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40 Reasons to Love the Adirondacks

Lake George and the High Peaks by Johnathan Esper

1. Visibility can be measured in light years.

2. The scenery changes every day, along with the seasons.

3. Who needs television when you have a real-life Animal Planet show out your window? Bears, owls, porcupines, foxes and loons are only a handful of the creatures who make up our free-range backyard menagerie.

4. All those athletes with amazing physiques make us want to get in shape. But, just in case, it’s nice to know that baggy sweaters are acceptable attire most of the year.

5. Where else can you see a play in an upholstery shop, as happens in Upper Jay’s Recovery Lounge; buy donuts and Native American gifts at a Laundromat, as at the Washboard in Tupper Lake; or stock up on fresh-baked loaves of artisan bread and tie-dyed T-shirts, like you can at Sherwood Forest Bakery, in Wells? Even our businesses are jacks-of-all-trades.

6. What’s a billboard?

7. There are only two kinds of jam you’ll ever run into here, and neither has to do with traffic—one comes in a Ball jar and reminds you of summer, and the other breaks out whenever two or more musicians are in the same place.

8. You don’t need to drive the kids to the park—you’re in the park.

9. Any place with three award-winning local microbreweries—the Great Adi­rondack Brewing Company, in Lake Placid; Adirondack Pub & Brewery, in Lake George; Lake Placid Pub & Brewery—and an endless choice of beautiful backdrops in which to drink their suds is OK by us.

10. Balsam and woodsmoke smell a whole lot nicer than exhaust and steaming garbage.

11. Greenbacks aren’t the only currency in town—firewood, garden veggies, help on home-improvement projects and even IOUs are nearly as accepted as Discover cards.

12. Between the lively back-and-forth on WNBZ’s Talk of the Town, the soothing, familiar voices—and accurate reporting—on North Country Public Radio, more than a dozen newspapers and a generous sprinkling of Adirondack blogs, even the most remote cabin-dweller can stay on top of local news.

13. You often know the people (or the descendants of the people) after whom roads are named.

14. We are goal-oriented. If we finish hiking the 46 High Peaks, complete the Fire Tower Challenge, and traverse the entire 133-mile Northville-Placid Trail, we can always aim to paddle the 90-Miler.

15. We love wetlands.

16. You can get driving directions clear across the park that don’t include a single street name.

17. Fences make good neighbors. Acreage makes even better ones.

18. Snow for the holidays is practically guaranteed. Of course, sometimes the holiday is Memorial Day.

19. You can get advice on any topic, from health care to car repair, whether you want it or not. And some of it is even pretty good.

20. No dress code. Every day is Casual Friday.

21. Trail snacks grow on trees and bushes.

22. You don’t need one of those nature sounds CDs to help you relax. Just open the window.

23. It’s a scientific fact: peanut butter and jelly taste significantly better on an Adirondack summit.

24. Only in a place that has so little crime do relatively minor offenses—for instance, joy riding and graffiti—make front-page news.

25. Sometimes life gives you lemons, so you make lemonade. The North Country version: when you accidentally hit a deer, you make venison stew.

26. One of the most prized flavors, maple, is found in our front yards.

27. If you want culture you can find it. There are half a dozen arts centers scattered throughout the park and, with such an inspiring landscape, at least
one of your neighbors is bound to be a painter, potter, singer, dancer or furniture maker.

28. With hundreds of mountains, cliffs, rivers, lakes and plenty of ice, just about the only outdoor sport you can’t do in the North Country is surf. Oh, wait —does wake surfing count?

29. We never had a revival of canning, knitting, quilting or woodworking because, here, they never went away.

30. In these parts, that rarest of commodities, quiet, is abundant.

31. You not only know your post-master’s name, she knows yours—plus where you live (in some tiny hamlets addresses are unnecessary), how your folks are doing and who finally bought the old farmhouse down the road.

32. Our population may be aging but, with role models like 81-year-old triathlete Richard Johndrow, of Ticonderoga; the legendary outdoorsman Clarence Petty, who lived to 104; and the late Grace Hudowalski, who scaled High Peaks into her 80s, is that really such a bad thing?

33. You usually only have to remember four digits of a phone number.

34. Staycations must have been in­vented in the Adirondacks.

35. All those leaf-peepers who drive 20 miles under the speed limit. Sure, they’re a little annoying, but they remind us that what we have is worth savoring.

36. Long hikes. Swim­ming holes. Room to run. Canine-friendly workplaces and businesses. The adironDacks is doggie and dog-lover heaven.

37. Standing on the spots where history was made: Ethan Allen became a household name at Fort Ticonderoga; Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was in Newcomb when he learned that President William McKinley had been shot; abolitionist John Brown plotted a slave rebellion from North Elba; and the Olympic ice arena in Lake Placid is where the U.S. hockey team scored the Miracle on Ice, beating the heavily favored Russians during the 1980 Winter Olympics.

38. We’ll turn anything into a contest, whether guessing the date of ice out, tossing frying pans, racing outhouses or growing beards. What else are we supposed to do during those dark days of winter?

39. At a time when many city neighborhoods are shutting their libraries, ours remain central to the community—and nearly every Adirondack town, village or hamlet with more than a few hundred people has one.

40. People with different backgrounds, interests and priorities—from hunters to environmentalists to environmentalist hunters—may argue about how best to use these six million acres, but we can all agree that it’s land worth arguing about.

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