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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hidden Gems of PA - Hyner View State Park Overlook

Explorer Lens




Pennsylvania is home to many beautiful outdoor destinations. It is known to have some of the most gorgeous waterfalls and stunning overlook points. With natural wonders like Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Pocono Mountains, to ringing rocks and the longest river on East Coast - Susquehanna River, this state has it all.

But there are some crowing glories of Pennsylvania’s landscape, which will make you go all gaga about this state. Through this series, I will take you for a virtual tour of these hidden gems of PA.
So, without further ado, here is the first place on the list – Hyner View State Park Overlook.



Hyner View State Park Overlook located in Hyner View State Park is one of the best scenic overlook in entire Pennsylvania. It is 1940 feet above sea level and provides breathtaking views of the Susquehanna River valley.


You can drive all the way to the top and the overlook point is just a small walk from the parking lot.
At the point there is an overlook wall that was built in 1930 by Civil Conservation Corps and you can comfortably sit on the wall and treat yourself to the awesomeness of the nature.



Many daredevils and adventure seekers also try their hands on hang gliding and paragliding from the top. It is fun to watch and we really enjoyed it.






Address:Hyner Overlook Vista, Hyner View State Park, Clinton County, PA

Parking: 
The parking is free, though there are only few spots available.

Admission:There is no admission fee for the overlook point

Amenities:There are restrooms available at the top. Hyner View State Park has a small picnic area too.



There is also a very beautiful city in the vicinity of the park - Lock Haven City.
Located near the confluence of the West Branch Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Creek, this city has got some stunning views of the river and surrounding mountains.


You can walk along the William Clinger Riverwalk starting from the Veterans Park and enjoy the beautiful river views, cool breezes, the Corman Amphitheatre and floating stage. We also saw boats taking people along the river.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hidden Gems of NJ - Tear Drop Memorial

Explorer Lens



The parks across New Jersey are open, temperature has gone up and the best time of the year is here, “The Summers”. Though we are going through a global pandemic and are locked in our homes from past 2 months, it is now recommended to go out a bit, following all the safety measures and social distancing practice.

New Jersey have a lot of hidden gems which are not crowded and quite scenic during the Summer times. I will introduce you to one of them through this post.

Today we will talk about the Tear Drop Memorial.
This stunning 10 story sculpture was an official gift to United States by the Russian government as a memorial to the victims of 9/11 twin tower attacks. The artist who created this sculpture is Zurab Tsereteli, a Soviet/Russian painter, sculptor and architect who is known for his large scale and at times controversial monuments.

         

This magnificent bronze-plated sculpture is located in Harbor View Park of Bayonne, New Jersey.
The center of attention of this sculpture is a huge tear made up of nickel which hangs from the top of the sculpture.
I loved the way this sculpture is built and the way it projects the emotions and feelings for the victims of terrorism.

             

Apart from the sculpture, you can also catch sight of the world's most iconic skyline – Manhattan Skyline from the park. The Statue of Liberty is also visible from this place, but we only get to see the side view. There is also a small lighthouse - Robbins Reef Lighthouse situated in the vicinity.




Overall it is a great place to come and chill on a Sunny Afternoon and pay our homage to those who have suffered from the hands of terrorism.

Address:
Harbor View Park, 51 Port Terminal Blvd, Bayonne, NJ 07002

Parking:
The cruise parking is free and available for those visiting the memorial. Only when cruises are running from the harbor, the parking might be unavailable.

Admission:
Entry to the park is free.

Amenities:
- Benches
- Dustbins
- Portable Restroom


There is also a classic golf course in Bayonne, situated on the Hudson river from where you can get a view of the Manhattan. This famous gulf course is known as Bayonne Golf Club and is in the vicinity of the memorial.  Check out the below picture.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Best Hikes of NJ - Wyanokie High Point

Explorer Lens



Finally the state parks in New Jersey are open and also the hiking trails.
Though, it is advised not to go out frequently, one hike a month is still feasible.

You can start early morning when the trails are not crowded and you might also see the sunrise.

So the next question that pops up is, which hikes are worth doing at this point of time. According to me, you should go for the ones which are known for their mesmerizing views throughout the year and also provide you with the serenity of the forest.

Well you don’t have to worry, as I will be providing with the list of the Best Hikes of NJ.
The first hike on the list and one of my favorite is - Wyanokie High Point.


This great trail is located in Norvin Green State Forest, New Jersey. It is an 8.8 mile loop trail and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

At the summit the 360 degree view is quite scenic. You can see patches of lake, valley and even the New York City skyline. On the way there are two waterfalls and as they are still gushing with water, it is a great site to watch.







The trail is very well marked and you get to see different types of terrains along the way.
But be well prepared, as there are patches of rocky terrains and the ones which require steep climb.
Also we confronted a snake which was passing just infront of us and my wife was about to step on it. It crawled very quickly into the bushes, may be because it saw by wife :P

Overall, it is a great workout with stunning views at the summit, and definitely a recommended trail to take especially during the spring times.



Difficult Level -
Moderate to strenuous

Best Time to go -
During Spring season, when the waterfalls are their peak and days are big.

Thins to carry -
1. Map of the trail
2. Hiking boots
3. Water
4. Food and Snacks
5. Mask
6. Gloves
7. Insect repellent for sure as they are lot of flies
8. First Aid kit and sunscreen

Parking -
The New Weis Center allows hikers to use in their outer gravel parking lot on Snake Den Road.
Check it out on Google Maps
Though on a weekend, parking spaces are quite less and you might have to park on the roadside.

Parking near the main building is reserved for guests attending programs and events at the Center. Parking off Snake Den Rd near the Highlands Natural Pool is reserved for Pool and Weis members. Parking is not allowed along Snake Den Road.

Distance -
Approx 8 miles loop trail

Time -
4.5- 5 hours (Includes lunch time, breaks and time at the waterfalls)
Add extra half hour if you are not taking lunch at the summit.

Activities in the Park -
Right now the only activities allowed are Hiking, Hunting and Fishing

Fees -
No Entry fee


Friday, May 1, 2020

Scenic Drives in New Jersey - Old Mine Road

Explorer Lens




It has been more than 2 months now that we are locked inside our homes and waiting for the corona curve to flatten. It is still not recommended to go to parks or get to the beaches, and frankly we are also scared to do so, but the traveler, explorer and nature lover inside us, wants to get out amid the nature and refresh ourselves.

So here is some good news for the people of New Jersey.
There are some amazingly beautiful scenic drives in NJ, which you can experience from the comfort of your car. So through this new series, I will share some picturesque roads with you that will appease your mind and add some new colors to your otherwise stagnant life.

The first scenic road in my list that we drove through last weekend is Old Mine Road.
It is one of the oldest continuously used roads in the USA and most part of it is in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.





The road is mostly single lane, with rocks on one side and river on the other. The speed varies from 15 to 25 miles per hour.
There are lot of historical buildings, old mills, farms and wide open grounds along the way, which look quite stunning.


The main USP of the trip are the spots in the vicinity of the river, where you can park the car in a small patch near the road and hike few steps downhill to witness the mesmerizing view of the river and surrounding mountains. Not to forget the wildlife which you might have never seen roaming so freely before. We encountered two groups of deer and one bear during our entire trip, which was just priceless. I couldn’t take pic of the bear as it went inside the forest quickly.


I would definitely suggest to take his day trip from the comfort of your car, for the peace of mind and refreshment of soul, during these hard times.


Friday, April 10, 2020

Top Cherry Blossom Destinations around New Jersey

Explorer Lens




Cherry Blossom time marks the beginning of spring season in USA.
The roads and parks are filled with bright and colorful trees of white, pink and multicolored flowers.
Natural beauty is at its peak, sweetness is in the air, days are longer and there is a feeling of freshness all around.

Personally, this is also my favorite time as the day light remains for a longer time and we don’t have to step into the dark after office. The birds start chirping and playgrounds are filled with children.
There is a sense of new beginning and great times everywhere.

Though, the current situation is quite opposite because of the global pandemic, which has brought the world on its knees and locked up inside our homes. These are challenging and tough times, but it doesn’t stop us from enjoying the beauty of Cherry Blossom, virtually.
So here I bring to you, the top Cherry Blossom destinations around New Jersey that you can definitely visit next year:

1. Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. is the top destination in USA to witness blooming Cherry Blossom trees.
In 1912 the mayor of Tokyo gifted around 3,000 tress to the district as the symbol of Japanese American Friendship and from then the place is blooming with Cherry Blossom flowers.

There are lot of places in Washington D.C. to view/capture the blossoms, but the best views are around the Tidal Basin reservoir. The peak bloom time normally starts at the end of March and start of April.

The Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival is the most famous in USA, so you should definitely visit it once in your lifetime.







2. Branch Brook Park, NJ
Branch Brook Park in New Jersey is home to nearly 4000 cherry blossom trees, the highest at any place in USA. Having the largest collection of blossom trees, set this place as a favorite among the visitors.

The park hosts 3 week long Cherry Blossom Festival which starts in April. It gets really frustrating and difficult to get a parking spot during the festival period, hence plan your visit accordingly.








3. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, NY
The springtime in New York city starts with a visit to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There are around 200 cherry blossom trees here which are at peak bloom from mid-March to late April. Brooklyn Botanical Garden also puts on Sakura Matsuri, an annual celebration of Japanese culture through music, dance and food.

Credit - Here

4. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Philadelphia is one of the most beautiful places during the springtime. Thousands of cherry tress across the city come into full blossom which is a mesmerizing site. The main attraction among all is Fairmount Park. This park has a forest of Sakura trees (a specific type of flowering Japanese Cherry tree) which were planted in 1926, as a gift from people of Japan.

The park’s Cherry Blossom Festival comprises of sushi making classes, performances and 5k/10k races.

Credit - Here

5. Charles River Esplanade, Boston
The Charles River Esplanade stretches for miles along the Boston coast and gets really stunning during the springtime. The cherry tress burst into bloom right over the water and you can rent a boat to enjoy the beautiful view and feel the petals.

The cherry trees are also famous for their fragrance, providing the visitors a pleasant aroma while strolling around the river.

Credit - Here


Sunday, March 29, 2020

10 ways to earn money online during Coronavirus Lockdown

Explorer Lens


Credit - Here

We are in a middle of a global pandemic, and everyone is trying to be safe and survive during this tough times. Government, doctors, police, army and health workers are at the frontline trying their best to contain it, and our role here is to be at home, maintain social distancing when it is utmost necessity to go out and help the needy ones in whatever way we can.

While we are playing our part, being at home sucks and it gets really boring doing nothing.
There are lot of things to pass your time, I have mentioned top 10 of them in my previous blogpost.

While watching movies, series, making tiktok videos and playing games really help to pass our time, but it is not much productive.
One of the ways to really make use of this time is to learn a new skill and get yourself ready for the corporate world when everything sorts out. While that is there, it also feels good to earn some extra bucks or coupons online during the leisure time, when instead you will be browsing internet or passing time on social media platforms.

This is also good for the hourly/part timers, who are losing money due to Coronavirus impact.

So as promised, here are 10 different ways to earn money/freebies or coupons online.
I have listed most of those sites that I had already tried and tested, or heard from friends that they are good.

1. Online Surveys
   
There are lot of websites that pay for taking online surveys. The amount per survey ranges from
    few cents to few hundred dollars too.
    Few of the popular ones are InboxDollars, SavvySurvey, Branded Surveys, Opinion Outpost,
    Pinecone Research, Inspired Opinions, Valued Opinions, Survey Junkie.

    Focus Pointe Global is a great platform to earn a good amount for taking online research studies.

    SheSpeaks gives out Amazon/Walmart gift cards for taking online surveys for them.

2. Answer questions online
   
There are lot of platforms which pay money for answering questions online.
    To start with you need to have the right knowledge and some good writing/explaining skills.
    Also for few of them you must have a proper degree to show as a proof of your qualification.

    Just Answer is the most popular of the lot.
    There are others like – Wonder, Ether, Weegy and Answeree.

3. Grab gigs or perform micro tasks
   
Whether you are a Graphical Designer, Web designer, Logo Designer, Video Editor, App
    Developer, Writer, Proof Reader or even a Data Entry person, there are lot of online gigs available 
    to grab and make money.

    The amount you can earn varies from $10 to even $1000, depending on your skills and demand.
     
Fivver, Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit and clickworker are some of the famous ones.

4. Earn cashback on your Online/In-store Purchases
   
Though we all earn some cashbacks on our purchases via Credit Cards, but what if we can earn
    some extra bucks on our In-Store, Online or App purchases.

    Ibotta is one such company which pays real money for all the above purchases. You just need to
    submit receipt as a proof of purchase and you are done. There is a threshold of $20 before you can
    start withdrawing your earnings.

    There are other platforms like Receipt Pal, Shopkick, Checkout 51 which work on similar concept.

5. Play and win
    
Who doesn’t like to scratch lotto tickets and win some extra cash? But how can you do that when
    you have to stay at home all day. It’s easy now. This app, Lucktastics, gives you tokens every time 
    you scratch a ticket and you can redeem the tokens for various gift cards like amazon, dunkin 
    donuts, Applebees etc. Isn’t it awesome?

    There are other apps as well where you can play and win, like RingSpin, Qriket etc.

6. Get Paid for searching the web
    
What can be better than getting paid for browsing the web, one of most easy activities that can put
    money into your pocket.

    There are three good platforms that give you gift cards and real money for searching the web,
    compare prices while shopping, precisely just doing what you usually do online.
    They are Swagbucks, Bing Rewards and Qmee.

7. Make money by reviewing softwares, apps and websites
   
There are websites which will pay you for reviewing softwares, apps and websites.
    One of such site is UserTesting.com. You need to pass a short test to be accepted.
    There is another site, G2.com which rewards in form of gift coupons of big stores like Walmart,
    Target, Amazon etc.

8. Affiliate Marketing and Advertising Revenue
   
This is for all those who have a blog or website, or are willing to start a new one.
    Once you have put up some great content and started getting views, you can apply for Google
    AdSense which pays well for getting clicks on the Google Ads that you have put on your website.

    There are affiliate marketing platforms like Amazon which pays good commission for all the sales
    that come through your website.

9. Sell your photos
   
If you are a photographer or just a person who loves to click, there are some great platforms that
    pay you good for selling your pics.
    Some of the best sites in this business are 500px Prime, Shutterstock, SmugMug Pro, Etsy.

10. Become a home tutor
     
During the quarantine time when students are at home, online tutoring jobs are the best thing to
      do.You can do it part time or full time, and the work hours are also flexible.
      Many tutoring jobs pay a good hourly wage, so they’re a great opportunity to make money online.
      Some of them require teaching experience, but others have pretty simple qualifications.

      The best online tutoring jobs are Chegg, VIPKID, Cambly, Qkids.
      You can earn anywhere from $15-$25 per hour.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Top 10 things to do at home during Coronavirus Lockdown

Explorer Lens

The present number of Coronavirus cases around the globe is around 300k and they are rising at an exponential rate. Governments across the world are taking all the preventive and precautionary measures to bring the numbers in control.

While governments are doing their part, it is us who have to play the main role to minimize/stop the spread of this highly contagious virus.

The first and most important step in this process is to stay at home and keep social distancing.
While we are following our duty of being a good and responsible citizen, the free spirit in us wants to enjoy life, go out partying, and explore the beautiful world around.
As that is not possible during the current scenario, we need to find ways to boost our spirits and keep a smile on our face, while staying at home.

Well you don’t have to worry, as in this post I will suggest you the
Top 10 things to do at home during the lockdown or curfew”, other than listening to music and watching movies/series

1. Revive your lost passion/hobby
   
This is time to work on your lost passions and hobbies, which you couldn’t focus on because of
    your crazy work schedule everyday.

