Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel was everything its name promises, particularly the lazy part. We slept in as long as we wanted, enjoying the quiet country morning. As is my custom though, I woke up a bit early (maybe nine or so) and did some writing and took a few pictures of the wildflowers. Later on, Jenny and I sat by a still-cooling campfire near the creek and watched the water break in rapids over the rocks before adjourning to a nearby meadow of grass mowed in wide rows to enjoy the accidental symmetry of two tall trees. A little before noon the three of us took a walk to a roadside produce stand and stocked up in sugar plums, peaches, cashews, sharp cheddar cheese (made with ale and mustard), along with whole wheat sourdough bread and Boylan black cherry soda, the stuff made with cane sugar. We sat under a tree next to our room and munched a tasty brunch before departing the meadows one last time.

Today we drove only half the distance we intended, and we're glad. Our goal was the northern tip of New York, a decent stopping point where we could catch another drive-in flick before heading into Canada tomorrow. But upon realizing that we had no real plans today, aside from poking around, we took a look at Roadside America (website) and determined that a stop in Lake George would be fun: Jenny was attracted to a goofy haunted house attraction while I had my eye on a Muffler Man that had been supposedly displayed at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Vienna was happy to share our adventurous spirit, so we adjusted our itinerary for a couple hours by the lake� and then the tiki gods greeted us. See, we passed by a Howard Johnson hotel (just a couple blocks down from one of the last remaining Howard Johnson restaurants) and I spotted a faux Maori tiki next to jaunty A-frame windows. We got a "walk-in" rate that beat the listed price or any deal you could get over the phone, and Jenny added that she too thought it'd be great to stay. Vienna awoke from a nap and, surveying our options around town concurred: It would be Lake George for the Wood Family.

Truthfully Lake George is a bit tired. Miles of motels were crying for guests and many of the attractions are pretty worn. Still, we're suckers for old school stuff. We started with a game of miniature golf (YouTube video) at Around the World, digging the chance to "tour" the United States via facsimile versions of states like Texas, Arizona, California (that hole was once Hawaii for some reason, as if the states are interchangeable) and, easily the coolest part of the course, the New York subway green. "New York" took us underground and involved a pretty realistic looking environment, complete with dank walls and the requirement to pass through turnstiles. We then toured the world course, gazing at Egyptian "pyramids," a Parisian Arc de Triomphe (with adjacent Sidewalk Caf� chairs) and an "Iron Curtain" that features miniature East German guards. Preparing to leave we suffered a moment of panic when I couldn't find our video camera, apparently set down somewhere while switching to the still camera, but a nice woman assured us that she'd left it with the office. The tiki gods smiled upon us all.

Our next step was something called House of Frankenstein Wax Museum, a ghoulishly tacky collection of creepy oddities. Ostensibly a haunted house, the attraction is little more than a series of dimly lit set-pieces showing increasingly gory torture and execution scenes. Occasionally the Frankenstein folks leaven the whole thing with more, I don't know, educational displays, like one depicting Edgar Allen Poe writing "Tell Tale Heart" before, gross!, a fairly realistic image from "The Pit and the Pendulum." Toward the end of the show they gave up on historical literature and just pushed us along from execution to execution. Push a button and a guy drops, slowly, to be hanged. Push another button and a dude gets electrocuted, with real smoke. Truth be told, the collection of horrors was pretty much what we expected: kitschy roadside fun. Just don't take small kids to this one, folks.

Afterward we wandered the shops, most of them selling the kinds of tacky tourist trinket stuff you find in these second-tier resort towns: salt water taffy, air-brush t-shirts, and rude souvenirs (yes, we found a toilet filled with dog turds). An Elvis impersonator was scheduled to play in the park that night, but we'd had our fill. An overpriced tiki show was not scheduled tonight at the Howard Johnson, which the generally dependable Critiki (website) doesn't even recommend for a Mai-Tai, so we searched online for a restaurant that would satisfy our individual palates, settling on a fairly nice dinner at the Barnsider. We wrapped up our night photographing some lovely motel neon (including a cool "Indian") and grabbing a quick ice cream dessert at one of Lake George's many parlors (competing only with mini golf courses for ubiquity in this area), and then hit the sheets.

All text copyright Andrew Wood.
Photos copyright Andrew and Jenny Wood.