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.