Thursday, March 26, 2015

Travel Thursday (March 26, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 11

Day 9, Monday, August 17

Up at 5:51, I got down the bear bag & packs, prepared breakfast drink & got food out, packed my sleeping bag, mattress and pillow and let JPT sleep in until 6:41 after I washed my face in the lake.

Major foot prep to do today as we are going for Cold River lean-tos 1&2 -- 18 miles north on the trail. Aim is to be hiking by 7:30!

NPT Day 9 -- On the way to Cold River lean-tos

NPT Day 9 - Getting closer to Cold River lean-tos

On the trail at 7:39. Arrived at Plumley lean-tos (last ones on Long Lake) at about 9:10 & left again at 9:30. The Plumley lean-to was occupied by two men and a woman with 3 teenaged boys. They obviousl came in by boat as they had three dining pavilions, a huge stand-up tent, a two burner Coleman stove & an industrial size propane gas stove all under a kitchen fly. There was a wooden bench with shelves full of food above it & Molson beer -- three 24-packs -- beside the lean-to. And they occupied the lean-to also! They were cooking a full breakfast of eggs & sausage with toast when we arrived to rest a moment. JPT repaired the unraveling line on my staff while I used the outhouse. We were offered to share their breakfast at their table with folding camp chairs, but politely declined & hit the trail at 9:30.

NPT Day 9 -- Approaching Cold River lean-tos #3 and #4

Arrived at the Cold River crossing (swinging bridge) and Cold River lean-tos #3 & 4 at 11:30 where we are having lunch, a quick dip & some foot repair before moving on. Lunch is salami & cheese wraps again, but no lemonade -- only 1 tub left & we want it for supper & our last breakfast tomorrow. Back on the trail at 1:34 after lunch, swim & MAJOR foot repair!

NPT Day 9 - Bridge over Cold River at Lean-tos #3 & #4

NPT Day 9 - Cold River from bridge

NPT Day 9 - Cold River looking upstream from the bridge

NPT Day - At Cold River lean-tos #3 & #4 for lunch break.  24 miles to go!

NPT Day 9 - The bridge over Cold River at Lean-tos #3 and #4

NPT Day 9 - A lunch of wraps at Cold River lean toe #3 and #4
[Note the gear drying on the rocks in the background.]

Ouluska Falls lean-to reached at 3:50. Decided to go on to Cold River lean-to #1 & 2. Left Ouluska at 4:02 PM and arrived at Cold River 1 & 2 very tired and soaked in perspiration at 5:45 PM. We found a fellow in one of the lean-tos & chatted briefly before going across the grassy trail to claim the other lean-to. The fellow is from Massachusetts north of Pittsfield & is hiking south to Indian Lake to meet friends. We did not get his name, but exchanged info on trail conditions, etc.

Not a happy camper! Jonathan at Cold River lean-to #2 after a long 18-mile day and before supper and a dip in the river. This is our last night on the trail!

After finding our bear bag location, we loaded all but our dinner -- PB&J on wraps with water -- & our personal bags for brushing our teeth. We went down to the Cold River, stripped down and found places to sit in the mild rapids & let the cool water bath us & massage our aching feet. We ate on the rocks & got water iodine for tomorrow when we'll make up all of our last lemonade for the final 13 miles into Lake Placid. We plan our usual early rise to get to Averyville Rd. by 3:00 if possible. We're a bit worried about the phone since we always forgot to re-charge at food drops & we discovered it somehow got turned on in J's pack. Hope we have a cell & enough juice to call for our pick-up! Tried tonight & got "no service" yet again.

Foot repair will be a top priority in the morning as the miles are taking their toll & John stubbed his toe on a rock in Cold River at lunch and took a large flap of skin off his left big toe. Luckily we stocked up on gauze and tape in Long Lake & still have a full & partial roll of horse wrap & some mole skin sheets.

The hike today was very mixed -- still lots of black boot sucking bogs, but less frequent. Long lengths of pine cushioned smooth walkways amid tall spruces on either side, but then lots of undulating root & rock covered narrow trail around Long Lake -- a very long lake indeed! And then after deciding to push on the additional 4+miles from Ouluska Falls to Cold River 1&2, we had long, steady, grueling uphills that left us drenched in sweat & consuming water at an alarming rate.

The hike along the Cold River below the Hermit's old home site was an absolute delight & we wished we could have stopped to swim numerous times, but had to make our 18 miles. This would be a beautiful section to revisit fro a leisurely several days!

At the campsite of Noah John Rondeau the "Hermit of Cold River"

Detritus at Rondeau's campsite

I am very impressed with JPT's backpacking ability. He s able to set and hold a steady, quick pace for miles & never complains. He is a joy to hike with & I know I could never have done this without him. He is quite young man & I think will develop a real love of the outdoors. These last days have been special ones I'll cherish for years to come.

I am also extremely proud of Christopher for his accomplishment of 25 miles in real wilderness -- mrs than I ever did at 12! He'll develop into a good hiker/backpacker too if he learns to like it.

Molly is a wonder. I know of no other woman of my acquaintance who would even contemplate, much less actually do, 70 miles of true wilderness backpacking. I'm glad she asked to come along even if her primary motivation may have been to be there if my back went out. ;-) My back has been great though & I stretch morning and evening & take Motrin and valium before bed to keep loose through the night. The last 3 nights have been wonderful sleeping nights.

Saw lots of great sights again today & took many photos to show everyone if they turn out. Saw several mergansers float down the Cold River at lean-to 3&4 rapids past us at lunch & then saw some again (the same ones?) going up stream past us as we bathed & ate dinner on the Cold River at lean-tos 1&2.

JPT and I are exhausted after 18 full miles today.  He is asleep as I finish this & I soon will be -- the hypnotic rush of the near-by Cold River tens to lull one quickly to sleep as the night air cools and the darkness closes in.

Tomorrow we will actually finish this trail -- 122 miles in just under 10 days! An accomplishment we will talk about for years to come. Tonight I finally know we will become N-LP through-hikers & JPT and I look forward to pizza, beer & cokes in celebration. This has been a true family experience & I am a happy man blessed with a supportive family!

It is 9:24 PM as I end this day's entry and lay back to let the Cold River lull me to sleep to prepare for tomorrow.
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All images used are from originals in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Travel Thursday (March 19, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 10


Day 8, Sunday, August 16

Up at 6:00 AM on a grey but mild morning. None of the six others in camp are up yet so we are being as quiet as possible. We'll have a trail breakfast of pop tarts, granola bars & lemonade. On the trail to Long Lake at 7:38 AM.

Leaving Tirrell Pond in the early morning on our way to Long Lake Village 

JPT on a trail bridge from Tirrell Pond to Rte 28N

John on a trail bridge from Tirrell Pond to Rte. 28N

Arrived at NY Route 28 at 12:06 after climbing horrendous uphill section & crossing an amazing 1/2 mile long plank boardwalk.  We decided to try to hitch a ride into the village of Long Lake on some friendly truck rather than hike 1.5 miles each way out of way. We'll try our luck for a bit & then continue the trail if no one takes pity on us!

A section of the 1/2 mile long plank boardwalk

JPT as we emerge from the trail at Rte. 28N just outside Long Lake Village

Within 10 minutes a kind couple in a pick-up truck stopped & drove us and our packs into Long Lake and dropped us at the Laundromat attached to a closed auto shop. We put our towels, the shirts and socks we had on & some other dirty clothes into a washer ($1.25 plus 50 cents for a small box of All), then we shouldered our packs and hiked down a few hundred yards to a Stewart's Shop where we each bought a coke and then called Grandma on the pay phone to report our progress ("no service" again on the cell phone). We sat at one of Stewart' shaded picnic tables to have lunch of salami & provolone on wraps with our cokes. We placed our boots in the sun in the parking lot and gave our feet a chance to air dry.

Jonathan happy at our lunch stop at Stewart's in Long Lake Village (notice boots in the sun)

We need to get a few supplies -- camera battery, more bug repellent, some foot repair items -- and then our main worry is finding a kind soul to transport us the 1.5 miles uphill on Route 28 back to the trail. Of course we have to go dry our laundry and repack first. It's now 1:28 so we have been off the trail for just over an hour and 20 minutes.

very kind man going into Long Lake saw us standing by Stewart's and slowed to offer to turn around & take us back to the trailhead in his truck. Once back at the trail, we thanked him very much for his good deed. We signed the trail register at 3:15 PM & made Kelly Point lean-to at 4:43.

Getting back on the trail after our stop in Long Lake Village.  36.4 miles to go!

Our lean-to at Kelly Point on Long Lake.

Two days to go now and I'm really beginning to believe we will finish. Time will tell!

We did have some delay this morning at Tirrell Pond when we untied our bear bag early in the morning & it just stayed there in the air! The rope was wedged tightly into the "V" in the hanging branch & we couldn't get it to budge. Finally I unwrapped my walking staff and used the emergency reaching hook that's been wrapped under the emergency line/handgrip for almost 6 years. The hook screwed into the top of the staff & we hooked the carabiner & dragged down the bear bag. 

When we went to the beach to get water to iodine for our trek, we met one of the 4 Ohio folks (Eric) from last night. He was paddling in one of the aluminum canoes using two pieces of wood the size of large books -- one in each hand -- and moved slowly toward us. We all watched a group of about 10 - 12 mergansers make all kinds of commotion in the shallows fishing for small fry, completely oblivious or unconcerned with our presence. Eric told us they tried to use our bear bag but couldn't get everything up -- so he thought they got it jammed for us. He told us they ended up putting their food into a canoe out in the lake! We explained how we got the bear bag down, said goodbye & were on our way. 

