Wednesday, July 25, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour:
Windfall Bar and Grill, Cranberry Lake

Eighty miles to Tupper Lake. Another twenty-six to Cranberry Lake. The two-and-a-half-mile stretch on Tooley Pond Road, winding between Cranberry Lake and Silver Lake to the Windfall Bar and Grill, was the shortest leg of our travels. It’s all about perspective in the Adirondacks.

Rounding a curve just when we’d decided there was no sign of human interference other than the road and a small cemetery, we were somewhat surprised to find the Windfall Bar and Grill occupying a yellow ranch house. Nothing garish or pretentious about its curb appeal,  just a simple looking country tavern and restaurant, well maintained and hospitable. The same was found within. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities:
BBQ, Bluegrass at DaCy Meadow Farm

DaCy Meadow Farm in Westport is once again bringing a summer of localvore living to the Adirondacks.  According to owner David Johnston the annual Blues and Burgers has been reinvented as a Barbeque and Bluegrass Pickin’ Party for July 21 and September 1 from 6 pm – 10 pm.  The two events are just a sampling of the “Farm to Table” opportunities.

“We have different events all the time with the focus always being a unique food experience,” says Johnston.  “In addition to our Sunday Brunch we have Chef Kevin McCarthy come and provide a gourmet slow food experience. The family-style meal emphasizes on the preparation of local foods. He comes out after each course and answers questions.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Johnny’s Sports Bar, Willsboro

Just when we thought we had seen the best the Adirondacks has to offer, heeeere’s Johnny’s! If it were as simple as walking in with a ten-item checklist, Johnny’s Smokehouse and Sports Bar in Willsboro would be an easy ten. It isn’t, but they do have it all, inside and out.

In its infancy, Johnny’s was established by Trisha Sheehan in July, 2011 and seems well on its way to maturity. The combination of exciting and creative menu options, a wide selection of beverages, and an appealing atmosphere contribute to an overall enjoyable experience. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cabin Life: The Best Meal Ever, And The Worst

A cast-iron pan, a quart pot and a tea kettle.  It’s hard to believe that I spent six months pretty much just using those three utensils to make all of my meals.  And it’s not that I had been eating out a lot or eating unhealthy meals, but with only a little propane stove to cook on, I got by with the bare minimum of dishes.  Plus it was really hard to wash dishes with no running water.

Another writer told me to use spray bottles to do the dishes.  Put warm, soapy water in one and clean in the other to save on water, since I was filling a five-gallon jug every couple of days and hauling it to the cabin.  It was a great idea and definitely saved on water, but I found that using the spray bottle to rinse was just not effective.  The wash bottle was great, but I still just ran the spigot on the jug to rinse. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Back Country Pantry

I hope you got the idea from the Dispatch two weeks ago that I put a premium on cooking real food over saving weight when I’m in the wilderness.

It’s no contest; I love to eat well when I camp, no matter the circumstances.

Admittedly Lost Brook Tract affords me a real advantage because we have a lean-to and a fire ring with which to maintain a permanent base camp.  In fact during our first summer trip there, in addition to lots of tools, supplies and the makings for Shay’s Privy, we hauled in a primo cooking setup.  It consisted of a large, heavy-duty two-burner stove, tubing, a propane gas distribution pipe and a screw-on lantern at the top.

Some hiker noticed my load at the trail head when I hauled in the propane tank, one of those deals you usually see mounted on the front of an RV.  Their look of scorn and derision was forgotten as soon as I fired this deal up for the first time. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Old Dock House, Essex

Inspiration for this review called for Jimmy Buffett and a bold Hawaiian shirt. Unseasonably hot pre-summer 90-degree temperatures set the tone for the outdoor bar at the Old Dock House Restaurant and Marina, lakeside in Essex. As we picked our way along the walkway from the parking lot, the sight of a small boat, built into the structure, had us humming the theme from Gilligan’s Island as we approached the cheerful barn red building. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Homage to a Legendary Black Bear

Our participants, before Tractor, from a trip collage. Part of a "Death Card" is visible in the collage.

Currently I am in the midst of writing about food.  This week’s column was to be about a back country pantry for a longer trip, but thanks to Dan Crane’s recent column on bear attacks and the plethora of comments it generated I decided to switch the order up a little.  Today’s topic will still be food in the back country, but combined with another subject, a subject to whom I have long owed a written account.  This subject is a big one… well, was a big one…

Eleven years ago in the summer of 2001 Amy, my three sons and I planned our most ambitious family backpacking trip ever, eleven days in the back country.  The route was to take us all over the High Peaks, some of it on the trail and some of it bushwhacking. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Blue Water Manor, Bolton

If it weren’t actually life-sized, you would think you were approaching one of Charlie Wood’s fairytale buildings at Storytown. The Stone Manor Restaurant at the Blue Water Manor on Lakeshore Drive in Bolton is one of those “must see” taverns in the Adirondacks. Like a fairytale castle of Arthurian legend, the stone structure appears much older than it really is. As you make your way to the tavern and restaurant on Lake George, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cabins for rent and a variety of low-hanging trees that obscure and enhance the view of the building. The slate roof is visible here and there among the trees, but you can’t miss the medieval, arched doorway that lies at the end of the tree-strewn path.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shannon Houlihan: Everyone Loves Rhubarb?

