Sunday, August 13, 2006

To the Heart of the Adirondacks

Day 4 -- Central Adirondacks
Wed. July 19th
We did not have a great night at the Book & Blanket due to the fan's poor air circulation, but at least the temperature did cool down a little at night. Breakfast was quite sumptuous with blueberry pancakes/crepes and fruit salad. We ate alone since Kathy and Fred prepare breakfast when their guests want it; not the other way around. Then we were off to the Ausable Chasm ("Casm" you don't pronounce the "H" -- maybe everyone knows that except me).

In the Chasm
We opted to go on the river "white water" tour, knowing full well that the white water would be like pond water. It was but that's OK. Dylan paddled us down the river and we helped him navigate the 2 seconds of "rapids". The website offers tubing for the adventurous visitor -- I mean, how slow can a tube go down this river? We saw one woman tubing and thought she should have brought a paddle. I think the scariest parts were climbing down the metal steps to get into the Gorge and how bad my Birkinstocks smelled after the boat ride.

The Chasm was founded 400 years ago by Samuel de Champlain and the gorge was formed 500 million years ago. The best part of the Chasm is going down to the Gorge via steps and walking along the river to see the old rock formations.

We bought Daniel a black bear (later christened Yogi) at the gift shop and headed south to Blue Mountain Lake.

Blue Mountain

The road to Blue Mountain was wavy and almost made me sick the way Keith drove -- so I reluctantly put away my book. We had sandwiches at the Long Lake Diner after passing nothing on the way there -- just woods, a little gas place and a bar/convenience store combo with motorcycles out front.

Then we stopped at the Adirondack Museum, which is actually 10 museums in one and a must-see for anyone who visits the Adirondacks.

  • The Canoe Museum -- We first stopped at the canoe museum and chatted with a volunteer interpreter who explained that a hand-built canoe takes 9 months; a baby! We also saw canoes with sails.
  • The Rustic Privy -- a couple of kids, 10 and 12, didn't know what it was! And the outhouse was a double-seater. Now how would this work?!
  • The restored rooms. Some were rustic and some were very ornate with fine woodworking and glasswork. Lots of chamberpots next to the beds and I was relieved to find out they came with lids (I always wondered how they kept the room from stinking)
  • The One-room schoolhouse --Built in 1907, our volunteer interpreter lamented the fact that parents aren't taking kids to museums anymore and when this happens, kids don't know any history (and they don't find out what outhouses look like). The school room chalk board had 'riting and 'rithmatic on it in traditional cursive and on the desks were the leather-bound McGuffy Readers. A riff: My grandpa gave me a set when I was about 9 and they were the worst; all full of moral and Christian imagery. I remember looking at the drawings and that was about it. They were very dry and made kids out to be bad and how kids needed proper schooling and discipline in order to find the "right path". Ugh. I remember this one story where a girl has a fight with her sick mother and the girl goes away angry from the house. When she gets back, the mother has died. What a horrible story! I guess it's supposed to teach kids not to argue with their sick parents because, who knows, they could die! End of riff. And the volunteer was doing a lot of side-research to find out more about how the children and teachers went about their daily business and she's trying to locate alumni who were children in the 30s and 40s to come speak at the 100-year anniversary.

We found our B&B: The Forest House Lodge and met our hostess, Ann La Forest who showed us where the public swimming areas were and where our hiking trails started. We picked up our sandwich-making material at the Indian Lake Grocery Store and had dinner at this Mexican place which was quite good. I felt ready for our Snowy Mountain hike tomorrow -- it was a mere 7.4 miles!

Next time: Up Snowy and Blue Mountain (the conclusion of my trip postings)

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