Sunday, December 30, 2012

And it Snowed and Snowed

Finally, we have had a bonified snow storm that has deposited about 24" of snow over the last several days.  So the entire staff is busy flat out to get everything done for this busy holiday week.
The Christmas Holiday and Christmas Week have been wonderful here with more snow falling this week than we saw most of last winter!  The Ski Shop is humming along with excited & enthusiastic skiers.  We've been challenged to get trails rolled and groomed due to the continual snowfall...but today should get us caught up in grooming.  Guests are enjoying everything about the lodge, from the decor, the live piano music and the fireplace, to the food, the service and great wintery weather.  Mindy and I are so pleased that things have come together as much as they have.  It's been a busy year and we're grateful to our employees who have done so much to help us get to where we are. 
On Saturday Mindy led a group ski out to the Sugar House for hot chocolate and cookies which everyone enjoyed very much.  We will be doing more of them as the season goes on, and hopefully we'll even be able to serve pancakes and maple syrup out there a few mornings.

The snow is really piling up at the Log House, and it's beautiful.

4H Trail in the lull between snow storms last week.

The view from the lodge 

Some folks getting ready to go out on the trails

Arriving at the Sugar House on Saturday for hot chocolate and cookies

One of our Traditional rooms showing off a new decor

Our new fireplace seating area is working out nicely...Guests love the sofa and rocking chair

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Open House Hightlights

On Sunday, December 9th, we held a One Year Anniversary Open House to share what we've done and accomplished over the last year.  We also put our entire cross country ski inventory on sale and sold a good amount of equipment.  Meanwhile at the Lodge people were able to take a tour, see the Christmas decorations, and peek in on the changes that we've been making to the hotel rooms and have a hot drink and some cookies to go along.

In room 10 we've made significant changes by incorporating a new bed head board and foot board that came from an old farm house.  The decorative birch bark on the head board looks like it could be a painting in its own right.

All of the Lodge rooms have gotten new bedspreads, curtains and shower curtains this fall as well as a number of new mattresses.

Mindy's Christmas decorations are phenomenal this year.  We'll do a separate blog entry about those as well.

The Skishop has also been upgraded in a number of ways, including a new retail sales system to make it easier and faster to get people out on the trails when it's busy.  We will also have full service waxing stations and frequent wax demos to show how much ski waxing can make it so much easier and more enjoyable.

Our ski programs and event offerings are going to be extensive this year.  Please check out our schedule of events here:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting Ready for Winter

As Christmas and the winter season approaches Mindy and I are continuing to gear up for skiing and decorate everything at the lodge.  Once again, I'll show what we've been up to in photos rather than a lot of description.
The weekend of Dec. 1st was very busy for us.  We started with a Christmas parade in North Creek where the North Country Singers joined us on the Garnet Hill Hay Wagon to sing carols through town.  That night we sang in the Christmas Concert and I played a piece on the piano as well (Debussy's Clair de Lune).
On Sunday we performed as well at Tanner Pond Center.  Both concerts were packed and we had a great time.
Most of our decorations are up and in place at this point.  We're looking forward to serving very special dinners on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.  You can check out the details here!

The start of the parade from the school in North Creek headed into town.

 There were lot's of floats and participants in the parade and a good crowd on hand to watch as well.

 Mindy's Dad, Dennis, got dressed up in a Smokey the bear costume at the request of the forest ranger.
And here he is sitting on the air boat that was in the parade.

 These next two came out a bit unfocused, but in this one I gave an intro to the piece I played to describe what the full moon is like in the Adirondacks on a freezing cold night in the middle of winter, out on a lake, etc...  The audience enjoyed the imagery to go along with Debussy's Clair de Lune.

And here is where I'm playing the piece.  Tannery Pond Community Center has a great piano which offers a lot of sound possibilities, which is one of the reasons I wanted to play this particular piece.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Making the Changes

The following post had to be reposted as we have had to change the blog back again to the way it was a couple of months ago.  We just didn't have the success we had hoped for in performance and reliability from the WorkPress blogging software.  So we are back with Google's Blogger once again.

As I write this post, our Columbus Day weekend is almost over. It has been very busy here with a full house and a good flow of dinner guests and visitors. We’ve initiated the Hay Rides and they have been very popular and fun. Mindy has decorated everything for fall very nicely. And we had a nice little wedding on Saturday that went very well. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Refinishing Log Railings

Throughout the spring and summer seasons we've been incrementally and gradually cleaning and power washing various railings, decks and benches to get them ready to finish with Sikkens Log and Siding coating. I say finish rather then refinish because these railings, decks and benches etc... have never been given even a single coat of anything.  I see that quite a few people out in the country do not bother to coat their decks or railings or posts or whatever and they pretty quickly get a dull, old looking finish.  I guess they figure that since it's pressure treated, it doesn't need to be coated with anything.  I prefer to finish outdoor workmanship myself rather than wait for nature to give me that old dilapidated look.  So here is what we've been doing and the results are quite pleasing.

Below is the Birches Deck before we started the work.

The Birches Deck before we started the work.  This is pressure treated wood that has never been given a stain, finish or coating of any kind.  It looks old and dilapidated the way it is and not very inviting for guests to sit out on.  So we're going to turn it into a fresh new finished deck.

Looking up on to the deck

Birches Stairway and landing
The first thing to do is to apply a wood cleaner and brightener.  We use a product called TimberWash which we obtain from an online log home supplier called  This liquid concentrate is an oxidizing chemical which loosens the mold and dirt and allows the wood to be cleaned easily with the power washer. The liquid is applied liberally with a brush and worked into the wood grain and left for at least 20 minutes to do its work.

This what the landing looks like after being scrubbed power washed.

The deck itself before...

Here you can see how much is coming off the wood with the power washer.

...and after. The bench and railings have already been partially coated with the Sikkens Log and Siding product.

So the deck looks more like this now.  It still needs 2 more coats of Sikkens in order to have it looking its best and we hope to get there before the end of the year.  Otherwise it will have to wait until next spring.

Same process for the log railing at the back of the birches

The Tea house is also undergoing the cleaning and finishing process.

Here is some of the detailed woodwork at the Tea House as it is in the process of being cleaned.

And finally, we're doing the same thing in the entryway of the Log House

As we complete these projects I'll be updating this blog entry to show what it will look like when done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day Musings

One thing that Mindy and I both enjoy about running the lodge is the slow but steady progress we make in solving the issues that confront us and gradually ironing out the kinks and creases in the smooth running of everything.  A lot of that involves getting the right personnel in place to carry out the myriad tasks involved with people who are dedicated, competent and reliable in their work.  And so that happens gradually as we find the right people and they become available over time to come and work for us.  But it is a process that is gradually creating a staff here that is very effective and great at making sure that guests get taken care of.
Another example is the two water purification systems we have; one in the Birches and one in the Ski Shop.  The systems are rather quirky and have been unreliable and costly to keep maintained, but gradually we're learning what the issues involved are and are taking the steps to remedy them so that maintenance and cost will not be such an issue in the future.  Again, it's just a matter of time.

Other examples are getting insurance costs and energy costs under better control.  We're getting quotes on insurance for next year that will save a lot of money, and we're going to change energy suppliers to a co-op where we can also save thousands along with more heat efficiency in winter.

These are just some of the major ways we're trying to create order from the chaos that constantly tries to take over.  Speaking of chaos, Mark and Dale continue to clean out and organize the maintenance and storage sheds.  One shed is on its way to becoming a pretty well equipped mechanical shop while another will be a very capable woodworking shop.
 The woodworking shop.  With this in place we'll be able to build our own custom furniture and finish work for rooms and common areas.

The mechanical shop.  Currently, we're working on a cub tractor to get it back up and running.  It's in two pieces here because the clutch assembly has been disconnected.

The new carpet cleaner has arrived and early indications point to a very effective cleaning machine that we'll be able to use multiple times throughout the year at virtually no further cost to keep the carpeting throughout the lodge really clean.  My sister Laura and her son Chris are here for the week helping out with the carpets and other various and sundry tasks.

People have often been asking Mindy and me about how things are going here and whether we are still enjoying ourselves or whether we have any regrets about taking things over here.  Well the answer is that we are enjoying ourselves.  If nothing else, our lives are very interesting and exciting.  But the best part really is when we talk with guests and they tell us why they've come here and how much they like it.  It starts to sink in how really special Garnet Hill Lodge is.  It's unique in ways that people are very  pleased about.  And it's not just a few people or a small percentage of guests, but it's the vast majority who sense that this is a place they want to come back to and bring their families and friends.  So that is very gratifying and it makes whatever unpleasant aspects that there are with this undertaking a lot more endurable.

Our Labor Day weekend was very busy and pleasant.  Guests were very happy enjoying the fine weather outside and the atmosphere and food inside. Here are the pictures:

 Folks are really enjoying the fire that we light each night.  Especially with the cool weather we're seeing more and more of these days.

A cool picture with the lodge lit up in the background and the bright moon illuminating the clouds above.

This photo is the same scene as above taken with a flash.  The dogs are  always happy to keep everybody company.

In the morning these children had a fine time doing arts and crafts outside on the patio.

Friday, August 31, 2012

As Summers End Draws Near

Mindy and I have just returned from a short getaway of our own prior to diving in to preparations for the fall and winter seasons.  We visited Gettysburg, PA along with her two boys Blake and Andrew.  We had a nice time there taking tours and visiting historic sites.  We also did some antique shopping but didn't come away with anything significant for the lodge.
Business at the lodge has been brisk this summer and we're hoping to keep our momentum going through much of the fall.  We still have a lot to offer people who want to get away from it all and just enjoy themselves in the natural surroundings we have here.
But we're also starting to focus on the winter season to let folks know that the skiing here will be phenomenal this year, with all the great snow we're going to get and the ample equipment we have to handle it and the expert grooming team we have in place.
So we do feel refreshed and re-energized to continue making Garnet Hill Lodge just a little bit better every day.  Over the last several weeks we've been going over the rooms in the lodge to make as many small but significant improvements as possible.  We're also cleaning and staining the log railings at the Tea House and  the Birches and they're coming out very nicely.  See pictures below.
In other news, here's a link to the YouTube movie snippet that is being circulated for 'Approaching Normal'. The movie was shot at Garnet Hill Lodge in its entirety and is planned to be released early next year.

 On Aug. 24th we hosted a get together for a local non-profit organization - The Adirondack Community Fund which provides support for many other non-profit and volunteer organizations in the area.

 The monetary awards were presented to the recipients under the old apple tree.

Mindy's Dad Dennis arrived on Thursday to stay with us for a week so I'm sure he will make a difference in the gardens and landscaping of the lodge.  Meanwhile, Dale and Mark are plugging away on various improvement projects and painting.

 The Birches in the process of some painting updates

 Dale painting one of the windows.

 The Tea House painting in progress

The back of the Tea House.  The railing is in ok shape, it just has never been coated with anything to protect the wood.  We've re-enforced the supports and we will be replacing some of the railings over time.
This young fawn was spotted (no pun intended) down near the Adventure Center on Friday morning.  Dale got the picture.