I got an email from my dad this afternoon telling me his Uncle Bob passed away today. He was 95. My Great Uncle Bob was a WWII veteran, serving in the Army Air Corps on Okinawa at the end of the war.
In the email, my dad mentioned that when he was born, the whole Widmer clan lived in the same house in Herkimer, NY. By the time my father was a toddler, he’d identified Bob as his favorite uncle. Bob would take my dad to the playground and kept a watchful eye on him as he grew older. All the time Uncle Bob was in the Army, he would send my dad a dollar each month to put in a bank he had given him. When he returned from overseas, Uncle Bob took my dad and the money, bought my dad’s first bicycle, which he taught him to ride.
Uncle Bob was not drafted until July of 1945, and Japan surrendered in August of 1945. Hence, the war was over before he arrived at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, where he served as an aircraft mechanic. As I understand it, he worked on B-29s and P-47s, which continued to fly air defense and other missions during the occupation. Bob received a commendation signed by President Harry Truman for his service.
I still remember going to my Great Uncle Bob’s house as a very young boy and playing with his two girls, Ellen and Ruth. We would also see them at Raquette Lake in upstate New York and at family reunions. I guess Ellen and Ruth would be second cousins. Uncle Bob and Aunt Lillian were wonderful people, and these are such great memories. American has lost another one of its heroes.
Adirondack Bear Tales just received another 5-star review.
This review is from someone named Sarah. I have no idea who Sarah is, but this review is special to me. I have displayed the review in its entirety below. To read other reviews on Amazon, click here!
My husband and I have our own Adirondack bear jokes and I was so very excited when I found this book! He is deployed and missing out on all the summer fun. I sent him a camping themed package and this book was the perfect addition. The short stories are charming, simple, and fun.
Sarah, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this blog post, but thank you for the thoughtful review. It is fantastic to discover other lovers of the Adirondacks in the world, especially those who are serving their country.
I also want to thank your husband for his service and for your sacrifice. When one spouse serves, so does the other!
We’ve all heard that saying, I guess. While it is clearly a carpenter’s saying, advising that you measure the board twice before you make the cut to eliminate mistakes and waste, it can apply to many situations in our lives.
My Grandfather Klippel had his own unique spin on many of these old bits of wisdom. His version was …
“I sawed it off twice, and it’s still to short!”
Raquette Lake, NY
When you visit Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park, you drive along Route 28 and pass through Burke Town. Don’t blink, because you will miss it. It consists of Burke’s Marina, a few rental cabins, a restaurant across the road which is no longer open, and three dirt roads on your left if you are headed towards Montreal. Raquette Lake will be on your right.
If you turn up the first dirt road, you will find camps along both sides of the road. In the south, they call them cabins. In the Adirondacks, they are camps. Most of these were initially built by employees of Remington Arms as vacation homes and were quite small and rustic.
Some have been turned into homes now, and most have changed hands with the original owners dying off and families selling them off. There’s quite a waiting list to get these camps. Both of my Grandfathers were Remington Arms employees who bought lots and built camps. My parents bought a lot when I was just a year or two old. We tented on our lot for many years before starting our camp.
And these stories, along with other true tales, are featured in my little book, Adirondack Bear Tales, available on Amazon.com.
In fact, the picture below was taken the evening after our “bear interrupted” hike to the old ski slope!
Back to the Grandfather thing …
All this is kind of a set up for one of my favorite memories of my Grandfather Klippel. When I was perhaps 8 or 10-years-old, I wanted to put a flagpole on our lot, so we could fly the American flag over it when we were there.
I was telling my Grandfather about this, and he figured that it should be no problem at all. He took me out, and we found a tall White Pine tree on the back of their lot. They had to be thinned out occasionally anyway, because they grew so high, and would blow over in the winter, sometimes causing a lot of damage.
My Grandfather had me cut it down, and trim off all the branches. Then he provided me with a draw knife with which to peel the bark off the trunk. If you have never seen a draw knife, I have included a picture here.
Peeling that bark off was a lot of hard work, but with his encouragement, I stuck it out. Once the trunk was clean, he had me coat the butt end, which would be buried in the ground, heavily with some kind of wood preservative. Then it was off to the Raquette Lake General Supply Store for a pulley, a rope, and a dock cleat to use as a tie-down.
It was a proud day in my life when my Grandfather helped me set that flagpole. Of course, it has long since rotted away. That was many years ago. However, we flew the American flag from that flag pole for many years while camping on our lot at Raquette Lake.
I hope you will check out some of my other posts by clicking here!
If you’ve read my collection of short stories called Adirondack Bear Tales, you probably know I grew spending my summers at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. I made my first camping trip at all of 6-mos-old. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, my mother made my first sleeping bag out of an old flannel blanket and a paper bag.
Summers at Raquette Lake were filled non-stop adventures that many boys only dream about. Fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, swimming, exploring, and even getting lost in those deep North Woods.
However, there are just one or two things that could be a bit of a pain when spending time in the Adirondacks. One of those is Deer Flies!
