A North Country Museum in the making

by Sonja Stark on July 27, 2014

St Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum

St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum

Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of local volunteers and contributors, a living museum in St. Lawrence county, is shaping up to be one of the best preserved farmsteads in all of the North Country.

The planning stages started 10-years ago and today, visitors can enjoy unique exhibitions including an antique horse equipment building, a working lumber mill, a cobbler’s workshop, a maple sugar house, a vintage Texaco gas station, granary, chicken house, and a collection of old-fashion treasures from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The pre-1855 one-room schoolhouse is nearly finished as is the antique gas and stream tractor building which already houses dozens of donated relics.

On Saturday, museum members Uncle Wayne and Judge Don “Mr. Fix It” Lustyik gave me a tour of the 100-acre grounds preserved in Madrid, NY. During the visit, I bumped into other Capital Region history buffs, Al and Patricia Visconti of Ravena, NY, both heavily immersed in a description of a wooden hand-crank ice cream maker. “Manually turning this crank shaft (pointing to the arm) would take hours but the taste was better than you’d find in today’s ice cream,” said Marcia Oney, another member of the museum.

Future projects include the construction of an early textile shop, an equine pavilion, a blacksmith shop and the reconstruction of one of last remaining unmodified log cabins in the region.

One of the museum’s most impressive and busiest events is the Old Fashion Harvest Days Exhibition on Labor Day weekend. Give yourself ample time to explore all the unique and unusual valuables.

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Across the bay in another world; Kings Point

by Sonja Stark on July 25, 2014

Kings Point

Kings Point Mansion

Kings Point Mansion

“And that over there sits the Great Gatsby house,” said my waiter as he extended his arm across Manhasset Bay, in the direction of where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived and wrote one of the greatest love stories of all time.

I’m in Port Washington, NY, on the north shore of Long Island, at a popular oyster bar called Louie’s enjoying all things lobster: lobster beer, bisque and hot roll. Voted Long Island’s #1 seafood restaurant five years in a row, celebrity sightings here include Singer-Songwriter Billy Joel and Actor Burt Young.

Our waterside waiter piqued our interest and after lunch we took a drive to Kings Point in a short hunt for the Great Gatsby or “West Egg” mansion. Fitting of the novel, the tree-lined hamlet wreaked of wealth, privilege and an ample number of patrolling police cars.

Trolling the bourgeois neighborhood, dozens of gasp-inducing bungalows caught our eye but none turned out to be the gluttonous excess of Jay Gatsby. Despite the beauty, the lanes of aristocracy also seem to be a very lonely place. Jennifer commented on how so few people were out enjoying their pools, patios and manicured gardens.

My proletarian Kia Sedona, not being the luxury vehicle common here, was quickly trailed by a local cop. Taking photos of the fortunes of others, from the privacy of one’s own car, isn’t illegal. Haven’t we all done it? Still, it felt a little taboo so we made our way back to the world of coupon-cutting and low octane.

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Staten Island, Beyond the Ferry

by Sonja Stark on July 23, 2014

Island View

Nothing beats the views of the New York harbor than from the Esplanade walkway along the Northern shore of Staten Island. Better yet are the iconic landmarks seen from the Staten Island Ferry. The 30-minute boat trip is free and runs past a working waterfront, several impressive bridges and Lady Liberty.

While working in this ‘Borough of Parks’ (170 parks in total) today, I only had time for this quick photo. It’s unfortunate too because, despite having worked here many times, I’ve never explored or given the least populated borough much credit. But, there are plenty of rich heritage sites and protected parkland, destinations that are free or charge a nominal entrance fee and often overlooked by visitors. Here’s just a few of many attractions compiled from the Visit Staten Island website.

For example, one of the Oldest Military Sites in the U.S. was built here over 200 years ago. Fort Wadsworth is a formidable structure with a rich past and rangers available for tour.

Or lather on a bottle of SPF and go swimming at South Beach then horseback riding at Clay Pit Ponds State Park or bird watching at Mount Loretto Nature Preserve. Open-air retreats feature pathways, jogging trails and ballfields. Hundreds of acres of preserved forests gives way to meadows, wetlands, ponds, and parks.

Staten Island is home to a number of galleries, featuring the works of local and world renowned artists, both classical and contemporary. Like the Alice Austen house, one of America’s earliest and most prolific female photographers. Review her collection that includes over 8,000 images over the course of her life. Though she is best known for her documentary work, Austen was an artist with a strong aesthetic sensibility. Furthermore, she was a landscape designer, a master tennis player, and the first woman on Staten Island to own a car.

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Whitewater Rafting Challenge in the Adirondacks

by Sonja Stark on July 20, 2014

White Water“I grew up in the 50′s when the expression ‘Up the creek without a paddle’ had a whole different meaning,” said Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, speaking at the Adirondack Challenge at Gore Mountain in North Creek, a few minutes ago.

Earlier in the day, donning life preservers and wielding big sticks, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several of his brave cronies took to rafting class 3 rapids. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and his team, all dripping wet in green t-shirts, soaked in the competition by racing each other down the Hudson River Gorge.

I was wedged into my own raft alongside travel writers from around the world: India, Russia, Scotland, even Vietnam. Local WNYT reporter, Dan Bezile sat on the raft to my left, screaming with delight, as he plunged his paddle into the refreshing drink. None of us, with the exception of the Indian writer would have minded if the raft capsized so we could enjoy a summer swim.

This was the 2nd Annual Adirondack Challenge with the goal of highlighting all the beauty and recreational opportunities available to visitors to the North Country. Hundreds were invited to participate both in the race and attend a late lunch and press conference at Gore Mountain following the excitement.

“The North Country is coming back big time!” Cuomo said as he wrapped up his pitch to attract more tourism to the area.

TBA: Should I find a fast internet connection here in North Creek tonight, I’ll edit the GoPro footage and upload it for your viewing pleasure!

PHOTO 2

PHOTO 3

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Richardson's Tavern

Richardon's Canal House

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“The Richardson’s Canal House used to be hostel, private home, tavern, apartment, even a brothel!” said our server as he handed us dinner menus.

Just shy of 200 years, the charming former stagecoach stop is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and visiting here, you can easily see why. Built during a time when General Andrew Jackson was president and Congress decided on 13 red & white stripes and 20 stars for the flag, it’s a mirror-image of the year 1818.

Antique furnishings, rustic mahogany bar, patio bordering the beautiful Erie Canal, this restaurant is a magnate for history-buffs, celebrities, politicians and everyday locals alike. We enjoyed a view of the boats cruising by and delicious entrees from the Grill Menu – quite literally prepared on a grill not far from us.

Visit Pittsford, NY soon to experience the same!

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Art and Nature in Schoharie County, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 14, 2014

Jason Schultz Hanging ArtSculptural welding artist, Jason Schultz, is a master of both the monumental and the intimate. You might find him handling a 600-pound hanging mobile of reclaimed industrial metals (seen on the left) or maybe, something more personal, like a decorative necklace adorned with deer antlers.

Or, he might be inspired to do a ‘drip and splash’ scene on the canvas of an antique door – an aesthetic similar to Pollock. Wherever his imagination takes him, his abstract pieces aim to please.

Dozens of visitors attended the gallery show at Wellington’s Herbs and Spices in Schoharie County on Sunday. A larger-than-life size gecko piece could be found crawling out of the main pond. A floppy-eared pup made of nuts and bolts sat on the cafe bench. Depending on interpretation, one of Schultz’s outdoor pieces (and my favorite) could be a daisy or a blazing sun. Either way, portions of his sales go to support the Farm to School Project in Schoharie and that’s always a good thing.

Click on links for more information on Jason Schultz or Wellington’s or the Farm-to-School Project.

Wellington's Herbs and Spices

Wellington's Herbs and Spices

Wellington's Herbs and Spices

Wellington's Herbs and Spices

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