All Aboard for History

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The boys and I were supposed to be camping this week in the Adirondacks. However due to an unforeseen circumstance we had to cancel our trip. This past Sunday I had asked Max if there was anything he would like to do for a day trip. After a few minutes of deep thought Max responded “Steamtown”. I was totally caught off guard but thrilled just to spend time together.

We left late morning Monday timing a lunch stop at the Waffle House in Clarks Summit before we got to Steamtown. The Waffle House is my new addiction as the hash brown bowls are so good. Even better the prices are inexpensive as well.

After lunch Max and I would finish our trip arriving at Steamtown shortly after. It was a beautiful day in Scranton as we toured the grounds, took a short train ride around the facility and wondered through the roundhouse looking at several of the locomotives currently under repair. Max just like his mother has a passion for history. I myself love history but I am more of a photographic history person. One of the highlights for me was being able to walk through a RPO “Railway Post Office”. America’s mail used to move mostly by rail and I have always been fascinated by the process. Max and I sat and watched a short film about life aboard an RPO which I really enjoyed. “Before tweets, texts and emails, people communicated using written correspondence – letters, postcards and such. The U.S. Post Office Department – now the US Postal Service – employed thousands to collect, sort and deliver these letters, along with newspapers, magazines and small parcels. The Railway Mail Service was a significant mail transportation service in the U.S. during the time period from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century. The RMS, or its successor, the Postal Transportation Service (PTS), carried the vast majority of letters and packages mailed in the U.S. from the 1890s until the 1960s.”

During our adventure we learned that Steamtown and the Nation Park Service have plans to restore to operating condition the largest steam locomotive in the collection, a Union Pacific “Big Boy”. This behemoth weighs 1,200,000 pounds, is 132 feet long and produces 6,000 horsepower. Currently the Union Pacific Railroad is restoring one to full operating condition at their Cheyenne, WY facility with plans to run it in 2019. Max was all about a road trip in 2019 to see this beauty storming the rails once again.

We finished out our afternoon at the museum store, had our National Park passport stamped, picked up a few souvenirs and headed for home. Super fun afternoon spending time with my son.

Here is just a brief history of Steamtown:

Steamtown was originally founded in 1964 by millionaire Nelson F. Blount. Blount established a non-profit organization, the Steamtown Foundation, to operate Steamtown, USA a steam railroad museum and excursion business in Bellows Falls, VT. In 1984, the foundation moved Steamtown to Scranton, conceived of as urban redevelopment and funded in part by the city. But the museum failed to attract the expected 200,000 to 400,000 annual visitors, and within two years was facing bankruptcy.

In 1986, the U.S. House of Representatives, at the urging of Scranton native Representative Joseph M. McDade, approved $8 million to begin turning the museum into a National Historic Site. By 1995, the National Park Service had acquired Steamtown, USA.

My new food addiction “Hash brown bowls” at the Waffle House. Clarks Summit, PA © Joe Geronimo

Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton PA. © Joe Geronimo

Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA. © Joe Geronimo

Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA. © Joe Geronimo

Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA. © Joe Geronimo

Max and I taking the short train ride around Steamtown and Scranton. © Joe Geronimo

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 #759 in the roundhouse at Steamtown. © Joe Geronimo

Louisville & Nashville RPO #1100 at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. © Joe Geronimo

Reading Railroad #903 & #902 stand guard outside of the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. © Joe Geronimo

Union Pacific “Big Boy” Steamtown National Historic Site. © Joe Geronimo. The trend toward size and power culminated in the 1.2 million pound, 6,200 horsepower 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy.”
The “Big Boys” were built for power. They did the work of three smaller engines, pulling 120-car, 3800 ton freight trains at forty miles per hour in the mountains of Utah and Wyoming.

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Knocking it out of the Park

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Julie and I have been wanting to spend more time at our National Parks, National Park Historic sites and just historical places in general. Back in the spring she had proposed a trip that would take us to Harpers Ferry, WV where we would visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the C&O Canal Trail National Historical Park and the Antietam National Battlefield. We hiked the Maryland Heights trail which provided stunning views of Harpers Ferry. Several days later we found ourselves at Shenandoah National Park along the 105 mile “Skyline Drive” slowly making our way towards Charlottesville, VA. In Charlottesville we would sip wine at Blenheim Vineyards which is owned by Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews band. Drank in the history at Thomas Jefferson’s “Mon-ti-chel-oh” along with James Madison’s “Montpelier” and had dinner with family in Culpeper.

I had no idea what to expect but I was excited for just the two of us to get away together and travel. We arrived at Harpers Ferry Historical Park Monday mid day. It was hot and humid and I was sweating standing still. We hopped on the shuttle bus and off we went. My first impression of Harpers Ferry was “Are we at Disney”? It truly looked as if it was built for their theme park. It’s like we were transported into the 1800’s. I think the newest house in Harpers Ferry is around mid 1800’s? According to 2016 voter registration there are 291 residents. Services are limited with only a few places to eat and yes they literally roll up the sidewalks at 7PM. Tucked into the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Harpers Ferry is steeped in railroad history as well.

Charlottesville was a different story. It was a much bigger city. However once we were in the Virginia country side miles and miles of horse farms and fences lined our path as the hustle and bustle slowly disappeared in the rear view mirror. I personally loved touring Monticello and Montpelier. I cannot decided even as I pen this which I liked more.

One thing I will say is I am blown away that Thomas Jefferson wrote 20,000 letters in his lifetime all in duplicate. Yes you read that correctly duplicate. Jefferson used a Polygraph in order to accomplish this. I believe either the Library of Congress or the Jefferson Foundation have all 20,000 letters. So fascinating!

Moving onto James Madison I cannot get over how incredibly well read he was and intelligent. Madison was extremely meticulous as well. But the one thing that stands out for me is the eventual relationship between him and Paul Jennings. Jennings was a personal servant, as a young slave, to President James Madison during and after his White House years. The story continues in a book I just ordered called “A Slave in the White House”.

As a side note we both found Antietam haunting. In the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War every second an American died, 23,000 in total. It was gut wrenching as we toured the Battlefield. I cannot even begin to imagine the conditions these soldiers faced.

All in all this was a super fun adventure and cannot wait until we hit the road together again, cheers!

Harpers Ferry, WV

View of Harpers Ferry, WV from the Maryland Heights trail overlook.

Julie & I at the Maryland Heights trail overlook.

Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD.

New York Regiment monument Antietam National Battlefield Sharpsburg, MD. New York’s losses on this field were 65 officers and 624 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded; 110 officers and 2687 enlisted men wounded and 2 officers and 277 men captured or missing, making a total of 3765.

James Madison’s home “Montpelier” Montpelier Station, VA.

Thomas Jefferson’s home “Monticello” Charlottesville, VA.

Brown Mountain overlook, elevation 2,840 feet Skyline Drive Shenandoah National Park.

Big Meadows Skyline Drive Shenandoah National Park. This was the halfway point where we would stop for lunch and some souvenirs.

105 miles later we would find ourselves at the end of the road so to speak.

Will Work for Ice Cream

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Today’s throw back brings us to Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, NH June 25th 2007. The famous “Clark’s Bear Show” never disappoints. I fondly remember  loving this as a kid and so did the boys. Ironically this show will make you want a pet bear… Kodachrome, © Joe Geronimo.

2014 Shelter Island, NY #TBT

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We had just come off what I call a marathon vacation trip. Boston, New Hampshire, Vermont, Acadia National Park in Maine and Vermont. We were literally home for two days before heading to Long Island to visit family. Julie, myself and the boys took an afternoon trip to Shelter Island on a beautiful summer day doing our best to decompress.

This image has to be one of my favorites of my boys and I… Love them to the moon and back!

Myself, Max & Michael on Shelter Island, NY July 25th 2014. © Julie Geronimo.

Running on Empty

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I’ve always been able to mask pain very well and for the past eight months that is exactly what I have been doing. Late last year I had a growing discomfort in my groin, hips and lower back but I was able to keep running. After the new year I backed off a little bit and the pain leveled out. Come early March I ramped things up for the upcoming show down of the Seneca 7. My pain also ramped itself up as well. I told myself repeatedly that I will get checked out after the race because there was no way I was not going to run.

Early in April while out training it hit me like a ton of bricks. After a workout one afternoon I came home sat down drank some water. When I got up I could barely walk! It took three days for me to feel normal again and I continued the cycle until race day.

After my race I completely dropped off running, I was burnt and let my diet go to the dogs so to speak. I thought a few weeks off would solve my problem and I wouldn’t have to go to the doctor. Lacing up my running shoes and hitting the pavement I quickly found I was wrong. I could barely run 2-3 miles without stopping several times, I was struggling to breathe and the next day I would have a difficult time getting out of bed.

Scouring the internet to self diagnose I was convinced my symptoms were conducive to a pelvic stress fracture. I finally had enough and sought the advice of a friend as where I should go for help. I wound up at UHS Sports Medicine and quickly was sent for X-ray’s. That imagery showed no apparent fracture and the doctor continued his evaluation. The doctor would eventually suggest that my lack of calcium and protein intake over the past several years has been less than adequate. He also discovered I have a very serious hip flexor problem as well. He firmly believes that my rapid weight loss combined with the volume of miles over the past several years is a big contributing factor. We made several changes to my diet and I am currently in a 6-8 week physical therapy program consisting of 2-3 visits per week. After the conclusion of PT the doctor may or may not recommend an MRI or continuing physical therapy. I guess this would be dependent on my bodies response.

I began my PT treatments this week and I’ll just say this OUCH! I did ask if I could still run because I can’t imagine not doing something I love. I’ve been told I can run if I run at a slow pace making sure I keep my mileage very low for a while. This is subject to change depending on my body as well.

I’m excited about this because its a starting point for recovery and for the future.

Cheers!

In the Dog House

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Last weekend while camping in the Thousand Islands region of New York I took the opportunity to test out my new Eureka “Solitaire” backpacking tent. Or as my wife calls it my “Dog House Tent”. I don’t backpack but I purchased this tent for canoe/kayak camping because of its size and weight. I bought it locally from Eureka Camping Center for a really great price. As a matter of fact it was extremely cheaper than some other backpacking tents I’ve used.

I wanted to get the feel for it and its size before taking it on a canoe/kayak trip where I might regret not trying out before hand. I did fit very comfortably inside and I’m happy to report that I had two good nights sleep. On the first night I woke about 3AM briefly peering through the roof into the night’s sky which was littered with millions of stars. I stared for a short while watching as some of them streaked across the sky. The second morning I felt so good it was almost better than sleeping in my own bed. I did bring with me my Coleman self inflating sleep pad as well.

Cheers!

Weekend Adventure

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Julie and I packed up the car Saturday and headed north to the Thousand Islands region of New York to camp. This would be our first time in the area and it did not disappoint. We could have done without the 20+ MPH winds Saturday and Sunday but hey the sun was shining.

We pitched our tent at Kring Point State Park several miles north of Alexandia Bay. Kring Point is a peninsula that forms Goose Bay from the St. Lawrence River. Most campsites are on the water. Ours however was not. Once camp was setup it was time to explore. We drove to Alexandria Bay only to discover it was Bike weekend. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles and every parking space was taken. We decided to head for the town of Clayton instead. While driving we spotted Clayton Distillery and quickly pulled into the parking lot. We sampled some really good moonshine! As a matter of fact we left with a big bottle of cherry moonshine.

Arriving in Clayton we did some shopping, walked along the river trail for a bit, watched a couple at a fancy hotel say “I Do” and had a super fun time tasting wine at Coyote Moon Winery. We even beat the tour boat crowd!

Sunday morning the wind was extremely calm but that would only give us false hope for the day. However we launched our kayaks paddling into the St. Lawrence and Goose Bay. Water levels are extremely high in the area. Many of the island homes are inaccessible because their boat docks are completely submerged. Afterwards we would return to Alexandria Bay to catch the shuttle to Heart Island and Boldt Castle. The castle and its history are just fascinating. The Thousand Island Bridge Authority which owns the Heart Island and Boldt castle is doing a wonderful job of restoring it. Cannot wait to return next year and see the progress continue.

