On a recent sunny morning, I set out for the wilds of the Adirondacks, and found myself encountering otters, birds of prey, ravens and a porcupine.
An unbelievable hike? Not exactly. It was a trip to the Wild Center.
Nestled in the Adirondacks, at Tupper Lake, the destination proved to be a scenic one-and-a-half hour drive from my Plattsburgh apartment. Since the Wild Center is both a museum and a 31-acre property, I was pleased that the weather was favorable for the trip — especially since a canoe expedition was to be part of the day’s events.
Upon my arrival, I approached the large building marked by the sign of the teal otter (a stylized otter is the symbol of the Wild Center, and the depiction near the doors is bright and colorful).
Inside, I found myself in a rotunda with huge glass windows displaying water-level views of the deep blue pond outside.
There, Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe talked with me about the purpose of the Wild Center.
“This is designed to bring people closer to nature; that’s what we do,” she said.
To the right of the rotunda is a replica of an Adirondack camp, setting the mood for the exhibits beyond.
“We want you to think of this as the base camp for your Adirondack experience,” Ratcliffe said.
On the other side of the rotunda is a wooden structure cleverly designed to look like Lucy’s 5 cent psychiatry booth in Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic. Instead of “The Doctor is IN,” the sign reads “The Naturalist is IN,” and Ratcliffe said Wild Center interns use it as a spot for interactive events.
Beyond the “base camp” is a large glacier replica, with movement and sound, intended to convey a sense of geological history; and beyond that is a pool/aquarium with some colorful residents.