The Beauty Around Us

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

Posts tagged ‘Health’

Front Royal, VA to Waynesboro, VA via Skyline Drive

We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina.  Earlier this week I uploaded a blog post about the first day of our vacation.  This blog post provides details and photographs of our second day of vacation.

We checked out of the Quality Inn Skyline Drive on Monday, May 15, at 6:20 am, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We drove straightway to Skyline Drive; the north entrance was located within 2 miles of our hotel.  For the next 9 1/2 hours we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive (105 miles), from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap.  We stopped at LOTS of overlooks and hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls. Here are some of the photographs that I took at the overlooks.

_LG21346-with_textSignal Knob Overlook
Mile 5.7 Elevation 2,090 feet

From the Signal Knob Overlook you can see Signal Knob, the northernmost peak of Massanutten Mountain.  You can also see the south fork of the Shenandoah River.


_LG21348Gooney Manor Overlook
Mile 7.3 Elevation 1,930 feet

_LG21357Skyline Drive Deer

_LG21363Hogwallow Flats Overlook

_LG21364Hogwallow Flats Overlook
Mile 13.8 Elevation 2,665 feet

_LG21368Browntown Valley Overlook
Look at that moon!

_LG21370Browntown Valley Overlook
Mile 14.9 Elevation 2,890 feet

The view at Browntown Valley Overlook looks straight out across the Browntown Valley to the Massanutten, with Signal Knob at its right-hand end.

_LG21374Range View Overlook
Mile 17.1 Elevation 2,810 feet

From the Range View Overlook you can see Skyline Drive beckoning you on to the next overlook.

IMG_20170515_080818Little Devils Stairs Overlook
(photo by Bob)

_LG21382Little Devils Stairs Overlook
Mile 20.1 Elevation 3,120 feet

_LG21385Hogback Overlook
Mile 21.0 Elevation 3,385 feet

_LG21392Pass Mountain Overlook
Mile 30.1 Elevation 2,460

_LG21398Marys Rock Tunnel
Mile 32.4 Elevation 2,510 feet

_LG21400-HDRMarys Rock Tunnel is 610 feet long; it was blasted through the ridge about 1932.

I found a long, thin waterfall at Marys Rock Tunnel.

Click here in the event you are not able to view the embedded video.

_LG21413Hazel Mountain Overlook
Mile 33.0 Elevation 2,770 feet

Hazel Mountain Overlook
(Photo by Bob)

_LG21417Hazel Mountain Overlook
This was such a serene setting!

_LG21419-PanoPinnacles Overlook panoramic view
Mile 35.1 Elevation 3,320 feet

_LG21433Jewell Hollow Overlook
Mile 36.4 Elevation 3,320 feet

_LG21436Jewell Hollow Overlook

There was a sign at Jewell Hollow Overlook that discussed wall construction.  The sign read: “In the 1930s, stone walls in Shenandoah National Park were built in two styles of masonry: dry-laid and ashlar.  Dry-laid walls,  like those here at Jewell Hollow Overlook, could be built by less-experienced stone workers, like the young men of the CCC, since they require only moving and aligning heavy stones–more muscle than skill…”

_LG21438We saw this pretty Indigo Bunting, while at the Jewell Hollow Overlook.

_LG21442Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Mile 38.6 Elevation 3,100 feet

_LG21443Profile of Stony Man
at the Stony Man Mountain Overlook

Skyland Resort is located at mile marker 41.7 and sits at Skyline Drive’s highest elevation, 3,680 feet.

_LG21448Skyland Overlook
Mile 41.7 Elevation 3,680 feet

IMG_20170515_104711Timber Hollow Overlook
Mile 43.3 Elevation 3,360 feet
(Photo by Bob)

_LG21461Crescent Rock Overlook
Mile 44.4 Elevation 3,550 feet

_LG21457Crescent Rock Overlook

_LG21468Franklin Cliffs Overlook
Mile 49 Elevation 3,140 feet

What can I say about Dark Hollow Falls.  I have hiked the trail to the falls three times.  The first time was with Mom in June 1994.  I was 38 years old at the time; Mom would be 56 years old in a couple months.

Mom and I at Dark Hollow Falls in June 1994.

The second time I hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls was with Bob in May 2001.  I was 45 years old at the time.

