The Keene Valley 'Zone'
Keene Valley is bustling with visitors this week and is usually a bustling little village at the foot of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. However, just a couple of weeks ago this definitely wasn't the case. Hurricane Irene dealt this little community a whopping blow by washing out one of the main arteries into the community. But the good news is NYS Route 73, leading to Keene Valley from The Adirondack Northway (I-87), was repaired and opened in record-setting time, thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's constant monitoring to ensure this small community wasn't cut off from it's lifeblood of passing visitors for longer than necessary.
My husband and I feel we belong to both the Town of Keene and Lake Placid because we live smack dab between the two towns (although technically our mailing address is in Lake Placid). We tend to split our dining outings between the two. So, after having volunteered to help with flood cleanup one weekend, we decided to go to lunch in Keene Valley the following weekend during the time the road was still closed. Our favorite option in "the Valley" for burgers is The Ausable Inn.
Driving into Keene Valley during that time was kind of surreal. There was no traffic - seriously, NONE. Very few people were out on the streets and it was strangely quiet. Mind you, Keene Valley has a Main Street situated on a very busy major highway leading into and out of the region. It was like we were in The Twilight Zone to be honest, but it was also kind of cool. We had the town to ourselves. I spent a great deal of time in my childhood in the valley as we had several relatives who lived there, most especially my "good 'ol Aunt Evelyn" and Uncle Ted who lived right on Main Street, at whose home I spent a lot of time. Main Street, Keene Valley, was mys econd home. Back in the 1950's and 60's there was a wonderful general store, Alexander's, one of the hubs of the community, along with the Post Office (now gone) and Keene Valley Grocery (still there!). However many more new and unique businesses have sprung up in the ensuing years and there are shops and restaurants to entertain and supply many of the needs of residents and visitors alike.
We arrived at The Ausable Inn (formerly known as the Spread Eagle 'backin the day'). We had the outside deck next to the street to ourselves. It was a gorgeous warm, sunny day. Of course I had to check out the whole menu even though I knew I'd order a burger. They offer what I call a "classic" menu from which anyone can find something they like - sandwiches to burgers to salads. Honestly I've only had their burgers and can highly recommend them. Always great! I had my typical burger and beer. Delightful! The Inn is located on the corner of Market and Main St. (Rt. 73), beneath the sign pointing the way to the John's Brook Lodge trailhead, among others. This trailhead accesses all the major High Peaks trails and is a good starting point for a multi-day trek into the back country.
Sitting on that deck next to the highway that fine early fall Sunday, I realized we may never have Keene Valley to ourselves again like that. A little selfish, yes. But it was kind of cool sitting there with no noise, no hustle and bustle and no traffic at all, and Noonmark Mountain towering above us in the sun, watching over the valley. I certainly never again would wish for the awful flooding Irene brought down on this tiny community and the surrounding area, and we're so glad it didn't take months to open the highway into Keene Valley. We were glad to give our small economic boost to the struggling businesses community during this time and we throughly enjoyed the serenity of the day.
Keene Valley is hustling and bustling with activity once again and there is so much to do in this pretty little valley community. Several Inns and B & B's are ready to welcome you to Keene and Keene Valley. Book a reservation for your stay in "The Valley" and mark it on your itinerary to try the Ausable Inn.