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9.30.2018

Allegheny Front Hawk Watch: Stunning Overlook for Bird Watching

There is something so special about being at or above the height of a flying eagle, hawk, osprey, or other majestic bird. At a height of 2780 feet on the Allegheny Front Escarpment, you will see raptors, other birds, dragonflies, monarchs, and other creatures make spectacular sliding and swooping maneuvers both above you and below you as they sweep into the valley below during their spring and fall migrations. The Allegheny Front serves as a prime migration spot, where single-day counts of hawks can measure into the hundreds, or even thousands, Bald and Golden Eagles into the dozens, and countless vultures, and other creatures. 
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch tallest hawkwatch in the state, and is the state's westernmost official hawkwatching spot. The next official hawk watch is located 500 miles west of this spot. Official hawk counts are kept by volunteers during the spring and fall migrations, the results of which you can find at this link. 

This prime viewing spot is on the border of Somerset and Bedford Counties and overlooks Shawnee State Park, Chestnut Ridge, Gallitzin State Forest, and more. 
The lake at Shawnee State Park
The rolling hills of farms and forests. 
Some of the bird watching enthusiasts.
The bird watching was absolutely epic. There were more than a dozen bald eagles that flew by in the time that we visited, along with hundreds of hawks, monarch butterflies, dragonflies, and even one osprey. 

Even if there were no birds, the scenic overlook at the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch is simply tremendous. 
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch is a tremendous place to spend an afternoon, especially during the main migration seasons in fall and spring. As October comes upon us, Golden Eagles will be in the migration mix as well. We highly recommend going out of your way to check out this place. Nearby are the many covered bridges of Somerset and Bedford Counties, Gravity Hill, the Flight 93 Memorial, and even the attractions of Johnstown are within 40 minutes of the spot. This is also located very close to the Lincoln Highway.

For more information, check out their website at http://www.alleghenyplateauaudubon.org/hawk-watch.php
Coordinates: 
40.081673, -78.728287

9.23.2018

Autumn Views in Pittsburgh: Fall Colors, Fireworks, Heritage Festivals & More

This selection of fall scenes from Pittsburgh shows why you need to explore the city during the fall. Between the fall traditions and changing colors, the city is an awesome place to see in the fall.
Here is the curve on Serpentine Drive. During the summer, this curve is used for the Vintage Grand Prix and it is stunningly beautiful. At the top of the hill, there is the Neill Log House, dating back to sometime between the late 1760s and early 1770s. 
Top view of the curve
Looking down into Junction/Panther Hollow, over towards Carnegie Mellon University
Pitt's Cathedral of Learning is home to a number of awesome traditions in the fall. For the school's homecoming football game, they shoot fireworks off of the tower, providing a one-of-a-kind spectacle.
During the day, the changing colors around campus make this Late Gothic Revival tower really stand out.
The views from the upper floors are incredible. This view looks out over Schenley Park and Phipps Conservatory
Here you can see the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Music Hall, the Library, and Carnegie Mellon University.
Here you can see Soldiers and Sailors Hall on the lower right, a number of campus buildings, Western Psychiatric Hospital, The Pedersen Event Center, the VA Hospital, the Upper Hill, Downtown, and more. 
The lobby area of the Cathedral of Learning is used for ethnic celebrations in November, including the Slovak Heritage Day (seen here) and the Polish Heritage Day, where delicious ethnic foods, dancing, music, and crafts take over the Commons Room of the building.
St. Paul's Cathedral
View from the West End Overlook towards downtown and the Three Rivers. 
From a much foggier day! Pittsburgh is great to explore in the fall.









9.16.2018

Exploring the Lake Erie Wine Trail in PA & NY, Chautauqua Lake, NY & More

We always have a great time when we visit Erie and head into the Lake Erie and Chautauqua Region into New York. This is such a serene and beautiful place, where rolling hills are covered in vineyards, and lead towards huge natural lakes, including Lake Erie, Chautauqua Lake, Findlay Lake, and others. We opted to spend a long weekend in this region and had a great time visiting the wineries, relaxing by the lakes, and taking in all of the scenery.
As autumn approaches, grape season goes into full swing. September and into October are the prime harvest times for grapes in this region. On Route 5, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, the air will be filled with the fantastic smell of grapes. From the borough of North East, PA, up into New York, you see endless rolling hills, covered in vineyards, with numerous wineries along the way, especially along Route 5 and Route 20. For more detailed information on the grape culture and wineries in the region, check out our comprehensive article at this link.
Penn Shore Winery in North East, PA, makes some excellent wines and is a very laid back place to visit. Their pricing is also very reasonable.
 Grapes nearing harvest at Penn Shore Winery
Mazza is another excellent winery in North East, PA. Mazza was one of the pioneers of wine making in Pennsylvania.
Barcelona, NY is home to a beautiful harbor and Lighthouse. The Lighthouse dates back to 1829 and is absolutely stunning.
A view inside of the lighthouse.

Johnson Estate Winery, on Route 20 in Ripley, NY is great in every way. Their wines are superb, especially their dry whites and rieslings. It is the oldest estate winery in New York State and their facility is absolutely beautiful. 
The tan bottles hold their port wine, of which they make one of my absolute favorites. It is a tough call between them and Mazza when it comes to port wines. 
 The production area for Johnson Estate. 
Sunset over Chautauqua Lake in Mayfield, NY.
 A little peeper in the grass.
 The morning brought some quick storms through the area, which was pretty exciting the watch. 
The former Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Mayfield, NY. The railroad's old right-of-way has been converted into a walkway along the lake. It is home to a public art space and the Chautauqua Township Historical Society, which covers the history of the region. 
The Chautauqua Belle Tour Boat. This boat is a nod to the past at Chautauqua Lake, when people would flock to the clean and unpolluted waters offered by the lake. Railroads would carry tourists to the lake, and then they would ride steamboats across the 17 mile long lake. 
The clean reputation of Chautauqua Lake also lead towards the harvesting of ice in the winter months, which would be shipped by railcar and stored in Ice Houses as far away as Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The lake remains an idyllic place to visit.
As the storm headed into Mayville, NY, we decided to hop in the car and see the storm roll into the beautiful village of Bemus Point. There is lots of Victorian character in this old tourist village, which has remained a hub of tourist activity since the early days of railroading. Located nearby are Long Point State Park, which is home to beaches, a marina, and picnic areas, and Midway State Park, which is home to a family amusement park.
 The sun reappearing after the quick storm.
The Hotel Lenhart was founded in 1882. This current building dates all the way back to 1892 and is absolutely stunning. The village's Casino is less than a block away, which is another stately old building. Bemus Point makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time.
Now we head back over to Lake Erie. The Luensman Overview Park in Brocton, NY gives a tremendous view of some of the vineyards of the region, and Lake Erie. 
 We naturally had to grab more grapes.
 The Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, PA has a great collection of old locomotives, railcars, and other railroad memorabilia. It is located in a former New York Central Railroad Station. For more information on the museum, check out this article from a previous visit.
We then headed to Erie, PA's Presque Isle State Park, one of our favorite places to visit. It is great being able to connect with nature at this stunning state park.
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