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, January 5, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Skiing, Boarding Discounts

Though some people choose to stick to their favorite mountain for the ski season, others move around to experience all the downhill opportunities available in the Adirondacks. For those with ski passes don’t forget about the Reciprocal Pass Program between Gore, Titus, McCauley, Mt. Pisgah and Whiteface. This program allows the season pass holder to either ski for free on certain days or at a reduced cost.

There are also significant savings available for the mid-week non-season pass holder. McCauley Mountain holds to their Crazy Eight Days. Each Friday from January through April offers adult lift tickets for just $8.00. (Check for blackout dates.)

Present any Coca-Cola product at Gore and Whiteface and receive a one-day adult lift ticket for $38.00 (excluding 2/17/10.) This offer is only valid on Wednesdays. It is a great deal whether you are on vacation, have the day off or opt for a bit of “ski hooky.”

In addition, Whiteface has its Stylin’ Sundays wherein five select Sundays (December 13, January 10, February 7, March 14 and April 4) of the season feature $35.00 lift tickets for adults, $30.00 for teens and $25.00 junior tickets. Six and under are always free. Each of those select Sundays have a theme like Island Madness, Shamrock or Retro with slope-side games, live music and events.

Big Tupper Ski Area recently opened, after a ten-year hiatus, to much fanfare with a one-day adult ski pass for $15.00. Big Tupper is staffed with volunteers and relies just on nature for snow making so it is best to check their website to make sure they are open and that Mother Nature is cooperating.

Oak Mountain Ski Center in Speculator offers Fire Department Personnel, EMS Workers Hospital Employees and Law Enforcement Personnel $10 off a full day lift ticket on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the season. Residents & homeowners of Arietta, Hope, Lake Pleasant & Wells and the Village of Speculator ski for free every Sunday throughout the season.

Malone’s Titus Mountain offers a Super-Saver Special from Thursday – Saturday when all day passes are good until 10:00 p.m.

Smaller family mountains such as Bear Mountain in Plattsburgh presents $18.00 lift tickets to non-members and Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake offers a $10 lift ticket for anyone coming for the last hour and half of the day. That includes those evenings the mountain is open for night skiing.

West Mountain in Queensbury, Whiteface, Gore, Titus, Oak Mountain and McCauley offer a military discount as a thank you to active service men and women. If you or a member of your immediate family is an active service member, please ask about discounts.

Hopefully this list will help keep the jingle in your pocket while enjoying the beautiful Adirondack Park.

Photo courtesy: www.adkfamilytime.com


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Saranac Lake First Night

With First Night® Saranac Lake we are getting set to blend our own New Year’s traditions with new ones. Parades, dancing, magicians, refreshments, music and fireworks are becoming an expected part of our beginning year rituals. My children have yet to decide on their New Year’s resolutions. I can certainly think of a few things that would be a welcome change. Their first instinct is not self improvement. The first round of resolutions usually has the word television attached to them.

Each country seems to hold strongly to its own traditions around New Year’s. I always think I will continue to have a lucky year with my first taste of black-eyed peas. My children are “having a feeling” we should stick strictly to the band and bypass the legumes.

To kick off this New Year’s Eve a snowperson building contest will be held at Riverside Park December 31st from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. This event is open to all children and adults. It is touted as a “bring your own accessories” for your snowperson and prizes will be awarded. Then head over to the Petrova School Gymnasium for a mask-making workshop.

Masked and costumed balls have long been a custom, symbolizing the evil of the past. The goal is to throw off the mask with the old year and any bad spirits with it and count down to the new and start fresh with a kiss. My daughter gets a bit starry-eyed at the mention of the kiss.

The mask-making workshop is being offering to adults and children and being held from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Using a mixed medium, anyone can decorate a mask in anticipation of the opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m.

First Night® Saranac Lake is one of 130 events held around the world providing family-oriented, alcohol-free activities while showcasing arts and community.

There is still plenty of time to get your First Night® button ($12 for adults). It can be purchased at Ampersound Music, Price Chopper Supermarket, Books & Baskets, Blue Line Sports, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce or Lake Placid Visitor Bureau .

