Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shikellamy State Park

Located on the island between Northumberland and Sunbury and the adjacent mountain, the Shikellamy State Park Marina and Lookout are hidden gems in Central Pennsylvania.

The marina has boat docks and launches on both branches of the Susquehanna River and offers a fairly flat one mile walking/biking trail. Also in the park are many picnic tables and a beautiful butterfly garden maintained by a local hortocultural club. More info is available at the Friends of Shillelamy Park website.

The lookout offers breath-taking views of the two towns, river branches and island.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Penn State Football

Penn State football home opener. I try to go to this game annually due to good weather, a likely win and fairly plentiful tickets. Some games extra tickets just don't exist since the correlation between team success and ticket availability is present. This looks like a solid team, so tickets will be scarce.

A trip to State College is not complete without a walk up and down College Avenue and stop by the College Diner for famous Grilled Stickies. The scene is the epitome of a college town.

Cloudy AM, Hot PM 70-80.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Birdsboro Waters (Hay Creek Watershed)

A warm (80's) summer outing started at the dead end of Hay Creek Road (SR82). The shoulder of the road is full of photo ops like wildflowers, wild berries, butterflies, insects, birds, and even snakes.

This trip was exceptional for photo subjects and keeper shots, too many for one post. Every photographer that I know critiques their outings for quality "keeper" images. In the not so old days when slides were king, we used to call the good shots "keepers", for a bad slide merely takes up space so was trashed. Granted digital manipulation boosts the keeper rate a little, you still need to start with a good image.

I found several species of butterflies on the milkweed flowers, wildflowers, frogs, fungi (mushrooms) and not to mention the obligatory Birdsboro Reservoir evergreen reflections. So many frogs that nearly every step around the shore line of the reservoir something jumped into the lake. Max loved the challenge of sniffing them out but does no harm.

Total distance about 2 miles from the parking to lapping the reservoir and back.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wyomissing Creek Trail

Wyomissing Creek Trail runs from the river past the Reading Museum to Rt 724 (W. Lancaster Ave.) in Shillington, about 3 miles. Access points and parking areas abound so you can vary your hike and distance easily.

The museum area has beautiful gardens, ducks and several iconic red bridges that cross the creek. The Wyomissing Park and skate pond is the next highlight. Wyomissing Blvd has a picturesque little camel back bridge called Wyomissing Creek Bridge (built 1931).

At the Lancaster Ave end of the trail is the WAWA and Wyomissing Club Soccer Fields (aka the quarry fields). Parking is no problem out of soccer season but scarce during game times. A half mile down the paved road is the area locals' call "The Highlands" which is coincidentally the name of the senior citizen care center. The creek trail is paved or gravel base and quite flat, but the highland area offers a dramatic change of scenery with vistas, fields and pine forests.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Farm Country

A couple times a year I take a drive to the Morgantown area and zig-zag around the back roads looking for photo subjects. "Magic Hour" in farm country can offer farms, animals, bridges, equipment, produce stands, fields, basically a glimpse into a different life style then what's normal.

This trip started on Twin Valley Road and encompassed the Rt 23 corridor and surrounding roads to around Churchtown.

Max likes the car, but I usually leave him home since it's frustrating to just drive around and not get out of the car for a walk.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wyomissing Creek Trail and West Reading

It was a warm eighties day so Max & I took a leisurely three mile walk from the West Reading Farm Market on Penn Ave to the Reading Public Museum. The great Wyomissing Trail by the Wyomissing Creek runs all the way to Shillington and SR724. From the museum, we followed it until we got to the Wyomissing Skate Pond and returned.

Friday, August 15, 2008

French Creek State Park - Summer Evening

This was one of those days when heeding the weather warmings would have cost me a special outing. With thick dark skies and clouds at my house, it could have easily turned into a washout, but as soon as Max & I got to the park the clouds separated. This created really dramatic lighting effects and mirror-like waters.

A lap around French Creek's Hopewell Lake is about 2.3 miles and the advantage of the loop it that you get to experience all lighting conditions from front, to side, and back lighting.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shikellamy State Park Marina Gardens

Shikellamy State Park is always a worthwhile stop when visiting Sunbury, my home town. Max loves car rides especially when they end up at "the Marina". He yelps and squeals at the mere sight of the entrance.

In late summer, the gardens are in full bloom and the butterflies, moths, and bees are flocking to the numerous flowers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Art Show)

The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Notably one the best places to view and photograph the snow geese near Berks County. The start arriving in February and exit northbound by the end of March.

I try to average three to four visits a year, two of them are for the Art Show (August 1-3, 2008) and Wildfowl Show (Sept 20-21, 2008). If you've never been to either of these, they are different and both enormously impressive.

The talent of the nature art, predominantly realistic painters while other mediums are impressively represented, is top notch. You can buy their original art, prints, and photographic prints in a variety of formats from quality posters to fully framed. The wildfowl show is like a mini-convention for artists and wildfowl hunters together. I love the hand carved decoys which are some of the finest pieces I've ever seen.

While the Middle Creek Art Show is hosted and displayed throughout the visitor center, one of the best thing about it is that the art show coincides with hummingbird and butterfly activity in their fine flower and butterfly gardens adjacent to the visitor center.

There were literally people in lawn chairs watching the all-natural show. Photographers, shoulder-to-shoulder, captured gorgeous stills of the flowers, hummingbirds, butterflies & caterpillars, bees, and other insects.

When I exhausted the subject matter at the garden, I went below the visitor center to the acres of wildflower fields and started chasing some different species of flora and insects.

It was warm day, near 80, and lighting was perfect.

Stinson Run (Hay Creek Watershed)

Max & I visited Hay Creek Watershed. We parked along SR82 and walked in the old railroad bed. The trail splits where you can follow the railroad along the Hay Creek or go up over the hill to Stinson Run (one of the three reservoirs).

The stream is stocked every spring so it's popular with fishermen. I have seen trout year-round in the stream, so some must be 2nd generation or greater.

The hilly path is relatively steep and offers diverse flora. The path joins the road slightly below Stinson Run Reservoir. Proceed up the road for first glimpse. It's impressive, but not as dramatic as Birdsboro Reservoir. The road laps the lake and offers at least three trail heads for further exploration.

This 4 mile trek is popular with horseback riders and dog walkers.