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, March 29, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Whiteface, Gore Pond Skimming

NOTE: Pond Skimming Has Been Postponed Until Next Saturday, April 9

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
It certainly doesn’t seem like spring at my house. Snow is falling and my children are outside cutting ice blocks for a fort. We still have all the winter gear out and are still enjoying snow on the trails. Downhill skiing may not be for everyone, but there are ways to enjoy the fun even if you aren’t personally hitting the slopes.

This weekend Whiteface Mountain will celebrate its last Super Sunday Retro Day with $35 adult lift tickets ($30 teen/senior and $25/junior) for all.

Crazy outfits will abound and I fear I could outfit quite a few people in really bad neon style choices and some unflattering stirrup pants. There will be prizes for best costume and from the sound of things “best” is subjective. Ticket holders can also participate in an on-mountain scavenger hunt.

The annual pond skimming contest will take place at the base with no entry fee required. Skiers and snowboards will try to gain as much speed as possible to “skim” across a man made pond to win prizes for longest distance, biggest and best splash and best costume.

Pond skimming at Whiteface is not just for ticket holders. Spectators can access the event for free. For those in need of accessibility, the event will have a limited view from the sun deck. Pond skimming can be viewed from the gondola but tickets are required. Gondola tickets will be available for any riders and I am told that is wheelchair accessible. It is best to call ahead to make sure the gondola is running. It is closed to passengers in cases of high wind.

Gore Mountain will conduct its pond skimming tradition on April 10 at 11:00 a.m. at the base of the mountain.

“This event is very spectator-friendly,” says Gore Mountain Marketing Manager Emily Stanton. “There is a five dollar entry free and the event is accessible from the sun deck. The best viewing though is right near the pond so sturdy walking shoes are recommended for those not participating.”

According to Stanton in the past spectators may get wet so it is best to prepare for that as well. The pond is about half the size of a hotel pool and participants will race downhill to waterski across the pond spraying spectators along the way.

“Costumes are highly encouraged,” says Stanton, “We will be crowning a Pond King, Queen, Prince, Princess and Pond Frogs and Frogettes. We have great prizes this year from a variety of ski and snowboard gear, gift certificates at the Log Jam Restaurant in Lake George, and Gore mountain biking tickets.”

Though West Mountain and McCauley will be open this weekend, they celebrated their own version of pond skimming earlier in March.

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, March 22, 2011

Adirondack Family Activity: Wild Center’s Otter Birthday Party

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
I have been having a great winter skiing and snowshoeing around the Adirondacks so much so that when I received my Otter birthday party reminder at the Wild Center it took me a bit by surprise. It is already that time of year when The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks (The Wild Center) closes for the month of April to rejuvenate and get ready for a busy summer season. That said, this weekend, March 25-27) will be the last opportunity until May 1st to see what the Wild Center has been up to this winter.

Now with the recent flurries of snow, mud season doesn’t seem to be approaching as fast as some may wish. Keep in mind that if you always wanted to attempt snowshoeing now is the time. The Wild Center offers free snowshoes with paid admission. So practice around the various trails and see how easy it is to go out an explore while the trails are still covered in snow. The added bonus for this weekend is the Otters’ birthday party celebration.

Interpretive Naturalist Kerri Ziemann says,”On Friday and Saturday we will have all our regular programming as well as one more chance for people to find the golden otter before the drawing on Sunday.”

For those not in the know, a tiny golden otter has been hiding in various places within the Wild Center for the past twelve weeks. Children and adults are welcome to search and use a list of clues to find the evasive creature. Once found, submit his/her name into a raffle for a chance to win a pack basket full of otter related goodies. Thankfully nothing that I saw relates to having to go home with a real otter though there is a huge plush toy right on top.

“For this weekend the otters’ birthday will be held on the 27th and we will have activities all day starting at 10:00 and ending around 3:30. There will be enrichment programs about otters and craft tables open for anyone to color an individual quilt square. We will then tie all the squares together to create a quilt,” continues Ziemann.

Additional events are face painting and storytelling sessions with author Hope Marston of “My Little book of River Otters” at noon and 1:00 p.m. Ollie the Otter, the Wild Center mascot, will also be around for picture taking. Currently the Wild Center as four otters: Squirt, Louie, Squeaker, and Remy. The raffle will be drawn at 1:30 p.m. with a celebration of cupcakes (for humans) and ice “cake” for the otters.

