New York 2011: A New York state of mind

Sometimes, small town living is just that…. small…. slowly, everything is just too predictable and the sameness of every day begins to dent my wanderlustful soul.

When I can’t hop on a plane, what better way blow out the cobwebs than a road trip north (and a smidge west) to bask in the glory of the fiery fall leaves. I live close enough to Vermont that I could have just looked out my own window but sometimes, irrational I know, I just want to see someone else’s leaves. Fall in New England amazes me every year with it’s beauty – I could write and write about how I search the trees for the perfect orange red blast. It’s almost if Mother Nature gets her best paints out before the world goes brown and colorless.

Besides the need to get out, I know in my heart part of me needed to really take a trip somewhere so this travel blog could actually be a travel blog and not just me musing aimlessly about past glories…. a travel blog has to involve traveling somewhere other than the supermarket.

Where better to get some air than the mighty and vast Adirondack park in upstate New York. Formed in the late eighteen hundreds (became official in 1892), the park is made up of ten million acres of lakes, pine forests and craggy peaks. At one point, in 1761, the area was referred to as “deer hunting territory”. The actual name is cited in one place as a translated Mohawk word that means “they eat trees”. I’ll leave that alone and for my scholars, that was just one definition I read. Suffice it to say, there are still lots and lots of trees to eat.

The reason the park exists at all was because of what we would now call urban sprawl of the turn of the last century. Disease made the city in the summer a dangerous place to be – even at the best of addresses and so out into the wilds they went, with their many servants in tow; Americans, never ones to do anything subtly. The captains of industry also needed summer get out of town spots  that could combine the grandeur of Europe with the wonder of America’s forests. And so the hodge podge of what is called the Adirondack style was born. (take to your search engines and see all the things people did with birch bark and some twisted twigs). Today, the grand old camp style of vacationing only exists for the very few –  the Point Resort in Saranac is an example of what $2000.00 a night can get you.

For the rest of us normal folks, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, trekking, tramping (whatever you might call it), rock climbing, fishing (fly, ice and lake), skiing, snowshoeing, ski jumping, skating to name a few. It’s an adventurers paradise…. some of you could spend time earning bragging rites by climbing the 46 peaks, journeying to all the cascades and waterfalls but maybe the rest of you could spend some time sitting in the splendor and vast emptiness of much of the landscape.

This time, I decided I needed a balance of both and so I stayed in the very touristed unofficial capital of the park – Lake Placid which is better known for it’s miraculous Olympics of 1980 than much else.  I like food so I did enjoy the local restaurants (ate at the Brown Dog Cafe & Wine Bar, the Cottage, Tail of the Pup BBQ). There’s a mix of tacky – the normal coffee mug & t-shirt places (my friend from school calls those type candles and fudge shops – here you could adjust to say candles and stuffed moose shops) but also some gems selling antiques of the old great camp style.  There’s also the very lovely Mirror Lake to look at – aptly named for it’s ability to reflect the sky – and walk around.

Just a sweet simple weekend away – a few hours drive from Canada, Albany NY – it’s a spot that’s easy to get to (just head north on RT 87 for most of you) and offers so much to see and do…. or not to do…. at a number of price ranges. For me, all I needed was a simple cup of coffee and a morning sunrise, a chance to listen to the loons (the birds for once not the people) = magic.

dreams of other places

Just the rainy, cold kind of gloomy cow town morning that makes me wish I were elsewhere and yet again the deep debate in my heart rises up – to travel more of the year and work to make that happen, or to continue on the path I am on… because if I were elsewhere, at least there’d be the promise of lions…. sometimes, when it’s been a while, being with the cows takes some patience.

Happy Sunday, friends

A rainy afternoon in Tanzania
A rainy afternoon in Tanzania