Car Trouble

If your car breaks down in Long Lake, don’t fret. There are solutions.

Let’s just say you smell burning rubber, the temperature gauge goes wonky and surges to the hot zone and all the lights on your dashboard light up… you’d pull over, right? In Long Lake pull over… let’s say hypothetically… you breakdown on the main highway near Lake Eaton. You’re not quite at the county border and the cell phone is spotty at best, so you do what any thinking person three miles outside of town would do.. you hitchhike. Chances are someone you know will pick you up and if you are a visitor and you stayed a local motel or hotel, the person that picks you up will have graduated with the owner’s sister’s best friend or lives down the road from their mother’s uncles best friends caretaker. Keep your ears open, because up here, it’s all about connections.

So you stick your thumb out, but the traffic is sparse. The day time is certainly easier to procure a ride, but it could take some time. If your mother told you not to get in the car with strangers, walk like you know where you are going. Maybe you have a pair of binoculars or a camera so it looks like you are on a nature hike and no one will bother you… that could work (but chances are, someone you know will see you and stop) If you aren’t comfortable with a ride from a stranger don’t freak, you probably won’t have to wait too long for a trooper to drive by. Night or day… the temperature can be frigid, so be prepared. Have a pair of boots, mittens, hat, snacks, matches, hand and foot warmers, a blanket, a flashlight and some reflective tape for your coat if you happen to break down at night. Reflectors work, snowplows appreciate that, as do motorists. I’m just sayin’….

The strangers pick you up and it turns out they know of you through their real estate agent and you happened to go to the same pig roast, so you aren’t really strangers and they make sure you get to a phone. Call triple A. It works up here, yes it does.

In Long Lake we’ve had tows. Tows from here to there, there to here, over to Tupper, down to Schenectady. Recently friends visiting from New York City locked their keys in their car in front of my house and a call was made to triple A. The person who answered the call was the mom of the guy that owns the garage in Raquette Lake. She happened to field the emergency call because her son was out fishing, so she came over to get the keys out of the Odyssey. It took some doing because the correct gadget to get the door unlocked was in her sons truck (which of course was out at the pond waiting him for him to return from his fishing expedition) After thirty minutes of trying, she finally gave in and borrowed the phone, to call her daughter in law to find out if her son was off the lake. The daughter-in-law promised to get the message to her husband because he was due to be home any moment. The woman went back to the car, determined to get it unlocked and finally the phone rang back with word her son was off the lake, but had to drive 22 miles with the correct gadget to unlock the car.

So we waited. We discovered the woman who came to help our friends used to work as summer help for my sister and so I called my sister to come over and say hi. We all had a nice Adirondack visit while we waited for rescue. (Note to self: Friends on vacation in Long Lake often have what we call vacation brain… it is not a character flaw, it is merely a result of being hypnotized by the beauty of the Adirondacks and the relaxation that comes along with it… be patient even if you have to work three jobs and get the kids to the babysitter, take a deep breath and be glad your friends are visiting and investing money in the community… )

Living up in the mountains is about sacrifice. Scenery, wildlife, serenity, less folks in line, no traffic lights, but with that comes necessities… like trucks with plows and cars that work. People need their cars to get groceries, to drive to basketball games, to drive to work long distances as the jobs up here are scarce. Some folks commute as far as Albany and as nearby as a few hundred feet, but the mandate is to always take the car in case someone calls you because their car is broken down. Trust me, this happens up here. Salt, cold, belts, pulleys, batteries, alternators, someone gets stuck in a snow bank.

Friends are more than willing to loan you a car. Some folks keep extra cars just in case one breaks down. It may be as old as a 1998 with 150,000 miles on it and some rust holes ala the Flinstones, with a lovely view of the road surface, but chances are, it will get you a round trip to Tupper. It’s a community thing, people want to help. The word goes out on the street your car is broken, the offers come pouring in. We are a culture of people that like to help in an emergent situation. It makes us feel good to help out our fellow neighbor or stranger. Is what we do, it’s how we connect, it’s how we weave stories over the dinner table or down at the local pub. “I have an old truck I can lend you, come on, you’ll love it, just watch out when you go into fifth, because if you need to shift down, come to a complete stop, put it into reverse to line up the gears and then put it back into first, it’s quirky, but she runs like a charm.”

If the car breaks down and is out of service for a few days. Don’t worry, we have options for repair in Long Lake. Bozak’s, and LaPlants offer local service, we have a fellow specializing in transmission repair (call us, we’ll tell you who)… so don’t fret, we can help!

There are alternatives. Snowshoeing, staying at home and calling in sick, Cross country skiing, snowmobiling
(check out Don’s Small Engine Repair in Long Lake) a line of snowmobiles ready to be tweaked, tuned and maintained. There are your feet, just have foot spikes at the ready because you never know when you’ll find a patch of ice.

No public transportation up here so investment in a car is heady indeed… ironic considering some of the country’s most infamous Railroad developers vacationed here and most of the park at one time was accessible by train, but you’d still need a car to get from the train station to the center of town. We love our cars… keep them running… and make sure you have extra windshield wiper fluid!