Saturday, July 24, 2010

Daddy-Longlegs Myths Explained

You’ve got to love Urban Legends. Some of them are just so ridiculous that it is hard to believe that people actually believe them. Others, however, are understandable because they are based on misinformation that could be true but simply isn’t. Take for example the lowly daddy-longlegs, or harvestman.

To begin with, this animal, while it is an arachinid, is not a spider. I know, it looks like a spider, and spiders are arachnids, but so are scorpions, and they are not spiders either. In other words, not all arachnids are spiders.

So, how is a harvestman different from a spider? Let’s consider some spider basics. What do we usually associate with spiders? Webs! Most spiders have some sort of silk-spinning apparatus, even if they don’t spin those classic webs that immediately spring to mind. Harvestmen, however, do not. They have no spinnerettes; they have no silk glands.

How about biting? Spider bites are often attributed to any small bite-like thing that appears on arms and legs while one’s been asleep (most spiders are more likely to get squished when you roll over and are therefore not likely to bite you). Then there are spiders like black widows, brown recluses, and tarantulas—all seen as highly dangerous biters (in fact, tarantulas don’t even belong in this category, but that’s fodder for another blog). I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard that harvestmen have the most venomous bites, but because their mouths are too small, they can’t bite people. (Sound the buzzer here.) This is Urban Legend #2.

Harvestmen do not have venom! No venom means no venomous bites. This myth is further laid to rest when one takes a good close look at the mouthparts. Harvestmen do not have fangs, hollow or otherwise. Instead, their mouths look more like grasping claws, which is what they are, and they are too small and weak to damage our tough hides. Spiders need venom to immobilize their prey; harvestmen do not (see below).

Now, I don’t know if this next one is an Urban Legend or not, but it sure sounds like it should be. If detached from the body, a harvestman’s leg will continue to twitch. This is actually true, and it is a defensive mechanism. Harvestmen, like almost all critters in the world, have to constantly be on the lookout for predators. To avoid becoming someone else’s happy meal, these arachnids have a few strategies up their proverbial sleeves, one of which is to detach a leg and then dash away. The twitching, abandoned appendage often distracts the predator long enough to allow for a safe exit.

Other defensive actions include the secretion of foul-smelling liquid from scent glands, playing dead, or even, in some species, gluing debris to their bodies to serve as camouflage.

Daddy-longlegs are actually rather beneficial animals to have around. For one thing, they help keep the world tidy. Most species are omnivores, consuming small insects and plant material, including fungi. Other species are scavengers and as such they clean up after other things have died or pooped. It may not be the food of choice for you or me, but we should be grateful that there are animals out there that like this stuff; otherwise, we’d be up to our eyeballs in, well, corpses and scat.

This brings up another difference between spiders and harvestmen. Spiders liquefy all their meals and slurp them up. Harvestmen, however, are capable of eating chunks of food. Remember those grasping claws they have for mouthparts? Thanks to these claws, they are able to exploit a whole realm of food that spiders, which are strictly predators (although one herbivorous species was recently discovered), can not.

Do you need further convincing that harvestmen are not spiders? Then take a look at the bodies of these two animals. Let’s back up for a moment and start with insects. How many body parts do insects have? Three: head, thorax and abdomen. How many body parts does a spider have? Two: cephalothorax and abdomen. How many body parts does a harvestman have? Two—but they look like one. This is because on the harvestman the joint between the cephalothorax (head) and the abdomen is so broad that the two body pieces look like a single, oval-shaped part.

If you want to get really technical, you can look at the structures these animals use for breathing. You and I have lungs. Spiders and scorpions have book lungs, rather complicated structures that involve alternating layers of air pockets and tissues filled with hemolymph, which is the equivalent of blood. Harvestmen, on the other hand, breathe through spiracles located near their legs, and the air is transported through trachea into the body for gas exchange. This system is much like that found on insects, like grasshoppers.

Most daddy-longlegs are nocturnal, and their drab coloration reflects this. Some, however, are brightly colored and decorated with striking patterns. These individuals are active during the day, and perhaps these colors serve to communicate their presence to prospective mates, or to warn predators away.

So, the next time you see a daddy-longlegs, resist the urge to squash it, or to call it a spider. Instead, take a good look at it. Watch what it does. Is it patrolling your garden for tasty morsels? What color is it? Is it out during the day or night? It’s kind of nice to get to know your neighbors, and knowing your garden neighbors is equally pleasing. And like any good neighbor, these arachnids help look after your property for you. Give them a silent thanks and let them live to see another day.


Friday, July 23, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, July 23, 2010

Hague’s Rick Bolton: A Life in Music

“As a young man, I was chasing a dream. As I got older, I realized the ultimate gig was a mile down the road, playing with and for my friends and then going home to my wife and kids. That’s really making it.”

That’s local legend Rick Bolton’s idea of a successful career in music, and by that definition, he’s made it.

From playing in garage bands on northern Lake George, where he traveled to gigs by boat because he was too young to drive, to touring out west, only to return home and help launch a thriving music scene in Saratoga, Rick Bolton has led a life in music and found the music that reflects his life.

“I grew up in Hague,” he recounts. “When summer hit, we got some culture, but not not enough to hurt us. I buried myself in my room in winters and learned to play guitar. I listened to the Beatles and the Stones, and I worked backward toward the music’s roots. I got lucky. I was exposed to old time guitar players, banjo players and fiddlers, here and in northeastern Vermont where I went to college. That’s the music that makes sense to me.”

Those traditions have found their way into the music he’s been playing for the last forty years, with bands like the T-Bones, northern Lake George’s favorite dance band, Rick Bolton and the Dwyer Sisters (which includes his wife Sharon and her sister Molly) and Big Medicine, which will perform in Lake George Village’s Shepard Park on July 28.

“I’m a tavern singer, I make no bones about that, but I love playing town concert series,” said Bolton. “You have a chance to mix it up with towns people and tourists; they’re better venues than taverns for playing original tunes and trying different takes on cover material. They’re always a lot of fun.”

Bolton characterizes Big Medicine, which consists of Jeff and Becky Walton, Tim Wechgelaer, Arlin Greene, Mike Lomaestro and Bolton on guitar, as “classic Americana; we cover a lot of bases – swing, rhythm and blues, rock, folk.”

Musicians younger than Bolton and from such unlikely places as Brooklyn and Somerville have re-discovered the acoustic roots music that Bolton has been playing for most of his life. In fact, they’re popular draws at the concert series in Shepard Park.

Rather than disparaging the young bands’ grasp of the traditions or resenting their intrusion upon fields he’s tilled for decades, Bolton welcomes their enthusiasm.

“It’s awesome, they’re bringing they’re own influences to bear on the music, just as we did, and they’re taking the music back to the garage, where it started,” says Bolton.

Although Bolton still has his day job with Warren County, he’s performing nearly every night with one band or another.

“We had 27 or 28 gigs scheduled for July, and June was just as busy,” he said. Bolton has lived in Saratoga for the past twenty years. In the last six years, he says, “the music scene has just taken off.”

“Sooner or later, a place just gets touched,” he says. “It happened to Austin, Texas, it happened to San Francisco. I can envision the same thing happening to Saratoga. Within blocks, you can hear jazz, acoustic folk, blues or rock. There are a lot of influences, conducive to vibrant original music. There’s a definitive Saratoga style, and there’s an audience for it.”

A sampling of that Saratoga style can be heard soon on “Saratoga Pie,” a compilation of Saratoga bands that Bolton has helped produce as a benefit for the Saratoga Center for the Family.

“There’s a lot of money for the arts in Saratoga, but often places that serve people don’t get the attention they need. There are battered women and abused children in every town in the Adirondack Park, but people never talk about that,” he says, explaining the purpose of the album. “They need our help.”

As Bolton describes it, Saratoga’s music scene is not that different from Hague, where, he says, everyone knew everyone else’s business, but everyone looked out for one another.

That’s probably why Bolton’s happier there than if he had stayed out west. He may be “only in it for the beer,” as the title of a recent CD puts it, but he’s made a full, rich life out of it.

Photo: Rick Bolton (left) with Big Medicine.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, July 23, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (July 22)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change. For complete Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation conditions see the DEC’s webpage. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

Fire Danger: MODERATE

Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

Weather
Friday: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; high near 74.
Friday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; ow around 60.
Saturday: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; high near 81.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; low around 59.
Sunday: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; high near 72.

Thunderstorm Safety Reminder
With the frequent possibility of encountering thunderstorms at this time of year it’s a good time to review lighting safety. There is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm, your biggest defense is to follow local weather and avoid storms. Hundreds of people are killed or permanently injured each year by being struck by lightening. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately. If you are caught outdoors away from safe cars or buildings avoid open fields, hill-tops, isolated trees, and stay away from water. Hikers should never be above the treeline when there is lightning. If caught in a small boat drop anchor and get as low as possible. There’s more information about lightning safety here.

General Backcountry Conditions

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Biting Insects
It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

Local Conditions

Northville Placid Trail: The Damn Wakely Dam Ultra footrace will take place this Saturday, July 24th. Expect heavy use along the section of the Northville Placid Trial between Piseco Lake and Wakely Dam.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail: Expect higher than usual traffic on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail this Saturday, July 24th, as kayakers and canoeists paddling on any waterway of the 740-mile trail can contribute to “740 Miles in One Day,” with the goal to paddle the total mileage of the trail between sunrise and 5:00 p.m. on that day. The New York section of the trail begins at Old Forge, following the Moose River, the Fulton Chain, Raquette Lake, the Raquette River, Forked and Long lakes, and by way of Stoney Creek Ponds and the Indian Carry to Upper Saranac. The route proceeds across Bartletts Carry to Middle and Lower Saranac and Lake Flower and then out of the mountains by way of the Saranac River to Franklin Falls Pond and Union Falls Pond and finally Lake Champlain.

Lake Placid, Jay, Ausable Forks, Wilmington: Ironman Lake Placid will take place this Sunday, July 25. A changed route this year will impact residents of Jay and Ausable Forks. Due to the bridge project over the Ausable River on Haselton Road in Wilmington, Route 9N from Jay to Ausable Forks will now comprise a 10.2 mile portion of the 56 mile bike circuit that racers will travel twice. Both lanes of Route 9N will be closed to non-essential vehicle traffic on race day between 8 am and 4:30 pm. The rest of the Ironman route includes the 7 am start on Mirror Lake, the village of Lake Placid, and routes 86 and 73.

Lake Champlain: This weeks hot and humid weather has produced a number of potentially toxic algae blooms in Lake Champlain. Noticeably affected areas include Westport and Port Henry, but there may be other blooms as well. Take the following precautions: Avoid all contact (do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing) and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

Raquette River: The boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake has reopened, although the floating docks are not expected to be installed until late-July. The canoe and kayak launch area is not yet open but paddlers can launch at the ramp until that area reopens as well.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) and the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge are open. DEC, the Town of Inlet, and the Town of Indian Lake have partnered to make repairs to roads and campsites along the road. Gates to side roads, including Rock Dam Road, Indian Lake Road, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required.

St. Regis Canoe Area: DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites. An online map of the St. Regis Canoe Area depicts the campsites that are being moved, closed or created. Please help protect this work by respecting closure signs. Work will occur during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Please use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain: Climbing routes on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-moonshine Mountain have reopened.

Giant Mountain: All rock climbing routes on Uppper Washbowl remain closed due to confirmed peregrine falcon nesting activity. All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl in Chapel Pond Pass are opened for climbing.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River Trail is out. The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the Hanging Spear Falls trail has also been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

High Peaks/Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.

