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Adirondack Bear Tale #10: The Bear Trap

Family Traditions

Family reunions and joint camping trips to Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake were a big tradition for our entire family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together in adjoining campsites for a week or  two. These are some of my fondest memories growing up. One such particular camping trip also involved a couple of guys from New York City, and setting a trap for a mischievous black bear.

My grandfather, Irwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner Klippel, had two campsites that were not quite adjoining. A couple of younger men from New York City occupied the spot separating their two camps sites. The two men had driven up to spend a week in the Adirondack Park. Being very friendly, and since they were camping between two contingents of our family, they just naturally kind of joined in. They’d brought all the best camping equipment money could buy, as well as a great selection of food including steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and bacon. They were set for the week. It was late in the day, so we all sat around a campfire and visited a bit. When the fired died out, everyone headed off to get some sleep.

The mischievous bear …

trap

That next morning the two city men arose to discover that during the night, a bear had raided their cooler. They stored the cooler under one end of the park-provided picnic table. The cooler’s mangled cover was now laying a few feet from the cooler, which was quite empty. The bear ate everything. Everything, that is, except the hot dogs, which now lay discarded near the cooler’s cover. It must have been a very hungry (and stealthy) bear. Amazingly, nobody had heard a sound! We had a lot of fun joking about the fact that the bear would not eat the hot dogs.

After the initial excitement wore off, the two young men took off Indian Lake to restock their supplies at the Grand Union. They also decided that it would be better to put their new cooler in the trunk of their car when they went to bed at night.  While the two men were off getting groceries, we sat around talking about the bear. The focus of the discussion was what could be done to discourage this bear from conducting future raids on our campsites. By the time the men were back from the Grand Union, we had devised a plan. The two city guys thought our scheme was a pretty slick idea as well.

The spaghetti trap!

That night after supper, we gathered up all the dirty pots and pans from cooking the various family supper meals. We then stacked them up, one on top of the other, on the picnic table in the two younger men’s campsite. With several large family units, the supply of dirty cooking pots more than adequate and they made a quite an impressive, however slightly unstable, tower. My grandmother (we called her Nanny) had made spaghetti in a big metal pot (much like the turkey fryer pots of today). That big pot, with the left over spaghetti and grease from cooking the ground beef (used to make the spaghetti) went on the very top.

Then, my Uncle Wagner tied a length of twine to the handle on the bottom pot and strung the cord all the way over to his car, where he planned to sit and wait. His idea was to turn on the car’s headlights after pulling the string at the opportune moment. All the kids gathered up flashlights and climbed into cars. We all planned to stay awake and see what happened when the bear came!

The trap is sprung …

All of a sudden, we heard a loud crashing, bashing sound. We had all fallen asleep, but the horrible noise woke us up quickly. Several flash lights snapped on and pointed toward the picnic table. Uncle Wagner flipped the headlights on in his car. There, right in the beam of the headlights, sat a big black bear with a very befuddled look on his face. There were pots and pans scattered all around him. Greasy left-over spaghetti covered his head and hung from his ears. The bear let out a bawling kind of  grunt and took off running into the trees. Our bear trap had worked!

My grandfather later told me that he had talked to a park ranger at the campground sometime after that, who had told him that they did not see that particular bear in the campground for at least six months after we sprang our trap.

If you liked this Bear Tale, check out this story, and check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com.

Adirondack Bear Tale #8: Campfire BBQ Chicken

Grandma Gilbert’s Campfire BBQ Chicken

Campfire BBQ ChickenIt was a nice cool Adirondack evening.  Therefore, Grandma Gilbert decided to make campfire BBQ chicken using the outside fireplace behind the camp. This way they could be outside to enjoy the cool evening air. There would also be less mess to clean up in the kitchen after dinner.

Grandpa started a wood fire in the cinder block fireplace and kept feeding it seasoned beech wood. Soon, there was a nice bed of red-hot coals. Grandma set the old cast iron skillet containing a little oil, some seasonings, and the chicken down on the steel grate Grandpa had set across the cinder blocks of the fireplace. In just a few minutes, the chicken was sizzling merrily away. It soon began to smell really good. While Grandma watched the chicken, Grandpa went into the camp to prepare the rest of dinner.

