Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why I love Autumn in Western New York

Royalton Ravine Park, Royalton, New York

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We CANNOT let this happen to Allegany State Park!!!

Everyone knows I LOVE Allegany State Park.

Please take a moment to read this article, watch the video, and then contact Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and let him know how important it is that we do everything we can to prevent this drilling within Allegany State Park:

Contact Assemblyman Sam Hoyt:

Please! and Thank you for your help!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cave of the Winds - Niagara Falls, NY

One Note: All these pictures were taken with a disposable waterproof camera. Definitely a necessity on this hike. And by the way, the sky really was that blue -- I don't artificially enhance any of my photos.

The best attraction in Niagara Falls on either side of the border is without a doubt the Cave of the Winds.

OK, so there is no more 'cave' to explore, but that's hardly an issue. The exhilaration of being directly below the Falls as they pound the rocks at your feet is something everyone should experience. The deafening roar of the water, the constant spray (it's more like a full-on garden hose soaking at certain points) of the water hitting your face and body is a BLAST!

My family and I go at least once a summer. For the past two years I've had my cousins from out West come up for a visit, so I was able to introduce them to this great place. So the pictures you will see are from two different summers - this year and last year.

After donning this useless plastic bag of a coat and the special sandals that are part of your $11.00 admission price, you head down the elevator through the rock gorge and end up along a paved walked way. The roar of the Falls is deafening.
The pavement ends and the wooden platform begins your journey through spectacular little falls cascading over moss-covered rocks with a view of the Falls that is breathtaking. A little misty at this point in the walk, but don't let that fool you. I love to just hang out here are take it all in. There are gulls of all different species calling and soaring around. Its a whole different world from being up on the ledge of the gorge and its amazing.Rainbows are everywhere! Parts of the walkway are like walking through a fast moving creek. Here's a picture looking at my foot under the rushing water.

Once you make your way onto the Hurricane Deck which is the closest point to the base of the Falls, the true fury of the Falls is evident. And this is just the smaller Bridal Veil Falls that you get up close and personal with. But it doesn't matter-its powerful force is mesmerizing.
Trying to take pictures at this point is pretty hard - wipe the lens, click, wipe the lens, click. A constant never ending soaking. LOVE IT!Here we are at the end of the walk. Wet but happy.

We went back up there this past weekend with all intentions of doing it again. One look at the 100s of people in line and we decided to stay up top. Here's a short video of the view from the edge.

One interesting fact -- these walkways are taken down every winter and rebuilt in the Spring.

My second favorite Niagara Falls attraction is the Whirlpool Jet Boats which run out of Lewiston, New York, just a short 15 minute ride north down river from the Falls. Stay tuned for more details on that!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oak Orchard Canoe Trek

One of the things I most look forward to each year is the canoe trek organized by the Buffalo Audobon Society. Each spring and fall we meet at the Knowlesville Road bridge in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge at 9 a.m. for a spectacular paddle through the swamps. Today's weather could not have been better - sunny and around 65 degees with very light winds :)

It takes a bit of time to get everyone into the water, but drifting around in the creek is a great way to pass the time.

About 20 canoes and kayaks paddled off surrounded by the songs of warblers, finches, and red wing blackbirds.

A sun-worshipping turtle stuck around to watch us leave.

And we're off..................

I love this creek because there are spots that are wide open and areas that are narrow; completely wooded sections and others that are almost barren. And through it all, the birds just sing and sing and sing.

We saw quite a few blue herons. They are the most prehistoric looking bird - I just love them!

This is the section where I was so happy it wasn't windy! In other treks, that wind would be full force in your face and it's just paddle, paddle, paddle to keep moving forward.

Nothing like "Spring Green" after months of white and gray.Right after I took this picture and had put the camera away, a turkey vulture was riding the thermals directly overhead. Rather than scramble for the camera, I just tipped my head back and watched him silently soar. He was beautiful - I could see all his feathers on his outstretched wings and he drifted back and forth with just a tilt of his body.
Many times in the past treks, Rick our guide, has to get out his saw to clear the way of fallen trees and branches. This year though was smooth paddling. I always am a bit sad to come to this bridge, as I know the take out spot is not much further ahead.

Here's the view from Sour Springs Road where we end the trek. And below is the other side of the road. We were going to continue on, but a kayak scout told us there was too much 'creek crud' to get through.

The whole paddle only took us about an hour and 45 minutes. Much too short, if you ask me! The next trek is scheduled for October 4 - I've already got it on my calendar!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

have to be a grown-up today :(

No hiking today--too much to catch up with around here. That's OK, I really wanted to get out into the garden anyhow.
Spring is one of my (many) favorite times of the year. Everyday is different, and I love seeing the latest sprout burst forth from the earth and think of what it will look like in just a few short weeks. Let's take a stroll around my garden to see what was blooming last year.....
This spot is the first thing you see coming off the driveway. It's very shady - in fact no sun at all once the huge maple blooms (is that right? to say a tree 'blooms' or is that just a flower term???). Pete built this deck right around the tree - if you look closely, you can see the trunk in the center of the pic. The awesome wine press was a gift from our neighbors, Bonnie and Bill. They found it in their basement. LOVE IT!

Meghan took this shot. It is one of my very favorite.
Sometimes you need to step over the dogs to get to where you want to go!

I miss you Sabre

Under the arbor and through the gate into the yard. The gate was salvaged from a beautiful brick home that was torn down on West Avenue. The credit union's drive thru was constructed on the site.

Along the garage, old tulips planted by a previous owner a long time ago (we've been here for 19 years), still bloom among the ferns.

My 'main' perennial garden lines the border between our yard and Bonnie and Bill's. I couldn't even begin to remember how many perennials I've tried in this area. For a good 4 years I had the best delphiniums right where you can see the fence. They just died off one year, never to return. I've just let the garden fill itself these past few years.
Wild roses grow along the back fence. No matter how I try to fix that area up, these girls just take over the place.

I do have a 'vegetable' patch, but I just am not a good veggie farmer. My plan is to fill the majority of the spot with rhubarb. I had some rhubarb plants along the fence line that were here when we moved in, but over the past few years the plants got smaller and smaller, and now are gone completely.
I guess it's time to hit the nurseries!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Watch the Eagles!

I have become obsessed with checking on the baby eaglets in their nest.

You too can watch them grow, thanks to the Hancock Wildlife Foundation live camera.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bond Lake

Although every sign in the area claims it to be "Bond Lake" everyone in this area refers to it as "Bond's Lake", doesn't really matter; it's a sweet spot.

For years I only knew Bond's Lake to be a sledding hill on the north of the road and a lake that comes right up to the edge of the road on the south with a few picnic tables and shelters scattered along its shores. Never really thought of it as a place to take a hike,until we went beyond the obvious lake in the front of the park. That's where the real treasures are!

This time in, we passed the main entrance and continued up to Blacknose Spring Road which brings you into the Tuscarora Indian Nation lands. There's a place to park to accomodate a fair number of cars and today there were quite a few trucks in the lot. To be expected, I guess; it was a great day.

The path is very wide - large enough for a vehicle to drive on although the entrances are all blocked with either downed trees or chain, etc. so that's not going to be a problem. In short order, we came across one of the 'back' lakes. I'm not sure exactly how many bodies of water are in this park, but I think there are at least 5 or so.

The main path will lead you right past the lake and it goes to the back of the park which opens up into a huge field.

We tried a branch off the trail in a direction away from the lake which we hadn't tried before, but in short order the trail just became a mud pit, so we turned back around and cut over to follow the trail through the woods that leads to the lake edge.

The trail is not marked in any way, just an obvious walkway that hikers have worn down. It meanders out onto a somewhat steep, narrow peninsula and the views are just beautiful on either side. A few Canada Geese kept us company along the way.

Portions of the path are steep and narrow; I would not recommend bringing small children.Once on top of the peninsula, the views from both left and right are equally pretty. On the left is the large lake and to the right a small cove.

Toward the end, a nice open flat spot appears which offers a great view of the lake. A leftover campfire circle proves I'm not the only one who thinks this is a nice spot to take in the view.

This is the view from the tip of the peninsula looking east, away from the large lake. So tranquil compared to the 'lake side'.

Love the way this huge slab is balanced on the small boulder along the far shore.

After leaving this area, we cut through the woods further and came out on the other side to a large wide path/roadway. This path cuts between the cove area you can see from the peninsula on the large lake and another smaller lake filled with coves and islands that just beg to be explored. I don't know if canoeing is allowed; I've never seen anyone in the water.

Here's the view from the same spot looking west.

The pine trees are on the peninsula I was just on a few minutes before.

A view to the east into one of the many cove areas tucked in along the shoreline. The Canada Geese obviously preferred this lake as opposed to the larger lake. Probably because it was much smaller and not as 'exposed' as the other lake. They certainly were vocal - watch the video to hear them chattering on and on.

Although the scenery in the park is a sight to behold, I will admit there are a few drawbacks. First and foremost - litter - I have never seen so much garbage; from beer bottles, coffee cups, cans, food wrappers, etc. all over the trails. Horrible. The worst I have ever seen. The other issue is the Niagara Sportsmen's Club has their shooting range either in the park, or right next to it. For the majority of the hike gunshots were a constant interruption. Maybe during the week it would be a quieter hike.