June 24, 2010

What's summer without a nice summer cold to cap things off?

VALOIS, New York, USA - After a three-day weekend that included a great beach party Friday, attending the Cardboard Boat Races (and party) Saturday, and then Jenn and Carl's wedding (and reception) Sunday afternoon and evening, I was about as hydrated as I could be, and felt great. Three parties in three days and ready for more lake fun.


And feeling great lasted right until Wednesday morning when I woke up at 6 a.m. with a sore throat, a cough - and a head cold - one of those cement-head-type colds in which everything you see and hear seems to be going on behind a heavy gauze curtain. After talking with Hector amiga Karen Schamel, I learned that the cold was making the rounds of all of Schuyler County.

And here I thought I was patient zero.

But on this second day of the cold, I feel a little better, perhaps a combination of yesterday afternoon's boating, ample hydration, and warm sun to bake the cold out. I wish today were as warm. Maybe it will be soon.

Jenn and Carl
Jenn and Carl's vows on Sunday

Entry in the cardboard boat race

Yesterday, Admiral Fox had to barrel off for appointments, leaving me (and my cement-solid head, no comments please) alone at the house for the day. After doing some dock improvements, I decided the best thing for my cold was a trip across the lake (by pontoon boat, of course) to the Showboat Restaurant and Bar, about five miles away on the east side of Seneca Lake.

The place has good docking facilities, excellent cold beer,  passable hamburgers and fries, and occasionally waitresses who could be aspiring to work at a Hooters restaurant. It seemed the perfect place for a destination cruise - and to sit around for the afternoon.

Alas, when I arrived shortly after noon, ready for a beer and a burger, a 16-year-old fellow - wielding a power drill in the bar - told me that the restaurant might be opening this coming weekend. "I think they'll be open then," he said.

I think I will call ahead before taking a voyage there again.

Showboat bar - closed
The Showboat's outside bar - closed until further notice

It was nice to return to our dock, however, and see how my handiwork from earlier in the day looked from the water.

I added white bumper strips to the pilings so visiting boats - and the Spirit of Louise, of course - could moor without having to reach into dark boat lockers to find fenders, and then tie them on to protect the vessel. I got the idea for the strips from Eric and Tina Hazlitt's dock, though I should have spent a little more time asking around how to actually install the pieces.

(Ever dropped an electric drill into the water? How about a box of screws? A screwdriver?)

Still, Wednesday morning, even with a head that felt like it was full of slow-drying cement, I was able to install the strips and now we are ready to inaugurate the Valois Point Yacht Club.

Or at least as soon as I get the bar built on the end of the dock.

On Facebook, I put up a photo of the dock and sunshade, indicating that all I needed now was a bar - and barflies - to complete the picture. I immediately had volunteers for the barfly positions.

This should be fun...

Valois Point Yacht Club dock
Valois Point Yacht Club dock

From Mexico, there was some good news (even if expensive) in the last week: Our palapa's new roof is almost finished at The Pink Flamingo in Arroyo Seco.

The original roof - covered with interlocking ceramic tiles - was so heavy it was cracking the support beams and making strange creaking noises. Conventional wisdom said it would not last another rainy season. The monsoon rains can add tons of weight to the roof during downpours.

Our amigo and neighbor Chon took on the project (along with a crew of Arroyo Seco workers), stripping off the tiles and replacing them with an attractive laminate material that looks very similar, but weighs about 10 percent of the original roof.

Admiral Fox and I will sleep better knowing the palapa will still be standing when we go home to Mexico in December, even if we are many pesos poorer.

We'll drown our sorrows (about how many pesos we had to lay out) down on the dock at the VPYC - when I get the bar built ...

Chon on the roof
Chon hard at work replacing the roof

June 17, 2010

Ready or not, summertime fun about to hit Seneca Lake this weekend

VALOIS, New York, USA - The north wind is blowing a steady 20 knots today, with gusts to 25, (and temperatures about 58 degrees, brrr...) but the weather forecast calls for calm winds and temperatures in the 80s starting tomorrow - and continuing all weekend on the southerly part of Seneca Lake.

And that's a great thing, because this weekend would seem to be the official/unofficial beginning of summer fun at the lake with a beach party Friday, cardboard boat races Saturday and Jen and Karl's wedding Sunday.

Monday has been officially declared Detox Day at this house. The cases of ginger ale stand ready.

Ready for departure
A dock party at Cousin Ruth's two years ago

The beach party is being thrown at the Guy Schamel house, just south of Peach Orchard Point and if it is anything like the floating party of two years ago - the weekend when Matt and Shannon Schamel were married - it will be a hoot.

