Book Writing Possibility
Interesting. The editor of New York titles for Arcadia Publishing, a well-known publisher of local and regional photographic histories, contacted me and asked to talk to me about the possibility of my doing a book on historic Watertown. I assume she ran across me via my Jefferson County History pages. And this isn’t one of those vanity presses where you write your book and pay them to put your book together. It’s a legitimate publishing company. Very flattering that someone would think I might be able to write a book, even a small one.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t relish the thought of the amount of research that would go into it, and the small amount of money that a history book would bring me for that amount of work. It’s certainly something to think about.
Interesting nonetheless – in one week I’ve gotten a death threat and a possible book offer!
New Trail and Bad Trail Rules – No Pets, No Bikes!
I ran across a new trail, called the El Dorado Beach Preserve Trails (N 43’48.948 W76’14.163). Not a bad little trail, I added it to my trail’s pages but what I don’t like is the limitation of no pets and no mountain bikes. Definitely not recommended, as you can go over on the Black Lake trail or the Lakeview wildlife area trail. Sure, it’s a nature preserve but sheez…
Some people have a real problem with mountain bikers. It’s funny, there’s some people who have a problem with letting mountain bikers on a trail but not horses. What could be more destructive to a trail then horses riding on it? And pets? Yea, if you let your dog run around and dig stuff up that’s bad for a nature preserve. But so is a badly behaved kid, or a bunch of drunk teenagers…
Four Wheelin’ and Totman Gulf
Many years ago I had a few friends who were into the whole trail driving, mud-trucking sort of thing. I went with them many times and it was fun, exciting, sometimes scary (like the time we descended a maddeningly very, very steep hill, what a piece of master driving that was to work the breaks, transmission and steering so we wouldn’t start sliding, roll to the side, or go down too fast!), sometimes hard (when every one of the large big-tired trucks gets stuck in the snow or mud and everyone has to help to dig them out), and sometimes even boring (when something breaks down and you have to wait for repairs/parts/something to dry out).
But it was a great time, and there’s very little that is like a group of friends going out in the middle of no where, grabbing a few beers, and sitting around a campfire and enjoying life. Simple things, but good stress-free memories nonetheless.
Sure, it’s kinda ‘redneck’ – but it was fun and life’s too damn short not to do things just because someone else might have a particular distaste for something and label it negatively.
I’m proud of the various phases of my life, the different things I’ve done (and of course there’s sure many things I’m not proud of too), and the ways I’ve changed and grown and moved on from.
So on one of the last trips I ever took while “four-wheelin'” (as it was called by my friends – now that refers more to ATV-riding, I guess), I had met my future wife a time before this, and we were tooling around in my car. We came across my friend who was getting set to go for a trail drive. He asked us to go along.
So he drove us out to a large steep and deep gorge, I lost track of how we got there in the dark. He proceeded to work the truck down a rough ramp that had been created probably hundreds of years ago. It was a hairy trip down, with lots of sliding and slow going toward the bottom. The drop was around a hundred feet, give or take.
Once at the bottom a beautiful little stream ran through the gorge, the high shale cliffs towered on either side, and we stopped at a small natural dam with a little pool behind it, a waterfall coming down and feeding into it and the stream.
There were a few other people around, heading down on foot. And after a bit we got back in the truck and drove down the stream. It was pretty incredible with the shale walls on either side. After a few miles one side of the gorge got shallower until we reached a small hill and a trail leading out. My friend drove up onto it and we meandered along a number of other trails. Some with deep swampy water, streams, pools of water, and mud. It was a great ride, and I think my wife enjoyed it too as she probably had never been on a truck trip like this before.
After awhile he headed back on this gravel road. As I said we had went through lots of water and mud and the little Ford Ranger with the big tires didn’t as much as skip. But as soon as we went through a moderate sized puddle on the gravel road it died, wouldn’t ya know it…
We got out and took the distributor off, tried to dry it, with no luck. Wouldn’t start. We did this a number of times, still no luck.
At that time (very early 90’s) very few people had cellphones, most people didn’t even know what they were. All we had was a CB.
But we were out in the middle of no where, and for those readers who are radio or electronic enthusiasts you may be familiar with ‘skip’ and atmospheric ducting. Basically, the radio waves are at such a frequency as to readily bounce off a certain layer of atmosphere. You can be hundreds, or thousands, of miles away from what you’re hearing.
This makes for the citizen band channels to be sometimes nearly useless; overridden with ‘skip’ from all over the US and the world. Sunspot activity energizes the Heavyside layer and makes the regular low background skip magnify many-fold.
And sometimes it makes talking to someone hundreds of miles away easier than talking to someone a few miles away.
So there we were, the middle of the night, trying to punch through a call to someone we knew who could come and help us out. We were quite a distance from anywhere, and not really sure what the shortest way to walk out would be.
Finally, after hours – my friend got a call to someone who could come out and tow us. A quick tow and the truck started right up, no problem. Argh.
We made our way back, finding a phone as quickly as possible so my wife; then girlfriend, could call her probably very-worried parents and let them know what happened.
I’d always remembered that trip, despite the break-down, because of the beautiful gorge. I haven’t seen my friend in many years so I have never had a chance to ask him exactly where it was and how to get back to it.
I had told my father about it and he had talked to some people from various areas locally, trying to get an idea of where it might be as it sounded interesting to him. A couple thought they knew where it was.
Finally, my father ran across one place that he thought must be near to where we had went into the gorge. He took a trip out there but wasn’t sure. A few days ago I had business out in the area so he agreed to go along and show me the place.
Outside of Adams and a distance from Lorraine he took me down the Lemay Road. He had showed me the gorge there before, off from the Lemay Road, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same place. It might have been. This time we drive further down the road, which had turned into a rough gravel road; and found the dirt ramp going down into the gorge.
We made our way down on foot, noticing the boulders that had been put across the access to it so people couldn’t drive down in trucks anymore. My GPS showed that we were going down nearly a hundred feet. If you’re interested the coords are 43º45.810N -76º0.172W.
It didn’t really look familiar as the place we had taken the truck down, but then again it had been a long time. When we reached the bottom we found the ruins of an old bridge; possibly built a hundred; or more likely, nearly two hundred years ago. The ramp trail leading down into the gorge had another ramp, made of stone, leading up at an angle (see bottom picture). A space where a bridge span must have been, and then a large tall stone pylon with primitive concrete closer to the water (see top two pics at the left), far up on the other side, near the top of the opposite cliff, were more stones where the last span must have attached. The wooden bridge spans were long gone of course, but for the most part the stone foundations were still in place, except for the middle pylon. The span from the middle pylon to the opposite cliff seemed quite a distance for such a primitive work of construction.
It seemed they must have made the main ramp trail down the side of the cliff, then partway down built the ramp going to the bridge. The ramp leading to the bridge was built partway up the main ramp so that it must have been level or near-level by the time they were on the bridge itself, and it was high enough to be on the level with the opposite side I suppose.
The ramp leading to the bridge was narrow, my father mentioned that they must have blind-folded the horses to get them across. I think you’d have to blindfold me too, and bridges and heights don’t bother me…
Further back up the ramp I found a few regular foot or ATV trails leading down off it, after making my way down them I found the pool and waterfall.
Back at the top we continued on the road for a bit until we reached a corner, and I immediately recognized the small gravel road we had broken down on many years before. Funny, I hadn’t recognized the ramp going into the gorge as the one we had went on, nor the waterfall and pool – but the road I immediately saw as the same one. Funny how your memory works (or doesn’t) sometimes.
We have a beautiful area, all times of the year, something that locals as well as new residents often forget or don’t notice. There’s so many people who have lived here for long or short periods or are just visiting (or return to here) and barely get out of the city of Watertown or off Fort Drum or where ever.
Like I said; we have a beautiful area – it’s just some of the people who aren’t so beautiful (inside and out, often both).
Every once in a while you have to get out and do something that’s ‘old school’, something old-time North Country Traditional; yes, in capitals. Nothing wrong with that.
So we went apple picking last Monday, Columbus Day; at Behlings, in Mexico, NY. When I was young we had went often, but as I got older it didn’t hold as much interest. Quite a few years back I went again with my wife (then girlfriend) and my parents when my mother was still alive. My mother always liked to get lots of apples and make apple sauce and such.
On that particular trip we decided to try making applesauce, using my mother’s machine. A machine that you painstakingly hand-wind to squash the apples into applesauce. A lot of work and messy; but it did the job.
This time we thought we’d try a few easier methods suggested by people on the Internet.
We took my father, who enjoys doing things like this. I always feel so sorry for him now that my mother is gone, they enjoyed doing things together and now we has to do many of those things alone; though my sister and I try to include him as much as possible, my brother occasionally also.
The trip down to Mexico was foggy and it looked like we had picked a bad day as it might rain. On the way we stopped at a Ponderosa (not real big Ponderosa fans but we had coupons – cheapos that we are.)and then headed the rest of the way to Behlings. It was quite a festival atmosphere (in a small way) with rides and food and lots of people picking as well as perusing the already-picked apples and apple-related items and food.
Yea, it’s nice to get out and do some of these homey, North Country, things-our-ancestors-did stuff. And it only sprinkled a bit until we left (at which point it was a downpour).
A few days later we tried a few methods of applesauce making but the best, by far, was using a blender as suggested by someone on the Internet. This is the easiest and makes the best applesauce (unless you like your applesauce chunky, I guess). I can’t imagine anyone making applesauce any other way.
Basically we (and when I say ‘we’ I mean my wife) cored the apples, cut them up, and put them in boiling water to soften. Then I dumped them into the blender, and blended the crap out of them at low-speed, occasionally carefully using a plastic spoon to make sure they were consistently pureed. I guess this is the trickiest part, as you don’t want to get the spoon down where the blade is.
Wow, what a great job the blender did – and the best part is it was relatively easy and it didn’t waste anything, including the skin which is a good source of nutrition (and you can’t even tell the skin is part of the applesauce). Made a large amount too.
Planting Trees & Blog Action Day
Hmmm, Gore and his buddies won the Nobel Peace Prize.
We’ve planted a total of six new trees this year. Okay, so maybe they were more for landscaping, shade, and privacy – but we still keep in mind the benefits of doing so.
You don’t have to be a tree-hugger or environmentalist to be aware of environmental problems and how things are going in our world. Unless you are fond of burying your head in the sand, of course. On October 15th is Blog Action Day – this year it’s about environmental posting, if you have a blog or website check it out and post a little something on that day. It won’t hurt.
Box.net has a nice little feature where you can embed a directory of files (in this case photos) into a webpage or blog. With photos when you click them in the little box it blows them up (constrained by the size of the original box). Here’s some of my favorite demo pics for the camera: