Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Day 379- Ohiopyle State Park-Revisit a Paddle Down the Middle Yough-Blance of Thrill and Relaxation


Ohiopyle State Park located in the Laurel Mountains is great place to enjoy the outdoors with biking and hiking trails, waterfalls and more.  A highlight of the park is the Youghiogheny River that offers kayaking and whitewater rafting experiences for all levels of bravery. The bold adventurers can tackle the class III and IV whitewater of the Lower Yough. For those of us that are daring but not quite fearless, the Middle Yough, with class I and II whitewater, offers an experience that balances thrill with relaxation.

Middle Yough with class I and II whitewater thrills and relaxes

In my younger days, I clung to a bouncing raft filled with my friends during a guided tour of the Lower Yough's  fast moving whitewater.  I am not quite as fearless now but still seek a river expedition. Laurel Highlands River Tours  and Wilderness Voyageurs both offer a variety of ways to venture down the Middle Yough. Last fall I tried the  “Pedal/Paddle”-a bike ride along the river and then a paddle down the Middle Yough in an single ducky (like an inflatable kayak.) There are also guided trips,  6 person rafts, and double duckys.

Laurel Highlands River Tours and Wilderness Voyageurs make fun so easy. You leave your car in town. You can opt for a 20 min bus ride, take the “Pedal Paddle” where they  fit you with a top notch bike, or bike on your own, up river to Ramcat Put -in. At Ramcat, guides provide brief instructions and then you’re on your own excursion. (There are guided middle river runs but since the rapids are smaller and slower, most opt to go it alone.)

The 9 mile peddle up is shaded by a canopy of trees

If you decide to “pedal up” it’s a relaxing 9 mile peddle up the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. It takes about 2 hours.  You hardly notice the trail’s slight elevation as you enjoy the river to your left and the forest on your right.  Much of this ride is shaded by a canopy of trees akin to a  tunnel of leaves.  There are rock formations, remnants of stone walls, a waterfall, and even plaques for those history buffs that enjoying reading about the trail’s railroad history.

I chose the bus ride this year which eliminates the cost of a  bike rental. Everyone  masked up and there was a buzz of excited chatter on the bus.   

You perk up to attention when you hear the roar of the churning water

I like being the "captain of my ship" so an individual ducky is for me. Entering the river, I perked up to attention when I heard the slight roar of the distant churning of water signing an approaching rapid. The guides instructions, “keep paddling, stay right of the rocks and have fun” is all you really need.  At first, my turbo paddling was a byproduct of  my desire to get through it but I quickly gained a little more confidence with each rapid.  I was “yahooing it” all the way through the last 1/3.

You are surrounded by an emerald green outline of trees
 Between the rapids, you can kick back and float surrounded by the emerald green outline of the mountains or take in some sun on a rock while you eat a packed lunch.  During the approximately 3 hour journey, the repeated distant sound of churning water over the rocks reminded me of a pot of water beginning to boil but the Middle Yough never really fully boiled, it just simmered. It gives you a day of thrill and relaxation. You will want to raise both arms  at the end because you successfully  tackled the Middle Yough.

(Both the Laurel Highlands River Tours and   Wilderness Voyageurs offer a variety of rafting experiences. After Memorial Day you can paddle down on the weekends at 9 am and 11 am.)

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Day 378 -Celebrate Fred Roger’s 143 Day of Love & Kindness with a visit to Buttermilk Falls


No one can deny that it has been a difficult year or should I say 2 years, with the pandemic, polarizing political climate, social justice issues and more. Pittsburgh’s beloved neighbor, Fred Rogers, shined a  continual beam of kindness through the darkest of times. He coined the 143rd day of the year as a day to spread love and kindness.

 On this 143 Day, I thought that  I would share my visit to  Buttermilk Falls Natural Area located on the former summer estate of Fred McFeely, Fred Rodger’s grandfather.  As you stroll along the tranquil path leading to the beautiful falls, you’re encouraged by his quotes which guild your walk like a warm hug.    


 Mr. Rogers used the number 143 as a code for the words “I love you”.  This is based on the number of letters in each word: letter in “I,” 4 letters in “love,” and letters in “You” (see Day 370).   He wanted us all to remember to spread the love. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  even designated 143 Day as a day of kindness.

Buttermilk Falls Nature Area is a great place to relax and channel some positive vibes. You can experience this 45 foot waterfall about 54 miles from Pittsburgh on  US rt 22 E in Indiana County. The path to the falls is an easy hike with an overlook. Taking the steps, you can venture further behind the water.

 It is said the Mr. Rodger spent many childhood summer vacations walking the grounds with his grandfather and that the area inspired parts of his television show “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.”  Above the falls are ruins of stone foundations from several family structures.  Walking through the park, I could visualize a young Mr. Rodgers climbing a tree that looked just like the home of   X the Owl from The Neighborhood of Make Believe.

 As I soaked in the natural beauty that day, I particularly reflected on this Mr. Rodger's quote, “Often when you think you are at the end of something, you are at the beginning of something else”.  I found solace in these words as we are all going through some change especially during these uncertain times.  Buttermilk Falls Natural Area is a  great place to relax and even celebrate 143 Day with some contemplation on spreading a little more kindness and love in  your neighborhood.    

Spiritual Reflection

Be kind and compassionate of one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Day 376 - No Stress Thanksgiving-From Freezer to Oven Turkey or Turkey Breast in a Bag-Archer Farms


I stress about making Thanksgiving dinner every year because I am not that good of  a cook (see Day 243).   Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays because cooking the dinner is not a “ labor of love” for this girl but a stress bomb. I also think it’s highly unfair that during this holiday women slave all day cooking (I know that some men carve or help by deep frying the turkey) but mostly men get to relax, eat dinner, and watch football. 

