Posts Tagged ‘Saranac Lake’

Monday, June 4, 2012

Historic Saranac Lake Publishes New Walking Tour

Historic Saranac Lake has announced the publication of a new walking tour brochure featuring historic sites in the village. “It is being printed now, in time for the busy season,” said Historic Saranac Lake’s summer intern, Libby Clark. “It’s going to be a great resource for tourists and local people interested in learning more about the village’s past.”

Historic Saranac Lake is partnering with the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce on the creation of the brochures which  feature a hand-illustrated map by Jim Hotaling highlighting 24 sites in the immediate downtown area, which provide a self-guided walk through town. Information is given on each site, from the Post Office Pharmacy, to the Union Depot and the Stevenson Cottage. Five other sites out of the area of the map are also briefly described, such as Little Red and the Bartók Cabin. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adirondack Family Time: Carousel Grand Opening

On Saturday, May 26, will be the grand opening for the only year-round carousel in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Carousel has been a labor of love for many and according to President Marge Glowa it would not be possible without all the volunteers that have stepped up to dedicate time and money toward the completion of this project.

With 20 original paintings, 24 hand-carved Adirondack animals (18 working and six in reserve) and a handicap chariot in the shape of a mahogany Spencer, The Adirondack Carousel will finally open its doors. Adirondack carver Karen Loffler, who dreamed of a wooden carousel made of Adirondack indigenous animals, conceived the project and will also be at the event. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sandy Hildreth: It Takes a Village to Raise a Carousel

On Monday April 23, history was made – the carousel mechanicals were delivered to the Adirondack Carousel site in Saranac Lake and assembly began. As mysterious and amazing as the actual metal structure is, the “barn-raising” experience of being a volunteer for this project is even more fantastic.

I’m sure there are other communities, large and small, where this kind of thing happens, but I am so proud to be part of this community. In grade school in Wisconsin I remember learning about “barn-raising” in a social studies class. When a farmer needed to build a house or barn, the word would go out, a date would be chosen, and all his friends and neighbors would show up and work together. With that kind of cooperation, a building could go up in a day or 2. I recall thinking ‘isn’t that nice – too bad we don’t do things like that any more”. Well, I’ve learned that here in Saranac Lake the concept is not dead and out-dated. From the ice palace to the carousel, when there is a need – community members here step up to the plate.

I started out being the volunteer painter of one of the carousel animals – the otter. Then the bald eagle and this past fall, the black bear. That was fun. The paints were donated by Golden Paints and all I had to do was apply them to these beautifully carved animals (also donated). Then they needed some large panels to be decoratively painted and I jumped in and took command. Rounded up 9 other artists and we got them done with scenes from the area and native wild flowers. They will decorate the upper structure of the carousel.


The carousel animals have been around for several years – touring, animals in residence at various locations, doing press conferences, etc. Well, all that moving around took it’s toll and many of them had nicks and scrapes, so I recently spent several days touching them all up. Then they all needed an “isolation coat” of acrylic varnish and finally, beginning on April 23, they all got a final coat of hard, glossy varnish and will need at least one more coat. Through this process I guess I got to intimately know all the animals – every nook and cranny! The workmanship is absolutely fantastic. One of the unique qualities of the Adirondack Carousel, besides the fact that the animals are all native to the region, are the lady bugs and the decorations. I learned about the “romance side” – the right side of each animal, which will be facing out and has most of the added on decorative elements.

Every animal has at least one and usually several ladybugs. Some are carved, some are painted. Some are life-size, one is gigantic! While down on hands and knees applying varnish I discovered one carved lady-bug wearing snorkel googles! On another animal there is a carved fish that is part of the saddle that has a ladybug in it’s mouth! There are painted trilliums, baby bunnies, lily pads and sun-bathing frogs, a monarch butterfly caterpillar, a mouse with a chunk of Swiss cheese – riders will have as much fun examining their rides as they will riding! It’s been said that there will need to be times when the carousel will remain stationary just so people can climb on board and walk around and delightfully examine the animals, discovering all their hidden treasures.

The carousel building is the true example of community spirit. At the corner of Depot St., and Bloomingdale Ave (route 3), it has been entirely built by volunteers. This “barn-raising” has taken months, but the generosity of individuals, organizations, contractors, and businesses has been unmatched. The excavation, foundation, construction, heating, wiring, painting, staining – all done by volunteers. The carousel mechanicals came by truck from Texas and word was put out via Facebook, email, and “mouth” and a volunteer crew was there Monday morning to help.

