Retired Colgate University athletic administrator and coach Braden Houston was so fascinated three years ago when he saw a review of a book about traveling through the Adirondacks that he was compelled to pick up a copy.
And when he read “Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport & Guide to the North Country” by Martin Podskoch, detailing 102 separate municipalities to visit within the Adirondack State Park, Houston knew he had to go on a mission to see them all.
“He wanted people to see the entire park,” Houston said of the author. “He didn’t want you to just see a few of the sites but to really experience all of it.”
Houston visited places like post offices, local government buildings, libraries, restaurants, and police and fire stations. He met with the locals and chatted about what made each location unique, chronicling his interviews by writing notes right there on the pages of the book, and then collected signatures of nearly every single person he talked with during his tour.
In some places, people actually lined up to sign the book when they found out what he was doing, he said. Today, that book has 2,337 signatures.
Completing that journey of 102 municipalities earned Houston the title of “Vagabond,” named after a wanderer who sees many different places. But Houston is no stranger to seeing all that the Adirondacks have to offer - he had already completed a quest to visit all 26 fire towers in the park. He is also a “46er” for climbing all 46 of their mountain peaks more than 4,000 feet tall, as well.
The book’s author himself is impressed that Houston went out to follow his trail, and even suggested Houston write his own book about the adventure. Houston hasn’t decided if he wants to do that yet.
The people he met along the way were the best part of the trip, Houston said.
“There are 120,000 permanent residents, 200,000 seasonal residents, and 10 million visitors who come to the park every year,” he said. “I talk with as many as I can, and got to meet people from all walks of life.”