public drinking in Bleecker
Thursday, August 16 2012
location: southwest corner of Lake Edward, Fulton County, New York
I've been working pretty hard on this big web project despite being on vacation. This morning there was another phone meeting to which I didn't even need to make a contribution, so I thought I was in the clear for the rest of the day.
Gretchen was loving Lake Edward so much that she found herself wanting to own a piece of it. There was A-frame a couple doors down that was for sale by owner, and today Gretchen arranged to have the house's owner show us around inside. It was in a pretty shabby state of disrepair, with random holes in the walls, missing floors, and rotten window sashes. And then there was the ugly mixmatch of the A-frame itself and a boxy vinyl-clad addition overlooking the lake. But it occupied a nice lot with a view of a part of the lake devoid of any human structures. But the biggest problem with the house was that it came with a lovely Amish-built barn, and all the money that had gone into building it meant that the seller would never be able to sell it to us for the price we'd be willing to pay.
This afternoon Gretchen and I took Ramona and Eleanor on another hike, this one up to Holmes Lake starting from a trailhead in northwestern Bleecker Township. There was a bit more relief on this hike, though nothing compared to any public land in the Catskills (except perhaps Onteora Lake). Again we went first to the lake's lean-to, where again Gretchen read choice pieces from the log book. (Some guy wrote about having to sleep with a male friend, a story he felt necessary to conclude with the expression "no homo.)
As for Holmes Lake itself, it was like a smaller version of Chase Lake, with trees on the distant shore only about half as far away. But it was still a respectable body of water, especially considering that we had it all to ourselves. The most interesting thing about Holmes Lake is that beavers have built a low dam across its outflow, a fairly high-volume creek. Beavers have also dammed the creek in a few locations downstream, making a number of marshes (including one that laps up against the trail).
Due to the relatively-high elevation of Holmes Lake in comparison to the lowelands leading down to the Mohawk River in the south, we had good cellphone reception there. And again it happened; someone at work (in this case my actual boss) sent me an email wondering about all the open issues I had yet to close in the project management software (Basecamp). He was concerned that I was getting behind. It was a terrible email to get while out in nature, and compounding the experience was the fact that I hadn't eaten anything in hours. The two mile walk back down to the trail ended up being completely miserable.
Back at the house I had to compose an email to deal with this latest crisis, cheered only by the knowledge that my boss tends to be hands-off and probably was overreacting to the proliferating threads in Basecamp.
What I needed in the worst way was a beer. So Gretchen and I walked to "downtown Bleecker," and went to its bar: the Sawdust Café.
It bears mentioning that there is only one retail building at the Bleecker crossroads (what I'm calling it's downtown). That building, which sits across the road from a decidedly Deliverance-style tree services company, was built in the manner of a log cabin and divided into two halves. One of these is the Sawdust Café and the other is a combination of dusty-shelved general store and township office for Bleecker. You can't buy beer there, but earlier today I'd gone there and bought superglue, green tea, and a can of three-bean salad. The apple-shaped woman running the place can also serve as a Notary Public. The front of the building has a sign with a bidirectional arrow pointing to both of its halves, one labeled "business" and the other "gossip." Both halves keep very unusual hours. They're both closed on Wednesdays and the bar closes at 8:00pm.
It was into the "gossip" half that Gretchen and I went this afternoon, whereupon we were immediately greeted by the bar's dog Maggie, who starts out with a couple barks but then quickly makes friends. We quickly ordered Genny Cream Ales (the bottle-only beer selection was modest) and two different kinds of french fries.
Our bartender was the husband of the apple-shaped woman, and once he started talking there was no shutting him up. At first Gretchen felt a bond with him over Maggie, a German-Shepherd mix he'd rescued. He demonstrated that Maggie is very intelligent and knows a great many tricks (including bringing checks to tables) and that she knows never to go back into the kitchen and can be a vicious guard dog if so deployed. But gradually Gretchen realized she had nothing in common with the guy. The bartender started regaling us with small-minded tales of, for example, running people off his land for no reason other than that he could (bartending is a side project from his usual job as a logger). Typical of backwoods troglodytes who don't appreciate the value of the nature that sustains them, he started complaining about how the State of New York runs the Adirondack State Park, especially all that infernal "forever wild" nonsense. Why, you can't even land an airplane on Holmes Lake anymore! He also seemed to think it was a bad thing that so few people knew how to get to the Adirondack's many isolated lakes, which struck me as odd considering how little regard he seemed to have for people he didn't personally know. Then, of course, there was his sense of decoration, which was never going to lead to anyone questioning his sexual orientation. His handmade bar was actually quite lovely, shaped as it was like wishbone. But all around it high on the walls were deer trophies with various arrangements of antlers. In one place a pair of uncomfortably disembodied hooves supported a vintage rifle. There was even a baby Black Bear. Can you imagine killing a baby bear, paying a taxidermist to mount it, and then featuring it on the wall of the your backwoods café? Somehow, though, I managed to drink two Genny Cream Ales while we were there. Other customers included a guy Gretchen had already met while walking the dogs and a hispanic gentleman that the bartender fetched a Corona without even having to be asked (an act of either excellent bartending, outrageous racial profiling, or a combination of the two).
Back at the house, I did a lot of web development, taking time out at some point to watch two episodes of Mad Men with Gretchen.
Gretchen at Lake Holmes.
Me at Lake Holmes. This teeshirt is from a series based on various do-gooder environmental activities/interests (two of which were given to me and Gretchen by her brother). Mine mentions "solar" and Gretchen has one for "vegan." There are others such as "cloth diapers" and maybe even just "meatless mondays" but none for being childfree or the unabomber.
The A-frame we looked at today. Gretchen was willing to offer $125,000 for it.
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