I Love NY

Meanwhile Back at the countdown of the states…

Yes! New York State, not the city although I have been to New York City several times.

I have to check off New York State because that’s where I grew up. The old homestead is right in the heart of the Adirondacks.

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When I was growing up the town of Bolton was a little place with only one stop light. We joked that there were more bars than churches and for a little town we had a lot of churches, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist.

Our school wasn’t a one room but it was a one building, kindergarten through 12. The size of my class changed a little through the years but most of the folks I graduated with had been in my class from the day I started in kindergarten. Final count of graduates…27.

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I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I moved to Massachusetts as an adult. I grew up in the country and I had a horse. Why would I want to pedal up and down those hills when my horse could do the work?

We also had cows and pigs, sheep and goats and chickens as well as my horse. I learned to feed the animals, groom them and muck out stalls. In the fall we butchered some of the animals and my father, and eventually my brothers, went hunting for deer. We all loved venison. Once Lake George froze over we had lake perch to eat. Ice fishing was popular and to this day yellow perch is a favorite dish.

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We went tubing on the Schroon River before tubing was popular.

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We cut the tall grass in the field…haying we called it….first with teams of draft horses and then later with a tractor. We loaded the hay into wagons with pitchforks.

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We didn’t sit inside watching TV. We went outside to play and roamed the fields and woods using our imaginations to avoid the “Indians” or search for “fairy rings “.

I rode the Ticonderoga and the Mini Ha Ha, cruise ships on beautiful Lake George.

august 063I worked with the photographer for the Sagamore  Hotel where I witnessed elaborate dinners and dance lessons on the portico.

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Eventually I had to grow up (as much as I ever have…I have a strong streak of Peter Pan Syndrome) and headed to Albany, NY to attend college at SUNY Albany. That was at the end of the 60’s and beginning of the 70’s. The “Free Love” Movement and Hippies predominated. Then the Kent State tragedy cast a pall over the riotous college atmosphere and I headed back to the country.

My visits to New York City have been short. It isn’t my favorite place. I’ve been to stage shows on Broadway and stood in Times Square. I’ve been in Grand Central Station and some of the museums but most of the time my trips are quick hits…run in, do what I must, leave.

Heading off to the west I’ve made it to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I’ve been there twice but it was many years ago. I’d like to go back again.

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Recently I was at a travel show and met a group of travel agents pushing Lake George. I picked up the brochures and by the time I finished reading them I was ready to take my next vacation right back where I grew up.

Glens Falls hosts a Balloon Festival every Fall. I went in 2012.

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Missed it this year but am planning for 2014. I haven’t even touched on all there is to do. New York is a big state. There’s a wine section in the Finger Lakes Region and caves to explore.

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The “I love NY ” slogan is very fitting. If you go, you’ll love it too.

2 for 2

Since it’s Sunday I thought I’d take a break from the Alaska story to brag a little bit. While we were in Alaska and unable to obtain a copy of the Boston Sunday Globe, another of my pictures got published. It was the Sunday May 19th issue. The picture appeared in the travel section under the feature called The Sight. That is the 2nd picture they have accepted. I managed to get some back issues so here it is.

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Just had to share the news 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll start telling you about Skagway.

Moonglow and Fireworks

Traffic is crawling, stop and go,stop and go.  Ahead we can see 3 enormous balloons bobbing and weaving. Sometimes they wink out. Sometimes they look like they are about to fall over before we hear the whoosh and see them stand tall again. It seems like we aren’t making much progress. Street parking is out of the question. When we spot a place without a car it’s because there’s a pile of dirt or a boulder blocking the spot.

Pedestrians crossed  freely in front of the crawling line of traffic. Inside I was holding my breath waiting for my sister to tell me this was ridiculous.

We’d been at the airport until about 6pm but the wind never died down enough for the hot air balloons to take off. When we left they were just spread out like lovely colored bed spreads.

Our mistake was not coming straight up to Lake George. We detoured over to George and Kelly’s house. We were just going to make a quick stop. As usually happens when you connect with relatives, especially some you don’t see often, you get to visiting and our quick stop turned into 30-40 minutes…just like that! Not that I’m complaining. I enjoyed the visit too.

A half hour drive to Lake George and it was already 7:30. Moonglow was at 8pm according to the published schedule. But if 8pm was the start time, what were we slowly approaching?

