13 June (No Bicycle Miles)
I began to rouse at about 7 AM from my bed at the Cedar River Golf Club. It was raining hard. I got myself organized for an hour before the club restaurant opened at 8. Once in the restaurant, I was the only customer. The club has a very simple breakfast menu and I ordered fried eggs, sausage patties, French toast and coffee. When my plate came, breakfast looked as good as it tasted.
The only person working in the clubhouse was acting as clubhouse attendant and waitress. She happened to mention that the owners live in Toledo, Ohio. I thought that strange at first until I rationalized it for myself. Many of these kinds of businesses were founded years ago and the heirs of the original owners now run them. There would be no business sense in buying a 130 acre golf course in the Adirondacks: the years required to begin to make any profit would be prohibitive.
Marne called at about 8:30 to tell me that they would arrive by 10:30. Marne’s friend Jane was kind enough to accompany her. They arrived as planned, I loaded my bike and gear, and we drove 60 miles to my planned Friday stop in Lake Clear. I registered and dumped my stuff on the ground so that they could return home. It was already 12:30 PM.
They dropped me at Charlie’s Inn and Junction Campground. The main building has a restaurant on the first floor where they serve dinner. My room was one of several on the second floor. The room was comfortable and I didn’t mind the shared bathroom, especially since I was the only guest. They had a campground as well, but I decided that a dry and warm room was preferable. My clothes would get another drying.
I met the owners, John and Jill. John has a construction business as well. We talked about all of the practical skills that he has. His skills seem to serve him well in the challenging Adirondack economy. He is one of those people who not only drives the machine, but also has the skills to repair it. He does jobs that range from home remodeling to contract work for the utility company. He is licensed to do everything including the electrical and plumbing.
As he and Jill were driving away to run an errand in town, she rolled down her window and they gave me the key to visit the inside of the train depot building that is over 100 years old. Their property was once the busy train destination of Lake Clear Junction in the Adirondacks. The inside of the station was cluttered, but well preserved. A small model train layout gives a view of the area in 1912. The restaurant and rooming building is also a relic of that period.
John asked me to give the keys to his mother after my tour. I found her in the restaurant bar talking with a patron. We all had something in common: old age. She is 70, her husband in 77, and the patron was 78. I was the baby at 68.
I learned that she sold the property to John and Jill. This was another data point for me to confirm my theory that many of these types of businesses are handed down. Unlike the golf club in Indian Lake, Charlie’s Inn is run all year. In summer they cater to tourists and campers and in the winter to snowmobiles. That is a slightly better business model.
I had dinner at the restaurant and it was good. They were talking about the prime rib during the day and I was programmed to have prime rib and a glass of wine. The meal was good, but I would have been happier trading down to something lighter. I would have been happier because I ate late and didn’t have time to digest such a heavy meal. I slept well, but the large meal impacted breakfast the next morning.