A rock

(A rock between two hard places.)

Opposition is a natural part of life.  Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition — such as lifting weights — we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

~ Stephen R. Covey

This is another of the leftover photos from our trip.  It was taken at Freeman’s Run at Austin Dam Memorial Park.

In other news…

I’m off to pick up the broccoli as soon as Hilgert’s market opens (at 8:00am).  The next two days will be all about the blanching and freezing process.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all.  Reorganizing the freezer didn’t make as much space as I’d hoped.

We finished up the last packet of last year’s broccoli at dinner last night.  It was a fitting goodbye to the old as we get ready for the new.  And it was delicious served with grilled salmon and potato cakes.

One of the big search terms around here lately is about blanching broccoli.  Or rather, about freezing broccoli without blanching it.  Every year around this time a lot of someones want to shortcut their way to preserving the broccoli harvest.  I would not recommend it.  The blanching process retards the activity of enzymes that cause the vegetable to become tough as well as lose its flavor and nutrients.  I realize it would be easier and less time consuming to cut up the broccoli, throw it in a bag and into the freezer.  Blanching takes time and work.  It’s worth every moment of it when January rolls around and you taste the almost-fresh flavors of the broccoli picked in August.

Park Bench

Park Bench

This photo was taken at the Austin Dam Memorial Park.  I like the perspective.  The tree, which really wasn’t very big, looks big because of the angle while the wall of the dam, which was huge, looks small.  And the park bench looks tiny in comparison to everything else.  This one looks better in the larger version so be sure to click on it to take it all in.

Here is a different perspective on the bench:

Life is going to be keeping me busy for a while.  I got a call this morning that the broccoli at Hilgert’s Farm has been picked and that means blanching and freezing 17 lbs. of the lovely stuff.  I’m pretty certain Hilgert’s has the best broccoli on earth, especially when it is freshly picked.

Once the broccoli is in, it’s one thing after another from now until November.  I just hope I have the freezer space for all the things I plan to freeze.  The beans I did a few weeks ago are taking up lots of room.

The Dam Show

Late in the afternoon on Saturday we wandered over to the town of Austin for The Dam Show.  As stated in a previous post, The Dam Show is normally held at Austin Dam Memorial Park.  In an effort to get the town of Austin more involved, the organizers decided to hold it in the Austin town square.  Admission (normally around $10, I believe) was free.

The musical act we wanted to see (Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues Band) was not scheduled to perform until 7:30.  We went early to scope things out, including the vendors.

We walked around the town square for a little while.  There wasn’t too much going on so we decided to check out the museum which had extended hours that day.

The E. O. Austin Home (located on the Austin town square) is a museum with exhibits related to the history of Austin, including quite a bit about the dam disaster.  The folks running the place are knowledgeable about the exhibits, friendly, and more than willing to answer any questions you might have.

(Old and new.)

I enjoyed our visit to the museum.  It is small and the smallness as well as the arrangement gives it a personal feel that I don’t often get in museums.

I love that typewriter.  I had one similar to it when I was a teen, having acquired it for a mere $5 at a yard sale.  I don’t know what happened to it.  During the years that I had it I fantasized about becoming a writer and typing my novel on it.  I would have had strong fingers if I’d kept typing away on that thing.  The keys were not easy to press.

There are exhibits on the first and second floors, categorized by type.  For instance, all of the post office artifacts are in a section labeled (appropriately enough) “Post Office.”

After poking around in the museum for a while (and enjoying the air conditioning), we decided to cross the street and have a beer at the Cock-Eyed Cricket.  There were no beer (or alcohol) vendors at The Dam Show.

To accommodate the show, Austin Borough will temporarily repeal its ‘open container’ ordinance from noon until midnight Saturday.  Showgoers who are of-age will be permitted to consume alcoholic beverages only in the block surrounding town square.  Boundaries will be clearly marked.

(From the Austin Dam News, Summer 2010, Volume 2 Issue 2)

(The Cock-Eyed Cricket.)

Pennsylvania has some odd blue laws and laws pertaining to the sale of alcohol.   Wine and spirits can be sold only in state run Wine and Spirits stores.  All prices are the same throughout the state.  To buy beer you can go to a beer distributor.  However, buying from a distributor means buying in bulk (kegs or cases) as they are not allowed to sell beer in smaller amounts (6- or 12-packs, for instance).  Six and twelve packs, along with singles, must be purchased at a bar or a restaurant.  You can purchase no more than 192 ounces in this manner.  You can take your 192 ounces out to your car, go back in, and purchase more, but no more than another 192 ounces.  You are welcome to keep going back and forth like this but if you want that much beer, you might as well go to a distributor and buy in bulk.

They have a new thing going on involving wine kiosks and breath sensors in grocery stores.  You have to breathe into the breathalyzer before purchasing your wine.  If you’ve been drinking, no wine for you.

The Cock-Eyed Cricket is one of a couple of bars in and near Austin.  Being right across the street from the town square made it convenient for those of us who were thinking we might like to have a beer later in the evening while listening to some blues.

In case you’re wondering what a cock-eyed cricket looks like, here he is:

They have a cute stained glass window with the Cock-Eyed Cricket on it.  I was unable to get a decent shot of it because there were too many people in front of it.

We moseyed up to the bar and had our drinks (a total of $6 for three beers and a glass of wine — which just goes to show you how cheap this stuff really is — a price way below what you’d find in a more upscale bar/restaurant).  Then we decided to head back to the cabin for a little while.  It was a good thing we left when we did.  The rain started just after we got to the cabin and continued for a couple of hours.  There was lightning and thunder and lots of wind.  What we didn’t know (because we had no means of finding out — no radio, no tv, no internet) was that there had been a tornado watch.  We found out about it later that night when we went back to The Dam Show (where the acts had been delayed due to the storm).

(Heavy rain showers in the woods.)

Once the storms cleared out, we went back to Austin and enjoyed an evening of blues.  Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues Band put on a great show and had most everyone dancing by the end.

That pretty much wraps up our weekend away.  I’m glad to get to the end of it.  Or almost to the end of it.  I have a few photos I’d like to post that I couldn’t quite fit in.  I’ll post those tomorrow.

Judging by the blog stats, I’m boring people with all this weekend-away blogging.  Regular blogging will resume soon (although why people find my everyday life more interesting is beyond me).

The Austin Dam

(Morning glory in the meadow.)

Saturday morning M and I took a walk through the woods and meadow, exploring the area around the cabin for a little while.  When we got back to the cabin, L and J were preparing breakfast.  L had made a lentils and dill biscuits dish that she served with sauteéd asparagus and scrambled eggs.  Great stuff!

(The Austin Dam ruins as seen from an overlook.)

After breakfast we all piled in one of the cars and took a short trip up the road to explore the ruins of the Austin Dam.  One of the things that brought us to the area was The Dam Show, usually held at the Austin Dam.

Austin Flood Disaster

On Sept. 30, 1911, the Bayless Pulp and Paper Co. dam broke here.  This concrete dam, built in 1909, was nearly fifty feet high; 534 feet long.  Its failure sent torrents of water and debris down Freeman Run into Austin and Costello, causing great destruction and killing at least 78 people.  This second worst single-dam disaster in Pennsylvania inspired legislation (1913) to regulate the construction of dams in the state.

(From the historical marker at the dam site.)

The dam was commissioned and paid for by the Bayless Pulp & Paper Co.  George Bayless, the owner of the company, chose to ignore the civil engineer’s design recommendations, wanting to find a cheaper method.  The purpose of the dam was to hold 275 million gallons of water in which to soak the wood to remove the bark before sending it on to be made into pulp and paper.  During seasonal dry spells there was not enough water in Freeman Run for soaking the wood so the dam was built in 1909 to solve the problem.

Most of the damage from the dam break, so we were told when we paid a visit to the museum in the town of Austin, was caused by the logs being swept through the towns on that torrent of water.

(Jackson Pond)

Signs such as the one above were posted all around the dam site.  We could be wrong but we decided the names are those of the victims of the flood who died and/or were missing afterwards.

(Freeman Run)

Next year marks the centennial of the September 30th flood.  The Austin Dam Memorial Association (ADMA) has big plans for the park and the remains of the papermill.  It will be interesting to go back someday and see what they’ve done with it.

When we finished wandering around the dam area we drove over to the papermill site, or what we could see of the papermill site from the road.  The plan was for M and I to go back on Sunday so I could take some photos but you already know what happened on Sunday.  It poured!  Since we weren’t sure we could get back there and since the weather wasn’t cooperating, it didn’t seem worth the time or the drive that was not on our way home.

(The tower and some of the papermill ruins.)

As I understand it, ADMA’s plan is to get rid of the papermill ruins.  I’m not sure if they will leave the tower up or not.  I’m guessing not as it probably isn’t stable or safe.  A gentleman at the museum in Austin said the tower was built after the flood of 1911 and that no one has been able to identify the purpose of the tower.  He jokingly said it was to house the CEO of the company so he’d be safe from the next flood.

I’m sorry we didn’t take the time to try to find our way back there that day.  It would have been cool to wander around and take some photos of the place.  It’s unlikely I would have gone inside (doesn’t look too terribly safe) but I would have liked to get a little closer.

This was my “in a nutshell” version of the story of the dam disaster.  For more information, please visit:

One of the aspects of it that interested me is Cora Brooks, the woman who first sounded the alarm when the dam broke.  She was Austin’s town “madam,” running a “house of ill-repute” on the hill opposite the dam.  Cora had some problems with the law a few times, being charged with operating a house of prostitution, as well as making and selling alcohol.  A researcher in the area, Margaret Crosby (married to a descendant of Cora’s), is seeking a pardon from the state for Cora given her heroism and help she provided after the flood when she opened her home to those who needed food and shelter.


(Potter County Courthouse in Coudersport.)

After unpacking our stuff and spending a little time getting semi-caught up with each other, we headed out to one of the nearby towns for dinner.  Our first stop was a restaurant/bar in Austin.  It had gotten a good review on TripAdvisor.  We walked in, stayed about 30 seconds, and walked back out again.  The place looked dirty, had a bad smell to it, and we all had a feeling the food was not going to be good.  It’s possible we were wrong in that assumption which is why I am not naming the restaurant.  It seems unfair to do a review without having tasted any of the food.

We decided Austin was not the place to have dinner that night so we went in the opposite direction, to Coudersport.  It was a good decision.

Coudersport, Pennsylvania  (population 2650, 12.3 miles of streets)  was settled in 1807.  It is located in the Allegheny highlands by the Allegheny River and is surrounded by some lovely hills and plateaus.  “The Grand Army of the Republic Highway” (aka PA Route 6, mentioned in yesterday’s post, but doesn’t “The Grand Army of the Republic Highway” sound more impressive?) runs east-west through the center of town.  One of the most noticeable things to us on the drive through town the first time was an unusually large, and apparently vacant, building located on PA Route 6.  I did not get any pictures of it.  It looked almost brand spanking new.  We found out later that it was built by Adelphia Cable.  The company was, at one time, headquartered in Coudersport and was one of the area’s biggest employers (and the 5th largest cable company in the U.S.) until they went bankrupt in 2002.  If you happen to have 3-4 million dollars laying around, the building is for sale.

Coudersport is the county seat of Potter County.  The county courthouse, pictured above, is located in Coudersport.  Work on it was begun in 1851 and completed in 1853.  The roof was remodeled in 1888 and there is a sign “commemorating” that near the top of the building.  I put the word commemorating in quotes because I read there was some controversy regarding the squandering of tax money to remodel what was considered a fairly new building.  The building is done in the Greek Revival style with a few Victorian elements mingled in.

At the top of the courthouse is Lady Justice.  I’m not sure when she was added.  Perhaps with the remodel of the roof.

The late evening shots of the courthouse are dreadful.  The camera and I are still learning about each other.

We had dinner at Olga’s Gallery & Cafe.  It was an excellent choice.  Everyone was friendly, the service was great, and the food was fresh and tasty.  M and I split a sandwich and a salad.  Both were yummy.

The inside of Olga’s is beautiful with lovely woodwork and lighting.  The gallery portion, both upstairs and downstairs, is filled with some amazing artwork by Olga.  L and I had a look around before our dinner arrived and we both ended up buying some cute winter hats.

(Looking up at Olga’s.)

We went back to the cabin after dinner and spent an hour or two sitting on the deck under the light of the almost-full moon talking and enjoying the evening.

Next up in the road trip series:  The Austin Dam

A Cabin in the Woods

Around noon on Friday M and I left the Bogs, setting out for Coudersport in Potter County, Pennsylvania (“God’s Country” as the welcome signs put it).  We have friends who live in Scranton, Pennsylvana and we had been looking for a half-way point to meet them and spend a weekend together.  The area around the towns of Coudersport and Austin fit the bill perfectly.  It was a four hour drive for them and a four hour drive for us.

Our drive took us north on Pennsylvania State Route 66 through small towns and the Allegheny National Forest, to Route 6.  I was surprised by how dark some of the forest looks, even on a sunny day.  The trees were so thick in spots that it was difficult to see into the woods.  Friday did happen to be a sunny day, but I didn’t take many photos on the drive that day.  I was busy looking at and admiring the scenery, thinking we might take our time on the way home on Sunday and I’d get some photos then.  I had no idea we’d be driving back through torrential rain.

PA Route 6 has a big campaign going with frequent mile markers exhorting you to “Do 6.”  We were headed east on Friday.  The pictures along routes 66 and 6 I’m posting were taken yesterday going west towards Ohio.

