Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011-21 Western New York

New York

I thought I’d write about a few insights I’ve noted about the state of New York.  Now these are my thoughts and may not reflect the total picture of an area but are items that I’ve observed.

didn't even have to carve it....

As you may be aware, many states have a fee on plastic, glass and aluminum cans.  On initial observance, one would think it would be a great way to ensure recycling.  But as a traveler, even though I have a separate garbage can for such recyclable items,  there are no recycle bins to put my cans, bottle and aluminum into.  From what I’ve observed NY doesn’t have recycle bins as in other states.  Your supposed to return you cans, bottles etc to a grocery store that has a place to turn them in and get cash back.  But what to do with a bottle or can that hasn’t been purchased in that state?  It just gets tossed in the regular garbage bin, adding to the non-cycled garbage dumps.  And what about the other things that aren’t being recycled like paper, cardboard and glass.  Oh well….

I can’t tell you how much it hurt to toss those recycle items in the regular trash.

I’m in an area where many Amish live.  Today while visiting the small town of Angelica, two horse drawn black buggies drove by.  Each with a young person and a mother with her black bonnet covering her hair.  The young boy with his straw hat on.  Standing up as he directed the horse down the quiet main street.

Just out of town, one of the Amish farms also had a lively lumber business.  Cutting lumber for building purposes, right in the local area, reducing transporting the lumber long distances and probably helping the environment.  I like to see their laundry hanging up on huge lines strung up across a pulley system from the back of the house to a tall pole out in the middle of the yard.  All whites one day, then all dark colors (black, gray and blue) the next.  Nice to see a simpler way of life being so successful.

Lots of farms and barns and silos throughout the area.  They appear to grow lots of grains and hay in the area with a smattering of corn as well as other crops.  Many farms have a pond near the main entrance as well.  Many of the small towns were built up and became prosperous around the turn of the century.  With wonderful large homes and mansions to testify to wealth in the area at one time.  And yet there’s so much land that is still forested as well.

My friend Steve was telling us how normally this part of NY never gets hot.  Well the last couple of days it has reached into the 90’s and they don’t have air-conditioning in their farmhouse.  Steve said it was 88 in their living room the other night.  He had a brilliant idea to chill his T-shirt in the fridge.  A little while later, he took the T-shirt out of the fridge expecting to feel all cool after putting the shirt on.  He barely got the t-shirt on and it was at room temperature again.  So much for great ideas.

I remember growing up in Northern Michigan and the few days it would get really hot, Mom would keep all the shades pulled upstairs and down.  After a few days the house lost all it’s coolness and would become really warm.   The basement door would be left open to let cool air rise up from the basement below.  If you stood in the open doorway it did feel cool.  Mom would let us kids sleep downstairs on the carpeted floor in the living room until the heat abated a few days later.

Over in Wellsville NY I stopped to take pictures of a wonderful pink Italianate mansion that even has a ghost story to tell.  It remains in the same family that built it in 1868.  Such amazing Victorian houses are all around this area.  One has windows in the shape of keyholes and I must go back and get pictures of it.

The following week, I took one of those excursions into the country side that I always enjoy.  I headed towards Letchworth State Park.  Just driving along hilly country roads seeing all the farms in the area and a few abandoned old barns and homes.  Thru tiny little towns like Canaseraga, Nunda, Portage Village and Dansville.  Crossing over the Genesee River on a narrow bridge that barely looked like it could hold the weight a single car crossing it, with it’s buckling asphalt road and weeds growing up through the pavement.

Letchworth is one of those gems built around a natural wonder, the Genesee Gorge.  Three waterfalls, 600 feet deep gorge, the Glenn Iris Inn where I had a wonderful lunch.  The Norfolk and Southern railroad passes overhead on the tall Portage Bridge, built to replace the tallest wooden bridge in the world after it burned down in 1875.  Thought Tim R who’s a train buff would enjoy a few shots of the train crossing the bridge.  I walked under the bridge as the Norfolk Southern passed on overhead.  Listening to the train as it slowly traveled across the bridge high above.  The smooth grinding of steel wheels against the tracks and the rhythmic clicking as the thousands of tons of train engine and cars rolled over each section of track.  Even feeling the vibrations through the solid rock foundation I stood on next to the steel girders of the bridge.

Great hiking trails, old timey rental log cabins and campground all along a 25 mile long scenic route within the state park. I thought I’d mention the lunch I had, Chicken Fricassee. What a simple elegant and taste dish.  If you haven’t had it in a while, It’s basically fresh made biscuits piled with shredded chicken, peas, shredded carrots in a white gravy sauce, sprinkled with parsley.   The folks next to me thought it looked so good, they wanted to take a picture of it.  I’ve added a link to a Cajun version you may like to try and adjust to your own taste. Other versions are over rice.  See links.

What a refreshing day spent hiking between waterfalls, along the edge of the deep gorge canyon walls.  Tall shade trees providing a cathedral type atmosphere with birds chirping in the distance.  Long moss covered rock walls and benches made by the CCC’s so many years ago.  The Genesee River bottom made of flat slabs of rock that have cracked over the years and appear to be square and rectangular slabs made by man. But nature has carved these from the river itself.

Back in the little town of Angelica, I stopped in the Sweet Shop for a cup of coffee and pastry and a chat with the owner.  Told how her and her husband have purchased two of the building in town and work 7 days a week running them along with hiring 20 part time workers as well.  Loving the work and the small town.  I wandered around town taking lots of pictures.  In their circular park they’ve built a Roque rink for an old fashioned game that is still played today by some of the locals.  Men only.  As the owner of the Sweet Shop suggested, the women probably wouldn’t be interested in playing anyway, as it’s a very slow paced game.

Stopped in the city hall and met the Court clerk.  A nice gal who said the judge is trying to convince her to study for and apply for being a judge one day.  Hope she goes through with it too.  The Post Office is in an old historic building on the corner of the circular park, (is it possible to have a corner on a circle?).  The Post Master said they’re little post office is safe at this point and pointed to the 250 one hundred year old mail boxes in use.  Neat little post office.  I had wanted to go to the Free Library but it’s only open three days a week.  Will have to back tomorrow.  It’s an impressive building.

So as you can see I’m not exactly doing much exploring as I am absorbing the feel of this area of the country.  Meeting the people and enjoying a different pace of life.  Until next time, have a super great day
Exploring your own part of the world.

More pictures on Picasa.

Friday, July 15, 2011

2011-20 Penn to New York


Lantz Corner, PA

Bradford PA

Western New York

Campground:  Foote Rest Campground, Lantz PA.  $15 Passport America, extra for cable Tv.  Elect/water site.  Good size Rv park.  Older swimming pool, nice shaded grassy campsites, most are pull-thrus.

Campground:  Visiting friends for the month in western NY.

What an interesting drive north on hwy 219 through Pennsylvania.  About 60 miles was a super nice divided highway, but half way up the highway, huge signs indicated I needed to take an alternate route.  NO TRUCKS longer than 17ft.  Yikees.  I am towing a 35 ft camper.  So after taking the alternate route (for about 5 miles) , I get back on  the highway.  It eventually peters out going back to a two lane road and another big sign warns ALL TRUCKS weighing more than 10,000 lbs need to exit, NOW.  Well, with a 5th wheel in tow, weighing between 12 and 14,000 lbs.  I took their advice again.  Apparently the steep winding slope into a town would be too much for the ole brakes.  The alternate had a couple of runaway ramps in case ones brakes fail.

When I got to Foote Rest campground and settled in, I was surprised to see dozens of bunnies all over the place.  They tell me at times, they have up where near 300 to 400 rabbits.  But with coyote, fox and other wild critters, the population fluctuates.  Last night a couple of black bears came into the campground, attracted to a huge pile of overflowing garbage. About 20 feet from my camper…. I slept through it all.
Doug getting his Senior Park Pass

The following day, after a few tours around the area I dropped into the Alleghany National Recreation Visitor Center  to pick up my Senior Pass.  $10 for a lifetime pass that gets me into National Parks, BLM, National Forests and even TVA campground, etc.  Many of the campgrounds in these places are half off with the Senior pass.  Now that’s a Birthday gift that will continue to keep on giving  for many years.

In Bradford I visited the Zippo lighter/Case museum.  Nice to see a community that still has manufacturing of a great product.  Many people collect the various designer cases with everything from Elvis (the most popular) to the Beatles, advertising cases, to WWII collectables.  They call the Zippo lighter “pocket art”.  The town also has a large motor oil refinery.  You know Pennsylvania was the heart of the oil industry in the early days of oil and gas.  I’ve noticed oil collection tanks along the back roads, all painted green to blend in with the surrounding forests, throughout western Penn.  So there must still be some oil underground around here.

