Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondacks featured in our thinking from early on yet a big concern - whether or not we could take the RV, tow dolly and car on a ferry across Lake Champlain. In discussing it with our friends in Pittsford and after some www research by Terry we discovered that we could from Port Eden to Burlington in Vermont.  Driving along 1-90 from the Finger Lake region we passed over the Erie Canal several times, from our prospective it is enormous, we thought all canals were the same approximate width of 14 feet. However, the Erie Canal is 40 feet wide with bridges that are not little and humpbacked. Of further interest is that their lock gates are lowered and raised to let boat traffic navigate on them and that the lakes are incorporated into the waterway system. Needless to say the barges were big but in no way as picturesque as barges in Britain or other parts of Europe.

Arriving on the south-western side of the Adirondacks near Utica we passed through the towns/villages of Poland, Norway and Russia before reaching our RV Park in Cold Brook where we spent 3 nights. On our first day we took a scenic round trip of 160 miles, visiting the towns of Speculator, Indian Lake and Inlet in this part of the Adirondacks; a quaint and very rural part of New York State where it’s hard to believe that New York City is so near. There was an antique fair on in Inlet and we discovered what had happened to those two raccoons we mentioned  were shot back in Peru, IN…well they  were skinned, cured and on sale at the antique fair - photos to follow! When we got back I went to the onsite golf driving range and hit 2 buckets of balls. I need to improve my swing, what golfer doesn’t?
We headed for the Golf Course of Newport the next day; a busy course and as the day was not too hot or humid  we decided for the first time in two months  to walk, both of us enjoyed our round of golf. And yes the buckets of balls helped - I am trying to break 100 and shot a 101 while Tom shot in the low 80’s.  Our campsite really came alive at the weekend on Saturday there was a Mardi Gras Parade and   Sunday  an Easter Bonnet Parade, the pity was that I missed both due to golf and because  we were leaving on the Sunday. Amish people live around this area also, the first clue…horse droppings, the second clue yellow road signs of a horse and trap. Along the way we saw a few Amish men on farm carts and  buggies and little Amish  girls aged about 9 selling baskets, sitting very quietly and dressed like mini Amish adults at the side of the road in Poland,

Our second stop in the Adirondacks was Lake George, what a contrast. To get there we backtracked about 12 miles to I-90 and from there on to I-87 as we did not want to drive the RV on the roads from our circular tour. Lake George is 220 miles from New York and 160 miles from Montreal resulting in an almost even split of French and English speaking people in the area giving the sense of being in a busy European tourist town.  As soon as we had settled in we went downtown and booked on a 5 hour lake cruise for 2 days ahead. Later we had dinner at a lakeside pub and saw a spectacular rainbow form over the lake as we sat there (a sign of things to come); cameras were flashing at all the tables as the full curve of the rainbow was visible across the lake. That night it started to rain at 9pm and continued to rain for 36 hours. To occupy ourselves on Monday we went shopping at the local Outlets, of course so did everyone else. The rain also gave us the chance to write a few blogs. On Tuesday it was still raining when we set off on the cruise, but it stopped within the hour. We were lucky the sun broke through and we had a lovely day.
One of the lessons we’ve learned about “scenic lake drives” is that it usually means one can spot the lake between the trees and behind lake front properties - we have been disappointed many times. The cruise afforded us the opportunity to see all of Lake George, the beautiful  Sagamore Hotel (over 100 years old and on its own island) reminded us of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and we saw the lakeside properties from their front. The captain provided an interesting commentary on the history of Lake George, the French / Indian Wars, and the French / English wars.  There are many forts in this area - one in Lake George named Fort William Henry, another Fort George on the southern end of the lake and Fort Edward and Fort Ticonderoga although Fort Ticonderoga is actually on Lake Champlain. In the afternoon we took a “scenic trip” on the local tram to Bolton Landing a town 10 miles up the lake…you guessed it - once more the views were through the trees, the trip cost $3 for the two of us and proved our point for us, no more lakeside drives! The trams are for summer use only, are a copy of the SF trams, no heating or A/C so cheap to run and ride on.

Tuesday evening we carried our chairs and snacks downtown to “Music in the Park” where a Beetle’s Group from England entertained all; they were fantastic, had the crowd singing along and we enjoyed the 60’s songs and, knowing the words we sang our hearts out. A highlight was having all the children onstage for a rendition of Yellow Submarine. Lake George, a vacation destination is a busy place, with lots of visitors and plenty of things to do; the center of town has lots of little shops to browse at night. On the shoreline there’s a beach named Million Dollar Beach – beat us as to why it’s called that we didn’t see any millionaires hanging around.
Wednesday we travelled further up I 87 to Ausable Chasm a most peculiar name which flummoxed us until we discovered that it’s two French words Au Sable, Americanized to a meaningless and impossible Ausable. The RV Park was within the Ausable Chasm complex and within easy walking distance of the major chasm attraction. On our first day we walked down to see the many waterfalls some of which drop 150 feet, they are beautiful.  Next day was spent enjoying the Ausable River and Chasm.  We walked down, inside the chasm for a mile and then “white water” floated down the river in tubes. There were millions of flies on the surface of the water; I thought the fish around here never go hungry. I know the fish eat the flies but forgot that the flies would eat me. My lower legs hanging over the side of the tube got badly bitten and I spent two nights in agony and had to get up every few hours to put anti-itch cream on my legs. The tubing was great fun, afterwards we hiked back the two miles (there was a bus, but not for us). We enjoyed the tubing so much that we decided to return after lunch and take the raft which allowed us take photos.

No visit to the Adirondacks is complete without a visit to Lake Placid where the Winter Olympics were held in 1932 and again in 1980. This is a busy town as it is both a summer and winter vacation area. Lake Placid town is actually on Mirror Lake and the skiing area is 9 miles out of town on Whiteface Mountain.  We took the CloudSplitter Skyride Gondola to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain from where we could see Lakes Placid and Mirror way down below in the distance. Then, taking one of Tom’s short cuts back, after 30 miles of driving we were only 6 miles from the town of Lake Placid, effectively 3 miles from our starting point. 
Our next adventure to relate is the ferry trip across Lake Champlain. 

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