July 19, 2012

Pennsylvania Triangle 2012, Day 2: On the Road Again

Monday, July 9, 2012: For the second day of this trip, I plotted out on the map several destinations that looked interesting to me. The first one was to be the C. F. Martin Guitar Museum in Nazareth. I had tried to pay a visit to this place once before while passing through Pennsylvania, but it happened to be closed at the time. Being a guitarist for pretty much my entire life, this stop was particularly fascinating to me. Martins are renowned by many as perhaps the finest acoustic guitars available on the market today. I was really looking forward to seeing the place where they're made. The first thing I noticed was that there is the likeness of a guitar's headstock laid out in the cement in front of the building. Guests enter the lobby through the front door by walking down the fretboard. This leads to the circular front desk which would represent the sound hole of an acoustic guitar. I was immediately taken by the creativity of the whole setup. So cool.

The woman seated at the front desk directed me to the museum and I stepped through the double doors into a musician's paradise. The displays range from some of the first Martin instruments ever made (guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles) through some of the more modern lines of guitars. It is a beautiful scene. I especially enjoyed seeing the unusual and custom instruments that are on hand. My favorite is the Martin Factory's One Millionth Guitar. Exquisite detail and craftsmanship.

From the Martin Guitar Museum, it was about a 45-minute drive to Kutztown and the Crystal Cave. This cavern tour has been operating non-stop since 1871, when it was first discovered and people were transported to the site from the railroad stations by way of horse drawn carriage. From the ticket booth, it is a short walk to the mouth of the cave where guests are ushered into a greeting room for an introductory film. Then, it's down the moist steps where one emerges in a subterranean wonderland. I love being surrounded by the beauty of rock formations thousands of years in the making. It is so humbling and awesome.

The next point on the map was the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville. I've visited many zoos all over the country and I must say that this one (even though it is small) features several unusual animals, such as the Black Swan and the Aoudad. Another thing that I love about this zoo is that the exit requires guests to drive a narrow road that winds through the 1,100-acre Trexler Nature Preserve. On both sides of my car, I could see bison and elk grazing in the fields. At one point, the road runs right through a creek in the middle of the woods. As my car was lurching through the tire-deep water, it really gave me the feeling of being on a safari. 

I had one more stop on the agenda before I would return to the Great Wolf Lodge and spend the remainder of the day in the water park. This one was at the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary in Jim Thorpe, PA. I usually enjoy visiting butterfly vivariums, though this one was a little bit of a disappointment. In most every other habitat I've seen, I've stepped into a magical setting and been surrounded by thousands of butterflies of many different species. At Bear Mountain, I could only pick out 2 common species and there were only about a dozen butterflies in the entire place. They also had a few Poison Dart Frogs and a Tarantula. Not too exciting. Probably the best part of this stop was the activity and learning center. I made a butterfly rubbing that came out pretty good.

"He has showed you,
O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly
with your God."

~Micah 6:8