Adirondack (North Country) log

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Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
wherever we are parked
After enjoying the reading of Betty Brewer?s Alaskan log, it occurred to us that we might contribute a log of our Washington DC, Adirondack (North Country), New England, Niagara Falls, Black Hills, Montana expedition.

Agreed, this has not the drama, vastness, and adventure of an Alaskan trip.? If our log does not get much readership right now, that is ok.? But maybe some day down the road someone might have questions about the route we are taking, and it just might come in handy if we leave behind a record of our routes, stops, and adventures.? We did searches of these stopping places on the forum, found some information, but feel we could add more.? Also, the acquisition of the marvelous Panasonic FZ30 camera (the eyes behind the fabulous Brewer expedition) inspired us to lay down a written tracking of our travels.

This undertaking reminds me of the ?rudders? referred to in the James Clavell book, ?Shogun?.? Those of you who have read this book will recall the travels of both the British and Portuguese ships around the world.? The most precious possession a sea captain had in those days were his ?rudders?.? Rudders were his own handwritten compilation of his routes, passages, depths, safe harbors, etc.? In those days explorations took them into areas uncharted by any human.? The records of those travels, especially the navigational data, were unique.? As such they were priceless.? Men would kill to gain the rudders of another sea captain.? Rudders would unlock the doors to safe travel in regions unknown.

Yes, while it is true, we now have maps and GPS data that covers every last inch of our planet, we often do not have the combination of details that lead to a smooth and easy trip for a 40,000 pound motorhome or a featherweight trailer and the unique needs of an RV exploration.? We will be happy to share our rudders with you, and you will not have to kill us for them.? It is our simple way of attempting to repay the Brewers for their efforts.

We decided after our trip had already begun, belatedly, to create this log.? So already we are running behind and will have to play catch up.? Today it is already June 7, and we are in the Adirondacks in upstate New York on June 7, and we will have to begin our posting with a time warp, back to June 2 at Camping World in Manassas Virginia.? Please bear with us, we will soon catch up.

June 2
Mileage 72.7

We left southern Maryland on June 1, taking Maryland Route 5 to the DC beltway and on around to Route I-66.? At exit 47a we departed 66 and 1 light to the turn to Camper?s World.? We had made a reservation 2 weeks ahead of time for oil changes on both our Cummins 330 and our Onan generator.? This would be the first time we serviced the coach without using a Spartan/Cummins dealer so we had our fingers crossed.? The advantage here was that we would meet our timetable and routing needs plus have a place to stay overnight and interesting shopping.? We found a spot on the parking lot to dry camp, and went in and reported.? Then did some camping world shopping followed by a nice meal at Red Lobster (anticipating our pending visit to Maine.)

The next morning CW came to pick up our coach at 9:30 am.? I decided to hang around and do some more CW browsing and also play with my new FZ30 toy.? ?Sharon was off to a quilting show where she was meeting a friend at nearby Chantilly.

By 11 am the oil changes were completed and CW returned the coach to a secret spot they had with a 30 amp circuit.? This was delightful as it was hot and humid.? I checked the oil for both the engine and the genset and all was up to snuff.? (When our oil dipstick tube was replaced at a well known Spartan dealer in Phoenix they neglected to refill the engine oil and we discovered this 200 miles away heading back to the east coast.? This taught me a valuable lesson about always checking a dealer?s work no matter how respected they are.)

At any rate the mechanic at CW earned himself a nice tip, especially with the access to 30 amp service and the invitation to spend another night at CW.

The next morning on June 3 we were ready at 7 am to set out on our adventure for real.? And a chance to being putting the new FZ30 to the test.
Thanks for starting this log Smoky. I'll be reading along with interest and look forward to seeing some photos taken with the new camera. It's always fun sharing in someone's travels.

BTW if/when you post photos, please remember that we have limits on the size and number of files/photos attached to a single message. If you need to post more photos than the max numer allowed, just compose another reply to the same topic with a simple text e.g. "More photos" and attach more photos to that reply.

Also remember you can go back an edit one of your messages at a later date to add photos if, for example, you'd forgotten to add them earlier. But the attachment limits are the same.
Thanks Tom!? Some time ago I got the MSFT photo re-sizer that someone here on the forum recommended so I am all set to meet the photo requirements.

