Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Dear East Coast/West Coast/North Coast Reader:

Happy Halloween. Thanks for giving me a treat every time I post a tricky blog - - tricky mostly because the formatting of Blog Spot is a challenge.

Happy November,


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter in Upstate New York - - Halloween update

Winter weather came to upstate New York this past week.

On a trip this past Thursday, we found snow in the upper elevations of the Adirondacks. The first two pictures show snow near Blue Mountain Lake.

The third picture was taken on a high point on Route 30, looking south, just where the highway comes into Franklin County. The mountains are the High Peaks, the mountain with the white on it is Whiteface.

I like this picture because it plays with a mental map that many downstate residents, myself included, have. Our mental map tells us the Adirondack High Peaks are the northernmost point in the state. In fact, from this vista, Franklin County extends north for about another 70 miles!

The last four pictures are local before and afters. The first is our backyard in its fall finery, with a lovely selection of mums that my wife, Dorothy, picked out.

A record-breaking, apocalyptic snow storm hit upstate on Saturday. The snow was first forecast to start around 1 P.M. At 1, the air was thick, pregnant with moisture that could have been rain or snow, but no flakes were coming down. The snow actually started around 4 P.M.

For a sense of the storm, there are two pictures. The first was taken at dusk Saturday, the second the following morning.

My friend Beth Waterman, who lives in the central Catskills, says that she had nearly nine inches in this storm. She shared a photograph of a snowy Catskill sunrise, above. My friend Jonathan Cooper lives four or five miles away and he got four to five inches of slushy snow. He said he is putting away the mower and getting out the snow blower. I was mowing yesterday, to knock down the Goldenrod, wild rose brambles and black raspberries in preparation for cross-country skiing.

We went skiing today and had the earliest cross-country ski trip on record. A few pictures of the ski trip, taken by Rose Cooper, are at the end of this post. At least I think they are at the end of this post as putting pictures in this blog are always an Achille's Heel for me.

While we were enjoying the warming day, over a million people in the Hudson valley and New England were without power.

Seth Edelman, who appears in this blog from time to time, wrote in to say that he and his family lost power for four hours in the storm. They live on the east side of the Hudson River, about 45 minutes from the home of this blog. It's amazing how a relatively short distance involves big weather changes. Maureen Franz, who lives in a beautiful wooded neighborhood on the north shore of Staten Island, wrote in to say, "The trees around here all split like firewood!! It was amazing! Branches down all over the place. I can't believe it. . . the leaves all held the icy snow and the branches got too heavy."

We send our hopes and prayers that they are reconnected safely - - and soon.

If you have any snow stories, please comment on the blog or write to me and I will revise this story. Whether or not you have stories to share, have a great week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lake Placid in the Fall

Two views from autumnal Lake Placid:

left picture is a maple down an alley off Main Street

right picture is Whiteface Mountain from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort

If you need a short get away in a scenic, low stress spot near the East Coast, put a fall visit to the village Lake Placid at the top of your list.

2011 is an excellent year for fall foliage, so the trip to Lake Placid should be delightful whether you are coming from the north, south, east or west. Sometimes, the leaves are set off by early season snow, so keep an eye on the weather before you go.

Tropical Storms Irene and Lee inflicted much damage to the Adirondacks. Route 73, the main access to Lake Placid, was badly damaged. Large portions were washed away by flood waters. State and local governments have restored many highways. For example, according to Carol Breen, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Transportation, the agency’s emergency contractor and maintenance staff worked tirelessly and reopened Route 73 to traffic in just two weeks - - an effort that was one of Governor Cuomo's top priorities after the storms. Breen advises that other State highways in the region are largely reopened with some other work spots remaining: alternating one-way traffic on Route 9 through Elizabethtown in Essex County, work to repair shoulders or guiderail and work to restore streams and protect highways in the future.

Lake Placid and the surrounding communities have so many things to do that it’s possible to plan an enjoyable visit that is an overnight - - or longer. There are many hotels and motels in the village of Lake Placid which, for God knows what reason, is actually on Mirror Lake. If you find a place to stay in the village, you can park your car and shop and dine on foot. Of course, you can get back in the car and go to visit the venues from the 1980 Olympics, Whiteface Mountain, the Ausable River or one of many hiking trails.

In this post, activities mentioned were discovered on several recent trips that our family has taken to the region. If want more ideas, contact the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau at 518-523-2445 or visit their website,

The Lake Placid Convention Center is a dominant landmark in the Village. It was the site of the US Hockey Team’s upset victory sweep in the 1980 Olympics and overlooks the speed skating rink used in the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. Even if the Convention Center has no events scheduled, it’s worth walking up to its entrance. From this spot is an exquisite view back to the south and east of the High Peaks.

For lodging, one of my favorite places is the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, tucked between Main Street and Mirror Lake. Many of the rooms at the Golden Arrow overlook the Lake and the hotel is very close to shops and restaurants. The Golden Arrow has also taken great strides to make itself environmentally sustainable and has received awards for this effort. However, the excellent service by the staff and the well-appointed rooms show that being good to the environment does not require privation.

Because this month is an interlude between summer and winter activities, it is possible to find great sales in some stores. As you walk along Main Street, merchants are not shy about advertising deals.

If you need fishing tackle or hiking gear, Jones Outfitters has an excellent selection. When we visited the store last year, the staff was also great at helping us make an informed choice. Jones will also share local fishing conditions.

A few minutes from Lake Placid is the Ausable River. On a fall trip to the region some years ago, I hooked a trout on my first cast in an upper stretch of the stream. A reasonable distance away is the Bouqet River, which has a fall run of landlocked salmon below Wadhams in eastern Essex County and good trout fishing throughout.

Terry Robards, the former wine columnist for The New York Times has an appealing wine and liquor store on Main Street. His website states, “A naturally cool cellar beneath the store holds the largest wine inventory in the North Country.”

At mid-point on Main Street is a row of outlets: Van Heusen, Izod and Bass. If you are running low on work clothes or need to get a jump on holiday shopping, this is a great place to stop.

For meals, the Golden Arrow offers a good assortment of breakfast items. Their restaurant also serves other meals but we did not have a chance to try them.

We enjoyed the Cottage, the Mirror Lake Inn’s pub/bistro that is right on Mirror Lake. The Cottage’s name belies its generous-sized interior. With the size of the room, the fireplace and the popularity on the weekend, the Cottage is bustling and lively without making bar patrons or diners feeling crammed in.

The next day we found Soulshine, a nice bagel place on Main Street and for lunch enjoyed a bagel and a cup of soup to ward off the cooler weather that had moved in overnight.

We left Lake Placid on a sunny day with the leaves at their peak, refreshed after a tiring week. We can’t wait to come back - - regardless of the season.