First my apologies for what will be the length of this post…but when life does allow me an opportunity share with my HPA family on a rainy night , I know I will have a lot to say.
This past Father’s day weekend deep in the hollows of the Susquehannock State Forest, the paths of all things that shaped my Outdoors lifestyle crossed and it made for one memorable weekend, I hope not just for me. It was not a camp trip focused on chasing whitetail bucks across steep rugged hillsides or to gently float a dry fly down thru the riffles of Kettle Creek, but it was more a gathering to celebrate and reflect on all those years of doing that which brought my family and my parents together at camp this weekend. Those moments left a heavily stamped trail of memories that will never be taken away from us, so it was very fitting to have our Father’s Day celebration at the camp this year. Days such as those highlight reel trips have influenced the choices I have had made in life, the places I have been, the places I have no desire to go, and engrained in me the lifestyle of an Outdoors focused son, husband and father. Therefore to celebrate Father’s Day and before I share the numerous trip pics I have from the weekend, I want to make sure to shine a little light on what many of us have experienced and cherish as we strive to keep that Outdoor fire burning in those that we guide thru life, just like so many Dad’s did for us.
My Dad has always been a keystone and constant figure in all my outdoor memories. He taught me the respect, power and appreciation of nature and how having the outdoors in my back pocket will be an asset in life. How the strength of the stitch that is sewn into these bonding moments during the time spent outdoors is what holds things together later on in troubled times. He taught how to use the Outdoors and your constant desire for it, as a guardrail that will not allow me to get too far off course for fear of not finding my way back to that road once again. All this has led me to a life of fulfillment in memory and time spent, and more importantly taught me how to teach the same to my children. It is not as easy as it may sound the lessons are not laid out in chapters that you work thru towards completion and graduation of the course. They are never-ending and created mostly on the fly and all put into one big mixing bowl that makes up the person your child will be. Most lessons you will not realize an importance to til years after when you become responsible for mixing the recipes of your own children’s souls. Now of course most Dad’s do not do this job all alone and in a best case scenario it is in team fashion in which this work is done to create one who will do well not only in the world of wild places , but also in the world of civilized ones. We as Dad’s just seem to get a little more of the gravy on the deal with the areas we get to handle in the process (and my wife and Mom will both attest to this), but since it is Father’s Day on a hunting website I feel somewhat safe to say…. “pass me the gravy ”.
First on this Father’s day a note just to my Dad
for when you get to reading this and I know you will, I just want to tell you that no one has influenced my life in a more positive direction than you. I now know first-hand that you were enjoying the ride as well, but the effort was always there just the same. Time spent will not be returned later for you to use as you wish when the job is done, if it ever really is, and you always knew that and made sure we spent our time together well and in some fantastic places. God willing we still have many more years of steering to do in the new generation of adventurers I got now. I have gone from the kid, to the young buck, to a mentor myself and based all of it off those early lessons in time spent, patience and appreciation. It is time for you to collect on the investments you made in me. Not all Fathers are good ones, and even fewer are great ones, but you have remained a constant with your place at the top (along with Mom) for the hand you had in developing the recipe for my life. A good and cherished life, and it is a gift that cannot be over-valued. I love you Dad, you did a great job and continue to do so. THANK YOU, I hope you are proud of the return on your investment. See you soon.
OK, OK enough of the sappy RB stuff
, sorry guys I get caught up in that stuff a little…now on to the pictures and story of the weekend.
The time at camp was fairly short, about a 30 hour stay counting sleep time, but we made the most of it. Kind of funny how much visiting and QT you can get in when you remove TV, ipods, interent, cell service….how lucky we are to have camp that offers such “lack of amenities”. After all arrived Saturday morning , we had a nice lunch together and the guys went for a hike while the ladies (my Mom, my wife and daughter) enjoyed staying at the cabin and catching up on all the happenings.
As my Mom put it as we walked off down the driveway, “there goes three generations ”…
As much as we wanted to see a million places on the mountain we stuck to the trails close to camp and somewhat on the level. My youngest son Joe loves a place called Spook Hollow just because of the Lore and legend of it, even though he has only been there twice now. The trail winds thru pines planted by the CCC long ago, and although the pines have grown so high and it does not have the dark spookiness it did when I was a kid, there was still plenty to get the young imaginations stirring.
With the camp issue BB gun in hand for protection, and his 6 shooter on his side…Joey led the troops thru the unchartered wilderness of the hollow. Pay no attention to the orange trail markers, this is unchartered wilderness I tell ya…
Finally at the head of the hollow, we reach the sign that warns all that approach the hollow…to this point this sign was part of some made-up legend to Joe, and exisited only in my stories, but today we proved to him that the trail indeed warns all that traverse it of the possible dangers and unexplained mishaps…
Upon making it out , We were treated to the state flower in full bloom for our efforts..and the hunting stories started to roll out again as we snaked thru the woods.
