Saturday, April 30, 2011

Albany Off In The Distance

I just happened to have my camera with me one recent Saturday when I was shopping at Wal-Mart. This particular store sits up on a hill overlooking the Hudson Valley and the city of Albany. So of course I stopped to snap a few pictures. This is downtown Albany as seen from the town of East Greenbush in Rensselaer County. The Hudson River is there also, but too low to be seen:

An enlarged view which shows I-90 traffic passing by:

Just pointing my camera a bit to the north gave this view of the village of Menands across the river north of Albany. That big white building partially obscured by a small tree is the former Montgomery Ward building, now (I think) New York State offices. The lower, brown building on the far right is the Wal-Mart where I shopped:

A nearby hotel's parking lot provided views to the south of Albany and the Helderberg and Catskill Mountains in the not-too-far distance:

And one final snapshot before I headed for home:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Cohoes Falls, Part 2

I'd driven up to Cohoes, New York to the site of the waterfalls on the Mohawk River in hopes of seeing nesting Bald Eagles. But I saw none at all and never did. In fact, I never saw a single bird of any species. But the views were great. This is looking east towards where the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson River. You can see two bridges, a railroad bridge and an old two-lane highway bridge. Those hills on the horizon are Rensselaer County and the area just north of Troy, New York:

Adjacent to the waterfall viewing area was old textile mill company housing of a less grand nature than the imposing structures I'd first encountered. They were either apartments or private housing now also, as the mill has been closed for many years:

A few other families stopped by to view the magnificent waterfalls:

The falls were huge, loud and impressive. There were whole trees moving down the river and either tumbling over the falls or getting caught on jutting rocks:

When it became obvious that I would see no eagles, I began to drive home. I passed through the area which contained even more old buildings which had long ago served as workers' housing for the textile mill. Or perhaps these were once part of the mill itself - I couldn't tell:

And when I passed by the main building of the former, I saw that it too had become private apartments. In fact, they were having an open house that day. I was tempted to stop for a tour but didn't:

Over the front entrance of the old mill was a statue, presumably of the former owner of the textile mill:

Here's a close up of the statue. I'm sure this rich man once bossed the town of Cohoes and no one crossed him:

It might have been interesting to go inside, but I was tired and had lots of dogs and cats at home waiting for me. So I pocketed my camera and began the short drive back home:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Cohoes Falls, Part 1

It was an idle Sunday for me and I'd just had a nice phone conversation with my sister in Ohio. She was making a trip to a natural area along a river where she hikes regularly to view Bald Eagles nesting and feeding. As the phone call ended, I remembered that we reportedly have our own Bald Eagles just north of Albany along the Mohawk River in Cohoes, New York. So I jumped in the car (without any dogs) and was on my way almost immediately. Cohoes is an old mill town and the overlook for the Cohoes Falls and hopeful eagle viewing was near the old company housing for mill workers, now remodeled into modern apartments:

An electric power generating plant sits along the river near the waterfalls and immediately adjacent to the public viewing site:

The old textile mill company's housing was large and extensive, filling several blocks:

I parked on the street and walked to the edge of the cliff where I would be able to see the falls and, I hoped, some Bald Eagles:

If you click on this to enlarge it, you'll be able to see the terrain involved:

The falls were magnificent - and quite loud:

In addition to the waterfall itself, there's more rushing water from the containment system and power generating facility:

You can see both the falls and part of the electric generating facility here:

And looking downstream (east) toward where the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson River, the view was magnificent. I had not yet seen any birds, much less any eagles, but I'll post more tomorrow:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hiking Along The Hannacroix - Part 4

Our Sunday hike along the Hannacroix Creek had been pleasant, but there had been very few signs of spring greening. We'd come to the end of the trail and were on our way back when I began seeing that Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, had poked its purple hoods up through the forest floor. One of our earliest spring plants, Skunk Cabbage produces its own heat as it emerges, sometimes melting the snow around it. It's a fascinating plant and a most welcome sign of spring's arrival:

The dogs and I were returning to the Hannacroix Creek where the hike had begun:

We passed an old rotten log full of the shells of last year's puffballs:

And on past the remnants of more old stone foundations. This one appeared to have been someone's house. It had been situated on a pleasant hill just above a creek and right next to the road. My imagination could conjure up visions of hard working farm families, probably Dutch, in the era of Washington Irving and his stories of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle:

Just as we arrived at the waterfalls, the dogs began barking and ran ahead. I felt guilty for not having them on a leash, figuring they were again harassing the two girls whose lunch they'd helped themselves to. But I found the girls sunning themselves on the jutting rocks, oblivious to me and to my dogs who had discovered another hiker with two Boston Terriers. A man with two young boys, an adult dog and a puppy were enjoying Hannacroix Creek:

The dogs all got along well and the boys thought Seamus was the biggest, goofiest dog they'd ever seen:

Seamus accompanied the boys on a creek exploring adventure before we said goodbye. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the second boy hiding under the tangled tree branches:

I chose another trail to return us to the parking area, this one with a nifty bridge over a ravine:

The dogs are by now old hands at crossing bridges, so they weren't intimidated. We returned to our parked car and headed for home:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hiking Along Hannacroix Creek - Part 3

I was hiking in the Hannacroix Creek Preserve just south of Albany with my four youngest dogs. We'd had a grand time so far with the exception that the two Papillons had found someone's lunch and helped themselves to half a sandwich (see yesterday's post). After the waterfalls, the trail turns up into the woods and we passed by several more stone foundations and stone walls. Once upon a time this area was settled and thriving:

The trail crossed a small brook and kept climbing upwards into the gentle hills:

And then I saw bright yellow flowers which I had already learned (from other peoples' blogs) were Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara. It is an alien species but an interesting one. The pretty little flowers bloom before the leaves emerge. Alien or not, I was mighty glad to see them:

We climbed higher and higher into the hills, passing more old stone walls and foundations:

The puppies were still full of fun and energy. This hike had not diminished their penchant for playful nonsense:

The trail ended and I was tempted to climb up higher into those hills, but instead chose the easy route, backtracking along the trail to where we'd begun:

It became apparent to me that this trail was once a road which delivered materials to and from the paper mill. Judging by the stone walls, there must have been cattle and horses grazing in the surrounding fields which now are woods, at least in the more level places:

We were having a relaxed and pleasant walk through the woods on an early spring day:

The self-timer on my new camera leaves every picture it takes all washed out. I managed to salvage none but this one, and even then only with a lot of editing:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hiking Along Hannacroix Creek - Part 2

I was hiking along Hannacroix Creek just south of Albany with my four youngest dogs. The day was fairly warm but spring was so delayed this year that I despaired of seeing any greenery. But there among the fallen oak leaves I began spotting Trout Lilies emerging. Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum, which is also sometimes called Fawn Lily, Adder's Tongue or Dog's Tooth Violet. Their tiny yellow blossoms are one of the surest and most beloved signs of spring. I can hardly wait to see more of them:

But the dogs cared nothing for emerging wildflowers. Smelling the aromas of animals which had passed by ahead of us was their big thing. And movement. They love the sense of progressing through the woods with legs pumping and all their senses awake and alive. Come to think of it, so do I:

The trail followed Hannacroix Creek for quite a while, but since the dogs had already had their opportunity to splash in it, we stayed up where it was dry and the walking was smooth and easy:

Just up ahead I spotted the remnants of an old stone foundation built right on the riverbank:

It was the remains of an old paper mill:

And on we hiked, with the dogs adventuring up into the forested hills:

Seamus was all smiles as he paused with Daphne, his little Papillon buddy:

And then we arrived at the beautiful falls. There is a narrow rocky ridge which leads out to this overview and the dogs ran on ahead while I snapped this picture. But I sensed that they were up to no good so quickly pocketed my camera and hurried on up ahead to see what they were doing. I found a small pile of shoes and jackets and lunches - and yes, Daphne and Clover had managed to break into a lunch and eat half a sandwich. I saw two young barefoot ladies down on the rocks below and tried to call to them to explain and apologize. But the roar of the falls prevented them from hearing me:

So I returned to the trail and continued on my way, feeling quite guilty for the transgressions of my two puppies and for not telling the girls about it. I could have climbed down the rocks to where they were but considered that would have been an even bigger disruption of their idyllic outing than what had already transpired. So we just kept on hiking:

The forested hills were lovely but I saw no more signs of emerging vegetation. I'll continue the story tomorrow: