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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Visiting the Adirondacks: Mountains, Lakes, and Smoked Pork!


I visited the Adirondacks, in northern New York State, recently. It's a beautiful place, full of lakes, rushing rivers, and tree-covered mountains. The Adirondacks were the "wilderness" place to be among the moneyed set long before places like Yosemite or Yellowstone. If you love the outdoors, you should definitely visit. You can canoe and hike and fish, or just relax by a lake.



Most of the Adirondack Preserve is a sleepy place so if you don't like those outdoorsy things, make your base the eastern side of the park, near Lake George and Lake Placid. The western side is far less commercialized and has become even less so in the last decade. I visited in 2011 for some fall hiking and the Great Recession hasn't been kind to the little towns up there. Lots of "for lease" signs in restaurants and storefronts. If you want to spend a little money to help out a bunch of small businesses, head that way. If you like to hike, it's a paradise.

The view of Blue Mountain Lake from the Adirondack Museum
I also highly recommend that you stop at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, but not on the same day. Each one will easily take you a full day to explore. Both are excellent museums. The Adirondack Museum covers the cultural side of Adirondack history, including Native Americans, logging, boating, recreation, and the Great Camps. The Wild Center covers the natural history side of things. The Skywalk there is a fantastic interpretive nature walk, geared to visitors of any age. And they have river otters, absolutely adorable playful otters-one of my favorite animals.

They sell maple syrup at Oscar's too and I found that their price was quite good, after shopping around
Back on the eastern side of the preserve, on the way up from Albany, is the town of Warrensburg. It's a short way off the Northway (I-87) at exit 23. If you love pork products, you NEED to detour to Oscar's Smokehouse on the north end of town. They make a huge selection of smoked and cured meats. They are also a full-service butcher, so you can pick up some luscious steaks and chops there too. We tried their Irish bacon (more meat, less fat than American bacon), traditional and maple breakfast sausage (both delicious but go for the maple ones because, well, you are surrounded by some of the best maple sugaring forest around!), their fully cooked spare ribs (sauce is KC-style), their house prosciutto, and applewood smoked ham. Everything is fantastic. They don't make sandwiches but you can get bread there, along with sliced (smoked if you like) cheese, their own sinus-clearing sweet mustard, and various salads. They will slice any of their deli meats for sandwiches. Just what you need for a first class picnic. They also sell pies, which we didn't get to try, but they looked and smelled delicious.

The Adirondacks may not be on your vacation radar, but it should be. The area is beautiful and full of outdoors activities. Or, if you are just looking for a place to relax by a lake, you'll have plenty of them to choose from!

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