Its time to get out with the old car topper again- now is a great time to explore marshes along the lake as the carp flail about, turtles and snakes prowl the shoreline in search of nesting sites and mates, and eagles seek out a fish dinner for the youngsters back at the nest. Recently I went for a paddle and while inspecting a BIG beaver dam was accosted by a teenaged beaver who wanted to know what terrorist was prowling around his home. I fear for his future if he approaches other humans with such confidence!


Rich and Sue Freeman, authors of the successful regional Take A Hike guide book series have produced two new volumes for paddlers. Take a Paddle  on the Finger Lakes and Take a Paddle Western NY. These latest additions to their popular series for outdoor activities follow the format of previous books. Each area is described briefly, a map is provided  and driving directions to the location. The Finger Lakes guide details more than 30 ponds and lakes as well as streams and rivers, all suitable for flat water paddling. The guide books also include seasonal notes such as changing water levels or currents and include a list of places to rent canoes or kayaks.


The Take a Paddle books are well thought out and give clear directions both to the sites and for on the water. I personally found the detailed mile by mile verbal paddling direction a bit tedious and probably unneccessary since I would probably not be referring to the book much once I was on the water. However, some people read maps and some people follow verbal directions so having both in the book probably reflects the Freeman's experience  and user feed back with previous hiking guide formats.


My only criticism, a minor one, is that I would have liked a little more general description of the area's highlights and why you might want to paddle it at the beginning of each entry . Photos might also accomplish some of that, and the book does have some, though not for every location.


The Take a Paddle books are workmanlike, concise and give people what they need- directions to put in spots and conditions on the water. You can order them for 18.95$ each from the Freemans at Footprint Press P.O. Box 645 Fishers NY 14453 or visit their website