Summer Solstice Photos Essay 2019

By Jelane A. Kennedy

The last photo essay that I published was for the Winter Solstice in 2018. It is amazing to think that time has gone by so quickly. Although this year has been different than past years with Eileen healing from a hip fracture, we have still found different things to do, less hiking and walking. The winter also was a time of more inside activities since snowshoeing was out for the time being.

One of the sad things that happened this winter was the burning of the Schroon Lake Community Church. We had just arrived in Schroon Lake and gone to the post office. We had only been at the house 15 minutes when we heard that the church on main street just across from the post office was on fire. The past few months have gone from fire investigation to demolition. This summer is the start of fund raising. It has been sad to not hear the carillon church bell concert each afternoon.

Schroon Lake Community Church, The morning after. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

As the winter moved on we decided to take a day trip up to Lake Placid. It was great fun to watch folks out on Mirror Lake, they had a dog sled team giving rides, folks were out on cross country skis and snow shoes. But the best was watching the newly renovated toboggan chute in action out onto the lake. The chute has been a part of the Lake Placid scene since the 1960’s and was a convert ski jump trestle, it has since been fully rebuilt in 2017. Maybe next year we will take a ride!

Winter day, Lake Placid, NY. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

A trip this early Spring took us to the Berkshire Mountain Museum to see the da Vinci exhibit. It was a great afternoon. You can read more about it in my post Berkshire Museum – A great rainy day adventure for all ages . It is a traveling exhibit that has been making it’s rounds across the country. You can check it out at this website Evergreenexhibitions to see where it is and where it is going.

Machines in Motion sign, Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

As spring progressed this brought us to the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, CT. Where you can again read about our adventure visiting the Dinosaur tracks.  On a walk around the grounds we saw the beginnings of spring shoots!

Yes spring is coming! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of my favorite things about Spring is seeing both the daffodils and tulips make their appearance. This year they seemed to be early and I was treated to new buds that made me smile each morning as I went to and from home.

Spring smile. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

In exploring Connecticut more we went to downtown Hartford and saw the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, which honors citizens who fought in the Civil war. It is quite impressive with many sculptured features. We enjoyed our visit to Bushnell Park and the carousel. We also found the sculpture garden in New Britain near the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Our final adventure this Spring as we moved into summer was to get Eileen back on a bicycle. It has been a great adventure and she bravely hoped on 9 months after her fall. It was so great to see her big smile again! We really enjoyed our first long ride on Hop River State Park Trail in Connecticut. The trail was well maintained and had good parking. The gravel was well packed and smooth. Riding through the just budding tree’s and enjoying the spring sunshine was a delight.

Our first big ride! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Travel on!

(c) 2019 Jelane A. Kennedy

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Posted in Berkshires, Bicycling, Connecticut, Photo Essays, Places: State Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tracking Dinosaurs in Rocky Hill, Connecticut!

Entrance sign. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Visiting Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut was a mind-boggling experience. I guess for me over the years dinosaurs have felt very imaginary, otherworldly and probably because of the film Jurassic Park, something only seen in the movies. It seems like most Natural History Museums have some sort of skeleton of a dinosaur on display. The skeleton has been painstaking put together by Paleontologist and provided to us so we might get a sense of the size of these invisible creatures that lived long ago and that we can only imagine.

So when Eileen and I were trying to find a State Park near us in Connecticut to go visit I was uncertain what we would see at Dinosaur State Park. Most of the State Parks we have visited in New York have been places where we go for a hike, see a lake or some waterfalls. And if they have a nature center we learn something about the local fauna and flora.

Geo-dome hidden in tree’s. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Dinosaur State Park was located about 10 minutes from where we have a condo. It was probably the nearest State Park to us, in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. We were looking for a place we could go for a short walk. We wanted to have an opportunity to be outside in nature as it was one of the first warm weekends of spring.

Multiple times we had seen signs for the park over the last year and a half while visiting different places, as we were re-habbing the condo. Plus I had seen in the local free newspaper advertisements about rock sluicing where kids can buy a bag a sand filled with a variety of gems, minerals or fossils, (mining rough) and usually when I’ve seen it done there was a water sluice to help remove the sand. (This activity advertised as usually available on the weekends in the spring and in the summer months from Tuesday through Sunday.)

So we packed up our first picnic for the season. Eileen grabbed her hiking stick, as it would be our first hike since breaking her hip. The sun was out and it just felt like a good day to explore. After I hooked up the GPS on my cell phone we were off.

Dino timeline. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

When we arrived at the park we could see a big silver geodesic dome. As we walked from the parking lot to the dome we found a kiosk with some information about the park and embedded in the concrete walkway was timeline to think about when dinosaurs were here and when humans as we know came to be. As we got closer to the dome we saw the picnic area, a place where they do track casting in the summer and the trailhead to the trail system.

As you walked into the dome there was a museum shop, restrooms, an educational workspace and some large exhibit educational signs about dinosaurs. But the main attraction and biggest surprise was to see actual dinosaur tracks (called a trackway)!! I think that was when it all became surreal. Here on the ground were real tracks; just like when we hike in the winter as we might see in the snow, deer, rabbit, fox or other animal tracks or at the beach in the sand bird tracks. The exhibit explains the different ways that the tracks can be examined, there are multiple layers to tracks (who knew?). As I gazed out on to the field of tracks left in now rock it was amazing to really consider that dinosaurs walked here…here…here, 200 million year ago!

A view of the Trackway. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The tracks were found by accident in the late 1960’s when the state of Connecticut was preparing the site to build a new building. One of the contractors working on the site with a backhoe pulled up earth and in the process uncovered a set of tracks. As you can imagine, all work stopped. From that point on, work focused on uncovering the area to see what was there, how big it was and then to stabilize the area.

Currently only about a quarter of the tracks are available for visitors to see. The other tracks have been reburied and marked, with the hope that in time they can be uncovered and the geodesic dome enlarged to cover the whole site. Near the restrooms in the dome, there on the wall was an imprint/casting of a track; it was about the size of Eileen (5’2”).

What a big foot! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

After being inside and hanging around the trackway we went out for our picnic and took a walk on one of the trails. They were doing trail upgrades so we could only do a section but it was enough considering it was Eileen’s first hike. As we walked the forested area, I kept thinking, dinosaurs walked here, they really walked here doing their thing like I might think about deer roaming the forest.

We are looking forward to returning when the trail upgrades are done and spending more time at this gem of a park. This is just one of two places on the East Coast to see tracks.

The grounds of the park are open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm and the trails close at 4 pm. The exhibit center in the dome is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 9 am to 4:30 pm. (Monday closed for research.) For addition information the Friends Dinosaur Park have a website.

Where the Dinosaurs have walked. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2019 Jelane A. Kennedy

Posted in Connecticut, Places: State Park | 1 Comment

Berkshire Museum – A great rainy day adventure for all ages.

Berkshire Museum Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

If you have not yet visited the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, it’s time to check it out. Pittsfield is one of those cities that at one time had a large downtown area that was probably very busy but is now marked by vacant buildings. Showing that time and industry has moved on and now it is a city working to come back to it’s former self in some way. The Berkshire Museum founder was Zenas Crane (yes the same Crane that I wrote about in a post about the Crane Papermaking Museum. He started the museum to educate and entertain those in the local area. The museum was built in 1903. There are three floors. The museum has a combination of natural science, art and history.

Angel wing. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

There is an aquarium in the basement. The first floor has a cinema where they show primarily documentaries and international films. There is also a museum shop, a section that has information about innovations from the Berkshires (Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation) and an area of taxidermy birds and small animals along with rocks and minerals. The third floor as an open gallery where they have space for school classes. There are three adjoining galleries where they bring special exhibits in throughout the year. There is also another gallery that has a permanent exhibit that showcases a variety of objects that are part of the permanent collection (bicycles, sculpture, north pole expedition items, mummies, etc.)

Dinosaur greeter at the museum entrance. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Over the years that we have been coming to the Berkshire Museum we have visited each gallery and each space. The only thing we have not done is seen any of the movies that are offered.

The first time I think we visited the museum we saw an Escher exhibit. I have always been fascinated with M. C. Escher’s work. It was a great exhibit that showed his process and many of his prints. The Times Union newspaper, which we use to subscribe to when we lived in Albany, New York, always had advertisements about the exhibits at the Berkshire Museum. After that first visit whenever we were going to be vacationing in the Berkshires I have always gone to their website to see what might be happening while we are in the area.

Last fall we went while we were in the area and saw an exhibit of National Geographic photographs. We had gone originally to see the Christmas Tree exhibit. It was not one of the best Christmas tree exhibits but it was fun. What ended up being more fun though were the photographs along with a blown glass display from a local artist.

da Vinci flying machines Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

This time when we went it was for the Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in motion exhibit. The 40 machines were from drawings in da Vinci’s journals, each of the inventions was made primarily out of wood built by crafts people in Italy. Next to each machine was information about how the concepts that da Vinci was playing with had actually been used in the centuries since. What was so neat about the exhibit was being able to manipulate each of the pieces and to see how they worked and how far advanced his ideas were. He was both an artist and an inventor. In watching the film about him we learned that he originally was recommended for his first job after his apprenticeship as a creator of armaments. Where he had been an apprentice was a place where the students not only develop skills as painting artist but also worked on other kinds of creative work, which included making weapons because of the region he was in. It was an exhibit worth stopping over to see.

