The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘Travel’ category

Mid-Week Getaway: Day 2 – Aitch and Trough Creek State Park

The morning of Wednesday, March 23, we did some sightseeing.  Our first stop was at Aitch, where an old railroad bed has been transformed into a fishing pier.  We parked in the parking area and walked across the fishing pier.

Aitch Fishing Pier
Aitch Fishing Pier

I read that Aitch is a great place for birdwatching.  We saw only seagulls.

Our second stop was at Copperas Rock in Trough Creek State Park. Copperas Rock is a large overhang along the Great Trough Creek. These rocks are located directly adjacent to the park road. 

Copperas Rocks
The colors of this overhang are caused
by the weathering of the iron in the rocks.
Copperas Rocks has a nice picnic area.
Signs were present that warned of falling rocks.
This picture shows the 2001 Rock Fall at Copperas Rocks.

Our next stop was at the Balanced Rock Trail. 

Balanced Rock is visible from the road
near the start of the Balanced Rock Trail.
Balanced Rock Trail Sign
This sign points the way to Balanced Rock.
The Balanced Rock Trail takes you over a suspension bridge
and past Rainbow Falls.

We walked over the Great Trough Creek, via a suspension bridge that moves as you walk across it. 

Balanced Rock Trail Suspension Bridge
Balanced Rock Trail Suspension Bridge

It started to rain.  We walked back over the bridge and returned to the car. 

I photographed Bob, as he walked back over the suspension bridge.

We plan to make a return trip to the park tomorrow.  The forecast is for better weather tomorrow morning and for most of the afternoon.

We left the park via forest roads and made our way to Mamie’s Cafe and Bakery in Martinsburg. 

I like the mural on the side of Mamie’s Cafe.

Mamie’s Cafe was recommended to us by our Airbnb hosts.  Bob ordered a toasted Reuben sandwich; I had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich.  Both sandwiches were served with a pickle and chips.  We walked out of the cafe with homemade no bake cookies.  This was a good recommendation. The food and service were excellent.

After lunch we returned to our Airbnb rental, where we stayed for rest of the afternoon and evening.  How did we spend our afternoon and evening?  Bob took a nap.  I uploaded a few pictures to Facebook.  I started reading a book on my Kindle.  For dinner we ate leftover fried chicken, pasta salad and potato salad.

Mid-Week Getaway: “Mountain Living Close to Raystown Lake” Airbnb

We spent the nights of March 22, March 23 and March 24 in Martinsburg PA at “Mountain Living Close to Raystown Lake” Airbnb.

This is the first picture that I took of our Airbnb. There wasn’t much of a sunset Tuesday evening, but at least there was some color in the sky. Most of the day had been overcast, with the sky showing shades of gray.

Sunset at “Mountain Living Close to Raystown Lake” Airbnb

The next three pictures were taken on Thursday.

The sun was trying to break through the morning fog.

Our Airbnb was located on a hill about 1/4 mile from the main road to Martinsburg PA. We walked that 1/4 mile a couple times during our 3-night stay.

I took this picture during a late afternoon walk on Thursday.
Our Airbnb is the last house on the left.
Our Airbnb “Mountain Living Close to Raystown Lake”

We did not have full use of this house.  Our hosts live in the main level; The Airbnb is an apartment located in the basement.  The apartment is entered through the garage.  There are six steps up into the apartment.  The basement apartment is laid out well, felt spacious and was very comfortable.  

The bathroom is located on the right as soon as you enter the apartment.  The bathroom is actually two small rooms.  One room houses the toilet and a sink; the other room houses a shower and washer and dryer.

Located on the left, as you enter the apartment, is a large living room.

In the living room is a generous 3-seat sofa that, when you sit, you sink into comfortably; a coffee table, a gas fireplace that heats up the space exceptionally well; a TV; two end tables; an arm chair; and bookcases (the three double bookcases shown in this picture and one single bookcase), all filled to the brim with books.   

Located straight ahead, as you enter the apartment is a small, but cozy and functional, kitchen. 

View of Kitchen from the living room

In the kitchen there is a small table for two; a refrigerator; and plenty of counter space with drawers and cabinets underneath and cabinets above the refrigerator and microwave. There is no oven or stovetop; however, there are appliances provided from which meals can be prepared (e.g. microwave, Keurig coffee maker, a large toaster/oven, countertop electrical twin burner, and an electric skillet).
There is additional seating for three along the countertop.
Next to the kitchen is a small room.
Note, too, the open door. The bathroom is through that door.
The small room next to the kitchen contains a hide-a-bed sofa on one wall and a table on the opposite one. Through patio doors is the master bedroom.
I LOVE this wall mural!
The master bedroom contains a comfortable king-size bed, two bedside tables, and a dresser.  There is also a wood-fired stove.  There is access to a patio through the master bedroom.
Master Bedroom Dresser
Master Bedroom Wood Fireplace

Our hosts, Ruthie and Peter, were personable and friendly. They respected our privacy, but they were readily available if we had any questions. We highly recommend that you consider this Airbnb, if you are in the Raystown Lake area.


