Almanack Contributor Diane Chase

Diane Chase

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Youth Summit at the Wild Center

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Thirty high schools, colleges and universities have gathered together for the 2nd Adirondack Youth Summit held at The Wild Center (Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks) in Tupper Lake. The two-daysummit has been a successful means for students, educators, administrators and staff to work together to build a realistic, achievable plan to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Through partnership schools learn, formulate and implement ideas regarding climate change.

“Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center invited members of my Advanced Placement Environmental Science Class to attend the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008 which created ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan),” says Tammy Morgan, Lake Placid High School teacher. “My students were the only young people there. The conference mostly consisted of business people in the area that were coming together with not-for-profits and legislators to figure out a way to make the Adirondack Park a carbon neutral model.”

Morgan enthusiastically talks about how her students branched out to attend the various panels and workshops to achieve a broad spectrum of information. Morgan got more than she wished for. Not only did her students actively participate with adults that may have been intimidating to some but one her students, Zachary Berger, addressed the conference by getting to the heart of an ongoing issue, how to engage youth in climate change.

“At the end of the two-day conference there was an open space for discussion and Zachary stood up and brought up the fact that all weekend people were trying to find ways to engage young people but weren’t giving students a venue to do just that. He felt that students needed a place to be able to discuss and implement change.”

From that stand, many hours and volunteers, the Adirondack Youth Summit was born. That initial year each school set goals to achieve change. Some goals worked while others didn’t but most schools reported a high success rate by keeping goals simple and attainable.

After attending the Summit, Clarkson University created its new Institute for a Sustainable Environment while North Country Community College students developed a campus-wide recycling program. Other schools created composting programs, school gardens, and carbon reduction plans.

This year Lake Placid is just one of the schools at the Wild Center for the next two days. The other schools are Canton High School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, CV-TECH, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Indian River High School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Little River Community School, Long Lake Central School, Malone Central School District, Massena Central High School, Minerva Central School, Newcomb Central School, North Country Community College, Northwood School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Paul Smith’s College, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Salem Central School, Saranac Lake High School, St. Lawrence University, St. Regis Falls Central School, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Potsdam, Troy High School, and Tupper Lake High School.

The Summit will continue tomorrow, November 10th with all plenary sessions streamed live and available for future viewing.With an improved website, schools not in attendence are able to form action plans and given educational tools to start helping lower costs and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Hunting Season Safety

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

When I first moved to the Adirondacks I never took in consideration hunting season as having an effect on my outdoor activities. Yes, I realize that was naïve of me but I have no experience with hunting and had only hiked in the summer. During those warm months gun safety is not on a non-hunter’s radar. Since I can’t be the only person in this predicament, here are some simple rules to keep in mind.

There is room enough in a six-million-acre park for hunters and hikers. My children are well aware of what they need to do to be safe. We unpack our blaze orange vests and hats and stick to the trail. It is this time of year that I encourage them to talk loudly and stick together.

1) Don’t be afraid; be cautious.

2) Be informed of what is “in season.” There are a variety of hunting seasons from muzzleloading and bowhunting to rifle season. For the Northern Zone, Big Game (deer and bear) “regular” hunting season starts the last Saturday in October and runs through the first Sunday in December.

3) All state land is open to hunters.

4) As much as fluorescent clothing is an 80s fashion faux pas, it should be a hiker’s Vitamin C – as in “very good for your health.”

5) Keep in mind that hunters are not hunting you but wear bright colors as a precaution.

6) Keep to the trail. Assume hunters are aware of where the trails are.

7) If you are still worried, choose a safe place to hike like the Adirondack Mountain Club Reserve (AMC) or the Adirondack Visitors’ Center in Newcomb where no hunting is allowed.

8) If you hike with an animal remember to dress the dog in highly visible gear. An orange bandana and vest usually does the trick.

9) There are a lot of areas that are not laden with game so choose those places to go hiking and keep away from really popular spots. If a parking lot or road side is lined with cars with gun racks, take that as being popular.

10) Talk in a loud voice if you feel that you are in a dangerous spot. If you have children this shouldn’t be an issue, at least not with mine. They are rarely silent so any “game” would either cling to them for safety or is long gone.

