Friday, August 10, 2012


As soon as Susan could get away from Fredericksburg after Mike’s Memorial Party she and Leah fled to her Dad’s house in Oswegatchie, NY.  It just so happens that Oswegatchie is on the way back to I-81 from Rollins Pond!  A series of texts and Facebook messages and I knew where to go and when to be there – luckily it was very easy from the main road since I couldn’t get to Facebook and had to rely on memory!

Since it was only 50 miles and Susan had plans for the morning I hung out in the campground! I finished my book, said goodbye to Mom and Dad who were heading to meet some friends and took a walk through the campground to scout spots for next time! Despite giving Mom and Dad and hour’s head start I still caught up with them at a rest stop just past Cranberry Lake!  This gave me another shot at teaching them to properly pronounce “Osewegatchie”, they just can’t make their tongues say it and butcher it every time – adding letters or calling it names of other towns in NY!

I arrived at Susan’s house to a warm welcome from Leah…she chained me up and threw me in the dungeon!

After Susan sprung me from the dungeon, (the yard equipment shed) and helped me out of the chains, (the hose), we went on a tour of town.  There’s not much to the town, and most of it I’d seen on the way in, but it was fun to see it and put a place to all the names I’d heard over the years!  We saw the smallest hospital in NY – where both Susan and Judy were born, Susan & Judy’s high school, the arena where folks play hockey, Star Lake, the grocery store, the post office, the drug store, the motel, the spot where the gas station used to be, where her Dad used to hold court as a Justice of the Peace and various friends houses!  I’m pretty sure it took longer for me to type that than it did to see it all! LOL!  All kidding aside, Oswegatchie is a beautiful place right on the edge of the Adirondacks, I totally see why Susan would run there after the tragedy of Mike’s death and why she’d consider moving there!

When we got back from our tour it was time for lunch! Susan’s Dad had made pizza and salad and it was yummy!  During lunch some friends stopped by and after that a few more friends stopped by!  I took this opportunity play with Leah and let the adults visit.  We watched part of Willy Wonka and then it was time to play pretend!  I love how creative Leah is these days! She’s really gotten into pretend play and it’s so much fun! 

Susan and I had some time to chat before I had to tear myself away and head down the road. Before I left Susan wanted to take some pictures and  think she got a great one of Leah attempting to strangle me.  I swear she does like me and is usually happy to see me! :-)

I was still an hour from I-81 and I didn’t really have a plan for where I was staying that night. I knew it was too far to get home and was hoping to find a Wal-Mart or something.  When I got back to where I had cell coverage I looked up to see what I could find.  All the Wal-Marts were off route and didn’t look as appealing.  Susan’s dad had told me there was a Wal-Mart in Cortland, it wasn’t in the database so I thought I’d go there and then I could enter it and get my subscription extended.  A few miles after I’d stopped in a “parking area” I came to a rest stop.  This rest stop had a State Police Outpost just like Clifton Park, hmmm…I wonder if all the rest stops have police present?  I wonder if they all allow overnight parking?  I decided I’d stop at the 1st rest area after Syracuse. 

I pulled into the Whitney Point rest area around 7:00. I was anticipating that I’d stay the night so tried to be strategic when I parked.  I almost pulled into the car area – so I wouldn’t take space from the truckers – but the sign said “Trucks & RVs” and the truck area is easier to get in and out of so I went over there.  They had a large parallel parking area that overlooked the valley, I was able to pull in there and pull all the way to the top so I was both visible to truckers and out of their way!  I wasn’t taking up a truck lane, I had a great view, and I was level!  There was a State Police outpost and there were a lot of trucks that looked like they were bedded down, either for the night or a long rest.  I attempted to ask someone if overnight parking was allowed but there was no one around.  I decided that it would probably be fine to stay the night and made some dinner and took it to the picnic table to eat! After dinner I tuned the TV and watched some Olympics, The Middle and Modern Family.  As the evening wore on more trucks arrived and few left!  By the time I called it a night around 10:30 the truck lot was full and so was the parallel parking area!  I guess overnight parking is allowed!

