Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catching and caching

We did a little bit of one and none of the other. Here's the story...

Sunday evening we were watching Pennsylvania Outdoor Life on WNEP; Jake was fishing on the Susquehanna using twister-tail grubs. He and the guide with whom he was fishing caught just about everything under the sun - including a HUGE muskellunge. I turned to Chris and said, "We need to go fishing!" We bought our 2012 fishing licenses on New Year's Day so we had no excuses for the year...and yet, we hadn't used them. So yesterday at lunch, I ran to Dick's Sporting Goods to pick up a packet of plastic grubs with twister tails, a packet of plastic shiners, and two spinner baits. Last evening, we realized we also needed jig heads, so after Chris' birthday dinner, we stopped by Dick's again to get jig heads.

This morning we decided that we would have dinner as soon as I got home from work (approximately 4:30 PM) and then spend the evening fishing out at Black Moshannon State Park. We arrived at the park around 5:40 PM, but not before spotting our first wildlife of the evening - a raccoon crossing the road just outside of the park. 

We fished for an hour. I had one nibble and managed to catch some grass. Oh, and I managed to get snagged and lost my first jig head and grub, so I switched to a spinner bait. Chris had no luck. 

Chris tries to land a lunker.

Our fishing competition.

It was a beautiful, albeit breezy and chilly evening on the water.
Fortunately, Chris thought to bring our GPS unit and the information about the Legacy of Conservation Geocaching Trail cache that was located at Black Moshannon State Park. After an hour of fishing, we decided to abandon the attempt at catching and go caching. 

The starting point for the cache was the trail head for the Bog Trail. We had to walk the Bog Trail to collect the answers to a crossword puzzle to determine the final coordinates for the cache.

Views from along the Bog Trail...

This flower is called spatterdock.

Our completed crossword puzzle.

We had to convert the letters to numbers to determine the final coordinates.

Another view from the Bog Trail.
After we finished the Bog Trail, we hiked along Moss-Hanne Trails and Indian Trails in search of the cache. Unfortunately, I made a small error in converting the letters to numbers for the final coordinates. It should have been 40 54.251, not .201. Once we made the correction, we found the cache easily. But before that, we spent several minutes bushwhacking close to the bog and came across wild blueberries! We had a little "Man Woman Wild" moment where I channeled Ruth and in my best British accent said, "This is extraordinary! These blueberries are just bursting with sugary goodness. They will give us the little boost of energy and morale we need to keep looking for the cache." Chris laughed! 

I wonder what critter lives in this hole?

Our first blueberry!

Returning to the trail with a cone of blueberries.

Yummy! We're going to try planting a few to see if we can get plants to sprout.

Cache #2 from the Legacy of Conservation Geocache Trail = found!

Chris snagged our two conservation cards.

I logged our find in the little notebook.

We left the LOTR button and took the dancing lemur.

Info about the bog natural area at Black Moshannon.

The reason why I was wearing my Pens cap...gotta rock the fishing license!
We wound up walking/hiking for about 90 minutes. We were a little slower than usual since I'm still nursing a "hurt" foot thanks to plantar fasciitis, but we still had a good time and a nice jaunt on such a lovely evening! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One bug, two bug, bad bug, worker bug...er, bee.

Several summers ago, I bought a cold-hardy hibiscus plant from the Farmer's Market at 142nd Street in Ocean City, MD while on vacation. The next summer (2009), the plant didn't come back until almost mid-June. I'd started thinking the grower was wrong when he said the hibiscus would survive Pennsylvania winters. The next year, it came back at the end of May, In 2011, it emerged on May 19th. This year, I noticed it sprouting on May 17th. 

