The Best Laid Plans.

Friday morning Earl and I decided that we had had enough with Soggy Seagull Municipal Airport at Jacques Cartier State Park. We had spent the night watching the skunks surround our camper and were dog tired, but we packed up the camper and headed home, two days early. Camping is fun, but not in the middle of a swamp.

When we got home, we unpacked everything and then decided to explore the fine capital city of Albany, N.Y. We don’t live that far from Albany, but we always seem to head in the opposite direction when we’re going out for the day, so we headed east. We walked around the downtown, explored the suburbs, admired the old brownstones (we’re going to live in one someday) and then headed to the Crossgates Mall to go to stop at the Apple store to pick up the last things I needed for the music studio and to go to the movies.

I must say that I enjoy the full sized Apple stores much better than these new concept stores that look like you’re standing inside a giant iPod. I don’t know why Apple is starting to go with these little stores, especially in a mall the size of Carousel Center, which will become the largest mall in the country if/when it becomes DestiNY USA. The normal sized Apple stores are much more comfortable to shop in, have the added bonus of the Genius Bar and just make for a better Apple experience. Anyways, I was able to pick up an M-Audio FireWire Solo, which takes the audio output from my mixing board and allows the signal to be recorded by my Mac Mini. (The Mac Mini does not come with an audio input). A few cables later, I was good to go.

While we were at Crossgates, we took the opportunity to see “War Of The Worlds”. I’d rate it with an “o.k.”. The special effects and cinematography were amazing. Tom Cruise was adequate, but am I the only person that finds Dakota Fanning a little freakish? All in all a good day.

Since we were still on vacation yesterday and because the house is just too weird without Tom doing his thing, we decided to drive the Hudson Valley all the way down to the Tappan Zee Bridge. We stopped in Rhinebeck at a fabulous trendy restaurant where there was a lot of chic and a lot of gay going on. I wish I could remember the name of it.

We then headed down Route 9 through towns and villages all the way to Tarrytown, where we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge and went to the Palisades Center. We caught another movie there, this time it was the “Fantastic Four”.

Awesome movie.

I really like comic book based movies anyways, and this one is one of my favorites. There was a cool “average guy with special powers” vibe about the film and it’s one of the few movies I’ve been to in a long time where the majority of the audience applauded at the end. Plus, the eye candy (especially Chris Evans) throughout the movie was a nice added bonus.

Then it was the four hour drive home. We did o.k., but took a couple of catnaps in Thruway parking areas.

Today we’re going to a graduation party for one of my cousins and then going up to my Dad’s to pick up Tom and calling it a vacation.

Jacques Cartier State Park.

Earl and I made the move today from Cumberland Bay State Park on Lake Champlain to Jacques Cartier State Park along the St. Lawrence River, between Alexandria Bay and Ogdensburg. We are at the top of the 1000 Islands. A big freighter was headed lake-bound just a short bit ago, headed for the Detroit, Mich. area. That’s kind of cool.

Our site here is completely different than the site at the other park, in that it’s in the middle of a flooded field. There’s about a 1/2-inch of water covering the entire site, so everything, including our moods, is a bit soggy. It’s also 90 degrees with humidity hovering around 90 percent. We are also apparently located on a favorite landing site of the local seagulls, as they are constantly screeching past the camper having some sort of fit about us being parked in the middle of their runway. Perhaps the official name of this site is “Soggy Seagull Municipal Airport”. Earl has parallel parked himself in the camper at the dining table with a fan aimed at his bear chest. It doesn’t look as kinky as it sounds. Drats.

This park is a little more tightly packed than the last. It’s a nice enough park, it just has a cozy sardine feeling to it. The showers are much cleaner, which is a plus.

The drive today was very enjoyable, along the ‘rooftop’ of New York State, within just a few miles of the Canadian border the entire way. I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to live in the midwest someday. I think there are two things that appeal to me about that area; the slower pace and the flat terrain. The northern most areas of New York State mimic both, and if the opportunity was there, I wouldn’t mind living anywhere between Massena and Plattsburgh. Plus, I could enhance my knowledge of French with all the Québec radio stations in the area.

I’ve told Earl that if he wants to leave early I wouldn’t fuss about it. He said he’d sleep on it. Let’s hope he does.

37, part 2.

Today I’m celebrating my 37th birthday here at beautiful Cumberland Bay State Park. The weather is gorgeous, with a mild breeze coming across Lake Champlain from the south. The sky is sunny, the temperature is mild at 79 degrees.

