Like Us On Facebook

Check Out My Website

to read more about my humor essays and mysteries






.357 Magnum .44 Magnum 46ers Adirondack Adventure Festival Adirondack guides Adirondack Mountain Club Adirondacks Adirondak Loj ADK air mattress Amazon Ann Patchett Appalachian Trail arachnophobia bacon bears Beaver Brook Outfitters beavers Becoming an Outdoors Woman Betsy Bitner Big Mountain Deli bobsledding BOW BOW Brad Pitt camp fire Camping camping clay pigeons cold Comforts of Home crickets crickettes curling deer Dirty Harry Disney World dock spiders Don Draper Elysian Fields Epic equipment essential edibles Euell Gibbons fear of wildlife field dressing game firearms firearms Fish Tales FishTales: The Guppy Anthology Fly Fishing food food Food & Wine magazine Glock 9mm Gravity Guppies half-gallon challenge High Peaks hiking hiking hippos Howard Johnson's Hudson River hunting ice cream Inside Jon Krakauer L.L. Bean Lac du Saint Sacrement Lake George Lake Placid Lake Placid Lake Placid Club leprechaun Man of La Mancha Mark Trail Martha's Melvil Dewey Minne-Ha-Ha Mount Jo Mt. Van Hoevenberg Mysteries North Creek North River Northville-Placid Trail Orlando otters Outhouse Races Outside Outside magazine pistol Polar Plunge polar vortex port-a potty pot of gold Quentin Tarantino Rachel Ray rainbow Riparius shotgun Silver Bay Simply Gourmet SinC sleeping bags Sleuthfest snowshoeing spiders State of Wonder Summer Fun SUNY Adirondack super soakers survival skills swimming tent Thelma & Louise trapping U.S. Winter Olympic Team unicorn venison white water rafting Whiteface Lodge whitewater rafting wildlife wine Winter Winter Carnival Winter Fun wolves
Powered by Squarespace
What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

Entries in Winter Carnival (3)


Taking the Plunge - Part 2

What a difference a month makes. On January 1st I stood on the beach at Shepard’s Park in Lake George to take part in the annual Polar Plunge. The air temperature was 46˚ that day with the water temperature hovering around 32˚. Although ice was forming around the docks, the lake itself was still open water. But I won’t lie to you, it was plenty cold.


So I watched in amazement as two-dozen or so hardy souls took to the water for another polar plunge on February 5th when the lake was frozen solid. Oh, and did I mention it was snowing? Knowing how it felt a month ago, I cheered loudly as they ran from a beach covered in two feet of snow into a 20 by 20 foot section of water that was kept from freezing by a bubbler attached to the pier. Most ran in then ran right back out, just as I had, but their feat seemed so much bolder (and their feet no doubt colder) than mine.

Fellow plungers, my hat is off to you. Now get out of the water and put on   

some clothes.





We're Number One - or Number Two

I may have mentioned in earlier posts that one of my concerns about being in nature is what to do when nature calls. So when I heard about the Outhouse Races at the Lake George Winter Carnival – an outdoor activity that featured (albeit primitive) bathroom facilities – it seemed like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Although I could imagine a situation in which one might need to race to an outhouse, for some reason it had never crossed my mind that people would want to race with an outhouse. Nine teams vied for the championship on the frozen waters of Lake George on February 5th, the opening day of the Carnival’s 50th anniversary celebration. One group – Adirondack Images – had four separate entries, so they must have really wanted to win it. It wasn’t clear what the winner won, other than bragging rights,[1] I can only assume Adirondack Images thought Outhouse Race Champion would be a real boon to their aerial photography business.

The outhouses came in all shapes, sizes and materials. Some were built specifically to be lightweight and aerodynamic; others went with a theme, with racers dressed to match. The pre-race scene looked like the starting line of The Wacky Races, and I half-expected Penelope Pitstop, Professor Pat Pending and Dick Dastardly to show up.


The races began with a moment of silence for The Office – an outhouse that was retired this year after many seasons of reliable service.

I’m not sure how an outhouse is retired, but it was replaced with a newer, fresher Office. The outhouses were paired off in heats, each outhouse pushed and/or pulled by four people.[2] The only other rule appeared to be that the outhouse had to be, uhm, occupied.

My sentimental pick was the outhouse sponsored by Sans Souci, a bar/restaurant in Cleverdale, NY, which was frequented often by my husband and me during our early courtship. Like our marriage, the Sans Souci entry seemed steady, durable, and utterly lacking in excitement and drama. However, unlike my marriage, this particular outhouse did not turn out to be a winner.

The crowd favorite was the Leaky Tiki, whose Polynesian themed privy came complete with grass skirt-attired racers and an Easter Island head covering the door to the head. My kids were also rooting for “The Batmobile,” which was more like a sled than an outhouse, as well as “No Fear” – the only out-of-state entry – from Dalton, MA.

