The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘New York’ category

Watkins Glen Day Trip

We spent yesterday (Saturday, September 9) driving to, driving home from and in Watkins Glen, NY.  We were on our way out of our hometown of Warren, PA at 6:45 am. We drove through Scandia to Onoville to Interstate 86. We saw ten deer along the way. All but one deer was along the side of the road or crossed the road in front of us.

It was a chilly and foggy start to our day.

20170909_115345575_iOSThe sun is shining; the fog is beginning to lift.
It is going to be a beautiful day!

We arrived at Watkins Glen State Park (Upper Entrance) shortly before 10:00 am.  Our Empire Pass Card provided free admission to the park.  We hiked the Gorge Trail to the Main Entrance, stopping often to take pictures.  I put together a slideshow to share with you the pictures taken during our hike.  I used Photoshop Premiere Elements to create the slideshow.  It was the first time that I used that program to create a slideshow.  I found the slideshow creation to be simple and easy.  I need to download royalty free music, though.  If the music loop in the video becomes annoying to you, please click on the audio icon and turn it off!

If you are not able to view the embedded video, you may view it by clicking on this YouTube link.

What a great day for hiking the Gorge Trail! It was a cool morning, with a touch of Autumn in the air.  It was a much more enjoyable hike, when the air was cool instead of on a hot summer day.  Additionally it was off season, and the trail was not crowded. It took us 1 1/2 hours to hike down the gorge.

We arrived at the Main Entrance, as the shuttle bus that would have taken us back up to the Upper Entrance was pulling out. It was a 30-minute wait for the next shuttle bus. The shuttle bus costs $5.00 each.  As a side note, we could have saved the cost of the shuttle bus by taking either the Gorge Trail or Indian Trail back to the upper entrance.  Bob would have been able to make the hike back to the upper entrance.  I, on the other hand, would not have been able to make the hike back, given my current condition (overweight and arthritic knee).

We ate lunch at the Village Marina Bar & Grill, our go-to restaurant when in Watkins Glen.  We started our lunch with a basket of onion rings.  Bob’s entree was a Southwest Chicken Salad. I ordered a Honey Glazed BBQ chicken sandwich with house-made Kettle chips. Both the service and food was excellent.

We finished lunch around 1:15 pm and began our drive home. We made a few stops on the way home — the Cuba Cheese Shoppe in Cuba NY, the Sheetz in Bradford PA for a caffeine fix, and a fuel stop at Exxon also in Bradford. We returned home around 5:30 pm. Bob and I both agree that our day trip made for a fun day.

A Canadian Daycation: Lunch at Walker’s Country Market and Niagara Falls, ON

This blog post continues our daycation to Canada this past Saturday.  In my previous blog post I wrote about our visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We departed Niagara-on-the-Lake around 11:30 am and began our drive on Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls.

About half way between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls we stopped for lunch.  We ate lunch at Walker’s Country Market. This is a great little lunch place, off the Niagara Parkway, right next to the Living Waters Wayside Chapel. We purchased two turkey sandwiches (Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with cranberry orange sauce, mayo, walnuts, and romaine lettuce on multigrain whole wheat bread) and two peanut butter ganache brownies for lunch. We sat outside on bistro-style seating and ate our lunch. We would definitely return here for lunch, if in the area. I give Walker’s 5 stars! Next time I would hope that we would do a bit of browsing at the market. There was also fresh produce, jams, maple syrup, ice cream and more available for purchase.  Note to self: box lunches can be purchased at Walker’s Country Market.  A picnic-style lunch at Niagara-on-the-Lake would have been nice!

After lunch we took a few pictures of the Living Water Wayside Chapel.

Living Water Wayside Chapel

According to Internet sources, the Living Water Wayside Chapel is the smallest chapel in the world.

Living Water Wayside Chapel (interior view)

We were back on the road at 12:14 pm and arrived in Niagara Falls at 12:45 pm.

We parked in the Bird Kingdom parking lot ($3.99 for 2 hours).  We walked from there, just past the Hornblower Niagara Cruises entrance.  On hindsight I wish we had parked closer to the falls, as I may have been able to walk all the way down to Horseshoe Falls and back.  My arthritic knee was not very cooperative, while in Niagara Falls.

The Falls at Niagara Falls
the American and Bridal Falls
People, People EVERYWHERE!
Horseshoe Falls
MistRider Zipline to the Falls
MistRider Zipline to the Falls

We would have had a good vantage point to watch riders on the zipline.  We stayed at this location for a while and stood alongside the cliff (where all the people are), waiting for someone to ride the zipline.  No one rode the zipline, while we waited.  When I asked if anyone would be riding the zipline soon, I was told that the tailwinds were too strong.

On the way back to our car, we walked through Oakes Garden Theatre.

Oakes Garden Theatre
This spotted seagull posed for me.
Oh look … a wedding party!

We found a fish pond.

Goldfish at Oakes Garden Theatre
This bridge crosses over the fish pond.
What a tranquil setting!

We stopped at the duty free store before crossing the Rainbow Bridge into New York. We made our purchases at the duty free store, namely bourbon and maple filled cookies. We returned to the USA at 2:30 pm. The U.S. Border control guard asked Bob to remove his sunglasses, asked him how tall he is and how much he weighs. She said our last name is a common name, and some people with that name have done very bad things.

Niagara Falls, NY was too crowded for a pleasant visit.  We will visit Niagara Falls, NY at a later date.

We decided to drive to Erie PA for dinner. We ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse. We had a 15-25 minute wait to be seated. It was worth the wait. Our dinners were good, although we brought enough home with us for another meal for each of us. Neither of us were as hungry as we thought we were.

We were back on the road at 7:50 pm.

We chased Saturday night’s sunset. We saw the setting sun, as we drove over the Interstate 86 bridge that crosses over Chautauqua Lake at Bemus Point, NY. We exited Interstate 86 at Bemus Point. We couldn’t find anywhere to park, as the Bemus Pops Concert series was happening that evening.

Sunset at Bemus Point, NY
I snapped this sunset picture from inside our car.

Bob thought he could make it to the Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area before the sun set. We made it there in the nick of time.

Sunset at Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area
Sunset at Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area

I posted these three sunset pictures on Facebook, while on our way home from the rest area.  My Facebook friend Christi C. said it best, when she made the comment “You chased the sun till it dipped below the world and said good bye for the final time today!”

It was a very long day.  We departed home at 6:00 am and returned home around 9:30 pm.  We drove 340 miles.   It was a long day, but what a wonderful day we had!

Mt. Morris NY to Warren PA, via Letchworth State Park

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area the weekend of July 1 through July 3.  In my earlier blog post I wrote about the first part of our trip back home on Monday, July 3.  This blog post is about rest of our trip back home.

After lunch we drove through Letchworth State Park.   Earlier this year we purchased an annual New York State Park Empire Pass that provides unlimited day use vehicle entry to most state parks and recreation facilities. Letchworth State Park was one of three New York State parks at which we used our Empire Pass during our weekend getaway.   I wrote about visits at the other two state parks in previous blog posts.  At Letchworth we stopped at Inspiration Point and Middle Falls.

Both the Upper and Middle Falls are visible from Inspiration Point.
Rainbow at Middle Falls
Middle Falls

We passed up Lower Falls. Perhaps someday we will make the hike down that trail again. Neither of us felt like making that hike today. The Portageville exit is still closed, as construction continues on a new steel arch railroad bridge across the Genesee River Gorge. You can see the bridge in the photograph displayed above, as well as in the photograph of Inspiration Point.  We were surprised to find the trail to Upper Falls fenced off. The trail is closed for reconstruction through the remainder of 2017.

There is much more to see and do at Letchworth State Park.  We have visited this park several times over the past 15+ years, as the park is located only a couple hours drive from our home.  I expect we will make a return trip in the fall.

We departed Letchworth State Park via the Castile exit at 3:30 pm.

We stopped for ice cream at Peaches and Cream in Randolph NY. I ordered a banana split, which was made with one scoop each of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream with appropriate toppings and a sliced banana. The banana split was easily twice the size as the one I get at Dairy Queen and cost about the same. I didn’t need or want dinner that evening!