We again set a very quick but steady pace that got us into a rhythm that was easier than our earlier stop & go.  The upgrade was quite strenuous & we agreed it was best that M & C had not attempted this part of the trail. The muddy bogs are still with us, but much less frequent and large. 

An old screened-in spring house off in the woods along the trail up Long Lake

Supper tonight was those rice dinners I purchased at Giant & JPT really liked the rice and chicken, but not the rice with broccoli & cheddar cheese -- though we each ate half of both!

We were very thirsty today after our exertion & each consumed 5 cups of lemonade with supper along with our usual hot chocolate and tea. Had a very small fire to try to keep deer flies away (the insect varmint of choice tonight) and also used the fire to burn our oven bags that we cooked supper in.

Once again we hung our packs as well as the bear bag since the guidebook warns again that the site is a favorite for raccoons & porcupines. We have yet to have any nocturnal visitors & we want to keep it that way.

Hanging our packs at Kelly lean-to

We enjoyed two swims tonight -- one immediately upon arrival and setting up in the lean-to in order to wash off the trail sweat & grime & cool our aching feet. The other swim was just before going to bed at 7:00. I read JPT yesterday's journal entry & we listened to the family in the shelter 60 feet from ours for a few minutes -- no noteworthy items of conversation -- but we hope they are clean campers & don't attract animals into our common sites. We're a little dubious as it seems they canoed in & carried lots of gear up in what appears to be open, empty white drywall joint compound buckets! We've done what we can to secure our site, so we hope the critters visit the neighbors & not us. 

JPT is asleep now. We have a wonderful breeze coming off the lake and look forward to a deep, restful night before we attempt somewhere between 14 and 18 miles tomorrow! It is 8:50 PM as I put down the pen and listen to the wind come over the water & up onto our point overlooking Long Lake.

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All images from originals in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Travel Thursday (March 12, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 9

Day 7, Saturday, August 15

Awake today at 6:00 AM, but at JPT's request we stayed in bed until 6:30 -- which turned to 7:00 as I read aloud my last two day's journal entries. The loons on Stephens Pond were calling to us in the early morning and just laying there listening was a soothing joy -- especially as we have a short hike to Lake Durant & can allow ourselves this wilderness pleasure.

Early morning view of Stephens Pond from our lean-to

When we retrieved our bear bag, we saw a merganser rise and fly low over Stephens Pond and noticed he stayed below the level of the dark tree line so he could not be seen against light sky above. JPT later saw a small ribbon snake on the trail.

Bear bags hanging over the water at Stephens Pond

We got back on the trail at 8:30 AM and hiked down to Lake Durant campground arriving at 10:05. We inquired about a camp store -- there is none, so no cold drinks. BUT they did have hot showers available -- 8 luxurious minutes for a quarter! We had two quarters & Molly got 4 more from the ranger so JPT and John had a real hot shower lasting 24 minutes each! We washed our hair, water shoes & backpacking towels with minty Dr. Bronner's & emerged new men even though we donned the same 2-day-old, smelly shorts & T-shirts.

The ranger gave us permission to leave our packs on his HQ porch & go to NY28 cross over to meet G&G and Christopher by noon. We actually left early & met them within 2 minutes of when they arrived around 11:10. After some discussion & on the ranger's recommendation we all drove to the GU [Grand Union grocery store] at Indian Lake for a resupply of ibuprofen, 3X4 gauze for JPT's foot, pop tarts for quick trail breakfasts & granola bars for JPT. We also got cold cokes & Little Debbie's oatmeal sandwich cookies as a treat.

Back at Lake Durant campground, the ranger allowed us in free to do our food drop at a picnic area and we commandeered two tables -- one for Grandma's delicious lunch of roast beef sandwiches, cold OJ, bananas, grapes, cold milk, LP water, cookies, pickles, apples & nectarines. The other table & a hillside spot of sunlight across the road was used to dry wet socks, clothes backpacking towels, etc., and to display all our equipment for lightening in anticipation of three 15-mile days starting tomorrow to finish up at Avery Rd. in Lake Placid on Tuesday! We got rid of extra clothing, backpacking saw, 2nd bear bag, water filter, (we'll boil and use the quicker iodine) and other items. We carefully selected no-cook or quick-cook meals from the food supply box in G&G's car trunk -- three breakfasts, three suppers and the lunches. Resupplied wraps, salami & cheese are again a big favorite with lemon drink too.

We talked to the ranger who had been examining the medallions on our hiking staffs while we were shopping in Indian Lake. He wanted to know if we were Eagle Scouts. We told him JPT is working on Eagle now and I only made Star, but went to Philmont in 1967 & the National Jamboree in Idaho in 1969. Turns out the ranger is an Eagle from Warren, NJ who went to the 1953 Jamboree at Irvine Ranch, California and also attended Philmont in the 1950s. He recalls a whole train load of Scouts going west from NJ to the Jamboree.

Tirrell Pond

We finally repacked our bags with food for 3 1/3 days and headed for the trailhead on NY28 where we waved goodbye to G&G, Molly and Christopher as they drove by. We signed the DEC register at 2:28 PM behind "Dan & Dan" just as two women emerged to sin out of their day trip. When asked, they said they saw someone at first Tirrell Pond lean-to, but did not go up to the one at the top of the pond. We disappeared back into the woods and pressed on at JPT's blistering pace & covered the 4.3 miles in 1 hour and 32 minutes arriving at the northern Tirrell lean-to at 3:50 PM. It was occupied by a young Ohio couple who were waiting for 2 friends to join them & we arrived to interrupt their little siesta. They very graciously allowed us use of the shelter to put up our tent against the vicious skeeters (worst yet) & to ensure a dry tent for a quick getaway early tomorrow. They returned to their nap while we had a great invigorating swim on the long, wide sandy beach at the top of the Pond with beautiful vies of the rock cliffs of Tirrell Mountain.

John just before a swim in Tirrell Pond

Jonathan just before a swim in Tirrell Pond

We saw lots of animal prints in the sand -- mostly raccoons it seems as the guidebook says the Tirrell lean-tos are frequented by porcupines and raccoons. We also saw what we are pretty sure are coyote prints & took a photo of them. We picked a few blueberries along the beach while we were there.

Tracks on the beach at the north end of Tirrell Pond believed to be coyote tracks

When we returned to the lean-to, we quietly set up our tent in the shelter & began supper by boiling pond water. The couple -- Nicole & Matt -- were still napping at 5:30 when their two male friends (Steve and Eric) arrived from a side hike up Blue Mt. They all decided to camp together in the tents well away from the lean-to & assured us we were welcome to it. As I write they they are singing and conversing and enjoying a night in the wilderness. They had talked about going out on the pond in two aluminum canoes that are inexplicably beached upside down without paddles or any signs of ownership here at the top of the pond. Its good to hear them as several minutes ago we heard the crash of a major tree (the third one we've heard on this trek) come from the rough dissection of their camp. I had called out twice "Is everyone O.K" & when no one answered was about to venture over to make sure no one was hurt -- then the singing began.

Ohio couple (Nichole & Matt) at Tirrell lean-to with all our gear in the lean-to

Just after supper of couscous, veg soup mix and all the Vienna sausage we thought we had refused in the repacking -- with obligatory lemonade & hot chocolate and tea, we hung our bear bag filled to the brim, then called Grandma to let her know where we were & all was O.K. We were sure we could get a cell as we could look up on Blue Mt. & see two antennas in plain view.

Our site companions were invited to tie up their bear bags using our carabiner & line set up and they gladly took advantage of our already sited and hung location. We hope to get up at 6:00 & be on the trail by at least 7:30 to get 15 miles to Kelly Pt. lean-to on Long Lake before dark. Tomorrow looks very challenging as we ascend to the highest point on the trail -- 3,000 ft. and still have much of our 15 miles to go.

Just as I was finishing this at 10:00 a couple emerged from the woods with head lamps, coming from the north on the NPT that comes into the left side of the shelter. Randy and Laurie are their names and they started at 8:00 PM! They wanted to go to the beach so I gave them directions, but warned of the bear tracks seen earlier. They had been caving today at "Chimney Rock"(?). I invited them to use the other half of the lean-to with their tent as the skeeters are very unary tonight. We tied our packs into the trees for the first time due to the known prevalence of bandit raccoons & porcupines in this area. I just don't want our equipment destroyed by them looking for food.  I end this late tonight -- 10:15. We'll see if Randy and Laurie join us later, but I'll probably be asleep as JPT has been for an hour already.

Loons again on the pond & calling goodnight to us. 

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Additional Glossary terms:  

Pond vs. Lake -- there is lots of debate about the differences between these two classifications for bodies of water and a Google search can provide lots of information on the various use and meaning of the terms.  Suffice it to say that size, depth, or shape of the body of water does not alone determine the classification.  Some ponds are bigger and deeper than some bodies of water designated as lakes -- and certainly vice versa since generally water bodies called lakes tend to be bigger than ponds.  Some folks view a lake as a body of water that moves in a continuous flow and direction fed by rivers, creeks, or springs (lotic waters) while a pond does not since it is the result of rain runoff or perhaps trapped glacial melt deposit (lentic). Lentic waters gradually fill in over long periods of time and the evolution is thus slowly from lake to pond to wetland. Tirrell Pond is a very large pond and most would consider and call it a lake if they did not know the name of the body of water.  

Carabiner -- is a metal loop with a spring-loaded (or screw-closure) gate that is used to quickly and reversibly connect components. They are mostly used in safety-critical systems such as technical climbing, but are very convenient for attaching bear bag straps and the haul line for quick release and to prevent knotting of the line on the straps. For more and photos see here

Skeeters -- mosquitos along the trail (especially when encountered in large, hungry, and annoying numbers).

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All images are from originals in the collection of the author.  
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grand or Great? What ARE The Siblings Of Your Grandfather Properly Called? (March 10, 2015)

When I was growing up, I had several "aunts." There was my father's sister Priscilla -- my Aunt Priscilla. My mother had a younger sister -- my Auntie Lois -- who was referred to using the informal, diminutive form of aunt to distinguish her from my maternal grandmother's sister Lois, who was known as Aunt Lois. My maternal grandmother's eldest sister was my Aunt Helen. Then there was my paternal grandfather's older sister Edna -- my Aunt Edna -- and my paternal grandmother's sisters . . . my Aunt Helena, my Aunt Josephine, and my Aunt Olga.

There were also other "aunts" that I had. There was my Uncle David's wife Roberta -- my "Aunt Roberta." And there was my Uncle John's wife Marilyn -- my "Auntie Marilyn" (why the informal, diminutive form was used for Marilyn I have no idea).

Whenever I met (or referenced in casual conversation) any of the above women, I always referred to them as Aunt (or Auntie) ____. But, if on occasion I was asked to explain just how any of these women fit into my genealogy, I defined my grandmothers' sisters and my paternal grandfather's sister as my "great Aunts." The wives of my uncles were defined as my aunts in the same way that the husbands of my Aunt Priscilla and my Auntie Lois were defined as my uncles.

I think these uses of the relationship terms of "aunt" and "uncle" to describe the spouse of a parent's sibling is fairly common.  And the use of the term "great aunt" or "great uncle" to describe the sibling of a grandparent is widely used. The problem is, however, that the use of those terms in each case seems entirely wrong to me now.

It is perhaps easier to understand why the description of the spouse of a parent's sibling as an aunt or uncle is technically incorrect because there is no blood/genetic relationship to such persons. There is no sharing of a common ancestor because the relationship is merely a legal one created through a marriage (and thus can be broken by a legal divorce). A blood/genetic relationship exists only where there is a common ancestor shared between people -- and that relationship cannot be broken or end because of the cessation of a legally created connection such as a marriage. For this reason (as the "View Relationship To Me" tool in will tell you), the spouse of the sibling of one's parent is technically and properly described not as an "aunt" or "uncle," but rather such persons are correctly described as the "wife or husband of my uncle of aunt" -- as the case may be.

And that brings us to the use of the term "great aunt" or "great uncle" to describe the sibling of one's grandparent. It is a fairly common descriptor for the sibling of a grandparent, but it is logically, technically, and descriptively incorrect IMHO ("In My Humble Opinion').

Any sibling of one's grandparent (absent an adoption) is, of course, a blood/genetic relative because there is a shared common ancestor. So it is also a relationship that cannot be broken nor cease to exist once it is established at birth.

Once it is clear that siblings of ancestors are blood/genetic relations it makes logical sense that the relationship descriptors should follow a pattern that is in keeping with the line of ancestor parentage going back through the generations. Thus, when you use the terms parent, grandparent, great grandparent, great, great grandparent, et seq., you immediately understand the generational relationship between yourself and the ancestor in your line by the descriptor used to identify the ancestor.

So does it make any logical sense to call the sister of your grandfather your "great aunt" when she, like your grandfather, is two generations removed from you? Your grandfather's father is your great grandfather and he is three generations removed from you, so if you call your grandfather's sister your great aunt it makes it seem like she is also three generations removed from you because she shares the appellation "great" with your great grandparents who are clearly three generations removed from you. This introduces unnecessary confusion. If the parent of your father is your "grand" parent, then the sibling of your grandparent should logically and technically be described as your "grand" aunt or "grand" uncle to make it crystal clear which generation he or she belongs to in relation to you.

As posted at the Family Tree Magazine blog several years ago, the logic, technical accuracy, and clarity of the above explanation can be illustrated as follows. . .

               Parent                                        Aunt or Uncle

               Grandparent                             Grandaunt of Granduncle

               Great-Grandparent                   Great-Grandaunt or Great-Granduncle

               Great-Great-Grandparent         Great-Great-Grandaunt or Great-Great-Granduncle

I completely agree with the view expressed by Jackie Smith Arnold that, "Mixing the generations causes confusion" and that It’s a mistake to lump [grandaunts and granduncles] in with the greats.  I would merely modify Ms Arnold's observation by stating that mixing the generations causes "unnecessary" confusion and that the confusion can be further eliminated and the descriptors further simplified by completely disassociating the "grands" from the "greats" in the manner shown below.

Just as the descriptor "aunt" or "uncle" makes it clear the person bearing such an appellation is a relative and not an ancestor, having the descriptor "grandfather" or "grandmother" makes it clear the person having that appellation is an ancestor -- and the number of "greats" tells us instantly how any generations back.  Continuing the use of the descriptor "grandaunt" or "granduncle" through the generations adds nothing to determining the relationship of the particular aunt or uncle in question.  Simply observe the number of greats and one instantly knows to which great grandparent (and which generation) the aunt or uncle belongs. It is unnecessary to carry the "grand" part of the aunt or uncle down the generations and serves to unnecessarily continue a mix of the "grands" with the "greats." 

               Parent                                        Aunt or Uncle

               Grandparent                             Grandaunt of Granduncle

               Great-Grandparent                   Great-Aunt or Great-Uncle

               Great-Great-Grandparent         Great-Great-Aunt or Great-Great-Uncle

So, to answer the questions posed in the title to this post, the sister of your grandfather is most technically, appropriately, logically, and unconfusingly called your "Grandaunt" and not your "Great-aunt." And the brother of your grandmother is most technically, appropriately, logically, and unconfusingly called your "Granduncle" and not your "Great-uncle."  ;-)

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"Chart 167" borrowed from Deep-Fried Hoodsie Cups blog by Mark John Astolfi at and used for illustration purposes only.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday Serendipity, and most of my other blog posting other than posts already auto-loaded for publication, will be on hiatus for a few weeks after this weekend while I attend to a necessary medical matter.  I currently plan to return on a regular basis sometime in April.  In the meantime, here are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog had a wonderful post this past Monday about preserving your blog in book form. Anyone who blogs and has not yet put their efforts into book form has to make this a must read.  You can read Heather's post here.      

2.  And staying with the theme of preserving digital material in "hard" copy form, The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS provided a link to a piece titled "Why You Should Be Printing Your Digital Photos."  If you are not familiar with the terms "data rot" and "software rot," then you really need to read this article too and you can do so here.    

3.   I recently posted about what I termed "genealogy factoids" and their importance in adding color to family histories. I posited that well preserved oral history full of factoids are important sources for genealogy and should be preserved. Zachary Garceau, at Vita Brevis by, also discusses the importance to genealogy of preserving oral history (which I would argue is bound to be chock full of those lovely little tidbits I call genealogy factoids).  You can read "Speak, memory": Part One here. [NOTE: Mr. Garceau also provides a link to a sample questionnaire for preparing to conduct an oral history interview.]     

4.  The most recent issue of Rhode Island Roots: Journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society (Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 44 - 54) has a fascinating article titled, "VITAL RECORDS AND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE JOURNAL OF AMOS T. GORHAM, BRISTOL, R.I." The article, by Christine Lamar, summarizes Mr. Gorham's journal entries that record not just the vital record notations for Bristol, R.I. from 1823 - 1844, it contains the author's personal observations and comments that might otherwise be "genealogy factoids" (or is it gossip??) lost in time. A handful of examples from the journal entries should suffice to whet the appetite for reading more of the article (which can be accessed via a good genealogy library if one is not a RIGS member and eventually at when the Rhode Island Roots database is updated from Vol. 1-34).

          Feby 12th, 1833 . . . this young man shouted high praise of his GOD [in church]. This young man was Samuel Allen son of George and Priscilla Allen who liveth not far hence on the East. 

          Feby 26 1833  Today we have another case of Children's Coming to Town without a Father, this way of increasing getting to be quite Fashionable in our Town but we are sorry to say that some of this number have professed better things, these doings. We would not call names but M--P, M--T, S--M, H--B.

          July 25th 1833  We omitted to mention that Mr Nathl Coggeshall & Miss Harriet Bradford agreed hereafter to sleep in one bed.

          August 18th 1833  About 5 months ago Benj Tilly jr married his wife, and today his child died 9 months and 2 days.

          August 18th 1833.  This evening William Church and Rebecca Norris (son and daughter of Thomas and Benj) went to bed together, we expect for the first time, in one bed, but don't know as the weather was growing colder, they thought it would be warmer, than to have two beds, may peace and prosperity attend them.

5.  The "Ambassador of Lowell, MA" and author of Life From The Roots blog, Barbara Poole, has a truly engaging, interesting, and informative story to tell involving a relative (not an ancestor) -- her grandfather's sister.  Take a few minutes to read "Why I Wrote This Post . . . You Just Won't Believe One Of The Reasons!" here.   

6.  Snowed in and looking for something to do this weekend while avoiding shoveling and staying warm with a nice hot chocolate? How about doing some FREE research among billions of records and newspaper pages from all over the world? As Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog posted this week, FindMyPast has announced a FREE weekend March 6-9, 2015.  What better way to battle cabin fever?  Read more at Randy's post here

7.  The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, has an informative post about copyright and photograph negatives. You should take the time to read Judy's post here.  As a teaser to lead you to review Judy's full analysis, she says the following to sum up the making of copies other than for personal use from negatives one has bought, "Where it gets dicey is when it comes to making more copies, particularly for distribution or republication. Who owns the rights to reprint from negatives can be a major issue,11 as can the question of when copyright expires for such items."

8.  Part 4 of UpFront With NGS's series on FREE and relatively free genealogy and family history resources is out.  Read the list of resources and get the links to the sites here.

9.  As I have often said to my sons when talking about big numbers like "billions," coining a new word to define ever larger numbers makes it easy to lose track of what the number really means.  For example, if Bill Gates is worth $53 billion, that means he has (or can theoretically put his hands on) 53,000 piles of $1 million! The first "trillionaire" will be able to get his/her hands on 1,000 piles of $1 billion or -- to make it a little easier to comprehend just how much money that is -- he or she will be able to have 1 million piles of $1 million!! 

Since we genealogists are concerned first and foremost with people, how about thinking on big numbers in terms of the number of people on the planet today -- 7.3 billion and counting. What does this actually mean, and how can we conceptualize it to try to grasp it? Well a favorite blog stop-over of mine, Wait But Why, has done the conceptualizing in a way that only Tim Urban can.  I suggest you check it out here.   

10.  And finally, UpFront With NGS provides a post to discuss the issue of elitism and the genealogy community.  The post launches from "An Open Letter to the Genealogy Community" by Janet Hovorka of The Chart Click blog. If you have not heard of this thread or read the Open Letter, I suggest you go to the UpFront post here and follow the links to the Letter and comments. 

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, March 6, 2015

Nora Keeps On Truckin' -- Four Months and Counting. (March 6, 2015)

As I posted on November 3, 2014, our first grandchild was born on that day.  Nora Winkler Tew is our granddaughter and the daughter of Jonathan and Pamela Tew.

Nora is now two days past four months old and she just keeps on truckin'.  She changes every time we see her. She has found her hands and mouth. She is vocalizing loudly to test her voice. She likes time on her stomach and lifts her head with ease. She is on the verge of rolling from her back to her stomach. 

She is a wonder!

Nora's maternal grandparents, Nancy and Jim Winkler, gifted Pamela and Jonathan with the clever age medallions as both a reminder to take regular photos of Nora's growth and as a means of showing her age in photographs.  

Here are photos of Nora at 1, 2, 3 and 4 months old . . . 

Nora at 1 month old.

Here are some additional photos of Nora in all her cuteness taken within the last few weeks.

And finally, the poem/song written for Nora shortly after she was born . . . 

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All images from photos in the author's collection.

Poem/song by Nora's Grandpa Tew.  

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Travel Thursday (March 5, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 8

Day 6, Friday, August 14

Starting Day 6 at Carry lean-to tenting site

Up at 6:00 AM and packed our dew-soaked tents & gear as the mist rose off the Cedar River. The Troy couple was still asleep when we hit the trail at 7:20 getting our legs and boots wet in the heavy dew on the grasses and low shrubs encroaching the narrow foot path.

Lovely grassy trail section between Carry lean-to and Wakely Dam

Hard packed dirt road to Wakely Dam 

The path soon gave way to a grassy tote road which was very dry, wide and level compared with the black bogs we have been forced to traverse or avoid for days now. Shortly the road gave way to a gravelly dry road, which in turn became a well-groomed hard packed sand road all the way to Wakely Dam, where we arrived at 9:56. Wakely Dam is accessible by car & has many camp sites for tents & RVs. There was said to be "good water' here but when a ranger chanced by & was asked about where the "potable water source" was, he said by the PVC outlet near the river. We told him a lady told Molly it had to be boiled & the ranger said, "Well that's what 'potable' means."  [I did not argue or correct him by pointing out that "potable' actually means, "safe to drink; drinkable," which would mean without boiling, disinfecting or other treatment.] We got some water and treated it with iodine for a quick exit. We viewed the dam, rain covered our packs since winds were picking up & grey clouds moving in, and moved out on the road to McCanes. We got "no service" on the emergency cell phone when tried at Wakely. 

John and Jonathan at Wakely Dam

When we went to look at the Wakely dam before we left, we saw our companions from the night before just pulling in to the boat landing in their canoe. We said a final goodbye and with clothes dried on a picnic table during our break, left Wakely on the beautifully groomed undulating road rising constantly toward McCanes. We left Wakely at 11:03 and made McCanes at about 2:20 PM. Along the road we passed many vacation homes -- old & new ones being built -- a bed & breakfast & Brown's Farm built in 1867. At Brown's Brook we paused for some foot repair -- John had blisters on the two smallest toes of his right foot. Molly had some hot spots to wrap & JPT checked his raw right ankle. Lots of "horse warp" was used. 

We tried the cell phone again & for the first time got through to Grandpa [in Lake Placid] telling him exactly where we were and that we would stay at Stephens Pond lean-to that night. We said we would be on time for our food drop at noon on Saturday. 

