Why we live where we live….

Ah yes!  Autumn…..fall….whichever you call it, this is such a beautiful time of the year! As I mentioned in the previous post, we have truly been spoiled rotten this year.  Instead of cold rain and brisk breezes, we have been enjoying warm days with bright sunny skies.  It is unusual, really, but in listening to the weather forecast yesterday, the beautiful weather might be displaced by more typical weather and temperatures in the coming days. That is fine….the woodshed is full and things are fairly well buttoned up and we are ready! (How did that happen?)

Speaking of firewood…we have not had a fire in the woodstove this autumn.  There have been a couple of days that were a little chilly, but not really cool enough to fire up the stove! With Ben now cutting our firewood, we have more than enough.  We not only have the woodshed filled, but we also have several neat piles of firewood stacked in the woods!  I love it!

On Saturday, it was so amazingly beautiful, Mark and I decided to take a ride through the woods on the atv’s.  Of course, I took a camera along….I would not want to miss one picture!  It was so, so beautiful after all!  So, come on along and you will discover why I always dreamed of living in the woods. (especially  this time of year!)

So many awesome, incredible, amazing colors! As the wind begins to blow and the rain moves in, these days are sure to come to an abrupt end.  Although the days like this are far too few, knowing they are short lived makes us only appreciate them all the more!

Our Wednesday diversion….

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!

Scary scarecrow!

 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… 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!

On the Fourth of July…

We took a little ride.  We drove down into Pennsylvania.  If you have read with me for awhile, you will know that my heart is buried deep in the hills of Pennsylvania!  I love this state…I was born there and spent the first three months of my life there.  I guess if I could have chosen, I would have stayed there.

Why do I love Pennsylvania so? Perhaps it is purely because of memories of time spent there.  My maternal and paternal grandparents spent much of my life there, along with great aunts, great uncles, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Truth be told, when my parents moved from Pennsylvania, they moved to a city in New York that is only minutes from the Pennsylvania state line. New York is an awesome state, but the hills here cannot compare with the hills of PA…or the memories!

Here are a few photos I took…we wandered around a bit until the GPS lost its mind, causing us to be lost for a short time as well!

Okay, so how lost could we have been….yes, we were looking for ATV trails that run through the National Forest.  How cool is that?

SOLD! Well, I am, anyway. We discovered the trails that run through the national forest a few years ago, but when I walked a little way on them, I was very impressed!  They are awesome. 

Hey, even nature is more friendly in Pennsylvania!  What?  You don’t believe me? 

While we were lost  As we were looking around the forest, I spotted this beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly.  Now, we have Swallowtails at our house, too, but trying to photograph one is a challenge and then some!  This lovely specimen was so happy to have me and my camera observing it! Okay, well, perhaps it has seen so few people, it doesn’t realize it is supposed to be afraid!

After our adventure to Pennsylvania, we were off to visit my parents and brother, Randy, to celebrate the Fourth.  My mother fixed the most awesome spead of picnic foods….it was so tasty! 

As I was taking some photos around the yard (oops! forgot to take people photos!) I spotted two Amishmen!

Yes, the Amish don’t necessarily celebrate the birthday of our nation, so these fellows were building a garage fro a neighbor. Now, my parents live in the city….this isn’t even really considered “suburbia”!  I was shocked when I spotted not only the Amishmen, but their horse and buggy in the yard!  They have to travel a good distance to get to this neighborhood…I would have thought they might have hired a driver!  In my next post, I will show pictures of the buggy and horse in the yard.

The photos above aren’t that great, but I didn’t want to feel like I was “spying”.  Particularly with a camera. These folks are very Old Order Amish and I am positive a camera has no  place in their lives!

We left to go home and it was hard to go….I love visiting my hometown. I miss my parents so much and although we are only four hours apart, sometimes it seems much much farther!

Around the Homestead…Around the Bristolwood

Today was a mild and sunny day full of blue skies!  Since the snowmobiles are now tucked away for the summer, it was time to take a drive on the ATV’s.  Ben has been wanting me to go for a ride with him,  and Mark wanted to ride as well.  We set off and I took along my Nikon D-80. (the older of my D-SLR’s)

Before we left, I just had to stop and photograph the beautiful Crocuses which seemed to be smiling back at the sunshine.  I am unsure how much longer they will last, but their beautiful colors and cheerful “faces” add so much to the barren front yard.

