The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Bicycling’

Purple Blossoms

Bob and I went for a bicycle ride late this afternoon / early evening.  We rode to Pioneer Arboretum, located at the north end of the Warren-North Warren Bike/Hike Trail.

Aren’t the blossoms on these trees beautiful?

There are many beautiful trees in the arboretum; however, many of the trees were in the shade and would not photograph well.

I LOVED how the blossoms were climbing up the branches of this tree!

Total bicycle miles ridden: 3.40 miles.

Bicycle Ride Around Lake Wilhelm

We got a later start than on Saturday, but we went on another bicycle ride on Sunday.

We departed home at 8:40 am en route Lake Wilhelm, located at Maurice K. Goddard State Park near Sandy Lake, PA.  We arrived at the Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot at approximately 10:30 am and began our bicycle ride shortly afterward.  

Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking

The John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail is 12 miles long.  The paved, predominantly off-road trail is a pleasant, largely wooded loop around the northern and southern shores of Lake Wilhelm.  The Lake Wilhelm Road trail parking lot, where we began our ride, is located on the lake’s north side.  This location was a good place to begin our ride around the lake, as the mileage count begins here.  The trail on the lake’s north side contains several sharp bends and short, steep runs that were challenging. Bob referred to the northern portion of the trail as a roller coaster ride. 

Lake Wilhelm trail

I had to walk my bicycle up some of the hill climbs.

We stopped briefly at this shelter to enjoy the tranquility.
The trail was not heavily traveled the day we rode our bicycles.
In fact we had the trail to ourselves much of the time.


We stopped briefly at the Lake Wilhelm Dam, which is about the halfway point around the lake.

The trail on the lake’s south side, some of which shares Creek Road, was much less challenging than the north side, with the exception of one hill climb.  There is a choice there, though, to follow the trail up the hill or stay on Creek Road.  I stayed on Creek Road, as I had my fill of hill climbs by then!  Bob chose to follow the trail up the hill. 

We stopped for a snack and a rest break at Boat Launch No. 1, along the south shore of the lake.  Our snack was whole grain peanut butter sandwich crackers. 

Boat Launch No. 1

Picnic areas are abundant and restrooms can be found at each of the four boat launches around the lake. 

While resting, I took several pictures of a tree swallow that was sitting on a tree branch. 

Tree Swallow

Hello Human. What are you doing down there?


I had just packed up my camera, when wouldn’t you know it, here comes an eagle soaring across the lake.  

Later, during our ride, we saw two osprey at their nest.  I didn’t take any pictures of the eagle, but I did take several pictures of the osprey.

Osprey in Flight

Osprey on Tree Branch

Osprey on Nest

Osprey Looking at Me!

I stopped riding at the marina, shortly before the bridge on Lake Wilhelm Road that crosses over the lake. I just didn’t feel like riding anymore.  Besides I had already ridden 12 miles–the distance around the lake.

Lake Wilhelm Marina

Bob rode from the marina rest of the way to the car, put his bicycle on the carrier and drove over and picked up me and my bicycle.  

We rode bicycles around Lake Wilhelm one time before, in June 2017.  The bicycles that we rode in 2017 were folding bicycles.  I expected the trail to be easier with our Specialized bicycles than it was with our folding bicycles.  It was easier, but still strenuous.

We were en route home at 1:45 pm.  We made two stops on the way home.  Both stops were in Titusville, PA.  We made a fuel stop at Sheetz and a lunch stop at Burger King.  We returned home around 4:00 pm.

What a great workout we had on our bicycles this weekend.  We rode 12 miles round trip on Saturday on the Allegheny River Trail and another 12 miles on Sunday.  Saturday’s ride (on a predominately flat surface) was much, much easier than Sunday’s ride!

Where will we ride next?  Stay tuned!

Allegheny River Trail: Emlenton to Rockland

We departed our home in Warren PA at 7:30 am en route Emlenton PA and the Allegheny River Trail.   We arrived on Main Street in Emlenton at 9:05 am.   We followed signs to the Allegheny River Trail.  Road signs pointed us onto the bike trail.  Bob was hesitant to drive on the bike trail.  I encouraged him to do so, and we came upon a parking area quickly.  The Allegheny River Trail is 28.2 miles of flat, smooth, asphalt surface from Emlenton to Franklin.  We chose to bicycle only a portion of the trail, from Emlenton to Rockland Tunnel and back. 

The beginning of the trail is bordered by a white fence for a short time.

Soon the trail is between the Allegheny River and a wooded hillside.

Seen from the trail

Note the 1917 date on the tunnel.

Dotter Access Area

Dotter Access Area. There are beautiful views of the river along the trail. This is one such view.

Dotter Access Area seen from the trail

Rockland Tunnel

The 2,868-foot Rockland Tunnel is pitch black.  Reflectors mark the trail edges and center.  We had strong flashlights mounted on our bicycles.  Bob rode through the tunnel; I didn’t.  Almost as soon as I entered the tunnel, I began to feel claustrophobic.  My arms and legs tensed up, and my balance felt off.   I stopped and turned my bicycle around.  As soon as I could see the light at the tunnel entrance, I began to feel better. 

I walked inside Rockland Tunnel a little ways to get this picture.

Bob has returned from riding through Rockland Tunnel.

We stopped at this bench for a short rest, while on our way back to the Emlenton trail head.

We enjoyed this view, while sitting on the bench.

I took this picture facing away from the bench.

I rode 11.12 miles round trip.  Bob rode a little more than me because he rode through the tunnel and back.  It was 11:37 am, when we completed our ride.

It was an excellent day for a bicycle ride.  It was overcast, and the temperature stayed in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

We plan to ride more of the Allegheny River Trail later this year.

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 5

On the morning of Day 5 of our vacation (Wednesday, April 10th) we rode our bicycles from Tranquil Shores (our vacation home) to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA. It is approximately 2 miles from Tranquil Shores to the entrance booths. 

We followed the bicycle trail to Woodland Trail.  We rode the Woodland Trail, where we saw several wild horses in the marshland. 

Woodland Trail – Wild Ponies

Leaving Woodland Trail we took the Black Duck Trail to the Wildlife Loop.  We rode the Wildlife Loop. We saw egrets, birds and wild ponies. 

Wildlife Loop – Snowy Egret

Wildlife Loop – Red-Winged Blackbird

For the first time since 2011, when we first visited the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we saw wild horses in the marsh, while on the Wildlife Loop. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies


From the Wildlife Loop we returned to Tranquil Shores. 

Crossing bridge from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island (Beach Access Road)

We rode 11.69 bicycle miles in the morning.

We ate lunch at Metompkin Seafood Market in Bloxom VA, which was a 13-mile drive from Chincoteague. 

Metopkin Seafood Market

Metopkin Seafood Market
Food ordered here.

Metopkin Seafood Market
Fresh Seafood

Bob ordered a fish and scallop platter.  I ordered a fish platter.  We both had two generous pieces of fish with French fries, coleslaw and hush puppies.  Bob had scallops in addition to the fish.  There were three cats that were looking for handouts.  

A bold cat at Metopkin Seafood Market


On our way to Metompkin Seafood and on our way back to Chincoteague, U.S. Navy airplanes kept circling us.

U.S. Navy airplane

U.S. Navy airplane

I took these photographs from inside our car, through the windshield. We were traveling at about 55 MPH at the time. The airplanes were flying from NASA Wallops Flight Facility. It was awesome having the airplanes fly so close to us!

Before returning to our vacation home, we stopped for homemade ice cream at the Island Creamery.  

Island Creamery

Island Creamery
Ice Cream Selections

Bob ordered two scoops of coffee ice cream in a cup.  I ordered one scoop of Peanut Butter Cup and one scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate, also in a cup.  Delicious!

We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop in the evening.  The wild horses that we saw in the morning were still there.  The horses were even a little closer to the road than they were in the morning. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Pony

For dinner we ate salad.  Bob had a Cobb salad; I had a chef salad.  Neither of us were very hungry after eating a big lunch and ice cream.

Later in the evening we watched a few episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed.

I hope that you are not getting tired of seeing photographs of wild ponies.  I will be sharing more wild pony photographs in my next blog post.  Those ponies were closer to us than all of our other encounters!