In the woods behind the camp,  a passing black bear lifted his nose into the air. His keen sense of smell had discovered the tantalizing aroma of cooking chicken, BBQ sauce, and wood smoke. As a result of his discovery, the bear changed his direction of travel, and started to follow the wonderful smell that drifted along on the evening breeze. Consequently, he soon found himself coming out of the woods … right behind Grandma Gilbert, who was busily tending to the chicken.

Grandpa Gilbert stepped out of the camp to check on how Grandma was doing with the chicken. He had been in the kitchen preparing corn-on-the-cob and a tossed salad to compliment the BBQ chicken.

“How’s the chicken coming, Marjorie?” he asked.

“Just fine Henry,” Grandma answered.

As Grandpa turned to go back into the camp, he noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to see what it was, he saw the bear coming out of the woods and making its way toward the fireplace and Grandma.

“Marjorie!” he called. “There is a black bear coming up behind you, Come in the camp. Hurry!”

Grandma turned and saw the bear, and quickly made her way toward the porch. Then she stopped, and looked back.

“Come on, Marjorie. What are you doing?” Grandpa called. Grandma was headed back toward the fireplace and the chicken. “Never mind the chicken. Get in the camp!”

“Not without my chicken,” she replied. Still wearing the oven mitt on her hand, she ran back to the fireplace, arriving just seconds before the bear. Grabbing the skillet by the handle, she let out a with a loud, “Shoo!”  Then turning quickly, Grandma made a bee-line for the porch. In a second, she was up on the porch and in the camp. Grandpa promptly shut the door.

As a result, the BBQ chicken was safe. The bear, however, was a bit miffed and sniffed around on the porch for several minutes. Finally, the bear figured out that the great smelling campfire BBQ chicken was now beyond his reach. The bear reluctantly made his way back into the woods, continuing his search for his supper.

The campfire BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and tossed salad made a wonderful dinner.  In addition, the rest of the family got to enjoy hearing the tale of how Grandma rescued the chicken from the hungry black bear many times over the years.

Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on Amazon.com.

Success Secrets: Measure Twice, Cut Once

I’ve sawed it off twice and it’s still to short!

Wisdom is a key to success.

Where do we find the wisdom to achieve success? For me, one source was listening to the wisdom of my elders.

I spent many wonderful hours as a child with my grandparents. During those times I learned many valuable life lessons, tidbits of wisdom, and humorous stories. My grandfathers were very different, but each had a great deal to offer their grandsons. This should certainly not be taken as to make light of the influences my grandmothers had on me as well. They were both incredible women who worked very hard and sacrificed so much to get their families through a very tough period in our country’s history. Their influences were very strong as well. However, this particular post is about one lesson from one grandfather.

The experiences of my grandparents, growing up and raising families during the Great Depression and World War II gave them a unique view of the world. They had a real down to earth wisdom that seems to be so often lacking today. It saddens me sometimes to see intelligent people make serious miscalculations because they simply don’t take the time to look twice.

I remember working on a project with my grandfather that involved cutting 2 x 12’s for floor joists. My grandfather was supervising my work. We were in the early stage of building our family camp in the Adirondacks. My grandfather had a lot of practical life experience in building projects, and had also built their camp down the road. He was a jack-of-all-trades kind of man.

Measure twice, cut once …

The actual circumstances are a bit fuzzy. This was many years ago. But, I remember that I had just cut a 2 x 12 to fit as the next floor joist to be put in place. Unfortunately, I had cut too short. So short, in fact, that it could not be used and the 2 x 12 had to be discarded. If you have been involved in any building projects, you just might know how expensive 2 x 12’s are.  I don’t remember my Dad saying anything, but that meant another trip to the lumber yard for one more 2 x 12. My hope is that we were able to use the “now too short” 2 x 12 some where else in constructing the camp. I am sure we did, but really don’t remember. It would have been pretty expensive to use it as firewood!

Surprisingly, I was allowed to continue in my “saw man” job. Maybe they figured I “needed to get back up on that horse that had thrown me.” As I picked up the tape measure to cut another 2 x 12, my grandfather quietly commented, “Measure twice, cut once.” I followed that advice and the next joist fit perfectly … success!

I know this phrase did not originate with him, but it was the first time I had heard it. It stuck with me my entire life.

Save your self some grief.

successSo, the next time you are tackling some kind of a problem or working on a project, or you reach for that saw, you might remember the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once,” and take a step back to double-check that what you are about to do … actually fits or corrects the issue at hand. You might find that your success rate indeed goes up!

Shameless plug!

And, be sure to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on amazon.com!  It is getting rave reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads!  It must have something going for it. I am busy at work on the sequel. Feedback so far has been terrific and I think it is going to be great!

Book Review: American Assassin by Vince Flynn

American Assassin: An exciting read from start to finish!

assassinMitch Rapp is a trained assassin on a mission. His mission is to rid the world of terrorism one terrorist at a time. Since reading this book, I have learned that the Mitch Rapp series first appeared on bookshelves in 1999 with the release of Transfer of Power and that this book along with Kill Shot are prequels to the earlier books. I really enjoyed this book as an action-packed adventure tale. While certainly not a literary masterpiece, it moves well and keeps the reader interested. There are also some good examples of spy trade-craft as well.

Plenty of Excitement and Action

The story moves like a roller coaster ride, If you are an action junkie, this book will keep your interest. You will not want to put the book down but only to turn to the next page to see what happens next. Past administrations have gone soft on terrorism and their policies have allowed terrorists to really take hold, establish fund raising activities, and indiscriminately attack innocent victims around the world. The new CIA director has had enough, and realizes that they only way to beat terrorism is to eliminate the terrorists and the criminal activities that support them.

The CIA director creates a organization whose job is to recruit and train assassins to work off the grid. This gives the U.S. government “plausible deniability.” Mitch Rapp is one of these assassins. A young man, he was a successful college student and a nationally recognized athlete with a girlfriend who is the love of his life. When she is killed by terrorists who blew up Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, his life ended. He was a man lost. Then something changed. He found a new purpose in life. That was to kill the terrorists responsible for this evil attack.

My Recommendation     kindle customer assassin

This book is not a “great work” in the classic sense. But, readers who enjoy counter-terrorism yarns will certainly enjoy it. I do plan to read the other books in this series as time allows.  For my recommendation, I give it four out of five stars. It is not be suitable for young readers due to the violent content.

Also, if you have read this book and did enjoy it, you should give Serpents Underfoot a shot. I bet you will enjoy it too!

 

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #4: Donny Trees A Bear!

Donny Trees A Bear

donnyIt gets dark early in the Adirondacks. The night’s fire was just about burned out with only a few glowing embers left in the stone fireplace. The two young boys had already brushed their teeth and were ready for bed. They unzipped the mosquito netting and entered the large canvas cabin tent their father had pitched on a wooden tent platform followed by Donny, their 35-lb Spanish pointer. Zipping the netting behind them, the boys crawled into their sleeping bags. They had air mattresses underneath the sleeping bags and were comfortably settled in for the night. Donny settled down between them. Soon all three were sound asleep. Full days in the crisp Adirondack air made for good sleeping.

A little while later, their parents entered the tent and prepared for bed. Their sleeping bags were laid out on canvas folding cots and air mattresses. It was also a very comfortable arrangement. Soon all five were contentedly sleeping away. Tomorrow would be another new and glorious day. The boy’s grandfather was going to take them fishing over in the northern part of Raquette Lake in his beautiful Thompson Chris-Craft boat. It promised to be a grand adventure.

 

Sometime during the night, Donny awoke and let out a terrible growl. The two boys and their parents instantly sat up in their sleeping bags.

What was that?

There was another growl from Donny, and he was up like a flash. A second later he had torn through the mosquito netting and took off like a shot; snarling and growling like a wild animal protecting its young. Suddenly, there was another growl, and it wasn’t Donny. The boy’s dad was now up with his flashlight unzipping the mosquito netting to see what was going on while the rest of the family dug for their flashlights. Everyone kept a flashlight handy just in case. They could hear the dog barking wildly just a few yards away from the tent.

A few seconds later all four flashlight beams were shining in the direction of the growling and snarling dog. Donny was at the base of an old rotten beech tree about 30 feet from the tent. He was growling and barking ferociously at something up in the tree. Raising the flashlights beams a bit revealed a big black bear. The bear had scrambled up the old rotten trunk to get away from the crazy dog. The tree and its bark were rotten enough that the bear’s claws could not get a good purchase. The bear would begin to slide down the tree which would cause Donny to renew his barking and growling frenzy. This, in turn, would cause the bear to scramble a bit higher; only to start slipping again.

The bear, much bigger then the dog that was barking at him, could easily jump down and deal with the barking dog. Fortunately for Donny, the bear did not decide to do this.The barking, scrambling, and slipping went on for several minutes. Suddenly the bear completely lost its grip on the tree and tumbled to the ground. Rolling over the bear jumped to its feet and took off into the north woods with Donny right behind him, barking and growling as he went. The boys and their parents called after Donny.

Donny, Come! Donny, Come here!

But it was no use. Donny, chasing the black bear to who knows where, was long gone. Eventually, the two boys and their parents went back to bed. They wondered if they would ever see their dog again.
Donny was not back the next morning when the boys left to go fishing with their grandfather. He was not back that afternoon when they got back from their fishing trip to the northern part of Raquette Lake. That evening, the boy’s Dad finished patching the hole in the mosquito and still, Donny had not returned.

But later that evening, as the family sat down for a supper of Ravioli, bread and butter, and some of Mom’s homemade raspberry cobbler, Donny came trotting up to the picnic table with a delighted look on his face. In fact, it looked like he was grinning from ear to ear! Donny was utterly covered with Adirondack marsh mud, pieces of twigs and leaves, and he smelled like Adirondack swamp water. Donny had also worked up quite an appetite during his chase and was darn hungry! But, he was undoubtedly a hero … having saved the cooler from being raided by the prowling black bear.

Did you like this Adirondack Bear Tale?

If so, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, a military action adventure / counter-terrorism thriller available at Amazon.com!

Promoting Your New Book? Have You Tried Libraries?

Book Promotion 101

promotingYou are a self-published author and you have published your first work. Unfortunately, it is not flying off the shelves at Amazon.com. You are selling some books and getting some great reviews, but real success seems to be so slow in coming. Establishing yourself as an author takes time and hard work. Now, is when the real work begins. You have to begin promoting your book. There are a lot of ways to do this. Amazon.com offers promotion tools. You can join Goodreads, BookBub, AuthorsDB and other online book promotion communities. I am sure you have a website. a Facebook Fan Page, and a blog. You do book signings when you can.

What else can you do to promote your book?

Have You Thought About Promoting Your Book Through Libraries?

People who read often go to libraries. I have been donating copies of my book to any libraries that are interested and so far, they have all been. What I am after here is name recognition. You want people to check your book out from the library, read it, and enjoy it. Then you want them to tell their friends how much they enjoyed your book. This library idea is something i am currently trying. And, to be honest, I am not sure how well it will work. But, it certainly can’t hurt!  If anyone else has tried this, I would be happy to here their comments or suggestions.

So far my book, Serpents Underfoot, is in four libraries and will very soon been available in several more. It is currently available at the Inlet Public Library in Inlet, NY, the Raquette Lake Library in Raquette Lake, NY, and the Old Forge Public Library in Old Forge, NY. It is also in the Southern Regional Library in Durham County, NC. In addition, it will soon be available in the Wake County Library system, the Knoxville Public Library system in Knoxville, TN and the Clinton, Oak Ridge, and Norris public libraries also in Tennessee. Getting your book placed in the “Local  Authors” section of your local library can’t hurt either!

Another Benefits Of Using Libraries

Another benefit I can see is that many libraries purchase books through Ingram Spark. I used Ingram Spark to produce the hardcover version of my book. If your book gets good circulation, I think you can be pretty confident that these libraries will be open to purchasing future works by you as they are published.

Any Experience With Libraries You Want To Share?

Again. this is basically an experiment on my part and I am not sure how well it will work, but I believe it has real potential if you can handle donating a few books now for success later. I will keep folks posted on whether or not this works out for me. Also, I am interested in hearing of your experiences if you have tried this and you are willing to share. Promoting a book as a self-published author takes time and effort. Anything you can do to help is probably a good thing. I believe it is a lot of trial and error to find out what works for you. You try a lot of ideas over time and some of them work. If you throw enough mud at the wall, some of it surely will stick!

Adirondack Bear Tale #3: A Trip to the Dump!

