The Beauty Around Us

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

Posts tagged ‘Sunset’

Chincoteague Vacation: “Tranquil Shores”

We spent 5 nights (April 7th through April 11th), at Chincoteague, Virginia in an Airbnb rental called “Tranquil Shores”.  Our host, Joseph, gave me permission to include details of his Airbnb in a blog post.  The complete listing for this AirBnB rental may be seen by clicking here.

Here is a Google Map picture of our Airbnb accommodation.

“Tranquil Shores”

“Tranquil Shores” is the right side of this duplex house.  We had use of that entire side of the duplex. The entrance to the home was via the wooden steps on the side of the house. We entered the door code, opened the door and we walked inside.  The entry door opens to the kitchen.

Eat-in Kitchen

The kitchen contains all the essentials of cooking and dining to include cookware, dinnerware, utensils, stove, oven, microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, spices, and so much more.  We didn’t use it, but there was coffee grounds in the freezer for the coffeemaker.  We brought the tea kettle that you see in this picture.  We boiled water for hot tea and coffee.  Bob used an Aeropress to make coffee.

The kitchen and living room form a Great Room.

Living Room

There is access to a Screened Porch from the Living Room.

Screened Porch

The living room was comfortable, and we made frequent use of the screened porch.

In addition to the kitchen and living room, this Airbnb rental has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Two of the bedrooms (queen bed and twin bed) and one bathroom are located downstairs.  A washer and dryer are located in the downstairs bathroom.  The master bedroom (king bed) and second bathroom are located on the second floor.  There is access to a balcony from the master bedroom.  We made use of only the master bedroom.  The bed was very comfortable and provided for a good night’s sleep. Bed linens and towels are not provided in the rental cost. They are available, however, for an added fee of $10.00 per bed.  We saved $10.00 by bringing our own towels and bed linens.

 

Tranquil Shores, as seen from Maddox Blvd.

This AirBnB rental is located at the end of a quiet road.

This is the view of the road on which “Tranquil Shores” sits. The house is at the end of this road.

The rental cost was approximately $55.00 less than the cost of a King Bed with Balcony hotel room at Best Western Chincoteague, where we have stayed in past visits.  “Tranquil Shores” was a much nicer accommodation than staying in a room in a hotel!  We had lots more space, and we were able to eat in or eat out, as desired.  We ate breakfast and either lunch or dinner at home, during our stay.  Our view at “Tranquil Shores” was much, much better than at Best Western Chincoteague too.  At Best Western Chincoteague, if you booked a balcony room, your view was the McDonald’s Restaurant across the street.  Compare that view with the view from the screened porch and balcony of our Airbnb rental.

When I took this picture, I was standing at the edge of the property. The water seen in this picture is Eel Creek.

We enjoyed daily sunrises, sunsets and wildlife viewings, while at Tranquil Shores.

Snowy Egret on Eel Creek

Osprey flying over “Tranquil Shores”

Sunset at “Tranquil Shores”, as seen from back porch

Canada Geese on Eel Creek

Sunrise at “Tranquil Shores”

Tern Gull Flying Over “Tranquil Shores”

Sunrise, on the morning of our departure

I highly recommend “Tranquil Shores” to individual travelers, couples, and families.  You will be within a couple miles of downtown Chincoteague and Assateague Island where you can enjoy Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore.  We brought our bicycles with us and enjoyed rides in the neighborhood, several rides at the wildlife refuge, as well as one ride from “Tranquil Shores” to the wildlife refuge.

Thank you, Joseph, for sharing your home with us.  We will return!

 

 

Our Hawaiian Vacation: A Relaxing Day in Kona

Sunday morning, September 9th, found Bob and I at the Kona Inn Shopping Village once again.

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Kona Inn Shopping Village

We arrived at the shopping village before the stores were open.  That was the plan.  The only reason we drove to downtown Kona again was so that I could take a few more pictures.

_LG28244Gray Cat at Kona Inn Shopping Village

I took several pictures of the cat, but I am sharing only two with you.

_LG28263Big Yawn From Being Tired of All the Pictures
or
“Go away, leave me alone.”
I caught the cat mid yawn.

I spent several minutes watching wave after wave roll in at Kailua Bay.

MVIMG_20180909_084438Bob took this picture of me on the seawall watching the waves roll in.

_LG28277One of the waves

I watched several crabs crawling all over the rocks that kept getting washed over by the surf.

_LG28286Hawaiian Crab

We decided it was time to go, when we saw chairs being placed in the lawn for the morning church service.  What a view, though, for a church service!

If you have read my blog posts from the beginning about our Hawaiian vacation, you will recall that several days ago a pair of Kalij Pheasants visited John and Dorothy’s yard.

_LG27668I captured a photograph of the Female Kalij Pheasant at that time.

Around noon on September 9th the pair made a return visit.  I captured a photograph of the Male Kalij Pheasant.

_LG28296Male Kalij Pheasant

Don’t the two Kalij Pheasants make a cute couple?

We relaxed at home until around 4:00 pm, at which time Dorothy, John, Bob and I went to Honokohau Harbor in Kona.

John has a fishing boat that is approximately 25 feet long.

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John’s Fishing Boat is the one in the middle.
I received this picture from Dorothy, after we had returned home from Hawaii.

John launches his boat from Honokohau Harbor.  He had planned to take us all out on the boat for a fishing trip.  That plan didn’t materialize for a couple reasons.  John had taken the boat out of the water before Hurricane Lane blew over the Island of Hawaii.  He had not put the boat back in the water by the time we arrived.  John would have put the boat back in the water; however, he wasn’t feeling 100% during our visit.  Before our arrival one of John’s toes got infected, and he was prescribed an antibiotic.  The antibiotic caused an upset stomach.  John missed out on a few of our sightseeing jaunts because he wasn’t feeling well.

We went to Honokohau Harbor to go to the Harbor House Restaurant, where we enjoyed cold beverages and snacks (French fries, onion rings and cheese poppers).

_LG28300Honokohau Harbor, as seen from inside the Harbor House Restaurant.

We learned during our first trip to Hawaii that you come to this restaurant for a schooner.

_LG28301The Harbor House Restaurant serves its beer in thick, 18-ounce chilled glasses called schooners.

_LG28302Honokohau Harbor
Do you see the storage sheds along the stone wall?
This is where John will put the storage shed he purchased the previous day.
John’s boat slip is somewhere in front of that wall.

After we had enjoyed our refreshments, Dorothy and I walked to the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park beach. John and Bob stayed at Harbor House Restaurant for another round.

We were still on the harbor grounds, when we saw a chicken.

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I like the green color on the chicken’s wings.

_LG28306Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park beach

Dorothy had hoped to show me green sea turtles. The tide was in higher than she had ever seen.  We didn’t see any turtles.

We turned around and walked back to the Harbor House Restaurant.

_LG28309Another photograph of Honokohau Harbor

We collected the boys at the restaurant and returned home.

At sunset we watched as the sun slipped into the ocean.

LJG28310Sunday’s Sunset

LJG28311A truly wonderful way to end a day!

 

Our Hawaiian Vacation: From Waimea back to Kailua-Kona

Leaving Parker Ranch we drove into Waimea, where we stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen.

We had driven the high road (Route 190) from Kailau-Kona to Waimea. We drove the low road (Route 19) back home. It was all downhill to the ocean.

We made one photo stop on our way home. We stopped at Kekaha Kai State Park, which contains one of the few sand beaches on the island. Parking was scarce. We found a couple pull offs away from the beach, where we were able to take pictures of the beautiful blue water and the island of Maui in the distance.

_LG27831Gorgeous blue water
The land mass seen off in the distance is part of the Island of Hawaii.

_LG27834The land mass seen across the ocean is the Island of Maui.

We returned home around 4:30 pm and spent rest of the afternoon relaxing.

We enjoyed another beautiful sunset from the lanai.

_LG27845The sun is slipping into the ocean.

We ate dinner (leftovers) around 7:00 pm. Dorothy and I retired for the night at 9:00 pm. Bob came to bed later, although he had fallen asleep on a reclining chair before we had gone to bed.  Thus concludes our first full day (Saturday, September 1) in Hawaii.

 

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Getting There

On Friday, August 31st, we flew from Pittsburgh PA to Kona HI via Denver CO.

We awakened at 5:00 am, showered and got dressed.

At 6:00 am we went to breakfast only to learn that breakfast was not included with our room. We chose not to eat breakfast at the hotel.

At 6:30 am we caught an airport shuttle to Pittsburgh Airport. The shuttle dropped us off at United ticketing. We quickly went through the electronic procedure to obtain boarding passes and to check one bag. It cost $25.00 to check one bag.

We made it through the security check within 15 minutes. We would have made it through the security check even quicker had we known we could use the TSA Pre® expedited screening line. Apparently the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  selected us for TSA Pre® expedited screening.  Eligible travelers do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. When we were in the line for security check, I noticed TSA Pre® on our boarding passes.  I saw signs posted as we proceeded through the security check line encouraging us to enroll in TSA Pre®.  I didn’t connect the dots, though, that non-enrolled travelers can be selected for TSA Pre®.  We ended up not having to remove our shoes, as the attendant red stamped our boarding passes “expedited”. We did, however, have to remove our tablets and kindles.

Once we were through security, we hopped onto a tram that quickly took us to the location of the departure gates.

Our first stop was at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. Bob ordered bacon, egg and cheese on a multigrain bagel with coffee. I ordered a multigrain bagel and cream cheese with hot tea.

By 7:30 am we were seated at gate A2, waiting for boarding to begin.

Boarding began at 8:15 am. We were in boarding group 4, the next to last group. We were seated by 8:30 am in aisle seats, directly across from each other. The seating arrangement was our choice, when we reserved our seats.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8:50 am. The pilot informed us that the flight path was changed to fly a southern route over St. Louis, rather than a northern path, to avoid thunderstorm activity. We were taxiing by 8:45 am and in the air at 8:50 am.

Soon after the flight was airborne a male steward passed out a snack, a small bag of Maple Wafers.

At 10:05 am beverage service was suspended due to turbulence. Thus far, the seat belt sign had been lit for most of our flight.

At 10:55 am we received beverage service. Soon afterward the seat belt sign was lit up again.  Makes me wonder what the turbulence would have been like had we taken the northern flight path.

We arrived in Denver at 9:49 am local time, which was about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.  We were delayed on the tamarack.  Another airplane was parked at our arrival gate! We arrived at gate B55 around 10:17 am and began to slowly disembark.

It was a long, quickly paced walk to gate B25. We arrived at the departure gate around 10:45 am and discovered that departure time had been delayed from 11:55 am to 12:30 pm, due to operational difficulties.  We walked a few gates down to gate B21, where we learned that our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:00 pm instead of 12:30 pm.

We were seated on airplane at 11:48 am. Once again we have aisle seats, across from each other. We purposely reserved aisle seats for all legs of our air travel. When it appeared that Bob would have a whole row of seating to himself, I did move into the window seat. My change of seating didn’t last long. Two last-minute passengers arrived with assigned seating next to Bob. If our airplane had departed on time, these two passengers would have missed their flight!

We were told this was not the airplane we were originally scheduled to board. Departure was delayed, while luggage was moved from that airplane (which is now flying to Maui) to this one and the airplane was refueled (so we don’t run out of fuel while over the Pacific Ocean!)

We were airborne at 12:35 pm, with an anticipated Kona arrival of 3:30 pm local time.

What a LONG flight. We were in the air a little more than 7 hours from Denver to Kona. We occupied our time with food and drink, reading and playing computer games. I probably played 50+ games of Solitaire and lost each game! We purchased two “Classic” snack boxes during the flight. We asked to purchase a new item “salami and cheese tray”, but that item was not in the serving cart. The stewardess allowed us to purchase two of the snack boxes for the price of one because she didn’t have the snack that we wanted. The salami and cheese tray was priced at $5.99, whereas the snack boxes were priced at $9.59 each. So, we ended up spending less than planned for lunch. Our snack boxes contained Cheddar spread, OREO cookies, crackers, pretzel crisps, root beer float marshmallow, salami and Twizzlers. A little later we were provided complimentary beverages. I asked for a Diet Coke. Bob got coffee.

We landed at Kona International Airport at 3:38 pm local time. We disembarked the airplane via portable steps and walked across the tarmac and through the open-air airport. We were pleasantly surprised that an assault of hot air did not greet us, as we stepped out of the airplane. It was a pleasant 84 degrees, with a very nice breeze.

Bob’s brother, John, and our sister-in-law Dorothy met us at the airport, gave each of us hugs, and put leis around our neck. The arrival information at the airport still showed our arrival time as 3:19 pm. We arrived about 20 minutes late. Dorothy and John were wondering what had happened to us.

We retrieved our luggage (one suitcase) from baggage claim. We had to pay extra for checked baggage ($25 each way), so I was happy that we were able to fit our clothing, toiletries and a few odds and ends in one checked bag. In addition to that one suitcase, our carry-on baggage included my camera messenger bag, Bob’s backpack-style laptop computer case, and my purse.

After retrieving our checked baggage, John and Dorothy led the way to the parking lot and their car. We placed our baggage in the back of the car, hopped in the car and left the airport en route their home. That drive did not take long, as John and Dorothy live 4 miles from the airport.  John and Dorothy live high above the airport, along the slopes of the Hualālai volcano.

According to a Wikipedia article Hualālai is the westernmost, third-youngest and the third-most active of the five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii, following Kīlauea and the much larger Mauna Loa. Its peak stands 8,271 feet above sea level. Hualālai is estimated to have risen above sea level about 300,000 years ago. Despite maintaining a very low level of activity since its last eruption in 1801, and being unusually inactive for the last 2,000 years, Hualālai is still considered an active volcano.  Dorothy and John live approximately half way up the volcano.

Dorothy took me on a walk around the house, soon after we arrived, pointing out various trees and plants. Their house is perched on a small piece of property, which is beautifully landscaped. There is a very nice large lanai (patio) with entry from the living room and master bedroom. Dorothy took Bob and me on a house tour too. Their home is one floor. There are three bedrooms (the master bedroom, a guest bedroom and John’s office) and a “great room” consisting of the living room, kitchen and dining room. The master bedroom with bath and large walk-in closet is on one side of the great room. The guest bedroom, John’s office and a bathroom are on the other side of the great room. There is a one car garage, which seems to act as an extension of their home. The garage is carpeted; a screen door leads from the kitchen to the garage.

We ate dinner around 6:30 pm.  Dorothy prepared a delicious dinner of barbecue meatballs, rice and peas. For dessert we had chocolate lasagna.  While we ate, we watched the sun set and drop into the ocean. Here is a photograph of the sunset, after the sun had dropped into the ocean.

_LG27636First Hawaiian Sunset 2018

We had been accustomed to seeing John and Dorothy frequently over the years. They used to live in Virginia, which was only a 5-6 hour drive from our house. John and Dorothy moved to Hawaii in December 2009. Since then we had seen them only a few times.  We saw them in May 2010, when Bob and I vacationed in Hawaii for the first time.  We saw them again in September 2011, when they visited with us.  I believe the last time we saw John and Dorothy was in October 2016, when they once again visited with us and met our granddaughters, their great nieces, for the first time.  It was so good to see John and Dorothy again!

The long day caught up with Bob and me around 7:30 pm. At that time we had been awake for 20 1/2 hours. It was long past bedtime! We found a surprise, as we pulled down the bed linens — rose petals strewn in between our bed sheets. A memory flashed in my mind, as I recalled the first night we got into bed as a married couple. We found rose petals in our bed that night too. Dorothy had strewn the rose petals between our sheets that day.

 

Our Outer Banks Vacation – Bodie Island and Wright Brothers National Memorial

[NOTE:  I uploaded this blog post during the afternoon on October 8 but backdated the published date to September 28, the date of the day’s activities detailed in this post.]

I appreciate the force of nature. The past two days we have experienced consistent strong winds and angry seas. Today, as I watched the sun rise while sitting on the beach, the wind was calm and the waves seemed almost normal. I haven’t seen one yet, but I heard that the pelicans are back.

_LG24910The dawning of a new day

The wind is calm, and the waves seem almost normal.

If you are not able to view the embedded video, please click here for the direct link.

IMG_20170928_065802Bob took this picture of me sitting on the sand, capturing today’s sunrise.

_LG24920The sun has risen!

What a fine day for sightseeing!

We were en route Bodie Island shortly after 9:00 am, arriving there around 10:00 am. For the next 45 minutes we admired the lighthouse from various vantage points.

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Bodie Island Lighthouse

A boardwalk that leads to an overlook of the wetlands offers very nice views of the lighthouse.

_LG24926Sandy is walking on the boardwalk toward the wetlands overlook.

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Sandy and Jim on the wetlands overlook

_LG24934Bodie Island Lighthouse, as seen from the wetlands overlook

Before leaving Bodie Island I heard a National Park Service employee say that the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry would begin crossings again at 1:00 pm today. This information was good to know, as we are planning a trip to Ocracoke tomorrow.

From Bodie Island we attempted to drive to Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, but the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge was closed until 1:00 pm to allow for time to remove sand and water from the roadway on Hatteras Island.  We made a U-turn at the bridge and drove to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills.

After paying the admission fee of $7.00 each, we found parking in the parking lot in front of the Visitor Center.  The Visitor Center for the Wright Brothers National Memorial is closed for a renovation project.  The visitor center has been closed since November 2016 and expected to reopen in late summer/fall of 2018.  A temporary facility near the parking lot has an information desk where you can speak to a National Park Service employee, five small poster-style exhibit panels to learn more about the Wright brothers’ story, and a bookstore.

During our visit we walked to the First Flight Boulder and Flight Line which mark the location where the Wrights first flew, peeked into the reconstructed Wright brothers’ camp building and hangar, walked to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill to the base of the Wright Memorial, and saw the 1903 Bronze Sculpture of the First Flight featuring a life size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

_LG24941Wright Brothers Flight Line

The numbered markers mark the landing spots of the Wright Brothers’ first four flights on December 17, 1903.

_LG24945First Flight Boulder

The boulder marks the spot from which the Wright Brothers’ first flight was made.  The picture displayed above shows the flight path as well.

_LG24946Sandy and the First Flight Boulder

_LG24948Wright brothers’ camp building and hangar

_LG24958
Big Kill Devil Hill and Wright Brothers Memorial

Sandy stayed inside the car, while Bob, Jim and I hiked to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill.

_LG24956
Wright Brothers Memorial on top of Big Kill Devil Hill

The view from the top of Big Kill Devil Hill was spectacular!

IMG_20170928_120517Jim is photographing the view from the top of Big Kill Devil Hill.
We could see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

_LG24960Life size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer

_LG249641903 Bronze Sculpture of the First Flight
(Wright Memorial in the background)

_LG24965This sign provides information about the first flight witnesses.  I read the sign, but was more interested in recreating the scene shown on the sign.  As I positioned myself to take a picture, other tourists began walking up to the bronze sculptures for a closer look.  Getting the picture I wanted meant waiting until those people departed the grounds.

_LG24967
Jim, Bob and Sandy found the only shady spot to wait for me,
while I waited to take my picture.

I like to think that I am a patient person.  My patience was just about running out, when the grounds were vacated.  I had to quickly compose my picture, as I noticed more tourists arriving.

_LG24968My recreation of the photograph of the first flight witnesses

We were glad that it was possible to drive to the base of Big Kill Devil Hill, as well as to the Sculpture of the First Flight. The three points of interest were spaced far apart!

Prior to leaving on vacation, Jim learned that a friend (another member of the Vulcan Riders and Owners Club of which Jim and Bob are members) would be vacationing in the Outer Banks at the same time as the four of us.  “Rabbi” and his wife Vonna were vacationing in Salvo on Hatteras Island, until they were evacuated earlier in the week.  We didn’t think we would be able to meet up with Rabbi and Vonna because they had gone home to Virginia.  Jim received a message (today I believe) from Rabbi that they were back in the Outer Banks and staying in Kitty Hawk.  Jim and Rabbi made plans for the six of us to meet for lunch at 1:00 pm at Mama Kwans Tiki Bar & Grill in Kill Devil Hills.

The first thing I noticed at Mama Kwans was the old van covered with stickers.  I took a picture of Rabbi, Vonna, Jim and Sandy beside that van, after we had eaten lunch.

_LG24971Sandy, Jim, Rabbi and Vonna at Mama Kwans

Rabbi attended at least one VROC motorcycle rally that Bob and I attended.  That rally was the Wolfman Wandering Rally #3 held in Richmond, Kentucky in June 2009.  Rabbi doesn’t recall meeting Bob or me at that rally; we don’t recall meeting him either.  Rabbi is planning to attend the 20th anniversary of the Southeast Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (SEVROC) rally in May next year.  Bob and I plan to attend that rally as well.  So, we will meet again….

After lunch we returned to Flights of Fantasy (our vacation beach house), returning there around 3:00 pm.

Much of rest of the afternoon and evening was spent relaxing in (or sitting on a deck of) the beach house. Sandy and I did go for a short walk to beach access 7, a boardwalk that leads to the beach.

20170928_222454641_iOS
Sandy at the Beach Access 7 Boardwalk

20170928_222956188_iOSThe view from the end of Beach Access 7
The green house is our beach house.

20170928_223133743_iOSSandy at the end of Beach Access 7
The green house is our beach house.

Sandy and I returned back to our beach house just in time to see the sun set.

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I photographed Brenda photographing the setting sun.

Tonight’s dinner was leftovers.

I retired to our bedroom around 8:30 pm, as many of my fellow vacationers were sitting down to watch the football game—Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers.

For Jim’s account of the day, please click here.

A Canadian Daycation: Lunch at Walker’s Country Market and Niagara Falls, ON

This blog post continues our daycation to Canada this past Saturday.  In my previous blog post I wrote about our visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We departed Niagara-on-the-Lake around 11:30 am and began our drive on Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls.

About half way between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls we stopped for lunch.  We ate lunch at Walker’s Country Market. This is a great little lunch place, off the Niagara Parkway, right next to the Living Waters Wayside Chapel. We purchased two turkey sandwiches (Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with cranberry orange sauce, mayo, walnuts, and romaine lettuce on multigrain whole wheat bread) and two peanut butter ganache brownies for lunch. We sat outside on bistro-style seating and ate our lunch. We would definitely return here for lunch, if in the area. I give Walker’s 5 stars! Next time I would hope that we would do a bit of browsing at the market. There was also fresh produce, jams, maple syrup, ice cream and more available for purchase.  Note to self: box lunches can be purchased at Walker’s Country Market.  A picnic-style lunch at Niagara-on-the-Lake would have been nice!

After lunch we took a few pictures of the Living Water Wayside Chapel.

XZ291272

Living Water Wayside Chapel

According to Internet sources, the Living Water Wayside Chapel is the smallest chapel in the world.

_XZ91275

Living Water Wayside Chapel (interior view)

We were back on the road at 12:14 pm and arrived in Niagara Falls at 12:45 pm.

We parked in the Bird Kingdom parking lot ($3.99 for 2 hours).  We walked from there, just past the Hornblower Niagara Cruises entrance.  On hindsight I wish we had parked closer to the falls, as I may have been able to walk all the way down to Horseshoe Falls and back.  My arthritic knee was not very cooperative, while in Niagara Falls.

_LG23042The Falls at Niagara Falls

_LG23045the American and Bridal Falls

_LG23049People, people EVERYWHERE!

_LG23055Horseshoe Falls

_LG23060MistRider Zipline to the Falls

_LG23056

We would have had a good vantage point to watch riders on the zipline.  We stayed at this location for a while and stood alongside the cliff (where all the people are), waiting for someone to ride the zipline.  No one rode the zipline, while we waited.  When I asked if anyone would be riding the zipline soon, I was told that the tailwinds were too strong.

On the way back to our car, we walked through Oakes Garden Theatre.

_LG23072Oaks Garden Theatre

_LG23075This spotted seagull posed for me.

_LG23076Oh look … a wedding party!

We found a fish pond.

_LG23077Goldfish at Oakes Garden Theatre

_LG23079This bridge crosses over the fish pond.
What a tranquil setting!

We stopped at the duty free store before crossing the Rainbow Bridge into New York. We made our purchases at the duty free store, namely bourbon and maple filled cookies. We returned to the USA at 2:30 pm. The U.S. Border control guard asked Bob to remove his sunglasses, asked him how tall he is and how much he weighs. She said our last name is a common name, and some people with that name have done very bad things.

Niagara Falls, NY was too crowded for a pleasant visit.  We will visit Niagara Falls, NY at a later date.

We decided to drive to Erie PA for dinner. We ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse. We had a 15-25 minute wait to be seated. It was worth the wait. Our dinners were good, although we brought enough home with us for another meal for each of us. Neither of us were as hungry as we thought we were.

We were back on the road at 7:50 pm.

We chased Saturday night’s sunset. We saw the setting sun, as we drove over the Interstate 86 bridge that crosses over Chautauqua Lake at Bemus Point, NY. We exited Interstate 86 at Bemus Point. We couldn’t find anywhere to park, as the Bemus Pops Concert series was happening that evening.

LJG23081Sunset at Bemus Point, NY
I snapped this sunset picture from inside our car.

Bob thought he could make it to the Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area before the sun set. We made it there in the nick of time.

LJG23084Sunset at Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area

LJG23085Sunset at Interstate 86 Chautauqua Lake Rest Area

I posted these three sunset pictures on Facebook, while on our way home from the rest area.  My Facebook friend Christi C. said it best, when she made the comment “You chased the sun till it dipped below the world and said good bye for the final time today!”

It was a very long day.  We departed home at 6:00 am and returned home around 9:30 pm.  We drove 340 miles.   It was a long day, but what a wonderful day we had!

Our Chincoteague Vacation (Part 2 of 3)

This blog post continues our 3-day Easter weekend vacation at Chincoteague Island.  Our first vacation day was a travel day.

On Friday, March 25th, we ate breakfast around 6:30 am at the hotel. Our complimentary breakfast selections included scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy, a variety of breads and bagels, cold and hot cereals, a variety of hot and cold beverages, waffles, and pastries. After breakfast we returned to our room and enjoyed a second cup of tea/coffee, while sitting on our third floor balcony. The rain, which was in Friday’s forecast, had not yet started. It was a breezy 57 degrees. I was comfortable sitting outside, with a fleece jacket on.

A little later in the morning we drove the 12 miles to Route U.S. Route 13 for gas at the Exxon station. When we reached the U.S. Route 13-Chincoteague Road intersection the night before, the fuel station had just closed for the day. Bob wanted to get gas there to earn Plenti points. There is a Food Lion store next door to the Exxon station. We made a quick stop there to pick up a few grocery items. We returned to the hotel to drop off our purchases. Soon afterward we left the hotel and drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on Assateague Island.  The Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel is very close to the wildlife refuge, less than 1 mile away from the gate.

There is an admission fee charged to enter Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, unless you are on foot or bicycle. Daily admission costs $8.00 per vehicle. A weekly pass costs $15.00. We purchased the weekly pass, as we planned to visit the wildlife refuge on Saturday as well. When I am 62 years old, in 2 more years, I will be eligible to purchase a lifetime national park pass for $10.00. That pass will be a worthwhile purchase!

We followed Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore. (See Google map of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge provided below.)

WildlifeRefuge

We saw a fawn soon after passing through the wildlife refuge gate. I missed the shot, as I didn’t have the camera ready to shoot.  It was a windy and rainy morning; the lighting poor.

_LG20373 4x6Seagull at Assateague Island National Seashore

_LG20378 4x6Northern Shoveler alongside Beach Access Road, across from Little Toms Cove

We returned to our hotel, when the rain began to fall so hard that it was difficult to see anything.

Late morning we visited the NASA Visitor Center, which is located on Wallops Island about 5 miles from the Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel. According to its About Us webpage, the visitor center “features exhibits about aeronautics, orbital and sub-orbital rockets, scientific balloons, current missions, and the history of Wallops Flight Facility. In addition to exhibits, the Visitor Center also features an auditorium, a Science on the Sphere Theater, an observation deck, as well as numerous free public programs, events, and group tours of the facility. The Visitor Center also serves as the viewing site for rockets that launch from Wallops Island. Located inside the Visitor Center, the Gift Shop, open seasonally, offers models, patches, games, clothing and a variety of NASA souvenirs.”  The outside grounds has rockets and aircraft used for space and aeronautical research including a full-scale four stage reentry vehicle used to study the earth’s atmosphere.  I took several photographs, while at the visitor center.

_LG20382 4x6
The Nike-Cajun sounding rocket
is able to carry a 77-pound payload to a height
of about 90 miles and has been used at Wallops
since 1956.

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Four-stage Reentry Vehicles were used to study phenomena
associated with high speed reentry
through the Earth’s atmosphere including
radio transmissions during reentry conditions.

_LG20387 4x6
 Space suit seen inside auditorium

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In the auditorium we watched an informative 20-minute film about the space mission.

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Bob took this picture of me wearing a space suit.

_LG20390 4x6This is the view from the observation deck.

_LG20392 4x6
This rocket was visible from the observation deck.
A much better picture was possible from the ground.
Little Joe was used to test the Mercury Spacecraft prior to manned light.
Monkeys Sam and Miss Sam were launched from Wallops
utilizing this rocket vehicle.

We walked behind the Visitor Center and found three more exhibits.

_LG20393 4x6
This rocket was not identified.
Bob said to say it was a UFO.

_LG20395 4x6The Astrobee F, a solid-propellant sounding rocket first launched from Wallops Island in 1972,
could lift a 200-pound payload to about 260 miles altitude.

_LG20397 4x6The Aerobee 150, a liquid-propellant sounding rocket with a six-foot solid-propellant booster,
was used from 1955 to 1985.  It could lift a 150-pound payload to 160 miles altitude.

After visiting the NASA Visitor Center, we ate lunch at Royal Farms.  Royal Farms is a privately owned chain of gas station/convenience stores headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. The store is very reminiscent of Sheetz, a gas station/convenience store with which we are familiar.

After lunch, on our way back to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped briefly at the Public Landing at Queen Sound located on Wallops Island alongside VA 175.  Two seagulls were vying for my attention.

Queen_Sound_Seagulls_portrait-16x20-vertical-02
Queen Sound Seagulls

We soon made our way back to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We followed Beach Access Road, once again, to the Assateague Island National Seashore.

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Friday’s weather was quite changeable…heavy rain, thunder and lightning to heavy fog to sunshine with temperatures in the upper 70s. I have never seen fog such as in these two photographs, while at the seashore.

_LG20420 4x6
Everyone still had fun!

 

We turned around at the seashore and was again driving along Beach Access Road.

_LG20427 4x6
We watched this egret for quite some time alongside Beach Access Road.  The egret sat in this tree for a long time.  All of a sudden, the egret flew to the water below.  I missed photographing the short flight.  We watched several more minutes, while the egret fished.

_LG20442 4x6Egret fishing

Our next stop was the Woodland Trail.

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This is Woodland Trail (photo taken by Bob).  It was shocking to see how much the area had changed from when we walked the trail in past years.  There were so many dead and fallen trees that the area looked barren. An Internet search revealed that this area suffered from a southern pine beetle infestation that killed many trees this past fall.

_LG20448 4x6We saw this pair of Vultures, soon after beginning our walk on the Woodland Trail.

The Woodland Trial is one of the best places to see the wild ponies of Chincoteague.  You have to walk about a half mile into the trail to get to the observation platform from which you can see the ponies.  There are signs marking the way to the pony viewing so you can’t miss it.  We saw several wild ponies grazing off in the distance.

_LG20453 4x6Chincoteague Wild Ponies

From the Woodland Trail we drove to the Wildlife Loop, which opens to vehicular traffic at 3:00 pm.  While driving around the loop, we saw an egret, a pair of Mallard Ducks, and a pair of Canadian Geese.

_LG20473-_LG20479-portrait-advantage-20
Wildlife Loop wildlife

We, then, returned to hotel and relaxed for about 1 1/2 hours, until 5:00 pm.

We ate dinner at the Chincoteague Diner & Restaurant, conveniently located next door to our hotel. This was our first meal besides Sheetz-like sandwich wraps and fast food burgers that we ate since leaving home on Thursday at 12:30 pm. Bob ordered a prime rib dinner. I ordered a meat loaf dinner. We each ordered dessert too. Bob had a slice of coconut cake, and I had a slice of chocolate cake. Service was excellent, and dinner was delicious.

We returned to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, after dinner. We drove the Wildlife Loop once again. Then we followed Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore.  I watched the ocean waves for a time, while waiting for sunset.

_LG20493 4x6Assateague Island National Seashore

We watched the sunset from the boardwalk Toms Cove Visitor Center.

LJG20503 4x6Toms Cove Visitor Center

LJG20507 4x6Sunset across Little Toms Cove

LJG20540 4x6Sunset across Little Toms Cove

At 7:30 pm we returned to our hotel, where we stayed for rest of the night.

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