After a month of spring cleaning the Wild Center will reopen on May 1st with a green festival as part of “Build a Greener Adirondacks Expo.”

If that doesn’t fit into the schedule, the Adirondack Museum will hold two more Cabin Fever Sundays. Women and their role in early conservation is the March 27 topic where Museum Educator Jessica Rubin will highlight early female activism. On April 10, curator Laura Cotton will discuss artifacts from the museum’s collection that show chase Adirondack ingenuity. These events are at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium and free to museum members or elementary-school-age children and younger. Otherwise it is $5 for nonmembers. Though to see the whole facility you will have to wait until its May 27th opening day.

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, March 15, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Footy Film Fest in AuSable Forks

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
The Footy Film Festival isn’t just for the freestyle and snowboard culture, Director Mike Kirshner insists. The category was left ambiguous, snow-sport action footage from the current season with the only restriction being time. This first winter-sports amateur film contest has an under 5-minute and under 30-minute category that includes entries from all walks of life, not just the freestyle world.

Kirshner says, “We wanted the festival to be open to all though we did primarily get entries that are involved in the culture. We do have an ice fishing entry and even one with young kids competing in some of the disciplines. We want this event to continue to grow and have more entries outside the freestyle culture.”

The disciplines that Kirshner refers to are in two areas, ski and snowboard. In the ski category competitors compete in Moguls, Dual Moguls, Aerials, Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Skiercross. In the snowboard field, participants compete in Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Boardercross, Giant Slalom and Slalom.

Spectators are encouraged to attend the Footy Film Festival and all funds will be used to support the United States of America Snowboard Associations Adirondack (USASA ADK) athletes at Nationals at Copper Mountain.

“The idea of an amateur film festival felt like a natural fit. A lot of the first year boarders and younger kids in the snow and ski culture are already filming themselves on YouTube and Facebook,” says Kirshner. “For some kids the filming may even take priority over the primary activity. So out of this culture we decided to have a contest for the Adirondack region that would support the subculture while also acting as a fundraiser for those athletes trying to make Nationals, which are in Colorado this year.”

The film festival will take place at the Hollywood Theatre in AuSable Forks this Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. All tickets are $5. Awards will be given to the top three in each category following the showing. First place for <5 minute edit will receive $100 cash prize and a GoPro camera while the first place winner for < 30 minute edit will receive $200 cash prize and a GoPro camera. Other prizes will be awarded from PlacidPlanet Bicycles and Hardway Apparel.

All in all it should be a fun first-time event that will continue to grow overtime. For some it may be an introduction to freestyle sports or just an interesting view at some up and coming talent.


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, March 8, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Thurman Maple Weekend

Two feet of new snow around the Adirondacks and I am ready to console myself in maple syrup. I am not sure if it will be in a celebration of spring or procrastination to shoveling. Either way the next three weeks are full of various maple-collecting Adirondack Family Activities  for all, starting with Thurman’s annual Maple Weekend March 12-13.

Sheryl Kenyon of Adirondack Gold Maple Farm recommends that people start right off with a pancake breakfast at neighboring Valley Road Maple Farm. As one of the founders of Thurman Maple Weekend, Kenyon knows there are plenty of ways to celebrate making maple syrup and wants families to come out and be active while doing it.

“It is a wonderful breakfast,” says Kenyon. “Then people can come to Adirondack Gold Maple Farm and see Tapper tap about 100 trees. We have about 650 taps going through tubing but people do still like that nostalgic fell of seeing sap buckets.”

Tapper, Kenyon’s husband is known by that moniker for all the maple taps he has put into trees. She admits that kids just love being around Tapper and will find recipes and other products available during the whole weekend at their old-fashioned wood burning sugarhouse. .

Kenyon says, “We expect there will still be a lot of snow this weekend. We have snowshoes if anyone wants to borrow them or feel free to bring your own. We encourage people to get out on our trails and make a full day of it. There will be maple donuts and maple chili as well as hot chocolate and coffee at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. We will also have hotdogs with maple Michigan sauce in case people are looking for something different than the pancake breakfast.”

The breakfast she refers to will start at 9:00 a.m. on both days, March 12-13, at Valley Road Maple Farm. This local sugarhouse will demonstrate techniques from their state-of-the-art sugarhouse such as “taps on vacuum with reverse osmosis.” Valley Road Maple Farm won first prize for maple candy at the New York State Fair in 2008 and 2009.

Two additional spots are Toad Hill Maple Farm and Martin’s Lumber. Toad Hill Maple Farm is the largest maple producer in Warren County and will be giving tours of their new energy-efficient sugarhouse. Martin’s Lumber will have sawing demonstrations and stepping stones and paper jewelry crafts on hand. Kenyon informs me that Martin’s provides sustainable lumbering. One example is demonstrating the beautiful wood grain in nonproducing old sugar maple trees where the wood has changed from old maple taps.

A good time for all is the annual Maple Sugar Park at Thurman Town hall in Athol on Saturday, March 12 at 4:00 p.m.. This all-you-can eat buffet also serves as a benefit for the American Cancer Society. The $10/adults, $5/(kids 6-11), Free (5-under) goes toward fighting cancer while providing live music food and some jackwax.

No, I had to ask what jackwax was. It may be maple taffy to some or “sugar on snow” to others. Whatever you want to call it, the sugary, maple candy will be boiling away in celebration of all that is maple.

Don’t forget that the New York State Maple Producers’ Association Maple Weekend is March 19-20 and March 26-27. So if this weekend doesn’t fit your schedule there will be plenty of choices for families to get a real maple treat.

Photo: Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. Used with permission


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


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Adirondack Sleigh Rides

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

The groundhog may not have seen its shadow but I’m still hoping to get a bit more winter activities in before all the snow melts away. One treat we seem to do each winter is an Adirondack sleigh ride. From the beautiful outdoor setting to the old-fashioned activity, it is something that lets us enjoy the mountains together without motors, phones or other media blaring. Each of the location below offers a different sleigh riding experience while sharing an opportunity for us to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

In the southern part of the Adirondacks is Circle B Ranch (518-494-4888) owned and operated by Chris Boggia. The former science teacher wears many hats in the day to day management of the Circle B. From farrier to trail guide, Chris provides a hands on approach to each experience.

Chris even helped construct one of the three traditional sleigh with wood harvested from the ranch. Chris Circle B offers three options; two small sleighs for a more intimate setting or a larger sleigh for groups. Each ride is 30-40 minutes and travels through wooded trails and open fields on the Circle B’s 40-acre ranch. The Circle B has access to neighboring property and utilizes 850-acres for its sleigh and winter trail rides. Reservations are required.

Country Dream Farm (518-561-8941( operates their sleigh rides out of Hohmeyer’s Lake Clear Lodge (888-818-2701). According to owner Melissa Monty-Provost there are many options available.

“Visitors can take a sleigh ride through the wooded trails at the Lake Clear Lodge and then enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the fire or people can stay for dinner or just have an appetizer,” Melissa says. “Recently a group came and did a wine tasting and then out for a sleigh ride.”

Each 30-minute sleigh ride is available on Friday and Saturday from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The team pulls an old-fashioned sleigh through a lantern lit trail through the woods of the Lake Clear Lodge property. They also offer private sleigh rides by appointment and travel off site, depending on the distance.

Once the Lake Placid Club’s golf course is covered with snow, The Equine Center (518-834-9933) moves in to operate its Adirondack sleigh rides. Located right on Route 86 in Lake Placid. Sleigh rides with The Equine Center are from afternoon to early evening.

Owner Travis DeValinger says he does extend hours for those special moments. Each 40-minute ride glides over snow-covered hills with a panoramic view of the High Peaks, Sentinel Range and even glimpses of the Olympic Ski Jump in the background.

Prices vary for each operation so please check each website or call to ask about any discounts.

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, February 22, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Random Acts of Shakespeare

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Random Acts of Shakespeare is a newly formed theatre group with the hope of making Shakespeare accessible through the popular form of “flash mobs.”

Founder and Director April Iovino wants to draw attention to the fact that Shakespeare is not stuffy or boring, that the plays of Shakespeare are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago.

Iovino and the fledging group of 12 or so actors thought that one way to appeal to people would be to perform “flash mob” Shakespeare in various places. Armed with the more mainstream quotes, passages and soliloquies, Random Acts of Shakespeare made its debut during the Lake George Winter Carnival.

Iovino says, “ We decided to start performing scenes and monologues from the passages of Shakespeare that people would recognize. We wanted to demonstrate how popular Shakepeare still is, how Shakespearean plays have gotten into our popular culture without people even knowing it.”

