Pink Gloves

Red. Black. Pink. (Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Red. Black. Pink. (Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

“She turns.

Murder screams through her head.

It’s not her angst-ridden, desperate face that JFK and the public sees, but the calm, placid face of Jackie Kennedy.

Pleasantly smiling face.

Calmly twisting wave of a white-gloved hand. Hair…hat?

Pink.

Pink, pink, pink…outfit?

A kind of “coatdress”—pink…pink hat.

Red roses.

Red.

Pretty, red, thorny.

Pink.

She can still feel it, the threat—it wasn’t supposed to be this way—but it’s still there—she can feel it like an oncoming

(Blaaack…black, black….)

shockwave that has already happened.

Unstoppable.

Pink, red, thorny, black.

Please, Mister President, you have to get down!

Too late, it’s too late. Hot

(red)

splatters her pink face, pink body, pink life…not once, but twice…

Pink, pink, pink…

…husband bowls over…collapses into her…before a black

(black black black…)

terror drowns out her soul—”

Psychic, Wailing Loon, 2014

The above comes from my newest novel, Psychic, about a hotline psychic who becomes embroiled in a government conspiracy that doesn’t involve JFK as you might think it would.

But, an interesting thing happened on the way to releasing this book.

I’d researched and researched my scenes, including this one. I knew that Jackie wore a pink coatdress and white gloves. Knew it. Yet, when I had my proofreader, Mandy, give me her notes, she’d pointed out that I’d written pink gloves.

Pink gloves?!

No way!

PINK?!

Very embarrassing.

But I went back in there, and sure enough, I’d written “pink…pink gloves.

I don’t remember ever writing that, yet there it was. Anyone who knows anything about that day knows Jackie wore a pink dress with white gloves.

Writing mechanics and proofreading aside…this highlights something this novel trucks heavily in: alternate realities. It appears a very real alternate reality had (once again) made its way into my reality. Some alternate “Frank” (or, perhaps, Victor Black?) had weaseled into my world and changed that word to “pink.” I had no memory of that—at all—and it actually gave me cause for pause. That particular error just really made me think, gee, where the hell had that come from!

So, perhaps along the lines of my ring and grape episodes, this little morsel had seemingly come out of nowhere. Why? Of all the comments Mandy had given me, this one item really threw me for a loop….

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Had I really made that error?

Had there really been one shot or two?

Guess we’ll never really know.

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The Cottage

The Cottage, Lake Placid, New York (Aug, 15, 2014)

The Cottage, Lake Placid, New York (Aug, 15, 2014)

I’m not a foodie in any sense of the term—I jokingly consider myself a “functional eater”—but I do appreciate good food, ambiance (and, of course, the company!), and a killer view, all of which this little place has!

It’s called, The Cottage Restaurant, and it sits directly on Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake, at 77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, New York 12946.

You can sit inside or outside, and we always opt for outside. You can see why. The view is fantastic, and this time out, we spotted all kinds of activity on the lake (despite the weather), from actual swimmers (we’re talking long-distance, here; this is the Adirondacks and the home to the 1932 and 1980 Olympics!) to paddle boarders.

When you’re done, take a drive around the lake and through the town and the surrounding area, maybe even check the ski jump (we’ve been up inside the ski jump 2 or 3 times), Olympic Center Museum, Whiteface Mountain (I skied it once), or High Falls Gorge (we haven’t yet seen this, it was raining when we stopped by, after having visited Ausable Chasm earlier in the day), down the road a little ways…

Or not.

And just hang out for spell, enjoying the view….

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Donnelly’s Corners

Donnelly's Corners, Saranac Lake, NY  (Aug 12, 2014)

Donnelly’s Corners, Saranac Lake, NY (Aug 12, 2014)

If you go anywhere upstate New Yorkish during the summer, and by “upstate” I mean within an hour’s driving distance of the “Tri-Lakes” area (Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Tupper Lake), you absolutely need to stop and partake of the heavenly delights at this little soft serve ice cream stand that has been in business for 61 years.

Donnelly’s Corners.

“Okay there are ice cream stands and then there is Donnelly’s…It was my first time there, after a 3 hour ride from Albany to have lunch in Lake Placid , you might as well go 45 mins more for this ice cream, it’s smooth, rich and creamy and nothing like you’ve tasted before.

Kevin J., of Troy, N.Y., Yelp review, 7/9/14

Donnelly’s Corners is at the intersection of the Harrietstown Road and Route 186 (aka, Routes 86 and 186). The actual address is 1556 State Route 86, Saranac Lake, New York 12983.

I’m told they no longer make their own cream, but wherever they get it from, it continues to taste like I remember it. Outstanding. They also deliver “their” cream to at least one other ice cream soft serve stand, up in Brainardsville, called Harrigans, at the intersection of Brainardsville Road and Lake Street (aka, Routes 374 and 24/190). The actual address is RR 374, Brainardsville, NY 12915.

Donnelly’s is open 11 a.m. to 9 or 9:30 p.m., but only during the summer, so, sorry, you just missed ‘em, having closed after Labor Day weekend (Harrigans also closes after Labor Day weekend; sorry, I tried to get these posts out quicker, but just didn’t happen…).

As to its history, here it is, from the yelp page:

“Established in 1953.

“Crystal Spring Dairy was purchased by Martin and Nora Donnelly in November 1920.  The dairy farm grew and expanded over the years. In 1953, their daughters, Rita and Mary, went to a trade show and saw the unique machine that made the Ice Cream that we still make today. Their son, Francis, turned the warming hut that had been used on the ski hill just down the road into the stand we have today.

“We opened in August of 1953 and haven’t missed a season since. In the early years the stand operated 6 days and were  closed on Mondays. It opened July 4th and closed before Labor Day. Family members worked the stand, and in the 1960’s, family friends were hired to help out.

“Peter (Francis’ oldest son) re-joined the dairy in 1968 and is still operating the stand today. In 1969 we started opening 7 days a week, and a year later pushed our opening date up to Memorial Day, and stayed open thru Labor Day. Over the years, the flavor offerings were expanded and hours have been extended.”

I went to school with one of the cousins (I believe the relation was) to that family. When we used to ride our bikes to high school (uphill both ways—if you don’t believe me, drive that route), we sometimes stopped at that house up on the rise to the stand’s left.

Donnelly’s does a twisted-with-vanilla, dual-flavored cone, the schedule of which is listed on their Facebook page. Vanilla is the constant flavor.

My favorite flavor?

Black raspberry. And, for once, the day we first went (we made two trips…), it was a Tuesday, so that was what we got!

Yes, we’d come here many times, when I was a kid, and even now, when I visit this stand, it’s never empty for very long.

But, there is one unknown lady I simply must call out: the second time we were there, this one lady and her family were walking back to their van (on the end of the parking lot), when she did a most heinous thing: without batting an eye, she took one more lick of her cone—then summarily dumped it all in the trash!

And…and…she never looked back!

I was…aghast.

Where were New York’s Finest when you really needed them, for cryin’ out loud?

The world wept that day.

Okay, don’t be like Unknown Donnelly’s Dumper…when you get your cone (sizes “small” and “large,” and by that I mean “large” and “HUGE“), relish it.

Enjoy it.

Revel in its flavor and texture.

But, not for too long, okay, ’cause, you know, it is soft ice cream, and it is summer.

Mark this as “Must See” for 2015…and the rest of your life.

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The Adirondack Carousel

Adirondack Carousel, William Morris Park, Saranac Lake, NY (Aug 15, 2014)

Adirondack Carousel, William Morris Park, Saranac Lake, NY (Aug 15, 2014)

I spent some time in the William Morris Memorial Park, (note: there are two separate links there), in Saranac Lake, as a kid, with my siblings. My mom would take us all into town as she ran her errands, and—now that I think of it—we seemed to have been left here on our own recognizance. Or maybe she was just elsewhere in the park, talking to her friends, or whatever, but in any case, I spent “some time” in “the park” (okay, after finding this link, it does look like it was a “day care” park).

One of the key memories I have of that park, was swinging on the swing set with a friend who was looking to become a priest. I often wonder where and how W. B. is doing.

Anyway, one day while at Donnelly’s Corners a couple weeks ago, we saw a sign “talking” about an “Adirondack Carousel” in Saranac (the locals sometimes refer to “Saranac Lake” simply as “Saranac,” though there is a “Saranac, New York“), at the William Morris Park, so I thought we should check it out. Carousel information is here and here.

The carousel is composed of handcarved rides and was pretty cool looking. My favorite was the loon. There was also some nice “carnival” artwork on the above skirt as well. But, have to say, the interior of the building really needs an air-conditioner!

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St. John in the Wilderness Cemetery – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 4 of 4

St. John in the Wilderness Cemetery, Lake Clear, N.Y.  (Aug 15, 2014)

St. John in the Wilderness Cemetery, Lake Clear, N.Y. (Aug 15, 2014)

After visiting Ausable Chasm, the St. Lawrence River, and Boldt Castle, we made a drive past the old homestead and surrounds, including visiting one of NYS’s fish hatcheries (I used to bike down to the “Adirondack Fish Hatchery,” as it is now called, as a kid; there was no fence, then, and I’d walk among the pools of little fishies), and the local cemetery.

I like visiting cemeteries…I know, sooner or later it won’t be a “visit” (not that I plan on being buried), but I like them for several reasons. Anyway, I realized I’d never documented the cemetery I grew up near, in Lake Clear, N.Y.

The cemetery is part of the church we used to attend for part of my childhood (my family and I are no longer Catholic), and happened to be a short bike ride down the road from where we lived, the church located at 6148 State Route 30, Lake Clear, NY 12945. The cemetery is located in the opposite direction, to Lake Clear Junction, where you take a left (remaining on Route 30), then drive up just a touch, and you’ll see it on your right, just before the turn-off for the dump.

Anyway, I know—knew—several interred here. One was a childhood friend (Dirk Ewan), and one was Mr. Hohmeyer, whom I’ve talked about before. Dirk was three years older than me and a big dude. He was 17 when he died. I remember him having been a gentle soul…an extremely kind-hearted individual…which is rare in a strapping, seventeen-year-old (I could be wrong, but my young-self’s recollections seem to recall him being kinda big). His mom was a friend of my mom, and he and his family used to come down to the lake and hang out with us. Dirk, however, would never go into water above his shins. He was deathly afraid of it, and made no bones about it.

In 1974, he drowned.

An accident, but he drowned.

The Trapl’s lived down a little way from us, past the church. When dad had had a landscaping business (additional job, he was still a Forest Ranger), I’d go with dad helping out in any way I could, digging, muscling trees and such around, chopping out tree trunks. That last part involved Mr. Trapl. He labeled his place, “Trapl’s Yalna.” I don’t know what that means, nor the language. Google Translate said it detected the language “Azerbaijani,” and translated it into “just.” Anyway, one later afternoon-into-early-evening we’d been down there trying our damnedest to remove a tree trunk. As some may know, you don’t just “remove” tree trunks. Their roots extend at least as far down as their foliage extends upward. But we did our best, into the darkness, employing my dad’s truck, chains, and grit. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember having completed that job, but we gave it our best. We might have just cut around the visible roots and had been done with it, but I just remember all the grit and effort with my dad, and how cool it was, and that we were working into the “fall of darkness”!

One of our family members was buried (or died) here, May 7, 1968. There used to be a temporary marker. It’s long since gone.

I went to school with one of the Sayles family.

There were a couple other family names I recognized, but didn’t recognize the interred individuals.

Except for more gravestones, it looks near exactly what it looked like when I lived there (sixties and seventies), except there was no chain link fence around the back…not sure about the front, but I don’t remember one, and it really wouldn’t make sense to have a fence in the front, if there wasn’t one surrounding its perimeter.

The only other memory I have concerning this cemetery is an amusing, odd one: I was 18 and was driving alone to the dump with a load, and as I passed this cemetery, the new (at the time, 1979) Styx (one of my favorite bands at the time) tune, “Renegade” popped on the radio. I thought that was “coincidental” at the time, which I would now term “synchronistic.”

Oh mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law
Lawman has put an end to my running and I’m so far from my home
Oh mama, I can hear your crying you’re so scared and all alone
Hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don’t have very long….”

Next post: Donnelly’s Corners—the best soft ice cream ever!

 

 

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Sunnyside

"Sunnyside" (Aug 15, 2014)

“Sunnyside” (Aug 15, 2014)

Every time I go back east, this house gets my interest. It’s a long abandoned hotel that used to be called, “Sunnyside.”

As you can see, it looks anything but.

And I’ve been in this place.

My dad, who was a Forest Ranger, occasionally took me with him to work. On at least one occasion I remember stopping here, when it was still operating. Don’t remember much about it, just that we were in a bar/restaurant area, darkly lit.

Now, it looks like this…and is for sale.

It calls to me.

One day, I’m gonna write a story about this place.

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Boldt Castle – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 3 of 4

Boldt Castle, St. Lawrence Seaway (Aug 13, 2014)

Boldt Castle, St. Lawrence Seaway (Aug 13, 2014)

Our next adventure in upstate New York, was a trip to Boldt Castle, via a boat tour on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Curiously, I “found” this while posting images to my next “work in progress” Pinterest board (the week prior to our vacation, no less)…looking for things-mansion. When I posted it, I thought, huh, this place sounds familiar…then one of my “Virtual Friends” (from Twitter and a fellow blogger), Paul Gallagher, pointed out that Boldt Castle was the location that Rod Serling (come on, did you really need to check that link?!) had considered using for a post-Twilight Zone series that never got off the ground, called “Rod Serling’s Wax Museum.” Curiously, throughout the entire tour, not one thing was mentioned about Rod Serling’s possible use of this place.

Well, now that I knew what I’d found, I had to go see it, right?

Boldt Castle sits on an island, Heart Island, which had been reworded from “Hart” to “Heart,” by George C. Boldt, who was a turn-of-the-century millionaire proprietor to New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. You might have heard of it. The island lies in the middle of an area of the St. Lawrence River, called “The Thousand Islands (actually there are a little over 1800 islands).” To get to Boldt Castle, one has to take a boat. So, I learned there are boat tours of the 1000 Islands. I found that Uncle Sam Tours offers multiple tours of the riverway. We opted for the two-and-a-quarter hour 2-Nation Tour. This international tour (through American and Canadian waters, no passport required) had a little of everything, and is a 22-mile tour-guided round-trip. It includes the “heart” of the 1000 Islands and Millionaire’s Row. All tours end with a stop at Boldt Castle, where you can stay as long as you like, up to closing time, hopping whatever boats (shuttle or tour boat) are available for the return trip to Alexandria Bay.

So, out we headed for 47 James Street, Alexandria Bay!

