We Hit Lake Placid and Lake Placid Hits Back - An Frozen Idea

Published: March 25th 2008
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On Thursday, I headed to Lake Placid to see the Division III Men’s College Hockey Frozen Four and spend time with some college friends. It isn’t my first trip up to LP, so I was looking forward to a fun and interesting weekend. Because I went to college in central NY, the cold north has always felt like home to me, and as I drove up the Northway, I could feel myself relax measurably. By the time I reached my friend’s parents' cottage on the lake, where we would be spending the next five days, I was ready for the weekend!

But boy, not a lot could prepare me for our mini-Hamilton reunion!

We began arriving Thursday night, as the wind and snow picked up to welcome us. I'll have to use nicknames from now on to refer to everyone, in order to protect both the innocent, and the rather guilty. Biznutz and Two Straws arrived not too long after I did, and we didn't expect the others for a while, so we headed to Caffe Rustica for a late dinner followed by a grocery run. It was after nine-thirty by the time we arrived, but since my friend knows the owner, they let us come in for pizza and salads, both of which were delicious. The restaurant is small, cozy and welcoming, the type of place you would normally eat and linger over conversation and dessert. But our late arrival and the need to pick up groceries sent us out into the bitter, snowy night again all too soon. We picked out a weird assortment of groceries for the next four days and then headed back to the cottage to wait for the other half of our group, passing the time by resurrecting a college favorite - beer pong. I never really played in college (Seriously! Even though no one believes me!), but my friends let me substitute Pepsi for beer and work on my skills that night. The object of the game is to get your opponent to drink all of their beer and yours by tossing a ping pong ball into one of six cups, resulting in a serious deterioration of skills as the night progresses. It turns out, drinking two liters of Pepsi also results in some skill-deterioration, as well as an inability to sleep or sit still.

To further handicap me since I wasn’t drinking, I was relegated to wearing my friends’ ski boots and helmet - and I looked good. It was the start to a weekend full of hilarity and general debauchery (hence the use of nicknames only).

At last our other friends arrived, and we all spent time catching up and finishing up the beer pong championships before trying to get a couple of hours of sleep. We didn’t know what the next day had in store for us, but everyone agreed when we went to bed around three (four-thirty for the boys), that we would not be skiing the next day. I actually wasn't supposed to ski at all, after my orthopedist said, “This is not the weekend for you to learn to ski!” But the others all had big plans, and had purchased some discounted ski passes from my friend's boss - alas, it was not really meant to be.

The hockey games didn’t start until Saturday, so we had a whole free day ahead of us. We woke up around eleven thirty, and Two Straws and I made breakfast for everyone (French toast and bacon, mmm) before we hit the town to do a little shopping. Biznuts showed us the shopping highlights, like the ORDA store, the Olympic store, and the Life is Good store, and we enjoyed just walking along the street and taking in the fresh, though very cold, air. We were really lucky to have three sunny, but cold, days in a row which made the weekend a really beautiful one!

But since everything we ended up doing seemed to be almost totally eating-focused, we were soon ready for a late lunch. We headed to The Cottage, a restaurant right on the lake. As you can guess, the lake is frozen at this time of year, covered in an endless amount of snow. But it was still a pretty picture out the huge windows in The Cottage, just behind the roaring fire. There was a wait to eat, but since we were in no rush, we relaxed at the bar while we waited for a table. Apparently, they do not serve alcohol between twelve and three on Good Friday at The Cottage, so everyone had to wait until we were seated at three to get their drinks - just a word to the wise, in case you're ever planning to eat there Easter weekend. Once we sat down, we enjoyed a very leisurely lunch - I had some rather spicy chili - as we sat next to the fire and planned out the rest of our day. Our little group always had a lot of great ideas, but could never seem to get a real plan going - I actually thought this worked out better, because we just enjoyed the weekend together with no stress.

Because we didn't have any solid plans in mind, we decided to head to our friend's parents' house to pick up some sledding gear for that afternoon. They live slightly out of the main part of town, down a long driveway, closed by a slow-opening gate. Their house is beautiful, and right at home in the Adirondacks, almost like a big log cabin. It's made entirely of wood, but has a warm, welcoming feeling that always makes me feel right at home whenever I go there. It also helps that my friend's parents are incredibly nice and warm people as well!

