picturesque wilderness, upriver from Elk Ridge Landing (known today as Elkridge, Maryland) to establish a flour mill. John, Andrew, and Joseph Ellicott founded Ellicott's Mills, which became one of the largest milling and manufacturing towns in the East.

Named after a 19th century owner, the Thomas Isaac cabin was believed to have been built circa 1780 by an early Ellicott's Mills settler. Located at west end of Ellicott City's Main Street, tourists can learn about the history of Ellicott's Mills from authentically costumed historians.The Ellicott brothers helped revolutionize farming in the area by persuading farmers to plant wheat instead of tobacco and also by introducing fertilizer to revitalize depleted soil. Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a wealthy landowner, was an early influential convert from tobacco to wheat.

In 1830, Ellicott's Mills became the first terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad outside Baltimore. The station, built of huge blocks of locally quarried granite, stands today as a living history museum, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It bears the designation as the "Oldest surviving railroad station in America". The famous race between Peter Cooper's iron engine, the Tom Thumb, and a horse-drawn carriage took place at Relay on the return trip from Ellicott's Mills in August 1830. Even though the horse won the race due to a broken drive belt on the Tom Thumb, steam engines steadily improved, and the railroad became a vital link in the town's economy.

By 1861, Ellicott's Mills was a prosperous farming and manufacturing area. The site of the courthouse, which was built from 1840-1843 when the Howard District of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was so designated in 1839. Howard County, Maryland, became an official independent jurisdiction in 1851. On July 10, 1864 Federal troops under the command of General Lew Wallace retreated down the National Pike from the Battle of Monocacy to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Ellicott's Mills station. Homes and churches in Ellicott's Mills were temporarily used as hospitals for the Union wounded. In 1867, a city charter was secured for Ellicott's Mills, and the name was changed to "Ellicott City". The only chartered city in the county, Ellicott City lost its charter in 1935 and was designated a historic district by the county in 1973. Ellicott City today serves as the county seat for Howard County.

In the early summer of 1972, the downtown Main Street area was extensively flooded by Hurricane Agnes; the Ellicott brothers' house on the mill property was also destroyed. A more severe flood in 1868 wiped most early industry from the valley, but spared the flour mill.

Historic Main Street has also been the site of several devastating fires, most notably in November 1984 and again on November 9, 1999. The former was started by Leidig's Bakery's faulty air conditioning unit and destroyed six buildings; the latter, a 6-alarm blaze which destroyed five businesses and caused an estimated $2 million in damage, was accidentally started behind a restaurant by a discarded cigarette.

Ellicott City has been called one of the most haunted small towns on the east coast. The Howard County Tourism Council runs a Ghost Tour that visits several places with reputations for paranormal activity. Among these are the mansions Lilburn, Hayden House, and Mt. Ida; the B&O railroad bridge that crosses over Main Street in the center of the town; the old Ellicott City Firehouse; and the Patapsco Female Institute. Proud Ellicott City residents use this haunted history to bring their small town into the spotlight.

Maryland Animal of the Day

Beaver (yes that's my campfire name too). A great builder, most often seen at dusk. Definitely one to spot while we are away.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry in Baltimore is one of our last stops in Maryland before heading to New York.

Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812 when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in the Chesapeake Bay. It was during this bombardment of the fort that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner", the poem that would eventually be set to the tune of the The Anacreontic Song, to become the national anthem of the United States.