The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘New York’ category

Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival

This weekend is the Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival in Mayville, NY. The highlight of the festival, at least for Bob and me, is the castle made of ice blocks. The first winter festival held in Mayville was in February 1987.  Bob and I attended this year’s festival on Saturday.  As in past years the festival was held on the grounds of Lakeside Park, located on the shores of Chautauqua Lake.

We parked in a lot off Valley Street ($5.00 donation to park) and walked across NYS Route 394 to the ice castle.  We didn’t stop at the ice castle.  We walked past the gazebo to the park building, located at the opposite end of the park.  During our walk we ran into a friend, Pete F., and his wife, Linda.  We said hi to Pete, who then introduced us to Linda.  The four of us chatted for a short time, before continuing our separate ways.

We walked into the park building and looked around.  Inside the park building we found restrooms and a few vendors.  We noticed tables where tickets were being sold for a scavenger hunt and for the beer and wine tent.  Leaving the park building, we walked out on the ice-covered Chautauqua Lake.

Linda on ice-covered lake

While on the lake, it was announced a few times that anyone on the ice were on it at their own risk. I read in a local newspaper article that the ice on Chautauqua Lake a few weeks ago was approximately 12- to 18-inches thick and had melted down to a mere 6 inches. There was a square cut into the ice that would be the location of the polar bear plunge later in the day.

Linda on ice-covered lake near opening in ice

Everyone was warned to stay 50 feet away from that opening in the ice.


We stopped at each vendor tent on our way back to the ice castle.  There were food tents, a beer and wine tent, a wood carver, at least one game of chance, and a vendor tent. 

A bar made out of the ice blocks in the beer and wine tent

Chain saw carver

Some of the prizes in Ball in Bowl game

There were horse-drawn carriage rides available too.

It didn’t take long to make our way back to the ice castle.

Bob took this picture of me in front of the ice castle.

It was 12:30 pm, when we made it back to the ice castle.  I wanted to stay for the polar bear plunge, but the plunge wouldn’t happen until 2:00 pm.  It was cold.  We weren’t hungry, and there wasn’t anything going on at the festival that would hold our attention for 1 1/2 hours.  So, we left for home soon after returning to the ice castle. I guess we should have timed our arrival closer to the time of the polar bear plunge.  Oh, and fireworks would be set off later in the evening.  We didn’t see the fireworks either.


The End to Cabin Fever

As it was for much of the United States, we experienced cold weather and bitter wind chills at the end of January.  On the morning of February 2nd Pennsylvania’s legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow, which means that Spring is right around the corner.  I hope that Phil is correct in his prediction.  Regardless of whether he is right or wrong, Spring will be here on March 20th.  Here, in Northwestern Pennsylvania, the weather forecast this past Saturday for the next several days makes it look like Spring is on our doorstep.

Spring is knocking on our door!


We went for a drive late Sunday morning into the early afternoon. 

A portion of our drive was along the eastern side of the Allegheny Reservoir.  Our first stop was at Big Bend Recreation Area, located just below Kinzua Dam, where we looked for eagles.  We didn’t see any.  

We continued our drive on Pennsylvania Route 59 to Pennsylvania Route 321 past Sugar Bay on the Allegheny Reservoir.  We stopped here.

Sugar Bay on the Allegheny Reservoir

The “My Two Cents” Snowman at Sugar Bay

Bob built the snowman, while I was taking pictures of the bay.

Continuing our drive on Pennsylvania Route 321 we came to a T-intersection.  We turned left onto Pennsylvania Route 346.  At he New York state line Pennsylvania Route 346 becomes New York State Route 280.  We followed Route 280 to Allegany State Park.  

We drove through Allegany State Park, making only one photo stop.  We drove over a bridge and had gotten a few hundred feet further along the road, when I said to Bob “We have to turn around!  I saw something that I want to photograph!”.  Bob turned around.

A snow and ice sculpture I found in one of the streams at Allegany State Park.

A snow and ice sculpture

Bob said the snow and ice sculpture resembled a porcupine.  I thought it resembled a peacock or turkey, with its feathers fanned out.  

