Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

We are in the Adirondacks - we drove up yesterday to do some snowshoeing and x-country skiing - that is what is wrong!! The temperature continued to rise overnight so by this morning the only snow left was in the big piles along the driveway. So we took a soggy, muddy walk along the road today and hope the forecast for colder temperatures is correct. We are not due to get significant snow any time soon, but colder temps should at least allow us to walk in the woods without sinking to our knees.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sanibel Wildlife Refuge

One of our reasons for going to Sanibel Island is that we hoped to kayak among the mangroves in the wildlife refuge. But the winds were very high the first few days we were there, and in any case they wouldn't let the rental kayaks out of their sight. So you could just paddle around the open bay, which is not very exciting. We took the late afternoon boat tour out into the bay and saw birds heading for their roost trees and saw dolphins frolicking out in the open water and manatees poking their noses out of the water.

On another day we took the drive through the refuge and saw lots of birds and several raccoons.

  • Roseate Spoonbill

  • Ibis

  • Great Egret

  • Snowy Egret

  • Reddish Egret

  • Tricolored Heron

  • Green Heron

  • White Pelican

  • Brown Pelican

  • Double-crested Cormorant

  • Red-Breasted Merganser

This snowy egret visited us on the beach so we got a good photo.

Sanibel Shore Birds

I've never seen as many shore birds as we saw on the Sanibel Beach, and I've certainly never had to worry before about stepping on them. I guess they've gotten used to all the shell hunters.
And there were LOTS of terns, possibly blown in on the storm we had the first day. There were royal terns with their large orange billsand sandwich terns. We learned how to identify these from the naturalist on the boat tour we took in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. It's hard to tell from this photo, but the tip of their bill is pale yellow - from the mustard in the sandwich. That is one I'm going to remember.

Sanibel Shells

Sanibel Island is known for its shells, which is abundantly clear from these photos. We had promised ourselves we wouldn't collect any, but ended up coming home with a bag full anyway.We also saw lots of live shells and other critters like crabs, sea urchins and sea stars.

Christmas in Florida

We had a wonderful vacation on Sanibel Island, Florida, leaving the 10th and arriving home yesterday. We stayed at the Sundial Beach Resort and would go there again. We really enjoyed the beach with all the shells and birds, which will be evident in the next few posts. But one thing I could not get used to was Christmas carols and decorations among the palms and tropical vegetation and in the warm temperatures. At least they have a sense of humor about a Florida Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Construction Project I

I finally got a photo of S's porch in its current state (click here for a "before" view). We put the railings up in July when we came back to NJ for the 4th. And she spent the rest of the summer and into the fall putting up metal lath and a concrete scratch coat along the sides in preparation for the stone facing which will get done next year. It still needs a new door and lights, but it is already very nice.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Food Allergies

My daughter just sent this link to a fascinating article on the Mayo Clinic website on food allergies and sensitivities. I had a really itchy mouth and even some numbness after eating hazelnuts last week. It turns out that is because I am allergic to birch tree pollen, which is all around us when we are in the Adirondacks in the spring.

Here is an excerpt from the article.

"Some fresh fruits and vegetables can trigger a mild allergic reaction that causes the mouth to tingle or itch. This is an example of cross-reactivity — proteins in fruits and vegetables cause the reaction because they're similar to those allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens. For example, if you're allergic to ragweed, you may also react to melons; if you're allergic to birch pollen, you may also react to apples. Most cooked fruits and vegetables generally do not cause cross-reactive oral allergy symptoms.
Common cross-reactivity between pollens and fruits and vegetables:
If you are allergic to:Birch pollenRagweed pollenGrassesMugwort pollen
You may have a reaction to: Apples
Raw potatoes
(watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew)
I've also reacted to apples and cherries and attributed it to residual pesticides. All that birch pollen at camp may be the culprit instead. By the way, what the heck is Mugwort?? Of course I looked it up and it is Artemisia vulgaris, a weed I'm not familiar with, at least not by that name.

First Snow

We had a snow shower overnight. I'm not posting a picture, because it looks exactly like the photo in this post from 12/2/2007. If this year is anything like the last, this is a large fraction of the snow for the season, which is fine with us. We like to get our snow fix in the Adirondacks.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quilt 7

We just hung my new quilt in the stairway. I'm so pleased with it I'll have to fill up the rest of the spaces on the wall. It should even serve a practical purpose of cutting down noise. And given how poorly insulated our walls are, it might even help with heat retention. Sounds like a good excuse to keep quilting :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snowy River

We walked on the trails on and near the Wild Center property for about an hour this afternoon. It was gray and snow showery the whole time, with several inches of snow underfoot from the fairly constant snow showers since we've been here. This is a view of the Raquette River from one of the overlooks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ice Formations

While exploring around the Bog River, we found some beautiful ice formations where the water splashed up on twigs and rocks. And this fellow was smiling up at us from the frozen edge of the water.

Deer Hunting Season....