She begins to rattle off well-known pieces in general pop culture, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”, from the play Julius Caesar or Hamlet’s, “To be our not to be: that is the question.” The list goes on.

“Romeo and Juliet is once again being remade and currently in the theatres as a cartoon,” reminds Iovino. “ This was an experiment to see if people were interested. We want to entertain the general public in an unconventional way.

“We are all involved in theatre in some capacity,” Iovino speaks about the other troupe members. “I have a Bachelor’s in Theatre from SUNY Plattsburgh and have worked with Schuylerville Community Theatre and the Hudson River Shakespeare Company. I then asked my theatre friends if they were interested in performing.”

“The idea to start at the Lake George Winter Carnival came quickly and everything fell into place,” says Iovino. “We needed to get dates and times. We needed to get the piece to memorize. We then went to Shepard’s Park by the beach and just started spewing out Shakespeare. I hope it is something we can do in other areas. We hope that other venues will open up to us. We hope to get the information out there, outside of a traditional theatre setting.”

The whole purpose of performing in a “flash mob” format was to expose Shakespeare’s works to the general public in a similar vein as a street performer or performance artist and, judging from the feedback they’ve received, it worked.

To date, Random Acts of Shakespeare’ troupe consists of April Iovio, SaraBeth Oddy, Molly Oddy, Jenelle Hammond, Jeremy Hammond, David Lundgren, Sereh Lundgren, Lisa Grabbe, Jeremy Grebbe, Andy Haag, Nik Korobovsky, Kate LeBoeuf and Sara Lestage

Iovino and the rest of Random Acts of Shakespeare are looking to broaden their scope to include school groups and other venues. Anyone can email or find them on Facebook to set up performances. As Iovino and Shakespeare remind us, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” As You Like It.

Photo used with permission of Random Acts of Shakespeare


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, February 8, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities on the Jackrabbit Trail

We plan just a jaunt to stretch our legs on the Lake Clear section of the Jackrabbit Trail. We are only going a small part of the nine-mile trail that starts near the Lake Clear junction and ends at the Paul Smith College Visitor’s Interpretive Center (VIC).

We struggle over the steep snow banks that line Route 30, throwing our snowshoes and skis ahead of us. With the recent dumping of snow we have to knock our feet into the snow to make steps up the embankment. We sit on the edge of the snow bank and quickly strap on our skis.

When we reach the Jackrabbit trailhead sign my son notes that we are standing about four feet above the ground. Cars rush past but the tree cover soon muffles the sound. Even on skis we sink into the fresh snow. There are more popular sections to the 33-mile trail but this one fits our needs.

The conditions are perfect. We follow the corridor of telephone poles. Snowmobile and ski tracks are on either side of us. We skirt around the poles trying to avoid the heavy ice that hangs from the lines above.

The Jackrabbit Trail was modeled after the European tradition of cross-country ski journeying. In certain European countries towns are linked with trails allowing skiers to travel smoothly between villages, eating and sleeping along the way.

I’m sure there are people that have completed the whole Jack Rabbit trail in day. We will not be one of them. For families the Jack Rabbit Trail is a perfect opportunity to get out on skis and enjoy the Adirondack backcountry.

Named in memory of Herman (Jackrabbit) Johannsen, the Jackrabbit Trail is constructed and maintained by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The 33-mile, multi-sectioned cross-country ski trail connects the towns of Paul Smiths, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene. The Lake Clear section is accessed about a half mile north on Route 30 from the Route 30/186 junction. There is a small sign across from the old Lake Clear Elementary School.

For more information on the Jackrabbit Trail please contact the Adirondack Ski Touring Council at 518-523-1365.

Photo ©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.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Winter Carnivals

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

When the weather hits the negative digits and my kids are stuck inside for any length of time we, like so many other people living here, look forward to opportunities for getting outside. Though with winter storms, weather warning and family time spent shoveling snow, it may be difficult to remember all the reason why we love the snow.

Festivals, carnivals and celebrations of winter are here to remind us why we choose to visit, live and be a part of the snow. Plus a little competition never hurt anyone. Lake George, Old Forge and Saranac Lake are embracing their winter spirit and inviting people to step outside and enjoy the Adirondack weather.

The Coronation of Carnival Royalty kicks off the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival on February 4th.In its 114 year, Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival’s 2011 theme is Medieval Times. People have been donning their costumes and preparing their serfs (in our case our children) to decide which of the over 80 events to attend.

On Saturday, February 5, watch fireworks over Lake Flower and the lighting of the Ice Palace. From February 4-13, the town of Saranac Lake turns into a medieval fortress of family-friendly activities from a carnival for kids, ski races to treasure hunt. The downtown parade on the 12th doesn’t even finish the array of activities. Sunday brings on cross-country ski races and opportunities to play volleyball or softball in the snow.

McCauley Mountain in Old Forge has a weekend packed with winter activity that will remind us why we love the snow. Twelve-dollar lift tickets at the mountain and a parade to celebrate the 10th Mountain Division and other military branches are reason enough to brave the cold and cheer on the troops. Spend some family time ice-skating at the outdoor Joy Tract Road rink or just relax and watch while sipping hot chocolate by the bonfire.

On Saturday, February 5, the Kiwanis Club of the Central Adirondack will sponsor their 11th Winter Sports Challenge benefiting the Old Forge Community Youth and Activity Center. These snowshoe and cross-country ski activities are held at McCauley Mountain.

Lastly, Lake George celebrates 50 years of Winter Carnival with a month packed with activities. Some weekend events such as face painting and petting zoo are reoccurring while other activities like kite flying, dog sled races and hot air balloon rides are just on specific weekends.

However you choose to celebrate winter, there are so many opportunities to get outside, meet new people and enjoy the Adirondacks.

Photo of the Saranac Lake 2011 Ice Palace 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, January 25, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Sledding in Long Lake

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
We are traveling back home and the kids decide that a unified singing of “Are we there yet” will magically transport us to our destination. They then resort to singing it in the round. I’ve told them if they can just hold it together until we get to Long Lake we can sled down the old Sabattis Mountain Ski Area, named for the Abenaki Adirondack guide, Mitchell Sabattis.

We arrive at twilight and scramble over each other to put on snow pants, gloves and hats. It is a well-choreographed dance and I am grateful for our van’s tinted windows. We are initiating the new Flexible Flyer saucers and the first two people on the slopes get the honor. The town of Long Lake re-graded the old rope-tow ski area and built up a berm around the bottom of the sledding hill to keep any sliders from ending up near the road.

Though there some tire inner tubes available, we use our own sleds. The walk to the top is a bit steep but both children manage to do it without complaint. My daughter finds the perfect sledding technique. She crosses her legs on the saucer and shoots down the slope. She hits the bowl like a top, propels off the bottom onto the side and hugs the lip of the bowl as she spins the whole way down.

My husband and I scramble up the ridge yelling out strategies if she pops over the other side. Each child’s subsequent trip further carves a path into the bowl’s rim creating a mini luge-like run. The ski hill’s lights are still there and illuminate the old run as night approaches. The slick conditions just adds to the excitement. We are finally exhausted and ready for the next stanza of “Are we there yet?”

The sledding hill is just part of the Geiger Arena in Long Lake. Free ice-skating and skates are also available at the nearby rink. Rink hours are Mondays from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Fridays from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.,;Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Sundays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. The rink is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

At the Route 30/28N junction (by Hoss’s General Store) continue on 30S for 0.1-mile. The Arena is on the left, on the corner of South Hill Road and Deerland Road, across from the Post Office. Call 518-624-3031 and ask ice attendant Caleb Davis any additional questions.


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, January 18, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities by Diane Chase: Long Lake’s Buttermilk Falls

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™
We are never in that big of a hurry that we can’t take a moment and spend some time on a trail or path. Sometimes the biggest hurdle for family time is to realize that the small moments are just as important. Every outing doesn’t have to be a huge event.

Sometimes the small walks lead to the most beautiful locations. We are beyond the need to plot our destinations based on bathroom breaks, snack or nap times. I hope we never outgrow the need to stretch our legs.

One quick family-friendly outing is Buttermilk Falls in Long Lake, N.Y.

This walk is about 100 yards off of North Point Road. Park the car and it is a short meander in following the wide pathway. In winter, after the first few steps the path turns into a labyrinth of freshly made footprints. The main path leads to the falls. Even in winter the water is being churned over the rocks and looking very much the color for which it is named, “buttermilk.”

This can be a very popular place in summer or winter. It is a lucky day when you have the place to yourself. Boot prints in the freshly fallen snow mark a variety of paths from the base of the falls to the wider river above. Please be careful. The edge of the riverbed is under snow and may look like land but can actually be the water running underneath, making it dangerous for all.

We gingerly step toward the edge, but backtrack quickly when we see the river spouting through a small hole at our feet. We follow the footprints that lead to the head of the falls. Picnic tables are cleared off so we sit for a bit and enjoy the granola bars I pull from my pocket. The Raquette River flows before us and we hear the rush of the falls below.

Though one of the smallest falls, Buttermilk Falls is a beautiful area with pathways fanning out to surround the area. It is a relaxing place where children and adults can sit for a few moments or spend hours just exploring the area. We finish our time with a snowball fight, using the massive roots of fallen trees as cover.

From Long Lake take Route 30/28 south for three miles. Turn right onto North Point Rd (there is a sign for Buttermilk Falls.) Follow North Point Road for two miles, the entrance and parking to the falls will be on your right.

photo of Buttermilk Falls 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, January 11, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Long Lake E-lumination

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Long Lake native and artist Matt Burnett is bringing one element of his art back to his hometown with fellow artist Scott Fuller. Each has enjoy their own personal artistic successes within their favored medium but continue to stretch personal boundaries with the use of nature’s elements to mold snow and ice with light to create a temporary outdoor art exhibit.

“We like to find a way to represent the flow of nature. I like to do something that will stir up the pot and make people think about what is natural and what is artificial,” say Burnett. “The exhibit will be in two to three locations around Long Lake. It is nice to be able to bring something back to my hometown. They are supportive of new ideas in this small community.”

Burnett and Fuller have collaborated in the past with using winter elements as with the Community Spiral in Saranac Lake in 2008, a large-scale public ice sculpture. This outdoor ice sculpture involved ice bricks and hundreds of lighted tea candles.

According to Burnett the Long Lake project has been over a year in the planning. Already many hours have gone into the concept of E-lumination from the molded geometric snow forms to testing equipment for the projected images. Now the two artists, with the help of volunteers will take the next three days on site to install the outdoor exhibit to create glowing multicolored orbs that will surprise and delight travelers and locals alike.

“I like to create something that appeals to anyone,” says Burnett. “Not everyone is going to ever see the same thing when looking at art. Art can sometimes be viewed as exclusive. I want to work on different levels and the challenge is to be able to relate to as many people as possible.”

Matt Burnett has garnered accolades for his paintings, multimedia studies and environmental events. He is also the co-director of the Graphic and Multimedia Design program at SUNY Canton where he teaches studio art, photography and design.

Scott Fuller continues to work in public installations and new media. Along with other awards, Fuller’s piece with Asherah Cinnamon, Reaching for Courage: Gateway to China was a finalist for the 2008 Bejjing Olympic Sculpture contest. Fuller is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

“There will be a game involved. We are tying in elements of history to the region of Long Lake,” says Burnett. “ We are projecting images, some between 70-100 years old, that we hope will be special to the people of the Long Lake and to people that are just passing through. There will be a puzzle for people to try to name all the people and places that are to be projected for the week the project is up.”

Burnett and Fuller will be doing a similar outdoor installation at St. Lawrence University in Canton in February. The sculpture will be seen at the center quad and focus more on the environmental issues of St. Lawrence Univerisity instead of the regional history. Burdett will also conduct a lecture on public and environmental art.

For more information regarding Matt Burdett and Scott Fuller’s art, check out their respective websites. E-lumination is slated to be working this weekend, weather permitting, in time for Long Lake Winter Carnival.

Thie E lumination project is made possible in part from support from the following organizations: The Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks, New York State Foundation for the Arts, The Adirondack Museum, The Town of Long Lake, and Gillis Reality.

Photo: The Saranac Lake Community Spiral, used with the permission of Matt Burnett.


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, December 28, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: First Night in Saranac Lake and Saratoga

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

First Night celebrations offer families an opportunity to bring in the New Year in a healthy fashion. Originating in Boston over 35 years ago, First Night originators wanted to provide non-alcohol related New Year’s Eve festivities. The arts centered event grew from a small community celebration to what now showcases Boston’s diverse culture and art. There are now 200 similarly modeled celebrations worldwide. In our part of the world, Saratoga Springs and Saranac Lake are two such sanctioned events.

For the fifteenth year the First Night Saratoga’s button gets the recipient into all 35 First Night venues and 70 First Night performances and happenings. Events start at 6:00 p.m. at a variety of locations and continue through midnight.

Jackie Marchand, Saratoga First Night coordinator says, “ This is the first year that Saratoga Arts is presenting First Night. The YMCA presented the event for fourteen years and wanted to continue to focus on their fitness programs. The Art Center’s Executive Director felt it was a good fit for an art institution to take over and continue to make art accessible to all.”

“There are new programs to look forward to this year, “ says Marchand.” The theme is ‘Live Creatively’ so we are presenting art in all its forms. There will be something for everyone from film, music, comedy, dance and even interactive visual art.”

Marchard gives one such example of interactive art. Ghost Train, a digital graffiti installation originally featured at Burning Man 2010, is a projected New York City subway train where participants can use an “aerosol can” to tag designs onto the train. Light is used rather than paint.

CDTA buses will run all night for free along the route. There are plenty of parking lots in the city as well as on street parking. The fireworks will bring in the New Year from Congress Park at midnight. A DJ will do the countdown and provide music onsite while people are waiting for the fireworks.

Saranac Lake will celebrate its fifth First Night that continues the tradition of providing non-alcoholic, family-friendly, visual arts oriented activities to all. The $12 button is available at a variety of locations while children (12 and under) are issued a special button allowing them access for free. Opening ceremonies are at the Harrietstown Town Hall at 5:45 p.m.

Puppet shows, storytellers, live music and performers are just a few of the 42 activities at over 12 venues around Saranac Lake. All performances end near midnight so participants can make it to River Street to watch “the snowflake” drop for the New Year’s countdown and welcome fireworks over Lake Flower. There is a community bus available to various locations for $1.00/ride.

However you choose to spend your New Year’s Eve, I wish you a healthy and safe celebration. Happy New Year!


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, December 21, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities:A Christmas Carol at Pendragon Theatre

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
I am finished with my holiday shopping. I can actually hear choruses of angels singing in my head when I say that. I would like to be one of those people that shop early, who sits smugly back and watches the holiday madness. But without last minute consumers like myself, what would happen to the retail industry? I like to convince myself that I am personally causing shops to get “in the black.” I have cooked, wrapped, shopped and supported the local economy to the point where my wallet has cried, “Uncle.” Now it is time for me to take a step back and remember what Christmas is all about. Oh, who am I kidding?

Bah, humbug!

This week Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake will have its final performances of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol before the Christmas holiday. As part of its 30th year celebration, Pendragon Theatre once again returns to a holiday tradition that helps remind us that some gifts come from within.

Pendragon Theatre, the Adirondack’s only year-round professional theatre, started with modest beginnings in 1980. In their 30 seasons, co-founders, a husband and wife team, Susan Neal and Bob Pettee have acted, directed and produced thousands of shows along with the support of friends, staff and community. In addition to productions at the Pendragon Theatre stage, the professional troupe takes performances on the road all around the Adirondack Park. They provide an Arts in Education program, making live theatre accessible to school children around the Adirondacks, as well as internships and classroom study guides.

For those unfamiliar with the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the story is of a resentful old man who has the opportunity to see how his life will turn out if he continues on a path of stingy bitterness. This Christmas classic continues to be retold and reinvented so much that Charles Dicken’s characters have integrated into our everyday language. That mean, greedy person who hates Christmas has become a Scrooge while we are all often visited by our ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.

This year’s production at Pendragon is directed by Kent Streed. The following are members of the cast: Josh Beaudion, Don Carlisto, Schuyler Crankler, Jessica Deeb, Emily DeLancette, Tom Delahant, Scott Eichholz, Matt Eick, Kody Gates, Holly Huber, Jim Kries, Katie Marcinko, Chris McGovern, Leonie Mohrs, Garth Olsen, Natalie Orman, Sean Orman, Bob Pettee, Kate Pettee, Kama Prellwitz , Noel Prellwitz, Barbara Touby, Abby Wolff, Steve Wolff, Arthur Volmrich with understudies Leslie Dame, Kent Streed and Laura Warden.

For me this holiday tradition grounds me to what is truly important, spending time with my family. It is easy to be caught up in the flurry of packages and onslaught of online bargains. When I am visited by my own ghosts I hope they show me a life full of family moments.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, everyone!”

In a challenging economy people may forget that a gift of live performance is sometime less than the ticket to the latest film. For $10/adults and $8/under 17, performance times are December 21, 22, 23 at 7:00 p.m.

This Pendragon production moves to The Lake Placid Center for the Arts after Christmas (December 27 and 28 at 7:00 p.m.) For reservations at Pendragon Theatre call 518-891-1854 or reservations at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, call 518-523-2512. Merry Christmas!


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, December 14, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Diane Chase: Author/Illustrator Steven Kellogg

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™

Children of all ages are most likely familiar with one of the over 100 children’s books illustrated by Steven Kellogg. If you are one of the few unfamiliar with his work the opportunity to right such a travesty is at hand.

Children’s book author/illustrator Steven Kellogg will be in Essex this Saturday along with University of Vermont history lecturer Andy Buchanan to celebrate the holidays with a narration of The Incredible History of Samuel de Champlain’s Cat and Kellogg’s book, The Island of Skog.

Starting at 4:00 p.m. on December 18th, this benefit for the North Country Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals (NCSPCA) will be held at Whallonsburg Grange Hall.

“Steven is a generous supporter of the shelter,” explains Margaret Reuther, President of the Board of Directors for the NCSPCA. “There will be a reading with Andy Buchanan loosely based on the history of Samuel de Champlain’s cat. Steven and Andy wrote it together. It is wonderful. Steven is glorious drawing on the spot. We had done a similar event in the summer and it turned out so well that we thought it would be wonderful to do another near Christmas. One of our goals for the organization is to gain positive feelings for our shelter. We also hope to raise some much needed money.”

In the second part of the evening’s activities, Kellogg will again be illustrating on the spot while retelling his popular book The Island of Skog. The drawings created onsite will be part of a Silent Auction. Kellogg is also donating 50% of the sale of two of his books, And I Love You and The Island of Skog to the animal shelter. Both of which can be personally autographed at the event. Cider and cookies will be served and all proceeds will benefit the NCSPCA.

“The North Country SPCA is the only animal shelter for all of Essex Country, one of the largest counties for New York State,” says Reuther. “Each year we care for over 400 homeless, abandoned and abused cats and dogs. We have an amazing staff that works extraordinarily hard to give loving care to these cats and dogs,” says Reuther. “We give medical care to the animals. We spay and neuter. Our goal is to find a loving family for each and every animal. We are also a no kill shelter. We welcome volunteers. We encourage everyone to come and visit.”

Reuther explains that some volunteers have a specific routine and spend a few hours a week walking dogs or cleaning cat cages. Other volunteers may show up sporadically and help out where they are needed.

“We love volunteers,” say Reuther. “We have people that will come and walk the dogs and foster the cats. Our shelter manager, Pam Rock, is truly extraordinary so anyone interested should call and talk with her. We even have teenage volunteers that will show up after school. It is a great way to help out.”

Reuther understands that not everyone is able to have a pet. Volunteering at the NCSPCA is an opportunity for families and young children to see the level of care necessary for keeping an animal. Allowing children to assist with these homeless animals will help them grow into responsible pet owners.

“I know one family that has been coming with their eight-year-old child every Sunday to walk dogs,” Reuther explains. “We also have an older couple that do not have a dog but they travel frequently so they come two or three times a week. It is a wide gamut of people. ”

The organization does there best to care for “surrendered” animals. Reuther admits the task seems endless. She briefly mentions how the NCSPCA is overflowing with cats. There are no New York State laws pertaining to cats. There are dog control officers but nothing for cats. She encourages people to contact Pam at the shelter whether they have to give up a family pet or have found a stray.

So perhaps all the holiday shopping isn’t yet complete or one more gift can be squeezed into that stocking. Adopting a pet isn’t the only option to help out animals in need this season. To enjoy the reading and watch Kellogg ply his craft live, the NCSPCA asks for a donation of $5.00 per adult while children under 12 are free.



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, December 7, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Charles Dickert Wildlife Collection

Tucked in the lower level of the Saranac Lake Free Library is “the finest collection of Adirondack animals ever gathered in one place.” These animals are not wild anymore or even tame for that matter. The Charles Dickert Wildlife Collection is a one-room museum dedicated to the works of taxidermist, Charles Dickert.

My daughter stands in the entranceway with her jaw dangling open. She has seen mounts before but these are pristinely cared for and arranged and overwhelming in number. We quickly note that not all creatures are indigenous to the area. We ask our son to look for the elephant lamp in the display that we see in an old picture from the Guggenheim camp. He discovers that the black ducks flying in V formation above his head are also in old photos on display. He marvels at the colors of the wood ducks and is curious about the leopard rug. » Continue Reading.



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