The Bow of the Tour Boat, St. Lawrence River (Aug 13, 2014)

The Bow of the Tour Boat, St. Lawrence River (Aug 13, 201

The weather was gorgeous, and we boarded our boat, a double-decker paddle wheel whatever-you-call-those-things. I honestly don’t know if the paddle wheel was for show or not, but it was cool to watch. We sat up top, in the open air, where our college grad-headed-to-med-school tour guide guided us through the international waters. He was outgoing, seemed knowledgeable, and was humorous. I wondered what kinda doctor he’d make. Here are some cool videos of some of the Uncle Sam tours.

As we floated along the St. Lawrence, we learned all these famous names we’d heard about over the years had places up here. “Old money” is on the U.S. side, “New Money” on the Canadian side. But, don’t ask me to recite any of these names, because, well, I’m not exactly known for my memory (I’m more known for my “charm”…). And I (so far) can’t find one danged listing of them!

Really? None of this is listed anywhere?

Some curious facts we found were that the St. Lawrence River has some of the cleanest waters in the US (Canada wasn’t mentioned, so I assume Canada has cleaner waters than the US…everywhere…). Our Knowledgeable Tour Guide (KTG) ran on and on about how you could literally dip a cup over the side of this boat and drink what you pulled up. Then KTG said he, however, wouldn’t do it (KTG had a degree in biochemistry, or something), for two reasons: 1) seagulls, b) swimmers. He’d also gone into more detail about in the early years of people (and by “people” I mean millionaires) moving into the area and building abodes, going into great detail about how the sewage system of the day was “drinking up-stream, dumping downstream.”

Think about that for juuust a second.

In his words “gross.”

Here I am applying my newly acquired skill of Walking on Water. Funny, haven't been able to duplicate this feat, since....

Here I am applying my newly acquired skill of Walking on Water. Funny, haven’t been able to duplicate this feat, since….

Another interesting point our guide mentioned was that “recently” National Geographic had redefined the definition of an “island” to a spot of land at least three-foot square, with at least one tree and another form of vegetation. He mentioned this because he took us past the smallest of the islands in the “Thousand Island” chain. It wasn’t much larger than three square feet, by the looks of it. He also told us that the person who owned that island had insured the lone tree on it for $50,000. Wow. Now, curiously, when I went looking for the NatGeo island definition online, I didn’t find it. I do find it interesting that KTG said an island had to have a tree and vegetation.

We were also shown the shortest stretch of distance between international waters (between two islands), but by the time our KTG had sprinted out of the Wheel House to announce it, we (who had been at the bow of the boat) had already gone past, and nonprofessional digital cameras just don’t operate that quickly, so we missed the shot.

On our return trip, we actually passed by a huge cargo ship, called the Thunder Bay. I did a search and found this video, which shows the Thunder Bay entering Lock 7, Welland Canal (I’m assuming it’s the same ship—it looks like what we passed [I saw the name on its bow]—finding it hard to believe there’d be two ships in the same country with the same name…). Though this lock is between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, this is what the “famousity” of the St. Lawrence River is all about, so take a look at this link. Look at how close that ship is inside the lock’s walls.

Boldt Castle Docking Coming Up! (Aug 13, 2014)

Boldt Castle Docking Coming Up! (Aug 13, 2014)

As the boat tour ran to its end and we docked a Heart Island, the next phase of our visit explored Boldt Castle (click here for their facebook page). We only had two hours, because it closed at 7:30. This limited exploration time, if you can believe it. We didn’t get to the Power House at the other end of the island, which is the mini-castle with the curved stone bridge, in the slide show, below.

I’m not gonna duplicate effort, so check this link out for a short description of George C. Boldt and his castle efforts, but it is tragic to note that he abandoned the castle after the love of his life, Louise Augusta Kehrer Boldt, died at 42 years of age, of tuberculosis.

We spent most of our time exploring the main castle. It was quite grand (not a term I use much, outside of “grandparents,” “grand piano,” or “delusions of grandeur“), especially with the center piece of the staircase, which reminded me of the Titanic‘s staircase. The public is able to go from the cellar (or “foundation”) to the top floor (fourth), where the “Help” stayed. Boldt and his family were to have used the second floor. Very nice rooms! Throughout most of the place are placards giving you a bit of its history, which, again, I had to bypass, due to our limited time there, though I did read some of it. My wife and I spent some time on one of the stone observation decks (a “battlement”!) of the castle, overlooking the St. Lawrence. We were lucky not to have been disturbed by other tourists, so it was quite cool hanging out there, in the breezes—in a castle, for crying out loud—on a battlement overlooking our kingdom…I mean, well…come on, you get it….

To think of the opulence, the—how did my wife put it?—extravagance that this guy lavished upon his wife. The wild use of money to build something like this, that was, in all reality, frivolous. Did one need a castle in which to live? No. But, man, how frigging cool!

The castle was modeled after 16th century northern European buildings, but with “newly revived classical details of the time.” It rises six stories from the foundation level, and even had an elevator! It contained 127 rooms. It goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that it’s near fireproof with steel and concrete roofs and floors, not to mention massive granite walls!

Directly above the Grand Staircase was a stained glass dome. When we got to the top-most floor, we were able to see the other side of

The Grand Staircase, Boldt Castle (Aug 13, 2014)

The Grand Staircase, Boldt Castle (Aug 13, 2014)

the dome and how it was fitted into the ceiling. I’ve heard it might not be original material, but can’t corroborate that. A couple of times as I looked out a window, or stood out on a battlement (I like saying that: battlement), certain parts of the castle architecture just grabbed me—simply amazing work! There were four floors and what I call the cellar, but is here termed “the foundation.” The first, or ground floor is where all the entertainment and dining (and where I carefully but stupidly placed my camera on top of the dining table in a moment of Not Thinking, and was correctly though subtly scolded by a polite staff member; still can’t believe I did that! See! vacations make people stupid!) and living went on. Reception rooms, billiard room, Mr. Boldt’s office, library, et cetera. The second floor was where the Boldt family was to have lived, their sleeping “chambers” (George and Louise were to have had separate rooms), bathrooms, kids’ rooms, guest rooms, et cetera. The Third floor was similar to the second floor, but didn’t have access to the Grand Staircase (used side stairs to access). The fourth floor held the skylight dome and the servants’ quarters, observation decks (battlements, yea, battlements!), reading room, stairs to the tower (closed) and some really weird little room, called “the loft.” Reminded me of the creepy Oliver Reed movie, The Shuttered Room, though it really didn’t look like it. Stream-of-consciousness. Go figger.

As to “the cellar,” or “foundation” of the castle, here was an indoor swimming pool (full of tossed coinage) and other areas we also didn’t have adequate time to explore. One set of passages I reeeally wanted to walk, got lost in the shuffle of everything else to see, would have made the coolest shot, but, alas, turned out blurry when I got home: it was a servant’s underground passageway. It was where all the goods were transported from barges to the storage rooms without having to use the main floor. It also housed the electrical and wiring and water pipes from the Power House we weren’t able to see. It was sooo spooky, I really wanted to walk it! Dang it!

Vacations.

Making people stupid.

We walked through the Italian Garden a little, and found some really vibrant flowers, the pictures of which simply do not do it justice. Went inside the first structure on the island, the Dove-Cote. It’s a stone tower topped with a pigeon house, or “Hennery,” where they collected “fancy fowl.”

Fancy tastes.

Fancy fowl.

“Fancy.”

I like saying that, too.

We visited the Alster Tower, or “playhouse,” at the opposite side of the island from the Power House. This was a cool stone tower that was only partially opened to the public; the upper parts (where I wanted to go…curiously just noting a trend, here…) were closed off due to construction. This structure is said to have most likely been inspired by an old defense tower along the Alster River that flowed through Hamburg, Germany. The brochure says that it was most probably not planned, i.e., put to blue prints, but “evolved” as it was built. This mini-castle was occasionally occupied by the Boldt family as their main castle was being constructed.

The Arch, Boldt Castle (Aug 13, 2014)

The Arch, Boldt Castle (Aug 13, 2014)

One of the coolest things on the island, was The Arch. This was modeled after Roman monuments, and was a “water gate” that was to be the formal entry for launches and delivering guests from the larger yachts anchored out in the deeper waters. It has three bucks (“deer,” not “currency”; displaying currency would just be pretentious) atop it. It was supposed to have more work done to it, like a drawbridge and a covered walk, but, of course all that was halted with the abandoning of the entire Boldt Castle project, upon Louise’s death.

Across the water, at Wellesley Island, is The Yacht House, where the family’s three yachts and houseboat were stored. We didn’t go there, simply not enough time! But, the slips there are 128 feet long, and the main space rises some 64 feet high. The huge doors are so heavy that a special engine was installed to operate them. Quarters for crews and maintenance staff were also included here. Interesting fact: The Yacht House was the first of these Boldt buildings to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Louise Boldt passed away mere months before the completion of the castle, George Boldt was a wreck. He immediately halted all castle construction and the property had been allowed to fall into disuse and gone vacant for some 73 years. For those 73 years, the castle and its other structures had been left exposed to harsh winters and vandals, but in 1977  the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Heart Island and the nearby Yacht House for a whole buck (here, I do mean “currency” and not “deer”)…under an agreement that all revenue from the castle’s operation would be applied towards its restoration. This would allow for the island to be preserved…for the enjoyment of all.

It has never been the goal to completely rebuild Boldt Castle…only to bring it back to the state it was when George had abandoned it. Some improvements have gone beyond that state, but I’m not sure which ones are included there (I’ve read on Wiki that maybe the stained glass, the marble floor, and the Grand Staircase). But to see this feat of human engineering and design is to be in awe of the love between two people…and the imagination of a man who wanted to please his love.

Love can move mountains and build castles…but it can also shatter hearts. It is tragic that Mr. Boldt couldn’t stand to be at the castle after Louise’s loss—I get it—but at least, now, we can all experience not only his bucks, but his amazing imagination…and his love for his wife, because I really do feel (as much as I joke about it) this project was not about any display of opulence or power…but about a display of an intense and undying love.

Check out this really nice short video of the aerial view of all I’ve described at Boldt Castle.

Boldt Castle Brochure.

Boldt Castle Map.

Next post: the St. John in the Wilderness Cemetery.

 

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Ausable Chasm – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 2 of 4

Ausable Chasm, New York (August 12, 2014)

Ausable Chasm, New York (August 12, 2014)

I’ve wanted to check out Ausable Chasm for quite a long time (here’s their facebook page; tons of cool pictures!). Of all the regional theme parks we visited as kids, The North Pole, The Land of Makebelieve (wow that video brought back some memories!), Gaslight Village, Frontier Town, et cetera, we never made it to Ausable Chasm. On the past couple New York trips my wife and I made, I made an effort to go there, but it was never in the cards. This time, we finally made it and it was fantastic.

The Chasm is located off of New York’s Northway, or I-87, between Exits 34 and 35. They’re 12 miles south of Plattsburgh, NY, and one mile north of Keeseville, on Route 9.

What is Ausable Chasm?

Basically, it’s a gash in the Earth with a river running through it.

Okay, to put it more eloquently, here are the words of Seneca Ray Stoddard:

“AU SABLE CHASM tells the story of the Ages.  Here in enduring rock are the records of that dim past when in the eternity of “the Beginning” the unstable earth reeled and staggered with the pulsations of its heart of fire.

“Here may be found the ripple marks of waves that washed the ancient beach, and the pittings of raindrops that fell when the rock was in its plastic state.  Here are signs of the hardening shell and the shrinking where the thin crust wrinkled and bubbled up to mountain heights, then breaking like crackle-glass, left deep gorges and ragged peaks.

“Then the mighty leveling glaciers followed to grind and polish and fill, and the floods came down out of the mountains of the South loaded with sharp flint and rasping quartz to clear the gorges and gnaw their way deep into the new rock, until, in the fullness of time, stood revealed the “Walled Banks of the Au Sable.”  The story is all there, plain to those who can read its writings.

“To the scientist it is interesting as illustrating rock fracture and erosion; to lovers of the strange and beautiful, a place of wonder.

“-Seneca Ray Stoddard, 1907

We opted for the Walking Tour, it’s about five miles of hiking (okay, walking), but didn’t do the river float. I had hiking boots on, and those apparently aren’t allowed in the rubber rafts (you don’t really need hiking boots, here, sneakers are fine). They did have some more appropriate gear in their gift shop, buuut we didn’t want to spend the money and we’ve already rafted down a couple Colorado rivers, so we know the experience…but we watched the rafters “put in,” when we got to that part of the hike, and it did look like fun!

Little Unknown Critters, Ausable Chasm, NY (Aug 12, 2014)

Little Unknown Critters, Ausable Chasm, NY (Aug 12, 2014)

One of the first things we saw, at the beginning of the trail, was quite curious: a fossil that showed tiny footprints and tail impressions that the sign said were still unidentified.

That captured my imagination!

I mean, here are these tiny creatures way back when, just making their way along some muddy terrain, minding their own beeswax, most likely never giving a thought to their passage (really, I can’t assume the little critters weren’t thinking about their futures, now, can I?), especially that their tracks in the mud would survive them into some incomprehensibly distant future! We were here! those tracks scream, and it was so cool to me. Tiny critters we may never know had passed by this little strip of mud in a distant, foggy past….

Another interesting thing I noticed (but don’t have multiple pictures of) were all the “pointy sticks” angled down on us! As we walked through the chasm, I couldn’t shake the whole “Indiana Jones” feel to everything, and noticing these “pointy sticks,” which were angled trees that lost their footing (and their branches stripped) as the soil eroded away, just fueled that fire! The thundering river, the ancient rocks walls, the brooding shadows, the pointy sticks

Who was watching us from above?

What danger were we walking into?

Would we make it out alive?

Who Made These? What Ancient, Hallowed Grounds Had We Intruded Upon?

Who Made These? What Ancient, Hallowed Grounds Had We Intruded Upon?

Then we passed mysterious cairns….

…happened upon the hidden Nazi substation, secretly observing them as equipment was lowered into the gorge and people were hurriedly evacuating from some hidden horror—my God, what had we gotten ourselves into?

Oh, sorry.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying we got out alive.

Anywaaay…we continued to hike around the five or so miles of trails, including the Inner Sanctum trial, which is the trail mainly depicted in the slideshow below. It ran down and along the river. The hanging bridge was part of another trail we didn’t partake (at another fee we didn’t pay), but we stood really, really close to it and took pictures. We also hiked through a dry chasm., and guess what? It was dry. No river ran through it. It was a cool hike, over and under deadfall and rocks. My favorite kind of hiking. We managed to avoid detection by the roving bands of our unseen threat from above—

Dang it. Gotta stay focused, sorry.

