Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter and Geocaching

Easter came early to Lake Clear...


We were happy to see that the Easter Bunny had made his rounds, and were well started hunting for eggs by a bit after 6am...


...were enjoying the fruits of Ben's efforts not much later...


...and were done with the hunt by quarter to seven...


We then got back into bed to watch a bit of "Lion King 2: Simba's Pride", an Easter tradition we're starting this year...


A while later, we got up and Ben requested special eggs, in the form of "toad in the hole", a trick of mine that Ben enjoys...


He cleaned his plate in short order, and even ate one of the "oatmeal bread cookies" that are a byproduct of the manufacturing process...


Another new tradition we've added this year was an Easter coconut...I don't know where the demonic grin came from, but Ben liked the process much more than coconut milk it yielded...why the coconut was in one of my bureau drawers to begin with is a whole different story that we won't get into here...


We next headed out to do some geocaching in the Lake Placid area...we were stunned by the fact that even though it was a beautiful day (clear blue sky to the horizons, 20 degrees, not much wind), there wasn't anybody out on the trails except for us...


We grabbed one of the maps of the Peninsula Trails area, to help us figure out how to get from the parking area out to the geocache...we took different trails going out and coming back so that we could see as much of the trail system as possible...Ben is getting really good at helping me with map-reading...


In the clearings I was able to read 9 satellites on my GPS, which ended up getting us within a couple of feet from the geocache...


We also stopped numerous times along the way to read the interpretive signage about the flora and fauna to be found along the trails in these spectacular woods...


Ben got a kick out of sitting on this mostly buried bench...


Believe it or not, the above is a picture of a picnic table in a large clearing...yes, the snow really is that deep...


I saw this cool fungus on a dead birch tree, and wanted to record all of its colors and textures...


We went out a ways onto Lake Placid (not Mirror Lake, which is the lake that the village of Lake Placid adjoins) and could hear the lake-ice shifting and booming...I wasn't worried, because on the way over I saw some fishermen with their trucks parked on the ice, but it gave Ben a chance to feel adventurous...


He then took off running ahead of me down the trail, following the map and my GPS towards the geocache...


It was a lovely day, and we had a great time enjoying the walk...


We got to the dam and bridge that the geocache is near, and Ben went across in front of me...it was slippery from frozen spray from the spillway, so we took it slow and I was glad to be across...


We found the geocache in short order, did our signing/trading, and headed back out to the car...we went to lunch in town, enjoying a McDonald's lunch in front of the fireplace in the LP McD's before heading out to the next geocache...


We started out from a parking area, and took a wrong trail at first and had to double back...when we found our way back into the woods, it was without benefit of a trail, but the GPS was more than enough to show us the way...unfortunately, when we got close, there was a steep hill and a river to cross between us and the geocache...

We slid down the hill together, but the river crossing seemed a bit more than I wanted Ben to try in the winter...he waited on the shore of the pond outlet while I leapt across the gorge like Carl Lewis...


It was beautiful and sunny on my side of the pond/river (Little Cherrypatch Pond is really just a wide spot in a river on its way to the Ausable river), but Ben assured me that he was warm, and that he wanted me to find the geocache...he played with sticks and rocks and pine cones and sang the whole time I was, incredibly unsuccessfully, looking for the geocache...

I didn't find it, even after 20 minutes of looking, mine were the only tracks in the area (not counting the numerous animal tracks like in the picture above), and the snow was drifted high and frozen hard all over the place, so the geocache may in fact be there, but we'll have to come back in the spring to find it...

It was fun anyway, Ben and I had a great time exploring the woods, and, as always, enjoyed finding our way to new places thanks to geocaching...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jewel had her babies!!!

I was away part of the weekend, but got a call from Gail announcing the Jewel (see previous post) had started giving birth...and then later that she had given birth to 11 healthy chocolate puppies...7 males and 4 females...


We got pictures from the breeder last night, and I thought that I would pass one of them along...Jewel looks tired but happy...we're very excited!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A new puppy!!!

Nope...not yet, but Gail and I drove up North of Malone (closer to Canada than Malone) to visit with the mother of Ben's future puppy today...we were checking her out to see if she passed muster, and she definitely did...Jewel's a beautiful chocolate Labrador retriever with a delightfully square head and body who will be giving birth to her 3rd litter of puppies this coming Monday...



She welcomed us into her home and spent the entire visit giving us kisses, leaning against us, and sitting on my foot, while we talked with her owners about the puppies that would be coming on St. Patrick's Day...


She's a sweet and earnest girl that is not in the least bit pointy or hound-esque...


We have dibs on the female pick of the litter, she has had litters of 9 and 12 puppies before, and since she was bred to another chocolate, she'll probably have all (or almost all) chocolates...


Although this picture isn't perfect it does give you a look at 2 more generations of the same line...the chocolate, Isabella, is her daughter (yes daughter, we were surprised too) by the same father, so she will be sisters with Ben's puppy...the yellow is Jewel's granddaughter, Ruby...


Isabella is also beautiful and square and taller than Jewel, which would indicate that Buddy, the father of both Isabella and Ben's pup, is more of an American Labrador...Jewel is more along the lines of the short and stout English Labrador...

We are obviously quite excited and very impressed with Jewel and her daughter Isabella, and Gail is excitedly (maybe beyond excitedly...down towards excitedly's neighbor obsessively) listing and organizing names for the puppy, even though the choice will be Ben's...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Weekend in Cornwall

We drove down to Connecticut to visit with my parents and sister for the weekend...it was a great time, and we avoided some horrible weather up in Lake Clear...

We got there in time for a late supper on Friday night, and then a story from Muz before it was bedtime...

The next morning Ben and Muz played Go Fish while the rest of us enjoyed coffee and watching the rain out the windows...

Saturday afternoon Gail and Anti-Sarah and I went out to the movies and dinner (mostly drinks and appetizers, but fun nonetheless) while Muz and D and Ben went out for supper at a Benihana-type place where a chef came to the table and threw food and knives all over the place...everyone had a great time...when we got home we grabbed snacks and bourbon and a little cheagle and watched Blade 3...


Sunday the weather was wonderful, if a little cold, and Ben helped D with some chores outside...


After the "at-home" chores were done, they headed out to do a dump run, grab the paper, and do some minor shopping...you can see Ben in the back with Tucker, a tiny dog from the neighbor's house, riding on his lap...


When they got back from the dump, Ben and I ran around outside with the dogs looking at the downed branches everywhere, and the new rivers formed by the incredible amounts of rain the day before...


Gail got in a sweet nap in the Sunday morning, post coffee, Ben outside, silence...I really like the cold blue light on her in this picture, and couch-naps beat naps in a bed any day of the week...especially on a Sunday...


Cedar tried to take a nap, but the comings and goings stopped him from catching any quality Zs...

Anti-Sarah totally got busted loving up Tucker on the couch...

It was a wonderful weekend, even though Ben wasn't feeling his best, and we can't wait to get down to NYC in a couple of weeks to see them again...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Playdate

Ben's friend Brennan came over for a playdate today from about 10-3...the guys started out playing inside, had lunch, and then went outside for a marathon exploration of our woods, which are blanketed in a lot of snow...


Ben showed Brennan some of his favorite spots in the woods around our house...it seemed like they always chose the tougher way to get anywhere, or do anything...


The had a fun time climbing a particularly branch-y pine tree...


It was a little awkward with their heavy winter-clothes and gloves, but the boys did a great job...


After the tree-climbing, we headed back into the deep woods, and deep snow, to check out the cabin in our backwoods...the snow went from pretty shallow (in the picture above)...

...to pretty deep, even deeper than in the picture above...there were some spots on our walk that one of the boys or I would punch through the snow covering a short tree and shoot down a couple of feet...it was sometimes tough climbing out...


