Category Archives: Allegany State Park

Another Allegany trip (Quaker Area)

Some of our friends traditionally spend the long weekend of Columbus Day in cabins on the Quaker side of the Allegany State Park, near  Salamanca, NY.  While we weren’t looking to rent a cabin when we have the bus, we did want to go and spend time for them.  Unfortunately, RVs aren’t allowed in the cabin areas, so, we spent the weekend in the Cain Hollow campground.

Compared to the Red House Campground I described from when we spent the week there, the Cain Hollow campground was steeper, and the bathroom facilities were a bit more sparse – though both males and females had a utility sink! But the sites had more trees and bushes (and streams) between them, so they were more secluded than the Red House sites.

Our trip was slowed by an accident (and people not understanding how to efficiently merge), West Valley Fire Department’s “Fill The Boot” roadbock, and Ellicotville’s Fall Festival being set-up. After that, though, the travel was pretty standard, though once we got off of I-86/NY 17 onto NY 280, there was some very nice scenery where the road followed along the banks of the Allegheny River/Kinzua Reservoir on the way to the Quaker Area entrance to the Park.  Once we were in the park, which you enter by the edge of Quaker Lake, giving a spectacular view along it’s length, we drove past the campsite area to the Rental Office, only to find that we could have checked in at the entrance to the campgrounds, as it was a Friday evening.

Once there, I watched for signage to get to our site, as it was obvious from our time at the Red House campsite that the signage essentially directed traffic in particular directions to produce one-way travel through the loops.  There, it was obvious when someone went the ‘wrong’ way, and often startled pedestrians, and I didn’t want to be that person.  Unfortunately, as I was informed later by the camp Captain, the sign that would have nicely directed us efficiently up the hill was missing, so we took a scenic tour of the campground to get to our site. (All this is in the dashcam video.)

The only bad thing that I could find to complain about was the light pollution.  Perhaps some of this is due to our site being directly across from a bathroom whose light flooded our site (well, at least where the bus was parked) all night, but one clear evening when I wanted to see the stars, I had to walk all the way out of the campsite and around to Quaker Lake in order to get anything like a clear view of the sky in any of the open places.  The area of the grassy field near the entrance to the campground seemed like it would be promising, but the garbage dumping area had a 30′ pole with a big sodium arc light atop it, so the area was flooded with light.

We also found that the Quaker Area is much more spread out than the Red House Area.  Even with Red House Lake being in the middle of things, we could bike around to every place we wanted to go, quickly and easily.  Quaker was not like this, as to get from the campground to the cabin where our friends were was about 5 miles, and while we brought our bikes, they never really made it out of the bus.

Us at Thunder Rocks!
Us at Thunder Rocks!

We did cooking both on the stove and on the fire, and as the October nights were getting colder & darker earlier, the seven of us ate in the bus in a slightly unplanned way.  We went hiking around Science Lake, and climbed Thunder Rocks.  These are great, huge hunks of rock and some are easy to climb unaided, others nearly impossible, and they litter the top of the mountain  along through the woods.

Overall, we had a great time!



A Week in the Bus (Allegany State Park trip – Part III)

(Continued from Part II)

The Red House area of the Allegany State Park is really nicely suited to biking. All the camping and major cabin areas seem to be connected with paved trails, and all the roads within the tent/RV area were paved, with the sites having gravel parking area and some grassy area as well. Our site was actually very close to level, but many of the other sites were not, and I helped one of our neighbors with the ‘lego block’ style levelers, which worked for him nicely.

Staying for the whole week was great, and we only saw one other rainy day than the night of our arrival. However, we didn’t take advantage of any of the hiking trails, though we did bike the ‘on road’ biking trails and canoe on Red House Lake. This was due to my wife having a project that she needed to finish (and with the back of the bus pointed south, she got great natural light from all the windows), and our son spending most of the days at the Dresser-Rand Challenger Science Camp that one of our other homeschooling moms heroically set up and co-ordinated for other homeschoolers. A bunch of the homeschooling families were also staying in the Red House area (several right in our loop!), and so the kids were able to work at camp, then come back and play, grabbing their bikes (and often the wrong shoes) to go exploring the local playground in the camp area, or the park toward the lake, or the treed area between some campsites, or the creek that ran alongside the campgrounds down to the lake. As a result, we didn’t see our son much that week.

But having all three of our bikes meant finding a place to store them securely. I have a long Kryptonite lock and cable, and it worked out that I could lock all three bikes to the bus by fitting the lock around the bottom edge of the safety cage of the fuel tank.

Kryptonite Keeper 12 LS Heavy Duty Bicycle U Lock Bike Lock (4 x 11.5-Inch) (Sports)

List Price: $26.06 USD
New From: $26.04 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Kryptonite KryptoFlex 410 Double Loop Bicycle Security Bike Cable (10mm, 4-Feet) (Sports)

List Price: $12.99 USD
New From: $8.50 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Our site Captain was from Bradford, PA, and lives right by a rail line, and noticed the Super Tyfon right away. After chatting with him a bit, I promised him that I’d sound the horns when we left, as I was concerned about disturbing other campers. Upon leaving, when I sounded the horn, I got a thumbs-up from the Captain, and a not-surprising number of looks from others nearby. I got a report from one of our friends who left after we did that lots of people in the campsite cheered and called for the horn to sound again, but unfortunately, I was already off on the road by then.

Our trip home was via the Quaker area, as we were due to meet friends there in October. This meant going over one mountain/ridge, and then back along the same route, and then out of the park over the mountain with the ski area and fire tower. This was probably the longest, steepest climb I’ve taken the bus on, and I ended up in third gear, doing about 25 mph and watching the coolant temperature climb. I gave the bus some time to cool at the top, then took it down the other side of the mountain (seeing some neat views from the overlook), really getting comfortable with letting the bus engine retard the speed, and using (gentle) stab braking.

A break in the trees while driving down the mountain shows the Allegheny River Valley at Salamanca!
A break in the trees while driving down the mountain shows the Allegheny River Valley at Salamanca!

(In case you don’t know what stab braking is, it’s when you push down hard on the brakes to dramatically lower your speed, then let off again, letting the engine and transmission slow you down, until you get over a speed where they lose efficiency, then you ‘stab’ the brakes again.  It keeps the brakes from overheating, and your vehicle well under your control.)

A Week in the Bus (Allegany State Park trip – Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

After arriving around midnight at the campsite, we set up the basics, and got to bed. My wife and I ran into a bit of a problem with our bed situation, as the air mattress we had been using had developed a leak that I couldn’t patch, and the replacement we brought was a king-sized one that wouldn’t fit in the back area. Luckily, with just the three of us in the bus, we could share the bottom bunk, while our son took the top bunk.

We had a nice site near the top of the hill on our loop. For the Red House camping area, the A loop and B loop had their own bathroom facilities, while the C and D shared a bathroom, I think with the E loop. There were abundant water taps, and fairly nice stone rings for firepits, though no grates. We realized that we’d been spoiled, as the fire pits and rings at Sprague Brook and Evangola had attached and adjustable grates to cook on.

Luckily, the camp store was literally down the hill and across the road from our site, and they had a nice round grating that I could perch on stones in our firepit and make a cooking surface. They also sold a 30amp to 15amp plug adapter, which I found I needed, as the 15amp power plug on the power tree was a GFCI outlet that kept tripping when I plugged into it (which of course was happening after midnight in the light rain.)  

30 Amp RV Male to Female 5-15R Adapter (6736T) (Misc.)

List Price: Price Not Listed
New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs are great, except when it's wet and dark and your system trips them!
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs are great, except when it’s wet and dark and your system trips them!

I was totally perplexed as to what was tripping the outlet, as the system worked fine on my garage’s 15amp breaker, so after going through everything and eventually unplugging a number of non-essential systems including the plug from the inverter (even though the breaker for the inverter’s power feed was off), I finally got us basic power for lights and the fridge. After spending part of the morning tearing apart the main power in plug and the breaker box, I found that it seemed that the GFCI was being tripped by the ground of the plug of the inverter.

As the ‘main’ of the box is just a regular breaker, I had wired in the plug end of a 12 gauge extension cord into an unused breaker in the box, with the understanding that in order to power the system with the inverter, I would first turn off the main, then turn on the inverter breaker, and to go back to land power, the inverter breaker would go off first, then the main would go on. But as the inverter was set to take a grounded plug, but only connected to the 12VDC positive and negative, it seemed that the GFCI ‘saw’ the system with a return/ground fault in the 110AC system. Once I put the adapter in and plugged into the 30amp outlet, there was no issue, and all worked the way it was supposed to.

We finally got to use the stove, and it preformed admirably. While most of our cooking was done over the wood fire, the burners of the stove did a nice job with popcorn, and the oven did a great job with flatbread pizzas (and a 12” round fits easily). However, I’ve found that I need some small receptacle for spent matches, though I’m realizing that all those ashtrays that have fallen into disuse should provide for something both suitable and attractive.

The troubleshooting/improving never stops …


(More on the park in Part III)