So the next time you are in the Berkshire’s make an effort to check out what might be happening at the Berkshire Museum.

The museum is located at 39 South Street (Route 7), Pittsfield, MA 01201. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Check out this great museum, it is well worth your time over and over again.

 

© 2019 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

 

Posted in Berkshires, Places: Museums | 4 Comments

Visiting President Grant’s Writing Cottage

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Historic marker to the cottage. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Grant’s cottage is a small gem in the foothills of the Adirondacks. For years I have driven by the sign on I-87 while heading north. Finally this fall on a semi-overcast day we decided to go check it out. Before going, I thought about what I had learned in history class about President Ulysses Grant. All I could remember was hearing that he was a war hero having won the Civil War because of his well-planned strategies and that he was not much of a President mainly due to having a drinking issue. This pretty much summed it up.

Well I was to learn that what I had been taught in my history class was way off target. We started our visit by driving up a long road past the now closed McGregor Prison on top of McGregor Mountain in the Wilton area of upstate New York. It was a bit eerie to drive past the closed prison in it’s large gothic like presence. (The last time I had visited the prison was on a site visit for an intern. This was a number of years before the prison closed). At one time a popular hotel was on the site when Grant and his family came. The prison it’s self had started as a TB sanitarium in the early 1900’s and was repurposed multiple times, the last as a medium-security prison.

A brief history of Grant’s legacy. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

President Grant was the 18thPresident of the United States. He lived in the cottage for almost two months in 1885. He did not own the cottage. The hotelier that owned Hotel Balmoral lent the cottage to him and his family. His doctors’ had informed Grant that he needed a place away from New York City during the heat of the summer. President Grant was much beloved by the public in general and had been a popular president. Veterans of the Civil War had a strong affinity to him. He served two terms of office and probably would have served a third had he not been slow to decide on the third term process.

During his time in office he had put in place many pieces of legislation related to early civil rights and is considered by many the 2ndgreatest president after Abraham Lincoln to be concerned about the rights of people of color. The civil rights act of 1875 was enacted during his Presidency. It was an amazing piece of legislation that affirmed the rights of people of color and prohibited the racial discrimination in all public places. (It was deemed unconstitutional in 1883.)  It has been said that he and President Lincoln were friends and spent time-sharing ideas. The night Lincoln was shot, Grant and his wife were to have attended Ford Theater with the Lincoln’s. The Grant’s had bowed out and had they not done so there was thought that Grant also would have been shot.

The cottage where Grant last lived. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The cottage was where Grant finished the second volume of his two volume memoirs about the civil war. He was a reluctant writer. The memoir probably would not have been written at all had it not been for three events. One was he had been convinced by his son to invest in a Ponzi type scheme, and had introduced another investor to invest. When he found out what was going on he used the last of his wealth to pay back the other investor. He was considered an honest and honorable man. The second event was that around this same time it was discovered he had throat cancer. Not wanting his family to be destitute he felt a need to provide for them. Earlier a magazine had approached him about writing a piece about his experiences in the Civil War.

The third event centered on his friendship with Mark Twain. Mr. Twain was just starting his publishing company and encouraged his friend to write a memoir instead of the magazine article. Twain would publish what would be a two-volume book. He marketed the book through door-to-door sales. Twain hired veterans as sales men. They offered the book to consumers with different covers so that a consumer could select a price point that fit their budget.

The view from the overlook Grant liked to visit. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Grant spent his time on the first floor of the cottage. He slept in two chairs pushed together up until his final hours where he asked to be moved into a bed in the living room area. His days he spent finishing editing the second volume of the book. Twain would visit him telling Grant the encouraging news that the first volume was selling well. When Grant could he also would visit the overlook nearby the cottage to look out over the mountains and valley below near the Saratoga Battlefield. He also spent many hours out on the porch in the fresh mountain air.

During his time at the cottage family and friends would stay up the hill at the hotel. Making it convenient to visit him. It also made it convenient for his fans to get a glimpse. His wife after a few days ended up abandoning the downstairs bedroom because she got tired of people peeking in the windows. She slept upstairs knowing he was well taken care downstairs by his doctor and valet. He must have had excellent concentration to be able to write with all the commotion going on around him. His book has never been out of print.

Visitor Center before the Grant’s Cottage. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Before arriving at the cottage there is a welcome center to purchase your admission ticket. Inside you will find several great displays about his presidency, a movie and a museum shop. As a visitor you are able to walk out to the overlook (the path is not very wheelchair accessible), and the first floor of the cottage. The docent tour of the first floor was well done and very informative. The docents demonstrate that they have done a lot of research on Grant and you can tell that they love him. The only part of the tour I found odd was the space used to hold the now dead (dried) flower wreaths from his funeral. It weirder me out a bit.

I am now more curious about Grant and plan to read a biography that was suggested by one of the docents. After learning what we did about his human rights advocacy, I want to understand more.

It is well worth the trip to visit Grant’s Cottage. It is open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The days of the week they are open vary during the season but the hours are 10 am – 4 pm. The admissions fee for adults is $6.00 but you can walk the grounds for free (https://www.grantcottage.org/hours). Now that the prison is closed the site has seen an uptick in traffic.

This fenced in monument is the spot where he would sit. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy

Posted in Lake George Region, Places: Museums | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Autumn Equinox – Photo Essay 2018

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen performing with the Uke Group at Maine Fiddle Camp

Summer is coming to an end and Fall is here. It’s time to look back at the summer and all that it brought. We kicked off our summer with our first adventure headed to Maine to participate in Maine Fiddle Camp. From the moment we enter the camp until we left we were engulfed by music. We ate, slept and spent the weekend totally living in music.

We then headed to Acadia National Park just up the road from Maine Fiddle Camp. The next two weeks was an escape from the heat in most of the Northeast. We luxuriated in the cool breeze from the ocean, hiking and biking.

As we headed home we stopped in Burlington seeing the Adirondacks from the other side.

Beach on Lake Champlain Burlington, VT

In July we headed toward Michigan to visit my Mom. Stopping in Ohio at our favorite little campground in Geneva State Park. After a lovely dinner and ice cream cone we hopped on our bikes to return to the campground. Just in front of our campsite Eileen started to disembark from her bike to only hit a large divot that sent her flying off her bike and down on her hip. Bravely for the rest of the summer she has been healing and learning to walk again.

Traveling home from Ohio, Eileen, crutches and transport chair, camping in a new way. First stop Niagara Falls. I wheeled her over the bridge into Canada to see the Falls.

Traveling along the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to the Adirondacks.

Sunrise on Lake Ontario

Life is full of surprise and the journey is part of how we flow with those encounters.

© All photos by Jelane A. Kennedy

Posted in Photo Essays, Places: National Parks, Places: State Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What to do on a rainy day in Acadia National Park?

Jelane with seaweed near Bar Island. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Weather isn’t always perfect when you are on vacation. Just like at home, the weather is always changing and it is always good to be prepared with fun things to do even on a rainy day. As a big weather channel person I always try to keep abreast of what it looks like the weather might be and when we get to a location like a National Park I keep my eye out for activities that take advantage of the weather good or bad.

Luckily at Acadia National Park there are so many things to do that you can plan around the weather. Plus the free shuttle bus system offers a great service to not have to hassle with driving maps and parking, and it saves me more energy to hike, bike or learn about the area’s history. Here are some of our favorites. First off one of the things I have come to appreciate is that rainy days offer sometimes some pretty dramatic opportunities for taking pictures. Clouds offer some great contrast and fog can add a sense of mystery. For instance it’s great time to visit a lighthouse, on a clear day you can usually see forever from that vantage point, but visiting a lighthouse especially one with an attached museum, can be a great way to really contemplate why lighthouses were such needed entities and to gain an appreciation of the work of a lighthouse keeper. Bass Lighthouse in Acadia is one that you can stop by and look out over the water, there is no museum attached.

On our rainy day adventure we tried to think about where would it be interesting to see the ocean interact with the land? So we decided to hop on a shuttle bus and head to Thunder Hole.

Jelane in rain gear taking photos. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We grabbed our rain jackets, packed our lunch, our cameras and a light wool sweater, beanie skullcap, and gloves for changes in temperature. (I use a point and shoot camera long with my cell phone and Eileen used her cell phone). I also wear a sombrero waterproof hat with my raincoat even though I have hood. My day hiking pack came with a rain cover so it made it easy for me to keep our stuff dry. Eileen grabbed her little stuff pack that she could wear under her coat (it worked but did become annoying so for her upcoming birthday I got her a new day pack with a rain cover). We also wear waterproof hiking boots (wearing solid shoes/boots is important we have seen too many flip flop accidents in the National Parks) and lightweight rip stop zip off pants that dry fast and a new trick Eileen discovered is instead of long underwear on those days when the temperature can yo-yo, she wears spandex shorts under her zip offs. They provide extra support and warmth to her thighs plus her rain jacket falls over her upper legs so it’s just the bottom half of her pants that get damp/wet but easily dry from body heat. She finds herself never too hot.

Walking Ocean Path. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We had two choices for our visit to Thunder Hole; we could take the bus down to Sand Beach and walk the top part of the Ocean Path down to Thunder Hole or take the bus directly to Thunder Hole. We chose to take the bus directly to Thunder Hole and then we would walk from Thunder Hole down to Otter Cliffs the last part of the Ocean Path. The wave action along the rocks was amazing. That morning Thunder Hole was not thundering but we still enjoyed watching, taking pictures and when it got too crowded with people we head down to Otter Cliffs taking side detours to stop and enjoy drama of the ocean.

Our next stop was to hop the bus to Sieur de Monts, to visit the Nature Center and Abbey Trailside Museum. The Nature Museum was a small building, hosted by a Park Ranger; inside there were some great displays about the fauna and flora. Outside was also the Acadia Botanical Garden or actually the Wild Garden of Acadia, which is maintained by the Bar Harbor Garden Club. We had planned to walk through the garden but at that point it was pouring so heavily we decided to duck into the Abbe Museum.

Read this! Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

There are two Abbe Museum’s one in downtown Bar Harbor that is in the old YMCA building (26 Mt. Desert St, Bar Harbor Hours: 10-5 seven days a week). The exhibits are fantastic and really help to understand the culture of the Native people of Maine, it’s a real must see. The basket collection is amazing. They also have great activity sheets to help kids engage with the materials. The trailside museum is a blast into the past of how museums use to be. The trailside museum was established as a private museum back in 1926 and opened in 1928. While waiting for Eileen (she and I wander differently in museums) I had a great conversation with one of the staff about the artifacts that were there and the one’s out for conservation. She explained how conservation worked and we discussed some of the early ethics of finding artifacts. We also discussed the actual trailside museum and how it does not reflect modern day museum work and yet it is a historical record of the origins of the museum. This then presents a quandary to how to approach updating the trailside museum. (A very significant document we read at the trailside museum was: the doctrine of discovery, it is a legal/moral document that was used to justify white male Christians right to dominate non-Christians and their land.)

The day we were there the Sieur de Monts Spring building was being renovated and was pretty covered up. I actually wish the park would put a small picnic pavilion on the site. It would give folks a place to hang out good or bad weather and I think be in tune with what the area was first used for, we saw old photos of folks enjoying a concert on the grounds.

Other activities you could enjoy would be to go into Bar Harbor and visit the shops, stop by the YMCA (21 Park St.), they are open various hours seven days a week. Get a day pass to use the pool and other recreation facilities (gym, fitness center, etc.) There are also some museums on the southeast side of the island that you could drive to; the bus service is limited there. Such as the Wendell Gilley Museum, which celebrates, bird carving. We also saw signs for the Maine Granite Industry Museum and Seal Cove Auto Museum.

Don’t let a little rain stop you – get out, explore and enjoy!

Otter Cliffs Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy and Eileen A. McFerran

Posted in Places: National Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Summer Solstice 2018 Photo Essay

By Jelane A. Kennedy

It feels like summer is finally winning the battle over winter here in the Northeast. It has been a long time in coming with lots of ups and downs.

For this Solstice Photo Essay I have selected photos taken since the Spring Equinox in March.

The first was from an impromptu  hike we took in Keene Valley one day when we had the winter blues. We just wanted to be out in the woods but didn’t want a big hike.

On a break the winter blues hike. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The second was taken while on the Ferry to Charlotte, Vermont. We were wandering that day and tried a different route heading to Burlington. The sun was shining and we had one of the last Spring snow storms.

See the sun bounce off the Green Mountains of Vermont. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The third is of the Tulips dancing in the sun out front of the house. They always make me smile and tell me that Spring is really here. Who knows maybe they call to my Dutch ancestry!

Red Tulips Green Wall Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The fourth is a Heron, that Mom, Eileen and I saw on a walk in Connecticut at the Mill Pond in Newington. Such majestic birds, I love watching them in their stillness.

Shhh, be quiet! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The last photo was taken recently at Schroon Lake for the Hobie Cat regatta. There was not much wind on that Saturday but it was fun to see the boats out on the course.

Summer is close at hand. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Happy Summer Solstice 2018!

© 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy

Posted in Connecticut, Schroon Lake Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments