Allegheny River, Family, Nature Photography, Pennsylvania, Rivers and Lakes

Happy Days at The River

After yesterday’s very long and depressing blog, I am sticking to my promise to only post happy nature photos and happy stories – or at least happier posts than yesterday!

Boy and his log
A Boy and His Log

Every once in a while I look through old photos–I’m trying to organize them–there are thousands!  I came across one photo this morning that brought back so many memories!  I call it “A Boy and His Log.”

My Dad had a fishing camp on the Allegheny River near Emlenton, PA.  That’s were we spent almost every weekend starting when I was in 9th grade.  We even went almost every weekend when we lived in Ohio.  It was a special place–a place that my son loved as much as I did.  For a couple of years he had this big log that he would play with in the river.  It was shallow where the dock was, so it was fun to splash around in there.  He also collected shells and other interesting river things.

Shells and other interesting river things
Collecting Shells

It’s been many years since I was last at the river.  My dad died and the family drifted apart.  My mother deeded the river to my older sister, and it was never the same.  It became “hers”, not “ours.”

But, my memories of that place are many and sweet.  We water skied when the water wasn’t too cold. We had a canoe and a couple of boats, so there was always someone out on the water.  We spent hours looking for crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, crabs, salamanders, and clams. We screamed when we found hellgrammites–if you don’t know what they are, look them up–gross! We had a big front yard where we played badminton and softball, and a couple miles of dirt road to walk looking for creatures.  My Aunt Max and Uncle Chick would come down from Jamestown, NY and bring my cousins and their kids.  We had many adventures–like the time my cousin Mary Jo went into the outhouse when we were kids, and there was a black snake hanging from the rafters.  My dad had to install plumbing in the cabin because none of the kids would go in the outhouse any more. My other cousin Sally caught a chipmunk one day and it bit her.  She tried to stomp on it, but it managed to get away.

Original Cabin
The Original Cabin

The original cabin was an old log structure with red fake brick stuff on the outside.  There was a large living room with a fireplace, two bedrooms and a kitchen, and eventually a bathroom and kitchen sink with running water.  There were double bunk beds in one of the bedrooms, and all the kids would sleep in there–sometimes squashed, but always too tired from the fun day outside to care.  There was a brick fire pit in front, and I was the one who got to build the fires every night.  The wood pile was always full of garter snakes and no one else would go get wood–I like snakes.  We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and we laid out on the glider and watched the stars and satellites–it was pitch dark there and the night sky was spectacular!  Sometimes the raccoons would come out and sit with us by the fire.

Cabin and string of fish
Daddy with a String of Fish After He Put On the White Siding

At one point, my dad put some white siding on the outside of the cabin when the red stuff started to crumble a bit.  Then one winter, the ice in the river backed up and created a dam. In the spring the ice let loose, and the cabin was washed away in the flood.  We found the boats, canoe and dock, but there was really nothing left of the cabin.  My mother never liked it there, so they bought a mobile home and had it brought down to replace the cabin.  Of course, it was never the same.  But, for a while, until Daddy died, we continued to have happy times–lots of fun and lots of love.

I often think that I would like to go back one more time.  But I think that would ruin it.  I prefer to remember the good times.  Even the time the bear met me at the dock one morning.  Boy, do I wish I had a photo of that!  Talk about scared!!!

The Allegheny River near Emlenton, PA
This photo was taken from the front yard near the dock. It’s looking down-river where the bear went to swim across. I loved that river.

My son was about 5 at the time.  We were at the river alone for the weekend, and it was so peaceful and quiet.  We were going to spend some time playing in the water and then take the canoe up the river, hoping to see the baby beavers in their nest around the corner.  I went down to the dock and spread a blanket.  I turned around and there was a bear looking at me from the end of the dock. I froze.  I looked up and down the river to see if there was a boat or anyone at one of the other cabins.

The Dock at the River
Our old dock at the river with the boats and canoe. This is the dock where I faced down the bear. (Sounds brave, right?)

I yelled “help” a few times and realized it was futile–there was no one around–at least no one who could hear me.  The cabins were far apart and it was rare to hear someone else.  As I stood there my son came out the door and started toward the river.  I yelled at him to go inside and not come out until I told him he could.  Luckily, he was a very obedient child.  He went right back in.  During a time that seemed like forever, the bear slowly started to walk away.  It would take a few steps then turn around and look at me, take a few more and turn around and look.  Finally, it must have decided I wasn’t worth its time and it strolled into the river and started to swim across.

I ran up to the trailer and told my son what happened.  His reaction?  Why didn’t I let him see the bear???  We went outside and he did get to see it swimming to the other side of the river and get out of the water.  But, he was still disappointed – like most kids who don’t want to ever miss anything.

That’s one of my favorite river stories.  Just my son and me and a bear.  It was perfection! Scary, but perfection!

Combined Families at The River
The Jamestown crew with us at the river on the porch of the trailer

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