Please excuse the poor quality of the “Do 6” sign (and other photos taken during the storms).  The weather didn’t make it easy to capture some of the signs and scenery on our way home.

The portion of PA Route 6 we saw lives up to the advertising.  The towns were quaint and interesting.  M and I would like to go back and take some walks through some of the small towns we went through.  There are some beautiful buildings and houses along the way.

PA Route 6 is also an Artisan Trail that includes a variety of shops, boutiques, and galleries with local art, along with fairs and festivals throughout the year.

Our friends traveled the eastern portion of PA Route 6 and said they found it as interesting and scenic as the western portion we traveled.  It might be fun to someday Do 6, all the way.

(PA Route 6 in Coudersport, Pennsylvana, Sunday morning.)

Having arrived in Coudersport around 4pm in the afternoon, we looked for Sweden Valley Cabins where we were to meet our friends and the guy with the key and directions to the cabin.  MapQuest, as usual, was about 99% correct.  It was, as usual, the last portion that was off.  In this case it involved getting the mileage wrong instructing us to go 0.3 of a mile on East 2nd Street when we needed go about 3 miles.  It’s amazing what a difference the placement of a decimal point can make.

A month or two ago M did some research online, finding and booking the cabin for us.  The name of the cabin is  Blue Skies Lodge.  It wasn’t difficult to get to this time of year but you would need a 4-wheel drive vehicle during the winter months.  The dirt and gravel road leading up to the cabin would be impossible for our car with snow and/or ice on the ground.

The cabin is, as described, “nestled on a hilltop” and relatively secluded.  There are a few other cabins in the vicinity but nothing up close.

It’s a beautiful cabin in a beautiful part of the country.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are none of the modern technological services we tend to take for granted (no cell phone coverage, no television reception, no internet connection) and there is no air conditioning, something else I take for granted and wish we had had since it was such a hot and humid weekend.

The “outhouse” pictured above is mostly decorative (I think it covers the well).  It is full-sized but sitting there in between two big trees makes it look smaller.  We did have running water and flush toilets inside.

The cabin does, in fact, have many modern conveniences, including a lovely kitchen downstairs and a bar area upstairs.  There are three bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

(Downstairs, near the kitchen area.)

It also has bears.  Lots and lots of bears decorating pretty much every area of the cabin (see the bear climbing the wall to the right in the above photo?).  It’s cute.  It should be noted that the woods outside contain bears too, but they are not the decorative kind.  M saw a huge black bear coming towards the cabin on Saturday afternoon.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) he scared it off before I could grab the camera.

I would imagine that the fans throughout the cabin normally keep things pretty cool inside.  We just happened to pick an unusually hot weekend for our stay.

The woods around the cabin are lush, green, and thick with ferns.  A walk through the woods and up a small hill takes you to a large meadow, some of it mowed and some of it filled with wildflowers.  We must have missed a lot of the wildflowers in bloom.  There were a few daisies and morning glories blooming, with the goldenrod starting to dominate.

The meadow would be a great area for stargazing at night.  The full moon on Friday night and the clouds on Saturday night made it difficult for us to see anything during our visit.

There are great views of the hills/mountains from the meadow.  There are also a number of mowed paths that take you through the meadow and into some of the surrounding woods.

I would like to go back sometime in the fall and explore some more.  The fall foliage is probably stunning.

We took a few early morning walks during our stay.  J, one of our friends, got some great photos of the mist in the meadow (I was not up and out early enough for it) and a young buck coming towards him on one of the trails.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more about our trip.  I need to make myself useful for a little while and get caught up on some of the laundry and gardening.

(A light in the window.)

Road Trip!

(Church steeple along PA State Route 66 in Lucinda, Pennsylvania)

This time of year is so busy for us that it is tough keeping up.  It’s especially difficult to do when we spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods and in the mountains where there is no cell phone coverage, no television reception, and no internet service.  It was wonderful and felt great to be disconnected for a little while.  One of the things I liked about the disconnect was not knowing about weather watches and warnings, in particular a tornado watch.  Without the information, we watched the rain and lightning and listened to the thunder and wind without panic or worry.  Life, for me, is better that way.  If I’m destined to die in a tornado or other weather-related event, I think I’d rather not know about it.  Instead, let me enjoy the moments leading up to it, including the show that the storm brings with it.

For those wondering about Saturday’s blog post, I scheduled it before we left.  That’s one of the beauties of WordPress.

Before I start rambling about our weekend trip, I want to say a big THANK YOU to Cismonok, aka The Pickle Lady, for pickling all those cucumbers.  Everything looks great and I was happy to see that there were no vampires anywhere near the kitchen garbage.