The Dump at Raquette Lake. A Friday Night Hot Spot!

dumpIt’s Friday evening in the Adirondacks. So, what do you do? What kind of entertainment venues were available to vacationers in the north woods? One of our family favorites was to go to the dump! Yep! I am serious. We would go to the dump to watch the bears. It was quite popular among those in the know. The bears would come out in the early evenings to feed on all the delightful morsels we humans would throw away.

The Raquette Lake Dump was located a mile or so down an old dirt road that headed out of Raquette Lake Village and into the north woods wilderness. This road was initially an old rail bed for the private railroad line owned by the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts built an Adirondack great camp, Camp Sagamore, near Raquette Lake. They and their guests would take a private train from Utica, New York up to Raquette Lake. There they would board a boat and steam across South Bay to head up the South Inlet. A mile or so up South Inlet, at the falls, where it became impassable, they would board a stagecoach and travel along a road that ran past the Vanderbilt’s power-house and a small dam, to the smaller private lake South Inlet flowed from. This was their destination. They would begin to enjoy their stay at Camp Sagamore.

But, I digress. This is supposed to be a bear tale.

This particular Friday evening my brother and I were headed to the dump with our grandparents. They had an AMC Hornet, and we sat in the back. We turned down the old dirt road that lead to the dump. Being an old railway bed, it was a pretty straight shot. As we approached the dump, my brother and I were excited to see that there were already several black bears, an assortment of ages and sizes, out prowling around among the garbage bags looking for tasty tidbits.

My Grandfather pulled up pretty close because he had a bag of trash to add to the pile. Grandpa told us all to stay in the car. He would throw the garbage out and then we would back up a bit to sit and watch the bears. Grandpa got out and retrieved the bag from the trunk and started toward the piled bags of garbage. He wanted to get close enough to throw the bag onto the pile.

One mid-sized bear spotted Grandpa making his way toward the trash heap and saw that he was carrying a new bag of possible snacks. Naturally, the bear made his way toward Grandpa. Now, our Grandfather was not a pushover. He was a big man, strong and stubborn. That bear was not getting the garbage until Grandpa threw it on the pile. The bear, however, had other ideas, and that garbage bag quickly became a major source of contention.

Grandpa saw the bear coming, so he yelled at it in an attempt to “bluff” the bear into backing off. However, the bear was just as stubborn as Grandpa, so just he kept coming. Soon the bear was between our Grandfather and the trash heap. Grandpa took another step toward the bear and clutching the garbage bag tightly, yelled again. The bear, unimpressed, took a step toward our Grandfather. Then the bear took yet another step. Our grandfather, realizing that the bear was not intimidated in the least, began backing up toward the car. The bear followed. This scared our Grandmother who reached up and locked both car doors.

Grandpa backed up all the way to the car with the bear following him every step of the way. Keeping his eyes on the bear, he made his way to the driver-side door and reached down to open it. It was locked!

“Boots, unlock the door,” he yelled. He called her “Boots” because of the fancy boots she was wearing when they first met. We called her, Nanny, of course.

“Erwin, Get rid of the garbage. Let the bear have it,” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa was now circling the car with the bear following him. It was very exciting for my brother and I sitting in the back seat.

“Boots, unlock the door!” he yelled again.

“Get rid of the garbage, Erwin” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa had, by now, circled the car several times with the bear in dogged pursuit. Finally realizing that something had to give, as he came around again to the front of the Hornet, Grandpa hurled the bag of garbage as hard as he could toward the heap of garbage bags about thirty yards away. Nanny reached over and unlocked the driver-side door and Grandpa, jerking the door open, slid into the seat and slammed the door closed. The bear, however, had already headed off in the direction Grandpa had hurled the bag and was now sniffing speculatively at it.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence in the car. Finally, Grandpa spoke.

“For the love of Pete, Boots, why wouldn’t you unlock the door.

“Erwin, I was not letting you in here with the garbage. What if the bear tried to get in here too!”

“Oh, for heaven sakes!” Grandpa retorted. Needless to say, the bear watching was cut short, and it was a hushed ride back to their camp at Burke Town.

Check out my other Bear Tales!

In addition, if you like  these Adirondack Bear Tale short stories, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot! Available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.