Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Free Evening Swimming in Lansingburgh

I'm planning to take advantage of this offering next week and I thought I'd share...

From a press release:

 Mayor Lou Rosamilia has announced that the City of Troy will be expanding its swimming hours at the Knickerbacker Pool. In addition to the public swimming from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., there will now also be free evening swimming hours and lessons for children.

            The Knickerbacker Pool will now hold evening swimming hours from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday will be reserved for adults (18+), Wednesdays will be reserved for parents with children (6 & under) and Fridays will be reserved for families.

            The free swimming lessons for children will begin on July 14 and continue, Monday through Friday, until July 25. The lessons will be held from 10 a.m. until noon.

            For additional information, please contact the City of Troy’s Bureau of Parks & Recreation at (518) 235-7761 or 235-0215.

Hyde Collection in Glens Falls featured on WMHT

From a press release:

 On Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30pm, The Hyde Collection and its summer exhibition Larry Kagan: Lying Shadows will be highlighted on Albany, New York’s PBS /WMHT-TV’s AHA! This half-hour program features stories about artists, makers, and creative institutions in our region and across the country.  Interviews with Kagan in his Troy studio, Hyde director Charles Guerin, and Hyde chief curator Erin Coe at the Museum will be the focus of this segment. 
Larry Kagan: Lying Shadows, now through September 15, 2014, features twenty wall-mounted steel sculptures, illustrating the development of a conceptual idea. An exhibiting artist whose work has been collected and shown by museums and galleries worldwide, Kagan is also a faculty member of the art department of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

For the past twenty years, Kagan has been engaged with the process of creating a hybrid form of sculpture that combines the solid component of a steel wire sculpture and the specific shadow it casts on the wall in a way that challenges expectations.  The form of the shadow suggests the presence of a material object that should be casting it, but in fact does not exist.  The objects in Kagan’s repertoire of shadow images include a chair, book, bald eagle, stiletto, and a portrait of George Washington. The perceptual dualism of the three-dimensional abstract object casting an entirely figurative but dissimilar shadow when illuminated is at the heart of Kagan’s work. By disturbing the relationship between objects and shadows in this exhibition, the artist demonstrates how shadows can be transformed from a secondary supporting role in an artwork to the main creative attraction.

A Ghost Story and Spirits at the Malt Room in Troy This Week

Local historian, public relations pro, and all around cool guy Duncan Crary will be telling a "world-famous" ghost story at the Malt Room in Troy this Thursday, with free samples of single malt scotches.

I'll let the press release speak for itself....


 The Scottish spirits will haunt and flow in Brown's Malt Room this Thursday night.

On July 24, at 6 p.m., Troy storyteller Duncan Crary will spin a candle-lit account of the legend of Major Duncan Campbell of the Black Watch, a Scottish highlander who met his eerie fate during the failed British attack on Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) in upstate New York, July 1758.

According to legend, a ghost foretold of the major's death many years prior at his home in Inverawe, Scotland.

"Robert Louis Stevenson made the story of Major Duncan Campbell world famous in his 1887 poem, 'Ticonderoga,'" said Crary. "But it was already well-known in these parts, and in the west of Scotland, for more than a century before that."

The evening will also feature:

+ Soothing tunes on the Scottish small pipes (what Crary calls "indoor bagpipes"), played by Alex Bartholomew of New Paltz;

+ A free tasting of single malt scotches, by West Highland distiller Jura;

+ Fine Scottish small plates prepared in-house.


Scotch Egg – $8

Roast Cornish Hen with Scottish Black Pudding – $14

Venison Pasties – $10

Traditional Scottish Gladloch Sausage – $12

Smoked Scottish King Salmon – $13

Bread & Cheese: Scratch made bread with a selection of Windsor Red, Cahill Irish Porter, Cypress Grove Midnight Moon cheeses – $13

(Sorry, no haggis).

Admission and Scotch samples are free. The Malt Room opens at 5 p.m. Music will begin at 6 p.m. Crary will tell the story shortly after, when the crowd is ready.

