While I spent much of the year navigating the pandemic, I still got to experience so many things. Every year is filled with love and loss and great memories. Here’s a slice of what my 2021 looked like.
Kicked off 2021 with … cold brew coffee
This was the first cold brew coffee of 2021. The first of many!
Presque Isle Lighthouse in snow
I don’t know if I had ever walked to the lakeshore side when there was snow on the ground.
I walked on (frozen) water
This was my first time walking on Presque Isle Bay from the Presque Isle side! I watched people ice fishing, playing hockey and doing other ice-related activities.
I got vaxxed
Doing the neighborly thing.
Visited the Erie Zoo!
This little baby orangutan is adorable!
I visited Wawa. (Twice)
We all make mistakes.
Saw the White House
Pennsylvania Avenue was closed, so this was the closest I could get.
Swam in this natural spring pool
My first visit to Bedford Springs! I had this pool to myself for at least 90 minutes.
Got to see this Gulf station!
Finally! I’d wanted to see this building ever since WQED’s Rick Sebak shared it on a history program.
Visited the United 93 crash site
I was here a week shy of the 20th anniversary.
Our beloved rescue Kaci died
Took a stroll to see old buildings, sites in Ellicottville
Selfied with world’s largest pickle
It’s a big dill.
Watched fireworks be lit off of Pittsburgh’s City-County Building
That had never been done before!
I got to see NYC decorated for Christmas
This was such a highlight of my life!
Saw Macy’s Christmas windows!
Saw the Rockettes!
What a great show!
Made new friends
Best NYC tour guide!
Saw old friends!
I love these guys.
Saw Erie history light up!
The Warner Theatre marquee had not been lit in more than 40 years.
As I meandered the lavish Bedford Springs resort grounds on a recent early September visit, I couldn’t help but think of the history that (pardon the pun) just keeps flowing through the place.
The property — which dates to 1796 when Dr. John Anderson purchased 2,200 acres for a mineral springs resort after learning about the springs from nearby indigenous people — have played host to the likes of politicians (Aaron Burr, Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun); business magnates (Henry Ford and department store innovator John Wanamaker); actors and those seeking the reputed medicinal benefits of the natural springs.
Pittsburgh socialites such as the Fricks, Mellons and Heinzes also made use of Bedford Springs.
In an effort to escape the brutal summer heat of the nation’s capital, the Supreme Court, in 1856, informally convened at Bedford Springs. While there, the court worked on the Dred Scott Decision, which gave more support to the anti-slavery movement and, ultimately, paved the way for the Civil War.
The Navy, during World War II, used the hotel and grounds as a training school and — later — as a holding facility for Japanese diplomats.
But it is James Buchanan who might be the resort’s most well-known frequent guest. As president, Buchanan used Bedford Springs as the summer White House between 1857 and 1861. His first visit was made in 1821.
In 1858, Bedford Springs made history as Buchanan, serving as president at the time, received the first transatlantic telegraph on Aug. 12, 1858. The telegram was sent from Queen Victoria to Bedford Springs.
Anderson’s family, in 1887, sold Bedford Springs to a group led by Pittsburgh attorney Philander Knox, who would eventually become secretary of state, serving from 1901 to 1904.
That group sold it again in 1896 to Delaware industrialist Samuel Bancroft.
In 1895, one of the nation’s first golf courses was laid out. Ten years later, in 1905, Bedford Springs became the site of one of the nation’s first indoor swimming pools.
But just two years later, in 1986, the property closed.
It sat vacant until 1998 when it was purchased for $8 million by a group of 10 investors under the Bedford Resort Partners Limited name.
Over the course of a $120 million effort to reopen the property, an eighth spring was discovered (Eternal Spring) in 2006. The property reopened to overnight guests in July 2007 and was purchased by the Omni Hotels chain in 2009.
Among amenities the resort offers is a 30,000 square foot spa — Springs Eternal Spa — that pays homage to the springs.
Guests can spend hours looking at all of the artifacts, photos and decor around the lobby, nearby rooms and hallways — including a desk Buchanan used, guest logs and images from when the Navy used the property. Behind the front desk is a 39-star United States flag.
Rocking chairs, lounge chairs, sitting chairs and benches scattered throughout the resort let guests lose track of time watching hotel life go by, watching wildlife, reading a book or taking a nap.
Of the five buildings of guest rooms, my particular room was in the Springs Eternal House. The charming room offered antique furniture and vintage decor. The granite vanity and marble floor in the bathroom provided such an exquisite feeling.
Being accustomed to slim, trendy and functional furniture in other hotels, this was a nice change. The surroundings didn’t feel too fancy (think: Grandma’s house where you can’t touch anything) or too old (think: Old motel). And, it should be noted, that with so much to do at the resort, the rooms quite literally are for resting. I wasn’t in my room except for late evening, through the night and early morning.