The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘My Brother Jim and his Wife Judy’

A Day in Erie

We spent the day Saturday, July 30, in Erie with my brother Jim, our sister-in-law Judy, and their dogs Piper and Ru. Jim and Judy arrived in Erie on Friday and spent two nights there. We met around 10:45 am near Sara’s Restaurant, along the road to Presque Isle State Park.  We drove around Presque Isle, making a few photo stops. 

Our first stop was at the Perry Monument.  I didn’t take any pictures during our walk at Perry Monument.

Our second stop was at the North Pier Lighthouse and then the houseboats on our way back out to the main park road. 

We walked first to the beach side of North Pier Lighthouse.
We then walked the North Pier to the lighthouse.
This houseboat, with a lighthouse, on Horseshoe Pond is my favorite.
According to this article, there are 24 houseboats on Horseshoe Pond.

Our third stop was at the Presque Isle Lighthouse. 

Presque Isle Lighthouse, with art show

We browsed the various artists’ wares for sale, but didn’t buy anything. 

Presque Isle Lighthouse

There is a fence surrounding the lighthouse property. The beach is behind me. There was a gate to the beach; however, it was locked. We tried to walk on the beach to where the gate is located. The beach is badly eroded.

Judy walking on a trail on a sand dune at Presque Isle Lighthouse beach. Some of the sand let go, and Judy slid down the dune. She had some difficulty getting back up, as the sand kept giving way. I didn’t go any farther on the trail, than where I am standing taking the picture!

While Judy, Jim and Bob attempted to make their way to the beach side of the lighthouse, I photographed the beach itself. By the way they didn’t make it to the lighthouse.

Presque Isle Lighthouse Beach
Presque Isle Lighthouse Beach

I believe if we had driven past the lighthouse a short way that we may have been able to walk back to the lighthouse.

From the lighthouse we drove to Smugglers Wharf, near Dobbins Landing, where we ate a late lunch / early dinner. 

Smugglers Wharf Restaurant
Photo obtained from Library of Congress

It was the first time that any of us had eaten at this restaurant.  We were not able to get patio seating. We were seated inside the restaurant with a view of Presque Isle Bay. We requested a table with a view, so that Jim and Judy could keep an eye on their dogs, who stayed in the car with all windows down. With the exception of Jim, we ordered seafood. Jim ordered chicken. Our food was good.  The service was OK.  Our waiter didn’t ask if we wanted anything other than water to drink or if we wanted any dessert.  He saved us money because we didn’t order any drinks or dessert!

After lunch/dinner we walked around Dobbins Landing.  

Dobbins Landing

We enjoyed seeing an old pirate ship. The pirate was squirting water at those passing by. He didn’t squirt water at us.

Old Pirate Ship near Dobbins Landing
Jim and Ru on a Seal at Dobbins Landing

The pirate on the old ship attacked the Skallywags Pirate Ship.  There was ship-to-ship water cannon battles.  It was a bonus that we were able to see the show unfold at Dobbins Landing.

Scallywags and Old Pirate Ship near Dobbins Landing

We parted ways at Dobbins Landing.  We are very glad that we were able to meet up with Jim and Judy and spend the day with them. I can count on one hand the number of times we have spent the day together in Erie.

Family Visits

I visited a few members of my family this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Bob is acting boss this week at work and was unable to accompany me.

Although I enjoy visiting with my brother and sister-in-law and their entire family at once, I feel a lack of quality time with individual family units.  I was in search of quality family time, with available family members, during my solo mini vacation.

I departed home at 6:45 am on Tuesday, May 2, and arrived at my middle nephew’s home at approximately 10:20 am. It was a windy (the wind was gusty at times) and rainy (off and on) drive through Brookville, Punxsutawney, Youngstown and Indiana to Jared and Sara’s house.

I never knew that there was a Youngstown, PA even though it most likely was put on the map during President Trump’s campaign and subsequent election.  Driving through Youngstown, I passed by the Trump House.  I didn’t stop to take a picture. On hindsight I should have stopped!

I visited with Jared and Sara and their two daughters from 10:20 am until 2:00 pm.  During this time I talked with Jared and Sara, met my 8-day-old great niece Emma for the first time, and played with Kyla.  It was also the first time I had visited with Jared and Sara in their home.

Jared, Sara and I talked about a variety of things e.g. Kyla’s likes/dislikes, how my grandchildren and stepdaughter were doing…Emma’s birth…Bob and my vacation plans that include a week in the Outer Banks, which introduced a conversation regarding a cruise vs. a beach vacation..that we will see each other again in July at Jim and Judy’s camp…Jim’s construction work on the camp…Stacey’s vacation in Hawaii/scuba diving. There was very little lack of conversation during the entire visit.

I held Emma for at least 2 hours.  She slept the entire time that she was in my arms.  When Emma pooped, I handed her over to Jared. He changed Emma’s diaper and then fed her.

8-day-old Emma

Sometime after my arrival and when Emma awakened from her nap, Kyla fell asleep.  When Kyla awakened from her short nap and Emma had been fed, I took a few more pictures.

Jared, Sara, Kyla and Emma
My two youngest great nieces
Kyla will be 2 years old in a few days.

Kyla has a ride-on bug.  I played with Kyla on the floor. She rode the bug, and we chased each other (with me on my hands and knees) around the room.

Kyla and I

Too soon, it was time for me to leave.

From Jared and Sara’s house, I drove to Kittanning PA.  The drive to Kittanning was somewhat eventful. A tree branch was snapped from a tree and flew through the air like an arrow toward my moving car! The branch flew over my car, landing on the other side. Thankfully, the branch did not hit my car! It was good, too, that there were no other vehicles around me at the time. A little farther on my drive, Route 66 was closed due to an accident. I am thankful that the GPS rerouted me! I was about 25 miles from Kittanning at the time.

I checked into Quality Inn Royle in West Kittanning at approximately 3:30 PM. I cashed in a free night (10,000 points) for my night’s lodging. I relaxed in my hotel room until 5:15 pm. I met my brother and sister-in-law at Kings Family Restaurant around 5:45 pm. We had a wonderful visit, just the three of us, while we ate dinner.

Jim and Judy at Kings Family Restaurant

I returned to the hotel around 7:45 pm. I video chatted with Bob for a short time, wrote in my journal, and went to bed soon afterward.

I awakened the next morning at 6:00 am, after a good night’s sleep.

My hotel room accommodation included a complimentary hot breakfast. I ate breakfast around 7:00 am.  I relaxed in my room until it was time to leave to go to my oldest nephew’s house.

I arrived at Michael and Kailey’s house around 9:00 am. I visited with Kailey and my youngest great nephew for the next almost 3 hours.  As was the case with Jared and Sara, it was also the first time I saw where Michael and Kailey lived.

Oliver was taking a nap on the couch, when I first arrived.

Oliver taking a nap

Oliver awakened within 30 minutes of my arrival.

Oliver and I
Kailey and Oliver
Oliver will be 1 year old in July.
Oliver is such a happy baby!

During my visit I played with Oliver, and Kailey and I chatted. We talked about shows we watch on TV. I think I interested Kailey in “Longmire” and “The Man in the High Castle”. We talked about upcoming vacations.Michael, Kailey and family will be vacationing at a campground in Maryland in July. We talked about a few opportunities for us to get together again…my granddaughters’ birthday party later this month…Oliver’s 1-year birthday party in July…CelebrateErie in August.

I was not able to spend time with Michael, Kaleb and Anna this visit.   Mike was at work, and the two older children were at school.  My brother and sister-in-law have one more child, a daughter, who lives at least 1,000 miles away with her husband and daughter.  Emily wrote that anytime I want to make a road / plane trip to her house, I have a place to stay!  I responded that I may take her up on that offer of a place to stay one day.

I left Kailey and Oliver around 11:45 am and began my drive home. I hadn’t made it too far, when I saw an accident…not along my route. The accident was near the intersection of Route 66 to New Bethlehem and Route 422 toward Indiana, on Route 422. I saw a small red truck on its roof. I was going towards the left lane to get on Route 28/66 toward New Bethlehem. I got only a quick glimpse…traffic was beginning to back up and there were several flashing lights and then the vehicle sitting on its roof. Later I learned that there were no injuries, only damage to the truck.

I returned home shortly before 3:30 pm, after making several stops along the way.  I stopped for lunch at Burger King in New Bethlehem.  I made a bathroom stop at Kwik Fill in Marienville.  I stopped in downtown Warren, picked up my stepdaughter Stacey, and drove her to the dentist.

What a wonderful couple days I had!  I found the quality family time that I was in search of.  I hope that each family member whom I was able to visit with felt the same way.

Our Christmas

Our Christmas began on Wednesday, December 23.  We celebrated Christmas with my stepdaughter and two granddaughters on that day.  Stacey and the girls arrived at 2:00 pm. We ate Christmas dinner: turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and for dessert pumpkin pie, chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies.  After dinner, and after the kitchen had been cleaned up, we exchanged Christmas gifts.  Our granddaughters left around 4:15 pm, when their paternal grandmother picked up the girls to take them to church.  Stacey left about an hour later.

It was just Bob and me for Christmas Day.   Bob and I decided not to exchange gifts this year, opting to make our Eureka Springs vacation in September our Christmas present to each other.  We didn’t have a white Christmas.  It wasn’t even a chilly Christmas, as the temperature rose into the 50s.  In the afternoon Bob and I went for a long walk at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown, NY.  We walked three trails.  The orange trail is 1 mile in length; the yellow trail is 2 miles in length; and the blue trail is .5 miles in length. We didn’t follow each trail individually, so we didn’t walk the entire 3 ½ miles in trail. It would be reasonable, though, to say we walked more than 2 miles, probably close to 3 miles!

Bob and I on one of the trails at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary

We ate Christmas dinner at Variety Buffet, a local Chinese restaurant that we have eaten at the past couple Christmases.

Bob and I celebrated Christmas with my brother and family at his house the day after Christmas.  We left Warren at 10:00 am and arrived in Cadogan around 12:30 pm. Our nephew, Jared, and his wife Sara and their daughter Kyla had arrived earlier in the day.  I had plenty of Kyla time (and time with Sara and Jared) before the arrival of Judy’s brother, Donald, and his wife Gina and Judy’s mother, Lois, and our nephew, Michael, and his wife Kailey and their children Kaleb and Anna.

We ate dinner at 3:00 pm.

Our Christmas dinner included ham, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, Amish noodles, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. For dessert we had a choice of pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and brownies. Dinner was served buffet style, with us taking our filled plates into the living room and den to eat. Dinner was delicious.

Gift opening commenced at 4:00 pm.

The last activity before we departed for home was a sock exchange, in which Judy, Gina, Lois, Sara, Kailey and I participated. Each of us filled a pair of fuzzy socks with stocking stuffers, the contents of which were not to exceed $20.00. We sat in a circle holding the socks that we brought. Jared read a Christmas story that I found on the Internet. Every time the word RIGHT was read, everyone passed her gift to the right. Every time the word LEFT was read, gifts were passed to the left. Each person kept the gift held at the end of the story. I give kudos to my sister-in-law, Judy, for suggesting the sock exchange.  We had the best time passing around our socks!

Bob and I left for home around 6:15 pm and returned home around 9:00 pm. It was an enjoyable day. Too bad that our niece, Emily, and her husband Dan and their daughter Elise couldn’t be there with us.  Emily, Dan and Elise live about a 1.000 miles away–a bit too far for a day’s drive!

I put together the following collage of some of the photographs that I took, while at my brother’s house.

 (top row) l-r: Lois and her great granddaughter; Michael and his family
(middle row) l-r: My brother and sister-in-law with their grandchildren; Donald and Gina
(bottom row) l-r: Emily and her family; Jared and his family

There is one picture included in the collage that I didn’t take. I downloaded one of Emily’s Facebook pictures. Dan, Emily and Elise were not with us in person. They were, though, with us in spirit!


It is now the last day of the year 2015.   Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  Here are my wishes for you in the new year:

“Great beginning for January…
Love for February…
Peace for March…
No worries for April…
Fun for May…
Joy for June and July…
Achievements for August…
Harmony for September…
Good fortune for October and November…
Happiness for December…”

~Author Unknown

Family Time

The last 13 days of October, for which I have photographs to share, were all about family.

We spent the night of Saturday, October 19, in the Pittsburgh area.  We visited with Bob’s cousin, Chris, and his family that evening.  Amy made dinner.  The main entree was honey mustard chicken accompanied by broccoli, whole grain rice, and salad.  For dessert we had a choice of a mini croissant with either white or chocolate kisses inside or apple turnovers that we brought with us.  I ate a mini croissant.   After dinner, I took several pictures of Chris and his family.

I put together a collage of my favorite photographs of Chris and family.

Chris, Amy and their son, David, will be moving to Italy early next year for 3 year tour of duty.  Although Chris and family will be far away, I am happy that they will have the opportunity for travel during their 3-year stay.  I look back fondly on my 3 years in Germany, while I was in the Army.  I saw so much of Europe, while I lived there.

On Sunday, October 20, we visited with my brother and some members of his family.  We enjoyed lunch at Jim’s house.  The main entree was stuffed shells accompanied by Italian bread.   For dessert we had banana bread with chocolate chips.  Lunch was delicious!  After dinner, I took several pictures of Jim, Judy, Emily and Elise.  I even got some pictures that included Bob and me, which either Emily or Judy took with my camera.

Our niece, Emily, and her daughter Elise

Mother, Daughter and Granddaughter

My brother, Jim, and his wife Judy

I LOVE this collage of Bob, Emily, Elise and me!
I printed the collage; it is framed and sitting on top of a cabinet in our living room.

Thank you Chris and Amy and Jim, Judy and Emily for delicious meals and good conversations.  Thank you, too, for preserving memories via photographs!

We enjoyed family time with Stacey, Mike, Harper and June in October as well.  All four of them dropped by on Halloween.

Harper was dressed as a cat; June was dressed as a horse.

“Cat” and Mouse

Stacey and Harper


Stacey left for home before Mike and the girls. I wish she had stayed just a little bit longer. I love this photograph of Mike, the girls, their cousin Maddi and their Aunt Jen.
I would have loved it even more, if Stacey was in the picture!




Family Visit and an Elk Sighting

On Saturday (March 10) Bob, Raphael and I enjoyed lunch and conversation at Hoss’s Steakhouse in St. Marys, Pennsylvania with my brother, his wife and their 6-year-old grandson. Raphael had seen Jim and Judy in July 2008, when he last visited. It was the first time Raphael met Kaleb. Can you believe it? I forgot to take a picture of Raphael with Jim, Judy and Kaleb!

After lunch Bob, Raphael and I went to Benezette. Jim, Judy and Kaleb returned to camp, where they were spending the weekend. In Benezette we stopped at the Visitor Center.

Raphael in front of the Elk Country Visitor Center

We didn’t see any elk at visitor center. We drove up Winslow Hill and saw a large number of elk grazing on hill, too far away for a great-looking picture. We did see four elk on private property along Route 555. I photographed the closer of the four elk.


Meeting Elise for First Time

Our great niece, Elise, was born the day after Christmas. Since then, we have made two attempts to visit my family and meet baby Elise. Both attempts were thwarted by inclement winter weather. Yesterday, we finally met baby Elise!

Our morning began at 8:00 AM with breakfast at the Train Station, a restaurant located in our hometown.

The Train Station

My husband has lived most of his life in our hometown. The Train Station has been serving food for as long as he can remember. The food quality is excellent; prices are affordable; and the service is great. Today Bob’s daughter, Stacey, and our son-in-law, Mike, joined us for breakfast. The four of us enjoyed a hearty breakfast and bountiful conversation. An hour later Bob, Stacey and I began the 2 1/2-hour drive to my brother’s house. Mike didn’t accompany us, as he had plans for the day.

We had a wonderful visit with my brother and his family. I cuddled Elise and interacted with my other great niece, Anna, and her brother Kaleb. The conversation among the adults was lively and enlightening. It is always good to catch up on family news. We keep in touch on Facebook, telephone calls and email. However, I feel the best way to catch up on family news is in person.

This is our niece, Emily, and her 2-month old daughter Elise.

Kaleb, Anna and Elise
our great nephew and great nieces

Elise with her mother and grandparents

Not everyone in the family was able to come yesterday. We missed those of you who had other plans. We hope to see you next time!

Rusty’s Visit

My brother and sister-in-law’s dog, Rusty, visited with Bob and me today. Rusty was accompanied by Jim and Judy.

Rusty and his rope toy.

This toy is almost as big as Rusty!

We had a great visit with Jim and Judy. Shortly after they arrived, we sat down to a dinner of roast beef, potatoes and carrots. I was happy that Bob’s daughter, Stacey, and her fiance Mike were able to join us. Jim saw Stacey and met Mike in October last year. Judy, on the other hand, hasn’t seen Stacey in quite some time. Today was the first time that Judy and Mike met. Our dinner conversation was engaging and informative as we caught up on each others’ news. As Stacey had to work from 3:00 – 8:00 PM today, she and Mike left shortly after dinner.

After Stacey and Mike left, Jim and Judy visited with us for another 4 hours. Whenever we visit Jim and Judy at their house, we rarely have an opportunity to talk at length as there are others present to capture our attention. It was nice, for a change, to chat uninterrupted for several hours! Rusty even listened as we conversed!

See how Rusty’s ears are fanned forward? He’s listening to us 🙂

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