Sunday, March 27, 2022

The 'Icks' of March

"April is the cruellest month" 

                T.S. Eliot

     Around here, March seems to be the new April. It can be a month that's tough to love. Mud replaces snow and for me mud is not as much fun to play in as snow. And there's not much green yet either. The lushness of spring is still weeks away. Without its white winter coat or its sprightly new growth, the world can look rather forlornly naked and, as with most of us, naked isn't necessarily pretty.

     In this age of Instagram there's pressure for photos to be beautiful, to show shiny happy people in shiny happy landscapes. But that's not real. At least not all of what's really out there. That's why I'm posting the following images. Washington County in all its dreary, bedraggled, late winter disarray. And I didn't even take some of the ugliest shots because I was afraid they would crack the lens of my camera! But don't let it get you down. Soon enough streams will be sparkling, birds singing, flowers blooming and all will be 'Instagram worthy', at least as long as no one takes a picture of me naked.

     *Washington County is currently experiencing a real estate boom so let's start with some fine properties for your consideration:

This Fort Miller estate comes tastefully landscaped with weeds and brush.
Lawn furniture included at no extra charge.

Another charming waterfront parcel.
With two campers you'll always feel like you're on vacation

OK, this one is something of a fixer upper but it does come with free tires

Ready to act on your 'back to the land' dreams?
Better move quickly because this barn won't last long.

     *Washington County is known for its scenic country roads. Here's a sampling of some of that scenery.

Bags of discarded garbage along Lick Springs Road

A pile of tires beside Harper Road.
They've been there for years.
Since no one is moving to clean them up Mother Nature 
is doing her best to camouflage them with weedy growth.

Enjoy the view of the Mettawee River from Upper Turnpike Road
It's just beyond the tossed furniture, appliances and tires 

A little further along is this drive-thru museum of farming history.
Hundreds of pieces of broken down, rusted equipment line both sides of the road.
With the high price of scrap metal this guy could fatten his wallet and do some serious beautification
in one fell swoop.

There's a rest area along Rt. 22 in Dresden with enticing views of Lake Champlain.
If you can look past the litter it's quite lovely. 

Beyond this sign on Larmon Road is a gully.
It's been dumped in, of course.

Thoughtful of someone to put this easy chair beside the old canal on Towpath Road.
Since the Empire State Trail goes by here tired cyclists can sit and rest for a spell.

How bad do you need to go?
POSTED signs are ubiquitous in Washington County.
Outhouses in the middle of open fields are less common.
Along Cary Road in the Town of Fort Edward.

Dead Creek and the Moses Kill are muddy messes as they shrug off their winter burdens of ice.

Wondering what else is in the water?
This is a field of bare, frozen ground plastered with manure.
Thankfully, it's a practice that's gradually being abandoned.
When snow melts or it rains the nutrients are washed into the nearest stream.
That would be Slocum Creek for this field.

Gullying and erosion are serious challenges for farmers.
Scenes from Easton and Shushan.

     *Mud Moo's...

     You hardly ever see a milk cow in Washington County, even though there are many thousands. That's because they spend their time lounging in free stall barns. Beef cows, on the other hand, are rugged outdoor types. A little copse of trees for shade and shelter and they're happy. At least until mud season when the combination of saturated soils and many hooves leads to the gooey mess seen in  these photos from Easton.

     Logging is a tough business anytime of year but it can be impossible when the frost is going out. This job in Easton seems to be shut down until conditions improve. Most guys are responsible and take a break until the ground firms up. Skidding when it's wet and soft can leave deep ruts that last nearly forever.

More power to you. These transmission towers have an other worldly,
alien look, a strange crop growing in this somber late winter landscape.

Bales with a view. Hay that has gone past its expiration date looks out on an umber 
Fort Edward Grasslands.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Boom Boom

     Putey the Barbarian better think twice before sending his army of thugs to invade Washington County. They might get a 'hot' welcome. Take a look at these photos to see what's waiting for them:


I'ld STOP if I was a Russian facing this

It's positioned in front of the Argyle American Legion

This scary guy sits ready to defend the Cambridge Library from invasion

 Hudson Fall's park is double-barreled with two cannons


Fort Ann has a Battle Hill, a bank built like a fort and this piece of weaponry

Whitehall calls itself the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.
Was this formidable looking beast once mounted on a ship?

Located up in Dresden, this monster looks like it could shoot the Moon out of the sky.
Putin is kind of moon-faced, don't you think?

This old-timer sits in front of the Schuylerville Monument. It's in Saratoga County
but could probably help out Washington County if needed.
Burgoyne met his comeuppance here. Does Putey want to be next in line to get his butt kicked?

     * If this post had a soundtrack it would have to be John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. Featured in The Blues Brothers as well as a  Bond film and covered by Bruce Springsteen among others, it's a classic. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

There's an ECHO

     You don't exactly 'sleep with the fishes' at ECHO. For those who may remember how the phrase is used in The Godfather movie, that's a decidedly good thing. But you do feel like you're swimming with them. Especially when all that separates you from a four foot long lake sturgeon is a thin pane of glass.    


     ECHO is the aquarium/museum of Lake Champlain. It's located on the waterfront in Burlington, Vermont and it makes for a great escape on a cold winter's day. Gwenne and I recently braved a squall north of Fair Haven and drifting snow on Rt. 22 to pay a visit. The drive's special treat was a view of Camels Hump emerging from clouds to the east. It brought back fond?! memories of winter climbs when it felt like the winds raking the summit cone were going to fly me non-stop to New Hampshire. My favorite mountain and one I plan to return to soon. 

Web image 

     ECHO sits at little more than 100 feet above sea level so you're not likely to be blown into the next state from here. Still there was a cold breeze coming off the frozen lake when we arrived. That made being in the building all the more welcoming. Once past the front desk you're immersed in a world of bubbling water and birdsong. Fish glide and turtles, frogs, snakes and salamanders bask as if it were summer. A March visit leaves you amped for the warm months to come, for the joy of sliding your canoe into waters teaming with life. 

Oodles of Turtles

     The museum is built on several levels with the bottom being appropriately dedicated to the underwater world. Here you'll find mock shipwrecks, exhibits on zebra mussels and other invasives and tanks full of fish. The upper levels hold more aquariums plus Native American artifacts and displays on lake history and natural phenomenon. Walls of glass (and an outdoor deck in warm weather) allow you to look out on the lake and its backdrop of rugged Adirondack peaks.

     ECHO is family friendly with kids bubbly energy adding to the vibe. There's a whole room dedicated to the little ones with tree houses, boats and a place to play 'store'. Indeed, all ages are encouraged to interact and explore thru out the museum. Nothing staid and dusty here. It's the next generation that will someday care for the lake and to do that they need to understand and care about it. That's what ECHO is here for.

From ECHO website      

     One corner of the building is occupied by the Lake Champlain Basin Program with resources for everyone from school groups and their teachers to historians and researchers. Their library of lake related subjects is impressive and Laura Hollowell, the friendly staffperson, has a wealth of knowledge on all facets of the watershed.




     There is a theatre screening several programs, a museum shop and a room that hosts rotating exhibits, with dinosaurs being the current occupants. What's missing? Not much but I didn't see a really good explanation of the basin's geologic formation and it would be nice if the museum shop carried a selection of books about the lake...its ecology, history and recreational opportunities. And while certainly not meant to be an art museum, a few well placed paintings and photos could add to the overall experience. 

     Lake Champlain didn't make the cut as the sixth Great Lake but that doesn't mean it's not a great lake. For me it's just the right size...big enough for a lifetime of exploring but not so big to be overwhelming. You might find ECHO the perfect portal to the big lake's many treasures. 


     * Lake Champlain's watershed encompasses the northern reaches of Washington County. Halfway Brook is part of that watershed, flowing across the Towns of Kingsbury and Fort Ann at the south end of the basin (remember that Champlain empties north into the St. Lawrence). Recently the Glens Falls Chapman Museum hosted a talk on the history of Halfway Brook. Here's a link to a Youtube video of that talk for anyone interested.