You can avoid the worst of the black flies and mosquitoes by waiting until mid-summer or early fall before venturing into the area. By then, the black flies are about gone and the mosquito population has been reduced to a tolerable level. However, deer flies are quite another story.
As you walked up and down the sandy dirt roads of Burketown, the deer flies would circle your head incessantly, looking for an opportunity to swoop in and nail you. The only positive was that, since they did continuously circle you, you could often snatch them out of the air and squish them … which always gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction.
Of course, wearing a hat helped. But I have always really hated wearing hats and only do so now when there is really no choice.
Meet the Deer Fly!
A deer fly looks like a cross between a horsefly and a yellow-jacket. While their bites do hurt, fortunately they are nothing like a yellow jacket sting. Note the swept back delta-type wing. I always thought with a wing like that, they should be able to fly so much faster. Of course, that would make them harder to snatch out of the air and squish.
So, what prompted this post on the deer fly you might ask (or you might not, but I will tell you anyway!). I thought I had left them behind (other than for the occasional trip back to Raquette Lake). I moved to Tennessee at the age of 19 and lived there 36 years, and never saw a deer fly.
I moved to Cary, North Caroline and lived there 3 years and never saw a deer fly either.
But recently I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and there (while exercising my GSD, Sophie) just the other day, I snatched two deer flies out of the air and squished them. And, while I did get an enormous sense of satisfaction out of squishing them, I am thinking seriously about moving back to Tennessee!
Sophie has seconded that motion. She is not overly fond of the deer flies either.
If you are looking for a good quick read, check out Adirondack Bear Tales. I think you will get a real kick out of it. Sophie even stars in one of the stories. She likes to tell how she “saved me” from the mother black bear with her two cubs on our last trip to Raquette Lake.
Free review copies of Serpents Underfoot are still available!
There are a limited number of free review copies of Serpents Underfoot available on BookFunnel for anyone interested. They are in both Kindle and epub formats. The only catch is that, if you take one, I am asking you to please leave an honest review on Amazon.com.
Do you like military action thrillers written with a real sense of pride in all branches of the U.S. military? If so, you will really enjoy Serpents Underfoot.
This military action thriller is already getting great reviews, but I need a few more. Reviews are very important to self-published authors. They are also very import to Sophie, because selling more books means I can keep her in dog biscuits! And, Sophie needs her biscuits!
So, feel free to snag a free Kindle or epub copy of Serpents Underfoot! Read it and enjoy it! Then, leave an honest review on Amazon.com … so people can read how much you enjoyed the book. This way, more people will buy the book and I can buy Sophie more biscuits!
Or, check out Adirondack Bear Tales!
Eleven delightfully charming tales of real-life encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York.
This book can now be found in the Raquette Lake Library! It is selling well and has 4 Five Star reviews to date. The Kindle version is only $2.99. You can order a copy by clicking here!
These tales would be great for sitting around the campfire, bedtime tales for children, or just some pleasant light reading when when the mood strikes. The paperback copy makes a great little gift for a reader in your life at only $5.99. Please check it out, and if you enjoy it, leave a review on Amazon.com!
I stumbled on this wonderful tale over at Charles H. Eldridge’s blog, Adirondack Native Photography! You should check it out (both the blog and the story)! This young black bear was one lucky bear.
“RAQUETTE LAKE BEAR ENCOUNTER”
A great post by Charles H. Eldridge
One day my fiance (now wife) Amanda and I decided to take a nice long road trip through the Adks. We were making our way through the Raquette Lake area, looking for photo ops. Amanda was keeping her eyes peeled on her side and I was covering mine, when all of the sudden she said, “There’s a bear!”. I recall saying, “Yeah right?”, when she came back with a quick “I’m serious!”. I looked back through my rear-view mirror to see a Black Bear on top of a crate. As still as it looked, I thought it had been taxidermied, until it turned it’s head! I exclaimed “Holy Shit!” as I swung the car around, then proceeded with caution; as to not spook the young bruin. Read the rest of the post here.
Now, that was one lucky bear! And, the incident did also result in a great photo of a young black bear as well!
Also, check out my new release … Adirondack Bear Tales!
This delightful book contains 11 short stories about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages, these stories will make you smile, chuckle, and sometimes, even feel a little sad.
Imagine a 12-year-old girl meeting a black bear on the trail to the women’s bathroom late at night. Or a grandfather being chased around the car by a hungry black bear while carrying a bag of garbage. Or imagine what you would do if you met a bear in your kitchen while frying bacon for breakfast. These are just a few of the wonderful tales included in this book.
So, do you need a quick relaxing read? Or, maybe some great “sitting around the campfire” stories for children? You get to choose! Click on the links below and order your copy now!
Available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com. Order your copy today! And, for other great posts, click here!
DC Gilbert has done a masterful job of recreating the Adirondack camping experience of his childhood. Each of these stories involves a personal (or family) encounter with the local Black bears. Not to give any plots away, no bear or human was seriously maimed or killed by any of these stories. If you like a good North Woods story, with a personal touch, then this short entertaining volume is for you.
Bringing back fond memories!
I was talking to a friend at the dog park the other night and Joe told me that he and his wife both greatly enjoyed the bear tales.
In previous years, they did a lot of camping on Sacandaga Lake, also in the Adirondack Park. Therefore, they really enjoyed the details in the tales about the camping experience. Joe said his wife called her sister on the phone and she read some bits of the stories to her. They had a great time laughing over the fact they shared a lot of similar experiences while camping themselves. Joe said that his wife laughed several times while on the phone, exclaiming “that’s exactly what we used to do!” Needless to say, we had a great conversation about camping and bears while the dogs romped about.
Moreover, it really meant a lot to me to hear how much they enjoyed reading Adirondack Bear Tales.
I think you will enjoy these Adirondack Bear Tales as well!
You can download a Kindle version or order a paperback from Amazon.com. I would love to hear from some other readers about what you think about the stories in my book, Adirondack Bear Tales. Most importantly, it costs less than a large cup of coffee at Starbucks!
In addition, you can also read other great blog posts by clicking here!
Will you please help me with this cover contest by picking which cover you like best for my next book. It is a collection of family-friendly tales about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park! I have two cover designs and both of them are pretty good.
Below is the link to the poll. Thanks, in advance, for your help!
Click here to go to the contest page and make your choice.
Again, thank you for your help with this. Also, if you like military action thrillers, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover from Amazon.com!
What do you do when you encounter a black bear in the wild?
First, it is important to know your bears! Black Bears are different from Grizzly Bears, which are different from Kodiak Bears, which are different from Polar Bears. These differences are more than color and size. Different bears have different mannerisms and habits.
In this post we will focus on the black bear, which is the most common bear in North America.
Meet the Black Bear
Color: Black bears can be found in a variety of colors ranging from black to light brown, or even blond.
Body Shape: Bears all have a similar build. They do vary a great deal in size, and black bears don’t have the large shoulder hump that grizzly bears have.
Weight: Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears. Though they can occasionally get bigger, the average male black bear can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, with females typically being somewhat smaller.
Claws: Yes! They certainly have claws and, while not as large as those of the grizzly bear or polar bear, you still don’t want them swiping at you with them.
Location: Black bears are the most commonly found bear in North America. They range thought all the provinces of Canada and 41 of the 50 American states. Black bears are very common in the Adirondack Park.
How to Survive a Black Bear attack!
American black bears are know to occasionally attack humans. But given the choice, they would rather flee than fight. They’re smaller, faster and better climbers than grizzlies.
1. Be bear aware!
This means leaving your damn earbuds in the car! Traipsing through the woods with Welcome to the Jungle blasting your eardrums is not a great idea, especially in bear country. Bears are quiet, and almost impossible to hear coming as it is. Stay tuned to the environment, not your music. Carry bear spray in areas where black bears are active. Keep food and trash packed away. And make some noise while walking through the woods. It is not a good idea to surprise a mother bear with her cubs.
Carry a good bear repellent spray!
Bear Spray can certainly help, but it’s not as critical as with grizzlies. Black bears are less aggressive and will move off if they hear you coming. However, a mother bear will still protect her cubs if she thinks they are threatened. This is deeply ingrained in her, because male bear will often kill cubs. Try to spray when the bear is within 40 to 50 feet of you, creating a barrier of bear spray between you and the approaching bear.
Stand your ground!
Since black bears are less aggressive than grizzlies, you should try to present yourself as something large and loud and something to be feared; they’ll usually leave you alone. Shout, wave your arms, and create a big commotion. Do anything you can to make yourself look bigger. Most importantly, just like with grizzlies, never run from a black bear. First, they can outrun you. Second, they often will charge in an attempt to bluff, and the best strategy is to stand your ground with your bear spray ready to fire if the bear gets too close.
Keep your feet on the ground!
Never, ever climb a tree to escape a black bear. They’re really excellent climbers, and they tend to chase anything they think is running away. There’s a good chance the bear will simply trap you in the tree, and could even climb up after you.
Do NOT play dead with a black bear!
This has been known to work with grizzlies which are true predators, and unless starving, will only eat what they actually kill. Black bears, on the other hand, are scavengers. If you play dead and they are hungry, they may decide to eat you.
Unless you’re physically not able to, it’s far better to defend yourself against a black bear than to simply fall down on the ground and play dead (See previous section). If you end up in “close quarter combat” with the bear, use any available object as a weapon to defend yourself. If nothing is handy, punch or kick at the bear’s nose, eyes, and ears. Attack the sensitive areas that are more likely to get an immediate reaction. Do whatever is needed to scare it away. Work to create distance between you and the bear, but do not run away. The bear will simply chase you. You have to make the bear decide to run away.
I am soon releasing a a collection of short stores called Adirondack Bear Tales on Kindle and in paperback. The book is based on my series of blog post on Adirondack Bear Tales. You can read one of these posts here. I hope you will check my new book out when it becomes available.
If you enjoyed this post and feel like you want to buy me a cup of coffee, just click the link below. Thanks!
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 …
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.