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Day 2 Thanksgiving 2017

Yesterday’s blog post detailed how Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day.  Today’s blog post is about our drive back home from Niagara Falls.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge from Canada into New York.  Our first stop was in Niagara Falls, but not at the falls.  We stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.

_LG25239Old Stone Chimney

The Old Stone Chimney is a masonry chimney, which was built as part of a two-story barracks on the site of the French “Fort du Portage,” or “Fort Little Niagara,” by Daniel de Joncaire in 1750.  The Chimney has been repurposed several times since by British and American interests and relocated three times (1902,1942 and 2015).  The Old Stone Chimney is currently located between the Niagara River and the Robert Moses Parkway east of the Adams Slip along the bike path on the river. We have passed by it several times driving to and from Niagara Falls.  This was the first time that we stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.  What a beautiful location!  Standing in front of the Old Stone Chimney, the skyline of Niagara Falls Canada can be seen in the background.

As we did on Thanksgiving Day, we chose not to cross over Grand Island. Our route home took us down the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda. We made a couple stops in North Tonawanda. Our first stop was at Fisherman’s Park, where we visited two memorials: a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial  and a U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.

_LG25243U.S. Marine Corps Memorial

The next four photographs are pictures of the U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.

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_LG25247This sculpture is what caught my eye on Thanksgiving Day, as we drove by the park.

It was 11:00 am, when we departed Fishermans Park.

We found the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, but it would not open for another hour.  We hope to visit the museum another time, perhaps with our granddaughters.

Our last stop in North Tonawanda was at the East Hill Foundation.

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East Hill Foundation
The lighthouse caught my eye, as we drove through North Tonawanda on Thanksgiving Day.

20171124_161720720_iOSThe gate was locked, so I took pictures through the fence.

20171124_161839931_iOSEast Hill Foundation sits alongside Niagara River.

From North Tonawanda we followed I-290, I-90 and Route 219 through Ellicottville, NY.  We stopped in Springville at Ponderosa for lunch. It had been a while since we ate at Ponderosa, as we do not have that restaurant near to our home.  The buffet food selections were extensive. Everything we ate was delicious, especially the stuffed peppers. I went back for seconds of the stuffed peppers.

We were back on the road at 12:45 pm.

We drove through Ellicottville to Allegany State Park, where we made one photo stop.  We stopped at Bridal Falls.

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It’s a short (~.25 mile) hike to Bridal Falls from the Program Site 62 sign on ASP Route 1.

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Bob found these memorial stones near Bridal Falls.

20171124_190419064_iOSOne last parting shot of Bridal Falls

It was around 4:30 pm, when we returned home.  What a wonderful Thanksgiving mini vacation we had!  I hope that your Thanksgiving holiday, was as nice as ours!

Thanksgiving 2017

Based on posts that I have seen on my Facebook news feed, Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day differently than most of our Facebook friends and family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada).

We departed home on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 am.

Our first stop was in Jamestown NY at Bob Evans restaurant. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Bob ordered a Border Scramble Omelet.  I ordered a Farmer’s Choice Breakfast. A woman stopped by our table, shortly before we were done eating, and gave us a $3.00 off coupon. How nice!

We were back on the road at 9:05 am.

We took a different route to Niagara Falls. Instead of driving over Grand Island, we came up the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda NY. I noted a few points of interest as we drove through Tonawanda: the East Hill Foundation, the Herschel Carrousel Museum, a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, and a U.S. Navy Seabees Memorial. We returned home via the same route.  Please keep an eye out for a subsequent blog post about our stop in Tonawanda.

We arrived at Niagara Falls, NY around 11:30 am. Having time to kill before we would be able to check into the Embassy Suites hotel, we stopped at Niagara Falls State Park. We have an NY State Park Empire pass card that provides free admission into NY state parks. We did not need the pass card, as admission was free at Niagara Falls State Park both on Thanksgiving Day and on Black Friday. We took a brisk walk to Prospect Point, where we enjoyed an overlook of the falls. Our walk was brisk because it was a bit nippy outside!  It did feel good, though, getting out of the car after the 2 1/2 hour drive from Jamestown.

We entered Canada via the Rainbow Bridge.  There was light traffic at the border crossing, so we arrived in Canada very quickly.

After a short drive up Clifton Hill and Lundy’s Lane (when we found it), we made our way to the Embassy Suites hotel.  We arrived there at 1:00 pm. Check-in time is at 4:00 pm. Our room was ready, so we were able to check in immediately. Our room was located on the 19th floor, with a view of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. Being a Hilton Honors member has its advantages. We received two bottles of water upon check in.  At the tour desk we purchased two 24-hour WEGO passes at a cost of CA$7.50/ea.  The WEGO bus service is an excellent choice for transportation, while in Niagara Falls.