This year during the pandemic,  I am trying to eliminate as much stress as possible and for me that is  that  is cooking!  Instead of making  numerous calls to my girlfriend, who takes on the role as my “turkey line,” I decided to make it stress free by again trying a freezer to oven turkey in a bag (Archer Farms at Target). Since we are keeping it small, I am opting for the turkey breast option this year. The tale that follows is of my experience with the full bird option two years ago. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Day 375- Zombies of the Corn -Get Your Halloween On-Out Door Package of Fright and Fun


One of Pittsburgh’s claim to fame is the local filming of the zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead.” Zombie fright is in full swing this time of year. If you are looking for a place to celebrate during the pandemic, you can find your fill of the undead  just north of Pittsburgh at Zombies of the Corn.   At this  Zombie mecca you  can walk though the Zombie Compound, test you navigation skills in the corn husk  Z Maze, and take aim with your paintball gun on the Zombie Shoot ride. It is a complete out door Halloween package of fright and fun. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Day 374 Ohiopyle State Park- Dare to Explore the Youghiogheny River –“Pedal/ Paddle” - a Whitewater Experience that Balances Thrill with Relaxation

Ohiopyle State Park located in the Laurel Mountains is great place to enjoy the outdoors with biking and hiking trails, waterfalls and more.  A highlight of the park is the Youghiogheny River that offers kayaking and whitewater rafting experiences for all levels of bravery. The bold adventurers can tackle the class III and IV whitewater of the Lower Yough. For those of us that are daring but not quite fearless, the Middle Yough, with class I and II whitewater, offers an experience that balances thrill with relaxation.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Day 373-Frankenstein by Manual Cinema and City Theatre -Humorous Spooky Cinematic Drive-in Experience


During this time of social distancing, City Theatre gives the drive-in a face lift by making it a safe place to go to satisfy a craving to get out of the house and experience live entertainment (see Day 372). In October, City Theatre celebrates Halloween by bringing an inventive production of Frankenstein by Manual Cinema to Hazelwood Green. Manual Cinema  combines shadow imagery, puppetry, special effects and lighting with a live band to tell this classic story from the author, Mary Shelly's perspective. It’s a humorous and spooky cinematic experience.    

Monday, September 21, 2020

Day 372 - City Theater's Drive-in Arts Festival- Adapting Live Shows- Lifting Our Spirits

 As a lover of the arts, I have had “theatre withdrawal” during the pandemic. I had accepted the grim reality that live shows would take an intermission for some time. My desire to find an activity outside the home and to stay safe caused a reoccurring dilemma just like the song lyrics, “should I stay or should I go.”  City Theater's Drive-in Arts Festival put a kibosh to the conundrum and gave me the green light to go when they offered live performances in a safe social distancing drive-in theatre venue.  Like many, I am tired of staring at a computer for work, school and entertainment. I applaud the creativity and collaboration of the arts community in adapting live shows to lift our spirits.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Day 371- Remember 9/11- Flight 93 National Memorial (Shanksville, PA)- Pause Refection on Unity


A common field one day. A field horror the next

Like many, I remember EXACTLY what I was doing on September 11, 2001 when the hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.  During this horrific event “time stood still” and we were glued to the television watching repetitious replays of the events. Yet this monstrous day somehow birthed a feeling of unity in this country. Stores were sold out of American flags. The American flag waved everywhere, on cars, homes, lawns and television. There was a united spirit to help, pray and care for one another.    

 During the present time of social distancing, protests and polarized elections, visiting the memorials are powerful reminders to pause, put aside our differences and unite as we honor those that left this world  on September 11, 2001.  

Friday, May 22, 2020

Day 370 -Happy 143 Day-A day to Remember Kindness and Love

Mr. Rodgers stature with mom (Pgh North Shore)
 Today is the 143 day  of the year, a day of kindness and love initiated by Pittsburgh icon Mr. Rodgers. During this pandemic when stress levels are high and protesters are in the news, we all could use a reminder from Mr. Rodger's to say "Happy 143 Day" and celebrate with a little dose of  kindness and love for others and self.  

Friday, May 1, 2020

Day 369 Liberty Magic@Home -A virtual Magical Experience Every Friday- Where Thoughts of Covid- 19 Disappear and Objects Reappear

Just prior to the pandemic lock-down in February 2020, Pittsburgh’s Liberty Magic, a venue dedicated solely to the art of the sleight of hand, celebrated its one year anniversary.  For two seasons, world-renowned magicians wowed, amazed and brought a variety of personal approaches to the "magic show" for an adult audience. Magic@Home continues the show with a virtual magical experience. Host Zoe Ruth, Venue Manger of Liberty Magic, brings interviews and tricks with two new magicians to the virtual stage every Friday at 7.30 pm. Tune into Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Youtube or Facebook live  every Friday and watch your thoughts of  Covid-19 disappear  as objects reappear during this magical home experience.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Day 368 Earth Day-Virtual Celebration-Pandemic by-product, Blossoming Earth

Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Pittsburgh’s Global connection with Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day celebration has gone digital in the present age of social distancing. Although Pittsburgh’s Earth Day has been moved to August due to Covid- 19, organizers have put together a variety of  virtual activities to explore for several weeks to come. One of the positive by-product of this pandemic has been cleaner waters and bluer skies. It seems that the earth decided to blossom this spring in celebration of Earth Day.