We got back to the cabin, and spent a couple of minutes inside, warming up and drying off after our lengthy slog through the snow...the cabin isn't heated, but out of the wind felt warmer...


From the cabin we could see a huge pine-tree that a winter storm had knocked over, and the boys wanted to explore the cavern made by the root-ball...they pretended that they were making a shelter from the winter elements, and talked about finding food (rabbits and pine-needle tea) and making fire (they gathered twigs and picked out a place to make the fire to keep warm)...


Cedar followed us around most of the time that we were out in the woods, checking in with us every couple of minutes no matter how deep into the woods we went, even when the snow was deeper than his legs are long...he's such a great dog...he's sleeping on the couch now, dead to the world...


The boys found another use for their hunting spears on the slog back through the snow towards our house, poking the blisters in the bark of the balsam trees for the wonderfully aromatic sap...it smells wonderful and clean and Adirondack-y...we all ended up with sticky noses from sharing sniffs of the stuff a little too closely...


I showed them the ancient trick of bumping a snow-filled tree to dump the load on unsuspecting innocents (although I did ask them before the first time, I swear)...they couldn't get enough of it, and ended up tackling trees all the way back up to the house, and trying (mostly successfully) to trick me (and each other) into lingering under loaded trees for them to dump on all of us...


When we got back to the house, we had a hot cocoa and popcorn picnic on the tailgate of my Element, and then the boys played on our ginormous snow-plow mountains until Brennan's mother came to pick him up...

It was a super playdate, and we will certainly be seeing Brennan again soon (well...tomorrow for Kindergarten, but you know what I mean)...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March Saturday

Yesterday morning was -29 degrees, but today was comfortably in the 20s (above), so after hanging around a bit in the morning, we went over to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake...


Before we went, I fed the geckos in Ben's room 250 crickets (I take the farm's word for it, rather than count them, but it looked like 250)...the white powder is a vitamin mix that we shake and bake on the crickets before feeding them to the geckos...


The geckos ("Big Guy" and 4 female geckos named "Allie") love hunting the crickets, and burn through them incredibly quickly...I've had these guys for 7-8 years, and they thrive on neglect...after Katrina destroyed my cricket connection, they happily waited 2 months between meals...


We got to the Wild Center just in time to catch a cool presentation on owls...


At the end of the presentation, they had 2 owls (that live at the museum, in rehab) to show people...the one in the picture above is a saw-whet owl...


The one pictured above is a screech owl...


The audio portion of the owl presentation didn't work, and the 2 owls above refused to make any noise while we were there, but the Wild Center has a cool computer system that allows you to play/compare tons of animal sounds, including the 2 species that we met up above...

Ben found a cool owl puppet in one of the drawers in a hands-on room, and played with it for a while...it had a head that swiveled 270 degrees in each direction, just like real owls...

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We found this cool turtle swimming in the pond habitat display...Ben loved watching him swim back and forth...I kept thinking about that dysfunctional polar bear in the NY Central Park Zoo, but find myself not feeling as bad for a turtle as for the bear...


The Wild Center has a bunch of centers set up all around the museum that have really cool handheld microscope-cameras...Ben loves playing with them, sometimes in non-traditional ways...in the picture above, you can see an intense close-up of a part of his eye...

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The otters were in rare form today, playing and biting with each other nonstop...


After a nice lunch in the cafeteria, we borrowed 2 pairs of the Museum's snowshoes, and went out exploring the snowy world beyond the warmth inside the Wild Center...

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Ben did a great job, once he got used to keeping his feet a little bit apart...he got going fast enough to kick snow all the way up his back at times...


We were the first people out on the trails since the new snow had fallen, so some spots were deeper than others, but all of it was fun...some of the time I broke trail, some of the time it was Ben...

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At the end of the snowshoe adventure, on our way back to the Wild Center, Ben said that he wanted to take a break and sit on one of the benches...he thought that the above was a hilariously funny joke...

We had a great time at the museum, as always, and stopped at Shaheen's Market on the way home, for a quick shop, including the best steaks in the North Country...