At this point in the season, this is what the plant should look like:

Mid- to late-June hibiscus (2011)
If you look at the 2011 photo, you'll notice a little leaf damage. I didn't think much of it. As the plant began to grow this year, there were some holes in the leaves. Again...I didn't think much of it. And then this happened:

Hibiscus on June 24, 2012
This damage happened within a matter of days! I am so sad. I did a little research and have figured out that it is hibiscus sawfly larvae that are feasting on my plant. It may be too late (although I certainly hope it isn't!), but Chris is going to treat the plant with Sevin insecticide tomorrow. I am really hopeful that we can salvage the plant. I will be really upset if I completely lose this hibiscus! It'll be an interesting few weeks as I wait to see if the plant can recover with a little Sevin help.

On a decidedly lighter note, I spent about 90 minutes weeding my hummingbird and butterfly garden while listening to the Sunday Polka Party on Q102. Not much tops that perky polka beat at keeping me motivated while I weed! I made short work of the weeds in the garden with our "Action Hoe." Chris bought it two years ago and it's our go-to tool when we have serious weeding to do. 

The Action Hoe - find it at a Lowe's or Home Depot near you!
Chris came outside to help me and spotted a worker bee on one of my purple coneflowers (which, by the way, have spread like crazy in the garden...much to my delight!). He ran into the house to grab his camera to snap a few pictures.

You can see the little specks of yellow pollen in the head of the coneflower.

The worker bee is on the backside of the head of the coneflower collecting pollen.

Look at the bee's back legs where the hair-like baskets for pollen are located...
this bee was loaded down with pollen!
The pollen that this bee will take back to the hive will be combined with the honey in the hive and used to feed the next generation of bees. With colony collapse disorder plaguing hives in recent years, it's encouraging to see honey bee activity in my hummingbird/butterfly garden. And right now, only mountain bluet and the coneflowers have bloomed. Once the balloon flowers and bee balm bloom, it should be bee-a-palooza and that will be A-OK with me!

While we were weeding this morning, Stewart - our resident bullfrog - was hanging out among the water lilies, which have begun blooming and adding color to the pond. 

Say "Hi" to Stewart!
Don't forget the contest I'm running (it ends Tuesday, June 26th at 8 PM). Details regarding the contest can be found in the "Better late than never..." post from last week. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Central PA Ice Cream Tour 2012

Our friend, David, came to town yesterday afternoon for an overnight visit. We've been after him to come up for a night or two so we could do some local riding. We've been tempting him with our tales of all of the great little ice cream shoppes and shacks in the area, promising to lead him on a "Central PA Ice Cream Tour." 

Immediately following our return from our Michigan trip, I shot David a quick e-mail and we figured out that this weekend would work for a visit. Better yet, David was due for a new rear tire on his Concours and wanted to learn how to change the tire himself ahead of purchasing his own tire changer. He had his new tire shipped directly to our house earlier in the week and shortly after he arrived at our house Friday afternoon at a little after 4 PM, he and Chris began the tire-changing process. 

After the new tire was mounted and balanced, the three of us went out to dinner Rey Azteca before beginning the Ice Cream Tour at the Penn State Creamery. (The method of transportation for this leg of the tour was my car so we could give David a driving tour of campus.) David is a bit of an ice cream purist, so he chose a dish of vanilla, while Chris got a dish of bittersweet mint chip and I got a cone of WPSU Coffee Break. While we were at the Creamery, we ran into my friend Greg and his wife Beth. Greg is signed up to take the Beginning Rider Course next weekend (that Chris is teaching), so we stood around enjoying our ice cream and talking about riding. 

This morning, I made breakfast for the guys - scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and biscuits - before we suited up and set out on the two-wheeled Ice Cream Tour. We did a quick run up over Port Matilda mountain to Lykens to fuel up before zipping back over it so we could begin our ride with a run down Marengo Road. The PA 550 to PA 45 run down Marengo doesn't have the same "flow" that the 45-to-550 run does, but it's still a great road! 

At Lykens, we saw this box truck with two dual sports and lots of tools (one of the bikes was a KTM).

David waves as we ride down Marengo Road.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a ride!
At PA 45, we turned left to get to PA 26. We stopped briefly at the top of the mountain at Jo Hays Vista since it was such a clear day. The view was spectacular!

Checking out the view.

Sunshine, blue skies, puffy white clouds, and low 70s. Perfection!
We picked up PA 305  from PA 26 to head over toward the Kishacoquillas Valley to our first ice cream stop - Peachey's in Belleville.

One of my favorite barns in the Kishacoquillas Valley!

The giant marshmallow crop looks plentiful this early in the season!
As many locals will remember, there was a massive fire at A.J. Peachey's back in April 2010. While they are rebuilding a large store, they're employing several temporary buildings for the craft shop, grocery/bakery, restaurant, and ice cream shop. They're also using several small sheds for their administrative offices.

Two flying pigs on an ice cream tour...

...coincidentally, there's a pig on this sign!

The new large store is being constructed behind the temporary administrative office sheds.

I hope they only have one accountant!
From Peachey's, we took PA 655 north to old US 322 to Salem Road to New Lancaster Valley Road through Reeds Gap State Park. We made our way down to US 522 north into Beaver Springs to take PA 235 (yay!) to PA 45. We headed east on PA 45 to Lewisburg to our second stop - Lewisburg Freez. As a fan of the Freez on Facebook, I knew that they'd added Dole Whip products to their ice cream line-up for 2012. Unfortunately, the Dole featured flavor was Mango Sorbet this week, not the PINEAPPLE Chris and I'd been hoping for. Chris decided to have a small hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream; I decided to throw caution to the wind and give the Mango Sorbet a try. I'm glad I did; it was delicious! David got a chocolate-dipped waffle cone with vanilla ice cream.


Just a simply gorgeous day!

One of these days, we'll make it to the Scarlet D Tavern in Mifflinburg.

The Freez!!!

Two great-looking bikes!

Tackling his cone...
Chris enjoying his sundae.

David making progress with his cone.
My mango sorbet Dole Whip.

The skies were gorgeous today!
From the Freez, we took PA 192 west back toward State College. A good majority of 192 has been repaved and it is lovely riding! We passed R.B. Winter State Park and, on such a beautiful day, the park was packed! We turned up PA 445 north to PA 64. Our friend Matt recently informed us that PA 445 had been repaved and was a wonderful ride. While the fresh macadam was enjoyable, nearly all of the right-handers were dirty with gravel. One turn in particular had huge, chunky gravel. Our front wheel caught a piece and jumped a good 6". Needless to say, I yelped! Chris and David were slightly amused by that (all three of us were connected on our Sena comms). 

The thermometer actually read 99 while the bike was sitting in the sun, but I was a little slow with the camera and it dipped to 97.

One of my favorite barns/farms to photograph on PA 192.

Approaching R.B. Winter State Park.

To the beach, peach!

David on PA 192 (the small section yet to be repaved).

None of us could get over what a fantastic day it was!
We took PA 64 to PA 26 to PA 144 over Centre Hall Mountain to get to Brush Valley Road with Meyer Dairy in Boalsburg as our intended third stop. I mentioned that I was thinking about getting a grilled cheese at Meyer Dairy rather than more ice cream and the guys agreed that they were both hungry for some "solid food" so we decided to hit Home Delivery Pizza Pub on South Atherton Street instead. We pointed out Meyer Dairy to David and promised we'd stop there on his next visit. After all, we have to leave some ice cream joints for the next Ice Cream Tour!

We had a tasty late lunch at Home D before we parted ways. David stopped at the Sheetz next door to gas up after we'd given him directions back to US 322 - "just stay south on this road...it'll turn into 322." We left Home D via West Branch Road to PA 45 back to Marengo Road to get home. We were out for just over seven hours and did 202.9 miles. We heard from David around 7:30 that he was back home in York. What a great day!!!

A barn on West Branch road.
The other night, I was curious as to just how many miles I've logged as a passenger on the Concours. The bike has over 30,000 miles and I was hopeful that I could account for at least one-quarter if not one-third of the miles. It turns out, I did hit the one-third mark! If I add today's mileage to my running total, I currently have 10,542.4 miles as a passenger in less than two years. And I think that's pretty damn awesome!