From Allegany State Park we made our way back home.  We returned home around 2:00 pm.  I am glad that we went for a drive.  What a beautiful day it was with blue skies, brilliant sunshine and a high temperature of 52 degrees!  I could feel my cabin fever breaking, as the sunshine beamed down through the moon roof and especially when I stepped out into the pleasantly warm outdoor air. 

Corning NY to Warren PA

We got up around 5:30 am the morning of Sunday, January 13.  By 6:30 am we had both showered, gotten dressed and eaten breakfast.  Breakfast was instant oatmeal cups and a banana.  

Staying in an AirBnB, where we had an entire house to ourselves, meant that what we carried in from the car was spread throughout the house.  We went room by room gathering our stuff.  We left, en route Hamburg NY, at 7:45 am.   Hamburg was not in our weekend plans.  We planned to return to Corning Museum of Glass for a few hours and then begin our drive back home.  Instead we drove to a telephone repair shop in Hamburg.  Bob’s Google Pixel 2XL phone stopped charging the previous night.  The nearest authorized repair shop (both here in NY as well as from home) to have his phone fixed was in Hamburg.

We arrived at UBREAKIFIX shortly before 10:00 am.  We have a 2 hour wait before the shop opens!  Bob thought the shop opened at 10:00 am.  We ate a second, bigger breakfast at Tim Horton’s.  Then we went to nearby McKinley Mall to kill time.

We didn’t think McKinley Mall would allow us to kill much time, as we saw many “for lease” signs on store windows.  There are more open stores at the mall than we had thought, though, and we killed sufficient time.  We made a couple purchases too–Valentines Day gifts for our granddaughters and a gutter leaf scooper for Bob.  Bob has been using his hands to remove leaves in our gutters.  The scooper will be an improvement.

Bob walked into UBREAKIFIX at noon.  He walked back out less than 10 minutes later.  No charge!  The charging port needed to be cleaned.  Bob had cleaned it but not as well as UBREAKIFIX did.  The service technician used a machine to clean the phone.  The phone is fixed and didn’t cost anything!

Leaving Hamburg we followed NY State Route 5, along Lake Erie.  We stopped at Evangola State Park (Farnham NY) so that Bob could join an online training session for diabetes prevention.  The training session began at 1:00 pm.  I went for a walk to the lake shore and took a few pictures. 

Beach at Evangola State Park

I didn’t walk on the beach because of all the driftwood lying between me and the beach.  I didn’t want to risk stumbling and falling down.  Looking back, I may have been able to find a piece of driftwood that resembled a walking stick and used that to safely cross to the beach.

Beach at Evangola State Park

I did enjoy the view, though, looking down on the beach.

I stayed out until the bitter cold air blowing across the lake got to be too much for me.  Although it was a sunny day and the temperature was in the lower 20s, the windchill was much colder.

Bob broke off the connection to his training session after 30 minutes due to bad connectivity.  He will watch the video later.

Back on NY State Route 5 we stopped briefly at the Eagle Bay pullover, located just west of Silver Creek, where I took a couple short videos of the rolling waves.


Continuing on NY State Route 5 we stopped at Chadwick Bay.  We have seen eagles at Chadwick Bay.  We didn’t see any eagles that day.  I do have a couple icy pictures to share with you, though.

Ice-Encassed Bench at Chadwick Bay

This bench would be a very cold seat!

We turned south onto Central Avenue and drove through Fredonia NY.   We picked up Route 73 south and hopped onto Route 380 through Stockton NY.  We continued driving on Route 380 through Falconer to Route 62 and home. 

We returned home by 5:00 pm, after a fuel stop and going through a car wash.


Corning Museum of Glass

We spent the night of Saturday, January 12, in Corning NY.  The purpose of our trip was to visit Corning Museum of Glass. Corning is an approximate 3-hour drive from our home in Warren PA.  We could easily have driven to Corning, visited the museum, and driven back home all in one day.  Spending the night in Corning, though, made for a relaxing weekend.

We arrived at Corning Museum of Glass around 9:30 am.  For the next 3 hours we toured the museum.  This was the first time either Bob or I visited Corning Museum of Glass.  As described on its webpage, the museum “tells the story of a single material: glass … The story of glass is a story about art, history, culture, technology, science, craft and design … Nearly 50,000 objects representing more than 3,500 years of history are displayed in the galleries…”. It would be a daunting task to see and read about each glass object in the museum in a entire day’s visit, let alone a 3-hour visit.  We didn’t even try to see or photograph everything. 