Ever notice that during the period of May through mid-June there is a blitz of food articles, expounding upon the wonders the rhubarb? These stories make plentiful use of words like “abundant” “grandmother” “delightful” and “cherry red”. Words like this about a food make me feel pretty excited. Particularly when the food in question practically grows wild all around me. So I was pretty excited to really dive right into some rhubarby adventures this year. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Cooking in the Back Country

For hard core backpackers pack weight is a serious game, especially in challenging and endurance-taxing terrain like the Adirondacks.  Every pound you take on the trail is additional effort.  Every extra handful of ounces somehow magnifies the inevitable crushing drain on personal will that, after an extended day with miles yet to go, can cause you to feel as Jacob Marley must have, shambling on through eternity.

For some, saving weight elevates to a competitive and expensive sport, with ultra-light this and featherweight that.  Lemme tell you, that gear costs.   For the most extreme disciples of light-weight backpacking the quest becomes quasi-religious (and I can arguably drop the “quasi” part).   I’ve known people to cut down pencils to save a tenth of an ounce.

We all join the faithful at one time or another: who among we Adirondack hikers has not at least once felt a surge of joy and self-congratulatory satisfaction all out of keeping with the situation when we drained our last water, feeling and hearing our bottles jiggling around oh-so empty, oh-so mercifully airy?  “Ha!  I’m light now, thank God,” we say to ourselves. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: A Good Bar Attender

As follow-up to our popular March post, What Makes a Good Bartender, it’s time to give the customer some helpful tips on making friends in an Adirondack tavern. With 84 bars under our belts in the past year-and-a-half, we’ve learned a few things. We’re two venerable ladies that don’t look like we belong anywhere; yet we almost always manage to fit in. While most Adirondackers are not, by nature, predatory, they have been known to be territorial. Following some simple rules should help in acculturation.

RULE NUMBER ONE. Don’t be an a$$#@*! It will only raise hackles. (Note that rule number one applies to both a good bartender and a good bar attender.) » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

APA Mtg: Ti Meat Processor, Master Plan, Local Land Use

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at its Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY on Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15, 2012. The meeting will be webcast live (click webcasting from the contents list).

The meeting will include presentations highlighting the 40th Anniversary of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and recreational use statistics. On Friday, the board will determine approvability for a Ticonderoga meat processing facility and the Local Government Services Committee will hear a status report on local land use controls in the Park and review implemented APA-approved Local Land Use Programs. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Lake House Grille, Wells

First impression: whimsy with a side of humor. We noticed first the patio in front of the Lake House Grille in Wells. Partitioned from the sidewalk by a fence of varying height – lower in front to allow observation of passing cars and pedestrians; higher on the driveway side, the taller fence has windows built in.

Might sound odd, but it’s actually very quaint; sheltering but not isolating. Within the enclosure, three metal tables with umbrellas to protect from fickle weather and several Adirondack chairs (the only Adirondack style on the premises, with one other minute detail which we will get to later) for dining, relaxing or listening to the music from within. Signs in the entrance offer fair warning that the Lake House Grille accepts cash only, but that an ATM is on premises. Other posts advertise upcoming music events. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Hague Firehouse Restaurant

The staff outnumbered the patrons when we arrived at the Hague Firehouse between 4 and 5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The two bartenders on hand seemed to be more than enough for two men on one side of the bar and two women on the other. We chose two seats in the middle of the horseshoe shaped bar. A couple took refuge in the shade of the deck, enjoying the soft murmur of the surrounding trees and the brook below. Waitresses gathered in a far corner, taking turns between preparation and conversation. A summery breeze gently wound its way through the open front door, flirted with patrons, and escaped out the back through the sliding glass door in the wall of windows leading to the deck.

The gunmetal grey cinder block exterior and barn red garage doors give the impression that the building has not undergone much change from its former life to its reincarnation. One step inside puts that assumption to rest. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adirondack Farm Land Map Project Underway

Adirondack Sustainable Communities (ASC) was awarded a grant from the “Farm Credit AgEnhancement” program for an Adirondack Park farm land mapping project to connect farmers with landowners who may want to lease or sell their land. The goal of the program is to strengthen the agriculture industry in the Adirondacks by increasing the amount of farm land in production.

ASC is expected to analyze existing Federal, State and County data to identify existing property use and current landowners of areas with suitable agricultural soils. A user friendly computer mapping program will be developed to display this information with the goal to connect aspiring farmers with landowners interested in turning their properties into active farm land. The program’s final format will be determined based on interviews with involved user groups. ASC anticipates the program will be accessible through the Internet. » Continue Reading.