August 6th through August 31st, 2015 Work, Work, Work, Johns 50th High School Reunion in Gloversville NY, Saratoga Race Track

All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. OK, so it’s “Jack” in the proverb, but the same still applies to Johnny…and makes Becky an exceptionally weary “female dog”. If one more goose poops on our beach, I’m going to chase it down and put a plug in its butt!

Our pick up and move to the Gloversville NY area was without incident and a smooth as silk 5 hour drive. A few days before we left, both of us were a bit panicky because we had not gotten a response from the owner of this mom and pop campground after trying to contact him for nearly 2 weeks.

Pine Park

I finally left a message on Facebook and he called us to confirm our reservations. We were going to have 10 glorious days at Pine Park in Broadalban, NY. The town was named after the Breadalbane Region in Scotland by an early settler but there is little left to confirm the acclaim.

Broadalban is just minutes from Gloversville, John’s home town and the reason we accepted a position in New England. John is looking forward to seeing his high school buddies for his 50th High School Reunion. I am looking forward to getting away from the crazies at Buffumville. Seeing our dear niece and nephew is the icing on the cake. As an added bonus, I have 10 days free of cleaning nasty bathrooms and if I spot a crazy, it will be perfectly acceptable to run in the other direction.

Upon arrival we settled into our site and began enjoying our first taste of upstate New York. Pine Park has a gravel entrance that you enter by driving past a car repair, car wash, a dog wash and a sign company. After that it’s a small, quiet, well maintained slice of heaven.  Our site was straight ahead, in front of the circle, next to the kitchen and large pavilion.  And of course our neighbors were from, where else…Texas.

Our site at Pine Park   Pine Park Pavilion

A few days after our arrival, the park was to host The Sixth Annual Spirit of the Wolf Native American Festival and Powwow. It began to unfold outside our front window on Friday night and was full on Tom-Tom drumming throughout the next few days. Neither of us were in the least offended by the constant drums as they were very soothing.  We walked over to check out the handmade offerings and to watch the ceremonial dancing.

The circle dancers  Female Dancer

I was relieved to find out this was to be a “no campfire” powwow. The Chief’s wife has asthma so the only smoke would be from sage smudging. I was able to walk throughout the festival grounds and view all that was being offered for sale with only a few quick sidesteps to avoid the sage smudging ceremonial burning before several of the dances.

A quick scout around the camp to find the Chief, politely asking permission to take photos and then off to visit with the participants.  Flags were waving with pride next to the circle.

Tribe Flags

According to the Chief, any dancers in the center circle could be photographed but I must ask each individually when they were outside the circle. Only one dancer refused my request so he missed out on his fifteen minutes of fame. He had an interesting outfit but a stern look, abrupt reply to my question and appeared to be in a rather antisocial mood. No problem, others were happy to oblige with beaming smiles.

Wolf Dancers

So many extraordinarily elaborate garments, it was hard to choose my next Kodak moment.

Best Dressed  Front  Back

Many of the booths displayed jewelry and several artists were at work designing while their articles for sale were laid out on tables. I had the pleasure of speaking with one elder who explained her design and its construction as she worked nimbly sewing minuscule glass beads onto a sturdy leather strap. Her work had amazing detail.


The elder who was weaving on his loom in stocking feet posed for a picture and I bought a brightly colored woven bracelet as a memento of the powwow.

Weaving loom

Dream Catchers lined the support bars across many of the tents that provided shade for the traders.  I already have several made by Native Indians hanging above my bed to deter bad dreams so we passed them by.  Flute notes floated over the crowd and I got a shot of its source.  In-between each demonstration he explained how each instrument is used at tribal gatherings.

Wind instrument demonstration

Beyond Human, Inc. displayed rescued wildlife, creepy crawly types including serpents, arachnids and other vermin. The company provides animal education with live presentations, wildlife rehab, rescue and relocation. Their display was located far from the powwow circle as the creatures were uncomfortable with the vibrations of the Tom Tom’s. Powwow participants came to marvel at the baby Python, one agreed to pose with his favorite.

Baby Python

Tommy hawks throughout the ages were displayed on a table and each was being explained by an elder as to why it looked as it did, what it was traded for, what it was made of and how it was used as a weapon.

Tomahawks Made for Trade

The term “white man” was tossed around during many of the demonstrations. It sounded strange to my ears, especially when I was looking at presenters who were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.

Indian headdresses were displayed in one of the information booths.

Head dresses

Evening approached and the sound of Tom Tom’s was calming, masking the traffic noise from the highway next to the park.

Next day we returned to the scene of our favorite Gloversville activity of years gone by. Spanning several decades, John’s parents had season tickets for seats at Saratoga Race Course so we attended often while visiting family in the area.

open seating  Inside race track

John bought us club house reserved seats, perfect for a sunny day.

Our seats

It was equivalent to taking a step back in time. Driving past stately homes that surrounded the track, walking among the elaborately ornamental ironworks that stand in place of walls, bemused by the ostentatious hats worn atop feminine tresses, being a part of the beautiful people and that graceful laid-back Southern style attitude of all who attended New York’s famed race track.  The people have changed, very few hats, the buildings have not.

Beautiful iron work  Carousel restaurant

The Grandstand  Carousel entrance

My favorite recollection was the ability to stand a yard or so away from the horses while the jockeys and trainers saddled and prepared their horses for the race. No longer are you allowed to pause close enough to feel the horses breath as you watch. Nowadays, a fence separates you from the up close and personal experience with the horse and rider.

Saddle up

In 1863, on the old Saratoga Trotting course, John Morrissey organized the first thoroughbred meet. A year later, the Saratoga Race Course opened and it remains one of the most famous tracks in the world.

Over the loudspeaker, that well remembered phrase echoed throughout the betting platform, “The horses are on the track!”

The horses are on the track

Known as the fourth leg of the Triple Crown, the Travers Stakes has been the downfall of many Triple Crown winners thus its nickname, The Graveyard of Champions. As we strolled around the grounds, a little bit of Texas twang came from the center courtyard and we stood in the shade to listen.

Two step music

I was lucky enough to be in the stands in 1973 when Onion broke the Saratoga Race Course track record for a six-furlong race, winning over the great Triple Crown winner, Secretariat.  I bet on Onion and won but took no pleasure in seeing Secretariat loose. The 2010 movie chronicling the great race horses rise to fame rightfully didn’t include his losses.

John placed a few bets but forgot the proper procedure.  I asked him to place a bet for me but he failed to look at his ticket before leaving the window.  I was so excited when the horse won but the ticket was incorrect so no wins, but no serious losses.

At the betting window

I was pleased to see them spraying off the horses with cool water before walking them back to the paddock. We watched several program pages of races before beginning our way back to LilyPad.

Cooling off after the race

Just before exiting, the Jazz Man caught our eye and we took time out to watch him twirl his base and tap out a few steps. It was an enjoyable end to our horse race experience.

Jazzy Jaz  boogie-woogie

We returned to LilyPad and made ready for the first of three events happening around the 50th Reunion of Gloversville High School, this evening, the social event.

After sprucing up a bit, we drove downtown and met up with the reunion crowd. I chatted with the ladies who made up the majority of the group, while John mingled. The gathering was held in a room above the Glove, the old movie theater where John worked as an usher in his youth. A recently installed air conditioner was struggling in its attempt to cool all the bodies. When the early crowd began their exit, the elevator stopped working and we joined the slowly descending bunch forced to walk down several flights of stairs. Kind of funny having an old decrepit building play host to the old decrepit 50th high school reunion party.  Back at LilyPad we relaxed, turning in at sundown.

We were up at sunrise the next morning. Breakfast first, then a drive through town passing homes of family long deceased and friends long ago moved away. Returning to let KatieBug out for a long walk, we made plans to meet up with our niece and nephew at the Great Sacandaga Lake harbor for an excursion around the lake in their boat. It was a beautiful day and we paused to view an eagle circling her nest before landing at the dock for an early dinner. The sky clouded as we ended the night.

Great Sacandaga Lake

Another day dawning and we explored places John remembered visiting as a child. After lunch, back at our encampment, the natives and campers were relaxing, chatting by the drum circles and getting ready for the final ceremony of the powwow.

Aztec Indians had arrived from the far side of New York to do the ceremony. Blessing themselves first outside the circle, then entering, snaking around until they formed a circle in the center. The Chief began speaking to the crowd about his heritage and the blessing he and his dance group were about to perform, an Aztec Indian Blessing Ceremony to the North, East, South and West.

Aztec blessing

After the blessing, John and I got ready for the reunion dinner to be held at the local golf clubhouse. The only notable was a sad one…playing of a video that included all who have gone on before us.  The dinner was enjoyable but only lasted until early evening.  We returned home to an empty campground.  The powwow, all participants and every scrap of trash was gone.

This morning was the last of the three events for John’s 50th high school reunion. Breakfast was served family style at Peaceful Valley Maple Syrup Sugar House and café. They put a giant water pitcher of maple syrup on the table and it was nearly gone when everyone was done dining on pancakes, waffles, corn fritters, sausage and eggs.

One last day to pack up LilyPad and ready ourselves for the trip back to Buffumville in the morning.   Rising at a leisurely pace with most everything secured, pulled up and in, we drove back to Buffumville.  Our rest stops included a little store in Vermont for Metcalf’s Maple Syrup Liqueur and Vermont Hickory and Maple smoked cheddar cheese.

Vermont  Vermont hills

Another rest stop to check out the fields of sunflowers.

New England Sun Flowers Black Sunflower  Sunflowers

An original school house, School District Number 1 in Vermont, 1879

School Dist 1, 1879

Arriving back at Buffumville before sunset, we settled back into our site.  Work was only a day away.

I won’t go into bitch mode and dispense details but this season is by far, the most difficult, saddest working conditions, hottest temperatures and longest hours I have ever worked thus far.  Nothing turned out as expected.  When I was a teen I worked cleaning motel rooms.  It was a little disgusting at times but unlike the bathrooms here, no one pooped on the bathroom floors!

I took photo’s of the hot, buggy, dusty, moldy, uncomfortable shack to remind me of what happens when you don’t uncover details and they don’t relinquish them all.  Next time I’ll ask to see the inside of everything.  12 straight hours in here can severely strain even the happiest of moods.

Front  opposite side  side to receive tolls

John swears that we only have 2% crazy, rude, inconsiderate, insufferable guests on Sunday but with numbers pushing up over 1,000 on any given Sunday, topping out at 1,600, that’s an unacceptable 20 people in one day! Way over and above my tolerance level. Reminds me of a quote from Oscar Wilde that I squirreled away to pull out when appropriate, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”  I can usually spot the families that are going to make “piggy messes” when they drive up.  Seeing the light at the end of the Buffumville Day Use Park tunnel is a tremendous relief.

Don’t misunderstand my rant…this season’s working conditions were sad but they provided one whopper of a learning experience and we shared the experience with some awesome neighbors, rangers and guests.  If they install a new toll booth, I’ll consider returning.

This Sunday I decided to give the lead ranger a visual to help with his decision to ban smoking from our beach. Early Monday morning, after we had already cleaned up Sunday’s bags of trash and some smaller individual pieces, I walked throughout the picnic grounds focusing on cigarette butts. This is a display of butts from an easy 900 guest day, one single Sunday out of the season.

Partial amount, Sunday, 908 guests

We have made plans to work our two days, drop KatieBug off at Barkwood Inn and visit Salem for a few days.  After that, our next focus will be on a Boston day trip for my birthday.   That light at the end of the tunnel expands with each passing day.