Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hurricane Mountain Road

I was driving west on Route 9N into the Adirondack Park when I saw a road sign for Hurricane Mountain Road. I turned around and headed my car up that road because I'd hiked Hurricane Mountain many years ago. It was a rugged hike with a world class view at the top. There was also a fire tower. But once I'd hiked that mountain and rested at the top, I noticed that some people had been able to drive up there on a small local road. Instead of feeling cheated, I made a mental note to find that road some day and ascend the mountain the easy way. Well, this must surely be the road!

This was a two lane blacktopped road with a few farms and camps along the way. One of the first was this pleasant mountain farm with horses:

And more horses:

The view opened up in places to show the surrounding mountains:

After a few miles, the road narrowed and the snow plows had stopped. I thought the small road which continued up the mountain was probably the local's route to the top of Hurricane Mountain. I hope to drive up there when better weather comes. But the turn-around for the snow plows provided me with a good place to let the dogs out. Seamus and Fergus were off and running as soon as the car door opened:

The other four dogs were less energetic. They just wanted to sniff around and relieve their bladders. This spot in particular fascinated them. I can only guess that some wild animal had recently been there:

Fergus really was fidgety and anxious to get out and move around. In fact, he didn't want to get back into the car, even after all the other dogs were loaded and I wanted to drive away. I finally began driving back down the mountain without him. That alarmed him sufficiently to get him back into the car:

The small road continued up the mountain from here but had not been kept plowed. I plan to return here in better weather for a mountaintop view. This last photo is my little car parked in the snow plow turn-around:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Driving A New Route Into The Adirondacks

I'd driven farther north than usual before turning west into the Adirondacks as I'd hoped to stop and visit a litter of Havanese puppies. This is a new breed to me which I'd read is small, cute and lively without being delicate. In fact, Havanese are reportedly the only tiny breed recommended for families with young children. They are reportedly highly intelligent and love all people and all animals. I thought I might raise some in my retirement years. Unfortunately, the family who raised them was not available but I was on my way to the farm and this side trip allowed me to take a new route and see new scenery.

As I drove west on Route 9N into the Adirondacks from the Lake Champlain valley, mountains began rising up all around me:

The highway was apparently rather high in the mountains as there was a steep drop-off alongside the road and high peaks not too far distant:

The sky was clear and I could see for miles:

We were having a relatively warm and sunny spell which meant that snow was melting rapidly. The distant peaks, however, remained snow covered except where the snow had slid down:

At every turn I saw mountains and clear sky, though it occurred to me that the view would have been lessened in summertime with leaves on the trees:

I continued on into the Adirondack Park on my way to the farm. I'll post many more photos in days to come.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Early Morning Snooze-Fest

I awoke one recent morning, let the dogs outdoors briefly to do their business and settled down at my computer to check email etc. But then I noticed with amusement the sleeping dogs on the floor all around me. After a full night of sleeping in my bedroom and one bathroom break, they were once again sound asleep. It's a dog's life as the saying goes. Here, Seamus and Fergus are napping together with Wren not far away:

Old Casey found a soft dog bed and opened her eyes only to see what I was up to with the camera:

Similarly, Wally was snoozing but was momentarily interested in why I was sneaking around the room snapping pictures:

Wren stands as little as possible, and here found herself a nice comfy spot on the rug. I can only guess that she hadn't wanted to expend the energy to mountain-climb up that steep pillow:

Winky, belying his famous contrary demeanor, wanted to be right at my feet under the desk (which is really my family's kitchen table from when I was a boy many decades ago):

So as I typed away at the computer, a whole passel of languid dogs snoozed on the floor around me:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Beautiful View On A Beautiful Day

After a snoot-full of winter cold, snow and sleet, our weather began to turn (comparatively) warm and sunny. One recent day when I was not working, I headed to the gym to give myself a bit of exercise. The road takes me directly up a hill out of the Hudson River Valley and past an outpost of the State University of New York. The view of downtown Albany in the valley below is quite stunning from up there and I'd always wished I had a camera with me to get a photo or two. Well, this day I had a camera on the seat next to me.

I turned in at a driveway or two but could find no place to get off of the road and still see the view. Finally, I turned into the campus area and parked near this building which, according to the signs, is a University Cancer Research Center. It has an outdoor observation deck on the opposite end of what is shown in this photo. I parked and entered the building, camera in hand:

I was surprised to find the building open to visitors and even a friendly, helpful receptionist who told me which door to use to access the observation deck. The view was partially obscured by telephone poles and a tree, but it was a lot safer than standing in the middle of the busy road:

Albany's skyline is most notable for its State office building towers, the New York State Museum and the performance center called "The Egg." If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you'll see clearly toward the lower right why it's named after an egg:

The view was clear and inspiring, the day was sunny and pleasant. I shot a few a photos, thanked the friendly receptionist and went on way. I thought you might enjoy seeing a few photos:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bramble's Big Adventure

One recent Saturday morning I awoke to find all my dogs and cats acting loco. Wren growled and snapped at the cats who were spitting and hissing at each other as well as chasing each other around the house.

I found Bramble in a cat bed with blood running down his face, apparently scratched by one of the other cats. It didn't look worrisome so I continued my morning routine. Each day for a week I'd check his scratched face and conclude that he was healing acceptably. One week later, another Saturday morning, he still looked to be on the mend. But two hours later as I was heading off to work, his eye had swollen badly and was producing pus:

I had to continue on to work but made an appointment for him to see the vet the next Monday morning. His eye continued to swell as the day went on:

Every few hours I'd notice that the swelling was increasing and I began to wonder if I'd have to pay to take him in to an emergency clinic.

He also began sneezing as if he had an upper respiratory infection. Clearly, Bramble wasn't feeling well:

By the time Sunday rolled around, Bramble was holding his own but not improving:

When Monday morning arrived, I packed him into a cat carrier and prepared to head off to the vet's. Bramble was not pleased to be stuffed into a small plastic box. He's always been of the skittish sort.

When I was volunteering at the Shelter, a litter of black and white kittens arrived with one gray and white litter mate. They were all sociable and friendly except for the odd colored one. A Shelter employee mentioned that the gray and white kitten, being skittish, would be difficult to place so I brought him home and named him Bramble. He's made great strides toward being a friendly, socialized cat but draws the line at being stuffed into a cat carrier. He yowled all the way to the vet's:

Yet by the time we'd arrived, he'd decided the cat carrier was not so bad after all. He didn't want to leave it and was happy to flee back in to its safe confines:

The vet carried him off for weighing and a shot of antibiotics. A vet tech soon returned with a struggling, panicked Bramble. "No! No! I won't go! Put me down!":

At the desk to pay the bill, Bramble had a chance to meet an elderly beagle. Despite his skittishness with people, he's always loved other animals:

This photo from Bramble's kittenhood of him sleeping with Wally illustrates how he loves other animals:

I paid the bill and loaded Bramble into the car. He's currently being treated with antibiotics and making progress in allowing himself to be handled. I guess I'll never know what craziness possessed my cats the morning when the trouble began, but all is well again:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Holy Crow!

I was coming down the hill on my way home from work when I noticed what appeared to be thousands of birds on the ice of the Hudson River. So I drove all the way down to the riverbank with my camera and this is what I saw:

Thousands of crows collect every night in the skies and trees around the river near Albany, but this is the first time I noticed them on the ice:

It would seem to me that this windy, unprotected spot with their feet on the cold ice would be a bad place to rest, but the crows had other ideas. Indeed, it was so cold and the wind so harsh that my ungloved hands were painful within seconds of getting out of the car. Perhaps there was something on the ice for them to eat:

When I studied wildlife biology many years ago, they thought that autumn bird swarms were a population regulating mechanism whereby too dense a population would induce stress and reduce breeding in the following spring. But that was long ago and perhaps there's a new theory now.

Anyway, the crows had accumulated by the thousands on the frozen Hudson River and I could see more crows stretching from the south to the north of downtown Albany:

Here's a close-up of a small part of the flock:

I often see the crows flying and swarming in the evening skies, including from out of my bedroom window, so decided to snap a few pictures of the view from there.

And here is a sample of the view from my bedroom window looking across the road and across the Hudson River toward downtown Albany. There were no swarms of flying crows when I took this picture, but often there are:

And looking out my window toward the north, another view of an industrial part of Albany. Nipper, the giant RCA dog atop a building is visible, but so small in this photo that it appears as only a white blob:

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Marcy Field Parking Area/Dog Park

We'd reached the Keane Valley, the last opportunity to let the dogs out before getting onto the limited access highway. There was only one hope for an off the road open space, and that was the parking lot for Marcy Field. Luckily, it had been recently plowed. I had to be careful not to drive into the deep snow, but it made for a good place for the dogs to get out and do their thing.

In this picture, the dogs are in the long entrance road to the parking area. The highway is straight ahead running across the photo along the base of that mountain. Seamus, Casey, Fergus and Wally are stretching their legs and emptying their bladders. Little Winky and Wren are not that adventurous and didn't travel that far from the car:

There's one house standing alone in Marcy Field. It appears to be used as an office, but I suppose once upon a time it was the farm house for the people who owned this large field:

There was one other car and it appeared to be sitting in a snow bank. No people were around, and I didn't expect that anyone would pull into the parking area in this weather. Why would they come there? To hike in the mountains?:

Casey, Seamus and Fergus are feeling frisky at this point. Notice Fergus' ears flopping merrily. He's a happy boy:

Hey, here's my two little old curmudgeons. Winky and Wren have gotten themselves as far away from the warm car as they wanted to get. Now they just want back in to get warm and comfortable again:

So I packed up the dogs and headed south towards Albany, stopping only in Pottersville for gas. I also took one last photo, of the Pottersville Black Bear Restaurant. It's a quaint and homey place to have a hearty meal. But I didn't eat there this time. With a car full of dogs and a long drive both behind me and ahead of me, I continued on my way:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Driving Through A Winter Storm

The winter storm began to strengthen as the dogs and I drove home from the farm. A car stopped in front of me on a hilly street in the town of Saranac Lake. I couldn't stop, but only slid downhill on the snow. So I honked to get the driver's attention and hopefully inspire her to move out of the way. That failed but I managed to pull over to the side and through a snow bank as I passed. It was a close call and reminded me that these were potentially hazardous driving conditions.

By the time I got to the Cascade Lakes, the wind was fierce. I opened my car door to get out and take a picture but the wind ripped it out of my hand and slammed it violently open. I feared it had destroyed my car door, but I'm happy to report that all is well. I turned my back to the frozen gale and snapped this picture. Was it worth it? No, but I didn't know the weather had become that bad:

And, at the Cascade Lakes, one quick photo of the car full of dogs before I hopped back inside to warm up and be on my way:

Compare the two photos above with this one taken last summer of the Cascade Lakes chain. Could this really be the same place?:

As we got down into the Keane Valley, the storm lessened to merely snowfall and afforded some nice winter views:

All around us the mountains came into view, though snow continued coming down:

This field looks like a bog but I remember it being merely a field in summer weather. Tomorrow I'll post photos of the dogs' only opportunity to get out and exercise a bit: