The Beauty Around Us

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Pymatuning Day Trip

This past Saturday (June 19th) Bob suggested that we drive to Pymatuning State Park. A change of scenery appealed to me.

The highlight of our visit to Pymatuning was seeing the Pymatuning Dam and the area near the dam.

Pymatuning State Park Dam and its Environ

Pymatuning Dam is located at the southern end of Pymatuning Reservoir. We have visited Pymatuning several times. This was our first visit to the dam and its surrounding area.

Our first stop was at Shenango River. We crossed over Pymatuning Dam via Dam Road. We turned right onto Water Trail Drive, which led us to the Shenango River.

Pymatuning State Park – Shenango River
We saw this great blue heron on the opposite side of the river.
We noticed a trail that appeared close to where the heron was located.
We walked over the pedestrian bridge to reach Sugar Creek Run Trail.
It was a short walk to where the great blue heron was perched.
I managed to capture this picture, through the foliage,
before the great blue heron took off.

Our second stop was on the reservoir side of the dam. We backtracked and drove back over the dam. We pulled into the parking lot for pavilion shelter #3.

Pymatuning State Park
the Dam Gatehouse, as seen from Pavilion Shelter #3 grounds

We, then, drove back across the dam but only half way. We parked across from the Dam Gatehouse.

Pymatuning State Park – Dam Gatehouse

According to signage at the site, the “castle-like stone gatehouse allows water flow through the dam. Water enters the gatehouse through a 20-foot-wide diversion channel and travels 280 feet to the outflow conduits.”

Entry to the Dam Gatehouse was barred.
Dam Gatehouse

We walked back across Dam Road and visited the outflow area.

Pymatuning Dam Outflow
Pymatuning Dam Outflow.
We walked down two staircases to get closer to the outflow.

The Pymatuning Dam Outflow forms the Shenango River.

Leaving Pymatuning Dam and its environ our next stop was at the Linesville Spillway, where we saw lots of carp, ducks and geese.

The Geese, Ducks and Carp are fed bread at the spillway.
Pymatuning State Park – the Spillway
You can’t see the Spillway in this picture. We are walking toward the Spillway.
Geese, Ducks and Carp at Pymatuning Spillway
The Spillway, which you can’t see, is behind us.
We are walking back to our car.

It is said that ducks walk on carp at the Spillway, but we didn’t see that.

Leaving Pymatuning State Park in our rearview mirror, our next stop was for lunch in Spartansburg. We ate lunch at the Dutch Treat Restaurant.

This is the Dutch Treat Restaurant.

Bob had an egg sandwich with French fries and coleslaw. I had a BLT sandwich with French fries and applesauce. Our meals were delicious. Service was OK. It would have been better, if Bob had gotten the lunch he ordered–a steak salad. Bob should have been tipped off, when the waitress asked if Bob wanted coleslaw. A salad has a coleslaw side??? I did notice that the waitress was hard of hearing AND she was tired–overworked from lack of help. Bob decided to let it go. He saved $8.00 on our lunch price. The egg salad sandwich was a lot less expensive than the steak salad.

After lunch, we walked across the parking lot to Clear Lake.

On our way to Clear Lake we saw a white goose.
We checked out Clear Lake from a small bridge that crosses over the lake.

We returned home, after lunch. It was a good day, even with the rain that came in the afternoon.

Overnight Getaway

We returned home late this morning from an overnight getaway.  We spent the night at Best Western in Erie PA, using a $25 gift certificate that expires later this month as partial payment.  We earned the gift certificate from a prior stay at a Best Western hotel.  I believe we will earn another $25 gift certificate from this stay.

We departed Warren shortly after 9:00 am yesterday and arrived at our hotel around 2:45 pm.  We made a few stops en route the hotel.

Before leaving Warren we stopped at Tim Hortons, where Bob purchased a cup of coffee.

Our second stop was in Findley Lake NY.  We saw nothing of interest and moved on.

Upon arriving in Erie we drove the perimeter of Presque Isle, stopping briefly to capture photographs of ducks and Canadian geese in a swamp area.

Pair of Mallard Ducks at Presque Isle State Park (Erie, PA)

Pair of Canadian Geese at Presque Isle State Park (Erie, PA)

That goose on the left was very noisy!  Two Canadian Geese, equally noisy, flew overhead just moments after I had returned to our car.

We ate lunch at Cheddars Scratch Kitchen in Erie.  Bob ordered Creamy Garlic Tilapia & Shrimp over rice, with broccoli cheese casserole and southern green beans.  I ordered a chicken tender platter, with salad and French fries.  Both meals were delicious.  

Our final stop before going to the hotel was at the Erie Zoo.  When the zoo reopened last year during the COVID pandemic, timed tickets were required for entry.  Timed tickets are required again this year, but NOT for the month of March.  We used our membership card to enter the zoo.  We went for a stroll through the zoo.  I didn’t take too many pictures.  The majority of my pictures were of an orangutan family.

Erie Zoo Wild Asia entrance

Erie Zoo Bornean Orangutans

Erie Zoo Bornean Orangutan

We had considered taking our granddaughters to the zoo, if Stacey’s employer had her scheduled to work in Erie on Monday.  We could have driven the girls to Erie, and Stacey could have taken them back home.  I am glad, though, that I did not approach Stacey with my idea.  The majority of the animals were quiet or not visible.  The merry-go-round, playground and train ride were closed, as were all the food vendors.  We will take the girls to the zoo in April, when it is warmer (and hopefully more of the zoo will be open).  Our present zoo membership expires on 30 April.  I have not yet decided, if we will renew the membership.

As I wrote earlier, we arrived at the hotel around 2:45 pm.  We checked into room 408, a two queen bed suite.  We had eaten a late lunch and knew we wouldn’t be hungry for dinner.  Other than Bob driving to a nearby fuel station to pick up water and snacks, we stayed in for rest of the day.  We had a relaxing afternoon and evening watching TV, for the most part.  We particularly liked the science fiction movie “Divergent”.  This movie is old, having been released in 2014.  We had never seen the movie and are interested in watching the next two sequels, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant”.

Now for the next day …

We were showered, dressed and had eaten breakfast by 8:00 am this morning.  Rather than grab a “grab n go” breakfast at the hotel, we ate breakfast at the nearby Cracker Barrel.  Bob ordered a double meat breakfast; I ordered Grandma’s Sampler.  Breakfast was delicious and filling.

After breakfast, we began our drive back home.  We drove home via Route 5, along the shores of Lake Erie.  We made three photo stops.

Our first stop was next door to North East Marina in North East, PA.

This lighthouse-shaped building is near the North East Marina in North East, PA.  The body of water in the background is Lake Erie.

After a quick search, I couldn’t find any information on the Internet about this building.  The next time we are in this area we plan to stop at North East Marina and make some inquiries.

Our second stop was at Barcelona Harbor in Westfield NY, where we saw more seagulls.

Seagull in Flight

This is the same Seagull in flight.

Two Seagulls

Several Seagulls

Our third stop was at Bournes Creek Falls, located a couple miles from Barcelona Harbor.

We saw Bournes Creek Falls for the first time in January.  The waterfall looked a lot different today than it did in January!

 

We continued on to Dunkirk NY, where we left the shores of Lake Erie and headed south.

We returned home at 11:30 am.  Our kitty, Wickett, sure was happy to see us.

 

A Sunny Day Drive

Bob and I went for a drive on the afternoon of February 4th.  We drove around the Allegheny Reservoir and through Allegany State Park near Salamanca, NY. 

We stopped at Science Lake.  

Science Lake at Allegany State Park. Look at that beautiful blue sky and the piles of snow.

On the way home Bob said he wanted to go to Washington Park.  I didn’t want to go to Washington Park because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the snow.  The narrow, rutted and gravel entry road is not maintained in the winter.  Bob took us there anyway.  

View of Warren from Washington Park

Bob took this picture of me at Washington Park

This is a dash cam video of our drive to and from Washington Park.  Bob edited the video to add music and a few still images.

I am glad Bob didn’t listen to me (this time LOL).  We didn’t get stuck, and the view of Warren from the park was splendid!

Year in Review 2020

Bob, Wickett and me at our house on New Years Eve

Amazon Photos made this Year in Review slideshow for me.  Please click on “slideshow” to view the video.  Keep clicking until the slideshow begins.

The slideshow features Bob and me, Stacey and our two granddaughters, my brother and his wife, three great nieces, a few of our local motorcycle riding friends, and some of our friends with whom we were fortunate to spend a week with in the Outer Banks, and lunch with friends in Salisbury MD on our way to Chincoteague VA.

What great memories to remind me that 2020, with all that was bad about it, still had good things!

 

Happy New Year!

I gave Bob a Kalimba 17 key thumb piano for Christmas a couple years ago.  Bob had never played a thumb piano.  In one week’s time Bob taught himself this song.

 

 

Photo obtained here

 

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021 from Bob and me!

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 7

Today (November 27th) is day 7 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

Sunrise at Tranquil Shores, our airbnb rental

Late this morning we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA.  We followed the Beach Access Road to Toms Cove, where we turned around.  

Our first stop, while on the Beach Access Road, was at the Lighthouse Trail.

The Lighthouse Trail takes you through the woods to the historic Assateague Lighthouse.

Assateague Lighthouse

Our second stop was at a marsh area, where we frequently see wild ponies.  We had not seen any ponies here since our arrival on Sunday, November 22.  We saw some wild ponies there today.

The wild ponies finally made an appearance in the marsh seen from the Beach Access Road.

Our third stop was near Toms Cove.

Assateague Lighthouse, as viewed from Toms Cove area

You will recall from yesterday’s blog post that the reason we chose to spend Thanksgiving week in Chincoteague was to participate in the Waterfowl Week Special Drive.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, there is a 7.5 mile service road off the Wildlife Loop that is open to the public only during the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  The service road opens at noon and closes at 4:00 pm.  We drove the service road yesterday and again today.

We were parked alongside Wildlife Loop by 11:40 am, lined up to drive on the Service Road.  

The line waiting for access to the Waterfowl Week Special Drive

The cars began to inch forward at noon.  Yesterday it took us 1 1/2 hours to make the 15-mile round trip.  Today it took about 1 1/4 hours.  Yesterday was overcast; today was sunny.  We saw far less horses and waterfowl today than we did yesterday.  Bob didn’t have a memory card in the GoPro yesterday.  The GoPro was armed today.  This video shows very little wildlife, but it does show the terrain along Special Drive.

 

 

I took a couple photographs of the few wild ponies that we saw during our drive.

Two wild ponies

Three wild ponies

We ate lunch at Tranquil Shores.  We had leftovers–sweet and sour chicken with rice, cottage cheese, potato salad and applesauce.

I wanted to see the lit Christmas tree at the Robert N Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague.  We drove there at dusk.

the Christmas Tree and me

Christmas decorations at Robert N Reed Downtown Waterfront Park

Sunset at Robert N Reed Downtown Waterfront Park

Aren’t the Christmas tree and the park, itself, pretty?

By the time we left the park, it was time to eat.  We chose to eat inside the Chincoteague Diner & Restaurant, located on Maddox Boulevard next to the Best Western hotel.   We had a choice to eat outside on their screened porch or inside the restaurant.  It was a bit chilly to eat outside; the restaurant was not full of people; the tables were socially distanced; we smelled Clorox as soon as we opened the door; and the wait staff wore face masks. All of those factors went into our decision to eat inside the restaurant.  This was the only restaurant at which we ate indoors, while on vacation.  Bob ordered a Chef Salad.  I ordered a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with French fries.  The service was good, and our dinners were tasty.  

From the restaurant we drove to Island Creamery, where the best homemade ice cream is served.  We ordered our ice cream inside and carried it out to the car to eat.  Yum!

We returned to Tranquil Shores, after our ice cream stop.  

It is our last night here.  We have had such a relaxing vacation.  I wish we didn’t have to go home, but at the same time I am ready to go home.

How Birds Keep Warm in Winter

It is cold outside.  The wind is blowing; the snow is flying.  At this moment, Weather Underground lists the temperature in my hometown as 13 degrees.  It feels like 0 degrees.  I was sitting in my home office, watching several starlings as they ate suet nuggets at our bird feeder.

I sure wouldn’t want to be outside today.  I wondered how birds keep warm in winter.  The answer was a quick Internet search away — How Do Birds Keep Warm in Winter.

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