Search This Blog

Monday, September 29, 2014

Schroon Lake Fall Foliage

Hi Blog! Today is Monday, September 29, 2014.  It is our last full day here at Schroon Lake.  We've spent these last 10 days having a great time with family and friends. During our adventures, we kept an eye on the ever-changing fall colors. Here is a nice view up the Schroon River from our campground.

These hills are just across the highway. We actually walked up the exit ramp to get a better shot.

There is a small bridge over Schroon River. It made a great frame for this photo.

Say "hi" to Chipper, Baxter's new best friend. We had moved the cat carriers out of the truck to make room for company, and we put them under our rig. Baxter kept going over and trying to get in his carrier. We knew something was up, because he never "volunteers" to go anywhere near his box.  When we checked, a local chipmunk had set up residency. He roughed up the pad and built himself a little nest. Baxter begged us to keep him, but we told him the chipmunk belongs here at Jellystone with the rest of his chipmunk family and friends.  Baxter began to sulk, but we told him that, as long as he lives in our RV he cannot keep a chipmunk as a pet. When he gets his own RV, he can have as many pets as he wants.

Here is another view of the fall color looking down the Schroon River.

One of the more colorful trees in the campground.

Wow.  Look at all these red leaves on the ground.  They weren't there the other day.

Dave just could not resist making leaf angels!

We had to go into town today so Kathy could pay her traffic ticket. We took the opportunity to take a walk along Schroon Lake. This tree is just starting to turn bright red.

You gotta love the orange and green mix in this big boy.

We finished our adventures today by going back to the Buffalo Farm and getting more bison burgers and steaks.  We also scored some elk burgers.  We've both had elk before, but not elk burgers, so we are excited to try them.  Here is the farm house with some pretty cool stained glass windows. Nothing like having mountains in your backyard.

We are hoping to get even more fall color at our next stop, Indian Lakes.  So, there may be another fall foliage blog or two or three.

Frontier Town - The Ghost of North Hudson

Across the road from our campground here in North Hudson, New York is "Frontier Town," a Wild West themed family tourist attraction that operated from 1952 to 1998.  It was conceived and build by Art Benson, whom neighbors are said to have nicknamed, "Daniel Boone."  As nearby mines closed and logging payrolls dwindled, Frontier Town became the economic mainstay of this area, which is located along the Northway near Schroon Lake.

Here's a photo of the center of Frontier Town in its heyday:

When Frontier Town closed, 300 immediate jobs were lost, but the economic toll spread further than that. Perhaps 30 motels in the area suffered a reported 70% drop in business.  A Long Island bank took over Frontier Town and tried to sell the property for $1.6 million.  However, still today - over 16 years later - the property is still for sale.  Here's a photo we took of one of the motel building and its for sale sign:

Back in the day, thousands of children from the Northeast U.S. and beyond spent a day at Frontier Town. They left with memories of how a train-load of newly deputized children with tin stars and straw hats captured a member of the stage-robbing Dalton gang. The children became jurors in the pillory-side trial of the accused, who were, not surprisingly, always guilty. The kids were also recruited for Custer's Cavalry, learned Indian dances and customs from real Indians, watched a rodeo with circuit riders, and toured the Frontiers of Industry.  It was a fun day, but educational, too, and that's what separated Frontier Town from the several mere amusement parks in the region, employees said. In a book chronicling the history of Frontier Town, "The Story of a New York City Tenderfoot and his Adirondack Mountain Adventure," Art Benson said he was ahead of his time in combining fun and history.

For a period after it closed, 18 employees kept the cafeteria and gas station open as an unofficial rest stop on the Adirondack Northway, which runs right past the site.  Here you can see the cafeteria and the main "Frontier Town" sign, much as they might have looked to someone arriving by car:

A slightly closer look shows the cafeteria's windows gone or boarded up and the sign a skeleton of its former self:

The heart of Frontier Town included a working sawmill, iron forge, icehouse and tannery. There was a museum of old farm implements, including a horse-operated saw and goat-powered washing machine. An original Concord stagecoach, the victim of the only recorded stagecoach holdup in New York state history, was there.  The property hosted a deer park, an Indian village, a train depot and steam engine, a Cavalry fort and a rodeo arena.

Now, the entire site is overgrown, and rows of former mock western buildings are dilapidated and look ready to collapse:

An old makeshift project "office" still barely stands --

-- and what looks like it once was a pretend jail can't even pretend to hold prisoners anymore:

The town of Schroon Lake is only a few miles south of here.  It has a marina and a number of cute, touristy shops and restaurants and seems to have weathered the economic storms of recent years.  But North Hudson doesn't seem to have done so well.  The ghost of Frontier Town hangs over the area. Former mountain vacation cabins stand empty and/or run down, far past even trying to get themselves sold.  The only bright spots here are Paradox Lake, a beautiful lake surrounded by private cabins and cottages, many hiking trails including one that climbs nearby Severance Hill that we walked with Katie and Maggie the other day, and, for those who love camping, a quaint RV and tent campground, "Jellystone Park at Paradise Pines," where we have stayed these last two weeks.  The area is replete with natural beauty and we could fill aother two weeks with hikes, bicycle trips and backpacks.  But as far as the tourist trade goes, North Hudson has surrendered to the communities north and south of here.

[Most of the factual information in the foregoing text is quoted from a November 29, 1987 article in Albany Times Union newspaper by Elizabeth Edwardsen, titled, "NORTH HUDSON LOOKS BACK WITH ENVY AT FRONTIER TOWN DAYS."]

Adirondack Distance Festival 10-K

Dear Blog:

This weekend, Schroon Lake and the surrounding communities prepared for the 18th Adirondack Distance Festival.  The first Adirondack Marathon was held back in 1997.  Since that time, the event has grown to include several races - 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon. The Marathon finishers (with eligible times) can use the race results to qualify for the Boston Marathon. All profits from the weekend events goes to charity.

By way of background, our daughter, Katie, had always wanted to run a Half Marathon.  Her first attempt ended with a stress fracture in her heel. After months and months of rehab, she was ready to run again. However, she was looking for a little motivation.  She asked if we would be interested in virtually training with her.  Our son, Matt, wanted to join in the fun. And so our Half Marathon training began. You can read more about it in our blog: Broad Street Run.

Several weeks after the Broad Street Run, it was Kathy that learned she had a stress fracture in her foot. Several weeks in a walking cast left her back out of whack. This set the training for the Half Marathon back by months. As the date approached, it seemed pretty obvious we would not be able to run the 13 miles. Katie, too, felt she really hadn't been able to train appropriately, so we opted to change our registration from the Half Marathon to the 10K Race. Kathy, still nursing injuries, agreed to be Team Manager and Maggie, Katie's dog, would be the official mascot.

Saturday, September 27, 2014 was race day.  The morning fog lifted as we drove down from Schroon Lake to Chestertown. Race packets were picked up at the Town Hall and bib numbers attached. Here is Kathy discussing strategy, giving pointers, and going over the race course with Dave and Katie.

As the start approached, team #scrantondomination prepared their race kits:

iPhone with running playlist - check

Sports Gu - check

Water bottle - check

Soon, the PA system announced: "Racers! approach the start line!"

The excitement begins to build as the runners crowd into the street. Maggie barks encouragement.

Dave and Katie wish each other good luck before the starting gun. Note the large warrior princess to Dave's right (left of him in the photo). She looks like "Games of Thrones" TV character Brienne of Tarth (a/k/a the BOT). She hounded Dave the entire race.

The 6.2 mile race course loops back toward the start/finish line.  Here is Katie in full stride. The BOT, who ran ahead of David as Katie pulled away, slipped in behind Katie. It didn't take Katie long to leaver her in the dust.

Not wanting to hit the wall too soon, Dave paced himself:

Around Mile 3, David found himself passing the BOT, only to have her pass him again and then slow down in front of him.  David and BOT exchanged positions as each applied their own race strategies to the rolling terrain.  Somewhere around Mile 5, BOT seemed to just not be able to stand Dave's passing her again and determinedly pushed herself forward and slowly slipped ahead of him, never to be seen again before the finish line.

Katie was unaware of the drama that was playing out behind her. She was having too much fun rocking out to her playlist.  There is nothing quite like the smile you get when you see the finish line and know that you never have to run again.  It was fitting that this was Katie's "official" race photo as snapped by the race photographer:

Kathy caught Katie's photo finish and her race time on the clock: 

Rounding the final turn, Dave forgot all about his inglorious loss to the BOT and made a happy dash to the finish.  Here he is in his "official" race photo nearing the finish line:

You've got to love the high tech Finish Line. That's Dave behind the ladder in Kathy's snap of the ultimate moment:

The runners were amply rewarded for their efforts.  The local community put forth a feast, including fruit, yogurt, bagels, donuts, lunch meats and cakes.  There was even a gigantic bowl of "death by chocolate."

The best runners in each category received the cutest race trophies that I have ever seen.  Notice the racers lounging behind the trophies, recovering from their supreme efforts:

Maggie was just glad to have all of her pack back together.  She really, really wanted to run off with Dave and Katie, and it was everything Kathy could do to hold Maggie back.

After cooling down, team #scrantondomination headed back to Jellystone RV Park for a hearty brunch of Bisetti coffee, orange chipotle bacon and blueberry pancakes -- the perfect end to a great race day adventure!

P.S. We are not going to mention the traffic ticket Kathy got on the way back to camp which was not for speeding, but for failing to completely move over to the left lane when she passed a State Trooper pulled off to the right giving someone else a speeding ticket. So, whatever you do, don't tease her about it.

A Visit from Risa and Laird

On Friday, September 26, David's brother Laird and Laird's wife Risa --

-- visited us at our RV campground near Schroon Lake.  We were long overdue for this get-together, which was only the most recent in a continuing exchange program.  This year, we visited them in Albany when we passed near them and stayed in the Berkshires.  This time, they drove up the Northway to see us in the Adirondacks.

...and, as to fall foliage, the timing was perfect!  We have a separate blog entry about all the colors exploding around us here, so we won't repeat ourselves.  But the four of us relaxed outside in the beautiful warm September weather and caught up on everything from important to silly.

We learned about Laird's most recent book, "China's Cosmological Prehistory," his forthcoming book, "Point of Origin," and yet another book he is finishing, but which will not be named!  He and Risa chatted about their recent trip to visit family and friends, and their upcoming trips for Laird's speaking engagements.

We got the upshot on the downlow about their son Isaac's latest dramatic productions as director and actor.  He looks quite debonair in his latest role:

And, last but not least, we learned all about their Southern Hemispheric daughter Hannah and her partner David, who run Tostaduria Bisetti --

-- and their related coffee shops, Cafe Arabica Miraflores --

-- and Cafe Arabica Larcomar --

-- all of which have been featured in magazines, newspapers and other media in the Lima, Peru area.

Risa and Laird offered us a taste of two of the latest offerings of coffee selected, roasted and packaged by Tostaduria Bisetti:

PROYETO CURIBAMBA: It has a fragrance and aroma that is fruity, with notes of almonds and honey.  Its flavor and aftertaste associate with pears, vanilla notes and residual of fleshy fruits.  It is grown by Proyeto Cafe Curibamba and is processed by washing, then drying in solar tents.

FINCA MATAPALO:  It has a fragrance and aroma that is herbal, with notes of lemon verbena and mint.  Its flavor and aftertaste associate with green grapefruit and raisins.  It is grown by Finca Matapalo and is processed by drying in rotary kilns (40 hours).

As part of their efforts with the coffee roastery and cafes, Hannah is in charge of a very skilled and artistic bakery organization, which daily produces the most scrumptious variety of pastries and other dishes, many of which she describes on her Facebook page.

You can get a YouTube video tour of Tostaduria Bisetti here.

No visit with Risa and Laird is complete without a game of ChuckLuck, and this round didn't disappoint. We finished the game just as Katie arrived with Maggie Puppy, in time for dinner. Maggie helped with the campfire:

After dinner, we waved a sad but fond goodbye to the Albanians, looking forward to our next get-together sometime in the coming months.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fort Ticonderoga

Today we decided to be historical, and we drove east along Route 74 to Fort Ticonderoga to learn all about that historic fort.  Its history is a little complicated, because it was built by the French in 1757-1759, promptly lost to the British, then lost to the Americans in the Revolutionary War, then back to the British, then back to the Yanks.  For a detailed timeline of its history, see this page from the curators of Fort Ticonderoga.

Our day was a beautiful, sunny day, and we drove east along Paradox Lake and Eagle Lake, then over the easternmost ridge of the Appalachians to Ticonderoga.  From Mount Defiant (more on that later), you can see Fort Ticonderoga, poised on a strategic peninsula on Lake Champlain, guarding the entrance to La Chute River and the 3.5 mile portage past the five waterfallsof La Chute to the north end of Lake George:

After a very tasty lunch in the Visitor Center cafe, we made it to the afternoon tour and were greeted by perhaps the best tour guide we have ever had at an historic site.  He painted us a portrait of what it was like to be a British or Colonial soldier at that dramatic time that Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys (oh, yes, and that ne'er do well, the later-to-be-traitor Benedict Arnold) crept up to the fort in the middle of the night and overpowered a single senior citizen sentry to take over the fort:

We had a chance to explore the fort on our own.  Here's Kathy nuzzling the muzzle of a genuine cannon of the period, as it peered over a strategic area looking toward La Chute River and the portage to Lake George:

Because the fort was destroyed three times, each time by the army that had occupied it in order to deny it to its new conquerors, most of the fort, including the enlisted men's barracks, had to be reconstructed by, first the Pell family, which owned the property from sometime in the 1800's, well into mid-20th Century, and then the nonprofit foundation to which the Pell family handed over the fort.  Here is a photo of the enlisted men's barracks:

A reconstruction of the ad hoc fireplace used by 18th Century soldiers lay outside the barracks:

Every wall of the fort had cannon poised to wreak havoc on errant ships or enemy soldiers:

The one building that survived most of the destruction was the officers' quarters, at the south end of the fort.  It was the first to be reconstructed in the 1930's.  Here, our guide leads us through the parade grounds toward the officers' quarters:

And, again, the ever-present cannon, guarding the Passage to the Portage:

After our guided tour, we had an opportunity to watch a demonstration of use of 18th Century military firearms - a/k/a breech-loading muskets.  The re-enactors provided a very concise and very unique explanation of every step of the typical parade ground handling of muskets, to explain that they represent the appropriate methods for handling, loading and firing the muskets, so that they don't accidentally fire at friendly soldiers but can be safely and effectively fired at the enemy:

An area between the fort and Lake Champlain has been set aside as the King's Garden, which is a demonstration garden that simultaneously replicates not only the provisions gardens maintained by the soldiers garrisoned at the fort, but also the decorative King's Garden constructed by the Pell family during the period when they first occupied, then maintained a tourist hotel for guests on, the property.  Here is a view looking down the formal walk toward the garden and house:

We had a chance to tour the vegetable gardens:

Here is a photo of the Three Sisters Garden, which features "scarecrows" modeled in the forms of three sisters - perhaps three Indian maidens -- and features three different vegetables which Native Americans grew together.  The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet.

In this photo, the three sisters as scarecrows, overlook and protect the crops:

The original Mrs. Pell had a formal garden designed by Marian Cruger Coffin (1876-1957).  Ms. Coffin is recognized as one of the first and most accomplished female landscape architects in the United States.  Coffin achieved widespread recognition for her designs of country estates including Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur in Wilmington, Deleware.

Here is a photo of the garden pool with Diana the Hunter, which is said by rumor to have been sculpted from a life study of a young Bette Davis

Volunteers tend lovingly to the garden, which presently is abloom with color:

On the advice of our guide, we strolled around to the lake side of the Pell mansion, which was subsequently repurposed as a tourist hotel.  It was graced with spectacular sash windows of leaded glass that lined a hallway onto which opened doors from guests' bedrooms:

The nonprofit association administering Fort Ticonderoga hopes to complete the restoration of the Pell facility in the near future.

We finished our visit with a drive up to Mount Defiance, the nearby mountain which proved to be the Achillies Heel of the fort, and which succeeding armies used to threaten the fort and force its surrender.  Not incidentally, Mount Defiance offers a spectacular view of the fort and of Lake Champlain both north and south of the fort.  Thus satisfied with a grand overview, we drove back to our campground and enjoyed the fall colors, which graced the Adirondacks as we drove back up, and down the ridge, and along nearby Eagle Lake and Pardox Lake.

Tomorrow:  a visit from Laird and Risa, and the arrival of Katie and Maggie!