The Malt Room is located at 425 River Street in downtown Troy (in the basement of Revolution Hall). The entrance is in the rear, immediately north of the Brown's Brewing Co. taproom deck.

From the West Highlands to the Adirondacks

Major Duncan Campbell was a real figure in both Scottish and North American history. Laird of the Scottish House of Inverawe, he served as an officer in the 42nd (Highland) Regiment -- a famously fierce military unit in Scotland, known as the dreaded "Black Watch."

In 1756, the Black Watch was dispatched to North America, by the British crown, to fight in the French and Indian War. In the spring of 1758, Major Duncan Campbell and the Black Watch marched north from Albany to attack the French-controlled Fort Carillon (later named Fort Ticonderoga) on Lake Champlain.

There, the battle that ensued on July 8 was the bloodiest and most dramatic of the war, with more than 3,000 total casualties estimated by historians. The Black Watch suffered the heaviest of all military units on either side, but the mounting deaths of their comrades only fueled their fury on the front lines.

About half of the 1,000 Black Watch soldiers in action that day were killed, and many more were wounded -- including Major Duncan Campbell who died 9 days later. He was buried in a relative's plot at Fort Edward. Later, Campbell's remains were moved to Union Cemetery between Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, where they are now located in the Jane McCrea lot.

One year after the battle, the British finally captured Fort Carillon and renamed it "Ticonderoga," an anglicized Iroquois word meaning "it is at the junction of two waterways."

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

"No ghost story is more widely known or better authenticated than that of Duncan Campbell of Inverawe," writes Frederick B. Richards in his circa 1910 publication, "The Black Watch at Ticonderoga and Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe."

The widely circulated legend of Major Duncan Campbell says a desperate man came knocking wildly on the doors of the house of Inverawe one night. He had blood on his hands and kilt, and begged for sanctuary -- a sacred oath of protection granted in the Highlands of Scotland.

Duncan vowed to shelter the man and swore on his dirk, a traditional and ceremonial dagger worn by Highland Scots.

Soon after, a group of men arrived at Inverawe to inform Duncan Campbell that a highwayman had murdered his cousin, Donald Campbell. The men had last seen the murderer heading that way. But Duncan had already given his word that he would shelter the very same bandit, and so he concealed him from the gang.

Twice, the ghost of Donald Campbell visited Duncan Campbell, and twice demanded that his death be avenged by his kin. But Duncan kept his oath, and on the third visit the apparition warned him: "Farewell Inverawe. Farewell till we meet again at TICONDEROGA."

At the time, neither Duncan nor any highland Scots he consulted had ever heard the strange word. From that day forth, it haunted and perplexed him -- "Ticonderoga" -- until many years later on the march north from Albany, New York to the French-controlled Fort Carillon. The British were joined during that campaign by their Iroquois -- or Haudenosaunee -- allies, whose name for that place was tekontaro:ken, which sounded very much like "Ticonderoga."

Sure enough, on the eve of battle, the ghost of Donald Campbell visited the tent of a terrified Major Duncan Campbell to give one last word that Duncan would soon pay for his betrayal.

The following day, as the battle raged in North America and the brave Black Watch soldiers were cut down by the French, it is said in Scotland that the clouds over the House of Inverawe took the form of the soldiers and re-enacted the futile assault ... until the blow was delivered that would end the life of Major Duncan Campbell.

"An old sailor friend of mine in Glasgow, Scotland once told me to 'Never let the facts get in the way of a good story,'" Crary said. "I'll give a proper history of the old Major and the Black Watch, but I won't be letting those pesky facts get in the way of this ripping good yarn, either."

** End Spoilers **


The renowned Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson contracted tuberculosis in the late 19th century and headed to the Adirondacks of New York State to take the cure at the famous Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. It's there he first heard the tale of Major Duncan Campbell from the locals who knew it well. In December of 1887, Stevenson published the tale in Scribner's Magazine as the poem: "Ticonderoga a Legend of the West Highlands." It was an instant and global success.

