The Beauty Around Us

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

Finger Lakes Vacation: Day 2

On Thursday (May 26) we visited Fillmore Glen State Park and saw sights, as suggested by an Uncovering New York post. Fillmore Glen State Park is located below the southern end of Owasco Lake, near Moravia NY. Our Empire Pass would have provided free admittance in the state park. However, there was no one at the gate so admittance was free for all.

We parked in the large parking area near the swimming area. It was a short walk, past the natural swimming pool to the bridge that crossed Dry Creek.

Fillmore State Park – Swimming Area, as seen from Dry Creek Bridge
Work was being done on the natural swimming area,
preparing it for the summer season.

From the bridge it was an easy walk for a short distance to a viewing area near the base of Cow Sheds Waterfall.

Bob and I at Cow Sheds Waterfall

There is a large rock overhang adjacent to the waterfall. It is said that cows would shelter here during storms, which is why this is known as Cow Sheds Waterfall.

From Cow Sheds Waterfall we backtracked to the start of the Gorge Trail. The Gorge Trail starts with a steep climb up a flight of old stone stairs climbing 150 feet or so fairly quickly.

The next two photographs show those stone stairs, where I needed to stop for a break and sit for a short time.

Looking down the stone stairs
This was how far we had climbed,
when I needed to rest.
Bob took this picture of me, as I rested.
We still had a lot of steps to climb!
At the top of the stone stairs was a pavilion.

As you can see the trail leveled out at the top of the hill. I am standing partway up a grassy knoll, returning from a restroom. The top of the stone stairs is located to the right of the pavilion, with the Gorge Trail continuing to the right alongside the hillside. To the left is a gravel road that leads to Park Road. I will say more about the gravel road a little bit later.

From the pavilion it was an easy hike on the Gorge Trail. Some of the photographs that we took along the trail are displayed below.

The Gorge Trail
We crossed over several wooden bridges,
while on the Gorge Trail.

The next two photographs were taken from the bridge displayed above.

Looking back on that same bridge
This is another bridge that we crossed, while on the Gorge Trail.

The Gorge Trail is a 2.5 mile out-and-back trail. Not counting the stone stairs climb, I think we walked about 1/2 mile of the 2.5 mile out-and-back trail. I called it quits, when the trail looked like it started to gain elevation.

We turned around and walked back to the pavilion. I definitely did not want to hike back down the stone stairs. Remember the gravel road to the left of the pavilion? Looking on a map it looked like the gravel road led to Park Road. The distance from the pavilion to the parking lot didn’t look like a long walk. That is what we did. We walked down the gravel road, rather than climb down the stone stairs.

This parking lot was at the end of the gravel road.

I wish we had known about this parking lot. We *might* have made it to the end of the Gorge Trail and back, if we had not climbed those stone stairs!

Walking back to our car, we came across the Millard Fillmore cabin.

This cabin is a replica of Millard Fillmore’s birthplace.

We returned to our car and, as suggested by Uncovering New York, we drove up Park Road. After 1.5 miles, the road ends at a parking area next to a trailhead. The trailhead is where the North Rim and South Rim Trail meet. We followed the North Rim Trail downhill. Soon, we arrived at a shelter.

North Rim Trail shelter
This was the view from the shelter.

We continued our hike down to the lake.

This lake on the North Rim Trail is beautiful!

Do you see the stone dam at the far left side of the lake?

There is a waterfall on the other side of the dam.

What a pretty waterfall!
The North Rim Trail passes over the rim of the dam.
The North Rim Trail continues on the opposite side of the lake.
You can see the lake and dam from the North Rim Trail.
This is where we turned around
on the North Rim Trail.
The trail was quite muddy,
once you crossed over the bridge.

NOTE to SELF: Purchase mosquito netting to go over a hat and my face to use next time we go hiking. My scalp got bitten badly, while we were hiking. My scalp still itches to this day!

Leaving Fillmore Glen State Park, we drove alongside the eastern side of Owasco Lake to Auburn.

East Side of Owasco Lake
(near Niles, NY)

We ate lunch at Seb’s Green Shutters in Auburn.  Bob ordered a Seb’s double cheeseburger, onion rings and water.  I ordered a Seb’s cheeseburger, French fries and Diet Pepsi.  We shared the French fries and onion rings.

From Seb’s we returned to our Airbnb “Casa Esperanza on Wyckoff Road”.  We purchased a couple bundles of firewood along the way.

There is a path through the woods at our Airbnb. 

Walking path through the woods

We walked the path in the afternoon.  The path leads from one corner to the other corner along the back part of the property.  It was a nice stroll.

In the evening we roasted weiners over a hot fire, using one of the wood bundles. In addition to the weiners we enjoyed baked beans and leftover macaroni & cheese for dinner. For dessert we, once again, had Klondike bars.

Finger Lakes Vacation: Day 1

The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven long, narrow, roughly north–south lakes in New York in an area called the Finger Lakes Region. The eleven Finger Lakes, from west to east, are: Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Canadice Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canandaigua Lake,
Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, and Otisco Lake.

We have visited the Finger Lakes Region often over the past 20+ years. We have seen four of the eleven Finger Lakes: Canandaigua Lake, Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, and Cuyuga Lake. During the week of May 25 through June 1 we added Owasco Lake and Skaneateles Lake to our list of Finger Lakes that we have seen. This blog post and several that follow will provide photographs and details of our visit to these two eastern finger lakes.

We left home at 7:42 am on Wednesday, May 25, en route Scipo Center NY via the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

We arrived at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge around 11:42 am.  

the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

I got my National Park Passport cancelled with a rubber-stamp ink marking that recorded the name of the wildlife refuge and the date of our visit.  We drove the Wildlife Drive two times.  The highlight of our visit was a Sandhill Crane family, two adults and two babies.

Sandhill Cranes
Two Adults and a Baby
Sandhill Cranes
Two Adults and a Baby
It looks like the one adult is looking back for the second baby.
Sandhill Cranes
Two Adults and Two Babies

This was our first ever sighting of sandhill cranes. How exciting! We had hoped to see the sandhill cranes again on our second drive around Wildlife Loop. Unfortunately, we did not see them.

From Montezuma we drove to Auburn, to Emerson Park, where we ate a picnic lunch (tuna salad with crackers snack set, snack size fruit cup and cookies). 

This was our view, at Emerson Park on Owasco Lake, as we ate a picnic lunch.

After lunch we went for a walk in Emerson Park. We spent an enjoyable few minutes watching Canada Geese at the water’s edge.

Emerson Park is about a 9 minute drive from our Airbnb.  We arrived at Airbnb “Casa Esperanza on Wykoff Road” in Scipio Center NY at approximately 3:20 pm.  Our host, Mickie, met us.  She showed us around the house and gave us a dozen fresh eggs from her farm and a bottle of wine (how nice!). Mickie lives in the next house up the road from the Airbnb.

After we had unpacked the car and got settled in, we left to pick up groceries at Wegmans in Auburn.  We did our shopping and returned to the Airbnb.  We cooked dinner together — sloppy joes, macaroni & cheese, and green beans.  For dessert we had Klondike ice cream bars.

After dinner Bob started a campfire. 

We had a fire our first night at “Casa Esperanza”.


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!

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