The Monarch butterfly will take you to the Top of the Page!
(What's on this website.)
Learn about Fourpeaks? CLICK HERE to start.
Explore Fourpeaks 700-acre private Vacation/Getaway!
Learn about Fourpeaks? CLICK HERE to start.
  • Meet Your Host
  • 7 Backcountry Cabins
  • 4-Season Activities
  • Private hiking trails
  • Romantic getaway?
  • Pet-friendly vacation
  • Meet Our Guests!
  • Rental Rates/Prices
  • AvailabilityCalendar
    CLICK for a prompt detailed response to your vacation Inquiry.E-Z Inquiry Form
  • Email Us
  • Phone our Help Desk
  • Join our Mailing List
  • Maps & Directions
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Safety First!  and Guest Information
  • Adirondack Photos
  • Adirondack Poetry
  • An Adirondack Miscellany
  • Personal Potpourri
  • The Fourpeaks Story 1968-present
  • Select Link Pages
  • Your Adirondack Vacation: What's New!What's New!
  • Please WAIT! Then SCROLL DOWN for the FOURPEAKS STORY    [ Are you in this picture? ]
    The Story. The Fourpeaks Story: 1967 to Today. CLICK & GO!  (On this page.)  The Fourpeaks story is mostly told here as it seems to fit in with what we say about the Fourpeaks Backcountry Camps and the Stone House Guest Barns.  There's more of the story in the Adirondack Newsletters and in the photos and site notes at the Adirondack Photo Gallery.   And if you're good at making sense from poetry, you find the story in our Adirondack Poems.   "Are you working on those memoirs yet?" (An Email Exchange.)  
    [Scroll down. CLICK on text or image for The Story and Photo pages.]
    Year The Place Photo The Story Read about . . .
    1967 The Cabin Fireplace at The Cabin Jim Melvin's Camp. How it all started.
    1968 The Cabin The Cabin kitchen redecorated. More about Jim Melvin's Camp. How the stuff got there.
    1970 Fourpeaks: The 700 acres. Putting Fourpeaks on the Map. Putting the Pieces Together. Real Estate Purchases '67-'70.
    1971 New Camp New Camp Kitchen The New Camp. A place for our first guests.
    1972 Wolf's Nest Whiteface A Nature Retreat for Billy. An out of the way place to build.
    NOTE: Grayed Properties were lost in a divorce settlement December 2001. RIP.
    1973 Old Barn Old Barn Kitchen Building of Many Uses. A workshop with electricity and water.
    1973 1829 Stone House Stone House and Wainwright Mountain. The Devlin Place. Buying and Restoring The 1829 Stone House.
    1974 New Barn New Barn The Storage Building. How the stone wall got built and why.
    1973 Sugar Camp Sugar Camp. Maple Sugaring. A camp building with used parts and found objects.
    1975 Ridge Camp Ridge Camp Bigger and Prettier. Wild orchids and columbine on a ridge with views.
    1999 Gypsy Camp Gypsy Camp. View of  Wainwright Mountain. At Melvin's Farm. How it got started as just a well cover.
    2001-2003 Thoreau House Thoreau House. At Hamilton Farm. How I began building it as a place to live.
    2001 to today. Camp Barn Camp Barn. By a pine grove to the East and a pine swamp to the West. Bassett towers above. How I ended up living in a barn when I got kicked out of the Stone House.

    CLICK HERE to meet Your Adirondack Guide. My home until I lost it to my wife in Dec 2001. About the 1829 Stone House.
    Your Adirondack Guide lost the 1829 Stone House, at the bottom of Stonehouse Road, along with Old Barn and New Barn in a divorce settlement December 2001. Now all I have left is just 4 mountains, 7 gorgeous backcountry camps and the prettiest 700 acres in the Adirondacks. Family vacations. Nature retreats. Romantic getaways. Bring your dog.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1967 The Cabin: Jim Melvin's Camp. (How it all started.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    A ski weekend at Whiteface with my first wife in '67. I can't remember if the kids were there or not. With a busy new business in the city, I was looking for a "wilderness" place, lots of trees and space, to get away to whenever I wanted. Had in mind cheap land, lots of it, not suitable for building development. I started asking around at the realtors, focusing on the lower priced offerings. Breakfast at the Golden Arrow across from the old hotel, I spotted an old lady at the cash register, looked just like my Bubba, a greyhead Zeide nearby. The old couple pointed the way to Wilmington. A few days later Dan Deighan, the land-savvy real estate man from Placid, was driving me up Stonehouse Road in a four-wheeler through a foot of snow. It was still Perkins Road then, before Nathan Farb got it renamed. We walked in from an old farmhouse site along the woods road through the Back Field. I remember the pine boughs were heavy with snow. When we got there it was love at first sight. I peeked in the window. The way Dan explained it, the 90-acre lot was $14,000, which worked out to be $100 per acre for the land as the building was valued at $5,000. I never thought about not paying full price. She made brown curtains with a deer hunting theme for the windows that Winter and we broke up in the Spring. I moved into the Chelsea Hotel but "camp" was my only real home. I met Jim Melvin, the former owner, and we got friendly. He was born in the lot across the road and his grandad owned the 90 acres. He built the camp at the edge of the field by the old stone fence that separated the cultivated land from the woodlot. I learned he used to "guide" people from Placid during hunting season and used "The Cabin" as a bunk house. Dan said he got disgusted with poachers, decided to sell the place in an angry mood and never changed his mind. Years later he built Camp Barn for me with his son, who later was a building contractor and a chiropractor in Poughkeepsie. I wrote about this in a poem, "Camp."

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1968. The Cabin: More About Jim Melvin's Camp. (How the stuff got there.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    Jim had a deer head over the fireplace. The deal was the place was sold with all the contents and Jim was surely a man of his word. But I felt bad about keeping his trophy, so I told him to take it. I found a mirror with deer hooves to replace it. There's still a humorous plastic plaque with a deer relaxing in front of the fireplace from his stuff. I misplaced the big whisky ad with a big buck on it--framed in slashed bark. Very pretty. Over the years we hung felt banners from our travels, a plastic duck from Times Square, Murray's crib mobile when he got tired of it. We moved in the oak rockers from my camp in the Carolina Piedmont on a black river when I sold it and a great kitchen cupboard from Quebec. We kept adjusting the mantel decorations. The story about The Cabin (Jim's cooking) is continued on the next page.

    When Jim guided deer in the fifties he'd cook for the sports, of course, and he was good. He did venison three ways. After I bought the place he came over with Alice one day--we had other people,too--and he cooked us a three-way venision meal, mushroom stew, a cream dish and the panfried steak with raspberry jam, all at one sitting. Read about in Camp, a poem I did about the place.

    The buildings just evolved, season by season. The Shed started out as one of those store-bought steel buildings for firewood and a snowmobile. Heavy snow did it in. The first half of the present shed served the same purpose for a while. Then it got doubled in size, the new part being a workshop. The workshop became The Sauna. No bathing suits allowed, but you could carry a towel. When the kids got bigger, we changed the whole building around making a Kid's Room, a washroom and a fine birch bed and tables Gil Jaques made for me. There was gas heat, but later Dorwin Brewer built the masonry chimney and we hooked up the pot belly stove from a trip to Savannah (now at The Hideout in Camp Barn). Sleeping for a couple and two kids. The Screen House was a 16x16 platform for a big L.L. Bean screen tent. We made the mistake of leaving a cupboard with (wow!) honey in it and the bears just ruined the whole thing. George Brenner, the ex-Staten Island fireman caretaker who was the most fun, and a couple of his trooper buddies built the present Screen House one Summer in the 70's. Burt Cross, our security department, would hold forth there for long evenings of story-telling, some of it's on tape.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1970. Putting the Pieces Together: Real Estate Purchases '67 to '70. [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    1967. No sooner had I closed the deal with Jim Melvin on his 90 acres, Dan let me know the adjoining 75-acre Prime lot was up for sale cheap. And next year the big 300-acre Hurley lot across the road at $65 per. Then the 120-acre Smith woodlot and sugarbush right by camp. Dan researched the ownership of the 18-acre frontage lot (the Boughton field) and found the old man's son in Georgia. The last piece was the seven acre Beauregard camp (the old Perkins Farm) that had been cut out of the Smith lot years ago before Smith bought it. There was a mobile home on it--an eyesore. The guy held out a year and we ended up paying $10,000. But what a relief! By 1970, with Dan's help, I had put together six parcels of land--a 700-acre private getaway. In those days we called it just "camp." I decided to start vacation rentals, first tentatively in '88 with a one-time New York Times ad, then later in '97 with a one-page website. Murray, already a computer whiz, helped. "Fourpeaks" came naturally to mind for the webpage.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1971. "A New Camp." A place for our first guests. [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    Louise first visited camp on January 11, 1971. The combination locks still have the numbers from that date. Afterwards she had a hand in everything, transforming the place, over the years, into her idea of an Adirondack Camp. Joni's "deer" curtains came down along with Jim Melvin's deerfoot gun cradles and his six-man bunkroom. The kitchen sink got moved to the window for the view. I let her paint the ceiling. Finally the place got yellow pine flooring over the cracked '50's asbestos tiles. We shopped Quebec furniture in Quebec, Montreal and places in between. The nicest cupboard is still there at "The Cabin." Trips to the Bowery in NYC we stocked up on the right kind of pots and pans for a camp--lots of heft. And we started having visitors--friends and VIP customers from our printing business in New York--they were often the same people. We needed room for them. Charlie Cornick built it that Summer--on the big rock that looks like a whale's back on the other side of the brook. I remember deciding on the location of the foundation posts with my 10-year-old son Billy. We looked out at the little black spruce seedlings I had just transplanted from the Straight farm (Farmhouse Field). It had a real maple floor and a "cathedral" ceiling. The idea for the shelf all around the room came from Tirolerland--Frank and Betty's place that burned after the '80 Olympics. The Strimbans stayed there summers--with their dogs. We still have the sketch he made. Mitch and Rasma came often in all seasons, leaving many photo memories. Jim Melvin came by one day admiring our "New Camp." He had a building heart, same as me. The name stuck.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1972 Wolf's Nest: A Nature Retreat. An out of the way place to build. [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    From the very beginning, each bit of land was a unique place, a precious discovery. A weathered oak marked one of these--sun-drenched, broad, low-branching, unecocomic in forestry terms--a "wolf" tree. The tree stood by a flat rock outcropping on the Wainwright property line--where the old Halsey Straight woods road crossed the lateral skid trail that went to Brown's Notch. The views were similar to those from The Lookout farther west on Basset but more dramatic as the angle of the Whiteface view was more frontal. The proximity to The Cabin made it an easy, often repeated walk for years. A walking meditation. In '71 we put some cedar benches along the way and the urge to build another camp just grew and grew. Billy could use it for his Buddhist retreats or visits with college friends. Too hard to get to to hire a builder? A Department of Agriculture Construction Bulletin made it look easy. Merritt and Martin got the bucket cement mixer hitched to the tractor and started the foundation one day late in Spring. Each trip was well planned. Climbing over the sheer rock portion of the trail, the big tractor wheels would slip and slide. Chains helped. Foundation forms were needed on the slanting rock. The floor and wall framing went on into the Summer weekends. Awning style picture windows were the latest thing at the building supply store. The roof system came right out of the Agriculture Department Bulletin--a tripled 2x8 center beam with a real low pitch a novice could manage. A real slate sink from a local auction sale and one of several 7th avenue cooking stoves made an attractive kitchen. There wasn't time for Dorwin and a masonry chimney and our building energies were exhausted. A metal fireplace unit from the catalog fit right in, cozy warm. Billy never made it up, but one of his Zen friends came for a week in the late Fall. A good start for the place.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1973   The 1829 Stone House: The Devlin Place. (Buying and Restoring The 1829 Stone House.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    The land purchases that rounded out the Fourpeaks property, roughly 700 acres bordered by Wainright, Basset, Ebenezer and Rattlesnake Knob, were completed in '72. But we still dabbled with the idea of acquiring more adjacent property and I would hear from Dan Deighan, the land broker, from time to time. So it was no surprise when there was a call from him at the office one day in March '73. But this was not another woodlot or side of a mountain that could be bought at a price. Gene and Theresa had closed the Nursing Home business at the Stone House years ago, and now they wanted to sell it and move out. Weekenders who treasured our quiet camp visits, Louise and I had no need for the place. But the idea that the property could be bought and developed (ugh!), spoiling our pretty camp entrance-way was reason enough to buy. The first year we had it was the year of the printing paper crunch. And so the Storage Building got built in a big hurry. That's another story--the dirt moving that cleaned up the side of the lot, the big granite wall and a new approach to the house--deemphasizing the relation to the highway in favor of Stonehouse Road. The first stage of renovations to the house itself removed the Nursing Home features--the steel fire exit from the second floor, the dumbwaiter connecting the basement with the first and second floor and the trapdoor in the stairwell. Finding the antique railing preserved and complete in the attic was a wonderful surprise! And we removed the modern bathroom counter and fixtures from the first floor, replacing them with a found pedestal sink and tub. Outside the covered entrance in front was torn down and Pat Alexander of the Lake Placid Granite Company--who owned the neighboring property at the time--cut impressive front steps for the place. The beauty parlor, a recent addition on the side was taken down, and we planned a garden there. (See 1930 photo top of page.) Life in the Chelsea Hotel and years of brownstone living on 20th Street left us with a warm feeling for old houses. The Stone House deserved to be better preserved and in '77 we found a pair of talented builders to do it-- Popeye Coolidge and Ed Bedard of AuSable Forks. The circa 1930 cellulose wallboard was removed from the walls in the entire house, exposing plaster surfaces that were carefully repaired. The wood molding was in excellent condition and the few missing pieces were custom made to match. Fireplaces on the the southerly chimney were uncovered, the flue relined and a second one was built to match the northerly one (removed in the '30's). We had earlier installed a forest of cedar poles to support the floors which the missing chimney had supported. The fireplace mantles in the dining room and the front parlor were both copied from the last remaining one in the front study.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1973 The Old Barn: Building of Many Uses. (A workshop with electricity and water.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    The barn had electricity and running water. Dorwin Brewer built the chimney and we put in a stove to heat the place. Merritt and I took out the hardware from the cow stalls and poured concrete to fill in the slop troughs. It wasn't very even, but it was enough floor for us. The horse barn had no floor at all so we built one up out of rough pine from Shirley Wallace. It didn't matter that it was almost a foot higher than the old concrete floor. The hay loft got built in for a second story a bit at a time as we needed space for storage and this resulted in quite a number of different ceiling heights. We put in a radial saw, a table saw, joiner, planer and a wood lathe. I remembered these tools from High School days and it was a pleasure to be able to have a complete working woodshop again. Whatever things we needed at camp got built at the Old Barn. Shelves, cabinets and doors--mouse bait boxes, too. We built the Gypsy Camp on Frank Dubay's truck trailer over the Winter of '73. In '88 we set up an "office" for our printing sales in the Cow Barn. Germaine Gonyea worked for us. Later she got a job managing the Aubuchon store in AuSable. The place got a septic tank and a new water line. When we moved to the New Barn the old office was gradually transformed into a place for guests--we weren't sure who. Our kids liked it and it became a hangout. In '93 we put the bathrooms in. Cousins from Connecticutt stayed there. Maybe we could rent it. In '96 we got serious about finishing it up. Louise did the decorating. It rented first in June. Our first Fourpeaks Barn. Built a hundred years ago, with stalls for six cows, room for horses and equipment, a hayloft with bale hooks on a trolley and a milk shed with cooler, the "Old Barn" proved to be the most adaptable structure on the Stone House Farm.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1974 New Barn: The Storage Building. (How the granite wall got built and why.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    When the paper crunch came in '73 we were going through a couple of carloads a month at our book printing plant in NYC. Deliveries were undependable but the paper mill was in Ticonderoga, only 35 miles from camp. By the end of the year the Old Barn shed and the first floor of a brand new Storage Building was loaded full of paper stock we had bought up for a backup supply. Building construction in the Northcountry is a fine art. Muddy Spring weather and severe Winter cold makes a short season for optimal conditions. We had to think fast when Charlie Cornick found he had hundreds of yards of fill left over from the New Barn site. I had him dump it over the useless rubble that had collected along the old road from years of Spring floods and old foundations. Next Spring he built a granite wall around it all. We planted Sugar Maples picked right out of the woods. In '88 I got the (bad) idea to set up to print books right here in Jay. The Storage Building was completely done over with a big power supply, hi-tech insulation, sheetrock thoughout, storage heat and air conditioning. The print shop and bindery were on the first floor--camera and offices above. That lasted a year and a half. We couldn't get the printing help and APA had us for zoning violations. An uncomfortable reminder of a bad business decision--until Fourpeaks bookings began to grow '96. Now with relatively minor remodeling and a lot of creative decorating, it was our "New Barn." On somewhat higher ground in back of the lot, the critical dimensions copied from Nathan's barn next door, it looks as much like a barn as possible. New Barn commands a good view of the river, fields, the old Stone Houses and the Jay Mountain Wilderness in the distance. The earthen ramp to the second story at the far end and the truck height loading ramp in front--prominent structures from its working days as a paper warehouse and a printing plant--give it a rugged workshop character, good bones for a barn.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1973 Sugar Camp: Maple Sugaring (A camp building with used parts and found objects.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    I first met Dick Smith several years after I bought the Perkins lot from his Dad, Phil. I was interested in the falling down sugar house I found with a tin roof that was loose and slanted walls. Porcupines had it for a home. The rusty steam stack hung at a crazy angle over the wreck of the building. An old boiling pan was just left there. He told me how they sugared with horses to draw the sap. That old sugar shack was there as far back as anybody knew. The sugarbush ran all the way up the brook a half mile or more. He showed me on the old maples where they used to tap. Many of them were being shaded out from the sun by surrounding pines--bad for early sugaring. I'd have to cut the pines out. We struck a fifty-fifty deal for maple sugaring. I'd put up a new rig and supply the wood--he'd work it (while I was busy in NYC). Bobby Wallace built it with me in '73. The foundation was concrete blocks. We stepped down the porches to make it easier. His Dad, Shirley cut the pine. Four-by-eight floor joists, four-by-four studs and two-by-ten flooring. It was only twelve feet wide! Building a camp it's important to use up any materials you have around and not be fancy about it. I got the idea from Jim Melvin's building at "The Cabin." There he used old doors and the windows were just storm sash he found around. At Sugar Camp I got to use the old windows I saved from my first printing loft on 17th Street. They used to open awning style from the office out into the shop. And the door hardware came from a trip to Europe, collecting things for "camp" wherever we went. The door is out of the schoolhouse in Jay when the Fire Department got it from the town . (Another one of those old doors is at the Stone House by the garden.) The rig came from Rutland. It was just eight feet. Dick strung out the tubing that Winter. The sap flowed in January and Dick boiled it carefully. Only a small quantity was clear--he put them up in fancy little bottles I bought. Most of it was amber in cans of various sizes. The darker it is, the better tasting--we learned. We did this only two seasons--Dick left the area and took up trucking. Rob Hastings from Keene Valley bought the rig from me. With the rig out of the way we closed in the porch, put in some beds and started to use it--"Sugar Camp." (We've been enjoying the syrup all these years and still have a supply at Camp Barn.)

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1975 "Ridge Camp: Bigger and Prettier. (Wild orchids and columbine on a ridge with views.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    Back from a trip to France in '73 we admired the design of the Gypsy wagons so much I just had to build one. I told Merritt about the idea and his Dad Frank gave me the frame and wheels off an old Chevy truck he had fixed up for a woods wagon. Scaled down to just six by ten it was a perfect fit. It had a bed and kitchen with a little potbelly stove. Merritt and I built it over the Winter and we decorated it with paisley cloth from India--a nice touch. It took a whole day to drag it with the tractor all the way to the Ridge. We set it by the old cow pond that gets fed from the springs at the corner of the lot. We stayed in it one Spring weekend with a frog chorus from the pond, and hiked around the ledges with pretty flowers (native orchids and columbine) picnicking and enjoying the views. I started sketching plans for the new camp right away, using the open plan and loft ideas first tried at Sugar Camp--only bigger and prettier. Mark Shaw and his wife came up for a weekend with us and we showed them the site. My serious concern was just how close to the height of land to build it. We ended up a hundred feet down from the exact ridge line (marked with barbed wire fence years ago). I'm not sure what those people (clients of mine from the city) thought of my passion for camp building. By Summer Bill Lincoln had dug out the shallow well and a root cellar. Shirley Wallace cut all the boards and dimension lumber full size from local pine and Bill drew it all up with his 1-ton. Shirley's son Bobby built it and the idea for second story balcony came about when the four by eight beams cut out even longer that I asked for. It was done by Fall and Bobby and his wife joined us there for a Thanksgiving dinner. The dinnerware was Tennessee pottery from that year's Smoky Mountains visit and the silverware was the five and dime open pattern stainless we had bought over the years for our Chelsea Hotel home. We hauled the Gypsy trailer back down the mountain and set it at Cedar Swamp, an impractical location where it just stayed like that for 20 years.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 1999 Gypsy Camp: At Melvin's Farm. (How it started out as just a well cover.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    Back from a trip to France in '73 we admired the design of the Gypsy wagons so much I just had to build one. I told Merritt about the idea and his Dad Frank gave me the frame and wheels off an old Chevy truck he had fixed up for a woods wagon. Merritt and I built it over the Winter. Scaled down to just six by ten it was a perfect fit. We bolted floor planks to the truck frame and built the walls right on it. Two storm windows rigged awning style gave lots of light plus another little window at the kitchen end. The roof/ceiling was round like a gypsy wagon should be, with a skin of plastic corrugated roofing. A 24-inch foldout cot served for a bed (now doing duty at The Cabin Screen House). It had a sink, a camp stove for cooking, two gas lights and a funny little potbelly stove. I decorated it with paisley cloth from India--a nice touch. In the Spring of '74 we brought the Gypsy trailer up to the Cow Pond at the end of the woods road on the Hurley lot. It was a line camp, sort of. A place to hang out, another Tiny House, a base to explore that beautiful corner of the property by Rattlesnake Knob. It was so pretty there I got to work sketching and building Ridge Camp, right there by the Cow Pond. Got it all done by Thanksgiving. (CLICK HERE to hear the story about Ridge Camp.) When Ridge was done we brought Gypsy back down and set it up at the end of a woods road (now the downhill leg of Cedar Trail) that leads out from Melvin Farm (AKA Boughton Field and Gypsy Camp field) into Cedar Swamp. I thought it would be nice to have a camp right at the edge of that forest of beautiful trees. We set a privy nearby. Problems came up with that location. There was no opening for light and it was very wet and rocky. No way to get the bush hog in with mud holes and rocks around the camp. The place just grew up and Gypsy stayed there for years and years.
    By 1999 the camp and barn rental business had a good start and I was working and fixing all the old farmsites. I decided to stabilize and protect the old hand dug wells at Hamilton (now Thoreau), Jim Melvin (now Gypsy), Halsey Straight (on Stonehouse Road near Sugar), and Bert Williams (on the jeep road to Ridge) fields. Partly I was motivated by safety concerns and I also wanted to keep the walls from falling in. (And old one had already caved in at Halsey Straight, before my time.) Andy was my day worker for Saturdays and he was handy all around. We got some granite broke and built up the stone wall at each of the old wells to ground level. Then we built a sturdy 6ft x 10ft wood platform over each well. I was thinking of possibly adding a hand pump for looks and the fun of it. When we had all but finished the work at Jim Melvin I saw the well was dry. Andy says not to worry, goundwater flow varies with the season. I wasn't convinced and besides I was itching to build another camp for the expected increase in rental business. That's how the well cover became a foundation for a camp. I made a plan with Andy to extend the well platform 10ft for an overall 10x16. His regular job was with the glazier in Plattsburgh and he offered to get all the glass I wanted, cheap. Cedar House was the result, about 50% of the wall area 1/4in. plate glass and high tech plastic. A real open feel with a great view of the big field, mountains and trees. I bought the cedar logs from a guy I knew in Morrisonville who made cedar fence, and the pine boards from Shirley Wallace on Dump Road (now Valley Road) in Upper Jay. There was room in Cedar for just a kitchen and dining table, so Gypsy Camp was a natural for a bedroom. Kevin Lincoln came with the backhoe and we gingerly drew it out from the Cedar Swamp to the field, blocked it up real good. Andy replaced quite a bit of the siding, and I took out the cot and the little kitchen it had. Room for a double bed and not much more. The place needed something. A view deck. By the time I needed it for a rental two or three years down the line, Eric and me built a big view deck onto Gypsy with nice cedar railings and poles in the air for us to put up tarps for sun cover. Job done.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 2001-2003 Thoreau House (How I began building it as a place to live.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    September 2001 I had my personal 9/11. My wife of 30 years let me know she wanted a separation, divorce, or whatever. We were living at the Stone House in Jay and I was in bed in the teeny bedroom we made at the northwest corner with a good view of mountains. She asked me to sleep on the couch in the Library. I was re-reading "Economy" in Thoreau's Walden Pond, and just kept on reading after I told her SHE could move to the library, I was staying right here.

    The reality of the situation became clearer over the next few weeks. This was no kiss and make up situation. Months of marital counseling hardened the view that she (as she said) needed to be on her own. I won't go into the motivating factors (money, money, money), which only became clearer much later on, and no amount of pleading could change her mind.

    Thoreau's Cabin stuck with me. The simplicity of it, the closeness to nature. Reacting to the personal distress, I sketched and planned a new home for myself on the camp property, but with modern amenities for full time living. By October the foundation was down right over the 150-year old hand-dug well at the Hamillton Farm on Stonehouse Road. We had the side walls up and roofed in November, and got the building wrapped by January. It took till the next Summer to finish the interior, electrical and plumbing, and the cedar shakes weren't on till the Summer after that.

    CLICK HERE for photos and more. 2001 to Today. Camp Barn (How I ended up living in a barn.) [CLICK on image at left for photos and more.]
    I never got to live at Thoreau House. By December 2001, while Thoreau was building, the reality of my new situation became apparent. I would have to move, but Thoreau was just a dream. I needed space for my work, equipment, vehicles and personal gear. And I wasn't getting an apartment in Plattsburgh, like the lady suggested. The tractors and other equipement, foresty and maintenance gear were already up at Camp Barn, a fine location central to the property. I finished first stage remodeling for a place to live there in time to move in January 2. There was just one room, "The Hideout," with two narrow windows, in what used to be the Auto Shop, and a small kitchen carved out of the corner of it. But it was home away from marital despair. Peace and quiet in a natural place under the pines. (Until she hired herself a "killer" divorce attorney and I anguished two years over the possibility of losing my land. But that's another story.)

    By Spring I was planning and building The Office and a bathroom under the storage gallery in the South Shed. Eric built the deck overlooking the pine grove with a door from the Carpentry Shop, now a fancy Guest Room with parlor stove. That's where my 1970's antique office furniture ended up. The only personal stuff I was able to salvage from the divorce.

    2005, when it seemed like she might be a live-in GF, I built Becky her own room over the Guest Room with big windows and a great view. Didn't happen. But Murray and Iza stay there when they visit. The other room upstairs is my clothing collection. Much reduced from the Stone House days, but still formidable. (NOTE: Like the other camp pages, the photos are old, and people say, "Your places look a lot prettier than pictured." Come visit and see my latest efforts in really authentic Adirondack decorating!)

