Snowbird Day Trip to visit SKENE MANOR in Whitehall, New York

Skene Manor the house on the hill in Whitehall, NY

SKENE MANOR – “The House on the Hill”

Skene Manor the house on the hill in Whitehall, NY
Skene Manor “the house on the hill” in Whitehall, NY

Many call it a castle. Some claim it’s haunted. We call it a beautiful example of Victorian Gothic architecture.

Skene Manor a Victorian Gothic treasure in Whitehall, NY
Skene Manor – a Victorian Gothic treasure in Whitehall, NY

Whitehall is located on the Southern end of Lake Champlain and is considered by many to be the Birthplace of the U.S. Navy. This is due to its place in history as the site where Arnold’s Valcour Fleet (first American fleet) was built in 1776.

Whitehall, NY - Birthplace of the United States Navy
Whitehall, NY – Birthplace of the United States Navy

Skene Manor was built on the side of Skene Mountain overlooking the Town by Supreme Court Judge Joseph H. Potter in 1874. The gray sandstone and the lumber used in its construction are from nearby on the mountain, as well.

The views from Skene Manor on the hill
The views from Skene Manor on the hill

Skene Manor was placed on the National Registry for Historic Buildings in 1959. After an interesting and varied history, Skene Manor was purchased in 1995 by a local non-profit organization passionate about restoring and preserving this local landmark for future generations to enjoy.

Skene Manor is on the National Registry for Historic Buildings
Skene Manor is on the National Registry for Historic Buildings

A dedicated group of volunteers have the building open for visitors from Noon to 4pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from April through December. If you decide to visit Skene Manor we suggest you plan on starting the visit with lunch in the Victorian Tea Room. The food is really good with ample portions prepared and served by the cheerful volunteers who make you feel like you are visiting their home.

Wonderful lunches are served at Skene Manor
Wonderful lunches are served at Skene Manor

After lunch you can count on Docent Richard Brewer giving you the grand tour. He is your genial guide to all of the history as well as what is fact or fiction about the rumors and secrets that have circulated around “the house on the hill” for its many, many years.

The following are some photos from our recent August visit to Skene Manor located at 8 Potter’s Terrace in Whitehall, New York. For more information you may phone them at 518.499.1906.

Then and now at Skene Manor built in 1874
Then and Now at Skene Manor built in 1874
Keeping Skene Manor warm since 1874
Keeping Skene Manor warm since 1874
Upstairs, Downstairs at Skene Manor
Upstairs, Downstairs at Skene Manor

In Search of the Best Michigan Hot Dog – A Northeastern NY and Northern Vermont Tradition – Part III

McSweeneys Red Hot, burger and fries

WHY ALL THE FUSS about a dumb hot dog you may ask? For one, the American hot dog is held in great esteem by many and it ranks closely with other totally American icons like The Hamburger, Buffalo Wings and Down-Home BBQ.  Now the “Michigan Sauce” of which we seek is like the icing on the cake that can turn an ordinary, everyday, good American hot dog into a work of art for the taste buds!
On the other hand it may be just ‘cause we love ‘em and need the excuse of a survey to sample as many as possible in a Summer – but I digress….

This week we enter the venerable establishment of McSweeney’s Red Hots in Plattsburgh, NY.

We have heard good comments about McSweeney’s Michigan hot dogs in Plattsburgh (they prefer to call them Red Hots) so we stopped for lunch at their Route 3 location.

McSweeneys Red Hots of Plattsburgh, NY
McSweeneys Red Hots of Plattsburgh, NY

Their building inside is bright, new and clean looking with a very large open dining area. They have carhops! When we first pulled up a smiling young lady ran up to see what we would like and we said we would really like to dine inside.

Inside McSweeneys Red Hots of Plattsburgh, NY
Inside McSweeneys Red Hots of Plattsburgh, NY

They had a nice menu selection of burgers, dogs, chicken, salads and some specialty sides like Gravy & Cheese Fries and Special Fries – fries with McS meat sauce & cheese.

McSweeneys Red Hots Menu
McSweeneys Red Hots Menu

Niki has wanted a really good hamburger with just lettuce and tomato so she ordered it (Hamburger Deluxe $2.95) with a side of onion rings ($1.50). As this is important scientific Michigan research I had to order one of their famed red hots ($1.95) – with onions of course (no extra charge) – and a side of the “Special Fries” ($2.80) which really sounded good.

McSweeneys Red Hot, burger and fries
McSweeney’s Red Hot, burger and fries

Our orders arrived eventually and we thought the onion rings were really good. Niki says her burger was just okay. Now the Red Hot/Michigan fell well short of my hopes and expectations. It was a run of the mill hot dog on an non-toasted bun with sauce that tasted like canned Hormel chili sauce (without the beans). A little spice had been added to give it a touch of heat. The fries came in their own cardboard container with a good dose of the same “McS” meat sauce and a melted and solidified layer of tasteless white cheese on top. I actually put catsup on both dishes to coax some tomato flavor. Maybe it’s the preference in these parts as the sauce tasted much like that of Mac’s Ice Cream Parlor in Keeseville. Again, more like canned, bean-less chili than “real” homemade Michigan sauce. If you just tuned in to our experiment – we define our “real” Michigan sauce as a homemade, slightly sweet, tomato-based sauce with ground beef that might almost pass as a pretty good pasta sauce as well.

That said we do respect the fact that McSweeney’s does a good business with workers coming in on their lunch hour as well as the many retired folk we noticed who appear to be regulars and all were enjoying their food.

Again we are trying to find the best Michigans in the North Country based on the sauce we have come to know and love from Gene’s Hot Dog Stand in Port Henry. We would also like to hear from anyone who has tried both Gene’s and either The Happy Pike, Mac’s or McSweeney’s to chime in and give their opinion. Could be we just have it all backwards?

We have one more “big name” in the Northern NY Michigan sauce field (next week) before we head across Lake Champlain to see how Northern Vermonters like their Michigans.  Anyone have a Vermont favorite?

McSweeneys Red Hots - 3 locations  in Plattsburgh, NY
McSweeneys Red Hots – 3 locations in Plattsburgh, NY

McSweeney’s Red Hots – 3 locations around Plattsburgh, NY
(We rate it 2 stars in the Michigan sauce department)

Route 3 West, west of the Mall and west of Lowe’s
562-4687

Route 9 North by the City Beach, next door to the Chamber of Commerce.
562-9309

Route 9 South, just south of PARC, across from Stewart’s.
561-1133

On the Road Again – Between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, NY – Amongst the Adirondack High Peaks

A Visit to “Tail O’ The Pup”
We have passed this restaurant many times over the years and thought it about time we stopped in to see how the food was. It’s been around since 1927 so we figured it must have something pretty good going for it.

Tail O' The Pup in Ray Brook, New York
Tail O’ The Pup in Ray Brook, New York

The restaurant resembles a small theme park without the rides. It’s a cluster of small buildings surrounding an outdoor eating area with picnic tables under large red & white striped awnings. It does visually attract the curious passing by.

The Tail O' The Pup Restaurant is located in Ray Brook, New York in the Adirondack Mountains
Tail O’ The Pup a “unique” dining experience since 1927

They have their liquor license and serve beer, margaritas and other drinks. The menu includes simple fare including BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs and the usual salads and sandwiches.

The Tail O' The Pup eatery is located in Ray Brook, New York in the Adirondack Mountains
Outside dining at the Tail O’ The Pup Restaurant in the Adirondacks

The platter selections on the menu come with 2 sides. Niki had the pulled pork sandwich with potato salad. She said the sandwich was nothing really special and the potato salad was tasteless and she ask to trade it for the cole slaw. I had the foot-long hot dog platter with cole slaw and “waffle fries”. The hot dog was grilled nicely and in a short but toasted roll. Not a Michigan but quite good with onions and a little BBQ sauce.

Hot dog platter at Tail O' The Pup in Ray Brook, NY
Hot dog platter at Tail O’ The Pup in Ray Brook, NY

Overall impressions – not the best and not the worst. Perhaps the hamburgers or lobsters are to die for but not the selections we made. The tables weren’t the cleanest and you do need to avoid the bird droppings when you sit. The families around us and the motorcycle club seemed to be enjoying the outdoor setting. We didn’t visit the gift shop as we didn’t find the place memorable enough to require a souvenir. We decided to have dessert at the ice cream stand just a hundred yards down the road. A wise choice as it turned out!

Tail O' The Pup Restaurant on Rte 86 in Ray Brook, NY
Tail O’ The Pup Restaurant on Rte 86 in Ray Brook, NY

The Pine Cone Ice Cream Parlor is definitely worth a visit when you travel between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. The place is clean, bright and serves both hard ice cream and soft-serve. They did not skimp on the hot fudge on my sundae and Niki says her scoop of “White Lightning” (dark chocolate ice cream with marshmallow mint streaks) was to die for and is ready to go back anytime!

