BigWeather's Blog

August 7, 2011

Homeward bound

Filed under: Travel — Tags: — BigWeather @ 12:26 am

Note: I am writing this nearly two years later, I meant to come back to this and never did.

Woke up early and drove the long, fairly boring trip down I-95 and US-64 to home.  Pretty uneventful, including a lunch at Subway in Virginia if I recall correctly.  All in all a great trip.  We really enjoyed Ottawa and Quebec City, Niagara not as much because it is so touristy (but still a must see if you are in the area).  Fun Spot was memorable as was Fort Ticonderoga and getting to share Indian Lake and the Young’s cabin with the kids was very special.  My only regret was being sick but, looking back on four years of fantastic trips in the fall of 2013 I’ve got to say that we were pretty darn lucky that that was the worst to happen to us.

Eastern Canada Trip final route, July 2011

Route for August 7, 2011

August 6, 2011

History is out, huzzah is in

Filed under: Travel — Tags: — BigWeather @ 11:34 pm

Note: I am writing this nearly two years later, I meant to come back to this and never did.

We awoke and drove a short ways to the New York Renaissance Faire.  In the parking lot there was a pickup truck with New York rear plates and a Confederate flag for the front plate.  Oooookay.  Kinda odd.  The location itself was permanent similar to North Carolina’s near Charlotte and consisted of a lake and some other pretty neat areas.  Honestly, though, we favored the North Carolina faire.  Don’t know why, maybe it is because it is what we are used to.  Saw an act that used to show up in North Carolina, Dextre Tripp, and despite putting on a decent show he seemed pretty bitter about the North Carolina faire — I guess that is why he doesn’t show anymore.  Also I wasn’t feeling great and we were all sort of at odds — the end of the long vacations can get that way, sadly.

Entrance to the New York faire

Lake at the NY faire

One of the NY faire's lanes

Small mucky pond at the NY faire

The Blue Boar, a refreshment stand at the NY faire

Spooky lake at the NY faire

Reflections in the lake at the NY faire

NY faire jousting grounds

Actors on stage at the NY faire

We left mid-afternoon and headed through pretty northern New Jersey before hitting the New Jersey Turnpike on our way to our room in Northeast, Maryland.

Route for August 6, 2011

August 5, 2011

The best laid plans…

Filed under: Travel — Tags: — BigWeather @ 11:48 pm

Slept a bit better last night, apparently the *quil worked.  I was still feeling pretty bad, however, and didn’t roll out of bed until late morning.  Had some Poptarts out on the deck for breakfast and set out on a walk with Genetta and Addison down to the lake, by the lagoon and a guide boat, and then towards Super Point in search of some fungus.

Another view of the deck at Gray Rock

"The Cove" at the swimming hole, Indian Lake

Adirondack guide boat

At least I think it is fungus — I’ll just roll with that.  Anyhow, it grows on the trees and has a hard brownish exterior on the top but a soft white exterior on the bottom.  Using a branch, pencil, or some other stylus you can draw on the white side and once it dries it lasts a long time.  Like, at least 100 years.  Our cabin has several from 1909 all the way through to today, all perfectly readable.  It is a tradition to etch out a fungus and leave it on the mantle to mark the visit.

Fungus on the tree

Fungus from early Gray Rock, 1909, in the back, with newer ones in the front

Anyhow, we found some fungus — it wasn’t huge but it would do nicely.  We headed back to camp and showed the fungus to the Gotts, at which point I dropped it — on its good side.  Grrrr…   Took it back to the deck and wiped off the dirt.  I decided to use the scratches obtained from dropping it as the basis for a birch tree (my favorite type of tree, they just look so cool!) and got to work on it with a small twig.  Once the design and the text was finished all four of us signed it.  I then placed it on the mantle next to the one Michelle and I made on our last visit in 1994.

The finished fungus for our trip

My favorite type of tree, the birch

After a quick lunch Michelle and I decided it was probably best to wrap up Indian Lake a day earlier than planned.  I just wasn’t feeling well at all and getting back to North Carolina Sunday rather than Monday would get me to the doctor a day earlier.  We had also originally intended to see some historical sites in Philadelphia on Sunday (staying in Philly both Saturday and Sunday night) and scrapped that for a quicker visit to the New York Renaissance Faire in extreme southern New York on Saturday (meaning a shorter drive — only three hours — Friday evening and we could drive to Maryland for Saturday night, making for a more reasonable drive Sunday home).  Not what I had hoped would happen when planning the trip but sometimes you just have to roll with it I guess…

Having decided to leave we had some work to do!  First ran to the dump (or, more precisely, the transfer station) and dropped off what little garbage we had generated.  On return to camp we finished up packing, did sweeping, made sure everything was off, that sort of thing.  Definitely a sad moment, as always, leaving Gray Rock.

Jerry's Farm, snapped leaving Camp Sabael

We drove a bit to Warrensburg where we had to get some gas.  A guy noticed that our right front tire was rapidly going flat.  Ugh!  Finished fueling and inquired about where we could get that fixed as the gas station we were at did not have a garage / repair facility.  We were pointed a block down the street to the Getty station where the owner was moving all of his equipment and stack of tires for sale into the garage, locking up for the weekend.  Despite it being 5:30p (half an hour after closing) the guy stuck around and fixed it (turned out to be a minor puncture) and all for only $10+tax.  We were grateful and tipped him on the side — despite having AAA as backup it still could have been an annoying situation and we were lucky to avoid it.

Got some sweet tea and a quick snack at McDonalds and hit I-87, eventually stopping at a travel plaza and eating Roy Rogers for a proper dinner.  Well, “proper”, at least.  Oddly, we heard Rush’s “Fly by Night”, a song I rarely hear down here, two times during that drive.

I was starting to feel even worse as we pulled in to our hotel room at Fort Montgomery near West Point.  Man, there were some confusing roundabouts and such getting there!  The kids played DS, Michelle watched some LotR:The Two Towers, and I started to try and catch up on the blog now that we were back in a place with electricity.

Route for August 5, 2011

Another relaxing day at Gray Rock

Filed under: Travel — Tags: — BigWeather @ 11:46 pm

Note: This is the blog for Thursday, August 4.

Woke up at 8:30a (I know!), still feeling rather bad.  During breakfast I heard what sounded like the scream of jet engines.  Back in the 80s, if we were really lucky, the A-10 Warthogs would be practicing over the park.  One time a pair of them flew really close over the lake (though I think this has since been forbidden) — it really made an impression on my brother and I!  Suspecting the A-10s were practicing I grabbed the kids (though only Addison seemed really interested) and we went down to the lake for a look-see.  They were far, far higher than in the past and it was hard to determine if they were indeed A-10s (in fact, a web search reveals that this summer some UAV practice was being performed over the park as well — but these seemed far more maneuverable).  Anyhow, we enjoyed listening to them flying about and skipped rocks when it hit a lull.  Addison got some really great skips in once I got him to get his rock toss nearly parallel to the water’s surface.  Addison also played the timeless classic “hit a floating object in the water with a rock, and failing that, a handful of rocks” game.

View from rocky beach, looking south

We also saw the Gotts’ taking a few of their kids on the traditional cross-lake swim.  I wish we had known about that, I’d have loved to get Addison to participate.  Basically it is a camp rule that anybody wishing to take a boat out solo has to be able to swim the width of the lake (in event of capsize).  Why the whole width and not just half?  Because at water level, and particularly in a panic situation — like being dumped in cold water unexpectedly — it is pretty easy to guess incorrectly which shore is closest.  Being able to swim the entire width helps ensure that a poor guess isn’t fatal.  Usually a day is picked and all of the camp’s kids that want to participate do it together with at least two guide boats or canoes alongside.  The accompanying boats are not only to allow those that can’t complete the swim to climb aboard but also to make the pack of swimmers hard to miss by the power boaters on the lake.  The traditional target is Squaw Brook opposite the camp on the lake.  Greg and I did the swim in 1985 — I’ll never forget grandpa letting us each take out a boat shortly after by ourselves to cruise the lake.  Good times.

A Camp Sabael tradition -- the "swim across the lake" test

Addison and I returned to the cabin.  Michelle had just finished her Harry Dresden book, “Ghost Story”, which we had bought at Chapters in Ottawa.  Michelle and I ran into town, leaving Genetta and Addison to relax in the cabin with explicit directions to stay put.  It is nice having Genetta old enough to run things when needed!  We headed to Stephenson’s Lumber and bought some garden lime.  Ended up paying $10 more because he swore we gave him a $10 instead of a $20 and, you know what, it’s just not worth arguing sometimes.  Not like we (or he) could prove it.  Grumble.  Then went to the hardware store and learned we should ideally use dehydrated, not hyrdrated lime, but they had none and hadn’t been able to get it for a couple of years.  Sheeesh.  Well, it was all for privy odor control so it was good enough.  Better than nothing.

Returned to the cabin and ate blueberries, grapes, cookies, and chips.  I really missed eating ham or turkey and mayo sandwiches with grandpa out there on the deck.

View from Gray Rock's deck, with classic green Adirondack chair

Genetta, Addison, and I grabbed the bow and arrow and did some archery near the front of the camp on the old volleyball field (where only two posts remain).  We each took several shots at a stump, all of us scoring at least a hit.  Without a forearm guard, though, the kids would occasionally get hit with the string, leaving red.  Also some of the arrows weren’t in great shape — not surprising as Greg and I abused them back in the 80s.  Whooops.  We’d have to rectify that!

Michelle, Addison, and I headed down for another swim (plus a “bath” — using biodegradable soap to try and clean off some).  Addison did some great jumps — cannonballs and 360 twists.  We had fun and swam a bit but the waves from the power boats got to be a bit much so we got out and went in to town for shopping and eating.

View from rocky beach, looking north

We first went to the Lake Store, a delightful store on the western shore of the lake.  It is accessible not only via I-30 south of Indian Lake but also by boats by way of docks in the rear.  They have a wide variety of goods — camp supplies, groceries, reading material, tourist stuff, and even an ice cream / soda counter.  We bought our requisite magnet and the kids each got a bottled Coke.

Lake Abanakee, just north of Indian Lake, resulting from dammed Indian River

The Lake Store folks recommended that we visit Pumpkin Mountain Gun Store for archery supplies so we headed out on 28 towards Blue Mountain Lake.  We got there shortly before close and were able to get a forearm guard, finger glove, and eight arrows to improve the state of the archery gear at Gray Rock.  The owners were very polite and friendly.  Headed back to Indian Lake to the hardware store for a bucket and lid to put the lime we overpaid for (ok, ok, letting it go…) earlier into.  While Michelle got some medicine for me (yay *quil!) at the gas station the kids and I got our name on the list for Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern, the place where we ate on Tuesday.  It was good then so we figured “why not?”  This time I had the pig dip that Michelle had on Tuesday and it was awesome.  They really nailed eastern NC BBQ sauce with their “Carolina Piedmont” sauce.  Turns out the lady that runs the place used to live in Florida and on her drives up to New York would stop at a place off of I-95 for BBQ in NC — that explains that!  Michelle had a salad, Genetta fettuccine alfredo, and Addison wings.

"Downtown" Indian Lake

That same lady also told us where moose had been seen but she claimed that almost all of them were in the morning.  Crap, well there goes that idea!  Nonetheless we rode up to the transfer station at dusk near the swampy terrain and also back out a distance along Cedar River hoping to find a moose.  No luck, of course!

Went back to the camp for some reading and recreation by gaslight.  One of the things we always did as a kid was listen to grandpa read from a book about the Adirondacks.  Sometimes it was pioneer stories, sometimes natural history, even ghost stories.  I looked around and didn’t see any of  those books but did find a book by my favorite President, Theodore Roosevelt, called “Big Game Hunting in the Rockies and on the Great Plains” from 1899.  Yeah, you find stuff like that all around the cabin — amazing to run across something like that (as well as some old AMC plastic model car kits from the early 60s that my dad and Uncle Geof had).  I read just the introduction aloud, my voice as pale imitation of grandpa’s great reading voice in ideal circumstances but as I was sick it wasn’t even close…  It is amazing what a great writer ol’ TR was — in the introduction he waxed philosophical about the disappearance of the frontier in the final two decades of the 19th century.  It is weird reading a missive from a bygone era about an even more bygone era.  Kind of like playing Red Dead Redemption in a way, where the main character reflects on what has been lost from the frontier days in his modern era of the first decade of the 1900s.

Played a bit of WAR! (the card game) with Addison then blackjack with Addison and Genetta.  Genetta then headed to bed while Michelle, Addison, and I went out to the deck to watch the stars and talk of the current vacation as well as previous ones.  I saw a shooting star but, sadly, we were a bit short of peak for the Perseids.  When my brother and I were younger we happened to hit the Perseid peak dead on and had a new moon.  We went down to the lake shore with flash lights and lay on the diving board until the wee hours of the morning agog at the hundreds of shooting stars that night.  After a while we turned in for bed.

Too far north of the border for good Mexican food

Filed under: Travel — Tags: — BigWeather @ 11:46 pm

Note: This is the blog for Wednesday, August 3.

Had a pretty good night’s sleep and woke after 10a — something I never got away with when I was a kid up at Indian Lake.  Ate some of the crumble cake we bought in Vermont the day before for breakfast then grabbed Addison for a walk up Jerry’s Rock.

Jerry’s Rock is a ledge to the north of the road entering camp that looks over the farm from which Camp Sabael’s fifty acres was bought back in the late 1800s.  It is a very brief climb entered via the adjacent camp through some woods, emerging onto the ridge.  The trail isn’t nearly as clear as it used to be and we strayed a few times but it’s pretty darn hard to get lost on such a short walk.

Trail up to Jerry's Rock

The ridge is rocky with gray lichen and wild blueberry bushes scattered about.  When we were kids my brother and I would dream of harvesting the lichen (we didn’t, though, calm down Al Gore!) and using it to construct our train set’s woods.  The view was once quite good — affording views of the farm’s house, a pond (appropriately enough called “Jerry’s Pond”) and the mountains beyond — is not what it once was.  Not that that is a bad thing, as it means that the woods have matured and obscured much of it, but it does explain the trail not being used as much as it once was.  Regardless, Addison and I really enjoyed wandering along the ridge, taking care to step on rock and less on the plants, so as to preserve it for future visitors.  Everything seemed a bit dry and Addison decided to give this really neat pine sapling a bit of water from his water bottle.  We also saw quite a bit of deer poop and other evidence of wildlife — including lots of biting insects, grrrr.

View from Jerry's Rock

Old barn near entrance to Camp Sabael

We walked back to camp and swung by the flagpole cliff, running into some of the Gotts.  They nicely invited us to row out to Baldface for a lunch-time climb but we politely declined.  Addison was itching to swim before lunch and I knew that Genetta wasn’t feeling so great so couldn’t go with us.  Plus I was feeling a bit under the weather with my chest cold / coughing thang.

View from Flagpole Point

Shortly after Addison and I went for our first swim in the lake since arriving.  The “diving board” wasn’t set up so Addison and I tried to drag it into position.  It was a bit too heavy for him, and far too heavy for me alone, so I decided to try just jumping off the ledge that the diving board normally inhabited.  The water is quite deep at this point as the rocks go vertical into the lake about 10′ before evening out.  I touched bottom, only barely, so decided it was safe for Addison and I.  In addition to diving we swam down to the “cove”, an area where the rocks form a horseshoe shape and the sandy floor is only about four or five feet deep.  We relaxed and played with the waves left by the infrequent passing motorboat.  Addison was at first freaked out about the “nibblers” — the tiny (1″ to about 3″) rock bass that have been nipping at swimmers’ toes for decades — but soon grew accustomed to them.

We returned to camp for lunch on the deck with Michelle and Genetta.  We had fruit (blueberries, mainly), cookies (Chips Ahoy!), and some chips, along with water to drink.  Nothing elaborate, as we were doing our best to not have to deal with cooking, refrigeration, or dishes.

One of the fireplace mantles at Gray Rock

Right after lunch Addison, Michelle, and I went back down to the lake to swim.  Michelle found the lake a bit cold at first (and it is, but it doesn’t take long to get used to) and Addison was amazed at how sharp the cut-off between pretty warm water about a foot or so down and cold water further down was.  It being a deep glacial lake it definitely never warms up very far from the surface.  Michelle retold several stories she had read the night before to Addison while we relaxed and enjoyed the telling.  Addison, in a moment of … heck, I don’t know what … decided to toss his goggles into the water and swim to them — before he had tested if they actually floated.  They disappeared.  Luckily, however, he did find them very slowly sinking a few minutes later.  Whew!

After swimming we got ready to go out for dinner.  We tried Marty’s Chili Nights, a “Mexican” restaurant in town.  It wasn’t that great.  The server was very nice, though, and in retrospect I don’t know why I expected anything from the place.  To say that there are precious few of Hispanic origin in upstate New York is an understatement.  I don’t think the proprietors had the frame of reference, experience, or whatever required to make tasty Mexican food.  And it wasn’t cheap.  Oh well, partly our bad, I suppose.

We chased the taste out of our mouths by going to Ice Cream Garden a short walk away.  It wasn’t bad at all.  I had “The Adirondack” — maple sugar, cream, maple syrup on top of a choice of ice cream — in this case coffee with fudge.  I know, sounds disgusting, but I liked it.  Genetta had an enormous banana split (and ate about 25%), Addison a coffee milkshake (that’s mah boy!), and Michelle a chocolate sundae.

Drove around looking for the dump as we’d need it when we leave the cabin for good.  The area we were driving through was swampy and it was dusk so I hoped beyond hope that we’d see moose.  No such luck.  Returned to the cabin, Genetta turning in for the night (still not feeling great), while Addison and I played one of his DS games and Michelle read.

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