Now that school is back in session, my three-year-old daughter has been feeling a little left behind. She doesn't need a cool lunch box or new backpack like her school-aged brothers. In her eyes, they have this fun new routine that everyone is fussing about and she is missing out. When I learned that I needed to take a trip to Inlet to pick up some materials for an upcoming event, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to break up her routine with a special "mommy and me" day!
Retail therapy in Inlet, New York
On a cool September morning, after dropping the boys off at school, we jumped in the van and headed down to Inlet. When I had originally planned the day I had thought we would start with a nature walk into Ferd's Bog and then follow it up with lunch and a round of mini golf at Putterfingers. However, the weather was a little cooler than I had anticipated and rain was in the forecast, so we opted instead to do what girls do best: Shop!
Boo (that is my daughter...no idea where the nickname came from, but everyone has called her that since she was an infant) had never been to Inlet before. As we pulled into the village, the expression on her face was priceless. After over an hour of pointing out the "pretty lakes" and "big trees" she was excited to arrive and see all of the people, stores and activity.
We parked in the parking area in Arrowhead Park which is adjacent to the Inlet Information Center. After taking care of the errands I had to do, we quickly got on with our day. Across the street from Arrowhead Park is a cute little bead shop located within Hodel's Adirondack Store. I've seen the shop many times, but never had the chance to stop in. Boo loves jewelry, so today looked like a good day to finally check it out. As we walked through the door, she began chasing the animal prints on the floor until it lead her to an entire wall of shiny colors beads. I knew then that this was the perfect place to beat the rainy day blues!
She was busy pointing out all of the beads and gems that she loved when the store owner, Pattie Hodel, greeted us and offered her assistance. I asked if there was an age limit on jewelry making and she stated that all ages are welcome to make their jewelry in the store. She said she especially loved helping the little ones as it always fascinates her how their little minds work. I told Boo she could pick out some of the beads to make her own necklace or bracelet she jumped with joy. It took her a little time, but she finally picked out all of her beads and decided that she would make a necklace.
When we were ready, Pattie talked her through the first step: laying out the beads in the order she wanted them on the necklace. Boo sat and carefully placed the big blue gems, then set up the purple, pink and teal glass jewels.
After the beads were all laid out, she began stringing them together. As we watched her work on her personalized necklace, Pattie and I discussed the shop. Hodel's Adirondack Store has been in her family for 61 years. It began as a hardware store and has transformed slowly from generation to generation. Today, Pattie's influence is seen throughout the beadery and furniture store. Her kindness and customer service explains just why the store is still here after more than half a century.
As Boo finished her masterpiece she was elated to see the product of all her hard work. We thanked Pattie Hodel for her time and hospitality and continued on with our day.
After leaving the Beadery, Boo explained to me that since she had a new necklace, we needed to find "treasures" for her brothers, too. I told her that was a good idea, and we walked the sidewalks of Inlet browsing through many of the different shops and stores along the strip. I was reminded how different a shopping trip with a toddler is than a true "girls shopping trip." Rather than looking at the wide selection of clothing, gear, books and household decor, we were shopping based on colors, motion and textures...and we found plenty in Inlet.
We checked out the wind chimes, lawn ornaments and furry slippers at Mary's Gift Shop.
We looked at stuffed creatures, night lights and balsam pillows at the Inlet Department Store,
and we smelled the fall mums at Pedals and Petals.
Finally, after looking at a variety of different gift ideas for her brothers, Boo decided that they would love a bag full of the colorful rocks that she found at Pedals and Petals. Searching with her through the big display of rocks brought back memories of collecting similar stones at gift shops as a child.
After all of that shopping, it was time to fill our bellies! (Sorry, now I am totally in mommy talk). Boo and I walked back to our vehicle to drop off our shopping bags, then continued on to the Tamarack Cafe, which is located within Inlet's Shopping District. The restaurant was busy, as was Inlet as it continued to fill up with participants for the upcoming One Square Mile of Hope. We grabbed a couple of seats at the lunch counter and ordered our meals. Service was surprisingly quick, despite my initial thought when I saw the size of the crowd. Boo was happy with her custom wrap and I enjoyed my quesadilla melt and cup of coffee.
With full stomachs and some new treasures, it was almost time to head home and pick up the boys. But before we hit the road, we decided we needed to stretch out our legs on the playground. Due to the rain the slides were still a little damp so after a few minutes on the playground we continued down to the Inlet Public Beach to check out the wooden pirate ship. As we walked back through Arrowhead Park to the van, Boo ran past the rental cabins singing one of her made up songs (Boo's life is often like a musical, making up songs about what she is doing). This particular rendition included, "this place is fun, in like to have fun..."
As we pulled out of Inlet, Boo asked for her blanket. I asked if she was tired and got the quick, "no! I'm just cold." I knew it would be a pretty quiet ride home. Just before we passed the 8th Lake Campground, just north of Inlet she said: "Mommy, I love shopping! Thank You," and with that she was out like a light.
Alone in my Thoughts...
As I drove home with Boo snoozing in the back seat, I was feeling pretty lucky! I had just had an amazing day exploring Inlet with my daughter. I realized that I need to spend more time exploring the different Adirondack hamlets with my children. I often take them to see different beaches, hiking trails, events and attractions, but rarely think to simply go and explore a nearby town. Usually those trips are "adult time" for my husband and I. Today I saw that visiting these little Adirondack villages with them allows me to see them in a whole new perspective. Yes, I would have loved to have more time to look at clothing and ski gear, but that can always be a different trip. Today, I was happy to see Inlet through Boo's 3-year-old eyes, and just as she had said in the park: "it was fun!"