Friday, November 24, 2017

Nice Place To Sit

  While in Westfield we got a chance to check out the bench in Moore Park dedicated to our dad.  It's across the street from where his drugstore was, and is next to a bench dedicated to his partner at the store, Don.  Miss them both.

Happily Married

  Congratulations go out to John and Melissa for their wedding in November.  It was a wonderful occasion on a beautiful day, and we welcome Melissa to the family.  It may have been the only wedding to feature an add for full body wash, but maybe not with the prevalence of streaming music off the internet for ceremonies.

  It certainly was the first wedding officiated by Jim, now licensed by NY State.  It was also the first time Jenny and Jason got to see their dad get married.

Friends Weekend

  Dave and Laura organized, and did a damn fine job.  As always, if Howard has to pass Cuba, NY, he stops at Cuba Cheese and picks up a ten-pound block of sharp cheddar.

  Gail got into the lake both mornings while there, but not for long and not alone.  I went in once too.  Notice the icicles on the bushes in the top photo.  We also got a nice hike in at one of the Finger Lakes Land Trust's preserves overlooking Canadaigua Lake.

Friends Weekend

  The Westfield Friends group got together on Canadaigua Lake.  It's been going strong for 30 years, and I joined them 25 years ago.  More astounding is that Gail made a return trip, her first since 2003.  Sadly, it was the first trip without our great friend Karen Walker died last winter.  We missed her but were glad her partner, Brad, still joined us.


  A former student and now graduate, Ting, returned to Ithaca with her brother, Xiao, to try to get him enrolled at IHS.  That's proving more difficult than expected, but she just like she proved by graduating, she's persistent and the fight isn't over yet.  We got to spend some time together and visit some of the better spots in the area.

  They came over for dinner and we learned the neighbors were having a pumpkin carving party so they got to carve their first pumpkin.  Every once in awhile Gail and I get to experience the joys of parenthood.  We were so proud of them when they carved the best pumpkin.

Adirondack Color

  I took the scenic route home from Pharaoh to catch some more color.  Route 8 didn't disappoint once I crossed the Hudson River.  A stop in Piseco for a quick trip up Panther Mountain was a real treat.

Return to Pharaoh Lake

  In October I joined a few of the boys for a trip to Pharaoh Lake.  I hadn't been on a fall trip since my first time there in 2000, choosing instead to go for the winter trip since then.  It was a nice weekend and we got to see some decent fall color, but mostly it was just perfect weather, the lake was smooth as glass the whole time.
  One of my desires has always been to climb Treadway Mountain at the northeast end of the lake and I finally did it, making a 15-mile trek that rewarded me with stunning views of Pharaoh Lake and Mountain.  I retired my shoes after this hike and nursed a blister for two weeks afterwards.  They've been up enough mountains.

Lake Swimming

  Gail has kicked her swimming obsession to a new level by adding open water swimming.  She's been joining some friends who swim regularly in the lake, and it culminated in a weekend of events in Seneca Lake that included several different lengths of swims.  Gail did a two-mile swim, the crazy people did the 10-mile, then swam along with her to keep her company on hers.
  I went out on Cayuga Lake one day to accompany them for a training run.

Laid to Rest

  In September the family gathered in Westfield again to bury our mom's ashes.  As with anything involving the McMahons there was a fair amount of humor.  I took this photo so I could claim the accountants in the family were saving a few bucks by scrimping on the urn.
  That's not really what this is about.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

North Country Vacation

  Gail and I decided on a local trip by bike this summer, one that would take us along Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence Seaway and 1000 Islands, and then turn south and pass through the High Peaks of the Adirondacks where we could do some hiking too.  On paper, or the google map I created, it was 420 miles, though that didn’t figure in side trips, getting lost and spontaneous changes to the itinerary.  We ended up riding 500 miles.

  Ha ha, bet you thought I meant bicycles when I wrote “bike.”  The quad was a great way to go.

  As we’ve done before, we started by taking a TCAT bus out of Ithaca to make the first day a little shorter with less climbing.  The bus was almost a half hour late due to a flat tire which we took as a bad omen, but we didn’t get any flats on the whole trip.  We had a great time, saw some really interesting sites, saw old friends and made new ones.  Each of us had a close call with a collision, Gail almost collided with a lawnmower and I had a van turn right when I was going straight.  No harm ensued and we made it home happy and enriched by the experience once again.


North Country Vacation

  Cooking while camping can be a challenge, but Gail is incredibly adept at making an instant dinner more exciting.  One night she asked me to get a beer from a rowdy group camped nearby, beggars can’t be choosy so she settled for a Coors Light instead of a beer.  When I was getting the beer I noticed corn being put on the grill so went back and negotiated for a couple ears.  It turned out to be a nice rice and beans dinner.

