The Beauty Around Us

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

Audubon Community Nature Center Visit

Bob and I drove to our local Audubon Center, located in Jamestown NY, yesterday afternoon. We walked a little more than 2 miles. I surprised Bob when I chose to walk as far as we did. I surprised myself too!

If you click here, you will find a map of the trails at the Audubon Center. We began our walk on the blue Overlook Trail.

We saw a Canada Goose, shortly after beginning our walk on the Overlook Trail.
We stopped at the Blue Heron Overlook that overlooks Big Pond.
We saw two Red-Winged Blackbirds from the Blue Heron Overlook.
We saw a Canada goose from the Blue Heron Overlook. We think the goose was sitting on a nest.

Leaving the Blue Heron Overlook we took a connecting trail to the yellow Big Pond Trail.

Along the connecting trail we saw a Pine Warbler.
We saw a Green Heron, too, while on the connecting trail.
We saw one more warbler, while on the connecting trail. This is a Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

We took the yellow Big Pond Trail alongside the Bluebird Field.

We saw a Northern Flicker, while walking alongside the Bluebird Field.
We also saw a Tree Swallow, while walking alongside the Bluebird Field.

What we didn’t see that I had hoped to see was a bluebird in the Bluebird Field.

We took a break here, with this beautiful view of Big Pond.
We were about opposite the Blue Heron Overlook at this point.
This is the Rosanne Stark Memorial Swing, located along the Big Pond Trail.
A nearby plaque stated that “Rosanne Stark volunteered at Audubon Community Nature Center for many years. She initiated several projects here including a native plant garden. She was especially fond of crows and enjoyed feeding and observing their activities from her Ashville home.
Rose was also a passionate teacher. She was instrumental in inviting Audubon’s Naturlists into classrooms at Chautauqua Lake School, where she was fondly knows as “The Frog Lady”. Rose loved history. Her dedication, humor, and creativity captivated students and brought historical characters and scenarios to life.
Rose’s warmth and enthusiasm endeared her to family and friends. She will always be remembered as a creatively thoughtful person who made friends easily.
She loved to laugh. She loved to learn.”
Near the swing was a tree with a large hole.
Bob took a picture of me and the tree.
I took a close-up picture of the tree bottom.

Soon we came to a bridge.

We were still on Big Pond Trail, when we crossed over Hemlock Bridge.

Soon after crossing over Hemlock Bridge, we walked the orange Spatterdock Trail that circles Spatterdock Pond. We made our way to a tower that looks out on Big Pond via Spatterdock and a connecting trail. We walked along the top end of Spatterdock Pond.

Hugh’s Tower overlooks Big Pond.
We have climbed this tower on past visits to the Audubon Center. We didn’t climb the tower yesterday, as I didn’t feel like doing steps.

Leaving the tower we used a connecting trail, Spatterdock Trail, and a small part of the Overlook Trail to make our way back to the parking lot.

We saw this Canada Goose family along the way.

No trip to the Audubon Center would be complete without visiting Liberty. So, we visited her enclosure on our way back to the parking lot.

Say hello to Liberty!
Liberty was found in the state of Washington, with an infected cut on her left wing. She cannot be released because the muscle damage in her wing prevents her from flying well enough to hunt in the wild.
Liberty can fly short distances inside her habitat.
Liberty has lived at the Audubon Center since June 2002.
A group of volunteers take good care of her.

PLEASE NOTE: All photographs in this blog post may be viewed larger by visiting Flickr, for as long as I have Flickr. Please click here to view larger-size images for this blog post.

Chincoteague VA Vacation (4th post)

We got up around 6:00 am on Monday, April 18th and saw another gorgeous sunrise.  

Chincoteague Island Sunrise

My breakfast was two bowls of oatmeal in a cup.  I included sliced peaches in one bowl.  I also ate an orange.  Bob ordered from McDonalds. With the exception of Bob’s McDonalds breakfast, we ate breakfast at our AirBnb “Tranquil Shores” throughout our vacation.

We ate lunch at “Tranquil Shores”.  We had plenty of leftovers to put together a very filling lunch.  Leftovers included grilled ham steak, macaroni and cheese, two hush puppies each and three shrimp each.  For dessert we had applesauce.

For dinner we ordered delivery (free anywhere on the island) from Famous Pizza and Subs.  It was our first time ordering from this restaurant. Our order was for two baked spaghetti with garden salad and garlic toast.  We added meatballs to one spaghetti order.   We shared the meatballs.   

Baked Spaghetti Dinners

We are happy that the restaurant delivered, as it was a chilly, windy and rainy day.   Dinner was delicious.  We could have easily split one spaghetti dinner with meatballs.  I couldn’t eat all of my spaghetti.  It will not go to waste, though.  I placed it in a storage container, and we will carry it home with us in the cooler.

So, this was a stay-at-home day. It was a relaxing day.  We read, surfed the Internet, and watched TV.  Bob played the ukulele. We packed for our drive back home.


We departed Chincoteague at 7:30 am on Tuesday, April 19th. It took us longer to get home than it took to get to Chincoteague because we told the GPS to avoid highways on our way home.

We ate breakfast at Dayton’s Restaurant in Salisbury MD.  This appeared a popular restaurant. There was seating available, but not much! It seemed the waitresses knew most of the patrons by name. The food and service were both great.

Early afternoon we stopped at Sheetz in Lancaster PA for a bathroom break and to pick up a light lunch/snacks. 

Our route took us over two mountains — Blue Mountain and Second Mountain — via seven-mile long Gold Mine Road. Gold Mine Road begins in Union Township PA off Route 443 and ends on Route 325 south of Tower City in Schuylkill County, near the Dauphin County line. 

We are on Gold Mine Road,
crossing over Second Mountain.
GPS indicated that we were in Jonestown PA.
We are on Gold Mine Road,
soon after crossing over Second Mountain.
GPS indicated that we were in Tower City PA.

It really was surprising where our GPS took us, when we told it to avoid highways.

The GPS directed us onto the Quehanna Highway,
near Karthaus PA in Clearfield County.
It was snowing, as we approached our hometown of Warren PA.

The next time we travel to and from Chincoteague, we will not avoid highways (unless we split the travel time into 2 days). We returned home at 7:14 pm, approximately 12 hours after we had left Chincoteague!

This concludes my account of our Chincoteague VA vacation. We are already making plans for a return trip next Spring. We plan to go in May next year. Perhaps the weather will be more consistently warm a few weeks later.

Chincoteague VA Vacation (3rd post)

As we had done each morning, while on vacation in Virginia, we got up around 6:00 am on Easter Sunday, April 17th.

We didn’t see the sun actually rise today,
as it was hidden behind clouds.

The temperature was around 50 degrees at sunrise.  The sun did break through the clouds later in the morning and gave us sunny skies.  It was a chilly day, though, with a high temperature of 58 degrees. The weather in Chincoteague was better than back in our hometown of Warren PA.  At sunrise the temperature in Warren was 31 degrees, with some snow on the ground!

Bob prepared Easter breakfast.
We enjoyed a breakfast of corned beef hash, eggs, toast and orange juice.

Late morning we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and parked in the Wildlife Loop parking lot.  We rode our bicycles from the parking lot, alongside Beach Road to the seashore. 

We passed by the Assateague Lighthouse.
We passed by Chincoteague ponies.
We saw a Snowy Egret.
We saw a Mallard Duck.
We rode our bicycles to Assateague Beach.

Back on Beach Road, near Toms Cove Visitor Center, a few birds held our attention for a while.

We saw seagulls in flight.
We saw another Snowy Egret.

The Snowy Egret was alone, until …

A second Snowy Egret arrived on the scene.
The first Snowy Egret chased the second Snowy Egret away.

We returned to the parking lot via Black Duck Trail and the Wildlife Loop (with a detour to Swan Cove).  The wind was fierce at times.  We rode flat ground but, even in first gear, I felt as though I were pedaling up a hill.  We rode 7.85 miles, and that was a wrap for riding our bicycles this vacation. The next day was chilly, windy and rainy.

Bob captured video with our GoPro7 camera, during our three bicycle rides. He prepared a video recap from our bicycling adventures.