    It can be anything from craft to photography, cooking to gardening, dancing to writing etc.
    The best part of a hobby is that it motivates and distresses you, and also brings along appreciation
    from people around you.
    So I will highly suggest to follow/revive your indoor passions and hobbies during this time.


2. Hone your skills by doing an online course or certification
  
 Things are going crazy in the corporate world too, and everyone is worried to keep their job safe.
    During these difficult times, the best way to feel secure and satisfied professionally is to work on
    your weakness and add a new feather to your work skills.

    Learn a new technology, a new tool or do a new online course/certification related to your work
    field, to hone your skills and get yourself to the next level.  

Credit - Here

3. Play Board/Card Games
   
Fun at home starts with indoor games and board games are your best bet.
    There are lot of amazing board games in the market for everyone, not only for enjoyment but also
    great learning experience. Depending on the category of games you like, you can buy 3-4 games to
    pass your time.

    The ones we play regularly are Sequence, Business, Scrabble, Uno and Poker.

Credit  - Here

4. Catch up with old friends – Virtually
    
Because of our busy schedule and other priorities, we forget to be in touch with our old friends.
     I think, this is the best time to rekindle those friendships/relations and revisit the lanes of those old
     wonderful memories.

     So go ahead and give a call to your old buddies/relatives.

Credit - Here

5. Read new books
    
Reading books is the best way to calm oneself down when things are crazy and chaotic, like the
    current situations. It is also one of the best ways to connect to yourself and get into a new world of
    fiction, maybe to escape from the disturbing reality during the current times.

    Depending on your favorite genres, you can choose from a combination of romance, thriller,
    suspense, fiction and drama.

    I am a lover of thrill and suspense, and I would suggest books from Dan Brown, Jeffery Archer and
    Sidney Sheldon.

Credit - Here

6. Make money online
   
Who doesn’t wants to earn some extra bucks, freebies or free coupons during the free time at
    home? There are numerous sites/apps that pay you for taking surveys, watching videos, playing 
    games, posting reviews and if you have a good following on social media, doing campaigns for 
    brands.

    Few of the ones I am using are:
    1. G2.com
    2. Capttera
    3. Lucktastic
    4. SurverySavvy
    5. Influenster

    More details and options on my next blogpost which will be entirely focused on Making
    
Money Online.

Credit - Here

7. Work on your mental and physical fitness
    
This is the best time to work on yourself and your personality, body and mind.
     With gyms and fitness camps closed, you need to find ways to workout and mediate at home.

     Yoga and meditation are great mediums to heel and rejuvenate yourself internally.
     You can practice them in the morning, while during the evening you can watch free workout
     videos on internet, especially youtube has some great videos to fit your daily workout regime.

Credit - Here

8. Travel around the world virtually
    
Though you can’t physically explore the beautiful places around the world, there are lot of virtual
     tours available to broaden your horizons.

     You can walk through some of the world famous museums and prestigious institutions.
     Ride on a rollercoaster in a theme park or even play with the animals at the zoo.

     Check out this link for the entire list of virtual tours available.

Credit - Here

9. Learn something new
   
Whether it’s a new language, a new hobby, a DIY activity or a musical instrument, this is the best
    time to learning something new which you can connect with and will be proud of, when all this is 
    over. It will also help you to divert your mind and give a new perspective to life.
    Today, everything is available on YouTube for free, so you can start away from the comfort of your
    home.

Credit - Here

10. And lastly, spend quality life with your family
     
With long working schedule, out of town business trips and other inevitable reasons because of
      which you couldn’t give ample quality time to your family, well my friend, this is the time
      when you can compensate for all those lost moments.

      While you are quarantined with your loved ones, it is a great opportunity to make your relations
      robust and relive those moments which you had missed out on.
      For new parents, it also brings an opportunity to closely watch and experience the activities of
      their newborns.

      Lastly and most importantly as you and your spouse might be spending more time together, there
      are also chances that things might fall into other direction, so have patience and endurance, and
      make sure you let this time pass happily and together.

Credit - Here

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