Mill Creek MetroParks, OH

April 13, 2011

Our trip to Niles, Ohio, was planned in September of last year.  That's when Jack & Monnie Ryan stopped by for a visit on their way home to Niles from Maine.  I say "planned" but the only plan was that we decided we wanted to go visit them sometime in spring.  We always plan for plenty of spontaneity, and this trip was certainly no exception.

Jack mentioned they were only an hour from Cleveland so we decided to add that leg to see the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame.  Since we didn’t want the return trip to be just a retracing of our steps, we decided to come back by way of Niagara Falls.  That was the plan. 

We expected to see a few of the PA state parks along I-80, tour Niles and the Youngstown area with our hosts, stay in Cleveland for a couple days, then ride along Lake Erie to Niagara Falls, NY, stopping at Erie Bluffs and Presque Isle state parks along the way.  After a couple days in Niagara we’d take the 4 and a half hour fast track home to see the dogs and cats. 

Jack claimed to have a connection with weather makers in his hometown, and we now tend to believe him.  Rain, and lots of it, was forecast for the whole trip before our departure.  Jack assured us he would take care of it, and… well, it was a beautiful sunny day in Niles.  And that was after a grueling trip across Pennsylvania.   We didn’t stop at any of the convenient state parks along the way because of the torrential downpours, but the sun was shining on our hotel when we arrived in Niles. 

When Jack & Monnie arrived they brought 3 of their books for us to enjoy during our stay.  Jack is known as the Lighthouse King because of his knowledge of and expert photos of lighthouses around the country.  Monnie is the Queen of Floral Photos and her book of macro shots was simply amazing. 

The Ryans drove us down to Mill Creek Park in Youngstown.  At least ten times in the next few days Barb would say, “Let’s go back to Mill Creek.  That was the best place of this trip.”  We only managed to see a small part of the 4400 acres of this beautiful park, so return visits hold a lot of temptation.

The photos on the Mill Creek gallery are not in the correct order.   Lightroom separated the photos by camera, and I failed to notice before the gallery was uploaded.  Those taken with the Olympus start at #23, which was actually the first exposure from the park, taken in the visitor's center.

This was the best part of our trip, mostly because of the company we kept, and partly because of Jack's influence with the local weather makers. In addition to the Zenfolio links for them at the top of this article, they also each have galleries at BetterPhoto. The Lighthouse King and his Queen of Floral Photos. Wait. Let's make an attempt to straighten out the paternal bent in our language. The Queen of Floral Photos and her Lighthouse King.

Cleveland, OH

April 14, 2011

We stayed just a block away from the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. With technology as it currently is we were able to visit the area online and virtually walk around the neighborhood. We were able to eliminate many places we might otherwise have spent hours getting to, and highlight others in our attempt to develope a must-see list for our spontaneous agenda.

Cleveland is a tad over an hour from Niles and quite a pleasent ride, although whenever I get in a car I want to be there, not drive there. We arrived in haste with plenty of time to spare, especially since time was hardly involoved with the spontaneity we planned. We entered the city and drove around to see the Browns stadium before checking if our room might be ready a few hours early. Our good friend C.R. has been a Browns fan since he heard of football and we wanted to stop by to pay his condolences (he said "respects"). There was nary a car in sight and I was able to handhold a few snaps for our memories, including one with our car and its COACH 51 license plate with the stadium behind it.

Our room WAS ready a few hours early and we were happy to settle in and get going. We could see the Hall from our room but there were better shots from the window down the hall or from the parking lot roof (#6). While Barb organized our things, I took out the Olympus PEN and snapped a few out-the-window shots (7 thru 14) I liked using the Dramatic Tone setting. Later the PEN came in quite handy in a walk-around near and in the Hall Of Fame.

There are 80 photos in the gallery, and, although that number was already drastically dwindled from the original number of keepers, it could have been reduced further if not for my inability to decide between two. I seem better at eliminating two when there are three to choose from than I am at picking the best of two, Photos 20 & 21 are a good case in point. I just couldn't decide which set of lines I preferred. Consider 40 thru 49 and 62 thru 65.

It was a good thing we took so many pix the first day because only one was taken the second day (#80). Still, we enjoyed the whole day because it fit so well in our plans.

Presque Isle, PA

April 16, 2011

Our plan for this day was to drive along Lake Erie to Niagara, stopping for some time at Erie Bluffs and Presque Isle state parks along the way. Once again the weather had different plans. We totally missed Erie Bluffs then found Presque Isle drenched with rain and overcast light. Sounds like it might be a good setup for macro, but the clouds grew darker and the light was useless for bringing out the amazing beauty the park had to offer.

Although this stop was a bust for getting photos, it surely marked a big X on our map of must-photograph parks.

Niagara Falls, NY

April 16, 2011

We arrived for our first of two days in Niagara Falls in the same weather we had for the whole trip from Cleveland. Rain and STRONG WINDS dominated both days and dictated our course of enjoyment, but did not dent our determination. It was cold and Lake Erie was high with large ice chunks. We'd been to Niagara Falls several times before but this was the first time we decided to stay on the New York side. As it turned out, it didn't much matter which side we took. The weather was quite prohibitive of photography for the duration of our stay.

The only sun we saw was immediately after check-in and we went across the stree to the Niagara Falls State Park. It was our only moment of possible pix in the park. The next day we visited some wineries in Canada but there was nothing to take home but the wine.

Frances Slocum

April 20, 2011

Dave Cohen and I decided to take a more unusual apoproach to the park this day. We parked on Green Road and walked in from there intending to cross trails toward the Carverton Road trailhead. When we parked we noticed there were new maps in the container. We each took one and I grabbed an extra for my friend Jim Pattison who collects them. As soon as I saw the cover I said, "Hey, that's my photo," and Dave, who had unfolded his map said, "Yeah, it says they are all yours." Well, that put a little more spring in my step for the hike.

Pennsylvania chose photos of mine for their state park calendars for the last 3 years, but this was the first time I saw any on one of their brochures. Last year when Barb and I were in Moab, Utah, Burt Ellsworth, the Chief Multimedia and Graphic Designer for the PA state parks contacted me to ask permission to use my photos for some of their projects and I was thrilled to allow him.

As Dave and I proceeded down the trail examining some old ruins along the way, we came to a spillover from the lake that totally blocked our progress. We took a bunch of shots then walked back to the car. We drove around to the Carverton Road trailhead and walked in from there. We didn't get very far when we got lost in the fun of capturing the beauty.

Looking at the thumbnail page of the gallery I'm reminded of collecting baseball cards as a kid. That might be because I spent a lot of time in this area before it was a state park, at a time when baseball cards was a big part of the summers, and we always looked for duplicates to trade. Of the 25 photos in the gallery more than half have duplicates (If it doesn't sound like the math works out, read it again.) In most cases it's because I like both versions for different reasons. Most of them are f/16 single shots duplicated by bracketed f/14 HDRs.

Ricketts Glen

April 30, 2011

...Coming soon