I actually got some decent sleep and woke up ready to drive the last 350 miles!  I headed down I81 into PA and then picked up 15 in Harrisburg and came on into Prince William County!  At the last rest stop I noticed the toilet was flushing funny…turns out the black tank was within about a cup of liquid from being totally full!  Good timing! I got home around 5:00 and did a basic unload of the RV, just what I needed for the night.  I had a meeting this morning for school and so tomorrow is set aside for emptying and cleaning the RV!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Biking, Kayaking, Swimming

Wash, rinse and repeat! That’s the story of life here at Rollins Pond! It’s kinda like summer boot camp with whatever activity you want to do all day every day!

This morning I did some RV chores and ran the generator so I’d have power tonight since I wasn’t driving anywhere and then I went to get my site for tonight.  I’m glad I’ve been able to score a lake front site every night, but it’s a pain going back and forth everyday!

Dad and I were going on a guided kayak trip that went from Rollins Pond boat rental to Fish Creek Pond.  The trip ended at the Fish Creek boat launch and we were going to have to get the kayaks back so we took the Jeep to Fish Creek and then rode our bikes back to the Rollins Pond boat launch.  

The kayak trip wasn’t what I was expecting, it was better!

We paddled the length of Rollins Pond – which seemed a bit backwards to my dad and I, but we followed along.  Soon we turned onto an outlet and we paddled down into another lake!  The outlet was a bit narrow in places –it was a lot like a trail, but with water! The water was also rather low so we did a little dragging of the kayaks, luckily it was high enough for the boats to float so it was easy to drag!  

The next lake was Flatwood Lake and it was big like Rollins Pond!  We paddled through that lake to another outlet! This outlet was deeper and longer and there was a bit of a current to keep us moving without a lot of paddling!  Eventually the outlet ended and we were in another lake!  This time we were in Square Lake.  It was not square, but that’s ok! 

My dad and I were quite glad that we had a guide for this adventure since we never would have figured out the route on our own!

We paddled across Square Lake and then came to another outlet – this was Fish Creek! The guide told us how to get from Square Pond back to Whey Pond which is a short portage from the boat launch – next time!

The float down Fish Creek was nice – it was wider than the other outlet and there were more people since it’s close to Fish Creek campground!

Soon we were at the Fish Creek boat launch and we pulled the boats out and loaded them on the car.  We took the boats back to my site so we could launch them on the beach and kayak some more before we had to turn them in! 

After we drug the kayaks to the beach Dad went to take the car back to his site and I went for a swim!  I love having the lake right here to go swimming in!  I can swim out as far as I want and then back and I can swim anytime I want! I wish I had a swimming lake near my house! A real swimming lake, with no rules or set swimming area. 

While Dad was taking the car back a tree fell over the road right in front of their site! They got it cleaned up real quick though!

Eventually Dad came back and we kayaked part of the lake that we didn’t get to Sun because we were chased in by the thunder!  We discovered the A loop of the campground!  Very nice sites in there!

We turned in the kayaks and rode our bikes back to Mom and Dad’s site and it was time for dinner and campfire!

Tomorrow we depart.  :-( I’d like to stay another week but…  I’m planning to come back here next year I think… 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ampersand Mountain

Last night finally got chilly!  After the rain moved out the cool breeze moved in and overnight the temps dropped!  It was nice to snuggle under my big comforter! I finally made myself get up because I had stuff to do!

The first item on the agenda was to get re-upped with the campground and get a new site for tonight.  I went to talk to the gal but I couldn’t reserve my site because their phone line was broken and they couldn’t take a credit card and I didn’t have enough cash.  Oh well, it was no big deal I could just take care of the campsite tonight, she was sure the sites would still be available. 