What a great afternoon / early evening we have had. Using our WEGO passes we rode to Casino Niagara, arriving there around 3:40 pm. We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day dinner (turkey & trimmings) at the Market Buffet, located at Casino Niagara. Our hotel package included several perks. One of the perks was a $30.00 off coupon for dinner for two at The Keg Steakhouse. We opted not to eat at the Keg Steakhouse. It cost us the same, or perhaps even less,to eat at the Market Buffet than it would have cost us at the Keg Steakhouse. Another perk was free slot play. We used CA$25 free slot play at Casino Niagara.  We didn’t gain any money, but we didn’t lose any either! We walked from Casino Niagara to Table Rock, stopping often to take pictures of the illuminated falls and some of the Winter Festival of Lights displays.  Please enjoy the Smilebox slideshow that I created of photographs taken during our walk.

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At 6:15 pm we watched a short fireworks display over Horseshoe Falls.

If the video does not appear in your browser, please click here for the direct link.  In addition, please click on HD for best video quality.

We returned to our hotel, via the WEGO shuttle bus. Soon after returning to the hotel we hung out for a short time at the hotel bar. Bob ordered a double rye whiskey, and I ordered a Diet Cola. Both of our drinks were complimentary, another hotel package perk.  At one point in time I reached for my glass to get a drink of Diet Cola.  It wasn’t Diet Cola, though, that entered my mouth.  I wasn’t paying attention and picked up Bob’s glass accidentally.  Yuck! Yuck!  I do not like rye whiskey, not at all!

At 8:10 pm we watched a second fireworks display from our Fallsview room. I didn’t capture any photographs of the fireworks.  I did, however, capture a couple photographs of the Falls illumination.

_LG25233American Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

_LG25236American and Horseshoe Falls
(as seen from Embassy Suites hotel, Room 1901)

We went to bed around 10:00 pm and awakened too early the next day.  It was 4:00 am.  Neither of us could get back to sleep, so we got up.  We read our hometown newspaper on line, checked out some Black Friday online sales (no purchase made), and skimmed through Facebook news feed.  At 5:00 am we returned to bed and slept until 7:00 am.

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We awakened in time to see the sunrise over Horseshoe Falls.

Soon after getting up, we went to the 9th floor for a hot, complimentary breakfast.  Our food selections included made-to-order omelets, scrambled eggs, bakery items, pancakes, potatoes, sausage, ham, a variety of juices and other hot and cold beverages.

After breakfast, we relaxed in our room for about an hour. Then we packed up our stuff to check out. We waited for over 20 minutes for an elevator. It seemed like the elevators were passing right by our floor. I finally called the hotel operator. I didn’t even get to finish my statement to her that several of us had been waiting for an elevator on the 19th floor before she told me that she would send an elevator to us. Within a minute an elevator stopped at our floor.  The elevator was packed, but Bob and I and two more adults and two children (with our luggage) managed to squeeze in.

Before leaving Canada we drove around Dufferin Islands, where we saw several Winter Festival of Lights displays.

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Perhaps Bob and I will have an opportunity to return to Niagara Falls before the Winter Festival of Lights ends to see the displays lit up.  The festival ends January 31, 2018.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge into New York.

Please keep an eye out for my next blog post about our drive back home.

 

 

Indian Foods Dinner

Tim, one of Bob’s high school classmates, invited us in early September to join he and his wife for a traditional Indian Thanksgiving dinner. That dinner, the 58th Annual Indian Foods Dinner, was held yesterday at 1:00 pm.

The Indian Foods Dinner is sponsored by the Jimersontown Presbyterian Church. The dinner was held at the Seneca Nation of Indians Administration Building in Salamanca, NY. When we arrived at the administration building around noon, Tim and Kathy were already seated at a table set for eight. We gave our names to the cashier, then Tim’s name, then Kathy’s name…reservations were under Kathy’s name. We paid our $13.00 each and joined Kathy and Tim. Bob sat next to Tim. I sat next to Kathy. As I wrote earlier, Bob and Tim know each other from high school. Bob remembers Tim from a younger age in the neighborhood and riding the bus to high school together. Bob had never met Kathy. I knew Tim only from Facebook. He commented on photographs that I posted in the You Grew Up in Warren PA Facebook group and was, in general, a frequent commenter on other posts in the group. Conversation flowed quickly. Bob and Tim reminisced; Tim, Kathy and I initiated the small talk that begins the process of getting to know one another. We were joined by a woman. I didn’t catch her name. She sat down next to Bob. Just before the pastor of the church welcomed us to the dinner, Wayne and Lori  joined us. Lori sat next to me; Wayne sat next to Lori. Another woman joined us, sitting down next to Wayne. I didn’t catch her name either.

We were welcomed to the dinner by the pastor of Jimersontown Presbyterian Church. He, then, introduced us to Tyler Heron. Tyler is one of the organizers of the dinner, as well as one of the preparers of the traditional foods. In addition, Tyler is featured in the film “Lake of Betrayal” narrating portions of the film and appearing in segments of the film. Lake of Betrayal is the story of Kinzua Dam. The film examines the US government’s taking of Native lands for dam building and the extraordinary fight the Seneca Nation undertook to protect its sovereignty and ensure its cultural survival. This film will be aired on PBS November 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm. A short word of prayer was said, after Tyler spoke to us. Then it was time to eat.

The menu for the Indian Foods Dinner included Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with gravy, Green Beans, Hulled Corn Soup, Roast Venison, Boiled Corn Bread, Pumpkin Pie, Cranberry Sauce, Cole Slaw, Fry Bread, Apple Cider, Coffee and Water.

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My plate of food (minus the venison)
I gave my venison to Bob.

The food was delicious.

During dinner, conversation continued to flow nicely. New friendships were initiated. I really enjoyed Tim, Kathy, Lori and Wayne’s company. Kathy and I are the same age, as are Bob and Tim. Lori is a few years younger than Kathy and me. Lori is older than Wayne. Kathy, Lori and I are all older than our husbands. Some of the things I learned about our new friends include the following. Kathy traveled cross country years ago. She slept in a pop up tent that was attached to a pickup truck. Kathy and Lori are nurses. Wayne and Lori moved to New York from Texas recently. Wayne and Lori enjoy travel. Everyone likes to eat at Sprague’s Maple Farms and at The Plaza in Warren. Wayne and Lori have a blended family. Lori and Wayne have six children; no grandchildren.  I believe we are well on our way to new friendships.

It was 3:00 pm, when we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Tim said we should do something together again. I hope that we do. We had a good time.

Leaving the Seneca Nation of Indians Administration Building, Bob and I drove to Allegany State Park.

DA211811Seneca Nation of Indians Administration Building
(view from ASP 1 overlook)

From ASP 1 we enter Allegany State Park’s Red House area.  We made stops at Stone Tower, the Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge and the Red House Administration Building.

DA211819Stone Tower
The Stone Tower dates from 1933.  It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps,
as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal effort.

The lure of Stone Tower is the panoramic view afforded from its vantage point.

DA211815View from Stone Tower

DA211818View from Stone Tower road

Our next stop was at the Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge.

DA211827Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge

The Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge was built in 1989. It is a pedestrian bridge. In addition to foot traffic, the bridge is used by bicyclists and, in the winter, by snowmobile riders.  Its 110-foot length spans Red House Creek.

Our last stop in the Red House area was at the Red House Administration Building.

The Pumpkins in the Park event was just ending, when we arrived at the Red House Administration Building.

I found this flyer on the Allegany State Park’s Facebook page.  The information about this event indicated it was in its second year.

 

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We received an Autumn welcome
at the Red House Administration Building.

IMG_20171021_155841Bob took this picture of me with a large smiling pumpkin that we found
on the grounds of the Red House Administration Building.

We left the Red House area and drove to Quaker Lake.

DA211837Quaker Lake

Our plan for Allegany State Park was to take some pictures and hang out until 7:00 pm, when Paul Crawford would be performing at the Quaker Bath House in the lakeside room.  According to promotional information about the concert, Paul has been playing contemporary and classic rock, contemporary country, and some originals for over twenty-five years. Paul is the administrator on a few Facebook pages that feature the Allegany State Park. I have enjoyed his photography on those pages for a few years but have never heard him play guitar and sing.

DA211840Quaker Lake
Across the lake is the Quaker Bath House.

Bob and I decided a 4-hour wait for Paul’s concert was too long. I took a few pictures in the park, and then we left for home. I hope in the future we have another opportunity to hear Paul perform.

On our way back home from Allegany State Park, we stopped briefly at Sugar Bay on the Allegheny Reservoir in McKean County, PA.

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The water in the Allegheny Reservoir is quite low.

A father and son, with kayaks, arrived at Sugar Bay as we were leaving. They would have to carry (or drag) the kayaks quite a distance before reaching open water.

What a great day!  We ate a very tasty dinner; we made new friends; and we enjoyed Autumn’s beauty at Allegany State Park.

 

Saturday’s Day Trip

This past Friday Bob and I talked about going to Allegany State Park for a Saturday drive. On Saturday morning we decided on a day trip to a different destination.

We departed home shortly before 7:30 am, in search of breakfast. I had hoped to see the sunrise, but it was overcast.  Later in the morning the sky cleared, and the sun came out.  I had to shed my hoodie, too, as the temperature warmed up.

We stopped for breakfast at Sprague’s Maple Farms in Portville NY, on our way to Letchworth State Park – the destination for our day trip. Breakfast was very filling. Bob ordered a western omelette with two buckwheat pancakes. The omelette was made with four eggs and was very fluffy. I ordered what is called The Mainline. It was two eggs scrambled, three slices of thick bacon and two pancakes. I had one pumpkin pancake and one apple cinnamon pancake.

20171014_130248504_iOSThe Mainline

We were asked if we needed more pancakes. You may have as many pancakes as you desire, with breakfast. We neither needed nor wanted any more pancakes.

We were on NYS Route 436, on our way to the Mount Morris entrance for Letchworth State Park, when we noticed a sign for Parade Grounds at Letchworth State Park. We turned in at the parade ground entrance. We drove past the parade grounds and followed what I learned later was East Park Road, wondering where the road would lead. A sign near the Parade Grounds indicated that the road was a dead end. That road went on and on and on. We never did see where the road ended. We turned around (my suggestion), as the road got narrow and bumpy. Looking at a Letchworth State Park trail map, East Park Road connects to several trails and Cabin Area E.

Letchworth State Park trail map

The yellow highlighted road shows our route from Route 19A to NYS Route 436, entering Letchworth State Park via the Parade Grounds entrance and our drive on East Park Road. Later I learned from a cabin information brochure that East Park Road approximates a 3-mile distance, as shower facilities for Cabin Area E are available at Cabin Area D. Cabin Area D is located near Parade Grounds, which is a 3-mile drive.

We double backed on East Park Road to the Parade Grounds. The Parade Grounds is where the First New York Dragoons and 136th New York Volunteer Infantry regiments trained before joining the Civil War. There are a couple Civil War markers and a cannon on the grounds.

DA141738Cannon at entrance to Parade Grounds

The Parade Grounds main use today is for picnics.  There are bathroom facilities, a picnic pavilion, a playground and plenty of green space for a picnic.

Leaving the Parade Grounds we continued our drive to the Mount Morris entrance to Letchworth State Park. I mistakenly had Bob turn into the entrance road to Mount Morris Dam and Visitor Center, thinking it was the entrance to Letchworth State Park. Realizing my mistake, I asked Bob to continue on the road to the Visitor Center. We had never been on this side of the Mount Morris Dam, having seen it only while driving through Letchworth State Park. Before reaching the visitor center there was a pull off for the Hogsback Overlook.

DA141747Hogsback Overlook
(along Visitor Center Road leading to Mount Morris Dam)

At this overlook there is parking for the Letchworth Trail, which is part of the Finger Lakes Trail system. After taking a few pictures at the overlook, we continued our drive to Mount Morris Dam.

DA141756Mount Morris Dam
Mount Morris Dam is the largest dry bed dam east of the Mississippi River.

See the people standing at the overlook on the other side of the dam?  That is the only location from which Bob and I had seen Mount Morris Dam.  It was nice to view the dam from another vantage point.  Free ranger-guided walking tours inside the dam are available at specific times for a limited number of people.  The next tour would not happen for another couple hours on the day we visited Mount Morris Dam.  Some other day we are up this way, I would like to go on a tour of the dam.

We entered Letchworth State Park via the Mount Morris entrance at approximately 12:30 pm. We stopped at the Mount Morris Dam Overlook but did not look at the view. We went into the gift store and purchased a bottle of water. We really need to carry water with us. That 20 fluid ounce bottle of water sold for an exorbitant price of $2.75!

We stopped at only three more overlooks, before exiting the park.

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Hogsback Overlook

DA141766This overlook was just before the Great Bend Overlook.

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Great Bend Overlook

We saw a sign, as we approached the Castile exit that informed us of congestion ahead, that this was the last exit to avoid the congestion. Traffic was at a standstill at the Castile entrance, continuing on into the park. We exited the park at Castile, not wanting to put up with the crowds. As we exited, we saw a long line at the gate for people wanting to enter the park. I am glad we didn’t have to pay entrance fee. We used our Empire Passport for entrance.

We stopped for ice cream at a fuel station not far from the Castile entrance. I mentioned how crowded it was at Letchworth State Park and wondered if there was a special event at the park. There was no event at the park. Everyone just wanted to see the Autumn leaves, same as Bob and me.  This fuel station, by the way, had custard soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream in addition to hard ice cream.  We ordered two twist custard ice creams in a cup….delicious!

We decided to stop at Allegany State Park on our way home. I think this is the first time that we have visited both Allegany State Park and Letchworth State Park on the same day.

We entered Allegany State Park at 2:45 pm.  Autumn colors seemed much more prevalent at Allegany State Park than at Letchworth State Park.

DA141775Allegany State Park dressed for Autumn

DA141776Allegany State Park Autumn colors

Our second and last stop in Allegany State Park was at the Red House Area Wetlands Boardwalk.

20171014_191336603_iOSWe followed the wetlands boardwalk to this bird blind.
We didn’t see any wildlife through the blind.

Another part of the boardwalk features an observation platform extending into the wetlands.

20171014_191909645_iOSThe view looking across the wetlands was colorful, but we didn’t see any wildlife.

Finally, I found wildlife to photograph….

DA141781A dragonfly was the only wildlife that we spotted, while at the Red House Wetlands area.

Leaving the Red House Area we followed ASP 1 to ASP 2 to ASP 3 and exited the park at Bradford. So, our visit to the Allegany State Park was basically a drive through.

On our way home we stopped at ShurFine in Warren, where we picked up side dishes to go with hamburgers and hot dogs. We also bought a small pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. Bob burned wood in our back yard fire ring and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs over it.

What a wonderful day we had, even though we deviated from our original plans.

Our Outer Banks Vacation – Last Day and Our Drive Back Home

[NOTE: I uploaded this blog post during the evening on October 11 but backdated the published date to October 1, the date when we returned home from our Outer Banks vacation.]

