The Beauty Around Us

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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!


Bicycle Ride Around Lake Wilhelm

Bob and I went for a bicycle ride this past Saturday (June 10th).

Bob is carrying our folding bicycles from the house to the car.

We ate breakfast at Richard’s Family Restaurant in Youngsville, PA. Bob ordered an omelet filled with onions, mushroom and cheddar cheese with rye toast and sliced tomatoes on the side. I ordered scrambled eggs, bacon and French Toast. Breakfast was good and quite filling.

Leaving Richard’s, we began our drive to where our bicycle ride would begin.


Youngsville, PA to Lake Wilhelm, PA

Lake Wilhelm is the centerpiece of Maurice K. Goddard State Park.  We have visited Lake Wilhelm a few times, circling the lake by car.  This was the first time that we planned a bicycle ride at the lake.

The John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail is 12 miles long. The paved, predominantly off-road trail traces the northern and southern shores of Lake Wilhelm.  The loop trail is a pleasant, largely wooded loop around the lake.  We began our ride at Boat Launch #4, which is located on the lake’s north side.

We arrived at Boat Launch #4 at approximately 9:30 am.

D6101638Lake Wilhelm Boat Launch #4

A flock of geese flew overhead, as we were preparing for our bicycle ride.

_LG21953The geese made quite a noise, as they flew over us at Boat Launch #4!

We didn’t begin our ride until 10:00 am. It took approximately 30 minutes to unfold our bicycles and attach a trunk bag to each rack. The next time we go for a ride less preparation time will be required, as the trunk bags already will be attached. We planned to ride from Boat Launch #4 to the dam and back, which I had read somewhere on the Internet was an approximate 5-mile round trip. I guess I read the information incorrectly, as it was about 5 miles ONE WAY to the dam from Boat Launch #4.

The trail on the north side contains several sharp bends and short, steep runs that I found challenging. The payoff, though, are scenic vistas overlooking the water.

D6101641En route Lake Wilhelm Dam

D6101643En route Lake Wilhelm Dam

D6101644The trail crosses over Lake Wilhelm Dam.

Once we reached the dam, we decided to continue rest of the way around Lake Wilhelm, rather than back track, as it would add only a few more miles to our day’s ride.

The trail on Lake Wilhelm’s south side runs from the dam to Lake Wilhelm Road.  The trail shares Creek Road with motor vehicles from the dam to Boat Launch #1 and ends at the marina.

D6101647Amish buggy along Creek Road; no horse in sight

Before reaching Boat Launch #1, one can choose to stay on Creek Road or take the bike trail up over a steep hill.  Bob took the high road; I stayed on Creek Road.

We found lots of horses and more Amish buggies at Boat Launch #1.  I am certain that one of the horses pulled the Amish buggy that we saw earlier.

D6101649Horses and Amish Buggies
Note the picnic areas shown in this photograph.

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

D6101650There were lots of Amish buggies at Boat Launch #1.
Boat trailers were parked nearby.

10-mile marker
Two more miles to go!
(photo by Bob)

Actually we had about 2 1/2 miles to go, as we entered the trail about 1/2 mile from the start.  Oh, and in the photograph displayed above, I was not walking my bicycle at this point.  I got off to take a picture of the 10-mile marker.  I DID walk my bicycle, though, several times during our 12-mile ride!

D6101653We made it to the marina!

The south and north portions of the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail are connected via Lake Wilhelm Road.  You can see Lake Wilhelm Road (across the lake) in the photograph displayed above.  There is a large berm along the side of Lake Wilhelm Road, so traffic was not a problem.

We began our bicycle ride at 10:00 am and completed the ride at 1:00 pm.  Bob used the MapMyRide app to track our bicycle ride.


Screenshot from MapMyRide app

The MapMyRide app records moving time. We made stops (to take pictures and to rest) equaling approximately an hour. The last 1/2-1 mile didn’t go well. I had to make frequent stops because I felt weak and dizzy. Eating a chocolate bar, when we made it back to the car, quickly ended the weak feeling and dizziness. We carried water with us. We need to carry candy too, e.g. hard candy or protein bars that won’t melt.

From Lake Wilhelm we drove to Erie. We ate a late lunch at Texas Roadhouse, using a gift card for a portion of the cost. Lunch was good and filling as well.

We began our drive back home, after lunch. We made one stop along the way. We stopped at Walmart in Corry, where we purchased two bicycle seats.  Our new bicycle seats are wider and more cushy than the seats currently on our folding bicycles.  Our next bicycle ride will be more comfortable on our buttocks!

