My annual trip to the Adirondacks is a bit like an allegorical journey through the netherworld to Paradise. First, the wear and tear of everyday life: I-95 to Philadelphia. Then, the slow crawl through Purgatory, otherwise known as the “Northeast Extension” of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-81 from Clark’s Summit to Binghamton. Hell, of course, is getting trapped between 18-wheelers in a thunderstorm on this twisting stretch of highway.
Noticeable improvement begins immediately past Binghamton, on I-88 across the lovely southern tier of New York, all rolling hills and farmland, appropriately accompanied by something Mozart. Then up Route 28 through Cooperstown (so much more than the Baseball Hall of Fame), a stop for lunch at the Doubleday Cafe, and on past Cooper’s “Glimmerglass,” the majestic Lake Otsego with its aqua waters. Over the high ridge to Mohawk, and on through the central New York towns with names from the Old World: Rome, Russia, Poland.
Anticipation builds to Alder Creek, and then,at last, the sign of Paradise at White Lake: “Adirondack Park” says the sign, and I cross the invisible blue line into six million acres of forest and lakes and mountains and wildlife. 70 miles later, in the heart of this beautiful region, I pull into Long Lake where I spend two weeks getting caught up on reading, loons, herons, bears and life beyond the Beltway.
Up here in the North Country, there are worrisome signs that policymakers inside the Beltway need to think about: not much snow in the last two unusually warm winters; friends here say they’ve sold their snowmobiles. Rain is plentiful, the forests are lush, the ducks are happy. But miserly snowfalls… something to think about.