Children twelve and under are admitted free but need to display the First Night® button designed especially for them, which is to be available at all venues.

So whatever your traditions are, perhaps new ones can be made here or at one of the other First Night® venues.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Newcomb VIC

This is a last weekend in many ways; last weekend of Hunting Season, ending of Hanukkah and the final weekend for holiday shopping. If you want to get all “glass half-full” then it is the beginning of snowshoe season and the start of the ski season and beginning of holiday sales! For us it is a time to get outside and safely enjoy one of the many reasons we chose to live in the Adirondack Park.

It is easy to get caught up in the pressure of the holidays no matter what we celebrate. So whether you are looking for a safe place to hike to avoid any hunters using the last eligible days to tag a deer or wish to spend time rather than money, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Newcomb is well worth a visit.

Open since 1990, the Newcomb VIC is part of the Huntington Wildlife Forest preserve owned by Syracuse University and maintained by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The 236-acre property consists of an Interpretive Building that houses educational exhibits and a trail system for seasonal activities.

There are four trails to choose from: Rick Lake, a .6-mile loop; the 1-mile Sucker Brook (which allows for skiing along the northern section only); the Peninsula Trail, a .9-mile loop which intersects the Rick Lake Trail and the R.W. Sage Memorial Trail, a 1.1-mile trail open to both skiing and snowshoeing. The bonus track is the .7-mile connector trail from The Sage Trail that links to Camp Santanoni, a 12-mile round trip ski.

Snowshoes are now required so no foot travel is allowed on any of the trails. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you may sign out a pair for free; just provide a license as collateral. For small children (seven-years and younger) sizes may not be available so bring a sled or your own equipment.

Please keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the trails in the winter months to enable naturalists to lead winter tracking clinics so visitors can see wildlife rather than dog prints.

The Newcomb VIC is located 12 miles east of Long Lake on Route 28N. The trails are open from dawn to dusk while the building is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.) No dogs are allowed on the trails during the winter months because of Call 518-582-2000 for current trail conditions. The VIC is free and open to the public.

Photo: Rich Lake Outlet in Winter courtesy Newcomb VIC


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Champlain Valley Film Society

The Champlain Valley Film Society will be celebrating its 100th film with a free showing of classic Katharine Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart film The African Queen. In 1952, this film won Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar though he had been nominated for Casablanca and The Caine Mutiny.

This movie is based on the classic novel by C.S. Forester of the same name. Set during World War I, disgruntled trader Charlie Allnutt and an English missionary Rose Sayer find themselves thrown together aboard the steamboat, The African Queen, in the heart of the African jungle. As in the book, the audience will find themselves immersed in suspense, military maneuvers, and narrow escapes.

One of the CVF Society’s Founding Member David Reuther, says, “The Society started with a group of four friends coming up with the same idea at the same time. We were not able to see the type of movies that we wanted to see.”

So in 2003, Larry Barns, Thurston Clarke, Bill James and David Reuther pooled resources to pull together a showing of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the Willsboro School theatre. They attempted to show the films in summer and outside but really hit their mark in the winter of 2006. By showing critically acclaimed films indoors the crowds grew in size. With the support of a developing and enthusiastic audience the group was able to garner such films as the Oscar-winning Capote and the classic foreign thriller Z.

Reuther says, “This started because we felt there is something quite different about seeing a movie on a big screen and seeing it with an audience. It is like seeing a concert rather than listening to a CD or the radio. Movies are made for the big screen. We wanted to create that opportunity for people to have a conversation about film.”

The Champlain Valley film Society now has a working board of 15 people and a 30-member advisory board that helps select the films. The organization shows films year-round with an average audience of 100 people a show. With a diverse schedule so far the 2010 schedule includes Julie & Julia, District 9, (500) Days of Summer, the Hurt Locker, the Cove and An Education. The spring shows are still being arranged.

