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2019 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options


Random Birding in Northwestern PA

Touring through Northwestern PA is a ton of fun. There are numerous lakes throughout this region that serve as tremendous habitats for all sorts of creatures. This makes them a hotspot for birding and Northwestern PA has so many excellent places for birdwatching, especially in the winter. MK Goddard State Park in Sandy Lake, PA is home to tremendous birdwatching opportunities, especially when it comes to eagles and ospreys. The marsh lands surrounding the Lake Wilhelm at MK Goddard State Park are excellent habitats for a number of raptors. 
This eagle was perched about 50 feet away from us near the marshlands at the lake. 
Lake Wilhelm

While we did not catch any birds on this specific trip to Conneaut Lake, although we did see some in the immediate area. The historic Hotel Conneaut, Conneaut Lake Park Grounds, and Conneaut Lake, PA's largest natural lake, are absolutely gorgeous with snow and ice. It is serene and an interesting contrast going through these grounds with the quiet of winter when compared to buzz of summer fun that comes with this area being one of the state's oldest summer resorts. Just a couple more months until summer fun begins at the park again.

Now we head  Pymatuning State Park. When the Bald Eagle was nearly wiped out of existence in the state, the last breeding pair is said to have survived at Pymatuning State Park. While we did not see any on this particular visit, we did see a bunch of geese and many Peregrine Falcons.
And over the the Pymatuning Spillway!
Normally there would be thousands of carp surfacing for feeding. Nonetheless, there were still a few that surfaced, even in that extremely cold weather.
We then headed up towards Presque Isle State Park, taking some back roads all the way up. On the way, we happened to catch this huge hawk. It is probably the largest hawk that we have ever seen. The wetlands of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge and Presque Isle State Park are two more awesome birding destinations to check out in Northwestern PA. 


Some Views of Historic Hellertown, Northampton County

Hellertown is a place with lots of well preserved history. The downtown area has a number of charming buildings and bridges that date back to the 18th and 19th century.
The following buildings are a part of the Hellertown Historical Society
The Miller House dates back to the 1880s
The Heller-Wagner Grist Mill is older than the United States itself, dating back to 1761. 
The Wash House dates back to the 1700s. It is a lovely and charming property and it houses a museum and a functional original mill. Just a few hundred feet away is Saucon Creek, which is a tremendous trout fishery. If you are into trout fishing,  the creek in this section is excellent for trout. There is no real need to seek out fishing holes in this creek, because most of the entire length of the creek is a huge fishing hole. 
Across the street from the historical society is the 1860 Walnut Street Bridge/Pony Bridge. This is one of the only bridges that is fully cast and wrought iron, including the deck plates. It has been meticulously cared for by the historical society, and through the engineering department at nearby Lehigh University.  This Pratt Through Truss Bridge is 55 feet long and is one of the only remaining bridges from the Beckel Iron Foundry and Machine Shop, in neighboring Bethlehem. 
Be sure to check out another remaining Beckel Bridge, the Old Mill Road Bridge in neighboring Bingen, along the Saucon Rail Trail. 

Just upstream is the The Meadows Bridge in Hellertown. This stone arch bridge is in a bucolic setting, so much so that it shows up in 19th and early 20th century impressionist paintings, and has crossed the Saucon Creek since 1858. Due to structural problems, the bridge has been closed to traffic and is slated for replacement. It would really be a shame for this bridge to be demolished, but this historic Lower Saucon Township bridge looks like it is headed out. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, please opt to repair this stone arch bridge and promote its potential as a tourism draw to the region. Read this article for more information about the plight of the bridge. 


Wintry Views along Lake Erie: Presque Isle State Park, Ice Dunes, Wineries, & More

It is incredible seeing the Lake Erie region in the winter time. It is a stunning contrast seeing the transformation of the region from a summer beachside retreat, complete with sandy beaches, swimmers, wildlife, speedboats, sailboats, and more, into an icy moonscape filled with ice dunes and caves, crisp air, ice fishermen, and more. There are not many places that I have visited where the contrast between seasons is so huge, and it is truly spectacular. This region is always a favorite of ours for getaways, since there are always so many cool and relaxing things to do.
 The view from the bluff on which Lakeview on the Lake Motel sits upon, near the borough of North East, PA.
 Ice Dunes and Caves on the shores of Lake Erie at Freeport Beach, near the town of North East, PA. As the temperatures get below freezing, the waves of the lake freeze into these unique formations, that look vastly different every winter season.
It is not advisable to walk out onto the lake in these areas, since the dunes are fragile and can give out at any time, especially as the temperatures warm up.

The Lake Erie Wine Country Wine and Chocolate Festival is what we spent most of our time doing during this specific trip. The many wineries, stretching from Erie County, PA, up into New York, are open daily and well worth checking out. For more information on visiting the wineries, check out this summary, and this other summary from some of our prior visits. Lake Erie Wine Country is so much fun to explore, but especially during their special food pairing events.
The Bicentennial Tower in Erie on Presque Isle Bay.
 Ice fishermen and winter windsurfers were out on Presque Isle Bay near the start of Presque Isle State Park. 
This year has not been quite as continuously cold as previous years, where there was not even a portion of visible unfrozen ice. About half a mile down the road at Presque Isle State Park, from where the ice fishermen were set up, you could see the end of the icing on the lake, with the currents of the bay carrying ice chunks to the edge. It is a pretty neat thing to see. 

It was neat seeing the lake all iced over, but not seeing much snow on the ground. In the summer, this spot would be filled with swimmers, picnickers, the smell of barbecue, kites flying in the air, and the sounds of summer. In the winter it is a beautiful and icy moonscape.
Ice and sand in front of the Presque Isle Lighthouse
We highly recommend checking out the Erie Region in any season, but especially in winter. It is absolutely gorgeous.
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