McDonalds in the Mohawk Valley
Wednesday, September 2 2015
I returned to the firewood salvaging location I'd visited yesterday (41.929190N, 74.105480W), cutting a second large slightly-too-rotted piece of ancient wood and adding enough additional wood from other sources to produce a load weighing 141.7 pounds. Back at the woodshed, this wood almost completed the second tranche (which rises up through the rafters to the plywood of the roof deck nearly everywhere it physically can). It seems a little late to only now be completing the second tranche, but the third tranche is about two-thirds full, and there's even a little of a fourth tranche started, though admittedly about a quarter of those additional tranches is White Ash harvested last spring that had been in a separate pile in the yard until late July.
Lake Edward (aka Vandenburgh Pond) in Bleecker, NY, is (so far) our favorite lake in the Adirondacks. Our favorite parcel on that lake is a cape at its northeastern end (43.125039N, 74.353982W). Recently Gretchen and I found out that this parcel, which has been on the market for at least a year and a half, is still for sale. Having seen other imperfect options (particularly the big ugly suburban modular house on a small, but seemingly private, manicured lot), we've been trying to find a way to make the cape parcel work. Its biggest problem is its ugly little cabin, which Gretchen is convinced should be removed so that we can start over. I'd prefer to somehow salvage it, and I've pleaded for Gretchen to have an open mind. So, to do more fact-finding, Gretchen had arranged for us to visit the parcel again today, this time with our friends Susan & David. (We'd had to reschedule the appointment from Monday to accommodate them.)
Susan's back was causing her problems, so we drove to the Adirondacks in their spacious Subaru SUV, starting from the recently-expanded park & ride at the Kingston traffic circle.
It's a two hour drive to Bleecker, but we had plenty of things to talk about, including Susan's tale of woe from a needy and unhelpful houseguest who, among many other impositions, made Susan pack up her art as her residency at Byrdcliffe ended and then made Susan drive her around to various smoke shops to secure an obscure kind of tobacco (and no, I'm not using that as a euphemism).
We exited I-90 in Fonda and went directly to the McDonalds, as Susan was craving french fries. It had been a long time since I'd walked into a standalone McDonalds (one not part of the Albany airport). A concerted effort had been made to make this one look like a hip modern lounge (or perhaps an early-90s take on such a lounge) with vertical wooden panels than rose up to meet and then lap the ceiling and cozy nooks with cheerful low-slung swivel chairs around round tables like something one might see at a cantina in Mos Eisley. I've read lots of stories of late about how a McDonalds is dying and, to combat that, they've tried to reach out to a more upscale "fast casual" sort of customer (think McCafé and even the attempt to add kale to its menu). But this somewhat-dated effort at hipsterification can't change what McDonalds fundamentally is. At this particular franchise, the trashcans overflowed with garbage, there was unappetizing refuse in the place where the ketchup and drinks are dispensed, and there were chunks of other people's meals under the table where we sat. The only other customers there when we arrived were a middle-aged couple who looked like side-characters on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, though later several others waddled in. 100% of the youngish white women I observed had sparkling jewels glued to their clothing, a phenomenon that led to considerable riffing on the word "bejazzle" and its colleague "bejizzle." I'd ordered a coffe with my fries, and, though it wasn't terrible, it wasn't especially good either.
Our first stop in the Adirondacks was not at Lake Edward but was instead at nearby Hines Pond (to its southeast), where a former Boy Scout camp stretching up to Woolworth Lake is being subdivided into a number of large parcels. None of these parcels meet our needs, but we thought we'd look at the overall layout while we were in the area. The entrance to the camp features a fancy wooden arch, and beyond that are a number of old cabins with clapboards made from logs whose knots and bends remained as wavy lines after they'd been milled. Inside, the cabins were empty, dusty, and austere, empty time capsules with particleboard floors. Hines Pond is long but only 200-300 feet across. Being there did little but remind me how much more awesome Lake Edward is.
On the way to the cape parcel, we briefly drove past that $300,000 suburban house plunked on the Lake Edward shoreline with an ugly yard that wouldn't look out of place in Stuarts Draft, Virginia (43.120315N, 74.362978W). For the rest of the day, we'd refer to that house as "the plastic house" or "the offgassing house."
Carol, our realtor, was waiting for us at the beginning of the driveway to the cape parcel. We followed her in, past the ridiculous log cabin (43.126290N, 74.352193W) that looks like it might actually be a bounce house (or a 3D printout of a log cabin; 3D printing being something of a recurring theme today, having been introduced by Susan at the Fonda McDonalds when she observed that the McDonalds lemonade tasted like "a 3D printout of lemonade").
When we got out of the cars, Carol immediately hit us with what she called "bad news." Supposedly another offer for this property, the cape parcel, had come in on Monday after we'd decided to reschedule our visit. That seemed fishy to me and David, particularly since the parcel had sat on the market unsold for at least a year and a half. For the rest of the time we were there, I more or less dismissed this purported offer as an attempt by someone (probably not Carol, but perhaps the selling realtor, whom Carol used to work for, or the seller, who, according to David, might have orchestrated a fake offer to force us to act).
The view of Lake Edward from the cape parcel was unusually beautiful today, with just enough mist in the air to obscure its distant south-west-reaching end and showcase Lake Edwards' central archipelago of forested islands. David and Susan could immediately see what we saw in the property, though they soon came to agree with Gretchen about the existing cabin. It's small, awkward, and seemingly shoddily constructed. It had to go. I explained to Gretchen my vision, that it could be the kitchen and bathroom core of a larger cabin built around it, but she couldn't see that it added much value in this scenario. All of us agreed (when we were talking away from Carol the realtor) that this new crisis of a purported offer for the property seemed like a game someone was playing. Carol tends to prattle on repetitively about things that we already know about or obsess about little issues (such as a trace of mold in the cabin), but otherwise she is generally sweet.
Carol told us what we'd need to do to make an offer and then we said goodbye and David started driving us homeward. Along the way, we discussed what had just happened. David said the whole thing smelled fishy to him. Carol had put all this pressure on Gretchen to make an offer, but there were a lot of things we didn't know. We had no map of the property. We had no specs about what sort of cabin would be allowed on it. There are a lot of things that are usually disclosed about a property on the market, but we'd never seen very much about this one.
We stopped for dinner in the heart of Albany on Lark Street. Gretchen had originally wanted to ironically go to the Cheesecake Factory, but in the end she and Susan decided to go to Thai restaurant instead. The place was called Kinnaree. I knew it was going to be awesome when the soup came out and it proved extremely spicy in a way that a Thai restaurant catering to dumbass gringos would never do. The food was great, and somehow Gretchen ordered the perfect amount.
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