Saturday we started very early--with Rob and Kitty taking TJ off to the vet as he had a swollen, sore leg. We dropped Alex off for the bus to Baldwinsville (outside of Syracuse) for their annual XC invitational. We packed up and left for Baldwinsville for Alex's event. We dropped off Rob's rental on the way and actually made the meet on time. He bested his time by 30 seconds. He came in 4th for our team. We waited for him for an hour or so and then packed up to drive north through Utica to spend the night at the Great Camp Sagamore, Alfred and Margaret Vanderbilt's great Adirondack camp. Rob spent the week there with the Upstate History Alliance and was so taken with his experience, he wanted us to see it too. So, about two and a half hours from Syracuse, we arrived at the Sagamore (outside of Racquette Lake)....to this beautiful, tranquil lake with a little Adirondack Swiss/German village sited in this country. There were deer grazing and big, snowshoe rabbits grazing on the lawn--with a wonderful grouping of buildings...some of them for sleeping, some for eating, some for play...and a bowling alley! There was a manicured croquet green with a lovely boathouse with a floating dock for canoes.
Nothing plugged in. No wireless connection. No television. No telephones. No room service. Back to basics. Comfortable accommodations, breakfast/lunch/dinner for 1 hour each upon the clanging of the dinner bell. There were camp fires outside at night, and fireplace fires at your pleasure in the living rooms in the various sleeping buildings...in these lovely, massive stone fireplaces...one different from the next...with some (you cannot use) in many of the rooms...
We heard a lot about Alfred Vanderbilt and his wife/and steward of Sagamore, Margaret. We heard about the history, the families and village (essentially) that kept this magical place up...but what was missing was a lot on Ww. Durant, the man who conceived, designed, built and lost Sagamore and many of the other Great Camps in the Adirondacks. There is some work there for me to better understand this man, this stylist, this visionary who saw this opportunity, envisioned it in his work and projects and squandered his railroad based fortune on this vision. There was a delightful cottage at the Adirondack Museum (I highly recommend...its a treasure and jewel, sited on Blue Mountain Lake to be a mini Shangri La). Sunset Cottage is a magical jewel...and really was a small crystallization of the Adirondack Style. If Saul Steinberg was an architect, this little inlaid cedar cottage might have flowed out of his pen nib.
I could go on and on..and may continue tomorrow, its just that work awaits followed by dinner and organizing for the XC meet tomorrow.
Sunset Cottage, Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake NY.
From the signage outside this adoreable little building (designed by the Adirondack Design Star! WW Durant):
This building, covered on all sides decorative split spruce limbs, is named Sunset Cottage after the radiating pattern on it's gables. Sunset Cottage was built as part of Camp Cedars which was designed by William West Durant for his cousin, Frederick Clark Durant (1853-1926). It was located on a 30 acre tract of land at Forked Lake, north of Racquette Lake. The Durants used the cottage as sleeping quarters. A wrap around porch on the building protected the twig decoration from wather fo many uears. The builder of the cottage is unknown, although there is speculation that Andrew Fisher, a carpenter-guide-caretaker in the 1880s might have produced this finest surviving example of rustic twig work built on an architectural scale. Twig work is made by nailing split sticksor rods of various sizes to flat surfaes in geometric mosaic patterns. The central Adirondacks-- Blue Mountain, Long, Tacquette and their neighboring lakes was the center of mosaic twig work for furniture and architecture.