Festival of Sail, Port of Oswego

Saturday night we went to the Festival of Sail at the Port of Oswego.  The sky was overcast so there weren’t very many people there, but I enjoyed it – it was the perfect temperature!


The Lynx was sitting beyond the break wall for a while.


Here’s the Pride of Baltimore II:



And the Tallship Unicorn:




The Syracuse of Syracuse, NY:


And the LT-5 Tug Major Elisha K. Henson:




A derrick on land:


The Lynx heading back, motoring because there wasn’t much wind.  I was disappointed because I wanted to see the sails!





We had sweet potato fries – these seem to be becoming more popular!  Then we went swimming in Lake Ontario – well, I hung my feet in the lake, because the lake kind of grosses me out – while others went swimming.

And then we went to Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In – I was so hungry I forgot to take pics!  But we sat next to Lake Ontario eating our fish sandwich, mmmm.

We then walked around Oswego, but it was too dark to take any more photos, but we’ll be going back!

Chimney Bluffs State Park

I’ve been wanting to go to Chimney Bluffs State Park for years now, and we finally went yesterday.  We started out at the east end of the bluffs to walk along the shoreline.  Then we walked on the Bluff Trail. We got there early before many people showed up.

This sign at the east end has issues, but it worked!

Starting at the east end along the shore, I had no idea what we were in for.

This is our first clue of the amazing beauty we were about to see. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought we were in Utah (Bryce Canyon) or Arizona (Monument Valley).



The shore has all kinds of different sizes of rocks.

I’m sparing you all of the photos we took, but I want you to get the idea that this is a very cool place.

The Bluff Trail runs along the edge of the trees at the top of this photo.

Walking along the Bluff Trail, we had to go through the woods. You know this is breaking my heart! Not!


We saw a Jack-in-the-Pulpit! Yay!






We saw many other wildflowers, fungus and ferns, but our focus was on the bluffs.

We had to climb up the side of the drumlin to get to the top. Here we were part way up.

A bit higher.

Close-up. These are taken with my SONY since my NIKON’s battery was “exhausted” and I didn’t realize it. Wah!

Getting higher yet.

At the top! I should have taken photos of the trail that we had to walk along. Sometimes we were too close to the edge for comfort.


It amazes me to see formations sticking up like this in spite of all of the years of weathering.

If you want to know more, this is taken from the Chimney Bluffs State Park brochure:

To the geologist, Chimney Bluffs have “Ice Age” written all over them.  Lake Ontario was left in an enormous, shallow bedrock pan eroded by the most recent continental glacier, which melted from New York 12,000 years ago.  The Chimney Bluffs form the north end of a glacier-made hill called a “drumlin.”

There are more than 10,000 drumlins south and east of Lake Ontario.  They are made of “glacial till,” a mixture of sand, clay, silt, gravel, cobbles and boulders that were scraped, pulverized, pasted, smeared and dumped on the land beneath the passing mountain of ice.  It is thought tha the drumlins were created when the overriding glacier worked glacial till into hills that ran parallel to the direction of ice movement under the ideal conditions of temperature, melting, ice thickness and land slope.  The central New York drumlin field is one of the most extensive in the world and Chimney Bluffs are its most spectacular example.  But, the story does not end there.

Imagine a dome of ice as high as the Rocky Mountains covering Ontario and New York, sloping upwards to its greatest height in northern Canada.  Then imagine how heavy this must have been, so heavy that the land sank beneath it.  When the ice melted away, the depressed land began to rebound and has been rising ever since, though at a decelerating rate (about a foot a century).  The rising land tilted Lake Ontario southward and flooded the drumlin field between Sodus and Oswego, creating bays, marshes, islands and wave-eroded drumlins.

For thousands of years, waves have pounded the northern edge of this drumlin, causing the packed glacial earth to collapse.  Rain and melting snow wash out gullies between the chimneys.  The whole cliff-face is eroding into the lake, as much as three to give feet annually in places.  This is quicker than vegetation can get a foothold, leaving the bluffs bare and vulnerable to yet more erosion.  Soil is washed into the lake and stones are left behind on the shore.

Forest grows atop Chimney Bluffs, supporting a rich community of spring wildflowers.  West and south of the bluff, natural vegetation is slowly replacing former orchards and farmland that took advantage of the lake’s moderating effect on temperature extremes.  The top of the bluffs is a good place to watch for migrating birds in spring, including hawks, which follow the lakeshore eastward on their way to Canada.

Letchworth State Park – The Nature

Since we were parked near the Portage Bridge, we decided to walk down along the Upper Falls on the Gorge Trail. Have you guessed that I love bridges? So please bear with me, here’s a couple of photos of the Portage Bridge, taken from beneath the bridge.


