Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Porcupines: 2nd Largest Adirondack Rodent

This last winter one of our local residents came in with a photograph of the strangest looking tracks in the snow. There were no distinct foot prints, and no well-defined gait pattern. What it looked like was a beautiful serpentine zig-zagging design; it reminded me of rickrack. And it looked familiar. I grabbed one of my tracking books and quickly thumbed through. Sure enough, there it was: porcupine tracks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

APA Adds Public Hearing on Land Classifications

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) held three public hearings in July regarding proposals to classify and reclassify state lands and water involving the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, Lows Lake Primitive Area, Hitchens Pond Primitive Area, Round Lake Wilderness Area, Lows Lake, Hitchens Pond and the Bog River. These areas are located in the northwest part of the Adirondack Park in Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties. The Agency will hold an additional hearing on August 10, 2009 at its Ray Brook headquarters and will continue to accept written public comments through August 28,2009. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adirondack History Lectures At Keene Valley Library

There are several interesting upcoming Keene Valley Library Adirondack History Lectures (beginning tonight) that will include Adirondack writer Andy Flynn, historian Fran Yardley, and NCPR journalist Brian Mann. The full schedule details are below.

A unique Adirondack treasure, the Keene Valley library was created in 1885 with an initial gift of $200.00 and a collection of just 167 volumes. Today the library holds more than 20,000 items thanks in part to members of the Keene Valley Library Association, organized in 1891. The library building was completed in 1896 and the organization was granted a charter in 1899.

The Library has been expanded several times over the years beginning with the addition of a childrens’ room in 1923 and a fireproof room to hold the historical collection in 1931 which includes the Archives of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The library also includes a small collection of 19th and early 20th century landscape paintings which hang in the main reading room. They have been selectively chosen to reflect the tradition of artists finding inspiration in the High Peaks.

Adirondack Lecture Series:

Fran Yardley: A Photo Presentation: Stories and History of the Bartlett Carry Club on Upper Saranac Lake Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 PM
Fran will present a portion of the wealth of material she has discovered as she researches the history of Bartlett Carry on Upper Saranac Lake from 1854 to 1985 for her upcoming book. Bartlett Carry is a short portage from Upper Saranac to Middle Saranac Lake, part of the historic transportation route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake used for centuries. Photographs date back to pre-1890. Spend an evening diving into this rich history. Bring stories of your own about this venerable, historic spot in the Adirondacks.

Andy Flynn: Turning Points in Adk History
Monday Aug. 3 at 7:30 PM
Andy is the educator at the Visitor’s Interpreter Center in Paul Smiths. He is the author of Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, a series of books with stories based on artifacts found in storage and on exhibit in the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. His books will be available for purchase and Andy will do book signings.

Brian Mann: Ten Years at the NCPR News Bureau Monday, Aug.10 7:30 preceded by dessert reception at 6:00
Brian Mann, News Reporter and Adirondack Bureau Chief for North Country Public Radio. Brian moved from Alaska to the North Country in 1999 to help launch NCPR’s News Bureau. Brian is a frequent contributor to NPR and writes regularly for regional magazines including Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weekly Freestyle Pool Show Features Aerialists

The weekly Wet and Wild Wednesday freestyle pool show continues tomorrow (July 29) at the Olympic Jumping Complex. The freestyle and aerial athletes launch up to 60-feet into the air off of the kickers where they execute a series of spins, twists and flips before splashing down in the 750,000-gallon pool. Athletes of all levels – from the beginner to World and Olympic champions – train at this site, which has one of only two pools in the U.S. where freestylers are able to perfect their moves. Current athletes training in Lake Placid include U.S. and World Champion Ryan St. Onge, and 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Vladimir Lebedev from Russia – both of whom have their eyes on the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. U.S. Ski Team members Matt DePeters and Ashley Caldwell as well as Russian Anton Sannikov are all spending the summer at the freestyle training center hoping to make their respective Olympic teams. The show begins at 1 pm.

At Wet and Wild Wednesday visitors have a chance to win prizes, learn more about the sport of freestyle and get autographs. Athletes demonstrate training techniques on the trampoline during breaks in the jumping. Spectators can ride the chairlift from the Base Lodge to the bottom of the 120-meter ski jump tower. From there, guests may take the enclosed elevator up 26-stories to the Sky Deck and experience the view of the Adirondack High Peaks and surrounding area.

Admission is $14 for adults and $8 for juniors and seniors. The price includes entry to the competition as well as the chairlift and elevator ride to the Sky Deck. A one-time entry into the jumping site is included with the purchase of a $29 Olympic Sites Passport. The passports can be acquired at any ORDA venue, as well as the ORDA Store on Main Street in Lake Placid. Food and drinks are offered for sale.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dog Day At The Adirondack Museum

On Saturday, August 1, 2009 the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake will celebrate all things canine. “Dog Days of Summer” will return for a third season with a variety of dog demonstrations, programs, and activities. All dogs are welcome when accompanied by well-behaved owners.

The event will include a few simple rules and regulations for doggies and their people: dogs must be leashed at all times; owners must clean up after their pets – special bags will be available; dogs will only be allowed on the grounds – not in the exhibit buildings; Doggie Day Care will be available throughout the day at no charge, with the understanding that dogs cannot be left for more than an hour; poorly behaved or aggressive dogs will be asked to leave the museum grounds with their owners.

“Dog Days” demonstrations will include “Dancing With Dogs” at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on the museum’s main lawn. Join members of the Adirondack High Peaks Training Club for Canine Freestyle behaviors, Solo Freestyle performances, a Formation Dance routine, and a Square Dance. Whether you have two feet or four paws, this fun-loving group of dogs and owners will get you moving!

The “JAZZ Agility Group,” featuring a variety of dogs going through their paces on an agility/obstacle course featuring hurdles, weave poles, and tunnels, will demonstrate at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie E. Bond will offer a Brown Bag Lunch program in the Mark W. Potter Education Center at 12:00 noon entitled “Historic Hounds: A Ruff Account of Dogs in the Adirondacks.” The presentation will showcase a portion of the more than 800 historic photographs of dogs in the museum’s collection. Dogs are welcome in the Education Center.

Nationally recognized Adirondack folksinger and storyteller Chris Shaw will share songs and a few humorous stories about man’s best friend in two short sets at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Shaw has released nine recordings: his 1988 debut album, Adirondack, has been inducted into the Library of Congress Folk Archive. He has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Old Songs Folk Festival, and the Chautauqua Institute, as well as music halls, festivals, and coffee houses across the United States and Europe.

From 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. “Doggy Booths” featuring working dogs, including the Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Dogs, will be open. Dog owners will answer questions about training, care, and the work of their dogs.

Museum visitors and their pets are invited to participate in the Rustic Agility Course from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and join the Pooch Parade, a who’s who of dog breeds at 2:30 p.m.

This year the Adirondack Museum will support the work of the Tri-Lakes Humane Society, a no-kill shelter caring for stray and unwanted domestic animals, by holding a collection drive as part of the “Dog Days of Summer” festivities. Visitors are asked to bring a donation of food, toys, or cleaning supplies to the museum. A drop-off spot will be located in the Visitor Center. Needed items include: Science Diet puppy and dog food, Kong and Jolly toys, dog beds, biscuits and jerky treats for dogs of any size, Clorox bleach, paper towels, toilet paper, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and large, heavy-duty garbage bags. The museum will deliver donations to the shelter.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Linking Forests Across the Champlain Valley

The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy gets a lot of attention when it completes a landscape-scale protection deal like the 161,000-acre Finch Pruyn purchase, or when it buys a place with a hallowed name like Follensby Pond.

But for decades it has also been working among the little farms and forests of the Champlain Valley with a larger picture in mind.

“The goal is to provide safe passage for species—a way for a moose, say, to go from the Adirondacks to Vermont with little risk of being struck by a car, or a salmon to make it far enough upstream to spawn without being blocked by a dry culvert,” Michael Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, said in a press release Monday. “Where are the most important habitat linkages and how do we work do we protect them? To date, we’ve raised several hundred thousand dollars in grants for this initiative in the Champlain Valley, which is a critical piece of a larger effort.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Northway Checkpoint Still Active, Technically

It’s been two and a half months since a Border Patrol checkpoint was last staffed on the Adirondack Northway, but the federal agency says the North Hudson post is still in operation, though more sporadically than after it was established in 2002.

The checkpoint is temporarily down because the New York State Department of Transportation is doing roadwork in the section of I-87 southbound between Exits 30 and 29, says David Matzel, public information officer for the United States Border Patrol sector in Swanton, Vermont, which covers five northern New York counties.

The post was last manned on May 11, Matzel says. Its infrequent use of late has nothing to do with budgeting, he says. Authorities decide to staff it “based on intelligence,” he explains. The intelligence pertains “only to immigration and terrorist activity. . . . Anything else we get past immigration is just a factor of someone trying to run drugs through there at the wrong time.”

The checkpoint has netted a lot of marijuana and ecstasy in its lifetime. The questioning stop was instituted in reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Four motorists were killed when a tractor trailer rammed into a line of cars there in 2004. Since then, officials have added rumble strips and other safety measures designed to better warn motorists to stop.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Last Week of Adk Theatre Festival’s ‘Leaving Iowa’

This is the last week of the Adirondack Theatre Festival’s family road trip comedy Leaving Iowa by Tim Clue and Spike Manton at the Charles R. Wood Theater in downtown Glens Falls. The show runs through Saturday, August 1. All performances are at 8:00pm. Tickets are $29 plus applicable service fees and may be purchased online at www.ATFestival.org, over the phone at 518-874-0800, or in person at the Wood Theater Box Office.

Laughable memories of family road trips fill this sentimental comedy about a man returning home to find a final resting place for his father’s ashes. As he searches for the perfect spot to scatter the ashes, he relives the boyhood summer vacations he and his sister spent trapped in the family station wagon headed to uninteresting historical sites with their determined and well-meaning father.

The Chicago Sun-Times called the show “a comedy with a surprisingly deep soul.” Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune says Leaving Iowa has “genuine charm and humility. It knows what it is — a simply structured homegrown comedy and a celebration of the oft-unappreciated parenting skills of the so-called Greatest Generation.”

ATF Producing Artistic Director, Mark Fleischer, says he selected the script because of its universal appeal and connection to summer in our area. “Our region is a vacation destination and everyone has spent time as a kid trapped in the back seat of the family car wondering when they would reach their intended destination. Others have been the parents in the front seat answering that constant inquiry, ‘are we there yet?’

The cast includes: Martin LaPlatney (Dad), Dan Colman (Don), Susan Wands (Mom), Sarah Marcus (Sis), Bill Bowers (multiple character guy) and Stephanie Cozart (multiple character gal).

ATF’s production is headed by director Scott Illingworth. The design team includes Michael Locher (sets), Antonia Ford-Roberts (costumes), Ryan Gastelum (sound) and Jason Kantrowitz (lighting). Kantrowitz, a Broadway and international lighting designer originally from Glens Falls, has returned home for the third summer in a row to design lights for ATF.

Attached photos by James Shubinski featuring Dan Coleman (Don), Martin LaPlatney (Dad), Sarah Marcus (Sis) and Susan Wands (Mom)


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bee Balm – Garden Pest or Protected Species?

Earlier this year we had a visitor in who was telling me how she had submitted a floral arrangement at a garden show only to have it rejected because it had bee balm in it and bee balm was a protected plant in New York State. “What?!?” I said. “Bee balm’s not protected; it grows like a weed in my gardens!” “Oh, but it is,” she claimed. I promptly grabbed a copy of New York State’s Protected Plant List (put out by the Department of Environmental Conservation), and sure enough, bee balm (Monarda didyma), aka: Oswego Tea, is protected.

