Thank God for roadhouses.
That’s what Friend G said after we found a place to have a burger and a beer after a hike in the southern Adirondacks, up near Caroga Lake, on Monday. And he didn’t mean the Texas Roadhouse or Logan’s Roadhouse chain restaurant type of place. No, sir. He meant the kind of place that says it has some stories to tell and some history to reveal.
We had been rained on pretty hard as we started our hike to Good Luck Cliffs. The trail off Route 10, about 10 miles north of the intersection of routes 29A and 10, was muddy and tough to navigate without hearing that sucking sound that means your boot has found purchase in the mud and doesn’t want to escape without a fight.
The rain eased up as we followed the path toward Good Luck Lake and Spectacle Lake. We peeled off and found the path that led us to a steep ascent of the cliffs. The rocks were slick with rain and fallen leaves, but we slipped and stepped and sweated our way up the last 650 feet or so to the rocky outcroppings that provide the vistas, the big payoff I want as part of all my hikes.
Once on top, the lingering mist was being pushed around by a steady wind, and only small creases of light could be seen through the thick blanket of gray that covered the mountains. But the air was fresh and filling, erasing the stress of the office. The foliage was past peak, but still provided that distinctive palette of yellows and golds that you only see this time of year and what makes the Adirondacks a special place.
On the drive to the trail head, we had passed the Arietta Hotel and the Pine Lake Lodge. It being midafternoon and a Monday, both were closed after we had finished our hike and began looking for somewhere to stop and eat. So we drove south on Route 10 on a mission, and after about 15 minutes we saw, thank god, the roadhouse: Vrooman’s Hotel.
The sign out front says the place has been around since 1906. You can buy liquor there, in what is called the “wood shed” that occupies a closet-like space in the bar area. You can certainly eat and drink there, though I’m not too sure about what looked like two motel units attached to the big sprawling restaurant.
The restaurant has one of the longest shuffleboard tables I have ever seen. You know, the game with the sliding discs and sawdust you sprinkle on the surface. This table stretched the length of the front porch. A classic.
We missed lunch by 45 minutes, but the barmaid graciously offered us menus and said she’d cook something for us. A cheeseburger and fries, washed down with a Yuengling, was just right. A couple regulars were in the place, and they told us that next time we should consider Kane Mountain as a hiking destination. They also told us that it would be worth our while to visit the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course next summer. Of course, they’ve never seen us golf, but the course just up the road from Vrooman’s did look interesting.
All in all, the hike and visit to Vrooman’s was a good way to catch up with a good friend on a rainy day in the Adirondacks.