Two thoughts on this incredible storm: 1. Glad it’s not my disaster.2. You don’t get to choose to “ride out the storm” and then expect people to risk their lives trying to rescue you as soon as the storm dies down and you figure out that you’re cut off from civilization. Pay your money, take your chances.
At long last, our late summer vacation. Our first vacation in a few years that didn’t involve camping, and frankly it was a bit of a relief to not have to worry constantly about keeping people warm (or cool) and dry. Seeing how the early summer was shaping up, tropical-storm-wise, and adding to that the electrical strikes a vengeful god has been sending out against scouts this summer, and we thought it better not to take the chance. As it turned out, we would have had some cold nights but the days were perfect, it only rained once, and it was just magnificent.
Most important criterion in a motel for those accustomed to eating from tin for a week? Heated outdoor pool, of course! That put us in the only efficiency at Christy’s Motel in Old Forge, which was suitable, had a nice little private deck, but could seriously use some stiffer mattresses (this is always my problem with hotels – do the rest of you people really sleep on marshmallows at home?). Not one good night’s sleep in a week, which isn’t really in keeping with the vacation theme.
So here’s what is still great about Old Forge, our favorite Adirondack village since the late ’80s:
- Bald Mountain Fire Tower trail (formerly Rondaxe Mountain), where the tower has been restored and reopened, and which has stunning views for those who can take the heights. Me, I didn’t see the need to look down.
- Paddling Old Forge Pond (the fingers of First Lake) and, further up the road, a choppy Fourth Lake and the little inlet that runs behind Inlet.
- Biking the relatively new Tobie Trail, a bike trail that runs behind the village and provides very quick access from the west end of town to the beach, without all the traffic and tourists. (In fact, it runs in bits and pieces, some of which were being paved while we were there, from Thendara to Old Forge to Eagle Bay and Big Moose and Inlet.)
- Old Forge Hardware. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll understand. Its bookstore always gets most of our business, but Hannah fell deeply in love with a $35 skein of yarn that she wanted wanted wanted, but decided against in the end.
- Other delightful shops, where the useful and beautiful still outnumbers the crappy t-shirts. And, of course, the best outdoor outfitting shops anywhere.
- The Donut Shop in Eagle Bay. There are no better donuts anywhere, and they still serve both kinds: plain and cinammon.
- Deer. Many, many deer. The girls counted 99, including at least 6 bucks.
- Water Safari. We used to scoff at the idea of a water park in the middle of the Adirondacks, where it is rarely warm enough to take off your sweatshirt. But on a sunny, almost hot day, we had the best time we’ve ever had at a waterpark, and it kicks the Great Escape’s butt. I’ve never had fun being wet all day in Old Forge before.
- The Adirondack Scenic Railroad. We went on Wednesday. The train often gets robbed on Wednesday.
Never take a good look at your tires just before you’re about to set off on a long drive. You’re better off not knowing. Hey, who ever looks at the inside edge of the drive tires? (Mine are very fat — you really have to look to even see the inside.) My understanding, however, is that they’re supposed to have tread.
Listen, I love other seasons. And temperamentally, I’m really an autumn person — I love its crispness and its sense of impending doom, those warm sunny days that turn cold the second the sun switches off. But let’s be honest and say what we all know: summer is the best. Why?
- Local peaches, all scratchy fuzz and juice.
- Movies outside.
- Music outside.
- Eating outside.
- Moon roofs.
- Hot and dark, two things that don’t occur in any other season.
- Ice cold coke.
- Hours spent in a lake.
- Biking and blading.
- Freckles and sun-lightened hair.
- Flowers, flowers, flowers.
Did the weirdest thing yesterday, something I haven’t done in 22 years: I went to the track. If you don’t know, around here, the thoroughbred horse races at Saratoga are a Very Big Thing Indeed, demanding massive media coverage and tying up traffic for miles around. I don’t gamble, I know nothing about horses, and crowds make me nuts, so the track is not a natural haunt for me, but yesterday I went up with some work friends, we had access to a box in the clubhouse, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon — one of the most perfect, weatherwise, of the summer — chit-chatting and watching the occasional horse race. I bet precisely twice. Once was on a horse named Amanuensis, an odd word to know the meaning of and an odd name for a horse (even in a sea of odd names), but the descriptions from previous races used words like “tired,” “drafted,” and “could use a good lie-down,” so we bet him to show, and had two other horses had heart attacks and one more a severe coughing fit, we could have won that bet. The second time, we all went in together on a pricey bet to guess the top 4 and the top 3 horses, in any order, and oddly enough actually won on the top 3. We took our modest winnings and made a down payment on our dinner, and all in all had a fine day. When I go back in another 22 years, I’ll let ya know if they’ve varnished the clubhouse floors or fixed the rusted-through rain gutters yet.
