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, November 24, 2011

Trail, Thong, Marker, Bent, Elbow, Message or none of the above.

It seems that I am developing a style or lack of style where as the title of a new entry makes absolutely no sense at all.  I think this title definitely follows my trend of literary confusion.  It's my hope that this nonsense doesn't scare you off but instead makes you read on in hopes of finding something that makes sense in the following paragraphs.  Hey, maybe you might even find it interesting.  Whoda' thunk that could possibly happen.

Okay let's get this underway.  Most of you are somewhat familiar with the Quehanna Area and have your own visions when the name is mentioned.  Some may think of the Boot Camp that makes it's home at the southern entrance to the Wild Area.  For others the word Quehanna brings to mind "Piper".  This place was a key location in the early days of the Piper aircraft. At one time 1000 people were employed here making metal and plastic parts for Piper aircraft.

Some of you may think of Curtiss/Wright when someone mentions Quehanna but most likely really don’t  know the history behind it.  Curtiss/Wright was actually tied to the three early pioneers of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss.  This relationship had some very ugly legal struggles.  When all said and done Curtiss/Wright saw the Quehanna area as a perfect location to develop nuclear jet engines.  The beautiful Quehanna Wild area still bares the scars from this endeavor and will for many generations to come.

Going back even further into the past of the Quehanna Wild Area there are even wilder visions that occupy my thoughts.  I think of the times that Robber David Lewis hid out in these woods while being chased down by posse's consisting of lawmen and others seeking justice for this thief and counterfeiter.  This colorful character was thought of by many as the Robin Hood of the east. Unfortunately the law and those ripped off by Mr Lewis didn't look at him kindly.  Not too far from this area is where he would see his end.  This will be the subject of a future Blog entry so stay tuned for episodes to come.

For those devoted and patient readers that have endured all the above rambling I’m nearing the true reason for this entry.  To lead into this we need to look back much further than the Boot Camp, Piper and Curtiss/Wright and even further back than Robber David Lewis.  We need to look back to when the Indians inhabited these woods.  It’s hard to imagine but many years ago the Iroquoian speaking Susquehannock Indians called this place their home.  They hunted here, farmed here and created worn foot paths as they traveled from place to place.  They didn’t have GPS’s and they couldn’t stop and ask for directions although the males of the tribes most likely wouldn’t have asked for directions.  Modern day men can blame this trait on the Indians I would suppose.

So just how did these early travelers navigate across land that had no roads, power lines or gas lines?  How did they get to shelters, food, water and all the other waypoints vital to their existence?  They used a method of trail marking that became known as Elbow Trees, Signal Trees, Marker Trees, Thong Trees, Message Trees and lots of other similar names.  By the way Thong Trees didn’t have thongs hanging from them.  To mark critical directions they would bend small saplings over at a 90 degree angle with the end pointing in the desired direction of travel.  Typically they would tie the end down with a strip of rawhide, a strong vine or even weigh it down with soil or rocks.  Over time the tree would continue to grow that way even if the original mechanism holding it down were no longer there.

Recently we were in the Quehanna area and found ourselves face to face with what the typical Elbow Tree would look like.  We would have loved to let our imaginations run wild and label this as an old Indian trail marker.  Unfortunately this was not the case.  Over the years of hiking all over Gods creation we have spotted Elbow Trees that very likely were true trail trees from years gone by and the work of Indians.  You are probably wondering why the trees in the pictures below are not labeled as authentic trail trees and if not why are they like that.  There could be several reasons for a tree to grow like this.  One cause could be attributed to a larger tree falling over or being knocked down from the wind or snow load.  This tree could have bent over a sapling and the sapling could survive and continue growing in this fashion.  Over time the large tree rots away leaving a mature tree growing in such an odd way.  The growing branches would grow toward the sun reaching for the sky.  In other words it would not be smart to assume any elbow tree to be an original Indian trail marker even though it makes a better story.

If you look at the trees in the following pictures you would have to agree they are very interesting and surely could pass as Elbow Trees.  For one thing they are not large enough to have been around when the Susquehannock Indians tromped these woods.  The other thing that we noticed right away is that this particular location had maybe 10 bent trees all within a 50 foot radius.  One thing became immediately obvious is that there was no pattern and the trees pointed in multiple directions and some actually curved along the ground.  As cool as these trees were, I would be quite silly to call them Indian trail markers.  Whoda’ Thunk that I would get you all excited into thinking you were getting a glimpse at some authentic Indian trees but then drop this on ya’.  Sorry about that but it is what it is.  Hey, maybe I’m wrong!  If nothing else I hope I opened your eyes as to the vast significance of the Quehanna Wild Area.  It’s truly an awesome wilderness with so many stories to tell.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can't go over it, just go through it!

It's always amazed us when we would mention something that we assumed everyone knew about but would then realize that most were unaware of it.  In this particular entry I will be talking about a hole in a hill in Caledonia.  Okay, some may choose to call it a tunnel and they would be politically correct, but it still is a hole in a hill.  Some say potatoe and some say potato......  Okay, I digressed for a bit so someone quickly reel me back in.

Okay, moving forward now lets talk about this tunnel.  If you haven't figured it out by now, we have a slight fascination with tunnels.  This particular one can easily be seen without leaving the blacktop, or for that matter you don't need to leave the comfort of your car.  You can bet your sweet bippy we did get out of our car.  In fact we have walked through this tunnel many times both in the darkness and in the daylight but that is another story in itself.

The first time we walked through this tunnel I remember looking up at the keystone on the east end of the tunnel.  The date was 1876.  Hmmm, I clearly recall the date on the west end saying 1873.  Well, the reason for that is that the tunnel began on the Weedville side in 1873 and finally the exit end on the Benezette end was completed in 1876.  It took 3 years to complete this hole in a hill.  If you think about it they didn't have all the fancy equipment and technology back in the late 1800's so we think they accomplished something amazing.  It still looks real good and it still is part of an active rail system.

So if we have wet your appetite and have you starving for more, there is more indeed.  If you get up close and personal with this tunnel you won't have to venture very far to notice the signs indicating that this tunnel is an official Fallout Shelter.  There is a sign at the entrance and another just a little ways into the tunnel.  During the Cold War this tunnel would have been used as a fallout shelter if necessary.  Thankfully that wasn't necessary.

When I make entries into Whoda' Thunk the info either comes from the space between my ears or it may require lots of research.  If it comes from the space between my ears it's the info that I have packed into my head over the years and have decided to share it with you.  Sometimes I get lucky and the info just kind of slides right into my hands.  This is the case as I share some more info about this tunnel.  We thank our good friend Bubba for providing the rest of this info.

This tunnel was once used as an icehouse or cold storage.  There would be huge blocks of ice cut from the lake at Parker Dam and transported to this tunnel.  The ice would be used in the refrigerator cars to keep the milk, meats, beverages and other food cold during transit on the rails.  The tunnel was also used to keep food cold during the summer months.  In fact there were once huge doors that would close off the entrance and exit to this tunnel to make it a more efficient ice house.  When a train would come they would need to open the doors to allow the train to pass through.  There are holes still very visible that were drilled into these huge stones where the doors were hinged from.  Pretty cool, huh!  In the spring they would  drive a machine through the tunnel to knock down all the ice hanging from the ceiling so the train could pass through.  We can attest to the ice formations that adorn this tunnel in the winter and into spring.

Whoda' Thunk there could be so much written about a mere hole in a hill!

If you look at the upper part of this picture you will see a home that is almost directly above the tunnel.  As we walked through the tunnel there was continually water dripping from the ceiling of the tunnel.  I mentioned to my wife that perhaps it was not water but actually coming from their septic system above us.

1873 on the West end

Fallout Shelter

1876 on the East end

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Backpack Jack returns home

Okay, so now and again I make an entry that may be questionable as to it's worthiness to be part of this Blog.  I guess since it's my Blog I can get away with it.  Maybe though once you read it you will agree it's a legitimate entry.  I think I've proven in the past that I can turn most anything into a Whoda' Thunk, it just takes a little imagination and my wife claims mine is quite vivid.  I think that is the word she used, or was it warped.  Oh well, it doesn't matter so let's continue.

First and foremost let me explain what this is all about.  Some of you may have never heard of Geocaching.  It's a high tech treasure hunt using Global Positioning Systems or GPS's.  People hide things all over the world and the game is to use the given coords and description and go out and find it.  Some are easy while some can be quite difficult.  A common container for a hidden cache is an ammo box because they are very water tight.  Geocaching has several twists and one is called Trackables or Travel Bugs.  These are things that travel from cache to cache and their travels are tracked and logged  by those that find them.  People will take the Travel Bug from one cache and place it in  another and so on and so forth.

Back in 2003 we placed a travel Bug named Backpack Jack in a cache in the Quehanna Wild Area. Where we hid him was quite remote but definitely an amazing place.  Backpack Jack had a mission and that was to see the Rockies by traveling from cache to cache and then return home.  His journey was quite long and lasted over 8 years.  He traveled way over 10,000 miles and made many stops.  At one point he spent 6 months buried in a snow drift in Colorado before someone dug him out and got him moving.  He did see the Rockies but he didn't return home just then.  Instead he headed to the west coast and traveled from San Diego to San Francisco and back to San Diego again.  He then went to Las Vegas and traveled around the Rockies again and actually at one point got real close to home.  Unfortunately someone didn't understand his mission and he headed west again and did many more miles.

As his travels continued he was in the hands of many nice people that kept him moving.  At one point he ended up hidden in a closet until he was discovered by the person that took him.  Fortunately he got moving again.  Over the years, he would go into hiding and at times we had worried he was gone forever but suddenly he would show up again.  Just recently we got an e-mail from some nice folks that had Jack and wanted to meet us at the place where he began his journey.  We couldn't wait and agreed immediately to meet them.  Whoda' Thunk after 8 years and over 10,000 miles that we would finally have Backpack Jack back in our hands.  Our thanks to the nice people that made this happen.  His journey has finally ended and he's back home with us.

This is a map showing Backpack Jack's travels.

This is Backpack Jack, but you probably guessed that.

This is an interesting story in itself.  This is miles from anywhere and you would never expect to see a monument like this out in the boonies.   Hmmm, Whoda' thunk!

These are the nice folks that returned Backpack Jack to us.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fetching A Stick Bores Me Silly!

This past weekend we headed to Erie to see how the migration was progressing out on the Peninsula.  We kayaked out to Gull Point and saw lots of American Coots, a couple Tundra Swans and a few hundred seagulls.  There were other migrating ducks that wouldn't allow us to get close enough to identify.

After loading the Yak back on the truck we managed to get back on the pavement without burying the truck on the beach.  Our plan now was to check out the lagoon and a few other ponds along the way.  As we approached Sunset Point we stopped to watch the goings on and take a few pictures.  Look at the pictures and you will see why I titled this post as I did.

What you are seeing here is two very active Border Collies.  They really enoyed their day at the beach.  But what the heck has them so excited?  Could it be that someone threw a stick and they are going after it?

Next Picture will explain all of this.

This Border Collie thinks fetching a stick is boring.  He prefers chasing stunt kites on the beach.  So you might be asking, did he ever catch it?  The next picture should answer that question.  These Border Collies are highly skilled and quite trainable.  We watched one of these same types of herders work some sheep lately and they are really amazing.  When that kite was perched stationary on the beach the dog just stood there motionless and wouldn't take his eyes off the kite.  When the kite went airborn and he got the command is when the fun began.  Whoda' Thunk a day at the beach could be so much fun for a Border Collie.  Playing fetch with a stick is boring!

Yes, he caught it several times but would release it at the command of the owner.