The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Empire Passport’

Day Trip to Letchworth State Park

On Saturday, October 5, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful day by going for a drive.  We hoped to see some pretty Autumn colors.  Our original plan was to go to Allegany State Park, near Salamanca NY.  This park is about a 45-minute drive from our house.  We were about half way to Allegany State Park, when I asked Bob how far it was from our location to Letchworth State Park.  “Hey Google.  How far is it from my location to Letchworth State Park?”, Bob asked.  Well, we didn’t have a signal, so that question had to be repeated a short while later.  Instead of turning right onto Interstate 86, we went straight ahead, and that is how we ended up at Letchworth State Park instead of Allegany State Park.

Letchworth State Park is located 35 miles south of Rochester, NY. The park, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, is a spectacular place. The park’s magnificent scenery includes waterfalls (three major ones on the Genesee River) and a gorge. We have visited Letchworth State Park many times over the years. We enjoy our visit each time we go.

We arrived at the park a little after noon, entering via the south (the Portageville entrance).  We have the New York Empire Pass, which provides unlimited day-use vehicle entry to New York State Parks.  We made stops at the Upper and Middle Falls between the Portageville entrance and the Archery Field exit.  

Upper Falls

Middle Falls

Rainbow at Middle Falls

We ate lunch at the Charcoal Grill in Perry, NY.  This is a great place to eat, if you are in the area.  There are three food places — the grill, a pizzeria and an ice cream stand.  We have stopped at the Charcoal Grill a few times, while in the area.  So far we have eaten at each food place, except for the pizzeria.  The pizza smells really good, though … maybe next time.  I ordered broasted chicken with coleslaw and french fries.  Bob ordered beef on weck and onion rings.  As always, the food was delicious. 

After lunch we drove farther north and reentered Letchworth State Park via the Mt. Morris entrance.  We drove south, making a few stops to take pictures of the gorge, before exiting the park via the Portageville exit.

Hogsback Overlook

The photographs (and video) that follow were taken in the Great Bend area of the park.


We watched several rafters go down the Genesee River.

Not much color yet

This was the most color that we saw, while at Letchworth State Park.

Many people took advantage of the nice day, as we did.  The park was full of people!

We had a wonderful day.  We returned home around 6:00 pm.

Independence Day Ride

After watching Warren’s Independence Day parade, we rode to Erie and enjoyed our 4th of July meal at Quaker Steak & Lube.

From Quaker Steak & Lube we began our ride back home. We made a couple photo stops along the way. Our first stop was in Findley Lake, NY.

Findley Lake

Soon after we had parked, a man and woman rode in on a motorcycle.  We said hello, and I was reminded what a small world we live in. The man and woman are from Butler, PA and know Cadogan, the town that I grew up in.

Our second photo stop was at Long Point State Park on Chautauqua Lake.  This state park is located less than 35 miles from our house, but we had never stepped foot inside the park.  Earlier this year we purchased a New York State Empire Passport, which provides free admission to state parks in the state of New York.  We decided to check out this park.  Long Point State Park is a very nice park! There is a beautiful marina, very nice trails and a beach.

The tiger lilies provided a pretty foreground for the boats and lake.

the Marina

We walked a trail to the point. There were lovely views of the lake all along the trail.

This is the trail leading to the point. I was almost at the point, when I took this picture.

 

The Point

We returned to the marina, walking on the trail on the left.  We enjoyed the lovely views of the lake from this side of the point as well.

If you look closely, you will see a fishing dock.

The beach and beach house are visible in this photograph.

the beach

One last picture of the boats moored at the marina

We are really getting use out of the Empire Passport.  I am happy that we purchased the passport this year!

Five NY State Parks in One Weekend: Watkins Glen State Park

We spent two nights at the Best Western Grand Victorian Inn in Sayre, PA during the weekend of June 26th.  We decided to go on our planned weekend getaway to the Finger Lakes region, regardless of the weather.  The weather forecast called for a very soggy weekend. Rain amounts of 1-2 inches (or more) was expected to fall.

