Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letchworth State Park

 Last Wednesday we took quite a drive and went down to Letchworth State Park in New York to go camping.  It should have been about a four and half hour drive but it took nearly six; that was because we were stopped at US Customs for a random search of my little trailer.  I also had my eggs, chicken and red and yellow peppers confiscated. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been just the peppers and the chicken but the eggs were needed for breakfast which meant I had to find a grocery store after setting up camp that night.

We got to the park just fine. The sites were set up more for RVs and trailers. My site was very rocky; I couldn't even get some of the tent pegs into the ground. After setting up, I drove back into Mount Morris to replace the eggs, peppers and chicken. The site worked out pretty well, except the first night when the people beside me were up at 6 am and left at 6:22 in the morning taking with them the U-Haul trailer they had on their site so needless to say they made a lot of noise.

Letchworth Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, that's a bit of an over statement but it was nice. It's too bad that there weren't more views of the canyon from the road. It's quite a linear park so it's about 9 miles from the campground to the falls area. In fact, it's about 9 miles in the other direction to get back into Mount Morris.

The first day, we did the upper and middle falls and then headed back the the campground stopping at Wolf Creek along the way. While we were there it began to rain, but it stopped by the time we got back to the campground so I was able to make a late lunch.  Just as I had finished cleaning up, it began to rain again, this time it rained for most of the afternoon and into the early evening. We spent the afternoon in the tent. I read and played games, thankful for technology and the boys napped. Later that afternoon, I headed back into Mount Morris and had dinner at a restaurant. By the time I finished dinner, it had cleared up so it was back to the campground to give the boys their supper and to have a campfire.

Beckett and Keltic in Letchworth Park

Upper Falls

Upper Falls and train trestle bridge

Pathway to Upper Falls

Middle Falls

Wolf Creek

Beckett and Keltic at Wolf Creek

The next day was just beautiful, the rain had taken the humidity out of the air and the temperature had dropped just a wee bit. It wasn't cold but just slightly cool in the shade, great weather when you're camping with dogs. We went back to Wolf Creek and hiked up to Inspiration Point.

Mushrooms and stone Bridge over Wolf Creek

Pedestrian Bridge over Wolf Creek

We went back to the campsite for a late lunch and had a quiet afternoon back at the site.  Both neighbours had left and new neighbours hadn't yet arrived. I finally got to use my chicken to make one of my favourite camping meals, chicken fajitas.

On our last day we drove back to the Falls area and started the day with a short hike around Trout Pond. It was a very short trail only 3/4 of a mile. I don't like to do long trails when I'm by myself and really, although there were a lot of trails, there weren't that many that were actually a loop.

Keltic and Beckett at Trout Pond
Pioneer Cemetary

On the way back to the main road we came across a small pioneer cemetery.  We then went to the Council Grounds where we saw the statute of Mary Jemison. She is known as the White Woman of the Genesee. She was captured by the Seneca Indians and lived with them for over 78 years.

Next we went the Glen Iris Inn for another vantage of the Middle Falls before heading to the see the Lower Falls,

Beckett at the Middle Falls

Keltic at the Middle Falls

At the Lower Falls, you have to walk down (and back up) 106 stairs. There is a vantage point from up top for those who don't want to do the stairs. But you miss out on the foot bridge that crosses the narrowest part of the canyon.

Lower Falls

Foot Bridge and falls

Foot Bridge
Lower Falls from the lower lookout point.

Lower Falls trail after the foot bridge

Again this trail is not a loop so you have to go back the way you came. There are stairs up the far side of the canyon, I was thinking too  bad they don't put in a suspension bridge at the top to go back to the other side. Now that would be cool.

We did enjoy the camping trip. It's the first one I've done on my own in years. I always say a good camping trip is one where you set up and take down the tent in dry weather and where you get to eat a nice hot breakfast every morning. This trip was also good as there were very few mosquitoes. Don't know whether that's always the case in this part of New York but there were only a few in the later part of the afternoon. I didn't notice any in the evenings and I hardly got a bite. I also found out that my newest purchase of an LED work light was a good thing. I can recharge it in the car but best of all moths and insects don't seem to be attracted to LEDs.

Already thinking of next summer's camping trip. The agility girls trip is planned to be in Algonquin park and maybe I'll get away on my own again too.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Alberta Bound

On Thursday, 6 August I flew out to Calgary, Alberta for my niece's wedding. Beckett and Keltic had to stay home with Adrian, their littlest peep cousin.

The wedding was on Saturday so that gave me time on Friday to drive to Vulcan, Alberta to visit a friend. Vulcan, if you don't know, has a replica of the Enterprise and hosts a Star Trek convention every year.

Star Trek and me!
The friend I went to visit, I hadn't seen since high school but it was like we had never been apart.  It was so great to see her again.

My sisters and brothers-in-law drove the other way to Banff which is in the mountains but my drive took me further into the prairies. In the prairies, there are views that seem to go on forever. You can also spot a few of the old grain elevators. They used to be in every small town but now there are very few left.

View for miles and miles!
Grain Elevators
Saturday with the wedding in the afternoon, we headed to the mall in the morning to the see the big Bass Pro Shop, and I do mean big, so big you can hang a plane from the ceiling. The mall, called CrossIron Mill, is huge; we only did half before stopping in the food court to have a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel to change.

Bass Pros Shop - Outdoor World

The wedding and reception were just beautiful. It was such a nice day.

The bride and groom with my sister, the mother of the bride.

Sisters with the bride

Wedding decor
Sunday, my sisters and brothers-in-law all got together for brunch before everyone started heading back home.  As I was staying another week, I didn't have to rush off but since everyone else had their own plans I went out to Spruce Meadows. Spruce Meadows is a premier show jumping venue, I have watched horse shows from there on TV for many many years and have always wanted to go. In 2010, the AAC held their agility national championships there but I had no dog to compete with that year.

Monday, after checking out of the hotel, my sister and I went to the Calgary Zoo.  It was rather hot so many of the animals were taking siestas in the shade. Only the crazy people were out in the hot sun.

The zoo also has an animatronic dinosaur park. The dinosaurs probably need less to eat than the real animals. We said that they should put the gopher and meerkat exhibits in there, maybe even a reptile exhibit, now that would be cool.

Hiding from dinosaurs

On Tuesday, my sister and I headed off on an overnight trip to Drumheller and the badlands of Alberta. It's really funny how you drive across this wide open prairie and then just off the highway there are these huge expanses of canyon that are nearly invisible from the road.

Horseshoe canyon

People hiking the canyon floor.

If you make the first picture larger you can see the people hiking. It's a long way down and would be a steep climb back up that's for sure. This canyon is only about 500 m off the highway and you don't even see it until you drive into the parking lot. You can take a helicopter tour of the canyon, that would be the way to go.

When we got to Drumheller we went out to see the World's largest dinosaur, the Hoodoos and the Atlas Coal Mine.

Drumheller, Alberta


Atlas Coal Mine (got my finger over the lens but it looks vintage)

You can climb up the big dinosaur if you like, it's only 106 steps up and then back down. Again we didn't do it, I can't imagine how hot it would be in there. We did walk around the HooDoos some. The HooDoos are formed because the layer of rock above the sandstone is  harder and makes a cap and protects the sand stone column underneath from erosion. The black layers in the hills are from plants and often indicates coal. Coal was a huge industry in the area until the early 50's, now most of the mines are abandoned. The Atlas Coal Mine is a national historic site. We took a little train ride and walked around but didn't do the tunnel or tipple tour.

The next day, we went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Drumheller is considered to be one of the best places in the world to find dinosaur bone beds and fossils.

After seeing the museum we did the badlands interpretive trail and then went a few kilometers further to see Horsethief Canyon before heading back to Calgary. Horsethief Canyon is much bigger than Horseshoe Canyon and they warn you that once down in the coulees that you might get lost as every direction looks the same.

Horsethief Canyon

Horsethief Canyon

It's hard to get the scale from the pictures but while at Horseshoe you could see that you could go around the canyon, Horsethief seems to go on forever. We wondered what the settlers thought when they got there with their wagons.

Back in Calgary, the next day we went downtown for a few hours as it was another hot day. Turned out that they broke a temperature record for that day in August.

On my last day before heading home, we went to Heritage Park. It's a living history museum that has different eras represented from the 1800's to early 1900's.

Some of the buildings are actually shops like a candy store or ice cream parlour but most depict the life and times of the era. Many of the buildings were moved and restored on site. Not all the buildings are original, some are replicas. We took the steam train for a ride around the park, you can get on and off at four stations. We also took the paddle wheeler for a ride around the reservoir. They have day camps and even week long camps for kids. NOT sure I'd want to wear a dress all week.

So now I'm home again but am heading off on some more adventures, this time Beckett and Keltic do get to come with me.  See you again soon!