August 31, 2003

Eastern Travel, August 15-17: Adirondack Museum, Ephrata, and, Okay, We're Done

By the 15th, which was also the 15th day of our travels, we were getting pretty tired of traveling. Knowing we only had a couple days left, it was difficult for us to feel adventurous.

On our way out of the Adirondacks, we had to stop at the Adirondack Museum, which presents the history and culture of the area in a massive complex. It's expensive ($14), but it's also hard to spend less than three hours there.

Among other things taking place, there was a yard-spinning demonstration, at which Stacy learned how to make a felt ball.

Starting the felt ball
You start with a mass of yarn...

And after some dunking in water and rolling, you end up with a ball of felt...

Finishing the felt ball

Stacy asked the leader of the demonstration, "So then what do you do with this?" And she replied, "That's it. You've made a felt ball. You're done." Which seemed like a lot of work for little pay off.

Elsewhere at the museum we saw this remarkably patriotic fire engine...
Patriotic fire engine
The symbolism makes the mind reel!

And the cafe looks out over Blue Mountain Lake...
Peter looking over Blue Mountain Lake

After the museum, we high-tailed it through the rest of the park, and then through the rest of New York State, and into Pennsylvania. We ended up in Reading, PA, eating dinner at the Ugly Oyster while calling nearby motels for lodging. Finding a motel room was remarkably difficult -- they were all full up, or only had smoking rooms available. We located one about 10 miles on, for $70. (When are lodging spaces going to learn to increase the number of non-smoking rooms? I've never heard of one filling up their smoking availability. And what is it with depressed towns like Sycamore, NY and Reading, PA having no lodging? Who is staying in these places? Anyway.)

The following day we headed to the Ephrata Cloister, an historic site remembering a community of German Anabaptists who lead a quasi-monastic pastoral life (to whit: the members of the community slept on slabs of wood 15 inches wide. And their pillows? Blocks of wood. And they woke up every night at midnight for two hours of service. And in an effort to more closely emulate God, who didn't sleep and didn't eat, they slept and ate as little as possible. It's not surprising that the community didn't last very long.) It's a classic intentional community (the subject of Stacy's research), and we spent a fair amount of time poking around, until the rain washed us away.

Ephrata Garb
Our tour guide at the cloister was dressed in the garb of the original inhabitants.

Ephrata was our last bit of real traveling. We headed into Baltimore for lunch, and then onto just relax for a day before Stacy had to go back and I had to start work. The afternoon and evening were a relaxing mix of of wandering, shopping, and eating with friends.

Outside the AVAMOutside the AVAM, one of North America's best museums.

The following morning, we had a low-key breakfast at Firehook, ate sample fruits and cheeses at the Dupont Circle farmer's market, and then Stacy dropped me off at The Watergate (yep, that Watergate), and the traveling was pretty much over.

As is this chronicle of the trip. At least, for now.

Posted by peterme at 11:12 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Eastern Travel, August 14-15: Long Lake, NY

From Burlington, we headed straight for Adirondack State Park in New York. We drove through Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, both of which were annoyingly worked up tourist destinations. We continued onto Long Lake, where I had stayed about 5 years ago, and got ourselves a reasonably-priced room at the Adirondack Hotel.

Long Lake is both a town and lake (so named because it's 14 miles long and 1 mile wide). Though catering to out-of-town visitors, it's not overly developed the way the other Adirondack towns appeared.

The big event for our stay in Long Lake was climbing the summit of Blue Mountain, a peak about 10 miles south of the city. There's a trail for getting up there, a hike which is 2 miles long. It's also remarkably steep towards the end, and requires climbing angled rock faces. A fire lookout post offers amazing views to those who complete the ascent.

The View from the Top
The tallest peak for miles.

Stacy at the Summit
Proof that we were actually there.

Walking down the lookout
Walking down the fire lookout stairs.

We dined that night in the hotel's well-appointed dining room. It was while we were waiting for our table, and getting a drink at the bar, we learned that much of the northeast was blacked out, particularly in the state of New York. Which surprised us, as there was plenty of electricity in Long Lake. We were lucky, it turned out -- other Adirondack towns were without power.

Dinner was good, and I had to admire eating at a restaurant where, when you order an entree, it comes with salad and sides. We chatted with our remarkably fit waittress, Jessie, whom, it turns out, is the seventh generation of a family that helped found Long Lake long ago. I reeled at the thought of a family staying in one place for that many generations in North America -- it's probably more common back east; I don't think it's plausible for we westerners.

For dessert, we walked to Long Lake's main intersection, which has not one, not two, but three places you can get ice cream -- Stewart's, Hoss's Coner (get it?), and Custard's Last Stand (get it?). We ended up at Custard's, from which I got an unmemorable cone, and Stacy got a glacier -- soft serve poured into a Slush Puppie. Stacy made sure the thank the gods for this creation.

(I may not have mentioned it earlier... Stacy is a slavish consumer of slush drinks -- Slurpees, slush puppies, granitas, etc. It seems to be a Canadian thing -- I've since learned that Winnipeg is the Slurpee Drinking Capital of the World. Slurpee-drinking is like Oreos- or Reeses-eating. There are proper ways to do it, methods for ensuring maximal enjoyment. To whit--as you get about half way through your Slurpee (which you're drinking while you're driving), tap it on your knee to help it settle before imbibing further. One of Stacy's favorite drinks on this trip was an Apple Cider slurpee we got after we toured Ben and Jerry's -- she raved about it for miles.)

The following morning we headed out of Long Lake. We stopped to get some coffee at Hoss', where we saw them putting out the bear.

Rolling out the Bear

We then visited "Buttermilk Falls," seemingly a must-view for any visitors to the area.

Stacy at Buttermilk FallsLess "falls", more "slopes."

As you can see from the picture, they're less "falls" than rapids. I don't understand the deal that is made about them.

Having fulfilled our visitors' obligation, we continued on our journey. . .

Posted by peterme at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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