For the past year now I have had this desire to paddle across Raquette lake and into the Marion river. Here I would make the flat half mile carry to Utowana lake continuing through Eagle lake and reaching Blue Mountain lake, a total distance of about 14 miles. On Sunday September 30th myself and three other friends did just that.
We arrived at Raquette lake just as the sun was rising and the fog was rolling across the surface of the lake like the stage of a rock concert, however the silence was deafening. It was a cool 39 degrees as I unstrapped my kayak from the roof of my car. Yes I brought my heavy kayak for this adventure. For some reason I have always been intimidated by the size and notorious winds of Raquette lake. The weather report for the day was calling for 8 MPH winds and I had visions of white caps dancing in my head. With that said I chose poorly and that decision would haunt me a little later in our adventure.
The water was like glass as we set out to cross Raquette lake under the watchful eye of Blue Mountain towering 14 miles in the distance. With only a small navigation snafu we reached the mouth of the Marion river in 3.30 miles according to my GPS. The Marion river was beautiful with its mirrored reflections of autumn beginning to paint the landscape. We twisted and turned up the river several miles before we reached a somewhat large beaver dam. We knew this dam would be here and that we would have to exit our boats in order to get around it. Once we got over the damn it was only another quarter mile or so to the Marion river carry.
This carry from the Marion river to Utowana lake follows the former road bed of the Marion River Railroad. It is only a half mile long and was the world’s shortest railroad. Here is where my kayak would come back to haunt me. Without gear my kayak weighs in a 52 pounds at 14 1/2 feet long. I probably had at least 8 pounds of gear stowed in the boat. So I had the pleasure of carrying 60 pounds on my shoulders for a half mile. A huge departure from my 17 pound canoe…
Once we reached the put in on Utowana lake we were about half way through our journey. In other significance this is where the wind would finally kick up as we paddled our way up through Utowana and into Eagle lake. The entrance from Eagle lake into Blue Mountain lake has two routes that go under bridges and around a small island. Entering Blue Mountain lake we would see the only other paddlers during our trip. From here it was about a mile or so to our take out spot in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake.
Once we were off the water and boats loaded I was ready for my long trip back home. As I approached Old Forge I had thought I might want to stop quick at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. But I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. I made a quick stop to top off the gas tank, grabbed some coffee and kept rolling for home. Not only did I rack up another 425 miles on my car I was part of some great memories with some amazing friends. I look forward to doing it again soon somewhere in the Park.
Over the past 24 years I’ve been traveling the Southern Tier of New York west from Binghamton towards western Ohio where my wife is from to visit family. Just beyond Jamestown, NY the interstate spans the beautiful Chautauqua lake. My wife and I have always commented to one another that we should stop sometime and check out the area, but in reality we never have.
On September 9th 2018 I had the opportunity to join my friends and take part in the 4 for 44 relay race that encircles Chautauqua lake. This race which began and ended at Southern Tier Brewing in Lakewood, NY was a 44 mile relay race. Each team consisted of 4 runners who would each run 3 legs of varying distances.
The festivities began the afternoon before as we all would meet up at Four Mile Brewing in Olean, NY. I don’t think I have ever seen that many traffic circles in my life. Anyway I personally enjoyed the place and their beer was pretty solid. They also had some great munchies as well and puzzles….
After spending some time at Four Mile Brewing we made a beeline for Jamestown to check into our hotel rooms and head over to Southern Tier Brewing for packet pickup and you guessed it more beer. I began to have flashbacks from a few years ago when I raced with my friend Diana. The night before the race she forced me to drink way to many beers.. Hmm I’m beginning to see a pattern here!
Race morning came and I was feeling pretty good, as we would start the race in the first wave at 0700. Bob was our first runner followed by Jo (Without an E), she gets very testy about that, next would be Diana and lastly myself our fourth runner. The course was really nice and not flat either by any means. I particularly liked the Beamis Point area. My first leg of the race was 4 miles, the second 5.20 miles and the last was 3.25 miles. All three of my runs were listed on the course guide as moderate. However according to the course guide my last leg had 300 feet of gain and I think all 300 feet of that was in the first half mile, my legs were zapped!
We all had a wonderful time and I truly enjoyed running with Bob, Jo & Diana and would do it again in a heartbeat.
