Wow! What a week we had! With temperatures 15 degrees F above average, in the 80 to 90 F range we were, as Bob put it, shown a good cross section of the American way of life in a rural community in the Summer. Sitting in our Adirondack chairs on the deck each evening, sampling yet another Australian wine thanks to John’s diligence, we watched the mountains in all their forms, either wreathed in wispy cloud or stark against a brilliant sunset.
We had the morning to ourselves so explored the six acres, drank coffee on our deck and listened to John Denver, all in beautiful sunshine.
The afternoon saw us on a hike to a Lean To, in a forest of birch trees. Here we admired the outdoor toilet constructed by Bob (he dug the hole) as part of a community project. Nancy brought tea and cookies.
We dressed up for dinner at the impressive Ausable Club which had just opened for the season. First we had cocktails at Sarah’s unconventional house in the Ausable Club compound. The living room was once an artist’s studio and was in a separate building to the kitchen and formal dining room. Full of antiques, Chinese and American, it was a fascinating slice of American history. The club house is a huge, imposing four storey building surrounded by covered verandas and topped with dormer windows and wide chimneys. We all enjoyed our salmon and John his scallops.
Lunch today was at Paul Smiths College where 900 students learn hospitality and cooking skills as well as as numerous other courses. We had a delicious three course lunch with a view across one of the many lakes in the area. Think “On Golden Pond” and you will see the picture. To work off lunch we walked on one of the VIC trails. It was a one mile loop called Boreal Life. It began with a 1600 foot boardwalk through spruce and bog.
Sarawak Lake was a fascinating, picture postcard village. Doctor Edward Trudeau basically went there to die as he was diagnosed with TB or consumption as it was then known. He found he actually improved in health and so began Sarawak Lake’s association with researching the cure of TB. Many of the local houses have screened verandahs as fresh air was part of the treatment. Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the famous visitors and his house still stands.
The evening finished with a genuine New York pizza from Lake Placid eaten in the screened deck of the house at Rerun.
This morning we set off along the Memorial Highway to walk White Face. It is New York State’s fifth highest peak at 4,867 feet. We didn’t have to hike from the bottom as the road winds up the mountainside. Built during the Depression as part of the New Deal this road would not be built today for environmental and economic reasons. At the top is a stone castle, a 27 storey elevator and a summit house. We began by climbing the nature trail which is only a fifth of a mile but steep and slippery at times. There were hand rails and impressive views over lakes and forests. At the top we met swarms of little black beetles and worse still black vampire flies which leave itchy bites like sand flies. We took the elevator down through the rock to find a shivering huddle of people in the 38 degree F tunnel waiting to come up. 426 feet later we were out in the sunshine of a hot day.
In return for their hospitality we invited Nancy and Bob for dinner in our little cottage so we spent the afternoon preparing. Bob and Nancy were heading off to Mass at St Brendan’s in Keene so we joined them as part of our immersion in their lifestyle.
Dinner was served in the screened side verandah of the cottage. The black flies make the screens a necessity but I still have a row of bites on my neck as a souvenir if the Adirondacks. John barbecued fillet steak and we had a delicious meal of local produce including the asparagus recently growing in the garden.
Our last day in the Adirondacks saw us crossing Lake Champlain to Vermont by car ferry. The goal was to visit Shelburne Museum. It was so vast we didn’t get to see it all but we explored the Round Barn, the Ticonderoga, a 1906 side wheel steamboat, the furnished New York rooms of the museum’s founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb, full of famous art works by Monet, Manet and Degas, a Lake Champlain lighthouse, a luxury 1890 rail car and steam engine, a long building displaying hand carved circus animals and a gallery of American Art. The rain finally poured down, putting an end to the heat and our tour of the museum.
A right turn into the Shelburne Winery gave us the opportunity to try the famous ice wine which is made from grapes frozen on the vine. It is a sweet dessert wine but lower in alcohol content than most dessert wines. It sure has a lot of sugar! We also tried all their whites, a rose and reds which were a little on the sweet side. I will add we only took very small tastes of each!!!
Then it was back on the car ferry and home for our last evening with Bob and Nancy, cooking up leftovers and sitting on the deck with a glass of wine, watching the clouds swirling around the mountains for the very last time.