"Stevenson made a few mistakes in his account -- most notably, he named his character 'Duncan Cameron,'" said Crary. "Sure, there were Camerons on the battle pitch that day, but this ghostly tale belongs to none other than Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, Major of the Black Watch."

This Thursday night, Crary will spin his own version of the tale, building upon Stevenson's poem, historical accounts and his own family's contributions. One element Crary will give more prominence to is the role of the Mohawk allies of the British and their special relationship to the Scots Highlanders they fought alongside.

Crary's full name is Duncan Campbell Crary. And while Duncan Campbell is one of the most common Scottish names, his parents named him after Major Duncan Campbell in particular. The family's Scottish ancestors, both Crary and Campbell, settled upstate New York during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"What is a Scotsman without his word? Aye, but what is a Highlander without his kin and clan to count on?" Crary asked. "This is the predicament our hero found himself in, with no way out."


To download high-resolution publicity images, including an event poster, a recent photograph of Major Duncan Campbell’s grave and an image from Stevenson’s 1887 poem in Scribner's magazine, visit:


Brown's basement Malt Room bar is a refined space offering 3 cask conditioned ales from its copper top bar as well as nearly 40 single malt scotches, 20 small batch bourbons and a variety of well crafted proper cocktails. A menu of light tapas changes weekly. Located beneath Brown’s Revolution Hall, the Malt Room is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 pm until close.

For information, visit:


Duncan Crary is an author, storyteller, podcaster and events organizer in Troy, New York. He wandered the empty nesses of Scotland, alone, when his worldview was still forming. His website is:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Favorite Part of Acadia

Without a doubt, my favorite part of our trip to Acadia National Park was our stop at Sand Beach.

We got our first glimpse of the beach while walking over - since the one-way road with two lanes had become an actual parking lot in the right lane and the line went on for a good quarter of a mile.

There was a nice path along the side of the road and then a stairwell that led down into the beach area.

There must have been hundreds of people at the beach, but it did not feel like it because the beach was so large. The sand was flanked on either side by pine trees and rocky cliffs. Then, in front there was the bright blue water - almost the color you'd expect in the tropics, though the temperature would argue otherwise - and in the back were views of a mountain and grass fields.

Not many people were in the water since it was so frigid - about 52-degrees. But Jon went in and eventually convinced me to do the same.

We stayed long enough to enjoy the views, the blue sky, and the water. The sand was being swept up into our faces by the wind a bit more than we both liked so we retreated back to rinse off. While there were no showers, we found a less-used spout to wash our feet and I concocted my own shower using my water bottle.

On a nice summer day, Sand Beach was a beautiful spot.

The Economic Ecosystem at Acadia National Park

Along with my Housekeeping Observations of my recent trip to Acadia National Park, I noticed a very interesting ecosystem. Sure, there was the natural/diverse ecosystems found atop Acadia Mountain or along the coast. But I also saw an economic ecosystem that was balanced with partnerships in each of the communities around the park.

You expect such partnerships in any area, whether there are tourists or not. Neighbors need to work together to bring the best out of a community. That's just how it's always been. And that seemed to especially be the case throughout Bar Harbor and the smaller towns of Ellsworth, Hulls Cove, Manset, Salisbury Cove, Town Hill, Tremont, Somesville, and Southwest Harbor - and even on a smaller level with Northeast Harbor as well, where there have been affluent summer residents for decades.

(Bar Harbor)

I think my best example of these working partnerships is when I asked about shower facilities at our campground at Seawall inside the National Park. Within walking distance of our campsite, there were restrooms, a dishwater dumping station, and a water tap but I did not see any showers. When I asked the ranger about it, he directed us to a Seawall Camping Supplies facility which I, initially, thought was also run by the National Park.

(our campsite at Seawall)

When we got there, about a half-mile down the road, it was a locally-owned store with any supplies a camper would need - and there were showers in the back that were $1 (in quarters) for 2 minutes.