The next stop was the Dodge dealer, Upstate Dodge, in Saranac Lake to see if they could read the code on the check engine light.  They were very nice, very eager and willing to help.  However, they didn’t have the current Sprinter software and couldn’t read the code.  He did however give me the number of a Sprinter service place in Syracuse that I could hit on the way home. 

Dad had met me at the Dodge dealer and then he went to the Grand Union grocery store, I was heading there to meet him but went to the wrong Grand Union! The store I went to was close to the Advance Auto Parts, so I went in and got them to try and read the code for the check engine light.  Their tool would connect, but it wouldn’t read anything. 

I then completed my last town errand, go to the ATM and get cash to pay for my site for the next two nights and have enough for tolls on the way home. 

I called my guy at Mercedes of Chantilly, since I was trying to get in touch with him, I left him a message, but at this point there wasn’t much I could do.  If I made it to Syracuse I was going all the way home and just let “my” guys deal with it. 

Dad had given up on trying to meet up and  he went out to the trail head and as soon as my errands were done I followed.  We found a pull out for me to park in and went back to the trailhead. 

Ampersand Mountain was a nice “medium” hike – 2.7 miles one way with 1700 ft elevation gain, most of it coming in the last mile! The 1st mile was almost flat! It was a nice walk, and the climb wasn’t as difficult as Cascade Mt. or maybe it was just shorter. Ampersand however is not one of the 46 high peaks because it’s “only” 3030 feet high!

On the way up the mountain I met a guy who was hiking really fast but he slowed down to talk to me – turns out he was a retired teacher who is now a outdoor guide!  The company he works for is Adirondack Connections and it was started by another teacher who got sick of teaching and started a guide business!  Can’t wait to check out their website!

The steep part of the trail was certainly steep! It was hand over hand climbing in a few places, but most were not that scary!  Finally we came out onto the open rocks of the summit!  Just like Cascade Mt. Ampersand had 360 degree views!  It was hard to take pictures because the clouds were low, but we could see everything – lakes and mountains! We could see Mt. Marcy and Whiteface and plenty of other peaks that I don’t know the names of! 

The trip down was just as slow as the trip up, but it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be!  Soon we were back at the car and headed back to the turn out where we’d parked my RV. 

When we got there we discovered that I’d been parked in! There was a roofing truck that had been pulled over and needed a tow!  There was a tow truck there getting ready to tow it away.  I probably could have gotten out, but it was easier to just wait.  I was glad I’d “parallel parked”, otherwise the truck and the tow truck couldn’t have gotten in.  

Once the trucks were gone, Dad and I hopped into our cars to head out.   He then realized I didn’t know where we were going so came back to tell me.  I turned the key once in the ignition so I could open the window, we chatted and then I got my other stuff ready.  When I sat down to drive I finished turning the ignition on and lo and behold, the check engine light went out!!!!!!  YAY!!!!  I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of error!

When I got back to the campground I got  my site for tonight squared away – tonight I’m in 197 and it isn’t anywhere near as nice as 191!  In order to get close to level I’m only a few feet from the road! It’s an ok site, but it’s not as good!

I also got a return call from my guy at the Mercedes dealer, his suspicion is that the check engine light’s problem is a “sensor” issue and that it’s probably fine to drive home and deal with it when I get home.

This evening my dad built a fire because my Mom wanted Smore’s, we were sitting around the fire and my dad says “No TV, no internet, all you can do is sit around the fire and fart!”  And my Mom added “and blow us all to kingdom come.”  

ADK: Ampersand Mt 8.6.12

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rollins Pond

I got up this morning and got ready to head out.  I chatted with the guy at Meadowbrook and figured out how to transfer my reservation, well sorta, I can make a new reservation for Rollins Pond and apply to the state and they will give me my money back for the Meadowbrook reservation eventually.  I was able to get a waterfront site at Rollins Pond for tonight, I’m going to have to change sites everyday but that’s ok because I’m going out each day anyway and I’d rather have a lakeside site that I can swim right from than stay in the same site. 

It was about 10:30 by the time I made my way from Meadowbrook over to Rollins Pond and got parked up in my amazing site!  I’m in site 191 tonight and it’s just perfect!  It’s got a long “driveway” and then ends in a large flat spot.  I was able to turn the RV so that the sliding door opens to the water and it’s perfectly level!  There’s no one else around so I have total privacy!

It’s been sunny and warm almost all summer up here, until today.  The forecast was for another hot muggy day with severe thunderstorms and heavy rain this afternoon.  As I was coming into the campground the rain started.  But, it let up and it got to be mostly cloudy, but dry and the sun was peeking out. 

Dad and I decided to rent kayaks and explore the lake!  Rollins Pond is a medium size lake – it’s 1.7 miles long, but it has a lot of little coves and “bumps” in the shoreline.   We rode our bikes down to the boat rental place and as we were arriving the wind was picking up and the clouds were moving in.  We were wondering if this was a good idea.  We decided as long as it wasn’t thundering it would be ok and launched the kayaks.   The wind wasn’t quite so bad as we made our way around to the 1st cove. 

We paddled along the campground side of the lake and looked for our sites.  Just when I found mine – had look hard to see it through the trees, the rain started.  It crossed my mind to beach the kayaks and hide in my RV, but I was prepared to be wet and it wasn’t cold and there wasn’t any thunder.  It was just a little mist at 1st, then harder, and harder and harder!  Soon it was pouring rain!  We were out in the middle of the lake and the rain was coming down hard!  It was pretty cool to see the drops hitting the water and it sounded almost like hail, but it wasn’t.  Almost as quickly as it started it began to clear up! Soon it was sunny and muggy! 

In the break of sun I decided it was time to beach the kayaks and go for a swim! I found a rocky spot with a nice beach and pulled my kayak up on the sand.  Dad was a ways back but he soon caught up and beached his kayak.  He climbed to the top of the rock and told me it was an island!  I decided I needed to swim around the island so headed out!  It was a long way around, but it was a good swim.  We got back in the kayaks and headed back towards the boat rental place, but kept checking out things on the shoreline as we went.  

We found a big cove away from the main body of the lake and there was a mamma loon and her baby hanging out.  They didn’t seem to mind that we were there and we ended up getting closer than we meant to.  By this time I could see big thunderheads forming above!  They were HUGE and quite cool.  As neat as they were to see, it was making me nervous because I didn’t want to be out on the lake in a thunderstorm!

We kept paddling around the edge of the lake, I was heading to the bottom of the lake and then around.  I saw the boat launch place on the other side of the lake and was happy that we were close in case the weather turned ugly.  Then there was a clap of thunder!  I looked back at Dad and he pointed to the opposite shore, where the boat launch was, and off I went.  It was def a  “see how fast you can paddle” situation!  I didn’t seem to be making much progress and it started raining!  Also out in the middle of the lake it was windy.  Hmmm…maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to go across the lake just then, we might have been better off just hugging the shore.  Finally the other shore got closer and closer! We made it across and beached the kayaks and we were getting ready to turn in the paddles and the life jackets when the sky started getting lighter!  There were no more claps of thunder and by the time we got on our bikes to go back to our site the rain had stopped and the sun was out.  Figures. 

Since it wasn’t storming when we got back I went for another swim at my site.  Dad decided he needed to test out out his new life jacket he’d gotten at LLBean so he came over too.  The lake by my campsite is very shallow and you have to go way out to really swim.  It would be a great spot if you had small kids, they could have plenty of space to play in the water without getting too deep!  I swam back and forth in front of my site a few times and then decided I was waterlogged and it was time to get dry. 

I got cleaned up and then packed a few things to take to Mom and Dad’s coach for dinner/evening.  As I was packing to leave the wind started picking up again – it was a nice cool breeze and it was very pleasant at my site.  I rode my bike to their site and as I was setting out, I heard thunder!  Mom and Dad’s site wasn’t quite as nice because they were running the generator and it was noisy.  Soon though the storm blew in proper – the wind was whipping off the lake and the rain came fast and furious. 

