Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hometown (?)

So my youngest son has a question for you. What is the definition of Hometown? I looked it up in the free dictionary and got this:
The town or city of one's birth, rearing or main residence.
Since he has different answers to each of those, that definition didn't do anything to help me answer his question.

Determining Hometown for myself is easy. I was born in a hospital in Buffalo, NY. I lived in one house my entire growing up years (that is until I was married at age 24 and then moved into a home with my husband). My hometown is Cheektowaga, NY. I went to Elementary Junior High and High School in Cheektowaga.

But, my youngest son wonders. What would be considered his hometown?
He was born in a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.

We lived in Chesapeake, Virginia at the time and for the first 10 months of his life. Then we moved to Clarence, NY where he has since lived 13 years and 4 months.

I told him that I thought Clarence should be considered his hometown - since it is all he remembers. I think he likes the 'novelty' of saying he was born in a different state. I don't blame him. With the exception of the 3 years we were in Virginia - I have lived in Western New York my whole life.

So what do you think?
How do you define your "Hometown?"
Just curious . . .

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stone Tower, Allegany State Park, New York

One of the first trails we followed on Monday (July 26 2010), when we entered the State Park (which is located in the southwestern part of New York State) was up to Stone Tower.

After pulling off the main road, we began our trek up the gravel path.
At the top we were rewarded with the "Stone Tower"
I had a hard time finding any information on the tower, like the history behind it, or the purpose of it. Guess I should have bought a book while I was there.

We tried hard to take pictures that did not show all the graffiti painted and carved on the wood and pretty much completely covering the inside of the building. I read on one site - where the writer said. 'lovers had left their initials where they may have shared a kiss at the top of the world.' Apparently the writer had never been to Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondack Park in Northern NYS, the Tower near the THousand Islands on the Saint Lawrence River or on any other mountain, as opposed to this little hill.

Don't get me wrong, it is a neat structure, but we were disappointed by people's need to 'mark' their moment in time at this little place. The view from the top was pretty, although not all that encompassing. I am sure it would be beautiful in the Fall with a variety of colors.

Tall One headed down the winding stair case to check out the surrounding woods.

Both he and Young One enjoyed getting a few shots of the tower and the sun.

As we were getting ready to leave, I found Tall One laying on the ground trying to get a shot from a different perspective. I took a photo of him ...

Below is the shot that he got ...

I can't help but say I was expecting a little bit more as we went to some of these sights.
As I said before, I wish I had purchased the book that wrote about the history of these areas within the park. But I thought I would be able to find that information somewhere on the internet. I haven't found it yet.

It would have been very helpful in educating the visitors if there could be a sign or plaque near each area giving some info about it - but I suppose that takes away from the 'natural' state of the park.

But this park is largely 'in the raw' ... almost completely natural, with the exception of the man made lakes and buildings. But close to 66,000 acres which have the amazing beauty of the Creator stamped for all to see. Definitely a park that we will go back to.

To read and see more about our Allegany Trip you can read here:

Today I am linking up to Finding Beauty Friday over at Dipity Road.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bridal Falls, Allegany NY

On Tuesday of this week, my H, Tall One, Young One and I went back into the Allegany State Park in southwestern New York to investigate the bottom half of the park. We drove thru the Quaker areas, but ended up back in the Red House area searching for something called, Bridal Falls.

They told us it wasn't a big deal, just some water coming down the side of a hill into a stream. How much water depends on whether it has rained recently or not. It was only a 1/4 mile trek from the roadway and so wasn't really even listed as one of the places to see.

The Ranger who welcomed us (and collected our $6 fee for the day) was the one who recommended we visit it. And so we searched. Eventually we found someone who told us to look for marker 62 and pull off onto the side of the road near it, then follow the path back. We did.

We headed back on the little path, and sure enough, found a beautiful little glen,

where the water cascaded down the shale hillside into a little stream. We had lucked out. Over the weekend there were storms with lots of rain in this area. In fact a couple tornado's had caused some damage in the next county over.

We spent about a half hour just walking around, taking pictures and enjoying the silence of the wooded glen - where only the sound of the water could be heard. It was wonderful. This picture below shows Tall One (red shirt) sitting across from the falls. You see how tiny he is in the glen.

Like the pictures I posted yesterday from Thunder Rock, (click link) or from Stone Tower (click link) these really do not do the majesty of the area any justice. But they give you a little taste - and perhaps if you are ever inclined, you might just visit this wonderful park in New York State.

It is a forest. Dead trees decaying, new trees growing, ferns everywhere, peace and quiet abound.

Here is Young One standing by the 'falls'

Here are some of the rocks in the stream where the water moved thru

We had such a nice time as a family. Tall One got some great shots with his camera. I was so glad he was able to come with us. Young One even brought his little digital I got him for a conference he went to back in February. He got some pretty decent shots too.

We missed having Old One with us, but he works now and - well, that came first.

Reminder: Please join us Tomorrow (and then Saturday and Sunday) over at

Help us get started!
Share a favorite photo along with some of the details (camera settings, editing software and techniques you used) to help us learn from one another.

Today I am linking up with Sharon over at

Good, True & Beautiful

Tomorrow I will post a couple of Tall One's shots at the Stone Tower. He had an interesting perspective. Until then, Have a great day!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thunder Rocks, Allegany State Park, NY USA

After a weekend of rain ( and a baseball tournament) on Monday, H and I packed up our two youngest sons (17 and almost 14 years old) and headed down Route 219 from Buffalo to Allegany State Park. It was so refreshing to see the blue sky and fluffy white cotton clouds.

It is about an hour and 45 minute drive from home down to the park which is near the border of Pennsylvania and New York State in the Enchanted Mountains of Western New York State. *(Something I learned: Allegheny is the way you spell the National Forest and mountains in PA. Allegany is how you spell it in NY).

H was only able to get 2 days off for this month, and so we decided we didn't want to put any pressure on ourselves to pack and prepare to go camping, and have to set up a tent when we got there. So we stayed in a hotel for the one night we were there.

We had never spent time in the park (we did drive to a neighboring town once). I really just wanted to do some 'casual' exploring of the park. I was thrilled because I got some great new pictures on the drive down and while we were there.

Cabins, camping, lakes, streams, 79 miles of hiking trails, swimming, boating, birds, fish, deer, bears, snakes and raccoons - they have a bit of everything there (so much more that I can't name them all). A fantastic place to 'get back to nature.'

We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in Salamanca (on the Indian Reservation, right in front of the Seneca Casino - which, no, we did not go in). It was just a couple miles from one of the park entrances. The boys loved the hotel. Since it was just a one night 'fling,' we splurged a little and reserved a suite. Three separate areas. A living area with a couch, chairs, table, kitchenette and TV. The boys room had bunk beds - with a full double on the bottom and a twin on top, plus their own TV! Our room had an entertainment center with TV as well and a King size bed. Wow - we went to spend some time with nature and ended up with 3 televisions in our hotel room. But it served it's purpose well, with a nice morning breakfast included in the deal. It certainly was much more comfortable than our 2 room tent!

We arrived at our hotel on Monday afternoon at about 3 (we really were not rushing). After we checked in, we went over to the Park. We decided to follow one of the trails. It was called Thunder Rocks.
You drive a couple miles up a dirt stone road

to a parking area. Once there you find huge (I mean huge) rocks in and among the trees.

H said he remembered someone saying something like - the Indians heard really loud sounds and found these rocks being thrown by the gods. Scientists say they are left over from a glacier. (Don't quote me on either of those stories as being true - cause I wasn't listening as well as I should have) You see - my kids decided, while we were there, they were going to climb them.

In the photo above, Tall One (6'5") is on top of one of the rocks. His Dad (6'2") is the tiny miniscule man, center left.

I don't know why I think I have some kind of control over the safety of my kids, but I guess I believe if I keep them from doing dumb things they won't get hurt. (You know, things like going sledding and breaking your femur that keeps you in a wheel chair for close to a year, or riding your bike and breaking all front of your permanent teeth, when you slam into a fence and go over the handlebars mouth first on the metal rail, or snowboarding down a 12' high hill and breaking your ankle - need I go on ???)

Of course that means keeping them bubble wrapped, in front of a TV, safe and sound in the house 24/7. Not a very healthy alternative. So you might say, I freaked out quite a bit at this particular location.

You see, the rocks were covered with thick wet, slimy moss. My kids had sneakers that are great for sliding. The two do not bode well for climbing smooth rocks, without a lot of foot holes. So here we were in the middle of no where - with no cell phone service and who knows where a hospital or closest ambulance would be. But, climb they did. In the photo below, my sons are on top, and some other folks are on the bottom right. Not everyone needed to face the challenge. They all enjoyed me panicking and making a scene while my boys climbed.

Above Tall One and Young One on an easy climb.
Below Tall One was on a more challenging rock.

Okay so this next one - was not the worst - but boy did this one frustrate me. I think part of the reason he was so successful in climbing was his very long arms and legs and torso. He also has a lot of upper body strength and so it was easy for him to span the lengths of some of the rocks as he pulled himself up.

His Dad was there watching and encouraging him. He did one more climb after that, but I had to walk away as I was having serious panic issues and was embarrassing my family.

(*No one got hurt while we were there.) So once again - my panicking was for naught.

Below is a photo of Young One standing next to one of the trees that grew thru the massive rocks. I thought it was amazingly beautiful to see how these trees - grew up towards the sun, thru the cracks and crevices of these rocks.

And below here are a few more examples of these huge trees, growing thru huge rocks ... so neat how the roots do whatever they can to dig deep into the ground.

It really was an amazing place. Just one of the stops in our little excursion. The boys had a great time and I did get some neat photos.

One very sad point was the graffiti that was all over these beautiful rocks. Why people feel the need to destroy the beauty in nature by spray painting their names all over these rocks, I will never understand.

We visited several other areas of the almost 66,000 acres of park while we were there. I will share more in the days to come.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

February 20, 1925
all 15 lbs 15 oz of my father came into the world

Morris Gardiner Bull

He was the son of Clarence Leonard Bull (1899-1941)
and Gladys Sarah (Coleman) Bull (1900-1972)

He had 1 sister Evelyne Lucretia (Bull) Neff
and 2 brothers Robert and Edward Bull

He lived in many houses during his young life.
His dad was a newspaper reporter. The photo's we have of that time period were taken by him.
It was a very hard life. Never making enough money for his family. There were many arguments and my grandmother would take the kids and leave him many times throughout the year. They could have been anywhere between Rochester and Buffalo during those years.

His dad died of a heart attack in the backyard of the farm in December of 1941.
My dad, who was just 16 at the time, found him, already gone.

He graduated from high school in 1943, was drafted into the army and shipped out to fight in WWII that fall. He saw action in the South Pacific, was in Japan and the Philippines.

When he got back, he met my mom
Lois Marilyn Hastings (June 23, 1928-January 16, 2001)

They were married on October 19, 1951.
They had 5 children.

Michael the oldest.
Cindy, Jennifer, Laura and Valerie (me).

Always a hard worker.
The head of our household - always in all things.

He was known for his booming voice - out the back door - when he yelled our names for the world to hear, when it was time to come home. The neighbor kids were all scared of him. He was 6'4" and kept his hair in a brush cut. But I knew he was just a big teddy bear, who loved his wife and family.

I am pretty sure he attended every concert and show I was ever in.
He was there for all of us - but ...

He has been gone 15 years now.
He went home to be with the Lord on July 29, 1995.
He battled prostate cancer for 7 long years.

So many things I wish I could have shared with him in these years we have missed. My dad wasn't perfect. But he was strong and determined. He stood his ground and he raised all 5 of us to be hard workers who always did our best. Although he met Old One and Tall One (who gets his height from him among other things) My dad never met Young One. The two older boys have have very sketchy memories of him, they were so young.

Someday they will meet, and perhaps we will all sing his favorite song -
as we gather around the throne of God ...

The Battle Hymn of the Republic (lyrics from wikipedia site)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
Happy Father's Day!