We caught up with her parents for a little while in their kitchen overlooking the snowy woods before grabbing the sledding gear and heading back to the cottage. It turned out that we wouldn't have enough time to sled before getting ready to eat and go out for the night, so we just hung around for a little while, played some cards and cleaned up for a nice dinner. We were headed to Nicola's Over Main, at its newer location. I had remembered going here with our friends the last time we were in Lake Placid and enjoying it, so I was looking forward to yet another pleasant dinner. Since the boys had already started drinking early, it ended up being more fun than leisurely, full of jokes and amusement. We all started with the Boathouse salad, mixed greens with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese, topped with a vinaigrette. Everyone agreed that it was delicious. My entree was rigatoni alla vodka (for a change), which I enjoyed very much. As our friend, That Guy, started to get a little rowdier and was adding quarters to people's drinks, we decided it was time to learn more about Lake Placid's hot spots - Zig Zag and Roomers. We started at Zig Zag, a local bar, which reminded me a lot of my favorite bar in college, the Village Tavern, except it was cleaner and I could get a seat. We spent a few hours there, playing pool and meeting some of Biznutz's friends before we thought it was time to move on to Roomers, where we could dance. Where Zig Zag had been relaxed and casual, the crowd at Roomers seemed much more serious about their dancing and partying. Our laid back style didn't fit in too well, so we just ended up laughing, dancing, and having a good time poking fun at anyone who was taking the night too seriously. Eventually, Roomers was closing, so it was time to pack up the boys and head back to the cottage for yet another four am bedtime.

The late night meant no skiing again the next day, and we all sounded and felt a little rough the following morning after being out so late. Saturday was hockey day, with the first game starting at 2:30 - St. Norbert's against Norwich. We headed to Mr. Mike's for lunch (following some cereal at the cottage - can't go without all three meals!), where I shared a delicious pizza and we got psyched up for some college hockey! The game was being held at the Olympic arena, at the site of the 1980 miracle on ice - so it's a pretty cool place to watch a hockey game! We had great seats, center ice about halfway up the first tier and since the rink was warmer than outside, we were very comfortable to watch the game. Well, outside of the woman who was already cheering loudly even though her team wasn't playing until six thirty! We would soon learn that her passion for Plattsburgh was so intense that not only did she never seem to lose her deep yelling voice, but she also enjoyed beating the seat in front of her with her hands as a means of cheering on her team. Really lovely.

The other fun part was watching the Zambonis, a band who sing only about hockey - mostly songs they've written, which border on the ridiculous. Even I, as a true blue hockey fan, thought they were terrible - both the songs, and their singing! At least it gave us a pretty good laugh, and I did get to hear the "I Wanna Drive the Zamboni" song, which I always enjoy.

The first game we watched was so boring you would never guess that it was the Frozen Four championships. Norwich definitely didn't show up to play, and the game was slow and riddled with bad penalties. The most entertaining part was watching the little boy across the ice dance to the music between plays. I also had some cotton candy, which made me happy - it's a must at hockey games! In between the two games, the boys and I went back to Nicola's, which was across the street, while Biznutz and The Bartender headed back to the cottage for a power nap. We bonded with Gina, the bartender, who was a little flustered over the rush of people that came in after the game, and I enjoyed a nice chat with Two Straws, who was only using one straw for a change, though he explained to Gina that he was on an all-liquid diet. Biznutz and The Bartender came back to collect us for the second game, Plattsburgh vs. Elmira, after about an hour. Since the hometown crowd was mostly Plattsburgh fans, this game promised to be much more exciting. And that proved to be true - we got swept up in the exhilaration of a hard-hitting, fast Plattsburgh win, which left us pumped for another evening out.

Saturday's dinner destination was Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, also known as the Pub (very Hamilton-esque). It was the perfect post-hockey venue for us, because it was a little bit loud and crowded, so That Guy could be as loud as he pleased, and we could all laugh as hard as we wanted. It turns out that another Hamilton grad works there, and it fast turned into old school night when we found out that another Hamilton alum was having his bachelor party in Lake Placid over the weekend. Our dinner was one of the funniest that we had, with the boys playing practical jokes on each other, pouring salt into each other's drinks and jackets, and then hiding whole bottles of other condiments in jacket pockets whenever anyone would walk away from the table. Biznutz finally got the last laugh when she secretly put a handful of graham crackers in the Scasian's pocket (aka The Legend, as he asked me to call him). When he put his hand in his pocket, he accidentally crushed them into crumbs - hilarious. I had a great dinner of tomato soup and salad, punctuated by some nuclear hot wings that the boys ordered. Both Two Straws and That Guy coughed and sputtered as soon as the hot sauce hit their lips, and were practically crying into their drinks as they gulped them down. The Scasian was unaffected by the heat, though he admitted it was a little spicy. So Biznutz and I had to try them as well - she's used to spicy, hot foods, so she agreed that they were hot, but not worth the spectacle that the other boys put on. I also agreed, though the sauce definitely burned off the top layer of my tastebuds!