The rain has cooled things off significantly!  Tomorrow should be really nice – highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s! Yes, that’s right, the 40s! ahhhhh!!!!!!  Tomorrow Dad and I are hiking Ampersand Mountain – it’s "”only” 3000 ft high but we have to climb 1700 of those feet so it won’t be much different from Cascade Mt. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Transition Day

Since this trip up here was such a throw together thing we kinda pieced the reservations together.  I found a spot that was open the whole time and just took it.  Mom and Dad couldn’t get into my campground and they found space at the KOA and then a site at Rollins Pond Campground.  Rollins Pond is way out past Saranac Lake! It’s about 20 miles of windy road from my campground!  We were realizing that this is going to present a challenge and trying to figure out what to do, but I figured I’d just drive back and forth. 

I started the day with a leisurely breakfast, a luxury I usually don’t get on vacation because we are trying to do stuff! Then I did my RV chores, dumping & putting on water.  Then by about 11 I headed over to Hannaford where I was going to meet Mom and Dad when they got there. 

The Adirondacks are having a heat wave.  Of course they are.  It was 100* a one point today.  Still cooler than DC, but not exactly comfortable. Spending the day parked in the Hannaford parking lot was not a way to beat the heat! 

We took care of our shopping and decided to head out to the campground.  This got a bit confusing because we decided to leave Roxy parked in my campsite here and then they’d drive me back after dinner.  Dad had to pull off on the side of the road near the campground so I could hop in since he had the car attached to the motorhome and was afraid he’d get stuck if he pulled into the campground. 

After what seemed like a very long drive, we arrived at the campground.  We had to drive through one huge campground to get to Mom and Dad’s campground.  Almost all the sites were right on the lake!  With water access!  It was fabulous!  Their site is way back up in the campground so it took a long time to get back up in there!  Their site isn’t on the water and I quickly discovered that the only way to access the water was through a site!  Boo. 

Dad and I rode bikes to the end of the road and then down the road a bit – it’s a great park for riding your bike!  We found a lakeside site that was unoccupied and decided to squat and use the water access.  The lake was great!  I would LOVE to have a site right on the water where I could swim every morning and every evening!  The sun was even setting over the mountains and it was setting up to be a nice sunset! 

We decided that it would make sense for me to move out there, rather than stay here.  I’m hoping I can score a lake front site but we’ll see.  If we can’t make it work legally, as in I get my own site and hopefully get reimbursed by The New York State Department of Conservation or I’ll just park on Mom and Dad’s site – it’s plenty big enough for both of us and I can hide behind them!

Friday, August 3, 2012

1st Two Adirondack Peaks

There are 46 “High Peaks” in the Adirondacks.  A popular activity among hikers is to climb them all! Today I climbed one and drove up another. 

My biking buddy Greg left early this morning, I didn’t even talk to him this morning, he was gone when I got moving.  I was kinda glad because it meant I had my picnic table back!  I enjoyed meeting him and helping him out a bit, but I do like my space!

Dad and I met back at the Ski Jump a little after nine and drove to the trailhead.   Our plan was to climb Cascade Mountain – which the book says is one of the easiest of the 4000 ft + peaks in the High Peaks region.   It was 2.5 miles one way with about 2000 feet of elevation change. 

We started at the same time as three older guys, one of them looked to be about 80!  We ended up behind them for awhile, they offered to let us pass but we weren’t moving much faster than they were and I knew they’d be on our tail.  I’d rather be the end of the line, even if the line is moving slow than feeling like I have someone breathing down my back.  There was a single gal who set out just ahead of us and soon we caught up with her while she took a break.  We’d noted that she was from Annapolis and I struck up a conversation with her. A quick 5 minute conversation was all it took to lose the other guys since they kept walking, so we were able to put space between us.  We saw them again at the top!