JPT's spirits are up and we made excellent time on the miles of roads we traversed today, so he is again agreeable to finishing this trail by quick pacing in from Lake Durant after stripping our pack weight to the absolute minimum -- no second tent, quick trail breakfasts & lunches with no cooking & dropping the water filter in favor of the quicker iodine treatment & boiling at supper.

We met a man from Silver Spring, MD & his wiry dog "Browny" who were doing N-LP north to south. We saw him about 1 1/2 miles out of Wakely Dam and chatted for several minutes about trail conditions north & south. He comes from a family of hikers. His dad is working on doing the AT for the 2nd time & he himself has hiked in Alaska & just did the Smokies a couple of weeks ago. His goal is to finish this coming Tuesday -- the same day JPT and I hope to limp into Placid at the Averyville Road.

We later met a retired couple on the road going in the opposite direction.  They are renting for a while & could not help us with how far it was to Brown Brook & apparently did not know the road became hard topped from Brown's Farm on. They were much impressed by our backpacking the N-LP Trail.

Lunch was a quick one in a widened pull-off & consisted of PB&J on our last three wraps, the last of the cheese and lines of PB&J off index fingers all washed down with lemonade.

Molly and Jonathan at McCanes
The road to McCanes seems interminable & was largely in the sun, but we finally made it & turned into a private yard within feet of the house & outbuildings to pick up the trail through the woods again -- private land for a while by permission & then back onto state land and, unfortunately more great expanses of boot sucking mud. We were all getting tired as the absence of trail chatter always indicates. Each was concentrating in his his or her own way with fatigue, soreness, impatience to get up to our destination, and absolute anger at the black, boot sucking bogs we had to negotiate.

Back into the Woods at McCanes

John took to silently pacing off the final 2.2 miles to Stephens Pond lean-to -- our destination & was off only slightly given the near impossibility of maintaining an accurate pace through and around the bogs. We all arrived exhausted to the lean-to at about 4:20 PM and thankfully it was unoccupied. Though a canoeist was tied up below our lean-to, we never saw him or her exit when he or she slipped silently past in some low spruces surrounding the lean-to and quietly paddled away.

We all went to the water to bathe away the trail grime in the invigorating coolness of the pond & saw a loon & a beaver lodge on the lake as we bathed. We got water to boil for supper & had blueberry pancakes, fried ham, hot chocolate & tea. We had to rebuild the fire ring to balance the grill we cooked on using the Svea. And (sadly) we had to burn apple bits & various trash to discourage curious bears. The latter left courtesy of prior users of the lean-to.

A 4-ft. long clump of spruce cones that fell onto the trail

Saw a large deer ahead of us on the trail today & it approached us several feet before moseying off into the woods. More bear tracks visible in the black mud on the trail, but no actual bear sightings. We have been extremely careful about bear bags up well away from camp every night, no spilling food and cooking away from where we sleep. Pictures will show our bear bag technique if they turn out. 

Tomorrow we have less than 4 miles to Lake Durant & food drop #2 with G&G about noon.  Only 45 miles to go then if we can get to a lean-to 4.9 miles above Lake Durant by 6:00 PM.  Then three "kick ass" days of 15 miles each & we will be through hikers! We'll see how it goes -- for the first time I feel confident JPT & I can do a sprint to the finish if we can lighten up safely tomorrow. I can't say enough about how proud and thrilled I am with Christopher's 25 miles & Molly's 70 miles on the N-LP Trail. This is the family adventure I envisioned & with time the stories & memories will only get better. What a sense of accomplishment & what wild beauty we have come to see -- so few ever do!

It is 9:23 as I end this. Molly & JPT are breathing deeply & regularly with the full sleep of the exhausted venturer into the sweet, fresh air of the woods. I join them now ready to make the final push starting tomorrow after our final re-supply of food at Lake Durant. My only hope is good weather & no accidents for the next few days!

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Additional Glossary terms:

PB&J -- is, of course, Peanut-Butter & Jelly. In backpacking one does not carry glass containers -- for obvious reasons. Back when we did this trek plastic "squeeze tubes" were the popular way to carry this quick and energizing no-cook meal.  The tubes were two or three times the size of a large tube of toothpaste and had a larger screw-on, hard plastic cap.  The tube was filled through the open wide end of the tube and then a plastic pin with a slice down the center locked over the folded end to keep in the contents quite safely and securely. To make a sandwich using a wrap, one just took off the cap and squeezed a few lines of PB and then J onto the wrap and rolled int into a tasty burrito-like meal. And when the wraps ran out, a line of PB and a line of J on an index finger served to satisfy any remaining hunger. ;-)

Cell Phone -- before we left on our adventure, a friend from Scouting offered his small, light flip phone as an emergency tool in our gear. He had obtained a newer phone and had a few weeks left on his old one. We borrowed it thinking it might get some service at higher elevations along the trail. As it turned out we only got a connection three times in the entire trek -- luckily the last time was when we called for pick-up at the end of the trail!

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All images used are from originals in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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