              Bob and I at Dark Hollow Falls in May 2001

Sixteen years later I hike down that trail once again to the bottom of Dark Hollow Falls.  From the parking lot, which is located at mile marker 50.7 and at an elevation of 3,425 feet, the trail is a round trip of 1.4 miles.  The descent is about 440 feet, which means you have to climb back up from the falls 440 feet!  A trail description states that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes.  

This year the thought of hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail caused me trepidation.  I had a scare, while at Bushkill Falls earlier in the month. We were hiking around the Main Falls. We planned to do more hiking than that, intending to see more waterfalls than only Main Falls. I got lightheaded, shaky. My breathing was not good. My heart was beating very fast. My chest started to hurt. I sat down on a wooden rail for quite a while, until everything returned to normal. Then we began the climb back to the car. It took a while because I had to make lots of stops.

I had no trouble hiking down the Dark Hollow Falls trail.

Dark Hollow Falls trail
The hiking pole was a great help on this trail.

There were a few small waterfalls along the trail to Dark Hollow Falls.

_LG21472Small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls

_LG21474Another small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls

_LG21476One more small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls

_LG21477Dark Hollow Falls Trail
This part of the trail was bad enough going down; I wasn’t looking forward to the upward climb!

Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls
(photo by Bob)

Will I ever see Dark Hollow Falls again?  I hope so, but I told Bob that this may be my last visit to the falls.

I took it very slow on the climb back up the trail, resting frequently. Thankfully I never experienced what I did at Bushkill Falls, while hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail. But, man was I exhausted from that hike. Toward the end I began to feel quite weak from low sugar, I think, as we had not had anything to eat since 6:00 am. I mentioned earlier that a trail description stated that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes.  It took us about 2 hours to make the round trip…not bad considering all the stops I made.

Less than a mile south of the Dark Hollow Falls parking lot is Big Meadow.  We ate a picnic lunch (Bumble Bee meat spread and crackers and pineapple) at Big Meadow. We also bought Blackberry ice cream (for me) and peanut butter pie (for Bob) for dessert. I believe the blackberry ice cream is available only on Skyline Drive. It is the only place I have had that ice cream flavor. When we planned our drive to Maggie Valley, via Skyline Drive, blackberry ice cream and a Shenandoah National Park t-shirt were on my list of must-haves. In addition to the ice cream, I purchased THREE t-shirts.

It was 2:10 pm, when we continued our trip south on Skyline Drive. It wasn’t long afterward that I began to feel motion sickness. Bob parked the car at an overlook. We reclined the front seats for “20 winks”. I think Bob needed a rest, as he fell asleep for a short long time. As for me, I wasn’t feeling any better. I ended up throwing up the ice cream and pineapple that I had for lunch. I felt better, after throwing up.

We exited Skyline Drive at 4:10 pm. We didn’t make any other photo op stops at any outlooks past Big Meadow.

About a mile from our hotel we stopped at a car wash in Waynesboro. The car needed a bath, as it was covered with pollen dust and a bird had crapped on the hood.

We checked into Best Western Waynesboro around 5:00 pm. Our room number was Room 414. It was a very nice room, a two queen bed suite. The sitting area, with its couch, two comfy chairs, one end table and a coffee table, was quite nice. The living and sleeping areas were separated by a half wall.

At 6:00 pm we drove to a nearby Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Bob ordered steak; I ordered chicken fingers, which Bob helped me eat.  My stomach seemed to have settled; dinner didn’t upset it further.

After dinner we watched an episode of “Elementary” on Hulu.

We went to bed around 9:30 pm.


An Afternoon Walk at A Nature Center

More walking is in our future, with BOTH of us now owning a Fitbit.  My Fitbit Flex arrived from Amazon on Tuesday, and Bob purchased a Fitbit Charge HR at Walmart on Wednesday.

We went for a walk at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Jamestown, NY yesterday afternoon, soon after Bob came home from work. We walked for approximately 2 miles (1 1/2 hours), following mainly the Yellow and Orange Trails.  What a beautiful afternoon for a walk!

_LG20828 4x6One of several small ponds at Audubon Center & Sanctuary

We walked around Big Pond and Spatterdock Pond.

_LG20829 4x6This is Big Pond.
Water used to fill the pond.
This article explains why the water level is low at Big Pond.
I look forward to when water fills Big Pond once again.

_E141605 4x6A pair of Geese on Spatterdock Pond.

_LG20830 4x6Spatterdock Pond


_LG20832 4x6I spotted this butterfly, while walking around Spatterdock Pond.

_LG20836 4x6Spatterdock Boardwalk
and Photo Blind overlooking Spatterdock Pond
This boardwalk is one of my favorite features at Audubon.

The highlight of our walk was seeing a muskrat toward the end of our walk.

_E141614 4x6a muskrat!
I had never personally seen a muskrat.

Bob and I each have a goal of 10,000 steps each day.  Since Tuesday afternoon I have walked 24,283 steps.  Since Wednesday afternoon Bob has walked 27,065 steps.  Yesterday, I *almost* reached my goal with 9,754 steps!

Counting Steps


Photo obtained from The Gadgeteer website


I ordered a Fitbit Flex late last week.  The Fitbit was delivered today shortly before noon. It took several minutes for me to find the tracker and figure out how to pop it out of the small wristband. While charging the tracker, I set up my Fitbit via an app on my iPhone. The setup was easier than it was for me to locate the tracker! The most difficult thing, though, was to secure the wristband on my wrist!

The Fitbit seems to be working OK. I went for a walk across the neighborhood to the water company to pay our water/sewer bill. The Fitbit recorded my steps. My initial goal is to walk 10,000 steps each day.

When I returned home from my walk, I paired up MyFitnessPal (which I started to use again today) with the Fitbit.

I am now prepared to work toward my personal fitness goals!

Thoughts on This Second Day of the New Year

On this second day of the new year I want to share with you some highlights from the past year and some plans for this new year, as well as things for which I am thankful.

We became parents to an adorable little girl in February. Our little bundle of joy is a calico cat named Patches. She readily became a member of our family and filled our hearts with love. Patches turned 1 year old on August 29th.

Patches in December 2011

We didn’t do as much traveling in 2011, as we have in past years. We did, however, enjoy an Easter weekend trip to Virginia, when we visited with our good friends Al and Denise. We made a return trip to Virginia in May, over the Memorial Day weekend. The highlights of that trip included a drive along Skyline Drive and visiting with my cousins, Vernon and Wendy. We met Vernon and Wendy’s 2-week old son during our visit. In addition, during the Labor Day weekend, we traveled to the southern shores of Lake Ontario in New York where we enjoyed walking through the Brown’s Race High Falls Historic Area in Rochester, NY; seeing four lighthouses and visiting the Carousel Park at Olcott Beach. We also visited relatives during this trip. Our cousin, Chris, married Amy in July. The wedding took place in the state of Washington. During the Labor Day weekend, Chris’s parents hosted an East Coast wedding reception for the newly married couple.

Amy and Chris

The main reason that our travel opportunities were limited was that summer and fall photography opportunities, which included several photo sessions, two bridal showers and four weddings, kept us close to home. In addition, I spent three days taking photographs at a local festival. Of the four weddings, two of them were family members who were married.

My stepdaughter, Stacey, married Mike in September. My niece, Emily, married Dan the following month. My middle nephew, Jared, and Sara became engaged in May. We are looking forward to Jared and Sara’s wedding in July this year.

Emily and Dan became parents for the first time on December 26. Our great niece, Elise Marie, arrived at 12:23 PM that day and weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces. She was 18 inches long.

Thoughts on This Second Day of the New Year
Our great niece, Elise Marie

Thank you, Emily, for allowing me to use this photograph from your Facebook page!

Stacey and Mike will be giving us our first grandchild in late May or early June this year. Did I say grandchild? I meant to say grandchildren. Stacey is pregnant WITH TWINS.

Stacey’s First Baby Bump Picture
Make that TWO babies!

It is a tight fit in our hallway for Mike, Stacey and the twins

Christmas Eve 2011

We met three blogging friends last year. In February we met Gretchen of Gretchen’s Travels, when we attended the Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous. In September we met Betsy of Joyful Reflections and George of Senior Moments for dinner at Cracker Barrel in Erie, PA. Betsy and George were on their way back to Tennessee after visiting with family in New York. I would love to visit with Betsy and George, as well as Gretchen, sometime this year. It would be great, too, if the opportunity presents itself to meet other blogging friends.

I begin this new year unemployed, by choice. My last day of work was December 26. The position I left was that of a cashier at a local hardware and garden store. I began work at the store on August 23, 2010. I worked 14 hours a week, spread over a three-day period. I enjoyed my job. The owners of the store are great people to work for. My co-workers were fun to work with. The customers were nice. For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you may recall that I have a torn meniscus in my right knee. The tear is not severe enough to require surgery, but painful nonetheless. I try and control the pain with anti-inflammatory medication and Tylenol. I refuse treatment by injection! Standing for long periods of time was not the best thing for my knee.

I am looking forward to my “retirement”. I doubt that I will stay unemployed for rest of my employable years. I am too young to retire, and besides I won’t see retirement monies for many years to come. There is a local catalog company at which I may seek employment as a seasonal employee at Christmas time. At my current stage in life I seem to be happiest when working for only a few months out of the year.

In the meantime I plan to make good use of my “retirement”. I hope to spend more time with my immediate and extended family, as well as friends; to travel to places old and new; and to continue self-directed learning in all aspects of photography, a hobby of which I am most passionate. My immediate learning experience will be directed towards Lightroom3. I received Adobe Photoshop Lightroom3 from Bob for Christmas. I purchased Scott Kelby’s “the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom3 book for digital photographers” to teach myself how to use Lightroom3.

We hope to do more traveling this year than we did last year. We anticipate spending a week at the Outer Banks in September with our friends, Al and Denise. We hope to attend a few motorcycling events, near and far. I would love to once again visit Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, as well as Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC. It would be great also if we had the time and opportunity to travel south to visit with my aunt and cousins who live in Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

I will end this blog post with a list of things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful that our personal finances are healthy. I am thankful that we have only one loan, the mortgage on our home. We own three motor vehicles (a car, a SUV and a motorcycle), none of which is newer than 2001. I am thankful that all vehicles are in good operating condition.

I am thankful that Bob and I have a happy and healthy marriage. We genuinely like one another, amuse and comfort one another, and enjoy spending time with each other.

I am thankful that we get along with each of our family members.

I am thankful for our friends, old and new.

I am thankful that Bob and I enjoy good health; however, it wouldn’t hurt me to make improvements in this area. I am overweight and have been diagnosed with diabetes. It would improve my well being if this new year included better food choices, weight loss and exercise. Bob went on a low-carbohydrate diet last year and has lost at least 50 pounds. He looks great and feels so much better. Bob plans to continue on the low-carbohydrate diet.

What are your thoughts on this second day of the new year?

Toiling in the Garden

I weeded the garden bed alongside the driveway. I filled up three Walmart plastic grocery bags with weeds. Each bag is stuffed full. After filling the first bag, I had to stop. My right knee hurt; the arch of my left foot hurt; and the lower right-hand side of my back hurt. The pain was excruciating. I could barely walk upright, although the walking did get better the more steps I took. I took ibuprofen for the pain and rested for a while. I went back outside about an hour later and did some more weeding. After filling the second plastic bag with weeds, I decided to stop before the pain got too bad. I went back outside 30-45 minutes later and filled the third plastic bag with weeds. Guess what? I finished the job! I had to stop and start several times, but I finished. It was hard toiling in the garden. The reward is that the garden bed once again looks great. Sorry, no picture this time. I’m too tired to go get the camera. So please just take my word. The garden bed looks great!

A Visit to the Doctor

Last year I had two doctor appointments, one on June 1st and the other on September 2nd. The June 1st appointment was held to discuss the results of two blood screenings, one done at the end of April 2009 and the second one done at the end of May 2009. In April my glucose reading was 147. In May my glucose reading had jumped to 157. Whenever a patient has glucose readings above 140 two times in a row, the doctor can classify the patient as diabetic. I was given a choice in June, to lose weight or to take medicine (and lose weight) to reduce my sugar readings. I opted to not take any medicine. I chose to lose weight.

During the September 2nd appointment, I learned that my glucose reading was at a good range, in the 120s. My A1C blood test was within a normal range too. The doctor was happy, as was I, that I has lost 11 pounds since June 1st. The doctor expressed concern, though, about my cholesterol readings. My good cholesterol level had decreased since late April 2009, whereas my bad cholesterol level had increased.

During today’s visit the doctor discussed my most recent blood screening, which was obtained this past Thursday. My glucose reading is at a good range, in the 120s. My A1C blood test is within a normal range too. The doctor was quite pleased to find that my good cholesterol level had increased by several points and that my bad cholesterol level had decreased. The only bad finding at today’s doctor’s visit was that I had put back on 6 of the 11 pounds that I had lost since the last visit. I need to put more effort into losing weight.

In addition to going over my most recent blood screening, I had my annual gynecological exam as well. As I was leaving the doctor’s office, I made my next doctor’s appointment — for one year from today. Much better than the 3-6 month appointment schedule that I have been on!

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