Sunday, July 31, 2016

Good-Bye Black Lake.

Well, what's that saying?  All good things come to end????  It been a real good thing, and a real good time..............and today is our last day here at Black Lake.

Thursday was another "no fishing" day.......but we were able to get out for a short time Friday morning, before we began our cleaning and packing.  We caught 23 fish;  Rich getting 11 Crappie, including one, well over 10 inches, and a small mouth bass - but at just over 14 inches, not a keeper.   I caught 11 - 10 crappie and one perch.   At the end of week 7 - we'd caught 79 more fish, bringing our total over the seven weeks to 437.  Not as good as last year - but still pretty good - and a lot of fun!

We got the majority of stuff packed into the car on Friday afternoon, and took all the left over food over to Bill................  Finished packing early Saturday morning , said our good-byes  and were on our way to Elmira just a few minutes after 8:00 am.

The rain started about 9 o'clock and continued on and off for the rest of the day.  Took route 13 from 81 south that goes through Cortland and through Ithaca, NY, then over to route 14 that took us just south of Watkins Glen.  Despite the rain, I managed to get a couple of pictures of "old memories.   The Hickory House Restaurant, which used to be a very popular place for drinking and dining, looked so old.  We spend many many a night here after working on building the garage.  Our dinner most often consisted of a Brandy Alexander, and a bowl of French Onion Soup!  Rambling Brook was a place to enjoy a few drinks and dancing, and where they often held the wild game dinners.

We headed up Johnson Hollow Road, to see the first single family home that we lived in after we were married.  After all these years, it looked very much the way we remembered it.  The house on the bottom left was the Besley's, our next door neighbor, and the second house our neighbors down the road on the other side.

The house actually looked about the same as when we left back in 1985. They had replaced the roof, and built that little shed off the side of the garage.  That's the garage that Rich and I built back in 1982.  They also have planted some trees in the front yard, which hides the brick on the lower part of the house.   Off to the left of the house was the path that Rich always kept cut and plowed that went up the hill behind the house.  And the bottom left picture is pretty close to the view across the road, from the living room window.

We still had some time before we could check in to the hotel, so we wandered around Elmira for a while, checking out the Murray Athletic Center/aka The Domes, where Rich, in the past had done some HVAC work, and where we went to see Donna Fargo!!!  Yes, there really is a town called "Horseheads".  We checked out Brand Park Pool, where all the kids used to go and swim, and we'd all lay up on that top deck to get our sun tans.  Rumor has it that they may be refurbishing the building!   And we had to make a stop at Dunkin Donunts  on the corner of Church and Madison Ave.  Spent a lot of time here - but it's a whole new building now.  Back then they made the donuts right it's a combination Baskin Robbins.

Not far from Brand Park Pool is Riverside School,  Both Rich and I went to school here.  Rich from kindergarten through 6th or 7th grade.  Me - only kindergarten, then I went to Catholic School.  The other building, is Dun Field Park, where the Elmira Pioneers always played.  Pioneers were a farm team for the Red Sox and the Orioles.

Of course we had to check out a few of the places we used to live.  Top left, is where Rich and his first wife lived, and where Dennis was born.... the next one is Rich's Mom's house, and where Rich lived until he married.  The next one is where I lived with my brother Dave and Mom during my high school days.  The house on Church St, and Harriett St, where I grew up were no longer there!!!

The building on the bottom left used to be the Fairway Spring Factory, and is where Rich and I first met......The last picture is one of my favorites in Elmira, the Christmas House.

Saturday afternoon we visited my sister-in-law, Gloria Benjamin ( my oldest brother Jim's wife).  She's well into her 80's, and starting to fail a little bit, but she was doing well that day.  With her is my niece (her daughter) Kathy Benjamin Bell and her husband Bill.  Kathy lives just across the street, so is close by to keep an eye on Gloria.  Enjoyed our visit so much with her.

From there we headed over to Curley's Chicken House in Elmira Heights, to meet up with Rich's cousin Tracy La Deu  and her husband.  They both had the famous Chicken and Biscuits, and Rich and I had the 1/2 Chicken.   Just as good as we remembered!   Again - so nice to be able to get together with family, even if it's just for a short while.  As we were leaving the restaurant - we were very surprised when we say my niece, Cheryl Benjamin Farr!  Have not seen her in probably 25 years or more - but recognized her right away.  She was there with her grand-daughter, Sage.  ( That would make Rich and I her great, great aunt and uncle.

