A couple of weeks back, I took a short vacation. OK, it was actually a five-day weekend, but I called it a vacation, because that's what it felt like. Below is a really long recitation of stuff I did on that vacation, complete with lots of photos, so it's after the break.
:: I went for several walks in the woods, one alone and one with The Wife.
The one I undertook solo was a visit to one of my favorite Western New York spots, the Charles Burchfield Nature and Art Center, located in West Seneca, NY. I've blogged about this place before, but it's just a fantastic area. It's a small park tucked into a forest beside Buffalo Creek as it runs through one of Buffalo's larger suburbs. It's right next to one of the busier roads around here (Union Rd.), and yet, once you venture away from the park area and the playground into the woods proper, it becomes surprisingly serene and quiet. Trails lead away from a nice playground in several directions, a few going to the creekside, and a few going into the woods. The Burchfield Nature and Art Center ("BNAC" for short, the rest of the way in this post) always seems bigger to me than it really is. There's a lot packed into a small space here.
Anyhow, I hadn't visited the BNAC before in the fall, so I decided to throw on a pair of overalls, grab my camera and little tripod thingie, and head on out. And yet another plug for the utility of overalls, as my camera and tripod thingie tucked nicely into the rule pocket on the right leg!
As this was late September, the turning of the leaves was just starting to hit its stride:
I was there on an overcast fall day, but it never rained, and the light was still bright enough for the emergent fall colors to pop. The view above looks across Buffalo Creek to the other side (Clinton St. runs atop that embankment). The creek here is very shallow, not very rocky, and the water moves pleasantly quickly, which makes for a lovely wading stream during the warmer months. This time of year, though, the water is starting to chill down a bit.
These signs must be fairly new; I don't recall seeing them there before:
There are a couple of interesting features in the midst of the walking trails, aside from the Leaves o'Three and the rushing waters of Buffalo Creek. For one thing, there is a beautiful, and big, gazebo.
There's a picnic table there, which is covered with the usual extracurricular writings:
I thought it funny to note the juxtaposition of a Bible quote with "Smoke Weed!" But then, I'm an overgrown hippie to begin with.
More walking, then, and exploring the wooden walkways of the BNAC (which are elevated two or three feet above the ground):
The BNAC, at one point, is next to a graveyard. That enhances the peacefulness, I suppose.
Another odd structure on the BNAC grounds is an apparent "meditation temple" or something like that:
Of course, I had to oblige my Buddhist overlords:
(No, I have no idea if there's anything Buddhist at all about the meditation thing, or about the goofy poses I struck for the camera. Sheesh!)
I spent a lot of time looking up:
At what, I don't know.
The BNAC stands, as I understand it, on the site of a number of former settlements, some of the infrastructure of which are still visible, at least in part. In the middle of the park, I came across a fenced area that is the site of a graveyard that is so old that it's completely overgrown by now.
In the time I was there, I only saw two other people. One was a woman who must have been a volunteer; she was sweeping leaves from the paths as her little dog followed along behind. The other was just some guy, walking through. Other than that, I had the whole place to myself. How wonderful!
:: I still had some time that day before The Daughter got home from school, so I went to visit one of my favorite places in the hometown, the old Orchard Park train station.
The place was pretty magical when I visited last winter, but this time, I wanted to see what it was like in the warmer months. Naturally, I waited until the warmer months were almost completely over, but I got there!
Most striking are the well-tended flowerbeds:
I spotted this sign this time, and I have no idea what it means:
Even though the day was pretty cloudy, for some reason the light in these two photos came out really striking:
Walking past the window, I noticed that the mannequin inside was wearing a hickory-striped cap and a burgundy shirt. And I was wearing hickory-striped overalls over a burgundy shirt. Whoa....
:: Walk-in-the-woods #2 was with The Wife to Chestnut Ridge Park.
Don't ask me why I seem to be scowling so much! I really don't know why my default facial expression seems to be a scowl, but there's not much I can do about it at this point.
Anyway, we were trying to hike to the Eternal Flame Falls in the park. This is a waterfall whose main distinction, other than sheer beauty for being a waterfall, is the fact that natural gas seeps from the ground here, so behind the waterfall itself you can see a small "eternal flame" burning. (Or if it's out, you can light it.) We didn't get there, unfortunately; we took a wrong turn and ended up following the wrong trail, which was disappointing. We'll get back there eventually, and see that flame, but it was still a lovely day of forest walking.
:: Later that day we left for on overnight jaunt to Ithaca, NY, and the annual Apple Harvest Festival therein. The Apple Fest is a typical outdoor festival, with lots of crafts tents, lots of food, lots of entertainment, and lots of people.
Among other things, we ate bratwurst:
And we bemoaned the fact that we discovered this joint after we were already full:
There's a wonderful toy store there, where we always drop in for a bit of kid shopping. This year they seemed to have a lot more "odd" toys than in past years, such as this Stir Fry Set for kids!
And Ithaca is known for having lots and lots of bookstores, including my favorite used bookstore ever, Autumn Leaves Books:
Here I am, a few days later, after we got home, with the books I bought on this trip:
I should probably start looking into some kind of support group.
The books, from top down:
The Sardonyx Net, Elizabeth Lynn. Used. Bought because...the cover was cool. (You can do that, you know.)
Zoe's Tale, John Scalzi. New. Bought because I haven't given Scalzi any money lately.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss. New. I've heard good things about this one.
Hyperion Cantos, Dan Simmons. Used. This was on a rack labeled "Everything for a buck" at Autumn Leaves. When I plunked in down on the counter, the guy did a spit-take and said, "Geez, this wasn't supposed to be out there!" Oh well! My gain.
Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Timothy Zahn. Adapted to graphic novel. New. I bought this because I had a coupon that knocked the price down quite a lot.
RASL, Jeff Smith. I like Jeff Smith a lot. I wasn't blown away by the first few issues of this, but maybe it gets better.
The Hobbit, JRRT. Used. This is the Annotated edition, though, which is what got me to grab it. Plus it has a ton of artwork. I'm planning to re-read LOTR this winter, so here's my copy of The Hobbit for that project.
Treasury of the Lost Litterbox, Darby Conley. New. Because I love me some Get Fuzzy!
And that's about it. What I did on my Fall Vacation, 2010. Next stop: a tentative Winter Vacation in January!
(More photos available on my Flickr photostream. I didn't use them all here.)