The Beauty Around Us

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

Warren PA to East Syracuse NY

We departed home at 6:50 am, on July 1 (Saturday) en route the Syracuse NY area for a 2-night stay. It was thundering and raining, when we left home.

We ate breakfast in Frewsburg NY at Sally’s Deli & Catering.


On Saturday Sally’s has a breakfast buffet, beginning at 7:00 am. It was our first time there. I am glad that we chanced upon it, while looking for a place to eat. Sally’s is a tiny place, with a pleasant dining area. The breakfast selections that included scrambled eggs, bacon, corned beef and potatoes, potato casserole, sausage, French toast, pancakes, fruit, pastries and hot beverages were more than adequate. The food was delicious. We liked everything, with possibly the exception of the corned beef and potatoes. I am sure it was a personal taste issue in regard to the corned beef and potatoes.

The rain stopped, while we were eating breakfast. We caught up with the rain again a short ways west of the Friendship/Boliver exit on Interstate 86.  We drove in and out of rain rest of the way to Syracuse. For the most part, the rain didn’t last long.

Our next stop, after breakfast, was in the village of Honeoye Falls. The small village of Honeoye Falls is located approximately fifteen miles southeast of Rochester, NY.  The village includes a small waterfall on Honeoye Creek, which flows through the village and gives it its name.

_LG22248Honeoye Falls, NY

This was our first time in Honeoye Falls. How we missed knowing about this village is beyond me. We have been within a few miles of the village many times over the past 19 years. Now that we know of its existence and how picturesque the village is, I am sure we will make a return trip to Honeoye Falls sometime in the future.

We stopped for lunch at the Clifton Springs Travel Plaza on Interstate 90. Our lunch at Burger King (a Whooper with Cheese meal and a Junior Whooper with Cheese meal) was much more expensive than the cost at home! I should have planned this trip better and brought along food for picnic-style lunches.

Before stopping for lunch a couple accidents had slowed traffic on Interstate 90. Interstate traffic was moving well, after lunch.

Around 1:00 pm we stopped at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. We saw lots of geese, a few great blue herons, and several ducks.

_LG22266Great Blue Heron

_LG22270Canadian Goose

_LG22292Close-up Picture of Canadian Goose

_LG22284Duck Family

It thundered and rained about halfway around the 3.5 mile Wildlife Drive. We stopped near the end of the drive and waited out the rain. Near the end of Wildlife Drive is a new viewing platform and eagle monument.  It stopped raining momentarily, and I snapped a picture of the new structures.

_LG22301New Viewing Platform and Eagle Monument at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

The eagle monument was built In honor of the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

Soon it began to rain again.

We departed Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge around 2:00 pm. We were notified a few times of severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood warnings, soon after departing the refuge.  The rain and wind were pretty wild, as we made our way east!

We stopped at an indoor flea market, located in Elbridge NY along NY Route 5. We shopped, while waiting for the storm to get ahead of us. There was a nice selection of merchandise, reasonably priced. I came out of the store empty handed, though.  The stop served its purpose, as the storm did get ahead of us.

_LG22305Storm Chasing

The white building seen in the photograph displayed above is the Inn Between Restaurant, located in Camillus NY.  The restaurant provided an excellent contrast against the dark sky.

We checked into Best Western Plus East Syracuse around 3:30 pm. Our room number was 225.  We turned off the air conditioning soon after entering the room. The room stayed comfortably cool throughout rest of the afternoon and evening. Our room was comfortable, but small.  The walking space between the furniture was narrow.  The bathroom was of moderate size. Our room included a microwave, refrigerator and single-serve coffee maker. There were both tea bags and coffee in the room for the preparation of hot beverages. In my experience tea bags aren’t always provided, along with coffee.  There is a beverage station in the lobby, too, where hot beverages may be obtained. I read that the hotel was recently renovated. Our room appeared to be fairly new. We spent 2 nights here, using reward points as payment.

We ate dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s, located within walking distance of hotel. We took the car, though, in case it rained. It didn’t rain. We both ordered chicken entrees, with the garden salad bar.

Rather than order dessert at Ruby Tuesday’s, we went to a nearby Dairy Queen and ordered small blizzards.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Rite Aid and picked up beverages and snacks. It was around 6:00 pm, when we made it back to the hotel. We stayed in for rest of the night.

Please check back later.  I will be sharing additional blog posts about our East Syracuse NY Weekend Getaway in the near future.

An Eagle Called “Liberty”

This morning I finished sorting through, editing and uploading photographs from Deborah and Brian’s wedding.  Now it is time for me to catch up on my blog writing.  I have much to share with you.  This is the first of at least seven catch-up blog posts!

On Sunday, June 25, needing a break from reviewing the wedding photographs, Bob and I went for a drive.  We ended up at the Audubon Community Nature Center, located in Jamestown NY, where we went for a short walk.  At the end of our walk we visited with Liberty, the resident eagle, for a few minutes.

_LG22215Liberty, just before she flew to a nearby perch in a tree.

Liberty was found in the state of Washington, with an infected cut on her left wing. Liberty 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 Community Nature Center since June 2002. A group of volunteers take good care of Liberty.


Brian and Deborah’s Wedding Day

This past Saturday (June 24) I photographed Brian and  Deborah’s wedding.   Brian is our friends’ Sheila and Doyle’s oldest son. The last wedding I photographed was in September 2014. I vowed then that it would be the last time I was the official photographer for a wedding. I was “retiring” from photographing weddings for family and friends. Well, after a little arm twisting by Sheila, I agreed to photograph Brian and Deborah’s wedding.  Thank you, Brian and Deborah, for choosing me.  It was an honor to serve as your wedding photographer.

I created a collage of some of the pictures that I took at the wedding.

Brian and Deborah had a beautiful wedding.

 Congratulations Brian and Deborah!  May all of your days together be as beautiful and cherished as your wedding day – here’s to your future together as Husband and Wife!




It’s a Small World

Every now and then I am reminded what a small world it is that we live in.

I photographed a wedding this past Saturday afternoon.  Twice during the weekend, I was reminded it’s a small world.

The first reminder happened on Saturday evening, after returning home from the wedding.  I learned that a  groomsman was a friend’s husband.  Amy, is a Facebook friend, whom I have met in person a couple times. Our relationship mainly, though, is online on Facebook. Around 8:15 pm Amy posted on my Facebook timeline: “Didn’t recognize me today did you lol”. No, I didn’t recognize Amy! I did give her a double take, though, when I was saying goodbye to the groom’s mother.  Amy was standing there, as I said goodbye to Sheila. My eye kept wandering to Amy. I felt I knew Amy but couldn’t place her. I wish Amy would have told me who she was! I asked Amy, if she was friend or a family member to the bride or groom.  Amy’s response was that her husband Jason was in the wedding. Up until then, I knew Jason as only Jason (or JJ). I didn’t know his last name.

The second reminder happened on Sunday evening.  A girl, who dated my oldest nephew many years ago, messaged me via my Facebook photography page, “The Beauty Around Us”, after seeing the photograph of the wedding party that I shared on Facebook.  Kayla wrote: “This is Kayla.  I am not sure if you remember me or not, but i saw the pictures you posted of a wedding you just did and my niece was part of it. I told her I knew you.” Kayla’s niece was one of the bridesmaids.

Small world, isn’t it!

Maggie Valley NC to Warren PA

We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. I have been uploading blog posts about our vacation since May 29th. This blog post is about our eighth, and final, day of vacation.

I wish I had slept better the night before.  Bob’s snoring awakened me, and the room temperature wasn’t good. I was either too warm or cold. Apparently I slept with an ant too. While half asleep, during the night, I changed my sleeping position. I rested the side of my head on another pillow. I heard a buzzing noise…bee? fly? I turned on the light and lifted my pillow….nothing. I lifted the other pillow…nothing. I pulled back the bed sheet and shook the covers…nothing. I eventually went back to sleep. Later on, I placed my hand underneath the pillow and felt movement. I brushed my hand outward. I got up, looked underneath the pillow and saw a black, plump ant moving quickly to the head of the bed. I flattened that ant, without a moment’s thought.

We departed A Holiday Motel on Sunday, May 21, at 5:15 am, in the rain.  We arrived at Cracker Barrel in Asheville, NC at 5:50 am. We had an approximate wait of 10 minutes before the restaurant opened. While we ate, it got lighter outside. The rain, however, continued. We were back on the road around 6:30 am.

Our next stop was 3 hours later at the Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center, located along Interstate 77 in Virginia. The only thing noteworthy about this rest stop was some old vehicles that we saw in the parking lot.

20170521_133433293_iOSInterstate 77 in Virginia at the
Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center

The rain turned into drizzle, as we entered West Virginia and soon stopped completely.

We ate lunch at Shoney’s in Summersville, WV. We were back on the road at noon.

The Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg is a very nice welcome center. It is full of brochures and maps about places throughout Pennsylvania, as well as coloring and activity books for children.  There is also a coal miners memorial at this welcome center.

20170521_180940895_iOSCoal Miners Memorabilia at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA


Monument Dedicated to all Coal Miners at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA


The coal miners memorial was of interest to me, as both Dad and my brother, Jim, were coal miners.

The rain started up again soon after leaving the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, and followed us home.

We got off Interstate 77 at the Slippery Rock exit, several miles sooner than routed by the GPS. We were getting tired of interstate travel.

We returned home at approximately 5:30 pm. We drove in rain at least 75% of our drive home.

This blog post concludes our Virginia and North Carolina vacation.  I hope that you enjoyed, vicariously, coming along with us on our vacation.


Our vacation in May was planned around the South East Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) motorcycle rally in Maggie Valley, NC.  The motorcycle rally was a 4-day event (May 18-21).  Our vacation began on Sunday, May 14.  We drove from Warren, PA to Front Royal, VA, where we spent the night.  On Monday, May 15, we drove from Front Royal, VA to Waynesboro, VA, via Skyline Drive.  We drove from Waynesboro, VA to Maggie Valley on Tuesday, May 16.  For the next 5 nights we were lodged at A Holiday Motel, which was home base for SEVROC 2017.

SEVROC is an annual event.  This year marked its 19th year.  Since 2006 the rally has been held in Maggie Valley.  Prior to 2006 the rally was held at two other south east locations: at Suches, GA for 2 years and at Lake Lure, NC for 5 years. (Thank you “Skid”, of Skid and Sandy on the Road, for information about rally locations prior to 2006.) From 2006 through 2013 the Applecover Inn in Maggie Valley served as home base for SEVROC, with innkeepers Derrick and Amy Cole catering to the club needs.  SEVROC 2014 had a change of venue due to Derrick and Amy not being at the Applecover Inn any longer.  Since 2014 A Holiday Motel has served as home base for SEVROC, with owners Gabi and Rob Edwards catering to the club needs.  This is our fourth SEVROC rally. Bob and I attended the rally previously in 2008, 2014, and 2015. This was the first year that we didn’t take the motorcycle to the motorcycle rally.  Our mode of transportation in the prior years was by motorcycle AND car.  I have never been able to ride long distances on the motorcycle, but I have been able to make the drive.  I was uncertain if I would be able to drive this year, as the arthritis in my right knee appears to have worsened in the past year or so.  Therefore, we opted to travel by car only.  Because VROC rallies are more about the PEOPLE than the bikes, it doesn’t really matter how you travel to a rally.  What is important is that you come to the rally!  Over the years I have come to think of a VROC rally as a family reunion.

_LG21743A Holiday Motel
SEVROC 2017 Rally Headquarters

An enjoyable part of the SEVROC rally is to meet new people and to get reacquainted with friends whom you have met at other rallies.  In between rallies we stay in touch with our friends via the VROC web forum and Facebook.

_LG21739“Boomer” and Mikey greet each other.

_LG21662“Jax” greets Hang and “Zeke”.

The rocking chairs in front of your room provided a good location, too, for meeting new people and getting reacquainted with old friends.






We enjoyed a campfire each night of the rally.

_LG21781Campfire at A Holiday Motel

The SEVROC Meet & Greet was held at the Rendezvous Restaurant at the Maggie Valley Inn, located approximately 3 miles north of A Holiday Motel. The Meet & Greet began at 6:00 pm and was over around 7:00 pm. Dinner was served family style. We had tossed salad and rolls, fish, coleslaw, ham, fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and macaroni and cheese. For dessert we had Oreo chocolate pudding with whipped topping.  The food was good; the company was exceptional.

_LG21751Bob and I sat at this table.

“Willie Wonka”, Carlene, “Pappy” and Cheri sat opposite Bob and me.

_LG21750“Willie Wonka” and Carlene

_LG21761“Pappy” and Cheri

I took pictures of those at other tables as well.  I heard that our dinner party totaled 51 people.




And just as I was ready to return to my table, “Judge” and Cindy arrive at the Meet & Greet.

_LG21756In the center, “Judge” and Cindy

After dinner, back at A Holiday Motel, “Southern Draw” and Carolyn’s son, their daughter-in-law and granddaughter entertained us with music.

_LG21785“Southern Draw” and Carolyn’s son and daughter-in-law
Somebody’s Child


SEVROC 2017 wrapped up the evening of Saturday, May 20, with a raffle and 50/50 drawing.

_LG21855Gathering for Saturday’s Raffle and 50/50 Drawing

Riders of Kawasaki (ROK) sent “Jax”, the organizer of the SEVROC motorcycle rally, a number of prizes to be drawn for.  ROK also sent Kawaski-branded merchandise to be handed out to rally attendees.

_LG21850Thank you, ROK, for the Kawasaki-branded lanyards, water bottles and travel mugs!


The raffle begins, with the first ticket drawn.

The raffle resulted in 12 merchandise winners.
Bob was one of the twelve winners.  He won 6 quarts of oil.

Next up was to draw the ticket for the money.  The winner would receive 50% of the proceeds.  The balance would go to the local police department K9 unit.

The winning ticket for the 50/50 was drawn by one of the K9 officers.

“Blondy” won the 50/50 drawing.

_LG21884“Blondy” with “Jax”, Mikey and the local K9 officer

The total amount of money collected for the 50/50 drawing was $696.00.  Therefore, “Blondy” won $348.00, and the local K9 unit received $348.00.  “Blondy” handed over her entire winnings to the local K9 officer.  The giving didn’t stop there.  Individual rally attendees came forward and contributed more money to the K9 program. When the money was tallied up, we had contributed $1,200.00 to the K9 program!

_LG21890“Jax”, Mikey, the two K9 officers and one of their two dogs

The next order of business was the presentation of a quilt to “Jax”, in recognition of all the years that he has organized the SEVROC rally.

_LG21899Presentation of Quilt to “Jax”

The quilt was made of SEVROC shirts from 15 different rallies.  The shirts were donated by various members.  Mikey’s wife, Linda, was responsible for the quilt’s preparation.  She and Mikey had each of us come secretively to their room and autograph the back of the quilt.  What a wonderful gift for “Jax”!

After the quilt presentation, the K9 officers showed their dogs.  One of the K9 officers showed us what last year’s SEVROC contribution to the K9 program purchased for the K9 unit.  The black box and yellow ball in the picture displayed below is used in training K9 drug sniffing dogs.

_LG21906K9 officer explaining use of black box and yellow ball in training of K9 drug sniffing dogs

What a wonderful time we had with our VROC “family”.

_LG21916I love each and every one of them and look forward to the next time we meet in person!


A “No Sightseeing Day”

We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. I have been uploading blog posts about our vacation since May 29th. This blog post is about our seventh day of vacation.

We ate breakfast on Saturday, May 20 at Joey’s Pancake House.  Bob and I each ordered an omelet, hash brown casserole, and toast.  Breakfast was delicious, especially the hash brown casserole.  Joey’s is one of our breakfast stops, while in Maggie Valley.  According to Joey’s web page the pancake house is closing as of today Tuesday, June 13th.

We returned to A Holiday Motel, after breakfast. We decided to stay close to the hotel, taking it easy in preparation for our long drive home the next day.

We watched ‘Blindspot” on Hulu. We are able to get Hulu via the Amazon Fire TV Stick that we brought with us on vacation.

After watching “Blindspot”, we walked around the hotel grounds, socializing with some of our motorcycling friends.  I mistook one of our friends for his brother.  Lonnie arrived at A Holiday Motel on Tuesday, the same day as we did. It was uncertain if Lonnie’s brother Carl would attend this year’s SEVROC, as he had just returned home from a cruise. As we were passing by Lonnie’s room, I saw someone at a motorcycle.  It looked like someone had just arrived. I quickly took note of whom I thought was Lonnie, standing near the motorcycle.  I walked up to whom I thought was Carl, at the motorcycle, and gave him a big hug, saying that I was happy that he made it. Well I hugged Lonnie, not Carl…not that he minded. After hugging Lonnie, the man standing on the opposite side of me, who I thought was Lonnie, said “it’s me. I’m Carl.” It was at that moment I realized I had mistaken Lonnie for Carl. I gave Carl a hug, everyone including me laughing about my blunder.

_XZ00989Carl (on the left) and Lonnie

The annual trek to Seven Silver Seas, commonly referred to as the Purple Store, happened at 11;00 am. I didn’t go this year, not wanting to be tempted to buy something that I don’t need.

While some of the ladies were shopping at the Purple Store, I did some reading. I started reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” before leaving on vacation. I hadn’t picked up the book since.  By the way I am STILL reading “The Handmaid’s Tale”.  I am enjoying the book; however, I keep finding something to do to take me away from my reading!

In the middle of the afternoon Bob and I walked to Market Square, where we stopped at Rock-N-Robins for ice cream and then did some window shopping.

20170520_170803117_iOSThe ice cream at Rock-N-Robins is delicious.

While window shopping, a promotion for T-shirts caught my eye.  We ended up purchasing two Magic T-shirts for each of our granddaughters.  Magic T-Shirts have designs that are black and white indoors and burst into color in the sun. They return to black and white without the sun.  The design we chose was butterfly wings.  We gave the T-Shirts to the girls at their 5th birthday party on May 27th.

We ate dinner at Bogarts Restaurant in Waynesville. It was our first time at this restaurant. Our rib-eye steak sandwiches were very good, as was the sweet potato fries (for me) and onion rings (for Bob). This restaurant (and the ribeye steak sandwiches) were recommended to us by “Skid”, one of our motorcycling friends.  Thank you, “Skid”.  Dinner was delicious!

The Southeast Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) motorcycle rally wrapped up in the evening with a raffle and 50/50.  I will share photographs from the raffle in a later blog post.

We said goodbye to everyone before turning in early for the night. We plan to begin our drive home the next day no later than 7:00 am.

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