Sunday, September 25, 2011

Magpie #84 Barb's funeral

The funeral was yesterday.
A big church, in a small hamlet,
Filled almost to capacity---
The pastor commented.
A celebration of life
projected on the wall,
Of moments in a long life
Cut short.

and Hallelujah!!!
they celebrated the last nine
Years of life.
little or no
Of the fuller life that filled that
in the woods.

The rain fell
on the sunny day.
The birds
God's faithful daughter home.

And WE
said our farewells........

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adirondack 90 miler 2011

2011 Adirondack Canoe Classic
29th Annual
"The 90-Miler"

This canoe race is a big deal.  Even if you've done it 29 times, 20 times, or only once; everytime, it's a big deal.
With no less than 57 sponsors and hundreds of volunteers coordinating everything from safety to environmental responsibility, this one event stands out as the gold standard of canoe/kayaking paddling events.
Kudos to Grace and Brian McDonnell of MAC's Canoe Livery. Without their devotion this event would not be the success it is and has been for decades.  Imagine the task of coordinating the efforts of the NYS DEC, law enforcement personnel, amateur radio operators ( little or no cell phone access along the race course), and search and rescue teams.
This is not the minor leagues folks; this is a big deal!
While this year marks the 7th time Leigh and I have done "the 90 miler" it is the 5th time as registered participants. Our first two times were done as bandits; the colloquialism for those paddlers who do the race without the sanction of the 90 miler team.  None of the protections, aids, water and energy snacks provided the registered racers are afforded to bandits; you're on your own.
Day one: from Old Forge NY to Blue Mountain Lake, NY.  34 miles, 4 carries = 3.5 miles.
Every year presents something different.  Usually, the biggest difference is the unpredictable weather and water conditions. This year, all three days were picture perfect: bright, sunny, not too hot, and calm water for the most part. (The washing machine on Racquette Lake, while rough, was on the low setting this year.)  Something you might lose sight of during the years of colder, windier, more inclement weather is the great numbers of biting insects that dwell within the Adirondack mountains.  When we entered the portion of the route called Browns Tract we were assaulted be a fierce biting fly; bigger than a black fly and smaller than a deer fly and with the genetic traits of a kamikaze pilot.  Our ankles and feet were under constant attack.  Since it was impossible to paddle and swat flies at the same time, we would wait until a swarm accumulated and then stop and murder a few.  Of course this only encouraged the rest to come in for a larger share of the booty.
If that weren't enough, a gradually worsening tendonitis began to plague my left hand and wrist making pulling a paddle with that hand next to impossible.  Mental not to self: next year remember the preemptive dose of ibuprofen prior to starting.   Amazingly, despite fly warfare and paddling with one arm, our finish time was only 16 minutes longer than last year, and only 2 minutes longer than 2009.  Go figure.
Recovery in Blue Mountain Lake consisted of chocolate milk gifted by sponsor Byrne Dairy, and bananas.
 Preparations for days two and three included, sun screen, liberal spraying of Deep Woods Off, Ibuprofen, and duct tape to fingers (a blister prevention technique.).

Saturday Day 2 was sponsored by Byrne Dairy.
Distance: 33 miles.   Carries: 1 = 1.25 miles  From Long Lake to Tupper Lake, NY
An early morning, picturesque, lifting mist greets us at the beginning of day two where we will start by paddling 12.5 miles down the length of Long Lake and into the Racquette river.  We will follow the river to  the finish at"the Crusher".  The portage is a mountain climb around the Racquette Falls.  This entire day was like a meditative, hypnosis paddle through a Currier and Ives Adirondack scene; peaceful and serene.
Due to Hurricanes Irene and Lee, the water levels, throughout the 90 mile course, were from 1 to 2 feet higher than usual for this time of year  and made the paddle even more enjoyable.  Exiting and entry for portages posed some different but not insurmountable challenges.

Looking down Long Lake from the Bridge in Long Lake, NY

paddling down Long Lake.  Taken from shore in front of Long Lake Motel.

Leigh relaxing at Long Lake Motel after Day Two.

rel relaxing at Long Lake Motel after Day 2.

Sunday DAY three (10 anniversary of 9/11)
Distance: 22 Miles   Carries; 3 = .6 miles
From Fish Creek Ponds to Lake Flower In Saranac Lake; traversing, Upper Saranac Lake, Middle Saranac Lake, Lower Saranac Lake, First and Second pond, Lake Oseetah and into Lake Flower.
It seems that we finally find our groove on day three and everything falls into place; timing, turn over, paddle depth, lines of approach and portage smoothness.  It has always been our best time.
Once we arrive at Riverside park in Saranac Lake to the fanfare of the finish line there is a picnic lunch and the awards ceremony where trophies and mileage pins are distributed to those qualifying.
My long range goal as far as the "90 Miler" goes is to earn entry into the Gold Canoe Club.
To receive this honor a recipient must have participated in and completed 20 Adirondack Canoe Classics from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.
I've five behind me, so only 15 more to go.  I'll be 80 years old by then , so wish me luck!!

start at Fish Creek

and they're off........................

chow time

 5 years X 90 miles = 450 miles.

photos by Diane Aubrey LaRock

Thursday, September 08, 2011

29th Adirondack Ninety Mile Conoe race 2011

Adirondack 90 Miler

It's that time of year again.  Leigh and I will motor south shortly for the 7th time in as many years to challenge the elements and waterways of the Adirondacks.

The 3 day, 90 mile course will test our endurance and perseverance.  Every year brings a new adventure to add to our repertoire of tales to tell in the years to come.  From the first year when we paddled well into the night, to the time we capsized due to fatigue to last years rough weather.  So rough was the third and last day of last years race, that prior to the starting gun the race director announced that every paddler must don their pfd before starting out.  I looked at Leigh and said, "I think we're in for it today bud."  We were fortunate to finish in Saranac Lake on Lake flower because many did not.  Quite a few boats capsized in the wind tossed lakes and had to be rescued.

The weather report for this year looks ideal, but we all know about weather and weather reports, now don't we?

We are already late in leaving.  Leigh is an obstetrician and the best laid plans are frequently upset by a woman in labor.  That first year, the one where we paddled after dark, Leigh and Karen didn't pull in to Old Forge 'til one o'clock in the morning.  We were on the water at 0800 the next morn.

Here's hoping  we won't repeat that today.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

It seems to me that this word/concept "rights" gets mixed up and confused with words like "obligations", and "responsibilities." and just as often we have trouble determining what form of of government we really have, as in "republic vs democracy.
Unless one is a student of government You don't care much: when life, as you experience it, is good and things are going your way, for the most part.
It's when we have high unemployment, houses selling for a fraction of their cost and interest is at 4% and you can't afford to buy in the buyer's market, when gas prices rise to a level 1/2 or less the price in other developed countries, and obesity is the biggest health problem in the country, and healthcare costs are shooting over the moon, that we look somewhere to point the finger of blame and voice our displeasure.

... Hey, why not the government, the system? Yeah, it's a systems problem; let's change the system. Or, let's send a message by doing nothing and then "they'll" see that "they" have to change things. You see "they" don't have rights, "they" only have obligations. We have rights.
The problem here is that, by your way of thinking, rights has the upper hand over obligation.
Is that not a good thing? Individuals rights first? Rights, like most things in nature, have to be exercised in order to be maintained. The use it or lose it principle comes to the fore here. Sure you can sit on your butt and do nothing, it's your right afterall. You have the right to smoke, to overeat and become obese and burden your fellow citizens to care for you when you suffer the backlash of your indulging your rights.

Yes you have the right, under our democratic republic to burden your neighbors, your community, your fellow citizens, and to threaten, by so doing, their rights. Realize that, when threatened, a retaliatory response is usually forth-coming. In this case: they'll take away your right to burden them.

Having lived all my life in this flawed but democratic country and not being black or female, I can not adequately describe for you what it might be like to live in a country where the populace doesn't have the right to vote. There are still countries in this world where the right to NOT vote is not only encouraged but enforced. Go live in one of those countries as one of the oppressed class without the right to vote for a year or ten. If you get out alive, come back and tell us how not voting worked for you.