Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Passport to Adventure: Park #1 Black Moshannon SP

Santa Claus decided Chris and I needed to explore more of Pennsylvania, so he brought us the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Passport published by the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation. 
This 135-page passport includes maps, a history of the state’s park and forest system, a brief description and most memorable feature of each state park and forest, and additional online resources. Participants can track their visits to our public lands by initialing their book or having it stamped at the park or forest office. The Pennsylvania Passport not only guides people to our state parks and forests, but it also breaks down interest areas and challenges users to complete each area to receive recognition for their accomplishments with a special metal "dog tag" for the theme. - Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation website/product description
We set out yesterday to get our first stamp at our "home park" - Black Moshannon State Park - which is just over 21 miles from our house. It was a brisk 29 degrees when we arrived at Black Mo with bright sunshine and a light breeze. After a quick stop in the park office for a park map, we debated our trail options. Chris originally had the Shingle Mill Trail in mind, but it would be very shady; we opted to hike the Star Mill Trail instead since we would be able to enjoy the sunshine.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..." ...or, more accurately the trail split into two paths in the parking lot!

GIANT tree along the trail.

It is rare that ANY trail at Black Mo is not snow-covered at the end of December.

Huge downed tree.


The Star Mill Trail crosses Beaver Road twice...AND is bicycle-friendly! Noted!

Mountain Laurel buds in the sunshine.

Scenery at the lake.

Panoramic shot of the lake.

A look ahead along the trail.

Death happened here.

Deer skull.

Peeking out at the lake from the trail.

A small "island" in the lake.

Ice on the lake.

Another look ahead on the trail.

Chris dropped the map along the trail so he turned back to find it. While I was waiting for him, I heard the telltale tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker. After standing still and listening for a minute, I spotted the Hairy Woodpecker.

"Little full...lotta sap."

A beaver lodge on the lake.

The beaver's slide into the lake. We joked that we'd both FREAK if the beaver popped up at this spot while we were standing there!

Another shot of the beaver lodge.

Another panoramic shot of the lake.

Beaver damage to some small trees.

Informational sign at the end of the trail.

Aaaaaand we're official! Stamped and dated!!!

One down...MANY more to go! Thanks, Santa!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Foliage Festival (AKA Alliteration For the Win!)

Taking advantage of the one day this weekend that we're both home, Chris and I decided to make the just-over-an-hour trek south west to Bedford for the annual Fall Foliage Festival. While the clouds were breaking up and the sun was shining up in Stormstown, the closer we got to Bedford, the cloudier and drizzlier the skies were. 

Undeterred by a light mist and temperatures in the high 50s, we stopped first at Fat Jimmy's Outfitters to check out their selection of bicycles (Chris is eyeballing the Cannondale CaadX 105), bicycle accessories (I need winter riding clothes!), and kayaks.

From FJO, we wound our way downtown and found a parking space about five blocks from the festival. We covered about 60% of the festival grounds before it was time to return back to the corner of Penn and Richard Streets to take in the parade of antique cars, but not before we saw one of the roaming performers with a monkey. We maintained our distance since monkeys aren't to be trusted! 

While down by Fort Bedford, we grabbed a small bag of cinnamon-roasted cashews to share while we observed all of the antique hit and miss engines. One was removing corn from the cob; another was turning the corn kernels into corn meal.

Back at the corner, waiting for the parade of antique autos to start, I attempted to get a picture of the two of us. Getting a serious picture always proves to be a challenge. This is the best I could manage:

The parade arrived at the festival grounds around 2:15 and included lots of very nice looking cars. I didn't photograph all of them (I generally eschewed the Corvettes in the parade because, well, they're Corvettes), but I venture to say what follows encompasses about 80% of the parade cars. Enjoy!

Following the parade, we covered the remainder of the festival that we'd not yet seen, including the large antique hit and miss engine operating a cider press on Juliana Street. The apple mash smelled wonderful! 

Once we'd walked through the entire festival, we decided to go in search of a late lunch/early dinner. We drove to Bedford Springs, but it was quite busy with a wedding and lots of day visitors and golfers, so we decided to try the Jean Bonnet Tavern instead. Once we'd parked, we determined we'd made a good decision - the presence of adventure-touring motorcycles is always a good indication that the food is good!

We ate breakfast at home around 8:30 and split the small bag of cinnamon-roasted cashews, so when we sat down to look at the menu in the Tavern, we both realized we were starving! While everything sounded delicious, we opted for burgers - Chris got the cheddar, bacon, and BBQ burger while I chose the mushroom and Swiss burger. Chris picked onion rings; I went with sweet potato fries. My burger (and I honestly can't remember the last time I ate a burger!) was delicious!

Before and after our meal, we visited with the resident goats on the Tavern's property as well as the gardens.

The Bedford Fall Foliage Festival is the first two weekends in October each year. If you've not yet visited it (and you're close enough to actually do so), you should! Between the vendors that exhibit and the local shops, there is so much to see and buy! (Although this year, I went without making a purchase...nothing "spoke to me" as in years past.) And when in Bedford, definitely consider a visit to the Jean Bonnet Tavern for a little taste of history (it dates back to 1762) and some yummy food!