Bozen Kill Falls at Christman Sanctuary

Bozen Kill Stream

Bozen Kill Falls

Bozen Kill Stream

Christman Sanctuary Parking Lot

This is peak work season for freelance shooters. While juggling calls from network juggernauts and editing last-minute projects, I braved a short respite from the chaos at Christman Sanctuary in Duanesburg, NY.

I didn’t anticipate company on a rainy Monday afternoon but it turns out the beautiful Bozen Kill stream is most popular when the flows are strongest. Parking for four of five vehicles isn’t nearly enough.

The Bozen Kill is Dutch for “raging stream” and after so many days of rain, a series of small cascades flow turbulently. At the bottom of a steep 30-foot waterfall, normally a small trickle in the summer, bathers gather to indulge in a refreshing pool. The stream carries on through a corridor of steep slopes of sandstone and shale with easy trails dotting both sides.

The site is a Registered National Historic Landmark listed by the New York State Historic Trust and protected by the Nature Conservancy and local land trusts.

Thinking about survival odds in Franklin County

Dozens of satellite and microwave trucks gather near the tiny town of Owls Head, NY to cover the fugitive story.

Dozens of satellite and microwave trucks gather near the tiny town of Owls Head, NY to cover the fugitive story.

Patrolling the hot zone of Owls Head this week for CBS National, I got to thinking about survival odds in the Adirondacks. Having grown up in Massena, not far from where the fugitives are (supposedly) hiding, I can identify with every home having a gun mounted to the wall, every backyard having a vegetable garden and every lake being warm enough to swim in by mid-summer. Franklin County is the first place I ever skied (Titus) and I was introduced to backpacking low range mountains like Debar, St. Regis, Azure, Ampersand, Seward and Haystack.

If the fugitives aren’t caught soon, I can’t help but think that they’ll be able to easily feast on the land for weeks without needing to break into stocked camps.

Everybody knows that July yields a smorgasbord of favorites in North Country gardens. Red tomatoes, fresh cukes, sustaining potato tubers paired with bushes ripe with wild gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries are all options easily found on most homesteads. No need to eat wild mushrooms here. The prisoners could find themselves picnicking alongside bears and deer on safe fruit to survive. Or, they might follow the lead of rabbits who dine on edible ornamental and herbal flowers (marigolds, carnations, dandelions).

I also can’t help but think that if the prisoners were privy to survival, they would have stolen a quiet fishing pole (or anglers net) instead of a noisy gun from the Owls Head cabin. Whether a lure or a fly, the Adirondacks is rich with bass, trout and salmon and eating fish raw is generally safe (barring the mercury levels) and high in protein.

Frequent precipitation has also raised the water levels and currents of lakes, ponds and streams in Franklin County. I can’t help but think that swift-flowing rivers will soon be warm enough to float down without risking hyperthermia or heat loss. Find a log to drift behind and just let the currents do the work. This could easily throw off trailing dogs that rely on human scents that drift in the air.

Then again, the backcountry is seriously overpopulated with beaver so odds are good that untreated water sources carry pathogen-related threats like Giardia. Giardia results in extreme stomach suffering. If you own a pet, you already know this.

Menacing mosquitoes are like the size of birds in the deep woods! These little bloodsuckers are relentless and can drive a hiker insane. I learned early on that the best home remedies to repel insects are to bathe frequently, eat garlic and wear white. I really can’t confirm why they work but they do.

Fathers Day at Ausable Chasm

AuSable Chasm raft rideLook at that face! Now, that’s what a father’s face should look like on this special day. This photo was taken shortly after descending the 1-mile waterway with rafting supervisor, Jason Amrhein, of the all-mighty Ausable Chasm. The legendary park sits just a few miles shy of Plattsburgh, NY.

The last time Dad shot the rapids at Ausable Chasm was 1955. He was 10 years old and remembers the excitement aboard an old red wooden boat with his own parents. The 32-foot long boat system was replaced with the new blue raft ride after the apocalyptic flooding destroyed the area in January 1996 and again in November. Despite the devastating destruction experienced twice in one year, the Chasm was rebuilt.

Dad felt like a kid braving Grade 3 rapids, punching through huge swells and learning about the history of the oldest natural attraction in the United States. His girlfriend Beverly left grip marks on the inflatable raft while his daughter screamed for mercy at the helm.

Prior to the raft ride, we enjoyed an easy ramble on the Inner Sanctum, a rim walkway past eons of geologic history with names like Jacob’s Well, Rainbow Falls, Elephant’s Head, Column Rock, Hyde’s Cave and Mystic Gorge.

