Meet Our New Nature Photographer

Joe Mish

Red Fox crossing the South Branch at sunset.
Canada goose backlit by the morning sun greets the day along the South Branch of the Raritan – a magical moment that reveals the gift of new life given to us each day.
Sunrise along the South Branch.
Red poll in chains. Imaginary chains are all that confine our hearts and hands from reaching out to touch cherished dreams
Near the Raritan River
The new arrival
A Baby Bear!
Hummingbird
Hummingbird
 

 GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE TERM "FLOWER TRUCK"

By Joe Mish

Last summer I happened upon an explosion of incongruity in the form of a lawn decoration in a very remote and heavily wooded area.

It was really stunning in the truest sense of the word. Colorful flowers seemed to grow from every rusted crevice of a 1930s era work truck, which long ago lost every hint of its factory paint. 

I stopped to take photos, drove off and turned around to take more photos. I then turned around again, drove back and shuttered off even more images from every conceivable angle.

That inanimate, hard, cold, rusted metal truck produced in an early 20th century factory by human hands and machines stood in dramatic contrast to the fragrant and delicate, colorful living flowers which swayed in the slightest breeze.  No one could imagine a more unlikely pairing of contrasting elements to create such a compelling spectacle.

The resultant photos were a thing of wonder but as I looked closer, the image appeared as a portal into a wondrous realm of genetic mapping that intimately linked the delicate scented flowers and that rusted steel truck.

Consider that both the metal truck and flowers were each derived from elements in the soil to become dramatically different manifestations..... both now come together on their journey back to their elemental form as the flowers and truck melt into the earth.

AARP’S NEW TRAVEL SITE UNVEILS EXCLUSIVE TOOLS AND FEATURES TO HELP PACK MORE INTO EVERY TRIP

Users can seamlessly dream, plan, book and share trips with tailored content and interactive tools

Washington — AARP Travel (http://travel.aarp.org/welcome), a new travel website launching today, offers a one-stop online experience that helps users take their travel ideas from dream to destination.

With personalized trip planning tools like Trip Finder and Map Explorer, website visitors can put together the type of trips they want, get travel tips from noted travel expert and AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown and read hundreds of articles and information on enticing destinations near and far. AARP’s free site is designed to help consumers get the most out of every trip.

“I travel for a living, and on any given trip, most of the fellow travelers I meet are older,” said Brown. “People tell me how much they love the travel effect on their lives, health, and relationships, but they’re not in love with the sometimes confusing do-it-yourself research and planning process. With AARP Travel, they’ll have an easy-to-use resource to seize the trip and have fun in the process.”

AARP Travel’s range of travel tools and features include:

Trip Finder — a fun, smart and visual series of questions to deliver ideas and recommendations for destinations — including some unexpected ones;
Map Explorer — a detailed street-level interactive map that includes attractions, restaurants, hotels, local color and reviews;
My Trips — a personal page where users can save and organize trip ideas, itineraries and related articles in one place and add to or edit them over multiple visits;
Articles and Destinations — travel tips from AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown, articles specifically geared toward the 50+ traveler and information about hundreds of domestic and international locations; and
Book Trips  booking tools provided through AARP’s relationships with Expedia and Liberty Travel that give you access to member discounts.

 

“The features we’ve launched today, along with new content and tools we’ll add to AARP Travel as the service grows, reflect the simplicity, ease of use and convenience people want all under one roof,” said Sami Hassanyeh, Chief Digital Officer for AARP.  “Whether it’s a weekend family trip or the vacation of a lifetime, we want to enable people to travel intelligently, enjoyably and economically, anywhere and anytime.”

Research shows that travel ranks as the top aspiration for people 50+, and according to analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, personal travel spend for the 50+ traveler tops $120 billion per year and will grow as boomers have more time to travel.  AARP Travel helps members and others go from dream to destination through a suite of personalized features that let users explore, plan and book trips at their own pace, offering suggestions on where and when to go, what to do, how to prepare for trips and how to save money.

AARP Travel answers the need for a simple and comprehensive way to manage the scattered process of travel planning.  And through new research conducted on the travel habits of people 50+, AARP found that:

Trips Per Year — Americans in the 50+ age demographic  take about six overnight trips unrelated to business of at least 50 miles from home per year;
Website Planning — Eight out of 10 Americans 50+ use websites to plan as well as book their personal travel; 
Time Spent Planning — Travelers 50+ spend about 30–36 hours per year planning personal trips online but would prefer to spend about half as much time per year (12–18 hours) planning; and
Time Spent Booking — The 50+ traveler spends about 18 hours per year online booking personal travel but would prefer to spend about 12 hours per year (at least an hour less per trip) booking.

“Through our new online travel study and conversations with our members, we understand what the 50+ traveler is looking for — and looking to avoid,” said Stephanie Miles, Vice President, Member Value for AARP. “The 50+ are looking to enjoy all aspects of travel.  Currently, the market is fragmented and people have to open multiple sites at once just to plan a trip. We built AARP Travel to make travel fun and easy with the tools, information and offerings needed. We want the 50+ make the most of every moment and every dollar.

For more information about AARP’s research on online travel planning and what people 50+ are doing online, please click here or follow the link (www.aarp.org/research/surveys/online-travel-study-aarp.html).

 

 

Leisure Pursuits: Discover the Joys of Birding, Fishing and Gardening

By: Adriane G. Berg

CEO, Generation Bold

What does leisure time mean to you? I bet it’s not sitting in your rocking chair. We all want quiet renewal time, but today’s active adult tends to seek out leisure with a kicker--fitness, learning, camaraderie, mental stimulation and sensory appeal.  Birding, Fishing and Gardening seem to fit the bill.

Birding

Did  you know that the fastest growing outdoor activity in America is birding? Birding requires walking and standing, sometimes for long periods of time. But, the primary trait of a great birder is patience; often the bailiwick of the more mature.  With new advances in binoculars, eyesite is less important than instinct.

And don't think that birding is for eggheads or that birders are slightly weird. On the contrary, while Birders are some of the most intelligent people you will ever meet; they are competitive in logging their sightings and not above bragging. The slogan of the American Birding Association is “Explore, Share, Contribute.”

It's evening in the Panamanian rain forest 45 minutes outside of Panama City. Twenty men and women outfitted in khakis and sporting camera binoculars stand lizard quiet. Their guide has "birder's eyes”. He can see a flutter or a feather that is barely there. And then it appears. A cave dwelling oil bird,  a once in a lifetime spotting. Later we sit at the top of an old radar tower turned into a hotel for birders, sip wine and tell tails of birds we have seen. We cross off the oil bird on our list, with ultimate satisfaction. From Canopy Towers.

Birding in your own back yard gives just as much pleasure as when on an exotic trip. Every February the Great Backyard Bird Count organized makes us aware of the flying wild life with which we share our planet every day. Or create a family holiday tradition by joining the annual Christmas Bird Count. It's a communal experience which takes place across the nation to quantify how our birds are doing.

Speaking of communal experiences, consider a trip to see 500,000 Sandhill Cranes arrive en mass at the Lake Platte River Valley, near Kearny, Nebraska

We huddle together to quietly wait for the arrival. We are strangers , some accidental birders who heard about the Cranes and came to see; others world class photographers with million dollar equipment. But a common curiosity binds us. From the blinds along the Platte River.

For the ultimate in birding camaraderie with butterfly study thrown in, you can't do better than a visit to the World Birding Center in McAllen, Texas. There are lectures and jolly meals with those magnificent scientists that write field guides.

Fishing

Fishing brings out different instincts than birding. Fishing clubs create life-long friendships among those that understand the “lure of the lure. “ On a trip to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands (we flew by instrument from Anchorage) I had the privilege to meet the famous Captain Jack from the Deadliest Catch reality TV series.

The waters around Dutch Harbor are home to the biggest halibut and salmon in the world.

Avid hobby fisherman Chuck McAtee who makes frequent excursions to Alaska,  says, " The best part of fishing is getting there. You cannot believe how pristine the world can be, how empty and pure. But then you encounter another world, filled and busy.” Chuck only catches and releases. "Except salmon which we cook and eat."

When you take on the big fish of the north country you are communing with nature not as an observer but as an equal , and often less equal than the fish. Even a wearing your waders in the streams along a country road in bass fishing centers like Califon , New Jersey, there is a sense of rivalry with the fish.

And like birding there is also a sense of connection to other fisherman. The  Fishing Club Network will hook you up with fishing clubs where you live.

Gardening

The ultimate in renewal pursuits is, of course, gardening. Count on spring to loosen your grip on negativity. Whether you are a one pot wonder or designer of community gardens, there is something for you in garden

ing.  Stop and smell the roses with friends you make at events held by the American Horticultural Society or through Horticultural Associations and Networks, and other organizations. 

Gardening is also a great way to meet your exercise goals. A study by researchers at Kansas City University revealed that gardening meets the daily moderately intense exercise recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Gardening requires weight-bearing movements like pushing a mower, digging holes, pulling weeds, carrying soil, and other tasks required use muscle groups in the entire body. It’s good for you, but a time may come that you may have to give it up

. Right? Wrong!

Universal garden design and landscaping makes accessibility easy. Raised beds, eye level planting set ups let you plant from your chair. The Burpee Company has a line of gardening tools for older adults. Growing too many fruits and vegetables to eat? Trade them through “barter gardens” and makes even more friends through barter clubs.

Whatever your leisure pursuit, savoir the moments. Most of us have waited a long time to indulge.