Chincoteague Vacation – Day 3: Wildlife Loop

On Day 3 (April 8th) of our vacation, we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The wildlife refuge is located on Assateague Island, VA.  We carried our bicycles via bike carrier, even though the wildlife refuge is only a couple miles from Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

We rode our bicycles on the Wildlife Loop (3.25 miles), which is open to walkers and bikers all day. Vehicles are permitted to drive the loop from 3:00 PM until dusk. We rode several trails branching off the Wildlife Loop and ended up with 6.86 bicycle miles.  We also got in a few walks, mostly to the ocean.

Black Duck Trail branches off the Wildlife Loop.

The Black Duck Trail can be used to connect the Wildlife Loop to the Woodland Trail.  On this day we rode to the Beach Access Road and back (2 miles round trip) on the Black Duck Trail.  The sign indicated that we might see Canada goose, tundra swans, black ducks and other waterfowl; deer; snakes; and songbirds.  We did see a few birds, including a Flicker, but I was not able to grab my camera quick enough to capture any photographs.  The only photograph I took, while on Black Duck Trail, was of the lighthouse.

Assateaugue Lighthouse, as seen along the Black Duck Trail

Swan Cove Trail branches off the Wildlife Loop.

Swan Cove Trail (0.5 mile one way) is a popular route to the beach.

We saw this pool of water, as we were bicycling to the beach on Swan Cove Trail.

Swan Cove Trail leads to the beach.

Continuing on the Wildlife Loop, a short distance from the Swan Cove Trail is a boardwalk trail.

The boardwalk trail leads to an overlook of Snow Goose Pool.

This is a Service Road that branches off from the Wildlife Loop.

The Service Road is a gravel foot path, 7.5 miles one-way, with limited bicycle access.  Bicyclists can access the trail for 1.25 miles (one-way) to the D-Dike beach access area.  Cars are not permitted on the Service Road, with the exception of Oversand-Vehicle (OSV) Permit holders.

Public Nudity must be a problem. Otherwise, I wouldn’t think a sign would be necessary.

Bob, riding to the beach on the service road

Beach access from the service road

This was our fourth year on the Wildlife Loop, but it was the first time that we saw it via bicycle.  With the exception of the boardwalk trail, we had not been on any of the trails that branch off from Wildlife Loop.  We rode around the Wildlife Loop several times during our vacation, both by bicycle and by car.  I will share more photographs from Wildlife Loop in future blog posts.



Chincoteague Vacation – Day 2: Annapolis, MD to Chincoteague, VA

On Sunday, April 7th, at 7:10 am we departed the Best Western Annapolis and continued our drive to Chincoteague, VA.

We crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge about 10 minutes later.

Our first stop at 9:00 am was at the Salisbury Zoological Park in Salisbury, MD.  We arrived just as the zoo was opening.  

Salisbury Zoo – East Gate Entrance

We spent a couple hours walking around this wonderful, free zoo.  I created this slideshow to share with you some of the birds and animals that we saw, while at the zoo.

This was Bob’s first time at the Salisbury Zoo; it was my second visit.  My first visit was more than 30 years ago in August 1982.

Our second stop was for lunch at Subway at the intersection of Routes 13 and175.

After lunch, we crossed Route 13 and took Route 175 to Chincoteague Island, VA.

Our third stop was at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on Assateague Island, VA. 

Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development. The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service.  These 448 acres are part of the Assateague Island National Seashore.  The Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore are located on Assateague Island, MD.  This year marks our fifth visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, VA.

Admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is $20.00, which is good for multiple days.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February 2018, when I turned 62 years old.

We rode our bicycles on the Woodland Trail.   The Woodland Trail, which takes you through a pine forest, is 1.6 miles round trip, paved and wheelchair accessible.  The trail is open to both walkers and cyclists.  A couple years ago many of the pine trees were damaged by a southern pine beetle infestation. 

We went for a bicycle ride on the Woodland Trail. This boardwalk leads to an observation platform from which you may see wild ponies.

We looked for wild ponies from this observation platform. We didn’t see any ponies.

Leaving the Woodland Trail, we rode our bicycles on the Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore and back to the Woodland Trail parking lot.