In truth, this plant is not yet an endangered species, nor is it threatened. It is, however, listed as exploitably vulnerable, which means it is “likely to become threatened in the near future throughout all or a significant portion of [its range] within the state if causal factors continue unchecked.” As I stand there and stare at my flower beds, which are slowly being swallowed up by bee balm, I find this hard to imagine.

New York is home to five species of Monarda: basil-balm (M. clinopodia), bee-balm/Oswego tea (M. didyma), wild bergamot/horsemint (M. fistulosa), bee-balm/purple bergamot (M. media), and dotted horsemint (M. punctata). Of these five, only one (basil-balm) is non-native, yet at the same time it is listed as rare.

Two of my gardens are a sea of red: bee balm that has gotten out of control. Still, the hummingbirds like it, and that’s why I planted it. What I have yet to discover is why this one is so aggressive, while the other varieties I have planted have obligingly stayed in their private little clumps: the pale purple wild bergamot, which blooms late in the season, the lovely pink one, which is only just now budding, and the scrawny white one, although I’ve got my eye on this one because it seems to be slowly spreading (I’m just now thinking it might be basil-balm). I had a deep magenta variety which also spread, but I haven’t seen much of that one lately; it could be I dug it all up and gave it away.

Most bee balms that you find in nurseries today are hybridized varieties, which come in all sorts of colors and fancy names. Domesticated. The only problem I have found with these is that many are prone to powdery mildew, which doesn’t seem to harm the plants much, but it sure looks awful. My phlox are also susceptible to the mildew, but I’m not too keen on the white phlox, so I don’t feel too badly when I pull out contaminated plants.

Since I’ve sort of made it a mission to promote native flowers in my gardens, I guess I don’t mind too much that the bee balm is thriving, especially now that I know it is a protected plant. Maybe I’ll start offering it to the State for reclamation plantings!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Adirondack Cocktail

Adkforum has an interesting thread going about a bride’s search for an authentic Adirondack cocktail to serve at a Keene Valley wedding. So far the consensus seems to be Genny, though the western New York beer is being edged out by Lake Placid’s Ubu Ale.

Joe Conto teaches a class at Paul Smith’s College called “Beverages: Six Glasses that Changed the World.” Last summer his students invented Toni Basil Lemonade (“oh, basil, you’re so fine, etc.” ), a vodka and lemon cooler garnished with basil, for Lisa G’s restaurant in Lake Placid.

As for a drink with Adirondack ingredients, Professor Conto offers, “I make this one cocktail with:
1.5 oz Makers Mark
1/2 oz maple syrup (good stuff)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into martini glass, Garnish with lemon twist (not wedge). The bourbon and the maple taste gooood together.”

He adds, “One time in New York City I had a drink with dark rum, maple syrup and lime juice (I assume the same proportions, maybe a little more syrup) served on the rocks with a lime wedge garnish. Also good. Actually, I might add a splash of club soda to this one.”

Potatoes are the region’s cash crop, so vodka would seem a possibility, but locally distilled P3 Placid Vodka is actually made with grain. Its Adirondack cred comes from Lake Placid water and filtration through Gore Mountain-area garnet. Whatever—this drink recipe from P3’s Web site sounds pretty good:
“The Miracle on Ice”
The Red – cranberry juice
The White – ice and a splash of Sprite
The Blue – muddled (mashed) blueberries
The Miracle – P3 Placid Vodka

There is a cocktail called an Algonquin, but it originated at the New York City hotel, not on the mountain or the lake. It calls for 1.5 oz Old Thompson Blended Whiskey, 1 oz dry vermouth, and 1 oz pineapple juice. Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Enjoy.

Photograph: left to right, Wood, Earth, Metal, Water and Fire: drinks invented by the bartender at Reflections, High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Marvel of Milkweed

One of my favorite plants is one that is often overlooked by people, possibly because it frequents roadsides and waste areas and is therefore considered a weed. But this “weed” is responsible for the survival of one of our most beloved insects, helped save the lives of many World War II sailors and airmen, and has a sneaky reproductive life. I give you The Milkweed.

Milkweeds are members of the dogbane family and come in 140 varieties, of which I am familiar with about four: the dusty pink common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), the muted magenta swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), the brilliantly orange butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), and the creamy yellow whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata). I suspect the latter is only in gardens, however. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 24, 2009

North Country Residents Fattest in State

According to a report released this week, the New York counties with the highest percentage of overweight or obese adults are Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties at 67.7 percent. Hamilton County has 62.9 percent, Herkimer 62 percent, Warren 60.2 percent, and Clinton, Essex and Franklin have 56.7 percent. Manhattan was rated the state’s skinniest region, even with 42 percent of its adult population overweight.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand mined the data from federal Centers for Disease Control body-mass index statistics and released it Tuesday. The proliferation of overweight people “costs the U.S. over $100 billion in health care costs every year,” the report states. Over the past 30 years obesity rates have doubled among children and tripled among teenagers, the CDC says.

Gillibrand called on parents and schools to serve healthier foods and encourage exercise. She is drafting bills to ban trans-fats in schools and to increase the USDA’s authority to regulate school snacks. She also wants to increase funding for school lunches and community-based programs that encourage exercise.

New York’s heaviest counties are in line with CDC’s national average of 67 percent overweight; the state as a whole is below average at 60 percent. At 62 percent, the North Country has the highest obesity rate in New York. Gillibrand, a Democrat, represented much of this region as a member of the House for two years until she was appointed in Janary to a vacant Senate seat to represent the entire state.

Next week the Almanack will talk with North Country physicians about the report.

Graphic from Wiki Commons. From left to right, the “healthy” man has a 33 inch (84 cm) waist, the “overweight” man a 45 inch (114 cm) waist, and the “obese” man a 60 inch (152cm) waist.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, July 23, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Swing, Rock and Roll, Irish, Classical

Early Friday afternoon at LPCA a performance will be given by the Lake Placid Sinfonietta at 2 pm. For a mere $5 it’s the only opportunity to see this wonderful group of classical musicians in the afternoon this season.

Friday in Westport from 6 to 10 pm the Geo-Electrics will be playing rock and roll and country swing – perfect for dancing. The musicians; Curt Stager, George Bailey, Kary Johnson and Kyle Murray have lots of fun playing together and are super talented. I personally can’t wait to hear them even though I have to be back in Saranac Lake early to back up Aiseiri. The Westport event is free and takes place at The Heritage House (6459 Main St.) since it is now the new home for The Arts Council and NCPR’s new Champlain Valley radio signal.

Also on Friday night in Saranac Lake at O’Reilly’s Pub below Morgan’s 11 on Broadway there will be live Irish music starting at 8 pm. Aiseiri will be playing a couple sets until 10 pm. Aiseiri has a rotating line-up, this time it’s just three; John Joe Reilly on uillean pipes, Shane O’Neil on bodhran and yours truly on rhythm guitar. These guys are the folks who put on the Annual Irish Festival held in Lake Placid on Labor Day weekend. Sometimes great musicians stop in late and continue the music into the wee hours. It’s a great place to have a pint and a listen.

On Saturday in Saranac Lake at The Waterhole, Los Blancos are back. I had a blast dancing to these guys during Winter Carnival. I know many people who will be going again because they too had such a good time back in February. The band even has a clip from that Carnival scene. Check it out and you might see your friends having a ball.

Every Sunday through August 16th at 7:30 pm, The Lake Placid Sinfonietta is at LPCA. They are also playing a number of venues on Wednesdays and the occasional Friday. A full calender is located on their home page.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.