Sauders Sandwiches

Sauders Sandwiches

It is a tradition with us now.  We take friends and family to Sauder’s, then to the Peter Whitmer farm for a picnic and tour, and then to Watkins Glen.  Today was Becky’s turn.

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Becky and Bethe at Sauder’s

We visited at the Whitmer farm with a family from Sandy, Utah.  Dad was originally from New Zealand, and mom from Australia.  They were fun to visit with.

Watkins Glen

As we drove through the Village of Watkins Glen, I nearly missed the park.  They are doing construction and the entrance doesn’t look the same.  Parking was too far from the entrance so Elizabethe didn’t have an enjoyable time.  It was also hot today.

Becky and I walked about 1.5 miles into the canyon to see the falls.  She kept saying, “Glen is going to be so jealous.”

I must admit, Watkins Glen is a beautiful place.  It was also crowded today.  Lots of people crammed the trails

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Becky Cooling Off

Because of the heat, Becky decided to drench her hair in one of the falls.  I decided to keep my camera dry, so I passed.

Drive Home

The drive home was uneventful.  Everyone was tired.  We stopped at the Burger King drive-thru and picked up ICEEs and drove straight home.

Conklin Gully

Conklin Gully

I finally visited Conklin Gully which is just outside Naples, New York.  There wasn’t a lot of water there, and because I was by myself, I didn’t venture too far from the road.

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Conklin Gully

It was listed in a web site about waterfalls, but I guess you have to visit when there’s more water at the top of the hill.

After returning home Elizabethe and I went to the Wegman’s in Canandaigua to try out the Burger Bar.  While it wasn’t what I was expecting (I was expecting something more like Fudrucker’s), it was VERY GOOD.  (Which is what I would expect from Wegman’s.)

I did not order a burger, and neither did Elizabethe, what we did order was delicious.  I went for the cheese and steak sandwich with zucchini fries.  Elizabethe went for the chicken, avocado, BLT with sweet potato fries.  Both of our fries were crispy on the outside and tasted fresh on the inside.

We will be going back!


Yes, I did pick up those LED bulbs at Home Depot today.  They had a full complement of 5000K lights as well as 4000K and 3200K.

Now if I could get them to carry 5000K flat panels and T-8 110v tubes I’d be all set.

Solo to Watkins Glen

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The Falls in Color

Solo to Watkins Glen

In spite of my best attempts to find someone to go with me, I went solo to Watkins Glen.  I took over 320 photos.  Many were long exposures in color, others were infrared and some pinhole.

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Me at Watkins Glen

And, here’s an infrared from my X-T1… amazing what that camera can do…

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Infrared Photo of Watkins Glen

It was a delightful sunny day, and there were LOTS of tourist at the glen.  Most of them were middle school students on a field trip along with several groups of Chinese tourists.  At times, I would have to wait for the crowds to pass to take the picture, but because some of them, like the above B&W infrared were very long exposures, people tend to blur away.

I took two trips back to the car to exchange cameras and/or lenses.  That equates to three trips up the canyon.  Yes, I got some exercise, but I also got some great shots.

Here is a pinhole shot I took.  The problem with pinhole is you can’t see anything through the viewfinder and so you’ve got to kind of work blindly.  If you notice, the pinhole and the infrared are shot near the same location.  Both were about 30 second exposures.

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Pinhole Shot of Watkins Glen

A lot of people think because a pinhole is so small the images are razor-sharp.  Well, they aren’t, but they do allow for some VERY long exposures.  (The above was about 30 seconds.)

Finally, at about 2:30pm, I decided I should get some lunch.  I went to the Burger King just the other side of the river and they are CLOSED!  Instead I ended up driving to Geneva and going to Taco Bell where I waited for nearly 20 minutes for a couple of tacos.  (Yeah, they were back there yacking and texting.  I think if I owned a franchise the rule would be no phones on your person while working.)

One last stop before I went home and that was at Hill Cumorah.  I spent some time chatting with the missionaries there and got a couple of good photos…

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Sisters Showing the Map of the Trails

Living Waters

Living Waters

The term living waters references water that is moving.  When you see stagnant water, it is normally surrounded by dead or no plants, it doesn’t support fish and other aquatic animals.  Hence, stagnant water is dead; moving water is living.

