Friday, December 20, 2013

I got lost in the Roads and Rails: Everyday Life in the Age of Horses exhibit at the Adirondack Museum

Roads and Rails is the museum's largest exhibit. I got lost in it physically and mentally. I stayed so long, enjoying stepping back in time in this fantasic exhibit at the Adirondack Museum in upstate New York, that at one point, I found myself alone in total quiet. It was an odd and intriguing feeling. I was wondering if I might get locked inside and have to spend the night in a stagecoach. There were several to choose from.

After an unhurried lunch in the beautiful museum cafe, which sits on top of a 200-foot-high cliff with ample views of Blue Mountain Lake down below, I lost track of time. You get the idea. This is a place you don't want to hurry through.

Then, while staring up at a big fancy stagecoach from Turner's Tavern, I heard someone I couldn't see call out, “There's one over there.”
Someone else with a walkie-talkie replied: “Yeah, I've got her.”

I had a funny feeling they were talking about me. I couldn't see anyone with all the big wagons and buggies and horses in the way. Just hear the voices.

It was security. It was near closing time and they were checking the exhibits for stragglers.

Soon, the voice was talking to me from behind the giant stage coach, "You have five minutes to exit the exhibit before we lock up."

Five minutes! There was still so much more to see. While security gently tails me. let's take the 5-minute challenge and grab a few more pics of life in the Adirondacks in the Age of the Horse at the Roads and Rails exhibit (focused on transportation in the 1800s-1900s before the appearance of the automobile).

Adirondack hearse on skis.
A simple milk delivery truck on skis - 1800s. Milk was delivered in glass bottles packed in wooden crates.
Fancy buckboard wagon for carrying passengers.
Farm buggy
A peddler's wagon. 
You could easily spend 20 minutes just looking at all the items peddlers carried. Fascinating!
Hand Fire Pumper 1832. It is incredibly beautiful and well-crafted with artful care. The hand pumpers were pulled and pumped by men. There was no time to hitch up a horse when fire broke out. The hand pumpers were replaced by steam fire engines in the 1850s.
Below is a picture of the fine artwork on the back of the tank of the hand fire pumper. Why so elegant? Hand fire pumpers like this one were handed down from larger, richer cities to smaller towns and villages. This one was built in New York City. Image this vehicle showing up at your cabin with a crew of men pulling and pumping it to put out a fire.
Adirondack sleigh.
Adirondack snow plow. 
This red plow is huge and heavy. I wish I knew the total weight of each item in the exhibit. You need to stand next to each exhibit item to appreciate the size, weight, and toil for horses to pull wagons, buggies, stage coaches, and farm tools on makeshift dirt roads, and to pull incredibly large, heavy snow plows through deep snow. This picture can't do justice to the scale of it. Amazing!
Adirondack snow roller. 
Again, a huge and heavy piece. When they couldn't plow the snow, they sometimes rolled it flat. I can't even image horses managing to pull this through deep snow. 
Adirondack wagon. 
Imagine sitting perched on top of that little wooden seat suspended by a few strands of metal with a team of horses hauling goods on bumpy, rocky, dirt roads.
How do you haul your canoe to the lake? Hitch up the horse first or build it waterfront and leave it there.
Rich man's coach.
These are just a few highlights of the Road and Rails exhibit. There is much more. Let's not forget the steam engine. And it means that I made it back outside, possibly stretching my last 5 minutes inside the exhibit. Next, I'm headed for the Adirondack Museum Gift Shop. It stays open for an extra 30 minutes.
I hope you have the opportunity to visit the Adirondack Museum. I certainly enjoyed my visit one windy, rainy, fall day while taking a break from paddling during a week-long kayaking trip in the region.

The grounds of the Adirondack Museum are beautiful! The views from the museum cafe overlooking Blue Mountain Lake are stunning. The gift shop is well-equipped with crafts, arts, jewelry, books, maps, apple-smoked bacon, and much more. I found it one of the nicest gift shops I've visited. And, they sell umbrellas if you forgot yours. You've got to walk the grounds to get to each exhibit.
The Adirondack Museum is located on NY-30 in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake in Hamilton County, upstate New York, U.S.A.
For more information and interactive map, visit their website:  Adirondack Museum
Yes, they have free WiFi (Internet) in the lobby and in the cafe.

Arrive early, especially on rainy days! The museum is open from May to October, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is popular. There are many more exhibits, 10 permanent exhibits, and events to enjoy. But make note, the Roads and Rails exhibit is only there until 2017. 

Here's proof that I really was the last visitor to leave the Adirondack Museum that rainy fall day. My car was the last one in the big parking lot. And, when I arrived a little late at 11:00 a.m., it was the last parking spot left. A good day for this lucky paddler. The kayak was left behind, parked 10 minutes up the road at Blue Mountain Lake.

Happy trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Dack Duck

Now that winter is here and the lakes and rivers are frozen or getting there day-by-day in Canada, it's time to pull out some of those short-n-sweet paddle stories I parked in my mind but were never told. They are pleasant memories. The ones that make me kick myself for not kayaking more this year. These memories will make me plan more kayaking trips in the new year. My awesome kayaks deserve it.

This is the story of The Dack Duck.

That's what I named her anyway. Perhaps I should have named her Grace.

A couple of years ago, I was on a kayaking trip with a small group in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York (U.S.A.). We were paddling a series of lakes from one day to the next.

One drizzly, foggy day, that I thought was far better for visiting the awesome Adirondack Museum, we paddled Big Moose Lake. I lost the vote. And luckily so. Along the remote, wild, east end of the lake, a cute little female duck broke away from the flock and swam over to my kayak and led the way out of the creek. She stayed very close to my kayak. We weren't offering any food. Just paddling along. Her wilder counterparts kept their distance.

Big Moose Lake is about three miles long and one mile wide, with an average depth of about 23 feet. I consider Big Moose Lake a "cottage country" lake, but it does have some wild bays and marshes, and is at the head of Big Moose River.

Big Moose Lake is somewhat famous and notorious as the location of the murder of Grace Brown in 1906. Some claim ghost sightings, and media attention adds to the mystique.

From Wikipedia: Grace Mae Brown (March 20, 1886 – July 11, 1906) was an American skirt factory worker whose murder caused a nationwide sensation, and whose life inspired the fictional character Roberta Alden in the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy, as well as the Jennifer Donnelly novel, A Northern Light. The facts of the real murder are laid out in the two non-fiction books: Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906, written by Joseph W. Brownell and Patricia A. Wawrzaszek, and Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited, by Craig Brandon.

The famous novel is based on the true story which peaks when Chester Gillette rows his pregnant lover, Grace Brown, out to a remote part of Big Moose Lake in 1906 and sends her overboard to drown. He wishes to marry a high-society lady instead, and pregnant Grace is in the way. Chester's excuse to authorities is that she just jumped overboard.

Did we paddle past the scene of the crime? 
Most likely. We paddled and explored the entire lake, not knowing its infamous history.

It is an intriguing and truly tragic story. Grace was only 20 years old. Now that I've paddled the lake, time to read the famed novel, An American Tragedy.

Is that you Grace stopping by to say hello? Or, are you just a cute little duck who fell in love with my kayak.
When our group paddled out of the marshy creek on the north east end of Big Moose Lake, off East Bay, the oddly friendly little duck rejoined her wild flock and we parted company.
I so enjoyed having her paddle alongside me. What a great little paddle buddy. She cheered me up and made my day. And . . . I visited the Adirondack Museum on another drizzly, foggy day! There were plenty of good days for that in the fall!

I guess Big Moose Lake is truly a magical and mystical spot.

Big Moose Lake is also the location where, just before the paddle, we came across a roadside snapping turtle nest budding with 50 baby snappers emerging from the nest one-by-one. 
This trip inspired me to write one of my most popular posts:


You may also enjoy another one of my "Dack" stories:

Portaging adventures in the Adirondacks, NY with the awesome Maelstrom Vital 166

Happy paddle memories.
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A metaphor for urban sprawl

Like the city, the forest suffers from it too.

Things start out simple. There is lots of space and light.
Then development starts to crowd the space.
Things grow, get bigger, taller, and more powerful, taking up most of the space and resources.

The infrastructure ages. There is moaning and groaning. The structure and the environment can no longer support the weight and demands of the sprawl.

Things collapse. It's a tangled mess.

But the forest, unlike the city, regenerates itself . . . if the city lets it.

yoga tree pose
Befriend a forest. There are so many that need a lot more human friends.

In Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
The Boucher Forest Foundation
The Boucher Forest Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the 700 acres of Boucher Forest in the heart of Aylmer, Quebec, Canada.

Otherwise, urban development and profit-generating organizations will take it over and remove it for good.
Le site web est aussi disponible en francais: Fondation Fรดret Boucher

Happy trails.
The BaffinPaddler