OUR MISSION - WE'RE PUBLISHED! Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 marked the Premier of our new book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide. The hardcover, 160 page book can be found at bars and bookstores throughout the Adirondack Park or order online at www.happyhourinthehighpeaks.com. You'll find a list of our book signings on the Events page and where to buy the book on our Retailers page. The book contains reviews of 46 of our favorite bars in the Adirondack Park, and 46 drink recipes with an Adirondack twist. As a companion to the book, we have also published a 46er Passport so that you can follow the Happy Hour Trail to become a Happy Hour 46er and make new friends along the way. Summit Tour t-shirts will be for sale at our book signings or available online. Whether you are a native, resident, or visitor, you'll find 46 more reasons to visit the ADIRONDACK PARK!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Camping: A Blog on the Fire

My family claims I have a PhD in camping. That is, civilized camping; not really roughing it camping. We camp at campgrounds. Not those overly-populated pigeon-hole places. Campgrounds with old trees, dirt, rocks and bumpy roads, rutted from washouts, where kids can really hurt themselves if they wipe out on their bikes. Shower and restroom facilities are a must, though I frown on frilly amenities like swimming pools, rec. rooms and cartoon mascots.

It takes me two days to pack and load the car. Space is limited and things must be done a particular way so that I won't have to work so hard while we're supposed to be relaxing. But camping is hard work and usually everyone else gets to chill while I, the control freak, insist on doing everything else myself - the (right) way. The others do try to help, Pam in particular (she's not afraid of me), and I exhale patiently while tolerating their pathetically inept attempts at starting fires, cooking burgers, organizing coolers and, particularly, erecting the tents.

They call me the Tent Nazi. An avid collector of tents of many capacities, (six at last count plus a beach cabana), I can set up any one of them by myself. Takedown, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. I insist on folding the tent to its original factory dimensions and it must fit in its original bag along with the rain fly, stakes and poles. Hence the nickname. My kids used to tremble and go find something else to do, my husband and sister glancing at one another in fear of the inevitable correction. "Not that way," I'd sigh in what I hoped was an instructional tone, silently adding, "Idiots." Finally, sweating and filthy or wet and muddy, we'd all pile into the car for the five-hour drive home. Smug and satisfied that it had all gone so well thanks to my helpful instruction, I'd congratulate myself on yet another fun, relaxing and educational family vacation. I'd outdone myself again, and we'd gotten out of there at the appointed check-out time.

Camping with Kimmie has mellowed over the years. The kids mostly don't go any more. They have lives. Or maybe, for some reason, they just don't enjoy it? Can't imagine that's the reason. I've learned to let go, let others do the work, or to simply do nothing at all. It all gets done eventually.

I arrived at Cape Ann Campsites in Gloucester, Masssachusetts on Friday afternoon, the warm, damp sea air heavy with the threat of showers. Hurrying to set up two tents before it rained, I was really looking forward to a campfire and some tasty new local brews. Pam would be arriving in a few hours with her daughter, Sydney, and Syd's friend Brittany. I was ready to take the burgers off the grill and drop into the nearest chair when they pulled in. After a quick dinner, the two 12-year-old girls went off to explore (code for check out boys). It was sprinkling ever so slightly.

As darkness fell and the mosquitoes began feasting, we built our campfire and pulled the chairs around. I had bottles of two local ales in the cooler and was ready for a taste test. Pam poured a glass of wine and sent the girls to bed. Mom time.

The sprinkles soon turned to a light gentle rain, but the trees were protection enough. We inched closer to the fire. The rain picked up a notch, then another, until it was raining steadily. Oh, but we're stubborn. We toughed it out for a few minutes. Umbrellas popped up in conversation. I got mine out of the car and Pam and I huddled underneath. It just wasn't big enough to cover both of us. Still not ready to give up, I grabbed a small tarp and draped it over Pam and the two chairs. Using the umbrella to hold the tarp up off our backs, tarp trailing behind our chairs and open in the front so we could still enjoy the fire, Pam claimed rights to our invention of the umbrubble or the umbrelter Too late. We saw mass-manufactured versions of the "Sport Brella" on Wingaersheek Beach the next day.

Oh yeah, the beer. I love trying local microbrews when traveling and try to pick some up wherever I go. The package store (in MA that's a liquor store and it's where one buys beer) I remembered as having a vast selection turned out to have a disappointing inventory and no longer allowed customers build a custom six-pack, but I found two local beers I hadn't yet tried: Ipswich Ale Brewery's Summer Ale and Cape Ann Brewing Company's Fisherman's Ale.

The Ipswich Summer Ale, an American blonde ale, had a slightly cloudy golden to light amber color with a hoppy, fruity, floral aroma. The texture was light and a little thin but crisp with a little carbonation. The flavor started with citrus and spice, then something reminded me of hay. For a summer ale, the bitterness was somewhat surprising, rivaling some pale ales I've tried. I was disappointed. I'll let my husband drink the rest of these when he gets here.

The Fisherman's Ale, on the other hand, suited me just fine. A Kolsch-style ale with a hazy, dull, golden straw color, the Fisherman's ale had a sweet malt and wheat aroma with dominant lemon and fruit flavors. The texture was smooth and creamy with mild carbonation. The rest of this six-pack is all mine. The only beef I have with this particular beer is in its packaging. This 2007 Great International Beer Festival gold medal winner obviously has taken great care in the production of its fine product. The artwork is nicely designed with bold, vibrant colors and excellent font selections. I found three errors in the single paragraph describing this delicious ale. Someone should have taken the same care with proofreading. I know it sounds petty, but surely someone should have caught this - no excuse. I'd send them an email but they'd probably just be annoyed.

Camping continues for another few days. I'm about to go and find out if they have WiFi at the office.


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