Luckily, my tastebuds showed up again for dessert though - a make your own s'mores plate. I was so happy to have some toasted marshmallows and some melted chocolate - it was the highlight of the meal. Although, we almost had an incident when the Scasian decided to wave a fiery marshmallow at That Guy, who was looking somewhere else and almost caught on fire. Fortunately, we escaped from dinner without any injuries or arrests and eyed each other suspiciously as we walked, then ran, to the icy car. The boys pretended not to see the car, and headed right back to Zig Zag without us. We eventually defrosted and parked closer to the bar before hunting the boys down. It turned out that Biznutz's friend was working the door that night, so she relieved him for a little while to do some of her own ID checking. It was funny to see how people would actually turn their IDs over to her, and watch their reaction as she would then turn to us, and we'd take their picture. It was highly entertaining.

Zig Zag was more crowded than the night before, thanks to the hockey crowd, so we didn't stay for too long before we were ready to head back home. The boys were planning to ski the next morning, so they actually headed to bed pretty quickly, and we pretended that the lock on our door was working so that they wouldn't bother us - it worked! Unfortunately for them, the next morning they reported back that the slopes were extremely icy, nicknaming the mountain "Ice Face" instead of Whiteface (they were sadly disappointed to find out that other people had already nicknamed it that in the past). So they were not too happy about their limited skiing, but at least they made it out there for a couple of hours.

Once the ladies got up and the boys returned, we headed out to the Lake Placid Inn for an Easter brunch with Biznutz's parents. The Inn's building is pretty new, and reminded me of a mountain hideaway, whose cool, calm interior was casually upscale. As we waited to be seated, we sunk comfortably into two leather couches, totally exhausted from two and a half days of craziness. The relaxed atmosphere was vastly different from the low-brow debauchery of the previous days, but luckily everyone cleans up pretty well, so we were all subdued and behaved for a lovely brunch. The highlight of the menu is their choice of eggs benedict, and although I had the French toast, everyone agreed that the eggs were delicious, especially the salmon eggs benedict. Following lunch, we were off to another hockey game - the championship between St. Norbert's and Plattsburgh. It was a good game, but not as exciting as the Plattsburgh game of the night before. We started out cheering for Plattsburgh, but our loud audience neighbor was back and we soon learned that she was quieter when St. Norbert's scored, so we switched to cheering them on. They won handily, without too much challenge from Plattsburgh, which was a disappointment to the local fans. We once again enjoyed watching a different little boy and his brother boogie to the music in between plays, and thought they might really have a future in dancing!

After the game, we were off in search of food again - this time, we planned to cook for our friend's parents, since they had treated us to brunch. Despite the fact that we all hold bachelor's degrees, it didn't occur to anyone that the grocery store might be closed early for Easter, so we weren't able to pick up the ingredients for dinner. We still headed to our friend's parents house, and imposed on them to prepare a delicious meal of salad, pasta, dessert and even hors d'oeuvres. Now we owe them big time! For entertainment, we pulled out the ping pong table and challenged each other to games over the next several hours. It turned out to be a really funny night, with some of us taking it more seriously than others and learning that even if you're not any good (like me), you can still laugh and have a good time!

The night was over too quickly, and we headed back to the cottage for some dessert and chatting before we had to tear ourselves away to go to bed. I think everyone was having such a good time that we didn't want the night, or the trip, to end, so it was harder to get to bed than it had been the previous few nights. Monday morning dawned earlier than the others, and we quickly showered and packed so that we could head back to The Cottage one last time for lunch. We lingered only a little while in front of the fire before we had to pack up our cars, take our final pictures and make the big trip home. I was sad to leave Lake Placid, not only because it's such a pretty town, but mainly because I'd enjoyed my friends and the laughter so much. I can't wait until our next trip!


25th March 2008

Oy vey....
Wow, not drinking sure makes you have a better memory....
25th March 2008

Yes, it's very funny how that works...

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