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Driving the Adirondacks

A New York State trooper walked over stiffly.

"You were doing seventy-seven," he rebuked Joe dryly.

When the patrolman strode back for his notebook, Joe whispered, "The engine's so quiet, he didn't even realize it was on. Usually the first thing they ask you to do is turn it off!"

"What kind of car is this?"

"A Maybach, sir." Joe spelled out the name.

"Oh, you mean may-bach," he corrected, erroneously pronouncing the syllable like the month rather than the personal pronoun. "Is this the first one?" Out of all the fast fish swimming along the highway he had deliberately harpooned us, because he wanted a closer look.

"Yes, sir," Joe said. "On the East Coast."

The trooper's glacial jaw thawed into a triumphant smile.

Meanwhile, our advance man, Attila, had been priming Larry's guests with tall tales of the fabled Maybach. So when we arrived at the summit of Larry's steep gravel driveway, 40 women, children, and men mobbed and cheered us.

"I had no idea a car could be the life of a party," said Larry, surveying the throng from his columned front porch. Larry had been trying, to no avail, to attract his guests' attention with an enormous carrot cake, whose cream-cheese frosting was embellished with a blue-fondant silhouette of the Maybach.

I kissed my daughter good-bye—we were still threehours from Saranac Lake—and Joe and I climbed into the Maybach. Attila coached me from his G500 via speakerphone. "Amy! Don't follow so closely behind me! I won't lose you." Or a little later, on the New York State Thruway, "Keep up with me when I change lanes, Amy!"

We improvised a picnic on two park benches beneath a HISTORIC NEW YORK sign that recounted stories of Huguenot settlers. I passed around a pink box of assorted Fauchon sandwiches—all prepared on flaky, butter-soaked bread and each chilled to perfection by the Maybach's refrigerator.

At our halfway mark—the toll plaza for the Adirondacks Northway, near Albany—Joe, back in the driver's seat, dropped a Tina Turner album into the CD player.

"It sounds like it's coming from everywhere and nowhere," I said. "Where are the speakers?"

"There are twenty-one of them," Joe answered.

A burgundy Corvette, approaching at 85 miles an hour, challenged us to a drag race. Joe declined, but then accelerated anyway to show off our Maybach's peerless power. When he slowed to allow the 'vette to catch up, the guys in the front seat salaamed to us.

On the Northway, the sky thickened into a sulfurous haze. Thunder clapped and rain pelted the cars, big drops pinging against the panes like dull coins. A ghostly mist arose from the road, shrouding us in its folds. "The whole world's turning the same color as the Maybach," I said.

Blue-green pine trees towered all around us, lancing the fog with their bristling pinnacles. My ears popped; we were ascending.

"Are we anywhere near Warrensburg yet?" I asked. We had been adhering to the Point's secret directions, distributed only to paying guests.

"I don't know. I need to program the navigation system. Let's stop here at the 'Lakeside Motel Cabins,'" Joe said, following the arrow on a saw-toothed sign. We were on Route 30, near Long Lake. Attila asked inside the motel office for supplementary directions, and I wandered up a hill to an old-fashioned wishing well. Though dry, it was brimming with pink plastic flamingos. I removed several birds and plunged their wiry legs into the wet soil, arranging them in a flimsy circle around the Maybach.

"The motel manager has never heard of the Point," Attila reported, pulling up the lawn ornaments and piling them back into their nest. Joe, meanwhile, had successfully located Saranac with the Maybach's navigation system—the town was now boldly marked on the screen with a black-and-white checkered racing pennant.

Rain returned, falling this time in a fine, lazy drizzle. "We've arrived at Saranac Lake!" Joe announced.

Coral, purple, and pink bands of light shot out into the fog like party streamers and then, dragged down by the leaden sky, disappeared into the lake. Darkness spread quickly, and the Maybach's automatic bi-xenon headlamps blinked on, bleaching the night air with their chalk-blue beams. As we heaved over hills and slunk around curves, the orbs blazed our way, rolling around brightly in their sockets like dolls' eyes.

"We're lost again," Joe said. "The nav-igator has taken us to the checkered flag, but we don't know how to get to the Point from here." We had now been on the road a total of 10 hours.

"We're going in circles," I remarked after we passed a brown SARANAC INN/AIRPORT sign for the second time.

"A signal!" Joe exclaimed. He dialed the Point's special emergency number. Officially, phones, like TV's, do not exist at the Point.

"Why don't any of the locals know the way?" he demanded.

"They've all been instructed not to reveal the location of the Point," Tim, the manager, explained cheerfully.

At 9:30, 11 hours after our journey began, we arrived at a high, rustic latticework gate with the point spelled out in twiggy letters. A spiderweb, shimmering with raindrops, filled in the knobby void of the O. We punched in a code, and the doors swung open, sweeping us into a sylvan Shangri-la. As we had missed dinner, Tim's staff served our evening meal in the pine-paneled Pub, formerly Mr. Rockefeller's garage. Afterward, wrapped Indian-style in woolen blankets, we reconvened outdoors around a bonfire, where we drank champagne and roasted marshmallows.

In the morning we awakened to Day-Glo green grass, mica-smooth lake water, spire-high pines, and a pale yellow sun, round and cool as a tub of butter—a storybook utopia. But, spirited away by a Mercedes minion while we slumbered, the Maybach had vanished with the night.


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