Excerpt (106 pages) Dispatches/Adirondacks section of my Web site,
Here it is, in full : The Real Adirondacks, as I called it, with some commentary and corrections in brackets. As opposed to the ersatz tourist Adirondacks and the lavish rustic camps where the old blueblood families of the East had been summering for generations (about which I had just done a piece for Vanity Fair). I tried to write it in the local vernacular, the way a proud, ornery mountain man like Steve would have done it, but it was
surprisingly controversial. A lot of locals, of the few who read it, didn't get it and were pissed. The publication of the piece actually taught me more about the culture, so here it is in toto :
The black flies will eat you alive, the natives are hostile, the mountains are low and boring, the trails are muddy and slippery, and the fishing sucks thanks to acid rain. So if I were looking for a place to hike or camp and have a wilderness experience, the last place I'd head for is the Adirondacks. And as a place to live, forget it. The winters are cold and long, the schools are terrible, and about the only place you can get work is in one of our many
The only reason I've been living here for the last ten years is because I can't sell my house. Every morning when I get up I ask myself, what am I doing in this godforsaken forest? So I've made it my personal mission to warn all you downstaters, flatlanders, suburban yuppies, and aging boomers who are thinking of moving up to the country: Don't come to the Adirondacks. Vermont is the place for you. Keep the hell out of here. [to which I would add the local term of contempt, Jerseyites, as most of the people who come up here seem to be from the Garden State, space to put in a garden being in increasingly short supply down there.]
As one of my neighbors puts it, Vermont is like Austria, while this side of Lake Champlain is more like Bulgaria. In Vermont everybody is an ex-hippie or a Democrat, and they all drive around in Volvos listening to NPR and shopping at the winery, the cheesery, and the bootery, and it's so quaint and politically correct that you want to barf. Over here, Democrats and ex-hippies are about as common as mountain lions. (There's actually supposed to be a couple of them-cougars, that is-over the mountain from our house.) [This has changed, as almost everybody in our town at least voted for Obama in the last election, but this could have been a blip.] The native Adirondackers--the mountain people who have been here for generations-- are extremely laid-back and would never pass muster in Vermont. They have their old cars and refrigerators and everything else they ever owned in their dooryard, and they haven't finished putting up the siding on their house and probably never will.