Archive for the ‘Recommended side trips while visiting area’ Category

Adirondack Hiking Adventures

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Wifey and I have recently taken up hiking in this huge playground that we live-in, the Adirondack Mountains. First, I want to tell you that the definitive source/resource for hiking the Adirondacks is the ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club). They have information centers where you can get advice on hikes, purchase maps, guide books and gear, both at Lake George Exit 19 (just a little to the south (L) on 9N off the exit ramp), and at their ADK High Peaks Info Center at the end of Adirondack Loj Road off Route 73, just before Lake Placid.

The High Peaks Information Center at the end of ADK Loj Road. From here, you have access to the Mt Jo trails, and, numerous trails of varying difficulty through the High Peaks Wilderness, including 2 of the State’s highest peaks, Mt. Marcy and Algonquin.

I strongly recommend their guide books and maps for help in navigating the trails. All the hikes are not difficult or require special skills, just some common sense preparation and proper gear.

This past summer, we took the short hike on the Mt. Jo trail from the ADK High Peaks Info Center, that offered us a fantastic reward at the end.

Signing-in at the Mt. Jo trail head.

Navigating the rocky ledge near the top.

The peak of Mt. Jo offers a fantastic view of Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks, the Macintyre Mountains, the slides on Mt Colden and the High Peaks Wilderness.

On Labor Day, we tried to hike the Tongue Mt. section, from the Clay Meadow Trailhead, just off Rt. 9N north of Bolton Landing, to what’s billed as a spectacular overlook of Lake George at the Fifth Peak Lean-to. Unfortunately, we hadn’t taken the time to study the old guide book that we had, and ended up turning back short of our destination, tired and unsure of just how far we had gone, or how close we were to our destination, the 5th Peak Lean-to. Turns out, that after we got back to the car and studied the guide book, we were probably with-in .5 mile of the lean-to. What did I say earlier about preparation? Oh well, another day? We now have updated guide books, maps, compass and a MapMyHike App for the I-phone.

Signing-in at the Clay Meadow trailhead.

This is a flat part on the trail to the 5th Peak Lean-to. This hike becomes a rather strenuous, steep hike at times, that is around 5.4 mi. R/T.

A recent hike was Thomas Mt, in the Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve that was opened to the public in 2004 by the Lake George Land Conservancy. The trailhead is easily accessible from Exit 24 of I-87. From Exit 24, head east on Cty. Rt. 11 for 2 mi, turn R on Valley Woods Rd. The preserve parking lot is almost immediately on the R, w/kiosk and register at the trailhead.

The Cat and Thomas Mountains kiosk sign-in.

I would recommend using the newly opened in 2012, Thomas Mountain Blue Trail, designated 59A, rather than the logging road trail, designated 59. We went up 59A to the cabin overlook, and back down to the car on the 59 logging road trail, which we found an uninteresting, rubble strewn  uncomfortable trail to hike.

Taking a brake on the Blue Trail assent of Thomas Mt.

The view from a look-out off a spur trail at the mountain summit ridge.

Another view from the summit ridge spur trail, looking west toward Crane Mt.

The view towards Lake George from the Cabin lookout, the hike destination.

Time to update the Hiking Adventures blog with some fall hikes. Last Friday afternoon, wifey and I headed up to the Keene Valley area to hike Baxter Mountain and if we had time, hike part of the Blueberry, Porter Mountain Trail. Baxter is a nice easy hike of 1.3 mile to the summit, up an elevation of 770 ft. You can access the Baxter Mountain trail  from either Rt 73, Keene Valley and the Upham Trail at Beede Farm, or as we did, from Rt 9N. We got there by heading up the Northway (I-87) to Exit 31 and headed west through Elizabethtown. The trailhead is easily missed (we had to turn around). Make sure you look for Hurricane Rd, about 2 miles east of Jct of 73 and 9N, trailhead is just east and across 9N.

Trailhead for Baxter Mt, about 2 mile east of Jct of Rt 73 & 9N.

The beginning of the trail is mostly flat, then a moderate climb to the summit.

Lots of leaves are falling along the trail.

The moderate climb up the trail.

After about a mile, you come to the Jct of Beede Farm Trail and Baxter Summit trail. Hang a right up the summit trail for about .3 mile to fantastic summit views.

Even tho we got a late start, we wanted to do a quick hike with good views, because the high peak region was at peak foliage color.

View northeast toward the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness.

The view south toward the Giant Mountain Wilderness.

It’s a great time of year to be out in the woods.

We wanted to give a hike up Blueberry Mountain a try, even tho we were running very late in the day. We found this hike much slower due to trail condition and pitch, so we gave up after about 40 minutes due to time to sunset. Another time!

A 11/4/12 Northwest Bay Trail hike update from the Clay Meadow trail-head on Tongue Mt. Wifey and I wanted to revisit our hike attempt on Tongue Mountain, of the Fifth Peak Lean-to from the Clay Meadow Trail-head back on Labor Day Weekend, but this time, hike the Northwest Bay Trail toward Point of Tongue, which is billed as a “moderate hike” on a “pleasant trail” by the Adirondack Mountain Club’s newest (4th Edition) Eastern Trails Book. This trail was originally built by the CCC back in the 1930’s as a horse trail, but that plan was later abandoned when rattlesnakes were discovered (not to get political while hiking, but…here’s an early example of Government money -taxpayer money- going to a boondoggle project, a horse trail, that nobody took the time to research, and I guarantee wasn’t built for use by the then middle class, who I very much doubt lived along, or rode horses along, Lake George). Wifey is just getting over a procedure on her leg and we wanted to attempt something moderate, so we planned only to hike about half-way to around Bear Point where there is a nice view of Northwest Bay and down Lake George.

A long plank bridge over a stream @ .2 mile from the trail-head.

The trail prior to the Northwest Bay Trail junction.

At about 1.8 mile, the trail goes along this fantastic mossy cliff under large Hemlocks. I love the smell of the Hemlocks.

Shortly after the moss covered cliffs, you come to this interesting archway.

At 2 mile, you come to a spur trail that goes 200 ft. to Bear Point, where you get this nice view of Northwest Bay, down toward Bolton Landing. In the warm months, this spot offers a good place to swim in the lake, put-in a kayak, and a well-put-together fire ring to cook and have a picnic.

At around 2.1 mile, you come to this campsite w/lean-to and fire ring along the trail.

The trail makes it’s way back down to the lake.

Trail maintenance from a previous blow-down.

Don’t forget to sing in and out when using any trail, it’s for your own safety. The sign in/out system alerts Park Rangers to possible lost hikers.

We actually hiked about 3.2 mile in to another open view from some rocks of Lake George, according to our “map my hike” app on wifey’s phone, for a 6.2 mile round trip. Poor wifey’s knees were hurting after that one.

Things to do in the Lake George – Saratoga Springs Region

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

I’ve been wanting to organize a blog on some of the things to do in the area from a locals perspective, not the chamber of commerce. You can get a great overview by noodling around  my web site’s Regional Info page –  just click the hi-lighted link to the left. Our region is rich in natural and man-made attractions for you to enjoy.

A late fall view of a quiet Lake George

Lake George Village features it’s tour boats, historical sites, para sailing, mini golf, hotels/motels, restaurants and tourists shops. Further up Lake George is quieter than the Village, with locations like Bolton Landing, and Hague . You will find many white water rafting and tubing operations in the area, horse back riding, golf, amusement parks like The Great Escape. There are many biking, hiking and climbing options around, check-out the Adirondack Mountain Club for details/maps on area hikes/climbing options.

The view from on top of Mt. Jo, that you access from Adk Loj.

Other communities to to check-out while visiting, just to the north of Lake George off I-87 exit #23 (Adirondack Northway), there is Warrensburg for lots of antique shops and beautiful Victorian B&Bs. From Warrensburg, head north on Rt 28 to North Creek/Gore Mountain for rafting on the upper Hudson River, hiking/biking, gondola rides on Gore Mountain, and train rides on the Saratoga/North Creek Railway . Next up on Rt 28 north, is the Adirondack mountain community of Indian Lake. Further up Rt. 28 is beautiful Blue Mountain Lake. One of our absolute favorite places to go for a quick get-a-way in the mountains is, The Hedges on Blue Mountain Lake.

The Hedges was built in the Adirondack Arts & Crafts style of the Adirondack Great Camp

Hedges provides opportunities to get out on the water.


Enjoy a quiet morning.


Take-in a beautiful Adirondack Mountain sunset.

The Arts & Crafts style of one of the lodge buildings at the Hedges

Blue is also home to the renown, Adirondack Museum, worth the drive from anywhere. From there, you can either head north on Rt. 30 thru Long Lake (for a special treat, stop at the Long Lake beach and take a seaplane ride with Helms Aero) and on to Tupper Lake (home of The Wild Center Museum of the Adirondack’s), or circle back east on Rt. 28N toward Newcomb (Newcomb has great views of the High Peaks from it’s town park, or you can take the Tahawus Rd to access trailheads and views of the high peak region), Minerva, Olmstedville, Pottersville and Exit 26, I-87. If you chose the Tupper Lake route, after Tupper, take Rt. 3 toward  Saranac Lake, near-by is the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s. From there, Rt. 86 heads toward the Village of Lake Placid, home of the 1980 and 1932 Winter Olympics and current U.S.Olympic Training site for winter sport athletes.

Lake Placid, is a beautiful, alpine Adirondack Mountain Village

Lake Placid features 4 seasons of fun things to do. Near-by, you have the various Olympic venues that offer both visitor participation and spectator viewing of athlete training & competitions, plus Whiteface Mountain and the Veterans Memorial Highway Drive.

You can drive most of the way to the top of Whiteface, (make sure your vehicle has good brakes for the ride down before going) and either climb the last 200 feet or take the elevator to the top.

There is a variety of lodging options, and decent dining in Lake Placid Village.

Alfresco dining at the Adirondack Steak & Seafood, which is also a brewery.

The Brown Dog Cafe & Wine Bar is our favorite eatery in Lake Placid.


Lake Placid Pub & Brewery is a good choice. Their Ubu Ale is a tasty, hi-octain brew.

From Placid, head south/east on Rt. 73 toward I-87, and back to Lake George. You will pass many hiking options along the way.

The view along the Adirondack Loj Road, looking toward the High Peaks Wilderness Region. Lots of good hiking from the High Peaks Information Center maintained by Adk Mt Club at the end of Loj Road.

On the way to I-87, you pass thru the hamlet of Keene Valley and the Noon Mark Diner, famous for their pies.

To the East of Lake George, you can travel to Vermont either thru beautiful, rural Washington County, aka our balloon flying area, or you can take various car ferries across Lake Champlain from the New York side to Vermont.

The Lake Champlain car ferry at Fort Ti.

Washington County, NY is a great place to check out if you are in the mood for a drive in the country. It borders Vermont, and scenery wise, is much like what you expect to find in Vermont, with many small Towns, Villages and Hamlets, and historically an agrarian economy. One notable county resident who lived in Eagle Bridge, Anna Mary Robertson (better known as Grandma Moses), painted country scenes typical of where she lived. Her grandson, Will Moses, continues the family tradition, painting in Eagle Bridge at his Mt. Nebo Gallery (it’s worth the visit). Another famous resident was, Susan B. Anthony, who as a child, lived in the tiny Hamlet of Battenville along the Battenkill River (a prominent trout fishing stream).
Many small communities dot the county landscape, such as Granville, home of the Slate Valley Museum; Salem, where you will find a number of old covered bridges, Steininger’s, worth the drive from anywhere for lunch and fine hand-made chocolates, the Gardenworks Farm, which features farm fresh foods, and country craft, art and gift items; The Villages of Cambridge and Greenwich feature interesting shopping and dining options, unique communities such as New Skete, and beautiful side drives just to appreciate the rural country landscapes.

Fall is a great time to get out and drive the back-country roads of rural Washington County, to appreciate spectacular scenery and views.

Next, we head south from Lake George on either I-87 or Rt 9 to the City of Glens Falls, home to the Hyde Collection Museum, the World Awareness Children’s Museum, The Chapman local history museum, a number of arts centers, and some tasty eateries such as 132 Glen Street Bistro, Bistro Tallulah – a fav, Raul’s Mexican Grill and Rene’s – also favs, plus the Davidson Bros.and Coopers Cave Brew Pubs and Restaurants.

The Saturday morning Glens Falls Farmers Market, is a great place to pick up locally sourced goods.

Further south on either Rt 9 or I-87, we have Saratoga Springs, another destination location like Lake George, but a much different style. While Lake George can be very touristy (not that there is anything wrong with that), Saratoga is more of an upscale type of venue, noted for it’s horse’s and horse racing, spas and mineral springs, entertainment venues such as SPAC, a multitude of dining options, and an active nightlife scene that is popular with locals and vacationers alike.

SPAC is a fantastic open air concert venue.

For the history buff, our area played a major part in early American history with many historical sites to visit. We were the great battleground for 2 centuries of battle with The French and Indian Wars, the War of 1812, and the American Revolution. The book, “Conquered into Liberty” by Eliot A. Cohen, tells the history of war along “The Great Warpath”, which prominently features how Lake George, Lake Champlain and especially Fort Ticonderoga played a major part in us becoming American, not British or French. You can tour forts recreated on the remains of actual fort sites in Lake George Village with Fort William Henry, and up north on Lake Champlain you have Fort Ticonderoga, plus the Crown Point State Historic Site, which features actual ruins of the French Fort, St. Frederic, and the largest Fort built by the British in North America, His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point. To the south down along the Hudson River, we have the Saratoga National Historical Park, which played a prominent part in turning the Revolutionary War against the British, in favor of the American Rebels. In Fort Edward on the Hudson River, there is a small museum/visitors center at the Rogers Island Visitors Center that showcases artifacts and the story of Captain Robert Rogers, who wrote his “Rogers Rules of Ranging” in 1757 for his British Irregular Forces on the Island, and this handbook is still currently taught in training and used by the US Army Rangers and Special Operations Forces fighting around the world.

Recent Doings

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Last Sunday was a beautiful day for a drive up around Lake George and the southern Adirondacks. Wifey and I stopped by a really cool retro diner in Bolton Landing, Bolton Beans. The diner, as well as Bolton Landing were very quiet, but it didn’t affect the mood at the diner or the food.

An original rail car diner in beautiful condition.

We drove north on Rt. 9N toward The Hague, and stopped at the the overlook at Sabbath Day Point on Lake George.

Sabbath Day Point overlook, what Lake George looks like this winter - no snow and little to no ice.


Historical marker, on the history of Lake George and it's two Centuries of battles along the Great Warpath.

I’ve been reading a great book, “Conquered into Liberty” by Elliot Cohen, that tells the history of the most fought over part of America, the “Great Warpath” between Albany NY and Quebec in Canada, which much of flying area for my balloon rides is part-of.

Weather, Flying and Fall Foliage Updates

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Our weather forecast for this week improves for the 2nd half of the week, into the coming Columbus Holiday Weekend. Due to the extended wet weather we’ve been experiencing, we’ve gotten over 9 inches of rain last couple of months at the airport, I will not be scheduling any flights until the end of the week to allow our flying area to dry some before we head out to fly.

So, with another wet weekend for the first weekend of October, wifey and I headed north on Sunday to check-out the fall foliage. We took 87 north to exit 29, North Hudson where Frontier Town use to be, and headed west on Boreas Rd, County Hwy 2B, through the Blue Ridge toward Newcomb.

A view on 84 on the drive toward Newcomb. The foliage is somewhat muted this fall.

At the end of Tahawus Rd, looking toward Adams and Allen Mountain with Mt. Marcy in the clouds.

A deserted beach on Harris Lake.

The view just south of Indian Lake, of Adirondack Lake at a pull-off on Rt. 28.

We stopped for a late lunch in North Creek at Trappers Tavern.

A bowl of stew for me and a smoked chicken salad samich w/fries for wifey, and a good micro brew. All were very tasty.

A lady working on a mural in North Creek.

North Creek is a small, unhurried Adirondack Mountain Village, with some interesting things to check-out. Follow the highlighted links for info on the places we visited on this drive – Tahawus, Long Lake, Indian Lake, and Trappers Tavern.

Trip to Lake Placid

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Last week, wifey and I took a trip up in the mountains to check out Lake Placid, the fall foliage and how the area did after the floods from Irene. We took the drive up the Northway to exit 30, then up Route 73  through Keene Valley to Lake Placid. You could see in spots where 73 was cut by the Ausable, and other brooks and streams by their flood waters. Downtown Keene musta been a river itself with 2 brooks and the Ausable meeting at the 9N and Rt 73 junction in the center of town.

At the junction of 73 and 9N where the Ausable, Jones and Cascade brooks all come togehter. The building to the right was flooded and off it's foundation.

In Lake Placid, heading to the Brown Dog Wine Bar for lunch

A pulled chicken w/blueberry bbq sauce and slaw for me and a smoked turkey panini for Tani, topped by a local Porter on my side and a nice Malbec for wifey.

The view out on Mirror Lake from the restaurant patio where we were enjoying lunch.

The interior of the restaurant. You might also want to check-out The Mirror Lake Inn's, The Cottage on the lake for lunch.

Another noted Lake Placid establishement, worth the visit.

Since the gondola was closed for rides at Whiteface, we decided to continue up the road to Wilmington to do the drive up the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway.

One of the views on the way up the mountain from an overlook.

Up the mountain road.

Another overlook view a little higher up.

Hair-pin turn coming up.

The view down towards Lake Placid.

Our destination, the top of the mountain.

You can either hike or ride an elevator the last 200 feet to the top.

Some off-trail foliage turning it's fall hue.

The view back down the trail.

The weather station and overlook at the peak of Whiteface.

At the top!

On the way out, had to stop and take this pic, advertising a place I came with my fam when I was young, more than 55 years ago.

Side Trips taken this Week

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon and no flights scheduled, the wifey and I took advantage of a rare August, Saturday afternoon off, to take a trip up into the mountains and visit Lake Placid. We rarely get to Placid on an August Saturday afternoon, and with the day so nice, we were in the mood to head north into the Adirondack’s to enjoy some of the offerings available during the warmer time of year, as opposed to the fall/winter season, that usually draws us north. We found the place bustling with activity and were not able to do all we were hoping to do. The boat cruise on Lake Placid was sold out, and a hike at Adirondack Loj didn’t happen since their parking lot was full, and to hike, you had to park nearly a mile away and hike to hike? So, we took a pass on doing that till a later date when it’s not so crowded. Lake Placid is a place that’s steeped in Olympic history and currently is one of the training sites for Team USA. It’s a 4 season destination, that is most busy during the summer and winter months, not so, spring and fall. If you are into hiking, the trip back into the Adirondack Loj, which is maintained by the Adirondack Mountain Club, is well worth the trip.

On Route 73, heading toward Keene Valley and Lake Placid.

This is the Noon Mark Diner in Keene Valley, a good place to eat-they are noted for their pies. Keene Valley is one of the popular hiking destinations along Route 73.

One of the first things you notice just before you get to Lake Placid, are the two Ski Jumping Towers that were built for the 1980 Winter Olympics. They are still used by Team USA for training and various competitive events during the winter.

Welcome to the Village of Lake Placid

The view down Main Street. There a number of good shops and restaurants to haunt.

We had lunch on the outdoor patio of The Adirondack Steak and Seafood Restaurant

They offer a fine selection of their own brews from their Adirondack Brewing Co.

On the far end of the main drag is the Brown Dog Cafe & Wine Bar. We've eaten there a couple of times and can highly recommend it.

Mirror Lake in the summertime.

On the Adirondack Loj Road, looking west.

On the Adirondack Loj Road, the view south toward Marcy Dam and Adirondack Loj.

Well, that’s it for this post. When visiting the area, it’s well worth exploring north into the Adirondack’s. Either take Route 28 north out of Warrensburgh at Exit 23 of the Adirondack Northway, or continue north to Exit 30, which takes you to Keene Valley and Lake Placid.

Weather Update and Stuff

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Just in case someone was actually interested out there, yup, it’s a nice day today and not so nice tomorrow, Sunday. Canceled this morning’s ride due to low visibility from ground fog caused by yesterday’s heavy thunderstorm rain. Don’t have anything on the schedule for this afternoon (this is not the August that I grew used-to around here for biz), so instead of hanging around to answer the phone and a million and one questions, the wifey and I are heading to Lake Placid to enjoy a beautiful late summer day up in the mountains, and visit some fav places of ours up that way. Here’s your 7 day forecast if interested? The weather next week looks most promising for flying mid week and toward the end of the week to include hopefully the weekend. If you check-out the HPC forecast Prog Charts, just click the advance button top right to advance the maps, you see that Tuesday-Wednesday looks flyable, then Friday and hopefully into the weekend. The maps won’t show next weekend until Monday.

Weekend Doings and A Look at the Weather for this Week

Monday, August 8th, 2011

What can you do when there is lousy flying weather forecast for the weekend? Well, wifey and I took the opportunity to visit some fav places and visit friends. We are big believers in supporting your local businesses, especially with less than certain times, when your patronage is much appreciated. Our weekend started early Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Glens Falls. We like the variety of offerings at the Market, and got some fresh veggies from a variety of vendors, excellent meat from the Lick Springs Beefalo Farm, fresh eggs and a fav of mine, Dilly Sweet Pickles from Puckers Gourmet.

The Farmer's Market on South and Exchange Streets in Glens Falls

A look at some of the vendors

Late morning, we decided to head out into Washington County for lunch and stop-at some of our favorite farm country retailers along the way. For lunch, we headed-out for Salem and Steininger’s, which is our all-time favorite place for lunch. Steininger’s is a place that offers great soups, samiches, and desserts. Plus, if you are a fan of chocolate, this is the place.

Time for lunch

The Cafe was pretty full, even at our 2 PM reservation hour.

The view out the window of Main Street at a sleepy Salem, NY.

After our tasty soup starters, lunch is chicken salid on a croissant for Tani, and chicken curry for me.

We topped lunch off with one of their tasty desserts - fresh peaches, strawberriy jam/coulis, on vanilla ice cream and a buttermilk biscuit.

On the way back to Queensbury, we stopped at the Battenkill Valley Creamery for some of their ice cream to take home, and their farm fresh corn for the corn relish we planned to put-up in canning jars for use through the year. And since we were going past The Gardenworks at MacClan Farms on County Route 30 after visiting the Creamery, we made a stop for wifey to check-out the plant sale going on for her gardens. I picked-up some farm fresh berries and peaches to take home with us.

The Gardenworks is housed in an old converted dairy barn.

Inside they have farm fresh goods, gift items and an art gallery that features local artists.

On Sunday after we finished making our corn relish, we headed off to Vermont to meet-up with friend and fellow balloonist, Rick Pollock from Shelburne. We met-up at Middlebury, home of Middlebury College, for lunch at the Two Brothers Tavern. We took the car ferry across Lake Champlain at Fort Ti.

The queue of cars waiting for the ferry.

The car ferry docking for the trip across Lake Champlain to Shoreham VT.

The view north, up the Lake.

Wifey had to stop and check this out on the way in to Middlebury.

For wifey, it's a plant thing. In reality, it's some type of free-form sculpture using sticks and branches

Meeting-up with Rick at the Two Brothers Tavern

Good Times, enjoying some local craft brews and good food.

The dam on the Middlebury River at the Main Street bridge, center of town.

Stopped for some ice cream before heading back home.

We took the car ferry across Lake Champlain at Crown Point heading back to New York, with a view of the new bridge under construction. On a small world type of thing, the company that is building the bridge, Flatiron Construction from Firestorm CO, their lead engineer for the project is a friend of our son Grant who currently lives in Edwards CO.

Well, that’s it for this posting. Time to get on to other things!! Oh, I almost forgot, the weather for the week…well, it ain’t good for ballooning until probably Thursday, possibly thru Saturday morning. Today we get a front this afternoon with scattered showers, then clearing overnight with a little high pressure for the morning, then more wide-spread rain late Tuesday into Wednesday. Weather Service is currently forecasting a large area of high pressure for the end of the week for Thursday, possibly into part of the weekend. The weekend’s weather currently is muddled due to forecasting models not agreeing on what it will be… so stay tuned for updates.

The 34th Annual Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at SPAC

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Saturday’s flying weather was crappy and I had canceled my flights for the day, so the wifey and I headed down to Saratoga Springs to enjoy some great music at the present day version of the famed Newport Jazz Fest, the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at SPAC. The Jazz Fest is a 2 day event, we went for Saturday. We got there about 12 noon and left around 10 PM after a full day of enjoying some great Jazz, except for the last act – I’ll explain later. For the last 30 years or so, I’ve always been too busy with my seasonal balloon ride biz to consider taking the time to appreciate and enjoy an event such as this in my local area, and just figured it was time, again. I say again because when I was in my late teens to early 20s, a friend and I went to Newport for the Jazz Festival. Can’t remember much about the acts or the music, it was the 60’s for-peets-sake, but I do remember running into Bill Russell at the beer tent. I was a huge Boston Celtics fan as a kid, so I was definitely impressed by standing next to him. He towered over me, and I was considered a big man back then on my high school basketball team at 6’3″. Not very big by today’s standards, and neither was Bill. Anyway, back to Saturday’s event, there were 7 acts playing on the main stage in the Amphitheater and 6 at the small Gazebo, so there was constant music playing. Most of the bands I’d never heard of (don’t mean much) except for the last headline act-Michael McDonald, who for the life-of-me, I don’t know why he was booked as a headline act at a Jazz Festival like this, and the Jack DeJohnette Group, who was the main attraction for me. The first act opened at noon, with the last around 9:15  PM, like I said, a full day.

Arriving at SPAC, greeted by Colleen Corcoran scanning tickets. Colleen's bro Pat was a buddy of mine from highschool days.

The walkway onto the grounds.

The Amphitheater

The first act up playing world infused music, the Lionel Loueke Trio from the West African nation of Benin.

Next group, the Ben Allison Band. The crowd gradually grew as the afternoon went on.

While we had some great seats inside the Amphitheater, the lawn is the most popular for the party crowd that likes events like the Jazz Festival

Another view of the lawn crowd, which most had prepared for rain.

The small second stage, the Gazebo with Hilary Kole playing

Next act up on the main stage at the amphitheater, Eliane Elias whose music blends elements of jazz, pop, soul and Brazilian Bossa Nova.

Next up, the main draw for me - The Jack DeJohnette Group.

Next was the bigger group sound of George Wein & The Newport All Stars. George Wein spearheaded the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. In 1978, he opened a second location for his Newport Jazz Fest in Saratoga Springs at SPAC. On his 85th birthday celebration, jazz pianist Wein, led a very talented group of musicians after the dedication of a bronze star in the SPAC Walk of Fame.

The crowd in the amphitheater is growing as we head into the evening hour.

Next up was the 2011 Jazz Journalist Association Female Singer of the Year, Dee Dee Bridgewater, performing a tribute to Billie Holiday. This lady had a powerful voice and was the high-lite of the evening.

And last up at around 9:15 PM, was Michael McDonald, who for the life of me, I don't know why he was booked for this show? If you were looking for a hard rocking, top 40, pop/motown Grammy Award winner, he's your guy. He's not a jazz singer in my humble opinion.

While I have to admit, that both of us were disappointed with the scheduled head-line act of Michael McDonald, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the variety of music selected for Saturday’s show, the first of the two days of the Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Trip to Stumpf Balloon

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

On Friday, wifey and I headed over to Weston VT to hook up with good friends Rick Pollock and Paul Stumpf. Paul had built an experimental balloon for Rick. Rick came down from Shelburne to pick-up his new balloon, and the two were heading off to the Experimental Balloon Meet over in Amherst MA for the weekend. Since it was a nice day and my afternoon flight didn’t meet until 6 PM, we decided to drive over just to see it and them, and have lunch before they left for the meet, and I had to do my afternoon flight.


Stumpf Balloons over on the Andover-Weston Rd

From a prior trip over to Paul's shop to help cut-out the panels for Rick's balloon. That's Rick on the left and Paul on the right.

Cuttin' the panels

The bottom end finished product, of Rick's 2-seater "Hang Balloon"

Then off to have lunch, the parking lot for the VT Country Store in Weston

The Bryant House is part of the Country Store complex, a good place to eat.

Decisions, decisions!!

It's lunch

The main drag of Weston

On the way back to NY, Bromley Mountain Ski area in the summertime.

The view to the southeast across from Bromley.

That’s it for this post!!