My 10 Favorite Ways to Enjoy Summer on the Water

Sunday, June 23, 2019
This weekend is the official start of summer according to the meteorologists and calendars.  In my younger days the start of summer meant that my family would move from our flat in Cohoes to our trailer on Saratoga Lake until the dreaded Labor Day weekend.  At 13 my parents bought a year-round home on the lake, so the magic of summer on the water didn't end on Labor Day.  Growing up on the lake was not only fun, it gave me an appreciation and affection for water and for boating.  If I were the sort that follows astrological signs, I'd blame my attraction to the water on being born under the sign of Cancer, whose element is water, but when all is said and done, it doesn't really matter how or why.....I just love water.  I also love being 'on the water' so I'm beginning a summer blog series of  favorite summer destinations with my favorite ways to enjoy time on the water - locally and beyond.  I suggest you make a list and set a goal to enjoy as many of these as you can!   In no particular order, but starting locally......

Adirondack Cruise & Charter - General Schuyler  
It's no secret here on the blog that this is one of my hometown favorites, which probably explains why I list it first. Hal Raven has brought back the days of the Steamboat Alice on Saratoga Lake with his beautiful vessel, the General Schuyler, a 1900's replica Fantail Launch.  Whether you're enjoying a sunset cruise, coffee cruise, or a floating classroom cruise, Captain Hal and his fellow crewmen make sure passengers enjoy some local history, famous landmarks, lake preservation education and breathtaking views on one of the prettiest lakes in New York State.  You can even rent this beauty for private functions like gourmet dinners, proposals, bachelorette parties, corporate events, or just a fun family gathering.  Plan your cruise today and when you disembark, catch a delicious meal, a  drink or some live music at Dock Brown's or Carson's Woodside Tavern. For more information:, and or you can read about our many cruises here on the blog. You can find those stories in my blog Directory under Destinations-New York 
Dutch Apple Cruise
 It may have taken me my whole life to finally check this one out, but better late than never!  Isn't it funny how so many folks come to the Capital District as tourists and we locals are clueless about all the great tourist attractions right in our backyards?  Built in 1986, the Dutch Apple vessel is derived from the dayliners that carried passengers to and from ports on the Hudson between Albany and New York City.  With three decks, passengers can enjoy time inside or outside on the upper deck.  The 90 minute sight-seeing cruises are the mainstay of the Dutch Apple, but there are a number of special cruises along with special events too!  For more information: and to read my blog post about our cruise: Cruising Down the Hudson Aboard the Dutch Apple

Mohawk Maiden Cruises - Caldwell Belle
For another relaxing river cruise, how about a ride on the Caldwell Belle, the Champlain Canal's only authentic sternwheel paddleboat.  Docked at Lock C5 of the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville, the Caldwelle Belle provides the perfect venue for a leisurely afternoon observing nature, learning local history or just enjoying the view, there's something for everyone on a variety of cruise options at affordable prices.  This family-owned business is a well-kept secret, but once you're in on the secret, you'll want to partake over and over again.   To read more about it and see many more photos, you can read my blog post:   You can also check them out at: and

If you venture a little further from the Capital District area, you might consider the Erie Canal Cruise aboard the Lil' Diamond.  Your cruise carries you east on the Erie Canal from Herkimer NY, through Lock 18, one of the oldest remaining 100 yr old locks with all of its original equipment.  With a variety of cruises to choose from, the 90 minute narrated cruise, the Living History Cruise, the Friday Night Party Cruise, all offer a fun and educational trip through history on one of the most beautiful waterways in the state.  Great for all ages, this is a wonderful way to enjoy an Upstate summer day.  If you happen to take a late day weekend cruise, consider dinner at Beardslee Castle just down the road on State Highway 5 in Little Falls. For more information, you can read about our trips aboard the Lil' Diamond here:
or check out there Facebook page:
or their website:

If you're looking for more of an all day adventure, you might want to consider a trip to Cooperstown.  Most people think of the Baseball Hall of Fame when they think of Cooperstown (and that's definitely a fun place to visit), but there's so much more.  From the Farmer's Museum, to the Fenimore Art Museum, to the Otesaga Hotel (a great place for lunch on the terrace of the Hawkeye Grill), you might be looking for a way to unwind and there's no better way to do that than aboard the Glimmerglass Queen where you'll enjoy the view on Otsego Lake.  One special note:  this is a cash only venue.  ATM is available.  Don't miss my blog post about our day in Cooperstown, loaded with photos of our cruise, the Fenimore and much more: Cooperstown NY - Where History, Literature and Tourism Meet   For more information, cruise times and prices:
Lake George Steamboat Company
I almost forgot to include this group, maybe because I assume everyone already knows about them. excellent option for discovering (or re-discovering) Lake George, the vessels of the Lake George Steamboat Company - the Mohican, the Minne-ha-ha and the Lac du Saint Sacrement offer something for everyone.  For more information: and

In case you are looking for some ways to enjoy bigger bodies of water, I have a few ocean cruises that I want to share.  Again, if you're new to the blog or missed my posts previously, you can find these and more fun adventures in my blog Directory (   I'm not much of a traveler but when I do venture out of state, the destination is usually no further than Rockport, MA, Newport, RI and Connecticut.  I have cruises to share in each destination!

Classic Cruises of Newport 
The Madeleine

In Newport there are a number of cruise options, beginning with the Classic Cruises of Newport.  My favorite of those is the Madeiline a 72' schooner.  We've done sails on this beauty twice and there's something about those giant sails when they're raised that is so exhilerating!  Also with the Classic Cruise Company is the Rum Runner II.   The Rum Runner II is a 1929 classic motor yacht.  It evokes the intrigue and luxury of her smuggling days.  Both of these vessels provide unforgettable times cruising the coast of Narragansett Bay where you'll see a number of beautiful homes and historical landmarks.
The Rum Runner II
For more information on the Classic Cruises of Newport, you can check out my Newport Sailing blog post at: and for information about cruises:

The Schooner Ardelle
Sail Ardelle

This is possibly my favorite of all the ocean cruises..the 72' pinky Schooner, Ardelle in Gloucester, MA.   This schooner, was built by Harold Burnham....a process so complex and fascinating, Harold wrote a book about it.  Harold is the 28th Burnham to operate a shipyard in Essex since 1819. You can imagine with that lineage, Harold is a master storyteller when it comes to Gloucester fishing history.  This is one blog post you don't want to miss: An Afternoon of Sailing and Storytelling Aboard the Schooner Ardelle    For more information and to follow the Ardelle on Facebook:  and on the web:

The Thomas E. Lannon 
Another Gloucester beauty, the Thomas E. Lannon schooner....another spectacular way to spend time on the seas.  Meticulously maintained, massive sails, wonderful Captain, the Thomas E. Lannon was such a wonderful experience.  I actually snapped this photo while aboard the Ardelle.  Gloucester is the oldest fishing port in America and that is evident by the number of vessels, for both fishing and pleasure cruising is massive in the fishing town.  The Lannon offers a variety of cruises throughout the season and is definitely a must-do if you are in the area.  To read about our sail and see some pretty gorgeous shots of this beauty from under the sails....   To arrange your own experience on the Lannon: and on the web:

And one more I almost left out....
The Becky Thatcher Riverboat

The Becky Thatcher Riverboat can be found cruising along the Connecticut River in Essex, CT. Aside from lots of wildlife, passengers can enjoy such sights as the Gillette Castle, and the Goodspeed Opera House. You can even combine your cruise with a ride on the Essex Steamtrain. The perfect family excursion!   For more information on the Becky Thatcher and Essex, CT:
So there you have it!  Twelve (I tricked you) beautiful ways to get out on the water and soak up summer!  I hope this post and all the ones attached to it inspire you to venture outside your comfort zone....or indulge in your passion and take a little cruise (or a big one).  Thanks for reading.   Stick around for more Life As I See It and more posts with great ideas for fun things to do near and far this summer!  Don't forget to check out my Directory for more posts like this one!

