I love camping. You may have noticed this if you've been reading my blog. And even though I've sold my motorhome (The Beast), I still want to go camping. Fortunately, I belong to an organization of like-minded women called Sisters on the Fly, and there are many different trips that the group organizes each year.
Potter County Pennsylvania is an area that is taking part in a Dark Skies Initiative. There is little or no light pollution here, and folks are thoughtful about ambient light from street signs and such. I borrowed the following three images from the website. Click link to find out more: http://www.darksky.org/idsp/
One of the best things about my post-retirement trip around America was looking at the stars every evening and early morning. And, it was the hardest thing to give up when I drove back into NYC. Here, there are millions of people, millions of wi-fi and blueray signals to wade through, and millions of lights, but I'd prefer the dark sky and that starry dome any time!
I grew up in southern Queens County, on an island in Jamaica Bay, so we had plenty of stars to enjoy every night. I remember one early August night when my friends and I hung out on the beach watching the Perseids Meteor Shower. It was one of the most magical nights of my life! I made many wishes that evening, and some of them even came true!
I was so exited when this trip posted on the Sisters website. Stargazing, Fly fishing, and camping with the girls! I arrived a day early, since it was six-hour drive for me with a couple stops. I set up camp, took a shower and went for a swim in the pool.
And fell in love with the pool!
That was, I thought a perfect end to a long day. But when I walked back to the campsite from my second shower, I could see the stars coming out, and it was like being under an inverted bowl--stars from horizon to horizon! I didn't make a campfire, instead I got into some warm clothes and settled in to watch the show. I didn't have my anti-gravity recliner with me, so I cleared off the picnic table and climbed up on it. Thought I must look like an offering to the gods, or some kind of weirdo, but didn't give a damn. The weather reports for the next few days had predicted clouds and thunderstorms, so I was very pleased with myself for arriving early. I was the only sister to add Wednesday to the trip, but that was alright. I got my money's-worth in star watching in that night!
Sisters rolled in all day on Thursday and Friday, and we helped each other set up camp. Some folks rented cabins or retro trailers, many towed their trailers up and backed 'em in like a boss. And some resorted to other methods...like help from a friend, or moving it around by hand with a dolley. I give everyone a lot of credit, since I'm so dyslexic I can't even put in my earrings if I look in a mirror.
One of my neighbors towed this sweet and tiny teardrop to the festivities, and I fell in love with it for the economical use of space and weight.
This is "Peanut," Deb Martin's wee beastie, complete with a pop-up for extra headroom and ventilation. I believe this one may be up for sale soon-ish.
The trailer above is "Sassy Lassie" Debra White's Scotsman. Beautifully restored inside, and awaiting her new exterior paint. Debbie and Bequita Jean are sister-sisters, who both joined SotF.
So, we run the gamut as far as equipment goes: from not having any, to setting up tents, and a wide variety of antique, restored, and brand new trailers and motorhomes. When I first joined the group, I had the incorrect idea that it was all about pretty antique trailers. But I found that Sisterhood is about SO much more!
There are potlucks...
...and dress-up Saturday nights. And connecting in so many ways. So that's SotF in general, here's a link to our website, if you want more info about the group: https://www.sistersonthefly.com/
Carolyn, a Sister and also our host, rented a passenger van, so one day we were able to take an excursion out to Kinzua Bridge State Park. This is a beautiful and interesting place which is now a park, but for many years was the railroad viaduct that was the tallest and the longest structure of its kind. Construction began in 1881. In 2003, while undergoing major reconstruction, an F-1 tornado blew up the valley and ripped down eleven of the towers in the center of the viaduct. In 2011 this amazing structure was reopened for pedestrians to walk out and view the Kinzua Creek Valley. It's mighty high and very windy out there. I couldn't help drawing comparisons to NYC's Highline Park, also built on abandoned elevated train tracks. Unfortunately, the developers are loving the Highline to death, and building right up next to it.
After jumping up-and-down on the walkway, we went off to Flickerwood Wine Cellars: http://www.flickerwood.com/ for a tasting and lunch.
For the evening, Carolyn had arranged a program with a local expert known as "The Star Guy." I am SO bad with names. If I don't get a photo, business card, or book of matches, I have no idea where I've been or whom I've spoken with!
The skies were amazing in the evenings, as well as after dark. The instructor brought us each a folder full of information with a sky chart and a cardboard twirly star-and-planet finder. Best of all, he brought his giant telescope, which he set up in a field out back of the campsites. The Sisters had an opportunity to view Saturn and her rings in a way that most of us have never seen before. The skies were amazing, and very cooperative. Thunderstorms had been moving across the area all afternoon, but the heavens cooperated and by the end of the lesson, we were able to cover our flashlights in red (to preserve our night vision), and go out to look at the stars. Clouds were scudding across the sky, but we saw the amazing starry starry night the way our ancestors must have seen it.
Saturday morning we had a fly tying and fly casting workshop with The Potter County Chapter of local fishermen and women. (Woman?) These folks were really fun, and very patient with us newbies. They brought in kits of tools and a video screen so we could all see exactly what the instructor was showing us. My brain was a bit slow (as always) following the instructions, but I had a great teacher hovering over my shoulder helping me out. I managed to make a pretty mean Green Weenie!
After tying two flies each, we went out to the field to learn about the rods and practice some casting. With NO hooks! Again, I'd like to mention how kind and patient our instructors were, despite the fact that some of us caught each other, the instructor, trees and shrubs, and managed to get the leaders all tangled in a knot. Most of us eventually did really well. I'm not sure about my sisters, but I'm hooked on the sport for sure.
These fisherfolk take part in a program for disabled active military service personnel and veterans. The program is called Healing Waters and you can find out more about it, or make a donation at their website: http://www.projecthealingwaters.org/ Our guys were the God's Country Chapter TU Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. PO Box 702 Coudersport, PA 16915.
To round out the weekend, some of us went off junking in the area, others stayed back, went swimming, and made the quintessential summer luncheon of grilled hotdogs, potato salad, fresh corn, and watermelon.
A note about the photos above: Photo credit goes to a number of folks, and at this point, I'm unsure of which sister donated which pix to this post. Clearly, The ones I'm in, I didn't take. So thank you to all who have contributed to this story. ;-)