June 3
Mileage 317

June 3

We departed on a drizzly cloudy day and headed for upstate NY with plans for Smoky to meet an old high school friend he had not seen for more than 50 years.? This friend lived in East Greenbush NY.? But rather than push to get there in one day, we decided to add some mileage to our route and skirt the entire DC/Balto/Philly/NYC corridor, and come up through the Shenandoah/Harrisburg/Scranton/Bingham route.? This turned out to be a GREAT decision for us.

Belden Hill Campground [1843 State Highway 7, Harpursville, NY 13787, T... (607) 693-1645]

Just a mile before we entered Belden Hill, we saw a little steak pub with a sign advertising karaoke.? Oh boy!

We were met at the campground by enthusiastic hosts.? They directed us to an open area which would insure our internet and TV satellites success.? They also told us the karaoke pub was an excellent eating place and that some of them would be down later to join us.

After an hour of hooking up and setting up off we went to dinner.? The food was indeed good but not great.? At 9:30 pm the karaoke host fired up.? During the evening Smoky led off with Keith Whitley?s ?It ain?t nothing? which was greeted with pleasant applause.? When the rotation come around again, Smoky and The Admiral did a duet ?All I Ask of You? from Phantom of the Opera which generated big shouts and applause, despite the fact the place was primarily country oriented with some pop and hip hop tossed in by younger singers.? Might have been the first time in a long time they heard Broadway.

The Admiral declined any further singing as she sticks pretty much to religious and Broadway.? Smoky continued on in the rotation with George Strait?s ?The Fireman? which was VERY well received and back to Keith Whitley?s ?Don?t Close Your Eyes? which drew about 10 couples to the dance floor to slow dance, including two guys slow dancing with each other.? This caused some distraction to the singer, quite a but of laughter during a touching romantic ballad, but in the end the song received a huge ovation.? Some of the campground people had arrived by then and came over and chatted, but none of them sang while we were there.

We knew we had to make an early start the next morning so we departed midway through the evening after meeting many nice people and hearing a few really good singers.

It would be several days before we put the FZ30 into action so there are no pictures of Belden Hill.? But it turned out to be a nice campground.? We had 30 amp service a view of the fishing pond, open skies to the south, and a lovely golf course across the road.? It is one minute from I87 but road noise well blocked.

Enjoyed the karaoake, but became a little dizzy getting there  ;D
June 4th
Mileage - 128

Due to the previous night partying, we overslept.? No biggie.? We only had a short 2 hour drive ahead of us to the Wal-Mart in East Greenbush, NY.? This, we have to admit, was a planned camping stop.? Shame on us.? But we could not find a satisfactory campground within easy reach of East Greenbush.? The one we found, my old high school friend objected to as it was an hour trip for him and he was squeezing in a visit with us and wanted as much face time as possible.? We had not seen each other in 50 years, and we were the best of childhood friends.? So at his suggestion our rendezvous was to be an overnight stop at the local Wal-Mart super center in East Greenbush.? Turned out to be a great ?campground?.? We parked in back of the movie theater, off to the side of the WM lube shop.? Lots of grass and trees and only one other ?camper? for the night ? A Wal-Mart 18 wheeler.? We did our grocery shopping at WM and picked up a DVD.

The route we took was Interstate 88 which rolls through the lovely hill country along the Susquehanna River.? We finally got some shots with our new Panasonic toy, but only a very few.? Still trying to get over the learning curve.? Then 88 dead ends on the busy urban I90 which lead us on into East Greenbush.

First shot is our coach and toad at a rest stop on 88.? Then a shot of a lovely farm in the rolling Susquehanna hills.? And though you don?t know my high school friend Dan, you will recognize myself and our cat Reba, toasting the occasion.

A short relaxing rain, and tomorrow it will be off to the North Country.


