By Charlene S. Mixa
Featuring Artistic Glen Falls & Laidback Lake Lucerne
Taking day trips from the busy Village of Lake George, we find two most charming and diverse towns. These villages may not boast the lake views but each has its own distinct personality. Glens Falls hums with a more artistic flair and Lake Luzerne sparkles with its pristine recreational area. Each community features countless activities and attractions for family outings. All ready and waiting to be explored!
The larger of the towns in the Lake George area, our first impression of Glen Falls is its architectural style and small town appeal. Parking at the Wholy Crepe, we drop in for a midmorning breakfast. A warm intimate café their menu has excellent choices of sweet and savory crepes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Absolutely delicious! My Florentine Crepe has each crepe cup filled with spinach, mushroom and feta, topped with an herb poached egg. Crepe-O-Egg is Richard’s crepe version of an omelet. It is a quiet morning and we have the opportunity to chat with the owner Paula Pike learning how she launched into her unique and successful restaurant business.
A pleasant summer day, we use the handy Self-Guided Historical Walking Tour Map to explore downtown Glens Falls. We admire the various architectural styles of the buildings, the boutiques, art galleries, numerous restaurants, and museums. The Civil War Monument is at one end of the main town with a beautiful City Park nearby. At this end of town is Crandall Public Library which has Folklife Center. Viewing the exhibits we gain insight into the cultural tradition of the upper Hudson Valley and the southern Adirondacks of upstate New York. A quick peek in the Charles R. Wood Theater shows the transformation of the building from a Woolworth Store to a 30,000 square foot community facility offering a variety of shows and entertainment. “Have a Seat in Glen Falls” a downtown outdoor art project is going on for the summer. All through town, artists have painted Adirondack Chairs in whimsical, fun, wacky, fanciful and beautifully detailed designs. We sit in the chairs and marvel at their creativity.
Next, we tour the Historic Hyde House and Museum with its extraordinary collection of masterworks. Displayed in the eight rooms of the home with its Italian Renaissance and eighteenth century French antique furnishings are works by artists such as Rembrandt, Renoir, Whistler and even Picasso and Homer. Louis and Charlotte Hyde were a prominent industrial family during the turn of the century and avid collectors. Excellent!
Now to lunch at Samantha’s Pantry housed in a century old garment factory that features soaring windows, mellow brick walls and floors worn buttery from thousands of footsteps. As lunch is prepared we chat with the owner Carole Newell who shares stories and photos of the challenges of taking over a floor in this former factory. Going for comfort food, I have the scrumptious Mac ‘n Cheese and Richard has delicious Broccoli Quiche. Pam Gibbs who handles marketing, explains the Union Square Building houses six businesses. It’s a true union of female entrepreneurial spirit as five of these are owned and operated by women.
Just outside Glen Falls is Cooper’s Cave the inspiration for James Fennimore Cooper’s famous novel The Last of the Mohicans. Storyboards at the viewing platform give detailed information, drawings and history of the area. Now it is a hydro electric plant. Visiting the area we learn about Cooper’s visit to the cave and how the book came about. We peak into the cave that was the setting for an event in the book. Tonight we are going to the Outdoor Drama the Last of the Mohicans and seeing Cooper’s Cave gets us even more excited about the show.
Another day trip in the Lake George area we head south for an afternoon visit to Lake Luzerne. Leaving the more commercial areas along the highway, we appreciate the solemnity as we approach the quaint town of Lake Luzerne. Exploring on our own we happen onto the Hadley Bow Bridge with its rare parabolic design. Located just above where the Sacandaga River flows into the Hudson River opposite the village of Lake Luzerne, it’s the only surviving iron semi-deck lenticular truss bridge in the state. The river flows rapidly through a deep gorge here and we spot rafters and tubers thrilling on their exciting ride. A takeout point, we hear tales of their fun and exciting water adventures on the river. Lake Luzerne Park on the edge is great for resting. With no scheduled itinerary until later, we sit, relax, and soak in the beauty and serenity of Lake Luzerne.
Goodness it’s time to eat again. The Waterhouse Restaurant, a local favorite is packed as diners arrive for the “early bird” specials. A fun rustic décor the restaurant is “hopping” with diners. The house salad is large and excellent. Back to our healthier seafood meals we enjoy our salmon and stuffed shrimp dinners. Sue Waterhouse, the owner stops by quickly to welcome us. She is wearing several hats this evening but creates a warm, hospitable restaurant.
Our evening entertainment is a Fireside Chat at the Adirondack Folk School. We arrive early as a gentleman is lighting the logs in the fire pit. Introducing himself, Jim Mandle, the founder of the School, he welcomes us and the speaker, Jim Bruchac. Giving us an impromptu tour, Jim shares his vision for the Folk School and how everything came together only five months ago. The school is the only one of its kind in the country dedicated to teaching arts, crafts and culture of the Adirondack region. Enthusiastic and passionate about the school, Jim shows us the various rooms and crafts including weaving, basket making, Adirondack frames, and lampshades. We’re amazed as what has been accomplished in such a short time plus the energy and support for future growth of the School.
As the sunsets, Jim introduces James Bruchac, a noted Abenaki author, storyteller, cultural educator, animal tracker and wilderness survival expert. A good example of “never say never”, Jim explains that he grew up in the Adirondack foothills and his father was the World renowned Abenaki Indian storyteller and author, Joseph Bruchac. As a teenager the last thing Jim was interested in was storytelling. Yet with maturity and his desire to educate others on the natural world, storytelling opened up a new door for him. Jim wiles us with his interactive animal tales of the Indians plus some adventures as an animal tracker and wilderness survival expert. Excellent tales and a fun evening!
If you go:
Adirondack Folk School, P.O. Box 2, Lake Luzerne, NY 12846; 518.696.2400; www.adirondackfolkschool.org
James Bruchac, Author, Storyteller, Cultural Educator, Animal Tracker and Wilderness Survival Expert; http://www.jamesbruchac.com
Samantha’s Pantry, 11 Broad St, Glens Falls, NY 12801; 518.792.5839; www.samanthascatering.com
Warren County Tourism Department; 800.365.1050; VisitLakeGeorge.com
Waterhouse Restaurant, 85 Lake Ave., Lake Luzerne, NY 12846-2326; 518-696-3115
Wholy Crepe, 16 Exchange Street, Glens Falls, NY 12801; 518-223-0013; www.wholycrepe.com