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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Caretaker's Concern for 4/22/2010

TCC for 4/22/10:

Calm and hazy morning but come the afternoon the wind picked up something fierce and shifted around from all points of the compass even blowing from directions it rarely if ever blows from.
Photo from today:

Before there was the blog the Caretaker sent out posts via e-mail, the following is from the Caretaker's second winter on the Island:

Island Ice Report for 2/11/07:

Outside temp: 24 F
Ghetto temp: 55 F
Wind: Mostly calm
Sky: night time, no stars visible, assumption is cloud covered.
Precipitation: None

Caretaker had a busy day both yesterday and today. It started with pulling the boat and chopping ice, that was all of Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning started with a run from the Island to Dome to Three Brother Islands back to the Island, then the Caretaker went down to Lake George Village for the winter carnival, then he went out for a late lunch and drinks in Bolton. After that the Caretaker skied back to the Island, dropped off his gear and then set out on his skis in search of the open water. He never found it. All the photos attached are from this time period. The Caretaker will elaborate on all of this tomorrow. Tomorrow's IR will come in late because tomorrow is laundry day which starts early in the morning. Since there isn't much to report about on laundry day the Caretaker will make up for it by expanding upon what happened today and yesterday afternoon.

Addendum to IR 2/11/07:

Having neglected the tin boat long enough the Caretaker decided that he should check up on it. The boat has a slow leak and as the water had been coming in, it would freeze. By the time the Caretaker got around to pulling the boat there was roughly 6 inches of ice in it with a layer of water beneath the ice. First the Caretaker pulled the engine from the boat to store until the Lake opened up again. This was easy enough to do, pulling the tin boat on the other hand would prove to be a different matter entirely. The next thing the Caretaker had to do was to pull the boat out, but before he could do this he had to remove the water and the ice. The water was accessible at the bow (front of the boat). He began to pump it out with a hand pump. After a little while he realized that he could just bucket the water out much faster. So, the Caretaker removed as much water as he could. He then started to remove the ice from the boat. Much of the ice was easy to break up by hand and throw over board. However, the ice in the stern (back of the boat) was a solid block. The only way to remove this ice was to hack it out with a hatchet. There were two concerns with this method, cutting through the fuel line that was frozen beneath the ice in the boat and, cutting a hole into the boat itself. The Caretaker quickly became very adept at cutting the ice without doing damage to either the boat or the fuel line. It did however occur to the Caretaker that if he did chop a hole into the boat he would no longer have to worry about pulling the boat from the water, sure this would solve his problem in the immediate sense but come Spring when he needed the boat, and more importantly when the owners would want to have use of the boat should they want or need to, he would have to deal with the problem of buying a new boat. In light of this, the chop it and chuck it plan was quickly scuttled. After removing about half of the ice the Caretaker figured he could now lift the boat out of the water. He tried, but failed. There is a lip on the seam where the transom (back wall of boat) meets the hull of the boat, and there is a lip on the decking on the back dock of the boathouse--these two lips met when the Caretaker pulled the boat up and out and despite his best efforts he could not get the lips to separate so he could get the stern of the boat on to the boat house dock. Reluctantly he lowered the boat back into the water and returned to chopping more of the ice out. It was a good thing that the Caretaker had not managed to get the stern of the boat on to the dock because he had forgotten to put the 6 x 6 wooden beam into place. The 6 x 6 beam is needed to stand on while using a come-along (hand operated winch) to pul the bow of the boat out of the water. The beam spans the gap between the docks along either side of the boat house. To get it into place the Caretaker pulls one end off the dock and rests it on the boat. He then gets in the boat and pulls both the boat and the beam over to the other side of the boat house, gets out of the boat and pulls the beam up on to the opposite boathouse dock. After putting the beam in place the Caretaker chopped out the rest of the ice, mostly. He again tried to pull the back of the boat up and out of the water on to the dock at the back of the boat house, this time he was successful. So with the stern of the boat perched on the back dock all the Caretaker had to do was hook up the come along and winch the bow out of the water and the boat would be removed from the Lake. Setting up the come along is a mildly convoluted affair which in the middle of, the Caretaker stopped paying attention to so he could watch the snow from a sun shower. It was to be only a passing snowfall but it was quite heavy. While the Caretaker was watching the snowfall he stopped paying attention to the boat and where his weight was, this caused the boat to shift, slide forward, come off the back dock and since his legs were in the boat the boat took his legs with it and so the Caretaker found himself with his legs jammed in between the boat and the beam in a sort of pinned manner. At this point the Caretaker stopped paying attention to the snowfall and said "shit". Luckily the boat was on water and not mercury, water is much easier to displace. Though it was a rather awkward position putting pressure on him trying to push him forward and down into the boat, the Caretaker persevered and did not fall forward, instead he used the beam and his knees to push down on the boat and then slide the boat back from under the beam thus freeing his legs. He then went back to setting up the come-along and winch the boat out of the water. After securing the boat the Caretaker went and fixed himself a drink. It was late in the afternoon, a bit before sunset, the snow shower had passed and the sun was shinning brightly. Due to the summer-ish conditions, the Caretaker decided to have summer time drink and imbibe it out on the South boathouse dock which can be rather warm, relatively speaking, because the boathouse wall reflects the sun's heat. The Caretaker enjoyed his Stoli blueberry and soda water immensely. And that concludes the RIR for Saturday afternoon.

