Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another walk in the rain

Ben and I couldn't stay inside today, despite the rain, so we headed Newcomb, NY for a caching adventure. We were hunting for a cache hidden among the numberless trees and rocks and hills and ponds of the Santanoni Great Camp, a 12,500 acre tract of land that includes about 50 buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places that New York State acquired in the early 1990s.

Given the historical significance of Santanoni, it is only fitting that Ben was all about the puddles on our roughly 1.5 mile walk in to the be fair, there were some great puddles.

After our last expedition, he was also thinking about finding "sallies", salamanders, under logs and rocks, so we looked whenever he wasn't playing in a puddle. We didn't find one for the longest time, until we has almost reached the cache...and then we found a red eft.

Ben was fascinated with the eft's color, which was bright orange, and his skin, which was much more dry and like ours than the other amphibians we have found while geocaching. He wanted to bring the eft, which he named "D", home, but eventually agreed to find him a good spot in the woods near where we found him. We watched "D" climb through leaves and under sticks until he disappeared, and we went on to find the cache.

This geocache has been in place since early 2002, but is still in great shape, and Ben had fun choosing what to trade while I filled out the log book. We ended up taking a cool marble and a fishing bobber, and leaving a couple of geocoins. It was a very successful geocache hunt, despite the rain and some blackflies.

On the way back Ben noticed some huge footprints in the dirt, and after talking about them for a bit, we decided that they belonged to horses that take supplies and/or guides and tourists out to the great camp (4.7 miles from the parking lot is more than lots of people want to walk, and cars aren't allowed). We talked about how cool it would be to see the horses, but I didn't hold out much hope...until...

The wagon driver came around a curve, and slowed down to say hi to us. Ben loved the horses and the "leashes" the had on them. He almost lost his mind when the man asked us if we would like a ride back to the parking lot!

The above picture was a little blurred due to the bouncing and jouncing of the wagon, but captures Ben's glee perfectly anyway. I think the man felt sorry for us because it was raining and cold and we were dirty and miles from our car...little did he know that that was exactly our plan, and that we were having a ball...needless to say, we said nothing but "Thank You!", and enjoyed the ride.

The Santanoni parking lot is only a couple of miles from the little chunk of land that Gail and I bought last year, so we swung by to check on the progress that our driveway guy is need vision to imagine the driveway cutting through the woods, but it will be there soon, and we love the area around Newcomb, because it is rich with things like Santanoni and a Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) and the Adirondack Museum and a ton of hikes and boating trips that we've never done...our land will make a great weekend basecamp once its cleared and we can stay there.

On the way out to Long Lake for lunch, Ben and I stopped at the Newcomb Town Ski-hill (which is tiny, but should be fun for Ben to fool around on in years to come) to fill up our water bottles from the spring that all of the locals fill up from...its by the side of the road at the base of the ski-hill. I made such appreciative noises about the cold, fresh, and tasty water, that he wanted some. He swished it around in his mouth like a wine-taster, and kept taking sips and making "ahhhh" sounds until we got home.

On our way out of Newcomb, just opposite the VIC, is an ancient and beautiful cemetery. Ben and I stopped to check it out just as some extra-dense clouds got between us and the sun, and he told me it was the prettiest spooky place he had ever been (I had to agree).

We stopped for lunch, starving, at the Long Lake Diner, and had a super lunch, with Ben making friends with the customers and flirting with the waitresses. We had a table next to the long lunch bar, and Ben overheard some old-timers talking baseball...talking about this year's Yankees and ragging on the Red Sox...Ben interrupted their conversation with, "I like baseball", which they loved, but I quickly pulled Ben back into his grilled cheese lest he mention his Red Sox roots and cause a ruckus.

It was another crappy-weather-day that worked out much better than it probably should have...another nearly perfect day in the Adirondacks!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A walk in the rain

It was drizzling on and off this morning, but Ben and I decided to go out geocaching while Gail went to the Paul Smiths College graduation. One of the things that I love most about geocaching is that it takes me to places I have never been to before, and most likely would never have was that kind of day.

We drove out to the far side of Lake Clear, and parked near the entrance to the Girl Scout camp to find the first geocache. We found it in short order, and the prepared for the 1 mile hike to the next one. Ben hiked most of the way in, and some of the way back out on his own; the rest of the time he increased my cardiovascular workout by riding my shoulders.

We found a spotted salamander under a log, and from that point on Ben was looking and listening for wildlife the whole time. We heard and saw a pileated woodpecker, got yelled at by a red squirrel, matched our feet to deer prints, and discussed why the coyote poop we found had fur in it.

Under another log further down the trail, we found a tiny redback salamander that Ben also loved, and was wonderfully gentle with, even returning it to its original spot.

The trail to the geocache took us by a number of small ponds that can only be reached by hiking in on this trail, yet we saw some people fishing in a canoe that they must have portaged in on the same trail that we took...Meadow Pond is a gorgeous little pond that must have nice would have to in order for me to want to carry my boat in...

We eventually found the geocache, not too far from where we saw the fishermen; we signed the log, made our trades, and left a traveller in the cache as well. It was a fun hunt in the tangled woods, although the heavy tree cover scrambled my GPS signal a bit and had me looking for the cache container for a few minutes before finding it.

Before heading back, we sat down to drink some water from my hydration pack and snack on some cereal bars. Hiking with Ben is a little like hiking with a dog, he was so excited and curious that he covered tons more ground than I did (mostly looking for more salamanders). He was pretty wiped out on the way back, and mostly rode on my back in the rain that fell steadily (but not unpleasantly) on us the whole way back.

It was a great morning of geocaching, a great walk in the woods, and a great opportunity to visit with some wildlife. We had a great time, and will likely be back out to this pond-filled area later this spring or summer.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rainy Day Plans

We woke up this morning to hard rain and a forecast for more of the same for the whole day...this at we made the best of a yucky day.

We decided to head up to Plattsburgh to take care of some shopping. Plattsburgh is a fact of life for people living in the Northern Adirondacks; we simply don't have the resources needed in our small towns to get by. We left the house by 6:30(ish), and were enjoying breakfast at Friendly's by 8am.

After breakfast, we headed over to Lowes to look for a replacement for our ancient lawnmower. Ben wanted one of the John Deere riding mowers, but we ended up settling for a push-mower.

From Lowes, we went to Petco to pick up some Scooby-Snacks, which also allowed Ben a chance to check out the reptiles and birds and fish, which he loves.

The store manager enjoyed watching Ben run around the store talking to all of the animals so much that she took out one of the baby bearded dragons for Ben to pet, which had him giggling like crazy!

From the petstore, we then did some shopping with mommy for her upcoming trip to London and Scotland with La-La...after which we found our way to Borders to look for some books for mommy and Ben...we were, as always, successful...

Ben likes reading on his own as well as with his daddy.

As this entry is starting to sound like a multi-product endorsement, I won't tell you where we went for lunch, but suffice it to say that it is one of Ben's favorites...

After lunch, we shopped for groceries and then headed for home. Ben was sound asleep, as was mommy, within minutes of leaving P-burgh behind us.

The weather wasn't great, but we made the best of it, and the day turned out to be fantastic!!! I'll hope to have an outdoor-related for tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Computer Age Comes Early...

This morning when we all got 5:30am...Ben asked if he could use Mommy's computer to "do some work". While coffee and cocoa were brewing, we set things up and visited the Noggin website. Noggin is a TV channel that we watch with Ben that is (advertised and really) like preschool on TV and Online (without commercials or ads).

We explored the site, and Ben tried out a variety of educational games and art programs while we enjoyed a perfect sunrise and mugs of Zabar's coffee and hot strawberry "cocoa". His favorite was a matching game featuring Oobi, a character from a show on Noggin that he loves.

We were impressed that Ben had the coordination and patience and attention-span to explore the site and play the various games, but he did a great job!

This afternoon when I started posting this diary entry, Ben asked me if I was "playing Oobi"...

A Day in the Life...

As a teacher at Lake Placid Middle High School, I leave for work every morning around 6:30am. There are certainly times that I wish school started later, but I do have a beautiful and traffic-free drive to work.

Donnelly's Corners on 5/9/06...some mornings it takes my breath away...I've had to stop to let a flock (herd, pod, gaggle) of 40 turkeys cross the road in front of me.

On a back road I sometimes take, you can see the sunrise over this little pond...the island is almost entirely taken up by the birdhouse on it.

This is the view from the LPHS parking lot over some of the High Peaks.

I work in the building to the left of the Speed-Skating Oval where Eric Heiden won his 5 gold medals in the 1980 Olympics, up on the 3rd floor looking out over the oval and towards Whiteface. The building "above" the school is the Olympic Arena, where the USA hockey team won that famous game against the Russians...and we sometimes go skating during the winter with the kids from the middle school.

My classroom is the nicest in the building, having started out as the library when the school was originally built, it still has the beautiful wood panelling, and one of the best views in the building. I work with 6th and 12th graders every day, so I get to help kids on their way into and out of the building. I work with a wonderful group of teachers, and know most every student in the building by name.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Whatta Day!!!

As you can see from the map above, we live in a part of the Adirondack Park with almost as much water as land, so canoeing and kayaking are a big part of our lives when the water isn't covered with ice.

We woke up to a hard frost on everything this morning (26 degrees!!!). After breakfast and some house work, we decided to go geocaching...a paddle-cache on Lower Saranac Lake. We loaded the boats on the car and headed out. Gail and Ben paddled in Gail's kayak, and I followed along in my solo canoe.

We paddled a couple of miles down the lake to a tiny island which my GPS unit indicated the cache was hidden on...a short hunt later, we had found it.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the island, and then headed back up the lake to explore an island we had bypassed on our way to the cache.

Once we found the right island, and managed to get ashore with only me freezing in the 30-something degree water, we explored a bit before relaxing on a rocky slope...facing the sun, listening to the water and wind, and enjoying some lollipops.

Some days just work out I'm typing this, Ben is asleep next to me on the couch, he has pine needles in his hair, lollipop residue on his face, and a smile on his young and angelic face...even in sleep.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Springtime in the ADKs

Today was cloudy and rainy on and off, so we stayed in and watched the rain while we all cleaned and played games and watched a movie in front of (what I hope will be) the last woodstove fire until next fall.

I had a chunk of time, and set up this looking forward to adding to it as time goes by. At first I wasn't going to post for today, but the whole point of this is to post all sorts of stuff about living in the Adirondack Park in Northern NY...and this is one of the things we do. I'll try to post at least every week, more often when time and my activity level allows.

Thanks for stopping by...come back again!