As a side note Jamestown, NY is home to the Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz Museum.
Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.
Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.
Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.
Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.
So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.
I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.
The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.
Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.
With the miserable weather forecasted for this weekend I decided to drive to Ithaca yesterday evening to explore the canalways that flow from beautiful Cayuga lake. The weather was perfect to say the least. I launched from Allan H. Treman State Marine Park on Cayuga Inlet paddling the short distance into Cayuga lake. There was a good wind and chop on the lake as I made my way around the breakwall and light station into the calm waters of Fall Creek. Fall Creek flows into Beebe Lake but I couldn’t get that far as the water became increasingly shallower the further I went and plus there would be the Ithaca Falls to contend with as well.
Paddling back out into Cayuga lake as the evening progresses the wind and chop had begun to die down a bit as I headed out a little further to Explore the south end of the lake. I then made my way back into Cayuga Inlet to do more exploring. I wound up with 5.80 miles and didn’t even finish the entire Inlet as my evening light was fading quickly.
I really enjoyed this small adventure and will return again soon to do some more. I do like the theory of being able to kayak right up to the always popular Ithaca Farmers Market. And to be honest I’d really like to get an early morning start on a calm Cayuga lake as well.
I feel very fortunate to be able to live in and around such a beautiful area of our State.
I’m sure by now you are pretty tired of hearing about me paddling Nanticoke lake. I’ve written about it many times before and shared many images from my adventures there as well. However as I race against Mother Nature in my final attempts to keep my paddling season going I ventured to none other than Nanticoke lake this morning.
I arrived under darkness, exiting my car peering upward towards the heavens. The unpolluted night sky was alive with the moon, stars, clouds and I believe Venus. I rubbed my hands together with excitement and commented to my friend Don “I think we have the makings of a beautiful sunrise”. Don whole heartily agreed and we carried our canoes to the lake. The narrow beam from my headlamp pierced the darkness and I could feel the the damp grass beneath my feet with every step.
Don and I set out to watch the show as our paddles dipped in and out of the water whispering an elegant song. As we sat in the middle of the lake the cloud cover began to thicken and I said to Don “I think we’re going to get skunked on our sunrise”. Don laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t think so. I placed my paddle in the water, turned my canoe in order to investigate a playful beaver who was splashing a little closer to the shore. All of a sudden I could see the skies reflection in the water turn to pink, orange and blue. Another dip of the paddle, my canoe turned and I was laying witness to a blazing fire in the sky.
Adirondacks, America, Appalachian Trail, Autumn, Beer, Camping, Fall, Fire, Firefighter, Food, Forest, Helicopter, Hiking, Moose, New England, New Hampshire, New York, Photography, Travel, USA, Vermont, White Mountains, Wine
Finished with exploring Henderson lake I reloaded all my gear into and onto my car and began the slow journey from New York to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Making a quick stop in Ticonderoga for fuel and food before crossing at Crown Point. There is no highway that runs west to east in Vermont so the 158 miles to my destination was slow but the scenery more than makes up for it. Leaving the Champlain Valley my favorite section of this adventure is on route 17 as you cross the Green Mountains and descend into the Mad River Valley. There are six hairpin turns I believe on this section of road.
I would spend the next several days visiting with friends and doing what I enjoy most. Roaming around Vermont and New Hampshire taking in their beauty. Over the past several years I have visited the town of Newport, VT and Newport has really grown on me. Nestled along the US/Canadian border, Newport sits at the southern end of Lake Memphremagog. Lake Memphremagog stretches 32 miles to the southeastern Quebec city of Magog. I hope to someday kayak parts of this lake which oddly enough is part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. After a long day and as we were 200 hundred yards or so from the house my friends truck would lose its brakes to a ruptured brake line. All I can say is thank goodness it happened close to home.
On our way to Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park we are climbing route 112 which is also called the Kanc (Kancamagus Highway) cresting near Beaver Pond we noticed smoke along the Kinsman Range. It appeared that a small forest fire had started and personnel were on the scene. Continuing on to Cannon Mountain we would take the tram to the summit. As the tram car climbed the winds increased quite considerabley and the temperatures dropped as well. At the top we made our way to the tower, a viewing platform where on a clear day you can see for over one hundred miles. The fog and clouds were rolling over the mountain tops playing a game of hide and seek with the sun.
Afterwards we stopped to check out the “The Basin”. The Basin is a 20 foot diameter granite hole at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Some say it had been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. Over time The Basin has been smoothed small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River.
Stopping in North Woodstock, NH at the Woodstock Station Inn & Brewery for lunch it was so sunny and warm at this point we chose to sit outside. I sampled some of their beers with my favorite being the 4,000 footer IPA. For lunch I would knock down their adult grilled cheese sandwich with a side of chili.
Heading back west over the Kanc we noticed there was a lot more smoke than earlier this morning. A helicopter was also on he scene making water drops on the mountain side. We would spend the next 90 minutes watching and photographing the efforts of all involved. I’ve never witnessed a forest fire of this size about (5 acres) at the time up close. Looking at the sheer rock cliffs one could see the firefighters trying to advance. The aggressive sound of their chainsaws cutting timber in efforts to battle the blaze could be heard echoing down below. The heat from the fire was causing slides and I could see trees falling. According to news reports that I have read there is speculation the fire was caused by a meteor strike which is unconfirmed at this time. As a note this section of the White Mountain National Forest is also part of the Appalachian Trail.
The next afternoon I would begin my long trek back home taking me 6.5 hours. The traffic on route 4 across Vermont was horrible and slow going. I was glad to be home!
See you in Old Forge….
Julie and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary yesterday. We didn’t go to some tropical island with deep blue waters and white sandy beaches or some far off exotic place, that is just not us. We kept it low key and took a drive to our favorite place the “Finger Lakes”.
The National Park system back in 2014 added to their list of storied places “The Harriet Tubman Home National Historic Park” in Auburn, NY. Auburn was our first destination and our day began with a tour. I’ll be honest I expected us to be the only people there. Boy was I wrong! On our tour there had to be at least forty people in the group and that is no exaggeration. Afterwards as we mulled around the visitor center more people came streaming in the door for the next tour. The park is a work in progress but our tour guide was pretty amazing in her presentation making it both informative and funny.
“Did you know that during the Civil War Harriet Tubman was a nurse? Did you know that Harriet Tubman was a spy for the Union Army as well? Lastly Harriet Tubman was born in 1820 and died in 1913 of pneumonia, she was 93. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York. I had no idea so I found this extremely fascinating”.
There are so many interesting things I learned about Harriet today. Most of us associate her with the underground railroad.
Next stop was a place rooted in Julie’s history. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY. Back in 1988-1989 Julie used to be a Park Ranger here. We have been to this park several times before but since we were passing through the area we stopped to check in on things.
Now it was time for lunch and what better place than Mac’s Drive-In in Waterloo, NY. We absolutely love this place and do our best to eat here whenever we can. With our hunger taken care of it was time to visit two wineries we have yet to try along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. However on our way back through Seneca Falls we stopped briefly to check out the very impressive “Double” lock #3 along the Cayuga-Seneca canal.
And just for the record we also had to make a pit-stop at McKensize-Childs. This is so not a dude place! Thankfully this was BRIEF pause and we got to Long Point winery in Aurora, NY. The gentleman doing our tasting was a spitting image of NFL football coach Rob Ryan. The only difference was he had a Hawaiian shirt on. Next was Treleavan in King Ferry, NY. I was excited for this because they offered a beer tasting as well. I sampled four New York brews. #1. Hopshire (Near Varna IPA) #2. Lucky Hare (London Gentleman Extra Special Bitter) #3. Grist Iron (Ely Pilsner ) #4. Lucky Hare (Rock Hound American Amber). All these beers were excellent but #3 & #4 really stood out for me. Julie really enjoy their wines and she left with a bottle Wobbly Rock Riesling. She is my Riesling girl…..
Our last stop for the day was Purity ice cream in Ithaca, NY, enough said!
Beautiful day in one of our favorite places, cheers!
Side Note: On our way down the east side of Cayuga lake is the small town of Cayuga, NY. Well Cayuga was featured not long ago on the HGTV show “Lake Front Bargain Homes”. Julie and I actually saw that episode together so we knew which house the family purchased. As we drove through we gave it a quick look and its just as beautiful in person as it was on TV.
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.
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
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.