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, 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. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Old Forge Model Air Show

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities Fighter planes and dogfights are just part of the program for the Mountain R/C Club’s annual air show in Old Forge this July 31st. The sky will be humming with replica WWII radio-controlled planes like the Spitfire, P51 Mustang, B25 Mitchell, F6F Hellcat as well as a few jet aircrafts and other more recent models.

Event Director Walt Throne says, “ We are looking forward to having the same format as in years past. There will be a variety of planes and helicopters on the 31st.”

According to Throne the event will consist of a morning of opening flying with about 30-40 radio-controlled aircraft available and culminate with a 1:00 p.m. air show.

“At one o’clock we take the models that are available and show all sorts of phases of flying: free flight, control line and radio control with such models as an RVC electric jet, WWII planes even a lawnmower, he laughs. “People love to watch the lawnmower.”

Free flight planes are the origin of the hobby with planes such as gliders where the modeler attempts to launch the plane by hand or rubber band. These models are much more advanced than the inexpensive toy store version.

Control line, sometimes referred to as U-Control, is when the modeler is controlling the model by means of wires or other mechanisms. The pilot holds a handle attached to the plane and turns in circles with the flight of the plane. The trick is to keep the line taunt and straight while the plane reaches maximum elevation.

The most popular means of model aviation is radio-control. These sophisticated models mimic real flight by means of a remote signal.

This year people will be coming from all over the eastern seaboard to participate. The event is free to watch and various concessions will be available for purchase.

The Mountain RC Club will once again sell raffle tickets for a radio-controlled airplane to benefit the local youth ski program. The event is held at the North Street Airfield in Old Forge from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

From Main Street in Old Forge head east on Route 28, turning north on North Street by the Enchanted Forest Water Safari Park. The North Street Airfield is a short distance on your left. There is plenty of parking available.

photo of lawnmower model airplane at North Street Airfield 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, July 13, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Seagle Music Colony

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Jack and the Beanstalk may be considered a children’s story but the undertones of the Seagle Music Colony’s operatic rendition leaves anyone with an appreciation for music with his/her own interpretation. The giant does get his in the end, but it is not the end one is expecting. For adults there is the rich performance of the four gifted students and children listen in awe to a magical story. The bonus is being able to meet the fairytale characters, come-to-life, after the show.

Founded in 1915 by world-renowned baritone Oscar Seagle, Seagle Music Colony draws the most talented singers from around the country for its summer training program. Open to only 32 individuals the auditions are rigorous.

Artist Director Darren Woods says,“ I was a child from a small town with no exposure to opera and went on to perform as a professional. When I started managing various companies it was important to me to incorporate some kind of free children’s offering.”

Woods, currently the General Director of Fort Worth Opera as well as Artistic Director of Seagle Music Colony understands that this select group of gifted singers attending the Seagle Music program will at some point in their careers perform operatic educational outreach.

“We have been doing free children’s operas at Seagle Music Colony for the past twelve years,” says Woods. “ The first year we did Little Red Riding Hood at the Boathouse Theatre (Schroon Lake) and couldn’t have squeezed another person in. We have now branched out to 10 performances around the North Country. Part of our mission is to provide quality entertainment to those living in the Adirondacks and that includes children.”

The children’s performance is not the only offering at Seagle. This year the schedule is full with the staged musical comedies of Hello Dolly and Carousel as well as The Marriage of Figaro performed in Italian with performances of Romeo and Juliet in French. There are also a “Salute to the Tony Awards” and “Vespers” concerts.

The next free performance of Jack in the Beanstalk is slated for July 16th in Bolton Landing. The tour continues to Glens Falls, July 17; North Creek, July 20; Ticonderoga, July 21; Chestertown, July 24; and Lake Placid on July 28.

The Children’s Opera is free but reservations are requested. Please call 518- 532-7875 for more information.

Photo of the Seagle Colony performance of Jack in the Beanstalk at the Boathouse Theatre 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, June 15, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Father’s Day Frog Jumping Contest

Forget the pancake breakfast and undercooked bacon. For the 38th year fathers and families will gather in Old Forge at noon on June 20 and find use for those past father’s day gifts and compete in the ugliest tie contest.

A tie picked out by a child is like my closet dedicated to those bride-maid dresses that I was promised could be shortened and worn again. The issue, without insulting too many of my friends, is that some of the dresses shouldn’t have been worn the first time as with a few of the ties my husband (and perhaps yours) has hanging in the back of his closet.

In the same philosophy that spandex is a privilege and should not be considered formal wear, neckties should not be bedazzled with the belief that glitter makes everything better.

If a rhinestone tie won’t win a family trophy then the frog-jumping contest just may. Annually over 30 frogs compete in a series of categories like weight, speed and jump at the Old Forge Lakefront.

According the Cindy Beckley of the Town of Webb Publicity Department in Old Forge no frogs are harmed during this event.

“We have a garden hose available to keep the frogs wet so they are not under any undo stress. All frogs are released back to their natural habitat,” says Beckley.

Though this isn’t the setting of Mark Twain’s 1865 tall tale, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, about life in a “Gold Rush” town, there are ample trophies and opportunities to have your own Daniel Webster perform, unless someone fills the frog up with buckshot.

For those unable to attend but would still like to find ways to celebrate the brilliance of Mark Twain, the Saranac Lake Historical Society has a series of summer events commemorating Mark Twain’s Adirondack connection and the 100th year anniversary of his death. The mantra surrounding schools, libraries and book groups is “rediscover Huckleberry Finn.” There will also be a non-stop reading on July 21 at the Keene Valley Library from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. as well as lectures and boat tours to the Mark Twain camp in August.

For more information about the tie or frog-jumping contest please call 315-369-6983. Happy Father’s Day.

Disclaimer: Nothing is more precious than the look on my children’s faces when they have found the perfect gift and I am honored that so many of my friends have wanted me as part of each special day, even the second time around. Sadly even that second go-around hasn’t been an opportunity to wear those dresses again though the thought did occur to me, more than once.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Lake Placid Film Forum

Celebrating its 10th anniversary the Lake Placid Film Forum is showcasing women in the film industry, new directions in filmmaking and an environmental “green” focus in additional to its annual tribute to silent film.

Opening night on June 10th will be a bargain for families at $10 for two Buster Keaton movies and a foreign short “Salim Baba.” The Keaton films will show his career in reverse starting with the 1965 “Railrodder” with a Q&A with the film’s director Gerry Potterton then segue to the 1924 silent film “Sherlock Jr.”

Organist Jeff Barker will accompany “Sherlock Jr.” on the Palace Theatre’s 3/7 Robert-Morton Theatre Pipe Organ. The fully restored organ was originally installed in 1926 so only seems appropriate this 1926 gem will be in attendance to a 1924 classic.

We have been fortunate to see the Palace Theatre’s classically restored organ put to use. We watched the organist with as much enthusiasm as the film. He played without the benefit of sheet music; he just watched the screen, playing the score. It was magnificent to see the impact the live instrumental had on the film and the audience.

Though the Lake Placid Film Forum has a range of ratings, families can find plenty of reason to attend this cultural treat. All families can be entertained on Sunday, June 12 with the “Summer of Walter Hacks.” An older teen audience will garner insight to hardcore skaters through this Appalachian skate park film, “Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy”.

A last minute addition for children ages 11 to 14 is an on-camera acting workshop conducted by Kevin Craig West. Held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on June 12 from 9:00 a.m. – noon for a $40.00 fee. Interested parties should contact Lake Placid Film Forum Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll at 523-3456.

This year the Lake Placid Film Forum (July 10-13) will feature actor Parker Posey, well known independent film actor from numerous Christopher Guest films and other projects, as well as veteran actor Hal Holbrook. A range of filmmakers, producers and authors are scheduled through out the weekend for panel discussions and talk-backs.

In addition to the screenings, “Sleepless in Lake Placid” is back for the 4th year. This invitation only, 24-hour student film competition will pit students from RIT, Ithaca College, SUNY Purchase, Syracuse University and Burlington College against each other for the Robin Pell Emerging Filmmaker Award.

The film screenings will be taking place at a variety of Lake Placid venues. Film screening vouchers are $10 per show and available for purchase 45 minutes before show time. The scheduled “conversations” and panel discussions” are free and open to the public on a first come-first serve policy. Please call 518-523-3456 for more information.

photo used with permission from the Lake Placid Film Forum


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: A Hike To Owl’s Head

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™

Trailhead to Summit: 0.6
Ascent: 460 ft

Owl’s Head, located between Lake Placid and Keene, is a perfect hike for the entire family. It takes approximately 45 minutes round trip for an average hiker though we always plan for a bit more than an hour each way. The ascent is 460 ft., and very easy for even the smallest climber. The summit is semi-wooded, and has spectacular views of Cascade, Pitchoff and Giant Mountains.

For most families it is unfair to put a time limit on a hike due to frequent pit stops, wildlife sightings and herding of imaginary friends. Not that I wish to besmirch the herding of imaginary friends but sometimes it is enough just to get the children focused without having to gathering troops of people only visible to those under the age eight. Though it may sound tedious to some, we want to be able to take our time and instill the joy of the outdoors to our children.

This time of year scrubby blueberry bushes are in flower and line the path to the summit. Mark the calendar for a return trip midsummer when wild blueberry bushes will be in peak and ready for picking. Feel free to factor berry eating into the time factor as well unless a previous hiker has picked the trail clean.

The trail is a series of ledges, rock faces and switchbacks. To the west is Pitchoff Mountain and to the southwest, Porter and Cascade. To the east look for Hurricane Mountain’s fire tower as well as other smaller mountains and Giant Mountain to the southeast.

Local rock climbing companies use Owl’s Head for training so an added treat is to catch climbers repelling down the craggy ledges. Snacks or lunch and plenty of water are imperative. This time of year, don’t forget the bug repellent.

From the intersection of Route 9 and 73 in Keene bear north on Route 73, about 3.5 miles, turning onto Owl’s Head Lane. Continue 0.2 miles until you come to a Y. The trailhead is directly in front. Park to the left, off to the side. There isn’t a parking area. Please be considerate. The Owl’s Head trailhead and surrounding land is mostly private property.


all photos and content © Diane Chase, an excerpt from Diane’s guidebook Adirondack Family Time:Tri-Lakes & High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activiities (with GPS Coordinates), covering the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene/Keene Valley, Jay/Upper Jay and Wilmington. The other three books in the Adirondack Family Time guidebook series are: Adirondack Family Time: Lake Champlain from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga (2012), Adirondack Family Time: Long Lake to Old Forge (2012), Adirondack Family Time:Schroon Lake to Lake George and just beyond (2013)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Paddle on Osgood Pond

My husband and I are alone. My daughter is worried as she goes off to a play date that we will be lonely. We are soon in the middle of a pond, completely alone. There are no young voices yelling to see a cobweb, bug, rock, or floating stick. There are never long moments of silence. The dynamic children bring to any activity can fill the air and allow one to see things differently. The enthusiasm for the simplest of things is refreshing.

That said, they also have the ability to vacuum the positive energy right out of a given situation with life altering decisions like they no longer like bread while dramatically claiming starvation at the same time they wave a sandwich overhead. Another way is when they have to go to the bathroom only after being life-jacketed and paddling in the middle of a lake no matter how many times they are asked beforehand to take care of business. It happens and we survive but during all the drama I am not always tuned into the hermit thrush’s call.

One easy place to relax is a leisure paddle on Osgood Pond though be warned if fishing is on your agenda that the pond is still under advisory for mercury. The Department of Environmental Conservation publishes a fish advisory regarding the consumption of fish caught in the Adirondacks.

There are three different advisories: The statewide advisory, advisories for children less than 15 years old and for women that are pregnant or might become pregnant and specific advisories for the Adirondack Park. For children and those expecting mothers please heed the warning and do not consume any fish from the list of lakes and ponds under advisory for mercury. According to a 2005 PBS report one in six children born each year are exposed to mercury which, when exposed in high doses, may cause learning disabilities, short-term memory loss and impaired motor skills. So if the warnings apply to you please practice “catch and release” or just enjoy the quiet.

An easy entry to Osgood Pond is the Osgood Pond Waterway Access on White Pines Rd. on Route 86. This pond does not allow personal watercrafts which only adds to our quest for quiet. We put in the canoe and hit an easy pace that is unmatched with children. We glide through the shallow weedy water startling a mother merganser. She attempts to lure us away from the shore. We are happy to oblige.

I don’t want to get philosophical on the joys of parenting. It is a pleasure and a joy. Still, there is a part of me that wistfully listens to the wanderings of my childfree friends. So for today I enjoy a few hours of quiet while my children are invited elsewhere. Today the only constant stream of chatter is that going on is inside my head.

It is a unique situation for us to be surrounded by still. Even the wind is taking a reprieve. Later we will describe the snapping turtles, calm water and gentle call of the hermit thrush to the kids. It will be some time before my daughter understands the difference between being lonely and being alone.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Free Wild Center Community Day

Personally I like to see my fish on a platter with a slice of lemon but I am out voted every time. My children and husband love to fish though they mostly subscribe to the “catch and release” philosophy. Part of me thinks that it is because my children are not really successful with the catching part making the release a foregone conclusion.