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Nice pics friend.  Showing a lt of leg.  Something going on we don't know about. LOL.  Glad you are enjoying yourselves. I'll probably call you Sat  about noon your time, if that's ok?  Hard to beleive but here in PE
we actually got 17 drops of rain.  Washed both cars got another 11.    Continue to enjoy the trip and send pics  that way I won't have to travel to NE and show it to Aud.
June 5
Mileage - 150 miles

After negotiating our way through Albany under heavy traffic, we made it to the New York Northway I-87.? This is a beautiful and time saving road, winding along the valleys between the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

I used to travel to Deep Bay on Lake Champlain (just north of Plattsburgh), first as a camper, then as a counselor.? ?We would travel this final leg on route 9N and route 9.? It was a full two day trip from Baltimore to Plattsburgh on those old roads.? Many quaint places would be found along Lake George, Schroon Lake, Elizabethtown, Keeseville, etc.? Then the Northway was built and everything changed.? I feel sorry for the many tiny motels, gas stations, and restaurants that withered when the Route 9 complex was no longer the main passage to Quebec.? You can still pull off route 87 onto the various Route 9s (9,9N, 9W, 9P, etc) and see deteriorating motels, restaurants, and gas stations.? But you also see lovely views of Lake Champlain, as the lake seldom comes into view on the Interstate.? And occasionally one of those small places of business is still thriving, having such good services that people hear about them by word of mouth and are willing to venture off the Interstate to find them.

One has to be careful however.? We thought it would be fun to wander off the beaten path and view Schroon Lake from Route 9N.? All went fine around the lake.? But rather than get right back on I87, we decided to venture a bit further and see what was around the next few bends on 9N.? We suddenly saw a sign that said ?Rough Roads ? 8 miles?.? They were not kidding.?

Suddenly I thought of the Brewers up in Alaska.? Likely these roads here were rougher.? Big potholes and 6 inch high ripples.? Those 8 miles seemed to last forever.? We cruised along at 3 miles per hour.? Finally we approached a sign leading to I87.? Taking that ramp was a no brainer.

We arrived early in the day at a campground we picked out of Woodall?s.? ?Ausable River CG at Keeseville, NY? 12944
Tel: (518) 834-9379.

We turned off exit 34 onto old route 9.? Within 500 yards was an old dirt road with a dilapidated sign for the campground.? We turned onto a narrow very bumpy dirt road.? We saw flooded swamps on the left and the right and trees hanging very close to the coach ride zone.? Water was flowing between the two swamps.? Obviously a lot of rain recently.

The road wound around for about a half mile.? We could not go more than a couple miles an hour.? Finally we pulled up to the office and it was closed.? A sign was posted saying to pull up to the first cabin on the right.? Was this going to be the nightmare from hell?

We went around the bend and there was a lady in the front yard of the cabin.? ?Are you the folks who called for a reservation?? she asked?? I remembered phoning them and they said they could take a big rig and did not need anything but our name? no credit card, no address, etc.? I told her we were the people.? She got out a map and showed us where to go to park.? It was in an open area about 100 yards from the Ausable River.? She assured us it was satellite clear.? She asked for $25 a night in cash, no credit cards, so we gave her 75 for three nights.? No tax either.? Strange place!

Off we went on down the bumpy narrow road, 44,000 pounds of coach and toad creaking and stumbling along at 1 mph.? Suddenly we heard sirens behind us.? Up pulled an ambulance.? It hooted and hooted and we had no place to go but forward.? All I could do was continue bumping along at 1 mph with t ambulance shrieking and tooting behind us.? Finally it roared around a tight spot beside us and continued down the road.? A minute later and another siren and a trooper behind us.? I finally found a wide spot in the dirt road to ease over and he pulled up beside us.? He was very courteous and explained that three kayaks had been on the river against everyone?s advice.? It had rained 16 out of the last 21 days and the river currents were awesome.? All three kayaks turned over.? Two people were pulled out safely but the third was still missing.? (As of June 8 the third person is still missing).? He went on his way and we asked ourselves what we had gotten into.

Finally we rounded a bend and a lovely campsite revealed itself.? Old, but lovely.? Our area was next to the swimming pool and volleyball net.? Horseshoe pits off to the side, and laundry room 50 feet away.? A hidden paradise.? And yes, dogs are allowed to swim in the river.? With us had arrived the first sunny day in weeks.? Maybe this was not going to be too bad after all.

We set up camp, got a good signal on the Internet dish, Direct TV tuned in, and we were all set.

First pic is of coach at CG.? Then a picture of the "Master of the Coach" enjoying the bay window in his dining room.? Next are pictures of the Admiral and Sky enjoying the Ausable River, 100 yards away.? We opened the windows, turned off all heat and air conditioning, and slept like babies.