We departed home at 12:45 pm on Friday, June 26th, en route Watkins Glen, NY.  We arrived in Watkins Glen around 4:00 pm and entered Watkins Glen State Park, using the New York State Empire Passport that we purchased earlier in the year. Within the park, Glen Creek descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge.  We caught a shuttle bus ($5.00 each) to the upper entrance to the gorge and hiked the 1 1/2 miles down to the main entrance. Our hike took us about 1 ½ hours, with lots of photo stops.

Jacob’s Ladder has 180 steps!

Mile Point Bridge

The gorge

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Central Cascade

Cavern Cascade

Bob and I at the bottom of the gorge

Sentry Bridge

It was a perfect afternoon for a hike. It was a warm, not a hot and humid day.

After hiking the gorge, we drove to Sayre and ate dinner at the Original Italian Grille.  This restaurant was recommended to us by one of Bob’s coworkers.  I ordered lasagna and a side salad.  The lasagna was generous enough that two people could have eaten it easily.  Bob ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad (Chilled Sashimi-style tuna, rubbed and seared, served rare, with tomatoes, red onion, wonton crisps and sesame seeds paired with our Wasabi vinaigrette).  In addition to the tuna salad, Bob helped me eat the lasagna.  Our meals also were served with homemade bread.  Dinner was delicious, and the service was okay. The waitress made a couple mistakes with our order. She brought me water instead of unsweetened tea, and she forgot to bring me a salad. The mistakes were quickly corrected.

After dinner, we drove the short distance to our hotel. Our accommodation at Best Western Grand Victorian Inn was a generously-sized room with king bed, two night stands, dresser and flat screen TV, desk with chair, arm chair with ottoman and small refrigerator and microwave. The closet was large enough to walk inside. The bathroom was large as well.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Best Western Grand Victorian Inn was home for us for 2 nights.

 

 

Lake Erie State Park

On Saturday, June 6th, Bob and I went for a motorcycle ride that added 190 miles to our odometer.  We left home around 11:00 am and didn’t return home until after 7:00 pm. We rode to Lake Erie State Park via County Route 380. The park is located in Chautauqua County, a short distance northeast of the village of Brocton, NY.   Our New York State Empire Passport gained us free admission to the park. Without the passport, it would have cost us $6.00 to enter the park.

We parked on the day-use side of the park, as opposed to the campground side of the park.

From the parking lot you can see the bathhouse, which is available for wedding and party rentals.  To the right of the bathhouse is a small bridge.

We crossed over the bridge.

 

discovered a beautiful On the other side of the bridge we discovered a private picnic area atop a high bluff overlooking Lake Erie.

Even though it was windy and a little bit chilly on the bluff, we enjoyed a picnic lunch with a wonderful view.

 

After lunch we took a short walk along the beach.

We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the beach that day.

Here’s a closer look at the bathhouse.

The bathhouse is available for wedding and party rentals.  It was a beautiful beach area.  Lake Erie State Park’s website, however, mentions that swimming is not permitted.

From Lake Erie State Park we rode west along Lake Erie, via Route 5, en route Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA.  I will share photographs from stops along the way in my next blog post.

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!

Niagara Falls Day Trip

It was much easier for me to get up at 6:00 am this past Sunday morning than it was a week ago.

We departed home shortly before 7 am en route Niagara Falls. This time we remembered our passports. We made two stops on our way to Niagara Falls.  Our first stop was in Jamestown at Tim Horton’s for breakfast for Bob.  I ate breakfast at home, before we left.  Bob ordered coffee and bacon wraps for breakfast. Our second stop was also at Tim Horton’s.  We stopped at the Tim Horton’s along Route 60 in Fredonia, NY. I bought steeped tea for me and donuts for Bob and me. I could have done without the apple fritter, and Bob could have done without the maple-dipped donut. Both of us are putting on weight and neither of us like it!

Upon arriving at Niagara Falls State Park, we parked our car and went to the Visitor Center to go to bathroom. After our bathroom run, we walked across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada.

Entry to Canada Turnstile

Walking across Rainbow Bridge to Canada

We walked all the way to the brink of Horseshoe Falls. I didn’t take many pictures, while walking to Horseshoe Falls. In fact my first waterfall picture was taken at the brink of Horseshoe Falls.

At this point, we are nearing the brink of the falls. 
Our hotel of choice, when we overnight in Canada, is the Embassy Suites..

 

I love the sunburst in this photograph of Horseshoe Falls!

Horseshoe Falls

I took lots of pictures, as we made our way back to New York.

American Falls

Horseshoe Falls

American Falls

Seagull flying across American Falls

Canadian Geese

Squirrel

 

I never tire of seeing Niagara Falls!

One of our last stops before returning to New York was a bathroom break.  This Red Hat Society display was inside the ladies’ restroom.

Before crossing the Rainbow Bridge back into the US, we stopped at the duty free shop and purchased 2 liters of whiskey. A similar purchase was made the weekend of February 22.

I will say it again.  I never tire of seeing Niagara Falls!

We departed Niagara Falls around 11:30 am and stopped for lunch at Aunt Millie’s in Irving, NY. Bob ordered steak and eggs with home fries and rye toast. He really liked the Smoked Chipotle Tabasco Sauce that was on the table. (I purchased a bottle of that Tabasco Sauce for Bob at Walmart yesterday.)  My lunch was Chicken Parmesan with a side order of spaghetti. A tossed salad and garlic toast accompanied my meal. We should have stopped there, eaten only our main entrees. But, no, we had to order dessert. Bob got a cinnamon roll for dessert. I got a Reese’s brownie/cookie.

20150329_174503498_iOSMy Reese’s Brownie/Cookie

After a couple bites, we boxed our desserts to be savored later.  I paid dearly for that brownie/cookie, after savoring it later.  I experienced an upset stomach and the worse heartburn.

With the exception of our sugary indulgences, it was a very good day. Even though it was a chilly Spring day, we enjoyed the sunshine and our walk in Canada.

Niagara Falls Day Trip

Yesterday we went on a day trip to Niagara Falls, NY. We almost didn’t go. I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, woke up at 6:00 am with a headache, and didn’t feel like getting out of bed. We had planned to leave for Niagara Falls at 7:00 am. I told Bob that I changed my mind about going to Niagara Falls and went back to sleep.

I rolled out of bed at 7:15 am. After taking a shower, I felt better and asked Bob if it would be okay if we went to Niagara Falls as planned. Bob agreed to the trip. I ate a quick breakfast (Bob had eaten breakfast earlier). We departed home, en route Niagara Falls, around 8:30 am.

About an hour into the drive we discovered that neither of us had remembered to bring our U.S. passports. When we planned this day trip, we talked about walking over Rainbow Bridge into Canada for picture-taking opportunities and to pick up whiskey at the Duty-Free Shop. The walk into Canada will have to wait until another day.

Yesterday was our first use of the Empire Passport that we purchased earlier this month. Without the Empire Passport we would have had to pay $10 to park at Niagara Falls State Park.  Initially we purchased one passport.  We discovered upon receipt of the passport that it had to be permanently affixed to our vehicle.  At least half of the year we travel by motorcycle, so we decided to purchase a second Empire Passport for our motorcycle.  If we visit Niagara Falls State Park twelve more times before the end of March 2016, we will break even with our purchase.  I am sure that we will break even before then, though, as we plan to visit as many NY State Parks as possible in a year.

Our first destination upon reaching Niagara Falls was to see the falls from the Observation Deck.

Observation Deck view of the falls

 

When I took the photograph of the falls shown above, I was standing on this observation deck.

From the Observation Deck we walked to Prospect Point and then along Niagara River and across the bridge to Goat Island.

Prospect Point

Niagara River, just before it rushes over the brink of the American Falls

Looking across to Canada from Goat Island

From Goat Island, there is a lovely vista of the American Falls.  The photograph shown above is a close-up picture of the impressive snow and ice sculpture on top of the American Falls from the Goat Island Overlook.  The photograph shown below is a wide-angle picture of the same vista.

From the Goat Island Overlook of the American Falls, we walked to Terrapin Point.

This was our first look at Horseshoe Falls, as we were walking to Terrapin Point.

Terrapin Point Overlook of Horseshoe Falls

What a wonderful day it was for a day trip.  Sunday started out snowy, but the sun came out before we reached Niagara Falls. The sun shone rest of the day. The bright sunshine didn’t do much to warm up the day, though. The temperature stayed in the low 20s throughout the day.

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