We both enjoyed the John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail and would like to ride it again, perhaps sometime during the autumn months.

Bicycle Ride at Allegany State Park

We went to Allegany State Park yesterday for a bicycle ride. It was our first time riding bicycles in the park, as well as the first time transporting our new folding bicycles to a ride destination.  Both bicycles fit nicely in our back seat.

Allegany State Park is divided into two areas: the Red House Area and the Quaker Run Area. We entered the park via the Quaker Run Area entrance and made our way to the Red House Area. Our ride destination was the Red House Area, where there are 5 miles of paved hike/bike paths.

We rode our bicycles around Red House Lake, a loop trail of 3 miles. Our starting point was at the Red House Boat Rental parking lot. We rode clockwise around the lake.  The bicycle trail was very nice, paved throughout. We rode level with the lake, below the lake (at creek level) and high above the lake. I both rode and walked my bicycle on the trail. Eventually I hope that I am able to ride all the way around the lake.

_XZ30814Red House Lake Bicycle Trail

Across the lake is a bridge.  This is the Red House Lake Dam bridge.  We won’t cross over that bridge.  Instead the bicycle trail takes you below the Red House Lake Dam, across a wooden bridge and back up the other side. On our way to the Red House Lake Dam we passed by the Red House Administration building.

_XZ30815We stopped briefly at the stone fishing pier,
located in a picnic area near the Red House Administration building.

XZ230816Passing by the Red House Administration building

As I mentioned earlier, the bicycle trail takes you below the Red House Lake dam and across a wooden bridge.  The descent below the Red House Lake dam is steep.  It is recommended that you walk your bicycle down the trail.  We rode our bicycles.  I used the brake often!

IMG_20170423_112818Bob took this picture of me on the wooden bridge.

Wooden Bridge at Red Lake House Dam Spillway

Across from this bridge is the new Red House Nature Boardwalk, which we visited for a short while.

_XZ30820-EditReflective Boardwalk

_XZ30822A bird blind was at the end of the reflective boardwalk.

_XZ30821Red House Nature Boardwalk

_XZ30825There is a large observation platform
at the end of the long boardwalk shown in the preceding photograph.

View from Red House Nature Boardwalk
The marshland is beginning to get its Spring colors!

Leaving the Red House Nature Boardwalk we began our ascent to the other side of the Red House Lake dam.

The ascent was a bit steep.
I had to walk my bicycle on this part of the trail.

_XZ30830Spring tree blossoms are so pretty!

_XZ30832The bicycle trail took us high above Red House Lake.
Again, I had to walk my bicycle on a portion of this part of the bicycle trail.

A short distance from this point the bicycle trail went through a forested area and down a steep slope.  There was a sign that suggested walking bicycles down the hill.  It didn’t look that steep, though, so we rode our bicycles down the hill.  At the bottom of the hill the bicycle trail crosses over ASP 2.  It isn’t easy to stop at the end of the hill.  I should have respected the “walk your bicycle” sign in this instance.  Thankfully, I was able to stop (barely), and there wasn’t any traffic on ASP 2!

After crossing over ASP 2 we quickly arrived at the Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge.

Bob took this picture of me at the Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge.

From the covered bridge, we returned to our starting point.  We found a lovely site for a picnic.

_XZ30836What a beautiful spot for a picnic!

After lunch we left Allegany State Park.  Rather than go straight home, we decided to go to Marilla Reservoir (Bradford, PA) — the subject of my next blog post.

Crazy Weather!

What crazy weather we are having here in Northwestern Pennsylvania!  Bob and I went for a bicycle ride this afternoon.

_XZ10411We rode to Pioneer Arboretum, located approximately 1.5 miles from our house.

Today is January 21st.  The temperature was just shy of 60 degrees, when we left on our bicycle ride.  How nice it is to have Springlike weather in the middle of Winter!

Bicycle Ride

We went on our first non- motorized bike ride this year. We rode through our neighborhood, through the Warren State Hospital grounds to Pioneer Arboretum.

26394406282_4c9f81f24f_o 4x6Bob took this picture of me bicycling through the Warren State Hospital grounds.

We took a break at the Arboretum.

20160417_171817927_iOS 4x6
Parked at Pioneer Arboretum

We returned home via the North Warren/Warren bike trail.

My legs and right knee hurt quite a bit starting out. The pain eased up a lot, as we made our way back home. I could have made it to the south end of the trail and back home. I decided not to push it, though.

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