Monday, September 28, 2009

Designs by Vanessa

Meet Esty Artist Designs by Vanessa!

Vanessa is an artist on Etsy that I admire. Not only does she make beautiful jewelry and paper crafts but the way she presents her work is exceptional as well. You can tell by a quick browse through her shop, blog, and the photos of her items that she takes great pride in her work.

Many of her items are nature inspired, particularly birds. I love her shop announcement where she asks, "Who said a girly girl couldn't have a love for nature?!"

Check out her beautiful blog here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mt. Tremper via Willow Trail

After three days of partying (an out of town rehearsal dinner and wedding, and a high school reunion) I was ready for a wholesome activity. Sister and I chose Mt. Tremper because it was the closest fire tower hike left to climb, and it was a shorter hike; no need to throw my I'm-getting-too-old-to-party-like-this-body into shock. So down to the Catskills we went. We chose the Willow Trail approach because our guide book said it would save 600 feet in elevation change but only add 0.2 miles round trip. Perfect hike for my condition!

The trail begins at the dead stop end of Jessup Rd. Our guide book says its 6.4 miles round trip. We were too busy talking about my eventful week and missed the turn sign through the meadow to the trail. We came to a gorgous building with solar panels and a field of wild turkeys. The road turned around and we encountered some loggers who informed us that we did miss a turn a while back. That excursion probably added only a half mile onto our hike.

When we got back on track we climbed a little and walked along the ridge where we could hear the helpful loggers down below and a snake (not a rattlesnake) sailed over the toe of my boot. We saw Doll's Eyes in person for the first time ever! We moved forward for quite some time before getting to a junction where a sign said that there was over two miles to the summit. That, according to our calculations based on the guidebook, would mean that we had only walked about a mile from the trail head?! We took ino consideration our missed turn in Albuquerque, but it still didn't seem to check out. We hiked all the way to the summit, and towards the end of the trail we were both amazed at how it seemed like the longest 3.2 miles of our lives. I blamed it on my exhaustion and the wine from the night before.

Doll's Eyes

At the summit, much to our dissapointment, the fire tower appeared to be closed and a little unsafe to climb. Several beams were on the ground, and we speculated as to whether it was under repair and reconstruction or if the tower was going to be taken down. The pulleys and large C-clamps made us think that a restoration was in store, but the spokesperson for the family at the summit insisted it was being taken down.

No views are available from the bottom of the tower, but a large rock provided a nice sitting spot for lunch. After lunch and picture takin we continued a little down the Phoenicia trail to check out the lean-to.

Even the way down seemed equally long. I was starting to feel ashamed - we have conquored several mountains more difficult that this trail, what was my problem?! This was a fairly easy trail! We had estimated that the 6.4 mile hike would take us 3.5 hours at most, but it took us five hours including summit, picture taking, the little accidental excursion and the walk to the lean-to. How shameful! What a pleasant surprise it was when Sister found out that the Willow Trail of Mt. Tremper, according to the Catskill Center website, is actually 4.2 miles to the summit, making it about two miles longer round trip that we had thought!

An email to a Catskill Fire Tower Volunteer clarified the fire tower situation. No worries, it is under repair and it isn't going anywhere! We should have known that they wouldn't let it come down!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Home and Studio

The Etsybloggers are talking about their studios for the next Blog Carnival. Most will share pictures, but my mess is quite embarrassing. About every three months I get sick of looking at the clutter and I invest in organizers. It stays neat for a couple days before returning to the original state of chaos. Needless to say, I won't be sharing any pictures of the mess - just a cute one of my cat Rocky trying to help me work. My studio started in the "only child room" of the house, which was the room I chose to keep my desk, computer, recliner, craft table, and so on. I'm not completely selfish, my husband gets the basement, or man cave if you will.

It seems as though my studio migrates further into the rest of the house on almost a daily basis. There is no room on my craft table to work since it started to accumulate mail, junk, and uncrafty things. Besides, the DVR is in the living room and I like to keep busy when watching TV. When I get to work, I bring half of my supplies out into the living room and take over the couch, coffee table, and floor. When I'm done, I do a decent job at keeping the living room clean. The only evidence of my work is the sound of tiny beads rolling across the floor when I sweep.

The finished products end up in Pepper's room with my box of displays and busts. It is this room that gets the most light, so typically most of the pictures of my work are taken in there as well. Then back to the only child room to upload the pictures onto my laptop for editing, uploading, and adding them to the website.

I guess instead of saying I'm unorganized, you could just say I get my inspiration from all over the house!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Padlock Hill Fire Tower at the New York State Fair

My husband and I made a trip to Syracuse on Labor Day Weekend. The itinerary included the New York State Fair and the Turning Stone Casino, both firsts for me! Naturally, the first thing that I noticed after walking through the gates was a structure across the grounds resembling a fire tower. My suspicions were confirmed by the fair grounds map - the DEC had an exhibit set up featuring a fire tower.

The tower was originally located on the summit Padlock Hill, near Ithica, New York. It was a 67.5 foot International Derrick tower and was constructed in 1940. According to a website created by Captain Paul T. Hartmann, the tower was first staffed in 1941 and had reported 52 fires and 705 visitors before closing in 1976. In 1977, the tower was sold in an auction to the landowner of the property it once stood on. In 1985 it was donated to the State. The tower was dismantled then reerected by Capt. Ed Pierce and the Region 7 Forrest Rangers with the help of a local steel workers union and crane owner and operator.

The sign on the fence around the tower specifically gives credit to Union Volunteers AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Local #60, Sheet Metal Workers Local #58 and Operating Engineers Local #545.

Aside from the fire tower, the DEC exhibit features a little "nature walk," camping and hiking information, and a section on insects, particularly the emerald ash borer beetle, often referred to as EAB. Native to Asia and Eastern Russia, these beetles have invaded thirteen states in the US. If you have driven through Upstate New York recently, you may have noticed the purple traps hanging from the trees. These traps are being used to locate the leading edge of infestations, as well as new populations.

The New York Invasive Species Clearing House by Cornell University maintains a website with a lot of information about EAB, from which I found more information. In their adult form feed on the edges of the leaves, and the larvae feed on the bark and inner bark of the trees. The trees are killed as the larvae destroy the phloem (inner bark), which transports nutrients made during photosynthesis. The zylem (sapwood) is also harmed by the larvae, which is tragic because this is the part of the tree that delivers water and dissolved nutrients. The tree essentially starves to death when infected by this invasive species. This is a big problem in New York because it was the ash tree that was planted to replace the native elms destroyed by the Dutch elm disease. If large numbers of mature ash trees are destroyed, the effects could be devistating, causing temperature changes, increased air pollution, not to mention the safety and economical impacts of fallen trees.

The Raptor Project was present, showing off several raptors including a bald eagle, falcons, and owls.

We passed on a four dollar Ferris Wheel ride and seeing the Worlds Smallest Woman. Shamefully, I hade a bite of my husband's fried oreo. Not what I expected - much better, actually! If you are unfamiliar, they wrap the oreo in fried dough. It tastes cakey, better than a regular oreo, but unnecessary nonetheless.

It was a fun day at the fair, and if you were wondering, I left Turning Stone with $6.75 more than what I went in with! On the way home my husband pulled over so I could take some cool pictures of the fog reflecting the orange glow of the sunset.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overlook Mountain and Unexpected Mountain House Remains

On the rainy Saturday morning, Sister and I made our way down the the Catskills to climb Overlook Mountain. It was our fire tower of choice, as it was the shortest distance to cover of the three Catskill fire towers that we have yet to climb, and it was raining.

We started up the wide old carriage road, discouraged that it was not a trail under tree cover. The sky was open and raining down onto us; the rain was not heavy, but it was constant.

We were expecting to run into an old mountain house remains, perhaps a small foundation and a chimney. What we weren't expecting was the dilapidated monstrosity that we found. This was no observer's cabin!

According to my Views from on High book by John P. Freeman, this was a the remains of a hotel. This hotel was originally a temporary one, built by James Booth in 1833. It was given permanent status in 1871, but burned to the ground in 1874 on April Fool's Day when staff ignored a child who was trying to convince them that the smoke was darker than usual. It was rebuilt in 1878, only to burn down again in 1924. Efforts to reopen were abandoned in 1939, while in the midst of rebuilding it again.

According to the Castkill Center, the Overlook Mountain Hotel, in its prime, had the distinction of being the highest in the Catskills, at 2920 feet, and housed over 300 guests.

Rob Yasinsac provides a lot of information on the Overlook Mountain house. In his post he states that the first construction of the hotel in 1871 was done by Lewis B. Wagonen, a designer and builder from Kingston, NY. After burning down, the reconstruction of 1878 was done by the Kiersted Brothers of Saugerties. The work on the final structure was begun by Frank P. Amato. The concrete frame was quickly rebuilt, along with a chapel, underground water and ice facility, stables, and a power station, but the construction was never finished. The hotel was boarded up in 1940 and damaged by fire in 1941. A final blaze in 1961 took down much of the architecture and the roof-top tower.

The tower at the summit is restored and climbable. There are nice profile maps for the surrounding mountains along the sides of the roof of the cab, providing the climber with a guided tour of the visible area. Unfortunately, the clouds were so thick we couldn't see out the windows!

The tower is the newest of the remaining towers, built in 1927. It originally stood on Gallis Hill until it was moved to Overlook Mountain in 1950. It was eventually abandoned in 1989 and closed. Ten years later the tower was restored and opened again for climbing. In the cab a range finder and alidade are displayed.

Click here to see all my pictures on Flickr.

An Outdoorsy Carnival: The Final Edition

Welcome to the September 1, 2009 edition of an outdoorsy carnival. You read the title correctly, this is the last issue. I decided that it's too time consuming to sort through the spam, particularly after 20+ spam submissions by the same person this month. It's been great, especially reading my "regulars," and I figured now that summer is almost over it's a good time to step out. There was one post I had to exclude because it was a dead link, I searched the blog but couldn't find the article, though it seemed like an interesting article on the White Mountains in New Hampshire, so I apologize!

Aquatic Life

Alan presents The Cove: A Cultural or Environmental Issue? posted at Suwannee Refugee, saying, "Just exploring an issue about killing dolphins in an upcoming documentary, The Cove."

Advice Column

Gregory E. Rouse presents If you’re lost in the outdoors - Part 3 (Night Travel) posted at Wilderness-Survival-Skills Blog, saying, "So if you don’t have a compass, how do you figure out direction of travel during the nighttime? Here’s 4 different methods for you to try:"

Jake presents How to Play With Your Dog posted at Dog Training Pet.

ahuli presents A Backpacking List - Ten Things To Learn posted at Good Time.

Green Thumb

Tiffany Herr presents Gardening without Prejudice « It All Means Something posted at It All Means Something.

Mikkal Travvis presents Fascism On The Farm: H.R. 2749 - The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 posted at The Truth

presents Mulch Types Explained Advantages and Disadvantages posted at Home Life Weekly, saying, "If you’re one who says mulch is just mulch, no matter what type of mulch you lay on the ground. Discover the many many types of mulch in this article"

Gregory E. Rouse presents The Wheel Hoe posted at Raised-Bed-Gardening Blog, saying, "With a wheel hoe, the work of preserving the soil mulch becomes very simple."

2 Green Acres presents Why native plants are important posted at 2 Green Acres.

Kate Hopkins presents 100 Excellent Open Courses on Green Technology, Development, and Design posted at Online Schools.

The Backyard Grower presents Fall Beet Crop posted at Bobbie Whitehead.

In the Woods

Gregory E. Rouse presents Eagle Cap Wilderness posted at Wilderness-Trails Blog, saying, "The Eagle Cap Wilderness lies in the heart of the Wallowa Mountains in Northeastern Oregon on the Wallowa -Whitman National Forest. It was the summer home to the Joseph Band of the Nez Perce tribe and was used as hunting grounds for bighorn sheep, deer and to gather huckleberries."

Marjorie Morgan presents Discovery Trekking Towel posted at GO! Girls Outdoors, saying, "a humorous review of a great little towel, extensively tested in the Tasmanian wilderness - never put up with a stinky, small and damp towel again."

GP presents Snake Eyes « Musings from Montana posted at Manely Montana, saying, "An encounter with "snake eyes""

Hiking Lady presents Hiking Lady Tip of the Week: Hydration Waistpacks posted at Hiking Lady, saying, "One thing we all must have on hikes or trail runs are hydration waistpacks! It is the best way I've found to make sure I have enough water to drink on the trail."

Dora Renee Wilkerson presents Composting with worm bins. posted at Knitting, horses, and my family., saying, "Black widow spiders
Worm bins"

Paul Van Lierop presents Dutch Oven Loving: 2 Mega Easy Recipes for Frugal Camp Cooking posted at FiscalGeek, saying, "A beginners guide to dutch oven cooking in the great outdoors."

Open Air

Dan presents West Highland Way Part 1 posted at Dan's Adventure, saying, "Part 1 of 5 about walking the West Highland Way in Scotland."

Greg Laden presents Thinking skeptically about loons : Greg Laden's Blog posted at Greg Laden's Blog.

Gregory E. Rouse presents Matterhorn Peak posted at Climbing Routes Blog, saying, "A group of northern peaks that exceed 12,000ft in elevation; the Sawtooth's are often considered the beginning of the "High Sierra". The largest of the peaks in this range is called Matterhorn Peak (12,279ft)."

Phillip Jeffers presents The Wilds | Cumberland, Ohio USA posted at The Global Guru | articles & travel blog.

Katie Sorene presents 12 Most Magnificent Lakes in the World posted at Travel Blog - Tripbase.

Marina K. Villatoro presents The Travel Expert(a): Tortuguero - The Trip posted at The Travel Expert(a), saying, "This is Costa Rica's nature and outdoor dream world!"

Bryan R. presents Featured Mountain Bike Articles : Mountain Racing Bike Blog posted at Mountain Racing Bike Blog.

HCF presents How to Treat Frostbite posted at Hike Camp Fish.

Condo Blues presents How to Make Nontoxic Blowing Bubble Mix posted at Condo Blues, saying, "When the kids get bored or drive me nuts, I make up some bubble mix and send them outside!"

Michael Shappell presents The camping tent guru review kickoff post posted at The camping tent guru review.

Katy Unitek presents Developing Flexible Skill Sets with Solar Training - Boots on the Roof posted at Boots On The Roof

Sam presents Hiking the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff Arizona. Surfer Sam. posted at Surfer Sam and Friends

Alvina Lopez presents 101 Ways to Go Green in College posted at Online College Reviews - College Ratings.

Outdoor Olympians

SS presents The Pros and Cons of Skiing Schools posted at Ski Snowboarder.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of an outdoorsy carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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