The Beauty Around Us

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

Posts from the ‘Pennsylvania’ category

Erie Zoo

While in Erie this past Wednesday, in addition to driving around Presque Isle State Park, we visited the Erie Zoo.

Since the Erie Zoo reopened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to gain admittance one has had to make an online reservation.  No online reservations are required for admittance throughout the month of November.  I like being able to go to the zoo on an impromptu basis.  When we arrived at the zoo, we learned that admission was free for the day.  We have a season pass, so the fact that the zoo was free that day had no bearing.  However, we did wonder if the zoo would be busy, given that admission was free.  There were very few other people at the zoo.

This is a video that Bob took with our GoPro7 camera during our visit to the Erie Zoo.

I took a few pictures too, which I will share.  Some pictures are better than others. I really do not care to take pictures through glass or fences.  I have such a difficult time capturing a good picture.  I battled with the sun, too, and it played a part in diminishing the quality of the pictures as well.

Patagonian Cavy

Barbados Blackbelly Sheep

Canadian Lynx

Amur Leopard

Warthog

Southern White Rhino

Jaguar

Jaguar

Black-Handed Spider Monkey

Bornean Orangutan

All rides, Gift Shop, and concessions are closed for the season.  The zoo will close for the season on November 30th.

 

Presque Isle State Park

Bob and I drove to Erie PA yesterday morning. While in Erie, we visited Presque Isle State Park.  As we drove around Presque Isle, we made a few photo stops.

Our first stop was at the Presque Isle Waterworks Lighthouse.

Waterworks Lighthouse

This “lighthouse” is actually an emergency intake tower.  It is often mistaken for a lighthouse.  Bob and I have always referred to the tower as a lighthouse.

Our next photo stop was at Perry Monument.

Perry Monument

The Perry Monument commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry earned the Battle of 1812’s greatest naval victory.

Bob and I sat on the wall surrounding Perry Monument for a short while.  We enjoyed the bright sunshine and warm temperatures.  Boy, though, was the wind strong! I put my hood up to tame my hair that was blowing in the wind.

Bob and I at Perry Monument

Our next stop was at the North Pier Lighthouse.

North Pier Lighthouse

Seagulls were congregated in front of the lighthouse.  I am sure that they were enjoying the sunshine too.

All of a sudden several seagulls took flight!

North Pier Lighthouse

Right before taking this photograph, I had changed the settings on my camera to take pictures of birds in flight.  I had my camera poised, ready to press the shutter button.  A voice behind me said “I don’t mean to be an a$$, but …”, just as I took this photograph.

North Pier Lighthouse

I didn’t mind him being an a$$ at all!

Our last stop was at Horseshoe Pond.  There are several houseboats moored at Horseshoe Pond.

Horseshoe Pond Houseboats

Of all the houseboats at Horseshoe Pond, this houseboat with a replica of the North Pier lighthouse is my favorite.

Horseshoe Pond Houseboats

From Presque Isle we drove to the Erie Zoo, the subject of my next blog post.

Bicycle Ride Around Lake Wilhelm

We got a later start than on Saturday, but we went on another bicycle ride on Sunday.

We departed home at 8:40 am en route Lake Wilhelm, located at Maurice K. Goddard State Park near Sandy Lake, PA.  We arrived at the Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot at approximately 10:30 am and began our bicycle ride shortly afterward.  

Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking

The John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail is 12 miles long.  The paved, predominantly off-road trail is a pleasant, largely wooded loop around the northern and southern shores of Lake Wilhelm.  The Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot, where we began our ride, is located on the lake’s north side.  This location was a good place to begin our ride around the lake, as the mileage count begins here.  The trail on the lake’s north side contains several sharp bends and short, steep runs that were challenging. Bob referred to the northern portion of the trail as a roller coaster ride. 

Lake Wilhelm trail

I had to walk my bicycle up some of the hill climbs.

We stopped briefly at this shelter to enjoy the tranquility.
The trail was not heavily traveled the day we rode our bicycles.
In fact we had the trail to ourselves much of the time.

Serenity!

We stopped briefly at the Lake Wilhelm Dam, which is about the halfway point around the lake.

The trail on the lake’s south side, some of which shares Creek Road, was much less challenging than the north side, with the exception of one hill climb.  There is a choice there, though, to follow the trail up the hill or stay on Creek Road.  I stayed on Creek Road, as I had my fill of hill climbs by then!  Bob chose to follow the trail up the hill. 

We stopped for a snack and a rest break at Boat Launch No. 1, along the south shore of the lake.  Our snack was whole grain peanut butter sandwich crackers. 

Boat Launch No. 1

Picnic areas are abundant and restrooms can be found at each of the four boat launches around the lake. 

While resting, I took several pictures of a tree swallow that was sitting on a tree branch. 

Tree Swallow

Hello Human. What are you doing down there?

 

I had just packed up my camera, when wouldn’t you know it, here comes an eagle soaring across the lake.  

Later, during our ride, we saw two osprey at their nest.  I didn’t take any pictures of the eagle, but I did take several pictures of the osprey.

Osprey in Flight

Osprey on Tree Branch

Osprey on Nest

Osprey Looking at Me!

I stopped riding at the marina, shortly before the bridge on Lake Wilhelm Road that crosses over the lake. I just didn’t feel like riding anymore.  Besides I had already ridden 12 miles–the distance around the lake.

Lake Wilhelm Marina

Bob rode from the marina rest of the way to the car, put his bicycle on the carrier and drove over and picked up me and my bicycle.  

We rode bicycles around Lake Wilhelm one time before, in June 2017.  The bicycles that we rode in 2017 were folding bicycles.  I expected the trail to be easier with our Specialized bicycles than it was with our folding bicycles.  It was easier, but still strenuous.

We were en route home at 1:45 pm.  We made two stops on the way home.  Both stops were in Titusville, PA.  We made a fuel stop at Sheetz and a lunch stop at Burger King.  We returned home around 4:00 pm.

What a great workout we had on our bicycles this weekend.  We rode 12 miles round trip on Saturday on the Allegheny River Trail and another 12 miles on Sunday.  Saturday’s ride (on a predominately flat surface) was much, much easier than Sunday’s ride!

Where will we ride next?  Stay tuned!

Allegheny River Trail: Emlenton to Rockland

We departed our home in Warren PA at 7:30 am en route Emlenton PA and the Allegheny River Trail.   We arrived on Main Street in Emlenton at 9:05 am.   We followed signs to the Allegheny River Trail.  Road signs pointed us onto the bike trail.  Bob was hesitant to drive on the bike trail.  I encouraged him to do so, and we came upon a parking area quickly.  The Allegheny River Trail is 28.2 miles of flat, smooth, asphalt surface from Emlenton to Franklin.  We chose to bicycle only a portion of the trail, from Emlenton to Rockland Tunnel and back. 

The beginning of the trail is bordered by a white fence for a short time.

Soon the trail is between the Allegheny River and a wooded hillside.

Seen from the trail

Note the 1917 date on the tunnel.

Dotter Access Area

Dotter Access Area. There are beautiful views of the river along the trail. This is one such view.

Dotter Access Area seen from the trail

Rockland Tunnel

The 2,868-foot Rockland Tunnel is pitch black.  Reflectors mark the trail edges and center.  We had strong flashlights mounted on our bicycles.  Bob rode through the tunnel; I didn’t.  Almost as soon as I entered the tunnel, I began to feel claustrophobic.  My arms and legs tensed up, and my balance felt off.   I stopped and turned my bicycle around.  As soon as I could see the light at the tunnel entrance, I began to feel better. 

I walked inside Rockland Tunnel a little ways to get this picture.

Bob has returned from riding through Rockland Tunnel.

We stopped at this bench for a short rest, while on our way back to the Emlenton trail head.

We enjoyed this view, while sitting on the bench.

I took this picture facing away from the bench.

I rode 11.12 miles round trip.  Bob rode a little more than me because he rode through the tunnel and back.  It was 11:37 am, when we completed our ride.

It was an excellent day for a bicycle ride.  It was overcast, and the temperature stayed in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

We plan to ride more of the Allegheny River Trail later this year.

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 1: Warren, PA to Annapolis, MD

We departed home at 7;15 am on Saturday, April 6th, en route Chincoteague, VA.  We made a few stops along the way.

Our first stop was at 9:00 am for breakfast at The Dutch Pantry in Clearfield, PA.  We both had omelettes–a Western Omelet for me and a Veggie Omelet for Bob.  Accompanying Bob’s omelette was a strawberry yogurt, rye toast and coffee.  I ordered home fries, wheat toast and tea to accompany my omelet.  Our meals included a small apple fritter.   Breakfast was filling and delicious.  We were back on the road at 9:40 am.

Our second stop was at a rest area.

Crystal Springs, PA Rest Area on Interstate 70

The Crystal Springs Rest Area is a pretty place to stop, when you need a break from driving.

Our third stop was at 2:00 pm at Fort George Meade, MD.  Bob’s cousin moved recently from the state of Washington to Fort George Meade.  Because our route to Chincoteague would take us very near their new home we decided to pay a visit to Chris and his family, providing Amy was up for a visit.  Amy gave birth to their fourth child 5 days prior, and we weren’t sure if she would be up for a visit.  Amy wanted us to come, so that is what we did.  

Chris met us at the Demps Visitor Control Center and escorted us to his house.  We went through a vehicle inspection center, where our IDs were requested and they took down our license number.  Chris signed us onto the post.   We expected to have our car inspected; no inspection was performed.

We spent several hours with Bob’s cousins.  I got to hold 5-day-old Michael, and we got to spend a lot of time with David and Sarah.  Peter was sick, so we didn’t spend much time with him.  Chris, Bob, David, Sarah and I went to a nearby playground.  The children enjoyed swinging and digging in the sand. 

Back at the house David drew two maze games, one for Bob and the other for me.  As with any maze, we started at one point and had to find the right path to the exit. I was impressed that a 6-year-old boy drew such intricate mazes.  Sarah and I played with stickers.  Bob and I read to Sarah and David too.

Bob reading to his cousins, Sarah and David (photo by Chris)

Dinner was calzones with marina sauce, beans and brownies or honey cake for dessert.  Bob and I chose a slice of honey cake for dessert.  Dinner was delicious.

We enjoyed our visit with Chris, Amy and their children very much.  Thank you, Amy and Chris, for inviting us into your home and for dinner.

Our fiourth and last stop was at Best Western in Annapolis, where we spent the night.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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. 

Presque Isle State Park Day Trip

We left home at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 26th, en route Erie.  I did not like traveling on either Follett Run Road or Preston Road, both of which were snow covered and hilly.  The road surface for the remainder of our drive to Erie was good.  We drove to the following destinations, while in Erie:  Presque Isle State Park. Cheddars Scratch Kitchen, Best Buy and Sam’s Club.

Arriving at Presque Isle State Park, we drove around the peninsula, making a few stops along the way. 

Soon after entering the park, we noticed the trees were coated with white snow.

The snow-covered trees along Peninsula Drive were gorgeous!

We saw the new emergency intake tower, which often is mistaken for a lighthouse, at the Waterworks area.  Bob and I have always referred to the tower as a lighthouse.  I told Bob that the lighthouse was in a different spot, when we first saw it.  Bob said no it wasn’t.  I said yes it is.  Well, I am right.  I have photographic and written proof!

This was the old Waterworks Lighthouse.

The old Waterworks Lighthouse was removed in late 2017.  It is believed that the emergency intake tower was installed in the early 1900s. The valve apparatus has not been operational for decades,

The newly restored and repainted lighthouse was installed in September 2018.  It is located to the left of the original lighthouse and quite a bit forward of the sign seen in the photograph displayed above.  It was installed on land, not on water.  Donations helped to pay for the $80,000 project, with $50,000 coming from the Dan and Sallie Shipley Charitable Fund.

This is the new Waterworks Lighthouse.

Jayme, one of Bob’s coworkers, told Bob that he would be ice fishing on either Misery Bay or Horseshoe Pond.  We planned to walk across the ice to where Jayme was fishing.  As it turned out, Jayme didn’t go to Presque Isle to ice fish, as he had heard that the ice wasn’t good.  There were some ice fishing huts both on Misery Bay and Horseshoe Pond.

Horseshoe Pond Houseboats and Ice Fishing Hut

This houseboat with a replica of the North Pier Lighthouse is my favorite of all the houseboats on Horseshoe Pond.

Panoramic Image of some of the houseboats on Horseshoe Pond and Ice Fishing Huts

Continuing around Presque Isle we stopped at the Waterworks area, located across Peninsula Drive from where we had stopped earlier to admire the new Waterworks Lighthouse.  We were on the lake side of the peninsula.

Lake Erie

Today was Snow Day at Presque Isle State Park.  At the event, organized by the Presque Isle Partnership, visitors could enjoy everything from dog sled and snow show demonstrations, to outdoor cooking and ice fishing.  Our interest in stopping at this event was to see a dog sled demonstration, which we did. 

Bob captured video of the dog sled demonstration, while I captured still images.  Bob’s video is short, only a little over a minute.  So please do click on the play button!

 

 

Dog Sled Demo at Presque Isle Snow Day event

 

Shortly before the dog sled demo we petted one of the Siberian Huskies, a beautiful girl named Meeka.  She was really soft!  Meeka was the lead dog in the dog sled demonstration that we watched.

From Presque Isle State Park we drove to Cheddars Scratch Kitchen, where we ate lunch.  Bob ordered from the “Lighter Side”.  The entree Bob chose was bourbon-glazed grilled salmon over seasoned rice, broccoli cheese casserole and a house salad.  I ordered from “Comfort Food”.  My entree was homemade chicken pot pie with a house salad.  We enjoyed both of our meals.

From Cheddars we drove to Best Buy.  In June 2017 I purchased a 10.5 in. 256 GB iPad Pro tablet.  At the time I was in a quandary.  Do I buy the 10.5 in. tablet or the bigger, more expensive 12.9 in. tablet.  I chose the 10.5 in. tablet because I thought the larger tablet would be too big for me.  In hindsight, I should have purchased the 12.9 in. tablet.  Well, today, I purchased a new 12.9 in. 256 GB iPad Pro tablet, along with a Smart Keyboard case and Apple Pencil.  The Smart Keyboard case was not in stock.  I am expecting delivery of the Smart Keyboard case by Tuesday, Jan. 29th.  The new Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to my iPad, a feature that I love.  So, I am a happy owner of a new iPad Pro tablet!  I plan to sell my 10.5 in. iPad Pro, along with its keyboard and pencil, as a package in the near future.

From Best Buy we drove to Sam’s Club, where we picked up a few groceries.  We renewed our Sam’s Club membership in December last year, after allowing the membership to lapse a few months prior when Sam’s Club closed in Jamestown, NY.  The Sam’s Club in Erie is farther for us to drive than it was for us to go to Sam’s Club in Jamestown.  After several months without a membership, we decided that we go to Erie often enough that a Sam’s Club membership would be worthwhile.  Besides I miss some of the foods and paper products that we would buy at Sam’s Club.  The reason for driving to Erie on Saturday was to go to Sam’s Club.

From Sam’s Club we made our way back home.  I didn’t believe snow was in Saturday’s forecast.  Well, it snowed the whole way back home!

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