Traveling Back to the Days of the One-Room Schoolhouse in Easton NY

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
One of the things I've acquired the habit of doing on our road trips, especially on routes we frequent, is shooting subjects (i.e. barns, landscapes,) from the same angle at different times throughout the year.  I have several of these 'favorite subjects'....... subjects that I can't pass without shooting a photo ....many of them in the town of Easton and surrounding areas.   Regular Easton blog followers can probably name them....the Connor Farm, the Skiff family farm, our beloved fallen barn on Wells Road, just to name a few.  Today's subject has only been on our favorite list for just over a year but in that year we have become enamored with it, or should I say infatuated with it.  It is the Cooke Hollow One-Room Schoolhouse.

It only took a season or two of photographing the schoolhouse for me to know I'd be doing a blog post about it one day.  That idea was confirmed after I read an article by Gretta Hochsprung, writer for the Post Star, on April 1, 2019.  Gretta interviewed Vera Beecroft, a long-time resident of Easton and once a student at a one-room schoolhouse on Beadle Hill Road in Easton and Helen Brownell, the now retired Director of the Easton Library.  In their conversation, Vera and Helen talked in great detail about the one-room schoolhouses in Easton.  There were 18 of them at one time.  Twelve of those are still standing.  In 1997, Vera and Helen and people from the library initiated a grant-funded project to collect and preserve the history of the rural education in Easton.  The result of that massive undertaking is a collection of wire-bound books detailing the schoolhouses' history, stories from folks interviewed who attended these schools and a collection of framed photos in the library of each of the schoolhouses.  John and I visited the library this spring and researched the Cooke Hollow Schoolhouse, a task made easy thanks to Vera and Helen's project.

 The Cooke Hollow Schoolhouse, also known as District #4, was once known as the Kenyan and Brownell district and encompassed the northern end of Cooke Hollow Road.  This area was home to families who were mostly members of the Society of Friends or Quakers in the early 1700 and 1800's.  Their farms surrounded the area.  The farm their schoolhouse was part and parcel to was owned by different families over the years.  The original schoolhouse, thought to be built around 1837, was brick. The original school was later replaced by the current wooden structure.   The property was purchased by the Old Timers Easton Association with hopes of preserving the school but sadly that never came to fruition.

It was important to Vera and Helen to have their grandchildren know what school was like back 'in the day' image and tale that I'm sure would come as quite a surprise to most school-age kids today.  I know when I was talking to my 8 yr. old granddaughter about what education looked like in a one-room schoolhouse, where kids of all ages learned different curriculum in the same time and space, her eyes got big and the concept seemed more than a little hard to fathom.  The one-room schoolhouse concept is still in effect the local Amish communities of Montgomery County.  I want to thank Vera, Helen and all those folks who spent so much time and research compiling this extensive and fascinating project.  I'd also like to thank Gretta Hocksprung for her wonderful interview and story in the Post Star that helped me tell more of the story.  You can read her complete article (and I encourage you's so good) at Post Star Article: Project Compiles a History of One-Room Schoolhouses in Easton NY.

 Lucky for me, when this landmark no longer stands, I'll have my photos and these beautiful sketches by Paul McCue.

