Harvest Time

Visiting North East PA which is big on producing grapes for grape juice.

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Ever Sunshine in Erie?

Right before Christmas we went to see relatives in NorthEast PA. It is a suburb of Erie. For three mornings in the row I got up early – thankfully it is not so early in December – and drove up to the Presque Isle State Park in hopes of getting sunrise shot with the lighthouse over the Lake Erie. Nope. No such luck. Every morning was grey and miserable with no sign of the sun. Sun would be coming right behind the lighthouse, so I took this photo to remember what did not happen.

I heard many gun shots while at the park. A lot of hunters are out there during this time of the year. PA actually has lottery for hunting license to this park. Not sure what they hunt for, probably deer or maybe turkey.

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Buying Beer in small town PA

Pennsylvania is an interesting state when it comes to buying beer. Some states sell any type of booze at the grocery stores, some states have special stores for hard liqueur and everything else can be bought at the grocery store. PA is not one of them. If you want to buy beer, wine and maybe hard stuff, then you have to go to special state operated stores. There are some advantages to it, state buys all booze whole sale, so they get some good discounts. Last year during our visit to Pittsburgh we were able to buy very good French wine for $15/bottle on sale from original $40 and this wine is not even available back in NC. I think this is the only advantage from the consumer point of view.

If you want to buy beer in PA, you have  a few options: go to the general booze store, go to the ‘beer drive by’ place or stop by the bar and buy it from them. On our recent trip to PA we visited relatives in North East. After hitting a few wineries we were on the way back to the house and decided to get some beer. First stop was at the local ‘beer drive by’. Since I never buy beer at place like this I didn’t even notice it at first. Non descriptive building on the side of the road with signs for beer distributor. We walked into the place and asked if we can get a 6 pack, preferably some IPA. It was a big room, full of beer cases. Everything appeared to be in 24 cans cases. The guy who worked there told us that they do not have IPA. I walked around the entire room trying to find something unique, maybe local microbrew, or at least some good PA beer. All they had there is Bud, Miller, Coors and some other brands of cheap beer. I asked him if they have any microbrew beer – No. I asked if they sell anything in 6 pack – No. So all they had is the stuff that I never touch and minimum in 24 cans per pack. What are we going to do with 24 Buds? We left the place empty handed.

Michael, my brother in law, commented on the irony of this experience: “First, they make it hard for you to buy beer in this state, but when you buy it they want to make sure you buy a lot of it and get really drunk.”

We still had to find some beer. Next stop was the local bar. In PA you can buy 6 packs from the bar at the grocery store price, at least that is what I believed before showing up there. This bar is on the side of the road, free standing house, popular with local guys. We walked in and asked if we can get a 6 pack of beer. The bartender pointed to the wall menu of beer choices that he sells at the grocery store price and the premium beers that he sells at the bar price ($3.50 bottle). There were totally probably about ten or so beer choices. About half of them were considered to be premium, which I think included Rolling Rock and some other non Bud/Miller/Coors selections. Rolling Rock is better on my scale than Bud/Miller/Coors, but to be considered as premium? Well, this place was our only choice now and I’m not about to pay $21 for 6 pack of Rolling Rock. We ended up buying 6 pack of Coors for about $6 total. Cash only.

Next time, while visiting PA small economically depressed towns, remember that it is not easy to find a place that sells beer and when you find it, the distributor probably won’t have any of your preferred choices.

Here is good tasting draft of Old Dominion Ale. Not found in North East PA.

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Lake Erie Gems

One our recent trip to North East, PA I’ve heard a story about Lake Erie Gems. They are usually green, but some come in white shades and some in brown. They were originally man made, in different shapes and forms. At one point in time they were trashed into the lake, broke into smaller parts and took a long process in their new formation. Waves and rocks polished them and removed sharp edges. I don’t know how long it take to make Lake Erie Gem. Months, maybe years. I went to hike on the shore and was looking for some Gems, but didn’t find any. Maybe it was not the day.

Then I saw this brick, it went through the same process as the real Lake Erie Gems would go. It was laying there lonely, with occasional hikers stepping on it and waves crashing it during winter storms. It is heavy, so I’m thinking that it has been here from beginning, kind of hard for water to move it from another location. Why would anyone bring it to this part of the shore? There is no construction in site, just rocky cliffs, trees and birds.

I found my Lake Erie Gem.

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Downtown Alley in North East, PA

Pretty crazy eye popping HDR here for you. These buildings probably about hundred years old. This is right next to the North East downtown Presbyterian Church. Enjoy, hehe.

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