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5.28.2015

Barcelona Falls and Lighthouse, Barcelona, NY

We start off with the most giant Rainbow we have ever seen! These photos are from Westfield and the New York Thruway.
Barcelona is a cool little town along the shores of Lake Erie. It is home to a lighthouse, some small businesses, a nice beach, and a seaside rocky landscape reminiscent of a shoreline in Maine. The waypoint to know you are headed in the right direction is this reproduction of a 16th century British sailing ship, the Sea Lion, with an odd history having sailed on Lake Chautauqua and Lake Erie, and then it sunk and was brought up by some divers and towed to Barcelona. There is hope that the boat will be restored, but in the mean time it is a cool relic and has become a landmark for the beautiful coastal town of Barcelona, NY. We have been to Barcelona many times, but now with my hobby of waterfall chasing, I learned of a waterfall that is located nearby. Once you reach this ship, go eastward down the shoreline and you will run into....
Several little falls that go off of the little rocky bluff and into the lake. You want to hit these falls earlier in the spring when the meltdowns are occurring, or after a large rainfall, because they are very small. With that being said, usually a waterfall is the main visual attraction in any given area. In this location it contributes with the overall beauty of the area thanks to the beach and beautiful Lake Erie. The weather was not good at this point, otherwise we would have spent a little more time checking it out.
 The beautiful Barcelona Lighthouse dates back to 1829 and was the first building to be illuminated with natural gas.
 Another view of the old ship
 A look at the beach and shoreline. This is a really beautiful place.
 There is a nice little harbor in this town as well.
 Because of how rushed we were this time around, I have included some photos from November of 2013 to give you an idea of Barcelona. Brit loves the birds!
The skies were pretty dramatic on that November day in 2013. 

5.27.2015

Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County, PA

Today we take a look at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cumberland County, PA. This old Iron Furnace town dates back to 1764 and it operated until 1895. The remnants are pretty amazing. The park itself dates back to 1912 and it was one of the first "forest parks" of the Pennsylvania system that would eventually turn into the State Parks and State Forests of today. This would eventually encompass both the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and the surrounding Michaux State Forest. Picnicking, camping, and hiking are popular activities within this area. As with many of Pennsylvania's state parks and forests, many of the roads, trails, and facilities were created by young men in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) set up by President Franklin Roosevelt with his New Deal programs to get us out of the Great Depression. Many of these young men would go on to lead us to victory in World War II and would be known as the "greatest generation." Undoubtedly the CCC helped form the work ethics and discipline of the young men of that generation. Below you can see the Ironmaster's Mansion.
 Here you can see the restored furnace that dates back to 1764.

 Here you can see a former Gristmill that has been turned into a museum for the Appalachian Trail, that runs right through the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest.
Marker for the Appalachian Trail. Doing the whole trail is a bucket list thing for me that I highly doubt will ever happen. The portions I have walked in Pennsylvania and Virginia are stunningly beautiful, and the area it crosses through here is no exception. The camp here would serve as a good waypoint if you were walking the trail.
In waterfall chasing I attempted to check out Lewis Rocks and the waterfall that it has. Sadly an organization has made the falls area private property, which really is a shame considering the fact that this is a state forest for the enjoyment of all, and that natural landmarks like this should be a public asset to foster a love of nature. The photos below show the areas you can see before you get stonewalled from entering the waterfall area.
 A babbling brook flows from where the waterfall is supposed to be located. I really want to go up to the waterfall and the rocks at some point. 
 The Skunk Cabbages just starting to grow
The state flower and state trees abound in this beautiful spot. It really is a shame that the public cannot access beyond this point to see the rocks and waterfall. Not all is a loss though. In other areas of Michaux State Forest you can scale a number mountain peaks to see tremendous vistas of the valley below South Mountain. I highly recommend spending an afternoon or camping at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest. It is located not too far from the city areas of Harrisburg, Lancaster, and vicinity. 

5.21.2015

Glen Mills Falls, Westfield, NY Chautauqua County

So at the next waterfall after Laona Falls, the skies opted to make a waterfall of their own, so this view was rushed. This is Glen Mills Falls, located in Westfield, NY, Chautauqua County on the Little Chautauqua Creek. It has this nice observation area to check out the falls, complete with a picnic table. A great place for a little romantic or relaxing afternoon lunch. I warn against going into any other portion of the falls for they are on private property. On a nicer day I would like to spend some time taking in these falls. Pretty cool little set of falls. If you drive on Route 394 heading westbound, take a left right before the bridge and follow that road. You will see a stone area with a picnic table and railings. That is the spot where the observation picnic area is located. 
Almost as soon as you pull off of Portage Road onto Gale Street, you will see an observation area with a picnic table.

5.20.2015

Laona Falls, Laona, Chautauqua County, NY

In Laona, NY, right off of Route 60 is a beautiful little waterfall, Laona Falls, on the Canadaway Creek just south of Fredonia, NY. This is in the midst of the beauty of Western New York's Chautauqua County. Laona is an interesting little town that has a spiritualist background. Supposedly the American composer Alan Hovhaness composed two works inspired by this town, continuing the theme of the roots of music within this region of New York, between the Fredonia Opera House, SUNY Fredonia's acclaimed music program, and the musical and academic heritage associated with Chautauqua County and the Chautauqua Institution. Laona was a haven for 19th century mediums and I am certain that the beauty of these falls, and the other nearby falls, created a beautiful haven for this type of activity. Be sure to go and explore Western NY. It is only just north of the border of PA from Erie, along the Lake Erie coastline, and there is just so much natural beauty. 

5.19.2015

Duquesne University Chapel of the Holy Spirit

Today we take a look at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University's Chapel of the Holy Spirit. This building dates back to 1899 and it is absolutely stunning. It is even more stunning to think about how many Duquesne Alumni have been through this chapel over 116 years. If you are nearby, be sure to drop in for services. 

5.12.2015

Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA

After spending some time at Waldameer, we decided to spend a little time on the beaches at Pennsylvania's seashore, Presque Isle State Park. Here is a view of the peninsula from Waldameer's premier roller coaster, Ravine Flyer II, to give you an idea of Presque Isle State Park's beautiful peninsula into Lake Erie. That day was so clear that you could see Ontario, Canada out in the distance.
Here you can see how the park looked this past winter, along with the free Tom Ridge Education Center that has some cool exhibits about the park along with a cool observation tower. 

We spent a little time dipping our feet in and trying to fly a kite before a short storm cell came in. People were hanging out, playing in the sand, grilling, and more. We ducked into our car and appreciated the beauty of the storm. In one of the Peninsula's small lakes, a series of house boats is set up. I would really like to stay in one of these sometime.
 The storm cell quickly moved through, leaving us with some cool views of the storm line.
 This view is looking out over the bay. Earlier in the day before the storm came in and some boaters were out, we spotted a fisherman bring in a very large bass. Presque Isle Bay is a very popular boating and fishing spot. The views of Erie and Presque Isle from the bay are stunning.
 Here is the same view from over Valentine's Day...What a difference a season makes! 
Another small storm cell following along. Not nearly as fierce as it looked
The view from the other side, with the sun peeking out. It is stunning to look at nature like this.
The view of the Perry Monument from across the bay. I am not certain what I was thinking when I took this shot, not balancing it at all. The Perry monument memorializes Oliver Hazard Perry, a naval war hero in the War of 1812, one of the most ridiculous wars in the history of the country. He was able to protect Lake Erie and the entire British Squadron surrendered, opening up the possibility for America to invade and take control of Canada. That option was not exercised and this was kept as a mission for defense. This body of water is named "Misery Bay" because the navy men had contracted diseases like smallpox and were kept in isolation in this spot and subsequently died and were buried at the peninsula. A rare heavy and sad chapter about this beautiful place that also teaches us how stupid war is. The War of 1812 is easily one of the most pointless wars in the history of our nation.
 Presque Isle is such an idyllic place, along with the rest of the Erie region. Here you can see a low wake buoy for boaters and a swan.
 A funny goose
Back over to the houseboats. You don't think of houseboats being located in Pennsylvania. I would love to see them build some more of these and rent them out as cottages. Presque Isle is Pennsylvania's most visited state park, yet it boasts no accommodations. It would be very difficult to build or open up a campground on the peninsula because it is narrow in pretty much every spot, but houseboats could work out as accomodations.
The peninsula boasts two beautiful Lake Erie lighthouses. A third small one is located on the bay side of the peninsula. This is the Erie Harbor North Pier Light, also known as the Presque Isle North Pier Light. It is operated by the US Coast Guard and was forged in France and assembled to help ships navigate the narrow waters that enter into Presque Isle Bay.
 Now back to Beach 10, our favorite beach on the peninsula. A beautiful rainbow formed with the passing storm.


Vanishing rainbow. One of the coolest things about stepping back out on the sand after a quick downpour is how the sand almost looks reset. All of the footprints and everything get flattened back out. Brit's fresh footprints in the sand.
Every visit to Presque Isle is vastly different. There is such an array of activities to do, from sightseeing to hiking, bicycling, boating, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, swimming, sunbathing, and more. Presque Isle State Park is a nature lover's paradise. We go several times a year and end up doing something completely different each time.
Our last stop is at the Presque Isle Light that dates back to 1872. This beautiful lighthouse is at the northernmost point of the peninsula. Here is the view from the shore at the lighthouse. Such a vivid and beautiful view.
 A beautiful lighthouse
 The sun peeking through, with sunset not too far off.
 Our next stop was to get some more riding time in at Waldameer Park. Be sure to check out this area for it is an excellent place for a relaxing getaway.
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