- We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
The night sky is loaded with beauty and photo opportunities. If it's a clear night and the moon is not bright there are countless things to look at. In fact I think "gaze" is a very fitting word. As you look up at a dark sky filled with stars, you can't help but gaze. I don't think there could be a better word than "GAZE". If the moon is bright the stars are still visible but nearly like it is on a dark night. All is not lost though as the moon is still quite cool at all phases. Last night we were returning home from Oil Creek after a disappointing day with the Eagles of Oil Creek. Didn't want to go home without a couple Megabytes of data on my big empty memory card. As we neared our home I swung up a back country road that is great for big dark sky pictures without the distraction of ambient light. We looked at the stars for awhile and watched a couple jets wander across the evening sky and then proceeded to capture a few shots of the moon. The moon can look so amazing when it's pulled in close and personal. The craters are invisible to the naked eye but when pulled in close they are quite visible. Here's a couple shots from last night including one that I played around with to give my rendition of a Harvest Moon. Whoda' thunk the moon could be so amazing!
Friday, February 15, 2013
It never ceases to amaze me how a stark palette suddenly explodes with color when a Bluejay appears in the viewfinder. While they can have an annoying call they sure have some brilliant colors and markings. This beautiful Bluejay wasn't about to loosen his grip on this piece of bread. Whoda' thunk that this bland background was about to explode with color simply because our feathered friend decided to spend a few moments on this branch.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
A while back I noticed that the Pa Wilds was having a photo contest. This contest had 6 different categories and one of them involved my favorite subject and that would be Wildlife. By the time I became aware of the contest the deadline was just days away. I decided to submit a photo but at this time I also noticed that photographers could literally submit a photo everyday and I heard later that some sent close to a hundred pics. How's that for getting discouraged right from the start.
When the contest winners were announced I couldn't believe that my photo had taken 2nd place. It's my understanding that over 2700 pictures were submitted. Now if that isn't a Whoda' Thunk I don't know what is. I also ended up winning the Grand Prize and got some awesome prizes. I do believe this would be a Double Whoda' Thunk!
Here's a photo taken at the reception that was held for us at the Winkler Gallery in Dubois. It was a very nice event hosted by the Pa Wilds. Our thanks goes out to Sara from the Pa Wilds and also Jamie for her efforts. Another big thank you to Perry Winkler who so generously made this event possible at his amazing gallery. Another special thanks to Paul for giving us the informative grand tour.
Pa Wilds Grand Prize Winner
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Often I will wait until quite late in an entry before I throw in my tacky little Whoda' Thunk comment which is a bit of a trademark for this crazy Blog of mine. This time I'm not waiting, I'm gonna let it roll off my tongue right from the get go. So here we go. Whoda' Thunk that after the countless miles we have kayaked on the Clarion River that we have never seen a River Otter. That all changed a few weeks ago. We heard from a couple friends that they had spotted a family of River Otters on the Clarion and roughly described where they saw them. That was enough to light a fire under us.
A few days after hearing this, we were hiking a river trail in search of these amazing Otters. After hiking and searching for a couple hours we had pretty much give up hope of locating them but decided to give it some more time. As we scanned the river we noticed some movement on the opposite side of the river. We quickly glassed the waters edge and sure enough it was a River Otter. For the next hour we followed the Otter up river and things just got better and better for now there were 4 Otters swimming together.
These Mustelids proved to be quite camera shy and they made an all out effort to stay just ahead of us which pushed the mighty 600mm lens right to the max. We got some pictures but not great pictures. All was not lost though because we got to witness something that was quite extraordinary. We watched these 4 Otters porpoising in the water like dolphins. We watched as they caught fish and then climbed up on the rock to enjoy their meal. Best of all we watched them as they played and wrestled on the flat boulder like little children on a playground. Sometimes memories can be as good as great pictures.
Over the next several weeks we spent every weekend trying to locate the Otters again but after more hours than I care to admit we would return home Otterless. This again changed the first weekend in January. We heard from our friends Jim and Jan Merritt that the Otters were hanging out at a particular location. The location didn't exactly pinpoint the spot but it sure helped save a lot of searching. We headed down early the next morning and began glassing every snow covered boulder looking for the telltale sign where an Otter had slid on it's belly into the water. In no time we had located a couple hot spots and from then on is all we had to do was wait patiently for an Otter to poke it's head out of the water. This day that meant standing in the cold along the river for a couple hours. Cold yes, perhaps a bit boring but overall quite worthwhile. An occasional Bald Eagle would do a fly by which absolutely relieves the boredom and warms the soul. By the end of the morning we would see what we came to see. Although we didn't get to photograph the Otters sliding on their bellies or playing in the snow, we sure spent some memorable time with the River Otters of the Clarion River. We also got some decent pictures, not great, but decent.
So you might be wondering what is so interesting about River Otters. To that we say, everything is cool about River Otters. Consider the fact that these Mustelids were becoming extinct and reintroduced in the late 70's makes this quite a thrill. One other interesting fact is that Otters are very sensitive to environmental pollution telling us that the Clarion River must be a very clean river. One needs to also bear in mind that Otters are as comfortable and agile on land as they are in the water. They will walk up into the woods for a tasty snack such as a mouse or a bird or even fruit. In the water, they like to eat fish and Crustaceans. They are also very social animals even though they haven't been real sociable to us.
This particular winter day we watched them swim along the river with their head sticking way above the surface. We watched them trying to climb up on to the ice and sit on a snow covered boulder. We also got to listen to them vocalize. Although they make several different sounds such as hissing, growling and whistling this day we were hearing the most common sound which is a low frequency chuckling.
A couple other amazing facts about Otters is that they can swim underwater for over 4 minutes at speeds up to 7 MPH. They are capable of traveling 26 miles in a day. Hopefully we will spend many more hours with the Otters and hopefully get some great pictures but for now at lease we have some decent shots and they will do nicely. Although photographing the River Otters has proven to be quite the challenge, it makes the rewards that much sweeter. Whoda' thunk there would be cool critters like River Otters in the Clarion River! When I thought about the worthiness of this subject being in my Whoda' Thunk Blog, I thought to myself, "this Otter work just fine".
This image was special to us because two of the Otters were wrestling like little kids on a playground.
Count them! Yup, there's 4 of them.
This Otter wanted to get up on the ice but he seemed to be alarmed by our presence. He put his paws up on the edge of the ice and peered at us before disappearing into the water
This was one of 4 Otters we saw this day. He just watched us as he floated by our position. Love that rubber nose!
Monday, October 15, 2012
You may have read the title of this post and wonder what kind of nonsense is going to roll off my keyboard this time. I think I would be safe in saying that your cursor is probably hovering over the "Back" button or your finger is already poised to hammer the escape key, but out of pity and curiosity you decide to read on in hopes of being enlightened or even mildly entertained. I thank you for hanging in there even if you are asking yourself why. So let's get this underway and if you are disappointed let's just think of it as water under the bridge.
If one travels down rte 555 and heading toward Driftwood you will pass through a small hamlet called Grant. If you happen to blink you will most likely miss it so keep those eyes open. Before I get into the creak, rattle and shake I'll touch briefly on the village of Grant. While it's not a tourist destination and the only chance of getting a bite to eat there would involve knocking on the door of a camp and beg them to grill up a venison burger. All this being said, Grant definitely has some historical significance and in fact was named after our 18th United States President Ulysses S Grant. Grant came to Elk County early in 1869 to do a bit of fishing on Mix and Dents Run. He recognized the beauty of the area and returned again later that year and again in 1883. And folks, this is where the village of Grant got it's name.
So if one continues down 555 just outside of Grant you will be nearing the subject of this Blog entry and maybe creak, rattle and shake will make some sense. One needs to watch very carefully on the right side of the road for two very steep access roads that take you to a bridge crossing Bennetts Branch. This bridge was manufactured by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton Ohio and spanned this stretch of water for over 120 years. In fact this bridge was the oldest bridge in Elk County. Sadly, it is no more!
This particular bridge had character and although many would refuse to cross it with a vehicle we have crossed it countless times without incident. Crossing it with a vehicle will reward you with a symphony of creaking, rattling and shaking. We're going to miss that bridge. Whoda' Thunk that when we crossed this bridge on Sept 29th that would be the last time we would be serenaded with these sweet sounds. The following week we were shocked to see it was gone and gone forever. Never again will we cross and listen to the clattering of the boards under the weight of our vehicle. Never again will we experience the thrill of not knowing if it will support us or drop us to the water below. We'll miss this iron monster.
It is our understanding that the crew working on the new bridge have 21 days to complete the project and they are well on their way. As of 10/14/12 there is already a new iron structure spanning the water and no doubt the decking will follow shortly. Until that time, the only way to get to the other side is fording the creek. If you don't mind water half way submerging your grill it's a fun way to get to the other side. So you might be asking what is on the other side that's so important. For us it's a very old and interesting cemetery called the Johnson Cemetery. One could drive right by it and not know it's there as it is so concealed by it's natural surroundings. It's the final resting place for many early inhabitants of the area. One such fella is Ralph Johnson who is buried alongside his 3 wives and several children. Check it out sometime but getting there won't be near the fun it once was. Time will tell if the new bridge lasts over 120 years. For us, the creaking, rattling and shaking will be just a memory. Whoda' Thunk!!
The above photo was taken from the Bridgemapper web page
This picture was taken 10/14/2012 and clearly shows progress being made on the new bridge.