About Me

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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.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast, what's up with that!!  This post deals with an awesome looking plant called a Foxglove.  The "beauty" part of this title really doesn't require an explanation.  It's a cool looking plant that we actually had growing at our home and have seen it growing wild in places.  Not far from our home there is a back road that has Foxgloves growing like crazy on both sides.  Actually this is how we were introduced to this plant and decided to grow some along with the numerous other flowers we have.  We no longer have these and I'll explain why.

This  is where the "beast" comes into play.  Foxgloves are extremely toxic.  The roots, sap, flowers, seeds and leaves are all very poisonous even when dried.  Some people just get skin irritation and hives while others get far more serious reactions.  The leaves of the upper stem are particularly bad, with just a nibble being enough to cause death. The upper leaves of the stem are more dangerous than the lower leaves. Foxglove is most toxic just before the seeds ripen. It tastes spicy hot or bitter and smells slightly bad. This plant is so poisonous that ingesting only .5 gram dried or 2 grams of fresh leaf is enough to kill a person.
What really makes these dangerous is the lure of the flower itself.  The shape of the flower is such that it's hard for a child to resist sticking their fingers into the flowers.  If they then stick their fingers in their mouths there could be serious consequences.  It would not be a good idea to grow these where children gather or play.  Whoda' Thunk that a plant with such beauty could be such a beast!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Circuit Riding Minister

Most likely the term "Circuit Riding Minister" isn't too familiar to you.  To be quite honest we would be in the same boat if we hadn't stumbled onto this monument in an old and forgotten cemetery in Cameron County.  When we discovered this monument it prompted us to learn more about it.  This particular Minister traveled from to place to place sharing the word of God to all that would listen.  At this time he was affiliated with the Evangelical United Brethren which later became the United Methodist.

One thing for certain, the life of a circuit riding minister was not easy in the 1800's.  They faced many dangers and hardships as they traveled by horseback from town to town, church to church, and sometimes house to house.  Their families nervously awaited their return each time they ventured out on their circuit.  Sometimes they were on the dusty trail for many days at a time. The name of his circuit was known as the Fallen Timber Circuit named that because of the many lumber camps he visited.

What makes Rev Thomas Hollen especially amazing is the fact that even considering the difficult life he lived on the road he managed to outlive his entire family.  It's unbelieveable that he still kept a strong faith despite the fact that he had to witness the death of all his children.  Two of his children only lived to the age of 3.  One passed away at 5 years of age and one made it to the teens.  The oldest child passed away at 20 years old.  That had to be such a burden to bear to bury all of your children.  He also outlived his wife.  I'm including both sides of his monument so you can see it for yourself.  This is one of those things that make you say, "Whoda' Thunk"!  Amazingly this is located in a spot that many drive by hundreds of times but few know about.

BREAKING NEWS...this just in!
New info has surfaced since this post was published and we thought we should share this.  The first bit of info is that we found that he had another daughter that preceded him in death.  She married a Johnson who was one of the early settlers of Grant.  She and her husband J.O. are buried in Summerson Cemetery in Benezette Twp.  More amazing to us is that the famous Tom Mix the well known local cowboy/actor was named after his grandfather who happens to be the subject of this post Rev. Thomas Hollen the Circuit Riding Minister.   Whoda' Thunk!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Morning shower will have to wait.

We spent an enjoyable Memorial Day camping at Lyman Lake.  One morning I was on my way up to getting my morning shower and as usual got sidetracked.  As I walked to the showers I walked past a little mountain stream that is just before the bathroom and couldn't help but notice the beauty of it.  The stream was running strong down from the mountain and there were little patches of the morning fog being illuminated by the rising sun.  The shower will have to wait!  I headed back to the camper to exchange my shower bag and Monkey towel for a DSLR and tripod. 

I quickly set up and began snapping pictures.  I was so busy I hadn't noticed that a small crowd was gathering behind me.  Several people had gotten curious as to what I was looking at.  Before you know it I was joined by a half dozen people including one woman with a hairdo like Edith on Archie Bunker, one huge black dog wearing a scarf and last but not least, one older fella with a lot of his breakfast stuck in his gray beard.  After shooting lots of pictures and chatting with the small group of onlookers it was time to once again grab the shower bag and Monkey towel and head for the showers.  Hard to admit but staring at those fried eggs in the fellas beard was giving me the munchies.  Hope you enjoy the mountain stream as much as we did.  Whoda' Thunk there would be something so cool on the way to shower in the morning.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What a Majestic Creature He Was!

Anyone that has been an Elk watcher down at Benezette has certainly had the pleasure of seeing Fred doing what he does best .  What he did best was give great pleasure and excitement to the thousands that watched him and photographed him.   He was an amazingly large animal that showed off a huge set of antlers year after year.  Certainly there were lots of people that just looked at him as a huge bull and didn't look at him any differently than any other large bull.  But for many of us he was much more than that.  He was Fred, the Benezette Bull, Old 36 and lots of other names.  We knew him as more than just another big bull as we watched for him year after year.  He never failed to impress us.

Unfortunately we won't be seeing Fred anymore other than in our thoughts and in the many pictures we have accumulated over the years.  Fred took a bad fall on the ice covering Trout Run this winter and due to his injuries and poor health he had to be put down.  This was indeed a sad day for many.  Fred had lived a long life somewhere in the range of 15-20 years.  He's certainly fathered many a calf and has most likely been photographed many more times than any red carpet model could even dream of.  He was Fred, Bull #36 and he will be missed.

After following Fred around the hills of Benezette for so many years Whoda' Thunk that someday we would be holding his enormous antlers in our arms.  Trust me when I say they are enormous and heavy.  Fred had to be a powerful creature to carry these around on the top of his head.  After all of these years,,,,,,,WHODA' THUNK!!!

The nice lady (Jean) at the Visitor Center allowed us to hold Fred's antlers and collar.  We lucked out because they were winding down for the evening and we were pretty much the only visitors.  This was truly sad but yet so amazing to hold.  We are watching a few big bulls that may be Freds replacement.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Muskrat Love at Lyman Lake

While camping at Lyman Lake recently I awoke early and headed down to the lake with the DSLR and the 100-400mm.  It was my hope that the beavers would be out and about and might want their pictures taken.  As I stood there silently the little gnats fed off me like I was an all you can eat buffet.  Just as I was about to surrender and turn the turf over to the feeding insects I spotted something heading across the water.  My initial thought was that there was a baby beaver heading my way.  As the excitement built I suddenly got a glimpse of the tail and realized immediately this was a Muskrat.  Oh well, Muskrats are cool too!

This little guy swam right toward me and then crawled up on the bank and started munching away on a nice green salad.  After munching for awhile he grabbed a big clump of long grass and got back in the water.  He swam toward the hut and then disappeared into the depths.  I watched this little guy repeat this little activity maybe 3-4 times and he never knew I was there.

So you're probably wondering what is so special about Muskrats that earns them a spot in the Whoda' Thunk Blog and I'm about to tell ya'.  Did you know why they are called Muskrats?  Sure they are a member of the rodent family but not truly a rat as we know rats.  They have two scent glands back by their tail that are used to mark their territory with a "musky" odor.  Even though their feet are somewhat webbed they actually use their tail for propulsion through the water.  These critters can swim underwater for as long as 17 minutes.  While these little tidbits of info are interesting this alone wouldn't qualify Muskrats to be in the Whoda' Thunk Blog. 

So I'm about to tell you why this is a Whoda' Thunk critter.  In the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit there is a longstanding dispensation which allows Catholics to eat Muskrat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.  Since it is basically an aquatic critter it is considered the same as fish.  For this reason, Muskrat is a relatively traditional Lenten meal in parts of Michigan.  And that folks made me say, "Whoda' thunk"!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Whoda' Thunk little bugs could spit like this!

On a recent camping trip to Lyman Lake we made many visits to the upper end of the lake with the hopes of getting some good wildlife photo's.  The upper end of the lake is a haven for all kinds of critters.  We saw Beavers, Muskrats, Geese, Ducks and many species of birds.  Another thing we saw lots of was these little gnats that had very large teeth and seemed to think I was quite tasty.  We probably would have saw a lot more wildlife if I hadn't been constantly swinging my arms like a crazed wild man trying to battle the barrage of these hungry little insects.  One particular morning I waited patiently for one of the Muskrats to appear from a nearby hut when I noticed this nice big foamy glob of spit on a nearby plant.  Those that are misinformed would call this grasshopper spit but they would be wrong. 

In reality, this glob of foam which is quite common in nature comes from the infamous Spittlebug.  Actually it is the Spittlebug Nymphs that hide in these little foamy globs that they themselves create.  They actually puncture the stem of the plant, suck out the sap and excrete it out their anus.  Before it is excreted it is mixed with air to make it foamy.  The foam protects them from predators and also insulates them from temperature extremes.  Whoda' Thunk these globs of foam are from tiny little Spittlebugs!

Whoda' Thunk we would see so many waterfalls!

We recently had the pleasure of kayaking the Upper Pine which is the waterway that flows down through the Grand Canyon of Pa.  The paddle along the Upper Pine is scenic beyond words.  As you paddle through this mountain bordered waterway beauty abounds.  We paddled beneath a mature Bald Eagle that was perched in a hemlock tree overhanging the water.  He was very aware of our presence but seemed to know we posed no danger to him as a couple flaps of those giant wings would carry him out of harms way.  So aside from all that natural beauty Whoda' Thunk that there would be an additional bonus.  We sure didn't realize that we would be paddling past one beautiful cascading waterfalls after another roaring down the steep mountains and into Pine Creek before our very eyes.  Without any exaggeration we were treated to a dozen or more waterfalls, one prettier than another.  It was absolutely amazing!  Watch this video as Jeanne paddles along side by side waterfalls.