We awakened at 6:30 on Saturday morning, in time to see another gorgeous sunrise.

_LG25091Waiting for the sun to rise

_LG25092The sky was gorgeous, as we waited for the sun to rise.

_LG25094Hello Sunshine!

I was sitting on our balcony around 7:15 am, drinking a cup of tea. I saw movement in the pool enclosure at the beach house next door to ours.

_LG25095Two foxes in our neighbor’s pool enclosure!

For breakfast I had yogurt, a bagel with cream cheese and a Duck donut. Duck Donuts are warm, delicious and made to order.  Thank you, Donny and Nancy, for the donuts!

I took a group picture on the steps of our beach house. Four people, who spent the week (or part of the week) with us, were missing at the time I took the picture.  Those missing were not present for the group picture, but they are not forgotten!

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Our fellow vacationers

In an earlier blog post I listed everyone who was (or would be) vacationing with us.  The only ones who did not make it to the Outer Banks were Sharon and Stephanie and Jeff.  I think Sharon was home with a sick dog.  I think I heard that Jeff wasn’t feeling well.  I am sorry that I didn’t get to meet you, Sharon.  I missed spending time once again with Stephanie and Jeff.  In the collage on the left side are: Nancy and Donny, Alexis, Jasper.  In the group picture are: Eric, Denise and Nic, Sam and Shawn, Brenda and Terry, Sandy and Jim, Michael and Maggie, Bob and me, and Wrigley.

Shortly after taking the group picture, Shawn and Sam bid us all adieu.

Later in the morning I went on the beach with Denise and Nic, Brenda and Terry, Maggie, Eric and Wrigley.

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Nic is on his way to the beach to go fly a kite.

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Brenda and Terry are flying a kite.

I think Maggie took over the flying of this kite, while Terry and Brenda tried to get another kite up into the air.

If you are not able to view the embedded video, please click here for the direct link.

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Nic and Denise are flying a kite.

_LG25131Eric and Wrigley enjoying a stroll on the beach

I had fun with a sand crab.

If you are not able to view the embedded video, please click here for the direct link.

_LG25151the Sand Crab

Early in the afternoon we began to pack.

At 2:30 pm Sandy, Jim, Bob and I went shopping in search of Outer Banks t-shirts. We stopped at Duck Waterfront Shops, not to shop but to enjoy the boardwalk skirting the Currituck Sound.

 

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Duck Waterfront Shops Parking Lot
Bob and Jim checking out a rental.

We saw several of these rental vehicles, in a variety of colors, while on vacation.

20170930_185621656_iOSDuck Waterfront Shops

 

While on vacation we spotted several painted winged horse statues.  We were able to see three of these horse statues up close, while at Duck Waterfront Shops.

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If you would like to read about these painted horses,
please click here.

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A scary shark and a beautiful mermaid

20170930_190101821_iOSWhat a nice walk we had at Duck Waterfront Shops!

20170930_190533254_iOSOur walk ended at Duck Waterfront Shops, when we walked over this picturesque bridge.

We did stop at Super Wings in Duck to shop for t-shirts, but it was closed. We stopped at a second store. It was closed too. A sign at both stores read that the store reopens at 7:30 pm.  We suspected the store was doing inventory.

We stopped at Benjamin Franklin in Nags Head, where we found t-shirts and more.  Bob and I picked up Outer Banks t-shirts and an Outer Banks hoodie, hat and Lighthouse wooden wind chime (for me).

We drove to Sam and Omie’s in Nags Head for dinner. The restaurant was located across from Jeanette’s Pier, which we had visited earlier in the week.  The plan was to meet Denise, Nic and Eric at 4:30 pm. Maggie and Michael and Brenda and Terry decided to join us too. So we would be a party of 11. The other two couples wouldn’t arrive until 5:00 pm. We couldn’t be seated until our entire party arrived. As we saw the restaurant fill the four of us decided to sit at a table for four. We were seated at 4:45 pm. The others weren’t seated until 5:30 pm, at the time that we were receiving our bill.

20170930_213022185_iOSTerry, Brenda, Michael, Maggie, Denise, Nic and Eric
I believe this is the table that the hostess planned to seat all eleven of us.
It would have been a very tight fit!

Leaving Sam and Omie’s we took the leisure way (N.C. Route 12) back to the beach house, avoiding the traffic and noise of U.S. Route 158.

Upon returning to our Flight of Fantasy beach house, we packed the car. We have only a few things to carry to the car in the morning.

 

Our drive home today was uneventful.

We departed Corolla at 5:07 am. We were the first to leave.

An hour later we stopped at a McDonalds in Currituck that wasn’t a full menu restaurant. We decided to continue driving north to another McDonalds. We found another McDonalds in Chesapeake, VA. We had bagel egg meals and continued our drive North at 7:00 am.

We stopped in Tappahannock VA at Sheetz to give the car a bath at the car wash, to get rid of the Outer Banks salt film. We used the stop as a bathroom and stretch break as well. We were back on Route 17 North at 9:45 am.

We ate lunch at Dairy Queen in Berkeley Springs, WV. We each ordered BBQ Pork sandwich meals and a sundae for dessert. We were back on Route 522 at 1:30 pm.

We returned home at 5:45 pm, after a couple more bathroom and stretch stops.

This year’s Outer Banks vacation was certainly memorable, with Hurricane Maria brushing by the Outer Banks coast!  We didn’t have it bad, though. We were able to do all we planned and more.  We enjoyed the company of Jim and Sandy; so glad that they could join us on vacation.  It was great to catch up with Denise and Nic.  We see the two of them only one or two times a year, as they live at least an 8-hour drive away from us.  I am glad that Denise’s son, Eric, brought Wrigley with him.  It was the first time we vacationed in the Outer Banks with a dog.  Wrigley was so much fun!  As for the others … Maggie and Michael, Sam and Shawn, Brenda and Terry – We came together as strangers, and we left as friends.  I hope that we are able to get together with you again some day.

You may read Jim’s blog post about our last day in the Outer Banks by clicking here.

Our Outer Banks Vacation – Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands

[NOTE: I uploaded this blog post during the afternoon on October 10 but backdated the published date to September 29, the date of the day’s activities detailed in this post.]

20170929_102612533_iOSThe beginning of a new day

Bob, Jim, Sandy and I departed our Flight of Fantasy beach house at 7:00 am, en route Ocracoke Island. A little past Duck, two deer walked across N.C. Route 12. The deer are small here and darker in color than they are in Pennsylvania.  We hopped onto U.S. Route 158 at Southern Shores.

We made two stops: one for fuel and the other for breakfast at McDonalds before leaving U.S. Route 158 and hopping back onto N.C. Route 12 to Cape Hatteras. We began our drive down this part of N.C. Route 12 at 8:03 am.

We arrived at the Herbert C Bonner Bridge  around 8:10 am. One lane was closed due to bridge construction, but we were held up only a short time for the closure. Along N.C. Route 12 we encountered standing water in front of sand dunes and excavators moving sand. There was standing water and sand on the road, as we were driving through Rodanthe. There was standing water on the road in Avon. There was a lot of standing water at Hatteras Village shortly before the ferry terminal. We arrived at the Hatteras ferry terminal at 9:20 am.

20170929_132314792_iOSHatteras ferry terminal
We are in line to board the ferry from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island.

Sandy and I went to the bathroom and ran back to our car, as it was moving toward the boat! We boarded the 9:30 ferry at 9:29 am.

_LG24973Moving away from Hatteras Island

There are only five vehicles on our crossing.

_LG24978Our ferry boat was not crowded.

We have ridden this ferry at least two times before. This is the least number of vehicles we have seen on a crossing. The ferry has always been full! By the way we planned for a 10:00 am crossing. Being able to catch the 9:30 am crossing was a bonus! The crossing wasn’t as smooth, as I remember. We were a bit more buoyant, with waves rocking us up and down. We were fortunate to catch a 9:30 crossing, as there was no 9:30 crossing on the N.C. DOT schedule that I looked at. A crew member told me they were on the fall schedule, which was not provided on the website.

_LG24980Jim looks like he is enjoying the ferry crossing.

We arrived on Ocracoke Island an hour later. There was some sand on the road between the terminal and the town of Ocracoke. It is a 13-mile drive from the ferry terminal to the town of Ocracoke.

At approximately the halfway point between the ferry terminal and the town of Ocracoke we stopped to see the fenced-in Ocracoke ponies and the beach across the road. The ponies were at the barn, behind wooden railing. We took a walk on the boardwalk trail to another observation area, hoping to see ponies grazing in the open field.

_LG24983
Sandy on boardwalk trail to look for ponies.

There were no ponies in the open field. We did encounter several spider webs and a bird, while on the trail.

_LG24988The bird sang a lovely song for us.

At the beach, located across the street from the pony enclosure, we enjoyed watching the shorebirds and found some pretty seashells.

_LG25015Ocracoke Island shorebird

_LG25025

_LG25031Ocracoke Island Shorebird

_LG25035Ocracoke Island Shorebirds in flight

_LG25042Ocracoke Island Shorebird

_LG25048Jim and Sandy leaving the beach, walking back to our car.
Sandy has seashells in her hands.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of the seashells that Bob and I collected.  We gave the seashells to our granddaughters, upon our return home from vacation.

A main form of transportation in the town of Ocracoke appears to be golf carts and bicycles. Both transportation methods were seen throughout the town.

While in the town of Ocracoke we visited the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse and the David Williams House Museum.

The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse still in operation.

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Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

_LG25053The water under the boardwalk leading to the lighthouse was quite high.

While at the lighthouse we were greeted by a friendly cat.

_LG25062the lighthouse cat

_LG25063All four of us took turns petting the lighthouse cat.

_LG25068Great balance, Sandy!
The lighthouse parking lot was somewhat flooded.

Leaving the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, we drove around Silver Lake to the Ocracoke Island Visitor Center and the Ocracoke Preservation Society.

_LG25072Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, as seen across Silver Lake

_LG25074Ocracoke Preservation Society

The Ocracoke Preservation Society is located in the restored David Williams House. This was the first time Bob and I visited the Ocracoke Preservation Society. Admission was free; donations readily accepted. Inside is a museum that consists of permanent and changing exhibits depicting island life from days gone by, as well as a gift shop.

Before leaving the town of Ocracoke, we ate lunch at Jason’s Restaurant.  We pulled into Jason’s Restaurant at 12:30 pm. Bob and I ate at Jason’s the last time we visited Ocracoke Island. We once again enjoyed great tasting food and excellent service.

We departed Jason’s Restaurant at 1:20 pm, en route the Ocracoke ferry terminal. I telephoned ahead of time to determine the fall schedule crossing times. The next ferry would be leaving at 1:30 pm, followed by a 2:00 pm crossing.

20170929_174459276_iOSOcracoke Island Ferry Terminal
We are in line waiting to board the ferry to Hatteras Island.

20170929_174357458_iOS
Hurricane Maria caused some road damage at the Ocracoke Island Ferry Terminal.

We caught the 2:00 pm ferry to Hatteras. There were many more vehicles on this crossing than the one from Hatteras. We arrived on Hatteras Island at 2:55 pm. On our way to the Ocracoke ferry terminal I learned that Denise and Nic and Nancy and Donnie had also come to Ocracoke Island. They were eating lunch about the same time as us, across the street at Howard’s Pub. Denise said that she texted me to ask if we were still on Ocracoke Island. I never received that text, while on the island. I learned the next day that the sending of Denise’s message had failed.  Internet service is a bit sketchy on Ocracoke Island.

On our way back to Corolla, we stopped at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

_LG25077The Circle of Stones

The Circle of the Stones used to sit in the exact spot where the lighthouse stood for more than a century before it was moved to its present location.  The stones, each weighing 3,000 pounds or more, are engraved with the names of the 83 keepers of the lighthouse since it was originally built at Cape Point in 1803.  The stones are arranged in a semi-circle to form an outdoor theater called Keeper of the Light Amphitheater.

_LG25079
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has not always resided in its present location. In 1999, because of the threat of shoreline erosion, the lighthouse was relocated 2,900 feet from the spot on which it had stood since 1870.

In September 2012 when Bob and I visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, we drove over to the original location of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

E9194290 4x6Original lighthouse location (September 2012)

In September 2012 the Circle of Stones marked the location of the original lighthouse, before it was moved. Those stones now form an outdoor theater called Keeper of the Light Amphitheater.  I shared a picture of the amphitheater earlier in this post.  This article explains why the Circle of Stones was moved.

This year we once again drove over to the original location of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  But for the informative sign in front of the beach area, we would not have known the location of the lighthouse before it was moved to its present site.

_LG25087Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the beach near where the original lighthouse was located.

Continuing our drive North, we planned to stop at the Inn at Rodanthe.  The entrance road was flooded, so Jim took a picture of the house made famous by the movie “Nights at Rodanthe” from the passenger seat when Bob pulled on the berm of N.C. Route 12.

We planned an ice cream stop at Dairy Queen, while on Hatteras Island. The two Dairy Queens that we passed, though, were closed. We stopped at Dairy Queen in Kill Devil Hills, having our dessert before dinner.

We returned to our beach house around 6:30 pm.

Tonight’s dinner was hamburgers, baked beans, cole slaw and potato salad. For dessert we had cake and ice cream, in celebration of Brenda’s birthday. We sang happy birthday to Brenda, and she blew out her candles.

Video courtesy of Bob.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, please click here for the direct link.

For Jim’s account of today’s activities, please click here.

Our Outer Banks Vacation – Bodie Island and Wright Brothers National Memorial

[NOTE:  I uploaded this blog post during the afternoon on October 8 but backdated the published date to September 28, the date of the day’s activities detailed in this post.]

I appreciate the force of nature. The past two days we have experienced consistent strong winds and angry seas. Today, as I watched the sun rise while sitting on the beach, the wind was calm and the waves seemed almost normal. I haven’t seen one yet, but I heard that the pelicans are back.

_LG24910The dawning of a new day

The wind is calm, and the waves seem almost normal.

If you are not able to view the embedded video, please click here for the direct link.

IMG_20170928_065802Bob took this picture of me sitting on the sand, capturing today’s sunrise.

_LG24920The sun has risen!

What a fine day for sightseeing!

We were en route Bodie Island shortly after 9:00 am, arriving there around 10:00 am. For the next 45 minutes we admired the lighthouse from various vantage points.

_LG24921
Bodie Island Lighthouse

A boardwalk that leads to an overlook of the wetlands offers very nice views of the lighthouse.

_LG24926Sandy is walking on the boardwalk toward the wetlands overlook.

_LG24932
Sandy and Jim on the wetlands overlook

_LG24934Bodie Island Lighthouse, as seen from the wetlands overlook

Before leaving Bodie Island I heard a National Park Service employee say that the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry would begin crossings again at 1:00 pm today. This information was good to know, as we are planning a trip to Ocracoke tomorrow.

From Bodie Island we attempted to drive to Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, but the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge was closed until 1:00 pm to allow for time to remove sand and water from the roadway on Hatteras Island.  We made a U-turn at the bridge and drove to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills.

After paying the admission fee of $7.00 each, we found parking in the parking lot in front of the Visitor Center.  The Visitor Center for the Wright Brothers National Memorial is closed for a renovation project.  The visitor center has been closed since November 2016 and expected to reopen in late summer/fall of 2018.  A temporary facility near the parking lot has an information desk where you can speak to a National Park Service employee, five small poster-style exhibit panels to learn more about the Wright brothers’ story, and a bookstore.

During our visit we walked to the First Flight Boulder and Flight Line which mark the location where the Wrights first flew, peeked into the reconstructed Wright brothers’ camp building and hangar, walked to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill to the base of the Wright Memorial, and saw the 1903 Bronze Sculpture of the First Flight featuring a life size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

_LG24941Wright Brothers Flight Line

The numbered markers mark the landing spots of the Wright Brothers’ first four flights on December 17, 1903.

_LG24945First Flight Boulder

The boulder marks the spot from which the Wright Brothers’ first flight was made.  The picture displayed above shows the flight path as well.

_LG24946Sandy and the First Flight Boulder

_LG24948Wright brothers’ camp building and hangar

_LG24958
Big Kill Devil Hill and Wright Brothers Memorial

Sandy stayed inside the car, while Bob, Jim and I hiked to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill.

_LG24956
Wright Brothers Memorial on top of Big Kill Devil Hill

The view from the top of Big Kill Devil Hill was spectacular!

IMG_20170928_120517Jim is photographing the view from the top of Big Kill Devil Hill.
We could see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

_LG24960Life size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer

_LG249641903 Bronze Sculpture of the First Flight
(Wright Memorial in the background)

_LG24965This sign provides information about the first flight witnesses.  I read the sign, but was more interested in recreating the scene shown on the sign.  As I positioned myself to take a picture, other tourists began walking up to the bronze sculptures for a closer look.  Getting the picture I wanted meant waiting until those people departed the grounds.

_LG24967
Jim, Bob and Sandy found the only shady spot to wait for me,
while I waited to take my picture.

I like to think that I am a patient person.  My patience was just about running out, when the grounds were vacated.  I had to quickly compose my picture, as I noticed more tourists arriving.

_LG24968My recreation of the photograph of the first flight witnesses

We were glad that it was possible to drive to the base of Big Kill Devil Hill, as well as to the Sculpture of the First Flight. The three points of interest were spaced far apart!

Prior to leaving on vacation, Jim learned that a friend (another member of the Vulcan Riders and Owners Club of which Jim and Bob are members) would be vacationing in the Outer Banks at the same time as the four of us.  “Rabbi” and his wife Vonna were vacationing in Salvo on Hatteras Island, until they were evacuated earlier in the week.  We didn’t think we would be able to meet up with Rabbi and Vonna because they had gone home to Virginia.  Jim received a message (today I believe) from Rabbi that they were back in the Outer Banks and staying in Kitty Hawk.  Jim and Rabbi made plans for the six of us to meet for lunch at 1:00 pm at Mama Kwans Tiki Bar & Grill in Kill Devil Hills.

The first thing I noticed at Mama Kwans was the old van covered with stickers.  I took a picture of Rabbi, Vonna, Jim and Sandy beside that van, after we had eaten lunch.

_LG24971Sandy, Jim, Rabbi and Vonna at Mama Kwans

Rabbi attended at least one VROC motorcycle rally that Bob and I attended.  That rally was the Wolfman Wandering Rally #3 held in Richmond, Kentucky in June 2009.  Rabbi doesn’t recall meeting Bob or me at that rally; we don’t recall meeting him either.  Rabbi is planning to attend the 20th anniversary of the Southeast Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) rally in May next year.  Bob and I plan to attend that rally as well.  So, we will meet again….

After lunch we returned to Flights of Fantasy (our vacation beach house), returning there around 3:00 pm.

Much of rest of the afternoon and evening was spent relaxing in (or sitting on a deck of) the beach house. Sandy and I did go for a short walk to beach access 7, a boardwalk that leads to the beach.

20170928_222454641_iOS
Sandy at the Beach Access 7 Boardwalk

20170928_222956188_iOSThe view from the end of Beach Access 7
The green house is our beach house.

20170928_223133743_iOSSandy at the end of Beach Access 7
The green house is our beach house.

Sandy and I returned back to our beach house just in time to see the sun set.

20170928_223930058_iOS
I photographed Brenda photographing the setting sun.

Tonight’s dinner was leftovers.

I retired to our bedroom around 8:30 pm, as many of my fellow vacationers were sitting down to watch the football game—Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers.

For Jim’s account of the day, please click here.

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