We saw two horses and riders at the beach.


Egrets are popular at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

We watched one egret, as it was hunting, standing immobile or wading through wetlands, to when it suddenly took flight.

Great Egret Hunting

Great Egret, Lift Off

Great Egret in Flight

Great Egret in Flight

We watched another egret standing in a tree.

Great Egret in a Tree

We rode our bicycles a total of 4.16 miles on Woodland Trail and to and from the beach.

We arrived at Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental, at approximately 3:00 pm–1 hour before check-in time. Tranquil Shores is located on Chincoteague Island, VA.  I telephoned our host shortly before we checked in to see if an early check in was possible (and it was).  Tranquil Shores was our home away from home for 5 nights.  I will publish a separate blog post pertaining to Tranquil Shores in the near future.

An hour later the car was unpacked.  At 4:40 pm we left to pick up some groceries.  We shopped at Food Lion at the intersection of Routes 13 and 175.  We picked up dinner, breakfast foods, snacks and beer. 

Tonight’s dinner was rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and, for dessert, cheesecake.  We purchased a sampler cheesecake platter, which lasted us through four dinners.

We watched a couple episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed. As a side note, we started watching NYPD Blue on Amazon Prime in early February this year.  NYPD Blue is an American police drama set in New York City, exploring the struggles of the fictional 15th Precinct detective squad in Manhattan.  The series was originally broadcast on the ABC network, debuted on September 21, 1993‚ and aired its final episode on March 1, 2005.  Bob says this was one of his favorite TV shows.  We both saw the series, when it aired.   We may or may not have seen each episode, though.  I certainly do not remember each episode’s story line.  There are 12 seasons, 261 episodes.  We watched Season 9 episodes, while on vacation.

Please check back soon for more blog posts about our Chincoteague vacation.

Bicycling the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

We departed home, en route Ohio, at 6:15 am on the 22nd of September.

We arrived at Cuyahoga Valley National Park shortly before 9:30 am. We parked at the Boston trail head. We rode our bicycles to the nearby Boston Store Visitor Center, where I stamped our National Park Service Passport.

_LG28429The Boston Store Visitor Center sits alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

We rode our bicycles on a portion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Click here for a 2-page map of the trail.

We rode from the Boston Visitor Center south to Lock 26, just past Beaver Marsh, and back. My trip odometer read 15.02 miles, upon our return. The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail follows the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats loaded with goods and passengers. Within the national park, the trail is level and hard-packed for people using wheelchairs, bicycles, and strollers. It is possible to bicycle one way and return by train for a low cost using the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Bike Aboard! service. We didn’t make use of this service. We rode our bicycles both ways.

We passed by six locks, while on our bicycle ride.

_LG28433Lock 31, Lonesome Lock, was the first lock that we passed by.
Lonesome lock acquired its name from the isolated location.
There are legends of robberies and murders that occurred in this remote area.

During our northbound ride, we stopped for lunch at Szalay’s Food & Market, located just off the towpath near the Hunt House.

_LG28438Outdoor Eating Area at Szalay’s Food & Market

After lunch, we enjoyed looking at all the Autumn things.

_LG28437Colorful Scarecrows


_LG28440More Pumpkins

_LG28441And Even MORE Pumpkins!

During our bicycle ride south, we did not stop in Peninsula. We remedied that by stopping on our northbound ride. We stopped at the Visitor Center, where we learned that a historic steam engine would be making its way through Peninsula soon. We hung around to wait for that train.

_LG28449The first train that arrived (and stopped) at the Peninsula train depot
was one of the regular Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad trains.

_LG28448CVSR train

The historic Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 arrived in Peninsula about 20-25 minutes later.  The steam locomotive did not stop in Peninsula; it rode by slowly.

Click here for a direct link to the video in the event it does not appear or play properly.

Each year, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad works with the Fort Wayne Historical Society to bring historic steam locomotive No. 765 to the Cuyahoga Valley for its “Steam in the Valley” event in September.  During the two-hour trip through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, passengers can hop off the train to take photos. Exactly where is a secret, to keep congestion in the area down.

From Peninsula we continued making our way back to the Boston trail head.

Bob and I alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

Once our bicycles were securely attached to our bike carrier, we departed the park and drove to where we would be spending the night.

We checked into Best Western Plus West Akron Inn & Suites at approximately 3:30 pm. We relaxed in our room until 5:00 pm, when we left for dinner.

We ate dinner at the Outback Restaurant, located near the hotel. The evening’s dinner was celebratory in recognition of our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary (which was on September 26th).


I got up at 5:30 am the next day.   Bob had been up for an hour already. We got showered and dressed. Breakfast wasn’t until 7:00 am, but we wandered down about 10 minutes early and found it ready for the taking. We ate a hearty breakfast of waffles, eggs and sausage.

We checked out of hotel at 8:00 am and returned to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We arrived at the Canal Visitor Center at 8:53 am. We rode our bicycles on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail from the Canal Visitor Center south to the Boston Store Visitor Center and back, even after a tumble and a hit on my forehead! My trip odometer read 18.68 miles, upon our return.

The tumble on my bicycle happened on our way to the Boston Store Visitor Center, approximately 30 minutes into our ride. I stopped to take a picture of a spider web. Unknown to me, the trail was cupped where I stopped. When I put down my foot, it didn’t meet ground. Down I went. My forehead came into contact with a fallen log. The impact snapped off the visor on my bike helmet and bent my eyeglasses.

IMG_20180923_104823My poor forehead

Two joggers stopped, a man and a woman. The man, along with Bob helped me get up and back on the trail. I think the jogger picked up my bicycle. The joggers didn’t leave until I assured them that I was OK. My tumble occurred on the Cuyahoga River side of the trail. It was a gentle slope to the river a distance away. I am glad that my tumble didn’t occur on the canal side of the trail, as there was nothing to stop me from falling into the canal!

Bob was able to bend my eyeglass frame back to close where it needed to be. I stopped at the eye doctor that Monday to have my eyeglass frame better adjusted.

_LG28455Spider Web
I was able to stop safely, when I saw this spider web.

_LG28457It was near this spider web that I took a tumble.

Once I determined that all was well, after my tumble, the first thing I did was look for the spider web.  I feared I had taken it down with me, when I fell.  I didn’t, and that fact made me happy.

I had a slight headache, after my tumble, but it didn’t stop me from completing our planned ride. I did, though, consider turning around and returning to the Canal Visitor Center soon after the accident happened. I am happy that we didn’t turn back. We would have missed seeing two great blue herons, five deer, and a snapping turtle.


One of two Great Blue Herons


I didn’t get any pictures of the deer or snapping turtle.

Along the trail, across the canal and highway, was a beautiful brick home.

20180923_162251687_iOSInformation about the Frazee House

_LG28464This is what the Frazee House looks like today.

The information on the sign invited us to explore the Frazee House’s exterior.  We didn’t do any exploring, opting to do so on another visit.

Earlier I mentioned that the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail follows the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats.

20180923_164215730_iOSThis sign is located at the beginning of the trail at the Canal Visitor Center.

Oh, when we arrived at the Canal Visitor Center this morning, several other bicyclists were there. Many of the bicyclists were headed for the train, with plans to ride south to Botzum and bicycle back–a distance of 18 miles. We hope to ride the train one day and bicycle back. You can’t beat the price of $5.00 each. I know we can bicycle the distance, given we rode over 18 miles today!

Our two-day bicycle miles ridden total was 33.70 miles. We have ridden almost the entire Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We haven’t ridden the 1.8 miles between the Canal Visitor Center and Lock 39 or the 2 miles from the Ira trail head and Botzum. We would enjoy riding the entire trail, in one direction, and hope to do so someday.

We made it back to the Canal Visitor Center at approximately 12:45 pm.

20180923_164232912_iOSBob with the Canal Visitor Center in the background

We departed Cuyahoga Valley National Park shortly after returning from our bike ride.  We stopped for lunch in Medina, OH at Quaker Steak & Lube. A couple hours later we stopped for dessert — custard ice cream — at Mr. Shivers in Waterford, PA.

We returned home at approximately 5:45 pm.

What a wonderful weekend and a great way to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary!


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