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Monday, September 30, 2013

East Greenbush Town Park

The beat goes on.....another glorious fall day to get out and see the vibrant colors.  We are in the midst of an unprecedented string of nice days, so I've been attempting to take full advantage of it, even if work gets in the way sometimes.  Today, I wanted to stay local so I headed to the East Greenbush Town Park.
There are playing fields, a playground, pavillion and walking trails at the park.  Most of the park is wooded with a number of trails to wander.
The north branch of the Moordener Kill drifts through the woods and is dammed near the beach area, creating a large pond.  The still water and fall colors made for a beautiful composition.


Here is a view of the dam, with a small waterfall.
Once I stepped  into the woods, it was like stepping into a dream.  The golden forest was a treat for the senses.
 This is the North Branch of the Moordener Kill as it runs through the park. The stream is very shallow and slow moving this time of year so it is very easy to walk along the edge all the way.
 A solitary leaf dancing on the water.
 Leaves are multiplying in the stream every day.
 The leaves are also multiplying on the forest floor.
 Early autumn sun high in the sky.
On my way back to the car, I had to stop one last time and soak in the scene at the pond.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Schemerhorn Park(Castleton on Hudson)

Went to a little known park in the town of Schodack, just outside of Castleton on Hudson.  It is actually owned by the village, who keep the trail somewhat maintained.  The trail is actually an old road in a ravine carved out by the Vlockie Kill stream.  The entrance to the park can be somewhat tricky because there are private residences and a gate up at the end of the dead end Brickyard Road.  Being careful not to block the gate, you should pull your car off to the side of the road to park.  Then enter just to the left of the gate and follow the road.
You will soon find that the trail hugs the stream on the right and a large meadow to the left.  The Vlockie Kill is a quiet stream that flows through the woods here on its way down to the Hudson River about a mile down the road.
 The leaves are starting to litter the trail, making for a fun walk.
 After about a mile along the trail, the Vlockie Kill has a series of small falls.  You must leave the trail and walk down to the banks of the stream to see them, though. There is a well defined path and clearing making it hard to miss.


 After finishing up my hike, and back in town, I stopped by Nassau Lake to see it wearing its autumn colors.
 Some friends dropped by too.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fort Crailo(Rensselaer)

Went for a little history lesson to a couple of local sites today with my sister, brother, nephew and niece.  For a nominal fee, you can get a guided tour of these sites and access to the grounds as well. Our first stop was Fort Crailo in Rensselaer.  The site for this historic, fortified brick manor house was originally part of a large patroonship held by Kiliaen Van Renssealer in the mid 17th century. The house itself was built in 1707 by Kilaen's grandson, Hendrick.  There is a lot of history in this house.  This site is reputed to be the very place that the famous ditty "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was written in 1755 by a British Army Surgeon, mocking colonial troops.  In 1961 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.  Today it is part museum, part living history among the city streets of Rensselaer, NY.

There is strong evidence that suggests the building was fortified with eleven gunports and surrounded by stockade following an attack by a party in the French and Indian War.  Two of the gunports can be seen by today's visitor.
 There are many artifacts found in the house, many authentic.  All extremely interesting.
Actual land deed from 1664.
As you walk through the house you get a feel for what it may have felt like to live in such a time.  The clothing that young children would wear.  Interesting to note that young boys would wear dresses until about age ten.
 Bedtime was a much different experience than what we are accustomed to today.  The adults would sleep in a relatively small cubby, as pictured below, in a somewhat seated position.  The children would sleep on the cold floor.
A common room for the family.
Not a member of the van Rensselaer family, but a fine example of an affluent young woman from the 18th century.
My beautiful young niece, Taylor.
 The well in the flower garden where "Yankee Doodle" was reputed to have been written
 Fort Crailo's grounds extend all the way down to the river, where there is a large stone wall and picnic area.  Here is a view from the wall, looking back up at the building.
 The east bank of the river, affording views of downtown Albany.
 The Albany skyline.
 Looking southwest towards the Port of Albany.
We then headed across the river to Albany and visited the Schuyler Mansion. There is much history in this elegant building as well, the home of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler.
We had an extremely informative tour, but unfortunately didn't get any photos taken.
Many notable people passed through these doors, such as George Washington and British General John Burgoyne.  The mansion was actually the site of Alexander Hamilton's wedding with Philip's daughter, Elizabeth.  Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, spent much of his time here.  The Schuyler family lived here from 1763 until Philip's death in 1804.  It was auctioned off after his death and was almost forgotten in later years.  Thankfully, in 1917 it was restored and became a National Historic monument.


To end the day, I decided to do a short walk at Papscanee Nature Preserve along the banks of the Hudson River in Schodack.  Formerly an island, it is now part of the river's shoreline, offering a couple of miles of trails and interpretive signs along the way.  This floodplain was once home to the Mohican Indians, who thrived on this land for centuries thanks to the ease of access to the river.
Here is a view north towards the power plant on the west side of the river in Bethlehem.
 Views along the trial.
 Looking south on the shoreline.
 Berries growing near the railroad tracks.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Shenantaha Park and Woods Hollow-Ballston Spa

An overcast day wasn't about to slow me down, as I headed north up towards the Saratoga Region.  It is a flourishing area rich in history and has more natural resources than some people may realize.  The Kayaderosseras Creek runs through the edge of Ballston Spa village and eventually empties out into Saratoga Lake to the east. Also just outside the village is Ballston Lake, a long 3.7 mile narrow lake with many recreational opporunities.  There are many natural springs in the vicinity which first put Saratoga on the map.  A couple of long multi-use trails also can be found in the immediate area as well.  The list goes on.
 Today I would be visiting Shenantaha Park, a great resource for the town of Malta.  It is a community park, with fields, courts, a playground and access to the Zim Smith bike trail.  I was in search of the trails through the woods that closely follow Ballston Creek.  There were many people at the park, even on a cloudy Friday morning, showing that this park is very well attended.  As I began my walk into the woods, I saw a sign regarding Indian Mortars.
 There were many leaves already off the trees in this area, while others still held their green.
 Views along Ballston Creek,
 Ballston Creek otherwise known as "Shenantaha" Creek was the name given to the stream by the Iroquois, meaning "deer water".
 An example of Indian Mortars.
 The leaves are really piling up in the ravine along the creek.
The trails are fairly short and I finished pretty quickly, so decided to head into Ballston Spa and visit the Woods Hollow Nature Preserve.
There are several different trailheads you can start from so I chose the yellow trail entrance along Rowland St.  I didn't see any cars in the parking areas I had passed, so it appeared that I had the whole place to myself.  I immediately came upon a pine plantation. Along the trail, there is signage, explaining some of the nature around you.
 Looking directly up a eastern white pine.
Near the middle of Woods Hollow is a pretty lake with trails surrounding it.
 Reflections along the shore.
There are some interesting sand pits further along near the blue trail.

And as always, when you really slow down and take note, there are wonders all around!