Thursday, August 25, 2011

Indian Lake, New York

It's hard to explain, but easier to understand if you have your own place of retreat. Indian Lake has become that for me. Often blanketed in mist and always surrounded by the old and rugged Adirondack mountains, for the past four years I can't help but feel a certain lack of bustle and hustle when I'm sitting on the beach with a chosen book or watching a storm blow up and across the lake from the southwestern mountain ridges.

Every year, the lake seems unchanged and every year it goes through it's own, sometimes drastic, cycle of 'feelings' during the week and often each day. Morning is calm and misty. The water can almost be glass. Droplets will literally form and stay on the surface of the water from paddle splashes and then slowly disappear as the lake absorbs each one back into itself.

Mid-morning into the afternoon the wind will pick up, generally out of the south and blow down the lake. Swimming at this time is wild fun. Often, to keep your head above water, you have to be glancing at what's coming with the next wave. You can end up with a mouthful of lake water or with a good deal of sloshing in one of your ears.

Evenings, it's back to glass. Water skiers paradise and well..perhaps an after dinner cigar in the kayak. Bobbing out on the lake, the water warmed throughout the day, one can't help but feel they're in a giant bathtub, with the steep mountainsides circling around.

My pictures can't do it justice. Really you have to see the Adirondacks for yourself to get the full experience. The Adirondack Park is about 6.1 million acres. Roughly half of the park is owned by private landholders, the other half by the state. Building new structures in the park is strictly controlled. A landowner can really only build on the structures already on their property. This has kept the park from exploding in lakefront buildings and in general kept it 'forever wild.' But at the same time, much of the park's small towns are dotted with dilapidated buildings and closed businesses. Sometimes, tourist season can come and go awfully fast and if an business owner can't make what they need during those three months, there's alot of scraping by come late winter.

It's hard not to look forward to some lake time every year. This year was especially worth it. My summer has been very busy with earning the rent and getting some artwork done for the upcoming album. Before I left I was also able to record some vocal tracks, so it has been a busy summer. Now that I'm back from the lake, I do miss it, but not terribly. It doesn't change in my head, and I know that if another year goes well I'll be sitting on the same Twin Coves beach in August next year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Water Bottle Rockets

This summer has been a fun one. Lots of time spent at our local Lake Nokomis Beach. Although water quality isn't what it should be here in the Twin Cities Lakes this year, it has been nearly impossible to stay cool without going for a dip in the lake. HOWEVER...there are other ways...

Recently I taught a class for some kids as part of a summer camp at Leonardo's Basement. The course title was "3,2,1 Water Blastoff!!!." The above rocket was made by the assistant in the class. As you can imagine, it was alot of fun and I found a pretty cheap and easy way to get wet. A PVC water bottle rocket launcher powered by a bicycle pump is not hard to build at all and cheap. I'd say you could find some things in your tool box at home. The rest you can buy for under $20. It comes apart in two easy to carry parts like so:

Here's list of materials you'll probably find at home. You can also go to the link at the bottom of the list if you need more explanation. Just click on Materials List and you'll be all set to go. Here's mine.

List at Home
-Duct tape
-2 two litre bottles
-bike pump
- 3 feet of rope (strong shoelace works)
-drill with 1/2 inch drill bit and a smaller sized bit to fit the twine or shoelace
-tape measure

Materials at the store:
-1/2 inch PVC schedule 40 pipe - 10ft section--this fit in the Buick, but you can cut it at 4ft at the store
-short piece of 1 1/2 inch PVC (2 inches long)
-1/2 inch slip tee connector
-2 pieces 1/2 inch slip end caps
- 1/2 inch slip and internal thread
- 1/2 inch slip and external thread
- roll of teflon tape (plumbers tape)
- PVC primer (don't need to have this, but i used it anyway)
- PVC cement
- hose clamp that opens to at least 1 inch
- 8 plastic zip ties
- tire valve from O'Reilly's or auto parts store of your choice. You don't need the expensive threaded kind and you want the thin kind if they offer more than one type.
- you can get a tire pressure gauge if you want

In building my rocket launcher I found the videos at this link very helpful. Same spot i got the materials list from. The videos are very well done and easy to understand so I'm not going to go into too much depth explaining the instructions. The site is very thorough.

Basically you are going to be cutting up the PVC tubing into specific lengths with the hacksaw. You'll be drilling a 1/2 inch hole in one of the end caps to put your tire valve into. Then you'll be gluing your parts together.

Next you've got to create a bump in the pipe so your water bottle rocket will stick on the pipe without leaking. This is probably one of the trickier spots. You've got to melt the pipe with the candle at a specific length to form the bump. There are other ways (o-rings) to make the seal air tight, but this is probably the most effective.

Then you've got to build your trigger mechanism using duct tape, zip ties, shoelace, and the small piece of 1 1/2 inch pipe.

You'll have to line that up with the bump in the pipe you created and tighten it down with the hose clamp. After that you build your safety spring with one of the two liter bottles. Attach one piece of leftover piping to keep that from sliding down, set up your trigger, slide on the remaining 1/2 full 2 litre bottle of water, fix the trigger, pump and let 'er rip!!!