As a young couple I remember staying at a seaside guest house where my wife and I shared a bathroom with another boarder whom we never met. We did befriend the establishment’s owner, whom I will call Flo, and her carpenter husband. The two were most impressed with our respect for their property and we were overwhelmed with their openness to letting people into their impressive historic home.
On our second visit Flo started to share with us stories of some of her worst customers. One of the stories Flo told was she rented one of her choice rooms, just beyond the living room to a middle aged gentleman. The room had her favorite rosewood octagon, key wound mantle clock that chimed the hour. Sometime during the night the guest had tried to silence the clock with blankets and pillows. This was an affront to Flo who “threw the bum out” with instructions to never return. To Flo this was one tourist too many.
Each of us has a threshold for how many guests is too much. The rule I am comfortable with is respect my special places as though they are your own. This is the basis for, “If you carry it in, carry it out.” “Leave nothing behind but your footprints.” This is the foundation of good stewardship.
One of the early tenets of the Mohawk Towpath Byway Coalition is to balance the changes and developments along the Byway corridor with the need to preserve our natural and historic resources. Encouraging the constructive use of our resource will provide the economic engine to fund efforts to preserve for generations to come. Perhaps the most rewarding outcome is to have visitors embrace the preservation effort with the same enthusiasm as many of our local residents. That’s sustainability in the broadest meaning of the word.
With the depth and authenticity of our stories, variety of our recreational resources, and appeal to a broad demographic, visitors will come, and, more importantly, return.