Wilmington Wild Forest: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch have reopened.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources.

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Adirondack Conservation Group Announced

An advocacy and educational organization with historic roots in the 1940s will re-launch on Friday according to a press release issued today.

Organizers for the group Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, originally founded in 1945 by Adirondack wilderness advocate Paul Schaefer, say it will focus on the benefits of wild lands across the state, including Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks and Catskills. “Adirondack Wild will advocate when wild lands are threatened, be a strong partner to protect them, and train stewards to care for them,” according to today’s announcement. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lake George Conservancy to Hold Field Day Event

The Lake George Land Conservancy is holding an Annual Meeting and Field Day event, this Saturday July 24, 2010. The public is invited to participate in a themed hike or presentation around the lake in the morning, then join the group for a picnic lunch in Hague, listen to brief remarks on LGLC’s recent conservation efforts, and family games and activities. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adirondack Forum Will Consider Invasive Species

Registration is now open for a free Adirondack Forum on Invasive Species. The Forum, a one-and-a-half day event, will be held August 10-11 at Paul Smith’s College. You will learn how you and your community can be prepared for harmful invasive species invading Adirondack lands and waters.

The Forum will highlight initiatives underway in the region; showcase local successes and challenges as told by community members; feature up-to-date information about new invasive species; and identify important next steps that groups must collectively take to have a real and lasting impact on this challenging environmental and economic issue. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Second Glance: Mimicry and Speckled Alder Syndrome

Nature is full of little tricks. Just when you think you know something, it turns out that the one you are looking at is something else. It’s enough to drive a naturalist nutty, but it’s also the driving influence that will force a naturalist to hone his/her observation skills.

Back in my undergraduate days, we had a professor who described the whole look-at-only-one-characteristic-and-draw-a-conclusion scenario as Speckled Alder Syndrome, stated with one’s hand open, palm facing one’s face about an inch from one’s nose. In other words, you are only seeing one thing and ignoring everything else that will help you make a correct identification.

I admit it: I suffer from Speckled Alder Syndrome.

In all fairness, however, Mother Nature does conspire against us. And by “us” I mean all living things in general. From plants to reptiles, butterflies to parasites, the world is full of mimicry – living things that copy the looks of other living things all in an effort to deceive.

Mimicry comes in a variety of flavors: Batesian, Mullerian, Emsleyan, Wasmannina, Gilbertian, Browerian…and more. Most of us learn the basics of mimicry in high school biology, and usually by graduation we’ve forgotten all of it, except perhaps some of the examples, like monarch and viceroy butterflies.

What American child hasn’t grown up knowing about monarch butterflies? These large orange and black flappers are easy to identify and are the stuff of many an elementary school lesson on metamorphosis. Almost any child can recognize a monarch caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly at a hundred paces. Well, maybe ten paces, but you get the idea.

Enter the viceroy. This is the butterfly we all learn about in biology as the one that mimics the monarch. There are a few differences that the trained eye can pick up, such as the smaller size, the extra black line across the hind wings, and the row of white spots that dot the black border band of those hind wings.

To the untrained eye, however, they look the same. This is mimicry at its best. Up until only a few years ago (the 1990s), everyone believed that the viceroy, thought to be a tasty morsel, was mimicking the monarch. We knew that monarch caterpillars ate milkweed, and that the sap from the milkweed made them taste bad. As adults, the bright orange and black coloration served to warn predators to leave them alone or suffer an upset stomach, or maybe even death.

What tasty morsel wouldn’t want to copy this? Why, if I taste good to predators, I’d want to make them think I taste bad so they would leave me alone. What better way to do so than to copy something that tastes bad? This is known as Batesian mimicry: something harmless mimicking something harmful.

As it turns out, however, viceroys also taste bad! As larvae, they feed on trees in the willow family (willows, poplars, cottonwoods). These trees contain salicylic acid, the stuff from which aspirin is made. Birds, or other predators, that eat a viceroy get the same reaction that some people get when taking regular aspirin: it tastes bitter and can cause an upset stomach. There are no buffered viceroys out there. One taste, and the predator will never again eat something that is orange and black. Mission accomplished.

This kind of mimicry, where you have two harmful species that look similar, is called Mullerian mimicry.

The viceroy’s mimicry doesn’t end here, though. As a caterpillar, and as a pupa, it takes on the appearance of a bird dropping. That’s right. The caterpillars are green and white, while the pupae are brown and white. What bird is going to snack on the previously digested remains of some other bird?

Then you have Emsleyan mimicry, where something deadly looks like something that is slightly less harmful. How can we be sure this isn’t just another case of Batesian, where something harmless looks like something dangerous? It all comes down to learning. If I eat something deadly and thus perish, how will I ever learn not to eat that thing? On the other hand, if I eat something that only makes me sick, I am likely to avoid anything that looks like the offending food. Therefore, by mimicking something less harmful, the deadly species increases its chance of being left alone.

Some forms of mimicry apply only to plants, some apply only within a single species. It’s enough to make the mind whirl.

I am learning not to take everything at face value. Most of the time I am not in such a hurry that I cannot take the time to take a second glance. Good observation skills are worth their weight in gold. You never know – you might just discover something new, even if it is only new to you.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Campfire Cook-Off at the Adirondack Museum

The Adirondack Museum will hold a special event, “The Adirondacks are Cookin’ Out,” on Thursday, July 29, 2010. A highlight of the day will be a “top chef” competition – Adirondack style. Outstanding regional chefs will compete in a trial by campfire. Visitors are invited to watch and cheer them on as guest judges choose the winner of this outdoor cooking challenge.

Competitors include: Chef Kevin McCarthy, former Executive Chef at The Point in Saranac Lake, N.Y. and the Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, N.Y., now a faculty member at Paul Smith’s College; Chef Stephen Topper, former Executive Sous Chef at The Sagamore on Lake George, Executive Chef at Friends Lake Inn, Chestertown, N.Y., and currently at Lorenzo’s al Forno in the Copperfield Inn, North Creek, N.Y.

Also, Chef Richard Brosseau, Executive Chef at the Interlaken Inn and Restaurant, Lake Placid, N.Y.; Chef Luke Bowers, Executive Chef, barVino, North Creek, N.Y.; Chef Tom Morris, Chef De Cuisine at the Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Chef Eric Hample chef and owner of The Cellar Restaurant in Long Lake, N.Y.

Tony Zazula, co-owner of “Commerce,” a contemporary American restaurant in Greenwich Village, Suvir Saran, a respected food authority, television personality, and consultant worldwide, and Sally Longo, a chef and owner of Aunt Sally’s Catering, Glens Falls, N.Y. will be judges for the Campfire Cook-Off.

The Campfire Cook-Off will begin at 11:00 a.m. Each chef will select his own menu; all will cook over an open fire. Judging will take place at 1:00 p.m.

The Chefs:

Chef Tom Morris
Chef Morris is the Chef De Cuisine at the Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, New York. Tom worked under chefs Serge Roche and Pierre Couvin at the Three Clock Inn in Londonderry, Vermont and was sous chef at the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica, Vt. Tom returned home to the Adirondacks in 2007 to complete his studies and join the Mirror Lake Inn under Chef Paul Sorgule. In 2008 Tom was on the team for the “Taste of the Adirondacks” dinner at the James Beard House. He has been involved in the Vermont Fresh Network and the Adirondack Harvest Association and strives to utilize the bounty of fresh ingredients the mountains provide in New York and Vermont.

Chef Eric Hample
Chef Hample graduated from Paul Smith’s College in 2002 with an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts and a concentration in baking. He has worked at various local restaurants in multiple positions and in Syracuse as a pastry chef for two and a half years. He now owns and operates The Cellar Restaurant in Long Lake, N.Y. with his wife Brooke and partners Ali and Michelle Hamdan where they pride themselves in consistent, fresh, and delicious food at fair prices.

Chef Luke Bowers
Chef Bowers is Executive Chef at barVino, North Creek, N.Y. barVino is a restaurant, wine bar, and live music venue. Under Chef Bower’s leadership the chic rustic menu uses many local products and changes seasonally to incorporate the freshest possible ingredients.

Chef Kevin McCarthy
Chef Kevin McCarthy took local Adirondack ingredients to new heights as Executive Chef at The Point, Saranac Lake, N.Y. and Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, NY. He has appeared in numerous trade and travel magazines and was featured in the PBS documentary “The Adirondacks.” McCarthy currently lives in Saranac Lake and has recently joined the faculty of Paul Smith’s College.

Chef Stephen Topper

Chef Stephen Topper was the Executive Sous Chef at The Sagamore Resort on Lake George, N.Y., moving next to the role of Executive Chef at The Friends Lake Inn in Chestertown, N.Y. His elevation of the menu offerings to match the Inn’s impressive wine list won numerous awards. Chef Topper was the chef at Saratoga Polo –Catering & Events, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. before coming to Lorenzo’s al Forno at the Copperfield Inn, North Creek, N.Y.

Chef Richard Brosseau
Richard Brosseau is the Executive Chef of the Interlaken Inn and Restaurant in Lake Placid, N.Y. He draws inspiration from the rich local farming community in the Adirondacks to add dimension to his menu. He has been featured on “Live! with Regis and Kelly” as well as PBS’s “Roadside Recipes” and has received numerous Wine Spectator Awards for the wine list he has compiled at the Interlaken Restaurant.

The Judges:

Tony Zazula
Tony Zazula is the co-owner of Commerce, a restaurant in Greenwich Village, featuring an upscale, contemporary American menu with Asian, French and Italian accents. Zazula began his career at the famed Tavern on the Green in New York City. He went on to gain invaluable experience at the St. Regis Hotel where he was the Director of Food and Beverage, and at The Plaza where he was the Catering Sales Manager. Zazula has also worked at Windows on the World as Vice President of Sales and Catering, and The Rainbow Room.

In 1985 Zazula and partner Drew Nieporent opened the award winning Montrachet, marking the revitalization of Tribeca and playing a critical role in shaping the neighborhood’s status as a hip and desirable section of Manhattan. During it’s 20-year span, Montrachet maintained a reputation of excellence. When not in New York City, Zazula enjoys spending time at his family summer home in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y.

Suvir Saran
A respected food authority, Saran has been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Travel & Leisure, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine and many other national publications. Television and radio appearances include: The Food Network, “Next Iron Chef”, “The Martha Stewart Show,” NBC “Today”; and the Travel Channel’s “Epicurious TV.” Saran is also a featured chef in the national public television series “How To Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs” (2005) and “Food Trip with Todd English.” When he is not on the road teaching and learning, Saran enjoys working on his 68-acre American Masala Farm in upstate New York.

Sally Longo
Sally Longo is the chef for and owner of Aunt Sally’s Catering, a renowned local catering company in the Adirondacks. For over 18 years Longo has catered dinners and parties for families, businesses, and private camps. She is the host and associate producer of the popular regional cooking show “Dinner at 8” and has appeared on “Sixty Second Helpings” for WNCE News. Longo teaches cooking classes and has published on food and catering.

Tasting, Presentations, and Music
Lake Placid Brewery will offer a tasting of their award winning products – including Ubu Ale, the brewery’s flagship beer — from 12 noon until 4:00 p.m. Visitors must be twenty-one years of age to enjoy the sampling; ID will be required.

Visitors can expand their own cooking skills by participating in demonstrations and food-related talks throughout the day. At 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. smoking and grilling will be the hot topics. Join Susan Rohrey (grilling) and John Roe (smoking) to learn more about both techniques.

The presentations “Edible Adirondack Mushrooms” and “Wild Vegetables of the Adirondacks” with Jane Desotelle and “Pairing Beer & Food” with Christopher Ericson, founder, owner, and brewmaster of Lake Placid Brewery will be offered in the museum’s Auditorium. Times will be posted.

Intermountain Trio will offer three sets of classic folk and rock in the Marion River Carry Pavilion at 12:00 noon, 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

For a full schedule of the day’s events, visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gore: Bike Season Opens, Construction Progress

Mountain biking, gondola rides, and hiking has begun at Gore Mountain. Operations will continue every weekend through October 10, Gore’s longest off-season operation, and feature more biking terrain, instructional camps, and an expanded barbeque menu.

There is progress toward the Interconnect with the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl. The bridge that joins the Ski Bowl terrain to Burnt Ridge Mountain has been completed, snowmaking pipe on the new Peaceful Valley and Oak Ridge trails has been welded, and the black-diamond 46er trail on the lift line has been graded. Installation of the new Hudson Chair has begun.

The Gear Source of downtown North Creek has a supply of full-suspension downhill bikes available, and downhill camps that include all-day instruction, lift ticket, lunch, and an optional guided hike are available on July 24 and September 4 for just $59. Sunday, August 22 will be a second opportunity for 2010/2011 season passholders to enjoy free access to Gore’s summer activities.

Ruby Run, the trail off the top of the Northwoods Gondola, was top-dressed to offer bikers a smooth start to their ride. Trails such as the Otter Slide Glades and Tannery are now included in available riding terrain.

Photo: Aerial view showing the 46er trails that runs along the new Hudson Chair lift line. This trail was named for the 1946 T-bar that serviced skiers of the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl. The profiles of the trails and lift have retained their original routes, and offer views of North Creek Village and the Hudson River.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let’s Eat: The Trudeau Sanitorium Diet

In Rules for Recovery from Tuberculosis, published in Saranac Lake in 1915, Dr. Lawrason Brown stated that “there are no more difficult problems in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis than to make some patients gain weight and to help others avoid digestive disturbances.”

Diet was an important part of treatment for tuberculosis, the “white plague.” Highly contagious, tuberculosis (or TB) was one of the most dreaded diseases in the 19th century. Caused by a bacterial infection, TB most commonly affects the lungs, although it may infect other organs as well. Today, a combination of antibiotics, taken for period of several months, will cure most patients.

The drugs used to treat tuberculosis were developed more than fifty years ago. Before then, thousands came to the Adirondack Mountains seeking a cure in the fresh air, away from the close quarters and heat of urban streets. Doctors prescribed a strict regimen of rest, mild exercise, plenty of fresh air, and healthy, easy to digest meals. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bill Porter: Friend of Wildlife, Ecology, and Education

The weather was pleasant at the Long Lake pavilion, and the dialogue at this year’s Common Ground Alliance stimulating enough. Then, my thoughts strayed to the fire tower on top of Goodnow Mountain, and what I could see from it. So, off I went. This being my first hike of the summer, I took my time and climbed the fire tower just as dramatic clouds and welcome summer rains moved in, allowing glimpses of the scintillating lake country, and High Peaks Wilderness to the north. Out below me was Lake Harris, the Newcomb VIC, Rich Lake, Arbutus and and Catlin Lakes on the 14,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest, one of the world’s best and longest running experimental forests.

Some of my most interesting moments in the Park have been in the Huntington Wildlife Forest with Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) faculty who helped me gain some understanding of dynamic predator-prey interactions in the central Adirondacks. A lot of the prey constitutes tasty Adirondack hardwoods, consumed by its predator, white-tailed deer, which in turn faces its great killer each winter – deep, long snowpack. Dick Sage, Ranier Brocke, and Bill Porter generously provided us with many ecological insights, such as how to do shelterwood cutting of forests on private lands to benefit wildlife, insights from decades of faculty-student work at this unique wildlife field station.

Indeed, those three stalwarts from ESF might remind us that we could have more “common ground” in the Adirondacks if we consciously recognized our collective fascination with the Park’s wildlife, and thought about working together to benefit from this common passion.

I especially wish to thank Professor Bill Porter, who will soon leave his professorship at ESF for new adventures at the University of Michigan. I was fortunate to join the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks when four of its board leaders considered visits to Huntington Wildlife Forest as essential background education for any staff that sought to protect the Forest Preserve and the Park. Prof. Bill Porter not only welcomed these engagements with advocates for the Park, he pushed his small staff to schedule as many as possible.

The very first speaker I ever invited was Bill Porter, at Paul Schaefer’s behest, in 1987. Bill spoke about the fact that the central Adirondack black bear, that lover of berries and veggies, was also adept at catching and eating white-tailed deer fawns in the spring. He presented an image most of us had never thought about, the black bear as ambusher and meat-eater. It was the first of many presentations about Adirondack wildlife that made people sit up and take notice. It dawned on me that to get people into a stuffy room and out of the beautiful Adirondack outdoors, make wildlife your topic.

As Bill’s responsibilities increased, he pushed all the harder on his public communications. He went on to chair the Adirondack Research Consortium, and made the College’s wildlife research more accessible. His presentations on wildlife ecology were fun and interesting. Remember the gas molecule theory in high school, he would ask his audience? Most people would squirm uncomfortably. Well, forget it when it comes to deer biology. Ah. We relaxed. Deer, Bill informed us, do not simply disperse from areas with lots of deer to fill the least concentrated areas of their habitat. Females, or does have a complex social structure called kin groups which greatly effects their affinity for an area, and includes their faithfulness to the places where they were born. So, deer are not distributed uniformly on the landscape at all. Central Adirondack deer societies, like our politics, are local.

Bill Porter’s ability to convey the broad story lines and myriad details of Adirondack wildlife ecology have never failed to amaze me. Later, I learned what an excellent strategist he is. Porter had long believed NYS DEC was flying blind when it came to managing the Forest Preserve because they lacked a thorough digital inventory using GIS (geographic information systems). ESF had the equipment and skilled students to help digitize the data and train DEC in how to access it for more informed public lands management. What Bill needed were advocates to push DEC and the Governor’s staff to fund the work, and make use of the data. With Audubon, the Association, ADK, WCS and Adirondack Council, Bill found his advocates. Here was a partnership to improve understanding and management of the Park’s Forest Preserve we all could believe in. In the last ten years, the GIS project has resulted in greatly improved State Land inventories and much stronger working relations between academia, DEC and private advocates for the Forest Preserve.

This success was followed by Bill’s visionary creation, backed by ESF President Neil Murphy, of SUNY ESF’s Northern Forest Institute, acquisition of Masten House above Henderson Lake as a future wilderness training center and ESF’s decision, announced last month, to manage the Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center in 2011.

So, thank you, Prof. Bill Porter. I will miss you. You have made my Adirondack experience so much more meaningful. You have made partnerships for the more than human world tangible and productive. Thanks to your efforts, young people with your thirst for knowledge and passion will be communicating in new and exciting ways about Adirondack wildlife for years and years to come at the Northern Forest Institute, the Masten House, and the Newcomb VIC.

Photo: The view from Goodnow Mountain, Rich Lake in the foreground.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Commentary: Finch Deal Would Help Newcomb

A few days ago I went paddling with two other guys in Newcomb. We started at Rich Lake and canoed through Belden Lake and Harris Lake to the Hudson River and then down the Hudson for a mile, turning around at the first rapid.

We took out at Cloudsplitter Outfitters, conveniently located at the Route 28N bridge over the Hudson. Click here for a detailed description of the route.

It’s a fun seven-mile excursion, but paddlers will have more to do in Newcomb if and when the state buys a tract of former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy. The purchase would lead to more tourism for Newcomb. » Continue Reading.