We bicycled a total of 17.89 miles, while on vacation.

Our lunch was ice cream at the Island Creamery.  We visit the Island Creamery each time we vacation in Chincoteague. Bob had two scoops of Java Jolt in a cup.  I had two scoops of ice cream in a cup too — one scoop of Cadbuy Crème Egg and one scoop of peanut butter cup.

After “lunch” we returned to Airbnb “Tranquil Shores” and relaxed.

Around 4:00 pm we prepared Easter dinner –  grilled ham steak, macaroni and cheese, mixed vegetables and, for dessert, cheesecake. 

Early evening we returned to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We drove around the Wildlife Loop twice and drove to the seashore.  We returned to “Tranquil Shores” via downtown Chincoteague. We stopped briefly at Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park. This is a lovely waterfront park, located on Eastside Road. The Park has tennis courts, basketball courts, playground equipment, fishing/crabbing pier, ball field, boat ramp, skate park, pavilion and restrooms. 

Back at “Tranquil Shores” we watched an episode of “Vera”, before going to bed.

Chincoteague VA Vacation (2nd post)

We got up around 6:00 am on Saturday, April 16th. We watched the sunrise. 

Chincoteague Island Sunrise
What a glorious sunrise!

We drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and rode our bicycles.  We bicycled Wildlife Loop to Black Duck Trail to Woodland Trail, back on Black Duck Trail and finished Wildlife Loop.  We rode 7.04 miles. 

We saw a Snapping Turtle on a pond, while bicycling the Wildlife Loop.
Woodland Trail
This is the boardwalk to the pony overlook.

The highlight of our bicycle ride was ponies, lots of ponies, at the Woodland Trail pony overlook. 

I took the next picture, while we were on the Black Duck Trail, returning to the Wildlife Loop.

Bob on Black Duck Trail

We returned to AirBnb “Tranquil Shores” for a light lunch.  We watched an episode of “Vera” on BritBox, a new streaming service that we purchased recently.  I ended up taking a short nap.  

Around 4:00 pm we drove to Ray’s Shanty, where we ate dinner.  It was our first time eating dinner there.   Bob ordered a prime rib dinner; I ordered a fried shrimp dinner.  Both meals were delicious, and the service was excellent.

After dinner, we returned to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We drove around the Wildlife Loop and then to the seashore and back.  We saw egrets, one great blue heron, snapping turtles, and four deer a long ways off.  I didn’t take any pictures, as I forgot to insert the memory card in my camera.  I had taken the card out to upload pictures onto my iPad that I had taken that morning.  

When we left the wildlife refuge, we drove downtown.  We stopped briefly at Robert Reed Waterfront Park, where we went for a short walk.  We, then, continued down Main Street to Beebe Road and made our way back to “Tranquil Shores” from there.  

We watched another episode of “Vera”.  It was around 9:15 pm, when that episode ended.  We went to bed shortly thereafter.

Chincoteague VA Vacation (1st post)

We spent 5 nights at AirBnb ”Tranquil Shores” in Chincoteague VA. This is the fourth time that we have stayed at “Tranquil Shores”. We plan to return next Spring as well.

We arrived at “Tranquil Shores” around 4:00 pm on Thursday, April 14th. We left Chincoteague to return back home at 7:30 am on Tuesday, April 19th. This blog post and the next few that follow will provide details of and photographs from our Chincoteague vacation.

We got up around 6:00 am on Friday, April 15th. We sat outside on our screened in porch, drinking tea / coffee, listening to the morning bird songs as we awaited the sunrise.

Chincoteague Island Sunrise

We ate a breakfast of eggs, sausage and waffles at “Tranquil Shores”.  

After breakfast we drove to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and bicycled the wildlife loop (approximately 3 miles). 

Wildlife Loop: Tern with Fish
This is one of several ponds found on the Wildlife Loop.

After our bicycle ride, we drove to Assateague Beach, stopping at Toms Cove Visitor Center.  

Tom Cove Visitor Center

We walked on the boardwalk and, inside the Visitor Center, I got my National Park Passport cancelled with a rubber-stamp ink marking that recorded the name of the park and the date of our visit. I purchased a collectible Passport stamp set for 2022.  There are 10 stamps, one National and nine regional. 

We are lunch at Metopkin Seafood. We have eaten here a few times over the years. The food is ALWAYS delicious. Bob ordered a crab bites basket.  I ordered a fish and fries basket.  We added 6 hush puppies to our order.

After lunch we drove to Assateague Island MD.  We stopped at the Assateague Island Visitor Center, where I stamped my National Park passport, and we bought a “Night Sky” buff for Bob. 

“Night Sky” is new merchandise
for the National Parks store.

Before leaving the Visitor Center, we walked the Rackliff House Trail.  The main trailhead is located behind the Visitor Center and is about a 1-mile loop. There is a spur off that loop that connects to another trailhead located at the Assateague State Park headquarters. We walked that trail too.

Rackliffe House Trail
We really liked how the trees
formed a canopy over the trail.
Rackliffe House Trail
Looking across to Assateague Island MD
Rackliffe House Trail
On the left is the Milk House.
Behind the Milk House is Rackliffe House.
On the right is the Kitchen Garden.

We were only able to explore the grounds, as the Rackliffe House was closed.

The trail continues from the house to the Assateague State Park Aviary.  The birds were outside but behind a fenced enclosure.  We were not able to see any of the birds. I haven’t done a lot of bicycling or walking so far this year. I decided to wait at the state park, while Bob walked back to the Visitor Center.  He picked up our car and came to get me.  We drove onto Assateague Island. 

Assateague Pony
More Assateague Ponies

That evening we enjoyed watching the moon rise over Chincoteague Island.

It is really nice that we can see the sunrise and the moonrise from the comfort of “Tranquil Shores”.
The moon was so beautiful that night!

Allegany State Park, NY

Yesterday, Bob and I went for a drive just to get out of the house. We ended up Allegany State Park, near Salamanca NY. The park is about a 45-minute drive from our house. We make visit the park frequently throughout the year.

I dropped off Bob at the bicycle trail near the park gate.

Bob walked about 2 1/4 miles of the Robert C Hoag Bicycle Trail. The trail goes around Red House Lake.

The Robert C Hoag Bicycle Trail that winds through 5 miles in the Red House Area of the state’s largest state park was named in honor of the late Robert C. Hoag, former leader of the Seneca Nation of Indians.

After dropping off Bob, I drove to the Red House Wetland, where I hoped to see birds and waterfowl.

I passed by the welcome sign on my way to the wetland boardwalk.
This portion of the boardwalk ends at an observation deck.

I saw two ducks take off, as I approached the observation deck. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any photographs of the ducks in flight, as I didn’t have my camera ready for photography.

This is another part of the boardwalk.
See the bird blind in the distance?
This is where the boardwalk ends.

With the exception of the two flying ducks, I didn’t see another duck or any birds at the wetlands. However, I didn’t leave the wetlands empty handed …

Look what I found at the bird blind!
Where you live, do people leave painted rocks for others to find? I am supposed to hide this rock for someone else to find. I will hold onto the rock for a short while and admire it. Then I will leave it somewhere for someone else to find.

I picked up Bob shortly before he would have been making the turn around Red House Lake. We drove to the Quaker Run side of the park and observed osprey.

When we arrived, there was one osprey sitting on a pole.
I heard another osprey calling; so did the osprey.
The osprey flew over my head but circled back around.
The osprey stood briefly on the very top of a tree.

Meanwhile, the first osprey had flow to the nest. I missed photographing that flight, as my attention was on the second osprey.

The second osprey flew to the nest.
I hope to see baby osprey in the nest soon…
I wonder what the female osprey was saying to the male osprey.

A change of scenery does a soul good!

Mid-Week Getaway: Third and Final Day – Return to Trough Creek State Park

On the morning of Thursday, March 24, we returned to Trough Creek State Park.  Our first stop was at the Balanced Rock Trail.  We walked across the suspension bridge, as we did the prior day

The Suspension Bridge on the Balanced Rock Trail

The prior day I photographed Bob, as he walked on the suspension bridge.

During our second visit, Bob photographed me while I was crossing the suspension bridge.

We continued on the trail to Rainbow Falls. 

Balanced Rock Trail
Balanced Rock Trail
Balanced Rock Trail
Rainbow Falls
Bob crossed over the bridge beside Rainbow Falls and continued the hike to the Balanced Rock.
I stayed at Rainbow Falls, while Bob hiked up to the Balanced Rock.
Bob took this picture from the Balanced Rock Trail.
Do you see me on the bridge?

While Bob was hiking, I was taking pictures of Rainbow Falls.

I LOVE this long exposure picture of Rainbow Falls!

I had to, of course, take a selfie of me and the waterfall.

Rainbow Falls and me
The Balanced Rock
(photo by Bob)
Bob took a picture of our car from the Balanced Rock.
Bob hiking back from the Balanced Rock.

There is a short, a very short, clip in the above-displayed video where it looks like Bob lost his balance, while hiking down from the Balanced Rock. He was just messing with me 🙂

Bob said the climb to the Balanced Rock was steep; the trail was slippery in places.  He ended turning the wrong way and ended up on a trail that was even worse than the trail to the Balanced Rock.  At one place on that trail, he had to climb underneath a fallen log. Bob said I decided correctly to stay at Rainbow Falls.  I enjoyed staying at the falls.  It was peaceful there, with the only sound being the falling of water.  On our way back to the car, as we crossed the suspension bridge, three men crossed too.  Boy! Did that bridge sway and bounce!  

Bob and I with the Balanced Rock behind us

From the Balanced Rock Trail we drove to the Ice Mine. 

Ice Mine

According to this Ice Mine “is an artificial adit, probably a prospect hole for early iron miners. The ice is formed by cold air from the crevices of the surrounding rock which flows into the adit during spring and early summer. It stops at the end of summer, depending on the outside temperatures, and the ice starts to melt.  For this to work, the rock must have decent crevices, allowing a continual air current flowing through the rock. The hillside is formed by loose boulders with numerous clefts. During winter a convection of cold air happens, which cools down the rocks and gets warmed by the rock. The temperature difference is the reason for the air flow. In spring the convection changes its direction, now the warm air from outside gets cooled by the cold rocks and leaves the boulders at the foot, right where the Ice Mine is located.  The cold rocks get warmed by the air current, as much as the air is cooled down, and so the convection comes to an end usually by late summer.”

Ice Mine entry steps
Ice Mine adit

As we were driving out of the state park we made one other stop.  I liked a stream of water of which I caught a glimpse.  The stream of water is Laurel Run, which flows under Trough Creek Drive to Trough Creek.

Laurel Run

I think the foliage in the picture of Laurel Run is Mountain Laurel. Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron are abundant in Trough Creek State Park. I would love to return to the park one day and see these shrubs in bloom.

From Trough Creek State Park we drove back to Ridenour Overlook, where we had stopped on Tuesday on our way to the airbnb.  I had hoped for a nicer view with better weather.  The view was not better.  It was overcast and the mountain tops were in low-hanging clouds.  I didn’t take any pictures.  In fact, I didn’t even get out of the car!

At this point Bob and I discussed the purchase of rechargeable walkie talkies.  When Bob was hiking to the Balanced Rock, it would have been helpful if we had walkie talkies.  Our cell phones had no signal.  Bob could have used a walkie talkie to let me know it was taking longer than expected on the trail because he made a wrong turn.  I was beginning to worry because he was gone longer than expected.  We decided to buy a pair of walkie talkies at Walmart in Duncansville PA.  Bob placed the order, and we began our drive there.  We stopped in Huntingdon for lunch at Hoss’s Steakhouse.  After lunch we continued our drive.  We picked up the walkie talkies and drove back to our airbnb.  

What a nice afternoon it was!  We enjoyed some time in the sun, sitting on the patio at our airbnb.

Relaxing on Patio at Airbnb

We returned home from Martinsburg on Friday, March 25. What a wonderful 3-night vacation we had! Guess what?!? We just booked another 3-night stay at the same airbnb for early summer!

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