I am always a bit put off by catching fish. If they go to that trouble why torture it with a hook? Just because we can catch it doesn’t mean we have to. But the point comes back to this: if I want a fish on the table someone has to put it there. Fish just don’t swan-dive into a market display case. There is a current disconnect with people and food so I am grateful that my children have an opportunity to know where their food is coming from.

For those people that want to learn more about fishing or just have an opportunity to witness all the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (Wild Center) has to offer, this May 15th will be featuring a FishFest with James Prosek.

James Prosek has made his initial plunge into his passion of fishing with his first book, Trout: an Illustrated History. Published when he was only nineteen and illustrated with 70 of his own watercolors, Prosek is known as a writer, activist, naturalist and artist. He has gone on to document fishing and the natural world in the pages of Audobon magazine, the New York Times, and Orion as well as winning a Peabody Award for following the footsteps of Izaak Walton, author of the 17th century classic, The Complete Angler.

Encountering James Prosek is only a part of what the Wild Center has to offer. It will be a full day of activities planned from wooden boat making to a nature scavenger hunt. There are over 20 organizations that are participating in this event highlighting healthy ways to get families back to nature.

There will also be fishing demonstrations and plenty of opportunity to showcase your own fishing skills. So even if, like me, you prefer your fish lightly seasoned it is a wonderful opportunity to let others share their own passion for the wild.

This Saturday, May 15, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. the museum is free and open to the public. Here are directions to get to the Wild Center.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Mother’s Day

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

I have always felt a few holidays were put on the calendar as a means to sell greeting cards or perhaps boost a lull in candy sales after Easter. Though I have a mother and am a mother, Mother’s Day used to fall in that category for me. It would seem that the mother in question either deserves to be treated well every day for being motherly or was the type of person that didn’t live up to the title. It should be up to the discretion of the child. I was pleased to note that the celebration is much more than cards and flowers.

Days dedicated to mothers have been traced back to a variety of sources. The ancient Greeks honored Rhea, the mother of the gods. Christians honor Mary, the mother of Christ. In the late 1500s, servants apprenticed away from home would be given the fourth Sunday of Lent to return to their “mother” church and gather again as a family. The holiday became a day reuniting mothers with their children.

In 1858, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs to help improve sanitation and worker safety in Appalachian West Virginia. During the Civil War the clubs remained neutral to provide medical care for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic) organized a Mother’s Day of Peace. In her Mother’s Day Proclamation she encouraged a holiday where mothers rally for peace. Originally held on June 2, Howe envisioned a day of activism.

The current holiday occurred in 1907 when Anna Jarvis, a Philadelphia schoolteacher started the progress toward a national Mother’s Day, in honor of her mother. Jarvis petitioned influential businessmen and legislators to establish a day to honor mothers. It took Jarvis seven years, but finally in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May, the anniversary of her mother’s death, as a national holiday in celebration of mothers.

With the immediate commercialization of the holiday, Jarvis apparently attempted to lobby businesses to donate a percentage of the Mother’s Day profits back to women and children in need. She was unsuccessful. It is said that she regretted forming the holiday and even petitioned the courts to have it disbanded.

I am not suggesting that Mother’s Day be dissolved. I rather like the idea of breakfast in bed and all the niceties. I look forward to it. I also embrace the original concept to be a day of peace.

If you are looking for ways to celebrate together here are some events around the Adirondacks this weekend. Of course paddles, hikes and walks are always plentiful and readily available.

all content © Diane Chase.  Diane Chase is of Adirondack Family Time:Tri-Lakes & High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activiities (with GPS Coordinates), covering the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene/Keene Valley, Jay/Upper Jay and Wilmington. Diane’s next guidebook Adirondack Family Time: Lake Champlain from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga (2012), Adirondack Family Time: Long lake to Old Forge, Adirondack Family Time Schroon Lake to Lake George. (2013)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Newcomb Get Out & Play! Conference

There is more and more concern that children do not get enough time outside in nature. Richard Louv’s 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods” sparked a fire with parents, health professionals, educators and others. Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder for our youths’ disconnect from nature while suffering from the lack of unstructured, imaginative play.

On May 15th in Newcomb, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), the Children in Nature New York (CNNY) and Newcomb Central School will present the first annual Get Out and Play! Conference.

According to Erin Vinson, co-event coordinator and educational specialist at SUNY-ESF, the day-long series of workshops will provide training and development for anyone working with children from professionals in a formal setting like organized sports, scouting, youth programs, day and overnight camps to childcare providers as well as nonprofessionals.

“This is the first year for what we feel is an exciting opportunity,” says Vinson. “My colleague Paul Hai was attending a sports conference when the idea started to form for this series of workshops. He is also very involved in the Children in Nature New York.”

Children in Nature Network is a grassroots movement to reconnect children and nature.

“The basic goal is to help guide people that currently work with children about being outside in nature and teaching those instructors how to engage children to stay active in different ways,” continues Vinson. “The idea is for less structure and infusing the idea of age-appropriate competition. There will be different lessons and coach training throughout. This is an opportunity to look at new games, activities and free play for children. It isn’t just about organized sports either. There are workshops on nature-based play that is not as structured. The three different sessions have separate lessons that anyone working with children will benefit from greatly.”

The Get Out and PLAY! Conference will include professional presenters and educators from a variety of different backgrounds.

Elizabeth Lee, as a licensed Adirondack guide, will lead sessions on nature-based play from her experiences teaching recreational and educational programs and actively playing outdoors for over 50 years.

John LaRue is the president and owner of Back2BasicPlay, Inc. His workshops will focus on new games and Futsal, a soccer variation. He has traveled throughout New England and Eastern New York helping communities create unique play spaces as well as advocating the use of games and cooperative-based play to promote character education growth and healthier lifestyles in children.

Bill Sampaio is the National Director of Futsal Coaches – USFF. He has played and coached both soccer and Futsal at high school, college, as well as at the amateur and professional level. Sampaio uses Futsal and soccer to help children develop their self-esteem to a higher level. He will also be leading seminars on new games and Futsal.

Timothy Donavan is the Executive Director of SUNY Youth Sports Institute (YSI). YSI training provides evidence-based methods and tools for adult leaders in organized youth sports. Donavan will lead the Youth Coach Training sessions.

For our family playing out in nature is part of our everyday life. My husband has been taking families and young adults out into the Adirondack backcountry for the past 25 years so our children are fortunate enough to feel that being in the woods is just part of their playground. This weekend they played in the yard and surrounding woods and never once came to ask me to entertain them. They were busy climbing trees, inventing games and creating an imaginary world that I was not part of. The only time I was asked for help was to get the pine pitch off of my daughter’s hands.

The Newcomb Get Out and Play! Conference will take place on May 15. For registration information please call Erin Vinson at (518) 582-4551 Ext 116. The conference fee is $10, which includes lunch and is open to the public.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Earth Day

Earth Day isn’t about weaving a hair shirt, though it would enable me to recycle all my golden retriever fur. It’s not about singing Kumbaya around the campfire and filling the neighborhood with air and noise pollution. To our family it is a day to remember that we are only guests here. Most people, we hope, treat everyday like it’s Earth Day.

My family’s Earth Day tradition is cleaning the trailhead of one our favorite hikes. We have found some crazy things tucked along the edges of the parking lot of Ampersand Mountain. Some have been personal items that I had difficulty explaining to my son, which only reinforced the importance of wearing gloves. The deer carcass would have been easy to justify in nature, except its remains were still wrapped in a plastic bag. Beer cans and cigarette butts are sadly a normal sight.

Making changes in our lifestyle can be daunting. Sometimes all we need to do is make a small step. The Adirondack Green Circle is trying to help people take those steps so that every day can be about the earth. It can be as seemingly insignificant as bringing a canvas bag to the store to limit the production of plastic bags or as simple as learning where food comes from.

Where food comes from? If a product’s label takes a biochemist to decipher then we need to question what we are putting in our mouths.

For the second year, Adirondack Green Circle is holding its Wake Up Film Festival, showcasing documentaries directed at tracing our food and garbage.

Founder Gail Brill says, “We have lined up different movies that explain where our commercial food comes from. The first film will be appropriately shown on Earth Day, Thursday, at Pendragon. Food, Inc. demonstrates how broken our food system is. We will also have copies of Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules as well. Part of our mission is to promote local food so Jen Perry of Farm to Family Food Network will be there to talk about where to get local food.”

Brill explains a few common sense rules from Pollan’s book like, “If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, don’t.” Some of the movies are not for the very young so check out the website for age recommendations. Brill has screened the films and found them age appropriate for high school and beyond.

Brill and some other members of Adirondack Green Circle are carrying their garbage around with them all this week to start a garbage conversation. w

“People say they throw their garbage away,” Brill continues. “Where is away? Away is in our ground water, away is in our ground, away is in our children.”

This experiment will culminate at the North Country Community College Junk to Funk Show. She encourages others to take the challenge and see what happens when “throwing garbage away” gets close and personal.

So there are some simple ways to help the environment, limit our trash and maybe leave a trailhead a bit cleaner for the next person.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Springtime Bicycle Rides

Learning to ride a bicycle has as many stages as learning to walk, though walking seems to come with less drama. First the scooter stage (quad-cycle,) then on to the tricycle, which leads to training wheels. Finally that two-wheeled sense of freedom is achieved. Each stage brings a different challenge. For my family, each stage was clung to with white-knuckled intensity.

While learning to ride a two-wheeler, my children weaved their way through parked cars and were incredulous that I would ask them to look both ways when crossing the road. Surely, they felt, looking one way was enough.

For anyone living in or visiting a rural community following an inexperienced biker on a busy road can be daunting. While the New York State fine-tunes its budget and decides which campgrounds and historic sites are slated for closure, off-season campgrounds are still a good way for a young or old person to learn how to ride a bike.

Fish Creek Pond Campground in Saranac Inn features a 5-mile paved loop that circles the campground. In the summer it can become a literal parking lot of cars and movement as RVs and day visitors swarm for the perfect waterfront real estate. Spring though finds it pleasantly empty with an added bonus of no parking fee.

If you do not have a bicycle and want to learn to ride try the website Freecycle. This nonprofit network asks people to recycle and reuse. It is free to register, just look for a place near your community. List what you have or see if someone in your area is looking for something that has been collecting dust in your garage.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has a complete list of campgrounds and the amenities. Some campgrounds are slated for closure in 2010. Below is a partial list of NYS Adirondack campgrounds that promote bicycling.

Brown Tract Pond, Raquette Lake
Buck Pond, Onchiota
Eagle Point Campground, Pottersville
Fish Creek Campground, Saranac Inn
Lake Durant, Blue Mountain Lake
Lake Eaton Campground, Long Lake
Lake Harris near Newcomb
Poke-O-Moonshine, Keeseville (was closed for camping in 2009 but a portion remains available for Forest Preserve public access.
Nicks Lake in the Black River Wild Forest
Rogers Rock, Lake George
Rollins Pond Campground
Sharp Bridge, Schroon River


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Mount Baker

We choose a typical spring day to climb Mount Baker in Saranac Lake. We pack the car with all the enthusiasm of a family caught in the thrall of spring fever. I can hardly keep my children in shoes now that the snow has melted, let alone convince them that putting boots back on after a winter’s worth of wear will be a positive experience. Flip-flops are not an option. I am also able to convince my daughter that rhinestone platform slides are best left at home.

Just 2,452′ in elevation, Baker is often referred to as a little mountain. For locals, it’s a quick hike during a lunch break while for others it’s an opportunity to see the High Peaks without investing a lot of time. For children it is a perfect segue to climbing steeper mountains.

Springtime in the Adirondacks presents its own unique set of challenges. Sections of the trail are a frustrating combination of sweet springtime freshness and thick mud and ice. Each step threatens to leave us either barefoot (from the mud sucking the shoes right off our feet) or flat on our backs from a misplaced step on ice. Though some people have cramp-ons, we manage to maneuver the path with ski poles and sticks.

The summit of Baker is only .9 mile from the base. Since we don’t have cramp-ons we opt to skirt the trail, following other footprints along the edge. It becomes a game of search-and-find for my son. The lower section of the main trail has become a frozen waterfall so he must search across and around it for safe places for us to walk. He willingly takes on the challenge.

The path is a gentle incline at first. We then start to see large rocks surrounding us and realize that the summit is near. The path cuts sharply between two boulders but it is too slick for us to approach. We cut back around to the right and climb over the rocks, avoiding the slippery rock chimney. The first vista we find overlooks the town. We identify Lake Flower and the shops surrounding it. The next overlook is behind us, a beautiful view of Scarface and the McIntyre Range.

After our well-deserved snack, we descend, but we do not have to choose our steps as carefully. We glissade down the slippery slope, avoiding the mud when we can. There is enough ice that we are able to avoid any damage to the trail.

To access Mount Baker, on Main Street in Saranac Lake, turn right onto Dugway. Take the first left, Forest Hill Ave, and continue straight to Moody Pond. The trail marker is on the left.

photo: snow seen on the distant McIntyre Range and Mt. Marcy from the summit of Mount Baker
photo credit: www.adkfamilytime.com