Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Lake George cruise on the Mini Ha Ha, leads to a Chipmunk rescue

How did this little Chipmunk end up in our hands?
Read on and I'll tell you.

On Monday July 23rd, 2007 the boys and I met up with my brother Greg, his wife Nancy and two daughters Kayla and Lindsey for a 1 hour cruise on the steam powered Paddle Wheeler Mini Ha Ha. Greg and his family take a cruise on the Lake at least once a year, the boys and I haven't done it since about 2003. It's a nice boat ride and you get to see many of the beautiful camps and homes on Lake George.

Unfortunately; Monday turned into a cool and drizzily day, but we'd be under cover on the boat and then having a picnic at one of the pavillions in the Battleground Park on the hill after the cruise. We didn't worry about not being able to get the pavillion, as the park is usually empty, except for holidays.

As we pulled away from the pier, we got a good view of the reconstructed Ft. William Henry.

Ft. William Henry was part of the setting for the classic novel "Last of the Mohicans". The original Fort was manned by British and Colonial soliders and fell to the combined French and Indian army under General Montcalm during the French and Indian War.

The cruise takes you north along the eastern shore and then heads south, just before the Sagamore Hotel and cruises along the western shore. The boys spent time talking to Kayla and Lindsey, watching the scenery and text messaging friends on their cell phones.
The picture above shows, Josh (on his phone) Christopher and Kayla.

We did sail past where we were staying at Alpine Village Resort and Tea Island, which stands just off shore from our camp.

Here's Tea Island as we come up to it.
From what I can remember, the name comes from a little camp on the island that the orginal owners would go to for afternoon Tea.

Now there is a camp on the island, which is still privately owned.

Here's some of the owners waving to the Mini Ha Ha as we cruise by.
Christopher and I have canoed around this island from our camp, which is situated behind the island, in a bay.
Note the little inlet to Tea Island.

The picture on the right is looking back into that bay. Alpine Village can be seen in the background to the left of the large white camp.

And so now, the rest of the story and how the heck did the Chipmunk end up in our hands.

Shortly after we got back to the pier, the seven of us went up to the Battlefield Campground for an afternoon picnic. The picnic area is set in beautiful pine forest, overlooking the lake and Ft. William Henry. Amazingly, the place is almost always empty, which gives us all a chance to get our favorite picnic spot there. For as long as I can remember, my family has gone up there at least once a year for a picnic.

Here's an image from an old Post Card of Ft. George, set in the Battleground picnic area.

It's looking a lot more overgrown now, but as kids we used to climb it every year.

My own two boys have also climbed it, when they were younger.

We set up "camp" in the stone and timber pavillion, Greg had some music, we both brought snacks and drinks and Nancy brought dinner. the day was still cool and damp, but we were enjoying ourselves despite that. I took a walk to the restrooms in the picnic area, just a little way from the Pavillion. These rest rooms are bulit to resemble small cabins, I don't think they have changed since I was a child.

Luckily; they are at least cleaned regularly, so I was a bit surprised to see something in the toilet, I was going to use. After the initial shock, I realized I was looking at a baby squirrel, and only later realized that this was actually a Chipmunk. At first I felt bad that this little critter would of drowned in a toilet, but then I realized that it was still alive and was half in and half out of the water, but couldn't scale the porceline to get the rest of the way out.

I didn't relish the thought of putting my bare hands in to pull a chipmunk out of a toilet, but I certainly couldn't leave it there. I grapped a small stick and slipped it under the little thing and it immediately grabbed on to the stick. I then cupped it in my hands and went back over to the pavillion calling everyone over. The kids and Nancy took over, drying it off and wrapping it in a cloth. The poor thing started to shake, probably from hypothermia and being this close to humans. Greg, joked about making squirrel stew, while we tried to give it some peanuts to eat.

After about 10 minutes, the little chipmunk started moving around and looking no worse for wear. We set it free amongst the pine trees, where other chipmunks had been seen and without a second look back, it was gone amongst the foliage and wood.

Of all the places I have been in this world, being up there at that place and day, to help this little creature, is something I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Mr. Joe

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A hike to remember up Prospect Mt, Adirondacks

Last July, during our Lake George vacation, I wanted to do something with my two sons that would be a bit of adventure, show us the natural side of the Adirondacks and something that we probably wouldn't do at home. "Lets, hike up Prospect Mountain" I suggested on Wednesday.

I planned on doing it on Friday as that was our last full day there. Needless to say, the boys were not exactly jumping at the chance, but since I had given them free reign all week, they probably figured, what harm can it do.

Prospect Mountain is located on the southern edge of Lake George and Lake George Village.
It stands at just over 2,000 ft high, which is definitely not the highest peak around.
But it does have a great summit, with a "100 Mile View".