The whole way up the trail was rocky and more challenging to navigate.  There was a lot of rock hopping and some light climbing.  In a few places the trail went up sheer rock faces you had to just walk up!

Right at the end we were up above the treeline and it was all rock!  Just up, up, up the rock. It reminded me of climbing Sentinel Dome in Yosemite last year.  It was mostly easy rock scrambling,  but there was one tricky spot that almost did me in. You had to climb up and there wasn’t much to hold on to or any place to put your hands or feet!  I finally found a hand-hold and pulled myself up and rolled over on to the solid ground, but I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. 

I’m glad I did make it though because at the top the view was outstanding!  360 degrees!  Mountains as far as the eye could see!  It was kinda hazy so the pictures didn’t really come out, or do it justice, but it was really nice!  And it was cool and there was a breezy, I mean wind. 

The bad part about climbing a mountain is that you have to get down.  I think they ought to install zip lines to get down, but then there’d be even more people climbing the mountains.  I dislike going down on a good trail, on a rocky trail like this I was fearing the worst.  But, it wasn’t so bad!  There were a few times on the rocks that I simply had to sit down, but overall it wasn’t so bad!

After the hike we were heading to the KOA to get Mom to drive up to the top of Whiteface Mountain – the only peak you can drive up.  On the way over there my check engine light came on again.  grrrrrr…..  We did a little research, but since the van is under warranty it needs to go back to the Mercedes dealer and there aren’t any close.  I hope it doesn’t do damage to the engine getting it in.  So annoyed. 

The drive up Whiteface was nice – lots of views and again 360 degree views from the top!  There was a little trail at the top that you could walk up (or down) it was rugged and they had big railings!  On my fitbit I had logged 185 floors for the day – just 15 away from 200!  This trail looked like I could easily get the last 15 in so I hiked down a bit and then climbed back up – amazingly I turned around at exactly the right spot because when I got to the top I had 203 floors! 

They closed the mountain at 6:15 so we got herded out just when the sun was getting nice and the storm clouds were building and looking cooler by the minute.   We drove down and had dinner at a local place – the food was good but there was unadvertised ground beef in my marina sauce and it took forever to get the food!

Tomorrow Mom and Dad have to move campsites because the KOA is full.  They are moving to a place out from Saranac Lake so we’ll check out that area.  I think the mountains diminish and there are more lakes over there!

ADK: Cascade & Whitetop 8.3.12

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Avalanche Lake

This morning I wasn’t in too big of a hurry to get ready, Dad needed time to pack his new backpack and we really didn’t know where we were going yet.   As I was getting ready Greg came over and we chatted a bit and I showed him the RV.  While we were chatting he mentioned how he was just going to stay in Lake Placid for the day and how nice it would be to ride around with an unloaded bike.  I caught on real quick that he was planning to spend another night “sharing” my camp site.  At first I was a bit irritated and felt like I was being taken advantage of.  Then I decided I’d just ask him to go halvs-ies on the 2nd night.  That way he wasn’t just mooching off me.   Before I left to meet dad he came over and asked if he could stay another night and when he did I suggested he go 1/2 on the campground fee, he agreed and gave me some cash and asked me if I could keep his cream in my refrigerator for the day.   I agreed.  Then I hatched a plan – subletting my camp site for reduced rates to long distance bikers and hikers to make money to support my RVing!!!!  It’s probably not allowed! 

Dad and I were going to meet at the Ski Jump to go hiking.  Since Lake Placid hosted the Olympics in 1980 all the Olympic venues are still here, they use them in the winter for training and competition, but in the summer they are tourist attractions.  At the Ski Jump they charge you $30 bucks and let up ride up to the top to see what they ski jumpers see.  They also have a large parking lot with no signs that dictate who can park there and for how long.  The only rule appears to be “no overnight parking”.  When I pulled in this morning the parking lot was empty so I selected a good spot to park and left the RV there all day!  No one seemed to care!

