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9.25.2022

Erie County's Port Farms: Summer Flower Festival, Fall Harvest, and Winter Holiday Festivals

Our first stop on our long weekend took us to southern Erie County to Waterford, PA and the awesome Port Farms exhibition farm. They specialize in seasonal celebrations, of which we hit them on the last weekend of their Summer Flower Festival, which includes dazzling fields full of zinnias and sunflowers, with ample opportunities for selfies for the younger folks, playgrounds, bouncy houses, and other activities for the even younger folks, pathways to stroll through that we could walk our pups, CeCe and Buddy, and a tractor hayride through the fields of the farm. This was the last day that Buddy was in his cone-of-shame, just over a week since we first adopted him, the newest member of our family. They had a blast. The Port Farms Fall Harvest Festival typically kicks off in mid September, which is the case for this year, and includes activities such as a pumpkin patch and corn maze, and in November they run a holiday festival, complete with a Christmas tree farm and other holiday merriments. They also hold events and weddings, which is fantastic in a place as picture perfect as this. 
The entry barn area. 
They honeybee demonstration exhibit

Bouncy thing for the kids!

Ropes course 
The bridge to the flower area

Buddy and CeCe. Buddy was on the last day of his cone of shame after we adopted him

There is a big emphasis on art and creativity, especially in the flower area. It really helps the area shine and caps off how special it is. 

The Zinnia fields are breathtaking.

Pumpkins awaiting harvest for the Fall Festival

Brit with CeCe and Buddy in front of the sunflower fields. This was just over a week ago and it really is an amazing thing to see pups as they settle in to your household. He is a ball of energy, but each day he has really made progress in settling in with us. Rescuing a pup is an incredible, and sometimes overwhelming, process, and it is so easy to see milestones in the process as you go. 
Aside from the flowers and all of the migrating monarch butterflies pollinating the flowers and the hummingbirds as well, the selfie things were so cool and we even saw some younger folks going and setting up scenes in them.  If selfies are your thing, you could probably spend hours with all of the opportunities they have set up. It is pretty neat and the passion for their project really shows here. They have something really special going.

This year marks 125 years for Port Farms being an agricultural staple in Waterford. Driving up and down the road, you can see many other farms as well within this specific area. It is a bucolic place to see and drive around, with a distinctively different feel from the agricultural areas around the borough of North East, where the predominant crop is grapes on beautiful vineyards.

Overall though, we had a great time at the Port Farms Flower Festival, though I would like to see them continue to expand their offerings. What they have is a wonderful community gathering spot and some associated playground style amusements. Being an amusement park nerd, I would love to see them maybe add a Ferris Wheel, or some other ride that can offer aerial views of the land. I feel like there is some room for growth, especially with the amount they charge for admission. I feel like the agritourism aspects of the operation are fantastic and this is a must visit place specifically for that. The amusement aspects of the operation, complete with playground equipment, bouncy house features, food stands, and craft shops are really nice. I feel like a nice little Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel, like in the following video, would perfectly round out their offerings, but I digress. 


(Port Farms doesn't have one of these, but I think it would be perfect for them to add)

I feel like this place could really grow as a Family Entertainment Center with the addition of an amusement ride or two, especially given what they charge for entry. 

Overall though, visiting Port Farms is a great time and I hope to see them expand their offerings to meet their admission price. This is a homegrown attraction that is really picking up steam as a destination and I cannot wait to see what they do next. It is definitely worth checking out for their stunning flower fields, and the corn maze and pumpkin patches in the fall are well worth checking out. 


View of the flowers from the hayride
Brit with Buddy and CeCe on the hayride
Be sure to check them out! They have a relaxing place to spend an afternoon, especially if you are looking for fun seasonal stuff to do. You can find out more about them at their website at https://portfarms.com

9.18.2022

Cruising the Shores of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay with eBike Drop

eBike Drop is a family run business that meets you where you are in Erie to rent out electric bicycles in timed increments or for the day. There are many miles of bike trails that traverse the waterfronts of Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie, including the 13.5 miles of multi-use trail that runs along the entire perimeter and beach fronts of Presque Isle State Park, and trails that run along the Bayfront area and more. Not only is riding these trails a ton of fun, eBike Drop makes this process easy and accessible with their well kept equipment and super kind and friendly service. They are also pet friendly, but unless you have a teacup dog that can fit in the front basket, or you have a backpack to fit them in, riding along with them probably will not work. 

eBike Drop dropped their bikes right off for us at the Pet Friendly Cobblestone Inn and Suites

 I can't speak highly enough about how great of an experience it is working with them. 

One of the absolute best ways to see the beautiful scenery of Erie is on two wheels, so you can really take in the beauty of the area at your own pace. You can get to areas directly on the shore on the bike trails that you cannot get to in any other way and cruising through this area is so relaxing. eBike Drop will meet you where you are, whether that is staying at a hotel or camping, or they will arrange a meetup point where you can pick up your bikes for your prearranged 2 hour, 4 hour, or 24 hour rental increment. This flexibility takes the guess work out of finding a store location or hauling your own equipment. For people within Erie, this is especially great because they can drop it right off for you and you can have your own fun afternoon or day out. The equipment is also brand new and offers handlebar controls for speed, manual, or pedal assist, with gear changes possible as well. They also provide helmets, bike locks, and battery chargers, so you do not need to worry about bringing those things either. They also do safety training on using the eBikes, so you know the ins and outs of riding safely.

I cannot stress enough how great it is to see the scenery of Presque Isle, the Bayfront, and Erie on two wheels. It is a completely different experience and it is a great time out. It is especially cool when you are supporting a local, family owned business like this and helping build up Erie. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in this town, with many small businesses like this transforming the tourism and recreation scene of the city and building wealth and creating jobs in a place that large industry has mostly left. What is happening in Erie is incredible and rapid. Just in the last 10-15 years, the business scene in this city has really flourished and has as many or more things to do and high quality places to visit than many large cities, and I say this as someone who has travelled all over the place. 

I have always said that Erie has had unlimited potential for boosting its tourism industry because of the natural jewels it has with Presque Isle State Park, Peninsula Drive, which is an incredible scenic drive that is like a midwest version of the riviera,  the Bay, and the shores of Lake Erie. That momentum is really building into something even more formidable and even with all of this progress, that potential is really beginning to be truly realized. Erie is our happy place and easy getaway from Pittsburgh, and I somehow fall in love with it more each time we visit. Erie has always been a terrific place to visit, but the associated local businesses are really beginning to truly flourish and make this a well rounded place to visit overall. 

At this point, I feel like Erie, with its natural setting and flourishing recreational scene, is becoming a place that is more well rounded and hitting the next level. Between small businesses like this, and stalwarts like the booming Waldameer and Water World Amusement Parks, which has just announced the addition of a huge "water coaster" water slide, which is a launched water slide with bowl sections, their world class Ravine Flyer II roller coaster, the region is in the midst of a growing tourism boom. We definitely recommend seeing the beauty of the area with an eBike rental from eBike Drop. 


For more information on renting eBikes on your next fun outing in Erie can be found at their website at ebikedrop.com

Our visit was hosted by VisitErie and our opinions are always unvarnished and our own.

Our 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar is available now through the drop down menu at the top of the page! The proceeds help to keep the lights on here.


Our 2023 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of:
-The Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works 
-Knoebels Amusement Resort 
-Buckhorn Covered Bridge in Lycoming County 
-Campus of the University of Pittsburgh and Cathedral of Learning 
-PA's Elk Herd 
-Strasburg Railroad 
-Twin Covered Bridges in Columbia County 
-Seven Tubs Natural Area Waterfall near Wilkes Barre 
-Bilger's Rocks in Clearfield County 
-Rimrock above the Allegheny Reservoir 
-Fireworks in Downtown Pittsburgh 
-Lakemont Park in Altoona 
The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 pages) and all photos have been taken by us, and the calendars are produced in the USA. The proceeds help us to continue what we do to highlight and bring attention to the many great adventures that this state has to offer. 

