Dealing with it
Apart from this bacchanalian sloth, a flood of refugees pours from the city proper in search for any corner left untainted by the relentless hordes. Indeed, this is no short order. And once a slice of salvation is found, it doesn’t take long for the masses to catch on.
So here’s a bit of advice to cope with the long days and longer nights of track season. First of all, keep your liver limber. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or in this case, as the barbarians are sacking Rome, do as the barbarians do. And these troglodytes do enjoy their liquor. Suggested drink: gin and tonic; when else can you get drunk and prevent malaria at the same time?
Next, find a watering hole and a good barkeep. Contrary to what "la tourista" might think, the best bar is the one with no one in it. You’re generally not going to find one of these on the main strip or any of the arterioles. Odd as it sounds, the best hidden secret is the Alley Bar. This is a filthy little grotto tucked behind Broadway, where if you’re sporting a full smile or sober demeanor, you’re bound to turn some heads.
For the more upscale drinkers, there’s the back patio at the Adelphi, which is obscure enough that it’s generally not crowded at night. You’ll pay out the ass for the class, but it is one of the nicer spots to get watered during the season. Just bring an umbrella. There’s always a chance Bruce Levinsky’s building next door will start raining bricks.
But dealing with the masses isn’t all about getting crocked. It’s also about avoiding the masses altogether. In other words, avoid Broadway at all costs. And while you’re at it, don’t bother with Lake Avenue, Phila, Caroline, or Putnam streets either. The city is webbed with small back alleys, which are much easier and quicker to traverse than the main strip. Who knows, you might find a new part of the city to dwell.
While you’re avoiding Broadway, do yourself a favor and avoid eating out, period. Fire up the grill and bust out that recipe book Aunt Gerty gave you before college. Even the most neophyte epicureans will cook up better grub than what’s being shoveled downtown.
At the top end of track season, you may find a few deals here and there. But as the mayhem progresses, the food quality regresses. Keep in mind, most restaurant workers party harder than the tourists themselves and often later –just peak in Clancy’s tavern around daybreak for proof of this. Usually this means what is being served isn’t as high on the priority list as simply getting it the hell out to the customer.
If you do happen into one of the many Broadway establishments, make sure you secure a patio spot. This is another cathartic activity for frustrated locals. Find a seat on Broadway and gawk at tourists. Especially the freak yuppie wearing a pink shirt with the collar turned up. These people leave an open invitation for you to chortle your aggravation away.
Leaving is also a recommended activity during track season. Many the downstaters view Saratoga Springs as a sort of refuge from an area that would otherwise be a scene from the movie Deliverance. But in truth, there are plenty of day refuges that are much better than contending with a group of jerk-offs waving pink sheets. Just a half-hour away is the Great Sacandaga Lake, which has largely avoided the development that has befallen Lake George. Every inch of the lake shore is owned by the state and rented to the surrounding landowners. In a few spots near the towns of Day and Edinburg, there are turnoffs where lake access is free and generally unpopulated, aside from a scattering of rednecks.
Hadley is also a pleasant treasure away from the throngs of tourons. There are rafting companies in the town that will haul you up to the Stewart’s Pond dam to float down the Sacandaga River. Couple this with a few friends and a few beers and you’ve got a relaxing time to wash away the angst of tourist season.
Yes, it’s a difficult time when the ponies come to town. The black flies are almost as relentless as the compulsive gamblers. But with a nice buzz and few cronies, it’s pretty easy to temporarily melt them into obscurity.