North Country Vacation

  Our first stop was Fair Haven State Park where we got a campsite on Sterling Pond.  Gail did freshwater research here some 15-20 years ago and was looking forward to revisiting old stomping grounds.  Nice park with views of some sandstone bluffs; I recommend it.

  Another destination along this part of Lake Ontario was Chimney Bluffs State Park, a place neither of us had been to but wanted to see.  Since they didn’t have camping we went to Fair Haven with a full day to ride to Chimney Bluffs, a short ride without gear that we were considering a “day off,” except that was one ride I hadn’t checked the actual mileage of and it turned out to be 22 miles.  By the time our day off was done we’d ridden over 50 miles.  The bluffs are really cool and we witnessed quite a display of flying by some Kestrels playing King of the Mountain.
  Along the ride we saw apple orchards with manicured trees heavily laden with fruit.  We stopped at a farm for water and talked a bit with the farmer who responded to my comment that it might be a good year to come out of retirement from my apple picking career at Cornell that the equipment we were looking at carried a moving team of six pickers who drop the apples on a conveyor belt that dumps them into the bins.  “Not like the way you did it at Cornell Orchards,” he said.

North Country Vacation

  We had been reading about high water issues on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence since spring and saw plenty of evidence of it.  The shoreline at Southwick State Park was eroded back quite a bit.  There were road signs that instructed us to ride 5 mph whenever we got within 600’ of shore to prevent creating a wake, not that I think it made any difference, and I saw this tree that was no longer growing on an island but right out of the water.  We didn’t see any reference to the 999 Islands.

North Country Vacation

  We splurged for two nights in an International Youth Hostel in Cape Vincent where the St. Lawrence River begins flowing from Lake Ontario.  It was a great place to stay, we just had to be patient with the person running it who made for a more interesting if not challenging stay for us.
  We hadn’t seen any freighters on Lake Ontario up to this point, but saw a few while there, including these two that looked like they were crashing into the foghorn building.

  I took a ferry to Wolfe Island, caught a ride across it in a pickup, almost lost my license and credit cards in the truck, then took another ferry to Kingston, Ontario to visit a friend who I worked with and lived next to us in Ithaca for a few years.  Julie arranged a huge welcome for me; thousands lined the docks as I arrived.  We then had a small gathering on the third-floor deck of their apartment overlooking the Kingston Yacht Club with Henry and their kids and some other friends visiting from Ithaca.  Membership at the Yacht Club came with the apartment so we went for a swim there off the dock and had food and drinks in the restaurant.

  Back in the States, Gail did some laundry, visited a brewpub and the DEC Fisheries Lab.  She also got to take part in making a shrimp feast at the hostel when a fellow guest provided 10 lbs. of shrimp for all staying there as well as some strangers he met in town and invited.  There were pirates in attendance.  I got back just in time to eat the potatoes, corn on the cob and salad and visit with a Spanish couple just like another famous seafood dinner from our past.

  The second morning started out with some dramatic light, but by the time we left it was all sun and winds at our backs.

Monday, September 04, 2017

North Country Vacation

  Another destination of the trip was to see the 1000 Islands Region of the St. Lawrence River.  It was pretty flat and the two days we spent riding along that stretch we had a steady tailwind to assist us.  Having a section of road cut through the rock didn’t hurt either.  Just after taking this picture a bobcat ran up to the side of the road in front of Gail and she got to see it, her first ever.  I was too far back to see it so I'm still waiting.  We got to see many of the islands and more freighters, some at the same time.

  One stop was at the new pavilion in Waddington, NY where we ate lunch.  The upgrade didn’t quite fit with an existing memorial marker, or maybe it was just people spent too much time at Lodge 420 when it was designed.  There was also a sweet path along the water running through some backyards.  I think some people in Tompkins County should go there and see how things are going as they fight to keep a rail trail out of their backyards.  We didn’t rape, steal, sell any drugs or look in windows as we rode by.

North Country Vacation

  We were fortunate to see sunsets every night except one along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.  In order:  Two at Fair Haven, two at Cape Vincent, one at Jacques Cartier and one at Robert Moses.  On the bottom is a display of some dramatic clouds to the southeast during a sunset.  It only rained twice the whole trip, both after we’d finished riding and had set up the tent which was fortunate.  What was unfortunate was learning that our tent is no longer waterproof in heavy downpours.  

  Made a point of getting up early enough to see most of the sunrises too.  This one is at Fair Haven.