The Beauty Around Us

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Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 4

We got up around 6:00 am the morning of Tuesday, August 23.

At 8:00 am we met “Skid” (Jim) and Sandy and Brandon, and we walked the short distance to Pop’s Place.  “MT” (Tim) joined us.  We all ordered eggs with varied sides. Breakfast was excellent, as has always been the case whenever we eat at Pop’s Place.

Breakfast at Pop’s Place
“Skid” and Pop

Soon after breakfast, “Skid” and Bob left to go golfing at Lake Junaluska Golf Course.  They had a tee time of 10:00 am, but left early to stop at Walmart.  Jim wanted to buy a shirt with a collar.

“Skid” at the first tee
Bob and “Skid” used a golf cart to make their way around the golf course.

Bob said this was the very first time he has ever golfed on a mountain. This was the first time that he and “Skid” golfed together too. They hope to golf together again someday in the future.

At 10:00 am Sandy and I went shopping.  We first stopped at Market Square, where we noticed a 50% off sale at one of the shops.  The merchandise was still overpriced at 50% off.  We, then, drove to Walmart and picked up groceries and a couple clothing items.  We saw the Texas gals (Debbie, Vickie and Kay) and Brandon’s friend, Garrett, at Walmart.  We returned to A Holiday Motel and put away our purchases.  Then, we sat on porch and relaxed.

Bob and “Skid” returned to A Holiday Motel around 2:00 pm, after 18 holes of golf.

Soon after Bob and “Skid” returned from golf, the four of us went to Cherokee intending to get ice cream at Dairy Queen.  Dairy Queen’s dining room was closed due to no air conditioning.  The drive-through was open, but we chose not to get ice cream at the drive-through.  We went to Wendy’s Restaurant, intending to get Frostys.  Wendy’s Restaurant dining room was closed, with only the drive-through available for service.  We ended up going to Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop.  Bob, “Skid” and I ordered ice cream sundaes; Sandy ordered two scoops of ice cream. 

“Skid” and Sandy enjoying their ice cream selections.

Immediately after we left the ice cream shop, they turned off the OPEN sign and flipped a sign to CLOSED.

When we returned to A Holiday Motel, we saw that another friend had arrived.

“Pappy” (Jeff) arrived
while we were getting ice cream.

I believe the last time that we saw “Pappy” was in May 2017 at a Meet & Greet dinner for SEVROC 2017.

We spent time visiting with our VROC friends on the porch, as usual. Also, we watched for the two mountain goats that live across from A Holiday Motel way, way up the mountain.

Two Mountain Goats

Tonight’s dinner was my leftover spaghetti. There was enough spaghetti leftover for the two of us.

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.

Our Thanksgiving Holiday – The Last 3 Days

We spent Thanksgiving Day and two days afterward in New Hampshire. The activities of our first three days of our Thanksgiving holiday are provided here.

On Saturday (November 27th) the only plans we had for the day were to meet up with a blogging friend and her husband, to go shopping at the Merrimack Premium Outlets and to pack in preparation for our drive back home the next day.

We met Dorothy and Patrick at the 99 Restaurant, located on our hotel grounds, at 11:30 am.  Dorothy and I are blogging friends.  We have been blogging friends for at least 8 years.  This was the first time we met in person.  Dorothy’s blog is called “The Frog and PenguINN”.   Our visit lasted about 2 hours. Our lunch choices were delicious.  Conversation flowed naturally and pretty much non stop.  I am happy that we met and hope that the opportunity presents itself to meet again.

Dorothy and Patrick
Dorothy and me
(photo by Patrick)
The four of us

After lunch we went our separate ways.  Bob and I went to the Merrimack Premium Outlets

Bob and I at the Merrimack Premium Outlets
This is the only moose we saw, while in NH.

Merrimack Premium Outlets was hopping; people everywhere!  Most people carried at least one bag; many people carried several bags. It was a good shopping day for the outlet stores! We found what we were looking for, and we got some exercise.  We have been doing way too much sitting since Wednesday morning.

[NOTE: When we returned home, we discovered that Bob’s purchases at Merrimack Premium Outlets turned out not to be what Bob thought he purchased.  The PJ set was a woman’s PJ set, not a man’s set.  The PJ set is too big for me. We offered the PJ set to someone in our local Facebook Helping Hands group, who is gathering Christmas items for those in need.  The two Under Armour shirts are short sleeves, not long sleeves.  Bob will keep the shirts. I helped Bob with both of these selections. I guess, after 20 months of avoiding shopping in stores, we are not good at in-store shopping any more!]

