Various Places from the week

Saturday night we went to the bottom of Pratt’s Falls.
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Saw these trees hanging on for dear life:
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I had gone a week earlier and taken photos from the top of the falls
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Afterwards we went to a railroad crossing, where several trains passed, but I totally love the BNSF train horn, and I would love to have this horn for my car, or to blow when someone wakes me up out of a sound sleep by slamming cupboards at 2AM.  I’m working on how to get one. . .
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Please click here if video doesn’t show up, I still don’t know how to embed video from Flickr into WordPress.  I felt way too close to this train so I stopped the video, went behind my car, and continued.  Still felt too close, but I’m here to write about it.

We checked out Woodland Reservoir one evening:
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And yesterday I tried snorkeling at Sylvan Beach, but I couldn’t stand not having my nose to breath – this will take some getting used to, but we swam for about four hours – which was the best place to be given the heat. . . no pics because my camera doesn’t like swimming. Ended up with a bunch of bad scratches on the back of my right calf – thankfully not all from zebra mussels, but from rocks, even though I wore pants and fins.  (It sucks you just can’t swim with just a swimming suit anymore with these zebra mussels).  And then waaay too hot to carry the camera around with the strap on my neck, even though we went on the roller coaster and ate at the Canalview Cafe – I had their yummy hummus and pita.   There were lots of old photos and three-d objects inside.

And today my outside thermometer was reading 103 F at 1:30PM – crazy hot, and I wanna be back in the water today. . . will find some water to swim in again soon! For now, this is my favorite time of day when it is too hot outside:
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Camillus Erie Canal Park

This past weekend the Camillus Erie Canal Park had a Grand Celebration to dedicate the restored Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, but since I work on the weekend, we couldn’t make it out there until Sunday after work, after all of the festivities were done.  It doesn’t matter, because I don’t really enjoy crowds, anyway!  And by the time we got there (after eating Luigi’s  pizza, mmmmm), the sun was in that perfect place in the sky to shed an orange glow on everything.

Here’s a replica of the Sims’ canal store, now known as Sims’ Museum, which wasn’t open. I do want to go back when it is open, soon!

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Sims’ Museum

A long bed of iris along the canal bank were all so beautiful!
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This is an old lock:
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As we were examining the lock, Midnight, the resident kitty, came over to greet us, and then to perch himself underneath one of the bottom valves of the lock:
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Buoy Boat 159 is on display here:
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This is a replica of a Lock House:
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We then went a mile down the canal to Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct:
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If you click on this Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct link, you can see progress pictures of the restoration:
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This looks great!
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The aqueduct over Nine Mile Creek:
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Of course, we had to walk down to the little waterfall of Nine Mile Creek:
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Assuming that this is the old wood which was taken out and replaced with the brand new wood:
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There is a steam engine exhibit that we need to come back and see sometime, soon, too! This is one of the steam engines outside of the exhibit area:
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The back wheels are taller than me!

I took this shot of the sign for the hours, so we can visit when the museum is open:
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And the last thing I noticed was this wildlife refuge sign!
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I always love to see areas for wildlife!

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.

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I love the symmetry of bridges.

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

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

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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:

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

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Here’s part of the ice on the east wall I mentioned above:
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We’re looking back at the Upper Falls, the Portage Bridge and the ice:
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I was on the search for Bloodroot, but saw tons of Skunk Cabbages along the west bank:
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I also saw an area with Coltsfoot (Tussilaga farfara), which is so exciting to see after winter!
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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:
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After eating we went to the Glen Iris Inn to the gift shop to buy their new self-guided driving tour book:
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And to see the Middle Falls:
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This fountain:
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was spraying on the evergreen, causing it to ice up:
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(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:
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I love the grain, and it smelled good, too:
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As my brother said, “this is pleasant,” and it truly was:
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Still Lovin’ the Camera!

I never know what photos I’ll end up with when I go for a walk.  I love the element of mystery.

Bird on a wire – mourning dove:
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An old abandoned chick coop?
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Getting a bit better with the macro – thanks to everyone’s suggestions!
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Taking a photo directly into the sun gives this cool silhouette effect:
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Woods without leaves:
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Into The Woods

Finally! I was able to get out into the woods yesterday afternoon after having spent all morning and early afternoon first working on my yard and then my Mom’s yard. And I was hoping, based on the past dates in my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide that I would be able to find some of my favorite spring flowers in bloom. And we did! Yay!