We had actually driven up Prospect Mt a few years ago, but the adventure would be hiking to the top and not as much being at the top. Now, I knew there was a marked trail leading from the Village of Lake George, I didn't realize that my idea of a marked trail and New York States idea of a marked trail would be vastly different. Comfortable in our own ignorance,we packed some Gatorades and cherries, went to the parking area and started our ascent.
Well actually, first we had to climb the steel grated walkway that went up several flights of steps and then crossed over the Northway Route 81. The first sign of trouble for me was my being out of breath (slightly) once we crossed to the other side of the walkway.

I consider myself in good shape, or at least in pretty good shape, but since my only exercise is walking Daisy, a Beagle who spends ten minutes sniffing a patch of ground, I was quickly finding out that I was not in "Hiking" shape.
The "Trail" is more like a rock filled trench, that seems to go straight up through thick forest.

Josh and Chris take the early lead hiking up Prospect Mountain.

The day became very warm and I was becoming Dehydrated and didn't know it.
One amazing feature of technology, the boys had cell phone connection all the way up and Josh kept a running text message report to his girlfriend Nicole back in Maryland.

As we climbed, with about 30 minutes in to the hike, I started to feel like I had no strength left in my legs and was out of breath, so we needed to start taking breaks along the way. I started sucking down Gatorade and eating cherries, but I was really feeling bad.
The boys started asking me if I wanted to turn around and go back, but I insisted on continuing.

Years ago, my brother Greg, his wife Nancy and two daughters Kayla and Lindsey did this very hike, and I figured, if they did it, I could do it too.

Of course Greg wasn't 50 years old like me. But I kept pressing on.

The forest all around you is beautiful. I was thinking that this was something straight out of Last of the Mohicans and the boys were thinking that the forest was something out of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

I needed to take more and more breaks of 10 minutes, using the time to rehydrate and look around. The boys weren't bothered by the climb at all, but of course they play a lot of sports and Christopher was in the best shape of his life.
Every break I took, they gave me advice, asked me if I wanted to turn around and patiently waited for me.

As I said earlier, what I thought a "Marked Trail" would be and what NYS thought made a Marked Trail were two different things. There was some confusion for us and at one point we came across two women, who eventually gave up and went back because it wasn't clear which way to go. We pressed on and despite making a wrong turn, were able to get back to a more proper trail farther up.

I was really lagging behind and feeling so weak and out of breath that it surprised even me.
But I don't like to quit and we all felt that we had to be getting to the top soon.

Thankfully during our hike up, you would occasionally get a wonderful, cool breeze that was a tonic to me, coming through the forest.

Finally it looked like we could see more daylight up ahead and I told the boys to scout further ahead of me and let me know if the top was near. Then I sat down on a log and tried to recuperate and get some more inner strength to go a bit further.

We had gone about an hour and fifteen minutes, now it was a test of will for me to get to the top.
I took one more break just before a steep incline through heavy brush.
I remember a young couple overtaking me and I jokingly told them, that my boys had left me to die but that the peak had to be close. But in those woods, you really couldn't tell.

This next bit was very steep and narrow, but I put every bit of energy into this last section and coming out of the trees, I am greeted by the two boys sitting on large rocks by the side of the access road. The top was visible about 50 yards further up. A tour bus went slowly by.

Josh and Chris thought we had made it to the top and were ready to go back.

"No Way" says I, first, we aren't at the top and second when we do get there, we are taking a nice long break.

The amazing thing was at this point, I was feeling revitalized and getting my energy back.

Was it the combination of gatorade and cherries, or the fact that we had basically made it up there or all of the above.

All I know is that I led the way to the summit.

And what a beautiful summit it is, with shady areas, lots of cool water to refill the canteens (or gatorade bottle), picnic tables and a rocky summit that you could stand on and feel like you climbed Everest. Despite the other tourists, getting off the tour buses behind you. lol

We Made It! And here is the view from the top.
This picture of the boys and I was taken by the couple who passed me sitting on the log. It was a beautiful day, there was a nice breeze and the water cooler water was like wine. :-)

Going back down about 40 minutes later was a killer on the knees, but we made it in half the time. I gave them high fives when we got back to the car. They thought I was still delusional. The boys had wanted to hitch a ride on a tour bus or ask someone to give us a ride, but not me. I had walked up Prospect Mountain and I was going to walk back.
Boy did the lake feel good when we got back. Although the boys opted for the pool instead.
No sense of adventure in them. lol

Oh and one more brother Greg and his family...they never made it to the top themselves. I was chasing ghosts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wargaming the Franco-Prussian War in 10mm-The French

My favorite period to read about, collect and paint miniatures for has been the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. You have the combination of very colorful uniforms, with emerging modern weaponry, combined in large scale battles. For uniforms full of character, you can't beat the French Army, yet the "helmeted" Prussian troops are always a big draw to collectors as well.

I have had an ongoing project of building a French and Prussian army in 10mm for the rule set Volley and Bayonet.

I am using Perrin Miniatures and basing them on a 3" x 3" stand for an Infantry regiment.

With 20 figures on a stand, it really gives you the feeling of a massed body of men coming at you.

The attached photos are 10mm miniatures I painted in 2006. At that time I went with a white primer and then blue ink or red ink for the coat and trousers.

Here's a closeup of one of my Regiments.
You can see some Chaussers up front on the smaller stands.

Looking back at it now, it's probably too much of a light blue for the French of 1870. But they do look good on the table top.

Here are two of the Mitrailleuse guns. They were similar to the Gatling gun and could put out a heavy stream of bullets.

Unfortunately for the French, they were not used correctly and they didn't have a wide arc of fire, so that steady stream of bullets was very narrowly focused.

Here's more of a ground level view of my Infantry Regiments.

Now since the Franco-Prussian War had very large battles, I am going to need a lot of regiments for both sides to play one scenario for Volley and Bayonet.

I'm building the forces that took part in the Battle of St. Privat.

In that battle; the Prussian 2nd Army attacked the French VI Corp, that was in defensive positions along a ridge.

Prussian Guard units and Saxon units worked all day to try and dislodge the french from St. Privat. It wasn't until the evening and after thousands of casulties that the Saxons and then the Prussians stormed St. Privat and the exhasuted French withdrew.

Now in the next picture on the right side of the page, you see my latest Regiment painted.

Notice the colors are different on them.

After looking through the Osprey books and posting on The Miniatures Page, I used different paints and colors, to get a closer match to the uniform colors of Napoleon IIIs troops.

These were primed in grey and then I used "Thunder Blue" and highlighted with a "Blue Haze"

I like the looks of these better.
I'll put some green flock on the base over the weekend.

General de Division Tixier leads his regiments and the 1st Division on to the field of battle.

I have many rule sets for the Franco Prussian War. All of them have been great sources of information as well as inspiration

Next post...The Prussians.

Good Gaming; Mr. Joe

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wargaming The Napoleonic Wars and Franco-Prussian War

I have always been interested in the FPW of 1870, more than any other period or war of the 19th Century.
But now there is a new period on the horizon for me and that is the Napoleonic Wars.

A good friend of mine-Dick Caldwell- gave me this starter force of Austrians circa 1809.
These are "old school" miniatures from Hinchliffe and Minifig 25mm. Much slimmer looking than todays miniatures. The figures you see in the first photo are Austrian Grenadiers and a 4pdr Artillery piece.

In this view you see a Regiment of Hungarian Hussars. I am attracted to the Austrian Army for a couple of reasons.
First; they usually are the underdog in most battles with the French during this time.

Second, my two boys have Hungarian heritage in them, and I thought it would be neat to teach them a little bit about this time period.

To the right with the Green jackets are my Chevauxleger Cavalry. They are very similar to the more well known Dragoon Cavalry and it seems that they were interchangable in that regard. I have named this Regiment the 4th Vincet Chevauxlegers, as that was one of the more famous and better led Regiments in the Austrian Army of 1809.

Here is my "starter" army of Austrians drawn up on the parade ground.

I am supposed to get a lot more infantry from another friend-Leslie Mansir- pretty soon.

It's great to have friends isn't it.

Of course their goal is to get someone Brave Hardy or foolish enough to field an Austrian Army for them to beat on. lol

We'll see who has the last laugh.

When I begin to collect my own Austrian force of miniatures sculpted in the last decade, I will go with Sash and Sabre, Old Glory, Foundry and The Assault Group brands. Old Glory and Sash and Sabre look to be the best value, with decent quality. I would rank Sash and Sabre better than O.G..

I posted a question on The Miniatures Page forum about what manufacturer I should go with and I got several different answers.

So; it's a very subjective decision.
Lets see what I get from Les Mansir first.

Next post will be about my 10mm Franco-Prussian War miniatures, I am collecting, painting and basing for Volley and Bayonet.

Good Gaming;

Mr. Joe

Alpine Village Resort and Lake George NY

This is looking from the center of Lake George Village and just outside the Visitors Center.

At this point we are at the southend of the lake, looking east.

You can see a few of the tour boats at the pier.

Our favorite is the Steampowered paddlewheeler named Mini Ha Ha.

Another picture here is looking from our cabin at Alpine Village Resort, up to Josh and Chris playing ping-pong in front of the main lodge.

During the day, we would hang around the camp, just relaxing, swimming, floating on the lake in an innertube, playing ping-pong, basketball, or playing catch.

The cabin we were in #12 was centrally located on the site, so you had a good view of the lake and grounds.

When the boys mom went with us the first year, she loved the location.

Here's looking from the deck of our camp to the pool.

The lake is located to the right, so you can sit at the pool and look down to the lake.

One thing to mention is that none of the cabins are stand alone cabins so to speak.

They are either like a duplex or a larger unit.

You still have plenty of room, but on our first time up there, I was expecting our own "stand alone" cabin.

For instance; we were in Cabin 12 the first year and 13 the year after and then cabin 12 again last year. These are the large cabins, with two bedrooms, a full bath and kitchen, with a deck too.

Cabins 12 and 13 are attached with another unit over us.

Not bad once you get used to it, although the cabin upstairs seemed to have little children who loved to run around late at night, when we were there.

The other cabins were smaller, much more like a hotel room, with two beds, a bath, a deck and a fire place.

As you can see, the grounds are beautiful and the whole place fits well with the Adirondack Mtns.

This is looking down from the main lodge to our cabin, with the lake in the background.

We are located on the Western shore of the lake by Diamond Point.

There's a small island just off shore named Tea Island.

Christopher and I have canoed around it a couple of times.

At Alpine Village, you can use their row boat or canoe for as long as you like with just a $20.00 deposit.

And finally; Here's the beach area.
At this point, you are looking Southeast, towards the end of the lake and in the direction of the Tour Boat Pier.
Lake George is spring fed and has clear, cold water.
The bottom here is sandy for a good bit, so it's perfect for wading.
I would go out and float around on an inner tube or go snorkeling, or both.
The boys, would rather be in the pool.
People bring their boats up with them and dock them here at the pier. Kids fish off the pier too.
It's great just to be able to sit on the beach with a good book, watch the Mini Ha Ha cruise by or watch the ducks come by for a visit.
Again; having a cabin so close, it's a short walk to it for a snack or drink, the pool is very close as well and no matter what the boys are doing, they are near by too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lake George NY-Adirondack Mtns

We have vacationed in the Lake George area several years. Where we stay is just north of the Village of Lake George, the resort is called Alpine Village.
You stay in actual log cabins with all the modern ammenities.
They have a beach on the lake and a pool.
We all love it.
The village is our favorite destination at night.
Our nightly routine was, Dinner, playing Miniature Golf, visiting the Gift shops, getting Ice cream at Ben and Jerrys and hitting the Arcades.
Recommended Golf Courses? Pirates Cove, Round the World and US, Lumberjack Pass.
We hit all the courses, competition was fierce.
For dinner; we went from the Log Jam Restaurant to Guiseppes Pizza to Marias Italian Restaurant and everything in between.
Some places were better than others, but each have their own style.
Where we stayed (Alpine Village) has a great Breakfest restuarant that we made good use of every morning. Lunch was usually a sandwich at the cabin and Dinner was down in the village.
We did have lunch one day at a place next to Ft. William Henry, overlooking the lake.
Burgers and fries with a great view.
More pics later;
Mr. Joe

Flames of War

Here are some shots from various games we played of Flames of War.
The picture of the two handsome gents is of Indy and I.
Indy is my long time opponent, commanding the 21st Panzer Division.
I have a Heavy Squadron and Light Squadron for the 7th Armor-Desert Rats.
I also field Australians and Indians for North Africa.
For the Axis side, I have an Italian Infantry Company for the Pavia Division and an Armored Company for the Ariete.
The Italian army is looked down upon by many WWII gamers, but I have done well with them.
And when you beat somebody with Italians, they really feel badly:-)

"Patrol"-the game

My newest "Fav Game" is "Patrol", publised by Pacific Sky Games.

"Patrol" puts you in command of a squad of 10-12 men in WWII.

Each game has you roll a D20 dice to see what type of patrol your squad will go out on.

Will it be a Mission of Mercy, a Deep Patrol or to check out the buidings on the game board.

You don't know until you roll for it on the Mission table and, better yet, your opponent doesn't know your mission until the game ends.

Of course you don't know his either.

Here are a few pics from my latest game.

I had a German squad tasked with a Deep Patrol.

I had to get at least half of my squad down the length of the table and off the far edge.

My opponent John had an American Squad and their mission was the check out at least 2/3rds of the buildings on the table.

When ever John went into a building, he would roll one die and see if there was a lost enemy soldier in their.

That did happen in one building and after a tense standoff, the GIs shot and killed the German soldier.

In "Patrol" each player rolls for Initiative during a game turn using a D20 die.

If you win the initiative roll, you get to activate one soldier or Fire Team.

If you and your opponent roll the same number on a D20, then a Random Event happens.

In our latest game, on the second turn, a Random Event came up and one of the GIs got jumpy and shot one of his own squad mates, that was in the shadows of a building.

It ended up being a Light Wound.

Later in the game another Random Event came up and this time a stray shell fell on a house my troops were sheltering behind.

Krash Boom; there goes almost half of my squad, including the Squad Leader.

That pretty much ended the game for me.

Okay; time to publish this and see what it looks like.