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Way up in a deep damp hole

Early this morning I found myself in a minivan packed with seven friends on the way to the Adirondacks.   We were heading to visit Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain again.   Someone in the group had picked up a magazine about super-luxury yachts, and during the drive we were all chortling over the absolute ridiculousness of some of those things. Nobody really needs a 100-foot yacht with 12 bedrooms that looks like a floating hotel, but lots of people buy them for millions of dollars anyway, and then presumably toodle around the oceans in search of something.

I have trouble believing that the happiness that accrues from owning such things is of higher quality than the happiness that we got from climbing around in a damp, muddy, cramped cave on the top of a mountain today.   But then, that’s the type of people we are.   I suspect the ultra-privileged would look down on our activities as unfit for them, possibly even disgusting.   We thought it was a great day, and several people in the group were amazed at themselves for being able to free climb the 12-foot rope that led them up and out of the cave.

So while we didn’t get served drinks on the shaded upper deck of our private yacht while cruising the Caribbean Islands, we managed to come out of the experience feeling like we’d accomplished something and perhaps even grew a little.

Adversity is a common factor leading to personal growth.   In this case we struggled with intense humidity (the kind weathermen have calling “oppressive” on the 11 p.m. news), a steep hike that left us drenched in sweat, a grimy cave, tough climbs, and then a long sweaty hike back down the mountain.   We must be full of personal growth now.   If nothing else, at least I’m sure that my hair was full of cave sand when I got back.

The successful day did nothing for my resentment at the humidity we’ve been feeling lately.   It is relentless and heavy, making sweat burst from the skin from the slightest physical activity.   The air is thick to breathe.   Nothing will dry.   The towel I used yesterday in the shower is still damp today.   Paper in the trailer has gone limp, and when I run a sheet through the laser printer it actually steams.   Everything is gaining a damp smell, which is particularly noticeable in the confines of a travel trailer, so we are running the fans to circulate fresh air day and night.

Humidity is a normal part of the New England summer, but this year it has been just amazing. In June we barely had a dry moment, and now in late July we are getting daily thunderstorms again.   (Fortunately, the leaks are in the Airstream are fixed.)   I crave the dry air, and am tortured by the knowledge that somewhere on the west side of the Mississippi it is available in abundance, while here every day feels like a prequel to “Waterworld.”   Although this part of the country is green and beautiful, I will not miss the humidity when we move on.

Our reward for a day of grimy crawling through rocks was an early dinner stop at Pitkin’s in Schroon Lake.   The northeast is not known for its barbecue restaurants, and the Adirondacks are particularly weak on that cuisine, but Pitkin’s stands out as a decent and friendly place to go for the closest thing to Texas barbecue that you’ll find up in the north country.

We seem to get to Pitkin’s once a year, because it is conveniently close to I-87 and our usual routes to Adirondack towns and mountains.   A Texan might find it tame because the recipes have been adjusted to New England tastes, but it’s still fine to me.   It reminds me of fun times in Texas when we were chasing part of the Texas Barbecue Trail.   And in the blessedly air conditioned interior, I could close my eyes and imagine for a moment that a warm dry west Texas breeze was blowing by.

2 Responses to “Way up in a deep damp hole”

  1. Karen Britting Says:

    Agreed–who needs private yachts and an endless supply of cocktails when you can get up-close-and-personal with cute little brown bats, climb slippery ropes in the dark with no footholds, and (the best part) squeeze through “the birth canal” with your closest pals! Thanks for a super day Rich (and everyone), it was really fun! : ) –Karen

    PS: We will remember the 3-light-sources-per-person rule next time!

  2. Michael & Tracy Bertch Says:

    Well,ok Rich, we won’t invite you to sail away with us on our teaked-out yacht…oh, wait, maybe that WASN’T our yacht on Lake Quartzsite…I can never remember the proper etiquette for behaving like a moneyed person…see ya’ll in AZ………mike