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Smoky said:
? We suddenly saw a sign that said ?Rough Roads ? 8 miles?.? They were not kidding.? Suddenly I thought of the Brewers up in Alaska.? Likely these roads here were rougher.?

Actually the roads here have been very good so far with the exception of a few construction gravel zones. I've been pleasantly surprised. Of course Russ already has a big break  star mark on his windshield from an oncoming truck.

Looks to me like you are learning to use your new camera just fine.  Keep e reports coming as we hope to visit that neck of the woods someday.  Isn't life grand?

Yes, Betty, life is VERY grand.  We feel so privileged to be able to live this way in our golden years.  And God Bless the Internet.  It adds such a dimension to everything.  Some days we feel like frontier people.  For us, from our perspective, we really are frontier people, adventuring and exploring new horizons.  But not only do we have the very best of personal conveniences and technology, but also the instant friendship and advice and help across thousands of miles via the Internet.

As for my picture taking with the new FZ30, I get more comfortable each day.  June 4 I took about a dozen shots.  June 5th, the report just finished above, I took 42 shots.  I believe beginning on the 6th, the report I am working on now, I took more than 130.  And yesterday about the same.  I am getting over the old fear of running out of film or card space.  I am learning that with this camera you just take pic after pic and experiment to your heart delight.  The more you do it the better you get.  Day before yesterday, in Lake Placid I took more than 100 shots of motorcycles passing through town.  The Admiral was shoppping and I was bored waiting for her, so I sat on a park bench with a view of the road.  Lake Placid must be a favorite motorcycle destination because not a minute goes by without them passing by.  I got better and better at high speed  (for me anyway at 40 mph) photography and learned how to use the sport setting and move the camera to get the best shot.
June 6 - Part 1 ? Ausable River to Saranac Lake
Mileage (toad) ? 65.9

By 9:30 am we were on our way out of the CG in our Taurus wagon, heading for Saranac Lake.  In my childhood days when we headed for Saranac Lake we always said we were headed for Saranac.  So I programmed Saranac into the GPS.  Much to my surprise, the town of Saranac was only about 10 miles down the road.  Then I realized that the town Saranac is not the town Saranac Lake, which is more than 60 miles from the campground.  After making that correction, we began winding our way through the Adirondack low hills.  Many interesting sights along the way and it took me a number of missed photo opportunities before I began to react by stopping the car and getting some shots.  On the way down to Saranac Lake, on the river, we passed a grand old boat shop that had to have been built in the early 1900s. 

Our first photo here is a shot of a classic wooden power boat standing on dry dock in the shed entrance.  Not sure, but it looks like an old Chriscraft.  The varnished wood looked in beautiful shape.

Soon after passing the boat shop we were passed by a trio of motorcycles.  That picture was the first of more than 40 motorcycle shots I took that day, trying to get used to all the gadgets on the FZ30.  This shot did NOT take advantage of the sport scene setting, and it still seemed to do a pretty good job.  Of course the cycles were moving away from me, so the demand on shutter speed was not all that great.  Later I had the chance to take fast moving sideshows while sitting on a sidewalk bench in Lake Placid.

In the third and fourth photos we are having lunch at a place recommended by the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Moon Caf?.  Of course the Chamber is not allowed to make recommendations.  I had to trick the young lady there into making one.  My favorite approach in these situations is to acknowledge that I realize they cannot favor any of the businesses but then I ask them to give me some choices.  Invariably, as they run through a description of 5 or 6 restaurants, they just can?t help showing extra enthusiasm for their own personal favorite.  Eventually the Blue Moon leaked out with a couple extra high notes in the presentation.

The recommendation proved a worthy one as I am sure the two photos will show.  These lunches cost us $15 for the pair.

Next is a shot of Sharon?s favorite tourist pastime. Concluded by a shot of the Saranac Lake shore.


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June 6 - Part 2 ? Saranac Lake to Lake Placid
Mileage (toad) ? 10.5

These two towns are just a short distance away from each other.  Later this week we are planning to take a round trip train ride between the two towns ($15 apiece senior rates).  By train it is 45 minutes each way.  By car, just 15 minutes.

