The Press-Republican received two pieces of correspondence that say plenty about an important topic: “selling” this area.
The first was from John McDaniel of Baltimore, who said he had spent “five wonderful days up in the Plattsburgh area” in October. They rode their bikes around Plattsburgh and Rouses Point, visited Ausable Chasm, walked through Point au Roche State Park and had “a very nice vacation.”
McDaniel sent along kudos to:
“Our hosts at the Point Au Roche Lodge: They knew your area very well and had good suggestions regarding what to do.
“The restaurants where we enjoyed dinners: No reason to single any one out, but each of the four restaurants we went to was wonderful — interesting food, good service and nice other guests.
“The City of Plattsburgh: The town was clean, the people friendly and helpful, it was neat to see the War of 1812 being recognized. I always am impressed by how clean some areas are; I don’t think I saw one piece of litter up in your town.
“Whoever put up all the historic roadside markers: There were many along Route 9. We enjoyed seeing all of them and learning a little bit about the history of the area. Each one was interesting.
“Whoever is behind the effort to get more bike riding up there. The place is wonderful for bicycle riding — pleasant country roads, easy places to start, well-printed maps. I can’t remember the name of the booklets, but our lodge had a few that were very helpful in finding good routes.
“The rangers and others at Point Au Roche Park: The park is wonderful — many wild birds and a beautiful shoreline. We especially liked walking along the Walker trail there, lots of little signs regarding what to look for.”
McDonald said it is “apparent that your region is trying to expand its tourism base, and I hope these words spread encouragement to that effort.”
What wonderful compliments to the North Country! McDonald hit on some of this region’s best attributes: its fascinating history, stunning natural beauty and friendly people.
Now contrast that to a letter received from Karen Billings, who said she has, on more than one occasion, had people come into her local business and say that when they were asked at the border where they were going and said “Plattsburgh,” the officer frowned and asked: “Why Plattsburgh?”
Billings wrote: “Like it’s a bad thing that someone might just want to enjoy what our area has to offer. I find this upsetting that they give off a negative response on the area that most of us love so much. As a business that is in the tourism industry, it upsets me even more. It’s a shame the (officers at the border) can’t be more proud of the area they live and work in.”
Now, most border employees don’t have that negative outlook, but we have heard similar sentiments from too many local people. Billings is absolutely right: If North Country residents can’t sell this area to visitors, who can?