Finally we passed the park and the balloons and found a rough parking lot. $6.00 to park . Grabbing camera, tripod and folding chairs we headed back in the direction we’d just come along with a steady stream of others anxious to see the brightly lit balloons.

To my surprise we easily  got in the front row with plenty of room even with the crowd! I set up as fast as I could in the dark. It was hard to judge where the balloons were in the frame when the lights went out but I did the best I could. A little girl with a glow stick was running around near us. I was pretty sure she was in the frame on some of the pictures but it was hard to tell. I wasn’t going to tell her to stop. She was having way too much fun!

Blue Light Trails from Glow Stick

The balloons were tethered so other than the lights there wasn’t much to see. At about 8pm one of the balloons suddenly began deflating. Then the others began to follow.  The show was over! We can only assume there was a misprint on the schedule because it definitely said it was to start at 8..not end. Oh well, at least we got to see a bit of the “Moon glow”.

We headed back to the car to try to beat the rush. I wanted a couple of “night shots” of the lights from the shore reflecting in the lake before we left. When we were almost back to the parking lot I set the tripod back up and began to focus when BANG! the fireworks started.

We stood there on the sidewalk and watched the display of lights fly up into the sky over the lake.

It was a great way to finish up the night. We hustled off to the car before the finale because we just knew the traffic would be bad if we waited. Even with the head start it was still bumper to bumper and “dodge ’em” with the pedestrians. Still I’m really glad we made the effort to go. It was  beautiful.

Saturday night they want to have a 40 balloon “Moonglow” at the Warren County Airport. I bet that will really be something to see.

Beautiful Lake George, NY

Early fall in the Adirondacks is always lovely. Nights are cool and crisp but days are comfortable and often breezy. As fall progresses you get treated to magnificent colors from the yellows and brown of the birches to the deep reds of the sugar maples. Fall in the mountains is a feast for the eyes.

It was still a little early for the bright colors but here and there a touch of color spoke of the promise of things to come.

I started the morning sitting on my sister’s porch watching the yellow finches and little brown sparrows fight for the seed in the feeders. Sandy was doing her morning walk. I was hoping to get a glimpse of her cardinal but he was nowhere to be found this morning.

When Sandy returned I suggested a drive up to Prospect Mountain and then a quick run over to find the Battlefield Park in Lake George where the “Moon glow” exhibition was scheduled for 8 pm. WE’d have to hustle to make it  after the 5 pm launch at the Warren County Airport. I wasn’t expecting to be chauffeured around. I’m used to being on my own but Sandy offered and I was glad for the company and a treat not to be doing the driving.

It doesn’t take that long to reach Prospect Mountain. There is a fee to go up the mountain but it includes parking at the top and the shuttle to the summit.

There are 3 Lookouts or scenic views. We stopped at all of them.

At the top we parked and took the shuttle the rest of the way.

At one time there was  a cable car that brought visitors to the summit where a hotel offering great  views, dining and dancing was the draw. The Prospect Mountain House eventually burned down but parts of the foundation can still be seen.

The views of Lake George are fantastic and on a clear day you can see for 100 miles to the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We had a bit of haze but it was still breathtaking.

A little after noon we headed back down the mountain to find Battlefield Park. There was a lot of roadwork going on with lanes blocked and heavy equipment scattered all over.  Even with that distraction we located the park but it was clear that  parking would be at a premium especially with all the torn up shoulders and boulders from the work in the way.

That out of the way we headed back toward the airport to see the vendors and find a place to watch the balloons launch at 5pm. A brief stop at Friendly’s for lunch and we were on our way.

My Mom had been sending me clippings about the Balloon Festival and in one of them I’d seen a mention of a parking pass for $15.00 for the weekend. Sandy had gone on a quest for information and in the process  bought one for us. What a difference that made! We had separate access to the parking areas so there were no lines, no waiting. It was definitely worth the investment. As we wandered through the vendor tents we could see the traffic from the non parking pass folks just crawling its way toward the airport.

It was really windy at the airport. We saw  quite a few “Chase groups” huddled around. It was questionable if they would be able to launch in the wind.  The day was warm and sunny, the only draw back was the wind and it was gusty.

We explored the tents and booths of the vendors and then headed to the field where we made ourselves at home on the ground..note for next time: bring folding lawn chairs!

As 5pm came and went we watched the balloons rolled out and propane set up but no effort was made to actually fill any balloons.

Little test balloons were sent up periodically and they took off like a rocket. Kites were flying and everyone seemed to be having a good time except the balloonists. Finally around 6pm we headed back to the car. Time to head back to Lake George for the “Moonglow”.

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Maybe we’ll have better luck there because those balloons are tethered.

Lake George, NY

I think I mentioned that I saw the booth for Lake George at the AAA Marketplace and even when I told them I was from the area, they pressed the brochures and materials into my hands. I wouldn’t want their gift to go to waste so I decided to go through the information and see what I thought of the area if I looked at it through a tourist’s eyes. By the time I finished I was ready to book my next vacation in the Adirondacks!

Let me go over some of the points that caught my attention and that would make me plan a vacation in my old stomping grounds.

First of all, Lake George is beautiful no matter what time of year you go. Having spent approximately 1/3 of my life in the area I can attest to that. So the first thing the brochures addressed was the lake. 32 miles long it is always sparkling, clear and clean , a spring -fed lake. In the summer cruise boats ply the lake. In the winter there’s ice skating and ice fishing and a Winter Carnival.

When I was growing up the Ticonderoga was the largest boat and sailed the whole length of the lake. As I recall it was a full day trip. The Mohican was a smaller boat and only cruised the southern portion from the piers in Lake George Village to just north of Bolton Landing, stopping at the Sagamore/ Green Island after it’s turn around. That’s certainly changed. The original “Ti “ & Mohican have long since retired but there are new boats including a paddlewheeler. The last I knew the Mohican II, listed on the National Register of Historic Places ,was still conducting narrated tours along the shoreline.

One of the things that I don’t remember doing as a “kid” is white water rafting on the Hudson River. That and slow-tubing or lazy river tubing are new offerings, or at least new to me…not that I never went “tubing”. I seem to remember “tubing” on the Schroon River and Trout Lake. We always seemed to have a big old patched inner tube around somewhere. Now there are commercial Tubing companies Like Adirondack Tubing Adventures and Tubby Tubes.

Another attraction that sounds familiar but I can’t picture is Natural Stone Bridge and Caves. Located in neighboring Pottersville. The brochure describes it as ranging from easy walking tours to challenging cave crawls. I would definitely go there again. I’m sure I went as a child but like I said, I just can’t visualize it. Be nice to refresh my childhood memory or see it through adult eyes.

The Hot Air Balloon Festival in September is something that is has been added since I lived in the area. It’s been over 30 years since I lived there so I would expect that things would change! Now, I am not a “ballooner”, I’ve never been up in one but I would love to attend this event just for the opportunities to take pictures of the colorful balloons.

History buffs or maybe even ghost hunters can’t skip the forts. There are forts everywhere in the area. The Syfi channel’s Ghost Hunters Series has even done a couple of shows there. One in Fort Ticonderoga and I believe one in Fort William Henry. In fact there’s a tour called Spirits of History Ghost Tours that runs from Memorial Day to Mid-October. Even Fort Edward on the Hudson River get’s into the act. There you can find the Old Fort House Museum, one of the oldest frame buildings in upstate New York.

There are trails and mountains everywhere for the hikers or if you prefer the water sports, boating, water skiing, freshwater scuba diving, para-sailing or just hanging on the Million Dollar Beach at the end of the lake. If you do decide to hike, be sure to summit Prospect Mountain. Not a hiker? No problem as you can reach the top by taking a 10 minute drive up the Prospect Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Highway. Once on top you can experience the 100-mile-view of the surrounding mountains.

The Great Escape was called Storytown when I was a kid but it’s grown up and now is a Six-Flags Theme Park.

And the places to stay…well, everything from rustic campgrounds to RV parks to cabins or motels to a hotel on an island reminiscent of the great hotels of the 50’s & 60’s like was featured in the movie “Dirty Dancing”. I worked with the photographer at the Sagamore as a teenager. I remember them announcing cha cha lessons on the veranda! I know there have been many renovations done to the Sagamore but I expect it is still the showcase Hotel on the Lake.

I mustn’t forget to mention that Lake George becomes the motorcycle capital of the east for a weekend every summer when the Americade, the world’s largest motorcycle rally, comes to town.

 There’s so much more I could tell you about the area but I think you might enjoy finding out for yourself.