Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cave Hunt!

Having received a copy of a letter that was written many years ago by a woman now deceased describing her visit as a 10 year old to a cave once reportedly used by the Underground Railroad, I spent a couple of days searching the area where it was supposedly located.

Here is a copy of the letter written by Julia Niles Rea:

"There is an area known as the Bradshaw but I am not sure where it is as I have not been up in there in a lot of years.  I do know that you went down Hunt Lane, past their cow barn some distance and then went slightly right.  My Grandfather Niles owned a wood lot up there and we went up every year to cut wood and bring it home.  Herbert Niles (Julia's father) owned a lot which I think was next to Granndpa's".

   "I was about 9 or 10 years old and up in our woodlot one day with my father.  I was running and skipping around the stumps and  father said that when he loaded the wood he would take me out to see the big cave.  As we walked out through our wood lot and into a couple more he told me all about the cave and the run away slaves who were reported to have gone in there to rest and hide until they were able to head north to Canada.  We walked for some distance and then came to the biggest cave and rocks I had ever seen.  I stood at the entrance but afraid to go any farther as it looked cold and dark.  There was a huge rock above the entrance that came out of the front like an awning.  It must have been three feet thick.  We walked around and above but I never did go inside.  It was some years later that Atwood Allen and Clarence Masten came to see  Father and check directions as they wanted to go to the cave.  They had both been there and gone inside in their younger years and wanted to find it again.  Father told them where he thought they should go and they agreed and took off.  When they came back they said there were sure they had found the location but the big rock had fallen along with many other rocks and stones and it just looked like a big pile of rocks.  It was all grown up around the area and they were sure no one would ever recognize it as a cave.  As they talked to Father they all decided that the cave was lost to everyone and although it was a part of history of our area, it would never be seen again."
I made two trips on foot with Lucy the Dog, going east from Notch Lane into the old Lt. John Gregor Military Patent, and following a long abandoned road northward through what is now State Forest. 
The road (with a 2 rod right of way) seemed too well constructed to be just a field road, but it doesn't appear in the earliest map I have (1853). It would be about the only way to reach the northern area of the Gregor Patent, so may have been from the 1790's or early 1800's. The Patent was seized and sold in 1785 and the 11 subdivisions surveyed in 1790. The northern half not being of much use for agriculture, the original owners may have sold out and left once they got legal title in 1790.
Julia and her father would have originally come up this road (dotted line) but the southern half is on private land, so I followed a snowmobile trail from the east until I intersected it.
The first day Lucy and I found nothing approximating the size Julia described, though I made allowance for the usual "growth" of caves in stories over the years!
A few days later Lucy and I made a second trip, going farther in and farther up, and finally found what looks like a likely place in a valley near the top of the mountains. 

 This is large enough to have had a substantial overhang before it caved in. The way two old stone walls run into and butt against the cliff suggest that an overhang or cave there might have been used to shelter sheep in the early 19th century. There is also what looks like charcoal in the area to the front, but might only be rotted wood. Of course, as the letter states, it is impossible to know for sure now whether this is the place or not, but it does fit the description given.

Below are a few more photos of the area.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Taking a July Vacation and Spiritual Retreat

July, 2018

 This year our denomination’s Family Camp, held at Delta Lake Bible Conference Grounds in Rome, New York, ran from June 28th through July 7th.

 We determined to attend from Friday through Thursday.

 Our oldest grandson stayed over on Thursday night and early on Friday morning he and I took Lucy over to the kennel in Shaftsbury, VT.

 After most of a week of getting things packed up and the camper ready to go, we left with two grandsons age 15 and 5 on Friday morning about 10:20 AM, a bit later than we had planned but still in the ballpark.

 We went out Route 67 to Amsterdam, then took Route 5 west to Little Falls, stopping at McDonald's in Palatine Bridge for lunch. We had so much weight that I had trouble towing the camper at first, almost losing control of it a couple of times. We had to stop near Johnsonville to unpack the camper somewhat and redistribute the weight. We had no more trouble with that, but did with the fierce side-wind we encountered on the way to Amsterdam, and even up the Mohawk Valley. Seldom did we get over 45 mph. From Little Falls we went north to Middleville, through Newport, and Poland to Remsen – then west to Westernville and around the north side of Delta Lake and down to Lee where the Bible Conference Grounds are. We arrived about 3:30 and unpacked and set everything up. The youngest grandson slept most of the way out, the other had his headphones on, so we had a quiet and uneventful trip!

 Saturday the temperature and humidity began to climb. Our oldest grandson hung out with his friends. The youngest began to learn his way around the camp. I cooked meals, did dishes, read my Bible, went to services. We slept with two fans on in the camper and managed to sleep fairly well. The oldest had a big fan on in his tent.

 Sunday the temperature and humidity went even higher. I took the youngest grandson to the beach where he spent the afternoon in the water. I even went in briefly. He was hot and tired and threw temper tantrums over things all day long! We were about ready to call it quits and go home! Sunday afternoon some friends came out and brought my wife’s cane, which she had left behind.

 To top it off, the power grid started to collapse Sunday night and we were restricted to one light and the refrigerator. As we have battery lights for dry camping, we decided to use one fan in place of the light, so had a little air circulation.

 Monday morning I woke up at 5:10 am with a splitting headache, probably from caffeine withdrawal! Decided it was time to empty my wife’s portable toilet. The dump station was clogged up so it immediately backed up. It was a small tank, so I emptied it down the toilet in the public bathroom instead. Interesting way to start the day! I wondered what the folks in the big campers with holding tanks were going to do? The mosquitoes were horrible and I had to hunt up bug spray. Made coffee and felt much better in about an hour.

 Monday we had bad thunderstorms in the afternoon. I cooked hot dogs for supper between storms but couldn’t get dishes done so left them for Tuesday morning. The showers cooled things down enough so we got a good night’s sleep, but by morning it heated up again and got even more humid. The air quality was also deteriorating – I started coughing and got very congested. On the plus side, I had no headache! Many of the oldest grandson’s friends left on this day and went home. One pastor and his group had left the day before reportedly because they couldn’t use their air conditioning, but National Grid was asking everyone to cut back statewide.

 Tuesday was hot, but more pleasant than it had been. I took the youngest grandson to the beach in the late afternoon. I also ran a neighboring camper into Rome to pick up his car at Midas. He had lost the brakes. After that I went to Wal-Mart and got more ice, water, soda, etc.
In the evening we took the kids to McDonald's in Rome for a treat.

 On Wednesday the 4th we went to the services as usual, though I missed the flag raising at 7:30. I took the youngest to ride the pontoon boat at 1:15, but as we were the only two who signed up we had to wait until 2:15 when they had enough people to make the trip worthwhile.

 He swam in the meantime, having the whole beach to himself as everyone else was up at the Campground parade! He loved the pontoon boat ride, though he spent more time watching the cut-water than the view!

 After the ride we went up where they had a big water slide, bounce house, etc., and I left the wife to watch him while I went to Stewarts in Stokes to get ice, then to Lee Park to pray as I have done for many years, for a couple I watched get married there while out for a walk years ago. The thermometer on the Community Theater sign said 109 deg. F when I went out and 104 when I got my camera and took a photo. When I got back, they were shutting down the event, so we went back to the campsite.

 In the evening I took him down to the beach again to watch fireworks. No big shows anymore, but a lot of private fireworks going off all around the lake. He enjoyed it. This year there didn’t seem to be as many of those as in prior years.

 I got a few things packed up during the day.

 During the week the youngest grandson kept filling up old water bottles with dirt, rocks, and sticks. I got a bit upset when he emptied one into the dishes I had just washed. Then before we left for home he started crying because “his ants were all dead”! Turned out he had been trying to make an ant colony and screwed down the cap to keep the ants in – of course they all suffocated!

 The daily services and speakers were very good. There was an especially powerful healing service on Thursday evening. Most of the focus this year was on the power of God.

 Thursday I got up about 5:10 am and started taking things down and packing them up. The oldest grandson said goodbye to his remaining friends. We had breakfast in the Dining Hall and left about 10:20 AM (behind schedule again!). We went home via Stokes, Westernville, Remsen, and down through Poland to Middleville, where we took Route 29 east. Between Western and Remsen a little Amish boy of about 8 or 9 years old driving a two horse team pulling a huge hay wagon passed us going the other way. His Dad followed about a half mile behind with another team and wagon. Route 29 was in rough shape, but there was no wind to speak of this time and I had no problem with the camper. The youngest grandson hadn’t seen the huge windmills before and enjoyed the sight! We stopped at McDonald's in Johnstown for lunch. At Galway, we cut south to Route 67, through the endless “roundabouts”, and on home.
 From Johnstown east all the two grandsons did was provoke each other and fight! I wanted to get out and walk! Then the oldest wanted to go right home, as I had forgotten to ask our daughter to start the AC and it was 94 deg. in the mobile home. But I had to unload the damp clothes and start washing them, get the food put away (my wife did most of that), and get their stuff out of the Jeep and camper. They having finally reached a settlement that their mother would pick them up after work, the oldest and I went after Lucy. She was surely glad to see us! She has been following me everywhere, not letting me out of her sight. The cat was also glad to see us – would have thought she hadn’t eaten in a week! (Daughter fed her every day!).