This party is to celebrate Jen and Karl's impending nuptials and while it won't move from place to place, the Peach Orchard waterfront should be a lot of fun. The Schamel clan has plenty of water toys to keep party goers amused.

And keeping hydrated - in the expected hot sun - will be critical, of course.

The Spirit of Louise is likely to be pressed into service to get the Admiral and I the three miles to the party, depending on wind. Or perhaps we might take the Red Rocket sailboat. There's plenty of beach to leave the Red Rocket if sailing home isn't an option.

The nurses' entry in last year's Cardboard Boat Race

Saturday, the annual Cardboard Boat Race will be held in Watkins Glen inside the sheltering breakwater of the marina.

Last year the weather was simply miserable, with rain, wind and cold temperatures. Really cold temperatures...

But even at that, the participants seemed to have a great time, even those who barely made it away from the start line before shipping water and sinking. I got soaked in the rain and was freezing, but still enjoyed watching. It was a lot warmer than trying to swim to shore, dragging a soaked (and half-sunken) cardboard boat.

As with the Friday beach party, if the weather is good (and predictions say 90 degrees and sunny Saturday, woo-hoo), the Spirit of Louise might make a guest appearance at the marina. It would be a great deck to sit on while the racers paddle - or sink - nearby.

Boat tips over
That water was cold

And then Sunday afternoon, Jen and Karl will be getting married at the church in nearby Hector, followed by a reception in Watkins Glen at a beautiful new hotel on the waterfront.

If the reception is half as much fun as the partying at Jen's sister Kate's wedding several years ago, it will be a great capper for the weekend. Then again, now that the family already had one wedding, this could be twice as much fun as the cavorting when Kate and Steve were married.

The Admiral and I will be prepared for everything but doing the Chicken Dance at the reception. The Hokey-Pokey might be ok. But the Chicken Dance? No way...

I'll also get to continue field testing my new combination still/video camera again to document the event - between trips to the dance floor, of course.

And if the Chicken Dance does sneak in, well, there will be video.

Admiral, Karl & Jen
Karl, Jen and the Admiral in Mexico

June 13, 2010

Could it be an attack of cabin fever - after just two days of rain?

VALOIS, New York, USA - The temperature is a reasonable 68 degrees, humidity about 97 percent (less reasonable) but after two days of on-and-off monsoon-style rainshowers, the Admiral and I are beginning to look at each other like two Alaska gold miners, locked in a creekside cabin for months in the middle of winter.

In other words, a little cabin fever is setting in, despite several social events. (Yes, we are spoiled from Mexico's all-sun, all-the-time weather.)

Last night we went out for dinner with Hector amigos and had a great time, ignoring the gray overcast.

And we did get out and socialize for an hour or so early today at the Hector Volunteer Fire Department's pancake breakfast. That's the place to go to catch up with neighbors. The bad news is the breakfasts are only one Sunday a month. The good news is the breakfasts are only one Sunday a month.

Why is that good news?

Well, I ingest enough bacon grease, cooking oil from the potatoes and sugar from the real NY maple syrup to break every health edict I am reading about in a book called Younger Every Year.

I'll restart the health regime tomorrow.

We did lower the cabin fever temporarily an hour ago with a long walk around the neighborhood, in between rain showers. Many neighbors were out, peering at the sky and wondering what happened to the 80+ degrees and sun we had all last week.

But no waterfront activities are on tap, unless the sun comes out and dries the path to the lake. It is slippery as snot (sorry) and traversing it is not recommended right after a rainstorm. Can't kayak - or sail - with a sprained ankle or busted butt.

Here's a short video of today's breakout walk from the house and into the fog...

June 12, 2010

New video camera in hand - can a 'rockumentary' be far behind?

VALOIS, New York, USA - The Admiral presented me with an early birthday present this week - a new high definition video camera that also takes excellent still photos.

It might be the camera I have been looking for, for, well, years. And if it tests out well, I can get back to making 'rockumentary' films, like Cruising For Croissants, a video of a canal boat trip through the south of France that the Admiral and I took with amigos Jim and Myrna Keitges.

Rockumentary? Yes, that's label I use because music is integral to the production.

New Sanyo video camera
Sanyo Xacti camera

I tried out another version of this camera last fall, but was disappointed in both its video and still images. Dual purpose things frequently don't do both things well. (Ever been on a sailboat that's called a motor sailer?) But if the still images on this blog (and the short video at the end) are any indication, I think it's a keeper.

Spirit of Louise at dock
Spirit of Louise at the dock

Red Rocket and kayaks ready for the water
Red Rocket sailboat and kayaks ready for action

While I tune up my camera skills, the Admiral and I are enjoying the new dock and waterfront, every day. Friday we took what cousin Roger Beardslee calls a 'rubberneck tour' aboard the Spirit of Louise to look at our neighbors' docks to see what kind of fender material people install.

Eric and Tina Hazlitt's dock - where we stopped to get hydrated -  clearly has the best protection for boats (and the dock), a rubber bumper called, appropriately dock gard and sold by a marine outfit called Overtons.

I already ordered a roll of the stuff and it's on my project list for next week to install.

Can't start the Valois Point Yacht Club until we have proper docking facilities for reciprocal yacht club guest...

Here's a short video taken with the new Sanyo video camera.

June 6, 2010

All the ships are launched - just as the weather turns butt ugly

VALOIS, New York, USA - The last of the fleet was launched Friday, just in time for summer-like weather to turn butt ugly (or bugly, we usually say). Still, we had a run of great weather, enough to get the Red Rocket sailboat, two kayaks, a new rowing dinghy (still unnamed) and the Spirit of Louise all in the water and ready for, well, the weather we just had.

The water in the lake warmed up very quickly. Memorial Day weekend, I went swimming off our new dock twice. Twice! That's the earliest I have ever been in Seneca Lake. And, to be honest, it was warmer than it is has been in July some years.

The thermometer this morning said the water temperature was 66 degrees. Pretty brisk, but only two degrees colder than the water at Catalina Island in California where we used to snorkel.

Michael hits the water, May 30, 2010
May 30, swimming in Seneca Lake

The days have been filled with little - and not so little - projects: leveling two compost piles that were probably started 50 years ago, rebuilding the base for the hot tub, making the path to the lake safer (good luck with that) and, of course, fixing up the waterfront where our new dock has already been pressed into service for boating and fishing.

There's some loose talk about declaring the new dock and waterfront the Valois Point Yacht Club. That way we will have reciprocal privileges at other area yacht clubs when we take our inter-lake cruise later this summer from here, through the Erie Canal, to Cayuga Lake and perhaps lakes beyond.

We would then be members of two yachts clubs: the yet-to-be-started, Valois Point Yacht Club and the Tenacatita Bay Yacht Club, which is headquartered in Arroyo Seco, Jalisco, Mexico at the Pink Flamingo Bar, Grill and Language Academy. 

New dock in Valois
The new dock - part of the Valois Point Yacht Club?

We have a very good trailer for the Spirit of Louise and could simply drag the ship about on the fine highways of the State of New York from lake to lake, but what fun is that?

Hmm... perhaps more fun than if we ran into the cold, 25-knot winds that have Seneca Lake kicked up into a wild froth as I write this. The temperature went from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to 55 degrees in about 10 minutes two hours ago. And the wind, well, let's just say I am very glad the Red Rocket sailboat is safely tied to shore and I am not out and about - even if that water is 66 degrees.

The change in weather, means its time to get back other pursuits: writing, playing the ukelele and plotting out which local tavern to hit this afternoon to hear music and, of course, maintain the proper levels of hydration.

Several weeks ago, we went to Two Goats Brewery, just a few miles down the road, and heard Celtic music. The Admiral was sad that she didn't bring her violin to join in. Perhaps she will drag it with her today. We have also been out shopping for a building to move onto the property for use as a music room for the Admiral. That way, she says, she can practice her violin without worrying about bothering anyone when she hits a high note that isn't quite where it should be.

It's no bother to me. I love the sound of the Admiral's violin, but we perhaps we might make a deal for two buildings: a music room for Adm Fox and a workshop for me. It's all music to my ears. (Sorry, that pun was too good to pass up...)

Here's a short video sample of the Two Goats Brewery music and a few photos from the last two weeks.

OH! And posted on this page (to the left at the top) is a five-minute video clip of a longer movie done by Captain Clarence Harvey of the sailing vessel Lotus. It's a snippet of the Banderas Bay Regatta from March in which Adm. Fox, CEO Laura Warner, surfer dude Julien and I all crewed for Captain Clarence. The Admiral and I haven't seen the full movie yet, but have the popcorn ready to go when it arrives this coming week, now that Captain Clarence has cut and spliced the film.

Watch out Mr. Spielberg, Capt. Clarence is on your tail.

Music room for Sylvia?
A music room for the Admiral?

New rowboat joins Valois fleet
New rowboat on its way home

Sentry gulls on duty at Seneca Lake
Seagulls on sentry duty on a neighbor's dock