Lake Placid is a larger busier town.  Definitely a favorite place for motor cycles to cruise.  The cycles are up and down the street every, both in motion and parked.

Our first photo is a lovely church on the main street of town.

Then we have the Admiral showing off an Adirondack bedroom suite in one of the many Adirondack shops in town.  I hunted all over town for a swiss clock shop I had visited 40 years ago.  That shop had hundreds of Swiss clocks that did all kinds of things with all kinds of chimes and sounds.  They set all the clocks at the same time and when they went off the whole shop shook with the clamor.  But alas, that shop has fallen by the wayside.  I think someone could make a pretty penny if they opened another one.

I am always taken by old fishing equipment and found a sign that advertised steel rods.  I had a telescoping steel fly rod as a child and this sign brought back memories.

Next a shot of the Lake Placid shore as viewed from Main Street.

Then Main Street viewed from the car of some honeymooners.

Another shot of the lake.

I love birch trees.  There is a stairway on Main Street that descends down to an Adirondack garden by the water.  A lovely place to sit and catch your breath.  In that garden is a grand old birch.  Birches don?t generally grow huge, but this is a huge one.  What a grand old birch.


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June 6 - Part 2 continued ? Saranac Lake to Lake Placid
Mileage (toad) ? 10.5

Lake Placid return to CG mileage - 33.5

Next we passed by the lakeside bandstand shell.  It was vacant while we were there, but I could picture a Saturday afternoon concert with a colorful band in the shell and people on the ground and up on the street cheering along.

The next snapshot is especially for Ned and Karl.  The largest collection of single malts I have seen in one place.  They cheat a little bit including expensive blends like Johnny Walker Blue and Crown Royal, some expensive bourbons, but still a worthy collection.  I think this is a fabulous idea.  The problem I have with single malts is that if you want to try out a new one it can cost you $60 to $300 a bottle.  But here you can buy a shot and sample at a much more reasonable level.  I have always wanted to see why a scotch blend would cost $180 to $280 a bottle and there was Johnny Walker Blue sitting there becoming to me.  (Can you find the bottle on display rack in the picture?)

I forked up my $30 and was soon sipping Johnny Walker Blue and agreeing it was worth every penny.

Also included is a photo of the establishment sign, Pete?s Steakhouse.  I have vowed to return to this place each time I pass through the North Country and sample another single malt each time.

At the end of the day you can see Smoky relaxing by his campfire in a can.  More on this in another thread.


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June 7
Mileage ? 50.3

Today we accomplished a major objective of Smoky?s.  Revisiting a childhood haunt after 40 years.  A short trip from our campground up to Point Au Roche State Park just north of Plattsburgh, NY.  From the time I was 5 years old until I was 19,  I visited this lovely spot on Deep Bay Lake Champlain.  First as a camper, then later as a paid counselor.  I learned to fish, ride horseback, sail, run powerboats, pole vault, high jump, and much more while at this camp.  In my teens I was teaching all the above other than sailing and swimming.  I do not believe I would ever have fished professionally or run commercially licensed boats with a master license, had I not attended this camp.

They say you can ?never go back.?  In some respects this was true.  Many of the things I had hoped to see were gone.  But there were some remaining surprises for me as well.  They have even named the main road through the park ?Red Cloud? after the original boy?s camp.  I did not have time to look, but I hope somewhere in that very large state park is also a road or something named ?Red Wing?, after the girl?s camp.

If you ever want to visit a scenic spot very removed from the hustle bustle of life, just teeming with wildlife, both animal and plant, then this is the place for you.  We had other more mundane projects that same day, so I did not have the time to spend there I would have liked, and did not take nearly enough pictures.  But I have included some of the pictures with this post.

We also found another childhood haunt just going out of Plattsburgh.  Ever had a Michigan Redhot?  With French fries sprinkled with vinegar?  I remembered a tiny little roadside stand, not much bigger than a hot dog stand named Gus?s Red Hots.  All of the campers and councilors enjoyed their chilly hotdogs with mustard and raw onions.  Imagine my surprise when we saw it still standing, but as a full blown restaurant.  Still on the menu were the original red hots.