For those inquiring minds that might want to know what that message is all about (and it obviously isn’t too private):  The Gherkin Gods spoke on Thursday afternoon.  I got a call from Hilgert’s that they had 2/3 (or possibly more) of a bushel of small cucumbers picked just for me and The Pickle Lady.  The Pickle Lady makes some fabuloso pickles with those little cukes and I wanted to learn how she does it so we got together and ordered a couple of pecks.  Apparently the small cukes are a pain to pick (or maybe to sell).  The good folks at Hilgert’s were willing to do this for us.  A big THANK YOU to them as well.

This past weekend was not a particularly good weekend for The Pickle Lady or for me but we have no choice other than to accommodate the demands of the Gherkin Gods.  While in the midst of getting the house and self ready for a road trip and a meet-up with old friends, the call came in and I ended up spending a good five hours or so cleaning those little buggers.  I didn’t realize the clean-up of small cucumbers would be so, well, cumbersome.

My friend The Pickle Lady came by after we left and processed the cukes and we now have (split between us in an uneven manner) over 20 quarts of pickles.  She said the pickling and canning process is easier than the cleaning process.  I’ll have to take her word for it.  But I’m happy it’s done and that the Weather Gods didn’t decide to knock out the power before the pickling could be done.  Storms moved through after we left and sometime during the pickling process.

As soon as I feel up to posing those beautiful jars of pickles, I’ll post a photo.  In a surprising move for me, I didn’t take any photos of all the little gherkins when I had them floating in water, either to be washed or on ice while waiting to be pickled.  That’s a good indication of how rushed I was feeling at the time.  Usually the camera goes everywhere and records everything.  The cucumbers were a beautiful shade of green sitting in their bucket of ice water after all the washing was completed.  They would have made a pretty picture.  You’ll have to take my word for it.

(Through a rainy windshield on the way home today.)

The weekend was great fun and I want to tell you all about it but it’s getting late, I’m tired, and something must be done about dinner soon.  We haven’t eaten since breakfast so we’re both pretty hungry.

I will tell you that the weekend was hot and steamy, weatherwise.  It was also great fun.  If all goes well tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about it.  Or partly about it.  It might require more than one post.

In addition to no phone, no ‘net, and no TV, there was also no air conditioning.  I’m afraid I didn’t feel as at peace with that lack of technology as I did with the rest.  This past weekend brought a pretty brutal heatwave to the northeastern part of the U.S. and it was hot, humid, and physically miserable when you’re without a means of cooling off.  It’s all about the mindset, though.  We were with good friends and having a good time so the wilting in the heat and humidity was merely a small part of the big and better package.

Except for the first photo (which was the first photo I took on our trip), I’m working backwards by giving you some pictures taken today, on our way home.  The heavy rains that we encountered are, I think, part of a front that is going to give us some slightly (80’s) cooler and drier weather.

Side note:  I did a quick check at weather.com just now and instead of looking at what’s currently going on and what’s to come, I found myself clicking on “Tonight’s Beauty Forecast.”  WTH???  Beauty Forecast???  Are we that ridiculously vain that we need a special forecast?  For those that are, you should know that tonight’s check list includes lip balm (because it isn’t humid enough?), UV protection (in case moonlight is too much for you), and a light jacket.  I would not need the light jacket.  Tonight’s low of 60 degrees sounds heavenly after a weekend of not being able to cool off because the humidity was so high that sweat does not evaporate.  I suppose that statement explains my lacks of enthusiasm for the Beauty Forecast.   Comfort is more important to me than whether or not I need lip balm.

(Traveling through the storm)

There is also a Frizz Alert (frizz likely), but you’ll be happy to know dry skin is unlikely.  I’m guessing (but could be wrong) that the folks who think we NEED a Beauty Forecast think we’re too stupid too figure out that high humidity equals frizzy/curly hair and moist skin.

(Trying to see the road through the heavy rain)

That was a heck of digression.  It was my first visit to TWC since they went into their new (Beta) version.  I will explore more later, when I can devote a whole blog post to the subject.  Maybe in the winter.  I’ll have more time then since I won’t be dealing with frizz alerts and the possibility of oily skin due to high heat and humidity.  More likely it will be static alerts (when the hair goes straight, stands up and crackles) and extreme dry skin problems due to lack of humidity.

(Fungi –What happens to dry skin in high humidity)

I’m getting silly now, a sure sign that I need to move away from the computer, sit out on the back porch or deck, and watch the sun as it makes its way below the tree line.

I’ll leave you with something pretty that I found along the way on our trip.