In addition to showing films the CVF Society looks for guest speakers to sometimes introduce the films. In 2008, author Russell Banks introduced the movie Affliction based on his book by the same name and writer/director Courtney Hunt was on hand to answer questions and introduce her Oscar nominated film, Frozen River. This January 16th retired chef John ferry will open up about his long-standing friendship with Julia Child as he presents the film Julie and Julia.

There is no membership available for the Champlain Valley Film Society. Each film is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children. Consider the free showing of The African Queen as an early gift!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Holiday Train

In a mad rush of holiday cheer, too many side dishes and the turkey/tofurkey debate, it is easy to forget that some people will not have an argument over the necessity to recreate meat-shaped products out of tofu. Those and many others will be wondering where their next meal will be coming from.

For the 11th year the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Holiday Train will be pulling into over one hundred towns in seven states and Quebec raising awareness for local food pantries.

The northeast sector of the tour starts Thursday, November 26 at Rouses Point at approximately 11:00 pm. Each stop is a little over a half hour. Crowds will be treated to live entertainment as well as a festively decorated train, free of charge. All that is asked is a donation to the local food pantry. In addition, to providing the gaily lit-up train and live bands CFR donates funds to each stop’s food bank.

The US portion of the tour is hosted by Prescott a brother (Kaylen) and sister (Kelly) duo hailing from the Canadian musical legacies Family Brown (award winning country band formed by their grandfather, uncle and mother) and later Prescott-Brown (their parents’ award winning band). Prescott’s own style has them performing at such venues at the Ottawa BluesFest and welcoming their first cd, “The Lakeside Sessions.”

Singer/songwriter Adam Puddington will take the stage with his own unique brand of music lightly influenced by Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, and Blue Rodeo. Other musical guests will be Sean Verreault best known as part of the blues rock band Wide Mouth Mason and Milwaukee native Willy Porter’s blending of folk music rounds out the program.

Local food banks will be collecting non-perishable food items and donations at each location so all the audience has to do is stand back and enjoy.

Each event does take place outside so dress warmly. Some locations have vendors set up to sell hot refreshments but it is not something to count on. The focus is on the food pantries and making sure their shelves are stocked for winter.

So for whatever reason you are thankful, take an opportunity to kick off the holiday season with a lively concert and a contribution to a food pantry.

Northeast Schedule
Thursday, November 26

Rouses Point – 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Rouses Point Station

Saturday, November 28
Binghamton – 8:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., CP East Binghamton Rail Yard, Conklin Ave.

Sunday, November 29
Oneonta – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Gas Avenue Railroad Crossing

Cobleskill – 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Cobleskill Fire Department, 610 Main Street
Delanson – 8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Main Street Railroad Crossing
Schenectady – 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Maxon Road
Monday, November 30
Saratoga Springs – 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., Amtrak Station

Fort Edward – 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Amtrak Station

Whitehall – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Amtrak Station

Ticonderoga – 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Pell’s Crossing, Amtrak Waiting Area, Route 74
Port Henry – 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Amtrak Station, West side stop
Plattsburgh – 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Amtrak Station

photograph: The Holiday Train in Montreal


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: ADK Leonid Meteor Shower

My husband and I were up in the pre-dawn morning with probably half the world to essentially watch a fiery burning of debris enter the atmosphere. To then describe to my child a scientific reason for getting out of bed took a bit of research and a chat with an expert.

In layman’s terms (that is all I’ve got) the Leonid Meteors got their name from their apparent relationship to the constellation Leo. The meteors, some no larger than a speck of dust, derive from the parent comet Tempel-Tuttle. Ernest Tempel (December 1865) and Horace Tuttle (January 1866) individually recognized that the Tempel-Tuttle Comet was a recurring one.

The Tempel-Tuttle Comet takes a little over 33 years to orbit the sun. Each time the comet is closest to the sun it sheds particles that cluster together. Depending on where Earth passes through in the comet’s debris trail depends on the intensity of the meteors. Some years there can be as many as 500 meteors falling per hour. This year is not a “sky is falling” type of meteor year but certainly a way to introduce children to astronomy. The phase of the moon coupled with a clear night is what will make viewing the Leonids a pleasurable experience for all.

President of the Tupper Lake Observatory Mark Staves says, “The Leonid Meteor shower does occur every year but since we will have a new moon on the 18th, moonlight won’t be a factor. Moonlight usually diminishes the effect of the meteors. When the light from the meteor shower competes with the moonlight it is not as spectacular.”

He says, “After midnight start to search for meteors toward the east. As the morning progressives look toward southeast and then about 5:00 a.m. the meteors should be toward the south.”

The Adirondack Loj will be hosting a meteor-searching, s’more-eating campfire this evening at Heart Lake. Even though the early dawn of November 17th was predicted as the peak of the meteor shower the darkened skies coupled with the wide-open mountaintops over Heart Lake will present perfect viewing.

The timing of this event is late for little ones. This free program is hosted by an ADK naturalist and runs from 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. tonight. If you can’t make this event the meteor showers will still be able for viewing from any dark wide-open space through the 20th of this month, lessening in frequency as the moonlight brightens in intensity.

“They (meteors) can be intensive,” Staves says. “It would help children to understand that what they are actually seeing is something as small as a speck of dust but traveling 50 times the speed of sound.”

When something so small hits the atmosphere so fast the heat created causes the sand-sized particles to vaporize Staves summarizes.

As for the Tupper Lake Observatory, board members are in the process of putting together the necessary permit applications to the Adirondack Park Agency.

“We have architectural renderings for a Roll-Off Observatory,” Staves says. “The 24-30’ building will have a gantry roof structure so that the whole roof can come off. All the equipment will be set up there permanently. The roof will roll off completely and have a full view of the night sky. We anticipate breaking ground summer of 2010.”

Photo Credit: Simon Filiatrault


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities:Paul Smiths Visitor’s Interpretive Center

This morning a mob of deer casually gather in our yard. My husband makes the comment that the word has gotten out that we are non-hunting household. It seems like one has told another and soon the neighborhood has not gone to the dogs but to the deer. So while the deer spread their news we humans have our own version of meeting places during hunting season.

Since 1989, the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Paul Smiths has offered a safe option during hunting season. The 2,885-acre preserve is owned by Paul Smith’s College and leased by New York State to operate as a public facility. The many trails are available for the enjoyment of children and adults of all ages. The paths are clearly marked, mulched and cleared of debris.

We choose a combination of the Heron Marsh and the Shingle Mill Falls trails. Each trail is about a 0.8-mile loop. Together it forms a 1.5-mile figure eight with easy access and plenty of seating along the way.

My son runs ahead, the guide in our mission to successfully circumnavigate Heron Marsh. My daughter would rather spend a bit more time inside studying the interactive displays, dioramas and touch table.

We continue on another hundred yards to a boardwalk that extends out into the marsh. Signs of beaver surround us and we search for their lodge. I sit to observe the last passing moments of autumn while the rest of the family walks to the observation deck. We come to a crossroads where we can either loop back to the Interpretive Building or continue across the marsh.

We opt to cross the bridge leading over Heron Marsh. The leaves are slick from previous rain so be careful around the shoreline and bridge edge. We cross a bridge, setting leaf boats on the open water to shoot the rapids of the Heron Marsh dam. This was the original site of a gristmill then a shingle mill. It was last used in the 1920s by Paul Smiths Hotel as a source for water.

We loop back and follow the signs to the Interpretive Building because we have yet to identify correctly each birdcall to each bird. Lastly I sit for a bit of the sun while the kids expel any energy they have left on the playground.

Trails are open from dawn to dusk every day. There is no camping or fires allowed. Dogs are only welcome on the trails during the summer months. Located 12 miles north of Saranac Lake on 8023 State Route 30, the VIC building is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Youth Summit’s Zachary Berger

Zachary Berger takes a few moments to answer additional questions regarding his involvement in the first annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

Q: When you attended the Adirondack Climate Conference, held at The Wild Center, in November 2008, what inspired you to initiate an Adirondack Youth Climate Summit?

ZB: Last November’s conference was truly a success. I was very honored to have the opportunity to attend it, but I felt it was under represented by young adults. At this conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools and the opportunity that schools have to set a model for their communities. The other students who attended the conference and I wanted to have our voices heard so we talked to Jen Kretser, Director of Programs at The Wild Center, and the planning process began.

Q: Though from Lake Placid you are now a freshman at RIT. Will you be attending this conference and if so what role will you take in this summit? If not, will you be attending the live stream and have you organized a group at your school to attend? What have you learned from this yearlong process and wish to pass along to others?

ZB: Yes, I will be attending the conference! I wouldn’t miss it for my life. Over the past year I have been part of the amazing team of people who worked endless hours putting this conference together. I will be at The Wild Center over the weekend doing last minute preparations, and during the conference I will be volunteering to keep things moving as planned.

If there was one thing I could tell others it would be: If you want to be successful in planning an event like this, find people with the same motivation and drive that you have. Having people to work with such as Jen Kretser from the Wild Center, and Mrs. Tammy Morgan from Lake Placid High School, really made this whole event come together.

Q: Why is it important for youth to have a voice on climate change?

ZB: Youth play a vital role in confronting climate change. We are investing years of our lives into our education, and will be entering the workforce very soon. Youth need to know the consequences of continuing to be carelessly affluent, what we can do both in our personal lives, and in our work lives to be more environmentally responsible. This summit will help students expand their knowledge on climate change while helping create carbon reduction plans for their schools.

Q: What is your own carbon reduction plan? What would you recommend for other young people that may inspire them to make a difference or to get involved in climate change?

ZB: Living at RIT has helped me to continue in reducing my personal carbon footprint. RIT provides every room with recycling bins for every room for electronics, plastic, paper, and cardboard. It is calculated that RIT’s recycling rate is over 70%. RIT also provides public transportation from campus into the city. Also, RIT is developing a new, web-based, rideshare website which helps those looking for rides and those who are willing to provide rides coordinate their schedules.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: First Adirondack Youth Climate Summit

Registration for the 2009 Youth Climate is closed but schools, universities, parents and children can follow the two-day event via a live stream. Conceived by then 17-year-old Zachary Berger of Lake Placid after attending the Adirondack Climate Conference last year, this year’s summit illustrates to all young people that their opinions and ideas can make a difference.

After much anticipation the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will be held November 9th and 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The 24 attending high schools and colleges will each send a team of students, educators, administrators and facilities staff to develop a feasible carbon reduction plan that decreases energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to bring back to their schools and communities.

Zachary Berger, inspired by the Adirondack Climate Conference held at The Wild Center in 2008, contacted conference planners to organize a similar gathering exploring climate change and its effect on the Adirondacks for the youth of the region. In early 2009, a steering committee, comprised of students, educators and The Wild Center staff, formed to bring Zach’s vision to fruition.

Berger says, “At the [Adirondack Climate] Conference there were over 175 community leaders, business owners, and others, all with a concern for the environment, but there were only about 10 students, representing only one university, and one high school. From my point of view this under representation led to things being overlooked such as the lack of environmental education in public schools.”

The Youth Climate Summit’s goal is multilevel, according to ADKCAP (Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan). The Summit will hold educational plenary sessions where research-based information will be presented about the economic and ecological effects of climate change. Participants will learn strategies to address climate change in the Adirondacks and how, when applied, communities will benefit monetarily.

Workshops are scheduled throughout the two-day event pairing students with experienced personnel to develop training skills to inspire participants to engage others to “green their schools and communities.” Through hands-on activities members will learn team-building skills in the hopes to engage classmates and coworkers in a grassroots effort to make their schools energy-efficient. During this process teams will develop a carbon and cost reduction plan to bring back to each school.

The following high schools and colleges are attending this inaugural year: Chateaugay Central School, Clifton-Fine Central School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, Green Tech Charter High School, Heuvelton Central School, Keene Central School, Lake Placid High School, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Minerva Central School, Moriah Central School, Morristown Central School, Newcomb Central School, Northville Central School, Ogdensburg Free Academy, Plattsburgh High School, Potsdam High School, Saranac Lake Central School, St. Regis Falls, Tupper Lake Central School, Clarkson University, Colgate University, North Country Community College, Paul Smiths College, St. Lawrence University and SUNY Potsdam.

These institutions will serve as models in energy efficiency, sustainable energy usage, building maintenance, landscaping & grounds management, school & community garden planning, and how to affect the current science curriculum in schools. (The Summit is aligned with NYS Commencement Level MST Standards.)

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summits are scheduled through 2011 to monitor the success of each climate action plan. There will also be the opportunity for those Adirondack schools that watch the live web stream to participate in future summits. The complete schedule information is available here.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: The Pines

To us, Big Game Season means something other than hunting. I’ve never been hunting and make an active choice not to be part of the hunted. With that decision comes the autumn neon wardrobe introduction and fashion faux pas but I am doing what I can to keep my family safe. Our lovely orange vests are kept conveniently in the car so I can cloak child or dog in festive array. In the Northern Adirondacks, Big Game Season starts this Saturday (October 24) and runs through December 6th.

The first of many safe walks I’ll be posting is the 12-acre lot in the heart of Saranac Lake called The Pines. The Pines is an area dedicated to the memory of Dr. Lawrason Brown, a pioneer in tuberculosis in the late 19th Century. The 12-acre plot is owned by the Saranac Lake Voluntary Health Association (SLVHA) and was deeded in 1937 to the organization while it was still called the Saranac Lake Tuberculosis Society, Inc., hence the connection to TB and Dr. Brown. SLVHA is a not-for-profit organization established in 1897 that continues to provide healthcare initiatives and scholarships for Saranac Lake residents.

Their property, known as The Pines, consists of a network of trails and old roadways easily accessible from any of three points. The first entrance is on Pine Street diagonally across from the railroad track crossing. Entrance two and three are on Forest Hill Road and Labrador Lane, off Moody Pond.

The trails are a mild walk with the most challenging hill being the entrance on Pine Street. The Pine Street entrance is a moderate incline to a then flat open path that runs along as esker. There is no view along these wooded paths, just a beautiful trail under a canopy of trees.

Somewhere hidden in the forest is the stone foundation of an old social club. There is no trail map or marked path available, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Each path seems quite short, less than a ¼-mile, intersecting and weaving together. The wide, flat path is easy enough to maneuver a jogging stroller or even the toddler venturing out on his/her own.

Volunteers maintain the trails so please carry out what you carry in, even the half-full coffee cup set carefully to the side of the trail.

The Pines is open to the public, though some restrictions do apply like no camping or motorized vehicles. Please be respectful of other people’s land as private property surrounds The Pines. Please heed the No Trespassing signs. For more information contact SLVHA at 518-891-0910.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities:Pendragon Theatre goes to the LPCA

We are huge fans of live performances whether musical or theatrical in nature. My children dress up and put on long, sometimes arduous, routines where we usually have to break for intermission. They are not formal in their script. They only require an avid audience because that is what they give when they go see a performance.

For our household watching a professional performance has many additional benefits to the live show. The scripts are reenacted for days after highlighting the favorite bits. Questions are asked about stages, costumes and lightening. Conversations are initiated about the story line. Even the music or soundtrack make guest appearances in our house. The children are entertained and feel the need to continue to entertain long after the curtain has closed.

For the month of October Pendragon Theatre is in residence at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for what is being billed as Fall Foliage Theatre. The three remaining performances are not all for the very young. If a good babysitter is available then there is no reason to forego these last few remaining performances.

Time is running out to see the Pendragon’s production of Bus Stop. Theatre Reviewer Connie Meng of North Country Public Radio says, ‘Artistic Director Susan Neal has done a fine job of staging and directing this unclassifiable play. Bus Stop is part gentle comedy, part small tragedies and wholly human. This is a good evening of theatre and a solid production of an American classic.” On a scale from one to five Meng gave Bus Stop 4 1/3 pine trees. (Click here for the full transcript.)

The Wizard of Oz is a beautifully streamlined production that allows the audience to focus on the various characters and dialog. The theme is still relevant today that “there is no place like home.” If children have seen the classic film there will be differences. This is not a musical, the sets are simple and the journey is one of imagination. There are still plenty of quests for a heart, a brain and some courage and least I forget, the best-loved message that there really is, “no place like home.” That still holds all the power with a simple click of Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Lastly the comedy Candida is performed in its entire original Victorian splendor as two men vie for the love and loyalty of Candida. Written by playwright George Bernard Shaw, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, Candida must choose her husband or the much younger poet. Clever and witty dialog stands the test of time.

So bring the children (to OZ) or take a much-deserved night out and enjoy a Pendragon performance, the Adirondack’s only year-round professional theatre.

All evening tickets are $14.00 for adults and $12.00 seniors and students. Oz tickets are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for children ages 15 and under. Call LPCA for reservations at 518-523-2512.

Fall Foliage Theatre Schedule
Bus Stop by William Inge: October 16 (Friday) and October 17 (Saturday) at 8:00 p.m.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: the classic L. Frank Baum story adapted by Michelle Vacca: October 18 (Sunday) at 2:00 p.m.
Candida by George Bernard Shaw: October 23 (Friday) and October 24 (Saturday) at 8:00 p.m.

Photograph of a performance of Candida performed at the Pendragon Theatre


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: The Corn Maze

This year we will be hunting space aliens in Gabriels. Yes, crop circles have been found in the Adirondacks, though this time they can be proven the direct result of human effort, not the paranormal. For the fourth year in a row the design for the maze at Tucker Farms is from the artistic work of Scott Rohe. He didn’t even have to perpetuate any crop circle myth by going out in the dead of night to complete the large-scale land art. He just came up with the design so the Tuckers could plant the corn in a grid-like pattern. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Museum Day

If you have not had an opportunity to visit the Adirondack Museum yet this season I am here to pave the way with offers of free admission and coupon savings. Okay, it isn’t money falling from the sky but if you attend Smithsonian magazine’s free museum day money may just jingle in your pocket. Though with or without Museum Day the Adirondack Museum is a bargain any day of the week.

In its fifth year Museum Day is an annual event taking place across the country on September 26th. More than 900 participating museums will offer free general admission to an attendee and guest with a Museum Day admission card. The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake is just one facility that is participating. A complete list by state can be found at Smithsonian magazine.

The Adirondack Museum houses twenty buildings on 32 acres of land, beautiful gardens and ponds. There are many interactive elements like the Rising Schoolhouse filled with paper crafts and era-specific wooden toys, a treasure hunt in the “Age of Horses” building, or build a toy boat at the Boat Shop. Since that barely touches on the activities available, keep in mind all admissions are valid for a second visit within a one-week time period.

If unable to attend Museum Day, The Adirondack Harvest Festival will be held the next weekend, October 3rd and 4th. A good tip for all: year-round residents of the Adirondack Park are admitted free all days that the museum is open in October.

This festival will provide wagon rides, music and even a traditional blacksmith demonstration by David Woodward. There is a barn raising, cider pressing and pumpkin painting. If just having fun isn’t enough there are altruistic opportunities as well. Have children bring canned or dried goods to support the Warren–Hamilton Community Action Harvest Food Drive.

Please call 518-352-7311 for more information. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. until October 18. If you visit the museum website, click on the monthly special icon for a coupon good for $2 off one adult admission. There is no charge for children under six.

Even with discounts, coupons and free admission museums need to function so keep in mind that even on free days a donation (no matter the size) is probably greatly appreciated.

Photograph of an antique cider press.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: The Red Dot Trail

School has started and it is a year beginning with “I know.” My children know they need to make their beds, they know they need to brush their teeth and they know we are going go for a walk after school. Someday I’ll just toss it out that we’re having dirt for dinner just to see if they are listening. They may not really know where we are going but I know they’ll enjoy it just the same.

Running, walking or just enjoying the view, the Red Dot Trail near Paul Smith’s College is an easy walk for anyone. Even if one doesn’t wish to venture around the whole loop there are beautiful bridges that cross over canals connecting Church, Little Osgood and Osgood ponds. The trails are wide enough to let my kids navigate by themselves, giving me a few random moments of solitude. We are fortunate to see a few paddlers maneuvering through the canals. My children are compelled to offer advice concerning low branches and buried rocks.

There are many herd paths leading on and off the marked trail. There is even a section that intersects the Jack Rabbit Trail. We remind the kids to wait at the junction. They are out of sight before the exclamation point has been placed at the end of the sentence. They seem to be practicing the boomerang approach. The kids create a wide berth in a frenzied run and then quickly shoot back to us. I know with each passing year the return time is longer and longer.

The kids follow the shallow canal from Osgood Pond to Little Osgood and are soon back to report on a bridge ahead. We decide to continue straight and come to a second bridge that crosses another canal this time connecting Church Pond to Little Osgood. We veer to the north and continue following the red painted slash marks that “dot” the trees. It is a beautiful loop. There is just one tricky part that slopes to the shore as we detour toward the Osgood Pond lean-to. We stay for only a moment but the kids are anxious to get on their way. They are scrambling up the sandy hill and searching for the next lean-to. We follow the steep esker and warn the children to stay away from the unstable edge. They run all the way back just to us to merely say, “I know.”

The Red Dot Trail can be accessed from the Osgood Pond Waterway on White Pine Road. From the Route 30/86 junction in Paul Smiths continue onto Route 86. Drive about .5 mile and turn left onto White Pines Road off Route 86. The parking entrance and beach is .25 on the left. The trail is an easy 2.5 round-trip that begins at the boat launch area.

For additional activities bring a bathing suit to take a quick dip into Osgood Pond, bring a lunch and enjoy it at one of the four lean-tos or just wade in and look for fish and other wildlife.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Santa’s Workshop Character Breakfast

This is the final weekend to have breakfast with the merry old elf before he starts working overtime. So if you are planning a visit to Santa’s Workshop in Wilmington, N.Y., September 5th is the last opportunity for the season to join Santa and his friends for breakfast at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. The buffet is offered only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The price is a reasonable $8.95 for children 12 and under. Admission to the park is not included.

This fantasy adventure park is a sure thing for a younger set. Red-vested elves, Frosty the Snowman, and some other wintry characters will greet you and from then on, it’s Santa’s terrain. Many of the carnival rides have weight and height restrictions so with great pride the very youngest will be able to venture off and gain some much needed independence. Take note of the elf holding the sign, “This ride is for children who stand beneath my hand.”

The Christmas theme is carried throughout the park with a Sleigh Rollercoaster, Tree Ornament Ride, Peppermint Swing, and Candy Cane Train to name a few.

Since 1949, Santa’s Workshop has been providing families with wintery fun all year long. The brainchild of Lake Placid businessman Julian Reiss and designed by Arto Monaco, Santa’s Workshop became the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. It has been touted as the first theme park.

Make sure to check in at the North Pole Railroad Station because the entry fee is good for a second consecutive day. For those other parents with lift ticket mentality (dividing the number of runs taken by the cost of the ski ticket) having the opportunity to come back another day will take some pressure off trying to fit in all that Santa’s Workshop has to offer.

Catch some of Santa’s friends performing at Mother Goose’s Guild or watch a puppet show at the Jack Jingle Theatre. Wrap up the tour with a trip to the barn to feed the reindeer. Children can even participate in a parade to Santa’s House where they can have a sit down with St. Nick.

Santa’s Workshop is located in Wilmington, NY. Call 800-806-0215 for directions. Please remember if your visit is incomplete, you may request a re-entry pass for the next day at the post office.

Photograph of cast members at Santa’s Workshop.