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Gateway to the Adirondacks
Thomas R. & Deborah A. Fletcher
Stillness. The lake is a smooth silvery mirror this morning broken only by the glide path of a duck pair sailing our way. We notice a huge bass floating three feet under the water's surface. It is so strangely quiet for a town as active as this one was yesterday. Where did all the people go?
As we make our way to the Lake George Village Public Beach, we see a sign posted on the beach house, "closed for the season." This is only the day after Labor Day. Lake George Village is truly a seasonal resort town. Yesterday the beach was full, folks were swimming, sunning, parasailing, boating, and fishing. This morning there are just a couple of folks out walking the beach--and they have metal detectors. Looking for buried treasure, or at least some loose change. Quite a contrast with yesterday. Labor Day is the final fling. Now it is quiet, the regular folks settling in until next Memorial Day. The seasonal aspect is an advantage for the off-season traveler. Yesterday's $10 T-shirt is only $5 today. Most everything has gone on immediate markdown.
Lake George Village has all the amenities of a typical resort town: miniature golf, arcades, indoor and outdoor amusements galore--and since it is lakeside located, numerous water-sports are also available. Yet Lake George Village in Warren County has so much more to offer because of its location on the edge of Adirondack Park. We don't know if any other area has claimed the title, but we hereby nominate Warren County as "Gateway to the Adirondacks." Adirondack Park is a six million acre region of mountains, lakes, rivers, and woodlands. Warren County covers 940 square miles on the outer edge of that territory.
Since parasailing is just slightly out of our league, we opted for a lunch cruise on Lake George. The cruise lasted several hours and covered a good portion of the lake's 44 square miles. We cruised aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrament, named after the original European name for Lake George. Father Isaac Joques, a French Jesuit missionary discovered the lake in 1642. He gave it the name Lac du Saint Sacrament, meaning "Lake of the Blessed Sacrament." The lake retained that name until it was changed in 1755 in honor of England's King George II.
Lake George was located on an important transportation route and the scene of many battles during the French and Indian War. On the southern shore sits the reconstructed Fort William Henry. The fort is the setting of James Fenimore Cooper's novel, "The Last of the Mohicans." Here the British won an important victory in the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755, but merely two years later the fort would be left in ruins by French and Indian forces. There are hundreds of historical artifacts on display in the museum and daily living history presentations are made from mid-May to mid-October.
One thing we noticed fairly quickly; food prices in Lake George Village are high. Something as minor as a snack of mozzarella sticks costs nearly three times what we normally pay at home. There are two places we found that stand out as being very reasonable with fine food. S. J. Garcia's Mexican American Restaurant on Canada Street has delicious food and generous portions. Lake George Pancake House and Family Restaurant has some of the friendliest service we've encountered. The food was tasty and it is served in a no-smoking environment--which is a plus.
After a few days in the village we headed out into the country, to the small town of Athol. On the outskirts one finds the Circle L Ranch, owned and operated by Spencer and Judy Laflure. Spencer is a real down-to-earth sort of fellow. He puts on no airs. Originally from the area, he rode the professional cowboy circuit for several years. He "retired" after winning fifth place in the 1986 World Finals held in El Paso, Texas. The Circle L, is a reflection of Spencer, no frills but a place to enjoy some horseback riding through the mountains. The atmosphere around Athol is completely different from Lake George Village, by comparison Lake George has a "big city" feel to it. Out around the Circle L one is completely removed from any such impression. It is country.
We joined Spencer for a four-hour pack trip through the mountains and along the streams. Deborah was a little concerned--having never ridden a horse. Spencer assured us he had just the horse for her. "Cheyenne" (the horse Spencer had in mind) knew her way around the trails and it wasn't long until Deb was riding with confidence. The ride was relaxing, the scenery beautiful, but more than anything we enjoyed hearing Spencer philosophize on the cowboy way of life.
Spencer started the Circle L out of his own love of horses and riding. The ranch now has 11 horses and there are no plans for great expansion. The Circle L offers riding lessons in the summer and in July there is a kid's day camp. Here the kids learn about the care and feeding of horses as well as learning about saddles, bridles, and horse paraphernalia.
That evening we headed over to the Ridin-Hy Ranch Resort near Warrensburg. Ridin-Hy is a dude ranch just like one finds in the western US. This resort offers more than horseback riding. In fact, there are separate prices for riding and non-riding guests. There are so many other activities: volleyball, softball, tennis, horseshoes, archery, fishing, wagon rides, water skiing, boating, an indoor spa and a pool--some folks never get around to horseback riding. There are way more activities available than anyone needs to be doing on vacation.
One afternoon, one of us lounged by the pool, while the other spent time sprawled across the bed in our cabin--the only sound being the barely perceptible whirl of the ceiling fan. Our vacation ideals were fulfilled--doing nothing. The resort accommodations include chalet-style log cabins with pine interiors, the main lodge overlooking Sherman Lake, and one story motel-type units. All have private baths. Deborah decided our cabin would make a nice second home. I pointed out that there was no kitchen--then realized that was part of her point.
The resort features the Full American Plan and includes three hearty meals a day served in the main lodge dining room. In addition, other food items are offered later in the evening. One evening was pizza night, another featured a hot-dog roast The food seemed to flow non-stop. Our only complaint was we found it so appetizing, we ate more than we should have, our self-control was also on vacation.
One morning we ventured out on Sherman Lake for a quiet row around the lake. Deborah relaxed in the stern as I rowed. It was as if the mountains and lake were ours alone. The easy oar-stroke, water dripping from the oars sending out circular ripples in the surface--it wasn't long before I quit rowing and we simply drifted, soaking up our Adirondack experience.
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