Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Adirondack Experience"

The twins and I have just returned revived from a weekend of Adirondack fresh air. That’s actually not quite true. As I write this, Daniel suffers from a fever. Ella has goopy eyes. Things are going downhill fast over here.

Just the same, the weather up north was cold but pleasant, the pine trees fragrant, and the foliage, though past its peak color, was still quite brilliant in some spots.

There’s lots of news up in Schroon Lake, NY, which is in another large area of NY that is not New York City. Big news, actually. A cell tower is being constructed upon a hill close to my grandmother’s home. We asked our aunt and uncle when the cell tower would be completed.

“They’re just putting the branches on it now,” was the reply.

Perhaps you are familiar with the time-honored tradition of adhering branches to cell towers. I was not. This was apparent by the quizzical expression on my face. It had to be explained.

You see, the Adirondacks is a rare and enchanted place where little villages are interspersed inside the largest state park in the country. This is all lovely, but LIVING inside a state park means that your cell towers should not seem like non-state park cell towers, which are, let’s all just admit, ugly.

I had heard of this problem before. The APA (Adirondack Park Agency) makes a big stink about anything that might disrupt the natural landscape, including cell towers and other technological eyesores that pop up. However, recently a Jewish couple ran off the road and got stuck on the Northway… the husband froze to death after their car ran off the road. NO CELL PHONE ACCESS! This was a problem not only because, well, he died, but because he wasn't able to be buried within 24 hours of his passing, as was his religious custom. Hence, a Schroon Lake cell tower! What excitement for Schroon Lake teenagers! And hikers who like to talk and walk! And people named John Mark!

I would have thought that camouflaging the cell tower with paint would be sufficient, but apparently not. It shall be made to look like the strangest tree you ever did see. And that’s NOT ALL! Here is another example of where your tax dollars are going:

On the Northway (stretch of road from Albany up to Canada) are scattered rest stations. The cell tower will not be built on this state-owned land, however. Instead, some dude with lots of land is renting out space for this treeish cell tower at the fair price of about $1400/year. Why, you may wonder, would the cell tower just be built in an area that wouldn’t cost New York State a million bucks within the next 100 years? Because, imagine if you will, a New York City couple in their rented Prius driving north on the northway to go to a charming B&B in Schroon Lake. They decide to pull over to take a whiz at the rest stop. There, seemingly glaring at them, is a massive cell tower that is donning a tree costume. The horror!!! Their whole trip might be ruined. Heck, sleep for years might be ruined… think of the nightmares you might have if you spotted a cell tower dressed as a tree!

The APA will not allow cell towers to appear in public places because it might ruin the “Adirondack Experience” for some tourist.

The visit with grandma went pretty well, I think, though she may or may not have implied that I should contact the Supernanny for help with my children. This may or may not have had something to do with dinnertime, which, by the way, I HATE.

The twins weren’t terrible the whole time. Actually, they did very well on the five hour drive up there, but one of them was a complete monster on the drive home. In fact, the drive home is making me question their Halloween costumes for this year. I have already purchased plush Minnie and Mickey costumes, which are adorable, but I’m thinking a lovely angel costume and a red devil costume, complete with horns and a pitchfork, might be more fitting for this particular year.

Today, I was driving while my sister and mom were sleeping as we passed the “Leaving Adirondack Park” sign. I had to face that melancholy moment all on my own. We ventured down Rt. 365 through the town of Holland Patent, which may just be the town I hide out in if I ever decide to run away and form a new identity as a mysterious stranger in an idyllic small town, and soon popped back onto the thruway back to Rochester, flat-landed city that it is.

Home again. Sigh.

Loon Lake Marina

I call this one "Reflection of my Soul in Foliage"

Schroon Lake Boathouse Theater


Geezer said...

All of us in our family who have traveled in past years from one end of the Northway to another in all kinds of adverse weather have felt like we were running the gauntlet. We call when we enter the Adirondack Park and let our relatives know when we've exited. Now, thanks to the tragic fact that a number of people died, the Adirondack Park Agency got the message that human life was more sacrosanct than the view.

Tax dollars are not an issue here, except when APA wastes dollars on expensive and frivolous lawsuits, as in the Lewis Family Farm case. The cell phone towers are bought and paid for by the companies that own them, in particular Verizon. Now I don't particularly like Verizon (its customer service in particular) but I do enjoy the peace of mind that comes from being able to navigate the Northway anxiety free, particularly in inclement weather. (rain, snow, sleet, black ice, high winds, etc.) So I salute Verizon for spending the millions of dollars that it costs to put up the cell towers, and I salute all those brave people who challenged an insensitive and badly prioritized public agency to whistle a different tune.

Holly said...

Yeah- the APA should not have put the natural aesthetic of the landscape above people's lives.

I had thought, however, that the state was renting the land, not Verizon. Verizon is footing the bill to build the towers, but I'm wondering if they would have agreed to also rent out the private land to built it on. I can't seem to find a for sure answer... I'm going on what my uncle, who works for the state, has told me.

What's weird, however, is that these cell towers are not even guaranteed to work. I certainly hope they do.

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

Oh my it sounds so funny to attach a bunch of branches to a cell tower - like I might run off the road staring at it if I was driving. No, I mean it does seem neccessary. Those pics are GORGEOUS! Gosh I miss the north...

Oh I have awarded you on my site with the Over the Top Award!

Come Check it Out!

Brian said...

Problem is that many scenic Adirondack views are already ruined to some extent by power lines. I'm not sure that cell towers are all that much uglier.

Brian said...

"the APA should not have put the natural aesthetic of the landscape above people's lives."

Let's not forget that the folks who died decided to drive the interstate during probably the second worst ice storm in the last quarter century or more. Technology doesn't invalidate common sense.

Holly said...

Shhhh. You're not supposed to say such things. It's not PC or something... even if it's completely true. I simply won't stand for such statements on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Who can tell me the status of the cell tower going up on the south end of Charley Hill Road? Does it belong to Verizon? Will it help with Broadband further north, say on Townsend Road? When does it "go live?"

Another geezer