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We didn't get that early of a start, but given we were playing it by ear, we didn't feel rushed. We left mid morning, and wandered up through some pretty back roads through Maryland and Pennsylvania. We ran into some weather, but we both had full-face helmets and rain suits, so after a quick pit stop to change, we headed on up into New York, where we stopped the first night in Watkins Glen.
We found a KOA, setup tents, and then wandered back into town to find some dinner. On the way in, we passed the Watkins Glen State Park, which we decided to explore in the morning.
Glen Creek is responsible for the narrow gorge cut through the rock that the park is centered around. It's an easy hike up into the gorge, with steps cut into the walls and paths leveled, and photo opportunities abound in this very picturesque State Park. There's even a part of the path that runs behind some water falls. Very cool.
We left and headed north, up between two of the Finger Lakes, and passed several wineries, and, more surprising, distilleries. We ended up taking some time in Seneca Falls, and then continued on, heading towards the Adirondacks. We eventually found a state park to camp (complete with bear box and ducks!), and setup for the evening. It was gorgeous, right on the edge of Lake , and we had a great view of the moon rising. We backtracked to the tiny town of Inlet for dinner, where we sat out on the dock, drinking beers, eating pizza, and generally relaxing from a long day's ride. I mentioned that I liked sleeping in a tent when it was raining, as it was very soothing. My wish came true that night, much to my chagrin.
It rained overnight, and I discovered my tent leaks. In Craig's notes of the trip, he writes "Rained overnight. Shad’s tent leaks (he wished for rain like dumbass)". Yup. Everything I had in the tent was wet, so I guess I deserved the "dumbass" comment.
We packed up the wet tents and left about 9am. We had a hell of a time finding a spot for breakfast. We figured, being in a touristy section of the state and all, that we could head any direction and find something quick. Probably took us about an hour to finally find a restaurant at Long Lake, called, appropriately enough, the Long Lake Diner. It should've been called the Long Wait Diner. We waited for close to 45 minutes to get seated. Then it probably took another 15-20 minutes to get menus. Craig damn near jumped up and got his own coffee. I'm guessing we spent close an hour and a half, if not longer, waiting to get seated, served, fed and pay up. The food might have been fine, but the long wait overshadowed any enjoyment of the meal.
The day was cool and threatened more rain, so we put on the leathers and liners in the jackets and headed for Lake Placid. The town itself was gorgeous, but packed with tourists, so we opted to just ride through and continue on. We did get off the bikes at Ausable Chasm, which Route 9 crosses. We didn't expect it, so we turned around after crossing the bridge and parked. We hiked down across the bridge itself, took the obligatory touristy-shots and headed on our way to Port Kent.
At Port Kent we got on the ferry and crossed Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont. Given as we were so close, we decided to hit the Ben & Jerry's factory tour, which was fairly interesting (and rather short. My kind of tour!), and were given free ice-cream at the end. Free ice-cream is always awesome. From there we went and found dinner at a Thai place down the road.
Here's where lack of planning can be a burden; we didn't finish dinner until close to 8, and suddenly we were facing the possibility of looking for some place to camp in the growing darkness and impending storms. We decided to just go across the street to the hotel, but we were told there were no rooms to be had. Not only that, but the desk clerk confided in us that not only was his hotel full, he knew for a fact that all the hotels and a couple of campgrounds in the area were booked as well. Tourist season and all.
So we headed along the direction we would've been heading anyway, and that was headed right into a huge bank of storms. There were clouds and lightning to my left, dead ahead, and to the right. So when I finally saw a sign that said "Trapp Family Lodge" off the road, I pulled over and called the place.
Thankfully they had two rooms, left, one with a king bed and sofa, one with two queen beds. I booked us the queen room at an exorbitant rate ($300!) and we got there just as it started raining. The hotel itself was done in a Bavarian Alps style, and we learned that the "Trapp" part of "Trapp Family Lodge" was the famous von Trapp family, from The Sound of Music. There were pictures of the von Trapps, including pictures of Maria, all throughout the hotel.
After unpacking, we went down to the hotel bar, grabbed a drink, then sat on the patio watching the nearly-full moon rise over the mountains, the threatening storms having moved away from the area. While we figured we could have found a campsite and missed the rain, I don't think neither Craig nor I were really upset at having to spend the night at a nice motel.
I did have a "small world" moment when we got back to the room. I was standing outside on the balcony when my neighbor came out on hers. We made some small talk, and I discovered she was from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I mentioned a lady I went to school with back in Arizona had moved, there. She owned a gym, but it had burned down due to a propane tank explosion. The lady on the balcony turned to me and said "Becky?"
I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped.
Jackson Hole is a small town, sure, but that still made me gape at her.
We left the comforts of the Trapp Family Lodge and headed on our way, stopping in Stowe, VT for breakfast. I picked up some new boots there as well, as the ones I'd had for the past 15 years finally decided to disintegrate. And I mean that almost literally - the sole came apart from the rest of the boot, being held on at toe and heel, and all the padding was being left everywhere. We found a tiny little general store, which, oddly, carried some nice hiking books, and I trashed my old ones. We also bought Maple syrup. Naturally, right?
The next town, Morrisville, is where I picked up a new tent, and decided that was going to probably be the most expensive part of the trip. Hotel plus boots plus tent equals ouch!
Route 2 took us through Vermont, into New Hampshire, where we stopped at a place called Scorpios in Lancaster for lunch. From there, 302 took us through the White Mountains, to Crawford Notch. A quick stop on the side of the road so Craig could get a picture of Mt Washington Resort (huge white resort with a red roof - hard to miss in the mountains!), and then we arrived in Maine.
We stopped to get some wine for Paul and Gail, my wife's aunt and uncle, and apparently Craig lost his gloves at this point. He thinks he left them on top of his pack and forgot to put them back on when we left.