Back at camp the last two days we have been in a quandary.  The rains have returned.  We are very worried about flooding but the CG owners tell us not to worry.  The water washing across the muddy entrance was a beaver dam break, not from the rain they assured us, and will get better, not worse, even with rain.  The river is high and fast moving, but they said it would take a LOT more rain for it to crest over the bank.  We would receive plenty of warning we were assured.

We do not want to move in the rain.  Especially since there is much more for us to do here before moving on to Vermont.  But sitting around waiting makes our New England time shorter.  We might visit Ausable Chasm today or tomorrow as some of it is underground, and we can enjoy it without a sunny day.  But the gondolas at Whiteface Mountain will have to wait as will the ferry ride from Port Kent to Burlington.


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Thanks again for the travel report.  Sam & I enjoyed the photos.  We spent a lot of time around Plattsburg and Vermont while we were living in Quebec.  When you get to Vermont try the Limehurst lake campground South of Williamstown Vermont.  Pretty neat museum in Williamstown too.

I grew up in Maine eating fish and french fries dripping with MALT vinegar, only New York would use white!

That sandwich looks like a two Rolaids lunch, mmmmmmmm.
Thanks Ron and Jeff.

Well we are p to date, but nothing to report.  We are rained in as they say.  We have had one sunny day since we got here and then 5 days of rain.  We are hoping it will begin to clear tomorrow.  Spent today getting bugs off the outside coach, making a campfire in the rain, Sharon is "irising", soon we go to the store for groceries if we can get across the swamp.  Maybe eat out again at the Butcher Block as it was soooo good the other night.

In another thread I posted a picture I am not happy with.  Maybe someone could suggest ways to make the FZ30 do a better job for that shot.
Smoky said:
Thanks Ron and Jeff.

Well we are p to date, but nothing to report.  We are rained in as they say.  We have had one sunny day since we got here and then 5 days of rain.  We are hoping it will begin to clear tomorrow.  Spent today getting bugs off the outside coach, making a campfire in the rain, Sharon is "irising", soon we go to the store for groceries if we can get across the swamp.  Maybe eat out again at the Butcher Block as it was soooo good the other night.

In another thread I posted a picture I am not happy with.  Maybe someone could suggest ways to make the FZ30 do a better job for that shot.


Sorry but the FZ30 can't do any more, but never fear, for about  $1000 the new Canon................................. ::) ::)
Well, I looked at the new Canon Rebel XT (it was about $800) and liked the FZ30 better.  There was a time where i would not have settled for anything less than an SLR.  For years I used an SLR 35mm  Pentax (non digital).  Without digital , an SLR was much more critical.  But now with a large LCD that shows you what you are going to get, even before you snap the shot, I have weamed myself away from the desire for single lens reflex.  For traveling, as nice as the Canon Rebel is, it is just too bulky for what I want to do.

On this immediate photo problem, I am wondering if maybe I should have switched off the auto focus and gone to a manual mode?  Amazing how you think of these simple things after you have left the scene of the crime.  :eek:
June 11
Mileage (toad) ? 30

Well this morning we woke up to our 6th straight day of no sun.? However a ray of hope arose.? It was not raining.? It wasn?t even drizzling.? We decided to take advantage of the relative ?dryness?, and strike out for Ausable Chasm, just 5 miles down the road from our campground.

Good decision.? As the day drew on, it got lighter and lighter.? By the time we finished the chasm (and it was awesome) and reached Plattsburgh for some shopping and dinner, the sun finally appeared.? A miracle!? There really still is a sun!!? Ron Ruward, if you are reading the mail, one of our shopping items was your recommended Adobe Elements 4.0.? We picked up a copy at Staples and will be installing it later this evening.

After arriving home we discovered our Direcway sat dish was out.? We have had high winds the last two days gusting to 50 mph.? In the morning I will have to go up on the roof and have the Admiral call numbers back up to me on the handheld.? In the meantime, thank goodness for Verizon cell phone backup.

Here are some shots of the remarkable Ausable Chasm.? It is the largest falls either of us have seen, other than Niagara.? The misty effect you see in some of the pictures is not an effect.? it is real.? A fine spray sent out by the falls.


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The Elephant Rock

Here are some shots of the Elephant Rock at Ausable.  Some people see an elephant, some don?t.  A single malt or two helps.


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