Fall 2018 Slinks Out

Autumn 2018 colors in our neighborhood have been notably subdued, more of a stumble than a Fall. We’re on the brink of perma-brown taking over as rain and winds wash away, during the next several days, what little color we had.  Today, however, Lori and I were able to enjoy a comfortable sunny walk in Sweedler Preserve, one of the many gems within easy reach of our place.


Halloween photo from the family archive

From and black-and-white 8 X 10 print made by William Duncan c. 1960.

Over 50 years ago my father made this photo of 4 of us dressed up for Halloween. As I recall, our trick-or-treating consisted of visiting the Douglas family home in Hawkeye, NY–there were no other reasonable nearby options but we made out just fine.

The photo, shot with my father’s beloved Kodak Retina II A on Plus X film, was developed and printed to an 8X10 in the kitchen/darkroom. If memory serves, a light bulb on an extension cord placed inside the pumpkin provided the spooky light.

Piebald Deer

A young piebald deer is a frequent visitor to our rural area.

Local Reconnaissance

Already blessed with an abundance of nearby trails to enjoy, Lori and I have been exploring some of the other options in the Finger Lakes area. We’ve had a very wet summer and fall making some trails muddy messes. (At least our rainfall was uniformly distributed unlike our unfortunate neighbors in the south getting clobbered with torrential storm destruction.)

We checked out Birdseye Hollow State Forest and found the main northeast-to-southwest trail was too swampy to enjoy.  The Finger Lakes Trail part going through the State Forest looked like it may have parts at higher elevations that could have drained a bit better. Sanford Lake looked promising for a short relaxing paddle and an easy launch at a nice boat launch on the south end. We ended up walking about 4+ miles along a trail section from Sanford Lake and up a dirt road through some nice woods.

Finger Lakes National Forest looks much more promising for hiking.  It’s along the ridge separating Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.  It’s an interesting mix of hardwood forest and open pasture lands in active use by local farmers.  We sampled a few miles of the No-Tan-Takto and Interloken trails and thoroughly enjoyed them–we will be back for some more serious exploration of the extensive possibilities.

Peak Performance

Lori on top of Mount Marcy

Lori takes in the views from the top of Mount Marcy, highest peak in New York State, after a long hike and before an even longer trek back.

Lori and I visited the Adirondacks for a few days, primarily to give Lori an opportunity to hike Mount Marcy, highest mountain in New York State.  We did our 16-mile loop on a miserably hot and humid day. Our descent included a stop at lovely Lake Tear of the Clouds with Mount Marcy looming over it. Our 60+ year old bodies complained a bit on the long trudge back but we done good. Lori is a real trouper–what a woman!

There were other highlights during our visit up north. We had a really wonderful dinner at The Deer’s Head Inn in Elizabethtown. Our meals were superb, wonderfully prepared, and we were well taken care of by a hard-working and friendly wait staff.

We brought our canoes intending to paddle the Essex Chain Lakes near Newcomb but unfortunately a bridge repair project thwarted our plans. We headed back to Newcomb and stopped at Cloud-Splitter Outfitters to ask for suggested alternatives. Ruth was very generous with her time and knowledge as she pointed out several options in the area.  We intend to head back in the future to check them out.

We spent the good part of the day canoeing on Henderson Lake near the Upper Works at Tahawus, one of Ruth’s recommendations. Loons were our only companions on the lake during most of our exploring (with a kayaking couple appearing as we returned to the launch site). The 3/10 mile portage required to get to the lake is enough to prevent 9/10 of the people who might otherwise considerate it. It’s a beautiful lake with spectacular high peaks views. We managed the portage easily with our Hornbeck light-weight canoes but started mulling options for making it even easier for future longer portages.

On our way home we stopped at Hornbeck Boats in Olmstedville to get our canoes outfitted with yokes for easier portaging. While waiting for the guys in the shop to do the job, we had a fun visit with Pete Hornbeck and his son-in-law Josh. Pete also gave us a poster personalized with his drawing (something he does for most clients), our first addition to our Hornbeck Collection. We couldn’t be happier with our canoes and the pleasure of doing business with these guys.

After getting our canoe yokes, we did the 15-minute drive to North Creek to grab a quick lunch at Cafe Sarah which we’ve come to consider a standard stop on our way through the area. Always good!

So, in short, no fatalities, no lasting injuries: another successful adventure in the Adirondacks.


Somehow in the somnolent enjoyment of my retirement, I abruptly found myself working as a court clerk. Now at it for more than six months (part-time), it’s taken over a big swath of the days as I struggled to learn the ropes and simultaneously help streamline and modernize processes and procedures.

Recruited by neighbor, friend, and local town justice Bill Chernish, I started out inauspiciously with a letter from Tompkins County informing me that I was unqualified for the job.  In fairness, they were right–nothing in my background translated directly to the justice business.  Bill overrode the rejection and my next opportunity to get out of this was a fingerprint FBI background check.  Oh well, I got past that too.

It’s been fascinating being on the front lines of the justice system, however modest our little town endeavor is.  We have sufficiently “interesting” cases to belie Newfield’s sleepy-little-town characterization. But the bulk of our business is the routine processing of traffic tickets, dog licensing issues, etc.  The court clerk’s job throughout is to support the town justice to give prompt, fair, and correct processing through the judicial system for all who visit our court.

It’s humbling for me as I learn a daunting mound of procedures, tools, and forms. Most of what we do is watched over by state authorities to make sure we manage money, reporting, and administration within strict guidelines.

We’re just one of over 1200 town and village courts in New York State, each staffed with devoted court clerks making the jurisprudence machinery work smoothly.  My guess, based on observation at training sessions, is that at least 95% of clerks are women.  And most are impressively skilled and professional.  And they’re not earning what they’re worth.  (I’m not personally complaining because I’m doing it for entertainment and as a way to help our town.)

Adirondack Vacation Video

Yikes!  A vacation video: with a post title like that, I wouldn’t blame you if you ran in the opposite direction. If you suffer through it however, you’ll see my first attempt at video production using footage from the Sony DSC-RX10 iii camera. I’m impressed.  Some clips are shot at ISO 1600 and you can’t really tell easily from the results. I obviously have to work on technique and get a bit better at editing but not too bad.

Hornbeck Canoes in the Adirondacks

There are three things in common with the group of images below:

  1. All were shot in the Adirondacks of upstate New York State.
  2. All were shot of or from Hornbeck ultralight New Tricks double-paddle canoes. (On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HornbeckBoats/.)
  3. All are cropped frame grabs from video clips.

While on vacation we paddled a total of about 20 miles on 9 ponds and 2 rivers and thoroughly enjoyed our canoes.  They’re easy to manage, very maneuverable, a pleasure to portage, and just right for the mix of ponds, lakes, and waterways in the Adirondack mountain area.  We don’t miss our big heavy touring kayaks (although they handled camping and nasty weather beautifully).

I was a bit surprised how nicely the video frame grabs came out.  You wouldn’t print large from the size but it has plenty of resolution for Web use. Video clips were shot from a Sony RX 10 III working out of a Pelican case sitting in my canoe. It worked out rather well although there are tweaks I’ll be trying in later efforts.