    "Are you working on those memoirs yet?" (An Email Exchange.)

    Subject: Claire P***** wrote on your Wall...
    From: Facebook
    Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2009 22:06:52 -0700
    To: Martin Schwalbaum
    Claire wrote on your Wall:
    "Martin--Are you working on those memoirs yet?"
    "Are you working on those memoirs yet?"
    Yes. I figure it's about time.
    I'm collecting it all on my Fourpeaks webpage. You can see what I've done so far.

    Adirondack Poetry at Fourpeaks. I've made a poem or a short prose poem about every memorable event of my life. I think you must have a copy of my "Poems For My Kids," published in '95. If not I'll give you a copy next time you're here.

    A Personal Potpourri. 14 pages, including about me and Irene, me and Becky, the best 2 GF's I ever had, after Louise kicked me out.

    The Fourpeaks Story: 1967 to Today. 40 years of building and fixing my wilderness place. How it all happened.

    A Gentleman's Travel Notes. 10 pages, including the one about my last try to get back with Louise, or at least take her out for dinner, theater, music--whatever.

    How I got George. I still have to write about how he got dognapped by an evil dogcatcher for ransom.

    More pets. Tramp and Floppy, our family pets before the divorce. There's a lot about Albert my fave pet (a mini schnauzer who sang, 14 years, Louise adopted him when Joni kicked him out, how he got dognapped and Louise put an ad in the paper and found him in a flat in Hell's Kitchen) but I have to collect it and write it better. I'm not saying anything about Salt and Pepper, 2 mini schnau bitches we got after Albert. We got rid of Salt, a runaway. Pepper got loose and run over at the Stone House.

    My son Murray, his new wife, Iza, and their chicken, Carmalita. They live in Brooklyn so I don't get to see them a lot. But he helps me with computer stuff and says he'll run the place when I'm dead. She's an artist.

    My daughter Maggie, and our fun vacation together with hippies in SF. She lives in nearby Burlington so I get to see her for hiking and shopping.

    The '98 Ice Storm. How 100-year freeze just snapped the trees above us in the Stone House. Changed the forest foe a long time.

    I'm adding stuff as I get time and inspiration. Murray says I should get a video camera and put it all on YouTube. Iza could help. But I'd rather write about it. Thanks for asking.

    .Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out. 
    Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all.    Are you in this picture?  CLICK HERE to find out!    [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]

  • CLICK for a prompt detailed response to your vacation Inquiry. Inquire about a Fourpeaks Adirondack Vacation/Getaway.   (Easy Inquiry Form.)
  • Email us  with questions or feedback.  Email us with questions or feedback. (Easy Email form.)
  • Phone our Help Desk with Phone help is just a moment away. Tollfree  or Cell phone contact any time. Cell phone contact any time.
  • No time for Fourpeaks right now? Frown!
    'Hints of Balsam and Pine from Our Corner of the Adirondacks.' Keep up with us through occasional newsletters. CLICK for sample.
    "Hints of Balsam and Pine from our Corner of the Adirondacks"
    Join our mailing list!  (Easy form.)
    Get on our mailing list. Join Our Fourpeaks List!
    Please Rate Our Fourpeaks Website. Please Rate Our Fourpeaks Website.Please Rate Our Fourpeaks Website. Whether you're an experienced webmaster or just a novice surfer, you may have feedback or suggestions to help us improve. We well remember the visitor who complained about the unpleasant glare from the HTML default royal blue links. That lead us to entirely revamp our background and link colors, making them softer, more eye pleasing. And the Florida expert who warned us about frustrating visitors with blind links. We followed his advice and now carefully identify links so visitors know before they "click" exactly where they're clicking to. Your comments or suggestions will be equally appreciated. 
    NOTE: If you got here via one of our many subsidiary information pages,  CLICK HERE to get the best view-- from our concise "Home Page." Thanks.  
    [CLICK HERE for easy email form to make your feedback/suggestions.]