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

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2 Free little museums in Berkshires – Thunderbolt and Crane Paper Making

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Thunderbolt display. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

As we were exploring the northern part of the Berkshires and where the Ashuwillticook rail trail extended we discovered two great little museums that are little gems. The first was the Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams. The museum is in the Adams Visitor Center just as you come in the door from the parking lot. We noticed it as we headed for the restroom. When we came back out we decided to check out the display of old fashion ski equipment and apparel. Once in side the small space we realize we had stumble upon this great little museum that told the history of Thunderbolt. We had actually heard of Thunderbolt a few years earlier when we were near Whiteface Mountain in New York and read about lost ski areas in the northeast. For such a small museum it was packed full of interesting information.

Thunderbolt was a ski run that skiers would hike up carrying their gear, it usually took two hours to climb and not long to make the fast ascent down (the fastest under three minutes)! We could actually look up from the Adams visitor center and see the trail since at that time there was still a bit of snow on the ground. The trail has a very fascinating history. It is on the east slope of Mt. Greylock the highest mountain in the Berkshire’s in Massachusetts.

Another skier display at Thunderbolt museum Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The Civilian Conservation Corp cut the ski run into the mountain in 1934. It was named after a Roller Coaster. From the time it was created and into the 1940’s it was actively used for numerous ski-racing competitions. Many skiers from the area served in WWII as military ski patrols having learned skiing on Thunderbolt. After WWII there was a decline in the use of Thunderbolt, as modern recreational skiing became more popular with ski lifts and other amenities.

It wasn’t until the late 1990’s when a group came together to reclaim the ski run for both skiers and snowboarders. A documentary movie (Purple Mountain Majesty) was made about the ski run and since then several completions have off and on continued. All run by hearty volunteers. The display has multiple examples of skis, boots, and apparel. There was also a history lesson about a few of local men who served in the WWII. There was also supposed to be a documentary available to watch but it was not working that day.

Another display I found, discussed the first ski patrols and how they came about. There is a website dedicated to Thunderbolt but it has not been updated since 2014.

Front entrance of Crane Paper Making Museum Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

While at the Thunderbolt Museum I picked up in the Visitor Center a brochure about the Crane Papermaking Museum. Eileen is a huge Crane paper fan; she use to stamp her own cards and Crane paper was her preferred choice. A couple of years ago we found out about the museum but at that time it was not open in March when we sometimes came to the area. But this time we were later in the calendar year and it was open that afternoon. So after finishing up at Thunderbolt we headed over to Dalton and found the Crane Museum and Center for Paper Arts.

The building that houses the museum is one of the original buildings. It was the former Rag Room for the historic Stone Mill. Crane has been making paper for the US Mint since the United States started printing paper currency since 1879. It has been the only company that has made our currency and up until recently it was a family owned business passed down from generation to generation. There are two locations one here in the US and one in Switzerland (that specializes in currency for other countries). Crane is known for the development of the security papers used that are full of all the high tech features, which make counterfeiting money difficult.

How is paper made? Eileen learning the process. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Zenas Crane started the company in 1801. He came from a family of papermakers. What makes Crane paper what it is? Cotton not wood pulp. I had no idea that paper was made with cotton! Crane paper is also know as some of the finest personal stationery paper around and used by many presidents over the years.

As a museum it is neat to visit to learn about the papermaking process. The building itself is dramatic with large old beams and windows near the river, which use to power the mill process. There are displays discussing how paper was made in the beginning years and showing the labor intense process. The watermark process and concept was fascinating. While we were there a group of kids were just finishing a demonstration on papermaking. Since it was the end of the day we missed out on participating ourselves in the making paper.

The docent we met did a presentation about Crane paper and we watched a film discussing the security of crane currency papers. The film was very informative and worth watching.

The makers of money! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of the displays discussed the security papers and how currency counterfeit measures are used. It was very fascinating to look at all the high tech measures in our paper money that make it safe. Who thinks up those things?

The other display I liked was the personalized stationary with notes from several presidents and first ladies. There were notes from long past to current day.

Our docent mentioned that she was uncertain how much longer the museum would be open as the new owner might decide that they did not want to continue. You could tell there was such a sense of pride for having worked at Crane and that people are nervous that one of the businesses they felt loyal to might go the way of many businesses in the area and leave.

So if you get a chance be sure to visit sooner rather than later. They are open typically in the summer from June to October, Monday through Friday from 1pm to 5pm. We actually went in spring, so they did add those hours a couple of years ago. It would be worth calling ahead.

Visiting Crane. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy

 

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#1 thing campers do in the winter – dream about RV’s and camping gear!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

The new way to tent! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Each winter as the snow falls and piles into beautiful drifts it is not unusual for even those of us who love winter to dream about our next camping adventure, especially when winter is taking a long time to shake loose. This year has been one of those years when winter still has a hold on us here in the north. March brought three weekly big storms and April has been one of the coldest in a while; just last week as I drove between Connecticut and upstate New York I saw ice on lakes and snow still on the ground. This weekend brought temperatures in the 70’s and again at the beginning of the week there was a drop into the 30’s.

It is the dreaming about camping and the change in seasons that helps when the weather of spring is on its wacky ride. Thinking about those nights out under the stars, hanging out in front of the campfire, listening to the frogs and crickets as night falls, hiking the next mountain peak, or heading out to the latest waterfall. All things that make me think of camping.

I look forward to each March my KOA directory arriving via snail mail. All shiny and new with thoughts of where we might go and what we might see. Lately they ask if I would prefer the digital version but I always say “no”. I love getting the paper version that I can dog-ear and come back to. I always put the new directory in Abbey our van and take the year old one into the house for a reference copy, recycling the two-year-old one.

This year Eileen and I decided we would try going to an RV show again. In the Albany area when we went to one, we discovered that instead of multiple dealers sharing a show space it was usually just one dealer making a show. So this time we wanted to find a “real” RV show with a bunch of dealers and lots of products so we could roam and look, oh and ah. And we found just that at the Springfield RV camping and outdoor show.

We arrived after lunch and found out there were three buildings filled with every imaginable RV, information about campgrounds and gadgets galore. Since we were only there for the afternoon we concentrated on looking at RV’s, primarily small travel trailers and Class B (vans and small motorhomes). Here are some that we found:

The Compass – bigger than Abbey but not real stealth!

Falcon Trailer – Big red and lots of storage!

TAB 400 trailer – so cute and retro!

Airstream – a classic!

Travato camper van – the next generation of Abbey!

We know at some point we will need to move to our next van. Who knows what it will be, we love Abbey and all the adventures we have been on since she became ours in 2007. But we both know that we need to start to consider what is next, so we will continue to dream about our next camping adventure!

Riding the Essex Car Ferry to Vermont on a lovely Spring Day. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy

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Spring Photo Essay 2018

By Jelane A. Kennedy

After four Wednesdays of Nor’easter’s here in the Northeast Spring is finally taking hold. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t maybe have some more little snow showers but maybe, just maybe the cold weather will break free to warmer days. It has been a winter of snow and thaw, snow and thaw this year making it difficult to really enjoy my favorite winter sports. But thank goodness for micro-spikes, we have been on quite a few adventures where they have been the favored foot gear accessory.

A look back over the time since Winter Solstice:

Christmas lights shining at the Schroon Lake Bandstand Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

First Hike, Saratoga Springs:

When it is so cold hard to believe a Geyser can still spray! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

My favorite winter drink – Hot Chocolate, learning where chocolate comes from:

Who would have thought Cocoa comes from such a cool pod! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

Loving a winter Parade, Mardi Gras by Magic Hat in Burlington, VT

And the band played on! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

Icicle art by Mother Nature, Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, New York:

Wavey Icicles from the thaw freeze cycle. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

Hike at Rush Pond, Queensbury, New York.

 

Sculpture from Burlington, VT waterfront park – Bond between Quebec & Vermont

Dramatic Burlington Waterfront highlighted by Adirondack Mountains. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Travel On!

(c) 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy

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Winter blues break – Krazy Downhill Derby, Town of Chester, New York

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Firetruck sled Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

It’s a sunny winter day in the Adirondacks and what better thing to do than head over to Dynamite Hill in Chester, New York to see the Krazy Downhill Derby! We have been exploring the little towns near Schroon Lake to learn what they have going on. Dynamite Hill is part of the Recreation Area for the Town of Chester. It is very easy to find off of Exit 25 on the Northway (I-87). The first thing you notice is a log cabin building that is the Visitor Center, we have yet to go in the last time we stopped it was not open and when we went to Krazy Day we were too busy enjoying the fun.

Jelane and Snoopy. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

As you go up the driveway on the right is a tow for skiing and a hill used both for skiing and sledding. At the top of the driveway are parking and a covered ice rink and a building that houses a snack bar with a great porch overlooking the ski/sledding area. They also have a solar panel to help supply electricity, which I think is great.

Just to the right of the panel is a kiosk with information on the trails. There is a hiking trail integrated into the area, which is part of the Chester Challenge created in 2015 to encourage hiking in the area. As you look down below you can also see the set-up of a baseball diamond. The first time we visited they had a snow making machinate out staring to lay a base layer on the hill.

Derby sleds at the top of the hill Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The area reminds me of where I grew up in Michigan. We had a small ski area in town too. It was not real big but a rope tow and a hill that we could ski down, not too difficult but just fun. It was a free and open to the town residents. It was great to come after school to play.

Krazy Downhill Derby had several local sponsors and was a family fun day for all, something we all need during the winter to help with the winter blues. The day started off with a Continental Breakfast, a Hockey shoot off and then broomball. Then there was a cardboard sled race for the little ones. The YMCA earlier in the week had sponsored a sled building night to get the ball rolling. (Yes there is a YMCA facility near by in Brant Lake just off Exit 25, Suzy Q restaurant was donated in 2016 to the YMCA of Glens Falls and they have been in the process of developing programing).

Yum yum Eileen having a marshmallow Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

While all the activities were going on there was also a bonfire set up with marshmallow roasting and ice cream from Stewarts. In the snack bar they had hot dogs for sale along with a 50/50 and basket raffle with what look like some fun prizes. But the highlight of the day was the Derby!

There were 10-12 derby sleds. The sleds had to be homemade and non-motorized. Each sled could have a maximum of 4 riders. There had to be good steering and brakes. It cost $5.00 to enter a sled. What a great selection of fun rides, there was a long roadster, mailbox, little house, Noah’s ark, Pac man, outhouse, a sled that looked like a race car just to name a few. But our favorite was Orca! Each sled had to make it down the hill. Each one went down one at a time. Orca made it all the way down to the bottom of the hill and just at the end tipped over. It was so fun to watch all the derby sleds make the journey down! Great day, fun in the sun and it was nice to roast a marshmallow in the dead of winter outside on a bonfire – who knew!

Go Orca Go! Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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One year in Connecticut- 6 things I’ve learned.

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Map of Connecticut

I have now been commuting and/or living in Connecticut about a year. I thought I would share some of what I have learned.

First Connecticut is a small State. It can still take a while to get from one place to another but in relative terms for me it is small. In comparison, I grew up in Michigan, which is 96,716 square miles in size, and there are a lot of lakes besides the Great Lakes (which look like oceans). There are also multiple national parks or national lakeshore to visit.

I have also lived in Ohio, which was 44,825 square miles and there was not much water around. I lived in Ohio two years and what I remember most is farmland. I also remember camping and it did not smell like camping because I was missing evergreen trees and lakes!

My next State was Virginia, which was about the same size as Ohio at 44,775 square miles, and Virginia had water with the ocean along one edge (Atlantic) and some great mountains (Shenandoah) along the other side. Virginia because it was one of the 13 original colonies had a lot of colonial history, American Revolution history and civil war history. Which meant several national parks to visit.

Jelane winter hike at Gull Pond, Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

And the State, which I still live in when I am not in Connecticut, is New York, which is 54,555 square miles. A little bigger than both Ohio and Virginia. There are lots of lakes and the Adirondack Mountains.

So when you look at Connecticut it is a bit small coming in at 5,567 square feet in size.

Second, I’ve been a bit surprise actually by how hilly it is and how much rural area there is. I use to think of Connecticut as just one big metropolitan area. I am also surprised since it was one of the 13 original colonies that I have yet to really stumble across much about that, it seems like Massachusetts takes on most of that history. In looking for a National Park or Historic site, I found several trails (Appalachian Trail and New England trail) but really only one place to visit that might feel like a park and that is Weir Farm National Historic Site, which celebrates American painting and art. I am very intrigued to go visit the studio and house which is said be a “…significant portion of the landscape remain largely intact as one of the nation’s finest remaining landscapes of American art”.

Third, I have found the folks pretty friendly and willing to say hi, and look you in the eye. I have a feeling that there are many transplanted people in Connecticut so at this point I have not run into the bias I feel in New York about not having been born a New Yorker.

Fourth, but with all the friendliness I have also found that they are terrors on the road. For instance the speed limit is just a suggestion, stop signs are usually just to slow down, swerving within the lane of traffic is common practice (maybe aided by cell phone … I’ve missed being side swiped multiple times) it is a bit unnerving since I’m never sure how close they may get to me as I drive, needing to always be on alert.

Fifth, I’ve also noticed that there are condos everywhere so that the density of the population can be a bit overwhelming for me, Connecticut comes in fifth after DC in population density, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts take the first three spots. (Michigan – 19th, Ohio – 11th, Virginia – 15th, New York – 8th by comparison.)

Pat and Jelane, Chihuly sculpture Meijer Gardens in Michigan. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Last but not least, at this point I have yet to really see much of Connecticut other than by car. Prior to working here Eileen and I had spent some time in Mystic, Connecticut and really enjoyed the small town quaintness. My friend Linda always talks about this in relation to what we will find as we get to know Connecticut more. I also have a feeling that it may be the state with the most quirky little museums as I keep seeing signs every where when I have been driving here and there visiting colleges for my job (American Clock and Watch Museum, American Museum of Tort Law-started by Ralph Nader, Antique Radio Museum, Trolley Museum, etc.). I have told Eileen that we will have to check them out since we both love a great little museum. We went to the New Britain Museum of American Art and saw a Chihuly glass sculpture on permanent display. I’ll have to in another post discuss visiting this great gem of a museum.

I’m looking forward to exploring more and finding out about this little State. There are at least fourteen lighthouses for me to check out!

Truro, MA lighthouse Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2018 Jelane A. Kennedy and Eileen A. McFerran

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Winter Solstice Photo Essay 2017

By Jelane A. Kennedy

As I consider the time between September and now, it is hard to believe all that has taken place. 2017 has been a packed year; fast charging non-stop it feels like.

We have had a year of selling a home like no other, and buying a home. There has been changing jobs and starting anew with people, places and things. This has led to remodeling, packing, unpacking, upheaval and settling in.

When I think about the pictures taken in this time period it is reflective of how much we have been traveling between many places. The photos have been taken in those many spaces we have traveled.

As we begin the move through the dark times of winter we look forward to some down time to catch our breath.

Albany, New York

Jelane and Snoopy will always be pals. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Burlington, Vermont

Changing Light, Burlington Waterfront. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hartford, Connecticut

Gingerbread Lane, Children’s Museum West Hartford, CT Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen enjoying an indoor campfire – West Hartford, CT. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Moody pond, Wild Acres, Pittsfield, MA. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Chestertown, New York

Gingerbread village, Chestertown, NY Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Spiral Log Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Safe travels into the New Year!

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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