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.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cock-A-Doodle Shoe Snowshoe Race Saturday

Cock A Doodle ShoeIt may be raining now, but it looks like we may be getting winter back on track this weekend with some colder temperatures and new snow. Some of my favorite trails have lost their base layer and the paths are better suited to crampons than skis. Despite the dreary sounding conditions there is still plenty to do to get outside and enjoy the Adirondack winter wonderland.

For the second year The New Land Trust in Saranac has teamed up with Dion snowshoes to host the annual Cock-A-Doodle Shoe on January 18 at 10 am.  This year race organizers added a 5K to the existing 10K snowshoe race format. According to Race Organizer Jeremy Drowne the event is on. Drowne feels that this warm front will soften the base and the new snow will add a nice layer for the upcoming race. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ADK Winterfest and Winter Trails Day

ADKLojski_newMy family spends a fair bit of time at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) Adirondack Loj High Peaks Information Center. With Heart Lake being a popular gateway into the High Peaks, we hike their trails, drop off groups and introduce guests to its range of outdoor activities.

Since the Adirondack Park is a multi-season playground, the ADK Heart Lake Center is offering a free day full of winter opportunities to showcase that the 700-acre Heart Lake property is more than just a parking lot for the High Peaks. In conjunction with the 19th Winter Trails Day, ADK has gathered volunteers and staff to host its first Winterfest on January 11. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Young Playwrights Festival at Pendragon Theatre

Pendragon Theatre CampPendragon Theatre has always been one of my family’s favorite places to see a theatre performance in the Adirondack Park. In addition to an intimate theatre experience, there are always opportunities for children to gain professional theatre skills.

Pendragon hosts kids’ camps, live productions and internships throughout the year. Their latest event is bringing not just the stage alive for young adults, but hopefully their words as well. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

First Night in Saratoga, Saranac Lake

FirstNIghtSaratoga_newBefore being introduced to First Night Boston years ago, New Year’s Eve celebrations were always a bit of a letdown for me. New Year’s Eve seemed to be a search for something better with enough alcohol to make waiting for the ball to drop remotely palatable. After experiencing First Night Boston, I knew if I were to leave the comfort of my home it would be to welcome in the next year surrounded by art, music and quality events. We have since gone to First Night events in Burlington and Binghamton and most consistently, Saranac Lake.

Last year was the first time my family attended a First Night celebration in Saratoga Springs. Traveling through Saratoga Springs and making the stop was one of the best New Year’s Eve decisions to date. All First Night celebrations offer families an opportunity to bring in the New Year with creative events and hands-on activities. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Join the 2013 Christmas Bird Count

ChristmasBirdCount_newThis will be the first time that my family makes counting birds part of our holiday tradition, though the National Audubon Society has been conducting its Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the past 114 years. This year we, along with numerous others, will be walking roads, peering at backyard feeders and looking to the skies to track birds.

Over the past few years we’ve taken steps to learn more about birds by participating in various bird counts organized by the National Audubon Society. Putting up a bird feeder is one of the things we manage to do no matter where we’ve lived. It is so peaceful watching our feathery friends come and go. We have a bird poster near the window in case any newcomer visits our feeder. Along the way we’ve learned what food attracts which birds and how to avoid the squirrels. Well, the squirrels are still a work in progress. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding A Christmas Tree in the Southern Adirondacks

Christmastree_newI grew up getting a tree from a parking lot and yearned for a storybook experience of searching the woods for the ideal tree. Though getting any Christmas tree was exciting, I wanted to give my children a different family ritual.  I also wanted to stick to the legal version of obtaining a Christmas tree. A few of my friends may disagree (and shall remain nameless), but I believe that searching for a tree should not involve stealth, cloak of darkness and a get-away car.

How we obtain our Christmas tree varies year to year, but so far we have either been gifted a tree from a neighbor’s property or we’ve visited one a local Adirondack Christmas tree farm. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giving Tuesday in the Adirondacks

bobcat-close2-745x396After all the madness of retail bargains, it is now the time to focus on Giving Tuesday. I know the weekend rush of named sale events like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are catchy and cute, but Giving Tuesday is truly a great way to shift from a weekend focusing on all the items we feel we have to have to a day about others.

My children are in charge of taking care of our recycling throughout the year. In doing so, they also get to keep the money earned from turning in any redeemable bottles and cans. That money earned does come with strings attached. They need to donate their earnings to the charity of their choice.  My children are too young to have a steady income, but my husband and I have always felt one is never too young to learn how to give.

Though Giving Tuesday is meant to bring donations to charitable organizations, I do not believe it needs to be just about dollars spent. Don’t get me wrong. I support many non-profits as well as local Adirondack organizations that foster my own goal of getting families outside in nature and into the arts. These organizations need our help to continue to provide those much needed and appreciated services. The Adirondack Foundation’s new Adirondack Gives site is a nice way to help nonprofits meet goals, like game cameras for the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shopping Small in the Central Adirondacks

scan0001We try to find the time to make sure some of the items being sent to family and friends are “made in the Adirondacks.” That special moniker indicates a range of products from maple treats or rhubarb concentrate to elaborate bark-trimmed furniture. Since we live in the Adirondacks we are fortunate to be able to share some of the bounty with other family members not so fortunate.

The advertisements for Black Friday specials come at such a steady stream of daily flyers and commercials that my head starts to ache. Black Friday may be the day to brave the mall, but Small Business Saturday is the day that I support the backbone of the Adirondacks: the downtown shops, business owners and restaurants. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Become Part of the Local Underground Railroad

Underground_Railroad_Experience_Poster1This Saturday my family and six of my son’s friends will be celebrating his birthday by becoming part of the Underground Railroad. It won’t be the typical birthday party, but it is the one that my son wants to share with his friends. Presented by the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center and the Underground Railroad Historical Association, the North County Underground Railroad Experience will be held rain, snow or shine at the Willsboro 1812 Homestead Museum on November 23 from 6-9 pm. This trip through local history is a mere $5 per person.

Participants will play the roles of escaped slaves while the Pok-O-MacCready staff plays the roles of bounty hunters, abolitionists and marshals. According to Brian DeGroat, Director of the Outdoor Education Center, the event is geared to children ages 10 and older due mainly to the serious issues regarding slavery and gearing the lecture to an older audience. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Polar Plunge: Supporting Special Olympians

cZ9QdLUrJust when you think its time to pack away the swim gear and pull out the skis, its time for the annual Polar Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics. I am not one to actually take the required dip, but hold vigorously to my role as spectator when it comes to braving any Adirondack water in November.

From the Finger Lakes to Lake Champlain and Lake George to Staten Island there are 14 Polar Plunge events scheduled with ones in Plattsburgh and Lake George on November 16. Lake George’s Polar Plunge will kick off from Shepard’s Park while the Plattsburgh participants will brave a chilly Lake Champlain from City Beach.

According to Special Olympics Development Specialist Erin McCartan this is the seventh year of their Lake George plunge and the fourth for their Plattsburgh event. Partnering with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the Polar Plunges are one their biggest fundraiser throughout the year. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Celebrating An Adirondack Veterans Day

St Lawrence County Flag RockSadly, Veterans Day doesn’t seem to get the press that Halloween does. Yes, I realize it doesn’t come with candy or ring the doorbell dressed up like a ninja. Instead it quietly rolls around each November 11th.

Celebrated first as Armistice Day to commemorate the November 11, 1918 truce ending World War I, the name was changed in 1954 after World War II and the Korean War to honor all American veterans of wars.  So besides the individual town celebrations to remember those veterans that made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives as well as those that continue to serve, here are three ideas to say thank you. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Opportunities to Celebrate an Adirondack Halloween

Adirondack Halloween PumpkinPersonally, I prefer to celebrate Halloween passing out the candy while wearing a tiara and a pair of wings without getting any quizzical looks from the neighbors. The other members of my family prefer to look to the pagan holiday as a test of bravery. Haunted houses, corn maze Fright Nights or Zombie Runs aren’t the only means to look fear in eye.

For some Halloween-themed ideas around the Adirondacks try An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe stories at Pendragon Theatre on October 30 at 7 pm and November 1 at 9 pm. Costumes are encouraged for readings of selected works of Poe’s short stories including a Tell-Tale Heart.

On October 31st at 7 pm the Adirondack Film Society will have organist Jeff Barker accompany the 1920 silent film classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring John Barrymore and held at the Palace Theatre. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Free Family Fun Day at Camp Chingachgook Saturday

For over 100 years Camp Chingachgook has been offering children and families options for enjoying nature on Lake George. Off-season the camp has opened its facility to the public for site- specific activities, but for the first time Camp Chingachgook is hosting a free family fun day, October 26 from 10 am – 4 pm, utilizing the whole camp property.

According to Camp Director Billy Rankin they used to offer various specialty days like High Ropes Day or Climbing Day throughout the season. In an attempt to simplify things and create a more family-friendly atmosphere, they created three seasonal events: Winter Wonderland, Spring Fling and the Fall Family Fun Day. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gabriels: The Great Adirondack Corn Maze

I am not one that searches out various ways to be frightened. I have to dial down my 10-year-old’s enthusiastic Halloween decorating, not for lack of creativity, but because I don’t want to be terrified entering my own house.

I’ll compromise with a few fake spider webs draped across the porch because we more often than not have the real thing hanging around anyway. As far as activities go, the Great Adirondack Corn Maze in Gabriels manages to thrill all ages and fear levels of my family. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Celebrate Loons at the Paul Smith’s VIC

There is something quite mystical about hearing a loon. Whether it’s the haunting wail that echoes across lakes or the territorial male yodel, the loon’s calls can silence everyone around it as people search for the source of the sound.

I was recently paddling a nearby Adirondack pond and was followed by a common loon.  It gave that shrill laughing sound called tremolo that is used to signal alarm. I can only assume that we were too close to its chicks. It seemed that no matter where we went, it didn’t want to share the waterway with us. We finally just sat and drifted and the loon dove underwater, reappearing on a far shore.

There are many things to understand about the loon and the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) have joined forces for a full day of loon related activities to educate and inform all of us about this iconic bird. This free event will be held from 9 am – 5 pm on Sunday, October 13 at the VIC. » Continue Reading.