We drove out to the Adirondack Loj (lodge, it’s just spelled phonetically), which is a campground, lodge and trailhead parking run by the Adirondack Mountain Club.  There were several hikes in this area that looked good and we still hadn’t decided yet.  It cost $10 to get in and park! Crazy! The parking area was huge, and almost full.  I’m glad I didn’t drive Roxy down there though. 

We looked at the trail descriptions in the information center and decided we’d go to Avalanche Lake.  It was advertised to be a 10 mile round trip hike, but it was mostly level with only 700 feet of elevation change.   It was also advertised as the most spectacular hike in the area. 

We set out on the wide, well worn trail and it wound through the woods.  The woods were nice, but they looked a lot like the woods in Virginia.  I wanted to see something different.  Soon we reached Marcy Dam and we got a great view of Mt. Marcy – the highest peak in Adirondacks – and several other peaks. 

Then it was back into the woods.  These woods seemed more “woodsy” – and different from Virginia!  Lots of rocks, moss, ferns, etc.   Soon though the trail got very rocky and we were more rock hopping than walking.  The ADK (as the Adirondack Mountain Club calls themselves) has done a great job of building the trail through here!  A lot of labor has gone into building rock steps and log steps and installing ladders over the rougher parts!  The last mile of the trail was a showcase of their mad trail building skills!

The lake was pretty cool!  The two mountains on either side have sheer rock cliffs that come right down into the water! There is very little shore line and walking around the lake is quite difficult.  We found a nice spot for lunch, even though it involved a big climb up a steep ladder! 

After lunch the hike back went fairly quickly, until of course the last mile, which seemed to take twice as long as the other miles!

Back at the Ski Jump I took a quick shower (that’s got to be the coolest thing about an RV, showering anywhere you want to!) and then we went back to Mom and Dad’s RV for dinner, internet time, and some Olympics.  When I got back to my campground I tried to tune in to the Olympics, but I don’t get any TV channels here (edited to add: I forgot to turn on the antenna boost, I prob could have gotten channels!). Mom and Dad have cable at their campground, but here I’m dependent on “over the air” channels and Lake Placid probably doesn’t have their own. Oh well, I already know who won and by tomorrow I should be able to watch the replay on my phone!

ADK: Avalanche Lake 8.2.12

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Road Trip: Part 2

Hard to believe that it is just now Aug 1.  Feels like July lasted a 100 years.   Yesterday, July 31, I headed out for part 2 of my summer trip.  The part that was never on the radar or planned – the spontaneous, I have about a week before I start getting into school meetings and stuff, where can I go part of the summer.  I was debating between either The Finger Lakes area of NY or the Adirondacks.  I finally settled on the Adirondacks because the weather was cooler here, especially at night, and Mom and Dad were able to work meeting me there into their schedule.  They stayed in Acadia/Bar Harbor pretty much the whole time I was in Virginia!

I’d randomly picked Lake Placid as a destination and found a state campground that was right in the middle between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and they had a site that could accommodate me and it was available the whole week!  I quickly booked 9 nights and started packing!  The campground I picked didn’t have sites that Mom and Dad would fit in so they found a site at 2 different campgrounds in the area – one for Tues-Fri and the other for Sat-Wed.

It’s 576 miles from my house to Lake Placid. Google Maps said it would take 10 hours.  My dad says the limit for a days drive in an RV is 500 miles.  I knew I was pushing it to try and do the whole drive in one day, but I really didn’t want to take more than that since my time was limited.  I was up at 5 am – out the door by 6:30 and had high hopes for making Lake Placid in one day.  That is until my check engine light came on about 40 miles into the drive. 

Sprinters can be hard to service – most places won’t touch ‘em – so I knew the best thing to do was to drive to the Mercedes Dealer in Chantilly (right by my school) and get them to look at it.  The book listed all kinds of dire warnings, even said that if you drive too long with the light on the vehicle won’t start anymore! ugh.  I was only 20 miles away at this point and since I wasn’t sure why it came on or what damage driving 1000+ miles was going to do, I knew it was the only option. 