I love the symmetry of bridges.


Here we are looking down on the Upper Falls, and a sheet of ice on the east side of the falls:


There’s interesting rock along the trail. I have to investigate this.


This is part of the trail down. We had to really watch our steps, because the stairs are uneven, and in some places are missing:


There are cool smaller falls that feed into the Genesee River:



Here’s part of the ice on the east wall I mentioned above:

We’re looking back at the Upper Falls, the Portage Bridge and the ice:

I was on the search for Bloodroot, but saw tons of Skunk Cabbages along the west bank:



I also saw an area with Coltsfoot (Tussilaga farfara), which is so exciting to see after winter!

We had lunch down near this CCC Statue (sorry the statue doesn’t show up, but I was freezing after eating outside in the cold wind) and didn’t feel like getting out of the car at this point to get a better photo:

After eating we went to the Glen Iris Inn to the gift shop to buy their new self-guided driving tour book:

And to see the Middle Falls:

This fountain:

was spraying on the evergreen, causing it to ice up:
(yes, it’s still cold in NY!)

We then hiked up the Mary Jemison trail and saw a downed Eastern Hemlock tree (wah!). Even though I was sad, I loved looking at the wood:

I love the grain, and it smelled good, too:

As my brother said, “this is pleasant,” and it truly was:

Chanticleer Gardens

The other day I received the May 2008 Horticulture magazine and saw on pages 47-51 that Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA won The Award for Garden Excellence in 2007. I visited there in April 2005, before I was really into taking photos of everything, even though the people I was with wouldn’t believe that because I still have tons of photos from the place. But I don’t have any photos of the very cool old house or the signs. So here’s a bit of what I do have.

Ah, green grass.

Minder Ruin, where Minder House once stood – a second home on the property.

Terraces leading up to Minder Ruin.

These huge acorns are located within the ruin.

There’s nothing like spring trees and flowers in blossom. . .

I love this cool stone shed.

And the water garden.

We went into the woods (you know me, I have to go into the woods) and saw Jack in the Pulpit

Among other flowers:


And trees growing side by side:

And hellebores, one of my favorite springtime plants:

And flowering shrubs:



If you ever make it to the eastern end of PA, I recommend visiting Chanticleer Garden!

Rain, Oh Baby!

As of 1:30 today I received almost an inch of rain! And as you can see from the thermometer, it is nice and cool outside.

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I went over to my Mom’s home and while she was busy doing something, I went outside and “played” in the rain and went in search of what is in blossom today. Here’s one of her pretty gladiolas:

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The Mum’s were enjoying the rain:

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Mom’s rock collection even looked refreshed!

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This is about the time my Mom called out the window to ask me what I was doing. I told her I was “playing” in the rain! It felt good to be able to breathe freshly “washed” air for a change and feel the rain on my skin! The trees were pretty in the rain:

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After I was done outside, I went inside to give the kitty a brushing and massage.  Afterwards, she was enjoying life as usual by rolling all over the place and making her prrrrrr noises at me.

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Hopefully your day was pleasant wherever you are, too!

More Fossils

While peeling rocks back yesterday to uncover fossils, I came up with a handful of loose fossils that I’d like to share with you!

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Here’s the top side of the next one:
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And underneath:
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I would love to know what these things with wings are. There sure are enough of them!

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There were two fossils that were together but they fell apart when I peeled them back. Here’s the top one:
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And the one underneath:
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These are like some of the fossils I found all of the time when I was a kid. I think they’re so cool. Unfortunately, my coolest digging spot is covered over with poison ivy now!

I don’t find very many fossils where I live now. How about you, are there fossils where you live, and if so, what kind of fossils do you find?

International Rock Flipping Day

Okay, I didn’t realize there were some rules for international rock flipping day until I started this post, but I did spend part of my day flipping rocks where my older brother and I used to spend hours when we were kids, in LaFayette, NY. I wasn’t disappointed. There were tons of fossils! What, you were expecting me to go out and try to find insects under rocks? Well, I did that, too, but there wasn’t anything too exciting going on under the big rocks I flipped. And for these fossils, I didn’t really”flip” rocks, I peeled rocks carefully back in layers to find the fossils.  Update:  Here’s a link to my I Love Fossils post I wrote last year.

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I didn’t flip or peel any rocks back to find these next fossils, but I had to take photos of them anyway!

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Another Arizona Bird

I had it all planned, I was going to post about another special raptor I saw in Arizona and thought for sure I had great photos of it, but I don’t! I’m so bummed!

