July 31, 2010

A parade party and then an evening at a old-time country fair

HECTOR, New York, USA - Saturday evening was a return to old-time America with a parade consisting largely of firetrucks, Cub Scouts and homegrown musical talent, followed by a couple of hours wandering the Hector Fire Department Fair.

The fairgrounds had all the requisite things: rides for children, arcade games, a book sale, tractor sales (and demos) and, of course, a beer tent.

All did a lively business.

Scotties march by
Amanda and Miguel photographing the Scotties

We watched the parade from the front lawn of Eric and Tina Hazlitt, who hosted a parade party before (and after) the 40-minute cavalcade of entries. The entries all got applause and whistles as they passed our spot on the highway winding their way on to a judging stand, just the other side of the post office.

There were a smattering of politicians in the parade, too, all handing out vote-for-me brochures and shaking hands with anyone who made eye contact. I shook all their hands, but having written about politics for years, I knew to make sure my other hand was firmly holding onto my wallet.

In most cases, the people in the parade threw candy as they passed by. It was supposed to be for the children, but some people (ok, me too) managed to snag a piece of candy or two. It's been awhile since I ate a Tootsie roll. They're still pretty good.

Parade viewers
Waiting for the next parade group

He sees the food table
Headed for some of the good food 
on the Hazlitt porch

After the parade, Admiral Fox, Amanda and I (yes, that Amanda, the Amanda of Watkins Glen who cures frozen shoulders, straightens bad backs, and is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound) all left the still lively party right after sunset and headed to the Fireman's Fair. Once there, we hit the clam tent, the book tent, the cake tent, the arcade, and finally the huge slide in the center of the fairgrounds.

I opted out of the slide adventure, but managed to make several passes by my favorite exhibit: the beer tent, where for $10, you get enough tickets for six beers. For the record, I have several tickets left over in case we head back today for the chicken barbecue.

Admiral Fox and Amanda were both big winners: Admiral Fox won a stuffed bear (already named Hector Bear) playing ski-ball. Amanda won a cake with a decidedly home-town inscription.

Amanda with her prize
Amanda with her prize

Below are two fair-related videos. One of the parade, the other of Amanda and Sylvia taking a slide ride.

July 28, 2010

Cruising amigos head back to California, Hector Fair ahead

VALOIS, New York, USA - Amigos Dan and Lorraine Olsen left this morning to wing their way back to California where they live summers aboard their 26-foot sailboat, moored at the Oakland Yacht Club.

Sometime in October, they will be heading back to their big sailboat, moored in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala as they continue their cruising, this year to the Bahamas and Key West. With luck, the Admiral and I (and perhaps Eric & Tina Hazlitt and Jennifer & Keith Marshall) might catch up with them there aboard a chartered sailboat.

The Olsens took a moment out, before leaving for the Syracuse Airport, to have their photo taken with local celebrity, Arnold the Wonder Dog.

Dan and Lorraine with Arnold the Wonder Dog
Lorraine, Dan and Arnold

We had, as usual, a great time, curiously hitting just one winery during the week for a tasting (Rasta Ranch), and had lots of adventures. We sailed the Red Rocket sailboat, kayaked up and down the Valois waterfront, hiked Watkins Glen, toured Brother Dan's plant in Big Flats and attempted to rescue Brett Beardslee's ring from the bottom of the pond at the Pee Wee Farm. All that in five days.

Hard to say which was the most fun.

Sylvia chugs up steps at Watkins Glen
Admiral Fox chugs up the steps at Watkins Glen - running

Watkins Glen 2
Watkins Glen trail and waterway

Lorraine and Sylvia in kayaks
Lorraine and Sylvia head north in the kayaks

Thursday (my God, that's tomorrow!) the Hector Fireman's Fair starts its run, concluding Saturday with a big fireworks show. The tents are up already and many of the rides are being constructed. And, of course, the beer tent is ready to start dispensing for those of us in need of hydration.

The weather is supposed to be good for the entire fair- no torrential rain forecast, as least as of this moment. Several years ago, it rained for most of the fair, turning the fairgrounds into such a muddy swamp that people still talk about.

Friday night we will watch the Hector Fair parade on Highway 414 from the front lawn of Tina and Eric Hazlitt before heading over to the fairgrounds to try to win some silly prizes to take back to California.

The parade is always fun to watch, in good part because we know half the people in it.

Perhaps we should enter our newest automobile in the parade and join in. It's a  1996 Mercury Marquis which we purchased from our neighbor, Mary Crouch.

The car is a classic, after all.

Brett Beardslee's van
Cousin Brett driving his signature van in last year's parade

July 26, 2010

Water days on Seneca Lake - and one treasure hunt at a pond

VALOIS, New York, USA - This has been the summer of water for Admiral Fox and I, with lake temperatures in the 70s (perfect for swimming) and also fair winds for sailing and boating.

