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

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