I decided to take a walk through Corbett’s Glen this afternoon.  Of course, I took my camera with me.  It was overcast and cool — a perfect day for a walk.  There were no mosquitoes and it was quite pleasant.

Living Waters
Corbett’s Glen

Right after I got there, I heard a noise and some 5 pound poodle came charging at me barking and growling.  As soon as I turned to face him, he backed off.  Then, I noticed the BIG sign that said, “Leash laws strictly enforced.”

Why am I not buying that?

Later, there were a couple of ladies power walking with unleashed dogs following.  Sounds like Monroe County Sheriff’s office needs to patrol the park a little more often.  Having been bitten, quite badly, by a dog, I’m all for leash laws.  (And, when I reported I had been bitten, the owner’s response was classic, “My dog’s never bitten anyone.”)

I spent the rest of the day trying to come up with something to paint.  Some times it just comes out naturally, and other times I just can’t seem to find the right subject and style to fit my mood.

Israel Day 7 – 20 Shekels

The desert above the Dead Sea can be surprising.  You can pull off the road (on to a dirt road) and think you are in the middle of nowhere when all of a sudden you are being presented with beads and scarfs and greeted with, “Twenty Shekels.  Twenty Shekels.”

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The Judean Desert

So, there we are on this lonely deserted road when all of a sudden…

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Bedouin Merchants

They were a pushy lot.  One handed me a string of beads after telling him repeatedly, “No,” and just walked away.  I ran him down and put it in his hand and said, “No thank you.”

I did end up purchasing a keffeyah as I did like how it felt on my head.  (You may see me shoveling snow wearing this thing.)  As we left the area, I did notice a tag that read, ‘Made in India’.  Oh, well.  I did buy it in Israel.

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Me in My Keffeyah

Our next stop was a life-long dream.  There was a time I was so in to the Dead Sea Scrolls I bought and read every book I could find on the subject.  The story of a Bedouin shepherd boy throwing a stone in to a cave which lead to the discovery of some ancient scrolls at Qumran intrigued me.  So, I could not pass the opportunity to see the cave, and visit the ancient Qumran community.

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A Wider View of the Caves Along the Cliff
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The Cave Where the Scrolls Were Found
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Ritual Bath at Qumran

By the way, the Dead Sea Scrolls are currently on tour in Salt Lake City.  It is my understanding they will be on display through April.

We don’t know a whole lot about the people of Qumran except they were a religious group who fled to the wilderness.  They performed ritual washings and had very strict rules.  It is suspected that John the Baptist may have stayed and studied with them.  The believed in a Messiah ben Joseph and a Messiah ben David.  Some say they were of the Essenes.

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A Facsimile of One of the Scrolls

This much we do know… they were prolific writers.  Many of their writings have been translated and correspond very directly with the modern bible.

Our next stop was En Gedi.  This oasis is where David hid from Saul, and after an exhausting hike up the wadi (hmmm… I like that phrase, “Up the wadi”.  Think it will be come popular?)  we found the waterfall.  No wonder David hid here.  (By the way, this is no hike for the faint of heart or the weak-kneed.  It is steep, lots of stairs cut in to the rock, dry and dangerous in places.)

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The Trail Up the Wadi
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Matt at the Base of David’s Waterfall

It is said that the source of the waterfall is in Bethlehem.  How symbolic!

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Matt Ponders the Symbolism of a Half-Eaten Dilly Bar

At the base was a nice gift shop.  I’ve come to learn that Matt can’t resist buying an ice cream bar.  He shared an object lesson using it.

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The Diversity of Israel

I saw this Bedouin man walk up to the snack counter.  At the same time there was a long-haired man at the counter.  This shows some of the diversity of Israel.  We brag about America being a melting pot, but we don’t hold a candle to Israel.  I met people from all around the globe during our visit.  Many are Jews who have moved there to live.  They come from countries like Russia, Germany, USA, Argentina, Bolivia, and more.

Our next stop was the shores of the Dead Sea.  This salt lake is 2nd most salty in the world.  The water level continues to drop.  Currently, it is about 1,400 feet below sea level.

