Monday, July 23, 2007

Adirondack adventures

Well, in about nine hours I will be back at the daily grind. I’ve been on vacation since July 12, and it’s been terrific!

Actually, the vacation started with Nolan’s birthday – 7-years-old! We had his party at a nearby park with a really cool playground. He invited a few friends from school. They goofed around on the playground, had a kickball game and ended the party with a water gun fight.

Two days later we left town to spend a week at Kris’ uncle’s camp on Silver Lake, in the heart of the Adirondacks. It was a full week of hiking, fishing, swimming and other outdoor fun.

We spent our first day there with Kris’ family. Her sister and brother-in-law were up visiting her folks that weekend. So all four of them came out to the lake for the afternoon.

The Silver Lake Bog Preserve is walking distance from the cabin. We all set out to walk that on Sunday, but pets aren’t allowed in the preserve. So Thomas and I took Chester back to the cabin while Kris and Nolan continued with the hike. The route leads out to the bluffs overlooking the lake with a nice view of Whiteface Mountain in the distance. They came back with some nice pictures. Hopefully Thomas and I can make the hike next time (sorry, Chester).

Meanwhile, Thomas, Chester and I were having our own adventure back in the cabin. Our friendly game of Monopoly was interrupted by the discovery of a chipmunk inside the cabin. We chased him around from room to room before eventually running him out of the house not long before Kris and Nolan got back. The whole escapade was one the highlights of our trip for Thomas.

Monday brought one of my highlights—our trip to the summit of Whiteface. We drove up the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, making stops along the way to take in the view (that’s where the panoramic shot above was taken). From the end of the road, it’s just a rocky one-fifth of a mile hike to the top of the mountain. We all made it—even Chester, perhaps the world’s only mountain-climbing Basset hound.

The view is absolutely breathtaking. I wish I could have spent more time up there taking it all in. I could spend all day just sitting there soaking up that scenery.

On Tuesday we hopped in the canoe and paddled down to the beach. It’s about a half-hour canoe ride, but once you arrive there you have a shallow, sandy beach all to yourself. It’s great for the kids. We actually didn’t swim a whole lot on this trip. The water temperature was never much more than 72 degrees. Maybe we were being wimps about it. But we did get in the water a few times, including this day at the beach.

Wednesday turned out to be our biggest hiking day. Despite the fact it rained earlier that morning and looked like it could rain again any minute, Kris declared, “We Rooneys are hearty folk!” And with that we threw on our rain ponchos and headed up Silver Lake Mountain. Round trip that was a 1.8 mile trek (and it never did rain again).

Later in the day, on kind of a whim, we drove out to the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s College. This is a great, family-friendly stop that I recommend for everyone. There are some hands-on exhibits; live birds of prey and miles of nicely groomed, easy to hike trails. After spending some time in the butterfly house, we wound up hiking a couple of the trails (see the panoramic view of the Heron Marsh below), for a total of another 1.3 miles.

Thursday was our only real washout with the weather. But we made the most of it. Nolan recently declared fish are his favorite animal. So we paid a visit to the Adirondack Fish Hatchery and learned about how the fish are bred and used to stock the ponds and lakes. They had some impressive looking landlocked salmon when we were there.

Friday we went into Lake Placid and hiked some of the Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails. The village was bustling with people in town for the Iron Man Triathlon. It was about as crowded as Lake Placid gets, but there weren’t many people on these trails. We thought it was kind of neat that we found a scenic place to enjoy views of the lake that a lot of the tourists in town probably didn’t even know about.

We had planned to leave first thing Saturday morning, but in typical Rooney fashion we wound up leaving Friday night instead. It just seemed easier that way.

So that was our big vacation for the summer. We took a ton of great pictures. Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to throw together some sort of slideshow.

In the meantime, life now returns to normal. We’ve got one more camping trip planned before the summer is over.


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