After our tour we ventured over to Wellesley Island and stumbled upon the beautiful Thousand Island Park. All I can say is “The Homes” Beautiful victorian homes, painted ladies, bungalows, etc all nestled along the shores of the St. Lawrence. Julie and I were in awe!

Later Sunday evening the sunset was beginning to take shape. Amazing cloud formations a brewing storm over in Canada and a diminishing wind or so I thought. I hoped into my kayak and off I went. Across the river I could see the rain, I could hear thunder and the sun was tryings its best to drop from the clouds. Quickly the wind picked up and the chop increased. I honestly got a little nervous as I was without a spray skirt. The waves grew as did the wind. I quickly grabbed a few photos and made my way back to shore.

During the night the winds finally died and the temperatures dropped. Morning would come with a crispness in the air, sunshine in the sky and calm waters. After breakfast Julie and I were back out in the kayaks for our final hoorah before packing up camp and heading home. Our time in the Thousand Islands was fun and we look forward to returning next summer.

Cheers!

Julie at Kring Point State Park.

Furuholmen an Panamanian tanker is seen passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway 1,000 Island region of New York.

On our way to Heart Island and Boldt Castle. Alexandria Bay, NY

Julie & I headed for Boldt Castle Alexandria Bay, NY.

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

View from one of the balconys of Boldt Castle

Uncle Sam Boat Tours shuttle is arriving to pick us up in Alexandria Bay, NY. It then will take us to Heart Island “Boldt Castle”.

I loved this vintage sign in Alexandria Bay.

A glimpse of some of the homes in Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island.

Canada Steamship Lines “Atlantic Huron” Wellsley Island NY

Hanging by the campfire Kring Point State Park.

Storm brewing on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada

Julie St. Lawrence Seaway 1,000 Islands NY.

Julie St. Lawrence Seaway 1,000 Islands NY.

Julie and I checking on the sole residence of Lone Pine Island Goose Bay St. Lawrence Seaway.

1,000 Islands St. Lawrence Seaway.

All packed up and a final stop at the camp store Leaving Kringe Point State Park June 26th 2017.

Tranquility in Vermont

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Recently I was in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont near Island Pond exploring the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge with my two sons and friend. As always we were on the hunt for moose. I must have had my moose kryptonite on me this time because we didn’t see any moose. However we saw all sorts of fascinating birds.

If you know me or have read my many posts you won’t be surprised when I say “I have a major affection for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail”. In all honestly I have only paddled small portions of this beautiful flowing highway system spanning 740 miles from Old Forge, NY meandering into Canada and finally terminating in Fort Kent, ME. The Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge sits in the Nulhegan river basin, wait for it, which is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

As we exited the refuge the Nulhegan river was so calm and peaceful but just 100 yards away it’s rapids roared. Slamming on the brakes and testing the seat belts of the cars other occupants I leaped out to capture its serenity.

Cheers!

Exiting the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge near Island Pond, VT June 17th 2017. © Joe Geronimo

The Nulhegan river in all her tranquility. However just 100 yards away the rapids roared. Island Pond, VT July 17th 2017 © Joe Geronimo

Splorin The Rez

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It wasn’t raining, the sun was shinning, the wind was blowing and it felt like a spring afternoon for once. After work I made the short drive to the Whitney Point Reservoir where I normally launch from the north end at Upper Lisle but today I decided to be different and put in on the south end and begin from there.

Today’s adventure would have me exploring the three islands that dot the lake. The largest of the three islands is where I beached and began to check things out. I’d love to know if its possible to camp here. I never noticed any signs on the road in that said “No Camping”, however this is something I’ll have to ask the DEC. Following the shoreline north I would be treated to a chorus of song birds. Several vibrant colored Baltimore Orioles and Cardinals fluttered from tree branch to tree branch teasing me with their beauty. I came upon several fisherman, three kayakers and  brief spring shower.

Today was a great day to start the month. I hope we are finally going to have some good weather.

Cheers!

Approaching the largest of three islands on the Whitney Point Reservoir June 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Doing some exploring on the Whitney Point Reservoir June 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo

I bumped into a brief rain shower while on the Whitney Point Reservoir June 1st 2017. © Joe Geronimo

Here is a link to a video I shot and edited. This would be my first attempt at editing. I have more to learn but hey it was fun. Enjoy the show! https://youtu.be/JXaxdPFapKg

Just What the Doctor Ordered!

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The sun was warm, the breeze light and not a cloud in the sky is just what the doctor ordered for a perfect day spent at the Adirondack “Paddlefest” held in Old Forge, NY this past weekend.

Julie and I got our game faces on for an early start Saturday morning as we snaked our way north arriving at Mountainman Outdoors about 10AM. I’ll admit I was very excited for the day. Wheeling into the parking lot we noticed there was already a good size crowd pouring over all the goodies. Kayaks, Canoes, Campers, Cars, Trailers, Gear, etc. Making our way into the grounds we quickly noted there were quite a few dogs as well and we immediately began missing our fury beast. However we were on a mission.

Michael at 6′ 5″ had out grown his 10 foot kayak so we had a few in mind that we new he was comfortable in. We settled on one of his top choices, a 2017 Perception “Prodigy” 12 in tiger camo red. We got the last one in that color! After browsing for a while it was time for us to do some test paddling. I test paddled one kayak because I knew if I tested others we would be leaving with another boat. Julie on the other hand test paddled a few. The first was a very sexy Swift Adirondack 12LT in the color “Purple Rain” weighing only 24 lbs with the heavy price tag of $2395. Next was the same boat but in the 10LT version. She absolutely loved these boats. I was able to convince her to try another kayak. This time it was a Hurricane Santee 116. She was skeptical but did so. After she was done test paddling I asked “So what did you think?”. She responded I loved it and even more so than the Swift. The Santee weighs a little more but comes with a $900 price tag instead. She loved its smoothness, tracking and speed. With that said Julie still likes her current kayak and is sticking with it for now.

After our test paddling we headed to the small town of Inlet, NY for lunch at the Screamen Eagle. Traveling along route 28 in Eagle Bay we came upon “The Donut Shop” and it hit me, they had been voted best donuts in Adirondack Life magazine’s 2016 “Best of the Adirondacks”. A quick turn of the wheel and a few screams from Julie I was in the parking lot. The Donut Shop only makes two types of donuts, plain and cinnamon sugar. We ordered two of each and were back in the car. The first bite was heaven! Crsipy, fluffy and oh so amazing Julie and I were raving.

Our destination for lunch was The Screamen Eagle. The Eagle itself was voted runner up in Adirondack Life magazine’s 2016 “Best of the Adirondacks” in the pizza category. Although we didn’t order pizza we did enjoy our phenomenal peanut butter wings. All I can say was wow!

Finished with lunch we would go for a short paddle along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Launching on 4th lake at Inlet we paddled into the channel that brings you to 5th lake. A perfect small adventure in the middle of our day.

Headed back towards Old Forge to pick up Michael’s kayak I had wanted to visit the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. I was on the hunt for the “Go Fluff Yourself” Peanut Butter Fluff Ale (Notice the theme here!). I happen to have a pint or two locally at Food & Fire recently and really enjoyed it. Sadly when I got there they had just kicked the keg and wouldn’t have anymore until Monday. Perched in our Adirondack chair bar stools, the kind that are so comfortable you don’t want to leave I found myself tasting “Bear Road: Bluberry Coffee Stout” which I immediately fell in love with. Thankfully I had an empty growler with me just in case.

After picking up Michael’s kayak we began our trek home, making a dinner stop in Utica at Babe’s Macaroni Grill & Bar.

Our day was short but packed with fun little adventure’s. But best of all barely any black flies. We can’t wait to return for next years event.

Cheers!

Michael’s 2017 Perception Prodigy 12.

Julie test paddling a Swift Adirondack 12LT Old Forge, NY May 20th 2017.

Julie test paddling a Swift Adirondack 12LT Old Forge, NY May 20th 2017.

Adirondack Paddlefest Old Forge, NY May 20th 2017.

I’m test paddling a Perception Carolina 14 Old Forge, NY May 20th 2017.

Julie & I between 4th lake & 5th lake Inlet, NY May 20th 2017.