Mosaic Portrait This portrait shows Elena of Montenegro, who was queen consort of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.

Stained Glass Window from Rochroane Castle

We did watch a 30-minute Hot Glass Demo, while at the museum.  The Hot Glass Demo was a live, narrated glassblowing demonstration.   A glassmaker took glowing gobs of molten glass on the end of a pipe and skillfully shaped them into a bowl.  A narrator talked through the process, and cameras inside the 2300°F furnace ensured that we didn’t miss a single step of the process.

Hot Glass Demo – Gathering a little glass out of furnace.

Hot Glass Demo – shaping and cooling glass

Hot Glass Demo – Glass goes back into the furnace.

Hot Glass Demo – Glassmaker goes back to the bench.

Hot Glass Demo – shaping and cooling glass

Hot Glass Demo – glass blowing

Hot Glass Demo – glass blowing

Hot Glass Demo – adding foot to bottom of glass

Hot Glass Demo – adding foot to bottom of glass

Hot Glass Demo – working on upper part of bowl

Hot Glass Demo – glass blowing.

After this step, the bowl was placed back in furnace and spun.

Hot Glass Demo – Bowl after spinning in furnace

Hot Glass Demo – Bowl after spinning in furnace

What an awesome demo!

We purchased our museum tickets online a few days prior to our travels.  Tickets may be purchased at the museum as well.  Tickets cost $20 for adults.  Kids and teens under the age of 17 are free.  Tickets are good for two consecutive days.

We left the Corning Museum of Glass at 12:30 pm and drove to Elmira NY, where we ate lunch at Old Country Buffet.  It had been a long time since we enjoyed a meal at Old Country Buffet.  The Erie restaurant closed its doors some time ago.

On our way to our night’s accommodation we stopped at Wegmans to pick up a few grocery items that we felt were needed for the rest of the day,  night and next morning.

From Wegmans we drove to our Airbnb accommodation.  It was a short drive, as Wegmans is only a mile away.  Check-in was 2:00 pm.  Our arrival was around 2:20 pm. 

We spent rest of the afternoon and evening at “home”.  We watched TV and surfed the internet.  We stayed in for dinner as well, having eaten two meals out already.  Lunch at Old Country Buffet was very filling.  We chose to eat a light dinner — a bowl of soup.  

I went to bed at 9:00 pm.  Bob followed about 1 1/2 hours later.

We planned to make a return trip to Corning Museum of Glass the next morning.  Our plans, though, changed.  I will write about our change of plans in my next blog post.

Our First AirBnB Stay

With our Discover credit card, we automatically earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases.  5% cash back can be earned each quarter at different places (e.g. grocery stores, Amazon, fuel stations), when offer is activated.  There is a potential for earning a lot of reward points, with Discover’s cash back rewards program.  We cash in our reward points for gift cards.  For several years we used gift cards to partially fund our stays at Best Western hotels.  Best Western gift cards are no longer available from  Discover’s cash back rewards program.  A new offering is AirBnB gift cards, which we used to pay for our first AirBnB stay.

We spent the night of Saturday, January 12, in Corning NY in a 2-bedroom house.  Our “home away from home” was small, but comfortable. 

This AirBnB rental is located over a garage, nestled in woods.

We climbed up several steps to reach the entry door.  Bob entered the door code, opened the door and we walked inside.  The entry door opens to a very tiny foyer, with a coat closet opposite the door.  

The first room you enter from the foyer is a small living room. 

Living Room

The living room is comfortably furnished by an arm chair, flat screen TV on a stand, coffee table and sofa.  Our hosts (Luke and Natalie) provided blanket throws for each seat in the living room.  For our viewing pleasure DVDs, local TV and Netflix were provided.  We found a notebook on the coffee table in which Luke and Natalie welcomed us to their home.

Luke and Natalie’s note welcoming us to their home.

I responded to our hosts’ welcome note, before our departure.

Leaving the living room, you enter the center hall.  At one end of the hall is a huge linen closet.  Inside the linen closet I saw, among other objects, bedroom and bathroom linens, a few games and perhaps toys for children to play with.  A small bathroom is located at the other end of the hallway. 


Toilet paper, Kleenex, shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, and toothpaste were some of the products provided by our hosts.

Three other rooms are reached by way of the hallway: two bedrooms and the kitchen. 

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2

Queen-sized beds predominate both bedrooms.  Our hosts provided bed linens, towels and wash cloths. The beds were very comfortable and provided for a good night’s sleep.


The kitchen contains all the essentials of cooking and dining to include cookware, dinnerware, utensils, stove, oven, microwave, toaster, Keurig coffeemaker, spices, Pam spray and so much more.  We found coffee pods and creamer, as well as bottled water available for our use.  We didn’t open it, but there was even a bottle of wine provided!  Cleanup was a breeze too.  Dish soap, sponge, paper towels and tea towels were provided.  We did very little cooking during our one-night stay.  We did heat up soup for dinner, had a light breakfast of instant oatmeal and a banana, and took advantage of the Keurig coffeemaker and microwave.  I would have no difficulty preparing a meal in this kitchen.

A door in the kitchen, by the table, enters the laundry room.  This room looks like it could have been a porch at one time.  A washer and dryer are located at one end of the room.  A laptop friendly table with printer, room for a laptop and two chairs is located on the opposite end.  There is a door in the laundry room that leads outside to a patio and to the spacious back yard, both of which would be very welcoming on Spring, Summer and Fall days.

All photographs, with the exception of the notebook, contained in this post are screenshots from the AirBnB listing.  Lucas gave me permission to use the photographs in this blog post.  The complete listing for this AirBnB rental may be seen by clicking here.

This AirBnB rental, which is located on a quiet street, is a very nice accommodation.  The rental cost was less than $30 more than the cost of a hotel room with two queen bed at Americas Best Value Inn, located in nearby Painted Post.  Our “home away from home” was much nicer than staying in a room in a hotel!  I highly recommend this AirBnB rental to individual travelers, couples, and families with two small children.

Thank you, Luke and Natalie, for sharing your home with us.  We hope to make a return visit!



Eagle in a Tree

We saw four eagles during the afternoon of Saturday, September 29th.

We saw the first three eagles just below Kinzua Dam in Warren County, PA. The eagles were circling around the Allegheny River. By the time we got close enough to even stand a chance of getting a decent picture, the eagles were gone.

I spotted the fourth eagle in a tree later in the afternoon, while Bob was passing it going about 50 mph. I said “an eagle an eagle”! Bob turned around so that I could capture a photograph of the eagle.

_LG28470Eagle in a Tree

This lone eagle was located along U.S. Route 62, not far from Frewsburg, NY.

The Rain Day That Wasn’t

Shortly before 9:00 am on Sunday, May 27th, we left our home in Warren PA, en route Letchworth State Park in New York. We arrived at Letchworth State Park at 10:45 am. The Castile entrance to the park was manned that morning, so our Empire Pass saved us the $10.00 entrance fee. We drove to High Falls and walked from there to Middle Falls.

_LG26121Walking towards the Upper Falls


Upper Falls

_LG26126Upper Falls

The direct link for this video of Upper Falls may be found here, in the event it doesn’t appear (or play) on your device.

We saw a snake on our way to the Middle Falls.

_LG26134Garter Snake seen on trail between Upper Falls and Middle Falls

_LG26136Middle Falls

_LG26139Middle Falls

IMG_20180527_113140Bob and I at Middle Falls

Returning to our car, we drove to the Council Grounds. The Council Grounds preserves a portion of the native heritage of the Genesee Valley.

_LG26143Log House Built by Mary Jemison


Next to the log house is a fenced-in area, in which stands a memorial to Mary Jemison.

_LG26153Mary Jemison Memorial
The remains of Mary Jemison are buried in this enclosure.


Mary Jemison Memorial


Mary Jemison Memorial

_LG26148Seneca Council House


The final structure standing on the Council Grounds is a viewing platform.

