Saturday, January 7, 2012

What is it about Garnet Hill Lodge?

"What is it about Garnet Hill Lodge that interested you and convinced you to want to purchase the property"?

Since taking over the property in early December I've gotten this question quite a lot in various forms.  
The answer is a little bit difficult to express because the full answer is not quite simple enough to state in just a few sentences and partial answers seem inadequate.  So over time and in installments, I'll try to answer the question here and then maybe just point people to the blog anytime I'm asked in the future :)

As a preamble to why I wanted to own and run the Lodge I should say a bit about myself growing up and getting to know this area.  
My Dad's parents in Germany

After growing up in Germany and emigrating to the US in 1929, my dad first came to Johnsburg in 1947 driving a 1945 Willys Army Jeep he had purchased in a Brooklyn shipyard after winning a lottery for the right to buy it for $400 dollars.  The $400 dollars he'd saved up through serving in the army in WWII.  After visiting the Johnsburg area several times, he settled on a 200 acre property that had been a working farm in the early part of the century.  He purchased that for $800 with the help of his soon to be bride, (Mom)  who worked as a seamstress in Manhattan at the time.
They're very small but these photos are 
of my parents on their honeymoon in the 
Adirondacks and then a later picture of 
my sister Laura as a girl.

Jump ahead about 10 years to Staten Island, NY and along came me as the 5th child of the family in 1959.  I don't know if my mom took me up to the camp the first summer but here is a picture of me and my older siblings my second summer. (Left to right: Roy, Laura, Fred and Carl).  My younger brother Vic wasn't around yet.

So that's how it was.  The family usually came up and spent the 2 weeks of vacation my father had at the camp, doing quite a bit of work to keep things maintained and adding a few amenities such as indoor plumbing.  But there was always lots of other things to do: hiking through the woods, playing army, cooking food on the wood fire, hanging out in the bunkhouse, going for rides and climbing Crane Mountain.
My Mom was born, raised and has lived on Staten Island her whole life.  She's now 93 and staying in a nursing home there.  She taught in a special education program in the NYC school system for 20 years.
Picture of me, Dad and younger 
brother Vick on a walk in the woods

Meanwhile I and my brothers would also accompany Dad on weekend trips, taking a Trailways bus on Friday night from Manhattan to Glens Falls where the old Jeep was kept in a rented garage.  Then we'd drive up Route 9 at midnight with the canvas roof down if it wasn't raining or freezing, and pass through the flashing lights of Lake George at a top speed of 35 mph with the headlights barely able to reach a hundred feet in front and arrive at the camp in a mist at 2am to settle down for a brief sleep.
(Tonight my neighbor Joyce Virgil came by the Lodge for dinner with her husband Mark.  Joyce and her brother Andy, who is the same age as me, were two of the best friends I had growing up in the summer here).
From then on through high school and college I spent quite a bit of time up here.  My dad and I, along with my brothers managed to build a house ourselves which is quite comfortable to live in now, and over the years I've acquired a fair amount of equipment to maintain and enhance the property.  I've reopened old farming and logging roads and cut new ones where needed and cleared several of the fields that used to be there.
The property is in a low lying area with great soil and so has plenty of water and several large brooks running through it with the accompanying beavers and other wild life.

 The field with a winter sunrise

My nephew Joe driving the Jeep with my buddy Seth

The same field in summer driving the Jeep through.

In my next post I'll talk more about my music background and my career in software development.

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