I found it interesting that the National Park, instead of building their own shower system, would prefer to partner with a local business owner. I think that's a great idea and helps the local economy that much more for the area, which sees the majority of their tourists in a six week span over the summer.

(at Adelmann's in Bar Harbor - with a blueberry soft serve custard)

Along with the example of the shared showers, the Acadia Weekly newspaper had many advertisements and small descriptions of local businesses. After seeing an ad for a place with blueberry soft serve custard, we had to make the drive to go get it. And it was delicious. The weekly also encouraged visiting the area communities and especially the eateries, which we definitely did. (Blaze, by the way, in Bar Harbor has an excellent selection of craft beer and the food is great)

As I described in my last blog post, the park is so sporadically dispersed that the communities almost become as much a part of the national park as the natural sights. I have to admit, visiting these charming towns and businesses - and taking part in this economic ecosystem - was as much of an adventure or highlight as standing at the top of Cadillac Mountain.

(Jon and I at the top of Cadillac)

Housekeeping Observations at Acadia National Park in Maine

As with any national park or interesting place to visit, I think what I enjoyed most about my experience at Acadia National Park was that it included a lot of diverse things in one place. It was also different than any national park I had been to before.

There were small, rocky granite mountains; pine trees for as far as the eye could see; pebbled coasts and scattered sandy beaches; and even some creature comforts like a tea house on a beautiful lake that serves well-known popover treats with tea.

(Jordan Pond House)

Off the bat, one thing I noticed that was different from other national parks I had been to was the fact that many of the attractions of the park are scattered and not in one place, which meant that you could go into much of the official national park without paying the $20 to get in. The only part that they were a stickler about paying was the entrance to Sand Beach and Thunder Hole.

I'm not sure why they set it up this way but I'm sure it results in losing a lot of revenue. Instead of having multiple entrance fee gates around the park, they have people pay the fee at the Visitor Center (the official start of the Loop Road) and a couple of other spots. We almost stood in line at the Visitor Center, not knowing what the line was for. Luckily, we had already paid the fee since anyone camping in the park has to pay the $20 for the week. I also saw at least two families ask rangers about where they could pay the entrance fee.

True enough, the portions of the park are not all in one place so that makes it hard to have these gates at the park boundaries. Our campsite at Seawall, for example, is about 25 minutes from the rest of the attractions and near that end was Echo Lake and several picnic areas that were all part of the park but there was no nearby area to pay the fee.

(Echo Lake)

Another observation was that the park seemed more commercial than I had noticed at other parks. The Visitor Center, for example, had very little in informational exhibits but had a good variety of books to purchase. The Acadia Weekly publication also encouraged visitors to buy items, both inside and outside the park.

(Seawall picnic area)

This was my first visit so I can't compare with how it might have been set up in the past, but I do wonder if/how they were affected financially by the government shutdown and resulting budgeting.

According to Wikipedia, some 2 million people visit the park annually. That's a number any park should be proud of. Yellowstone also sees at least 2 million tourists annually.

The $20, no matter how you look at it, is an amazing deal. I truly appreciate the opportunity we have to see these natural sights. I just hope the park is designed in a way that the park still gets enough incoming revenue to maintain its personnel and resources.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Empire State Plaza Tours

I just read about this today and thought it sounded interesting. So, the state is offering 30 minute tours to highlight the history and design of the Empire State Plaza through October.

The tours will be done at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. daily Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The tours will begin on the concourse level of the plaza by the Egg Center marquee.

This sounds like it has potential.

(View from the Corning Tower Observation Deck)

Another tour I highly recommend is the tour of the state Capitol. It's been ranked #1 out of 34 Albany sites by Tripadvisor and for good reason. The Capitol tour hours have been extended this summer as well.

It can be hard to get out of work during the day, but if you do, you might as well make a trifecta out of it with a tour of the Empire State Plaza, the Capital and a stop at the observation deck of the Corning Tower.

Here's a bit more about the Empire State Plaza tours and the Capitol tours hours being extended.