The Beauty Around Us

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

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.




_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.

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.

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

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.

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.





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.



Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day.

I am a Veteran.

I graduated high school in May 1974 and shortly thereafter enlisted in the Army under the Delayed Enlistment Program.  The 6-month delay provided me an opportunity to get ready for my transition to the Army. During this time, I became better physically and mentally prepared before departing for Basic Training.  The only prerequisite I remember having to fulfill before my 6 months were up is that I needed to lose weight in order to enlist in the Army.  I think I had to lose 30 pounds.  I lost the 30 pounds and more.  My Army enlistment began in November 1974, when I was 18 years old.  I served 3 years.

My basic training was conducted at Ft. McClellan (Alabama).

Ft. McClellan, AL
early 1975

I apologize for the poor picture quality.  It is the best scan I could get from a picture taken with 110 film.  This picture was taken on the occasion of my graduation from Basic Training.

From Ft. McClellan I would travel to Ft. Benjamin Harrison (Indiana) for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). I studied to be an Army Stenographer, known as 71C MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). From Ft. Benjamin Harrison, I would travel to Ft. Hood (Texas) and later to V Corps Headquarters in Frankfurt (West Germany).

West Germany
sometime between April 1976 and December 1976

I served in the military both during wartime and peacetime.  My wartime service was short lived.  I joined the Army in November 1974.  The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975.  I cannot recall even considering that the United States was at war, when I joined the Army.  I wanted to serve my country.  Remember earlier when I said that I needed to lose weight in order to enlist in the Army.  I met that prerequisite.  I wanted to serve my country.

Even though the majority of my military service was during a time when the United States was at peace, I was not out of harm’s way.  While assigned to V Corps Headquarters, I worked in the Abrams Building located in Frankfurt, West Germany.  I was at work during the June 1, 1976 bomb explosions.  An article in the New York Times reported that on June 1, 1976 “Two time bombs exploded … in the headquarters of the United States Army’s V Corps, injuring 15 Americans and a German civilian, two of them seriously …”.

One bomb went off on the main floor of the Abrams Building; the second bomb went off in the Officer’s Club located behind the Abrams Building.  I was riding a paternoster (translates to “our Father”) inside the Abrams Building at the time the first bomb went off.  A paternoster is an elevator which consists of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping. Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like, or stay on the paternoster and loop completely around. The sound of the exploding bomb and the vibration caused by the explosion was like a hundred file cabinets had toppled over.

Here is a video that I found of someone getting on and getting off a paternoster.


Our granddaughters entered Kindergarten in September, this year.  Picture day was late September.  Yesterday I received prints of the girls that I ordered.  This morning I hung the girls’ pictures on our wall.

UntitledOur Granddaughters

The photograph in the middle is a picture that I took in September 2016 to commemorate the girls’ first day of the second (and final) year of preschool.  In that photograph Harper is standing, and Juniper is sitting with her back to the camera.  What a photo session that was!  On either side of the middle photograph are the girls’ Kindergarten pictures.  Harper is on the left; Juniper is on the right.

How time flies!  Harper and Juniper are growing up WAY too fast!

Speaking of Kindergarten …

00-Kindergarten-Image 0126
This is my Kindergarten picture 🙂
School Year 1961-1962
56 years ago!




A Dusting of Snow

Welcome to November.

Today I saw the first snow of the 2017-2018 Winter season.


DB011860Looking across our back yard

DB011861A neighbor’s back yard


Lady Bird Johnson said it well.
“When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season,
I’ll know I’m growing old!”


DB011859The shed in our back yard

Not much snow fell, only a dusting.  It won’t be long before a white blanket covers the ground.



Halloween 2017

It is October 31.  It is trick or treat night in our town from 6:00-8:00 pm.  This is going to be quick, as I am handing out candy AND penning this post.

Our first trick-or-treaters were our granddaughters, along with their mom.

Halloween 2017
Our granddaughters and their mom

The girls are dressed as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.  Stacey is dressed as Joyce in the Netflix show “Stranger Things”.

The girls’ cousin arrived 10 minutes later.

Halloween 2017
Harper, Juniper, Stacey and Maddi

Maddi took a picture of Bob and me with our granddaughters and Stacey.

Halloween 2017
Happy Halloween!

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.

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.


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.

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.


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