We will allow the photos to speak for themselves…

Okay…so, why the Scottie Dog socks?  Well…I had vowed not buy another Scottie sock. Ever!  As I was poking around for dark socks to wear on my ride, I came across this pair I bought last Chrsitmas at Macy’s.  C’mon….the bright colored Scotties were just too hard for my heart to resist….

A Bit Late!

I was going to blog about our grand adventure to visit with my parents on Wednesday night after we got home, but I had taken a photo with my cell phone and my computer and cell are not on speaking terms, it seems.  The computer keeps telling me I have an error when I try to view the photos on my storage card.  So, that means I need to fish around for an adapter for my wee little micro SD card from the phone….not that I am lazy.  Just tired!

All this to say a Happy Belated St. Paddy’s Day.  This fellow was sporting a grand green chapeau for the green holiday at the rod and gun club my parents belong to.  We were there the day before St. Paddy’s and I had a dish that was chicken with a fabulous artichoke and spinach sauce on it!

All decked out for St. Paddy’s Day!
Since I am looking at photos from the cell phone, I might as well include this one…we had gone to Tractor Supply and as Mark was talking to me,  I could hear the tiniest little “peeps” calling out.  Well, I knew just where to look!  (I love this time of the year when these little peeps are made available)
The chicks were just called “Pullets” and the ducks…well, “Ducks”!
Let’s see….
Yesterday,  we went for a little ride in the woods on the ATV’s.  We had a slight tragedy in that my little Panasonic camera is no more.  It went for a big tumble down into a ravine and ended up in the water (all the while in its case).   The camera has a metal case and wound up with n’ary a dent in it! Mark is trying to revive it, but…well…I am saddened as that camera literally went everywhere with me.  It was small enough to tuck into a pocket and helped me sneak some photos where I could never have gotten away with the big Nikons. 
Today, my dad went in an got a shot of cortisone to help with some wicked pain in his back.   He has been suffering for a long time and his doctor recommended getting the shot to give him some relief!  I talked to my mom tonight and she told me my dad is doing quite well and feeling better!  I am so happy, as he has not been able to do projects and things like he normally does.  Many years ago, I had a cortisone shot administered in my knee.  I had had surgery to remove a cyst from the muscle behind my knee and afterward, my knees both swelled up and hurt so badly, I could barely walk.  The doctor got tired of my complaining, so he gave me a shot, telling me it would “only” last about six months.  That was thirty-some years ago and I never had pain like that  in my knees since. I hope my dad’s results are as great as mine were!
On another happy note,  Mark and I made a quick run to Naples today and as we passed by Woodville,  I spotted an eagle in “the tree”! (the one where I took all my eagle photos!)  There was also a flock(?) gaggle (?) of Buffhead Ducks swimming near the shore until I got out of the truck.  They are so beautiful with their black and white markings…very striking!

Autumn Afternoon, Continued

I just couldn’t think of a much more pleasant way to spend a sunny autumn afternoon!  The sun was bright with not a cloud in sight and the skies were the most intense blue…they almost looked fake! 

This trail ride is located on a 600 acre farm that as been “in the family” since 1884.  The folks who own the farm told me they are “just farmers”, but the trails are maintained by a club that rides there.  This was such an awesome ride with such varying scenery….

Yes, try as one might, the end of this ride does indeed leave riders with messy bikes!  The owners of the farm were there, though, and graciously offered a small pressure washer to blast off the caked on mud!

We will be doing this again!

A Ride on an Awesome Autumn Afternoon

Mark has been working hard to get our ATV’s portable.  We bought a snowmobile trailer a while ago that measures eight feet wide by fourteen feet long….this is large enough to hold all three of our vehicles.  Mark has dreamed for years of someday being able to transport our machines to trails around our area and beyond.  Our new trailer has made this dream a reality!

On Wednesday afternoon, Ben, Mark, and I took the machines to a most amazing trail about forty miles from our house.  I am about to take you on a most wonderful tour, featuring Autumn in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.  If you don’t find this incredible,  I shall be rather surprised!

I think the trees in the photo below might be Beech….I love the way the falling long pine needles got caught on the leaves!

It is almost midnight and I am so tired from our ride.  These are half of my photos I selected, so I will post the last ones tomorrow.  Hope you have found one or two that caught your eye!