We were so excited to spy some lovely little patches of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

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I *love* this flower. And in New York State this plant is listed as Exploitably Vulnerable 😦

And then we spied tons of Trout Lilies or Yellow Adder’s Tongue or Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium americanum) (don’t you love all of the common names).

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You can see the brown mottling on the leaves.

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And then another favorite of mine, Cut-leaved Toothwort or Pepperroot (Dentaria laciniata), and you can see where both the common name and latin names come from by this next photo:

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Here’s one with a white flower and a little bee pollinating it:

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And one with pinkish flowers:

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This next flower I know is a Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis), but I’m not sure whether it is a sharp-lobed or blunt-lobed since I didn’t look at the leaves (bad Pam).

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Another favorite of mine, and one of the 100 herbs I had to learn inside and out, Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

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I love the way the leaves come up (and don’t you love the way they poke right through the dried tree leaves)?

I love the leaves when they’re unfolded:
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And, of course, I have to show the coolest parts, the spathe and spadix (the spathe being the outer hood and the spadix the knob-shaped cluster inside of it).

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We also saw Marsh Marigolds or Cowslip (Caltha palustris) but it was too early for their blossoms:

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(sorry no closeups, I wasn’t prepared to go into the water, and I don’t really know how deep it is).

There’s a platform at the edge of the swamp that you can watch and listen to all kinds of birds. I accidentally flushed out a turkey, but didn’t capture a photo of it. Here’s last year’s cattails:

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And I spied some eyeballs, can you see them?

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Here’s a crop of this photo so you can see the eyeballs a little better:

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There’s tons of frogs here.

We tried finding sunning turtles, but I guess we were too late in the day for them. We did see a couple of snakes, but I was only able to capture this Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis):

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I love snakes! You can also see how profuse the Trout-Lilies are here, along with the Cut-Leaved Toothwort. And I love my new book The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State because I don’t have to weed through a million species! (P.S. Mary, you’ve *got* to check out the cover of this book)!

Another one of my favorites, moss around the base of a tree in the swamp:
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And a burl. I would love to see the inside of it.
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And you know I can’t walk through the woods without photographing fungus:
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That’s basically it! Except for all of the tremendous sounds in the woods – the bird calls, peepers, etc. We couldn’t have picked a better day to go into the woods! I used to walk through these woods every day, and I miss them very much!

P.S. And for the record, it was 86 degrees F today. Yes, in April. Very unusual for this time of year.

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.

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

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Terraces leading up to Minder Ruin.

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These huge acorns are located within the ruin.

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

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I love this cool stone shed.

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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
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Among other flowers:
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And trees growing side by side:
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And hellebores, one of my favorite springtime plants:
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And flowering shrubs:

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

What Holiday Food Am I?

Since I have off of work for employee appreciation and I am trying to recover from an upper respiratory thing, I don’t have anything exciting to blog about right now, so here’s another quiz I found on Liza’s blog, the result of which I thought was really funny!


You Are a Gingerbread House


A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

What Holiday Food Are You?

Watkins Glen State Park

Yesterday we went to Watkins Glen State Park to hike up the many falls until we reached the top. This is where we started, at the bottom, where this water eventually makes it way into Seneca Lake.

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And when I turned around, I saw the beginning of the awesome sites we were about to see:

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We started out on the Gorge Trail, and as we climbed to the first bridge, we saw the first waterfalls which is at the bottom of a series of waterfalls that fall in steps. This waterfall is really cool because the water goes through the narrow curves really fast:

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The stone walls drip with water and are covered with all kinds of plants, including liverwort! Excuse my excitement, I’ve never seen liverwort in person that I know of:

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I absolutely love how the water has cut through the rock in this next photo:

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And speaking of love, my heart belongs to. . .

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Is that awesome how the water has cut the rock into a heart shape! This is at the foot of the next waterfall:

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At the next waterfall, which we walked behind (but no pics because my camera doesn’t know how to swim), the early morning sun was shining on the water just right for us to see a rainbow – see it?

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Once we walked behind this waterfall:

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We had to climb up the spiral tunnel staircase built within the rock wall. We saw tons and tons of ferns, including Maidenhair Spleenwort (another favorite of mine):

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Trees were hanging on the sides with their roots for dear life:

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The wildflowers were gorgeous:

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The roses smelled wonderful:

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Check this out! These ripples on the walkway were actually ripples of sand at the bottom of an ancient sea!

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They also are in the streambed:

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There’s lots of moss along the stone walls. Here’s an interesting one that’s a little longer than the rest I saw there:

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Here’s the next waterfalls we encountered:

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This is the same waterfalls looking down from the stone bridge:

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At this point there are several pools, called the Glen of Pools, such as this one. Oh my, I could have dove right in the water looked sooo refreshing!

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The next waterfalls we saw are the Rainbow Falls. You have to be there just at the right time of day to see a rainbow here. What I love here is the waterfall coming down the side of the wall, too:

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Here’s a better view of the waterfall coming down the side of the rock wall:

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Oh, and now we saw the wall full of ferns. I’ve never seen so many ferns like this on a rock wall!

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There are several fractures, or joints, along the rock walls:

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These joints were caused by a great continental collision between North America and Africa three million years ago that pushed up the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Plateau, a large area that includes the Finger Lakes region. The tremendous pressure of the continental collision fractured the rocks of Watkins Glen and the rest of southern New York State and lifted the land up.

Here’s another pool which I think is really cool:

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Here’s another waterfall we encountered.

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Looking back once at the top of the waterfall, we saw more beautiful curves of the watercut stone:

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And after climbing all of the stairs (I’ve heard there are 800 stairs on this trail), we decided to go the top along the Indian Trail:

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The thing I like about the Indian trail are no stairs! We climbed up and down trails. Here’s where we tested out my hiking / trekking poles for the first time. My brother suggested that my Mom buy a pair since they’re going hiking in Yosemite, so she wanted to try them. She took off like a bat out of hell going up a hill with them, so I had to try them out, and I took off. They really work!

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On Indian Trail we saw an interpretive sign that said it takes 25 years for the water we saw here in the glen to make its way out to the Atlantic Ocean! That blew our minds.

We also saw many different species of trees, including Chestnut Oak.

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At this overlook on Indian Trail, we had come down the hill a ways, but still, I took a photo of the same hill as I show in the first photo, and you can see we were up and far into the glen quite a ways!

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Here’s another one of those faults (joints) I mentioned earlier:

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And another view of the first waterfalls.

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I took a ton of photos, and what I’ve shown you are just a few of them. I hope you enjoyed them, and I hope you can make it to Watkins Glen someday! It was very refreshing to breathe in the fresh air there, and to smell wonderful smells of wet dirt and water.

What I Do When I Have a STUPID Day. . .

what else, instead of hiding under the covers and praying for a quick end to the day, but to go for a walk in the woods! And that’s just what I did. After a stupid day at work. Stupid stupid stupid. Stupid. Stupid. There, now on to my walk. I went to 1000 Acre Swamp. I’ll be searching out other woods, because swamp = mosquitoes, and how the heck am I supposed to get decent photos with them sucking my very life’s blood out of my body.

Anyway, I came home from stupid (yes I really do appreciate having a job) and ate an early, quick dinner, and headed out to the swamp/woods. I felt an instant serge of peace and energy flow through me as I walked down this path to the swamp / woods.

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I saw buttercups, and columbine. This one was being shy, but I love the purple.

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And fleabane, which looks white in this photo, but it’s actually a very light purple:

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As I started walking on the boardwalk,

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I heard the frogs rebel and hop into the water. Someone’s looking at you!

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I love these cinnamon ferns on this log in the middle of the swamp:

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and this little island with the reflection of the blue sky on the water, and the sunlight:

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Christmas Fern:

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I love this photo of the boardwalk. I set the camera darker than it really was. Don’t know why I did that, I just felt like it.

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There was a bird here, a lifer too, one beautiful bird. I sooo need a quicker camera.

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And a fern I didn’t id:

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Lots of fungus on a log:

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I saw a jack-in-the-pulpit. Sorry, I wasn’t in the mood to get down in the mud to photograph “Jack.”

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Another fern I didn’t id:

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It was at this point that I started seeing leaves of three all over the place. Nooooo, I won’t be taking any more walks in this swamp for now. I am not going to get poison ivy again this summer if I can help it.

And then I saw the partly fallen tree that goes over the path I had to walk on. I forgot about that, too. It makes me VERY uncomfortable to walk under it. All I need is to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.

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Ohhh, rocks, but nothing like what I saw at ASP last Saturday.

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Okay, so I’ve been waiting very patiently to show you this. Remember the tree on Trillium Trail that looks like it’s running away from its issues?

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It.

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Has.

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Leaves!! And it’s a maple.

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How awesome is that!

All in all, what a peaceful end to a, ummm, what kind of day was that again?

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!

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