We found Paul and Gail's cabin, and can I just tell you what a little slice of heaven they have in the mountains there. The evening was spent around the fire pit, drinking beers, eating steak, laughing, talking with Paul and Gail, along with Diane, their daughter, and her husband Griffin. Diane and Griff's young daughter Lil was there as well, cute as a bug. We watched the chipmunks, watched the stars and satellites, watched Paul burn out a wasp nest that had been built in the low rock wall. He used a gas/oil mix that kept popping and burning forever.
I think I slept better there than I did at the von Trapp Lodge.
Gail fed us some hearty breakfast sandwiches, and we were on our way. We took a short ride over to Griff and Diane's house to see their place and pick up some beef jerky that Griffin had made, then it was on into Canton to fill the tanks. From there we rode up the Kancamagus Highway, back through the White Mountains. It was a gorgeous, windy mountain road, but we ended up getting stuck behind a cement truck that was doing 20 m.p.h. tops. When we finally managed to get past him, we hit road construction. There was fresh gravel on the road which kept kicking up and hitting our legs and fenders. We even got stuck at a bridge, as they were doing construction on it and had traffic down to single lane, So we killed the bikes and stood there for 20 minutes or so.
Lunch at Mickey's, where we met a vet by the name of Mark and his wife Michelle. Mark told us about the PTSD he suffered, but his dog helped. You could see it in his eyes though. What some of our soldiers go through is a testament to what the human soul can, and cannot, bear. Peace be with you Mark.
Naturally, after lunch, we found a soft-serve ice-cream place on the side of the road and we each got a cone. Stopping for ice-cream was almost a daily habit for us.
Early that afternoon we stopped for gas, and while there, it decided to start sprinkling. We decided to wait it out, and it turned into a real deluge. We sat there for probably twenty minutes or so, and when it let up a bit, decided to put on the gear and go. Mostly to keep going, and also because the place we stopped had no public bathroom. The sour old woman behind the register was pretty adamant about not letting us use it, even after filling up and buying drinks. Old hag.
We didn't have more than sprinkles from that storm, and drove along the edge of it for the rest of the afternoon. We went up the east side of Lake George to Ticonderoga. Found a campground just outside of town, then headed back for dinner. First place we stopped at had only chicken wings, so we grabbed a beer, then headed further down the road to a pizza joint. Pizza was pretty damn good, but I think we were both pretty tired. We headed back to camp, and had an early night. This was probably the roughest day of riding we had, between the rain, heat, and construction.
We stopped for breakfast at The Shack, where we sat outside and enjoyed the narrow view of Lake George. The Bing Maps car came by, and a few months later, I actually found Craig and I there. We're like internet-famous now. Minor league, sure. Google Maps is the big leagues, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, eh?
We stopped in the town of Lake George at the southern tip of the lake and did some sight-seeing and souvenir shopping. We sat and watched the parasails and steamboat, then continued on. The road we chose was gorgeous, following the river and train tracks, going through quaint, picturesque towns, and was nice and twisty in parts. We were headed for Cooperstown, but ended up taking a wrong turn, one that turned out to a good mistake to make. We passed a KOA, then stopped at a place called the Creamery for some ice-cream. We realized we were on the wrong road and started heading back, when Craig had a great idea. Because it looked like it might rain again, he suggested we hit the KOA we'd just passed, setup camp, then head into Cooperstown.
So we setup camp, did some laundry, and played some hoops with this cool kid named Zack from Pennsylvania while waiting for our clothes to dry. Once the chores were done, we headed to Cooperstown along another gorgeous road. We found a place to park, watched some guys play baseball at Doubleday Field, toured the museum, and then had dinner outside at a place called Mel 22. Great food, and we were treated to an amazing rainbow while we sat there. Seriously, I've rarely seen one this bright and pictures will never do it justice. People kept stopping by our table to gawk and take photos. It was an amazing end to what was the best day of riding the entire trip. Given the previous day was probably the worst, I think it was only fair.
Awesome breakfast at Tally Ho, and then back on the road. Lots of turns and road changes through this part of the trip, and we had to backtrack once or twice through some of the small towns we went through. Eventually we made it down in to Pennsylvania, and into the Poconos. We passed the famous Poconos Speedway, along with a bunch of bison on the side of the road.
We continued on through the mountains and eventually found a Microtel with a bar attached. As it was our last night on the road, we decided to have real beds, and spent the night down in the bar. They had double rum-and-coke specials, and karaoke going, which could have been a dangerous combination. After five of those drinks, Craig and I were up there singing "Take it Easy" by the Eagles and just having a great time. We managed to stumble back to our room before 1 am and crashed hard.
The last part of the trip was a lot of highway riding, as we needed to get back home. As a result, my hands were dead - like, past the point of falling asleep dead. We managed to get back safely enough, but I vowed to make an appointment with my doctor when I got back (verdict: carpal tunnel. Braces seemed to have helped for now).
We met our buddy Chris at the Leesburg Public House for one last road beer, then headed to our separate homes.
It was a great trip, and I'd love to do it again. New England is gorgeous, and if I could get the wife to move to a colder climate, I might seriously consider moving there. But until that time, I'll have to content myself with taking some more trips like this one.
It was also great to take the trip with Craig. He's a great guy and has been a friend for many years. This was the first long bike trip we'd taken together, and it worked out great. I also have to sincerely thank him for taking such great notes and letting me use his pictures. I took some notes, but his were better, and I lost all my pictures. So I was glad to have his. Thanks again, Craig!
Until the next trip!
Total Miles: 1,712
Total Gas: 40.6 Gallons
Average Fill-up Cost: $9.25
Average PPG: $3.19
Average MPG: 42.13