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.