The sizeable crowd was flushed with excitement (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and cheered loudly for heat after heat. The race was not without its dangers as the racers scrambled to keep their footing on the snow-covered ice. More than one racer and outhouse went down, but fortunately the only thing hurt was some pride. During one race, an outhouse fell over[3] and the racers walked away without finishing the heat, causing some in the crowd to accuse them of crapping out (see, I’m not the only one who couldn’t resist).

In the end, it came down to “No Fear” and “The Batmobile,” with “The Batmobile” taking home the title.




[1] Suggestion to race organizers: perhaps you could add to the prestige of future races by awarding the coveted Toilet Bowl.

[2] Although from my observations, most were additionally fueled by Bud Light.

[3] I can’t remember if it was the new and improved “The Office” or “The Loading Zone.”


I don't know about you, but personally I require a little more privacy


Taking the Plunge

I stand on the beach, wet sand scrunched between my toes, and gaze out on the waters of Lake George. The Lac du Saint Sacrement cruising in the distance barely disturbs the lake’s glassy surface.  Even the air is still. Although the temperature is warmer than usual, I’m thankful there’s no cooling breeze today. That’s because today is January 1st, and I’m about to take part in the annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge.

            There’s plenty of time to evaluate the situation as I stand on my little patch of sand waiting for the signal to plunge. On the plus side: ice has yet to form on the lake; and the air temperature is a balmy 46˚. On the minus side: I hate being cold; I despise wearing a bathing suit in public even in July; and I’ve never been in Lake George earlier than Memorial Day weekend. Of course, that was years ago – before the area of my brain that controls judgment was fully developed and my sister and I would dare each other to stand, shivering, in waist deep water until we could no longer tolerate what we called “the toothache in our legs.”

            The beach is so crowded it’s hard to get a good sense of everyone there, but it seems I’m on the wrong end of both the age and sobriety spectrum. So what’s my excuse? Dreaming up the idea of doing this two days earlier – also when I was sober – it seemed like a good way to get a firsthand experience of the Adirondacks. But seeing all the fully clothed spectators standing a safe distance from shore, I realize their idea of an Adirondack experience seems more rational than mine.

            I try not to think of the family I’d encountered on my way to the beach. Surprised at the difficulty in finding parking in the village, they asked me what was going on this weekend. I told them and then went on my way, wearing my robe and carrying a bag full of towels. One of the kids whispered, “Mom, is she crazy?” She shushed him and I didn’t have to turn around to know the mom was nodding “Yes.” And then there was my son’s face when my family wished me luck before taking their place among the spectators. I hoped his concerned look was because he was worried about my safety and not because he feared he got his intelligence from me instead of from his dad.

            Suddenly the crowd on the beach begins yelling and fist pumping. The yells turn to screams as the crowd moves toward the water. I shed my robe and, like a lemming, follow them, picking my way through the chunks of snow on the beach.

            I reach the water just as the first to go in are running back to shore – the look of shock literally frozen to their faces. I push on, going as quickly as possible without losing my footing on the pebbly bottom. It doesn’t seem so bad until a person on their return trip delivers a big splash of icy water to my face. I’d expected a quicker drop-off but it’s still very shallow and the water’s only up to my knees. Discarded flip-flops float around me like bodies drifting to shore after a maritime disaster. I continue wading, trying to reach a respectable depth so I can turn around. Finally the water reaches my hips. Decision time: far enough or keep going and ride home in a soaking wet bathing suit? Comfortable ride home wins out and I stop, turn, raise my arms in the air, let out a victory yell, and then race to shore.

            My nerve endings kick in at this point. Forget toothache. It feels like full-on root canal without the benefit of anesthesia. Things only get worse when I hit the beach and the cold sand sticks to my feet. Weaving quickly through the crowd to get to my belongings, I stand on my towel and throw my robe around me. A girl next to me yells, “I can’t feel my legs.”

            “Really?” I wonder, because my legs are all I can feel. There’s an odd sensation that at first I mistake to be heat, but then realize is extreme cold. My own personal freezer burn. Even after putting on pants, socks and shoes, my legs feel tingly and exposed as every nerve ending crackles from the jolt of their New Year’s jumpstart.

            Later, a man standing in the entrance to his restaurant smiles and nods at me as I walk down Canada Street, wearing my robe over my clothes and heading back to our car. I smile back, thinking to myself, “Yeah, I’m one of the crazies.” And I realize there’s a little swagger in my step.


 Is it a look of shock or of relief? Well, at least I didn't get my hair wet!
Duffy's Tavern in Lake George Village where the brave (or foolhardy) sign up for the Polar Plunge. The line to register winds around the bar, which does a brisk business. Coincidence?