Unfortunately, the engine on the Spirit of Louise pontoon boat has come down with a serious mechanical flu, taking it out of service for the balance of the season. So, in a week or so, the boat will go into storage with a cure to be applied next spring. The cure might include buying a new - and more powerful - engine to replace the vintage 35 HP Mercury on there now. Maybe that replacement will be a 60 HP Merc.


For the balance of the summer, however, we have the Red Rocket sailboat, two kayaks, and the new blue rowboat.

We'll still be on the water for sure.

Jennifer lifts sail
Jennifer hoists the Red Rocket main sail

Red rocket under sail, July 2010
Jennifer at the helm

My boat partner, Jennifer Fitch Marshall, just ended up a way-too-short visit (one week) but had a great sailing week. We went out together one day, and she remembered her lessons well from last summer when we purchased the Red Rocket together and she did her first solo sailing.

Sometime this winter, we hope to get both families aboard a charter boat in the Bahamas for a week - or more - of sailing in those warm waters.

But two days ago we had another waterside adventure - the search for the wedding ring cousin Brett Beardslee lost in the pond at the nearby Pee-Wee Farm. About an hour after saying his wedding vows July 10 to his wife Jesse, the two dove in the pond to go for a swim and the ring slipped off his finger.

Ouch. Or maybe more accurately, oops.

Brother Dan Schwartz, Admiral Fox, Capt. Dan Olsen and Lorraine and I mounted a rescue operation at the pond, where we were met by amigo Brad Phillips who had his diving gear on when we arrived.

Brother Dan made some modifications to his metal detector to check for the ring and Brad did some serious mucking about below the surface where the ring is likely to be resting in a foot of soft mud.

Alas, no joy - at least on that first try.

Brother Dan splicing cable
Brother Dan splicing the metal detector cable

Here's a short video of the treasure hunt for the wedding ring.

July 15, 2010

A New York summer of sun, water, and exhausting fun

VALOIS, New York, USA - The summer of 2009 was about as cold and wet a summer as anyone here can remember.

This year, I suspect people will talk about the long stretch of dry weather (the grass is brown), the broiling heat and humidity (both in the 90s) and the fact that Seneca Lake has stayed consistently warm enough to swim in - for nearly two weeks.

I am not complaining. I have been swimming every day for nearly two weeks and Admiral Fox has declared herself a 'dock widow,' because I spend so much time on the waterfront.

Brett and Jesse getting married
Brett and Jesse's marriage ceremony

The most recent major social event was Saturday's wedding of cousin Brett to his fiance Jesse - a wedding party that started at 2 p.m. and wound up the next morning, sometime. It was Woodstock III in some ways, with a moving ceremony, fantastic food, and music that went on and on and on.

The Admiral and I ducked out about 10 p.m., quite full of homemade beer and cider.

The next morning, however, many of the hundreds of people at the wedding managed to crawl out of bed (if they slept at all) to go the Hector Firehouse for the breakfast that was served there.

We shot enough video and stills to make a rockumentary, though with the weather so good again today, well, it will have to wait.

Beer balancing
Beer-balancing festivities at the wedding

Big Johnson's
Big Johnson's bar honors the newlyweds

The next big event is today's splash of Eric and Tina Hazlitt's sailboat - a boat Eric and Tina have been working on since last summer.

Yup, since last summer.

Eric tore the boat apart and put it back together during the fall, winter and spring, with finishing touches going on as late as two days ago. It's a beautiful craft and will be the queen of the Peachy Dandy Sailboat Race next month.

Given the ship's long waterline and big sails, I don't think my 16-foot Red Rocket will have much of a chance at catching it, unless the wind is extremely light.

Eric and Tina's boat on trailer
Eric and Tina's boat, ready for the marina

The air temperature just hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit - the magic number that tells me to grab a cooler full of hydration supplies and get down to the waterfront.

I have some cleaning up to do on the Red Rocket before my boat partner, Jennifer Fitch Marshall shows up with her family Saturday from Arizona for a week's vacation and I am sure she will want to squeeze in every minute of sailing time she can.

Mid-week, world cruisers Dan and Lorraine Olsen from, well, South America, Central America (and California), arrive for a week.

But before all that, I realize, the Admiral and I need to get the cabin ready for our next renters, who arrive tomorrow afternoon.

We just bid adieu to three young Canadian women who stayed for a three days and who say they might even return later this summer if we have any time open to rent. They loved the new dock, the kayaks and the waterfront. They also went to a NASCAR race, visited local wineries and went dancing every night, I believe.

It made me a little tired just to write that paragraph.

Our first renters of the season
Our first renters of the 2010 season