Tuesday, August 13, 2013

7.5 Miles, 1000 Vertical Feet, 22 Waterfalls!!! Do you know where your Nitroglycerine Tablets Are??

While on a hunting trip on Loyalsock Creek in 1850, brothers Elijah and Clemuel Ricketts were frustrated at having to spend the night on a hotel's parlor floor. In 1851 or 1853 they bought 5,000 acres, as their own hunting preserve, and built a stone house on the lake shore by 1852 or 1855. The stone house served as their lodge and as a tavern; it was known as "Ricketts Folly" for its isolated location in the wilderness. 
The Ricketts family was not aware of the glens and their waterfalls until about 1865, when they were discovered by two guests from the stone house who went fishing and wandered down Kitchen Creek. There the two branches fell through dozens of waterfalls, cascades and slides falling  over 800’.  The family named 22 of the falls, built pathways along  each branch and hosted hikers and enthusiasts.  At one point the Ricketts Glen was considered for National Park status.  MUCH MORE HISTORY HERE.

Modern Ricketts Glen State Park is a hard place  to get into.  We were fortunate to reserve two days, one of which we spent on various adventures with a trailer hitch and a two mile climb up an 18% grade to the park.  We were comforted that our jerry rigged hitch seems to perform well and that one fellow camper told us that he had “pulled all over the Rockies and never saw a hill like that.”  

The campground was near full, mostly with tents and families with kids.  We shoehorned into our site and decided to worry about how to get out another day.
The Hike:  We didn’t see all the waterfalls, but we probably could have;  we are feeling pretty buff after  two weeks of 25 mile bike rides.  We paced ourselves,  oohed and awed a good bit, and returned to the car pleasantly tired.  OK, so that’s the medical report, 

We figure we climbed up and back down 700 vertical feet to the highest waterfall -- 92' (size does seem to matter.) and walked about 6.5 miles, and saw 10 waterfalls.  We're happy to leave a few for the next time when you can  come along.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pine Creek People

We can’t leave Pine Creek –- Seriously Folks, we can’t leave this trail.  I think we will be back in a week –- We can’t leave this Pine Creek visit without a word about the people.  We always say that the best part is the people;  here are a few examples. 

We met Val and her husband at the Blackwell parking area.  They have a place at Slate Run and hope to make  it their home some day, but not before they travel the world –- we talked about their trips to Ireland and Alaska, their marriage arranged by friends around a music festival (all fun, no drama.).  Like many we meet, their kids are as settled as possible and they are living NOW, with no fears for the future.

Crossing into Cedar Run, Patty stopped to talk with two young Mennonite boys.  One was holding a sign  “BEAR   THIS WAY” . The eight year old reported that they had dumped some cooking grease at their vacation place and the bear had been around  all morning.  He just wanted to share the joy with us.  The six year old was afraid “that bear is going to get in big TROUBLE!”

This crossroads has several big rental units that are popular with vacationing Old Order folks.  We have meshed in with their group rides a couple times and had some nice talks.

Who knew that pretty young mom at the ice cream store was a photo journalists for Al Jazeera and Reuters? And exactly where IS Kyrgyzstan?

We met Rick at the campground just because he had his Airstream shirt on.  He was scouting for a future rally and was without his AS. We had a nice visit and made another Airstream  friend. 

IMG_0082The fresh produce sign caught our attention and we made a point to stop on the way back. The shed was in front of the barn and lots was going on. Truck being unloaded,dogs passing through, but the Mennonite mom had a big hello, asked about the biking. The young man helping us (he was 12) moved over to help dad with the load of local cantaloupes and his eight year old brother totaled our bill for six different items and made change IN HIS HEAD.  He’d had a pretty good day. “…helped Father get a load…’’ thinks he’ll get to go fishing tomorrow   “after chores.”

IMG_9848The folks in Wellsboro are without exception gracious and kind, with time to visit and a story to tell.  We, of course, looted the Library book sale.

  “We have had lots of librarians visit to see what we have done with our historic building.  They asked about “Friends of the Library” and told us how much good they can do. We didn’t have such a group, so we librarians set up the book sale.” (but not before checking with the local (great) bookstore to get their blessing.) 

Tom and Debbie Finkbinder run Wolfe’s General Store at “One Pine Creek.” It is a full line Orvis fishing store and guide service, a really good deli, a surprising gift shop, small grocery and gas station where you might also rent a bike, all in a home built and rebuilt and added on along a perch between the highway and the bike trail and close by beautiful trout filled Slate Run.  It was hard to keep up with Debbie as she greeted each new customer and attended to Deli, gas, gift and grocery.  It being summer and a slow fishing period, Tom and the other 70 year old had time to get acquainted.  We could have listened to his genial stories all day and would have if some pesky customers hadn’t interrupted…
The store’s mission is worth quoting:
Our store's mission is simple: To provide polite, friendly service to each customer that enters the store and to make sure that his or her vacation is better because of us. In other words, we aim to treat every customer the way we would like to be treated when we are on vacation. Very simple!

We “finished” the trail at Jersey Shore, PA.  (Funny they don’t sound like Snooki here??).
We were taking some local advice by visiting the Weis Grocery just 100 feet away. It was crowded, but the teen wrangling baskets very graciously showed us a place to store the bikes.
When I IMG_9930caught up to Patty at the Deli, she and her new best friend were comparing current prices to the prices of their childhood. Her friend had a printed list. 
The stories continued…
…I babysit my nine year old grandson.  He comes over with computer games and sets one up for me to play and shows me how.  When I mess it up, he very patiently straightens it out and “there you go Grandma.”  …Sometimes I wonder who’s sitting who! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pine Creek Trail

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

pine creek signI love this trail! Patty sung out over her shoulder just 100 feet down the trail.  The weather is perfect, the flow in the first run had us thinking TROUT and we took an hour and half to cover the first three miles – scouting, and talking and watching…

buck head up
It was hard to See the eagles, but we could sure HEAR them. A pair nests near the Darling Run Kiosk and the juvenile is flying. 
“They usually return to the nest about four o’clock.”
We’ll be here.
first run

trail in sunlight


turkey creek
This is our third trip to the area and probably our fifth ride thru the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”.  Did I mention those hills are ---high?

Another day took us to Cedar Run

2013_0806CEDAR RUN PA
IMG_9903Our home for five days will be Ives Run, a Corps of Engineers facility we have enjoyed before.  It is always in demand and most often by local folks in nice rigs.  In summer younger families mix in, so there are lots of bikes with training wheels, piles of car top boats and some new tents.  It is a well designed and orderly place.

Each day we pass through the lovely village of Wellsboro. The main street is a touch of New England, with lovely homes set back on large lots.  The business area is thriving, with locally owned stores and no franchise anything.  The department store is over 100 years old. The Wellsboro Dinner has been on the corner since 1928 in its little trolley building.  We enjoy the shopping for essentials, the dinner food, ice cream, books and gear.  But the best walks are near the green with it’s fountain. Winkin, Blinkin and Nod always give us a little peace.




Each day is a ride on another part of the Pine Creek Trail.  We ride out and back from our starting point, so we see each section at least twice.

The upper section is along Marsh Creek.  It’s pretty now looking forward as the two rims close in to form the “canyon”.  We’ve been told that it is gorgeous in the fall as the Maples turn and the Marsh is alive with migrant birds. 

The ride turns around at the Eagle’s Nest.  They DID return at 4:15 the other night – all three of them.  Today just one bird lazing in the noontime sun.
We had to move after five days, so we struck out for Little Pine State Park IN THE RAIN.  It’s a nice enough park, closer to the lower sections of the trail and packed full over the weekend. A different clientele, more families with kids, packs of twenty somethings and lots of amateur fire building. We snuck in a twilight ride after the rain…


… and we made some new friends.


IMG_9931Little Pine has its own Eagles and a convenient place to pull up a chair, talk with other watchers and wait.

The focal point is that dead tree in the center.  Sometimes a canoe from down on the lake can be counted on to stir them into a little activity.
IMG_9940 There are frequent sightings of Herons, Beaver, deer and Canadians. New friends Wayne and Lynn were as enthusiastic as we were and delightful company.  Hope their pictures turned out better than ours. but we are LOVING our new binoculars.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Patty does NOT like mice.  She does not even like the CONCEPT  of mice scurrying around Appalachian Trail shelters.  She doesn’t like sharing her Amish bread with them and she certainly does not like tidying up behind their little parties. Al was less adamant, seeing them, in his Zen-like way, as essential, if unlovely parts of Nature’s  great plan (kinda like Buzzards and Tobacco chewers.)   That was  BEFORE an army of rampaging field mice laid waste to a tray of hand picked Donut Peaches just reaching their peak of ripeness. 

It happened in one night at the Quirky campground mentioned above. The devastation was total and their army secured sanctuary in every niche.  We deployed chemical weapons, and, lacking power to utilize our electronic mouse prevention devices, denied all food and liquid.  Slowly the evidence of their presence diminished and when we embarked on 200 miles of rough New York back roads, we imagined their little bloody concussed  corpses abandoning the trailer at highway speeds.  We can fervently hope.
Several days have passed and so, we hope, the dreadful incursion.  Mouse sign has diminished to a vanishing point and a doubly thorough cleansing of the home  place has been accomplished. 

Just 12 more months until Donut Peaches are back…

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Oquaga Creek State Park

Without our electronic planning resources (or even a serviceable State Map), we left Beaverkill is a state of navigational confusion.  No Matter.  We rode the extension of Berry Brook road at 30 MPH and saw only one car and lots of beautiful little homes. Along the Pepacton Reservoir (route 30), we sped up a little and cleared our minds of “Quirkiness” .  At a Rest area near Walton we thumbed New York’s self serving State Park descriptions and chose a destination. Near Delphi, Patty scanned the on-line reviews and said “No Way” to that place. We reversed field and got another look at the beautiful farms in the valley.


IMG_9744The reception at Oquaga Creek was friendly and professional; we found that that was true in all aspects.





The park was born in 1979 clearly from abandoned farm land.  The entire campground is neatly mowed grass with many of the natural contours left.  The sites are large and each a little different.  No gravel pads or barriers here; just figure out a level spot for trailer or tent and create your own little paradise. 




Behind us, a barely traveled path in the fringe leads into the woods and along a stone  boundary of an old field.  Elsewhere, someone who knows this ground (and loves it) has mowed paths along stone fences and through the overgrown apple orchards down to the lake’s edge.


OK, we were a little apprehensive when the NY State Park brochure told us that the lake was a magnet for NYC escapees.  We found the number of children clearly enjoying the swimming area hardly outnumbered the Herons and Kingfishers.

“That only happens on the National holidays”, we were told.


We have loved our days here. Showers have come and gone.  We read, relaxed and wrote a little.  Walks are nice as you will see.




It’s going to be a VERY good year for apples!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cooperstown New York

The National Baseball Hall of Fame
Everyone on the planet knew Pat’s dad. Everyone called him Vinnie except for boys who had designs on his daughters.  I called him Mr. B.  Patty and her Dad  shared a  love for everything Baseball –-Indian Ball in the lot by the tracks after supper, radio games on the screened back porch and free seats at the old Sportsman’s Park. Since Patty was Vinnie’s only son, the bond was ever more intense and exclusive.
There were many nights in our pre dating years that I would deliver her home after a night time tennis match or bike ride to the screened back porch.  Vinnie would have Harry Carey and the Cardinals on the little tube radio and greet us with that ever cheerful smile and that little look reserved for boys who might have designs …
“What’s the score?  …  I’ll get the ice cream.” 
Patty would head for the freezer and that was my cue to fade away and leave them to devour SIX ice cream cones apiece and sweat bullets until Harry signed off. This was their special time.
I never personally saw Mr. B, a very highly regarded funeral director, hawking souvenir programs, but if he had, this would be a pretty good representation.

  We felt Vinnie’s presence all day as we passed a rainy day at the Baseball Hall of fame, reading captions below the mementoes left by the Cardinal greats ––Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst, Kenny Boyer (who I once considered the biggest obstacle to my future plans for Patty and I.)
If you are a fan, this is the greatest place on earth to recapture epic moments, rekindle that love of stats and averages and box scores.  Each team and every ballpark are commemorated.  There are clubhouse lockers of the greats with their gloves and uniforms and more caps. There are baseballs –- baseballs with numbers and baseballs with autographs and BATS, lots and Lots of bats.  If you are not a big fan and don’t have half a team trailing along to impress, it would be easy to make remarks….It would be easy if you didn’t have a REAL Fan at your side and that fan had not murmured a single syllable while you led her reverently though the Fly Fishing Museum (rods, and feathers and old creels and some more feathers…)  Comments could have been made, but were not…