It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former, Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support over the years! 

2023 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options
 

9.14.2022

Breathtaking Sailing Excursions on Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay with Your Sailing Adventure

I had never gone sailing before and finally had the chance to do so with Erie's Your Sailing Adventure. Captain Scott and his crew, of Captain Dave and Captain Andy, are local sailing aficionados that have brought this dream to life. They have a great passion for sailing and are based in the Erie area. 

Captain Scott began this as a way to introduce people to the beauty of Presque Isle and Lake Erie in a way that was not being done. 

With a dream they have created a tremendous experience to offer that showcases this spectacular setting, while charting a path in a region that has faced economic hardship and has shown great resiliency. The consistent winds on Lake Erie make it perfect for sailing and sightseeing. Not only do you get picture perfect moments, but you get to experience the thrill and relaxation of sailing. 

These guys are absolute pros and they even serve complementary beverages of your choice and charcuterie. They are also very entertaining people to chat with, and their passion for the craft shows in everything they do. 

Passing by the Lettie G. Howard Schooner, which dates back to 1893

I was so enamored by the experience of sailing and seeing the natural beauty of the area. Seeing the beauty of the Great Lakes in this manner, viewing the peninsula of Presque Isle State Park and the shoreline of the lake, along with the lighthouses and sunset right over the peninsula. I was in absolute awe. Seeing the moon rise was incredible as well. Being out there on the water is just so freeing. Living in the moment like this is just an amazing thing. It is just the boat, the crew, and the winds out there with you and it is truly awe inspiring. 

The boat docks at Wolverine Park and you launch and return there. They offer two hour sunset sails, two hour afternoon sails, and wine pairing sails that give you a great time out on the water. 

Seeing the outer end of Presque Isle and approaching the point where the lake and the bay meet.
Just after the sun dipped
What an amazing way to take in a stunning sunset over Lake Erie, Presque Isle, and the bay. Captain Scott and his crew of Captains Dave and Andy are so knowledgable and passionate about sailing. Experiencing the thrill of sailing with them while taking in the tremendous natural beauty of Erie and the Great Lakes is something that should be on everyone's bucket list. These guys have even hosted an engagement party, for which this is definitely the perfect kind of venue to pull that off. 

For more information on sailing with them, check out their website at yoursailingadventure.com

Our visit was hosted by VisitErie and our opinions are always unvarnished and our own. 

Our 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar is available now through the drop down menu at the top of the page! The proceeds help to keep the lights on here.


Our 2023 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of:
-The Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works 
-Knoebels Amusement Resort 
-Buckhorn Covered Bridge in Lycoming County 
-Campus of the University of Pittsburgh and Cathedral of Learning 
-PA's Elk Herd 
-Strasburg Railroad 
-Twin Covered Bridges in Columbia County 
-Seven Tubs Natural Area Waterfall near Wilkes Barre 
-Bilger's Rocks in Clearfield County 
-Rimrock above the Allegheny Reservoir 
-Fireworks in Downtown Pittsburgh 
-Lakemont Park in Altoona 
The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 pages) and all photos have been taken by us, and the calendars are produced in the USA. The proceeds help us to continue what we do to highlight and bring attention to the many great adventures that this state has to offer. 

It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former, Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support over the years! 

2023 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options
 


8.28.2022

Bilger's Rocks Revisited: Autumn Edition

Bilger's Rocks is an awesome place to explore. We got the chance this past fall to check it out again. It is just a tad out of the way to include en route for the trips we usually take, so we do not get to it often, but it is close enough to Pittsburgh that you can get there for a nice two hour ride each way to spend a fine and relaxing afternoon. This stunning rock city is a labyrinth of giant sandstone boulders, with crevasses, tunnels, and edges with abrupt 30 foot drops. 

This is a place that you need to exercise extreme caution, because you really could get hurt pretty easily here. 

