Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Never Ending Winter

Snowmobiles finding plowed road

Multiple snowmobile turn arounds

last of front porch wood
Well today is the last of February and the wood on the front porch has made it through the cold weather as Lee predicated. We still have wood on the back porch for what should be the down side of winter the next few months. Although, the official end of Winter is March 21st the end of using firewood often does not come until May. We have had many below zero temperatures this winter and are hoping this morning's -12 is the last of them. Unlike the winter of 2012 when winter never showed this winter and last has had cold temperatures driving the depth of frost deep.  Last year there was still ice on the ground in April and I had a hard time getting water to start in two of the camps I take care of. This year is more of the same. We are very much hoping for the above freezing temperatures promised for next week although that will lead to the dreaded melting March combo's of mud, ice, rain, snow and whatever mother nature can think of.

For those of you thinking of driving your regular vehicle through the State Forest I would advise against it for now. No one will pull you out and it will be April before the road is plowed again. When the weather gets above freezing the nice packed snow you might have driven on will become a deep wet snow trap. One winter Lee and I spent 4 hours making the trip from Cedar Run up to the house and I walked the last 3 miles to get the snowmobile so I could pick up the groceries and Lee. Once the road refroze over night driving out again became possible. Best to wait a couple months, or plan on skiing, hiking, or snowmobling into camp for now.

We have more snow in the forecast for Sunday then a nice warm up next week.  Today we are enjoying the comfort of a good fire listening to the snow come off the roof and the snowmobilers turning around at the sight of plowed road from our house up. Enjoy the weekend in the woods safely. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Memories of Jack Bonitz live on in Leetonia

This photo was taken December 2009.  Uncle Jack (standing near bear) joined the Bear Kill club.  He is pictured here with Leann's Dad Bob in wheelchair.  (Who passed 3/2010). Leann swears it was one of his best days ever.  He drove for miles to show his friends what he bagged.  The bear was shot in Linglestown, PA area on Bob’s farm.   Jack shot many many deer in Leetonia along with turkey, grouse and a prized Bob Cat. Trout never had a chance if he was on the stream.  He was a friend to all and was well known at the local watering holes throughout Potter and Tioga county. Emailed from Leann Creamer.
Jack never let a guest go without a drink if you visited him. He was a welcoming host and a teller of tales about his adventures in Leetonia.
One of Jack's friends said: Jack is the last of the Leetonia first Generation. You'll be missed but we are happy you are with your family and life friends in heaven telling your Jack tales. We miss you, your council, your tall tales, but not taking our money.To clarify the taking of money...many a poker game was played during a dark night playing cards  and smoking cigars with his friends in Leetonia.

I remember Jack telling a couple of stories to me he claimed to be true. I will let you decide.

The Bear Incident

Jack told me he got so mad at a bear stealing the corn he put out for the deer he climbed on top of the feeder(which is at least 9' high) and waited for the bear with a bat. When the bear came he jumped down and gave him a good whacking. The bear didn't come back.

Legend of the lost wheels

He said one night he was in town at his favorite pub and it started to snow very hard. He said they got a couple feet of snow. But this did not stop Jack from driving back to camp on unplowed roads. He said he doesn't remember much of the drive, but the next morning when he got up two of the wheels and tires were gone on his truck. He claims the deep snow kept his truck up so he was able to make it back. He never did find those tires.

The Fish Story to top all fish stories

Jack claims he caught a 18" trout in the stream(No one doubts his ability to catch trout). But what happened next might be a stretch. Before he could land the trout a 24 " trout came along and grabbed the other trout. He claims to have landed both fish at the same time.


The Bonitz camp is on the what is called the "boneyard," where they buried a lot of cow bones. It was also the spot for the old Leetonia School House. The property was owned by Frank Wilsbach and sold to Jack's father John Bonitz. They built the existing cabin around 1958.

Jack joins many other hunting and fishing enthusiasts as well as lovers of Leetonia that now roam the woods loving every minute and sharing their tales with each other. RIP Jack from the Mountain girls, Paula and Lee Anne

reprint of
Jack's Obituary in Harrisburg Paper 
On the evening of Saturday, February 7th, 2015, John T. "Jack" Bonitz, Jr., 80, of Harrisburg, passed away, peacefully, surrounded by his family at the Community Campus of Pinnacle Health, Harrisburg, PA.
Jack was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 19th, 1934; the oldest child of John T. Bonitz, Sr. and Sylvia M. (De Dee) Bonitz. Jack grew up spending much of his time trapping, hunting, and fishing. He was happiest while spending time at the family cabin in the mountains, fly fishing for trout. He loved to duck hunt and spent many endless days fishing on the Susquehanna River. In his later years, Jack enjoyed spending time in Ocean City, NJ, deep sea fishing and spending time with family and friends.
After graduating high school, Jack enlisted in the reserves. He served on the USS Albany and was honorably discharged in 1961. He attended college in Elizabethtown and worked for the family business, Bonnyview Development. He co-owned Bonitz Bros. Wholesale Sporting Goods. Jack loved to travel and visit with other business owners along the east coast. Later, when he partially retired, he worked for Faber Brothers and often earned top awards for being an outstanding salesman.
Jack received his Eagle Scout Award in 1949, while a member of Troop 79 in Progress. Jack was a Navy veteran, and a member of the Linglestown American Legion Post #272, and the Masonic Perseverance Lodge 21 F & A.M., Harrisburg Consistory. 
In 1957, Jack married Sally Clark (Winand). They had three children together. Jack is preceded in death by his mother and father, both paternal and maternal grandparents, many aunts and uncles as well as his brother, Robert "Bob" Bonitz, Sr., and his second wife, Kathy Fox. Jack is survived by his daughter Cindy Bonitz-Ryan and her companion Ron Reed of Bayfield, CO, son John T. Bonitz III and his wife Christine of Harrisburg, and daughter Cathy Bonitz-Eakin and her husband Kirk of Mechanicsburg; his nine grandchildren, Weylin Ryan, Ricky Ryan, Nolan Reed, Casey Reed, Steffanye Hawbaker Mack, Paige Bonitz, Ryan, Haley and Ashley Eakin. Jack is also survived by his sister-in-law, Ann Bonitz, his niece, Leann Bonitz Craemer, and nephew Robert Bonitz, Jr. , all of Harrisburg and his companion Carolyn Adams.
Please join the family at a Celebration of Jack's Life on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 11 am at the Hetrick-Bitner Funeral Home, with Rev. Nathan C. Minnich, officiating. There will be a visitation from 10-11 am at the funeral home with a masonic service at 10:50 am. Graveside services will be held privately at a later date.

Monday, February 2, 2015

State Forest Roads closed

Snow from front of house

The State Forest Roads are closed according to Paula. Traveling with anything but a snowmobile this morning is nearly impossible. The exception being the road in front of my house that is plowed out to the Gaines side. Those who dare make the trip with a car or truck on other than plowed roads are in for a 10 inch base which was followed by at least 8 inches last night. I, in fact, waited until the plow came at 9 am to venture out for anything but cleaning off my own drive and the neighbors drive with the 4-wheeler plow. The fact I even came up the State Forest Road last Friday was greeted with a slap to the back of my head by our Elk Township road clearer, Lee. If it was folly then it is impossible now. It is still lightly snowing/misting. The temperatures are supposed to go up today and we are getting a little wet stuff on top of the snow. For now don't plan on coming to Leetonia past my house with anything but a snowmobile. Have a great snowy Leetonia day. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off and shoveling out.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Snowmobile Heaven Vehicle Hell

I came up from Cedar Run last night with my Toyota FJ Cruiser. On a scale of 1-10 for difficulty I am giving it an 8 and a 10 for fear factor. The snow although only 8 inches deep it did not pack down well. Usually after the snowmobiles have run on it for a while you can climb on top of it to drive. This was not the case Friday night. My vehicle sunk through and it seems to be pulled around a lot by the texture and ruts in the snow. It took me 45 minutes to make the 8 mile trip most of it at 5 mph in low 4 wheel drive. I didn't have chains on as the other person who used chains said they didn't help. It is sort of like driving in loose sand.
Of course it is perfect ski and snowmobile weather and the snowmobilers are out and making up for a dead season up to this point. We are expecting anywhere from 8 to 12 more inches Sunday-Monday so I will not be going down in the truck towards Cedar Run anytime soon. Lee said a car came down the road which is plowed to our house and made it only a few feet into the unplowed part and turned around....wise very wise. You do not want to get stuck on a State Forest Road in this weather wind chills are supposed to be dangerously low today and if you can get towed(and that is a big if) it will cost you $500 or more and many insurance companies don't cover tows in off road areas, which they consider roads without winter maintenance to be.  If you are snowmobiling be careful, let someone know where you are going or travel in a group, and please don't drive drunk unless you are planning on loosing your life in the middle of the woods. It looks like I will be doing a lot of snow removal over the weekend. I will update at end of the weather to let you know how much we got. Enjoy the snow and be safe. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winterizing your camp....some helpful hints.

camp's worst nightmare
When it is warm inside your cabin and warm outside there is little thought as to what is inside your cabin when you decide to winterize it and let it return to the temperature of the winter cold for a while. Over the last 12 years of winterizing other's camps I have seen a few things and know what works and what does not.
Often times I get the call to go down to shut a camp down and there are things left behind other than water pipes that when frozen often make a mess at best and at worst may make you sick next year. First on the sick note. It is really best not to leave canned food behind to freeze. Although it will often survive and look alright if the seal breaks it may not be fit to eat. Any thing in a glass container should not be allowed to freeze. Also the other thing that happens is people often forget what they have at camp and take up more and use it first. Repeating this process over the years can leave you with food that is often as much as 5 years out of date(which I have found). Also  use caution when leaving meat in your freezer. It isn't uncommon during the summer for us to lose power, you won't be able to tell how many times your meat has melted and refrozen if it is frozen when you come to camp. Also meat needs to be used up or it becomes freezer burnt. The other thing people don't think about are drinks, soda cans, beer cans, and anything under 10% alcohol will not survive a freezing and explode where ever it is. Water in plastic containers may survive with some flexing available, but it is best to take it home as well.
On to the less pleasant task of keeping as much in rodent proof containers as possible, This of course includes any food items in boxes or cardboard containers. But less obvious are things like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissue. Anything a mouse can make nesting material with will get chewed up and stashed in any convenient hole. The other thing mice seem to love are sheets and blankets. It is a great thing to crawl under and leave droppings at best. My grandfather had a steel drum he closed all of his bedding up in including pillows when he closed down. If you do choose to leave everything on plan on washing it before the season. Next on the list is dealing with mice with poison or traps. Some people like the 5 gallon water bucket with a peanut covered roller on it. The  water bucket is filled with RV antifreeze mixed into water and there is a ramp for the mice to crawl over to top of bucket. It is an effective non-toxic way to deal with mice, but leaves a messy mouse stew to dispose of in the Spring. Next are spring traps, which are a one use thing, so once they are sprung they are of little value and the mouse decomposes wherever it is trapped. On that note never leave your coffee pot or any tall container open and where mice can crawl in. We found a decomposing mouse in one and could never eliminate the smell. It went to the garbage. As far as mouse poison goes. Don't get anything a mouse can carry off as they will store it everywhere. I prefer the blocks and when placed in a plastic dispenser are safe from small children and other domestic animals.
On to the water pipes. Turn pump off first. In order to drain them with gravity all pipes must have good slopes and no dead ends if not your only solution is to drain as much as you can and either run air pressure through each line systematically opening each water faucet one at a time starting with the closest, shutting it then on to next. If using a RV pump the process is reversed open farthest until pink water comes out and work your way back. USE ONLY RV ANTIFREEZE CAR ANTIFREEZE IS TOXIC AND SHOULD NEVER BE USED!! It only takes a couple tablespoons of car antifreeze to kill a dog and not much more to kill a human. When using this method you will need to have a by-pass on your water heater to keep from filling the entire tank. When it comes to water heaters make sure they are turned off before drained and that you open pressure relief valve as they drain to get all the water out. Never turn water heater back on until completely filled. When it comes to toilets you must use RV antifreeze. Drain as much water as you can and then use a shop vac to suck out the rest. Pour a small amount in tank and larger amount in stool. Plunge antifreeze through stool trap to get all the water out.
Next make sure every drain has RV antifreeze in it. If you turn off your refrigerator open doors to keep mold from forming. Make sure if you leave your refrigerator on it has the kind of refrigerant that can be run in freezing temperatures...many of the new ones do not. When the weather was still warm like late fall we would often do one last thing before we left. We set off bug bombs to kill any crawlers left behind. Every camp has it's own particular needs so this is not meant to be a complete list. If any of you have horror stories or have learned something by doing wrong I have not mentioned please feel free to comment. Mountain girl, Paula, closing the last camp of the season.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Strike up the band!

Leetonia Band

It is hard to believe Leetonia once had a band. But in the early 1900's they made music in  Leetonia. Now the only music that is heard is the sound of the stream bubbling downstream or roaring in a storm. This time of year a new sound is heard the sound of snowmobiles buzzing  through the woods. We have had barely enough snow to cover the ground but those who had a long weekend pushed their machines to the limit today just to get out and about. If you have a snow-cooled machine or don't like the sound of gravel, I would avoid riding until we get some more snow. The road is still passable coming up from Cedar Run, but it can change in an instant if we get the rain we are supposed to get tomorrow. I noticed some hardy folks from the Ruins camp were up and it was a below zero night last night so I am sure they kept the wood burner fed. Seems like on days when the nights are cold it takes most the day for the house to start feeling warm again then we go to bed. One good thing the days are now getting longer minute by minute each day there is a bit more sun and that always helps my attitude. I am not a fan of these short days no time to walk in the daylight.
Not much else new in the middle of the forest. Just be careful and make sure you have a set of chains and nerves of steel if you decide to wander away from the plowed roads. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 begins

2015 begins with the weather still in flux. One day it is in the 40's and the next we are cold again. This has kept the road down to Cedar Run mostly open. There was a small land slide just after the Bobcat camp that made it a little tricky going through. A couple days ago I noticed the State put up cones, but has yet to remove the rubble. It is alright to go over with a regular sized vehicle, but if you have a large dually or trailer bigger than the wheel base of a car I would stay clear of it until they get a backhoe up to get the rock moved. The landslide happened a couple days before Christmas when we had above normal temperatures and rain. It makes you drive very close to a steep vertical drop down to the creek. From past experience going over the side in a vehicle, I would recommend it.
Today we are having wintery mix a word I have learned to hate. It means anything from freezing rain to snow. We have had a small covering of what I could best label as falling ice crystals as you see from picture above. They are calling for very warm weather tomorrow so it will probably melt. Next week is going to give us 3-5 inches of snow followed by a dip back into cold temperatures.
Many of you have been wandering why I haven't posted more. I have a job that takes me some distance away during the week and have been playing catch up over the weekend. I would much rather be hibernating in Leetonia through the winter. Lee and I are looking forward to a great new year in 2015 and hope you all will enjoy it as well. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

P.S. For those of you interested in some bare land in Leetonia, I am putting the acreage you see in this picture across the road back on market. It is about 5 acres. Click link under links on left to see listing.