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Making Firestarters

Over the weekend I made wax/sawdust fire starters for use with the wood stove.  I had very little of my original sawdust left so I stopped at the Amish saw mill where he gave me a bucket full, but the sawdust was very fine and moist.  I mixed it with my remaining sawdust, set it near the wood stove to dry and stirred it occasionally.  I put the dried sawdust in empty egg carton containers; leaving room for the wax to pool.

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I bought 6 large blocks of paraffin canning wax through Amazon and heated 3 of them to a liquid state on the wood stove.

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I poured the molten wax into the egg carton molds and stirred each egg holder to ensure the wax flowed to the bottom of the carton and all sawdust was exposed to the melted wax. Below you can see the liquid wax pooling in the cartons as it cools.  I made a total of 78 fire starters.  I have about a dozen of my older fire starters so the total should last the remainder of the year.

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Eric’s Birthday Party

Eric celebrated his birthday on Saturday 10 January with a party featuring games with his friends.  He invited 11 friends to play fox & goose, capture the flag, sledding and spoons.

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Gull Lake

Matt, Rick and his son Alex and I did an overnight camping trip to the Gull Lake lean-to after Christmas.  Skip and Mack the dog joined us for the short hike in, but left us to hike back out the same afternoon.

Gull Lake is a popular 3-season destination.  To get there take NY Route 28N to Woodgate, turn right (east) at linking light onto Bear Creek Road for 3.2 miles dead-ending at the parking area / trail head.  Recent roadwork by the DEC has leveled the road and added crushed stone to provide handicap access to the Gull Lake Trail resulting in a fast two mile hike to handicap parking lot.  At this point there are no further improvements.  Turning right, one ascends 200 feet along a .6 mile trail to an intersection with the Chubb Pond trail.  The sign said 0.4 miles but the many ups and downs made the distance seem longer.  The total hike in was about 3.3 miles.  The lean-to is on a peninsula along the north shore with a nice view of the lake.

We met at the Mapledale Stewart’s at 10:30 and were on the trail by noon.  We ate lunch once we reached the lean-to and then acquired our firewood.  We cut up a downed spruce log and had a great evening fire to hang out around.  Rick and Alex cooked over their alcohol stoves, Matt ate brats cooked over the fire and I ate a freeze-dried camp meal.  We were rewarded with a nice sunset across the frozen lake.  It rained overnight, but other than a little sleet encountered on the hike out the weather conditions were favorable.

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Holiday Decorations

Kathryn decorated our house….everywhere.  Outside decorations on our porch.  The main door has a wreath and bow.

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The door to the garage is guarded by a corncob pipe smoking snowman that my Dad made.  The door has a wreath with bows and there is a holiday penguin hanging in the maple tree.

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Inside are a Nativity Scene made by my Mom and snowmen.

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Every window is decorated with decals and garland.

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Above my computer desk is another Nativity Scene.

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Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  Eric got invited to play in the Barneveld “Turkey Bowl” with his buddies.  (Orange sweatshirt on the far side.)

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Kathryn, the best cook, made a the best meal ever.

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Kathryn and Jeanne discussing world events in kitchen prior to the meal.

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Table 1: Dakota, Kathryn, Matt and Linda

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Table 2: Robert, Joel, Chris, Linda, Jack and Steve

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Table 3: Linda serving, Jeanne, Billie Jo, Eric and Stone

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Camping in the cold: Believe it or not, it has its rewards

I was interviewed by John Pitarresi for an Article in the Utica OD.

It’s cold. Very cold. The nights are long. You’re bored to tears. It’s winter in Upstate New York. So … why not go camping?  What? Camping? In all that ice and snow and air so frigid you could crack it with a hammer? Yes, says Jim Muller. And Bill Ingersoll, too.

“For me, there are two reasons,” said Muller, who has been camping in the cold for 20 years or so. “Winters can be long here, and I want to do something. I don’t want to be house-bound the whole time. … We’re not ice climbing; we’re not bagging peaks. We’re just going out and camping with friends.  “And there also is the feeling of competency and being able to take care of yourself, that feeling of self-sufficiency.” Another bonus? You can camp in areas that you can’t get to in open weather, and travel, in many cases, actually is more convenient. “It is a whole lot easier to cross a lake in winter,” Muller said.

Ingersoll, too, has been a cold-weather camping aficionado for a couple of decades.  “Just about everyone who does cold-weather camping appreciates that there are no bugs and few people,” he said. “Those are the primary attractions. It is not a popular time to go into the woods, so the entire forest is yours. Essentially, people who winter camp are people who summer camp and don’t want to give it up.  “It’s more about the experience than the sights – essentially it is dark at 5 p.m. – so it’s the peace and quiet of being in the back country.”

Muller, who lives in Holland Patent and is a project manager at Northrup Grumman at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, has developed a website, www.wintercampers.com, devoted to his avocation. Ingersoll, who lives in Barneveld, writes and publishes the Adirondack Adventures book series through his own Wild River Press. Both have solid advice on winter camping, including what kind of attitude to bring to it.  “A lot of it is mental,”

Ingersoll said. “If you think you are going to be miserable, you aren’t going to enjoy it. But you can be happy and content and warm outdoors overnight in the cold. It’s mind over matter.”  That being said, a test run isn’t a bad idea. You probably don’t want to drive up into the mountains, walk out into the woods, set up camp and discover, as night falls with an icy thud, that you simply can’t do this.  “Try it in your backyard,” Ingersoll said. “Your neighbors might look at you silly, but if you can’t do it in your backyard, you’re not going to do it in a lean-to three miles from a road.”

For those who would like to know more, Muller will make a presentation on winter camping at a meeting of the Iroquois Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at the First Presbyterian Church in New Hartford. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., with Muller’s presentation following a 40-minute business meeting.

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Halloween Weekend

Friday night Eric was invited to a Halloween party in Barneveld.  He dressed up as a mafia character.

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Saturday he invited Sawyer to play in the afternoon and Sunday he invited 8 other boys to play capture the flag.  After capture the flag the boys took a short break for a snack.  Clockwise are Eric, Austin, Trevor, Jack, Sawyer, Jack, Jon, Josh and Noah.

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Philadelphia

For Christmas Billie Jo offered to house and supervise Eric for a weekend during 2014 enabling Kathryn and I to take a weekend vacation.  We planned a weekend with the Helmer’s in visiting historic sites in Philadelphia.  We drove down Friday afternoon and ate at a German Restaurant Friday evening.

Saturday we had perfect weather as we visited the Liberty Bell, Assembly Hall, took a historic walk, visited the Ben Franklin museum, ate in an authentic restaurant and took a ghost walk.

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The Pennsylvania State Court house, our National Park Service guide standing on trial. Our guide was loud and good, injecting a little acting into his spiel.

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Across the hall was historic Assembly Hall.

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Our walking tour guide at Ben Franklin’s grave.

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The Ben Franklin bust composed of spoons; located at the Franklin Fire Department, founded by Ben Franklin.

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Jim looking at Betsy Ross’s home.

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Pam and Kathryn at the City Tavern.

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Henderson Lake

Over Columbus Weekend Matt, Skip and I squeezed in one last late season canoe camping trip to Henderson Lake; making it the 3rd trip to Henderson this year for Skip and I, including our May scouting trip, our July tour with Steve, Kathryn and Eric.  We had gorgeous weather on Sunday, a clear starry night and light fog on Monday as we departed.  We took lots of pictures.

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This is an awesome picture taken by Matt  on Henderson Lake. He probably took about 20 different versions of this shot trying to capture the dead tree spire, the Big Dipper and the faint silhouette of the high peaks to the west. I believe this required a 60 second exposure and about 2 seconds of illumination of the tree with a head lamp.

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Pumpkin Patch Mud Run

We took the Stone and Dakota with us to the Pumpkin Patch Mud Run.  Friday night we had spaghetti dinner at Jeanne’s along with other team members.  Saturday was damp but the rain held off until the kid’s run at 12:30.  Kathryn, Eric, Stone and Nathan did both the adult run and the kid’s run for a total of a little over 4 miles.

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