A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania

The Reading Pagoda

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Last weekend my wife and I went to The Reading Pagoda, here is some information and a few pictures from our visit.

The Pagoda is located in Reading, Pennsylvania, which admittedly isn’t the first place one would expect to find a Pagoda.  It has a very interesting history and I’d encourage you to look around its website for details, but I’ll share a few bits about it here (all info taken/paraphrased from the website):

  • It was commissioned in 1906 and completed in 1908 with the original intention of being used as a luxury resort. It was never opened, changed hands, and eventually in 1911 was “sold” to the city of Reading for $1.
  • It sits on top of a mountain, is 7 stories high and stands over 600 feet above the city of Reading.
  • It is the only Pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney.
  • The bell on the 7th floor was cast in Japan in 1739.
  • Before the days of radio broadcasting, its lights flashed as signals to the people of Reading. Morse Code was used to direct fireman, promote fundraising campaigns and give the public results of sporting events. The Code was based on the lights – a white light was a dash, while a red light was a dot.
  • Every year at 9pm on Christmas Eve the Pagoda lights flash to let the children know that Santa is on his way.

Pretty neat, huh?

It was a hot and hazy day when we went, which made photographing a challenge for me. The location does provide some nice views though and there are a lot of neat things to see in and around the Pagoda. Driving to the Pagoda is pretty cool too. As you enter Reading you catch glimpses of it on the mountain side above overlooking the city. I unfortunately didn’t stop to get a picture. The road leading to it is pretty steep with some fun corners and sweeps. Twice per year it is actually shut down and a “hill climb” is held there – a timed race to the top done in cars. (Hopefully I’ll make it to one sometime!) Anyway, back to the Pagoda!

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There was a system of stairs and some walking trails in an area that apparently used to be a rock garden, but it has not been maintained and is now closed to the public. There were a few accessible walking trails to elsewhere on the mountain though, and there were signs that people still venture into the “off limits area.”

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Inside on the ground floor there is a gift shop and cafe. There were many neat things to see and a lot of little knickknacks for sale and reasonably priced beverages and snacks.

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Admission is technically free but they do ask for a $1 donation to go to the top floor for adults, or fifty cents for children.

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The bell at the top:

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The top floor provides quite a view of the city of Reading and the surrounding area.

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A compass below, in what I think used to be the rock garden:

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There were also rooms on various floors inside the Pagoda. I believe one can be rented as a conference room, and there was a “museum” with various pieces of memorabilia from its history (where the gold bowl above was located).

All in all it was pretty neat and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area and have an afternoon to kill. I don’t think my wife and I spent more than 1.5 hours there, which included eating some ice cream in the cafe. There isn’t a lot to do there, really, it just depends on how much time you want to spend exploring the grounds and looking at the things inside the Pagoda. It’s cheap, too. Not counting the gas to drive there, I spent a grand total of $4 for donations to go to the top and ice cream sandwiches for the missus and I!

On the way home we passed a park with a number of monuments and statues and decided to stop quickly to look around. The park is called Penns Common and had a large area dedicated for memorials for veterans, and a number of other statues of figures who, I presume, hold significance to the area’s history. I didn’t do well shooting pictures at the park and sadly have few to share…

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Written by Jim

July 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Chickies Rock

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Today my wife and I went to Chickies Rock, a park that isn’t very far from where we live. There are a lot of hiking trails and a lot of things to see, but the main attraction is the rock and its views. It’s a cliff that over hangs a river and its very scenic. We packed a picnic lunch and had fun taking in the scenery and hanging out for a bit.

Of course I brought my new camera along and took some shots. These are all edited at least a little. I’m having a little trouble getting white balance and contrast how I want it out of the camera. It’s a learning process and I’ll get there. Anyway, not that the pictures are perfect now, but they’re a little better than they were prior to editing.

The trail leading to the overlook, though this was actually taken on the walk back down…

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The overlook and view…

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A train track runs along the side of the river and while we were up there a train went by. I *think* its carrying natural gas, but that’s just an educated guess.

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Oh the way back down this guy came running by us and went sprint off the trail up this steep hill. the picture doesn’t do it justice, toward the top he was more climbing than running. Either the dude didn’t know how to read to the sign, or he was exercising. We may never know.

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And this is just a flower from outside my house to end with

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Written by Jim

May 25, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Roadside America

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Recently I went to Roadside America with some family that was visiting from out of town. The idea to go was my father’s; he thought it would be a fun activity to do with his kids and grand kids, and he was right. The children ranged in age from four to 10 and they had a lot of fun, and the adults had a good time too. I was skeptical about going at first, especially since it’s located in Shartlesville, PA and more than an hour away, but I ended up having a really good time and would recommend it to people of all ages who are into this type of thing.

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Roadside America is a miniature village depicting many scenes of American life from different times in the past. It is an over 8,000 square foot display of cities, old-time towns, neighborhoods, industry, leisure and a bunch of other stuff. There are miniature houses, businesses, churches, hotels, bars, a baseball field, a zoo, a circus, tons of cars, trains, an air port, and much more than would be reasonable to list out. The website provides a lot more detail and plenty of (better quality) photos.

Though the website bills it as “An Enchanted Miniature Land of Yesterday and Tomorrow,” I didn’t see anything futuristic about it, or even anything that modern. There were some vehicles from the 90’s, but I didn’t pick up on anything more recent. My dad pointed out a lot of things he remembered from visiting in his childhood; some cars for instance that were really cool to see as a kid (in the 50’s) because they were brand new at the time.

So, I get the idea that nothing overly drastic has changed over the years, but it is still really cool. There is a lot of detail and tons of things to discover. I get the idea one could walk around a number of times and find something new each time. Around the outside edge where you walk there are some signs explaining things and a number of buttons that you can push to operate trains or aspects of scenes that are “interactive.” There are raised levels to look from as well to get different perspectives. All in all it was pretty neat and worth the drive, though I don’t know if it would be worth coming from much further away for unless you are REALLY into miniature villages.

I shot nearly 100 pictures and am posting a number here. There are few captions, I just chose a bunch to show some of the different scenes. I was just shooting on the fly and my point and shoot isn’t too great in limited light, so the quality of these shots isn’t that great. Sorry. Definitely check out the website for more/better pictures and information.

These first two and the one above are from further back to give an idea of the size and scope of it. The rest are closer and a bit more detailed.

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RA 27s (baseball)

RA 31s (airport)

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RA 26s (dance)
A barn dance

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A winter resort high above the main level

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A Pueblo Village

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Where miniature people are laid to rest

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At one point there was an announcement that it would be night time for a little while, then slowly the lights dimmed until the room was dark. The lights in the buildings came on and “stars” came out from the ceiling. It looked pretty cool but my little low-light challenged camera wasn’t able to do it justice. The Star Spangled Banner was also played from what sounded like an old record, as well as a few other songs, while the statue of liberty, a flag blowing in the wind, and a few other things were projected on a wall. That part was a little weird. More so in how everything was done than the content itself. It really had an old time feel to it.

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Oh no, a giant!!!

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Not really, it was just am employee fixing a train.

Written by Jim

January 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm