Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 5.234: Full moon at Full Moon

We're at a resort (called Full Moon) and tonight is not just a full moon, but a blue moon - it happens once in a while!

This is the performance space where we will be singing a song or two in a little while.

We're here to celebrate the wedding (tomorrow) of our NYC friends that we met in North Carolina a little over a year ago. Happy times.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 5.233: I'm done talking with you...

Continuing my irrelevant but cute pictures of the kids to accompany image-less stories - here's Exile #4 from a week or so ago:

This afternoon, Exile #2 took E5N1 to learn about catching the school bus - something he will be doing for the first time in a few days. It seems it went better (from Exile #2's perspective anyway) than yesterday's school visit.

When he'd realised that he couldn't show me the hand signals that he had learned over the phone, he signed-off with the title of this post.

It's also a warning that we are going to be at a destination wedding for the next couple of days (only an hour and a half away for us happily) and so to ask you to please excuse any cursory, late or even - surely not - missing posts. Don't worry I'll be back to bothering you on a daily basis in no time.

Even E5N1 didn't leave it so final-sounding this afternoon. After a pause:

...for now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 5.232: Kindergarten...nap time?

E5N1 was in school - briefly - for 'Kindergarten Orientation' today.

I hear that he went from reading the classroom treasure-hunt himself to theatrically faking falling asleep at the feet of the Principal while he was talking to everyone...

I wonder if any of us know what this year has in store for him or for them!?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 5.231: Corning tick-tock

After out hike at Huyck on Day 5.228, we went into Albany to visit the State Museum and walk around downtown.

The plaza was more active than sometimes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 5.230: Not the surprise we were expecting

We had lunch before our Alexandria Bay boat-trip at local sandwich-chain Jreck Subs. After a rather good lunch we stepped outside where we all had a surprise - though not the one we were expecting!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 5.229: Rocking, out

There was time for a few more songs from the cousins while I recovered from my long run and the rest of our visitors packed their bags.

We said goodbye to them just before lunchtime. They should be more than halfway home by now.  The house will seem empty again, but we haven't much time to miss them as this week is shaping up to be about as busy as can be - especially for Exile #2 and E5N1.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 5.228: Falls climb

We had a packed time in the last full day of my sister and family's visit. The morning's adventure was a trip to the Huyck Preserve where we found that a new trail to the mid-falls had opened.

Considering that all the trails had been closed a year ago and at least one bridge and many trails were compromised or destroyed by the flooding due to Hurricane Irene, it was amazing to find the place if anything more accessible than on our last visit.

The new trail cuts along the side of the gorge until it meets Rensselaerville Falls about half way up. At that point you can admire a better-than-ever view of the falls and then turn back to continue the hike, or...not.

Before I knew what was happening, the kids were scrambling up the falls and I was following them.

We did get some great views, and all made it back down safely to the end of the trail for a last group photo for this trip.

We continued up to the top of the falls by the proper route before turning back the way we came.  On the way back we spotted a frog beside the trail.  Exile #4 showed off her frog-catching skills gained during nature camp a few weeks ago.

Surprisingly appealing!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 5.227: Play hard

I spent part of the afternoon playing volleyball with my colleagues.

It looked a little like this:

but without the crowds, other games or competence you can see here.

This evening, after dinner we took a constitutional walk around the neighborhood which turned into a stumble in the dark - wow the evenings are getting dark early now! Then, after the kids went to bed, the four adults in the house played a bit of Rock Band - and yes, we played hard!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 5.226: Rivers order

E5N1 was the one who pointed out that we'd got to our group-photo spot when we visited Five Rivers last weekend. Exile #4 - often my supporter in this venture - was at a friend's house.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife, but the fish were on good form.

and so were the flowers.

Exile #3 informed me that referring to the purple loosestrife (top left) as "pretty invasive" was not funny so I won't do that.

We also saw that the beavers have been trying to raise the level of the lake again by enhancing the man-made dam.  I doubt it will last long - as either rising water or people will probably remove it, but in the mean time - this pond is one of the few in the area that has got deeper over the last couple of weeks.

...and I'm finally up-to-date with photos from our various outings.  Now we need at least one more before our visitors leave...

Day 5.225: The Thousand Islands

On the first full day of our camping trip last week, we left Lake Ontario and drove up to Alexandria Bay - on the Saint Lawrence River and right next to the Canadian border.

We didn't have a firm plan, but we decided to take a boat tour.  We chose one of the shorter ones - that passes some of the 'cottages' in Millionaire's Row and then briefly crosses the Canadian border before returning.

Some of the holiday homes are huge and magnificent, others are tiny, one was even looking like it had just collapsed.

There were other things to see from the boat - ospreys (including one flying by with its dinner!), the bridge across the islands to Canada, and a Canadian tour boat (they didn't wave back!).

At the end of the boat trip we took the opportunity to disembark at Boldt Castle - built in 1904 but never lived in due to the untimely death of the wife of its owner.  It is a continuing work of renovation, but quite stunning.

In more recent news, our visitors made it back from their trip to the Berkshires this evening - it sounds like they've had a great time - even if the journey back here was a little more eventful than they might have liked!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 5.224: Lake Ontario

Our campsite last week was at the eastern end of Lake Ontario - not too far from the area that received more than ten feet of snow in a single storm during our first winter here.

Snow was not really on our mind as we enjoyed a beautiful evening at the beach on our second day of camping.

On the third day, we spent the afternoon at the beach swimming and lazing and enjoying the sunshine (without my camera). But first we visited nearby Sackets Harbor where we learned about the area and particularly its role in the War of 1812.  It was, shall we say, a less anti-British telling of that history than the one we read in Burlington VT early in the summer.

To me, it seems to be a war that no-one really wanted or was ready for, no-one really benefited from and, at the end of the day, its lasting results are a stirring national anthem and the details of the location of the US/Canadian border.

Before we left the village, we had a rather good lunch at a brew-pub on the lake shore and drove around the barracks.  We were very glad we made the short trip to visit this little but fascinating place.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 5.223: Camping and eating

On our trip last week we camped at Westcott Beach State Park. We had two adjoining sites and we spread out our own and our borrowed equipment. This is what it ended up looking like:

Each night we cooked over the camp fire.  The first night we were hampered by a storm and by some half-hearted fire building, but we still managed to cook our dinner successfully - even if we had to run for the cars to escape the rain as soon as we'd finished eating it.

Subsequent fires, grilling and smores-making were more convincing.  This is from after dinner on the second evening:

Apart from Tuesday evening's rain, we were pretty lucky with the weather until Friday morning.  It was also, pleasantly, not too buggy.  We did get our trash bag raided by an unknown mammal in the night however.

All in all, the time we spent at the campsite was very enjoyable and it was a great spot to launch our other activities from - of which more later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 5.222: Christman comes but once a year

This afternoon, we took a trip to the Christman Sanctuary. It turns out it was just a little over a year since our first visit.

Much of what we saw was the same since both were mid-summer visits, but the river couldn't have looked much less similar.

Here are comparative pictures of the falls from last year (top) and today (bottom):

And here is the place where the trail leading to the orange trail loop crosses the river (last time when we demurred is on the left).

As you can see we had no issues fording the river to complete the loop this time.

Here are some pictures of nature that we spotted:

The fish actually pecked briefly at Exile #4's toes and the strange-looking wasp is a parasitoidal ichneumon wasp of some sort.  Check out Darwin's comments about their behaviour.

Here are the kids (and adults) having fun (along with a random picture of some interesting rocks.

Can you guess how long it took after that top left picture before someone got completely soaked?

Despite the lack of water in the river and the excess of it in E5N1's clothes, we had a great visit.  It really is, as has been observed before, a special place.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 5.221: Continental divide

We took our visitors from the UK to the Drive-in this evening for what is, if not uniquely - at least distinctively - an American experience.

We saw Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, which like our last movie outing - Madagascar 3 - is a paper thin story idea carried along by some good writing and performances.  It was also 'enhanced' by the loud commentary from nearby, "That's J.Lo. that is!" and other pithy observations.

Some of us were slightly sad to leave before Dark Night Rises came on as the second in the double bill, but the kids (at least) really needed to be getting home to bed.  We sweetened the early departure with a visit to the ice-cream stand.

A very nice evening indeed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 5.220: A thousand miles

We made it home. The drive was around 200 miles, but that's not really the point. After a few days off while we were camping, I decided I'd better fit in a run this evening - which I did, thanks in part to my brother-in-law who was cooking a rather excellent dinner.

(As a visual aid, here are the kids running with their cousin from last weekend.)

At some point in the last week, MapMyRun tells me that I clocked up my thousandth mile since I started running just under a year ago. Last week, my doctor told me that I only need to see her once a year now that my cholesterol levels are edging into the normal range, as long as I "keep running and don't put much weight back on." I think they are basically one and the same requirement and, as long as my limbs cooperate, I have no plans to stop.

For your delight - here's the theme song of the first of those achievements...altogether now!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 5.218: One thousand eight hundred and sixty-four

We took a boat trip around several of the thousand islands today (there are actually almost twice that number apparently).

I have more pictures but, for now, here is everyone except me enjoying it. I was enjoying taking a photo at this particular moment!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 5.217: Camp time

We've brought our visitors to the shore of Lake Ontario in northwest New York for a camping adventure in the region known as The Thousand Islands.

Here we are eating our fire-cooked dinner while sheltering from the front edge of a line of storms coming through. Hopefully we'll have some good weather and some fun (whatever the weather) over the next few days.

For now, we're sheltering from the rain and wondering if the tents are staying dry inside.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 5.216: Trail life

We didn't see a whole lot of wildlife on our trail-walk yesterday, but we did see these:

A millipede, a turkey vulture and - saving a few drops of water at the top of the escarpment from becoming the waterfall on the trail below - a goldfinch. We also saw a couple of frogs and a red eft, which is a newt which is a salamander.

So glad we've sorted that out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 5.215: Indian Ladder: then and now

Almost exactly four years ago, on the first full day of my sister and her family's first visit to us, we did the Indian Ladder trail in Thacher Park for the first time:

Today, we did the same walk again - spot the differences!

There was a little more water coming over one of the waterfalls than on our visit earlier this summer:

and the four cousins had a blast - here they are posing on 'shark rock'.