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I was traveling to southern Armstrong County to explore an area I had never been at before. I was moving towards the area on this mid-teen morning while seeing the eastern sky glow just prior to sunrise. This morning was to be chilly but sunny and I felt good taking the opportunity to move about.

I began walking on an establish gas line/ trail and moved downslope for a short distance when huge rocks were viewed. Here was the area where I would be moving along at first. A narrow trail followed the hill’s contour sometimes on ground and sometimes over and across rocky outcrops. The slope itself was rather steep on my right. Occasionally, I could see hints of the Kiskiminitas River.

Rearick’s Ford area of Crooked Creek

I was pleasantly happy to see these huge rocks and no graffiti. That is a rare site!

Eventually this narrow trail turned downhill and sharply to my right. I could hear high water way below. The stream I was hearing is called Flat Run. This watercourse featured some big rocks with water cascading through them.

Kiskiminitas River

After enjoying this fast-moving water I elected to move farther down over and walk on the trail towards Edmon, Pennsylvania, Interestingly, this part of the Roaring Run Trail was not on an original railway. This section had hills and hollows. I saw five deer, a Fox Squirrel and two Grey Squirrels. Once I was close to the river I would see Mallard Ducks and Mergansers. I noticed a shadow over the muddy water of the river and upon looking up saw a Bald eagle. Later I would see three more deer.

The western side of the hill. Notice the sun-lit hill in the background.

Beaver works

Before returning towards my home I stopped over at Crooked Creek Park. the dam was holding back lots of water, but the Bald eagles were truly enjoying there time. I am not sure, but I must have seen seven to eight eagles. They were flying, soaring chasing each other and landing on remnants of ice. Later, at the Allegheny River I would see Common and Hooded Mergansers and Ring-billed Gulls.I had an enjoyable day.

This tree was around fifteen inches in diameter.

Mature Bald eagles

Immature Bald eagles

Henry Blystone

Henry Blystone

I don’t know much about one of my ancestor of the name of Henry Blystone. This is a sad reality of history. henry was one son out of a family of His family lived about a mile, or so, south of the Cherry Run intersection at 422. henry was born in 1830 and he would die in 1912.

Henry Blystone holding baby

Henry served in the Civil War beginning in 1863 and discharged in July 0f 1865. He served in Co I, 46th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. He served under General Sherman and was with him throughout the war traveling to the sea. It has been said he loved his commanding officer so well, he named his one son, Sherman. Seven brothers in this family served in the Civil war with three dying during the conflict, although there seems to be some discrepancy with the one. he died with typhoid, but death dates vary. One son named, John was only in the service for less than a month. No details are known for this brief time.

Henry Blystone in front row with crutch second from the left.

Henry is buried in the marker shown below. He was interned at the Beulah Church cemetery, not far from both Apollo and Edmon, Pennsylvania. His grave is along the woodland area with a couple of other burials. I can only speculate as to why.

Gravestone

A Banner for My Father

Communities’ all around have been honoring our veterans in various ways. One increasingly common method of honor are the placements of banners within community poles.

My mother saw this potential in the paper for Kittanning, Pennsylvania. She kept the article until the community was prepared to begin the process of gathering names and photos of veterans. Of course she wanted to honor her husband and my father with such a banner. His name is Allen Kenneth Smail. The banner is shown above.

The paperwork was completed and the borough of Kittanning will be placing my father’s banner prior to memorial day of 2021.I am very proud and looking with anticipation when this banner is displayed. Thank you dad.

Those who know me understand how proud I was of my father. (Allen K. Smail 1923-1999) Last week I obtained some papers from his school days and his military time in Europe. The above paper is his discharge document. He traveled over a lot of the war areas including being part in the Battle of the Bulge. I wish I would have written down some of the stories. I wish I would have asked more for I do not have a lot information from those years against the Germans. I know he was watching, as part of the military police (MP) a gasoline depot in Belgium with orders to blow it up in the case of the Germans getting through. He said he could hear the war sounds in the distance. He only had a 45 automatic with seven rounds at that time. I can’t imagine the fear one would have in such a situation. His uniform and MP arm band are currently at the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

Allen K. Smail -Uniform

My dad had a German Shepherd named Wolf as his companion. Notice in the document where he was a dog trainer.

The document below is of interest to me. My dad had perfect attendance at the Elderton High School. He was awarded this document and a small gold colored trophy for his efforts. He graduated in 1941 as valedictorian. His son didn’t fare as well. I did well in school, actually in my junior year with an average leading to third place. I even made the Honor Society. Who would have “thunked” it! My senior year I slipped.

My father’s son liked to hunt and fish a lot during my school years. Ha Ha

Eleven years of perfect attendance.

My father’s 1941 valedictorian speech from Elderton High SChool

The above photo shows my father’s valedictorian Speech from 1941. The speech has unbelievably words of a prophetic nature, both, in reality and in Biblical prophecy. Yes, I am proud to be his son.

Beech grove

I enjoy snow-covered times to hike. I always attempt to head out in the evening to walk occasionally. Sometimes these evening walks catch me not arriving back until darkness has overtaken the woods. But that is great and yields a special feeling of nostalgia with me for I often did such travels even in my youth.

I had some memories of the site shown in these photos. This site was the very last time I had my Springer Spaniel for a winter walk some years ago. The dog was rapidly approaching blindness, but she still had the vigor to enjoy walking with the old man. However, she was running into tangled brush and trees so often that I realized this was getting dangerous for her. A sad time.

Beech leaves

The Beech trees shown in the photo carry last year’s leaves throughout winter until te time of new leaf growths begin. The orange leaves make for a nice contrast against the snow.

One photo shows Holly leaves. I only saw one such shrub and wondered just how this plant started.

Holly

I walked around as the darkness crept along arriving back to the jeep close to dark. A rain had begun to fall by this time. I would see a total of eight deer.

Latest Painting

Recently I completed a painting of eight various dogs showing them at the base of a golden path to “doggy heaven”. Of course, the comments I received from social media were abundant. I always enjoy seeing the reactions of those who enjoy the art and concept. I placed different photos of the painting’s progress until the finished art was placed to show. About midway in the process I was contacted to do a painting of some pets.

The painting above shows the final painting prior to the varnishing.

Original layout minus the cat drawing.

The need to get out was high the morning of February 10. A nice covering of snow enveloped all surfaces and getting out and about was important to me. I need to find time to collect my thoughts, relieve stress and pray. What better place is the great outdoors.

I left the house with no clear idea where I would end up, but shortly decided to hike along Cowanshannock Creek. This creek is one beautiful waterways. Some areas have millions of rocks making for some good photo opportunities. Unfortunately, those rocks create some potential hazardous walking. I would be careful!

Immediately tracks of wildlife became known. I saw plenty of deer tracks. Also, I found fox and coyote tracks. I would see rabbit and squirrel tracks. Interestingly, were several areas where chipmunks were out and about actually having trails through the snow to various holes. I found Mink tracks that followed the creek exclusively.


Mink Tracks

I took a lot more photos than the ones shown in this entry, but I placed enough to have the reader get a taste of nature’s beauty on a cold morning. The temperatures were cold and the Rhododendrons displayed that cod. Once the temperatures get to a certain point the leaves appear to look wilted and hang down. This action is a life-sustaining protection feature of the plant.

i noticed several Gypsy Moth egg cases cemented to the side of trees. I remember many years ago when this specie of moth became the threat to our deciduous trees. Millions of them covered the woodlands and yards as they devoured the leaves of many species of trees. Everyday I collected the caterpillars and scarped the egg cases into used motor oil trying to make a dent. Some areas known to me had many oak trees die off because of the devastation caused by the caterpillars eating all the leaves.

Rhododendron Wilted Due to Temperatures

Gypsy Moth Egg Case

I never know what I will be asked to paint or where an inspiration may push me towards. The above painting was a request from my wife, Laurie. She asked if I would do a painting of dogs for her. She has always loved dogs.

I told her to make a list of species she would like for me to paint. The list featured eight species of dogs. Shown on the painting are the eight dogs she wanted on the art. They are: Doberman; Poodle; Pomerium; Great Dane; Goldendoodle; Cocker Spaniel; Springer Spaniel and the Beagle.

The thought process began and the final layout depicts the idea on the treated Masonite panel. The painting is an eighteen by twenty-four sized art and done with acrylic paint. The art is for her Valentine’s Day.

The second art is a pen, ink and pencil buck called “The Side of the Mountain”. I have been going through my file cabinets and I found a small sketch I did many years ago of a buck walking alongside the hill. I sketched the art originally while I was still at work. I often walked around at lunch time and sketched down ideas. Some were kept apparently, but most were discarded upon study.

I immediately decided I was going to do the idea in ink. A handful of hours later over several days the piece was completed. However, this finished art is not the same as the original sketch. Only the idea was used.

We haven’t had a lot of snow cover this winter, or maybe I should say long-lasting snow cover. Recent snows and colder temperatures have allowed the snow to linger in the woodlands. This made for a couple of hikes to see what things of interest I could see.

I was fortunate on two different hikes to get some nice photos. the areas I walked were a local state game lands and a woodland trail at crooked Creek Park.

I saw, in total, nine deer and two gobblers. I saw some hawks and various other species of birdlife.

A black and white photo.

Pileated Woodpecker

This Pileated woodpecker had much patience with my approach. These birds can be tough to photograph for they do not stay still for very long flying from tree to tee. This one allowed me to approach and get some photos.

Red-tailed Hawk

Crooked Creek

Mourning Dove

Broad-winged Hawk or Red-shouldered Hawk

Crow

Mouth of Crooked Creek with the Allegheny River at Rosston, PA
Immature Bald Eagles. (Notice the Common Merganser in the rear bird’s talons.)

The mid-morning through early afternoon was brisk. The temperature was somewhere in the lower twenty degree mark. But, I wanted to get out and walk around some and look for Bald Eagles. I was heading to Crooked Creek Park.

I bundled up and set along the bank for about an hour and watching four immature eagles the entire time. Photo opportunities were not the best for the most part, but I certainly enjoyed watching a bird that was considered close to extinction during the time of my youth. What a remarkable comeback!.

This ground area in forefront is usually water-covered. The water here is the original creek bed.

Eventually, I packed up and drove to another place to explore. I could see in the upper area of the back up waters a large ground area. This area of exposed ground is normally not present. In recent times a small island with young trees had shown up, but what I was seeing far off was ground from the island area touching the shoreline. This needed investigated.

I walked the shoreline until I reached where a small tributary enters into the lake. I could see ice all about and began walking out into the newer ground area. I could hear the ice crunching and occasionally I would sink in an inch or so, but I kept moving along.

The ground area is normally covered with water.

Not unexpecting the next scenario, I felt my right leg immediately sink into the depth of the mud slightly over my knee. My left leg due to my body shifting to the right didn’t sink, but bent and only went in a few inches. Somehow I managed to get myself from this potential issue safely. Afterwards, I went back to the shoreline and walked more until the ground mass seemed more firm. I began walking on it again, but more cautiously.

So, I thought of future boaters using the dam and finding my sun-bleached bones sticking up out of the ground surface. Of course, if normal water level occurred then even then I would not be found, however, I am only kidding about this.

I really wanted to get across to see the original creek flow of Crooked Creek. This area would have been underwater for many years and, in my weird way, I wanted to go there which I did. I had to be observant for various places were soft under the ice so I had to move around seeking such areas to avoid.

In this area, close to the eagle’s nest, I saw five eagles including mature birds.

Hedgeapple