One of my side trips was to the Kinzua Bridge State Park.  The bridge rises 301 feet high, well it did before a tornado came along and demolished most of it in 2003, ending the eighth wonder of the world.  One end that remains standing is being refurbished and will have a glass floor for looking all the way down into the gorge.  Should be completed in Sept of this year.  Still kind of neat to see what remains of the bridge from a side viewing platform.

I’ve been fortunate to have reached a part of the country (western NY) that’s been getting perfect weather.  Highs in the mid 70’s to low 80’s with no humidity.  Wonderful daytime breezes and clear blue skies.  Evenings in the high 50’s.  Blanket weather.  I’m looking forward to settling in for a month and doing maybe an excursion once or twice a week to outlying areas.  If I find something interesting I’ll be sure to report on it.

I’ve already found quaint little towns with multiple churches facing a round park circle.  Antique stores so jam packed with stuff it would take days just to go through one or two of them.  Amish farms mixed in with more traditional U.S. farms on large rolling landscapes between thick forests of green.  A young Amish boy with his dark shirt, suspenders and straw hat, riding a Clydesdale horse so big it looked like a house.
western New York

So while I’m enjoying the country life, I’ll have plenty of time to read my e-mails so if you have time, drop me a line and let me know about what’s going on in your life.

extra photos on PICASA

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011-18A A Writers Club Story

The following story was written by my Writers Club friend Kurt Olson.  I was not able to get it published before my 2011-18 Roving Report went out.  Kurt has a wealth of knowledge and has written a most interesting story on the plight of the Blue Bird.  Remember I built a Blue Bird bird house and because of that, I wanted to include Kurt's great story.  This story will both entertain and educate on the life of the beautiful Blue Bird.

Enjoy, and let me know if you enjoyed it.  Thanks. dougp


Author:  Kurt Olson

Pauline, Tsuga, and I left Arizona in early April to get back to New Hampshire where we had a busy summer lined up working on the farm, woodlot, and visiting relatives and friends. We scheduled a weekend stop in Washington, D.C. to visit my son and his wife and to see their new home, so did not tarry along the way.
From Tennessee and up the eastern seaboard both of us were impressed with the redbuds, which were in full bloom, and getting reacquainted with eastern birds that we hadn’t seen in two years.

When we got to the D.C. area we found a state park in Reston, Virginia that accommodated RV’s located only a few miles from Hans’s and Kathleen’s house in Falls Church. The RV park was a great location, with spacious sites, a small lake, only four other rigs in the park, and handy to many of the places we wanted
to visit. Up early the next morning we were greeted by a male eastern bluebird singing and perched at the end of a limb with the sunlight brilliantly illuminating his blue, pink, and white plumage. A glorious bird in nature’s spotlight!

We had been seeing bluebirds since we got east of the Mississippi River, and it made us feel like we were home and amongst friends. The beautiful, friendly birds population declined seriously enough in the past century to reach critical status by the mid-1900s. The decline was due to nest predation by house sparrows
and European starlings; both of which are non-native, introduced species, loss of habitat due to loss of tree cavities, pesticides, and a severe late winter storm that killed many of them during spring migration in the 1930’s. As a child, it was very unusual to see a single bluebird.

Since that time, Rachael Carson wrote Silent Spring, the book that woke Americans up to the travesty that was occurring to the environment do to DDT and other pesticides. People have shown that they really do care about wildlife, with numerous bluebird trails across the country, where specially designed nesting
boxes have been installed and maintained for bluebirds. I have two dozen boxes on my farm.As a result of the positive actions, the bluebirds are returning, and to see them brightens ones soul.

Reaching New Hampshire, we stopped at the Seabrook visitor center to stretch our legs and to give Tsuga a walk. As soon as she got out of the motorhome, she sensed she was home, and her whole demeanor transformed. When we got going again, her nose was at the fresh air vent, she was excited, and she told us to hurry, she wanted to get home and run in HER fields and woods without any cactus spines or rattlesnakes. She had forgotten about burdocks however.

We reached Rochester before suppertime, got set up, and had supper – all before dark. The next morning, as we were eating breakfast, a male bluebird perched in an oak tree about 20-feet from the window. What a fabulous gift for a homecoming! As we were working around the next few days, we were thrilled by the male and his mate perching in various trees in the yard and investigating the merits of the various birdhouses in the yard.

They settled on a neatly painted house with red sides and a black roof that Norm, my tenant, had attached to an ash tree located between the barn and the road. A plus for this house was that we could view it directly through the windshield of the motorhome. There were a couple of negative features of this house though. The
entry hole was too large, allowing house sparrows or starlings to enter. Also, being on a tree might permit squirrels or other nest predators to get to the nest.

A few days later, I was looking towards the nestbox, enjoying the coming and goings of the birds when suddenly, as the female landed on the base, a black cat leapt onto the tree trunk, scampered almost to the birdhouse, nearly catching the female, and panicking both birds. Attempted murder!

My tenant, Norm, is a softy, and when a feral cat started hanging around the barn, he started feeding it, and by this time it was welcome in the house, although officially he referred to it as “a barn cat”. We live just far enough of town so that when people get tired of their cats, are moving, and don’t feel they can take their
animals with them, they drive out and drop them off. I guess they think, or hope, that the cats will go to the nearest farm and be absorbed into the farmstead. Wrong assumption. The average feral cat lives two years in the wild, and apparently it isn’t a very nice existence with internal and external parisites, disease, and
environmental factors taking a heavy toll. I keep telling him about a recent study conducted in Wisconsin that found that house cats are responsible for the deaths of  400,000 birds in that state annually.

Within the hour I had nailed two rings of aluminum flashing around the tree just below the nestbox. Hopefully I had eliminated that potential problem.

A couple of days later, I was again looking out the window as I lingered over a cup of tea before getting into the field. Suddenly there was a flurry of beating wings near the nestbox, the male and female bluebird and a larger male house sparrow. The bluebirds were trying to chase the sparrow off, but he had evil on his mind.
The distraught bluebirds were no match for this bulky bully. He kept going into the house with the oversize entry, picking holes in the eggs, clasping them in his beak and dropping them on the ground. Five beautiful blue eggs that would have been the next generation now lay on the ground with the white and yolks seeping into the ground. Was this infanticide or eggicide?

What to do? The house sparrow, aka English sparrow, is an alien bird species, introduced into North America by a homesick Brit in New York City in 1851. These feisty little guys have an affinity for man, and can commonly be seen wherever people congregate. Often scavenging outside McDonalds, feed lots, or nesting in the marque of shopping malls, they now populate most of North America. Prolific nesters, they can produce up to four clutches per year, and aggressively stake out nesting habitat.

The bluebirds hung around for a couple of days, tentatively looking at other nestboxes, and then they were gone. I did see bluebirds further down the road, and wondered if they were my bluebirds or another pair. A lot of the upbeat pleasure of spring had vanished.

Still wondering what to do, when it came to me – GAMO. A high velocity, very accurate airgun that would let me get control of the house sparrows.

The next day was a Saturday, and it was raining, so we hotfooted it over to the Kittery Trading Post who has a good selection of firearms, and was talked out of a GAMO and into a RWS. Neat little gun with a scope and propelling the lead pellets at 1,000 feet per second. War has been declared on these murderous aliens.
Revenge is sweet.

Now if I can learn to shoot straight.

Author:  Kurt Olson, Desert Trails Writers Club

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2011-19 Ohio to Pennsylvania and Falling Water



Appalachia Plateau



Campground:  Lancaster Camp Ground, 2151 W. Fair Ave, Lancaster OH, 43130:
Local: (740) 653-2261.  Passport America $12.00, elect./water.  Easy access dump station. Nice back in sites.  Many with shade.  It’s on the historic register having been started in 1872.

Campground:  Kooser State Park, Penn.  $25-35 depending on the day of the week.  I received the senior discount bringing my daily fee to $26.  Pull thru site, elect only.  Grassy sites, gravel roads.

I’m in the southern corner of Ohio and have noted that many of the tourist information guides keep mentioning the Appalachia region or plateau.  After doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered that Appalachia covers many states from Georgia on up through West Virginia and almost all of Pennsylvania.  In this area of Ohio, they appear to be more in tune with the Appalachia culture.  Carrying on the tradition of mountain music, quilting (here in Adams County there are many quilt patterns painted on the barns), wood carving and so much more.

