Saturday, July 2, 2016

Day 67-68: Dirty Dancing

Miles: 0

Rest Stop had really talked this place up. The Allenberry is a big family resort about 0.4 miles up the road from the AT and Boiling Springs. It's been around for ages and Rest Stop told stories about amazing food and how classy a place it was with an awesome deal letting hikers stay for just $40 a room.

As we walked up the giant Allenberry sign was covered up with an Auction sign. Uh oh. As we walk through the grounds I feel like we're in the Catskills in Dirty Dancing fallen on hard times. It's a giant 57 acre property full of old stone buildings, a river and tennis courts.

But the parking lot is empty, this place is a ghost town. It was built originally a farm with the main building built in 1785, with everything else built after that. It was bought in 1944 to be turned into a resort and in 1949 the playhouse opened. In this tiny town a professional theatre was a huge thing. Originally a union shop summer stock type of place it's boasted some huge names, 17 year old John Travolta even got his start here.

This is the first summer the theater's been dark. A huge deal for the locals. The siblings that own this place are 70-80 and have decided to sell the whole thing in one go. This is the last week people are allowed to stay as guests and all services are ridiculously limited. Meals are dinner only Thursday, Friday and Saturday and everything else doesn't really exist.

I love the history but it's clearly seen better days. The staff we talk to have mostly worked here 20 plus years, multiple generations and all. We're put in a rundown building that hasn't seen much care in ages and it starts to feel like the Shining instead of Dirty Dancing resort life.

Doors are open, beds unmade and not a soul in sight. Over our zero a few hikers come and go. There's a wedding the first night which means lots of people and an unexpected breakfast the next morning. It pours rain and we eat dinner in what used to be a flashy restaurant but are offered things like, "well we'll check the kitchen and see what we have left." A hallway floods in the rain and another diner gets wet as the roof leaks on her head. Maintenance seems to have stopped awhile ago.

Over the weekend we explore more. It's a famous fly fishing area complete with a museum at the resort. We chat with the cook who has worked here since she was 16, now in her 40s. It's a melancholy place this weekend.

I get surprise breakfast cake when the cook finds out its my birthday. Happy 30, I had originally thought to hike a big day as celebration but this is way more fun.

We spend some time in town getting food and meeting hikers. Then back to the vast estate. The building is 100% empty the last night, there are fireflies everywhere and it's peaceful but sad and a hint creepy. It's hard not to be nostalgic about what this place must have been like in its heyday.

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