I'm not the only one obsessed with an old schoolhouse.  Local blogger Jill Tefft and her family have purchased and are restoring Gramp's Old School....the Center Falls Schoolhouse on Route 29 in Center Falls NY.  Jill's grandfather, Richard Tefft, attended the schoolhouse in the early 1940's and her great grandmother,  Martha Dewey Tefft, before that .  It's quite a project, one close to her family's heart and one she writes about on her blog and photographs for Instagram.  You can follow her here: and at

Sometimes the past is as obscure as the old schoolhouse appears along Cooke Hollow Road, covered by the overgrowth of vines and vegetation.  Sometimes we get so busy with our day-to-day life, we forget about the past.  We fail to imagine that the events and traditions of our early life are in fact, history, and interesting to our kids and grandkids.  We take it for granted, even things like a wired, rotary wall phone, party lines, childhood games, etc...  I hope this post, along with Gretta's article, triggers some tales of your childhood, tales you'll feel inspired to share in print or stories told to your kids and grandkids.  Your history is who you are, what inspired the person you are today.  Tell that story!

When A Trip for Ice Cream Involves Monks and Hot Air Balloons

Saturday, June 15, 2019
I don't know where I'm going, 
but I'm on my way.

That pretty much sums up most of our road trips, and surely describes our last one....a ride to get ice cream that lasted many hours and multiple adventures.'s been a long time since my last post.   What is it they say, 'life happens while you're busy making plans'?  Life has definitely been happening around here in the past month.  Aside from the normal annual preparation for summer....gardening, yard clean up, mom who will turn 87 in a week took a fall while trying to avoid a parked car that backed up without warning.  Luckily the driver saw her fall (right behind her car) and managed to stop in time.  Also lucky that the only thing broken was mom's humerus of her right arm.  Naturally as these things go, mom is right handed and lives alone.  Suffice to say, we've been seeing a lot of each other this month.  To be clear....despite her handicap, mom is only a fraction less independent than normal because, well, because that's how she rolls.

  Anyway, it's been a busy few weeks but last Saturday we decided to take advantage of the glorious weather and headed out for our weekly ice cream cone from the Ice Cream Man in Greenwich, NY.  There's many things we love about Washington County and the custard at the Ice Cream Man is high on our list.    There are a number of routes we could take to Greenwich, but knowing me as you do, it should come as no surprise that the route we chose took us through Easton.

Already I had all I needed to make our excursions complete....Easton landscape, blue skies, farms, farm animals.  What more could I want?  While we were enjoying our cone, I remembered it was the weekend of the Cambridge Balloon Festival.  How convenient!  Each year to coincide with the Balloon Festival, the village of Cambridge has a variety of activities around town and the New Skete Monastery also welcomes visitors for tours.  It was a couple hours still before the balloons would launch, so we began our spontaneous new agenda at the monastery.

If you've been following the blog for a while, you may remember we visited the monastery a few years ago.  It's really a special place.  I didn't take too many photos this time, so I'll include the link to my previous post which will give you more information about it and many more photos.

We lingered with the quiet of nature and musical chants from within the chapel just until it was time to make our way to the school where the balloons would be preparing soon for launch.  Unlike other local balloon festivals, the Cambridge event has a little more 'hometown' feel and considerably less crowd. It's also free.  Some might be disappointed in the fact that there are also quite a few less balloons, but for us 9 or 10 was plenty.  The moderate breeze conveniently calmed around 7:00pm, which allowed every balloon to lift off the ground and ascend into the perfectly gorgeous evening sky.  

Sometimes the best of times are when we relinquish our plans to embrace a spontaneous adventure that presents itself.  We were lucky to have no other plans this day and no reason to hurry home.  We were able to just roll with the punches and soak up as much sunshine and fun as the day provided and as elusive as the sun has been lately, it's a good thing we did.  If you haven't already, you must check out the Ice Cream Man on Route 29 in Greenwich.   If you're a big balloon fan, the Saratoga Balloonfest is next weekend, June 21-23 in Ballston Spa, NY.  For information about the New Skete Monastery, use the link provided above.  And finally to see more photos of the balloons, check out my Facebook page:

Thanks for your patience during the gaps in my posts.  I promise I have a bunch of great things coming your way soon.  In the meantime....get out there and enjoy all the adventures life has to offer...even if they aren't as you planned.  Those are the best ones! 
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