Politicians at Play in the Park

For those seeking a place to get away from it all, there are few places better than the Hudson River Gorge, which is almost inaccessible without a raft. Conveniently, cell phone reception is also non-existent.

In early August, former President George Bush and his wife Laura, spent a long weekend at Camp Topridge on the Upper St. Regis Lake, as guests of the Harlan Crow family. Mr. Bush kept busy hiking, boating and mountain biking in anonymity, until he was eventually spotted by a group of birders while biking along an old railbed near Onchiota.

Back in July, Andrew Cuomo, the current attorney general and potentially the next governor, traveled throughout the Adirondacks, driving an RV. Although he was on a campaign swing, Mr. Cuomo combined the visit with a few days of camping and fishing with his daughters.

I enjoyed an afternoon of fishing with the whole Cuomo crew on the Lower Saranac Lake and I was impressed with Mr. Cuomo's knowledge of the local lake, which he had visited as a youth with his father. It was enlightening to learn that he really wanted the opportunity to share a similar experience with his own children.

It was obvious they were an outdoor family, as the girls were not the least bit squeamish about handling fish or bait. And they were also highly competitive, as a raging battle continued throughout the afternoon for the largest fish of the day.

Regardless of political affiliation, high profile visitors have always proven beneficial to the region's tourism-based economy.

Visits to the park by political figures are nothing new, a point that is well illustrated by the upcoming Teddy Roosevelt Weekend in Newcomb. A century after his visit, TR remains a tourist draw. The event is scheduled for Sept. 9-12. For further information please visit www.newcombny.com/TRWeekend.

When President Calvin Coolidge took over White Pine Camp on Osgood Pond in Paul Smiths, the property became an instant tourist attraction, and remains so to this day.

Whenever such personalities visit, their presence attracts attention, which serves to generate much needed exposure for the area. Their visits lend a certain cach to the allure of the Adirondacks. I'd far prefer news stories touting the attraction of a vacation in the Adirondacks, instead of a story about the Hamptons, the Finger Lakes or Saratoga.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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