Luckily, it was a light malfunction.  Nothing was wrong, they did update my software though.  By 11:30 I was on my way!  I made great time, getting to Albany in just about 8 hours (google maps says it should take 7 hours & 20 mins – that’s not accounting for stops).  

I knew when I went to the Mercedes dealer that I wasn’t going to make it to Lake Placid last night, it was just too far and I’d lost too much time, it would be after dark by the time I got there and I didn’t want to pull in late and negotiate an unfamiliar campground.  I’d found a Wal-Mart in Albany, but it was a bit off route.  Mom and Dad however, have a friend who lives up here and he told them about a rest area on I-87 that has a state police outpost and allows overnight parking!  It was right on route, I could pull off, sleep and be on my way in the morning!  Perfect!

I arrived a little before 8 and parked in the truck lanes – it was mostly empty.   I took a quick walk to survey the place and locate the State Police, then went back to the RV to figure out the TV and how to get NBC so I could watch the Olympics.  That took a phone call to Mom and Dad, but eventually we figured it out and soon I was in bed watching Michael Phelps & the Women’s Gymnastics Team make history!   This was the perfect night to stay up late since I wasn’t expecting a good nights sleep! 

The truck next me ran his generator all night, which made for good white noise and blocked out the highway noise!  I actually got some good sleep, slept through the truck on the other side pulling out and a new one pulling in! I was up early and back on the road!

I’d enjoyed I-87 from the NJ border to Albany – it was a wide smooth road, nice service plazas, there was scenery, not a lot of traffic, I was thinking it was the best portion of road I’d driven all summer.  Then I drove I-87 north of Albany.  Oh man!  The mountains!  It just got prettier and prettier with each mile!  I think next time I go to Maine I’m going to figure out how to get there by way of the Adirondacks!  I’m so glad I didn’t try to come in after dark last night I would have missed out on the best drive of the summer!

I arrived in Lake Placid around 11:30.  The town itself is very touristy – a lot like Bar Harbor or Jackson Hole – but all around there are hiking opportunities and lakes and streams!  My campground is close to town and rather empty – which surprised me, although there are train tracks that run right behind and a train came through this afternoon, this could be why there’s no one here, or it could be that it’s Wed.   My site was supposed to be “back in” but it’s a huge field and I decided to make it a pull though!  It’s even level!  And I have 3G service on my phone!

Dad was going to meet me in Lake Placid since Mom was doing laundry.  I drove up to the Hannaford and parked and walked into town – probably more than a mile but it wasn’t far enough to get me to 10,000 steps for the day.  We met up and did a little exploring on our way back to their campsite on the other side of Lake Placid.

After dinner we came back into town and got my RV from Hannaford and then came to my campsite.  Soon after we arrived we were approached by a man on a bike asking if he could share my site.  He’s biking from Seattle to Portland, ME and he’s on a budget so wanted to just share space.  I really didn’t care because I wasn’t using the grass “tent area” of my site and he was welcome to it.  I didn’t feel like I had to worry about him being a murderer or rapist – if I said no and he went got a site he’d still be next to me!  I agreed that it was ok and we started chatting – turns out he’s a former Park Ranger!  He worked in Glacier NP as a backcountry ranger!  He was fun to talk to and I enjoyed meeting him!

I am a bit perplexed though by his ability to just brazenly ask to share my space.  While I’m happy to share, and it’s no skin off my nose at all for him to pitch his tent and sleep here, he’s kinda mooching.  No, not kinda, he is mooching.  I’m on a budget too and I paid for my site fair and square, so who is he that he can come up and ask me to share?  I have the same issue of sorts with Thru Hikers and “trail magic” – I’m more than happy to help a hiker if I encounter them when they are in need, but when hikers come to expect that others will help them it seems to me to cross a line of sorts.    Biking is fun and a neat way to see the country, just like hiking, but you shouldn’t have to depend on the kindness of others.  I hope I’m making sense.