One of the aspects that also makes this place really impressive is that it is a privately owned property as opposed to an open access publicly owned spot. This distinction is impressive and pretty rare. Profit motive tends to keep these types of places from being run as privately owned places. On the edges of the rock formations, there are areas with camping opportunities and group recreation spots, with a small amphitheater, concession stand, and picnic pavilions. To see the community take a stake in access to this spot for the public is something that is both unique and impressive. 


Autumn is especially impressive at Bilger's Rocks. While most of the trees are evergreen, the hardwoods that do exist here turn impressive colors, and when the leaves fall, the tops of the boulders and crevasses have leaf cover that looks so awesome. 



In addition to the color of the rocks and the moss and ferns that grow on them, the color contrasts are so stark and so beautiful. The little caves within the rock crevasses also hold the cold air in, allowing for a really cool experience with fluctuations in temps. 










I will say that there has never been a giant boulder formation that I've come across that I have not liked. The ones that immediately come to mind are Wolf and Beam Rocks, perched atop a a large mountain summit, and the formations around Hector Falls. Unlike those places, there is almost no direct clue that such a massive rock formation is in this spot. At the start of the area of the boulders, you see a few giant rocks. As soon as you walk into the rocks, you see why this place is so special. You essentially walk into a labyrinth maze within the boulders, with passageways, tunnels, crevices, quick drop offs, quick rushes of chilly air from between rocks, and more.
A map of the premises.
The view as you approach the rocks. Certainly looks pretty cool.
Lots of big rocks as you approach.
I always love seeing trees growing in rocky areas.
And into the labyrinth!
Getting deeper into the rocks
More tunnels. As you get into this area, you feel random rushes of cold air breeze through the crevices. 
The rocks start to steadily get higher up around you as you go into the formation.
I love seeing the way trees adapt to growing over boulders. The resiliency of trees is always so impressive. 
Moving further into the chasm.
And then you turn and you end up in what looks like you have just stepped into the Coliseum. Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is absolutely huge. Relatively enormous compared to the rest of the formation. If venturing around in and around these rocks, make sure you do keep an eye on your feet, because this pit opens up even more suddenly on the top level of the rocks. I approached from the lower level of the rocks. I went to the top and from up there, you could not tell there was going to be a huge drop off until just a few feet beforehand. It makes for thrilling adventures, you just need to be vigilant. 
I did a little bit of bouldering up this crevice to get to the top level. 
The air coming out of this mini cave was ice cold.
Atop the boulders. 

The view of the labyrinth from above
Be sure to check out Bilger's Rocks if you enjoy rock outcroppings. It is a pretty cool place to check out. In addition to the rocks, picnic grounds, a campground, and more are located at the site. The private association that manages the location also holds events around the grounds.
Coordinates: 40.9937° N, 78.5931° W

Our 2023 Pennsylvania Calendar is available now through the drop down menu at the top of the page! The proceeds help to keep the lights on here.


Our 2023 Pennsylvania Wall Calendar features scenes from across the state, including views of:
-The Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works 
-Knoebels Amusement Resort 
-Buckhorn Covered Bridge in Lycoming County 
-Campus of the University of Pittsburgh and Cathedral of Learning 
-PA's Elk Herd 
-Strasburg Railroad 
-Twin Covered Bridges in Columbia County 
-Seven Tubs Natural Area Waterfall near Wilkes Barre 
-Bilger's Rocks in Clearfield County 
-Rimrock above the Allegheny Reservoir 
-Fireworks in Downtown Pittsburgh 
-Lakemont Park in Altoona 
The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 pages) and all photos have been taken by us, and the calendars are produced in the USA. The proceeds help us to continue what we do to highlight and bring attention to the many great adventures that this state has to offer. 

It makes for a great gift for someone or for yourself. It is available for purchase through the PayPal dropdown menus at the top of the page and the bottom of this article.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and the sadly former, Conneaut Lake Park.

Thanks for your ongoing support over the years! 

2023 PA Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options
 

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