The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Elk’

Benezette Weekend Getaway: Day 3

This blog post contains photographs and details of our third, and last, day of our weekend getaway. If you missed Days 1 and 2, you may catch up by clicking here.

On December 20 we drove home, leaving from Weedville around 8:00 am, after eating our oatmeal breakfast at the Airbnb.  We didn’t see any elk at the Airbnb during our stay, as we had hoped.  Elk are not predictable!  

Before leaving the area, we went for a drive to Benezette.  We looked for elk at places where we had seen elk the previous day and on Saturday afternoon.  There were no elk at the Mt Zion Historical Park.  There wasn’t any elk at either the Benezette Store campground or at the field past the Benezette Store.  We went for a drive on Winslow Hill.  We didn’t see any elk at the Elk Country Visitor Center or at the Winslow Hill viewing area.   As I wrote earlier, elk are not predictable.  We did see a few elk this morning at a couple other places, but not nearly as many as we saw the previous two days. I did not write down the location where we saw these elk.

Five Bull Elk
We believe these elk are the same ones that we saw
at the Mt Zion Historical Park the previous day.
A Bull Elk and Two Cows
Two Bull Elk, Sparring
One Bull Elk

On our way home we stopped at Joey’s Bakery in Ridgway PA for a mid morning snack.  The bakery items were slim pickings by the time we arrived.  We did find a couple to our liking, though, and purchased tea and coffee as well. 

We returned home around 11:30 am. We had a wonderful stay at ”Creekside Cabin”. Both of us agree that we want to spend more time at this Airbnb, possibly in the summertime 2022.

Benezette Weekend Getaway: Day 2

This blog post contains photographs and details of our second day of our weekend getaway. If you missed Day 1, you may catch up by clicking here.

We got up the morning of December 19th around 5:30 am.  We ate breakfast at “Creekside Cabin”.  Breakfast was simple fare — oatmeal and peaches with tea / coffee.  

We left at 8:30 am to go for a drive.   Our drive took us through Benezette, Driftwood, Sinnamahoning, through the Quehanna Wild Area to Medix Run. 

We saw seven bull elk at Mount Zion Historical Park. 

Five Bull Elk at Mt Zion Historical Park
Two Bull Elk at Mt Zion Historical Park

We saw two bull elk and many cow elk at the Benezette Store campground. 

We caught the last moments of the first bull elk chasing the second bull elk.

This was the first time ever that I heard an elk bugle!
Elk at Benezette Store Campground
This was the first bull elk.
Elk at Benezette Store Campground
This is the second bull elk.
Elk at Benezette Store Campground
I believe this is the second bull elk.

We believe this elk herd is the same herd that we saw at Ruffo Flats the previous day.

In the Quehanna Wild Area we stopped at two waterfalls — the Wykoff Run Falls and Table Falls. 

Wykoff Run Falls

Table Falls was a new-to-us waterfall.  Bob hiked down a steep hill to take some pictures and video of Table Falls. I didn’t hike. 

Bob hiking down Table Falls Trail
Table Falls (video by Bob)

I walked around to the other side of the Table Falls trail.

Bob waving at me from the Table Falls area

Bob returned to the parking lot via a different trail than the one he used to hike down to Table Falls.

Bob is hiking out of Table Falls,
not using the yellow-blazed trail.
This trail is steeper than the yellow-blazed trail!
It was a difficult climb!

While Bob was hiking, I found a scenic scene of my own.

This is Paige Run.
Paige Run feeds Table Falls.

We left Table Falls and drove to Medix Run, where we turned right and returned to Benezette.  We ate lunch at the Benezette Hotel.  We chose prime rib sandwiches and chips and, for dessert, apple pie. Our lunch was delicious!.

After lunch we drove to The Cross. We followed Route 555 west and turned right onto Gray Hill Road. Gray Hill Road turns into Mt. Zion Road. Continue going straight. You will see signs for the cross on your right. There is a small parking lot in which we parked.

The Cross is a place of worship. There are several benches in front of the cross where worshipers can sit, contemplate, pray, etc. It is also a place to memorialize someone. There are several memorials near the cross.

The Cross
Memorials Left at The Cross
I have photographed people at The Cross.
I can’t remember having my photograph
taken at The Cross.
Thank you, Bob, for taking my picture.

From The Cross we returned to ”Creekside Cabin”. We ate dinner at our Airbnb. We ate leftover ham steak, individual size pizzas and pudding.

Benezette Weekend Getaway: Day 1

December 18th began with breakfast at Mama Janes Restaurant here in Warren.  Bob ordered corned beef hash and eggs with breakfast potatoes, rye toast, coffee and orange juice.  I ordered two eggs, 4 slices of bacon, wheat toast and breakfast potatoes with tea.  I gave Bob two slices of bacon and left behind one slice of toast and some of my breakfast potatoes.

We planned to leave home mid morning, en route Weedville PA, but didn’t leave until noon.  The weather forecast didn’t motivate us to leave earlier, as a winter weather advisory was in effect until 1:00 pm.  Mixed precipitation was forecasted, with ice accumulations of a light glaze and snow and sleet accumulations of up to one inch.  Here in Warren I believe all that fell had been rain.  Looking at Wunderground at 11:45 am it showed rain between Warren and Weedville, with temperatures well above freezing.  Rain did stay with us all afternoon and into the evening.

Our first stop was in Benezette at the Elk County Visitor Center.  

We arrived at the Visitor Center around 2:15 pm.
This elk is ready for Christmas.

We went inside the Visitor Center and looked at the exhibits. The elk outside was not the only exhibit ready for Christmas.

There was a nicely decorated Christmas tree at the Visitor Center too.

We even took a couple close-up pictures of the exhibits.

I took this close-up picture of a bear.
Bob took this close-up picture of a Bull Elk.

We looked around the Visitor Center gift shop but didn’t buy anything.  It was raining, so we didn’t walk any of the trails.

Our second stop was on Utz Hollow Road at Ruffo Flats, where we saw at least 2 dozen elk in a field.  We reached Utz Hollow Road by turning left off of Winslow Road.  Utz Hollow Road is the first right turn just past the Benezette Store.  This was our first time stopping at this viewing area.  There were two bull elk in the group.  

See the two Bull Elk?
One is lying down; the other is standing up.

Our third stop was at Family Dollar in Weedville.  We picked up water and snacks.

Around 3:15 pm we  checked into our Airbnb “Creekside Cabin” in Weedville.  Our home away from home for two nights was a trailer with three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, living room and bathroom.  A creek, Kersey Run, flows close to the trailer.  There is a covered porch with table and chairs.  We were pleased to find that our hosts had decorated for Christmas.  

Airbnb living room

Our Airbnb has more Christmas decorations than we have at home.   Oh, and that TV stand fireplace…I want one!  The fireplace adds ambiance to an already cozy home.

We ate dinner at our Airbnb.  I prepared a ham steak, fried potatoes and onions, green beans and apple sauce — all brought from home.

We had hoped to see elk before sunset at our Airbnb.  The elk didn’t show.


North Carolina Vacation – Day 5 of 9

It has been two weeks since I last blogged about our North Carolina vacation, which happened in May.  You might recall that we planned to spend 3 nights (May 12-15) in Asheville and leave for Maggie Valley on the morning of Thursday, May 15th.  We changed our minds about staying 3 nights in Asheville. The weather forecast for Wednesday night and throughout the day Thursday called for rain and thunderstorms. The chance for precipitation was 100%. To avoid riding / driving in the rain we decided to depart Asheville Wednesday afternoon, rather than on Thursday morning, and arrive in Maggie Valley a day early.  I am so glad that we decided to arrive in Maggie Valley on Wednesday afternoon, rather than on Thursday morning. Bob would have gotten wet, and it would have been a chilly ride.  I want to remind you, too, what brought us to Maggie Valley.  We traveled to Maggie Valley to attend the South East Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) motorcycle rally.

We began the fifth day (May 15) of our 9-day vacation in North Carolina at Country Vittles, where we ate breakfast with 10 other VROCers.  Bob ordered a three-egg omelet with toast and potatoes. I ordered two scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and potatoes. Breakfast was good, and the conversation lively.