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The Shore of the Dead Sea

The salt creates a beautiful Mediterranean blue in the water.  (Which, the Mediterranean Sea is only a few miles to the west.)  The frothy foam on the rocks looks like suds from the washing machine.  This is largely due to the alkalinity of the water.  Of course, you can float in the Dead Sea without any effort.  We didn’t try it as we were not prepared with swimsuits and towels.

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Salt from the Dead Sea

You can pickup up big chunks of salt (above) all along the shore.  Like the Great Salt Lake, they harvest the salt in areas.  Yes, you foodies will recognize “Dead Sea Salt” as found in the gourmet section of the grocery store.

We decided to head south and cut across and come up to Jerusalem from the south.  The drive was interesting and we saw what that part of Israel looked like.

By the way, here’s a map.  You can see we are very close to Egypt and the Gaza Strip.  We went to Beersheba before heading north to Jerusalem.

Israel Map
Israel Map (click to zoom)

Oh, before I go on, I thought I should mention the GPS we rented from Budget was a Kosher GPS.  It seems certain routes it would avoid.  In fact, some cities it would not even give us direction to them.  Why?  They were in Palestinian occupied areas.  For example, it would try to route us around the entire West Bank and not through it.  This meant we had to rely on paper maps instead of our GPS.  And, it also meant passing through military check points.  You MUST carry your passport at all times when in Israel.

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My Happy Meal

We stopped at Mesada to eat at the cafeteria.  Good food.  I had the beef with couscous, veggies (cooked and fresh), pita and hummus.  One of the veggies was an onion puree condiment.  It was quite good.  I could see using it as a substitute for mayo on a burger or sandwich.

I got a kick out of the name of the meal.  Yup, the Happy Meal.  78 nis means 78 shekels.  70 shekels is $20.  Thus, 78 is a little over $22.  Yeah, food is expensive in Israel.

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Happy Meal?

As we drove down the highway, I saw this Bedouin shepherd.  When he saw I had a camera, he immediately turned and covered his face.  His expression while doing so was as if to say, “Oh, brother!  Americans.”  You see sheep, goat and camel herding all along the shores of the Dead Sea.

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Sheepherder

Now, here is a sign you don’t see often in the USA.  The first one, yes.  The second one, no.  In Western New York we have our Amish buggy signs, but I don’t think I’ve seen a camel sign.

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Watch for Camels

When we got back to our hostel, Matt asked if Doug and I wanted to take a walk.  We headed to Jaffa Gate and there we bought some bread.

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Bread Vendor Inside the Jaffa Gate

Just to let you know what everything is…  Starting by the man with the pink bag and moving clockwise around the table:  bagels, a nut, nougat and honey bar, date-stuffed pastries, and more bagels.

Niagara Falls and Maid of the Mist

I took our friends to see Niagara Falls today. They don’t have passports with them, so we stuck to the USA side. There are a few food concessions inside the park, but if you want to get something decent, you have to eat outside the park.

We saw a T.G.I. Friday’s and decided to have lunch there. Our experience warrants a letter to T.G.I. Friday’s H.Q. I’ve ate at a LOT of T.G.I. Friday’s and this one has to be the most poorly run one I’ve ever visited. Our waitress really tried, but it was obvious she hadn’t been trained fully. The rest of the staff was standing around like they had little or nothing to do. As to the food, it was good and up to their standards, they just need someone taking charge in the front of the house.

As we went to enter the park we noticed they had cones placed to block the parking lot, and a sign stating, “LOT FULL”. We drove around the block, and found a gravel parking lot with no sign as to the price. When we entered the lot we were informed it was $20. (The state lot, however full, is usually $10.) Well, rather than drive around, Brian offered to pick up the parking and so we parked there.

Getting Our Tickets
Getting Our Tickets

We made a bee-line straight to the Maid of the Mist booth, and Brian treated us all to the Maid of the Mist cruise. After entering the observation platform, you take an elevator to the base where they hand you a disposable poncho and you board one of the boats. The boat takes up into the “U” at the base of Horseshoe Falls. It is AMAZING how big the falls are when you are standing on a boat surrounded by falling water.

Viewing the Falls from the Platform
Viewing the Falls from the Platform
Ready for the Boat Ride
Ready for the Boat Ride

We did not get as wet as I thought we would.  There was some mist, but we stayed relatively dry during the excursion.

