After Hours

Tanner and I made the short drive over to the new Chimney Bluffs State Park tonight, a breath after 2000. I had been there before--on a hot day for a picnic on Jess' birthday a few years ago--but never to hike on the trails. That day, chocolate-covered strawberries had been a tasty idea but an altogether messy situation.

I briefly studied the trail map posted on the park kiosk by headlamp and then drifted toward the "Bluff Trail" without really having decided on it. Normally that trail is 1.25 miles long, terminating at the staircase to Chimney Bluffs. Tonight, however, Tanner and I followed the Bluff Trail for a shorter distance, finding ourselves stranded on a short bluff at the trail's newest terminus. It appears that Lake Ontario's reach has already eroded some of the park's northernmost trail since the development of the West Entrance in 1999.

Traveling the Bluff Trail did require climbing over and under recent blow-down, and in the dark it was difficult to tell if the trail has been maintained at all.

MLK Day Ski at Fair Haven

There were great cross-country skiing conditions on Martin Luther King Day at Fair Haven Beach State Park. The trail we skied is part of the NYS snowmobile trail system.

From the Post-Herald:

From the Wayne County Star:

Amtrak Station in Wayne County

In case you missed this in the 16 Jan 08 Wayne County Star...

If Amtrak exists to provide service to the public, there should not be a 90-mile gap between stations. Maybe in Montana, but, not here where it’s much more densely populated-rural as it may be. And this would be true whether high-speed trains come to the area or not. We still should not have to travel to Syracuse or Rochester to catch a train or to pick up friends, relatives, customers or business associates. [read article]

No Waxing Gibbous

For our walk under the First Quarter moon two nights ago, it was 53% full. Tonight the moon is 74% full and qualifies as a "Waxing Gibbous."

The Waxing Gibbous is hiding behind a thick, overcast sky--so no photos. A good amount of light is still making it to the Earth's surface here at the Bluff though, so again the headlamp is optional.

Tanner and I cut over to the road to the Back Beach around 2115, reached the green gate, and departed the road there due west. We ducked and side-stepped our way through the brambles and fallen trees, moving to the lowlands of Fatty's Camp, and picked up the new logging trail at the bottom of the next ridge.

There is some Burgess scrawl carved on a nearby tree, although I am unsuccessful in locating it. As I recall, that carving had been done in early Winter 2004, while doing some plinking with my college roommate. I had worked the numbers of the year deeply into the smooth trunk while Matt was taking his turn, and I decided to go back another day to do my actual initials. I never did.

Tanner and I climbed to the ridge on the logging trail, reaching the darkness of the pines looming there. Despite having been in that same spot many times in my life and having experience in other dark woods, I felt a sense of anxious excitement--a brief moment of fear in which I knew that I was much smaller than the world around me.

We followed the logging trail southward all the way to Teeple's orchard, discovering fresh tire tracks up to the crest of Corduroy Rd. The vehicle foot prints circled the "machinery parking lot" at the start of the logging trail and headed into the orchard. Tanner and I descended nearly to the paved road below, turning a right onto the Byork pond trail.

At the northernmost part of that skinnier trail Tanner had the urge to go to the edge of the pond, which was chilling but not yet frozen solid. I slid down the bank slightly to grab him up and let him down 10 feet further along. As soon as paws hit the ground Tanner bolted back toward the pond, feeling cheated. I pivoted on the spot, sprinting toward the unknowing puppy, transitioning into a magnificent slide down to the pond. I tackled Tanner at the very edge, literally flattening him on his side into the bank.

A good performance and quick reaction by myself, I think. My slide had enough momentum so that my right boot went right into the pond above the ankle, but wasn't in long enough for the water to soak through. Perhaps Mr. Byork will re-create this scene in his mind upon seeing the man / dog skid marks, if the overnight snowfall doesn't cover them. Which I certainly hope it does.

The new skis are patiently waiting.

First Quarter Moonlight

Tanner and I slid out the front door a few minutes past 2000, just in time to escape this week's "Biggest Loser" episode on NBC.

After a brief hesitation around the corner of the cottage, we hiked through several inches of freshly fallen snow up the nearest path toward the tennis court. We crossed the Van Vechtens' yard and headed down the road to the Back Beach. I paused at the green metal gate, gazing south along the overgrown old road that runs toward the Byork property. Tanner and I had walked it the week before in the dark, him having to learn to navigate around brush that I could easily step over--a task in which he has shown improvement!

Tanner then led me up the higher branch of the road toward the Simonents' and Stiesses' places. I turned him up the hill just shy of the now-straightened red cottage, not wanting to create an opportunity for an unleashed puppy to bolt too close to the edge of the Bluff. I turned off my headlamp upon emerging from the brush, noting the First Quarter half-moon laying nearly on its back and emanating a bright, snow-reflected light. We cut behind the Fenns' and then up alongside the Lambs' before heading south down the road back toward Van Vechtens'.

Tanner hunkered down next to the discarded pile of white sand in the Boogaards' lawn and burrowed his nose beneath the thin layer of snow, as I continued on. I looked back his way, flicked on my headlamp, and called Tanner's name. A bounding pair of glowing eyes quickly approached me, Tanner with a prized pumpkin stem in his mouth.

He jolted forward and waited for me next to the north driveway of the new Simonet place, allowing me to choose our next move. I turned left down the drive, peeking into an orange plastic barrel full of water as I passed. A thin sheet of chunky ice was forming on top, encasing several individual cigar cases which had been floating there.

We emerged out the west driveway, crossed the road directly, and slipped down the normally grassy route toward Popeye Reed's former cottage. At this point, Tanner was still carrying his pumpkin stem. He involuntarily deposited it on the top step heading to Popeye's, but quickly forgot it when a split-second search turned up empty. We followed the shoreline of Sodus Bay southward, dropping down the few steps to the Colemans' back door and continuing on past the Morgan cottage, past the Webster Clan properties.

Tanner and I raced in the moonlight between yards, hopped onto Oak Lane, and slowed by the Jaggers' cottage. Dad and I had paddled the kayaks from the sandbar to their dock two nights before, breaking through the thin ice with every effort of every stroke. We heard a rumbling sound emanating from the bowels of the Ficarro cottage and I considered briefly the new, glistening bolts on the old, rickety water pump at the end of Oak Lane.

We crossed from there onto Wintergreen Point, followed the circle around by the Sharps' cottage, and blazed from there through the trees to the paved Lake Bluff Rd. I led Tanner across the road at a spot where the ditch was negligible and headed to Reading Rock. Pushing aside a few thorny nuisances, I placed my neoprene-gloved right hand on the snow-blanketed rock, recalling its history as I have learned it.

As I did this, I felt a sensation of generational linkage, knowing that this was the spot where many times my father had sat--reading a novel in the sunlight--while waiting for his father to drive by on his return from work. I myself have read there, and once sat there with Koko on a sunny day in hopes of surprising my dad on his way home from work. That day, Koko and I gave up the wait there and continued on along Lake Bluff Rd., where Dad eventually did see us on his way home from work; we hopped into his car near Sloop Landing Rd. Tonight, the moment climaxed for me when Tanner reached up on Reading Rock and placed both of his forepaws next to my hand, a look of understanding on his face.

Tanner and I climbed the hill to Teeples' apple orchard and crossed the first few rows, tree trimmings occupying most of space in between. As we neared the opening to old Corduroy Rd. and the logging trail, I hastily pulled off my Bula woolen cap--the one with the braided chin-ties, the one my wife despises--to relieve my body's sudden overheating. As I turned on to Corduroy Rd. I looked back to where Tanner was stationed, disappointed to see a pliable object dangling from his mouth. It appeared to be the shape of a dead rodent and the lateness of the hour combined with my own fatigue quickly drew me to a scolding mood.

I yelled a disapproving "Tanner, get over here," and he immediately rose and approached me--carcass limp in his steely vise. I positioned him between my legs, bracing myself for whatever disgusting object I was about to remove from his dog lips. As I felt the odd shape, I reached up with one hand to turn on my headlamp. It was gone!

Suddenly struck with reality, I realized that the object in Tanner's mouth was my L.L.Bean headlamp, my favorite headlamp, the one I wore at the wedding reception to assist in the removal of Jessica's garter! In my haphazardness of removing my winter cap, the headlamp had been flung away into the darkness. This had occurred scores of feet back down the row of apple trees from which we had come. Good boy, Tanner!

Overcome with a feeling of guilt for having been briefly upset with my helpful puppy, I praised him excessively. Tanner let me off easy. After his rolling around in the snow and my giving him an apparently satisfactory belly-rub, he released his hold on my headlamp and I zipped it away in my jacket pocket for safe-keeping.

We returned uneventfully to the cottage 1 hr. 15 min. after our departure to find that "Biggest Loser" was still on TV, just over halfway through a two-hour episode. I guess Tanner and I didn't escape after all...

Opossum Encounter of the Third Kind

On a nighttime jaunt down to the back beach over a week ago, Tanner and I came upon an unsuspecting opossum quite abruptly. I was donning a headlamp at the time and the mellow fellow sat there staring at us for a good 5-10 seconds before scurrying up the bank towards the backside of the Fenn cottage (lower road, south of Stiesses). It is my belief that the headlamp had somewhat of a stunning effect on the opossum, as opposed to his being extraordinarily bold. It took Tanner less time to comprehend the situation than the opossum, so I grabbed up the Goldenboy before he could attempt anything "intelligent." There was about 4-5 ft. of separation between human/canine and said marsupial.

On the same walk, I saw in my headlamp beam the reflection of two other sets of eyes on ground level--appropriate for these cat-sized animals--making the number of opossum encounters that night, three.

A few opossum fact pages: