Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm West Seneca's Unknown Marine

I'm famous, for nobody knowing who I am anymore. I guess there was a photo of me from boot camp hanging in my high school with no name attached. So I made front page of the West Seneca Bee, in an attempt to be found.

Amazing they could forget somebody that had their own fan club in school.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Finger Lakes Part 2, Buttermilk Falls

I spent a weekend in the Finger lakes with my family for hiking and wine tasting. I will break the trip up by park, this is part two.

A few years ago I read an article in Backpacker Magazine that was just my style "Top 3 Trailhead Pub Hikes." Number three on the list is Buttermilk Falls State Park. Since we arrive in Ithaca a little early to check in we attacked the park.

For this park we started at the bottom. The first of the 11 falls is a large sliding falls with a large pool at the bottom. In the warmer months they add a damn to make the pool bigger for swimming. We followed Backpacking Magazines suggestions and headed up the valley trail. This trail made you earn it, steep in parts and slippery as it makes its way up the stream bed.

 Looking up at the falls from the trail head
 Looking down into the pool and life guard stand

About half way up the trail the streams gorge gets narrower and you walk along the top of it. In this section it looks similar to Walkins Glen.

 Layered Slate wall along the trail

After the few falls in the narrow gorge it opens up again and you pass this tower. If it wasn't made of loose slate, I doubt I could have resisted climbing it. Since climbing it would have torn it apart I just admired it form the bottom.

At the top we crossed the bridge skipped the upper part of the park and headed down along the rim trail. For reasons unknown, my GPS stopped tracking on the way down. The view from the rim trail wasn't as good. There were only a few places that overlooked the creek.

Sadly we didn't take the advice of Backpacker and hit up Ithaca Beer Company, since it was time to check in to the hotel. We made up for it by hitting Bandwagon Brew Pub downtown for dinner.


Finger lakes Part 1, Taughannock Falls

I spent a weekend in the Finger lakes with my family for hiking and wine tasting. I will break the trip up by park, this is part one.

Down at the southern end of the finger lakes their are many parks and waterfalls. There is one falls that is about half way up Cayuga Lake. It is Taughannock Falls. I had no idea this place even existed until we stopped at the Falls Restaurant and Tavern on our way down NYS Route 96. The restaurant had a bunch of photos of the falls and it looked great in photos. Even their sign was a wood carving of the falls.

I would guess this is one of the biggest free falling falls in the Finger Lakes at 215 feet. Most of the other falls of the area are sliding falls.

Since we were coming from NYS Route 96, we started at the top (North West) end of the park. This meant the first area we reached was overlook near the top of the falls. The view is impressive. The falls spill into its large pool from its big V shaped canyon.

 Once at the bottom of the park we "hiked" up the valley. I was a little disappointed by how huge the trail was. You didn't have to earn it, one could easily drive I semi truck to the falls down the trail, which was pretty flat. This easily approachable falls I guess serves a purpose, as an introduction to the outdoors for those of us that are less adventurous.

From the bottom, the falls looked even better than from the top. Maybe it had something to do with being hit by the spray that floated down the valley.

At the head of the trail on the way back to the parking lot I spotted a little cave. Naturally, I couldn't resist climbing in. It was only about 10 feet deep, but still made this nice photo.

Across the road was the rest of the park. which included some picnic areas, play grounds, marina and a beach.
 Bridge over Marina's entrance
View of the beach


ATVing through Ellicottville, NY

One of my favorite things to do in high school was go ATV riding through the woods of Ellicottville, where my family has some property. The balance of control and maneuverability of an ATV just makes it so much fun. Even the many times I over estimated my control and threw myself off the ATV, it was all part of the fun. With the smaller ATVs you can body them around a bit, which is something impossible to do with anything bigger like a side by side or a jeep.

For most of those years my family only had one ATV so it was a lot of going out alone. This was the first time that my family had two working ATVs. Another thing that made this day more fun is we know the neighbors better and had permission to ride on their property as well as our own.

Blasting through the desert is fun, but I think the trees and more diverse terrain makes the forest more fun. The only down side was some resent storms had downed a lot of trees, so there were more stops than normal.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Plane Crash Mountain hike

For my first real Meet Up. I joined two other hikers on an early morning hike up Air Plane Crash Mountain, which is the site of a WWII B17 crash during a training mission.
I reached the Mountain before the sun did

The hike was a little over two miles round trip depending on how close to the trail head you park. My GPS didn't track the way up, so the map below only has the trip down, but it is an out and back so the route was the same.

 Looking down the valley

The debris field from the crash runs from about half way up to and ends about three fourths of the way up.

 Small memorial at the top of the debris field.
 View from the top

Survey marker at the top


Friday, May 18, 2012

Ya gotta regatta 2012

I made my way back to Western New York for the great valley regatta for the second time. It is a 6.5 mile canoe "race" with four beer stops, and one hell of a party for 3,000+ people. This year the weather was just about as good as anyone could ask for.

View Great Valley Volunteer Firemans Regatta in a larger map

Once again I tried talking people into joining me, and failed. My sister had an extra person in her boat, so one joined me.

Right at the start of the race there was there was a mandatory portage. This was a real mess and pretty funny to watch. Unlike the beer stops where the parking is pretty spread out, you need to take out in one little area and carry your boat about 100 feet and put back in at a little area.

 This guys ready to party

I attacked the first beer stop. During the short stay there I managed to get five beers. This was a pretty crowded beer stop, and all the suckers going to the taps on the left were getting all foam.

 Leaving beer stop #1
 My craft

Beer stop three is always the party stop because of its easy road access

Right next to the taps at beer stop three, there was a stripper pole. It didn't take long for two girls to jump up there, loose their tops and start working the pole.

By the time I left the third beer stop I had given up on taking pictures and I was pretty drunk. By the fourth beer stop I was ready for a fight. Being drunk and surrounded by other drunker people seems to put me in that kind of mood.