The Beauty Around Us

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

Posts tagged ‘Art’

Warren PA to Bennington VT

Bob and I had planned to attend a Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (VROC) motorcycle rally in Interlochen MI from August 4 through August 7. We were notified on July 23 that the cabin we reserved in Michigan was not habitable. It was filled with smoke and water, when another cabin, attached to ours, was consumed by fire. I took the fire as an omen…do not go to Michigan. So, we made plans to vacation in New Hampshire instead. We visited Bob’s sister and explored the White Mountains region.

Our New Hampshire vacation began on July 30.  We departed our home in Warren en route Bennington, VT a little after 6:30 am.

Around 9:00 am we made a bathroom stop at a rest area just before Corning, NY. Free coffee / tea / hot chocolate and various snacks were available under a canopy set up by a local high school senior class. I saw hot dogs, chips and soft drinks, too, so it appeared that the kiosk would be there through lunch. We picked up coffee and tea and Grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookies, which we shared. Donations were accepted. We contributed to their donation jar.

We stopped for lunch at the Worcester Rest Area (NY). It was a bit chilly sitting at picnic table. My hoodie would have felt good, but I forgot to bring it.

Lunch Stop at Worcester Rest Area (NY)

Our picnic lunch included Bumble Bee tuna and chicken snacks to go that included crackers, a fruit cup and a chocolate chip cookie, Cajun Trail Mix and beverage of choice. I saw what I considered an odd sign at the rest area.

20160730_160518123_iOS 4x6Does anyone else consider a “no hunting” sign odd at a rest area?

We encountered the most traffic on Rt. 7E in Troy, NY. It was slow going for several miles. We arrived at the Best Western Bennington in Bennington, VT around 1:50 pm.

Our hotel room was on the second floor, poolside, Room 169.

20160730_182333856_iOS 4x6Best Western Bennington
View from our second floor room

Our hotel room was spacious. As you entered our room from the outside, you walked into an entry of sorts. The bathroom was straight ahead; our bedroom was to the left. Furnishings included two queen beds, separated by a nightstand; a love seat, coffee table; a desk and chair; dresser with flat screen TV; refrigerator and microwave.

As we have driven through Bennington on past trips to visit with Bob’s sister, we were aware that the Bennington Battle Monument is one of Bennington’s attractions.  I thought the monument might be visible from our hotel.  So I went for a walk around the hotel and through the shopping center located behind the hotel.

20160730_190058829_iOS 4x6Found it!
Bennington Battle Monument visible in the background

Later in the afternoon we drove to the Bennington Battle Monument. We have visited the monument at least two times before during earlier trips to New Hampshire.

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Bennington Battle Monument

This 306-foot stone monument is dedicated to the Battle of Bennington that took place during the Revolutionary War in 1777. Visitors may ride an elevator to the top of the Bennington Battle Monument for panoramic views of the valleys and rolling hills of Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. In past visits the monument was closed for the season, and we were not able to go inside the monument.  For the first time we were able to ride the monument elevator to the observation deck, which is located 200 feet from the ground. See those narrow vertical openings about 3/4 up from the monument base?  That is the location of the observation deck.  There were views to the south, north, east and west.  Poster size photographs on the wall opposite the view highlighted points of interest.

_LG24390-1 4x6Looking south from Bennington Battle Monument Observation Deck

Points of interest looking south included the Old First Church, the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Mount Greylock-Taconic Range.  Mount Greylock (3,491 feet) is the highest point in Massachusetts.

_LG24392-1 4x6Looking east from Bennington Battle Monument Observation Deck

Points of interest looking east included Bald Mountain and Willow Park.

_LG24398 4x6Looking north from Bennington Battle Monument Observation Deck

_LG24400 4x6Looking west from Bennington Battle Monument Observation Deck

I was disappointed by the view, as you could only see through four narrow openings at each compass point. Only two of the four openings were unhindered by glass. I am glad that it cost only $5.00 each for the elevator ride.

Returning to ground level we walked around the monument grounds.

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Bennington Battle Monument
Seth Warner Monument

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Seth Warner Monument

Seth Warner was the commander of the Green Mountain Boys who helped defeat the British forces in the Second Engagement of the Battle of Bennington.

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Bennington Battle Monument
General John Stark Statue

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General John Stark Statue

General John Stark and 1,400 New Hampshire men were involved in the Battle of Bennington.  This large granite boulder with its bronze tablet honors those men.  The bronze state portrays General Stark in a heroic pose, stepping forward with an outstretched arm pointing towards the approaching British.

We saw our first moose, while at the Bennington Battle Monument.

_LG24383 4x6This is Bennington Benny, the Covered Bridge Moose.

Benny was the first of several painted moose that we saw, while in Bennington.

Leaving the Bennington Battle Monument, we drove to Madison Brewing Company Pub & Restaurant for dinner. Bob’s sister recommended the restaurant as a comment on one of my Facebook posts. Bob ordered a blackened chicken salad; I ordered fish & chips. Both meals were excellent, as was the ambiance and service.

From the restaurant we returned to our hotel, stopping briefly at the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

_LG24408 4x6Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce

_LG24409 4x6There were more painted moose on the grounds of the Chamber of Commerce.

Upon returning to our hotel, we walked across the street to the Dairy Bar for dessert.

20160730_215040796_iOS 4x6We found yet another painted moose at the Dairy Bar.

The moose statues first began to appear in 2005, during Bennington’s Moosefest.  In addition to Moosefest 2005, I found references on the Internet to a Moosefest 2009.

This blog post concludes Day 1 of our 7-day New Hampshire vacation.

1000 Islands Vacation Day 3: Clayton, NY

On Day 3 (Tuesday, June 21) of our 1000 Island Vacation we visited places south of our home port of Alexandria Bay, NY.  So far I have shared blog posts about Rock Island Lighthouse and our visit to Wellesley Island State Park.  Today’s blog post is about our visit to Clayton, NY.

From Wellesley Island we drove back over the Thousand Islands Bridge to the quintessential river town of Clayton, NY.  The blue waters of the St. Lawrence River provide a beautiful, soothing backdrop for this picturesque little town.

We ate lunch at Bella’s.

Bella’s Bistro

We seated ourselves on the deck,
at a window table that overlooked the St. Lawrence River.

I ordered a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a green salad. Bob ordered a Greek Wrap with a green salad. The view was outstanding; our meals were delicious; service was excellent; and the price was OK.

After lunch we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the river.  We walked down Riverside Drive.

James St. & Riverside Dr. intersection
Bella’s Bistro is located on Riverside Dr., to camera left but outside this photograph.

Riverside Drive – Historic District
late 19th century commercial buildings

Riverside Drive
Simon Johnston House, c. 1880
built for local shipbuilder

Looking across Simon Johnston House grounds
to Riverside Drive

This is such a pretty view of Riverside Drive!

Monument Park on Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive
Village Docks and Park

All along the river is comfortable seating that invites one to sit, watch and relax. We walked alongside the boat docks and saw two men, with binoculars, who we believe were keeping an eye on boat traffic originating in Canada.

A short way from the Village Docks is Frink Park.

Frink Park

Frink Park was a former NY Central Railroad Depot and steamer landing.

We continued our walk along the river, past Frink Park.


As I mentioned earlier, all along the river is comfortable seating that invites one to sit, watch and relax.

Bob is looking at a map, hoping to identify the island across the river.
He was successful in his search and identified the island as Calumet Island.

Calumet Island formerly featured one of the earliest examples of the large castles built in the Thousand Islands region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, of which Boldt Castle in nearby Alexandria Bay is a surviving example.  In 1956 a fire destroyed much of the castle.  Today, all that remains is the water tower (which has been converted to a light house), ice house, power house, skiff house, servant’s house, boat house, and the staircase that led up to the castle.

Water Tower on Calumet Island

In addition to the river views and the lovely architecture of this picturesque town, several murals drew my attention.  The large exterior murals were painted by Kelly Curry.  Each mural is a work of art!

Mural by Kelly Curry

Mural by Kelly Curry

Mural by Kelly Curry

From Clayton we made a return trip to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, located in Cape Vincent.  This second visit to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse will be featured in the next blog post in my 1000 Islands Vacation series.

Memorial Day Weekend: Saturday

On Saturday, May 23, we spent the day riding. We left home at 8:30 am. I had put the liner back in my leather jacket and dressed in layers, as it was only 36 degrees when we left home en route Niagara Falls.

Approaching Peace Bridge

We crossed into Canada via the Peace Bridge. We had no delay crossing into Canada; however, the border crossing guard was a bit brusque. After we (and others) had entered the lane to his booth, he closed the lane.  I believe his brusqueness was due to his desire to take a break or to end his work shift.  The guard had us remove our helmets, not an easy task when one hand is holding passports. He could see I was having a little trouble handling my helmet and handing over the passports to him. He made no effort to help ( e.g. he did not step closer to reach the passports). I had trouble putting my helmet back on.  I was wearing a dew rag that came off, as I removed my helmet.  I needed two hands to put the dew rag back on, so I just put on my helmet.  I stuffed our passports in my jacket pocket.  We stopped soon after getting on Niagara Parkway so that I could put on my helmet properly, with dew rag underneath it. Bob placed our passports in a locked cubicle on the dashboard.

We drove along Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls, enjoying the beautiful views of Niagara River along the way.  We drove through Niagara Falls to Rainbow Bridge.

The crossing into the United States was more hectic than the crossing into Canada. There were cars and people EVERYWHERE! Niagara Falls State Park’s parking Lot 1, located near the Niagara Falls Visitor Center, was full. Niagara Falls State Park’s parking Lot 2, located on Goat Island near the entrance to the Cave of the Winds tour and Top of the Falls Restaurant, was full as well.  We were directed to another parking lot somewhere on Goat Island, but the line was very long entering that parking lot.  We decided not to go for a walk in Niagara Falls this trip.  I much prefer visiting Niagara Falls off season, or at least not on a holiday weekend!

We began our ride back home.  We traveled by way of Route 219.  We made a fuel stop in Springville, NY and ate lunch at the nearby Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Prior to arriving in Ellicottville, NY we stopped at Griffis Sculpture Park–the largest outdoor sculpture park in the United States. For over 42 years, the steel sculptures of Larry Griffis, Jr. and other international artists have been residing in the woods, fields, and even ponds of Griffis Sculpture Park. The 400 acre park is located eight miles outside of Ellicottville near Ashford Hollow, NY (Cattaraugus County). Griffis Sculpture Park is split into two sections, the Rohr Hill Road Site and the Mill Valley Road Site. We visited the Rohr Hill Road Site, where a majority of the sculptures are visible from the road.

We wandered about the meadow and the woods of the Rohr Hill section of the park, while I snapped pictures of some of the sculptures.

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Who would have thought that you could find something so beautiful in a meadow in the middle of nowhere!

Rather than take Interstate 86 home, we drove through the Allegany State Park via ASP Route 1.  Our NY State Empire Passport provided free entry to the park.  We made two brief stops, while in the park.

We stopped at the Red House Administration Building, where we purchased a bottle of water at the Gift Shop.

We stopped alongside Quaker Lake.

From Allegany State Park we took Routes 280, 321 and 59 home.

We returned home at 5:45 pm. Our trip odometer indicated that we put approximately 280 miles on the motorcycle.  By the way, it began to reach a comfortable temperature around 3:30 pm!

A Visit from Santa’s Elf

On December 8th Bob’s sister, Cynthia, sent us a Facebook message.  Cynthia asked us where we would go if we could take the motorcycle and ride together to one of our favorite places to take photos.  Cynthia said that this was a VERY serious question.  We had to be sure we knew the answer we both agreed on, because once we decided, we could not change it!  After a few minutes of thought, Bob and I told Cynthia that we would go to the Finger Lakes Region, in particular Watkins Glen, New York.

Last night we received another Facebook message from Cynthia.  She wrote that we “must be on the “nice” list.. Santa sent me a message…’I could deliver it later tomorrow (Tues 12/23) or Wednesday 12/24.’ When will someone be home?” Bob told Cynthia that I would be here all day today, as well as Wednesday. Cynthia said that Santa would be at our house between 3 and 4 today.

Santa’s elf, not Santa, came to our house a little after 3:30 pm today. Now, IF Santa’s elf had been dressed as an elf, a photograph would have been in order. Santa’s elf, however, was dressed in civilian attire and arrived via a privately owned vehicle. Santa’s elf brought Bob and me a Christmas gift. Because the package did NOT say “do not open before Christmas”, we opened the package.


Inside the package was a lovely portrait of our cat, Patches, that
Cynthia commissioned Ellen Paquette to paint for us.

It looks like Patches posed for the painting. The likeness is amazing.  Look closely at the painting.  Do you see the camera? the motorcycle? Watkins Glen Gorge?  What a WONDERFUL surprise!  Thank you, Cynthia, for such a perfect Christmas present!  Mrs. Paquette does extraordinary work!

Oh, who was Santa’s elf?  Santa’s elf was the artist herself, Ellen Paquette!

Memorial Day Ride

We went for a short motorcycle ride with our friends, Susan and Dave, on the morning of May 26 (Memorial Day).  We met at 8:00 am at a local fuel station and rode to Findley Lake, NY.  The purpose of riding to Findley Lake was to see that village’s Main Street Memorial Day parade.


mosaica1b5617cee3432d6a0c3cd8fd40f5dd6e9f9b142Findley Lake Memorial Day Parade


We would have watched the parade in our hometown of Warren, PA; however, Warren doesn’t have a Memorial Day parade.

After the parade, we rode into Jamestown.  We stopped at Tim Horton for coffee/iced tea and donuts.  We carried our Timmy purchases across the street, to Riverwalk Park.  After consuming our purchases, we went for a short walk along Chadakoin River.

Located at the base of this sculpture is a marker that reads: “Before white men came to this area the Indians blazed a trail between Lake Erie and Lake Chautauqua over which they, early explorers and settlers, portaged their canoes. At the Chadakoin River rapids the canoe was portaged again. Here is where the explorers rested and started a settlement which is now the City of Jamestown.”

Riverwalk Park
Our friends, Susan and Dave

After our walk in the park, we rode back to Warren.  We returned home around 12:30 pm.


North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: Geese, Sheep and Horses)

We spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) of our North Carolina vacation at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC. After admiring Biltmore House and the Library and South Terraces, the Walled Garden and Conservatory, and the Azalea Garden and Bass Pond, we returned to our car by shuttle bus and drove through the estate grounds to the lagoon.

the Lagoon

At the lagoon, we spread a blanket on the ground under the shade of a tree.  The photograph of the lagoon shown above was our view, as we ate a picnic lunch.  Our picnic fare was the same as other days: tuna salad and crackers, peaches and a couple sugar-free chocolate chip cookies.  We should go on a picnic more often.  Lunch was so relaxing.  After lunch, I entertained myself by watching and photographing the many geese and baby geese at the lagoon.

We drove to the other side of the lagoon and were rewarded with a magnificent view of the backside of the Biltmore House.

Lagoon view of Biltmore House

While on the shuttle bus ride, the driver pointed out two barns, one housing sheep and the other housing horses.  We stopped at both barns on our drive through the estate.

The sheep and lambs were in the pasture grazing.





Carriage and trail rides are available at the horse barns.  We didn’t go on a ride; however, we did enjoy looking at the horses.

Two Horses

Carriage & Trail Ride Barns

A farrier was in the barn shoeing this horse.

This is a smart dog.  It is staying out of the way of the horse’s hoofs!

We returned to our hotel around 2:30 pm, where we relaxed until it was time to leave for dinner.

Dinner was at Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  We met our friends, Karen and Pete, at the restaurant.  Pete and Bob used to be coworkers.  Karen and Pete moved to North Carolina several years ago.  Whenever we visit this part of North Carolina, we make arrangements to meet Karen and Pete for dinner.  Dinner was good, as was the conversation.  Karen and I are Facebook friends, and we keep in touch there.  However, nothing compares to a face-to-face conversation.   Much of the conversation centered around Bob’s workplace and coworkers that Bob and Pete both knew.  Before leaving the restaurant, Pete gave me a painting of two Carolina Wrens.  We now own three Pete Ferry original paintings!

imageThis covered bridge scene was the first painting that Pete gave to us.
Pete mailed this painting to us.

 imagePete gave us this painting of the ocean last year, when he and Karen visited us at our home.

imageThis is the newest addition to our Pete Ferry original paintings.

Pete is a talented painter.  His paintings are gorgeous!  Thank you, Pete, for your wonderful gifts.  We will treasure them always!

We returned to the hotel around 6:30 pm.  We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in our room.  Before retiring for the night, we watched a movie on Amazon Prime (Bob packed the ROKU).  The movie that we watched was called “Flight of the Phoenix”.  The movie was about survivors of a plane crash in the Mongolian desert working together to build a new plane.  We enjoyed the movie.  Hugh Laurie was one of the characters in the movie.  It was interesting to see him cast in a different role than that which he was cast in the TV show “House”.




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