September 29, 2012

Book offers fun family-outing ideas for region

'It became about exploring where we live'


---- — BLOOMINGDALE — Fall into the season with Diane Chase’s “Adirondack Family Time Champlain Valley: Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga,” a four-season guide to 300 activities with GPS coordinates.

“The first book covered the Tri-Lakes and the High Peaks regions of the Adirondacks,” said Chase, who lives in Bloomingdale. “The plan was to create four books based on the four regions of the Adirondacks. From what we found as a family and going out and doing things, the whole Adirondack Park is so diverse, and there’s so much to do.”

When her family came to Plattsburgh, she wanted more than just a shopping experience. A nature walk or a beach excursion off the consumerism concrete would be a boon.

“It became about exploring where we live. It’s such a diverse area. Each area has its own experience.”

“Champlain Valley: Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga” has the same format and structure as her first book, “Adirondack Family Time Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Region: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.”

She travels the Adirondack coast: Plattsburgh, Willsboro, Essex, Westport, Elizabethtown, Keeseville, AuSable Forks, Port Henry, Crown Point and Ticonderoga. There are 58 easy hikes and 33 swimming areas, including beaches and favorite local swimming holes.

“With the hikes, we demonstrate which ones you can snowshoe and cross-country ski. It’s broken down into towns as well as by season,” Chase said.

Apple picking is a prime activity at any of the local orchards this time of year. The Noblewood Park still offers great off-season beach vistas along Lake Champlain in Willsboro, she said.

“It’s a great place to go ... It’s handicapped accessible. They have wonderful trails, and it’s right on Lake Champlain. It’s not crowded. It’s this glorious place to walk around. The change of season is one of my favorite times of the year."

Many of the villages, such as Keeseville, offer a self-guided walking tour. In Elizabethtown, there is a twist where visitors can follow the funeral-procession route for abolitionist John Brown.

“The Adirondack History Center Museum is an amazing museum," Chase said. "In Elizabethtown, there is a wonderful bridge that leads to a playground that’s right by the river. They have Footbridge Lane Park. A lot of this was destroyed by the hurricane. They spent some time and effort to get things back to where things were and, obviously, make things better.”

The best part of living in the North Country is the abundance of water, always near and available to everybody.

“You don’t have to have waterfront property to access the water," she said. "These coastal Lake Champlain areas are underutilized.”

Though historic walking tours are great and informational about the development of this region, Chase didn't want every adventure to be a lesson for her family.

“We want to have fun. We go on a tour and just do part of something. My children may see something, a bridge that looks like a bridge they saw someplace else. They start to recognize different elements of architecture in Adirondack great camps. Port Henry has a beautiful beach. Lake Champlain has that same kind of ocean feel without that saltwater smell,” she said.

The new Champlain Bridge offers well-appointed views and a safe place to cross the lake and visit the Crown Point Historic Site and Museum.

“The Memorial Lighthouse is right there. You can walk to all of these. You can bike all over place,” she said.

“Champlain Valley: Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga” has 184 pages and retails for $17.95. The book is available at the Cornerstone Bookshop, Kidstructive Fun at Champlain Centre, Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, Rulfs Orchard, Banker’s Orchard, The Bookstore Plus, the Adirondack History Center Museum and at

“It’s so much fun to explore and (have) those experiences with other people,” Chase said. “The hope is to continue to make things easier for people through feedback we got from the first book.”

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