Deciding not to push our survival luck thus far, we headed over to the nearby pipeline and take it back to the area around camp instead of going back down the trail. Once out on the pipeline and back out in the safety of the open, we were able to kick back a bit and notice things like the clover planted by the DCNR a couple years ago still producing some increased grazing nutrition on the pipeline.
I explained to Joe how back when I was his age these pipelines would see herds of deer along them at all hours of the day it seemed . I doubt they ever had to mow it much back then, or could get much but grass and ferns to grow on it for that matter …a bit different now as we learn the new era of the forest. He absorbed what he could, after all he will not hunt the forests of the past but the forest of the future so i should prepare him for that.
I then asked him if he thinks he could hit a deer on that other hill if there was one out there…he answered with a confident “YES” after sizing up the shot.
The hike got the stories flowing with every step and they lasted well back onto the safety of the camp porch and I caught the magic of those stories of yesteryear hitting home in his eyes.
After a great dinner, campfire and happy hour on Saturday night, we got a good night’s rest in the cool peace and quiet of the mountain. Sunday morning found me up really early and content just sitting on the porch listening to the mountain wake as the sun made its appearance to start the day, I just sat and waited for others to stir.
Once all were up, we had a delicious camp breakfast prepared by my wife and then celebrated Fathers Day, My Dad’s Birthday and lil Joe’s Birthday too. My wife and kids pitched in and gave me a Plat book of our home Warren County. A quick side story, I moved to Warren County (my wife’s home county) in 1991 after leaving college and the Burgh, it was 20 years ago back in May already. Fresh out of school and looking for good career work in a rural county takes some time, so I got a job at the local Agway to survive (a job which I absolutely loved by the way) and on the counter there was a then current Plat book. Being from the city I had no idea what it was, other than a 4H fundraiser the store sold, and I leafed thru it and was amazed to see all the names and varying boundaries of all the landowners in the county. In my mind I told myself then, I am going to get some land and my name in this book one day. Well low and behold in the 2011 edition (compiled every 5 years or so) , my name now occupies the space inside one of those boundary boxes and just says my name with a 54 in it for the acres , a proud little moment of accomplishment for me. I saw the book on sale last week when I was in Agway to buy lime and seed, I told that story to my kids on our way home from there, and when asked why I did not get it, I told them I did not have the $35 cash for the book on me at the time, so I just left without it. Well now I own a copy and it means so much as we all sacrificed things to get me in there.
I guess my Dad made out alright too. Always an avid and all season hunter, I know Dad had come to a crossroads last year in replacing his 20 year old Hoyt compound bow. In fact, last summer at a local bow shop, the guy basically said there is not much he can do for the old bow set-up to make it return to its old self and it may be time for a complete replacement. Well that was not in the cards. Later that Fall Dad would miss a monster 10 point with his old Hoyt sending an arrow over his back, this just days after I tagged a nice 8 point using my Parker crossbow. Dad always listens to my stories with vigor, and really picked up on how fond I was with my new weapon of choice, and how quickly it dispatched all 3 deer I have gotten with it thus far. I could tell that a crossbow was what he may now be thinking when making the switch from his old Hoyt. Other priorities certainly always came first for him though and replacing the old Hoyt would just have to wait til, well til who knows when?? …… well how about til Father’s Day 2011.
I look forward to the stories coming this Fall and am hopeful that we now have a new fire to get more 3 generation Oct/Nov hunts on the books for all of us. Together and solo, although we always hunt “together” even when we are apart. I know crossbows still remain controversial to some on their use in archery season, but much like everything else in our hunting history things change and we as a hunting family change with them and we look forward to this chapter as much as all the others that got us here.
The weekend ended much too quickly as they always do as Mom and Dad needed to head home around lunchtime. After seeing them off, we spent more time around camp Sunday taking care of some chores and cleaning up. We got in a nice family photo on the camp porch before packing it all in for the trip home..another gift for me.
Nice thing about the trip home from Potter to Warren is that the drive is thru some great country. On the way home we stopped at one of the State Forest overlooks along Rt 44, this one in particular stirs me some as I will often stop at it on deer season travels to take in the mountains and thank God that I was so fortunate to have had all these hills throughout life to center my way of life around. They have treated me so well…and added so much to that recipe of a good life I talked about above.
Blessings counted we return to the real world.
A thanks to my Mom and Dad for everything, and my wife for always supporting and putting up with her Outdoors addict of a husband thru it all, and also for making me a father, and alos to my kids for making me a Dad.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY ALL!! Hunting Families value life the most!!!
We are on to Gettysburg this week for a long weekend…more to pics come from that trip I am sure. God Bless and be well.