Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It looks like our summer boating and kayaking is pretty much done for the season. The wind is blowing and the leaves are changing, with some even starting to fall. Now it is time to get back to our projects.

First on the list is tree removal. I guess you could call it the quick way for the leaves to come down! Dave, Karl, Chris, Suzanne, and I became lumberjacks on Sunday, with the goal being to cut down several oak trees that were hanging over our large storage shed out back.

Dave and Karl have been cutting down trees together for many years and(usually) have their method down pat. Dave climbs up the tree and puts a rope around it to tie off to the tractor, or in this case to Hercules. Then another cable and come-along are attached to another tree as a safety line so the falling tree goes in the right direction. As Karl chainsaws, Dave drives backwards keeping the pressure on, so the tree falls right where they want it to.

The first gigantic oak was actually leaning towards our neighbors house, and also was loaded with obnoxious acorns, so it was time to cut it down and turn it into firewood.

There is the 'right' way to do it....

...and the 'not so right' way to do it...

Oops! What happened? The first tree landed perfectly, but not this one. It's hard to see in the picture, but the guide wire was angled around a tree and ended up giving too much slack. Plus Hercules was not lined up quite right and should have been pulling more to the left. As the chainsaw cut through and Dave drove back, the tree rolled off the stump and fell onto the roof, instead of dropping forward. Not too much damage was done to this hefty old shed, but there are a few smaller cross beams that will need to be replaced or sistered together, and some of the tin needs replacing.

The main problem was getting the tree off the roof without doing any more damage. This is sort of ironic since the reason we were cutting the trees down was so that storms wouldn't knock them down and cause damage. The guys all got right up there and started chainsawing, while the girls hauled away branches and picked up leftover metal on the ground (this is the area that the scrappers took the metal, cable, and wire from), for our own and the machinery's safety.

To top off the day, one more smaller tree had to be taken down right next to the shed. It looked like it would fall in the right direction, so the guys decided not to tie a guide line to it. Naturally, when it came down it kissed the roof and broke another of the edges. Now it's getting ugly. Not that it was good looking to start with though. All we could do was laugh.

Luckily no one was hurt, we gave the neighbors a good show, and the minimal damage will just be added to our growing list of things to do. Let's just say we were practicing for the tree removal closer to our house, that needs to be done also. Now the guys know what not to do, and got the 'oops' part out of the way!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I admit it. I am infatuated with loons. Their color and markings, their diving and fishing abilities, how they transport their babies on their backs, and especially their call, intrigues me. Whenever I am kayaking, it is such a treat to see and hear them. Of course, they are usually quite elusive, especially when it comes to being photographed. In fact I have never been able to get a good picture of a loon, but thanks to Carol on Interim, I have the above pictures to post.

Loons seem to be making a comeback in the Adirondacks, or at least I am noticing them more. We have seen them in Lake Champlain and Lake George. In fact one surfaced right next to me as I was kayaking across the channel at the north end of Lake George. It was a bit rough out and we startled each other. He took one look at me and dove down again, while I took one look at him and paddled quickly to the other side of the channel before any boats ran me down.

Putnam Pond at the top of Chilson Hill, off Rt. 74, is a place that we always see loons. We were there a few days ago and there was a mother and her chick diving in the middle of the pond.

Eagle Lake also never fails to yield a view or sound of loons.

Both this lake and Putnam Pond are normally quiet bodies of water, providing a nice haven for these birds. One day though, I was approaching a loon in my kayak, all set to get a picture, when I heard someone behind me ‘quacking’! A teenage girl in a kayak paddled past me quacking to it, like it was a duck. Naturally, the loon was frightened and headed underwater, resurfacing a long way away from us crazy (aka loony) humans.

The ironic thing about my quest for loon sightings is that I saw one up close in a place I never expected they would frequent, namely the Mohawk River. I had gone to Lock 7 to launch my kayak, but left my camera home thinking that the only nature I would probably see on the muddy Mohawk would be mallard ducks and perhaps a heron. What a surprise to see a loon right at the base of the ramp, swimming and diving all around the dock, catching fish. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here I am looking all over the Adirondacks for these birds, and there is one almost in my own backyard…and I didn’t have my camera! I watched it for quite awhile, and then left it to hunt for its lunch while I went kayaking. When I came back, I found it still ‘fishing’ at the dock, looking at me with its red eyes and taunting me as I stood on the dock, not three feet away. What a photo opportunity I missed out on. It’s frustrating enough to send me to “the loony bin!”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Go With the Flow

It’s good we are adaptable. On Tuesday we headed to Shelburne, Vermont to go kayaking in the large harbor there on Lake Champlain, and later to hike the Allen Head trail loop. As we were heading north, the sky was getting darker and darker. By the time we got to the launch ramp, it was spitting rain. We had an early picnic lunch in the van, waiting for the weather to clear, but it just wasn’t happening. I changed into my hiking boots, thinking that we could do the trail instead, but that only ‘made’ it rain harder. I suggested we drive to the dive store in Burlington, where I had seen an SPF 50+ rash guard shirt that I liked, way back around the 4th of July. I really didn’t think it was still going to be there, but we went to check anyway. Surprisingly, it was hanging on the rack and fit me! Things were looking up…well, as long as WE didn’t look up, that is.

Even though it was still raining we went back to the ramp, which is right next to the trail head. The skies seemed brighter, so I changed back into my Crocs and we put the kayak in the water. We didn’t paddle very far before the wind started picking up, so we turned around and went up a side creek. This ended up being the LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area. Another great find and quite pretty as it meandered through the woods. There wasn’t very much current until the creek narrowed, and at one point the current looked like it was flowing both ways. Eventually we came to the end of the line with a freshly built beaver dam in our way.

By the time we went downstream with the flow and made it back to the van, the wind was howling at 20-30 m.p.h. We were still up for the hike though, so off with the Crocs and on with the boots once again, and away we went (I had changed my shoes so often and so fast, I thought I might qualify as an act for “America’s Got Talent!”). I let Dave take this picture while standing out on a rock bluff at the apex of Allen Head.I sure didn’t want to get too close to the edge with all that wind blowing!

Since we saw how the white caps were picking up in the harbor, we wanted to see what the main lake looked like. On the way home, we stopped at a causeway that was still a bit protected from the wind and waves, but we could see how rough it was getting out towards the middle of the lake. What amazed me was how eerie the sky was too.We sure were glad we weren’t out there boating, and felt sorry for the ferry captains that day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Pahl's Classics has now been transformed into a museum and workshop. Not only do we have a collection of classic motorcycles, but also outboard motors, and of course our 1939 Plymouth Road King.

Dave's idea to remove part of the back wall and make it into a garage door was ingenious. He now has more access for working on and storing our vehicles.

Before the garage door was installed, we had lots of work to do. This included moving part of the salvage yard (bikes and stumps removed), cutting out the wall and window, reconfiguring the parts and work area, plus removing old display cases and moving shelving and finding room for their contents. The end result is better than we had imagined and looks so much more open, cleaner, and organized.

Some of the bikes in the museum even run, and we take them out occasionally and have trail rides on the property. Everyone brings their own classic bikes and we take turns riding the different brands and types. It definitely makes all our work of keeping the trails clear and groomed worthwhile.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Otter Creek

Twice this summer we went kayaking on Otter Creek in Vergennes, Vermont. The first time, we met up with Carol and Bill who were completing the Little Loop route in their sailboat Interim (they had to remove their masts for the trip).When the wind really blows on Lake Champlain, this is a very protected place to dock. Vergennes is a great town to walk around with many small shops and restaurants, and the free public docks are at the base of the water falls.

We kayaked down from the falls a couple of miles on this trip, watching all the turtles and herons basking in the sun.

The second time we went kayaking here, Jim Ryan was with us. We started at a small launch ramp about halfway between Vergennes and Lake Champlain, and paddled until we could see the big lake.

Right after we had put the kayaks in the water, a Vermont police boat was launched. The outboard engine on it was really unusual looking, so we stopped to talk to the officer about it. The officer was kind enough to explain about how it is called a Pro Drive and can be driven in the mud, weeds, and other vegetation. The lower unit turns 180 degrees so you can go in reverse at full power!
They use this patrol boat for going back in the marshes to check for fishermen and licenses.

Next time we go kayaking in this area we will be sure to check out the backwater wilderness of Dead Creek, which flows into Otter Creek. It winds its way through marshes and high grasses, and looks quite interesting. Perhaps we’ll even get to see some otters!

FYI....In order to get to Vergennes, we had to take the free 24 hr. Crown Point ferry across lower Lake Champlain. The old condemned bridge spanning this area was blown up and removed last winter, and a new bridge is being built. Until the bridge is completed in late 2011, the ferries will run for free. It is amazing to see the ferry docks that were quickly built in the middle of winter, and put into service to accommodate the many vehicles that travel between New York and Vermont.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Christmas in September?

No, it hasn’t snowed, but it sure feels like it could in the mornings. Plus, I saw the first holiday gifts and decorations being put out in stores a few days ago. Outrageous!

It’s hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago it was so hot out that we didn’t want to get out of the water.

One weekend Jim Ryan brought his sailboat up to Ticonderoga, so we went to Port Henry to try and sail on Lake Champlain. Actually the guys went sailing while I kayaked along the shore and had an Amtrak train pass me.Those tracks sure are close to the edge. I also went up a small creek as far as I could go and it was very picturesque.

While I was paddling around in the calm water, Dave and Jim were becalmed and had to be towed back to the launch ramp by a Good Samaritan boater. We were smart though, and had also brought our power boat, fully equipped with water skis, towable tube, and knee board, just in case the wind died.We even had a ‘dry’ run before we left the yard, so we were prepared for anything.

Ah, those were the days! It’s fun to look back on those hot summer days. Now the furnace has to run and blow hot air to keep us cozy for the next month. By then we will really be ready to head for points south.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Fun Events

Earlier this summer, we went to the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport in CT with Bill, Lynette, and Ashley Metz. We had a fantastic time looking at the different wooden boats (some traditional but others were strange but ingenious projects) and browsing the vendors’ tents. Dave and Bill rented a sailing dinghy and went out around the harbor looking at schooners and vintage boats. The van trip to and from the show was also a great way to get caught up on all the news with good friends. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I have no pictures to share of our adventure.

However, I have lots of pictures of another boat show event that we always attend in early August. The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, N.Y., holds an annual show and auction in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence Seaway. This is an all day event for us with not only looking at all the antique, classic, and new reproduction boats being displayed, but also the museum itself is amazing! The auction is always fun to watch, although this year only a small percentage ended up being sold, due to very few people bidding high enough to reach the reserve prices.


This year’s featured boat builder was Gar Wood Custom Boats, which was special since they are made in Brant Lake near us in the Adirondacks. These boats are so perfect, right down to the smallest details.

Every year we try to spend at least a few days in the Thousand Islands around the time of the boat show. This time we also went into Canada to attend a get-together of some of the Hope Town Sailing Club members in Kingston, Ontario. Since we were only a little over an hour away (depending on the length of time it takes to go through Canadian/U.S. Customs and Immigration), we couldn’t resist surprising them on Sunday. Our hosts, Jean and Bob White were so gracious that they gave us their bed for the night (they have a sailboat at a nearby marina that they enjoy sleeping on), so we could stay and enjoy the festivities and camaraderie longer.

The plan for the day was to go on a trolley tour of Kingston, but there just happened to be a triathlon race through the city, so the trolleys weren’t giving tours. Plan B ended up being even more fun since we went to the Kingston Mills locks On the Rideau Canal. The locks, which are manually operated, are in a beautiful park with a small museum.

Watching the boats go through and reading about the area, made us all want to attempt this trip in the near future.

Then it was time for a quick break…”I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!

The next stop was the Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada, which was the home to Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. After touring the museum, we attended a tea which was very entertaining, with the maids of the manor in era dresses, serving us our choice of many different types and flavors of teas, scones, and fruit. I think our lively group also entertained the maids.

Then it was back to the White’s house for dinner and the planning of our next summer’s get-together, which we are looking forward to!