Monday, August 31, 2009

A Visit To Fort Crailo

I've lived in Rensselaer, just across the Hudson River from downtown Albany, for 20-some years. Right down the street from me is a State historic site, Fort Crailo. It's a house, actually, but is one of the oldest in the area and dates back to the earliest Dutch settlers. It's recently been revitalized and remodeled. Plus, a friend works there. So the other day I went down and took a tour. It was especially nice to be given a tour by a friend. Thanks, Mary Ellen. This is Fort Crailo:

And a close up of the old Dutch brick, shutters and windows, though I'm told the windows are more in the English style and are likely a "recent" (like 1920s) renovation:

Inside I saw a Dutch door, archway and replica of Dutch armor:

These gun holes were built into the walls of the building so that settlers could shoot their muskets at any Indians, renegades or British soldiers who might threaten. This is how the building came to be called a fort:

Inside the building, figures of a Mohawk man and Dutch woman making a deal. It was how business was done:

Clay pipe, (beaver?) pelt, Dutch hat:

The old Dutch style fireplace had no sides. Imagine how smoky their houses were:

From inside the house;

Down in the stone cellar, a big brick fireplace for cooking and warmth. School children come here for educational field trips and often get to participate in a bit of cooking here:

Another look at the cellar;

Now, for what to me and many others has always been one of the main attractions of the Fort Crailo. It has traditionally been credited as the place where the song, "Yankee Doodle," was written. The city of Rensselaer used to have signs on the main roads proudly proclaiming itself to be "The Home Of Yankee Doodle." Some time back, historians began to doubt that claim and the city took down its signs. But there's still plenty of reason to believe it may be the home of the song:

The back of the house and the old well (where "Yankee Doodle" was reportedly penned) which is now filled in:

Fort Crailo was built on the shores of the Hudson River. It was a beautiful day, an interesting and historic display, and a nice visit with a friend. If you're ever in the area, take a tour:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Driving Back Home Through The Adirondacks

The northernmost parcels of state land in the Adirondack park appear, by the signs, to be recent purchases and called the Santa Clara Tract. One of these days (in my spare time), I'll Google it:

And a little farther south, I came upon this farm field filled with Canada Geese. I'm old enough to remember when they were rather rare. Now they are the north country's answer to pigeons:

This traditional Adirondack farm house sported a clump of what I think are Tall Garden Phlox. I see them in bloom around many of the houses up there. I may try to get some for myself:

Another traditional Adirondack farm, this one with a barn:

And in Brighton, rapidly becoming my favorite place in the Adirondack park, I came across St. Johns In The Wilderness Episcopal Church. Actually, it was the graveyard which caught my eye. I notice it each time I drive by, but this time I decided to pull in and take a closer look. It was a beautiful small country church:

And a hauntingly lovely graveyard tucked in beneath the trees:

There's so much shade from all those big trees that very little grass will grow. So this is one graveyard which is carpeted almost completely with moss:

The graveyard surrounds the church on three sides. It would have been completely quiet except for the young men playing a raucous game of soccer off through the trees just to the south. It made for a nice meditative experience which encompassed life, death, spirituality, youth and nature:

A little farther south, almost to Saranac Lake, I encountered yet another antique car. This driver, however, was not very friendly. Well, he had a lot more traffic and tourists to deal with:

On Lake Colby I found this docked boat and family of ducks. The Joe-Pye-Weed and Goldenrod framed the shoreline:

As I passed the Raybrook State Headquarters I was comforted to know that forest fires were unlikely (we'd had lots of rain). I once saw a forest fire at a reasonably close distance atop Noonmark Mountain. I was standing on Dix Mountain and it was indeed a fearsome sight:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Side Trip Into The Hinterlands

While up at the farm last weekend, I drove to our local Agway and, while there, got directions to a farmer who raises Irish Dexter cattle. I decided to go visit him, introduce myself and say howdy. He lived on a small road which was off of a small road which was.........well, you get the picture. Accustomed to rural areas though I am, I was nonetheless shocked at how many people live so very far off any main roads. I suppose the towns must plow those small dirt roads in the winter. Or maybe people just stock up on food and firewood in the autumn and settle in to wait out the long winters.

Anyway, I was still on a State highway when I passed this old car driving on the shoulder. I drove ahead a bit and jumped out of my car to snap a photo. The driver was friendly and explained that he'd had a tire blow out and was limping home.:

I offered the use of my 12 volt air pump but he said it would not work, that his only hope was to get the vehicle back home. You can see the flat tire in this picture (I didn't notice it until he told me):

Way, way, way back into the hinterlands I passed this pretty little Methodist church. It was clearly well cared for and presumably had a Sunday congregation worshiping there. With such a sparse population, I wonder where the people come from. I suppose there's more inhabitants than I realized. They're just very spread out:

And alongside one of the dirt roads was this wetland, full of cattails and blooming water lilies. A young girl was walking her dog nearby which was very picturesque. I considered taking a photo of her but didn't, lest she think I was some kind of dangerous pervert:

As for visiting the Irish Dexter farmer, he wasn't home so I never got to meet him. But the scenery was inspiring and I now know the way so can try again another time:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Progress At The Farm House

When I arrived at the farm last weekend I discovered that the siding contractor had been at work preparing the house for siding. He'd covered most of the bottom half of the house with insulation. In this photo of the south side of the house, you can see the cedar tree which is notched into my porch deck:

The front, or west side of the house showing the new insulation. The house was pretty tight and solid before but will certainly be even more so now. A west-facing house provides some nice views of sunsets over my neighbor's fields:

The north side of the house, also about half covered with insulation. That big old maple in front of the house is diseased and hanging over the roof. It's also next to the phone and electric wires so will need to come down one of these days:

The back (east side) of the house which is also my little apartment. It was formerly only particle board but will now have insulation both inside and out:

Remember all the farmers who wanted to cut my hay fields? Well, the one who was supposed to do it never did. So now it's a 27 acre weed patch. The good news is that all the meadow-nesting birds were able to raise their babies in peace:

The hay fields are lovely, though, full of Goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and Asters. Sadly, there's also a few Burdocks which are taller than I am:

This former garden area looks to me like cultivated blackberries or raspberries. I never saw either flowers or fruit, however, so maybe not. Click on the photo to enlarge it and please let me know if you recognize these plants:

The back of the farm house as seen from the barn. I find the thought of retiring here both pleasant and comforting. It's beautiful country, a solid well built house and the neighbors seem nice:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More On Traveling With Dogs

I've noticed that autumn flowers are in full bloom in the north country. Joe-Pye-Weed, Goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and Asters are blooming everywhere. For the most part, though, the tree leaves have not begun to color. Seamus found one patch of color in the Adirondacks when we stopped for "poop break:"

Casey, Winky, Fergus and Wally trot around, surrounded by autumn wildflowers:

Adirondack mountains shrouded in clouds, one of the advantages of traveling through the high peaks region after a rain:

I love to watch small clouds drifting through the mountains or clinging to the sides of hills:

This rocky scene was right alongside the road and included some moss which had turned crimson:

Route 73 in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. I think it's safe to predict that they won't be enlarging that highway any time soon. Besides the legal restrictions on Adirondack development, where would they put the extra lanes?

It's mighty pleasant down on the highway but I would have also enjoyed being up there on that mountaintop:

Little Winky hops through an Adirondack meadow. I enjoy the thought that this crabby little dog who was moments away from being euthanized at the Shelter now has a happy, healthy life:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Travels With Dogs

It often seems as if I spend more time driving between home and the farm than I actually do at the farm. This is not likely true if I consider actual hours spent at the farm including sleeping. But if I only consider the hours when I was awake - well, then it might be true. At any rate, a large portion of my weekends is spent in the car with the dogs. They seem to enjoy it, though sometimes when we stop for a break Winky and/or Fergus doesn't want to jump back into the car. Who can blame them? Sometimes I don't want to get back in either. Here's a photo showing 5 of the 6 of them squeezed into the back of my little car. Actually, it's roomier than what the photo suggests. There's more room toward the back (which is where Casey is in this photo):

The biggest problem is when giant ol' Seamus stands up or moves around. Any bump in the road or turn has the potential to cause him to fall or sit on one of the smaller, older dogs. They in turn crab at him and I, in turn, holler into the back that "You guys had better not make me come back there!" Like a father on vacation with the back seat full of unruly children:

It's always a relief when we hit exit 30, entrance-way to the high peaks region. This past weekend was rainy and overcast, but that produced some spectacular views of low clouds drifting through the mountains:

I took a new turn seeking a place to let the dogs run a bit and saw this cloudy mountaintop. I think that it's Giant Mountain, but if not then it's Rocky Peak Ridge:
We did indeed find a new place to let the dogs out to stretch, poop, and play. It had both woodlands and meadows, a fine place for a carload of dogs to unwind. Notice that Wally is stretching himself in this picture:

Wren and Wally enjoy the break from life in a car:

And Seamus and Winky sniff among the meadow flowers:

Wren and Fergus. I suppose some would consider it anthropomorphism to say that Wren is smiling here, but in a sense, I think that's exactly what she's doing. A yawn is sometimes a dog's way of expressing joy:
Well, it was a happy time in our trip northward. I'll post more photos tomorrow.