... is not a good time for hiking. We're having the same problem we had the last time we were here in late November - finding someplace to hike that is away from the hunters. Today we headed for the trail to the Bog River that takes off from Rte 421 not far from its intersection with Rte 30. But there was a pickup parked at the trailhead, a sure sign of a hunter down the trail. So we drove a little farther and explored the area around Bog River Falls instead. The water was very high.
We found the place one can put a boat in to go around this spot and head upstream. You can only go a couple miles until the next rapid, but it is supposed to be a beautiful trip. We'll try that next summer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

At Camp

We drove to camp today for a few days of R&R. There is a dusting of snow on the ground. High temperatures in the 20's, lows about 10.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Swan Family

The swans are back, so it is officially winter on the river. From our bedroom window we saw this family of 2 adults and 5 young swans come into the creek this morning. Then around noon I saw them head back under the bridge and rushed out to get photos. We've seen pairs of adults many times, but this is the first time we've seen juveniles as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prison Ship Martyrs Monument

I joined the other members of my chorus in an interesting event yesterday. We took a bus to the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn in order to take part in the re-dedication of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. We sang an original piece written by Alvin Singleton especially for the occasion. Here is a description of the historical event that led to the creation of the monument, as described on the Fort Greene Park website.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument that stands today in the center of Fort Greene Park is a 1908 memorial to the 11,000 men and boys who died in horrid conditions on the British Prison Ships during the Revolutionary War. The story of the horrid Prison Ships – and the ghastly conditions suffered by the men and boys imprisoned on them during the Revolutionary War – is one of the most disturbing chapters in American history.

During the American Revolutionary War the British arrested scores of soldiers, sailors, and private citizens on both land and sea. Many were apprehended simply because they would not swear allegiance to the Crown of England. Besides American civilians and resistance fighters, the British captured the crews of foreign ships on the high seas, especially Spanish vessels. The soldiers, sailors and civilians they arrested were deemed by the British to be prisoners of war and were incarcerated. When the British ran out of jail space to house their POWs they began using decommissioned or damaged war ships that were anchored in Wallabout Bay as floating prisons.

Life was unbearable on the prison ships, the most notorious of them being the Old Jersey – which was called "Hell" by the inhabitants. Disease was rampant, food and water were scarce or nonexistent, and the living conditions were horrendously overcrowded and wretched. If one had money one could purchase food from the many entrepreneurs who rowed up to the boat to sell their wares. Otherwise, the meager rations would consist of sawdust laden bread or watery soup.

A great number of the captives died from disease and malnutrition. Their emaciated bodies were either thrown overboard or buried in shallow graves in the sandy marshes of Wallabout Bay. Even though the British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1782, the surviving prisoners were not freed until 1783, when the British abandoned New York City. (A footnote: after the war, the British Commander in charge of the Prison Ships was brought up on war crimes charges and was subsequently hanged.)

In the years following the war the bones of the patriots would regularly wash up along the shores of Brooklyn and Long Island. These remains were collected by Brooklynites with the hopes of creating a permanent resting place for the remains of the brave Prison Ship Martyrs. In the early 1880's the first Martyrs Monument was erected on a triangular plot of land near the Brooklyn Navy Yard waterfront in what is now called Vinegar Hill.

By the 1840s, the original monument was in a state of disrepair and neglect. By 1873 a large stone crypt was constructed in the heart of what is now Fort Greene Park (then called Washington Park), and the bones were re-interred in the crypt. A small monument was erected on the hill above the crypt.

By the close of the 19th century, funds were finally raised for a grander more fitting monument for the Prison Ship Martyrs. The prestigious architectural firm of McKim. Meade and White was commissioned to design the large 148 ft. tower which stands today in the park. It was unveiled in 1908 with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by President-Elect Taft. The monument eventually fell into disrepair but has now been restored and was shown off to the public at yesterday’s dedication.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trip to Oregon

This fellow is to prove I've been in Oregon the past few days. Linda and I met in Portland airport on Wednesday and drove down to Mom and Dad's. We left Sunday, which was a great plan as we didn't have to worry about Portland rush hour traffic on the way back to the airport. Note to self: from now on I need to go in October, before the time change. Leaving just after the time change meant I was off 4 hours instead of 3 and was generally miserable the whole time due to jet lag. But we had a nice visit all the same.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trip to NYC

We spent most of yesterday in New York, going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to dinner at Beacon Restaurant and to Carnegie Hall to see a production of Bernstein's Mass.

We saw some nice Monet, and Van Gogh paintingsand of course much more. We especially enjoyed Jeff Koons' sculptures, made of stainless steel.
Then we found this fellow while walking to Carnegie Hall from the restaurant.The Mass was excellent, even if we were in the very last row of the balconey. That's all that was left when we got our tickets.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guess where

Yep. We spent today in Wildwood, NJ as part of our family birthday celebration. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Trip to Maine

The autumn colors we saw driving through the Adirondacks were spectacular. Too bad there wasn't sun to make them even brighter. The colors weren't nearly as far along as we got out of the mountains.
Our hotel in Auburn, Maine looked out over the falls on the Androscoggin River - seen here from the Lewiston side. There was a nice walk along the river and I did manage to find nearly all the quilting fabrics I was looking for.After W's meeting we headed to Boothbay Harbor. It was very windy and cold so kayaking was not an option. We decided to leave a day early and arrived home in NJ today.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Leaving the North Country

We leave camp tomorrow on our way to New Jersey, via Maine. Here is W saying goodbye to the lake. W has a conference in Auburn, ME for a few days and I've found a number of quilt shops in the area that should keep me busy while he is working. Then we are going to the Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor for a few days of R&R, arriving back in NJ on October 5th. The autumn colors here are spectacular, though gray and rainy weather means few photo opportunities. But the weather is supposed to clear tomorrow so the drive should be beautiful. We are going via Burlington, VT, which means a one hour ferry ride across Lake Champlain which should break up the drive.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kayaking from Raquette Lake to Blue Mountain Lake

On today's wayfarers paddle we finally completed the portion of the Raquette River from Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake. Though we reversed the route due to prevailing winds, starting at Raquette Lake village, going through the Marion River into Utowana and Eagle Lakes and then into Blue Mountain Lake with a carry into Utowana over the old railroad bed. Here is a view of Blue Mountain showing what a beautiful day it was for a paddle.
After the paddle we all (14 of us) went to Hemlock Hall for dinner. It was a wonderful day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ADK Fall Outing

We spent the weekend at the Adirondack Mountain Club fall outing, headquartered at the Wilmington KOA campground, where we stayed in a nice cabin. A group of about 100 ADK members from all over the state took part in organized hikes, paddles, bike rides throughout the weekend. On Friday we took a short paddle on Lake Everest, a wide section of the West Branch of the Ausable River near Wilmington. The paddle included maneuvering over 2 beaver dams which added to the excitement. We saw this osprey and the remains of his/her nest. Most of the nest plus some of its supporting branches were destroyed by the remnants of hurricane Ike that came through recently.
On Saturday we paddled the Ausable River from the bridge on Route 9 out to Lake Champlain via the northern route shown on the map. The lake was very windy, so we paddled into a quiet side channel and walked out to the lake. Someday when the wind isn't so strong we want to go back and paddle out one branch of the river and in the other, paddling the section of the lake in between.
On Sunday the weather wasn't nearly as nice, with low misty clouds. But we decided to go on a hike anyway. We climbed Cobble Hill, behind Northwoods School in Lake Placid. We are told there are usually nice views of Mirror Lake and Lake Placid from the top, but we saw very little. There is a nice rock scramble to get to the top that J would like. We'll have to take him there sometime, if we can find the path again. The entrance and exit (via a walk along Echo Lake) are off a private drive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rest In Peace

As part of today's paddle we stopped on Pine Island in Rollins Pond to spread Pop's ashes. W's mothers ashes were placed there too, many years ago. It is a place they both loved.

Kayaking the Rollins-Floodwood Loop

We woke this morning to a temperature of 40 degrees, meaning neat fog on the lake.It turned into a gorgeous day so we did one of our favorite kayak trips, the loop from the Rollins Pond boat launch. We stopped at Pine Island (see the next post), lunched on Slide Rock, then went through Floodwood Pond, down Fish Creek, and across Square Pond. We left the boat in a vacant campsite (we can only do this trip after the summer season is over) and walked the 1.25 miles back to pick up the car. We like this method because it avoids portages and gives us a chance to stretch our legs after the paddle.
We saw and heard loons and came across a "flotilla" of mergansers.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kayaking Summary

We're only going to be here 2 more weeks and we want to get in as many paddles as possible. Here is a summary of the paddles we've done this year and the list from last year to help in our planning.

Stony Creek
Hoel, Turtle, Slang Ponds
Long Pond
Floodwood-Rollins Loop
Middle Saranac Lake to Weller Pond
Raquette River - Moody boat launch to home
Middle Branch of St Regis River
Round Lake
Upper Osgood River
Oswegatchie River
Floodwood to Follensby Clear
Raquette River crusher to Lake Simon

Stony Creek
Upper Osgood River
Lower Osgood River
Bog River to Hitchens Pond
Little Tupper Lake
Deer River Flow
Raquette River - Carry Falls Res. to Jamestown Falls
Marion River from Raquette Lake
Lower Saranac Lake from Ampersand Bay
Middle to Lower Saranac Lake - one way
Raquette River upstream from crusher and back
Lower Tupper Lake
Round Lake
Lower Saranac Lake
Floodwood-Rollins loop

And here are some we haven't done yet:
Second Pond to Lake Flower - did this a while back and want to do it again
Henderson Lake
Lake Lila
Saranac River
Rock Island Bay on Tupper Lake to Bridge Brook Pond
Lower Long Lake
East Branch St Regis River

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kayaking Blue Mountain Lake

Today I joined a group from the Adirondack Museum and the Wild Center on a human and natural history exploration of beautiful Blue Mountain Lake. It was especially nice since I hadn't yet paddled on that lake. There was a group of 30 people, including our leaders, in a wide variety of boats.We made several stops, including the Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1885 and containing some beautiful windows, and the steamboat Tuscarora built in 1900 and awaiting restoration. The tour ended with a wonderful lunch at the Hedges .