Saturday, September 20, 2014

Owl's Head & Olympic Ski Jump

I'm still working my way through our camping trip to the Lake Placid area in early August, so this post will cover two activities: our hike up Owl's Head and our visit to the Olympic Ski Jump Complex.

I wasn't up for any major hiking (and my husband never is), so Owl's Head seemed ideal. The trail is 1.2 miles round trip and the summit provides lovely views of the surrounding High Peaks. Our first attempt was thwarted by giant road construction vehicles using the road to the trail head as a staging area. So we went back the next day and were able to squeeze past and find a spot to park. The trail is quite popular and we saw lots of other hikers, but we managed to have the summit all to ourselves. The hordes arrived just as we were heading down.

We've been meaning to make it to the Olympic Ski Jump Complex for the last couple years, but bad weather has caused us to put off our visit. Not this year. We got to watch some young ski jumpers jumping into swimming pools (crazy!). Then we rode the chair lift up to the base of the ski jump and then took the elevator to the top. It boggles my mind that real people intentionally propel themselves down those jumps. Good grief.

This will probably be the last of the posts from this trip, but is you haven't done so yet, you can also read about our visit to Ausable Chasm and our Ben & Jerry's Factory tour.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exploring Ausable Chasm

While we were camping at Wilmington Notch State Campground, we spent a day at Ausable Chasm. We'd seen advertisements and flyers for the place for years and decided this would the summer we checked it out.

As we drove there through regular looking small towns and farm land, I was confused about where a chasm was going to fit into the landscape. The very idea was incongruous. And then as the signs indicated our near-arrival, a deep gorge opened up as if out of nowhere.

We elected to do a "float tour," which meant we'd have access to the walking trails and go for a short raft ride. It was pretty crowded, even though it was a weekday, so it was hard to get pictures without a bunch of strangers in the frame. And, of course, the pictures fail to capture the drama of the place that was felt in person.

We drove and walked over this bridge.

Elephant's Head


narrow gorge

rafts being lowered by cables to launch pad below
The raft trip was short (~1 mile long), but it was definitely my favorite part. I'm adding going rafting again to my must-do list.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour

Even though it was a long drive from our campground in Wilmington, NY we decided to spend one of our vacation days driving to Vermont for a Ben & Jerry's factory tour. We are both huge fans of Ben & Jerry's (who isn't, right?) and have long talked of visiting the factory in Waterbury, VT. It was a lovely scenic drive and may well have been my first visit to Vermont.

The tour itself was nothing special. We watched two videos, one on the history of the company and a shorter one on the production line. I was disappointed that, although it was a manufacturing day and after noon, the production line was not running, so we didn't get to see any ice cream being made. The highlight of the tour was the sample of cotton candy we got to enjoy at the end.

Not surprisingly, it was an absolute madhouse, even though it was a week day. I'd hate to imagine how much longer the lines would be on a weekend. I'm glad we did it, and now I can cross it off the list and never do it again. Once was definitely enough.

On the way to the factory we missed the turn off for the ferry (plus, we'd not done any research on times, locations, or cost). Before heading back to camp, my husband hopped on his phone and GPS and found the best ferry across Lake Champlain for our route. It cut many miles and lots of time from our return trip. And best of all, it was super cool. I enjoyed the ferry ride more than the factory tour!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Camping: Wilmington Notch

Our most recent campering adventure took us north to Wilmington Notch State Campground in Wilmington, NY. This is a very small campground (54 sites) and does not offer the types of private, treed sites we prefer. However, the choices for camping with a travel trailer in the Lake Placid area are fairly slim. We decided to try it once and then decide if we'd ever camp there again. The verdict: NO. The camp sites are in what basically amounts to an open field with an occasional tall tree. There is no privacy between sites AT ALL. The sites are not clearly defined either, so we had neighbors decide to set up their tent within spitting distance of our camper. I hope they enjoyed the sounds of our flushing toilet at 2AM. The fire pits are no more than a few feet from the campground road, so when you're sitting around the fire anyone that walks by is RIGHT there.

Beyond the lack of privacy, there were other disappointments with the campground. The fire pits were in shambles, literally crumbling at our feet. My husband was at a complete loss without a chopping block, usually provided in most state campgrounds. He surmised that was part of the problem with the fire pits, because people were using them as chopping blocks, thus accelerating their demise. There was also garbage strewn around our site when we checked in, a rarity at the state campgrounds we've camped at in the past. And lastly, the bathrooms were gross. There was no soap (eeew!) and the showers were tiny. The shower head was well below the top of my head, and I'm not an excessively tall woman. The water was scalding, with no option to adjust the temperature.

Needless to say, we spent as little time as possible at the campground. It would probably be fine if all you were doing was crashing for the night before or after climbing an Adirondack High Peak, but it's not the kind of place you want to spend time at.

I didn't bother to take many photos and none of the ones I took actually show how undesirable the place was. All of the trees you see on the far side are actually the edge of the campground and provide just a little screening between Route 86 and the sites. This picture was taken before the neighbors arrived and set up their tent right off our back bumper. Most of the sites were occupied every night, although there was a high turn-over rate.

Next time we travel to the Lake Placid region I would rather pay more to stay at a private campground and have full hook-ups. That way even though we'd still lack privacy we could at least avoid the public bathrooms and showers.

Hopefully in future posts I will share some of the fun things we did away from camp.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

August Break: Days 1-7

From the August Break, 2014 website:

"This is a community project that has no real rules – the idea is to simply take a photograph every day for the whole of August. That’s it. Pause, look around you and shoot what you see. Live inside each moment. Pay attention to what’s there."

This is the first month long photo project I've taken part in. I like that there are no real rules. Do with it what you will. I used the prompts provided for the first 7 days and took the pictures with my Samsung Galaxy S5.

Lunch: leftover pizza, sugar snap peas, and a chocolate chip cookie (in the paper bag)

Pattern: two new Thirty-One bags my husband bought me to help ensure a successful party hosted by a friend of his

Window: heading north with the camper

Orange: riding the Essex Ferry across Lake Champlain

Three: milk, coffee, and hot water for tea

Reflection: clouds and trees while my husband fishes the Ausable. Also: hundreds of mosquito larvae!

Today is... check out day. Time to pack up the camper and head home.

Don't forget to check out the blog roll for other participants. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiking Phelps

This past Saturday found us once again heading north to the mountains. We met at our usual time of 4:15am, although our driving route differed, as did our intended trailhead. The parking lot at the High Peaks Information Center was nearing capacity when we arrived, but we were early enough to grab a spot without difficulty. We hit the bathrooms (running water!) at the HPIC before signing the register at 8:12am.

We had only one peak as our goal for the day: Phelps Mt., the easiest of the Adirondack High Peaks remaining on my list. As such, we took full advantage of our time, hiking slowly, stopping often, and lounging on the summit. The trails and summit were crowded, no surprise on a rain-free Saturday in late July. The summit is without markers of any kind: no signs, no benchmarks, only 3 holes.

One of the gentlemen we met on the summit was particularly loquacious. He and my sister happily discussed the surrounding peaks and previous hikes until I dragged her away. He was super sweet and charming, but I felt anxious to get underway after two hours on the summit. I love how genuinely friendly most hikers are.

We got back to the car with plenty of time to drive into Lake Placid for a sandwich. Neither of us could stomach the thought of fast food for dinner. My only regret is that we were so full after our tasty sandwiches that we didn't have room for any Ben & Jerry's!

Phelps Mt., elevation: 4161, order of height: 32, order of ascension: 21

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Reading: The Park Service by Ryan Winfield on my phone using the Kindle app.

Watching: Le Tour de France. We've been enjoying our summer shows, of course, but for me July is all about Le Tour. I've been watching it every day, except for those dreaded rest days. My husband is not a fan.

Listening: to American Kids by Kenny Chesney. Loving everything about this song. In fact, I better pull it up on You Tube right now. It reminds me of Creeque Alley by the Mamas & the Papas.

Anticipating: our next camping trip. Mountains! Trees! Campfires! S'mores!

Loving: July. Because summer. I think July is my favorite month. Really.

Thinking: about switching from keeping a hand-written journal in a plain, spiral bound notebook to maintaining an electronic version on my laptop. Cons: it feels less personal and somehow less creative. Pros: it would be legible and searchable. It's bad when I can't even read my own handwriting.

Wishing: that summer could last more than a couple months.

What's current in your life?