Wednesday was designated as “my day”.
When I was a little girl, my mother had family living in State College, (my grandparents) and Clearfield, (great aunts and uncle)Pennsylvania. I remember traveling the roads along the way…..through Warren, then Sheffield, and into the Allegheny National Forest. (Don’t ask me why it is spelled Allegany in New York State and Allegheny in Pennsylvania!)
I remember riding through the woods just past Sheffield in the winter during Christmastime, and the trees would be snow laden, creating a beautiful canopy above us. In the spring and summer, the canopy was truely amazing, bright greenery hailing the entrance into what I believed was one of the most magical places on the planet. Don’t even get me started on the fall….I can recall as though it was yesterday that we drove along the roads, oohing and aahing over the bright gem-colored trees in their autumal majesty as streaks of sunlight shone down upon them making them even more spectacular.
As we made our way through the woods, there was a tiny spot called Russell City. This wasn’t even big enough to be called a village or a town. There was just a business or two there and a few houses. That was it. And, Russell City is where I dreamed of one day living.
God plants dreams and ideas in each of our minds. I cannot imagine the why’s and how’s of the workings, but we are created in His image and we each have a dream. I have always loved the idea of living off the land…an independent lifestyle. When I was little, I used to look in books about how to survive in the woods. The woods called out to me and to this day, I love them. Although I love people and being around them, deep inside, I have this longing to return to the woods.
My great aunt had a small cabin in the woods in a state park in Pennsylvania and although rattlesnake and bear stories were sometimes heard, I loved visiting that cabin. There were many campfires shared there with hotdogs and marshmallows roasted on sticks. Behind the cabin was a stream with chilly water…the water was cold enough to be used for refrigeration. A little bridge crossed over the water to where an outhouse stood.
My great aunt was a tiny woman who never married. I remember when I was just a young girl of maybe eight or nine, I was nearly as tall as my great aunt. I loved her so much and always called her “my Pal”. Aunt Vera also had a house in the city of Clearfield. The house was built by my great grandfather and was quite the house! My great grandmother was also small in stature, so the cupboards were hung low. It was always incredible to be able to reach right up into the cupboards as a child to grab a glass!
Now that this information has been shared, perhaps you, Dear Reader, will understand why I tell people that my heart is buried deep in the hills of Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, Mark got out his GPS and asked me where it was I wanted to go. I replied immediately, Russell City. He punched the name into the unit, then asked if he had misspelled it. Nope. I told him the highway Russell City was situated on, and as he scanned the map, there simply was no Russell City. As much as Mark advised me I was wrong, I could feel my dander rising and insisted I knew where Russell City was!
As Mark worked on his GPS along the side of the road, I saw this scarecrow in a nearby garden!
Finally, Mark began driving and I finally convinced him to just head on out toward where the ATV trails are located in Allegheny National Forest. Secretly, I knew that Russell City was directly on ATV as well as snowmobile trails as I had seen it on the forest website last year!
We drove on for quite a while, until we came to Kane, Pennsylvania. It was there, on Route 6 (a famous for its scenic views highway) that a sign stated Russell City was nine (I think) miles away. I nearly jumped out of my skin!
As a girl, we used to travel to Kane to see the Lobo Wolves. The wolves lived on a farm and were brought there to save them from extinction, by a doctor named McCleery. People traveled from far and wide to visit the farm. When I spoke to my mom about this, she couldn’t remember where we saw the wolves, only that they were in Kane.
The wolves were sold several years ago and relocated to Washington. Their memories and fame still lives on in Kane, though.We looked around the city for awhile, then made our way toward Russell City.We finally came to the village and there it was. There are several more houses, still two businesses, and pretty much nothing more. We passed through heading north, then turned around and headed south.
We stopped at one ATV trailhead, then another. The trails are a hop, skip, and jump from…..you guessed it….Russell City! I walked along one of the trails for a ways, and surprisingly, the kids followed.
As I walked along this trail, I was surprised at its composition. The “trail” was more like a road than anything, and it was all a light colored sand with rocks. The trail was level and beautifully groomed. Surely it would become more rugged as I walked on.
The two trails in this area connect and one could spend a day just riding around! The maps are posted and from what I saw along my walk, the trails are well marked.
As I made my way along, it was obvious that there was work being done along the trail. A lot of undergrowth had been cut out, making the area look more parklike!
I continued on until I came to this crossroads. You can see the tire tracks in the loose sand. I still cannot believe these beautiful trails and their fantastic condition.
The photo above this one is part of the scenic loop shown on the sign above. The scenic loop is a very short ride and it runs parallel to a gas line on the ride back to the crossroads. You can see the trail on the right side of the photo.
This is the trail opposite the scenic loop at the crossroads. I have never seen trails in such perfect condition!
I walked back to the truck, astonished by what I had seen and anxious to tell Mark all about the trails! I even grabbed a handfull of the sand so I could show him! What a remarkable system this is….I am hoping we will be able to ride it. Soon!
When I got back to the truck, a Jeep drove in with a small trailer with an ATV on it. I watched in awe as a single woman hopped out of the Jeep and began to get ready to unload the ATV. At Mark’s urging, I went over and spoke to her. She works and lives in a small town a short distance from the park. She was coming, all alone, at about six o’clock, to ride. I asked if she was nervous about riding alone and she said she wasn’t. She said ATV people are great people and someone always shows up on the trails sooner or later.
One of the trails has a little area designated for camping. There were a couple of campers parked there. We were just beside ourselves seeing all this! I felt as though I had discovered a whole new world! And all this because I had this dream of someday living in the national forest in Russell City!
As we were getting ready to leave my little “haven”, Mark pulled into a road and there along the road were two or three beautiful Monarch Butterflies!