Exactly 27 years ago today, I packed up and moved off to the Salt City, first to work for three weeks in conjunction with the very first Empire State Games, and then to go to college. Everything that has happened in my life since really started on that day when my parents dropped me off at scenic Dellplain Hall with my trunk, my typewriter, and my fridge. Things were less than perfectly organized, as I recall, but I got into a room, met my roommate, hung up my ABBA poster, set up my typewriter and got settled in. It was an odd crew of work study students that were brought together those first few weeks, both confused incoming freshmen like me and worldly upperclassmen (and women). We swept carpets with brooms for a week, then did food service for the games, then did some more sweeping. (I’d never been on a union work crew before, and had never been told not to work so fast.) I met some people I would continue to know throughout my years there, and many more I would completely forget. My first roommate was from a very small town in Western New York, a graduating class of twelve, and he would wash out of the engineering school just three weeks into the year. I met a guy who would later work at the paper with me, and liked him just fine for a while. I also met a number of people who were more than willing to help me refine my penchant for completely uncontrolled drinking — this was not a good thing.
And, has so often been told, one night a couple of weeks in, a bunch of us started a party in an elevator — when you pushed the “stop” button, there was no alarm, so we essentially controlled the elevator, and we goofed around in there until we finally got kicked out, and moved the party to a stairwell, where we had pizza delivered (my first Domino’s — also the best, because it never got any better after that). And although I had gone into the elevator to get to know a certain girl a little better, another one caught my eye, and it turned out she’d be living right next to me at our regular dorm assignment when school started. She was so slender, had long straight brown hair, big pretty eyes, and an odd manner that I couldn’t quite figure out (no one could). I was very intrigued. We met again when we moved to Day Hall, up on Mount Olympus, and just started doing things together — meals, movies, this and that. It wasn’t what you’d call dating, it was more like being together. But it seemed to work. (In fact, the one time we did try to go on a “date,” it felt odd and awkweird. It didn’t seem like us.) And we kept on going like that.
So now it’s 27 years later, and I’m still not sure I’ve figured her out. But I’m trying.
Got my allergy shots this afternoon. Had to drag the girls along. On the way home, Rebekah asked, “How many shots do you get?”M : “Four. Mites, grass, mold, cats.”H: “Mice, grats, mold, casts?”R: “Mice, grats, mold, what are casts?”Me: “Mites, not mice. Mites. Dust mites. And cats.”R: “What are grats?”Me: “Grass! Grass!”Then they started trying to say “Mites, grass, mold, cats” very very fast. Which usually came out “Mice, grats, mold, casts.”
And some books. But mostly movies. Without even getting to the drive-in yet this summer, we’ve been downing movies like popcorn. Couple of weeks ago we hit Proctor’s, which was showing “Robots,” which is really excellent. (“Madagascar” is showing this weekend, btw.) Last week we went to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Spectrum. While I love Gene Wilder and enjoyed the gentle sweetness of the first film made from the book, this is truly the second Golden Age of Cinema, when anything you can imagine can be put on the screen and made believable, and if you don’t believe that, you haven’t seen the squirrel scene in the new “Charlie.” It’s true that I’m currently a sucker for anything Johnny Depp might do, but this movie is so much more than just Johnny Depp. All the performances are excellent, the special effects don’t look like special effects, and there is just one Oompa Loompa, who is all Oompa Loompas, which is quite the effect itself. Plus, Tim Burton used the original songs, which are truly much better than the concoctions in the first movie.
Not a drive-in, but almost a drive-in, they’re showing movies down at the amphitheatre in Riverfront Park in Albany on Friday nights. (Mad props to Pioneer Savings Bank for sponsoring it.) Nothing finer than a warm summer night sitting alongside the river watching a movie. They open with some comedians, then go into an episode of the Simpsons, and then a movie. Last week, it was a movie I would never otherwise have seen, and I would have had to regret it, because any movie that has a pirate in its cast for no apparent reason certainly deserves my attention, and that movie is “Dodgeball.” Much funnier than it had any right to be. I am generally running cold on the whole Ben Stiller concept these days, but this time it worked, primarily because Vince Vaughn just played it straight, even though he was surrounded by totally over-the-top characters. Plus, Rip Torn. Plus, Lance Armstrong. Plus . . . oh, god, who wasn’t in it?
So, am I going to see the Gin Blossoms at the Plaza tomorrow night? I really really want to, but they don’t start until 8:30, and the girls have been fading early lately. So we’ll see. But it’s the Gin Blossoms!