Wow - a long day, but lots of fun.............Tomorrow is the Benjamin Family Picnic at Harris Hill.  Not expecting a real big crowd, as it was last minute planning...........and some were out of town or working..............but even if it's only 10 or 15 people, it will be wonderful to spend time with them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our Last Week at Black Lake -

This week has passed by so very fast!  Can not believe that tomorrow is our last full day here.  But it's been a very good week.   Below are some pictures from the past several days.   The weather has been pretty funny this week, windy with very very choppy water, and the fishing has not been very good.  Our biggest fish, caught by Rich was an 11 or 12 inch bull head.    One more day to fish, tomorrow - and we plan on heading out in the morning, and then cleaning and packing in the afternoon.  So far this week - 55 fish, with Rich in the lead with 32.

Today Roger and Gloria invited us to ride along with them and take a cruise down the lake.  They have a beautiful pontoon - and know that we are considering trading in our boat for one. We were gone for about an hour and a half.  Thank you Roger and Gloria - it was a beautiful ride, and we had a great time.

  Some sights along the way..........

Some nice homes along the shoreline.

And the last leg of the trip - That's Pleasant View Camps - where we go for ice cream - and the other is Rogers Old Oak and the camp next door - Butternut Cove.

After the boat ride and before dinner, Roger and Gloria and I played a game of Mexican Train,................and after dinner Rich met up with the guys to talk politics!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 6 Ends - Only ONE More Week!!!

On Thursday Gloria and I did a short day trip.  Heuvelton is a very small town about 20 minutes north of here, almost to Ogdensburg.  Typical NY country roads where you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature..  We headed here to stop at Picken's Country Store -

 Gloria wanted  Cheese Curd!    Now I have never had cheese curd, and I did TRY it,  Took a very very tiny piece and spit it out as soon as it hit my tongue!  She took home THREE POUNDS!

The store is very very unique in that it carries so many of the products Amish craftsmen and artisans.   Here are a few of the items that you can find in the store...............One  of the things not showing is the artwork, most of which are country scenes of corn fields, rivers and streams.............which were absolutey beatiful.

We spent a good amount of time checking out the two very large rooms full of beautiful woodworking , handmade candles.........and of course the well recognized Amish hats!

I took home some hand pained coasters, and  a couple of hand made wine stoppers,

Before heading home we took a detour out Bishop road through the small country town of De Pyster, to find the Amish Vegetable stand.  Gloria was hoping for some fresh picked tomatoes - and I was hoping for some fresh yeast risen Amish bread.......... While it was a beautiful ride -  tomatoes not quite ready to pick, and the fresh bread and biscuits would be available the next day!

Friday - once again, was way too windy to get out on the lake.  All day long!  But this morning while sitting out at Roger and Gloria's, Paul dropped by and played some bag pipes for us again.  The crowd gathered with camera's in hand to enjoy the entertainment. Even the guys in cabin 10, packing up to leave, stopped to enjoy.  

And since we will be heading in to our last week here, it was time to start using up some of the fish in the freezer.........Five or six days getting home is just too long to try and travel with food!.   So we made a little egg wash and some Italian Bread Crumbs and breaded about 30 crappie.  Bill made some awesome potatoes on the grill and  Gloria made dessert ( Pineapple Delight) that was just delicious.
 Sat around outside until about 7:30 hoping the winds would die down, so we could fish..........but it just did not happen.  So we called it a day. 

Fish Count  - This week Rich  - 44, and Me - only 13
Total Fish count to date: 358

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 6 - Continued

Monday was a very windy day with scattered thunderstorms, and laundry day for me!  The forecast here in the North Country - called for severe storms, with damaging hail and winds at 30 miles/hour.    We did not get enough rain to even mention - but the winds kept us from fishing all day.

Tuesday  was a good fishing day - at least for Rich!!    We drifted on the other side of the lake near "The Pimple"  (photo below).    I think I ended the day with a grand total of four........... but Rich had 20.  17 crappie ( 14 nice keepers), 2 perch - one that was a nice keeper AND a really nice Small Mouth Bass - over 16 inches!  The other fish is a great fighter - a 24 plus inch Cat that he caught on Wednesday evening.

Both Monday and Tuesday nights the campers gathered around the campfire.   And on Tuesday night the folks in cabin 7 set off a few fireworks ( sparkler type) for the kids.  Nice group of people.    Pictures ( except for the fireworks) were taken on Monday - Tuesday, the temperatures dropped and we were ALL (including ME) in our long pants and sweat shirts.

Pictures of the moon over the water never come out very good for me.  It was so beautiful on Thursday evening ----------------

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 5 Ends - Great Start to Week 6

Week 5 just continued to be a "bad weather" week.   More rain, and lots and lots of winds.    Needless to say the fish count for week five was absolutely embarrassing!!!   Grand total of 15 fish; 8 for Rich and 7 for me.  So the total to date at the end of the week was 301.

But when the white caps were gone, and the sun came out - the view was beautiful!

And so week 5 came to an end - but not before my baby brother David arrived along with his best buddy Jake about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  Jake and Dave got familiar with the camp, the lake and met a few of our friends that were still here.

We had a great fish fry (crappie and perch), french fries, slaw and later shared some cheesecake for dessert.  Spent some time next door with Roger and Gloria  and sat around just catching up/talking till bed time.

Brother Dave is not a big on Saturday (Week 6 Begins)  he and I and Jake left the US mainland, taking the Thousand Island Bridge to the Wellesley Island State Park.  Located in the Thousand Island region along the St. Lawrence River.  We hiked the trails for over 4 miles, enjoying  the beauty of mother nature.

The trail were very well marked - some easy going others ( indicated by the red markers on the trees) steep, rocky and narrow.   Some great views of the narrows along the River and Eel Bay, the slabs of Sandstone, and along the pothole trail - the two glacial formed pot holes.   There were several lookout points - where you could stop and rest and enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Jake is a beautiful chocolate lab - who loves to hike as much as his Dad.  He minds very very well, so unless there were a lot of people around, Jake made his hike OFF the leash.   He'd always stop to see where we were, and frequently, took a dip in the river, when the trails led that way.

Below are a couple of shots of Davis and I taking a rest along the trails.   You can see here, how steep the trails became at times.

And - some of my favorite "scenery" shots..............and yes that includes the "outhouse" along the trail.  

And a few more of my favorites.  The one at the lower left - was taken at the Butterfly House near the end of the trails.

When we returned to the cabin  - Rich was still out fishing, ( He ended up getting 5 crappie and 5 perch)... but left us a note that we were invited to Bills for dinner.
Bill had a couple dozen burgers that he wanted to use up.  I had some coleslaw left from the day before, and one of the campers leaving, had given us a big dish of pasta salad, so we took that over with us.  Others did the same.............. We had lots of food!  Brad ( the owner - top left) joined us as did Gloria and Bill, Bills visiting guest Brad, and the folks from Pennsylvania who arrived in cabin 2 today ( can't remember their names - but remember them from last year).  Great get together that ended with Rich and I and David and Jake, and Gloria and Brad making a trip up the road for ice cream!  Even Jake got a treat - his own little dog bone sundae - that he really really enjoyed!!!    Bottom right -  picture of baby brother and I saying goodbye on Sunday morning.   It was a great visit!

After Dave and Jake left - we were undecided as to whether we wanted to go out fishing or head to Ogdensburg, where the NYS Bass Tournament was ending, and see the big catch of the day and check out the vendors......We decided to go fishing!

It was a pretty good day.  Rich caught 12 fish - 2 Redear (Shellcracker), 5 Perch (including one nice keeper, about 10 1/2 inches. ) 2 Crappie, a 13" small mouth bass, and 2 nice Catfish ( 16" and the other over 20").  I caught 2 Perch, 4 Crappie and  15 1/8" small mouth bass.   We took in the one perch, my bass, both the catfish and three nice crappie about the size of the perch.    Oh yeah....... Rich lost a big one!

 So - I hope the rest of week 6  continues with good weather and good fishing.  So far this week our total is only 29.............but it's only Monday!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 5 - Black Lake

Our 5th week started out rainy and stormy.  We cancelled plans to have my brother Dave visit, given the nasty weather forecast for the weekend.  Hopefully he'll be able to make it next weekend.

Saturday we woke up to rain and it remained rainy with thunder storms most of the day.   No fishing.  The storms were pretty strong and the lake was shaded with cloud cover and rough from the winds most of the day.

On Sunday we again awoke to rain and like Saturday it rained most of the day, on and off.  We headed out with our rain gear.  It rained on and off - but was a bit misty most of the time.  You would think that the fishing would be good - but we fished for a couple of hours and caught only two fish.  Nothing on the jig today - not even a baby perch.  We fished our second pole with a minnow.  I caught a nice crappie - but Rich, once again had the catch of the day.  A nice 28" Northern Pike. 

And the sun over the lake at sunset on Suday evening after the rain was just beautiful!

Saturday most all of the cabins emptied and new people arrived.  This should be a fun week.  Friends that we met here last year Roger and Gloria from down near Rochester, and  the teachers Paul and Patti are back in cabin 6.  All the cabins are full this week - so hopefully we'll have some good campfire nights.

On Monday Paul was out entertaining us with his bagpipes.  Once the music started, people wandered over to listen......Even the boats on the lake ..........

And today I gave Gloria a ride to Ogdensburg to pick up her car, which was having some work done and a new tire put on.  She is such a thoughtful person.  When she returned to the camp she brought a goodie from Dunkin Donuts for the two of us,  two plastic wine glasses for us to share our favorite beverage and a hand towel that says  I'm Not Old - I'm Vintage!   Love it.   Thank you Gloria.

She and Roger headed out fishing later in the afternoon, and then we shared our first glass of wine!   We've invited them over for a fish fry.........and they invited us to enjoy our beverage on a nice cruise around the lake on their pontoon!   That should be fun!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Week 4 Continued

There is nothing that can top visiting with family, so  I would normally say that  week #4  can not get any better.....But while Dan and the family have left for home, we may get another visit on Friday for a couple of days, as long as the weather cooperates.  Baby brother Dave and his canine buddy Jake will visit and spend a couple of nights.   Keeping our fingers crossed.....Worst case,  we will reschedule for another week later this month.

The fishing has definitely improved!    On Monday we headed out after dinner for only a couple of hours and caught 59  fish.  Rich 36, including 28 crappie, 7 perch ( 2 really nice keepers) and a small mouth Bass - but not quite 15".  I had 20 crappie and 3 smaller perch.  But it by far our best day, and we brought it some nice keepers.  Tuesday - pretty windy, but we still  brought in about 20 fish.  The freezer is getting pretty full - so we decided not to keep any.

Monday night we were treated to some more fireworks over the water......

On Wednesday we headed out about 3:00 pm and fished for a couple of hours.  I caught some nice crappie and an OK perch, but Rich hooked on to a beauty.  A 10 1/2 lb, 28 + inch Catfish!!!  Got almost 3 lbs of fish fillets from this one.   Nice job Rich!

We were back out fishing both Thursday and Friday.  Friday we awoke to rain, but managed to get out later in the day, after dinner for about 2 1/2 hours, before the rain was threatening again.  Calling for Thunderstorm tonight and most of the day Saturday.    We had a really good week fishing this 4th week.  And today Rich was hitting the Bass, catching FIVE!!!!   Two keepers and three that were 13 - 14 inches.

So  at the end of week four - we have doubled our fish count.    At the end of three weeks our fish total was 143 total fish.  This week - week four - we caught a total of 143 fish.  Rich 76 and Donna 67.

Total Fish count to date
Rich 148    Donna - 124    (Plus 14 caught fishing with Bill)   Total 286

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 4 - Black Lake

Can not think of a better way to start the week than with a visit from family.  Our nephew, Dan Benjamin along with his beautiful wife Marcia, and their son, David  arrived mid afternoon.    We made plans for their visit several weeks ago - talked about and anxiously awaited their arrival.   Have not seen this young man, who is about the same age as our son, Dennis in many many many years.   This would also be our first time meeting Marcia and David.

Saturday evening we  enjoyed a fish fry (bass and crappie that we had caught), with some salt potatoes, cabbage slaw, fruit salad and Italian bread.  Peanut butter fudge and cookies for dessert and a few beverages of choice!....

I think the very best time was just sitting around the table reminiscing old times and learning about how they met and started a family, and laughing and laughing and laughing - something no-one can avoid when having a conversation with Danny!  Just as we remembered him.    And it was impossible to do anything other than fall in love with Marsha and David!   She is just perfect for Danny!

We headed up the road for ice cream a little later, then came back and sat around the  campfire, where Bill and Linda joined us for a while and we all watched the fireworks from next door over the lake.

The cottage is very small but we managed to find everyone a place to sleep for the night, with David taking the couch in the TV room.

Hated to see them leave on Sunday - but we all promised to make sure we made plans to meet up again soon.