But don’t be sad, I have a great little birdie that we saw. We were in Boyce Thompson Arboretum hiking along the high trail seeing wonderful views such as this photo taken by my Mom:


And seeing roots slowly breaking boulders apart:

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When my Mom’s cell phone rang. It was my older brother, so I sat on a rock and observed everything around me. All of a sudden Mom pointed and I saw a bird on the rock face. I kept watching it and it came closer and I saw the white on its wings. Not a bird I recognize!

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Then it showed me it’s pretty underside – I love its fuzzy hiney:

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And finally it’s front:

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So even though my photos aren’t that great, I could id it as a Painted Redstart or “Painted Whitestart” (Myioborus pictus), in the Wood Warbler family. It’s habitat is Pine-Oak woodlands, of which Boyce Thompson Arboretum has many species. It’s range is central and southeast Arizona from March to September. And despite its name, it isn’t related to the American Redstart.

Definitely a lifer for me! Yay for my brother calling so I could stop and watch this bird for a few minutes.

A 65,000 Acre Backyard

What does one do with a 65,000 acre backyard? Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Mon@rch (Tom) and experiencing first-hand some of what he does in his *huge* backyard! We hiked to many very interesting places. First we went to an old growth forest, where he taught me so much more about old growth forests, so now I hopefully can spot one when I’m in one! One of the many signs are the mounds created from fallen trees. Saplings grow on this rich soil, eventually this soil is washed away, and this is an example of what is left:

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And this:

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You will also see buttress roots on the older trees, like this:

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Another sign is when you look up a tree there are no branches down low. You have to look up at the canopy to see the leaves of the trees, like this:

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The old trees will be nice and straight, like the one above and this one:

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(are you getting than I’m in heaven here with all of these trees and learning!)

You’ll see newly fallen over trees, which leave a huge hole in the canopy. The saplings that have been waiting for this opportunity start growing, and eventually the strongest sapling(s) win.

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You see a variety of trees in the area. One of the trees that I was really surprised to see (and I didn’t capture a photo of) is a HUGE cucumber magnolia tree!

On the way down and back up the old ski slope we saw lots of interrupted fern:

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And Mayapple:

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along with a large variety of other vegetation, including club moss, that I didn’t capture (I know, well, I’ll just have to go back, won’t I?)

Next, Mon@rch took me to see a 200 year old Sugar Maple tree. Mon@rch showed you his up-tree photo, so I’ll show you other views:

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Check out these buttress roots. Aren’t they gorgeous!

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I love the rocks laying all over the place. Makes it hard to walk through a field of rocks like this, but I still think they’re wonderful:

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Next we saw Bridal Veil Falls, but it was raining so we didn’t bring the cameras there. Hopefully I can take photos another time!

Next stop was at Thunder Rocks. Are you getting the theme, I love trees, flowers and rocks, and of course, birds! Rock polypody grows on these boulders, along with moss, lichens, trees, etc.:

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And a tree that looks like it’s sitting up down on this boulder:

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Next we went to France Brook and saw a beaver:

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And when it got scared it disappeared under the water and didn’t show up again. We also saw a pair of grackles removing fecal sacks from the cavity of a dead tree. Here’s a beaver dam in a pond down further:

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While Mon@rch was talking on his cell ordering us some food, I took photos of the Administration Building:

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And the bridge at Red House lake:

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Then we went up to Stone Tower:

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This is the view from the top looking north:

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There is an arrow in the stones pointing to (magnetic?) north:

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And here’s the view looking southwest:

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If the trees weren’t there we could have seen Red House lake!

We stopped to see a ton of Blue Cohosh, a favorite herb of mine!

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Then we went up to the top of another hill with a restaurant on it and took some photos of the view:

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After that we headed for the store for (vegeterian – thanks Mon@rch) pizza, and met Grace who is the naturalist at Allegany State Park and does the ASP blog here.

If anyone wonders why I love New York State, this park is a fine example of why I think NYS is one of the most beautiful places to live! Many, many thanks to Mon@rch for the wonderful day of learning and hiking!

Tufa at Saratoga Spa State Park

Remember this interesting structure that I saw at the Saratoga Spa State Park on September 30th? Yesterday I received a comment from Nathan saying my “mystery photo is one of the more notable features along Geyser Creek known as Orenda Spring. The dome shaped structure you see is called a “tufa” which is basically a type of rock formed by the minerals in the spring water being deposited on the surface over time.” There’s more information about Tufas on Wikipedia here.
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Thank you Nathan! I really appreciate it when people take their time to write to tell me things. This is an amazing rock formation!

How about everyone else, do you have any interesting rock formations in your area? I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

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