Tuesday, April 8, 2008

John Muir Day April 21st

John Muir traveled most of his life. Born in Scotland on April 21, 1838, John's first grand adventure was as a boy immigrating to the United States. John fell in love with the Sierra Nevada when he first traveled to California in 1868. While making California his home, John also traveled extensively in Alaska and throughout the West, keeping journals and writing books and articles on the beauty that he saw and the need for mankind to preserve it.

One often wonders how their life will be remembered. John Muir had no such worries. Yosemite National Park exists because John Muir helped establish it in 1890. And if you travel to California, Alaska, Florida, Washington, Wisconsin, and Dunbar, Scotland, you will find geographic locations named after Muir. John also helped establish the Sierra Club as well as being the first president (a position he held unitl his death in 1914). And he happens to be the man standing on the back of the California State quarter. That's a hell of a legacy to leave behind.

So as you celebrate the National Park Week and Earth Day this month, remember the man who spoke for the trees well before anyone else, even the lorax.

Happy Day, John, thank you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beware of Hitchhikers

No, not the kind with thumbs....the ones with eight legs...ewww!

Yup, March actually marked the beginning of tick season and with all the rain we've had, the woods are ripe to pick a few of these guys up.

A few reminders:

  • Ticks do not fall from trees. They hitch rides from the ankle area and climb up.
  • Wear socks with long pants and long sleeve shirts.
  • Stay in the middle of the trail, away from tall grass. Avoid bushwhacking.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET or Picaridin.
  • To remove a tick, use tweezers as close to your skin as you can, pull tick straight out. Do not leave the head in, if necessary seek medical attention.
  • Do NOT use matches to remove ticks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

National Park Week

Celebrate National Park Week (April 19-27, 2008) by visiting a park today!

Visit http://www.nps.org/ to find a National Park near you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Long Path: Blood on the Trail

The 326 mile Long Path begins at the Fort Lee Historical Park in New Jersey and ends at the John Boyd Thacher State Park in Albany County, New York (work is continuing to extend the trail north with a terminus in the Adirondacks).

Although every effort was made to keep the trail away from towns, the path travels through many, giving the hiker an intimate look at the heart of New York.

One such town that the trail passes through is the historic Nyack, the Gateway to Rockland County. Home to the Tappan Zee Bridge, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the keeper of the Helen Hayes legacy, Nyack attracts many to its shore. Street fairs and celebrity sightings are as much a way of life to the residents as are the endless streams of tourists who overtake this small town every summer.

Following the Long Path through Rockland County will lead you through Tallman Mountain State Park (where the trail drops to the lowest elevation, a mere 5 feet above sea level), along 9W, through Blauvelt State Park (former home to a Nike missile launch site), then entering Nyack to cross the New York Thruway for the first time. It is at the intersection of Mountainview Avenue and Route 59, at the New York Thruway entrance ramp where blood was shed not so long ago on the Long Path.

It was on October 20, 1981 in the neighboring town of Nanuet, N.Y. where the unimaginable happened.

At approximately 3:55 pm, Peter Paige, a 24-year Brinks veteran, and his partner, Joe Trombino left the Nanuet National Bank, located on the second level at the Nanuet Mall. Exiting the mall, they used hand trucks to push the $1.6 million to their waiting armored truck. As they loaded the money into the truck, a red van drove up and the rear doors flew open. Masked men jumped out of the van, while one robber used a shotgun to fire 2 blasts into the bulletproof windshield, another robber opened fire with a M-16 automatic, killing Paige and wounding Trombino (Joe Trombino survived the assault and continued to work for Brinks until he was killed in the September 11 attacks in 2001, he was 68.). The thieves grabbed $1.6 million from the truck and fled the scene.

The robbery, which took less than 2 minutes from beginning to end, was not engineered by amateurs. The masked assailants were actually Mutulu Shakur, Mtayari Sundiata, Solomon Bouines, Chui Ferguson, and Kuwasi Balagoon, members of the Black Liberation Army.

A few miles from the mall, a U-haul truck, yellow Honda, and a white Buick parked in a Korvette's lot. In the U-haul were Weather Underground members, David J. Gilbert, Kathy Boudin, Samuel Brown, and Judith Alice Clark. The red van pulled up and money bags were tossed into the U-haul and yellow Honda. Meanwhile a college student studying at home, looked out of her kitchen window, witnessed the exchange, and notified police.

Responding to the call, Police Officers Waverly Brown and Brian Lennon along with Sgt. Edward O'Grady and Detective Artie Keenan, stopped a U-haul truck at the entrance ramp of the N.Y. Thruway. Guns drawn, Sgt. O'Grady told the driver and passenger to exit the vehicle. Kathy Boudin exited the truck and pleading innocence, convinced them to lower their weapons. The officers did, after all, they were looking for black men, not a white man and woman, they must have the wrong truck. Detective Keenan, not satisfied, walked to the rear of the truck and attempted to open the door. Before he could alert the others that it seemed something was holding the door closed, the men inside jumped out of the truck opening fire on the officers.

The robbers then scattered, some in the Honda, others carjacked a motorist, Boudin attempted an escape by foot. Boudin was captured, as was Weathermen David Gilbert, Samuel Brown, and Judith Alice Clark when they crashed the Honda. Police Chief Alan Colsey kept the three held up at gunpoint until backup arrived. Inside the car, police found $800,000 from the robbery. Others escaped that day, but in the end, all were captured.

As you hike the Long Path, you will pass this small memorial to Officer O'Grady and Officer Brown as well as Brinks guard, Peter Paige.

October 20, 1981 marked the end of three lives, the end of radical organizations, and the day blood was shed on the trail.