Tag Archives: Allegheny National Forest

The Allegheny National Forest – a cabin in the woods.

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Wow, time for an update! We moved on from Buffalo on Thursday morning and managed to obtain a cabin at Deep Wood on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest.

It was right up our street… rustic and basic. Think wood walls, a slightly musty smell (okay that’s a lie… it was a strong musty smell), mouse droppings in the draws and a general air of nothing having been altered since 1965. We LOVED it! The beds were comfy and we were separate from the kids, it was warm and cosy and absolutely silent at night. We drank tea and did jigsaws with the kids. Honestly, I could live in a cabin in the woods quite happily for years… maybe one day I will…

*Facebook followers can see photos of us at the cabin on my Adventures of Muma Dean page

Sadly it rained rather a lot and the snow had turned to ice on the paths so walking out was tricky. It just so happens that much like the drive through pharmacies and drive through ATM’s in America you can also do some great drive through wildlife and bird watching! Obviously you’ll see more off the beaten track in the back country. But to get things going and for the boys to start using their binoculars and identifying birds and animals we headed off in the car and found numerous pull over areas designated for wildlife observation throughout the main road through the forest.

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The Allegheny Reservoir, with snowy banks and slushy, icy water.

We saw Black headed Chickadees, Woodpeckers (not sure which type unfortunately), American Robin and the lovely Blue Jay. We also saw impressive Black Vultures, plenty of white tailed deer, red squirrels and spotted a raccoon crossing the road. To locals round here this probably doesn’t sound like an impressive haul but when you come from a country which has none of the above and you have three very small children in tow… believe me… it’s a good haul for now!

While we were settled in our cabin we took the opportunity to rearrange our luggage into an efficient system. We now have two tubs, one with kitchen/cooking kit in and one with food staples such as oil, seasoning, flour, stock cubes and so on. A third small tub has our bushcraft kit and our clothes system continues with each of our stuff sacks within one main bag and a laundry bag for dirty clothes. That’s now in a soft bag easy for taking in and out of our accommodation as we move, and also has our wash bag, Orla’s nappies, night-lights and chargers in. Another small bag in easy reach in the car has our binoculars and laptops. The suitcases are now largely unpacked but just have lots of the kids workbooks and spare stuff in that we use less frequently and are tucked away in the roof box we acquired at a far cheaper price than upgrading the car size! Maybe one day I’ll organise myself to make a video blog of our efficient system – once I know for sure it’s actually an efficient system!

We also invested in a cool box which fits behind the driver seat and plugs into the car and a camping stove. This means that A) we are (hopefully) not going to become morbidly obese within 5 weeks from living on gigantic pizzas and sauce swamped McDonalds and B) we (hopefully) won’t be coming home broke within 5 weeks from eating at places that actually serve real food. Since moving on to Buffalo we have basically reclaimed our normal, balanced diet from home and are enjoying cooking on the road. Our system allows for cereal and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches or salads for lunch and a normal meal for tea. There will still be times we’ll eat out and no doubt sample some more of the fast food establishments when needs must, but for now it’s nice to be sticking to budget and not feeling like our arses are growing an inch a day!

Itinerary planning

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It’s 2014 – the year the Deans take off!

Christmas was a very practical affair when it came to presents this year, consisting of items such as base layers, binoculars, a survival kit for Alfie, head torches, winter coats and stuff sacks! Without a TV we are relatively free from the bulk of the “but I wanted a super-spiderman-hi-fi-ds-wii-pod-thingy” and our children are easily pleased.

I got Adobe Photoshop Elements for Christmas which I am now beginning to find the time to play around with… as demonstrated above! Expect some fairly random photos for now though as I’m just enjoying taking them. They’ll be more topical once we are State side I promise.

Since Christmas our planning activity has revved up a notch and I now have a rough itinerary for the first few weeks of adventure.

Before we even leave the UK we are planning 12 days for visiting family and friends so on the 1st Feb we leave our lovely Cornish farm and head to Wales. From there we will visit Derby and Nottingham before a few days in London and the South East. We fly from Heathrow on 12th February and that’s where the adventure really begins!

After three days in New York we’ll be picking up our hire car and heading North West into Pennsylvania. Woodstock in the Catskill Mountains sounds like an interesting place so we may stop there for a night – unless anyone has other suggestions?

Pressing on through the Catskill Mountain Range we’ll then head towards Skaneatles by The Finger Lakes, which sound geologically interesting. The Finger Lakes are narrow channels gorged out by glaciers resulting in drumlins, waterfalls and deep gorges to admire.

By the middle of that week we’ll have made it to Buffalo where a life long friend of mine now lives. She also happens to be an archaeologist and currently works in conservation. From Buffalo we can make a day trip to Niagara Falls on the Wednesday and then press South to West Virginia via the Allegheny National Forest for a bit of bird and wildlife watching.

We are due at our first WWOOF placement on the Saturday in West Virgina. New Vrindaban, which I talked about in an earlier post.

A week or so settled at New Vrindaban will be a nice time to rest with the children, enjoy some physical work and catch up with the home schooling before we set off for Washington the following week.

This journey will take us through the Allegheny Mountains and onto the Shenandoah National Park, where we hope to explore the Luray Caves. Recommendations of places to visit on this leg are very welcome please!

We are visiting friends in Washington and I can’t wait to see them. While there we plan to visit the Capital and see the big sights. Our focus here will be on learning about American history and politics.

After that we’ll head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and stay there a while to explore before heading way south to the Everglades in Florida.

That’s about as far as we’ve got with planning for now and takes us to about the end of March. We are trying to keep pretty flexible on the plan as we just don’t know how it will all go and how the kids will adapt to the long journeys. It may be that after 5 weeks of travel we want to stay put in the mountains for a while or we might be keen to get to the warmer southern climate to rest for a while.

Either way, we are open minded about how it will go and prepared for the inevitable exhaustion we’ll experience at times but we’re a pretty laid back family and our kids are easy going.

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Base-Layer me up baby! My kids love the base layers from Muddy Puddles.