The Pine Cone Ice Cream Parlor in Ray Brook, NY
The Pine Cone Ice Cream Parlor in Ray Brook, NY

NY State’s  Meadowbrook Public Campground and Day Use Area is adjacent to both The Pup and The Pine Cone. We drove through the Campground and found it fairly empty. Meadowbrook is the best bargain in town at $18/night for NYS residents and add $5 for out-of-state visitors who come to visit the nearby Lake Placid Olympic Training venues and the Village of Lake Placid. There are 62 campsites, hot showers, flush toilets, trailer dump station, recycling center, a small day-use area, pavilion rental, firewood sales and hiking. The roads are kind of tight for RV’s but we did see a couple of pop-ups. More info on their website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24482.html.

Meadowbrook is a NYS Campground
Meadowbrook Campground in Ray Brook, NY

Tail O’ The Pup (We give it 2 stars) is located at
1152 Sara-Placid Highway (Rte 86), Ray Brook, NY

You’ll find The Pine Cone (we rate it 4 stars) at
1179 NY-86, Lake Placid, NY 12946

Disclaimer: Our reviews are strictly our own opinions and may differ greatly from your own. We invite anyone who has had a different experience to respond to any of our articles and we will gladly add your input with our own review.

The Lac du Saint Sacrement on beautiful Lake George

Lunch Cruise on the Lac du Saint Sacrement
Lunch Cruise on the Lac du Saint Sacrement
Lake George and he beautiful Adirondack Mountains aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrement
The 32 mile long Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains

Lunch aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrement on Lake George
Good food, great service and spectacular scenery
Lake George and he beautiful Adirondack Mountains aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrement
Views along the shoreline of Lake George in the Adirondacks
Views along the shoreline of Lake George in the Adirondacks
Hidden along the shoreline of Lake George
Views along the shoreline of Lake George in the Adirondacks
The Sagamore on Lake George
A secluded cove on Lake George
A cove on Lake George
Views along the shoreline of Lake George in the Adirondacks
Lake George and the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State
The cruise begins and ends near the "Million Dollar Beach" on the South end of Lake George
The cruise begins and ends near the “Million Dollar Beach” on the South end of Lake George

It’s been a long, long time. . .

Glen Drive-In Lake George, NY

Date Night at the Glen Drive-In Lake George, NY

It has been a long time since either Niki or myself have been to the Drive-In. It is still fun and still 2 movies for the price of one (though that price has shot up with everything else). Both movies were quite good with the exception of the 4-letter words. Going to be a lot of bleeps when they hit the small screen!

The Sound of Thunder

AMERICADE 2014 Lake George, New York
AMERICADE 2014
Lake George, New York

The sound of thunder rolled across the Adirondack Mountains this week as thousands of bikers gathered in Lake George, New York for 2014 AMERICADE June 2nd thru 7th. There are Trikes, bikes, and Spyders of all types with riders ranging from their teens to well into their “golden years”.

The 5 days were filled with benefit rides, tours and scavenger hunts, as well as great musical entertainment, comedy, stunt shows and more.

Cruisin' Main Street Americade 2014
Cruisin’ Main Street Lake George, NY – Americade 2014

All of the big name vendors were on hand showing the latest and greatest, must-haves, riding gear, gadgets and the newest machines.
Visiting the Vendors Americade 2014
Visiting the Vendors – Americade 2014

Lake George is a sleepy little town during the long Winter months but comes quickly to life with each new gathering during this first week of June each year.
Relaxing at Americade 2014
Relaxing at Americade 2014

This is a major Summer vacation and tourist destination but the many motels were filled to capacity and nearly all had their “No Vacancy” signs up for this week.
Good times & great memories at Americade 2014
Good times & great memories at Americade 2014

The weather has cooperated and has been nearly perfect in the 70’s and 80’s all week. The bikes cruised the main drag morning, noon, and night to the delight of the many visitors walking along the sidewalks and visiting the Village shops.
Bikes Lining Main St at Americade 2014
Line up on Main St at Americade 2014

The greatest sight for Niki and me are the hundreds of bikes parked side-by-side the entire length of main street in the late afternoons and evenings. It is really something to see.
The "Wall of Death" -  Americade 2014
The “Wall of Death” – Americade 2014

Everyone comes to enjoy the fun, the bikes, and the camaraderie. There is seldom any of the trouble that is sometimes found at other meets around the Country.

We hope everyone had a great time ’cause we sure enjoyed having you!