Keuka Lake 2008, Week 2

Another great week at Keuka. We had our usual mix of weather but managed to get in a good range of activities, including some hardcore track work down in Hammondsport (Jacob is on a rigorous fitness program this summer), some golf in Hornell, the usual array of watersports, and some fishing (and eating of fish).

Julie's dad Jerry and step-mom are off to Maine for about 10 days on a harbor cruise, but Jerry managed to put in a lot of time working with both boys on scout merit badges, and we even brought up a neighbor boy or half a day to work on small boat sailing merit badge. Here they are working on some knots.

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We heard from a friend that their motorboat might be submerging, so the boys took it upon themselves to row down the lake a half mile or so to check out the situation and possibly do some bailing. Turns out things weren't as bad as we suspected.

Keuka Lake 2008-23.jpg

Matthew has a new interest in fishing this year and is working on his fishing merit badge. This is good as I'm the only adult that has a passion for fishing and I need some successors to carry the torch (Jacob is already into fishing). Around the cottages we catch a wide range of pan fish, bass, and now quite a bit of catfish. My strategy is to snorkel around to see what's what and where the fish are hanging out, and this year I was surprised to see no less than 8 decent sized (10-14") catfish within 20 yards of our dock. Matthew managed to stalk one of these and bring it, which provided a great opportunity to teach him how to clean and skin catfish for cooking.

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He needed some help (catfish are hard to skin!) but did a great job, and it tasted great. We cooked it in a foil pack on the grill with some bacon and seasoning.

The water was very flat for a few days allowing us to spend more time on skis and wakeboards. Jacob is learning the ropes on his own with the wakeboard as none of us have any experience, but he's picking it up quickly and starting to learn a few tricks.

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Julie continues her mastery of the slalom ski, putting the rest of us to shame.

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I'm generally happy just to get up on a single ski, though it has become easier over the years (I only managed to get up for the first time about 7 years ago) and am unable to lay out like Julie and her brothers. Still, I have fun as long as my stamina lasts.

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Speaking of fishing, the boys and I are heading out on the boat right now to try and land some lake trout. Unfortunately there are now sawbellies (live minnow bait) available on the lake right now so we are forced to try some new techniques with artificial lures, so I'm not sure if we will bring anything home. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to show.

Europe 2008 - Bulge Tour, Day 3

This is my final post on our tour of Battle of the Bulge sites. “About time!” I’m sure some of you are saying.

Our last day of sightseeing was in the Malmedy / Stavelot area. We generally followed Kampfgruppe Peiper’s advance into Stavelot (check out this discussion on Peiper’s disputed past), with a focus on a few locations known for their tragic endings.

High level view

Detail view - Malmedy, Stavelot

We started in Malmedy, famous for the Malmedy Massacre which, surprisingly, did not occur in Malmedy. Peiper’s armored column progressed from Baugnez to Ligneuville, bypassing Malmedy in favor of a southern route into Stavelot.

While the German column led by Peiper continued on the road towards Ligneuville, the American prisoners were taken to a field, where they were joined by others captured by the SS earlier in the day. The majority of the testimonies later collected from the survivors state that approximately 120 men were gathered in the field. For reasons which still remain unclear today, the Germans suddenly opened fire on their prisoners with machine-guns. A number of Germans later claimed that some prisoners had tried to escape, others alleged that while left alone in the meadow they had somehow recovered their previously discarded weapons and fired on the German troops who continued their progress in the direction of Ligneuville. Of the 88 bodies recovered a month later, the majority showed wounds to the head, evidence more consistent with mass execution than with an act of self-defense or an attempt to prevent escape.
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Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malmedy
massacre

We did find a nice memorial in Malmedy but quickly proceeded on to Baugnez.

Church Memorial in Malmedy.jpg

The terrain in this area is rolling hills without dense forest like our first day in the Schnee Eifel. We could have been in New England or even the Willamette Valley in Oregon. There isn't much to see in Baugnez - it is more a place for reflection. You can see some photos of the killing field then and now at the sites mentioned above.

Baugnez - Where the Malmedy Massacre Happened.jpg

Ligneuville was our next stop and was also the next stop of the take-no-prisoners SS - yet another massacre occurred in this quaint town. This is the memorial.

Another Malmedy Memorial.jpg

Within site of the Hotel Du Moulin, an SS enlisted man executed 8 American captured soldiers.

Hotel du Moulin in Ligneuville.jpg

Next we parked the car along a private dirt road for a short hike to yet another memorial where SS troops murdered American soldiers.

Hiking to another Massacre Memorial near Pont.jpg

On December 17, 12 American soldiers and 3 local residents were killed by SS troops at this location.

The Pont Memorial.jpg

Our final stop of the day was in Stavelot. There were some interesting spots to check out, including a building still riddled by automatic weapon bullet holes and the typical static displays of American armor. You can read about some interesting Ghost Stories of Stavelot if you are into that sort of thing.

This spot below where Jacob is posing near a bridge over the Ambleve marks just about the end of Peiper's advance just west of Stavelot - the river was high and swift and one can certainly understand the importance of bridges in this area even though the rivers are often not very wide.

Bridge over the Ambleve west of Stavelot.jpg

That does it - hope you enjoyed the tour and do not hesitate to contact me if you are looking for tips on your own visit to the area.

Keuka Lake, Week 1

We are a week into our 6-week stay at Keuka Lake, and the pace is intoxicating. Rather than trying to squeeze in every possible activity over a 7-10 day sprint, we are pacing ourselves and enjoying some quiet time.

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The boys are working on several Boy Scout merit badges with Grandpa Jerry - motorboating, water sports, small boat sailing, and possibly rowing and canoeing. Each merit badge has a similar set of first aid and swimming requirements so we completed those during the week. Matthew struggled a bit with the swimming test but after some coaching from another terrible swimmer (me) we got him through it.

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The boys' current project is staining two wooden beach chairs with some guidance from grandpa, who built the chairs over the winter in his wood shop. The color is coming out different than expected but we think we'll stick with it. They are finishing up the final coat as I type this.

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As for me, I had mixed results with my first week of working remotely. I had a ton of calls to take during the week (I'm hiring an Executive Director for TechStart and had several interviews to conduct) but as the week went on I got my groove and was very productive by Friday. I keep my camera close at hand in case anything worth shooting wanders by my view.

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Matthew's favorite activity is still tubing behind the boat and we accommodate his passion on a daily basis.

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Jacob lives for sailing and had the pleasure of indoctrinating a cousin in the finer points of capsizing and righting the Sunfish last weekend. We haven't managed to get the Flying Dutchman out yet as the sun and wind have yet to conspire together for the right conditions.

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We have a little more than a week on our own here before the Ginn family joins us for the 4th of July week - the boys are excited to have more like-aged and like-minded company, and I'm excited to get some gaming in with Jim.

Europe 2008 - Bulge Tour, Day 2

Day 2 of our Bulge tour was geared more to accommodating our tourists stops, so there was not much rhyme or reason to the sites we visited. We ranged from Hotton to Diekirch (Luxembourg) to Bastogne.

hotton, belgium - Google Maps

After visiting the caves near Hotton, we stopped by the Hotton War Cemetery, which commemorates over 600 casualties from the Commonwealth countries. The scene was all the more striking with the 2 inches of fresh snow that had fallen in the past hour. Hotton marked the limit of General Manteuffel's advance:

The commander of the 116th Panzer Division, as well as General Manteuffel, would later pay tribute to "the bravery of the American engineers" at Hotton. They had reason for this acknowledgment (in which they could have included signal and service troops, unknown gun and tank crews) because the failure to secure the Hotton bridge was decisive in the future history of the LVIII Panzer Corps. Credit must also go to the Combat Command Reserve at Soy whose fire, as the enemy acknowledged, caught Kampfgruppe Bayer in the flank and checkmated its single-minded employment against Hotton. Finally, a share in the successful defense of the Hotton bridge should be assigned those elements of the three 3d Armored task forces which, on the 21st, had engaged the bulk of the 116th Panzer Division and 560th Volks Grenadier Division and prevented a wholesale advance into the Hotton sector.

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_Source: Wikisource, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge/Chapter XVI

British and Commonwealth War Cemetery near Hotton.jpg

Next it was time to leave Belgium and explore the northeast portion of Luxembourg. While there are Bulge museums in many of the towns in Belgium and Luxembourg, my research indicated that the National Museum of Military History at Diekirch is one of the best (also check out their suggested Bulge tours - some great trips if you want to focus on the southern shoulder).

National Museum of Military History in Diekirch Luxembourg.jpg

The museum is deceptively large - when we first arrived we were a bit disappointed as we saw the first room, which appeared to be a somewhat random collection of military equipment tightly packed into a large hanger-style room. To our surprise, the museum went on and on with an amazing array of diorama-style displays and probably the best collection of equipment and armament from WWII that I've ever seen. The boys had fun pointing out the various weapons they've had the pleasure of firing in Call of Duty.

My great uncle Charlie served in the 17th Airborne in the Bulge (he was a Lt) and was shot in the foot during the push-back from the north in January. He served under the controversial Montgomery for the bulk of his time in the Bulge.

Model of 17th Airborne Paratrooper in Diekirch.jpg

We made a brief stop in Clervaux and found a marker for the Liberty Road, marking the allied trail of liberation from France through Belgium and Luxembourg.

Clearvaux marker.jpg

We also made the obligatory stop at the tank and artillery static display near Clervaux.

Tank and Artillery near Clervaux.jpg

We ended the day in Bastogne, perhaps the most notable and recognizable town from the battle. Bastogne was a key objective for the German advance because of its strategic location at the convergence of seven key roads. By December 20, 1944 the town was surrounded by German forces with elements of the 101st Airborne Division digging in to defend what would become known as the Siege of Bastogne.

North of town is the impressive Mardasson Memorial, a dramatic tribute to the USA from Belgium.

Bastogne Monument.jpg

The top of the memorial offers dramatic views of the Bastogne landscape to the south, with annotated maps showing key actions and events during the battle.

View from the top of the Bastogne Monument.jpg

This portion of the memorial best describes the Belgian view of the significance of the battle and liberation of their country.

Inscription at Bastogne Monument.jpg

My Office for the Next 6 Weeks

About a year ago Julie and I committed to spending a full 6 weeks at Keuka Lake in 2008, and we are making it happen. This meant no baseball for the boys this year and some challenges managing our pets at home, but we are here and excited to settle down for a while and enjoy the lake.

I am back at work (more on that later) and will be working full time for the duration. Here's a snapshot of my "lake office":

Keuka Home Office

We will have some guests here throughout the summer, and the boys and I will spend a week of Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Gorton on the next lake over in mid July.

4241 County Road 25, dundee ny - Google Maps

Yes, I do expect to finish my Europe trip postings this week.