You Don’t Need To Go Far To Enjoy Nature, Early Summer At Community Park

It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon this past week, and I decided to take a quick hike out to our local Community park to enjoy the early Summer sunshine. 

I enjoy my walk around Lake Irena since you never know if you many see an eagle, osprey or just some loons, ducks or geese. 

The Summer is now a week old and the low bush blueberries have ripened in the sun. I enjoyed a few handfuls on my walk.

 The mountain laurel have faded already, Summer passes so quickly. 

And I saw some of the first mushrooms appearing in the woodlands along the lake. It won’t be long until I am searching for the edible species that grow in our area. 

As I walked along the wetlands at the northern side of the lake I saw some tree swallows flying neat a tree stump and, discovered this nest of young swallows. 

I watched the nest for an hour, hoping to catch the parents feeding the young chicks. 

My patience was rewarded as I was able to capture mom or dad feeding their youngsters a meal of fresh dragonfly.  I was probably just as hungry as the chicks, but wanted to capture the interaction of the birds as they were fed.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the tree swallows. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-Tree-swallows-June-27-

My hunger overcame my curiosity and so I decided to head home, enjoying my walk through the woods as the evening sun filtered through the trees. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-June-27-2017-

I returned the next evening, another beautiful sunny day, with my 400mm lens hoping to capture even better photographs of the swallows.

 Unfortunately the swallows didn’t co-operate. They were either sleeping or had left the nest. It was still a nice day to be out and I took a few photographs of the many  dragonflies along the lake. 

As I have always said you don’t have to travel far to find the beauty of nature,  jus a hike in the neighborhood park has many secrets to offer, if you keep your eyes peeled and look for them .

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  William Shakespeare

 

 

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I Finally Found Some Mountain Laurel, Almost In My Own Back Yard At Nearby Community Park.

If you had followed my last two posts, you would know I  looked for, but  didn’t find any mountain laurel, our state flower, on my two hikes last weekend. It was a beautiful evening on Tuesday, the last day of Spring and I decided to hike out nearby Community Park and always picturesque Lake Irena. 

The sun was only one day from it highest point in our skies here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and already had ripened some of the low bush blueberries or “huckleberries” as they are know in these parts, growing along the shores of the lake. They

tasted very good. 

The park and lake were again crowded with families , fishermen, and walkers enjoying the delightful weather. 

I walked across the berm of the dam holds the waters of Harvey Creek and created the lake in the early 1960’s. e

As I walked into the woodlands surrounding the lake on it’s eastern shore I came upon large numbers of mountain laurels shrubs in full bloom. 

Photographs cannot capture the beauty of this flower shining in early evening sunlight. 

I walked the trail into the deeper woodlands and wetlands on the northern end of the lake and encountered even more mountain laurel. 

I was disappointed there were not more animals or birds in the woods but did see a few turtles, 

and plenty of dragonflies enjoying the sunshine. 

I walked along the other side of the  lake looking for frogs, snakes or some more turtles in  the many lily pads growing in the lake. 

It was after seven p.m. when I decided to leave the park. The sun was still high in the northwestern sky as it filtered through leaves of the trees along the lake. It was a perfect night to end the Spring.  I didn’t have to go far to find some fresh huckleberries and enjoy thre beauty of out state flower. You just got  to keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-June-20-2017-

 

“I pray that the life of this spring and summer may ever lie fair in my memory.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

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Finally Sunshine, And A Quick Hike Out Community Park

We finally got a mostly sunny day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.It was still a bit cool for me,  mid 70 degree temperatures.  I like it hot, 90 degrees would be nice. But it was beautiful and I decided to head out Community  Park and look for eagles and ospreys on the lake. 

The park was not as crowded as I expected, with just a few families at the playground,  a couple of folks fishing and just a few people walking around the lake. 

There were not many critters either. I saw a few chipmunks, a squirrel and only one bird, this robin and only for a few minutes until he/she flew away. 

I did see a few turtles on the logs in the water but they were hard to photograph because of the angle of the sun. 

I did notice on my walk that it won’t be long until the state flower, the mountain laurel are in full bloom. They will transform our woodlands into a magical garden.  I love walking in the forest when they are in bloom. 

Some of the sheep laurel, a smaller relative of the mountain laurel are already blooming. 

I walked around the lake and found the trails near the wetlands section flooded from the local rains. 

The skunk cabbage still are green, although they will soon start to fade. They are the first plants to appear in the spring but also fade  and disappear in early summer. 

The many species of fern are in their prime now. 

I found fresh signs that there are still beavers in the area, 

It was a perfect evening for a walk under the trees as the sun filtered through to the forest floor below. 

And it should be a great night to watch the almost full strawberry moon in the clear skies. I love this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-June-8-2017-

“On this June day the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year – those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled.”
–  Francis King

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Cumulus Clouds, Wind And Sunshine: A Pleasant Birthday Hike At The Rails To Trails.

I circled our sun one more time yesterday, and one year older as I write, but, thankfully I am still able to explore the beauty of this planet I was born on. rails to trails-18

After a few hours at the office, and a nice lunch with my nephew and partner Charles, , I left  work early to take advantage of the beautiful June afternoon. rails to trails-22

It was a perfect day for hiking,  puffy, cotton-like clouds floating in a deep blues skies, with a strong  northerly wind bringing us cool, but refreshing weather.rails to trails-2

I decided to hike out, and take another look, at the pitch pine barrens near our local Rails to Trails, and the birds I saw there on Sunday.   rails to trails-20

This area reminds so much of the pitch pine wetlands I hiked as a child. I would have hiked there yesterday, I always did on my birthday, except for the fact they are now underneath  an industrial  park and residential development. I am so glad some folks on our planet realize how precious our environment is and seek to protect areas like this. The Land Trust and Rails to Trails folks must be given all the credit they have earned for keeping these areas preserved and letting folks visit them. rails to trails-17

Unfortunately. I only saw a few birds on my hike in the barrens, a nuthatch scampering down a tree, rails to trails-10

a sparrow along the trailrails to trails-3

and this elusive fellow, I think a hooded warbler that avoided me for 15 minutes singing, and hopping, among some scrub oaks.rails to trails-13

I continued my hike along the trail, finding this late blooming lady slipper orchid, or duck flower. rails to trails-24

And seeing these coming attractions of Mother Nature’s net display, our state flower, mountain laurel buds. They should be in bloom net week. rails to trails-5

And plenty of these plants, which in a few months, will attract many butterflies and insects, milkweed. rails to trails-31

I hiked out about a mile and concluded no cool birds or animals will be seen on this hike, when I heard some fluttering above me. I saw two blue jays attacking a bird. This is a common sight, birds chasing each other from their nesting area, but what was unusual here was the bird being chased, a beautiful scarlet tanager. rails to trails-40

And, they chased it almost directly into my face! The blue jays flew off, leaving the scarlet tanager to rest in the trees and let me get some photographs. rails to trails-37

This is why I have love the outdoors. Since my dad took me on hikes when  I was first able to walk I have loved this planet. And I love walking and exploring it. . You never know what beautiful things you will see, or what type of critters, from ants to bears, you will encounter. Hopefully, I will have many more years left, to, as my dad taught me, keep my eyes peeled, and walk many more mile on this wonderful world we live. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-Trails-hike-June-1-2017rails to trails-34

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

 

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Mid Spring At Community Park

The annual spurt of growth is at it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Even the oaks, always the last get their leaves, and the last to lost them on the fall are clothed in their fresh green coats. Community park -20

It was cloudy and cool, but no rain, so still a nice afternoon for a hike out the nearby community park. Community park -1

Once again it was crowded with many people enjoying the trails, playground and picnic areas as well as fishermen along the shores of lovely Lake Irena.Community park -30

As I approached the lake I noticed another sign that the season is moving on, the flowering of the hawkweed. I remember  this weed in my backyard as a young child and knew it’s blooming  meant that the school was almost over. Community park -2

The abundant flowers of the low bush blueberries have now produced tiny berries. They should begin ripening near the Summer solstice next month. Community park -4

I took a  walk around  the lake hoping to  see the bald eagle, osprey, loon, or at least some water fowl I have seen in the past. No luck this time.  I did not a single bird of any kind but heard a few blue jays, robins and crows and spotted this fellow in a tree. Community park -32

There were also a lot of wild flowers blooming along the trails, including the pink azalea or honeysuckle,Community park -8

may flowers,Community park -21 

lady slipper orchards or  duck flowersCommunity park -35

and even a few painted trillium. Community park -23

And there was some wildlife, if you can call turtles wildlife. Community park -15

I saw quite a few along the logs, rocks and shores of the lake where it abuts a wetland on it’s northern end,Community park -17

including this snapping turtle. Community park -13

As I made my way back I even found some mushrooms growing on a log, not an edible species like the oyster mushrooms I had found on Sunday. not to my knowledge anyway. Community park -7

The woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania are so pretty this time of year, with the pink azaleas in bloom. I am hoping I can get out for another hike this week, although there is rain in the forecast. I will still hike in the rain but, unfortunately, not with my camera. But I am sure there  will be many sunny days ahead this Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-may-23-2017-Community park -28

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Community park -24

 

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Some Spring Hikes Near Home.

