Saturday, July 6, 2013

Walking Through History in Hell's Hollow

Hell's Hollow Trail is a beautiful walk following Hell's Run to a waterfall. It is one of the easiest trails in McConnell's Mill State Park and I highly recommend it. The path is wide and flat and the falls are only a half mile from the parking area, so the walk is just one mile round trip. We joined a guided walk this morning to learn a little more about the history of this area.
Our guide for the walk. 

This area is rich in iron ore, limestone, wood, and water. Used together, these four substances shaped the history of this area. This area still supports many quarries and mines and Hell's Run at one time supported many iron smelters and lime kilns. We also learned about charcoal making and how people used the water to power large bellows in the smelters and kilns. Along the path we found pieces of slag left from the smelter process.

I didn't take a picture of the lime kiln this trip - but here is one from October.

The search for crawdads

The Hell's Hollow trail ends at a lime kiln that is built into the side of a small cliff. At that point a set of wooden stairs leads past the base of the kiln and down to the waterfall. The creek is gorgeous, with a limestone bottom and lots of little waterfalls. Once the guided portion of the walk had concluded we chose to remain at the waterfall for some additional exploration.
FRitW found this tiny, tiny newt. I don't know how he spotted it!!

MT couldn't resist taking his new waterproof boots to the limit! We tried to tell him that they are only waterproof if water doesn't go over the tops, but he loved getting wet!

We came last October and found frogs, crawdads, and snakes. This time we had waterproof boots! Oh yes! This was much more fun - October saw us with a long drive back to the hotel in wet clothes and shoes, and it was cold and miserable. Today, dry feet, a short drive, and beautiful warm weather was a much better way to end the walk! 

Dad brought us up to the rock ledge. There was water dripping off the edge, like a light rainfall.

Heading back down to the creek from the ledge.
Trees growing out from the top of the ledge.

Maggie ended up on the top of the waterfall.

This time around we found a tiny newt, a frog, and several crawdads. We climbed up to a rock ledge overhang and then to the top of the waterfall where we backtracked along the creek instead of sticking to the trail. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The (Smoke) Bombs Bursting in Air?

We moved to Pennsylvania 3 weeks ago. We live within 50 miles of several fireworks manufacturers. This area is actually known as "The Fireworks Capital of the World". Imagine the excitement of my little family of pyromaniacs at the thought of being able to buy fireworks ALL YEAR LONG! In Texas fireworks are available for about 10 days around July 4th and another 7 days near New Years Day. So, normally we stock up a little in order to have our fireworks fix all year round...

This is normally what our 4th of July celebration entails:

Some of the fireworks we had for our party last year (for size reference - see the washer in the background...)

My Sister's Cake Pops - Amazing!!

Homemade ice cream - Blueberry, vanilla, strawberry - yum!

We always sort the fireworks so they are easy to grab even in the dark.

My favorite all time 4th of July photo! That's Kirk lighting my brother's wick!

Yep, these are just the one we do at the house...

Kirk and my brother setting up the finale. We used to have to have at least 5 of the guys out there trying to light at once, but now the stands sell wick - Yippee!

We usually have so many fireworks to do that the fun spills over into a couple of days. We light the small daytime ones over the course of the week.

So... I share all of this so you will be sympathetic when I complain :)
We visited a nearby fireworks stand this afternoon - very excited about what we would find in the Fireworks Capital of the World, ready to make use of our filled in grassy swimming pool for our launch pad:

The saleslady at the stand smiled and said, and I quote: "We have some that shoot as high as ten feet in the air!" I think my blank stare of unbelief gave her the impression that I was not familiar with fireworks, so she proceeded to assure me that they did not shoot anything 10 feet, but that only sparks would go that high...

Apparently the most dramatic fireworks available to the common person here is Pennsylvania is a FOUNTAIN...  ~sigh~

Here is our purchase from today...
The boys think this is just the ones for today. They haven't figured out that there won't be any big ones this year...

Yes. We will buy more (especially since most of these are already used up) but disappointed is far too mild a word for what we are feeling...


Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Week in Review, Googly Eyes and all...

Today, I thought I'd share a few things about this week that made it special.

We found an Irish Dance Class for Maggie! Even better - it is a brand new class starting for homeschooled students! Moving halfway across the country has been tough on all of us, but this fills a big need - her homeschool Irish Dance Troupe in Texas was a big part of her life and it is one thing she is really missing.

We completed the required paperwork to legally homeschool in the state of Pennsylvania. This was such a strange adventure - with a few roadblocks, but it is all done now! I've been officially homeschooling for 13 years and I feel like a complete newbie trying to meet all of the state requirements. The funny thing is, we really won't be doing anything different - except for showing portfolios to the school district and having FRitW do a test at the end of the year. So the only changes will be in how I record our progress and who sees that record, but that is a big change!

We went to the Big Butler County Fair. No one has a fair in June in Texas... that would just be miserable! September fairs are hot enough, I can't imagine June and July - ugh! But, here - we wore jeans just so we didn't get too chilly when the sun went down (Yes. In June!) It was around 80 degrees until a thunderstorm moved in and cooled it off even further. This fair is such a neat fair! It is truly an old fashioned county fair. It reminded me of the fair in Charlotte's Web, and maybe even a bit of some of the ones in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. We saw our first draft horses. These things are HUGE!! We looked at chickens, rabbits, pigs, sheep, goats, and alpacas. We watched tractor pulls - first with antique tractors, then later with Semi Trucks (probably not something Laura Ingalls would have seen...). We ate fair food (NOT my favorite thing!) then finished the night with a half mile walk in the pouring rain... laughing all the way! We came home soaked, but had a great time! (You will probably see another post on this Fair, we are going back a few more times.)

We learned a little more about this marker:

I love imagining George Washington at age 21 walking through this area - maybe even at some point setting foot on our property. The history geek in me can't help but get excited about a thought like that!

Finally, we have unpacked enough boxes for the boys to find sticky Googly Eyes!

Any week ending with Googly Eyes is a good week!