Over the previous few weeks, I'd been in contact (via some postings on my web page) with an individual involved with a historic camp in Keene Valley, called Putnam Camp. In my ignorance, I'd never heard of Putnam Camp. Said individual -- Bill Joplin -- had explained that the camp had quite historic roots dating back to the late 1800s and involved some Boston doctors. Over the years it has continued as a close-knit, family-style private camp open to family and friends.
We had exchanged a few more e-mails, and Bill ultimately suggested that we stop by for a visit some time. I'd mentioned that we were hiking Hopkins this day, and he instructed us to drop by for a visit when we were done hiking. He couldn't guarantee that he'd be there, but that we were free to look around for a bit even if that were the case. Given that the entrance to Putnam Camp was less than a mile along Route 73 from where we were, it seemed like the perfect thing to do on a beautiful sunny autumn mid-afternoon.
Friendly Porchside Chatting
We parked on the highway outside the small driveway that led up to the camp. A very old but well maintained farmhouse is the first structure that presents itself, complete with a rustic full-length front veranda. On this veranda, sitting on a wooden chair on the veranda's southern edge (so as to catch the full impact of the warm afternoon sun), sat a smiling gentleman strumming a banjo. We introduced ourselves (and he as well - his name was John), and explained that we were here upon invitation of Bill.
As it turned out, unfortunately, Bill was still out hiking. John was gracious enough to give us a brief explanation of the camp's purpose and history, and encouraged us to walk around and see what there was to see. Perhaps Bill would return while we were about.
Living Room, Main Residence
We were given a short tour of the interior of the main farmhouse building. It is a warm mix of old rooms and timeworn knick-knacks, all seemingly lovingly used right up to today; old board-games and books, mementos and accountings of events and traditions from decades upon decades ago. We stopped and had a look at the somewhat noteable picture that showed two of Putnam Camp's famous early visitors: Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, legendary pioneers of psychoanalysis (I seem to recall reading somewhere that Freud didn't much enjoy his commune with nature, but a posting by Julie in the forum seems to hint otherwise).
1938 Bell Competition
We eventually made our way to the kitchen, where we met a very friendly Diane who was overseeing the cooking of the evening's dinner. It was refreshing to see some of John's grand-children (I think they were John's grand-children, anyway) running and playing about, handling, exploring, and playing with the odds and ends that were scattered about the place - and all without too much oversight from adults, probably much like it was fifty years ago, or more.
We took a leisurely tour around the camp, marvelling at the very old wooden buildings scattered about (the newest was built around 1910, and most were built the late 1800s). Visitors come and stay in these historic old cabins, and have communal meals and events in the main farmhouse building -- the focal point of the camp.
With our visit to Putnam Camp over, it was time to think about heading back. The day was still early, so we decided that we'd try and find a colorful and interesting place to eat before starting our journey. We thought about the Noonmark Cafe just up the road, but didn't end up eating there. We wanted something a bit more than typical cafe fair. We were in the mood for a good barbeque place, actually. The only one that I could think of that we thought was open and that we thought might be authentic was the Tail O' the Pup BBQ, located partway between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. I'd driven past that establishment countless times in my drives to and from the Adirondacks, and not once had I ever stopped there. We decided that today would be the day to change that fact.
Impatient for BBQ
We weren't actually sure that The Tail O' the Pup was a 'real' barbeque outlet (the general definition being whether or not they had a true barbeque smoker out back). As we pulled in, we noticed a decomissioned smoker out front that had been coverted into a decorative planter -- definitely a good sign. The second good sign was when we confirmed that this place was open seasonally -- from May until late October -- another good sign of a true barbeque place (the smoker is typically outside, and therefore out of comission when the weather is cold). Thirdly was the fact that this place had been established and in operation since the late '20s. Such a long run of business surely must indicate a certain level of quality, no?
A Careful Read
The interior of The Tail O' the Pup is a mish-mash of memorabilia from the 20th-century. The arrangement was very cafe-like, with booths and simple tables. It had an authentic feel about it - a sort of northwoods-meets-route 66 roadhouse kind of feel. We got right to business, looking closely at the menu and deciding which form of BBQ goodness we'd try.
Jenn is quite fond of hot dogs, and doesn't have them often, so she chose the foot-long dog. Chris is quite into all things BBQ, and he wanted to try everything this place had to offer: he ordered the $19.99 'BBQ Lovers Who Want It All' meal. We agreed that he might not be able to finish it all, so I chose something modest in size -- a BBQ Texas Beef Brisket sandwich -- and offered to help pick at his dish, if required.
Three Orders Are Ready!
We were soon served and we weren't disappointed. All of the barbeque items were good, especially the beef brisket and pulled pork - they were especially good. Chris looked for the telltale pinkness around his BBQ ribs, and sure enough, it was there. They did BBQ properly!
Fully satisfied with our meal (and now I know this is a good place, so I'll be coming back again at some point), we headed off into the sunset, bound for home. A very full and rewarding day.