Mariaville Lake Bed & Breakfast

176 Batter Street, Mariaville, New York 12137
Innkeeper(s): Rick and Lorrie Runnels

Coooooome ooon 7s! Schenectady Casino 27 Aug 2016, 8:44 am

If you are a local, by now you’ve heard about the Casino being built in Schenectady. It will be located just under 30 minutes from the B&B. By the river, near Knott street, the Casino is already accepting job applications. Fancy yourself a mean black jack dealer? Go for it! That is one positive impact the Casino will have on the area – the creation of jobs. As always, there are plenty of things to be concerned about too. But I’m not really about making this a hard-hitting, muck-raking journalistic piece. So let’s skip all that.

Proposed Fanciness

Ah, casinos. The whirl of the roulette wheel, the ringing bells, the flashing lights, the neon, the dizzying carpet. I’ve never been much for gambling. I’ve been to several casinos, including a bunch in Las Vegas, and will probably visit this one as well. I’m not so interested in gambling as I am the atmosphere. It’s fun to get lost (because seriously, those places are near impossible to get out of) among the lights and sounds for a while. There is something strangely calming for me about the overly stimulated space. There is so much to take in, that your mind seems to only concentrate on the environment, giving you a break from your internal analyzing. And probably making it tough to make sound decisions, which is more likely the point.

Actually, that is probably why people can sit and gamble for so long. You get in a rhythm – pull, whiiir, pull, whiiir – and the outside world ceases to exists. There’s also the thrill (or allure of the promise of the thrill) of winning. I basically think that casinos are more or less a racket. Unless you’re betting some major bucks, I wouldn’t expect to win big. But hey ya never know. Regardless, it can be a fun time, and it is excellent people watching!

Erin in Las Vegas

From the just 21 year olds in cargo shorts, to men in tailored suit and women in cocktail dresses, to an array of older people (in everything from suit jackets and pocket squares to sweatpants and plastic visors), there is no shortage of entertainment. I’m curious to see what sort of crowd this casino attracts. It will, no doubt, be a mixture, but I wonder if it will be a lot of locals. I wonder if people will run into friends and acquaintances while there, like, will it be a hang-out? I might be underestimating the size of the Schenectady.

Well, I guess we will see. We will see what it adds, or detracts from the community, what kind of money we all win (hahahaha) and what kind of people watching we get. If nothing else, it will be something new to check out!

White Water Rafting |Mariaville Lake B&B 19 Aug 2016, 4:20 am

If you like roller-coasters or water slides or nature or general fun, you should definitely think about going on a rafting trip. I went on my first one last weekend and I was definitely anxious about it but it was such a blast!


Depending on the river, you could go through some serious rapids or just have a couple of fun ones, and also some flat spots where you can relax and enjoy the scenery. It’s also a fantastic upper body workout and you could totally keep your abs tight to work on your six pack… but, yeah, I didn’t really do that.  Again, depending on where you’re going, and for how long, there may be spots along the river to swim and jump off rocks. Some guys in my group jumped off a bridge too, but I’m not necessarily recommending that (although, yes, I am encouraging it). Participate at your own risk.
I went with some friends who had a 6 person raft and were decently experienced. However, there are lots of places and companies that offer guided tours where you have some extra safety equipment like helmets (ppsssshhh). While we were waiting for a part of our group to come back from dropping off the car, I was able to see an official group get set up. They gave a pretty good safety lecture (which I tried to listen to, but got bored and figured ah, well…).
Rick and Lorrie did a trip with White Water Challengers, about an hour and half from the B&B. They even got fed lunch AND dinner (we had some granola bars and fruit in a dry pack on my trip haha). White Water Challengers has a bunch of different packages you can choose from. Lorrie says it was so much fun and that she “always felt safe, yet challenged and excited”. Sounds like a win-win to me! Except for the safety thing. Boooooring.

In short, with rafting you get excitement and also get to see some scenery that you otherwise might not be able to. Definitely wear sunscreen! It’s awesome being able to jump off the raft into the river when you get hot. It’s both exhilarating and relaxing! I absolutely guarantee you’ll be tired afterwards, but it’s a good kind of tired. Okay, go do it now!

Diatomaceous Earth! What is it good for? Absolutely Everything? 11 Aug 2016, 6:37 am

Diatomeceous earth. Just saying it is fun. But what the hell is it? And what do you do with it?

Diatomeceous earth is a white, crumbly substance that is made from some interesting material. It’s basically crushed up diatoms. Duh. Okay, uhm, what are diotams? They are a type of phytoplankton – algae to be more exact. So, they’re super tiny uni-cellular organisms. Their cell walls are made of silica and are believed to have originated in the Jurassic period. The crushed up fossilized remains of these guys is what makes up diatomaceous earth.

I got some DE

One of the most well-known uses for diatomaceous earth is pest control. There are several different grades of diatomaceous earth. The one you’re going to want to use for any pests, whether it’s indoor or in your garden, is the food grade kind. Many farmers mix it right in their silos with corn to keep bugs at bay. I had some ants recently that just would not quit. I tried several different home remedies, including (but certainly not limited to) various essential oil concoctions and traps, all while keeping everything clean as a whistle. They kept coming back! I even resorted to a chemical spray. I thought that would really do them in –  but it didn’t! My brother recommended diatomaceous earth, and I  was able to procure some from a friend. You sprinkle it around where the wall and the floor meet, in crevices, and on the edges of your counter. The only down-side at first was it did look a little messy. If you decide to try it out, you might want to consider getting a cheap condiment bottle. The plastic kind with the nozzle on the top. You can fill that up and just sort of puff some diatomaceous earth in the areas you want it. It produces a very fine layer that is not as noticeable, but still does the trick.

Nooooooo…..

So low and behold diatomaceous earth did what even chemical-horrible-for-you-and-kinda-scary  Raid couldn’t. After the first day, no more ants. None. It had been months  that I could not seem to get rid of them, and just a little bit of this and they were gone.
The diatomaceous earth particles are so fine it mostly just looks like talcum powder to us, but it’s actually got some really sharp edges to small insects. It causes cuts in the exoskeleton of bugs, and also ruins their waxy coat, dehydrating them. Brutal. It can take a week to work, but I was so impressed with the immediate difference. It is also very long lasting, and highly effective on various insects, including fleas and bedbugs.

Under a microscope

There are other uses for DE as well. You can use it to deodorize shoes, carpets and kitty litter. Due to its abrasiveness, you can mix it with lemon and vinegar for an all natural cleaner. I also hear it absorbs oil stains on clothes and pavement. It works like a dream in the garden for any kind of bug or slug.
So, here’s something else. I’m going to tell you this and tell you to take it with a grain of salt because I haven’t found much solid scientific evidence for it, mainly just testimonials. Some people mix about a teaspoon of DE into water and drink it once, maybe twice a day. It’s supposed to really help your digestive system, and rid you of any weird bacteria or other little things in your system. People rave about it for it’s weight loss benefits, wrinkle reduction, and hair growth! There’s testimonials of people saying that after ingesting it for a while, they were no longer bald. I also hear that it gets rid of gray hair. That might be the most likely claim because of all the silica in DE (it’s about 85%). Gray hair is often a result of not having enough silica in your diet. Again, so I hear.

It cures everything. Just like coconut oil, and (yup) kombucha. I’m not saying all the claims for any of those things are true, but if you do a little research and deem it safe, why not give it a shot? Let me know … because I’m too scared to try it. I will tell you it has been the most successful ant deterrent I have ever encountered, and that alone is something.

Howe Caverns |Mariaville Lake B&B 4 Aug 2016, 3:38 pm

I would just LOVE to go spelunking. Or, even better, discover a cave and explore it by lantern light! That isn’t exactly on my agenda this week, but I did go and take a cavern tour. One of my favorite cavern tours (yeah, I’ve done a few) is just 30 minutes from Mariaville Lake B&B. Not only does it have stalagmites, stalactites, strange formations and different levels, but there’s also a section where you get on a boat and float along a river. I’ll admit, one of my favorite parts of the tours are the cheesy jokes the tour guides make. I don’t even think they’re that cheesy – I think they’re pretty good. This week, as they turned off all the lights to show us how dark it is, the tour guide said “Normally I’d make a joke here, but it’s a little dark”.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842, and is the second largest natural attraction in New York State (do you know what the first is?). If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, and some extra cash, you can take the “Signature Rock Tour” and get to see a rock where people signed their names dating back to 1843, and the remains of an original tour boat. This tour goes beyond the traditional tour, and there isn’t lighting or modern walk ways – boots and head lamps people – sign me up! This tour section has only been open since 2015 (not counting the 1800 – early 1900s.

But, back to the history. Of course, Lester Howe, who made the cave famous, didn’t really discover it. The Native Americans knew it was there. After that, there is record that two white men knew about it, and it was supposed to be a secret in case a war broke out, they would hide there. This was in the early 1700’s and those two men “vanish quite suddenly from historical records, as did the Indians of the Schoharie Valley” according to the History section on the Howe Caverns Website. So, there’s that.

Lester Howe came into the picture in the early 1800’s. The entrance to the cave, and most knowledge about it had been forgotten. There was rumor of a “blowing rock”, a section of rock where even on thick, muggy days, a cool breeze would be felt. You know who felt that breeze? Lester’s cows. They always seemed to head to a similar area in the summer, and it wasn’t even on his property, but on his neighbors. Lester went up there and what do you suppose he found? He and his neighbor dug a bit and went in to explore. He opened it up to the public in 1843 and the tour was… 8 hours long. That’s, like, bring-two-meals-long. Now, the tours are 80 minutes, which is a bit more manageable. It’s probably partly due to walk-ways, lighting, and handrails which were put in between 1927 and 1929. It was probably slow going before then.

A hotel was built when things got popular, but Lester fell on hard times financially. He sold off some land above the caverns later on, and a quarry went in and destroyed some of the cave. The quarry also had the hillside with the natural entrance to the cave. The cave closed to the public, until 1927 when an organization was created to save it. They made improvements, including another entrance to the cave, and those safety measures mentioned above, including an elevator, all making it more accessible to the public.

Howe’s Cavern’s is exciting, beautiful, and a great place for both kids and adults. It’s cool because you get a history lesson, geology lessons and some truly stunning sights all in one trip. Also, it’s a great way to beat the heat. The cave is always 52 degrees, despite the outside temperature. If you need a break from the beating sun and shimmering heat waves, this is a fantastic way to escape (I think its better than going to the movies anyway).

Guests at Mariaville Lake B&B receive $2.00 off each paid admission.

 

And by the way, the first most visited natural attraction in NYS is Niagara Falls.

 

NYC Ballet at SPAC | Mariaville Lake B&B 28 Jul 2016, 1:13 pm

A summer schedule in the capital region always includes an event at SPAC. I wrote a blog recently about Saratoga Performing Arts and all the great music and performances they have. One of those is the time honored tradition of several New York City Ballet performances. Every year, they have a two week residency at SPAC. They are back again this year of course, but only through July 30th, so hurry up!

I loved going to see dance performances as a kid, and the NYC Ballet was the tops! I was very involved in dance as a kid, and loved reading books about the company, and taking VHSs of performances out of the library. Ballet is incredible – the strength, grace, emotion, not to mention the hard work behind each performance is breath-taking. One of the most stunning things about ballet is how effortless it all appears, while what it really is is endless training and physical maintenance, pain-staking costume making, meticulous sets and lighting – and a lot of sweat and bruised toes.

P.S. Do yourself a favor and don’t google “ballet feet”. This was one of the more tame ones.

NYCB will be performing some classics, as well as unveiling a few newly choreographed pieces, for a total of 16 ballets and 8 choreographers. Of course, there will be Balanchine choreography. They are also bringing out “Rhapsody in Blue” – who doesn’t love Gershwin (really? Who? They same people who don’t like ice cream I bet)?! You could be lucky enough to see the premier of a few new ballets they have lined up as well. They opened this season with A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream, the same ballet they opened with 50 years ago at SPAC!

I’m quite sure that all who attend the performances will enjoy the shows thoroughly. So, please go out to support these hard workers – both dancers and crew. Ballet makes life just a little bit more beautiful (except the toes. That’s pretty rough). Last but not least, I would like to show you my totally awesome vintage T-shirt.

My SCOBY is growing so big, I may need to find a larger apartment. 21 Jul 2016, 9:58 am

Kombucha (gazoontite)! Have you tried it? You’re totally going to love it – or hate it. Kombucha is a fermented tea, chock full of probiotics. Like yogurt, sort of … only with tea, and stranger (mostly because it is not as widely known or produced). This “Immortal Health Elixer”, as the ancient Chinese referred to it, boasts benefits such as liver detox, immune support, aids in digestion as well as some possibly less substantiated claims such as weight loss and cancer prevention.

Several options of store-bought kombucha

I only recently decided to try it. I’ve known of it for a while now, but it always seemed a little gross to me. I had been suffering from a lingering cold that I couldn’t quite kick (despite massive amounts of fruits and vegetables, ginger, local honey, tea concoctions, etc.), and my brother had been talking about it, so I said okay, lets do this. I found a bottle in a grocery store, opened it on the spot and took a big swig, expecting to want to throw up. But oh my god, it was Good! Full disclosure, store bought brands may not be as strong, and often have fruit or other flavors added to appeal to a wider audience. The one I tried was ginger – but you could still taste the vinegary-ness in the lightly carbonated liquid. I happen to enjoy vinegar very much, and that bodes well for someone trying out kombucha. Anyway, I’m hooked now! The drawback is that this stuff is kind of expensive. The cheapest I’ve found locally is $3 for a 16 oz bottle, which is basically one serving. So, I thought I’d investigate making it myself.

Materials!

Baby SCOBY

It isn’t too hard to make and its very cheap too. You need a gallon glass jar (thanks Mom), a wooden spoon (thanks Mom), some tea, sugar, water, and time. You also need a SCOBY. A weird, jiggly, SCOBY. Just to the left is a picture of the baby SCOBY the day I got it. It is stored in glass with sweetened tea. It should be covered with a light tight knit fabric or paper towel, secured with a rubber band.

SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. It is the thing that turns the tea into this nutrient dense drink. It’s also referred to as the mushroom, or the mother (like apple cider vinegar). It’s pretty gross looking. Even when you know what it is, and how good for you it is, it’s still kinda gross – and weirdly fascinating.

Day 3

Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy them online, or grow one from the bits in store bought kombucha, which can be very difficult from what I’ve read. If you are lucky enough, as I was, to know several people who may potentially have one, you might score a baby SCOBY which you can then grow. And, boy, does it grow! Once transferred from its little jar to the gallon one, the thing grows every day! It’s been 7 days now, and the tea isn’t quite ready, but it’s getting there. It still tastes a little sugary and not vinegary enough. Once it tastes right, you bottle it (I’m reusing the glass bottles I bought the store bought kombucha in. I’m saving money all over the place!), and you wait some more while it carbonates.

Day 6

Day 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m very excited to continue the process, watch it grow, and have some amazing kombucha for a fraction of the cost! Mariaville Lake B&B doesn’t serve you fermented tea at breakfast, not yet anyways, but we do have plenty of coffee and normal tea to consume with your meal! Stay tuned for some updates!

Just a Little History of Mariaville 14 Jul 2016, 2:33 pm

The town of Duanesburg, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Mariaville, was settled as early as 1736. James Duane was a mayor of NYC, and a friend of George Washington (…here, you dropped this). He imagined that Duanesburg would one day become the capital of New York – which didn’t exactly happen. Mariaville is a hamlet of Duanesburg, and was named for James’s daughter.

Old Mariaville Lake Side Store

Mariaville was nothing to shake a stick at in its day. There was a handle shop (huh!), a couple gristmills, several sawmills and a wagon shop as well as a paint shop, which painted the wagons! Oh, and a cider mill that also made hard cider! What a industrious town! A gristmill just west of Mariaville became known for making pancake batter, and some surmise that is where “Batter Street” got its name. Makes sense right? Mariaville Lake B&B is situated on Batter Street, close to the (locally) famous Mariaville Lakeside Store. Two of the first owners of the B&B also owned the store.

The B&B!This photo inspired Rick to put in a circular driveway in the front of the house.

Mariaville Lake is man made. It was originally a marshy area and they dammed it off (excuse my French). Mariaville has typically been a summer vacation spot over the last 50 years or so, with lots of camp style houses around the lake, but over the last two decades, most of the camps have been converted into year-round residences, or torn down and new structures been built. Mariaville Lake also has a several large, beautiful, older houses of historical and architectural significance. Mariaville Lake B&B, and the Frost house, both within eye-sight of the store to name just two. There are others, and also two more interesting houses (that are old, but maybe not 1800’s old), but I won’t tell you about the those last two … they’re sort of hidden and I’m not even sure anyone lives there. Secrets!

Map from 1866 – note how the lake is labeled “pond”!

Mariaville has grown quite a bit since the drawing of this 1866 map, but it is still small, quiet and serene. The Presbyterian Church and the Post Office buildings are still there, but are now private residences, and the church has no steeple.  As you can see from the map, there were actually three “hotels” in Mariaville at the time. Of course, they were not the type of hotels as we know today (I doubt they had indoor swimming pools and a fitness center – or even an elevator). I guess that means that Mariaville Lake B&B is not only historic, but following a historic endeavor in the town!

Camp Creek 2016 | Mariaville Lake B&B 7 Jul 2016, 8:00 am

Are you ready? It’s that time again. Camp Creek time!

Everyone in Mariaville knows what Camp Creek is.  Indian Lookout Country Club has hosted Camp Creek for many years (although it has also been at other venues). It’s a three day music festival, but not a crazy large one, or one with electronic music and lots of early to mid twenties ravers. That’s not to say that age group doesn’t go to Creek, but it does seem to attract more of the holistic recycling type, over the ravers in tutus and furry boots (not that you won’t see any). There’s something more organic about it… not as harsh. One thing that has always struck me about Camp Creek is how family friendly it is, and in a way that no other festival I’ve been to is. From what I’ve seen and experienced, people make life-long friends at Creek.

The first Camp Creek was in 1983, and has since continued, though with a few years off now and then. Max Creek  enjoys a very loyal fan base, mostly North-Easterners. Camp was held at several other locations before coming to Indian Lookout Country Club, where it has been many, many times since. Growing up across the street from ILCC was pretty cool. Ben and I  have gone sledding down the hill to the “Camp Creek Stage”, as we called it, in the winters. It’s a different look in the winter there for sure! But during the summer because of the festivals, we got the opportunity to see so many amazing bands and artists.

Dancing with Dad – always a highlight!

I don’t remember exactly what year it came to ILCC, but I think I was about 11 or 12. I do remember what I wore:  a blue tie-dye T-shirt and jean shorts. It was the only tie-dye shirt I owned at the time, and I remember thinking it was pretty cool and how I probably blended in with everyone. Our parents would bring us over and we loved it. Year by year, and also with additions of other festivals, my brother and I would be allowed to venture off for an hour or two by ourselves. We had to report back, and then after a bit we could wander off again for a while (I didn’t mind reporting back though, because they had the food). As I got older, my friends would come with me, we spent less time with Mom and Dad, and camped out. As I got older still, we spent MORE time with Mom and Dad and slept at the B&B. All of those festivals, Camp Creek and others, were some of the best memories I have. Boy do I have stories. I just can’t tell them here. I also remember Ben and I walking up and down the road after a festival looking for “ground scores”: little lost glass beads,  other artifacts and sometimes money! By the way, a tent in the camping area on Sunday before the festival is officially over does NOT count as a ground score. So, if you have our small camouflage tent from about a decade ago, please return it :-).

Normal.

Ben and I developed a real love for Max Creek, and saw them at plenty of shows elsewhere too. Boy, do I have stories. But, well –  you know. Ben got into tape trading Creek and Dead shows. He can probably still recite a Max Creek set-list from any show during that time period. We also got the opportunity to see a lot of other great bands at Camp Creek, including Ryan Montbleau Band, Steve Kimock, The Breakfast, not to mention some really cool guest stars. It’s always a great party with lots of glow-sticks and neat toys, hulu hoopers and costumes – and the whole time you feel like you’re with extended family.

Ben and Dad, just before sunset

Wow, I miss it! Neither Ben nor I can make it this year –  so everyone go, have a great time … and as the brilliant sunset comes along, with Creek playing, look to the sky and think of my brother and me!

Ben, Erin, Lorrie

Mariaville Lake B&B ~ Before & After! 30 Jun 2016, 12:53 pm

It’s hard to believe that the gorgeous Federal style building that houses Mariaville Lake B&B was not always a bed and breakfast. In fact, since it was built, it has always been a single family home. Rick & Lorrie purchased it in November 2003 from a family with six children. Over the next 9 months, six workers (and 2 slave labor workers, my brother and I) installed bathrooms, knocked down walls/put up walls, and gave everything a fresh coat of paint.
One thing I remember specifically from this time is how when work would be finished, Rick would come to inspect it, and pretty often re-do it himself! I also learned how to paint with meticulous attention to detail, using only Rick-sanctioned techniques.

Lake View Room Before

Lake View Room After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The suite was one of the later additions to the house. It sits over a two car garage and didn’t even have a floor! I remember going up there, and walking on the single board that stretched across its length. You had to be careful not to step off it into the insulation for fear of falling straight through to the garage below. Now, it has been carefully sheet rocked, painted, carpeted (oh, they put a floor in first) and a private bathroom put in.

Suite Before

Suite After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick and Lorrie are constantly doing upgrades. They never stop. The Lake Cottage, an entire house I’d be more than happy to call home, sits just next to the main house and has recently been redone. They had done some work in it years ago, but saved a major renovation until more recently, bringing it to a whole new level.

Lake Cottage Kitchen Before

Lake Cottage Kitchen After

Lake Cottage Living Room Before

Lake Cottage Living Room After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with many things, nothing is as easy as you think it will be. When you are doing that kind of construction on an old house, it really is opening up a can of worms. For example, Rick needed to put in a door at the back of the garage. Lorrie left for work as they got started. She returned hours later, thinking it would be finished – it was anything but! The entire wall of the garage was gone! Turns out, once he opened up  a part of the wall he discovered the wood was so rotted it all needed to be replaced.

Ah, such is life – am I right?

 

 

 

 

~Berry Season’s Pickins ~ 24 Jun 2016, 6:33 am

It’s strawberry season! You should go pick some! And I don’t mean pick them out at a grocery store, because that’s boring.

 

We used to go to various “pick your own” spots when we were kids. I still remember the smell of the sun baked straw that lined the paths between strawberry plants. The slight crunch of it as you would kneel down having spotted the biggest, ripest berry. The straw would leave crosshatch indents on your knees and shins, and bits of it would stick to the sweat on your legs. I also don’t think I ever managed to get out of a strawberry patch without a new stain on my “play clothes”.

 

Somehow my mother always managed to fill her containers twice as quickly as us. This may have been because we ate half of them before they made it into those green cardboard-y baskets. As you may know, fresh strawberries taste better than packaged ones, but did you know they taste even better when you have dirt on your hands and straw stuck on your legs? They do – it’s  fact.

 

There are some great spots in the area to pick your own berries. Its a wonderful way to spend the day outside, and you end up with plenty of berries to either put in a recipe, or eat alone (as in, by themselves. Not like in a dark room crying. But you could do that too – no judgement here).

 

Bowman Orchards has close to 100 acres of not just strawberries, but blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries (as well as pumpkins and apples when Autumn comes). Their website lets you know what season to expect the different berries in, which will help you avoid arriving at the wrong time and disappointing your kids They also have some sheep, goats and alpacas to check out!

Indian Ladder Farms unfortunately is not doing strawberries this year, but raspberries are about to be in full force! The page on their website for pick your own raspberries has some really cool information on it like what the different parts of the raspberry are called and the best containers to use when picking. They also have animals and do quite a bit when Autumn comes in regards to apples and pumpkins. This year marks their 100th year and their “About Us” page has some great photographs and history. Fruit growing is no small deal!

 

Those are two of the big ones – but do some research and ask around. There’s something really special about finding small, roadside places to pick berries or buy produce. It makes it feel like a little treasure you’ve just found – kinda like when you’ve spotted the biggest ripest berry !