Mid-Week Getaway: Day 1 – Warren PA to Martinsburg PA

We returned home on Friday, March 25, from a 3-night stay near Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania. We departed Warren PA at 8:15 am on Tuesday, March 22, and arrived at Raystown Lake, near Huntingdon, shortly before noon.  We enjoyed the lake view from two overlooks — Ridenour Overlook and Hawn’s Overlook.  These two overlooks offer views of northern Raystown Lake. Both overlooks are easily accessed from the same parking area.

Ridenour Overlook of Raystown Dam

Hawn’s Overlook is located about 300 yards, about the length of three football fields, from Ridenour Overlook.

The trail to Hawn’s Overlook
Hawn’s Overlook of Raystown Lake
(looking to the right)
Hawn’s Overlook of Raystown Lake
(looking to the left)
Bob took this picture of me at Hawn’s Overlook

Leaving the overlook, our next destination was the Raystown Lake Visitor Center. The GPS took us directly across from Raystown Dam, which we viewed from Ridenour Overlook.

Raystown Lake Dam

From the dam we followed a gravel road along the Raystown Branch Juanita River to Route 22. We turned left onto Crooked Creek Road and made our way to the visitor center.  At the visitor center we enjoyed the view of the lake from the back deck of the visitor center.  Inside the visitor center we looked at several exhibits on display.  There is also a very nice gift shop inside the visitor center.

Raystown Lake Visitor Center
Seven Points Marina, as viewed from
the deck of the Raystown Lake Visitor Center
Raystown Lake Visitor Center exhibit
Raystown Lake Visitor Center exhibit
Raystown Lake Visitor Center exhibit
Raystown Lake Visitor Center exhibit

Leaving the Visitor Center, we made our way to our Airbnb in Martinsburg PA. It was an approximate 30-minute drive. A day or two before Ruth, our Airbnb host, had stated that we could check in early, if desired. Check-in time was 3:00 pm. We checked in around 2:30 pm, after eating lunch at a nearby Subway.

Around 4:00 pm we drove to Giant Eagle in Roaring Spring (about 6 miles away) and picked up a few groceries, as well as dinner — fried chicken, pasta salad and potato salad.

Stay tuned for my next blog post in which I write specifically about our Airbnb accommodation.

Day Trip to Erie

Yesterday we drove to Erie.

In Erie Our first destination was Presque Isle State Park, where we drove around the peninsula.  We saw Canada Geese, ducks and a Great Blue Heron.

Canada Geese in the Air
Two Female Mallards on a Log
Great Blue Heron

We ate lunch at Underground BBQ.  Bob had a chopped brisket sandwich; I had a pulled pork sandwich.  As a side dish, we both got macaroni and cheese.  Lunch was good.

After lunch we drove to the nearby Giant Eagle, where Bob got his first shingles vaccine.  Bob’s health insurance pays 100% of the vaccine cost.  He will need a second vaccine in 2-6 months.  I want to get a shingles vaccine as well.  My health insurance doesn’t cover the vaccine shot.  It appears that my prescription plan will cover a small percentage of the cost.  I checked the vaccine cost at Good RX.  It is the least expensive option.  I will get my first Shingles vaccine this week or early next week.

Our next stop was Sam’s Club, where we filled up our fuel tank and added to our pantry.  We paid $3.64/gallon for fuel, which was less expensive than $3.75 at Sheetz.  I checked fuel prices today online. Sam’s Club is now charging $3.69/gallon, and Sheetz is charging $3.89/gallon. Imam glad that our car is fuel efficient.

Our next stop was at PetSmart to buy cat litter.

We left Erie from PetSmart, en route home.  We stopped at Save a Lot in Corry to buy a few more groceries.  Then we stopped at Tim Hortons for dessert – tea for me and coffee for Bob with a Boston Creme donut for me and an oatmeal raisin cookie for Bob.

South Carolina Vacation: Surfside Beach SC to Warren PA

On Wednesday, February 16th, We “checked out” of Airbnb ”Seaside Cottage” around 6:30 am and drove to the beach, where we watched the sun rise. 

Bob and I at Surfside Beach
minutes before the sunrise
Watch along with us, as the sun rises!
Surfside Beach Sunrise

This was the first sunrise on the beach that I saw in the week we were in Surfside Beach.  I wasn’t able to get to the beach in time for sunrise the other mornings. A prescription drug that I take with dinner rarely allows me to leave the house before 9:00 am, unless I have the availability of a close by bathroom. Bob saw a beach sunrise the first and last day.  