And with just a little bit of exploring one can find two covered bridges, an Amish community selling fine furniture, baked goods and quilts.  Even a winery and restaurant on the river.  Did I mention the campground I’m staying in, The Sandy Springs campground has a monthly rate of only $200 a month plus electric.  So if all you campers are looking for an inexpensive place to stay for a couple of months in the summer, this would be a nice place to stay.

The Ohio River running between Ohio to the north and Kentucky to the south is actually mostly within the Kentucky boarder, not Ohio.  If I were Kentucky, I’d rename it the Kentucky River.  Ohio has hundreds of Indians mounds and William Mills  (1914) documented 49 enclosures and 370 mounds in Ross County alone.

I drove into the town of Portsmouth OH the other day, with it’s huge concrete levee with large retractable doors that open when there’s no threat of flooding. The town looks as if it was hit by a recession many years ago and is waiting for the recovery to come any day.  It’s never come for this community and many of the downtown buildings, 5 and even 10 stories high remain vacant silent testaments to a better time.  The one thing they are noted for are the unbelievable murals painted on the sides of those huge concrete levees.  The best murals I’ve ever seen painted and I’ve seen quite a few murals in my travels across the country.

And they have that magnificent bridge leading into town from the Kentucky side of the Ohio river.  A vision of the future they continue to wait to arrive.

Well the 4th of July weekend has ended and I’m back on the road.  I’ve headed north on 23 to Chillicothe and the Hopewell National HP.  It’s home to a large number of Indian mounds, many surrounded by low earthen walls.  These mounds are conical, square, rectangular and even octagon shaped.  I visited the mound city site which contained at least 23 mounds at one time.  During WWI, the site was used by the army for training purposes and some of the mounds were removed or barracks were put on top of the mounds.  Looking at a map of the eastern U.S. with dots pointing out the locations of the Hopewell mounds as far north as Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Ontario Canada and as far south as Mississippi and Alabama one realizes that their was a huge Indian population before Columbus‘s discovery in 1492.

Then it’s onto Lancaster OH.  I found an historic campground called Lancaster Camp Ground.  It was started back in 1872 as a camp meeting place for religious revivals in the great outdoors.  It quickly expanded from a tent camp to a permanent settlement with hundreds of small cottages, a hotel, a large auditorium, cafeteria, grocery store and today even a swimming pool.  The tiny one and two bedroom cottages are privately owned and sell for between $11,000 and 25-45K depending on whether they are winterized or not.  The cottages are just the cutest things I’ve ever seen.  Many painted white with small porches on their front or sides.  The small Rv park is still here, though no longer in the center of the community as the campsites once were.

The following day I got an exclusive tour of the grounds, some of the cottages, the main assemble hall, hotel, grocery store and museum.  I learned that back in the late 1800’s, farmers usually had a few weeks off during the middle of the summer between planting chores and harvest.  This retreat was a place for the farmer and his family to go on vacation, usually in tents.  The camps would have services in the morning and evening every day.  Eventually the regulars decided to build small cottages to stay at during those summer stays.  Most were very basic often with loft sleeping.  As the years went on, a new movement called the Chautauqua movement became popular.  Where along with religious teachings, lecturers, musicians, opera singers etc would come to the gatherings to educate and enlighten.  Children would receive schooling, especially those farm children who often missed out on formal schooling.  That was during the hay day of the religious camps.  Billy Sunday, a famous evangelist came in the 1920’s.  An imposing speaker if not so imposing in height.  He stood about 4 feet tall.  I saw his signature on the hotels guest book, bigger than life and probably about as big as his ego.

Lots of covered bridges in Fairfield county.  Too many for my short stay to explore.

On Thursday I headed out of Lancaster finally reaching a major highway, hwy 70 thinking I’d have smooth driving for at least a couple of hours.  Road construction had a different plan.  Though I didn’t actually see very many construction workers, I did travel around lots of concrete barriers, something an Rv’er doesn’t necessarily like to travel next too.  Sometimes seeming only a foot away.

Passing through that small narrow arm of West Virginia, magnificent rounded ancient mountain ranges before arriving on the western boundary of Pennsylvania.  I’d planned on taking a part of the Pennsylvania turnpike, when I asked the gal at the Penn visitor center if they accepted credit cards.  No.  She then said you can take 31 and never get on the turnpike.  Sure.  Just what I did.  Up and down and up again, through tiny communities, 35 and 25 mph. Over a mountain pass and finally I made it to the state park I’m staying at for 3 days.  Would have preferred the turnpike.

The next day, I drove to Falling Water and Kentuck Knob, two Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes.  Not only is this the highlight of my summer vacation but it is an early present to myself for my Birthday.  And even with a light rain shower for much of the day, it didn’t dampen my experience one drop.

A misty, rainy day, Falling Water

I’ve been an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs for many years and architecture in general.  Even wanting to become an architect in my younger years.  I didn’t have enough brain power to get through calculus and never became an architect, but I did retain an appreciation for architectural design.  

Falling Waters is Wrights master work when it comes to prairie home design and became an instant sensation when a picture of it appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.  Reigniting Wright’s career at age 70.  The home cantilevers over the waterfalls with it’s many horizontal planes jutting out over the landscape.  

I was mesmerized by the design.  The views both inside and out are beyond stunning.  During the tour, water flowed down round holes on the various cantilevered patios creating waterfalls coming off of the house as well as the waterfalls over the stream below.

Falling Waters is an early example of the open floor plan used so extensively today.  His design encompasses not only the home but the furnishings as well.  He believed that built-ins such as long flowing cushioned benches around the perimeter of the room as well as shelves, and bookcases, removed the impulse of the home owner to ruin his design with their own furnishings.  From chairs, tables, lighting and even hardware, his homes are completely his design.

My second stop was to the Kentuck Knob site.  Designed by Wright while in his 80’s.  He was also working on the Guggenheim Museum and dozens of other large scale projects at the same time.  Kentuck Knob has a large living area with balconies overlooking the wooded valley below. A high ceiling made out of tidewater red cypress and highly polished looks as new as the day it was installed.  The copper roof has gone from a shiny penny look to that beautiful green patina.  Lord Palumbo of England purchased the home in 1986 for $600,000 and used it as a vacation home along with his many other homes.  He has since opened it up to the public as a means of historical preservation and funding to maintain the site.

And of course there are more pictures on my Picasa site.  No photo’s are permitted inside the homes, but you might get a glimpse on some of the web pages previously linked too in this article.

I final note on Pennsylvania.  At least on the western half that I’m currently exploring, I’m surprised at how mountainous the area is, resembling much of Kentucky.  Further verifying the Appalachia connection.  The ancient mountain range that has weathered into rounded hills, mountains and valleys, all covered with a thick forest.  

Hoping your summer finds you in new and exciting places as well.  Travel is a great way to refresh the mind.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011-18 Kentucky to Ohio


US 23 Country Music Highway

Ashland Ky (home of the Judds)

Stubs Ohio

Campground:  Greenbo State Resort Park.  $22 Standard site Elect/water.  Narrow dangerous road (US 1) leading into park.  Campsites are close together and many are short and uneven.  I would not recommend this park.

Campground:  Sandy Springs Campground.  $10 a night, 50amp Elect/water.  Passport America rates.  Nice country campground on the Ohio River.  Grassy sites, 50% are pull-thru back to back sites.  About 20 miles to the closest town.  Monthly rates:  $200 plus electric.  I would definitely come back again.

I was thinking about my posting from last week and can’t believe I didn’t mention US 23 the Country Music Highway.  It’s a route from Jenkins Ky in the SE corner of Ky and travels north through Ashland and Greenup Ky to the north.  With so much to do in the area, I plum forgot to tell you about this scenic highway.  This route will bring you to all the small towns that singers like Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakum, hyLo Brown, Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, the Judds and Billy Ray Cyrus hale from.  It’s a great RV route for driving and enjoying some great Kentucky scenery along the way.

What an absolute joy for me, a country western fan, to be able to travel around the area that so many famous country singers grew up around.  Last night I went into Prestonsburg (home of Dwight Yoakum) to the Mountain Arts Center for a free Friday night concert.  It’s an open jam session where many of the local singers and players get to perform.  This is a state of the art center with a huge auditorium, recording studio and home to the Kentucky Opry.

Further on down the road in Paintsville, I went to the US23 Country Music Highway Museum, small but well done.  Featuring all those local country stars.  It’s where they have free bluegrass performances every Thursday evening.  The museum has a video of Loretta Lynn talking about the film the Coal Miners Daughter.  A from the heart interview that makes one just want to give her a big hug and wish she was your best friend.

Building a bird house.