We returned to the hotel around 3:15 pm, where we stayed for rest of the afternoon / evening.

On Sunday we started our drive back home.  We checked out of the hotel.  Then, we ate a filling breakfast at a Denny’s Restaurant near our hotel. 

Breakfast at Denny’s Restaurant

This breakfast was the best since arriving in NH. 

Shortly after 8:00 am we were on our way back home.  When we left Nashua, the sky was partly sunny. It wasn’t long, though, until the sky became overcast. On our way to NH we didn’t see any snow.  On our way home, we saw snow on the ground in NH (not far from Nashua); Wilmington, Woodford and Bennington VT; Hoosick NY to Albany NY (very little in Albany; snow flurries falling there but short lived). There was much more traffic on our way home than there was on way to NH!

As we did on our way to New Hampshire, we made a stop at the Hogback Mountain Overlook.

Hogback Mountain Overlook
(Marlboro, VT)
This building is located below the Hogback Mountain Overlook platform.

Here are a few snowy scenes, while driving on the Molly Stark Trail (Route 9).

Woodford VT
Woodford VT

and my favorite …

Woodford Hollow Church
Woodford, VT

The snow returned in Duanesburg NY, where we turned onto I-88. Snow stayed with us from Duanesburg to Owego.  Thankfully the roads were clear of snow for the most part.

We arrived at Best Western Oswego Inn around 2:40 pm and checked into room 108.  This hotel used to be a Holiday Inn Express.  I don’t know when it changed hands.  Our hotel room is spacious.  Its furnishings include two double beds, a chest of drawers with a tv sitting on top of it, desk and chair, two end tables and a kitchenette complete with refrigerator, microwave, two burner stove, Keurig Coffee Maker, a sink and cupboard/drawer storage.  We paid for this room by using reward points.

On Monday we checked out of our hotel and ate breakfast at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts. We were on our way home by 7:45 am. At that time the sky was overcast; the temperature was 31 degrees; and the trees were lightly frosted.  There was a light dusting of snow on the ground.  The road surface was wet, not icy.

We encountered occasional snow showers most of the way home.  The ground was snow covered along I-86 in the Finger Lakes area (NY); tree branches were snow covered.  The most snow we saw was in Jamestown NY, where there was easily a foot of snow on the ground.  

Before returning home we stopped at Shults Auto in Jamestown to pick up spark plugs that Bob ordered online on Black Friday.  He saved 20% on his purchase. Now, he needs an ”Indian Summer” type of day to install the spark plugs.

We returned home at 11:30 am.  Much less snow was on the ground in Warren than in Jamestown.  There might have been 3 inches of snow on the ground at our house.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. It is always good to be back home, though.

A Snowy Walk in the Park

We drove to Home Depot in Erie PA this morning.  We picked up two kids sleds, curbside, at Home Depot.

On our way home we stopped at Mead Park in Corry PA.  We went for a walk in the park.

Snow-Covered Slides at Mead Park

Mead Park Wishing Well

I have new boots.

New Snow Boots (Photo by Bob)

These boots are the first to-the-knee boots I have had, at least as an adult.  I love my new boots.  They are warm and comfy too.

We didn’t notice this bridge in past visits to Mead Park. (Photo by Bob)

Mead Park Bridge

The bridge leads to the Corry Area Historical Society Museum.  We have not yet  visited this museum.  Perhaps one day we will visit the museum.

This Helicopter Frog is located at the Corry Area Historical Society Museum.

We left the museum grounds and returned to Mead Park.

Heavy Snow on Tree Boughs at Mead Park (Photo by Bob)

Mead Park Lake

Mead Park Lake and Bridge

Mead Park Lake

We hope to make use of the kids sleds sometime this month.

Maine Vacation: Our 4th of July

Our Fourth of July was different this year.  We didn’t attend an Independence Day parade.  We didn’t host (or attend) a picnic.  We didn’t even eat picnic food.  We did, though, go see a fireworks display.  It wasn’t a typical Fourth of July holiday for us, but we still had a very enjoyable day.

 

Bob went for a hike this morning at Dodge Point Reserve near Damariscotta. 

From the parking area, Bob followed a portion of the shore trail from Brickyard Beach to Pebble Beach, then back up to the old farm road returning to the parking area. Bob reckons he walked about 2.5 miles.  There were a few muddy areas, but Bob managed to navigate around / through them without getting muddy.

While Bob was hiking at Dodge Point Reserve, I was relaxing back at Pioneer Motel.  My main activities were reading and attempting to get a good photograph of a resident bird.

This picture is as good as it got. Bob says that this bird is an Eastern Phoebe.

Late this morning we drove to Thomaston to go to the Maine State Prison Showroom.  The showroom is an outlet for the crafts made by the inmates of Maine State Prison. 

The Window Display at Maine State Prison Showroom caught my eye!

We bought a yo-yo and a lighthouse bird feeder.  The merchandise is priced fairly and reasonable throughout Maine State Prison Showroom!

This is the bird feeder that we purchased at the Maine State Prison Showroom.

Leaving the showroom we followed Route 97 to 220 and back to Route 1, thereby seeing more of Mid-Coast Maine.

 

We ate lunch at Damariscotta River Grill and then returned to Pioneer Motel.

This evening we watched the fireworks in Boothbay Harbor from the Fishermen’s Memorial Park in front of Our Lady Queen of Peace church.

Waiting for 4th of July fireworks

The fireworks display was excellent.

This blog post concludes Day 7 of our 10-day Maine vacation (June 28-July 7, 2019).

– TO BE CONTINUED –

Maine Vacation: Peru VT to Edgecomb ME

We got up at 4:45 am this morning, which isn’t surprising as we were in bed by 9:30 pm last night.  I had hoped to see the sunrise.  We had a good vantage point from which to see the sunrise, but it was raining.  We did enjoy sitting outside on our covered balcony, though, while it rained.

The Lodge at Bromley provided a complimentary hot breakfast beginning at 7:00 am.  We were disappointed with breakfast.  We expected scrambled eggs, hot potatoes, a breakfast meat, waffles and a variety of pastries (donuts, muffins, etc.).  I guess Best Western and other chain hotels have spoiled us.  The Lodge at Bromley provided hard boiled eggs, miniature waffles because the amount of batter was insufficient, plain bagels, breads, yogurt, cereal, juices and hot beverages. You would think that the hot water would be hot at 7:00 am.  It was lukewarm.  I had to request hot water, which the staff quickly took care of.  With the exception of breakfast, our stay at The Lodge at Bromley was good.

We checked out of the hotel and was on our way to Edgecomb ME at 7:40 am.  As we did the prior day, we instructed the GPS to avoid highways.

Our first stop was in Springfield VT, where we went for a short walk.  The highlight of our walk was seeing a waterfall.

Black River Falls

Before reaching Springfield I read that the town had a waterfall and that it had been selected to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie, which, like the Simpsons TV show, is set in a town called Springfield.  I saw a photograph of the Springfield Movie Theater taken on July 21, 2007. The photo showed the marquee displaying the premiere for The Simpsons Movie as well as a giant pink donut.  During our walk I looked for a place resembling the photograph.  I found the movie theater but no marquee.  As we were walking back to our car, I stopped a policeman who was walking towards us.  I asked the policeman about the marquee.  I learned that the marquee and any other memorabilia from the premiere of The Simpsons Movie was on display in the Chamber of Commerce, which was closed when we passed by it.

Sign seen when leaving Springfield … OH, there’s the Simpson marquee!

Our second stop was at the Goode Shoppe Lollipop in New Hampton NH, where I purchased a lawn ornament.

Goode Shoppe Lollipop

Oh my!  So much to choose from!

Goode Shoppe Lollipop

The lawn ornament, though, that prompted a stop here was a lawn ornament that I had spotted in someone’s yard a ways back — a yellow cat on a bicycle spinner.

A new home for Kitty Bike Spinner

 

Our third stop was for lunch at Subway in Moultonboro NH.  We saw a baby bear run across the road, in front of us, less than a mile from Subway!

Our fourth stop was in Standish ME, at the Sebago Lake Overlook.

Lower Bay of Sebago Lake

This is a fairly new overlook. In January 2018 the Standish Town Council voted unanimously to approve a lease agreement with the Portland Water District to allow the overlook to be built on district property and maintained by the town.

The mountains seen beyond the lake are New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

We checked into Pioneer Motel in Edgecomb, ME at 3:30 pm.  We will spend the next 7 nights here, while we explore MidCoast Maine.  Pioneer Motel is a work in progress.  There are three single story buildings of rooms, two buildings in the front and one building in the back.  The two buildings in front have been turned into rental apartments.  The building in the back is the motel.  The owner is actively cleaning up the grounds and renovating motel rooms. 

Pioneer Motel
Our room is the first one on the left.

Pioneer Motel (expanded view)
Our room is the first room on the left.

Three rooms were renovated this Spring.  Our room has a new door, new windows, a patio door, new flooring, new furnishings and is newly painted throughout.  It was tastefully decorated with a white, gray and black theme. 

Our Motel Room
Before (Bottom) and After (photos provided by Pioneer Motel)

Our Motel Room
Before (Bottom) and After (photos provided by Pioneer Motel)

 

This is the view from our room. The two buildings are rental apartments.

I took that previous photograph from the porch. The porch is really LONG!

The owner said that he plans to create a screened-in porch for each of the room, with individual stairs leading to each room.

The owner is in the process of installing decks on the back of each motel room.

The owner said that he plans to place a bistro set (table and two chairs) on each deck.

At a cost of $350.00+tax for the week our room is a real bargain.  

 

We left in search of dinner around 5:00 PM.  We drove the short distance to the town of Damariscotta.  We ate dinner at Schooner Landing Restaurant. 

Schooner Landing Restaurant

We sat outside, on the dock.  Our view was the Damariscotta River.  I had a classic fish fry; Bob had Cajun blackened fish.  Schooner Landing Restaurant was a good choice for dinner.

We returned to Pioneer Motel at 6:00 pm, where we stayed for rest of the evening.

This blog post concludes Day 2 of our 10-day Maine vacation (June 28-July 7, 2019).

– TO BE CONTINUED –

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 2: Annapolis, MD to Chincoteague, VA

On Sunday, April 7th, at 7:10 am we departed the Best Western Annapolis and continued our drive to Chincoteague, VA.

We crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge about 10 minutes later.

Our first stop at 9:00 am was at the Salisbury Zoological Park in Salisbury, MD.  We arrived just as the zoo was opening.  

Salisbury Zoo – East Gate Entrance

We spent a couple hours walking around this wonderful, free zoo.  I created this slideshow to share with you some of the birds and animals that we saw, while at the zoo.

This was Bob’s first time at the Salisbury Zoo; it was my second visit.  My first visit was more than 30 years ago in August 1982.

Our second stop was for lunch at Subway at the intersection of Routes 13 and175.

After lunch, we crossed Route 13 and took Route 175 to Chincoteague Island, VA.

Our third stop was at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on Assateague Island, VA. 

Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development. The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service.  These 448 acres are part of the Assateague Island National Seashore.  The Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore are located on Assateague Island, MD.  This year marks our fifth visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, VA.

Admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is $20.00, which is good for multiple days.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February 2018, when I turned 62 years old.

We rode our bicycles on the Woodland Trail.   The Woodland Trail, which takes you through a pine forest, is 1.6 miles round trip, paved and wheelchair accessible.  The trail is open to both walkers and cyclists.  A couple years ago many of the pine trees were damaged by a southern pine beetle infestation. 

We went for a bicycle ride on the Woodland Trail. This boardwalk leads to an observation platform from which you may see wild ponies.

We looked for wild ponies from this observation platform. We didn’t see any ponies.

Leaving the Woodland Trail, we rode our bicycles on the Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore and back to the Woodland Trail parking lot.

 

We saw two horses and riders at the beach.

 

Egrets are popular at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

We watched one egret, as it was hunting, standing immobile or wading through wetlands, to when it suddenly took flight.

Great Egret Hunting

Great Egret, Lift Off

Great Egret in Flight

Great Egret in Flight

We watched another egret standing in a tree.

Great Egret in a Tree

We rode our bicycles a total of 4.16 miles on Woodland Trail and to and from the beach.

We arrived at Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental, at approximately 3:00 pm–1 hour before check-in time. Tranquil Shores is located on Chincoteague Island, VA.  I telephoned our host shortly before we checked in to see if an early check in was possible (and it was).  Tranquil Shores was our home away from home for 5 nights.  I will publish a separate blog post pertaining to Tranquil Shores in the near future.

An hour later the car was unpacked.  At 4:40 pm we left to pick up some groceries.  We shopped at Food Lion at the intersection of Routes 13 and 175.  We picked up dinner, breakfast foods, snacks and beer. 

Tonight’s dinner was rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and, for dessert, cheesecake.  We purchased a sampler cheesecake platter, which lasted us through four dinners.

We watched a couple episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed. As a side note, we started watching NYPD Blue on Amazon Prime in early February this year.  NYPD Blue is an American police drama set in New York City, exploring the struggles of the fictional 15th Precinct detective squad in Manhattan.  The series was originally broadcast on the ABC network, debuted on September 21, 1993‚ and aired its final episode on March 1, 2005.  Bob says this was one of his favorite TV shows.  We both saw the series, when it aired.   We may or may not have seen each episode, though.  I certainly do not remember each episode’s story line.  There are 12 seasons, 261 episodes.  We watched Season 9 episodes, while on vacation.

Please check back soon for more blog posts about our Chincoteague vacation.

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