 We spent most of the day today unloading, washing clothes, cleaning and sorting. It rained in the late afternoon and into the next morning. This afternoon the cold front finally came through and broke the heat wave. It is supposed to get down to 47 deg. F. tonight. The lawn hasn’t gotten away from me, even though the rain gauge shows we got 2 inches of rain here while we were away.

All in all, we had a blessed time despite the heat, thunderstorms, power shortages, and children’s temper tantrums.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

     We had planned to take two of the grandsons camping over the weekend, but only one wanted to go when the time came. This was our usual short Spring trip to try the camper and equipment out before the summer camping season. Going up Woodford Mountain gives the tow vehicle a proper workout!

     Saturday we hooked up the camper and went up to Woodford State Park, in the mountains east of Bennington, Vermont. It was a nice day and pleasantly cooler there than at home. After we got set up, we had to run all the way back down the mountain to Bennington to get ice as the local store had closed and the campground hadn't gotten their new ice machine yet. I did get time to take the grandson down to the beach where he had fun for an hour or two before suppertime.

     On our return we had supper and later started a campfire and sat around it. The grandson helped cook marshmallows and make s'mores. (Most of the "help" was in eating them!)

     Overnight the rain moved in and it got much colder. In the morning I cooked breakfast outside in the cold drizzle while everyone else stayed inside! I did slip down to the lakeshore to take the following photograph:

     After eating, doing dishes, and getting ready, we left early for Clifton Park for a celebration of the birthdays of our grand-daughter and her husband, stopping at home for a time to leave off Lucy the dog and get cleaned up a bit, plus switch cars to save gas. The birthday celebration had been planned for outside, but had to be moved inside due to the rain. Everyone still had a good time.

     Returning home late in the afternoon, we switched vehicles back again, picked up Lucy, and made it back to the campsite before suppertime, though we had eaten so much earlier we didn't bother with it. We had given the grandson the option of going home or back to the campsite with us - he chose camping in spite of the cold and damp! It was so cold I had to start the heater (48 deg. F). Everything outside was soaked so we got warmed up, shut the heater down, and went to bed early.

     Overnight the rain slacked off to an occasional shower. I cooked breakfast outside again in the damp - pancakes, bacon, and eggs. I did the dishes and we packed up and left about 10:30 AM. We dropped off the grandson and went home and started unpacking and drying things out. It was much warmer at this elevation and later on the sun came out. It has been hot and dry since we returned!

     As you can probably tell, we love camping and the occasional period of bad weather is just a part of it you have to put up with.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The reasons I haven't posted in awhile:

I apologize for the recent lack of posts. Spring is overwhelming me, having to mow lawn continually, cut up trees blown over by storms, working on our camper to get it ready for the summer, fixing the falling apart vehicles (The Jeep will hit 200,000 miles in a week or so. The Focus needs tires, a ball joint, wheel bearing, tie rod end, and sway bar link to pass inspection before the end of May - I got the link and tie rod end done today but an waiting for the wheel bearing and have to find some affordable tires). I also have to get a sermon done by tomorrow night, and have done a bit of work as the Town Historian, but no research recently. Haven't had time.

Everyone plans everything in the Spring and wants us to attend everything!

I have gotten the camper ceiling repair nearly done - started it 3 years ago. Also put some new fronts on the drawers.Hopefully it will be entirely back together by next weekend.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Spring Blasts In!

Following day after day of cold and rain, the sun is out today and it is HOT! It is amazing how some sun can make the whole world look different.

Yesterday wasn't bad, but was cool. I worked on reviving my old Schwinn bike I purchased during the 70's gas shortage. Rode it about 20 miles a day for years back and forth to work, but I pushed too much and my knees gave out, so it has been sitting around collecting dust for years. The old tires were rotted, so I removed them and threw them out. I had to remove the wheels to do that, so cleaned and lubed the bearings on the front one, still have the back to do. Cleaned and lubed the chain. Still a lot to do. It needs tires, a new seat, and a good cleaning and waxing, plus cleaning and lubing all the other bearings.

Today I got the camper out of storage and have begun getting that ready for summer.
The lawn has sprung up overnight and will need mowing soon. My brand new mower I bought (that the crankcase cracked on) is still under claim for warranty, so I got the old one started (I started right up after sitting in a snowdrift all winter!). Hate using it as the deck is cracked and too flexible, so the blade hits when it twists.

A lot of the trees are budding out. Things are going to come quickly now warm weather has finally arrived.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Has Spring Really Arrived?

With the sun appearing and the temperature up, the wife and I decided to get out of the house and go for a Sunday afternoon drive.

We went west over Waite's Hill, with a nice view of the Owlkill Valley, then up to Cambridge and northeast on 313. Passing Murray Hollow Road, I made a snap decision to drive up into the Hollow, even though we had brought the Ford and not the Jeep. The road was quite passable though not too smooth.
Murray Hollow Road
Murray Hollow Road