The Beauty Around Us

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

Kinzua Heritage Arts & Music Festival 2018 – Day 1

_LG26987Spirit Wing


This year marked the 13th year of the Kinzua Heritage Festival. Counting this year I have attended the festival eight of those 13 years. I attended the first festival in August 2007. Since 2011 I have attended the festival each year, except in 2015. In 2007 I attended the festival for only a few hours. Since 2011 I have attended the festival all three days, all day long. Also, I have been the official photographer for this event since 2011. I photograph this event on a volunteer basis and share my photographs in order to promote the festival.

The Kinzua Heritage Festival grounds are located at 4047 Fox Hill Road in Russell. The festival is a family-oriented event featuring living history portrayal, vendors from both in and out of the area, period dress, recreations of crafts and trade of the time period, storytelling, Native American social dances, live music from folk to bluegrass to Native American flute and drum, food and children’s activities.

The festival hours on Friday (8/24/2018) were 10:00 am until 7:00 pm. I arrived at the festival around 10:00 am and departed the grounds at approximately 8:30 pm. I spent the day photographing the festival vendors, artisans, entertainers, and attendees. It felt like “home week”, as the festival organizers, vendors, artisans and entertainers welcomed me warmly.  Many of the vendors, artisans and entertainers were those who have been at the festival year after year, although there were several new faces this year.  The festival grows year after year.

Live music was provided by Barry of Spirit Wing and Rick Palieri, Earth Angel, Spirit Wing, Rick Palieri and his Polish instruments, and Rick Palieri and his original content.  For the first time an open-air concert was held after the festival events of the day concluded.   At 8:00 pm Ron Carrington Sr and the Touch of Gold put on a free concert, open to the public.

You may view photographs and video by clicking here, which will take you to my Flickr photo page.  Please note that you may view the content of this page, as a slideshow if so desired.  Click on the “toggle slideshow” button on the right side, above the photo album header.  Enjoy!


The Power of Believing in Yourself

Do you know the story of The Little Engine that Could?

An early version goes as follows:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work.

Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.

This little engine knew the power of believing in yourself and how doing so can push your performance.

Saturday’s bicycle ride didn’t go so well.  Bob suggested going on a bicycle ride the next day.  I didn’t know if another bicycle ride so soon would bode well for me, but I agreed to go anyway.

The bike trail that we chose to ride was the Oil Creek Bike Trail, a paved bicycle trail through Oil Creek Gorge.  The trail follows the path of development of the oil industry in the 1860’s. The story is told via interpretive signs along the bike trail. The Oil Creek Bike Trail is 9.7 miles one direction.

Whoa!  If you read my previous blog post, you know that I didn’t do well on a 3-mile bike ride.  Now I am about to attempt an even longer bike ride.  Distance wasn’t a factor.  I knew that I could ride as far as I felt comfortable, turning around whenever I felt the need to do so.  I also knew if I made it to the end and couldn’t make the return trip that Bob was capable of riding his bicycle back to the starting point.  He could drive the car to the other entry point and pick up myself and my bicycle.  Time wasn’t a factor.  I could pace myself and take all day to ride whatever distance I chose to do.

We drove to Drake Well in Titusville PA and parked in the bike trail parking lot. We rode our bicycles from Drake Well, south, to Petroleum Center.  Bob utilized the MapMyRide app, which traced our route.


The ride south is very easy, once you climb the hill out of the parking lot.  The trail levels out, and there is a gradual down slope.  I walked my bicycle most of the way up the hill.  I rode rest of the trail, stopping only for photo opportunities.  The down slope of the south bound trail, however, did concern me.  I mentioned it a few times to Bob.  He kept telling me that the trail was level.  At one place on the trail, where I told Bob that I was coasting downhill, he suggested that I turn around and ride towards the north.  I didn’t have to expend much, if any, effort to bicycle north.

The following pictures were taken during our south bound ride.

_LG26704Oil Creek

20180805_152125277_iOSWe rode awhile before we encountered a nice view of Oil Creek.
Bob says the trail has changed since he last rode it.
The vegetation has grown, obscuring views of the creek.
That would be expected, as it was 25-30 years ago that Bob last rode the trail!

The Drake Well Marathon & Half Marathon event, in its 11th year, was being held at the same time that we were on the bike trail.  I read somewhere that this marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

_LG26705We shared the bike trail with marathon runners.


One of the refreshment stops along the trail had a unicorn theme.


Bob’s recollection of this trail from 25-30 years ago had Oil Creek on his right, not left, side.


When we crossed the bridge in the distance, the creek moved to our right side.

I am glad that my Olympus camera, along with the 40-150mm lens can accompany us on bicycle rides.

_LG26706We saw a great blue heron from the bridge.

20180805_160809345_iOSBob on the bridge

IMG_20180805_120940Bob took this picture of me on the bridge.
Note my attire.
I believe my attire is better suited to the weather than the jeans and t-shirt that I
wore during my previous ride at Allegany State Park.


What a lovely view from the bridge!

20180805_162227930_iOSThere is a railroad bridge in the distance.

I wish we could have timed our ride for when the Oil City & Titusville (OC&T) Railroad train would have passed over this bridge.  Bob and I rode the OC&T Railroad train about 4 years ago.

20180805_162345606_iOSRailroad Bridge
The trail goes under the bridge.
Go slow so you don’t wind up in Oil Creek!

We began our ride at 10:45 am and arrived at Petroleum Center at 12:30 pm.

After eating a light snack at a picnic table at Petroleum Center, we turned around and began our ride back to Drake Well.  My mantra (Thank you for the word that I was looking for, Stacey) the entire ride back to Drake Well was “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  By the way it helps a lot having a writer in the family, when you are at a loss of words.  My stepdaughter, Stacey, is an editor for a local newspaper and blogs as well.  If you would like to check out Stacey’s blog, click here.


The Oil Creek Bike Trail at its southern terminus

20180805_170414449_iOSThe Railroad Bridge

IMG_20180805_130411The shadows under the railroad bridge attracted Bob’s attention.

20180805_170442948_iOSRailroad Bridge with Oil Derricks in the Background

20180805_170716696_iOS-EditBob and I under the Railroad Bridge

IMG_20180805_131909If only we could have planned our ride to coincide with the OC&T Railroad train schedule!

20180805_174016634_iOSA lovely spot to soak in the beauty of Oil Creek

20180805_174930090_iOSThere are benches located all along the trail.
We saw two shelters along the trail as well.  I didn’t think to photograph one of them.

The hill down to the Drake Well parking lot was a very welcome sight.  As I flew down that hill, my thoughts were “I thought I could, I thought I could.”  The trail running from Petroleum Center to Drake Well does require some effort, as there is a gradual (very gradual) incline.  I had to make a few rest stops on the way back to Drake Well.  I had to walk my bicycle a little bit too. I didn’t get overheated; my chest didn’t hurt: I didn’t get out of breath; and I didn’t feel weak or faint, as I did during yesterday’s ride around Red House Lake in Allegany State Park.  It was a great ride!

We returned to Drake Well shortly before 3:00 pm.


My bike odometer recorded the trip as a distance of 19.22 miles.

This is the farthest I have ever ridden my bicycle, although I did come close when we rode around Erie’s Presque Isle in September 2016.  The bike trail around Presque Isle is 13.5 miles long.  We hope to do that loop again, one day soon.


My maximum speed during this ride was 17.5 miles per hour.
Guess where?
The hill down to Drake Well of course!


I averaged 6.4 miles per hour.

One last picture .. how hot was it?

20180805_190145318_iOSOur car displayed an outdoor temperature of 95°F, when we returned from our bicycle ride.
It was probably 15° cooler on the wooded trail.

I definitely feel that I got some exercise.  Yesterday my leg muscles were hot and humming.  I was so tired.  Soon after returning home I fell asleep on our reclining chair, until inner thigh pain bolted me upright and out of the chair.  A hot shower, massage and Valium relaxed those throbbing muscles, allowing me to sleep through the night.  Today I went for a short bicycle ride.  I felt the expected muscle ache. I didn’t push myself.  I rode easy.  I know I need to rest, and I will rest the remainder of today and tomorrow.  I hope to ride again later in the week and the weekend, increasing my distance each ride.

I would like to ride the Oil Creek Bike Trail again. Early fall would be a good time.  We will enter the trail, though, at Petroleum Center and ride north.  I would much prefer to bicycle the gradual incline, when fresh rather than after riding 9 miles!

Reflecting back, I feel glad and proud that I was able to complete the Oil Creek Bike Trail in both directions.  As it was for the little engine that could, I believed in myself and pushed my performance.  I changed my mantra from “I think I can” to “I thought I could”.




New Bicycle

This past Saturday Bob suggested that we go look at bicycles. My current bicycle is a 26″ Huffy ladies bicycle that we purchased in July 2006.  My agility is not the same as it was 10+ years ago (or even the same as it was a year or two ago!).  I can’t step into my bicycle. I have to swing my leg over the seat to mount and dismount. Doing so causes me hip pain, as I mount and dismount.  I had been looking at low-step step through bicycles online.  I didn’t want to purchase a bicycle on line, though, as I felt it necessary to ride the bicycle to determine whether or not it met my physical limitations and was comfortable to ride.

Our first stop was at Walmart to see what, if any, step through bicycles were available. We found one step through bicycle. The step through portion of the bicycle was still too high off the ground. I couldn’t lift my leg high enough to step through.

Our next stop would be in Jamestown, but we were hungry. We stopped at Sheetz for a light lunch. We each purchased a meat and cheese package with beverage. We ate our lunch, at Sheetz, at an outside table.

After lunch we drove to Hollyloft Ski & Bike, located in Jamestown NY.  Upon arrival at the bike shop, I asked if they had any step through bicycles. The salesman, whose name was Tom, showed us a bicycle manufactured by Specialized.  In the showroom I determined that I could comfortably step through and mount / dismount the bicycle. The salesman suggested that I take the bicycle for a test drive. Tom fitted me for a helmet. I have never worn a helmet, while riding a bicycle. I rode the bicycle, first, in the parking lot. Tom watched. When I completed my ride around the parking lot, Tom adjusted the seat to fit me.

It was time for a longer test drive. There is a dead end street next to the bike shop. I rode the bicycle to the end of that street, changing gears along the way. The bicycle has seven gears, with gear 1 being easier than gear 1 on my current bicycle. I liked how I sat upright on this bicycle, how the gears operated by the click of a lever, and the big tires that seemed to give me more balance.

You guessed it. We purchased a Specialized Low Roll bicycle. We accessorized the bicycle with fenders, rack, mirror and a computer. The computer is about the size of a watch. It records trip statistics–average and maximum speed, time spent on trip, and miles ridden. I now have a clock in front of me, while riding. I can erase each trip’s statistics. The odometer, however, maintains the total miles ridden. Oh, I purchased a bike helmet as well.  We had to return to Warren for the bike carrier. While we were gone, the bike shop installed the accessories and tuned up the bike. Great service all around!

We returned to Hollyloft and picked up the bicycle around 3:30 pm.  We carried Bob’s bicycle with us from Warren.

From Hollyloft we drove to Allegany State Park near Salamanca NY. We entered the park via the Quaker Lake entrance. Our first stop was at the Quaker General Store, where we ate a light dinner. Bob had a BLT wrap; my dinner was a hot dog.

20180804_203216375_iOSOur bicycles at the Quaker General Store


After dinner we drove to the Red House Lake Beach parking lot.

20180804_212604299_iOSMy new bicycle

We rode around Red House Lake (a distance of approximately 3 miles).

_LG26700Red House Lake

_LG26701Fishing Pier at Red House Lake

_LG26702Red House Lake

20180804_214222211_iOSIf I have to sit on the ground, I am glad for the scenic view.

I believe the temperature, which was in the mid to upper 80s, the hot sunshine, and what I wore to ride caused me to be grounded a couple times during our ride. I wore jeans and a t-shirt.  I believe I got overheated.  I felt weak, faint.  I was  breathing heavier than normal, finding it difficult to catch my breath. My chest hurt too, although that may have been caused by indigestion.

This wasn’t the best ride, but I do really LOVE my new bicycle!


White-Tailed Deer

We saw deer in our yard frequently throughout the 2017-2018 winter months.  Last evening was the first time in a long time that we have seen deer passing through our yard.

_LG26314Three White-Tailed Deer Passing Through Our Back Yard
Antlers are growing on the deer at the far right.


Gilbert Reservoir

We visited someplace new to us today.

There are three water supply reservoirs totaling over one billion gallons in upland reserves that serve the Bradford, PA water system:

1 – Gilbert Reservoir – 206 Million Gallons – Constructed 1888
2 – Marilla Reservoir – 120 Million Gallons – Constructed 1898
3 – Heffner Reservoir – 760 Million Gallons – Constructed 1956

Two of the reservoirs, Marilla and Gilbert, are open for free public access. Both the Marilla and Gilbert Reservoirs are located along Pennsylvania Route 346, approximately five miles west of Bradford. Both reservoirs offer awesome scenery and a wide variety of shared recreational opportunities. Visitors are encouraged and welcomed to enjoy miles of hiking trails, in addition to canoeing, kayaking and fishing at these two reservoirs.

We have visited Marilla Reservoir a few times. I have shared several photographs of Marilla Reservoir on Flickr that you may view by clicking here.

Across from Marilla Reservoir is a gravel road that leads to Gilbert Reservoir. Today we followed the gravel road for 4 miles UP, OVER and DOWN a hill.

_LG26287The gravel road dead ends at a parking lot located at Gilbert Reservoir.

The reservoir grounds have been upgraded recently.  A new trail leads to a new fishing pier.

_LG26290Gilbert Reservoir
This trail leads to a fishing pier.

The trail and pier are handicap accessible.

_LG26293Bob walked past the pier into the woods beyond.

Bob asked me to join him in the woods.

Don’t even go there! 🙂

Bob wanted to show me something that he had found in the woods.

_LG26298Bob found these butterflies, which were attracted to pieces of charcoal.

_LG26301Bob takes in the view from the fishing pier.

_LG26300This is another photograph of the reservoir from the fishing pier.

On our way UP, OVER and DOWN the hill from Gilbert Reservoir, as we approached Pennsylvania Route 346, we were treated to a magnificent view of Marilla Reservoir.

_LG26303Marilla Reservoir

The scenery at both Marilla and Gilbert Reservoirs is absolutely beautiful.  I am sure that we will make return trips to both reservoirs many more times.

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.

Willow Dale Cemetery

This past Friday Bob and I found my Aunt Alice and her husband Richard’s final resting place. Alice was my paternal grandmother’s first born child.

Alice was born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on 7 January 1907.  I do not know Alice’s father’s name, only that my paternal grandfather was not her father. I expected to find Alice listed on the 1910 census.  The 1910 census lists Alice’s mother, described as single, living in the same household as her parents.  Alice is not listed in the 1910 census.  Alice first appears in the 1920 census, where her address is listed as North Buffalo Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.  Alice’s mother married my grandfather in December 1911.  In the 1920 census my grandparents have five children, including Alice.  Alice is listed on the census, as having the same last name as her siblings.

According to ancestry information provided by one of my cousins, Alice married Harold Biggs, and a daughter named Clara was born about 1928.  Harold died in February 1929.   The death certificate lists the cause of death as acute fibrillation of the heart.  Harold was only 27 years old, when he died.  I found Clara listed in the 1930 census.  She was living in the same household as her paternal grandparents.  Clara’s age was listed as 2 years old in the census.  I have not found a listing for Alice in the 1930 census.

On 18 April 1931 Alice married Richard H. Evans.  Alice was 24 years old at the time; Richard was 55 years old.  The wedding ceremony took place in Allegany, Cattaraugus County, New York.  Both Alice and Richard were living in Bradford, Pennsylvania at the time of their marriage.  It appears that their residence continued to be Bradford until their deaths.  Richard passed away in April 1961.  He was 85 years old.  Alice passed away 30 years later, in April 1991.  She was 84 years old.  I never met Aunt Alice.

Richard and Alice are buried at Willow Dale Cemetery in Bradford, Pennsylvania behind a pond that Bob and I have visited or passed by several times over the past 19 years that we have been married.  I never knew, until recently, that my aunt was buried at Willow Dale Cemetery.

_LG20848 4x6

Willow Dale Pond is located in front of Willow Dale Cemetery.


Aunt Alice and her husband, Richard, are buried in the Veteran’s portion of Willow Dale Cemetery.

_LG25768This is the Veteran’s portion of Willow Dale Cemetery.
Aunt Alice and her husband Richard’s burial plot appears in the foreground of this photograph.


Veterans Memorial


Aunt Alice and Richard are buried beside each other.



I wonder why Aunt Alice’s grave marker does not display at a minimum her birth and death dates.


Richard was a Sergeant in the Spanish American War.

I began building my family tree in late December last year.  Genealogy is a very enjoyable hobby!

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