September 22, 2020

Pinnacle Overlook & Fire Line Trail Hike

Designated as a National Recreation Trail by the US Department of Interior, this 139 acre nature preserve is managed by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR). The hiking trails are part of the Kelly’s Run - Pinnacle Trail System in Holtwood, PA.  The land that makes up the Pinnacle Scenic Overlook Nature Preserve was donated by PPL Holtwood, LLC.  The Conestoga Trail overlaps and runs concurrently with parts of the Kelly’s Run Trail.  


I enjoy the Pinnacle Overlook vista point. The view of the Susquehanna is stunning!  The overlook along with day-use facilities is accessible from the visitor parking area.  Be aware that this access is closed from October to April, and hunting is allowed during those months. This stretch of the Susquehanna River is just north of the Holtwood Dam and gets quite wide.  Two islands poke up out of the water here: Duncan Island & Reed Island. The river valley is surrounded by rolling hills on both the Lancaster County and York County sides.  

From the main overlook spot, I hiked along the river on the Fire Line Trail. 
I took my dog, Rissy, with me on this hike and she loved it.  On this trail, I found a more private spot to sit on a rock outcropping where I had a snack and watched the river from up high.

This trail is marked with yellow blazes. At approximately .75 mile, it intersects with the Pinnacle Trail.  Bear left and follow the alternating yellow and white blazes for approximately .25 mile back to the day-use area.  It’s difficult to be exact with the distance based on the map I have (see below), but it is definitely no more than 1 mile.  This link offers more details about trail milage:

To get to Pinnacle Overlook from Columbia, PA, drive 40 minutes south on River Rd past Washington Boro, through Safe Harbor & Martic Forge, then past Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve to Pinnacle Rd.  Other notable nature spots in the area are the Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve, Lock 12 Recreation Area (the old lock is still there to see!) and Muddy Run Park. 

*All photos taken and owned by me

August 25, 2020

Introducing Snowywinds Bookblog!

I love books. I love the way they feel, their smell, the cover art, and the stories.  I have certain books that are my favorites that I will not let go of; they travel with me with each move.  Countless books have been donated to local libraries for book sales.  Certain series favorites have been bought and sold by me on eBay.  And then there are the used book sales, rows and rows of books on rows and rows of tables.  Did you say fill a bag for a buck?

This past March, Pennsylvania was put on a stay-at-home restriction due to the pandemic.  My job changed drastically and many hours when spent transferring my lesson plans to an online format.  To help reduce my anxiety, I turned to my books; those stories that can take the reader away to another place and time.  During those last few months of school, I read 12 books.  You can see more about these books and my ratings on Goodreads.  Click on each book cover to go to its Goodreads overview.

Classic - I completed two classics during this time, one of which was Emma by Jane Austin.  Emma was read on my iPhone using the Books app.  I chose this book for two reasons, 1) the new movie, and 2) I read a modern take on the story written by Alexander McCall Smith.  I rated the book 5 stars.  This is the second Jane Austin novel I have read, and I really enjoyed it.

This romantic comedy is about a young genteel woman
in Georgian-Regency England trying to play matchmaker
while claiming that she herself will never marry. 

Mystery - I read two books in the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton; F is for Fugitive and P is for Peril.  I don’t usually read them out of order, but with the library closed I read what was available.  Though I rated both books 3 stars, this is still a good series and I recommend it.  I have since read G is for Gumshoe and rated that one 4 stars.  Kinsey is a strong female character and I hold her to high standards.  

Kinsey Millhone is a private-investigator hired
to solve difficult cases in Santa Theresa, California. 
She drives a VW Bug, eats Big Macs, and often
wears black turtlenecks (it was the 1980s.)

Fantasy - One of my favorite series of all time is The Lord of the Rings, and I did a second reread of The Fellowship of the Ring during this time.  The last time I read the series was in the early 2000s when the movie series came out.  As good as the movies are, the books are still WAY better.  Tolkien's writing is very poetic and flowing.  No surprise, this book received 5 stars.  

The first book in this series begins with Bilbo Baggins’
111th birthday.  Meanwhile Gandalf the Grey has
figured out the true meaning of Bilbo’s ‘Ring.’ As a
result, Bilbo’s nephew Frodo finds himself on an
adventure (along with 3 friends, a Ranger, an elf, a
dwarf, and a human) to return the ‘Ring’ to Mount
Doom. The book also includes an encounter with
Tom Bombadil, an ancient & enigmatic figure, sadly
left out of the movie.

August 11, 2020

Inspiration From Gardens & Flowers

I love flowers and gardens.  The women in my family are influencers who shared their love of flowers with me.  My earliest memories are me with my Grandmom Fleischmann planting zinnias in her flower beds.  She always got market packs of bright colors.  My Grandmom Winter had gardens around her house full of black-eyed-susans and roses.  And then there’s my Mom, who filled our yard with daisies, chrysanthemums, tulips, and azaleas, to name a few.  


When I was in high school, I got to have my own section of garden to plant flowers.  I filled it with wildflower seeds, then watched as echinacea, calendulas, and cornflowers grew and bloomed.  I took photos with my compact camera, though grainy and not the best balanced composition, it was my start.


The digital camera had a huge impact on my photography.  No longer waiting until the roll of film was finished to send off for development, then opening the package to see if the photographs turned out or not.  With the larger display screen versus the tiny viewing window, it became easier to balance the composition.  I took photos of flowers, vegetables, and nature trails.  I captured images of butterflies and caterpillars.  I took my flash drive to my favorite one-hour printer (unfortunately no longer there.) Prints fill my photo albums.  


It was around this same time that I started painting flowers.  I always loved art in school and had even considered becoming an art teacher.  At first, I focused on daisies and coneflowers.  When I wanted to paint crocuses, I took a picture and made sketches.  The same with pansies, then lilies.  If I didn’t have my own picture, I searched online for images from which to draw.  

With the advent of camera phones, I now have a way of sharing my photographs of flowers and nature with other people.  When visiting my parents, I wander around their yard taking pictures.  My Mom has filled the gardens with a wide variety of perennials, surrounded by groundcovers like periwinkle and flox.  She has indigo clematis, orange butterfly weed, and black-eyed-susans (a reminder of my parents’ home state of Maryland.)  Some of my wildflowers are still there in my old section of the garden with mums and daisies mixed in now.  


Nature continues to be a major inspiration in my life; whether I am hiking in the woods or reading in the backyard beside the gardens.  I love having the ability to share my photos and share my inspiration.  With so many social media options and the adverse effects that social media can have on us, I have chosen to focus on one format, Instagram.  My handle is @snowywindgrams.  


*All photos taken and owned by me

July 21, 2020

Chiques Rock Overlook Hike

I like to hike to high places.  Simultaneously, I get a rush of adrenaline and a sense of peace.  I feel like Queen of the World! From those high places, I can see for miles all around me and take in the vast landscape. I’ve hiked to the King & Queen Seat in Rocks State Park, Maryland.  I’ve been to the top of Sentinel Dome at Yosemite National Park, California.  And I’ve hiked to Gertrude’s Nose in Minnewaska State Park, New York.  But a favorite overlook spot of mine is right in my backyard, in fact, I used to live only 2 miles from the trailhead. 

View from the Susquehanna River

One of the best Susquehanna River overlook spots is driven past by Lancaster County commuters every day crossing over Chiques Hill by way of Rt. 441.  The overlook trail is part of Chickies Rock County Park located between Marietta and Columbia boroughs.  According to the park website, the “name is derived from the American Indian word Chiquesalunga meaning ‘place of the crayfish.’"  While the park has several features, including remnants of iron furnaces, the Breezyview Overlook with Gazebo, and access to the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, my favorite place is Chiques Rock.


Jutting out more than 100 feet above the river, Chiques Rock provides impressive views of the river, Marietta, York County, and the Wrights Ferry Bridge.  The hike up is only about a half-mile, but the beginning stretch is pretty steep.  The trail levels out at the top of the incline before turning towards the river.  For those concerned with safety, there are log fencelike barriers.  It is so peaceful, resting against the fence looking out over the moving water. 


lower portion of trail as it begins to incline      

Park Map c/o Lancaster County

Some interesting facts I learned from the website Uncovering PA:

  • There once was an amusement park at the overlock accessed by a trolley. 

  • During the Civil War, Union soldiers used it to observe Confederate soldiers in Wrightsville.

*Unless specified w/link, all photos taken and owned by me

July 6, 2020

Blog 2020 Check-In

It’s July 2020 and it’s time for a Blog update!  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog and where I want it to go.  Do I still want to blog about crafting?  What about my original idea from 10 years ago to create a blog about hiking and reading?  I have been sharing about my favorite hikes, but have not included books.  Instead, I focused on crafting while trying to build my Etsy business, which is currently on hold while I’m in grad school.  I had a new idea to create a podcast reading bedtime stories and that I would use this blog to post them.  Then the pandemic swept across the country, shut down schools and moved teaching to online, and really shook up goals and plans for 2020.  Even though I was teaching from home, my days were still just as full as if I was teaching at my school; all this while listening to others talk about all the free time they now had and what to do during it.  Through this, I was still taking classes to finish up my Masters in Education (I am so close to the finish line!  If you would like to read more about my experiences, click on the link to my “History Meets Tech” website:

So, for the next few posts, I have lined up a hike, a source of inspiration, and an introduction to what I’ve been reading.  I will no longer be writing crafting articles, but I encourage you to follow me on Instagram @snowywindgrams where I post photos and stories of my creative processes and projects.  Additionally, there is information about my crafting on both the ‘About’ and ‘Craft Show Photo Gallery’ pages.  Also, I have updated my 'Music Studio' page.  Following a brief bio, I posted “My Music Experience,” the story of my musical journey.  And that’s where I’m at right now.