Sunday, November 10, 2013

Placid Lake Placid

I sit now in the Saranac Lake airport.  The producers of Wings could have used this building as the set for their program.  Actually, the terminal here is smaller.  Cape Air flies three times daily to Boston from this tiny airport.  I am on the 11 a.m. flight.  There are three other people in the waiting area.  The four of us including the pilot will make up more than 50% of the passengers.  They asked me my weight when I checked in.  Good thing I passed on dessert last night or I might have had to jettison a sweatshirt in my suitcase.

The people in this region of New York are either remarkably friendly or I have gotten used to the hard edge of Boston.  A fellow named Pat operates the Hertz counter at the airport. There was a sign on the desk when I went to bring the car back. "I'm upstairs at the Cafe. Come up and find me, Pat."  I did, and we conducted our transaction near where he and his chums were having eggs.

I've been to Lake Placid before, but it has never seemed as magical as it appeared these last two days. It is not "season" but the scenery is magnificent, the people friendly--both tourists and villagers--and the shops fun to visit (this comes from a fellow who is not especially fond of shopping).

The main street of Lake Placid does not actually sit on Lake Placid, but rather on Mirror Lake.   Lake Placid is contiguous, but for those who walk up and down Main Street or take the beautiful 2.7 mile walk around the town, Lake Placid is not visible. What is visible is the magnificent sight of Mirror Lake. My room had a view that would, no doubt, cost an arm and a leg if this were "season."  Outside my window were spectacular scenes of Mirror Lake and the Adirondack mountains beyond.

The town was not overly jammed this weekend, but there were plenty of customers in restaurants and in the stores.  Happy people for the most part.  I was here to watch a hockey tournament and try to figure out what I don't know about sports, communication, and culture.  Others seemed to be here on a lark. I met a couple at a place called the Dancing Bears last night who live in Albany and on the spur of the moment decided to drive up.  The evening before I met parents of the hockey players who had driven half a day to see their daughters play in the games.  Earlier last night I went to a place my buddy Kenny has recommended and shmoozed with the barkeep as we watched the LSU-Alabama game.  In a way, I felt that this was like the Truman show. Actors playing the parts of tourists and business people as I navigated the streets.

Quaint and gorgeous. It is the kind of place that makes you want to be a millionaire, not to point to your bank account, but rather to have the money for a home in this dream spot.  No doubt there are the same tensions here as elsewhere. I overheard a woman, a villager, on her cellphone grousing about her husband who expected dinner while she tended to the kids and he sat idly.  So, Shangra-La it is not, and no place is.  Yet, two days here and I feel far more placid than I did when I left.

Now, of course, I will soon get on a plane the size of a volkswagen and bump all the way to Boston. Not looking forward to that with enthusiasm, but assuming we land, it will have been worth the jostling.  Learned a bit about hockey culture and the trials of preparing for the Olympics, met some kind folks, and took a step back from the routine.

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