We returned home shortly before 6:00 pm. Checking the odometer, we traveled 641 miles during our weekend getaway. We said hello to our kitty and unpacked the car. While I unpacked our travel bag and put away everything else, Bob mowed the yard.

My new U.S. Passport arrived in the mail, while we were away. Hooray! We can plan a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada now! When I mailed in my passport renewal application on June 14, the processing time indicated was 4-6 weeks. The processing time was quicker than that!

I hope that you have enjoyed the blog posts about our East Syracuse NY weekend getaway!

East Syracuse NY to Mt. Morris NY

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.

We checked out of the Best Western East Syracuse, after breakfast, on Monday July 3, and were on our way home shortly before 8:00 am.

On our way to East Syracuse on Saturday, we stopped at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at the wildlife refuge once again on our way back home. I am so glad that we visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I put my new camera lens to good use, as we drove around Wildlife Drive.

New camera lens, you ask?  I just realized that I hadn’t shared on my blog that I purchased a new camera lens.  I waited for well over 1-1/2 years to purchase this camera lens.  At first the camera lens wasn’t in stock.  Then I didn’t have the money available to purchase the lens.  Finally, everything came together to make the purchase.  I purchased an Olympus m.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS Pro lens, specifically for wildlife photography.  Coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter, I have an effective focal length of 840mm!  My new lens arrived on Friday, June 30, the day before we left on our weekend getaway.  I need to use the lens more to increase my proficiency in its use, but I am very pleased with the images that I captured at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

Sandpiper
Osprey in Flight, with Seaweed Attached to its Claw
Are these birds American Coot?

The highlight of our visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was the sighting of two American Bald Eagles.  One eagle flew off to parts unknown, but one eagle landed in a tree not far from where we were on Wildlife Drive.

Bob took this photograph of me, while photographing the eagle.

And to think I didn’t want a moon roof, when we were car shopping. I didn’t want to spend the extra money. The car on the lot that we liked came with a moon roof. I am glad that we got a moon roof, because it enabled me to capture a couple good photographs of the eagle!

American Bald Eagle
American Bald Eagle

My new camera lens is a keeper! These two eagle images are the best pictures I have ever taken of an eagle!

We sat and watched a group of Canada Geese farther along on Wildlife Drive.

Canada geese, quietly enjoying the pond

The quiet didn’t last for long!

Noisy Canada geese!
This duck had one of the Wildlife Drive ponds all to herself.
Great Blue Heron

We stopped once again to admire the newly installed eagle sculpture.

The eagle sculpture was built in honor of the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.
The eagle sculpture is visible from Interstate 90.

Leaving Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, we drove to Mt. Morris, NY.  We ate lunch at Brian’s USA Diner.  We selected this restaurant for lunch, based on its positive reviews. Yes, as stated by reviewers, the service was quick and friendly. Bob ordered a Reuben sandwich with Onion Rings. I ordered pulled chicken in a hoagie bun with potato salad. The restaurant reviews indicated that the portions were large. I agree. My pulled chicken hoagie sandwich was huge! My potato salad was heaped high in a small bowl. At first, Bob’s Reuben sandwich looked average size. He said, though, that there was lots of meat in his sandwich, so much meat that he could barely taste the dressing. Reviewers raved about the taste of the food. The food tasted okay, nothing really to boast about. Nothing to complain about either.

After lunch, we drove to nearby Letchworth State Park.  I will share details and photographs of Letchworth State Park in the next (and final) blog post I write about our East Syracuse NY weekend getaway.

July 2 Sightseeing Activities – Green Lakes State Park

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area. This blog post is a continuation of sightseeing activities on Sunday, July 2 (day 2 of our weekend getaway). In previous blog posts, I wrote about an unplanned stop in Manlius NY, a planned stop at Chittenango Falls State Park and our drive around Oneida Lake.

Our last sightseeing stop for the day was at Green Lakes State Park.  Earlier this year we purchased an annual New York State Park Empire Pass that provides unlimited day use vehicle entry to most state parks and recreation facilities.   Green Lakes State Park was one of three New York State parks at which we used our Empire Pass during our weekend getaway.

Green Lakes State Park features two small lakes, Green Lake and Round Lake, which have an unusual blue-green color.  The lakes lie at the base of a gorge.  The lakes and the gorge are remnants from the end of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago.  Green Lake and Round Lake are probably the remnants of the plunge pools of enormous waterfalls that existed during the ice age.  As expected for plunge pools, the lakes are fairly deep in comparison to their area.  Round Lake has a maximum depth of 170 feet: Green Lake has a maximum depth of 195 feet.

There is a level loop trail around Green Lake and Round Lake.  There is a short trail between Green Lake and Round Lake that connects the two lakes.  All together, the trail around the lakes is 3.25 miles.  I can easily bicycle 3 miles on level ground; however, no bicycles are allowed on the trails around the two lakes.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to walk all the way around the two lakes, but that is what we planned when discussing our weekend getaway.

At its northern end, Green Lake has a sandy swimming beach, lawns for sunbathing and picnics, a building with changing facilities and a concession stand.  Visitors can easily reach Green Lake and begin walking the trail around the two lakes from there.

Green Lake

When we arrived at Green Lakes State Park, it was too hot and humid for a pleasant walk around Green Lake and Round Lake.  We decided to walk around Round Lake.  We drove through the park, looking for easy access to Round Lake.  We learned that the only ways to reach Round Lake was either by walking around Green Lake or by hiking down steep cliffs.  We settled for a hike from the camp store near the Pine Woods Camping Area down to Round Lake and back up.

Round Lake

It was definitely worth the hike down to the lake! Look at that gorgeous blue/green color of the lake!

I would like to make a return trip to Green Lakes State Park and attempt the walk around both lakes.  Perhaps a fall trip would be best, when the air is cooler and less humid.

Before returning to our hotel, we stopped for dinner at Grimaldi’s Ristorante.  The restaurant is located within walking distance of the hotel at which we stayed.

Bob at Grimaldi’s Restaurant

We highly recommend this restaurant. The entrees were generously proportioned; the food was delicious; and the service was excellent.

Our Main Entrees at Grimaldi’s Restaurant

Bob had Homemade Lasagna; I had Chicken Parmigiana, served with Rigatoni. Our meals included crusty bread and salad.

A plate of cotton candy served with the bill was totally unexpected.  What a pleasant surprise!  Neither of us has had cotton candy in a great many years.

Bubblegum-flavored Cotton Candy

In case you are wondering, we didn’t eat the entire plate of cotton candy.  We left most of it behind!

We returned to the hotel at 6:00 pm, where we stayed in for rest of evening.

July 2 Sightseeing Activities – Oneida Lake

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.  This blog post is a continuation of sightseeing activities on Sunday, July 2 (day 2 of our weekend getaway).  In previous blog posts, I wrote about an unplanned stop in Manlius NY and a planned stop at Chittenango Falls State Park.

From Chittenango Falls State Park we drove to Verona Beach Lighthouse and then drove around Oneida Lake. A friend suggested that we visit The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango NY, en route the lighthouse. We planned to visit the animal park but opted not to do so, when we saw how busy it was!  We were stopped for several minutes in traffic that was entering the animal park.

According to a Wikipedia article, Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within the state of New York. The lake is about 21 miles long and about 5 miles wide with an average depth of 22 feet.  The shoreline is about 55 miles.  While not included as one of the Finger Lakes, Oneida is sometimes referred to as their “thumb”. Because it is shallow, it is warmer than the deeper Finger Lakes in summer, and its surface freezes solidly in winter.

The Verona Beach Lighthouse is one of three identical lighthouses on Oneida Lake.  The other two lighthouses are located in Brewerton and Frenchman’s Island.  The Brewerton Lighthouse was constructed to mark the juncture of the western end of the lake with the Oneida River.  The Frenchman’s Island Lighthouse was constructed to mark a pair of islands in the southwestern portion of the lake.  The Verona Beach Lighthouse was constructed to mark the entrance to Wood Creek Canal from the eastern end of the lake.  We saw only the lighthouse at Verona Beach.

The Verona Beach Lighthouse is
approximately 85 feet tall.
Construction of the Verona Beach Lighthouse was completed in the summer of 1917.
Picturesque beach view from Verona Beach Lighthouse

Leaving Verona Beach, we began our drive around Oneida Lake.  We stopped for lunch at Y HILL Express, located in Blossvale at the intersection of Routes 49 and 13.  Bob had a chef salad for lunch, with a big chocolate chip cookie. I had a tuna melt sandwich with a soft serve twist ice cream cone. Lunch was good and our least expensive meal so far on this trip.

We made two other stops, while driving around Oneida Lake.

We stopped at Lakeview Park in Cleveland.  The park overlooks Oneida Lake.

Cleveland, NY – Lakeview Park

This lovely gazebo honors those who died on September 11, 2001.

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Cleveland, NY – Lakeview Park Gazebo
Cleveland, NY – Lakeview Park Gazebo
Cleveland, NY – Lakeview Park Gazebo

Our last stop, during our drive around Oneida Lake, was in Brewerton.  We visited the Oliver Stevens Blockhouse Museum on the grounds of the former Fort Brewerton.  You may read all about Fort Brewerton and the blockhouse by clicking here.

Replica of Oliver Stevens Blockhouse

The Oliver Stevens Blockhouse houses a museum with collections of local artifacts, including native materials. Here are a few photographs inside the museum. All photographs were taken on the second floor of the museum.

This is what we saw, when we reached the second floor of the museum.
Note the arrowheads above the rocking horse.
These arrowheads were found on the Fort Brewerton grounds
and nearby locations.
A Model of Fort Brewerton

From Brewerton we continued our drive around Oneida Lake to Bridgeport, where we headed south to Green Lakes State Park — the subject of my next blog post about our weekend getaway to the East Syracuse, NY area.

July 2 Sightseeing Activities – Chittenango Falls State Park, NY

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.  This blog post is a continuation of sightseeing activities on Sunday, July 2 (day 2 of our weekend getaway).  In my previous blog post, I wrote about an unplanned stop in Manlius, NY.  Our next stop, after Manlius, was at Chittenango Falls State Park.  Earlier this year we purchased an annual New York State Park Empire Pass that provides unlimited day use vehicle entry to most state parks and recreation facilities.  Chittenango Falls State Park was one of three New York State parks at which we used our Empire Pass during our weekend getaway.

Chittenango Falls State Park is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Syracuse, NY.  According to park descriptions that I read, while planning our weekend getaway, the main attraction at Chittenango Falls State Park is a picturesque 167-foot waterfall.  The waterfall may be seen from the top, as well as from a winding trail into the gorge.  At the bottom of the gorge is a footbridge that crosses Chittenango Creek.   After crossing over the footbridge, visitors can return to the top along a small trail on the opposite side of the gorge.  When we visited the park, the footbridge was closed because of flooding.  I believe both trails on either side of the gorge, though, were open for hiking.  We hiked only the park side of the trail, which was enough for me.  The trail was moderately steep and slippery in parts.

Top view of Chittenango Falls
View of Chittenango Falls from park trail
I stood my tripod up against the rail you see in previous picture,
when I took this picture.

This was a raging waterfall..  The amount of water falling was quite impressive. The significant rainfall from the previous day was the reason for the gushing water.

Near this portion of the trail a fellow hiker mentioned that there was a smaller waterfall just a short way farther down the trail.  He urged us to continue down the trail, even though we wouldn’t be able to cross over the footbridge, to see the smaller waterfall.  He told us that it is rare to see any water flowing on the smaller waterfall during the summer months.

Small Waterfall at Chittenango Falls State Park

I am happy that we hiked down the trail just a little farther.  What a beautiful waterfall!

I definitely want to return to Chittenango Falls State Park one day, when there hasn’t been torrential rainfall the day before.  I would like to have the opportunity to walk to the bottom of the gorge and across the footbridge to the other side of the gorge and back up to the top.  I would like to capture additional images of Chittenango Falls, but more normal looking images of the falls.

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