Most importantly enjoy yourself and know that with a little bit of knowledge there is room for all to enjoy a hike in the woods.

Photo by Holly Garner-Jackson and used with the permission of Woodwind Gallery in Machias, ME


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Puppet People at LARAC

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Puppetry combines elements of problem solving and creativity. It can also segue children from watching television to seeing a live performance. According to Puppet People co-founder, Mark Carrigan, puppetry can spark the imagination where watching television can not.

“I got into puppetry as a small child. I remember watching a puppet show when I was in third grade, running home and making my own puppets,” says Carrigan. “After receiving a degree in sculpture, I worked with Bennington Marionettes sculpting the marionettes’ faces. I met my wife there.”

He and his wife Michelle are the sole owners and employees of Puppet People. They create, design and build all their puppets and shows. Sometimes each puppet can take up to a month to complete. Each show is distinct and the puppets are not reused for various performances.

This Saturday at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council’s (LARAC) Lapham Place Gallery in Glens Falls, children and adults will have an opportunity to participate in a puppet-making workshop as well as see a performance.

“I now want to share with kids how we make things,” says Carrigan. “The challenge is kids are programmed now after watching a show to just want their parents to buy them something. I tell them to go to the library and find out how to make something. I find that to be very important. After seeing a puppet show, kids discover its something they can do themselves. They can build and create and even put on their own show.”

It will also get children away from watching TV or videos. Carrigan remembers watching TV as a child but using imaginative play much more than children do currently. When his wife, a trained actor, as a child used to put on neighborhood shows. Carrigan wants children to be creative. He can’t stress enough the importance of teaching children to problem solve and role-play for strengthening social skills. He believes it can all start with puppets.

“I think seeing a puppet show is the first step to seeing live theatre,” say Carrigan. “There are a lot of different puppet companies so children gain that live experience through puppets first. I find children to be fascinated by its similarity to TV. Since it’s live performance, it also sparks their (the children’s) imagination.”

So there is not only the aspect of a fun afternoon there are even educational elements involved as well. LARAC is sponsoring the one day workshop along with funding provided by Stewarts Shops. The Saturday performance is $10 for adults and $5.00 for children. The 11:30 a.m. workshop is a separate fee of $12 with each participant leaving with his or her own rod puppet.

This 50-minute production is inspired by the classic Russian folk tale and ballet, The Firebird. The mythical bird comes to life and with the help of Ivan and Princess Yelena attempts to break the enchantment of the evil sorcerer. The Firebird focuses on the story’s elements of friendship, teamwork, responsibility and courage. Different types of puppets are incorporated into each show and is appropriate for grades K-6. The Firebird uses rod puppets, marionettes and body puppets.

Jenny Hutchinson, LARAC Gallery program coordinator says, “We haven’t had this workshop since 2006 so we are excited to bring the Puppet People back. For the workshop we will have about 20 people so a lot of individual attention can be given. As a nonprofit organization LARAC is proud to continue to enrich the quality of life for Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties”

Registration is requested for both the workshop and production as space is limited. Please call Ms. Hutchinson at 798-1144, ext. 2 for more information.

Photo used with permission from The Puppet People.


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Apple Cider Demonstrations

Fresh apples are in season. The markets are brimming with those just picked fruits ready to be turned into pies, sauces or eaten fresh. For those not familiar with apple picking there are numerous opportunities around New York State and the Adirondacks to go into the orchards and find your own perfect batch of apples. Not only is apple picking a fun activity, but also it’s an easy way to get outside as a family, show children where food comes from and spend time together.

I remember the first time I went apple picking with my son. I was surrounded by such a talented group of parents that they could have woven their own clothes and built the car they arrived in. During this excursion, one of the other chaperones asked my son if we would make applesauce with the apples he picked. He solemnly informed her that his mother did not know how to make applesauce; at his house, applesauce came in a jar. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Diane Chase Adirondack Family Activities: The Ladies’ Mile

By Diane Chase

While my in-laws were in town, my husband suggested revisiting some of his father’s old haunts. Both 46ers a couple times over, my husband knew his father would no longer be able to hike the High Peaks but would still enjoy sharing some tales. On his recommendation we go to the Ausable Club and walk an easy path known as “The Ladies Mile.”

My first thought was he was joking. There is such a thing as a ladies’ mile? Have I been walking a man-mile all this time and not knowing it? I am going to run a 5K and I’m not in shape. So if a ladies’ mile is shorter, I plan on requesting a few of them. No such luck. The Ladies’ Mile is a beautiful path, part of the private Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) and Ausable Club. Though the public has permission to hike in the AMR it is still private land and has strict rules to follow in order to have access. No dogs, camping or swimming. (Please do not leave the trails and carry out anything you bring in.)

Most hikers entering the Ausable Club property usually bypass this easy trail for the larger gain of the St. Hubert region consisting of such High Peaks as Sawteeth, Nippletop, Dial, Colvin, Blake and Gothics.

We enter the club property and my husband kindly offers to drive the car to the hiker’s parking lot the half-mile past the golf course. We turn left by the tennis courts, and follow the gravel road past guest cottages. At the main gate a watchman greets us and hands us a trail map. We sign in and I make a comment about The Ladies Mile. Honestly, it was funny. All I got was a roll of his eyes. I am guessing he has heard all the comments before.

We walk a short distance to a two-plank bridge with a green sign clearly marked for the Ladies’ Mile. It is a bit slippery but the chicken wire attached to the planks helps keep us steady. There is a half–mile option but we choose to go the whole distance today. It is nice to be able to find a wonderful walk that fits all levels of our family. Grandmothers hold hands with granddaughters while grandfathers relay hiking experiences to grandsons.

The path is clearly marked with orange AMC markers. We soon come to another bridge that will cross the Ausable River. We will save that for another day. Our trail cuts back behind us so we turn around and follow the river, keeping it on our left.

Stone steps are set into a small incline. The river flows swiftly by. I sit and relax watching the water rush over stones and fallen branches. The path veers back toward the main road. After passing a wood shed we start to hear sounds of civilization again. One more footbridge over a small creek and we are back at the main gate.

I am not sure where the mile is measured from, perhaps the parking lot. Either way, it is nice to find a place where all hiking levels can walk together and still feel lost in the woods.

From Keene Valley continue south on Route 73 for about 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Ausable Road. The parking lot is located ½-mile east of the Ausable Clubhouse.


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Monday, September 27, 2010

Adirondack Museum To Host Harvest Fest

The annual Harvest Festival will be held at the Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake, on Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3. Both days will feature activities for the entire family from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The Adirondack Museum offers free admission to year-round residents of the Adirondack Park in the month of October – making Harvest Festival an affordable and enjoyable fall getaway for every Adirondacker.

Circle B Ranch of Chestertown, N.Y. will provide leisurely rides through the museum’s beautiful grounds in a rustic wagon filled with hay bales. Youngsters can enjoy pony rides as well.

On Saturday, October 2nd only, Chef Tom Morris of the Mirror Lake Inn will offer a demonstration entitled “Extending the Season” at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Chef Morris will discuss techniques for canning, jarring, pickling, and other methods of food preservation.

On Sunday, October 3rd only, Sally Longo of Aunt Sally’s Adirondack Catering will offer harvest related food demonstrations at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Visitors can relax in an Adirondack chair and enjoy guitar and banjo tunes played by musician Bill Hall. Hall’s love of music and the Adirondacks has inspired his original compositions about early Adirondack logging, mining, and railroading.

Bill studied guitar with the legendary Chet Atkins, and is self-taught in classical style guitar and banjo. He has merged classic style with nature to create a unique finger picking method he calls “pick-a-dilly.” Bill has performed in various venues throughout the region including Teddy Roosevelt celebrations in the towns of Newcomb, Minerva, and North Creek, N.Y.

Other Harvest Festival highlights include cider pressing, barn raising for young and old, as well as pumpkin painting and crafts inspired by nature. Kids can jump in a giant leaf pile on the museum’s center campus.

The museum will accept donations of food and winter clothing for a full month this fall, in collaboration with Hamilton County Community Action.

From September 20 through October 18, 2010, donations of dried or canned foods, winter outerwear to include coats, hats, scarves, mittens, or boots for adults and children, as well as warm blankets, comforters, or quilts will be collected in the museum’s Visitor Center.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Diane Chase: Adirondack Family Activities Take Your Child Outside Week


By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Take Your Child Outside Week (annually September 24-30) started four years ago when Liz Baird, Director of School Programming at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was inspired by Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods.”

“This is a movement to inspire people to take a pledge to go outside for unstructured play,” says Baird. “One barrier we have discovered is that some parents do not want their children to get dirty or parents just don’t know what to do outside.”

“If this week inspires parents and children to go outside then that is fine. If they want to do it again and again, that is wonderful,” says Baird. “Children being able to spend time outdoors is a right just as much as having clean water and clean air. It is their right to explore nature.”

When Baird started the movement she felt she would be fortunate to have ten organizations partner with her. She now has close to 400 partners representing all fifty states and four foreign countries helping children enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle. In the Adirondack Park, The Wild Center, Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center, The Adirondack Museum and the SUNY –ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center are part of this movement to connect children to nature.

So for those looking to get their children outside here are a few options to keep the costs to a minimum. If you are reluctant to go for a walk on your own, Smithsonian magazine is conducting their annual free museum day this September 25th.

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and the 1932/1980 Winter Olympic Museum in Lake Placid are participating. Fill out the form with the Smithsonian and you receive a free pass for two for September 25. Though there are plenty of inside activities at the Adirondack Museum, there are also chances to explore around the grounds as well. If you are reluctant to climb a mountain, this may be a good place to start.

The Olympic Museum is, well, inside. So the outside portion of the program would have to be conducted elsewhere. After exploring Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage, take children to the nearby town beach and explore the shoreline for the food chain.

In my family outings one thing we are always on the lookout for is what other animals are eating, whether insect or bird. Let children take time to explore the small details like witnessing hardworking ants preparing for winter or dragonflies catching insects. If parents don’t want to join in take a moment for yourself to relax. You may not get another opportunity for awhile.

September 25th is also designated as Nature Rocks Day where parents are encouraged to get outside with their families and explore natural habitats.

According to Baird she hopes that we eventually won’t need a week to get kids outside, that is, it will become an everyday occurrence.

“Wouldn’t that be exciting if we no longer needed a week designated to get children outside,” exclaims Baird. “ That would mean this disconnect with nature will be obsolete.”

Photo used with permission from Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time www.adkfamilytime.com


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Great Adirondack Moose Festival

The Great Adirondack Moose Festival will take place in Indian Lake this weekend, September 18-19. The idea was conceived when Event Chairperson Brenda Valentine read of the return of moose to the Adirondack Park.

Before retiring permanently to the Indian Lake area, Valentine organized fundraisers for Consolidated Edison (ConEd). Her experience with public relations and the support of the community has created a new event, she hopes, for all ages. She admits that she couldn’t just sit down and “be retired.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Diane Chase Adirondack Family Activities: Inlet’s Rocky Mountain

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Rocky Mountain is about the easiest climb I have had the pleasure to complete in a while. With a vertical rise of 450’ and just a half-mile to the top, not only do we get a chance to stretch our legs but an astounding view as well.

I love those types of climbs. Not every opportunity to get outside can be a full day event. Sometimes our schedule only permits a quick jaunt. Knowing where to find a family-friendly hike that satisfies all levels of hiker is worth putting on the list. Rocky Mountain is just such a hike.

Just south of Inlet we find the parking area with ease. We have an expert guide. We are visiting a friend from the area that knows exactly what my children need, a run up a mountain. The kids rush out of the car hardly waiting for it to be put into park. The register is signed and we are on our way.

It is an easy path. Even the damp ground and slick rocks do not impede our scramble up the wide rocky trail. A jogger and a family pass us on an outing. This trail is well used by visitors as well as locals but not overly crowded.

I hang toward the back nudging my daughter on as she stops every few steps to look for butterflies, bugs or perhaps, once again, mermaids. A few trees have started to turn color so we play a game to find the next tree that is putting on its autumn cloak. I have to remind her the goal is going up the mountain not into it. We need to stay on the trail. My son is just the opposite. He is focused on the summit.

We rarely have all sorts of time at the top to explore and soak in the view. Usually we have a quick look around and retreat due to time constraints. With this hike we can relax. Fourth Lake, McCauley Mountain to the west and Bald Mountain along the north are pointed out to us.

