By Marta Pauer-Tursi
When the Charlotte, Vermont ferry leaves the dock, two things will absolutely shock you. Nobody is taking cell phone pictures of what you know are Instagrammable moments (#LakeChamplain #NaturalVermont #boating), like the early morning sun filtering through a gauzy mist still clinging to the treetops of the inlet. And, people who have stepped out of their cars to take in the view are striking up conversation with people they don’t know. The conversations may just be an exchange of “wow,” but those “wows” are tinged with awe.
As a metaphor, a crossing is never about getting from here to there. It is about the experience of the journey, be it artistic, deeply personal, or just plain #thrill #fun.
The Charlotte Ferry is one of three ferries that crosses Lake Champlain and transports passengers from the New England experience to the Adirondack experience.After 20 or so minutes we dock at Essex, New York. This quaint hamlet (yes, on this side of the lake villages are called hamlets) with a population of less than 700 is within two blocks of the ferry landing. Yes, #idyllic. On the first block, there is the Essex Historical Society and next door is the Adirondack Art Association Gallery, showcasing local and regional artists. This summer, Helen Goetz shows through July 25, followed by Jim Friday through August 22. In three large rooms, regulars are well- represented in oils, works on paper, and sculptures. The upper floors overlook garden and lake.
A few steps away is the Essex Ice Cream Cafe (nouveau, retro fifties decor), where you can sample locally-made pastries with your latte and, of course, the frozen delicacies. For something more substantial, walk a few steps further to the Pink Pig Cafe. This is where you might hear a local order yesterday’s turkey chili that is not listed on the day’s menu. Everything is locally sourced, sometimes from the onsite garden. In this same building, which dates from the mid-1800s, is Pink Pig Cottage Antiques, where you will find silk and linen wearables as well as rustic French country decorative furnishings and decor.
A block up is the renovated Essex Inn, where you can spend overnight or just stop in for lunch or dinner. There are authentic Adirondack elements here. The bar is lively and serves a wide choice of beers and local wines. You can opt to sit on the front porch or in the large garden in the back.