The Beauty Around Us

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

Posts tagged ‘Health’

Day Trip to Erie

Yesterday we drove to Erie.

In Erie Our first destination was Presque Isle State Park, where we drove around the peninsula.  We saw Canada Geese, ducks and a Great Blue Heron.

Canada Geese in the Air
Two Female Mallards on a Log
Great Blue Heron

We ate lunch at Underground BBQ.  Bob had a chopped brisket sandwich; I had a pulled pork sandwich.  As a side dish, we both got macaroni and cheese.  Lunch was good.

After lunch we drove to the nearby Giant Eagle, where Bob got his first shingles vaccine.  Bob’s health insurance pays 100% of the vaccine cost.  He will need a second vaccine in 2-6 months.  I want to get a shingles vaccine as well.  My health insurance doesn’t cover the vaccine shot.  It appears that my prescription plan will cover a small percentage of the cost.  I checked the vaccine cost at Good RX.  It is the least expensive option.  I will get my first Shingles vaccine this week or early next week.

Our next stop was Sam’s Club, where we filled up our fuel tank and added to our pantry.  We paid $3.64/gallon for fuel, which was less expensive than $3.75 at Sheetz.  I checked fuel prices today online. Sam’s Club is now charging $3.69/gallon, and Sheetz is charging $3.89/gallon. Imam glad that our car is fuel efficient.

Our next stop was at PetSmart to buy cat litter.

We left Erie from PetSmart, en route home.  We stopped at Save a Lot in Corry to buy a few more groceries.  Then we stopped at Tim Hortons for dessert – tea for me and coffee for Bob with a Boston Creme donut for me and an oatmeal raisin cookie for Bob.

Play Date

Our granddaughters enjoying playtime at our house

This is an “on this day” memory from 2017.  Bob and I had a three-hour play date with our granddaughters.  The girls helped Grandpa build a log cabin with Lincoln Logs.  Harper filled the interior of the cabin with Red Rose figurines.  Juniper dressed dolly in a new outfit.  Both girls played games on their Kindle Fire tablets and played with the Fisher Price house and Little People Klip Klop castle.   I read a few books to the girls, at their request.  The girls ate lunch here enjoying ham sandwiches, cheese cubes, and clementines.  We had an enjoyable 3-hour play date with the girls.

I am missing our granddaughters,  We last spent time with the girls in November.  It has been about 2 months since we last saw them.  COVID-19 continues to rage in my community in Northwestern Pennsylvania.  I saw a case comparison today.  Between Nov 7 and Dec 7 there were 415 cases.  Between Dec 7 and today’s date there have been 1,779 cases. More than 4 percent of the county’s population in which I live have been infected.  One month ago the Pennsylvania Department of Health listed two deaths for my county.  The number of deaths showing today are 46.

I am not seeing anyone, except Bob, as COVID-19 continues to rage.  This self-imposed isolation is my decision, as I have underlying health issues.  Given my health issues, I don’t feel that I would do well if I contracted COVID.

I do want to see my granddaughters badly.  I miss the girls so much.  I plan to receive the COVID vaccine as soon as it is available to me.  Meanwhile I will keep an eye on COVID case numbers.  Hopefully the numbers will decrease significantly, and I will feel safe again to be with my granddaughters (even before receiving the vaccine).

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.

Signal 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.

Gooney Manor Overlook
Mile 7.3 Elevation 1,930 feet
Skyline Drive Deer
Hogwallow Flats Overlook
Hogwallow Flats Overlook
Mile 13.8 Elevation 2,665 feet
Browntown Valley Overlook
Look at that moon!
Browntown 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.

Range 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.

Little Devils Stairs Overlook
Mile 20.1 Elevation 3,120 feet
Hogback Overlook
Mile 21.0 Elevation 3,385 feet
Pass Mountain Overlook
Mile 30.1 Elevation 2,460 feet
Marys Rock Tunnel
Mile 32.4 Elevation 2,510 feet

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

Hazel Mountain Overlook
Mile 33.0 Elevation 2,770 feet
Hazel Mountain Overlook
(Photo by Bob)
Hazel Mountain Overlook
This was such a serene setting!
Jewell Hollow Overlook
Mile 36.4 Elevation 3,320 feet
Jewell 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…”

We saw this pretty Indigo Bunting,
while at the Jewell Hollow Overlook.
Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Mile 38.6 Elevation 3,100 feet
Profile 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.

Skyland Overlook
Mile 41.7 Elevation 3,680 feet
Timber Hollow Overlook
Mile 43.3 Elevation 3,360 feet
(Photo by Bob)
Crescent Rock Overlook
Mile 44.4 Elevation 3,550 feet
Crescent Rock Overlook
Franklin 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. 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. 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
The hiking pole was a great help on this trail.
Dark 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!

One of several small ponds at Audubon Center & Sanctuary

We walked around Big Pond and Spatterdock Pond.

This is Big Pond.
Water used to fill the pond.

A pair of Geese on Spatterdock Pond.

Spatterdock Pond


I spotted this butterfly, while walking around Spatterdock Pond.

Spatterdock 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.

a 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


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!

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