Upon return to the gift shop area (where you can refill your water bottles by simply asking those behind the food counter to do so…or buy a gallon of maple syrup for over $80 [hint: don't do this]…), we found a mini-museum, on the left, right before the restrooms. It talked (“Really?” you ask, “it ‘talked’?” No, it “displayed…”) about the history of the chasm, and how the recent floods had damaged the chasm; how it was rebuilt. Surprisingly, one the most interesting exhibits there to me was the evolution of the Ausable Chasm promotional flyers.

What about all the rocks and flood destruction and history of Seneca Ray Stoddard on display at the museum?

No. My “take away” from the whole museum thing were promotional flyers from the seventies.

You see, I’ve had a certain image of the flyer in my head all these years, from what I’d remembered as a kid, and I’d found it there…it was the 1971 version of the flyer. That was cool to me….

Okay, whatever.

Well, there’s lots more to do there, so, we might have to make another trip to do the Zip line, foil our stealthy antagonists, and find that lost Ark thingy….

Next week, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Boldt Castle!

Enjoy the slide show!

 

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Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 1 of 4

What Much Of Where I Lived and Where We Drove Looks Like! (Aug 2014)

What Much Of Where I Lived and Where We Drove Looks Like! (Aug 2014)

Yesterday (as I began this post, on Tuesday, August 19th), my wife and I returned from our trip to upstate New York to see my Dad and stepmom. The trip itself was great, we got to be with family, air out, see some more of upstate NY—you know, all the things vacations are supposed to be about—but the trip to and back was more of something out of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles“!

We took red-eye flights. Haven’t done that in many, many, years. Our flights on the way out were not bad, but the return trip had us having to stay the night at a hotel in the D.C. area. We flew into and out of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Aéroport de Montréal (pronounced “Muh-ree-all”), Canada, something we’ve done in the past, but “done in the past” was, wow, 15-20 years ago, now that I try to put a number on it! Besides the obvious changes, the Canadian roadway changed dramatically…no longer was there that gnarly interchange out of the airport that I missed the last time out. Now, once you get out of the airport, it wasn’t nearly that bad, and when you factor in that we had been picked up and dropped off, that part was stellar! We didn’t rent a car, because to have done so would have cost us over $600! Good Lord, as much as plane fare! The rates themselves weren’t too bad, but, once you added in all the “fees” and “taxes”…then throw in Canadian “fees and taxes”…we about gagged! Do check all those add-ins when making rental car reservations, especially in another country. I mean, I like Canada, but, wow, holy crap on the car rentals, my northern friends!

We left late on a Friday night, to land in O’Hare, at oh-later-thirty, where we spent almost five hours waiting for our connecting flight

O'Hare Airport Slightly Left of 2 a.m. (Aug 9, 2014)

O’Hare Airport Slightly Left of 2 a.m. (Aug 9, 2014)

to Montréal in the early morning, eh? I finally saw a side to O’Hare that I actually liked: the after hours. Yeah, it truly does empty out! When we exited our plane and prepared to “bed down” for the night, one of the airline personnel did a really cool thing after talking with us: she returned with blankets that she handed out to all of us who had to stay the night in the terminal! Thank you, Really Swell Gate Attendant!

So, we took our blankets and sought out a place to lay down (hint: you can ask airline personnel for the least bothered, more quiet gates to bed down in), and hunkered down for the next four or so hours. I read Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep while my wife “slept.” For our last hour, I lay down and closed my eyes, but not sure I really “slept,” either. In any event, I haven’t stayed overnight in an airport since, wow, the College Years? But I really liked how the place empties out and goes “Twilight Zone” in the after hours (by the way also the name of a Twilight Zone episode).

Once we made it to New York, we had a great time, and did some hiking through Ausable Chasm, took a St. Lawrence boat tour of the rich and famous through “The Thousand Islands,” checked out Boldt Castle, and stopped by a couple upstate university book stores where I dropped off some of my novels for their book buyers to hopefully like enough to stock. We also checked out a salmon fish hatchery I used to bike down to as a kid (just outside of Lake Clear). Did our usual drive-bys of Barnum Pond, Lake Clear, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid.  Drove through the Keene Valley area. Visited the St. John’s in the Wilderness cemetery, where I know some of those interred. We even saw some fireworks! And of course: Donnelly’s Corner’s ice cream (where I saw the heinous act of a lady taking a lick of her cone, then tossing it into a trash can! Where’s NY State’s Finest when you need em?). Donnelly’s is the best soft ice cream anywhere!

And…there was even one possibly paranormal—definitely weird—event involving two dogs, one of them living. Wow. It still blows my mind, but more on that (and all the other mentioned activities) later….

As for the return trip, we arrived back at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International aéroport Monday, around 2:20 ET. The long and the short of it was…we didn’t leave the airport until after midnight.

The Gate We Were "86'd" To at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

The Gate We Were “86’d” To at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

Instead of O’Hare, on our return trip we were connecting through Dulles. But as we checked the airport monitors, we noticed our flight to Dulles wasn’t even displayed. It turned out that our plane was late getting into Dulles because of mechanical and weather issues. Nothing one can do about that. And to the “Angry Business Man Who Used the F-Word” who’d been in front of me at a gate attendant counter, you can’t blame the gate attendants! Seriously? This was your first rodeo, Mr. salt-and-peppered-hair, Angry-Business-Man-Who-Used-the-F-Word? Note to you: if you really were that important, I think you would have been on a charter flight. You wouldn’t be in that airport with all the rest of us “little people” taking standard commercial flights. But…to the Calm and Professional Gate Attendant (who told Mr. Angry-Business-Man-Who-Used-the-F-Word to “please watch your language”): you handled it most excellently, sir! International kudos to you!

Note to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International passengers: if your flights are delayed into that airport, they are removed from the flight schedules and the departure monitors, so they might not show up quickly enough on the monitors when delayed. I was also told that there are curfews in Canadian airports, but if flights continued to come and go, you’re allowed to stay, like we were, but otherwise, come curfew time, you will be exited from the airport to a hotel—at the airlines’ expense. The airlines will also give you meal vouchers. We received both. As we hung out at the aéroport , we ate on the airlines dime and met some interesting folk and had some good conversation! Thanks, “John” and “Unnamed Denver IT Dude”!

Another note: though you are given meal and hotel vouchers, if you refuse the hotel voucher and stay the night at the airport, you are

Anonymous Terminal Passenger at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

Anonymous Terminal Passenger at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

supposed to be given a $150 voucher. No one will tell you this, you have to ask (don’t let them try to tell you “they want you to get some rest” before your next flight, if you feel you can stay up; they just don’t want to pay out the dough, is what is really happening, here). And, I believe, it has to be used within 24 hours. That’s all I know, since we didn’t do this, but saw another who did do this. Also, you can be real “slick” and write your requests on a piece of paper instead of talking out loud and alerting other passengers to this little known fact—or anything else you might try to “bargain” for at the gate attendant counters. Doesn’t mean you’ll get any of it, but it might make the attendants feel better that you understand their plight in dealing with all the angry and inconvenienced passengers (if that kinda thing matters to you) and keep your bargaining secret (our hotel voucher was $73. Yeah, try to get a room for that price, without missing a flight, and you see it’s all cheaper than paying out $150 per person)!

We had to make a decision: stay the night in Montréal or in D.C. Thing was, even if we caught our flight out to Dulles, there were no connections until the next morning. Since we’d have to go back through Customs, if we stayed in Montréal, and were told in no uncertain terms that many actually do miss their early morning flights because of Customs (the lines can be quite long, as we witnessed during our near ten hours at P. E. Trudeau), we opted to get outta Dodge and make Dulles. So we did, and in Dulles were given a hotel room, where we caught less than three hours of sleep before we had to make it back to Dulles for the whole TSA ritual, once again. Here, I had to walk through the metal detector 3 or 4 times, because, it turned out, I had a foil wrapped stick of gum in my pocket. Yay. I was surprised I wasn’t strip searched after the second time, to be quite honest. Then my pack had been detained, because, I’d forgotten to dump the water from my water bottle, but other than that, we used our meal vouchers to grab some chow before out flight.

So, we boarded out plane, and quickly realized…we’re in the very last row. You know, the seats that do not recline. And are right in front of the galley.

And the restrooms.

Yes, we’re on first-name basis with every butt on that flight. Just sayin.

I detail all the above, and it might sound rough and sucky, but we really had a fun time, met some interesting people, and took it as much in stride as anyone can on little sleep, and chalked it up to yet another “life experience”; it really wasn’t that bad, and the Aéroport de Montréal is really nice. I like airports and aircraft, like being around them.

The "After Hours" at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

The “After Hours” at Aéroport de Montréal (Aug 18, 2014)

One other thing: before we left for the trip, I had watched a little of the Twilight Zone episode, “Mirror Image.” When I returned from our trip and watched the rest of the episode, it struck me how predictive that little episode was! In it, Millicent Barnes misses her bus because of a “key event”…and on our return trip we ended up missing our connection. It can also be applied to my next post, on my Reality Check blog, titled, One Painting…Two Dogs. Okay, maybe to you it’s “a reach,” but to me not so. I don’t believe in coincidences [that are ignored as not important]…I believe in synchronicity and that everything’s tied to everything else. Don’t ignore all those little events in life!

We had a great time in NY, and, to be honest, if was kinda fun not knowing what would happen and when and living in the moment, with all these flight gyrations. Sure, no one likes to be inconvenienced, but I took the “time” to consciously live in the moment and enjoy whatever came our way. Go with the flow. As my wife napped (no one every really sleeps in airports, or so the saying goes…) I reveled in the Twilight Zone-like atmosphere of the fast emptying airports, soaked up the “deserted ambiance,” and read my King novel. Walked the emptied halls and gates. Observed all the in-the-background maintenance folks who come out at night…or who are summarily ignored and “unobserved” during the day, going about their jobs keeping things cleaned and stocked with toilet paper.

It was all good.

On Monday, check out my other blog, Reality Check, for a paranormal experience, titled, One Painting…Two Dogs. In the coming weeks I’ll post about Ausable Chasm, the St. Lawrence boat tour, Boldt Castle, and all the rest of the fun stuff we did!


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