Doors had to be removed to make room to carry the machinery in. A lift was loaned by a company in Lake Placid. And by 5 pm the skeleton of a carousel was standing. Probably unchanged over the last 100 years, the structure has what looks like giant clock mechanicals or a medieval torture machine in the center. A large geared wheel is at the top. 10 geared, rotating arms project outward to form a 10 sided (decagon) structure overhead. The animals will eventually be mounted to rods attached to the rotating overhead rods. When the carousel turns, the overhead rods will rotate and the animals move up and down. At the outer edge of the upper structure there were some steel rods hanging down – from these the carousel floor will be suspended. It’s an amazing contraption! It will be an amazing carousel.

If construction continues on schedule, the opening date will be May 26, 2012. For more information check Adirondack Carousel or find them on Facebook. Donations will still be accepted.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Analysis: Rail or Trail on the Adirondack Railroad?

What follows is a guest analysis by Billy Martin, a senior at Paul Smith’s College in the Natural Resource Management and Policy program who is interested in the economic and environmental sustainability of the Adirondack Park.

Adirondack history has been shaped by contention over how to manage the region’s resources. Maintaining this historical trend, contention over the use of a state-owned rail corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake has led to another divide among residents. The Adirondack Recreational Trails Advocacy (ARTA) and the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) represent opposing poles on the issue, each with seemingly equal support from residents of the Tri-Lakes Region.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Community Climate Forum Set for Earth Day

Do you have questions about the connection between last year’s flooding and global climate change? Are you skeptical about the causes of climate change? Are you looking for options to cut your energy bills and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels?

An upcoming Community Climate Forum is expected to address all of these issues, and more. The forum, sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle, is scheduled for April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Historic Properties Workshop in Saranac Lake

North Country homeowners are invited to attend a meeting to find out how they can save money while making repairs to their older homes. The Preservation League of New York State will present a workshop in Saranac Lake to help homeowners take advantage of a tax credit for repairs to older buildings. Historic Saranac Lake is sponsoring the workshop, which is expected to draw participants from around the region.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 13 at the Saranac Laboratory Museum, 89 Church Street. During the workshop, which runs from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., staff from the Preservation League will review the basic guidelines of the program and answer questions about the application process for homeowners. Information will also be available for owners of commercial properties.

The cost for the workshop is $5, and refreshments will be provided. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Please RSVP by calling 891-4606 or by email at mail@historicsaranaclake.org.

The New York State Historic Homeowner Tax Credit Program will cover 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs of owner-occupied historic houses, up to a credit value of $50,000.

“This is the perfect time to finally fix that leaking roof, or repair drafty windows,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State. “This tax credit can help homeowners provide safer and healthier homes for their families, and protect the investments of business owners for years to come.”

This program requires that the building be individually listed in the State or National Register of Historic Places, or in a listed historic district. Additionally, the building must be located in a qualifying census tract, and at least $5,000 must be spent on the project.

“We are thrilled to help spread news of the tax credit” said Amy Catania, Executive Director of Historic Saranac Lake. “Our organization nominated over 170 historic properties to the National Register some thirty years ago. These buildings are an important part of the special history of our community, and the tax credit will help fund the care that these historic buildings deserve.”

Historic Saranac Lake is working now to add more cure cottages to the National Register. Cure cottage owners who are interested in pursuing National Register status are also welcome to attend the workshop.

To find out if a building is eligible, go online or contact Sloane Bullough at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at 518-237-8643, ext. 3252. Eligibility information will also be available at the workshops.

Photo: A cure cottage in the Highland Park Historic District on Park Avenue, Saranac Lake. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Four Free Outdoor Events

Sometimes when the weather starts to fluctuate it is easier for someone else to plan the outdoor activities. A lot of times, attending these Adirondack Family events introduce us to a new area, new favorite trail or friend. This weekend is a typical Adirondack weekend where the choices are numerous. Unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at once. There are special family events happening in all corners and beyond the Adirondack Park. Here are four events that are free to attend.

The Lake George Land Conservancy is hosting its Winter Warm Up on March 10 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Lake George Recreation Center with a variety of activities from live raptor presentations to broomball matches. Up Yonda Farm will offer interpretive snowshoe walks. If you always wanted to try snowshoeing, this is your chance. The snowshoes are available to use for free as well. There will be nature crafts to make and storytelling by the bonfire. Hot soup, bread and s’mores will top it off. Also the Lake George Recreation Center has a sledding hill and cross-country trails. The LGRC’s Berry Pond Preserve can be accessed from the Rec Center if people want to venture out on their own.

Dewey Mountain Ski Center in Saranac Lake is hosting its annual Dewey Day with Adirondack Lake & Trail Outfitters on March 10 (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The facility will be free and open to the public. If your 6 to 13 year-old ever wanted to try biathlon, the Adirondack Paintball Biathlon is also on the roster. Other games include a children’s snowshoe scavenger hunt, icicle obstacle course and ski speed trap. Bring a team for the boxer short triathlon relay where teams will ski, snowshoe and sled.

In Newcomb the full moon will be celebrated at The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) with a chili ski/snowshoe party on March 10th. The AIC’s trails usually close at dusk so these full moon parties are special indeed. The $5 fee covers the cost of the chili, hot chocolate and marshmallows. The trails at the AIC are always free and open to the public. This event is going to run no matter the weather so gear up. The event starts with chili at 6:00 p.m. and then closes with fireside hot chocolate and marshmallows at 8:00 p.m.

With the temperatures fluctuating, Thurman is making maple and inviting the public for tours of its sugar bushes. March 10-11 is the first of three consecutive maple weekends in Thurman. The other Thurman Maple Weekend dates are March 17-18 and 24-25. Each weekend will start with a 9:00 a.m. pancake breakfast ($) at Valley Road Maple Farm, the rest of the weekend events run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with free demonstrations, tastings and walking tours showcasing tree tapping, evaporating and maple making. There will also be some free sampling. (Don’t worry if you miss the 9:00 a.m. breakfast call, t continues until 1:00 p.m.)

If you can stick around on March 10th, the 53rd annual Maple Party will start at 4:00p.m. ($) with live music, all-you-can-eat buffet and a tasty treat of Jackwax (maple sugar on snow). The Maple Sugar Party is not only a fun event but a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

I realize there are plenty of other things happening around the Adirondacks but these four events are just a sampling that can get families outside and doing things together. How you spend your time together is important, I hope I made it a bit easier for you.

Photo of family viewing maple energy-saving equipment at Toad Hill Maple Farm by Teresa Whalen

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Seaosn Guide to Over 300 Activities. Her second Adirondack Family Time guide will be in stores this summer 2012.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Adirondack Aquatic Insect History Made, Again

When entomologist James Needham arrived in Upper Saranac Lake in 1900 on a mission to study Adirondack aquatic insects, he found no room at the Saranac Inn. For the first 10 days, Needham, State Entomologist Ephraim P. Felt, and their assistant Cornelius Betten, were forced to find lodging two miles from the Adirondack Fish Hatchery where they hoped to “collect and study the habits of aquatic insects, paying special attention to the conditions necessary for the existence of the various species, their relative value as food for fishes, the relations of the forms to each other, and their life histories.” Although their study was short, it was also a historic first, up until that time all that had been written about Adirondack aquatic insects amounted to a few short paragraphs by former State Entomologist J. A. Lintner (1889).

The daily trek to their study area didn’t diminish their enthusiasm. “I arrived at Saranac Inn on the evening of June 12m and at once began looking over the ground,” Needham recalled. “Dr. Felt came on the 14th, and spent the day with me canvassing the situations to be studied… and the regular work of the session was at once begun, to be continued without cessation to the date of closing [on August 20].” The study session was the first of a comprehensive study of aquatic insects in the state funded by the NYS Museum that also included short surveys in Old Forge and Lake George, and two additional trips to the Saranac Inn.

Needham and Felt identified a number waters to be studied. They were provided by the hatchery a space to work, the use of several hatching troughs for insect breeding, a carpenter bench and tools to build specialized breeding cages, and a small boat. They brought with them or acquired additional equipment necessary to sweep vegetation, raise insects, and store their collections. “Extensive use was made of white wash bowls, soup plates and saucers in the examination of our catch,” Needham reported.

The entomologists chose Little Clear creek on the hatchery grounds for their study area, which proved to be the most fruitful, but also the hatchery’s three fish propagating ponds, Little Clear, Little Green, and Bone. Twice they made trips to Lake Colby, Stony Brook (just north of Axton) and St. Regis, at the end of the carry from Little Clear, and the first week they spent mornings and evenings at Lake Clear.

The study they produced, “Aquatic Insects of the Adirondacks” (NYS Museum Bulletin 47, September 1901, link to pdf), proved to be the most important study of the subject for more than 100 years. It was one of the first truly scientific studies of aquatic insects in North America, and yielded life histories of more than 100 species, the discovery of 10 new species and and two new genera, plus additional information about Chironomidae dragon flies.

Needham, who studied under renowned entomologist John Henry Comstock (1849–1931), was then refining his pretracheation insect wing theory. Although discredited in 1938 by more refined studies, Needham’s work was the basis for the Comstock–Needham System of naming insect wing veins, considered “an important step in showing the homology of all insect wings.” Needham later replaced Comstock as head of the Department of Entomology at Cornell, a position he held for more than 20 years.

A new study by Luke Myers (a Saranac native) and Timothy Mihuc of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh, along with Boris Kondratieff of Colorado State University, highlights the role of Needham and Betten in the rise to prominence of of aquatic insect entomology in New York State in the early 20th century and treads new ground as an important update to our knowledge of aquatic insects in the Adirondack region.

After four years of studying mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, Myers (who did much of the fieldwork with the assistance of self-taught caddisfly expert D.E. Ruiter), Mihuc, and Kondratieff have produced what is being considered the most comprehensive biodiversity study of those aquatic insects in the Adirondacks.

According to a story by Mike Lynch in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “Myers and his team examined 25,000 specimens from 465 locations. They found 509 species of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, including 99 that were reported in this state for the first time. They also discovered several species new to science and some species of conservation concern.”

Even given the new techniques and equipment available to modern researchers, that’s no mean feat. It’s also one that will be a welcome addition to those interested in the biodiversity of Adirondack wetlands and their place in the larger ecology of the region.

Photos: Above, Little Clear creek, Adirondack Fish Hatchery (1900 NYS Museum Photo); Middle, illustration from the 1901 report “Aquatic Insects – Sepedon and Tetanecera”; Below, Luke Myers working on the Raquette River near Axton Landing (Photo Provided).


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Captain Cook’s, Saranac Lake

It could have been November (or early spring) for all we knew. Dead grass lay matted in pale straw hues awaiting a blanket of snow. The calendar indicated late January, but nearly 40 degree temperatures and an almost complete lack of snow said otherwise.

A little late with her instructions, Pam’s GPS rerouted us down Limekiln Road on a “shortcut” back to Route 73. Not one to turn around (or ever ask for directions), Pam took us four-wheeling down a dirt road that would have been impassible under normal winter conditions. Ice sculptures clung like blobs of celeste blue glass to rock ledges along 73 while hikers and climbers wandered to their patiently waiting cars as dusk approached.

Finally arriving in Saranac Lake, noticing the half-constructed ice castle, we made our way to Captain Cook’s. It looked pretty dead from the outside as Kim stood across the street covertly snapping a few pics of the exterior. We were unprepared for the large crowd as we entered Captain Cook’s Bar and Grill on that Saturday afternoon. Surprise must have registered on our faces as we were raucously greeted at the door who by a man who informed us it was Ladies’ Night – no cover! Having broken the ice, we found a seat in a far corner of the bar where we could observe and take notes. With one bartender serving the 30 or more patrons, we knew we would have to be patient in getting information from her. Staci readily took our drink orders and answered our questions as opportunity permitted.

Though not easily discernible in the dimmer light, the top of the P-shaped bar is an inlaid topographical map. High pine ceilings and walls accent the rustic birch slab shelves. An old canoe hanging on a far wall rounds out the Adirondack appeal. Several flags are tacked to the ceiling and a large bright yellow model seaplane floats over the bar. Three flat-screen TVs are scattered about. We were a little confused by the San Francisco 49ers pennants behind the bar until Pat’s comment about Captain Cook’s being proud Giants supporters was intercepted by a companion who set the record straight.

Wanting to mix with the locals, Kim approached a group to ask questions. Eyeing her notebook suspiciously at first, they quickly warmed up once the purpose of our visit was established. We spoke at length with a woman named Pat who was willing and eager to share insights about Captain Cook’s, the local bars, and the community in general. Though not a standard question from our repertoire, our foremost curiousity was whether this was a typical crowd for a Saturday afternoon in January. Turns out that it is. Captain Cook’s is the headquarters for the Saranac Lake IPW – the Ice Palace Workers. That explained both the diversity of the patrons and the community spirit that pervaded the barroom. They had finished working on the ice palace for the day and seemed to be reveling in their accomplishments, undaunted perhaps by the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival deadline looming just one short week away. We had an opportunity to speak with several IPW members and learned that most of them have been members for years, are about 30 percent women, and are somewhat disappointed by the lack of new, younger recruits. We even managed to convince a few of the volunteers to pose for a photo.

Capt. Cook’s has been owned by Scott Cook for the past four years. In the summer it is headquarters for the local rugby team. It certainly had the feel of being a community place to meet, but welcoming to strangers as well. Though the bar can seat 14 to 16 people, the room easily accommodated the current gathering. A rustic table near the front window was empty, perhaps just a little too far away from the action. Captain Cook’s features Happy Hour drink specials Monday through Friday, but the Saturday prices were very reasonable. They are open year round, seven days a week from noon until 3 a.m. Chicken wings are the specialty here and, as observed from our station at the bar, take-out seems to be very popular. The standard pool table and electronic darts remained dormant this day. An ATM machine is on site and Quick Draw is available too. Additional seating is available upstairs and on an outside patio tucked away from the street. Musical entertainment is featured during Winter Carnival. A small public parking area is adjacent to the bar and on-street parking is just up the road and across the street.

The menu at Captain Cook’s features sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and several flavors of wings (including peanut butter). Eight draft beers include Davidson Brothers “Captain Cook’s IPA”, Long Trail, Blue Light, and a Samuel Adams seasonal. Assorted flavored vodkas and Jagermeister suggest the bartenders may possess some creativity.

If you’re planning to be in Saranac Lake for the Winter Carnival, or any time at all, Captain Cook’s is a great place to warm up, have a drink and grab something to eat. Visit their website and Facebook page for up-to-date drink specials and events. The atmosphere is friendly and festive and the people are some of the nicest we’ve met.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Night of Art, Skiing and Music in Saranac Lake

Dewey Mountain is the subject and beneficiary of a show opening Friday at the Adirondack Artists Guild, in Saranac Lake. The exhibit is inspired by the 2,050-foot mountain southwest of the village. I’m eager to see what the artists come up with.

The north side of Dewey hosts a cross-country-ski and snowshoe center by winter. The rest of the year it’s an in-town place to walk, hike and mountain bike. The Saranac River flows around the mountain as it enters the village. Like Pisgah and Baker, two other low peaks bounding the village, Dewey defines Saranac Lake’s topography as well as our love of mountain sports.

Everyone is welcome to a reception hosted by Dewey Mountain Friends at the gallery 5–7 p.m. Friday, February 3. Then please visit Dewey Mountain Recreation Center to ski and hear the Blind Owl Band play at the free Friday Night Ski Jam. Food for the jam is being donated by Blue Moon Cafe.

Each of the Artists Guild’s 14 contributors is donating an original work celebrating Dewey and winter sports. Their show, called “Artés Ski,” will be in the gallery February 3–27. Oils, watercolors, pastels, fiber art, jewelry, ceramic art and photographs will be available for bid in a running silent auction. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds will be donated to a Dewey Mountain Friends capital campaign to construct a new base lodge (disclosure: I’m a shamelessly enthusiastic member).

Dewey is one of my favorite places on earth. In just a few minutes’ walk I can sneak away from it all and be alone on the trail. But I also love how Dewey brings people together–in this latest event, our local artists have found a creative way to celebrate what Dewey means to them. But musicians, civic organizations, schools, local government, restaurants and other businesses—-all work together every year to make sure this little mountain is more than just part of the scenery. The breadth of generosity is inspiring and a hallmark of Saranac Lake.

So if you can, please stop by the gallery, at 52 Main Street, to explore a mountain as muse. The Adirondack Artists Guild is a cooperative retail gallery representing a diverse group of artists in the Tri-Lakes region. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 12–3 p.m. Sunday. For more information see adirondackartistsguild.com or call (518) 891–2615.

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center is owned by the Town of Harrietstown and is located on State Route 3, one mile west of downtown Saranac Lake. Trails (16 km cross-country-ski and 5 km snowshoe) are open daily, and lower trails are groomed for skate-skiing and lighted for night skiing. For more information see deweyskicenter.com or call (518) 891-2697.

Photograph taken during a Friday Night Ski Jam by Burdette Parks, Adirondack Artists Guild.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Pendragon Theatre on the Road

Pendragon Theatre’s production of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird is on the road throughout the Adirondack Park and beyond. The two-act play was adapted by Christopher Sergel and first performed in 1987 in England. Since that time the play has been performed in schools and theatres around the world to great acclaim.

Set in 1930 Alabama at the height of the Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the intense class and racial tensions of the time as seen through the eyes of young Scout Finch. Narrated by the adult Scout, the coming of age story tackles such complex issues as interracial relationships, segregation and sterotypes. As Scout’s father Atticus, a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a poor white girl, the characters in the town expose their own bigotry. Throughout the story are themes of courage, innocence and the moral failures of society.

Pendragon Founder and Managing Director Bob Pettee, who also plays Atticus Finch, says, “The version we at Pendragon Theatre chose to do is the only authorized version of the book. Harper Lee talked to Christoper Segel directly. The version that we’ve chosen does not have the older character of Scout, like in the movie. We felt the (Segel) version told the story more directly.” Pettee says, “ To Kill A Mockingbird is a universal story, so simple, so direct. The Boo Radley character becomes so fictionalized, larger than life and then finally known to just be human.”

Pettee comments on the larger issues that are addressed in the play with “man’s ability to be inhuman.” Pendragon Theare recently had received a letter from a teacher thanking the cast for the school performance. The teacher had overheard two students from his English class comparing the injustices of To Kill A Mockingbird with the injustices of the class reading assignment The Lottery. The teacher felt that the unprompted discussion of two pieces of literature from his students was powerful.

“I think this play has opened up conversations where children have an access to this material based on the age of the actors in this piece. The three kids we have are just dynamite, are solid performers ranging from 6th to 8th grade. They are very accomplished and adapt to the other spaces and it is a real treat to have them involved.”

“It is challenging to take a play on the road but we have a lot of experience,” says Pettee. “From an actor’s point of view it is good to see how we will connect this piece with a new audience. The Pendragon (home) theatre is a more intimate theatre where a larger performance space presents differently and we (the actors) still have to connect and be genuine and real for the audience.”

Pendragon actor Donna Moschek brings the part of Miss Maudie to life and says, “This version of the play uses Maudie as the narrator, not an older Scout, which is interesting. I think it’s a good choice because Maudie represents the female role model that Scout most admires in the novel and certainly takes a moral stand. I loved Maudie in the novel and I love her in the play because she is an inescapably part of this small town, but she believes it is possible for change to happen.”

Moschek says, “I think this play and the novel are still relevant and will always be relevant as long as racism, oppression and prejudice still exist. It’s the idea that prejudice can be so quietly present and so accepted that no one even notices what it can do. No one questions. I think the play and the book teach us that looking closely at our beliefs and our actions could be what saves us from making a decision based on prejudice, or a stereotype we have in our minds. If we can be aware of it, we can move to change it in ourselves and in others.”

To Kill A Mockingbird can be seen at SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam (7:00 p.m.) on Friday, February 3; at SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh (7:00 p.m.) on Friday, February 10; at Pendragon’s Home Theatre, Saranac Lake (7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, February 11; at The View, Old Forge (7:00 p.m.) on Thursday March 1; Main Street Landing PAC, Burlington VT (7:30 p.m.) on Friday, March 9; and the Tannery Pond Community Center, North Creek (7:30 p.m.) on March 16.

Next up for Pendragon Theatre will be a limited run of “Almost Maine” as part of a cooperative effort with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts as well as the soon to be announced summer season.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities for the Tri-Lakes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake) and High Peaks. Her next book of family activities will come out this summer 2012.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nature Photography in Winter: A Wild Center Workshop

Capturing the Adirondacks in winter is something that only the hardiest of hikers and Adirondack photographers do. Painters will sometimes take on the weather, but the stillness of winter is really for photographers.

The days are short, the air is cold, and the light falls in slants through the bare trees. This is the time and place that belongs to Carl Heilman, II, a photographer who has been roaming the mountains for more than three decades, producing spectacular panoramas from the frozen lakeshores to the frosted tips of the peaks.

So who better to learn from? Heilman has been leading treks through the Adirondacks as long as he has been taking photographs, and through his workshops, he has shared the secrets to his wonderous photography with others who, in their own way, help to carry on the Adirondack tradition.

On January 28th, Heilman will be teaching the photography workshop, “Nature in Winter” from 9 am – 5 pm at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The morning will be devoted to seminar instruction and Q&A to prepare participants for an afternoon of shooting on the Wild Center property and at nearby locations.

The Wild Center workshop is $125 to members and $138 to nonmembers for the day, and includes the free use of snowshoes. Notification of other equipment and recommended clothing will be provided upon registration. Register directly by contacting Sally Gross: sgross@wildcenter.org, (518) 359-7800, ext 116.

Photo by Carl Heilman, II.

Linda J. Peckel explores the Adirondacks by following the arts wherever they take her. Her general art/writing/film/photography musings on can be found at her own blog Arts Enclave


Monday, January 16, 2012

Sandy Hildreth: Artist Maps of Saranac Lake

Artists find their way around the world differently than most people. This is clearly evident in “Mapping the Familiar: Artist Maps of Saranac Lake”, which opened last week at the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery in that village. The exhibit was curated by Jess Ackerson, a young artist, printmaker who lives and works in Saranac Lake. Each artist was invited to interpret the concept of the show in their own individual way – and all the pieces in the show are very unique.

When I find my way somewhere, I am inclined to rely upon visual “signposts” – usually natural landforms. Even in an urban environment, I find myself locating the sun, when possible, so I’ll know which way is north, and I might mark my course by remembering to turn at the big tree on the corner where the road goes uphill rather than the name of the street intersection. This might be evident when a viewer examines my piece in the exhibit because I have no map in it, but I do have many of the views that one sees when in Saranac Lake.

There are several pieces in the show which are clearly maps – but maps interpreted through what the individual artists found interesting. Diane Leifheit’s map is a detailed ink drawing/silkscreen print that depicts the course of the Saranac River and the various bridges within the community, along with hand-scripted anecdotal notations. Peter Seward’s “The Resettlement of Saranac Lake” is “a whimsical depiction of the challenges faced inhabiting a wilderness”. It is reminiscent of the fanciful maps of drawn by early explorers and even has an area identified as “terra incognito”.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who once boasted of some interest in the arts, was also invited to contribute a piece. His cartoon style drawing of a map of the community shows the pride he feels in the village and looks like something you might have seen in a 1950’s tourism brochure! It’s title was derived from the locally known Dew Drop Inn and Mr. Rabideau wrote in his artists statement “for many generations, thousands of people have, indeed, “dropped-in” to Saranac Lake and never left, making it their permanent home”.

Some of the other pieces in the show have more emphasis on the “art” and less on the “map” although the village map has worked it’s way into the individual images. Jess Ackerson’s three color reduction lino-cut, silkscreen and colored pencil piece combines the map with other bold images like a rainbow, a compass star and a labyrinth. In her statement Jess wrote “This map is actually a maze. It’s an attempt to describe what it takes to be present while we navigate the transition from past, where there were so many other paths we could have taken, to the future.” Eric Ackerson created a labyrinth of intertwining map and snake forms titled – “A Ransack Illegal Fovea” – which happens to be an anagram for Village of Saranac Lake.

In addition to the 10 artist creations, there is also a large, interactive “Community Map” where gallery visitors are invited to draw and write upon it their special spots or trails in the village.

Find your own way to this unique and thought provoking exhibit – the Adirondack Artists Guild is located on Main Street in Saranac Lake and the exhibit will be up through January 29.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Belvedere, Saranac Lake

We discovered this unfinished review while compiling stats for our annual report and wondered how it had gone unfinished for so long. We visited the Belvedere Restaurant on the recommendation of patrons at Grizle-T’s as part of an August (hence the kayaks) day trip to Saranac Lake. Our holiday hiatus will be over next week, when we’ll be back on track with a new venue and perpetually unbridled enthusiasm for our subject.

The Belvedere is a restaurant with a bar, but has the potential to be a bar with a restaurant at any given moment. Patrons are apt to come in for a meal, but stop at the bar for a drink first and stay for more than one before dinner. The bartender might have to take the blame for that. His genuine, comfortable manner made us want to stick around longer than we expected.

The bar offers a modern array of choices while maintaining the old classics. One might be inclined by the atmosphere to select something more nostalgic and simple like a martini, a rye and ginger, or the lost-but-not-forgotten whisky sour. Spying the flavored vodkas, a twinkle appeared in Pam’s eye as she spotted the grape vodka. She never seems to have any idea what to drink as Kim makes her predictable survey of the sparse selection brews on tap. Not stricken with a bout of creativity, Pam helpfully instructed Bob the bartender, a 20-year veteran of the Belvedere, on the proper proportions of a grape crush, a Barking Spider specialty and Pam’s go-to beverage when unimaginative. Draft beers available at the time of our visit were Long Trail Ale, Blue Moon and Molson Canadian. An additional 18 or so bottled beers include most of the popular domestics along with the more interesting Peroni and Duvel. Several sparkling, white and red wines are available by the glass for between $4.50 and $6.00 a glass; $14.00 to $16.00 for a half carafe.

To get to the ladies’ restroom, one must pass through the dining room. Even if you weren’t visiting the Belvedere for a meal, the smells that greet you, seafood on this particular evening, will be very hard to resist. We could picture wives returning to their husbands at the bar, pleading with them to move on to the restaurant, the men reluctantly following, beer pints in hand. The Belvedere’s Italian/Continental menu features a wide variety of pasta, seafood and carnivorous offerings, priced between $13.00 and $22.00, but the bar prices are somewhat lower than what we’re used to, and that’s really why we’re there.

Depending on where you gaze, the Belvedere has the appearance of being frozen in time, somewhere between 1950s and the 1970s. A classic ’50s refrigerator squats behind the horseshoe-shaped, formica-topped bar. Oak cabinetry and pine-paneled walls add warmth between the slate floor and low suspended ceiling. A pool table occupies the center of the room and three booths provide seating away from the bar. There is a separate area outside for smokers, distinctly set apart from the entrance, allowing a comfortable smoke to be enjoyed with your drink at the risk of offending no one. Deck seating is available, though parties of more than six will not be accommodated on the deck. No exceptions. There is comfort in the Belvedere’s non-modern motif that states “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. More comfort can be taken in the fact that, as a patron, you are not paying extra for the upgrades.

Established in 1933 and family-owned for three generations, the Belvedere has survived at least two fires and holds the second-longest continuous liquor license in Franklin County. We’re not sure who holds the number one spot, but intend to find out! Located in a residential area just outside Saranac Lake’s business district in a two-story frame house, the Belvedere is a friendly home-town bar where all are welcome. Drink prices are reasonable, the bartender is personable and the patrons are friendly. The Belvedere is open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call to confirm hours of operation. Just leave your credit cards at home – the Belvedere accepts cash only.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Schroon Lake New Year’s Eve

For the first year Schroon Lake will be offering its own version of First Night full of family-friendly activities.

According to the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce the Schroon Lake First Night celebration started in 2003 as part of the Schroon Lake bicentennial. The event was then held again in 2004 to end the bicentennial year. It was resurrected in 2011 as an opportunity to provide a non-alcoholic event for families.

Committee Co-Chair Sharon Piper says, “This is a nice way for families to celebrate together. There will be fun crafts for kids. They can make a New Year’s hat when they aren’t listening to the band. We really tried to provide activities to keep everyone engaged. Our event will also wrap up after the fireworks so families can get home safely.”

Sylvia Fletcher and the Magic Trunk will host three performances, 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. There will be ongoing craft stations, face painting and refreshments.

The sock hop will be held at the Schroon Lake Central School gym and truly no shoes are allowed so wear your cutest socks and dance to the classic rock band, “Loose Connections.”

To join in the community spirit there will be a stroll from the school to the park at the conclusion of the sock hop. (It is only a few blocks walk to the park so dress appropriately for the weather.) At the Schroon Lake Town Park enjoy a luminary display, hot chocolate and a bonfire at 8:30 p.m. Fireworks will commence over the lake at 9:15 p.m.

Piper says, “We encourage everyone to come, people from out of town to the second home owner. We hope to provide an opportunity for families to enjoy some fun together.”

The cost for the event is $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children (4-18) with children under four admitted free. There is a family rate available. The goal for the admission is to help offset the cost of the event while still keeping it affordable for families.

The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce hopes that this event will become an annual tradition for all. This year’s event will be hosted at two venues, the Schroon Lake Central School and the Town Park. The committee is working on light refreshments available for purchase during the event while all other activities are included with admission.

There will be a program to let participants know the schedule for all events. (Look for special offers and coupons from local businesses in the program.)

To the north will be an official First Night Celebration in Saranac Lake with a variety of activities geared toward families of all ages. To the south will be Saratoga Springs’ First Night. There will also be New Year’s Eve fireworks over Lake George at midnight.

Happy New Year! Be safe!

Photo: Fireworks (Courtesy Diane Chase)

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.