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. 

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