P.S. If you have been paying attention, this is the first drink that the Caretaker has had in three or more weeks. The reason this is made light of is because when the Caretaker's sobriety was mentioned in an earlier IR there were a few comments, most of them were out of curiosity as to why, but there were a few that were somewhat accusatorial in nature saying that I was a quitter. This was a somewhat unexpected response (judging from the liberal sprinkling of misspellings in these few e-mails and the occasional use of incoherent sentences I think these e-mailers had been drinking and were trying to make a joke). So, to my accusers, you need not worry, the next addendum will show that I am by far not a quitter. To those who were genuinely curious as to my sobriety, the truth is no particular reason at all. It just turned out that way, I'm not even sure if three weeks or so is even accurate, I have not been paying attention. When you live with no running water and no central heating and what with having to continually bring out supplies either by boat or towed behind you in a sled (this is just to name a few of the things that need to be tended to on an almost daily basis) there isn't really much time for alcohol. So, that's the story behind why the Caretaker hasn't been drinking much lately.

Addendum to Sunday's events:
"The Lake George Winter Carnival"

The Caretaker brought his skis with him because he figured it would be a good way to get around on the ice. This proved to be a good idea. The last time the Caretaker had been to the Winter Carnival he had been a kid of about 8 years old or so. Back then they would clear a course for cars to race on the ice. Lately they have shifted to racing motorcycles and atv's but no cars. To my sensibilities this was entertaining for only a few races. From there I went over to the "drag-racing". For 5 dollars you could race a friend or stranger on your vehicle of choice: motorcycle, atv, snowmobile, or any combination of the three. They had a starting light system and everything. It is much like car drag racing and about as exciting except there is no smoke from the spinning of the wheels to heat up the rubber of the tires. Perhaps a better description is that it was only a little less boring than car drag racing. I stuck around for one or two drag races. From there I went over to the shore to see what was going on, there wasn't much. From the pictures you saw that a slide was made out of ice for kids to sled down, this wasn't much fun for me because I could only watch, however, overall it made for a better spectator sport than the ice racing events. After that I went to the Ice wall made to look like a castle entrance or something. After I had my fill of the "ice sculpture events" I went over to the "new winter carnival trailer" which was selling concessions, I learned this from the woman who was speaking over a PA system telling about the various activities. One of which was the "snowmobile sled ride" in this you put your kid in a ski sled and he or she is pulled behind a snowmobile getting their fill of snow in the face, exhaust up the nose and engine noise in the ears. When I was a kid you could go for a ride on a dog sled, I guess nothing gold can stay. There was a line at the "new trailer" and I didn't really feel like a crappy hotdog or watery "hot chocolate". Now you may be saying how does the Caretaker know this? Aren't all hotdogs crappy? Have you ever had one and said, "man, this is the greatest food substance I have put in my mouth in a really long time. These hotdogs are great!" By nature hotdogs are crappy, I know, because every once in a while I have one, I enjoy it for what it is, but I would say it as about as pleasing as it is to watch two snowmobiles drag race. And as for the watery "hot chocolate", it's made with water, it can be nothing but watery, and so far as chocolate, read the package of any "hot chocolate" mix and you'll see that you get more sugar than anything else. Besides now that I am in the habit of drinking hot cocoa which is nothing more than hot milk and cocoa powder "hot chocolate" is about as pleasing as it is to watch atv's race around on the ice. So, given that the "new trailer" had nothing that I wanted I decided head back across the ice to where my car was. There was a banner near the shore I couldn't tell what it was highlighting and I couldn't be bothered to find out what it was. While returning to my car there were a number of people on atv's driving around doing "tricks" one of them was pulling a wheelie and heading right for me. He seemed to have waited until the last minute to come down on all four wheels so he could change his course. I hadn't anywhere to go because to the right were more atv's, motorcylces, and snowmobiles racing around and to my left was the drag racing track. When Mr. Wheelie came by I gave him the one finger solute, however with mittens on I don't think the message got across which is probably just as well because that is rather unbecoming behavior for a Caretaker. So after making my way through the snowmobiles, motorcycles, and atv's and all their noise and exhaust I made it back to my car. To be honest, the noise from all the engines was like being in a tent full of mosquitoes, not exactly what I consider pleasant. There were some other activities further off ice like "snow football" and some other "kids" activities but I couldn't make them out and at this point I couldn't be bothered. Given the distance between all of the "events" I went to, I would say I covered about 2 or 3 miles. Being skis this wasn't too bad, but for all those on foot, which is the majority of the people it was not so good.

Overall the Caretaker's review of the Lake George Winter Carnival is this: if you have never been before, you should definitely go, because much like a freak show, the novelty of it is certainly entertaining. For the record, it is not that I am bitter for nostalgic reasons (all I remember of the winter carnival from when I was a kid was what I shared above), in fact I am not bitter at all, it is just that I had different expectations. For example, there was no space on the ice cleared of snow for ice skating. If you wanted to go skating you had to go up the street to the Lake George Forum which is a year round indoor rink. The lack of an outdoor ice rink on the Lake deprives everyone of a wonderful experience, why skate indoors when you can do that any time of the year. Going around on skates on Lake George being able to take in the views of the surrounding mountains is much more appealing to me than the concrete walls of an indoor rink--then again, I don't care much for motorcycle races on the Lake either so what do I know?

Well, this is what I know, if I had a winter carnival I would not only offer ice skating on the Lake and dog sled rides but also horse drawn sleigh rides, ice sculpting competitions and offer people the chance to sculpt ice themselves. Why not an exhibit on snow shelters from the snow cave dug out of a mound of snow to the igloo and how to make them, and give kids the opportunity to partake in the building of an igloo. And if you're going to drag someone around from behind a snowmobile why not at least put some distance between the two and put the person in back on skis so at least they can have some fun. However, this is one I would not encourage due to liability problems and it does go against the nature of the winter carnival I have in mind--for the most part it would not revolve around motorized vehicles. Anyone who wants to put on their own winter carnival feel free to take any or all of these ideas.

So I left Lake George and went back to Bolton Landing. I was going to ski back to the Island but I hadn't eaten since breakfast and it had been a while since I had dinned in town so I decided to take a late lunch in town. In the winter there are very few choices as far as restaurants during the lunch hours, on the weekends a few more places open up for dinner but the pickings are pretty slim. So I made my choice and sat at the bar. I was there for at least a few hours, the warmth of the place and the running water was rather appealing. I ended up having a three course lunch and not being sure how much I would want to eat I ordered each course after I finished the one prior. This worked out well because when the first course arrived a friend from town came in and we spoke for a while before I started the first course, if the rest of my order had been in all my food would have arrived and become cold. This friend told me about there being open water at the mouth of the Narrows, I had not known about this until then. Eventually the friend left and I began my first course. The one problem with taking such a long meal is the opportunity to drink more, or should I say not problem rather opportunity. By the end I wound up having some 4 or 5 vodka and sodas. First was Stoli blueberry and soda, second was Stoli orange and soda, third was Stoli orange and Absolute Peach and soda (they only had enough orange for half a drink, the bartender suggested topping off with Absolute Peach I said sure why not?) this turns out to be a pretty good combination. The fourth drink was some other vodka (Van Gogh maybe? there's so many out now who can keep track? any way we'll just say) Van Gogh orange, Stoli vanillia and soda, this was sort of like drinking a creamsicle, not bad if you're into creamsicles. I then finished up with another Stoli blueberry and soda. Throughout all of this I talked to the bartender about Bolton Landing, she was born and raised here. Eventually we started talking about some of the restaurants in town and how and why they are lousy. We then talked about how the one I was in could be improved. If you happen to be in the Lake Side Inn (the old House of Scotts) and there is a second floor cocktail deck looking out over the Lake you can thank me for the idea. Unless of course the bartender never mentions it to the owner, but either way, I will probably mention it to him the next time I see him. I would like to see it happen.

So I settle my bill and head towards home. Park my car, put on my skis and return to the Island. I drop off my gear, grab a spot light and then head off on the ice to find the open water. In the end I never skied far enough to find it. I returned to the Island took a shower and went to sleep.

Coming soon, the addendum to the IR of 2/13/07
Things to look forward to in this addendum:
Skiing the ice at night, G.G.'s fire lighting technique, and flooding the ice and wrestling with 100's of feet of stiff frozen garden hose.

--The Caretaker

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