On the Boat
On the Boat

By the way, the 2013 cost for the cruise is $15.50.  Beware – there are scammers out there on-line that try to sell tickets.  But, the official web site makes it very clear that they do not authorize or accept on-line ticket purchases.  That is, you will be ripped off.

We then wandered the paths looking at the falls and the river.  At one point, I decided to stand on a 2″ tall rock to take a picture.  When I got down, “ZING”, went my back.  I re-pulled a muscle I pulled about 1 week ago.  Oh, it smarted and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it back to the car by walking.  But, I managed to pull through it all.

They then decided to go down to the Cave of the Winds, which isn’t a cave – just a boardwalk at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  I stayed topside and took photos of them below.

The ZONE!
The ZONE!

After that, it was time to head back to Palmyra.  With a stop at Wendy’s for some dinner, we headed home for the night.

Watkins Glen Training

Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen

I teach photographic workshops and do training for photography related subjects. Today I took a gentleman to Watkins Glen where I taught him about taking long exposures to blur the water. (If you want to see what I teach, go to http://www.palmyra-ny.com and follow the postings on that site.)

After getting home, Elizabethe and I headed to Outback Steakhouse in Henrietta for dinner.  We were seated right away, and our waitress was one of the most attentive waitresses I’ve ever had.  Crystal, was her name, and we never had to ask for a refill on our drinks, or anything.  She was right on top of things.

 

Here’s my summary:

Service – 5 (fantastic)
Atmosphere – 4
Cleanliness – 4 (had the table not been a tad bit sticky, I would have given a 5)
Menu Choices – 5
Food taste – 4 (I wasn’t thrilled with the Bloomin’ Onion – a little on the oil-was-too-hot side taste wise)

I’ll go back, mostly because of the service, and the fact that they cooked my steak perfectly.  I’m picky about steaks, and the chef nailed it.  With tip and everything, our bill came to $45 which included an appetizer and soft drinks.

I asked about why they weren’t open for lunch, and the short answer is, They start prepping at 9am for opening at 4pm, and to open at 11am, they’d have staff arriving at 5am.   I still think it would be worth their time, but I understand how hard it is to find enough personnel to staff a couple of shifts, let alone one.

The Week Winding Down

I can feel the week winding down. It has been a busy week, and that’s good, but it is also exhausting. Everything is delivered to my clients, and I’m relieved I don’t have stuff booked for tomorrow.

Elizabethe is getting a lot of calls about rooms at the house. Pageant is a few months away and it seems a lot of people have waited too long to book rooms. We are also getting a lot of calls for non-pageant season.

For anyone planning on visiting Palmyra, I want to share some tips about travel here and staying here:

  • The nearest airport is Rochester (ROC).  I highly recommend this airport.  It is very efficient and one of the best airports I’ve ever travelled in or out of.  It is about a 30 minute drive to Palmyra.
  • If you are coming during Hill Cumorah Pageant (mid-July each year), plan your trip 1 year in advance!!!  There are not a lot of hotels in the area, and the rooms go quickly and prices go up during pageant as a result.  Again, do NOT wait for the last minute.
  • Spend time in Palmyra.  There is more to do and see in Palmyra than what you can fit in a day.  You’ll wear yourself out and miss a lot of this beautiful region of you try to see it all in a day.  For example, plan on a full-day to go see the Whitmer Farm, and do so in the morning.  Then, head down to Watkins Glen (see picture below) and check out our beautiful waterfalls in this land of many waters.
Cavern Fall
Cavern Fall
  • Spend money locally.  I’ve heard good and bad from business owners about the tourist here.  (That’s to be expected, but I’d like to hear less bad and more good.)  Visit all our small little shops.  You might be surprised at what you find.
  • If you don’t like crowds, come visit some time other than pageant.  We have 4 seasons, and the most beautiful season is autumn.  (I offer an autumn workshop for photographers www.palmyra-ny.com.)  Remember, Joseph Smith, Jr., had the First Vision some time near the end of March/beginning of April.  Joseph’s birthday was in December.  So, these are times of historical significance around here too.
  • This area is rich with history:  Susan B. Anthony (house in Rochester), Frederic Douglas, George Eastman (Kodak Founder), invention of motion pictures (Auburn, NY), underground railroad, and more.  Stay and take some of that in.

I could give you an itinerary that would keep you busy for a full week and you wouldn’t see it all.  We also have some great places to eat.

Perhaps I got a little side tracked.  Summer is coming, and if you plan to visit in the summer, you better make your reservations soon.

From the Canadian Side

I’ve been close to Canada many times, but until to day, I have never crossed the border.  Today Paul O’Donnell and I went to Niagara Falls, crossed over to the Canadian side, and saw the falls from that side.

I’ve been to four countries:  U.S., Mexico, Sweden and now Canada.  I must say Canada is the cleanest of the four.  It was somewhat of an embarrassment to see how clean the Canadian side is compared to the U.S. side.  There is a lesson to be learned here.  The U.S. side is surrounded by some very rundown dirty neighborhoods.  Typically, such neighborhoods have problems with crime and there is a direct link to crime and poverty.  Some will say poverty breeds crime, but I am most certain it is the other way around – crime breeds poverty.  I don’t know what Canadians do to drug-pushers and hookers, but I do know we’re too soft on crime.

Well, enough editorialized…

It was very impressive.  The beautiful gardens and architecture on the Canadian side made it a lovely place to just stroll along the walk way taking photos and taking in the grandeur of the falls.

Niagara Falls from the Canadian Side

I read that 60,000 gallons per second pour over the falls.  That’s enough water to fill 20 swimming pools on one second.  It is difficult to feel the grandeur unless you are standing at the brink of the falls (U.S. side).  There, you see the depth of the water as it makes its 90-degree turn downward.

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American Falls from the New York Side

If you are planning a day-trip to the falls from Palmyra, here are some suggestions:

1)  Bring plenty of cash.  It will cost you $3-4 on the Canadian side for a soda or water.  Parking on the U.S. side in the park is $10.  Outside the park is $5.  If you don’t mind walking an extra 1/2 mile, you can save $5 and park in one of the lots just outside the park.  Also, vending machines will take your U.S. money, but return change in Canadian coins.  I recommend you keep plenty of U.S. $1 bills and U.S. quarters.  There are NO drinking fountains on the Canadian side.  So, if you don’t bring your own bottle of water, be prepared to pay $4 to get it from a vending machine.  There are vending machines all over the place.

2) Keep two quarters per person for toll to return to the U.S.

3)  Have your passport

4)  Don’t use your credit cards in Canada else you’ll be charged a conversion fee (about 3% on most cards)

5) Be prepared to get wet – rain, mist, you name it, you’ll get wet

6)  Be prepared to walk – it’s the only way to really see the falls

7)  Keep a sense of humor – you’ll have to make up for the CBP guard’s (the U.S. Customs workers) lack of one.  (I’m sure they have to deal with a lot of stupid people, but at least they could pretend to smile.)  Plus, getting in to Canada you’ll be greeted with a smile and welcome and it will very quick.  Coming back to the U.S.A. you’ll be talked to sternly, no smiles, and hardly a welcome home.

We can also thank the Canadians for the beautiful lights on the falls.  Starting around 8:30pm, they light up the falls with various colors (they change throughout the evening).

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Niagara Falls at Night

I recommend seeing the falls at night and during the day.  Both views are wonderful.

First Monday – June 2012

Today was our First Monday Event.  If you don’t know what that is, on the First Monday of each month I get a bunch of people together with their cameras and we go take pictures.  Old, young, pro, just starting, it doesn’t matter what level you are, you are always welcome to a First Monday Event.  We also have prizes and freebies from our sponsors.

Waterfall at Watkins Glen

Today was a photo hike up Watkins Glen.  This beautiful New York Stake Park is one waterfall after another.  Every turn has a new fall.

Another Watkins Glen Fall

It was a little damp, but we had a great time.  There were four of us who participated this month.  (Probably the leasted attended thus far, but probably the BEST one thus far.  The two new guys had a great time, as did the rest of us.)

A Colorful Scene at Watkins Glen

Visiting Palmyra?  Well, you’ll really miss out if you do not take time to visit “The Glen”.  Stay at the mansion, and for an extra small charge, I’ll drive you on a tour of Watkins Glen and a few other sites, as well as provide you with some photographic tips and copies of some of the images when we return.  Just tell Elizabethe when you book your stay, “We’d like db walton’s Watkins Glen package.”  You’ll be glad you did.