Fairview, Oklahoma – May 2019 – Little Mountain on the Prairie

As you drive across the flatlands of Oklahoma one feature you do not expect is a redish mesa rising 200 feet above the prairie, but that is exactly what Gloss Mountain does.



In fact there are a few of these features in the area just outside of the small, appropriately named town of Fairview.



The hike up the mesa was on some sketchy looking stairs, but they worked – from the top you have a panoramic view of the area.






These unique features were formed long ago when the area was under a sea that left behind layers of shale and siltstone, with a top layer of gypsum. There is something known as selenite in gypsum that is glossy, hence the name.



The mesa’s were formed from erosion over thousands of years.





From here you have a seemingly endless view across the flat lands.





Once you reach the top you pass numerous fields of wild flowers.





Gloss Mountain – an unexpected and fun hike in the middle of Oklahoma.








Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas – May 2019 – Slot Canyon and Hoodoos

In addition to the national park there is a state park along the Rio Grande in west Texas called Big Bend Ranch State Park. While smaller than the national park, it is still very large.

Our morning in the park took us along the renown River Road, which is very scenic.















Our first hike of the day was through Closed Canyon. The trail through this slot canyon quickly becomes sided by 150′ cliffs.

Eventually you reach a point where you need rappelling equipment to continue over large erosions, so we had to turn around and return to the car.












The HooDoo Trail is another highlight of the park. Being able to get close up gives you a sense of how large they are.

Our time along the Rio Grande ended with this hike. From this point forward it will be north and east towards home.














Big Bend National Park, Texas – May 2019

Big Bend National Park is one of the more remote parks in the continental United States, but with some effort – we arrived!




The early morning drive down from Marathon provided an excellent sunrise, giving the mountains great coloring.








Eventually we made our way back down to the Rio Grande River Valley.



Our west Texas days constantly provided interesting cacti views.



The Rio Grande in this area is really just a decent size creek, but the kayaks were setting out for the day.



Our first choice for hiking along the river, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, was closed due to wildfires, so we headed instead for the Boquillas Canyon Trail.




As we made our way along the river an elderly man on the Mexico side serenaded us with songs in an effort to get us to come down to the river bank so he could sell his wares.



The canyon walls continually closed in until we couldn’t go any further unless we went in the river.




We returned to cross the border into Mexico (detailed on the next post) passing more colorful mountains along the way.




With wildfires closing a number of the more popular spots in the park, we chose to go up into the basin and check out the Window View Trail. Again we were treated to interesting vegetation.








Being in the basin we were surrounded on all sides by the mountains.




This view is ‘The Window’.




While it was disappointing that the wildfires impacted the park, there was plenty to see and do for the day.






Logan, OH – March 2019 – Last Ice Posting of the Year (Hopefully)

With winter hopefully coming to an end soon it was a good day to check out Hocking Hills State Park, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the park.





For this hike we started at the top of the gorge, where the aptly named Upper Falls is located.





As we made our way downstream we passed numerous ice formations on the gorge walls.





While the icicles are all bumpy, the icy spots on the trail were perfectly smooth, and very slick.





The day was mostly cloudy but we did have a peak of the sun highlight the lower falls and rock formation near one of the trails exiting the gorge.





Much like snowflakes, it seems no two icicles are the same.





The stream continues down the gorge with numerous small waterfalls.





We reached the lower falls before heading off for other trails.





Broken Rock Falls is at the end of a short side trail. Despite the narrow path for the water to travel over the wall, it came down with significant noise.





We moved on to Cedar Falls where the path to the falls took us past more interesting formations on the gorge wall. It seems the ice here was ‘stuck’ to the wall, as opposed to the numerous icicles elsewhere, although there were some here too.





The light mist that comes over the edge causes the light coating.





Cedar Falls is one of the nicer ones in the park.





Another waterfalls was hidden around the corner from the main falls, and all of the people. Note the two logs framing the sides covered in ice as well.





Our final stop was Ash Cave. We saved this for our ‘grand finale’, however the cone at the bottom wasn’t nearly as tall as in previous years.

Still it is an impressive falls.



A close up of the ice ‘cone’ at the bottom with the mist of water barely visible in the center.

All in all it was a great day in the park, and my phone says I climbed the equivalent of 54 stories of a building! Exercise and photography, what could be better.







Bethlehem, PA – June 2018 – Steel Stacks

From 1915 until 1995 the Bethlehem Steel Works was one of the largest steel factories in America. As with much of the steel industry in America the facilities became aged and expensive and close.

Rather that tear the factory down Bethlehem took a novel approach and developed portions of it for a number of uses. Today their visitor center greets you as you arrive.

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Nearby they have added an amphitheater and the local PBS station.

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While next door are vacant buildings.

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The tallest stacks are over 200′ high.

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The entire facility is massive.

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Featuring a huge engine room.

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An elevated walkway parallels one side of the entire complex.

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It is always amazing how fast nature can take back over in inhospitable locations.

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At the south end are more vacant buildings along with a new Sands Casino – a bizarre mix.

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One last look at the vacant mill.

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And the nearby buildings.

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But some have been redeveloped into condos.

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Sands Point, NY – May 2018 – Sands Point Preserve

Our final stop on our tour of North Shore Mansions was Sands Point Preserve. This estate contains two primary mansions, the Hempstead House and Castle Gould.

Castle Gould was built to be a replica of Kilkenny Castle.

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Which from a distance has a strong resemblance.

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As with the other estates this one too borders the Long Island Sound. While these mansions remain much like they were 100 years ago, the others nearby have been torn down and replaced with modern houses.

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Back up on the hill you again get a nice water view.

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The Hempstead House features well kept gardens, although large tents mar the view (for all of those brides from Planting Fields I guess)

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This home too features a large turret.

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The entryway has massive wooden doors, with a smaller side door for actual use.

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Clearly if you are going to visit Long Island Mansions of the past, don’t do it on a Tuesday – they are all closed to tours.

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Lloyds Neck, NY – May 2018 – Caumsett State Park

Caumsett State Park is situated along the North Shore of Long island, with 1400 acres facing the Long Island Sound. Famed retailer Marshall Field built the estate in the mid 1920s, naming it after the Matinecock Native American’s word for ‘Place by a Sharp Rock’

The estate was purchased by the state of New York in 1961 as a park. The mansion itself is in need of some repair, although apparently birds like to live on the chimney.

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As noted it is along the Sound, with a picturesque view.

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Returning to our tour around the outside of the house (it is rarely open for interior tours) you can still see the details, as well as the need for some upkeep.

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Nearby a former garage serves as a gathering spot.

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Also on the property are other stately homes, although without the water views.

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One home is still in daily use.

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The estate was used for many equestrian events, as evidences by the many barns. Caumsett State Park is a nice place to hike with natural scenery, but with some investment the property could be brought back to be an impressive setting.

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