After breakfast, Bob and I went on a drive to Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  My blogging friend Betsy, of Joyful Reflections, suggested that we visit this valley.  If you type “Cataloochee” in the Joyful Reflections “Search this Blog” box, you will find many references to the Cataloochee Valley in Betsy’s blog.

According to the National Park Service website, “Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.”  The drive to Cataloochee Valley was a bit hair raising, especially the entrance road.  The entrance road to the valley is a winding, gravel road with steep drop offs and no guard rails. We lucked out, as it did not rain while we were on our Cataloochee Valley trip.

Our first stop was at the Cataloochee Overlook.  This overlook provides beautiful vistas over the Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee Valleys and to the mountains beyond.

Cataloochee Overlook

Cataloochee Overlook

Cataloochee Overlook


Once we reached the valley floor, we drove to several historic frame buildings.


Palmer Chapel

Palmer Chapel was the only church in Big Cataloochee.  This church was built in 1898.  Church services were held once a month, on Sunday.  Services consisted of prayers, singing and sermons.  The sermons were delivered by circuit riding ministers from the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Beech Grove School

Beech Grove School

There were three schools in the Cataloochee Valley.  Big Cataloochee’s Beech Grove School is the only one of the three that remains.  It was built in 1901 and replaced an older log building.

Inside Beech Grove School

Inside Beech Grove School


Caldwell House
(This photo was taken by Bob.)

Hiram Caldwell and his family lived in this stylish frame house.  The Caldwell House was completed in 1906.  The shingled gables reflected the popular Eastlake house style of the day.

We had to cross a creek to go to the Caldwell House.
(Bob took this picture.)

We walked on a wooden boardwalk across the swampy ground.

There were stone steps that led to the front porch.

The Caldwell House had interior paneling.

We walked upstairs.

This was one of the large upstairs rooms.

We walked downstairs.


We saw some wildlife, namely one turkey and elk, while in Cataloochee Valley.

Cataloochee Turkey

We saw 4 or 5 elk; however, I was able to photograph only one.


One last photograph of Cataloochee Valley


We returned to our hotel in the early afternoon. We spent 2-3 hours hanging out with VROC friends. Around 5:00 pm Bob and I drove to Waynesville. We picked up a few groceries at Food Lion and ate dinner at the Sagebrush Steakhouse. The restaurant was a good choice. Bob said the steak he ordered (ribeye) was the best he had in a while. My sirloin steak was very good as well. Accompanying Bob’s steak was a salad and broccoli. I had a loaded baked potato and cinnamon apples with my steak. Cheddar cheese biscuits, reminiscent of those served at Red Lobster, were provided as part of our meals.

A must-have feature at every VROC motorcycle rally that we have attended is a campfire.

Hanging out at A Holiday Motel

It was a chilly, wet night around the campfire. The weather, however, didn’t stop us from spending an enjoyable evening with friends.

Benezette Daycation

There is an elk herd located an approximate 1 1/2-hour drive from our house.  We like to drive to Benezette, PA a few times a year to check out the elk herd.  Yesterday was one of those days that we went in search of elk.   The overcast, cold day didn’t provide much motivation to get out of the house.  When we drive to Benezette, we usually leave early to mid-morning.  Yesterday we left home late, around 1:00 pm.

There is an area known as “the saddle” that photographer friends have hiked numerous times, looking for elk.  Bob and I had never been to the saddle area, until yesterday.  After parking our car, we hiked up to the saddle area.  There is a path that surrounds the saddle area.  We stayed on the path for our first saddle hike.

We didn’t see any elk during our hike in the saddle area.  However, we were rewarded with wonderful views of the countryside!

After our hike in the saddle area we returned to Winslow Hill Road.  Immediately, we saw an elk herd in a field across the road from the Winslow Hill elk view area.

I spotted one elk with spikes.
He spotted me too!

After a few minutes, we continued on our way down Winslow Hill Road.  We stopped for an early dinner at the Benezette Hotel.  The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.  Bob ordered a steak salad; I ordered a taco salad.  Bob had to help me eat the taco salad, as it was huge.  Both salads were delicious and reasonably priced.

After dinner we drove back up Winslow Hill Road to see if the elk herd was still grazing in the same area.  They were!  I took some more photographs.


We drove back down Winslow Hill Road and turned right onto Route 555.

We saw more elk at Benezette Store Campground.

An elk at the Benezette Store Campground

I am happy that we got out of the house yesterday.  Our visit to Benezette provided us with fresh air, blue skies and sunshine and, yes, elk views!

Sunday Drive: Benezette to Warren

Bob and I went for a drive on Sunday.  We were gone all day and covered a little more than 200 miles.  We drove along the Clarion River; through Brookville, DuBois and Reynoldsville; saw elk in Benezette and ate an early dinner in St. Marys before heading back home.

In yesterday’s blog post I shared photographs taken during our drive from Warren to Benezette.  The portion of our drive from Benezette and back to Warren is highlighted in the following map.

Today’s blog post shares photographs taken while in Benezette.

Upon arriving in Benezette, we continued to drive on Rt. 555 to Grant Hill Road.  Grant Hill Road eventually turns into Winslow Hill Road.  I noticed a sign that read chains were required for travel on Grant Hill Road.  Chains were not needed on Sunday, as the road was clear of snow and ice.  I can see, though, where chains would be needed when the road is covered with snow and ice.  Grant Hill Road is very steep!

Our first stop in Benezette was at the Dents Run Elk Viewing Area along Winslow Hill Road.  We didn’t see any elk in this area; however, we did enjoy the view.

MacDarvey Castle is visible from the
Dents Run Elk Viewing Area.

Our next stop was on Dewey Road, at Elk Viewing Area #348.  We didn’t see any elk, at first.

There were blue signs posted all along Dewey Road.

I was reading one of the signs, when Bob said “there they are!”.  I looked in the direction in which Bob pointed.


An elk herd was resting near the top of a hill.

We returned to Winslow Hill Road and had just passed by the Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area, when we spotted another elk herd!

Elk Seen on Hillside just past Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area

elkBob took a picture of me photographing this elk herd.

We continued our drive down Winslow Hill Road to the Elk Country Visitor Center.

This was the only elk that we saw at the visitor center.

After our stop at the Elk Country Visitor Center, we made one other stop before leaving Benezette.  We turned onto Gray Hill Road from Rt. 555.  Gray Hill Road becomes Mt. Zion Street, along which is a field on which stands a wooden cross.  You will not be able to see the cross from the road.  Watch for “the cross” signs on both sides of Mt. Zion Street.  There is no parking lot, so you have to pull off on the side of the road as best as you can in order to park.  You will walk across a field to reach the cross.

There is a sweeping view of the countryside from the cross.

The Cross

We returned to our vehicle and continued driving on Mt. Zion Street to Rt. 255.  We followed Rt. 255 into St. Marys, where we enjoyed steak dinners at Hoss’s Steak and Sea House.  After dinner, we departed St. Marys and made our way back home to Warren.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.  The morning started out cloudy and cold; however, by afternoon bright sunshine made the temperature bearable and brightened the day considerably.

Day at Camp

Bob and I spent the better part of the day, Saturday (July 13th), at my brother’s camp in Jay Township near St. Marys, Pennsylvania.   Most of my brother’s family was there, as well as a few of Jim and Judy’s friends.  Everyone had fun that day, especially the children.

More Fun

My brother’s camp

My sister-in-law asked me to take a picture of all the children at camp.  This photograph shows all the children that were at camp, minus one.  My brother was gathering up the children for this picture.  When these six children were in the wagon, I asked Jim if all the children were here.  He counted them and said “yes”.  We missed one … sorry Kaitlyn!  I do have a photograph of Kaitlyn, though.  She can be seen in the second collage displayed above, in the photograph of the hula hoop contestants.  Kaitlyn is the girl on the far left.



We left camp around 7:45 pm.

We saw this deer within minutes of leaving the camp.

When we reached the end of the camp road, a right turn would take us home.  A right turn also would make us drive into the setting sun.  The sun was very, very bright.  Rather than drive into the setting sun, we opted to turn left and go into Benezette to see if we could find any elk.

We saw a few elk.
This one lone elk, though, provided the best photo  opportunity.

By the time we made it home it was 11:00 pm.  What a great day we had!  I am happy that we were able to spend time with my family.  It had been six long months since we last saw them.

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