After seeing the sunrise, we began our drive back to Pennsylvania.  

We arrived at the Quality Inn New River Gorge (Fayetteville, WV) around 2:00 pm.  We checked in and carried our baggage into our room.  Soon afterward we walked to Elliott’s Whitewater Bar & Grill, located on the hotel grounds.  There was a flurry of excitement, as we entered,  I thought there was going to be a bar brawl.  The guy cussing was told to “just go”.  He did, after a few minutes and more cussing.  Someone walked out with him to make sure that he left and didn’t hit anyone’s car!  The bar quieted down after that man left.  Later we learned that the unruly man had been there for several hours drinking Jägermeister and was saying things he shouldn’t be saying to the underage waitress.  The waitress felt so uncomfortable that she asked the manager to come sit in the bar.  A couple of the men at the bar, who had been there for only a short while, kicked out the unruly man.   By the way, the food and service were excellent.  Bob ordered a pork chop with onion rings.  I ordered fish sticks with a loaded baked potato.  Both meals included a side salad.

Soon after dinner we drove to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where we viewed the New River Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge.  The Canyon Rim Visitor center is about a mile north of our hotel. We had planned to stop at the visitor center the next morning, but it likely will be raining.  So we visited this afternoon.

New River Gorge Bridge, as seen from Canyon Rim Visitor Center Grounds

We have stopped often at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, but we had never seen this particular view of the bridge. As we were crossing the bridge I noticed a man and a woman standing at an overlook. When we arrived at the visitor center, the first thing we did was look for that overlook. The trail shown in the photograph displayed above leads under the bridge. Bob walked down and back up that trail (steep climb!), but was not able to walk under the bridge. The passageway was locked.

New River Gorge Bridge, as seen from Canyon Rim Visitor Center Grounds

We walked down a boardwalk to an overlook of the bridge. We could have walked farther, but neither of us felt like doing steps.

Bob and I at the overlook of the New River Gorge Bridge

We walked behind the Visitor Center, where we saw the New River Gorge.

New River Gorge
(photo by Bob)

Around 6:00 pm we lost power at the hotel. We had no electricity until 8:11 pm. We never did find out what caused the outage. The power outage did not affect the hotel only. Nearby businesses lost their power as well. By the way, soon after the power went out, we lied down and fell asleep. The power coming back on awakened me. That is how I knew the time the power came back on.

We departed Quality Inn New River on Thursday, February 17th, shortly before 7:15 am. Before leaving, we enjoyed a complementary breakfast of scrambled egg patties, sausage and biscuits; orange juice and tea/coffee; and muffin/danish.  The hot food was served to us.  The remaining foods we were free to pick up ourselves.  The server told us the way they do breakfast is not COVID related.  They do breakfast this way year round.

We reached the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border around 9:30 am.  We still had a 3 1/2-hour drive until we would be back home.  Up to this point we had avoided the forecasted rain! Ten minutes later, at Masontown exit (exit 14 on I-79), we caught up with the rain.  The rain was with us the rest of the way home.

We got off I-79 at the Slippery Rock exit.  We were getting tired of interstate travel.  The slower pace was welcome.

We stopped for lunch at Eat’n Park in Franklin.  Bob ordered a chicken sandwich with cheesy fries.  I ordered a turkey club sandwich with a fruit cup.  We each ordered pie for dessert. 

We were back on the road at 12:35 pm and returned home at 2:00 pm.  We drove a total of 1,750.40 miles, since our departure on February 8th.

This was the first time that Bob and I had ever been to the South Carolina coast. We enjoyed our visit very much — so much, in fact, that we are already talking about going back next year.

South Carolina Vacation: Myrtle Beach

Having recovered apparently from the previous days illness, we decided to drive to Myrtle Beach in the late morning on Tuesday, February 15th. It was about a 15-minute drive.  We parked along 7th Avenue and walked the boardwalk from 7th Avenue to 14th Avenue and back. It was a chilly and windy walk to 14th Avenue. 

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
You can tell how windy it was
by looking at the flags.
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
This is the SkyWheel.

The SkyWheel is not a carnival ride, but a modern, safe observation wheel towering 187 feet or about 20 stories in the air. The SkyWheel has fully enclosed gondolas with glass windows and doors for optimal views and photography. The gondolas are heated and cooled allowing for year-round operation in any type of weather. A flight includes 3 revolutions and lasts about 10 – 15 minutes. We didn’t ride the SkyWheel. I don’t care for heights!

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
Beyond the palm tree is Pier 14.

Pier 14 provides opportunities for shopping, dining and fishing. The Pier was closed for the season.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
This is the view from Pier 14.

With the wind behind us, it felt warmer as we walked back to 7th Avenue.

We viewed Pier 14 from the beach.
We viewed the SkyWheel from the beach too.
Myrtle Beach boardwalk
This is a closer view of the SkyWheel.
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
The sculpture in front of the SkyWheel
is called “The Goddess of the Sea”.
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
“The Goddess of the Sea” sculpture

On our way back to Surfside Beach we stopped at The Market Common. The Market Common is Myrtle Beach’s premiere dining, shopping and entertainment destination. We didn’t go shopping; we didn’t attend any entertainment event. We did, however, dine. We chose the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant for lunch. Bob ordered the Ahi Tuna Salad (togarashi & sesame seed crusted seared Ahi tuna, romaine, cabbage, pickled cucumbers, wasabi vinaigrette, wonton strips, sriracha drizzle).  I ordered the CBLT Sandwich (grilled chicken, bacon, Swiss, crispy onions, tomato, lettuce, fresh avocado mayo, brioche bun).  Both entrees were good; the service was excellent.

After lunch we returned to our Airbnb ”Seaside Cottage”. We would be leaving for home the next day, so we packed. We relaxed too, especially enjoying the warmth of the backyard porch.

Bob and I relaxing on our back porch.

Oh, and I can’t forget the moon. We saw the moon each and every day, while in South Carolina. The moon became more and more beautiful, as the week progressed.

Full moon
Viewed from our backyard

Isn’t the moon gorgeous?

South Carolina Vacation: Super Bowl Sunday and Valentines Day Monday

We went to bed the night of February 12th around 9:30 pm and got up around 5:30 am the next morning.

At 7:15 am, after breakfast (eggs for Bob; oatmeal for me), Bob went for a walk.  He took his umbrella, as it was drizzling. Bob walked to Food Lion and brought back tea bags and chocolates.  When Bob left, I began working on AncestryDNA “thru-lines”.  ThruLines shows how I may be related to my DNA matches. I have a cousin in Canada, who is a DNA match. We are distant cousins, as ancestry says we are 4th-6th cousins. Neither Kelly nor I have been able to figure out how we are related. The research continues…

We ate lunch at a nearby Texas Roadhouse.  Bob ordered pulled pork, rice and broccoli.  I ordered BBQ chicken, baked potato and a vegetable combo of broccoli and carrots.  We shared a slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream covered in caramel sauce.  We sat in seating near the bar. Our waitress took care of the bar patrons, as well as those seated at nearby tables. She was very good at her job.

 I noticed the temperature on our way back to our Airbnb.  It was 60 degrees, overcast and drizzling…not a good beach day, but still better there than in Warren.  At the same time it was cloudy and 24 degrees (feels like 15 degrees) in our hometown of Warren PA.

Our friend, Marge from back home, invited us to join her and Neil and Neil’s cousins, at her condo, for some food before the Super Bowl .   We decided to stay at our Airbnb.  We ate leftovers and had chips and salsa, while watching the game.  I watched the game through the halftime show and went to bed.  Bob watched the game to its conclusion and, then, went to bed.

On Valentines Day we met Marge and Neil at 9:00 am for breakfast at Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin in Garden City Beach.  I can’t recall the exact breakfast entree Bob chose, but he selected hash browns instead of pancakes.  Marge ordered Sticky Bun Pancakes (cinnamon swirled pancakes, blended with pecans and topped with cream cheese icing).  I ordered cinnamon pancakes topped with bananas and pecans.  I can’t remember what breakfast entree Neil ordered, but his breakfast included two pancakes.  Bob was the only one who didn’t order pancakes.  The food and service were good; the company was excellent.  

Bob and I had planned to make a return trip to the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk.  We didn’t make it there. We ended up staying at our Airbnb “Seaside Cottage” for rest of the day.  Soon after we got home from Flapjack’s, I got ill. Bob is a sweetheart.  He went to the store and got ginger ale for me.  

We had brought a steak with us from home specifically for Valentines Day. I took the steak out of the freezer the day before. I didn’t think I would be able to eat the steak, but I asked Bob to grill it anyway. I planned to make mashed potatoes and vegetables for side dishes. The mashed potatoes did not get made. I did heat up a can of green beans. I had very little energy. I ate one bite of steak, a few green beans and a corn muffin. I spent rest of the day and evening running to the bathroom.

I did watch two movies with Bob, in between lying down and bathroom runs.  The first movie was called “Turbulence”, and the second movie was called “Safe”. 

In “Turbulence”, there is a shootout on a flight transporting prisoners, and a flight attendant had to outwit a serial killer and land the plane herself. 

In “Safe” Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by Chinese mobsters, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei’s trail.

This was a rough day for me. I pretty much missed out on an entire day of vacation.  I wasn’t able to eat any of the chocolates that Bob gave me for Valentines Day either.

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