3 Lakes Trip - Saranac Lake - Part 3

We woke up to our second morning at Saranac Lake to sunshine again! Our friends made a delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We sat around the table for some time and talked before making sandwiches for lunch again. Today we would kayak across Middle Saranac Lake and hike (climb) Ampersand Mountain!

From Alltrails.com: "Ampersand Mountain Trail is a 4.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Saranac Lake, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until March. Dogs are also able to use this trail."

DISTANCE                   ELEVATION GAIN

4.9 miles                      1811 feet

"Only recommended for very experienced adventurers" never mind that we had a 4, 6 and 7 year old with us, but they had great practice playing adventurers at the campsite all day!

No photos from the paddle across the lake because of strong headwinds but I do have this short go pro video!

The hike started out very easy, nothing more than a walk through the woods, and a little buggy but turned into a serious hike soon after and all the way up the mountain. It was a tough hike for myself and the only reason I made it, was watching 4 year old Isaac climbing up the mountain!

Let me tell you about a huge misconception about my kids... someone recently asked me "can you give me a list of your kids favorite hiking trails in Cincinnati" the truth is, there are non! My kids don't have favorite hiking trails because they don't like hiking! They do love an adventure though and that usually gets them through the hike! The first mile on the hike, I had one kid actually in tears crying "I hate hiking". He soon came to me and apologized because he realized how cool of an hike this was AND he beat us up and down the mountain. If I would give my kids the option of staying comfortable in our living room, campsite etc or go on a hike... they would always choose to be comfortable at home BUT I give them an extra push and they are always (seriously ALWAYS) glad they came a long!   well an extra push and a big bag of Swedish Fish in my pocket got them through!

On top of the mountain we were greeted with amazing views of the Adirondacks and some astronaut ice cream from our friend Matt! We explored the summit for a little bit, took a lot of photographs, and made sure kids didn't tumble down the mountain.

The pictures below you can see how far we paddled/ hiked that day! The first picture is from the summit of Ampersand Mountain (3,353 ft) and you can see our campsite (arrow) below! The second picture is of Jake at our campsite pointing up to Ampersand Mountain.

The way back down was tough!!! Apparently not for the big boys and Finn, all 3 of them just ran down the mountain and met us at the trail head! Isaac had a tough time and eventually fell asleep being carried by his Dad... Fireman's Carry Style! The paddle across the lake was not to bad but we did fight some headwind again!

We spent the evening around the campfire. The big boys, Ian and Jake, made dinner for us. Kielbasa & Jambalaya, I posted the quick recipe HERE! This was probably our favorite dinner of the trip. And we finished our Family Olympic Day events! You ask what Family Olympic Day is?

Scroll up, the second picture of our post you can see our home made trophy! We played about 10 games throughout the trip. The Roberts Family against the McGill Gamily. The winner gets to keep the trophy BUT needs to display it on their mantle at home for the year! Some of the games were (and we had funny names for them), who sets up their tent the fastest, who gathers the most firewood, who tells the spookiest camp fire story, who has the most mosquito bites, who catches the first fish etc. The other rule was that next year we are battling for the trophy again and the winning family has to come up with the games. The Robert's won but the McGill's are going to fight hard next summer and win it back!!!

The big boys (and Dad's) also played who can pull out the biggest rock out of the lake. Jake won and since no one caught a fish we counted the rock as the "catch of the day". Jake won us that game! Finn had such a bad allergic reaction to mosquito bites and required Benedryl that we decided we don't even need to count bug bites that he would win that game as well!

The next morning was sadly our last... we cooked breakfast and started packing up the campsite. It was a little bittersweet. We all would have loved to stay longer but we (the Mom's more than anyone) were really looking forward to a hot shower and a real bed! We will be back though Saranac Lake! 

Next stop was Lake Placid (hotel) and introducing the Robert's to our favorite pizza and swimming hole before we went on separate ways again! It was hard to say good bye but all good things have to come to an end... and next stop for us was VERMONT!!!

You can click here to read about PART 1, PART 2, and PART 4 of our trip!

 

 

UPDATE! and about 7 months later I finally put together a small video from our go pro footage. Enjoy!

Christmas Trip to Florida - Atlanta, Homosassa, Crystal River - Part I

We surprised the boys this year with a trip to Florida. It worked out perfectly. They had no idea. Scot teased them before Christmas with hinting that we will be going skiing in Wisconsin over Christmas break and they were not amused by that idea. Christmas morning came and the very last present under the tree was a box filled with their own swim trunks, goggles, a little kayaker, a US map and a note. Here is what happened:

TOMORROW? Yes! They were so excited! We packed the car up the evening of the 25th and left at about 6 am on the 26th! We stopped in Atlanta at the Martin Luther King memorial, visited the Ebenezer church where he preached and went on to The Varsity. The Varsity is a place we have hard about before and wanted to try it out. The ambience in there was really cool, but the food was less than mediocre.

On our way down to Florida we also stopped in a large Pecan store in Georgia, where we did not buy anything with Pecan's but Licorice. What can I say... I love me some Licorice. Scot also saved a turtle running across the highway.

Our first stop in Florida was in Homosassa. Our AirBnB was awesome! Really big, lots of room for us, very pretty up in the trees and pet alligators in the backyard!

The next morning we went kayaking with manatees on Crystal River. We booked with the Crystal River Kayak Company and I can only recommend them! Everything was perfect. We ended up actually swimming with two manatees at Three Sisters Spring. The water was ice cold in there but so worth it. Finn needed a little extra warming on top of the kayak afterwards. We booked two tandem kayaks for 4 hours and including swimming and kayaking out in the bay, it was perfect timing. Jake got this awesome video of a manatee next to his kayak with his go pro.

You probably notice Finn's blue gloved hand in the pictures below. Unforunaly he burned his hand before Christmas and it was bad enough that we needed to protect it a little more, so he could swim with his Manatees (his second favorite animal btw)

During our stay in Homosassa we went to the beach. As soon as we arrived on the beach a thick cloud of fog rolled in and stayed! This didn't keep Jake out of the water... not much ever keeps him out of the water including water snakes! Anyways, while Jake swam we watched this guy catching crabs! It was pretty facinating. He threw a string with a large piece of chicken tied around it out in the water, stood really still and waited for a crab to grab the chicken, then he would slowly pull the string in until he could grab the crab. More often than not the crab would let go before he could grab it and he had to start over again.

Part II will be up soon!