I feel like I’m getting my chance to do a few things I never did as a kid.  So today, I went to the craft project here at Jenny Wiley Park and built me a bluebird bird house.  Interesting watching young kids trying to hammer, and remembering my own inept hammering at that age as well.  Tried to give a few pointers, but discovered young ones don’t actually listen to adults.  Oh well, I tried.  I remember growing up in the U.P. and wanting to build a few things and my Dad pretty much taking over the project.  I can understand why, especially if I wasn’t following his good advice and direction.  But that’s also how we learn isn’t it, by doing it incorrectly sometimes and then hopefully trying to do it the correct way the next time around.

One of the reasons we were building these blue bird houses is that bluebirds have predator birds that kill the bluebirds eggs before they hatch.  Down here in Kentucky, it’s the cowbird that does the nasty.  Up in the New England states it’s the  house sparrows and European starling. I originally learned about the plight of the bluebird from Kurt Olsen a member of our Desert Trails Writers club.  I’ll add a link to a web page you can go to to learn more about the bluebird.  Skim thru the article till you get to the heart of the article.  Nice to be able to be a part of an ongoing effort to save the beautiful bluebird.

I met up the other day with my good buddies Ben and Walt and gave them the bluebird house to put on the farm here in Ohio.  They said they’d send a picture of it as soon as they get it hung up on a post or tree (facing an open field as the bluebird can more readily see the flying bugs they like to eat).  Sure was nice to visit with friends and catch up on what’s going on in their lives.

Camper lessons:

Yikes, kids trying to pull down a young tree sapling.
I’ve recently noted a few things that new campers should be aware of.  Under the camper etiquette category, new campers should be aware that it is not nice to walk or ride your bike through someone else’s campsite.   I’ve had this happen quite a bit lately, especially with kids running over my 50 amp electric cord.  Not something that I would deem safe to do.  Last night I had a half dozen youngins peek through my big picture window in the back of my camper, no doubt attracted by the big screen TV.  Not only had they walked around to the back of my campsite, but in essence, they were peeping Toms.  Parents need to teach their new camping children some camper etiquette.

While at Jenny Wiley park, I saw three young boys spend about 15 minutes trying to pull down a young sapling of a pine tree while the Mom’s completely ignoring their shenanigans.  Respecting nature is the number one first lesson any new camper should learn.  This area in particular has been hard hit by the pine beetle and every tree is doing it’s best to survive.

Watching a neighbors awning fill up with water during a steady rain, then luckily the awning dumped the water periodically, it reminded me that newbees need to be aware that awnings need to be tilted at least 5 degrees if left open during a rain to permit the water to run off and not collect in a pool.  Another camper in the same park lost his awning the same evening.  On the same note, if you have an electric awning like mine, one needs to retract it anytime it’s not in use or one goes touring away from the campsite.  Wind/rain can do major damage very quickly.


Another day, another road to travel up, since I’m continuing my northern trek.  Heading along the Ohio river I’ve landed at a small campground  (Sandy Springs) right on the river.  Online reviews mention that their isn’t anything to do in the area, which would be fine for me as it’s sometimes nice to get to an area and just veg out.   The campground is simple with large grassy sites.  Well the online reviews weren’t completely accurate.  The park itself is about 20-25 miles from any towns, but within Adams county, I discovered a great historical site called Serpent Mound.  It’s a mound in the shape of a serpent and is 1,348 feet in length.  It’s believed to have been made between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago.  As they found two separate burial mounds that could be carbon dated to 1 and 2,000 years ago respectively.  It sits high on a ridge at the edge of a bowl shaped crater created by a meteorite millions of years ago.

not a great pictures but the best I could do at mid-day lighting

The site is considered one of the top 100 man made spiritual sites in the world.  Ranked by National Geographic.  I’ve seen pictures of the site many times throughout the years and it was a pleasant surprise to find I was close enough to take a day trip exploring the area.  I had a great discussion with the small museum attendant and got some additional info on the state of Ohio as well as more in-depth thoughts on the significant of the serpent mound.  

Here’s an odd note about Ohio.  Ohio sold all their toll roads awhile back to a Saudi Arabia tycoon.  Obviously the state needed some ready cash.  However, in the agreement, apparently one of the major toll roads occasionally floods and the agreement states that the State of Ohio will pay the Saudi corp. the amount that would normally be collected,.  For every day that the highway was closed due to flooding.   Hmmm.  Wonder who wrote up that deal.

I'll be spending the 4th of July here at Sandy Springs before heading onto Pennsylvania and more adventures.