Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Spooky History of Saranac Lake

 We stayed in what had been the old grand hotel of the town of Saranac Lake, now very modernised, though it still had an interesting-looking bar, the former lobby.

And it one of those fancy letter boxes.

And it served a signature cocktail called the "Hot Sara" - gin and blood orange. The name came from the hotel's name, lit up above the building.

Before its renovation the last letters would sometimes black out and it became a bit of  a joke so they made the most of it. 

The hotel walls were adorned with old photos

Of varying degrees of spookiness

Was this a variation of the venerable British dog-cart, used on country house shoots? In reverse.

Better not fall in while wearing those outfits.

A newer-looking old boat was in the hotel foyer.

As if the photos weren't spooky enough, the hotel also allegedly has its own ghosts, including a professor and a cat. I didn't bump into either.  A sign pointed out that they'd enlisted the Adirondack Paranormal Society to check out the ghosts and it had concluded they weren't a danger to the guests. Phew.

But the real reason why Saranac Lake seems a little spooky is its connection with tuberculosis. Back before antibiotics, this was the place to come for mountain air and mostly forlorn hope for a cure. America's Switzerland. En route, we passed a huge, long white building that must once have been a sanitorium. I don't known what it's used for now but it sent a shiver down the old spine.  And many houses, known as "cure cottages" in Saranac Lake have big porches and balconies where people would sleep outside.  I don't know if this is one 

or this - but  they're worth a photo.

Saranac Lake is also the site of the first American laboratory to study TB. Now a museum. Closed on Mondays. (Why is everything closed on Mondays? In fact the only thing open on Monday was the Loon Museum, dedicated to conserving ducks called Loons, which populate the local lakes.)

Several celebrities of their day came to Saranac Lake, among them Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. Another was Robert Louis Stevenson, who certainly seems to have got about a bit. 

His cure cottage is now a museum, which, it being Monday, was closed but here's another angle on the  outside.

OK not too exciting but it had a lovely view.

You could say that the invention of antibiotics wasn't good for business but now Saranac Lake is more cheerfully known as a good base for boating and rambling around the hills, the cure cottages now just curiosities. If you want quaintness and scenery and several not-half-bad restaurants, you could do a lot worse. I hope we'll get back some day.. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Into the Mountains Part 2

  As we drove further north, past lake after lake, the cars and caravans started to peel off to left and right, to motels and cabins and campsites. The traffic was much thinner and when we got to Saranac Lake there was, amazingly, it being high season, hardly any traffic at all. 

Confusingly the town is called Saranac Lake but the lake is called Flower Lake. There is a lake called Saranac Lake but it's further away. Never mind. I'll take Flower Lake any time.

Now wouldn't it be nice to have one of those houses!

There's definitely a flower feel to the town.  Wildflowers by the lake, waterlilies shimmering

A very un-American trend for natural-looking gardens.

Not much mulch and manicure here. They must have been to the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Just my sort of thing! I must get some more coneflowers for the jungle.

Hardly any tourists milling around in the quaint little town. Perfect!

This is the Episcopal Church - called St Luke the Beloved Physician, for reasons which will become clear. (I did not take pictures of the Catholic church - sadly, as usual, the least prepossessing ecclesiastical building in town.) But this little one was charming...

An almost-English house!

An impressive First World War memorial in the little park. So many names, considering that America was only in it from 1917 and the size of the town. It reminded me of the poignant memorials in French villages. The difference is that this one lists all those who served. Thankfully only a handful died. The names of those who fell were (I assume) marked by little stars.

This made us laugh.

Somehow I don't think it'll be open tomorrow.

A reminder that it's not always hot here. Hard to imagine.

Now what is a pair of scissors doing stuck to a column?

Ah - a barber's shop! Sweet!

I showed my Britishness by immediately assuming this was the Loch Ness Monster.

Not so, apparently. There is a monster in nearby Lake Champlain, name of Champ. Now who stole the idea from whom,  I wonder? I think I can guess but I'll be diplomatic.

I've never been to a place with so many signs supporting Ukraine. Good for them.

In one street, several houses had mock election signs saying, "Zelensky 2024".  They wish!

to be continued

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Into the Mountains Part 1

  Come early August Hubby and I headed off to the Adirondacks. These claim to be mountains, though they're nothing like the Alps. Still, they're gorgeous to look at, all forests and lakes, the place where the Gilded Age millionaires established huge estates with giant wooden houses they tweely called "camps"  The weather was gorgeous (never mind that the drought was ruining my Cattaraugus County garden - I tried not to think about it) and the drive, in hubby's vintage Volvo, most scenic. On the way we stopped to eat our sandwiches at Verona Beach on Oneida Lake, which has a spectacular lighthouse.

Yes it's a big enough lake to have a lighthouse.

There were pink wooden houses that looked like the sort of places generations of families would come back to and make memories in on the edge of a little private beach. 

Children paddled and someone walked down with an armful of what we used to call rubber rings but are now probably called personal flotation devices - or something. Talk about memories...
On the other side of the car park, the owners of that particular house were making their political sympathies clear.

Then it was up into the hills, joining the inevitable stream of  traffic, dragging caravans, carrying kayaks and canoes and precariously suspended bikes. Just like the Lake District.  Except the Adirondack Park is 6 million acres - about then times as big. 
We passed lake after lake, some with names - Otter Lake, Raquette Lake, Long Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Tupper Lake some just numbers - I lost count. (The whole park has 10,000 lakes). Past endless campsites and car parks for trailheads with rustic signs and villages with milling tourists and rustic shops and rustic log cabins aka "cottages' and more lakes and more woods. There was a Golden Beach too and, seized with a desire to see it, we ended up stuck fast in a queue of mostly giant lumbering vehicles all waiting to check in. So we gave up on that one. But as we neared our destination, something surprising happened.
to be continued.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Calf a 'Mo..

 I was at the farmers' market last Saturday morning chatting to my friends from the delightful  Flanigan Hill Farm  when I did a double take. There, happily snoozing in a little pen was a tiny Jersey calf.

They'd had a competition among the local kids to name him - and the name the little girl who won came up with was ...Calvin. Very clever that.

I hasten to add that Calvin the calf was not one of the farm products for sale. It's not that sort of market.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Light Effects

 On our magical country lane.

It always seems like an entry to fairyland and the stillness, when there aren't any pickup trucks going up and down, is unbelievable. Not even the sounds of the forest - chipmunks making kissing noises, a faraway woodpecker, a rustling of something in the bushes, the drip of water from the trees.

Walking down on an afternoon there were some interesting clouds.

I had a debate with hubby whether this was a mackerel sky. "Mackerel sky, neither wet nor dry" is the not very helpful sailors' term, apparently.

While below the roadside wild flowers run riot. It's chicory and Queen Anne's lace time right now. My paltry phone camera can't capture the unique bluey-purpleness of the chicory.

Meanwhile a mysterious new structure has appeared by the road.  Will they be selling something? And if so, what? I hope for million dollar pickle like the kind I bought once from an Amish lady in severe blue dress attached with pins, not vain buttons and mob cap, who apologised that it was her first attempt.  her effort was to die for but I never found her or any comparable pickle again. No I expect this, if anything at all, will be selling courgettes/zucchini and corn. 

We got our first corn of the season this week. The early batch was heavenly, sweet and luscious. Poor Brits who have to get theirs from Waitrose. The best way with corn is to put the water on to boil and then pick it. We don't quite do that but buy it from a farmer who trundles up with a fresh batch several times a day. We could try growing it ourselves but it wouldn't stand a chance. A propos of which hubby was looking out of the front window and shouted, "Oh no!" Two cheeky deer were casing the joint. He chased them away but for how long?