_LG26152Viewing Platform
I believe, at one time, that this viewing platform provided a place from which one could
contemplate the view over the Glen Iris towards the railroad trestle and Upper Falls.
From this viewing platform I contemplated the view of the Council Grounds.

_LG26149Contemplating the View of the Council Grounds

From the Council Grounds we drove to Inspiration Point.


We passed by a Civil War Monument on our way to Inspiration Point.

_LG26157The monument was decorated with flags in honor of Memorial Day.

_LG26167Inspiration Point

_LG26169Both the Upper and Middle Falls are visible from Inspiration Point.

We left Letchworth State Prak, after visiting Inspiration Point. We used the Castile entrance both entering and exiting the park.

It was around 1:30 pm, when we exited the park. We drove to Perry, New York and ate lunch at the Charcoal Corral.

20180527_170355735_iOSthe Charcoal Corral

The Charcoal Corral is a go-to place in Western New York for great char-grilled food and entertainment – including a drive-in, miniature golf, a video arcade, and much much more.  They have a restaurant and drive-in combo with an eat in dining area and an outdoor dining area. They also sell pizzas and ice cream. They have an arcade and putt putt golf. On select days they have inflatables for the children, cruise nights, talents shows and more. I wish we lived closer to the Charcoal Corral, as this would be an excellent place to bring our grandchildren.

In the photograph displayed above, the restaurant at the far left serves char-grilled food.  Pizzas are sold in the center, and ice cream is sold in the Ice Cream Parlor.

20180527_170711456_iOSInside the Charcoal Corral Restaurant
Food is ordered at this counter.
You have a choice to eat indoors or outside.

I ordered two pieces of white broasted chicken (breast and wing) with macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and a dinner roll. Bob ordered a taco salad. Our food selections were good, and the price paid was a good value.

After lunch, we walked a couple doors down, to the Ice Cream Parlor, and had ice cream for dessert (a twist custard cone for me and a peanut butter sundae for Bob).

We returned to Letchworth State Park after lunch. We entered via the Mt. Morris entrance at a little after 2:00 pm and made our way south through the park back to the Castile exit. We made several stops on our way south.

_LG26175We stopped at the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook.

_LG26177We stopped at the Hogsback Overlook,
which is so named because
the ridge jutting into the canyon resembles a wild boar’s high hunched spine.

We made three more stops before leaving Letchworth State Park.  We stopped at the Tea Table Overlook, Wolf Creek and the Big Bend Overlook.


The Tea Table Overlook is several hundred feet above the Genesee Valley Gorge floor. The Genesee River flows through the gorge.



Wolf Creek


One of the views from the Big Bend Overlook

We departed Letchworth State Park at 3:30 pm and began our drive home.

Upon reaching I-86 we decided to take routes 280 and 59 home. I was driving at the time and had been driving for only a short time. My knee started to hurt, with the pain radiating into my calf. I guess I overdid the walking, while at Letchworth State Park.  It was past time for Extra Strength Tylenol, which I take every 8 hours, as needed, whenever we are riding the motorcycle, driving the car, or doing a lot of walking. We pulled into the parking lot for Quaker Lake at Allegany State Park to change drivers. Who do we see in the parking lot, a few of our local motorcycle riding friends — Paul and Debbie, Scott and Donna, and Craig Myers out on on Sunday ride. Paul said they were on their way to Bob’s Trading Post for ice cream and asked us if we wanted to join them. We said “yes” and tagged along.

_LG26198Following our friends to Bob’s Trading Post

20180527_224758515_iOSBob’s Trading Post, with an eye-catching car parked in front of it

20180527_224036104_iOSPaul, Donna, Debbie, Craig, Bob, Scott and I at Bob’s Trading Post

After ice cream, Bob and I returned home via Longhouse Scenic Drive and Route 59.  For the first time I heard Longhouse Scenic Drive referred to as “LSD”.  What a hoot!

Bob and I returned home around 7:30 pm. I don’t know what time the others returned home, as we left a few minutes before they did. I don’t know what route they took home.

It was a long, but great day. The weather was much better than expected. We expected cloudy skies and an all-day rain with some thunder. We saw very little rain today. It was cloudy at times, but sunshine was plentiful too.

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