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Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the Style of the Vanderbilts

Hubby and I went on a Road Scholar tour of Great Camp Sagamore. This was our third Road Scholar tour. We've enjoyed each of the programs. In 2010, we visited White River Junction in Vermont. (You can read about that tour HERE.) Last year we visited Chincoteague in Virginia. (Check it out HERE.)

Great Camp Sagamore was a very different experience. For one thing, there is no cell phone service. It is in the wilderness--what was once known as the Dismal Wilderness. It is the land of no cell phone towers. However, there is a phone in the camp which visitors may use with a prepaid calling card.

There isn't any television either, which isn't a bad thing for me or hubby because we don't watch it anyhow. There is a large screen TV with a DVD player and there are some DVDs available for guests. There are board games and books for the use of guests, too.

There is wifi--not in individual rooms but in the dining hall and the reading room. Some people are happy to leave all the technology behind when they go into the wilderness, but I did not want to be cut off completely.

At Great Camp Sagamore, guests usually share bathrooms. Ours was a little way down the hall, but very clean, neat, and modern. We had a bathroom with a shower, but some visitors got old-fashioned bathtubs with feet. :^)

Meals are served buffet style in the big dining room and the food was great. We had to clear our own dishes off the table and put them in the kitchen to be cleaned. All guests took turns wiping down the tables and sweeping the floor. We had to make our own beds and take care of our towels and linens.

Great Camp Sagamore is not a luxury hotel. It is a living museum.

Hubby and I arrived one day early, which gave us the opportunity to visit the Adirondack Museum. That extensive collection was well worth the price of admission.

The one thing that bothered just about everyone was the black flies. It was black fly season. In New Jersey, we are annoyed with mosquitoes, but in the Adirondacks, the black flies swarm. I did not know this until the young lady who signed us in at the office suggested we borrow bug jackets. I had never heard of a bug jacket until that point, but I found it to be a very useful garment.

The jacket made me look strange. Maybe I scared the bugs away! Hubby preferred slathering himself with bug repellent.

Naturally, the Vanderbilts did not visit Great Camp Sagamore during black fly season. The Vanderbilts usually came for a month in August once the black flies were done swarming. The Vanderbilts also came for a few weeks at Christmas time. That was it for the most part. However, many dignitaries and even movie stars were invited to the camp. The caretakers lived there year round.

Hubby and I enjoyed rowing and canoeing on the lake. We played a game of croquet with another couple who knew the rules. (Croquet was a favorite game at Sagamore.) In addition to touring all the buildings at Sagamore, the Road Scholars toured Uncas, which is nearby.

In addition to lectures on the history of the camp and the Vanderbilts, we were treated to entertainment by Bill Smith, an Adirondack treasure!

We enjoyed the company of other Road Scholars who came from all over the country to learn about the camp. Road Scholars runs terrific programs and the prices are reasonable. You can sign up HERE.


jenny milchman said...

Oh, I adore that part of the Adirondacks. Yes, this is prime black fly season, or I guess now it's ending. We made the mistake of planning a back country canoeing honeymoon in the 'Dacks in early June! Chased out...I'm glad you weren't :)

Penelope Marzec said...


Too bad your honeymoon was marred by the black flies. :^( The Adirondacks are beautiful and I would like to see them again when the black flies aren't around.

The Road Scholars are hardy. Though nobody enjoyed the bugs, they wore the bug jackets or liberally doused themselves with insect repellent. We had excellent lecturers and guides. A wonderful program.