Sebastien has been making a yearly end of summer ritual of taking the Morgan cruise at the Sagamore in Lake George, and because I’m one of the few people who puts up with him on a regular basis he’s been inviting me. There’s something to it; a little bit of a thrill from slumming it at the ritzy Sagamore, the feel of the chill in the air during the tour of Lake George’s islands, and the views which are worth more than any dollar value you could name. Oh, did I mention there’s a bar on the boat? Yeah, there’s that.
A few words about Lake George. It’s absolutely a tourist trap; the main drag is full of shops peddling absolute crap, street performers desperately looking for a few extra bucks, and one of the most pathetic but simultaneously busy arcades you’ll ever see. If that’s not enough, it hosts Americade, billed as the largest motorcycle gathering in the world. But that’s Lake George Village, we’re mainly talking about the lake itself.
The Morgan sails a part of Lake George known as “The Narrows”, island-filled and bordered by Tongue mountain range on the west Black mountain to the east. Being at the edge of the Adirondack Park, you’d guess the views would be beautiful, and you’d be right. This year, we had a chilly, overcast day, but the clouds worked in our favor a bit, or at least mine; the heavy cover diffused the strong midday sunlight for great portraits on the boat, and breaks in the clouds painted the mountains and islands with some amazing light for nice landscapes.
There are hundreds of islands in the lake,a few privately owned but most owned by the state and thus by all of us, and many available for camping. One of the more notable is Dome Island, below, which is obviously named and is also the highest island rising from the lake’s surface.
The cold and windy conditions didn’t keep us from enjoying some of the frozen drinks mixed up by our kindly on-deck bartenders. The Morgan is one of the best kept secrets of Lake George, and while I’d like it to remain a secret it doesn’t feel fair not to let you in. While the Sagamore is an upscale hotel, the Morgan is open to anyone who calls or visits the front desk, and it cruises twice a day. Though I’ve only been twice, I think it’s the best way to visit Lake George unless you have your own boat. Thanks again to Seb for the idea and letting me tag along.
After the cruise, we wandered the village a bit, visiting the arcade which is only notable for the shooting gallery in the back. This thing is actually pretty cool, a big Wild West style tableau with plenty of targets for the dozen or so rifles ranged around its perimeter. As I took a few photos, someone who was either an arcade worker or interested local came to me with a secret: fire your camera’s flash and all of the targets register a hit. Did I have the heart to tell him neither my 5D nor Seb’s 5DMkII has a built in flash? Of course not, I thanked him for the advice and grabbed a gun with a few credits left. Five out of seven bullseyes later, I felt a lot better about my aim than the last time I pulled a trigger, even if no real rounds were involved here.
We also visited the House of Frankenstien Wax Museum. Since I had my camera on me and the reasonably fast 50mm f/1.8 lens mounted, I figured what the hell, I’ll try to take some photos. This place is dark dark dark, and to be honest the wax figures are more funny than scary, especially in the Spanish Inquisition Torture Chamber (nobody expects it!). It was a good test; I used spot metering, got readings from the 5D’s more sensitive center focus point, bumped the ISO way up, and from there just trusted the camera. Most of the photos came out well, but really, there’s not much of a subject here. It was fun, and really if you’ve never been the $8 is worth it just to say you have.
I hope a ride on the Morgan continues to be my end of summer ritual. As much as I abhor the obvious commercial tourism of Lake George Village and especially the elitism of the Sagamore, there’s something to be said for being on the water with some good friends, the wind whipping your hair, a pair of good boat shoes on your feet. Try it sometime. Maybe it’ll be a canoe or kayak next year instead.
As always, you can view the slideshow which includes some photos from last year.