It felt more like Summer than Spring these past few days here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather, taking a few short hikes near my home to enjoy the many things occurring in the natural world this  month. The trees, including the  birch, have  leaves still showing that refreshing early Spring color. railroad hike -7

On Thursday  I walked to the reclamation area again yesterday and was surprised to find these mushrooms. I am not sure of the species but they reminded me to  look for the oyster mushrooms which should be growing soon. railroad hike -1

I spotted this pretty bird, I think an olive sided flycatcher and spent a few minutes watching it sitting on a branch. railroad hike -4

I also saw this turkey vulture flying quickly over the tree tops, railroad hike -15

and soon discovered the reason for it’s haste. It was being chased by a crow. Although more than half  it’s size the crow looks like it was winning this encounter. railroad hike -16

I am not sure if it was the heat, or the strong breeze but there were few song birds in the wetlands or woods  surrounding them, except  the many black-winged blackbirds who have settled into their  territories for the season. railroad hike -12

I didn’t have a lot of time, but it was nice to get out in the late afternoon heat, temperatures were near 90 degrees and the blue skies strewn with cumulus clouds. railroad hike -10

On my way home I saw a few year long residents, some black-capped chickadees,railroad hike -27

and this squirrels feeding in the shade of the new leaves. railroad hike -25

On Friday I  first took a quick walk with my macro lens and again uncovered the wonderful world of nature up close.macro -13

I photographed some of the things we see everyday, such as the common dandelion.macro 031

Or  some blueberry flowers with tiny newly formed blueberries. They won’t be ripe until July. macro -6

I also found these pests, the tent caterpillars. They can quickly defoliate a tree. macro -3

I, again, only had a short time, I only walked about a mile and couldn’t find many insects like I had hoped. Here is a link to some more photograph my short hike with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/macro-hike-May-19-2017-macro 036

On Friday I again stayed near home and walked out through the reclamation areas out to the railroad tracks. railroad hike -3

And once again I did not find much wildlife, just the usual robins and red winged blackbirds and this solitary crow. railroad hike -12

I did see one of my favorite sights  on the railroad tracks, a train. I have been excited by passing trains on these tracks since I was a young child, and still am today. railroad hike -9

I was disappointed not seeing more wildlife on my hike, but i always have the birds at the feeders in my backyard and I found this turkey making himself at home on my lawn. railroad hike -14

I am looking forward to some nice weather this weekend to again explore the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hikes-May-18,19-2017-

railroad hike -2

“Home is everything you can walk to.”
Jerry Spinelli

 

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Another Spring Walk Close To Home.

The weather has warmed up and it’s finally  starting to feel like Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it was another nice day to take a walk this afternoon. I,again, walked out to the mining reclamation area and  railroad tracks near my house. railkroad hike -29

On the way I saw a lot more insect activity as the wild flowers continued to bloom. Bees and wasps were buzzing about.railkroad hike -1

And there were now quite a few moths  and butterflies fluttering about,  with one occasionally landing on the ground. railkroad hike -13

I  walked through  the wetlands that have formed in parts of the reclamation area   and once again saw no ducks or geese. The duck egg I  found the other day was gone. Sadly, I believe, not because it hatched, but because it was eaten by a predator. railkroad hike -14

There were many  red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands including a lot of males fighting for their territories, railkroad hike -41

and the females, such as this one. railkroad hike -40

High overhead I spotted , I believe, was  a red tailed hawk. railkroad hike -6

I walked to the railroad tracksrailkroad hike -30

and to some more ponds on the other side. I was disappointed since there are usually frogs and snakes near these ponds, but not today, although there was evidence that there will be a lot of frogs in the coming weeks and months, based on the thousands of tadpoles or pollywogs in the water. We would spend hours looking for and catching them, and frogs and salamanders as kids. railkroad hike -23

The duck flowers continue there short blooming season,railkroad hike -36

as are these pretty  flowers, I believe blue-eyed grass flowers   blooming profusely in the wetlands near the ponds. railkroad hike -24

 

As along one of the paths in the reclamation area I looked down at a small pond and was surprised to see ,a sandpiper,  looking for a meal. I didn’t think anything would live in the  ponds that it could eat, but I guess I was wrong. I am not sure what type of sandpiper it is, after looking through my field guides for 15 minutes my guess is an upland or solitary sandpiper. railkroad hike -32

And I spotted this birds fluttering in the brush, again I think it may be a palm warbler but not sure.railkroad hike -9

Unfortunately I had to head back home. I could spend the entire day out here in Spring, my favorite season. Well Summer is pretty good too, and looks like some Summer weather headed our way the next few days. I hope I can sneak out of the office early since a lot going on in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs fro my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-May-18-2017-railkroad hike -19

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.” Andy Warholrailkroad hike -20

 

 

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A Lot Of Spring Happening Out There

It was a long day in court and at the office so I was glad the weather was nice when I got home in the afternoon.  I had planned to head back to community park but decided to stay near my house and walk out the nearby railroad tracks. May is the month of growth here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and there were wildflowers blooming everywhere.railroad hike -23

I walked past some of the ponds near a mining reclamation area and was startled by a blue heron, that I startled,  and who flew overhead. railroad hike birds -1

I haven’t seen a blue heron out here for a few years and I am sure the frog and fish population in this ponds will soon be depleted. These birds eat a lot. railroad hike -8

As I walked through some wetlands in the reclaimed areas I saw this white throated sparrow, railroad hike birds -4

And a few goldfinches fluttering in the distance. railroad hike birds -6

I walked  through the reclaimed areas and toward the railroad tracks. These areas were all coal strip mines and coal culm deposits when i walked here as a child. railroad hike -10

They are now becoming a home for many species of birds including this  female common yellowthroat  I saw peeking out  from the nearby brush.railroad hike birds -18

And nearby was a male, I am guessing her mate. railroad hike birds -20

As I walked up to the railroad tracks I came across this dead snake, it appears to be a black racer. I am not sure what would have killed it out here. railroad hike -13

I love walking railroad tracks and these are special to me since I have been walking them since I was nine years old. Lot of memories out here even though the landscapes have changed.railroad hike -14

Along the way I heard the rustling of some eastern towhees in the underbrush and was only able to get this photograph of this bird. railroad hike birds -11

I wanted to see if the lady slipper orchards, or duck flowers, as my dad called them were in bloom and, sure enough they were, I cant believe it has been a year since i saw them. railroad hike -16

I made my way back this time encountering a number of water fowl, including thes pair of geese,railroad hike birds -12

this mallard duckrailroad hike birds -23

and, I believe  this beautiful spotted sandpiper. railroad hike birds -25

I also watched this sparrow find a meal in along the way .railroad hike birds -28

There were a lot of plants growing too, like these skunk cabbages. railroad hike -7

And even poison ivy looks pretty in the spring. railroad hike -5

I saw this egg, I believe it is a mallard duck, exposed in the wetlands along the way home. i was surprised it was so exposed without mom or dad around. railroad hike birds -24

And I  had one more special treat before I decided to head home. I spotted this beautiful scarlet tanager high atop an aspen tree and enjoyed listening to it’s song for awhile. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike  railroad hike birds -36http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-Greenridge-May-10-2017-

It was a short walk but provided me with much needed stress relief. In may every walk can be a wonderful adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-Greenridge-May-10-2017railroad hike -1

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
Henry David Thoreau, Waldenrailroad hike birds -14

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Finally Some Nice Weather For An Afternoon Walk At Community Park.

It was another cold start this morning, with temperatures near  the freezing mark. It was also mostly clear, and in  May, the sun is strong and it turned out to be a nice day. So I decided to see if I could find an eagle or an osprey out Lake Irena  at out local Community park after work. Community park -4

The cumulus clouds and sunshine made for perfect walking weather and the park was crowded with families, walkers and fisherman.Community park -6

I walked around the lake enjoying the profusion of new growth of the plants and trees. I again noticed a lot of flowers on both the low and high bush blueberries. It looks like their will be a big crop of berries everywhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

The many species of fern were now unfurling their  first fronds.Community park -16

As others were already unfurled.Community park -40

And the skunk cabbages, growing throughout the wetlands surrounding the lake,  were in their Spring green glory. Community park -18

I did not see an osprey or eagle and I was surprised, and disappointed,  to not see many water fowl or song birds. I saw a cat bird, a few crows and some mallards on the water but that was it. Community park -27

I did see this chipmunk,Community park -7

and a few turtles sunning themselves on logs on the lake but that was it. Community park -14

It still was a perfect day to be out and enjoy the scenery of the lake. Community park -31

And to see the trees putting forth their first leaves of the season.Community park -38

The delicate wild lilies of the valley were also blooming on the  trails along the Community park -8lake. 

Clouds moved in as I completed my walk but it was nice to see the sunshine for most of the day.  I  always  love a sunny day, but even more so during the  wonderful month of May.  Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-Hazle-Township-May-9-2017-Community park -21

 

“Stay close to the serenity of a lake to meet your own peace of mind.”
Munia KhanCommunity park -37

 

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Spring Is A Little Behind At The Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails But It’s Still Spring

Spring was in full bloom at the PPL Wetlands yesterday. I wanted to stay close to home today, I still have some catching up to do from my recent trip to Poland,  so I decided to hike out the local Rails to Trails. Rails to trails -1

It was overcast and a bit cooler today as I set out from the parking lot. As I began my walk I immediately noticed  that there was no were near as many leaves on the trees.  It seemed like the growing season was at least a week or two behind the PPL Wetlands.  Rails to trails -3

I forgot that we are at 1750 feet above sea level and the PPL Wetlands are at 500 feet above sea level. The 1250 difference in elevation sure  does make a big difference in the local climate. Rails to trails -2

Still there were many signs of Spring on the trail. The various species of wild violets were blooming  everywhere. . Rails to trails -45

As were the wild strawberries,Rails to trails -24

and both the high bush and low bush, pictured here, blueberries. These flowers will produce the first blueberries, or, as they are known here, huckleberries, somewhere around the Summer solstice. Rails to trails -47

As I walked along the trail I heard rustling of an eastern towhee in the underbrush.  These birds were a lot more common when I was growing up and we saw many of them will picking wild huckleberries on many a summer morning.   Their call in unmistakable. They hop and flutter low to the ground in thick underbrush. I watched this one for almost 15 minutes before I was able to focus in and get this photograph. Rails to trails -8

I also heard some more rustling in the leaves near the ground and watched, again for quite a while, a small mouse scampering under the dead leaves and low lying brush. I tried to get a photograph but he kept darting out of view as soon as I got him in focus. It was still an interesting experience. One does not often see a mouse during the day. And while watching the mouse I did manage to get a photograph of another elusive bird, I believe this is an oven bird. Rails to trails -61

I continued my hike, encountering a few couples and families out for a walk as well as a few runners and folks on bicycles. I also saw this little fellow climbing atop a rock to get a look at me. Rails to trails -32

I hiked out to the picnic area near the Dreck Creek Reservoir and continued onward.Rails to trails -28

 I was going to try and get to the pine barrens but heard a woodpecker and hawk near an electric pole line and decided to try and find them. Rails to trails -37

I walked down to Dreck Creek which flows out from the reservoir. I sat for a bit and listened to the rapidly flowing waters. before beginning my return walk. Rails to trails -39

I noticed, and smelled,  the wonderful aroma of,  many wild arbutus growing near the creek. Rails to trails -42I love this time of year. There is so much to see as the natural world comes to life after it’s long Winter sleep. Every  single leaf has a unique beauty, such as these black birch leaves. Rails to trails -49

Or this blackberry leaf. Rails to trails -44

Or the young leaves of this scrub oak tree. I could spemd a day observing and photographing the newly sprouted leaves. . Rails to trails -4

So much new growth, it is an amazingly  beautiful word we live in and Spring always, to me anyway, seems to make me once again appreciate it. . I continued my walk watching the newly awakened moths, butterflies and bumblebees flutter about. Rails to trails -58

And there were more birds, robins, crows, sparrows, mourning doves and this blue jay. Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-trails-birds-April-30-2017-Rails to trails -63

It was a long hike, with my early morning walk I had ten miles in, but I would have kept walking if I had the time, since there is so much to discover,in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the Spring.  I will have to work tomorrow and the rest of the week  but I am already looking forward to next weekend to explore  places yet unknown here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  I love the Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-To-Trails-April-30-2017-Rails to trails -10

 

“Never miss an opportunity of noticing anything of beauty …”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and WalkingRails to trails -46

 

 

 

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