Being the type to constantly take stock of my life, today is really no different than any other day in that regard. Then again, perhaps it’s a little different because I’m looking back at the past 37 years and thinking about where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.

I have no regrets. There are many things I’d still like to accomplish during my life, but I’m happy where I am today. I’m lucky to have found the love of my life at an early age. I wouldn’t trade in one moment with Earl for any other and I look forward to honoring the tradition of “’til death do us part.” Hopefully that won’t come any time soon.

I’ve been adventurous enough to be on my third career and being a mild success at it. Not bad for a guy that went to college for something entirely different than what I’ve ever done and I never had earned that college degree anyways. I probably will never earn a college degree, as I’m too busy learning and being fascinated by life to settle down and get a formal education. Unless I follow my self-employment dream and finally become a barber. I’d really like to be a barber.

One thing that I would like to learn is French, but being the practical one I would like to learn the Québecquois variety. I want to be able to speak it, I want to be able to write it and I don’t want to be embarrassed by my pronunciation of it. I remember bits of my high school French classes. Je m’appelle Jean-Patrick. Comment t’allez vous?

I want to sky dive. I’ve bungee jumped, now it’s time to do the real thing. Now to convince Earl that I would survive the ordeal without the need of a bionic rebuild after I landed.

I want to be a private pilot. I’d like to own a brand new Cessna Skyhawk and tour around the continent by air, without the hassle of baggage claim or the worry of a terrorist sitting in the seat next to me. I’d like to make my father proud by following him on a flight one Sunday afternoon, kind of like we did when I was a kid.

As Earl plays Solitaire at our picnic table and I read bits of this entry to him, he comments, “Finally! At 37 years old, he’s finally finding himself.”

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Dog Talk.

When I was growing up, we had a dog named Sunshine. She was a present given to us for not creating chaos in the movie theatre at the Saturday matinee (I think we were seeing “The Rescuers”) one sunny summer afternoon in August ’75.

Sunshine moved into the dog house that had been vacated a couple of years before by Dad’s German Shepard, Hausho. Hausho had to move to a new home because he barked all the time and kept my neighboring grandparents awake. Sunshine was a mix of Husky and Collie. She was an outside dog, chained to her house 24/7, because that’s what dogs in our neck of the woods did. We’d go out and play with her and feed her and such but she rarely left the chain that tied her to the house. She kept tabs with all the other dogs in the neighborhood through what I called the “bark chain”. A dog in town would bark some coded message, which would be then passed from neighboring dog to neighboring dog. All the dogs barked in the same cadence with the same type of inflection in their voice, though the message varied in pitch depending on the breed doing the speaking. It was kind of like “Lucky is getting screwed by Rover as I speak, pass it on…”

I rarely thought of the bark chain until we started camping this week. Though there are a limited number of dogs here at Cumberland Bay State Park, they’re keeping in communication by barking their messages from one end of the park to the other. Neighbors talk over the fence, dogs pass their message over campfire lit skies, apparently.

One surprising aspect of the bark chain here at the bark is that it’s often spurred by the fog horn of a woman living in what Earl and I have dubbed the “welfare section” of the park. The park lies between Route 314 and Lake Champlain, and has a decided hill or knoll the runs down the middle of it. We’re on the lake side of the hill and can’t hear any noise from the road. Those that are on the road side of the hill, hear nothing but the road and can’t see or hear the lake.

That’s where the “cheap seats” are.

Over on that side of the park you’ll see the ripped tents, older, beat-up popup campers and folks that are missing a few teeth. Among this area is a beat up woman in her mid to late 50s that often wears a bikini three sizes too small. If you want to be optimistic about the scene, her cellulite is three sizes too big. She has the demeanor of an orangutan, often yelling at her kids of triple-digit decibel levels. “Polly you shut up right now because the whole park can hear you!” Earl and I can hear her clear as a bell, keeping in mind that we’re at site 75 and she’s at site six. And on the other side of the dividing knoll.

After she yells these instructions to her kids, at any hour of the day, you’ll hear the “bark chain” kick into gear. Apparently her shrill voice is reaching the same frequency as a Springer Spaniel.

Good thing she looks the part.

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Reasonable Pacing.

Earl and I are at Cumberland Bay State Park, just outside of Plattsburgh, N.Y. For those unfamiliar with the area, we are in the northeast corner of New York State, near the Vermont and Québec borders, about 60 miles south of Montréal.

We arrived last night around 10:00 p.m. and because of our practice runs in the driveway, were able to set up the camper in about 10 minutes in the dark. I was concerned about the noise we were making but later on around 1:00 a.m., while just about everyone in the campground was asleep, a camper about the size of an aircraft carrier arrived and installed itself kitty-corner across the driveway from us. It’s one of those obscene travel trailers, excuse me “Scenic Cruisers” (which is emblazoned across the side) with several pop up accoutrément and a booster step which lowers itself down automatically when the door is opened. With this monstrosity they were towing an auxiliary camper the size of a small house and a storage unit to store their wares. The son-in-law followed in a BMW SUV with xeon headlights.

Not that I’m bitter or anything, but I believe if you’re camping and “roughing it”, you should leave the cappuccino machine, martini shaker, plasma television, cell phones and electric razor at home. Call me crazy. Then again, perhaps some people are roughing it in these land yachts. What do I know.

We’ve been kicking back and simply enjoying the relaxing, almost non-existent pace of the day. We’ve walked the campground a couple of times, taken showers in the community bathhouse (always an interesting experience), eavesdropped on our neighbors conversations even though they’re speaking in French (I’ve picked up a few key phrases and that’s about it) and explored the nuances of our new camper. For our maiden voyage, I think we’re tackling the experience like troopers.

I’m reading a fantasy novel, for the first time in a very long time, entitled “The Furies of Calderon” by Jim Butcher. It’s been about 10 or 12 years since I’ve tackled a fantasy and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Life is good.

Ying And Yang.

Today is a day of extremes. This morning Earl and I have readied the camping gear in preparation for our week long vacation. I’m blogging for a moment, and then we’re taking a shower and getting into our Sunday best to head up to my hometown for my grandfather’s funeral. Then we’re zipping back home, discarding our suits and throwing on camping gear and heading out with the pop up for the week.

Talking about swinging emotions.

The calling hours for my grandfather were last night. There were quite a few people there to pay their respects. Customers of the store, community members, family members that I haven’t seen in years. My grandfather was a member of the Masons, so they did their Masonic service last night. I found the tribute quite touching.

I’ve designated myself as the “keeper of the heritage” for my generation, so I’m going to be building a family tree. There’s quite a bit of information compiled for my paternal grandmother’s side of the family, but I didn’t think there was much information for my grandfather’s side. Come to find out, a distant cousin talked to my great grandmother before she passed away and wrote a lot of it down on the back of a piece of wallpaper! I guess the information goes back two or three generations before her. She’s going to make a copy. I’m going to find it quite interesting and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing it. We were joking that we’re basically mutts, as there’s English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French Canadian and a couple of other variations in the mix. Small wonder I find the world so fascinating, there’s a bunch of cultures in my blood!

Earl and I head to Lake Champlain tonight. I’m very excited about camping and am looking forward to the relaxation. I’ll be blogging, but won’t be able to update until we get back, though I’ll probably put some pictures up.

Eat Healthy.

Eat Healthy.

Originally uploaded by macwarriorny.

Unfortunately, it’s very blurry but this is a nutrition label from a box of something like “Bubba’s Burgers”, which contains six 1/3 lbs burgers.

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the percentage of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat is three digits.

That would be 105%. As in five percent over 100%.

For those that are curious, no, Earl and I did not purchase these burgers. We found something much healthier in our grocer’s freezer.

Time Warp.

I feel like I stepped into a time warp today. With my grandfather’s passing yesterday, I took the afternoon off from work and went up to my hometown to see what I could do to support the family. I figured they could use some help while services were planned, etc.

So I worked at the family store today.

It’s been 10 years or so since I last actively worked at the store. Items have been moved around a little bit. Some displays have been freshened up. But many of the same people come in, the procedures are the same and the schedule is the same. Earl has fantasies of me slinging lumber all over the lumber yard (he should have seen me when I was 17!), but I ended up working inside. (I’ll do some pushups tonight to make him happy).

Needless to say, I enjoyed working at the store very much.

I sometimes complain about life in Upstate N.Y., how I’d rather escape to somewhere else… Denver, Nogales, Ariz., Oklahoma City, Emmetsburg, Ia., it doesn’t matter as long as I’m away from here. It’s days like today that makes me realize that yes, I am crazy. It’s not so bad, in fact, it’s all good. Sure, there’s snow six months out of the year. The economy is in the crapper. People do stupid things.

But the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, the grass is always greener right here, over the septic tank.