I sit in a quiet corner and just breathe while my kids play hopscotch in the soft earth. Later we rub out any marks to make sure that we leave the area exactly (or better) than we found it.

To access the trailhead drive about one mile south on Route 28 from downtown Inlet to the parking area for Rocky Mountain. The path is an easy one-mile round trip hike.

Photo of Fourth Lake from the summit of Rocky Mt © Diane Chase used with permission from Adirondack Family Time


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Wildlife Habitat Awareness Day

Not so long ago my children discovered a baby robin out of its nest and floundering near our front stoop. The mother robin circled nervously. It was a difficult decision to stand back and let nature take its course. My husband and I were operating with a barrage of opinions, a few old wives tales, two crying children and a curious dog. The baby was a fledgling and managed to seek refuge under the deck while its mother continued to feed it. We assume that it flew away one morning like it was supposed to, with no help from us. The most challenging part of those few days was keeping overzealous children from creating a bird sanctuary as the dog whined for a nibble of Robin Red-Breast Tartare.

This Saturday children and adults will be able to ask about all the right ways to help make sure baby animals stay in the wild where they belong. One rule is to remember that these animals are wild and should remain so, so the best course of action is to leave the baby and let its mother do what it does best. That is always better said than done when it comes to children so I can always use a few more talking points.

Wendy and Steve Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington have provided a full day of events to inform humans about when it is right to intervene on behalf of wildlife and when it is best to ignore.

The Wildlife Refuge is 60 acres on the western branch of the Ausable River. There is a one-mile guided nature trail, animal exhibits and experts from organic gardeners to naturalists that will explain how plants and animals play a vital role in nature.

“The important idea we want to get across is sustainability,” says Wendy. “We are involved with a coalition of people that are focusing on sustainability. We have someone from the Ausable River Association talking about invasive species, an organic blueberry farmer and my good friend Nancy VanWie from the Nature Conservancy.”

Wendy says that Nancy plays many roles in educating the public about conservation and sustainability. In addition to her role with the Nature Conservancy, Nancy is also part of the Westport Community Garden project and along with Eddie Mrozik co-founded the Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue.

Steve Hall agrees, “ We mainly want people to have a chance to meet wildlife up close and gain an understanding of how everything fits together. Zeebie and Cree, our two wolves, are pets to us but are used as a vehicle to educate how such animals hunt and investigate their property. Zeebie came to us as a baby in July 2009 and is now over 100 lbs. With the bird of prey, like the Great Horned Owl, we bring these raptors up close so people can learn about them.”

According to Steve Hall the main hope is that people will gain a better understanding of wildlife and how it fits into the ecosystem. He hopes that people will see that wildlife is an integral part of the natural world. The role wildlife plays is more beneficial to humans than we know. He brings up the term, “indicator species.”

According to the Nature Conservancy indicator species are animals high on the food chain that indicate the health of the environment. Loons are a prime example as researchers continue to collect data on the mercury accumulation in the loon’s food source.

I am looking forward to finding out when it is time to call in the experts at the Rehabilitation Center and when it is best to leave nature alone.

The Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center is located at 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington. The event is on Saturday, September 4th from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This event is free but donations are accepted and used to build enclosures for disabled raptors.

Photo courtesy Diane Chase. 


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Diane Chase Adirondack Family Activities: Fort Ticonderoga

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

There is too much to see. We have entered what looks like a fantasy world and it isn’t Disney. Tri-corn hats, fife and drum, cannons and muskets surround us. My children practically spin in a circle unsure what to visit first. Each climbs aboard a cannon while one eagerly points to Lake Champlain. The other is busy protecting us from the unknown enemy. She is protecting us from a raid on Fort Ticonderoga.

I am just trying to keep up. There is a whole schedule of events to attend. I am feeling a bit underdressed. We are surrounded by people in period costume. We go through the museum and try to take in some of the 30,000 objects on display. The West Barracks holds an impressive display of ancient artillery including an engraved sword owned by Alexander Hamilton, the 1st Secretary of the Treasury.

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French military in the mid-1700s as one of a series of forts used to control Lake Champlain. Originally named Fort Carillon, the fort was built atop the narrows of the La Chute River as the waters enter Lake Champlain to maintain control over the waterway. Its complicated history shows a change of hands between British and American forces.

My son is lobbying for some kind of weapon. The familiar whine of “everyone else here has one” as I look around, does ring true. This has an essence of Ralphie in A Christmas Story all over it. He promises he will always aim over his sister’s head. Now those are words I don’t hear every day. I tell him he is going to have to be content to watch the flag ceremony and musket demonstration. He practically salivates when the drum starts to sound.

I sneak out of the Fife and Drum demonstration for a visit to the chocolate tent. Mars Inc. researched and duplicated an 18th century chocolate recipe. It is not the hot chocolate I am used to but a bittersweet concoction slightly spiced with vanilla, red pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. This dark steaming beverage was the breakfast of the soldier. The demonstrator carefully grates a bar into a chocolate pot and adds water to the shavings. She pours the bitter mixture into sample cups for all to try. This was a staple of the 18th century soldiers, sometimes the only breakfast they would have. My daughter’s squeals of excitement pull me from my chocolate-induced haze. She would like some chocolate. She tosses the mixture down like a warrior, waving off an offer for seconds. She must leave me now to march with the rest of the corps.

This Friday, August 27th, will mark the last of the season’s daily family activities. Throughout the summer children have had the opportunity to complete crafts befitting the revolutionary theme such as make a soldier’s diary, a tri-corn hat or design a power horn.

“By the beginning of September most children are back in school so we focus on other activities such as the Garrison Ghost Tours, “ says Group Tour Coordinator Nancy LaVallie. “We are open until October 20th with our regular programming, guided tours and other special events like seminars and the annual Revolutionary War Encampment. There is plenty to do.”

Built in 1755 by the French, Fort Ticonderoga is the site of the first American victory of the American Revolution. For more information regarding history of the fort, chocolate and hours of operation please contact 518-585-2821. For those interested in a discount, check out the online coupon for 10% savings on a visit.

Photo of Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corp and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diane Chase Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Polo Club

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

This weekend the Adirondack Polo Club will hold its Leslie Cup to raise funds and awareness for High Peaks Hospice and Palliative Care.

According to Lonnie Cross, Adirondack Polo Club member, the club is in its fifth season though for the last two years has made Westport its summer home. Previously the club traveled to destinations as far away as New Orleans to participate in matches. When Cross purchased land from a golf facility he did so with the purpose of providing a different local attraction for the community.

“We are polo enthusiasts that are used to traveling. This year we have played matches on the other side of the lake with the Sugerbush Polo Club as well as in Saratoga. Our players come from different backgrounds,” says Cross. “We have careers beyond polo so this is mostly a hobby. We are a grassroots club but it is our decision to bring something different to the community. Our goal is to continue making a difference. I hope we can through our love of our horses.”

It may be a hobby but it is something the club is very willing to share. Though most of us may not have the means to own a thoroughbred polo pony, the Adirondack Polo Club’s events are usually free and open to the public. Those of us that enjoy a fast-paced match can enjoy the benefits of beautiful surroundings and gorgeous horses without the work involved in ownership. The added benefit is that the polo participants welcome questions about their chosen sport and want people to be able to not just watch but be actively involved.

The “polo ponies” aren’t really ponies but beautiful horses carefully selected for speed and stamina. In addition the horses have to be able to maneuver between other horses and riders and not be jittery when the mallet swings around their heads.

Cross would like to eliminate the misconception that polo is only about the high-heeled women replacing divots while holding glasses of champagne or that the animals are mistreated in any fashion.

“We treat our horses with kid gloves because they are the athletes. They are as, if not more, important than the players. We feed and bed our animals, provide grooms to exercise and make sure they get the rest they need. It is at great expense that we provide the best care. I think it’s terrible when other owners mistreat their animals, taking them on rides and then expecting the animal to perform at a match. Traditionally Monday is the day of rest for the horses.”

He does admit that these animals are bred to be fast and require vigorous exercise though he agrees that everything requires balance and the horse’s best interest is always at heart.

For those that may not know the rules here is bit of information. An outdoor polo field is larger than nine football fields (300 yards long and 160 yards wide). It is touted as the largest field in organized sports. A team is made of four players that are assigned positions based on each player’s strength and experience.

A polo match lasts about an hour and a half with six chukkers (periods) of seven minutes each. A bell is rung to announce that last 30 seconds remaining in the chukker while a horn sound indicates the chukker’s ending. There is a three-minute break between each chukker and a five-minute halftime. Halftime is used to replace any divots out in the field. Replacing the divots is just one time-honored tradition of polo.

Though most matches are free this August 21st at 1:00 p.m. The Adirondack Polo Club will play for High Peaks Hospice for an admission of $5 per person and $10 per car. That price certainly encourages you to want to lower your carbon footprint and car pool.

Newcomers and fans are encouraged to come early and bring their own seating (chairs or blankets) and relish a picnic-like setting. Hamburgers, hotdogs and other fare will be available for purchase starting at noon. There will also be miniature donkeys and alpacas for all to enjoy.

If you can’t make this weekend’s event, on September 4th another fundraising polo match will take place that benefits Ronald McDonald House in Burlington, VT.

The Polo Hotline is (518) 572-9391 with a rain date of Sunday, August 22. The polo field is located on Polo Club Way off of Stevenson Road (Route 44) in Westport.


Photo of the Adirondack Polo Club used with permission.


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities’s Diane Chase: The Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

There are just a few weeks left before Director Stan Burdick closes the doors to the Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum. There is a lot of history in the 50-year collection of cartoon memorabilia. A political cartoonist himself, Stan contributed to many local newspapers during his career. His work has been selected numerous times for the annual publication, “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” and in 1996 he won the New York Press Association Award for his editorial cartoon of Eliot Spitzer. My children greet Stan like he is the cable man and he just offered free access to unlimited channels. They look at me like I am the only thing holding them back from nirvana. I shush them off making sure they carefully maneuver through the aisles.

The museum houses over 700 pieces of original art from mainstream cartoonists like Chuck Jones’ Bugs Bunny, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, and Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury to the more obscure work of Henri Daumier, an 18th century French caricaturist. Special exhibits include the work of Arto Monaco (creator of Santa’s Workshop and Land of Make Believe), Sid Couchey’s Richie Rich, and Charles Dana Gibson’s Gibson Girls. The collection will be moved to the Pittsburgh ToonSeum in September.

There is also a reference library of over 300 books if anyone has a moment to research any favorite comic strip characters. For us, Mr. Burdick manages to answer a seemingly endless array of questions.

Stan even gives us a quick cartooning demonstration and explains this particular art form that with all the ease of computers and scanning is still rendered by hand. He shows how a political cartoonist has to be up on current events by reading newspapers and listening to the news, find the right concept, think up the caption, draw it, and “ink” the artwork. The original art is then reduced in size, scanned and e-mailed to the newspapers to be read by all. That is the simplified version.

I am not sure my children grasp how much work goes into each cartoon. They innocently ask if they can go back to reading and looking at the cartoons. Gladly. It is an opportunity not to be missed. We can fill them in later on specific historical events that created the cartoons.

The Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum is located on the lower level of the Community Center on Montcalm Street. It is currently open on Fridays from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. or by appointment. Please call 518-585-7015 for additional times and more information.

Photo of Stan Burdick, director of the Ticonderoga Cartoon Museum, and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Diane Chase’s Adirondack Family Activities: Nature Tours at White Pine Camp

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

White Pine Camp, originally built in 1907, became the Summer White House in 1926 for President Calvin Coolidge. Situated among 35 acres of land, White Pine Camp houses 18 buildings and an interesting architectural history. We walk past the single story guest cottages with asymmetrical rooflines and marvel over the trees growing through the covered decks.

My children run outside the cottages and then back in to confirm that the trees are indeed alive. They are not as interested in the brainstorm siding (rough-hewed clapboards) as in the bowling alley, boathouse and footbridge to the Japanese teahouse.

Stuffed animals have a different connotation at White Pine Camp than at our house. Our guide urges us to the Great Room. My daughter wonders about a “great room” full of toys. She quickly returns to us to report her discovery that animals at White Pine are not only stuffed but mounted.

My son tests his navigational skills by returning to the tennis court unattended while I stay at the New Boathouse and review the historical exhibit. Soon after we reunite and start the return trek, passing the Fred Huette Alpine Rock Garden.

Guided tours are available on Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend at 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; adults are $10 and children $5. Though White Pine Camp is privately owned, the tours are organized through the Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH). Please call 518-834-9328 for additional information.

“At Adirondack Architectural Heritage, we provide a tour guide as part of our mission to educate people on the history, architecture and the historic buildings of the Adirondack Park. White Pine Camp is an important part of heritage,” says Program Director Susan Area. “White Pine Camp, having been host to President Calvin Coolidge, is a wonderful example of a Great Camp. We appreciate that the owners of White Pine Camp allow us to continue to expose people to this privately owned camp. The funds we do raise go back to our organization to further our mission to educate the public on Adirondack buildings. White Pine Camp is a unique set-up to our other tours.”

Adirondack Architectural Heritage conducts over 30 daylong tours all summer to sites of historical and architectural interest that range from downtown walking tours to planned cottage communities to great camps to industrial and agricultural sites that are all relative to the development of the Adirondack Park.

The historical tour is not the only option. A free guided nature walk is available on Tuesday mornings by calling White Pine Camp directly at 518-327-3030 to reserve a spot.

Edward Kanze leads the free walks. Kanze is a licensed guide and proprietor of the Adirondack Naturalist Company as well as a renowned wildlife photographer. He has authored five books and has written for numerous magazines. He brings his extensive knowledge of the Adirondack wilderness to each interpretive walk. This walk covers the vast lands around White Pine Camp and adds another element to the history of the property. Though the walk is free, reservations are recommended due to the popularity of the event.

To get to White Pine Camp take Route 30 north to the Route 86 junction at Paul Smith’s College. Turn NE onto Route 86 for ½ mile. White Pine Road will be on the left.

photo of the White Pine Camp Japanese Teahouse and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake PlacidPublish Post, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Raquette Lake Durant Days

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Raquette Lake will be a buzz of activity as community and guests enjoy the annual celebration honoring William West Durant. Tours, boat rides, fireworks and concerts are just a few of the activities everyone can enjoy this weekend.

William W. Durant is most commonly known as the founder of the Adirondack Great Camp. The most recognizable elements of the Great Camp style are rough hewed log construction, local stonework and decorative work using twigs, bark and branches. The camps were self-sufficient mega complexes that provided all means of entertainment for its guests from teahouses to bowling alleys. In the 1800s his father, Thomas C. Durant, had owned thousands of acres of Adirondack property turning the Raquette Lake acreage over to William to manage.

William West Durant first built the Great Camp Pine Knot that would eventually be owned by Collis Huntington and other properties including Camp Uncas (owned by J.P. Morgan 1895) and Sagamore Lodge (built in 1897 and purchased by Alfred G. Vanderbilt in 1901). Durant supervised the building of over 100 buildings on the properties, a town, a railway and two churches (St. Williams and St. Huberts) and was responsible for hundreds of workers while spearheading these Great Camp endeavors. The rampant development of these large-scaled projects eventually led to his bankruptcy. These three camps are now National Historic Landmarks as advocates of history have worked hard to preserve this golden Adirondack era.

Currently Pine Knot is owned by SUNY Cortland and not open for public tours except on July 30th during Durant Days. Not only is Durant known for the founding of a classic architectural style but also for creating a town named in his honor that provided employees and families a place to congregate. The town of Durant no longer exists. The renovated store and St. William’s Church are all that remains of a once thriving waterway community on the north shore of Long Point.

With the opening of the railway line in 1900, the post office was moved from Durant to what is now the hamlet of Raquette Lake.

Event coordinator and caretaker of St. Williams’s On Long Point Andrea Monhollen says, “On Thursday nights we have free concerts here and the Raquette Lake Boys’ Camp and Girls’ Camp meet people at the dock and offer free boat rides to the events. It is a wonderful way to bring the community together.”

A special event will take place on Saturday on St. William’s on Long Point with a free water taxi from the town dock with a free afternoon concert from “Wide Variety” billed as Jersey’s premier A Cappella Group. Other activities commence throughout the day culminating with a band on the village green, boat parade and fireworks.

The Great Camp experience is also available through a free 10:00 a.m. tour of Camp Sagamore on Sunday, August 1st. All other guided tours are fee-based. The planned activities end with free vester service at St. Hubert’s.

photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


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