AuSable Chasm

Inner Sanctum Trail

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Listening to gold at Silver Bay

Elizabeth Gilbert Bigger Game 2015 Speaker

Beekman Boys Bigger Game 2015 Speakers

Lee Woodruff Bigger Game 2015 Keynote Speaker

Boathouse at Silver Bay YMCA

There’s a popular expression in the television industry that’s uttered when an interview goes really well. “We got gold!” producer Bob likes to shout.

It’s an expression I’d use to describe the speeches heard this past weekend at a historic retreat on Lake George recently. Then again, hurling myself into the refreshing water (which I did not) would have made this assignment so much better – as bestselling author, essayist and novelist Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) was quick to admit when handed the microphone.

“So, who in this room can say they went skinny-dipping this morning?” she asked an auditorium filled with hundreds of devoted fans, many who had come from as far away as Japan and Korea to be part of the conference. Everyone cheered wildly.

“It was the best, most invigorating thing!” said Gilbert. “I have this thing when I see a body of water, it’s like, okay, I’m coming in. It’s just some sort of reflex.”

Gilbert awoke super early to climb a Lake George mountain and then proceeded to peel off her clothes and swim naked in a cold pond at the summit with Lee Woodruff, wife of journalist Bob Woodruff. The friends apparently achieved another check on their bucket list and all before the morning session even began. Thank you very much dry shampoo.

The pair were easily the most eloquent speakers (I’m bias because of the climb) at The Bigger Game Expo held at Silver Bay YMCA this past weekend.

Gilbert has a new book launching in September with a theme that tied well into the mission of the four day forum. The book aptly called “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” will no doubt be another runaway hit with millions of readers.

Others who spoke were just as entertaining and inspirational like celebrity farmers, The Beekman Boys from Sharon Springs, NY and Dan Pallotta, the inventor of the multi-day charitable event industry like the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. Albany’s own equally engaging personality John Robinson also sparked compassion, courage and hope.

For those looking to surround themselves with enlightened thinkers punctuated by the beauty of the Adirondacks and a shoreline cruise at sunset, sign up early for next year’s conference. (It’s okay if you forget your bathing suit).

Feeling love in the heartland of America

Mele Mason of Mason Video in Omaha, Nebraska, knows what it's like to get to a location with faulty or missing television equipment.   She came to PilotGirl Production's rescue this week.

Mele Mason of Mason Video in Omaha, Nebraska, knows what it’s like to get to a location with faulty or missing television equipment. She came to PilotGirl Production’s rescue this week.

Boys Town, Omaha Steaks, Warren Buffet, the NCCA College World Series, none of these attractions are reasons why I’ll remember working in Omaha, Nebraska this week. Not even the delicious oatmeal stout enjoyed at Upstream Brewery. The heartland of America will hold fast in my memory for the new best friend who provided me with last-minute television equipment when my own went awry.

Early Thursday morning, a vital piece of gear, absolutely required for the job that I was working, failed to work. My producer and I scrambled to correct the issue minutes before our first interview. All efforts failed. Then I remembered I had a friend in Omaha. A friend I hadn’t talked to in a long time. But she had come to my rescue before so with one quick phone call to Mele Mason, a female sole proprietor of a local production company, our prayers were answers.

Do you believe in guardian angels? I do!

Mele sprung into action delivering to our location a working 17″ Panasonic HD monitor with cables and wires. My meltdown subsided producing smiles on the clients faces.

Travel with heavy equipment through busy airports in odd hours to distance towns is tough enough. When audio, lighting or video gear fails on location it’s not like any of us can run down to the nearest Best Buy or Staples and buy what we need. This industry is far too specialized and only a few companies in the country sell what is needed. So, when the competition goes the extra mile to accommodate there are no words for our appreciation.

It is prosperity that gives us friends, adversity that proves them. I’ve always loved that proverb.

Climbing a Pagoda in Pretzel City

Reading PA Pagoda

Over the weekend, I had an assignment in the pretzel capital of the world; Reading, Pennsylvania. It’s known as “The Pretzel City” because of numerous local pretzel bakeries that started commercial operation here as far back as 1861.

The tradition continues with names like Bachman, Dieffenbach, Tom Sturgis, and Unique Pretzel calling Reading home. Bakers attribute the pretzel’s deliciousness to the quality of water, if not a secret recipe brought over by the Austrians and Germans who emigrated.

Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to sample any soft knots while in Reading. Rather, we dined on savory crepes and then worked off the calories climbing the famous Pagoda at the top of Mount Penn.

The historic landmark is indeed a tiered tower built like a traditional Asian pagoda however it’s purpose was not to worship a religion but rather act as a hotel. When funding fell short it was gifted to the city and has since become a weekend venue for family outings, meetings and a great way to see the city. Interesting fact, it’s the only Pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney.