Do You Believe in Miracles?

“…the puck is still loose… eleven seconds… you’ve got ten seconds… Morrow, up to Silk… five seconds left in the game… DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES… YES!” -Al Michaels, February 22, 1980.

On one side, the hockey team of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Gold medal winners in the previous four Winter Olympics. A roster better described as professionals than the amateurs who are theoretically the heart of the Olympics. A team that had defeated National Hockey League teams, including a special team composed of NHL all-stars. On the other side was the United States of America hockey team, the youngest squad in United States Olympic history. Composed of players primarily from the University of Minnesota, Boston University, and Bowling Green, it was a team of inexperience. In an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden two weeks before the Olympics, the Soviet team crushed the Americans, 10-3. Yet led by their coach, Herb Brooks, in the medal-round game of the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, the American team skated with their Soviet counterparts, playing them hard throughout the entire game. Playing in a European-style that was far different than most American teams, the United States seemed to play one step ahead of the Soviet team throughout the game until team captain Mike Eruzione scored with ten minutes left, giving the team a 4-3 lead that it would never relinquish. It was the Miracle on Ice.

Located in the northern reaches of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid is a village of 2,500 people that has hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Long a vacation spot for those who enjoy winter sports such as skiing and ice skating, its selection as an Olympic venue has made it into a year-round tourist destination. With a weekend trip to the Adirondacks planned, my wife and I decided to visit Lake Placid so I, a lifelong hockey fan, could see one of the most famous spots in hockey history.

What started originally as an Independence Day weekend visit to a member of my wife’s family turned into a 900+ mile road trip that included Lake Placid, relaxing at a lake in the mountains, visiting a historic lighthouse, and standing 212 feet above the Hudson River. Needless to say, this is going to be a long post. You might want to take a moment to pour another cup of coffee or crack open a beer or mix some lemonade and sparkling water or pop some popcorn… as this is going to be a bit of a long read:

Map with a red pin indicating the location of Saugerties Lighthouse, approximately 50 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River.
On the drive up to the Adirondacks, our first destination was Saugerties Lighthouse, located along the Hudson River.
Car odometer reading 109434 miles.
Our starting mileage… 109,434 miles. This trip would take my Accord to 110,000 and beyond.
Entrance to the Saugerties Lighthouse park, through a chainlink fence in a wooded area.
My wife, who had visited Saugerties before, had described it as such: “It’s a really cool lighthouse, but you have to walk for about a half mile through the woods to get there. But it’s really cool!” She wasn’t kidding.
Wooden bridge across marshland, with trees in the background.
Several times we came across wooden bridges that took us across marshland as we hiked to the lighthouse.
Top of the lighthouse appearing above brush. A dirt path is in the foreground.
I was beginning to wonder if we had taken a wrong turn when the lighthouse appeared once we turned a corner and came to a clearing.
View of Saugerties Lighthouse with a wooden footbridge connecting the lighthouse to main land. A sign in the foreground says UC SHERIFF NO WAKE.
Built in 1869, Saugerties Light operated on this stretch of the Hudson River until 1954. During its time, it warned vessels of shallow waters in this section of the river.
Rear view of the lighthouse. Picnic tables and a small garden is in the foreground.
Restored in the early 1990s, Saugerties Light is now a bed and breakfast. Due to the limitations of the building, electricity is restricted – for instance, according to the website, the use of hair dryers is forbidden, owing to their electrical current usage.
View of the Hudson River, with rocks in the foreground.
The lighthouse served to warn passenger ships and other commercial vessels about the shallow, rocky coastlines in this area of the Hudson River.
Small sailing vessel heading out of the dock near the lighthouse. A tree branch is in the foreground.
As we headed back to our car, we saw these people departing the bed and breakfast in a sailboat. Not a bad way to spend the Fourth of July!
2012 Honda Accord in front of Kayla Ice Cream and Diner.
On our way to the Fulton Chain of Lakes region of the Adirondacks, we stopped for ice cream at Kayuta. Located just outside of the Adirondacks in Remsen, NY, Kayuta has been serving ice cream, along with burgers, pizza, and fries, since 1963. My wife has come to Kayuta since she was a little girl. On this stop, she ordered the soft serve black raspberry ice cream, and I went with a delicious vanilla milkshake. Perfect for a day with temperatures in the mid 90’s!
Panorama of Fourth Lake in Eagle Bay, NY.
Almost as soon as we arrived at my wife’s grandmother’s house, we dove into Fourth Lake to cool off. Swimming in the cool, smooth lake water was the perfect antidote for a hot day.
Panorama of Fourth Lake in Eagle Bay, NY.
Thursday was a rest day for us, and we spent most of it swimming and boating in Fourth Lake. With almost zero cell phone reception in the mountains, I was forced to unplug from the world… I was grateful for the time to relax and enjoy this beautiful area of the country with no distractions.
Hummingbird approaching feeder. An American flag flies in the background.
It is easy to spot wildlife in the Adirondacks. We saw deer, wild turkeys, heard loons, and read reports of nearby bear activity. This hummingbird was visiting the feeder my wife’s grandmother had hung off her front porch, and he paused long enough for me to take his photo.
Map of the Northeastern United States, with a red pin in the location of the Herb Brooks Arena in Northern New York.
Friday’s destination: the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY. This trip would also mark the furthest north that I have ever driven.
View of Blue Mountain Lake in New York.
One of our first stops was Blue Mountain Lake. Adirondack Park, composed of 6.1 million acres, 102 towns and villages, and 10,000 lakes (such as Blue Mountain Lake), is part of New York Forest Preserve, a section of the state dedicated to be kept “forever wild” (via Wikipedia).
Photo of Blue Mountain Lake. A picnic bench is in the foreground on the beach.
Settled in the mid 19th century, the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, which sits beside the lake, is a seasonal tourist destination.
Twisting, tree-lined road with mountains in the distance.
Much of the drive was twisting mountain roads. S-curves, switchbacks, off-camber turns… this ride was a driver’s dream. Although it didn’t do much for fuel efficiency, my Accord’s V6 engine stayed in its power band for much of the trip with engine RPMs between 3000-6000. We each took turns testing my car’s sporty suspension around the curves of the roads. (Photo credit to my wife for this shot- I didn’t dare take any behind the wheel photos when driving these small roads at highway speeds).
2012 Honda Accord in front of sign that says WELCOME TO LAKE PLACID - Site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
After over two hours of driving, we arrived in Lake Placid.
View of downtown Lake Placid, with mountains in the distance.
Mountains loom over the downtown Lake Placid skyline.
Mirror Lake, taken through a window at a restaurant. A glass of water and a candleholder are in the foreground on a table.
Our first stop was lunch at Generations Tap and Grill, part of the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. The food was decent (although a bit overpriced), but the view of Mirror Lake from our table was spectacular.
Sign on a wooden signpost that states 400 METER SPEED SKATING TRACK Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Sports Facility
Many of the facilities from the 1980 Olympics still exist, although some have been repurposed for other uses. The Speed Skating Track is not a public park. On the day we stopped by, it was hosting a barbecue festival.
View of the Lake Placid Olympic Center
We then walked to the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Built for the 1932 Olympics, and then expanded for the 1980 Winter Games,
Doors to the Herb Brooks Arena, with a wall-size photo of the US team celebrating its win on the entrance doors.
About to enter a place I had long wanted to visit…
Panorama of the interior of the Herb Brooks Arena
“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! YES!” It all happened here.
View of the right corner of the arena. A ring of honor - blue banners with white letters, list the names of the team. Visible on the signs in this photo are Herb Brooks, Craig Patrick, Steve Janaszak, and
A ring of honor lists the names of all of Team USA’s players and coaches. Pictured here are the names of Head Coach Herb Brooks, Assistant Coach Craig Patrick, and backup goalie Steve Janaszak. And in case there is any chance you forgot where you are, the banner at the top is a good reminder…
Banner hanging that lists the years Harvard won the ECAC tournament: 1963 1971 1983 1987 1994 2002 2004 2006 2015 2017
The arena is still used for hockey today. Division I hockey schools from the Eastern Conference Athletic Association have their conference championship here every year. Harvard University has won the tournament ten times.
Center Ice circle of the rink. It says OLYMPIC CENTER LAKE PLACID NY.
Thirty-eight years ago, Johnson took the opening face-off against Petrov, to start one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century.
Flags hanging outside the arena, with a sign that says Welcome to the Lake Placid Olympic Center Site of the 1932 & 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
In the corridor outside the arena, you can even pose behind a sketch of Jim Craig, goaltender for Team USA (lower left of photo).
Interior of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. A skeleton, luge, and bobsled are on the floor. A cutaway of a wooden bobsled is on the wall, along with a display case of bobsled gear including helmets and jackets.
After leaving the arena, we stopped by the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to learn more about this town’s role in the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. This display of downhill winter sports was fascinating. On the floor (from right to left) is a luge, a 2-person bobsled, and a skeleton. Luge, where a rider lays on their back and hurtles down a mountain, and skeleton, where a rider lays on their stomach and flies down the track, seemed terrifying enough on television. Realizing how small the sleds are, and how little protection you have, was eye-opening. Also, for fans of Disney movies, if you look in the display case, you can see the jacket from the coach of the Jamaican bobsled team in 1998 (whose story would eventually be made into the movie Cool Runnings).
ID badges of the Team USA hockey players.
ID badges of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team.
Goaltending equipment of Jim Craig, along with a net and a US flag from the game.
Goaltending equipment worn by Jim Craig, the starting goalie for Team USA, along with a net from the game.
Display on the Miracle on Ice, with a television showing the game.
The Miracle on Ice game is continuously played in the museum. We arrived with 10 minutes left in the 3rd period, right as Mike Eruzione scored the go-ahead goal. Needless to say, we watched the rest of the game.
1932 Arena, with figure skaters on the ice.
The 1932 arena, where Norweigian figure skate Sonja Henie captured the world’s attention in the 1932 Olympic Games, winning gold. The arena is still in use, such as today when several figure skaters were practicing their routines.
View of Mirror Lake, with the mountains in the background.
After the tour of the museum, we took a walk through town and ambled by Mirror Lake, before leaving the town.
Chocolate Gataeu with ice cream, on a white plate.
Returning in time for dinner with my wife’s grandmother at Seventh Lake House in Inlet, NY, we had a wonderful meal. The highlight? Our dessert – a flourless chocolate gateau with a raspberry glaze and whipped cream.
Map of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, with a pin in the location of Walkway Over the Hudson.
Despite not wanting to leave the mountains, we had to return to New Jersey on Saturday. On the way back, we decided to make one more stop.
View of Walkway Over the Hudson, with flags along the bridge that say WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON.
Walkway Over the Hudson is a pedestrian bridge across the Hudson River that is free and open to the public year round. As my wife pointed out to me, the icons on the bridge tell you how to proceed- bicyclists in the middle, and pedestrians on the sides.
Panoramic view of the Walkway Over the Hudson
Originally built in 1889 as a railroad bridge between Highland and Poughkeepsie (named the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge), the bridge was converted into a pedestrian walkway and opened in 2009.
View of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, with boats in the water below the bridge.
What isn’t apparent until you are crossing the bridge is just how high you are standing above the river. At the midpoint of the bridge, you are 212 feet high. High enough to look down on the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Did I ever mention on this blog that I’m afraid of heights? Gulp.
Northward view of the Hudson River, with several small craft on the water.
One benefit of being so far from the ground- the view was absolutely spectacular. Looking northward, you could see for miles.
Panoramic view of the bridge.
This 180-degree panorama should give you a sense of the height of the bridge, as well as the jaw-dropping view from the top. The bridge is 1.3 miles long, and we walked all the way across and back.
View of the Hudson, will bridge support beam in the foreground.
The Walkway was built on top of the existing train bridge. You can still see elements of the original railroad bridge, such as these support girders. Photo credit to my wife, although I held my breath as she extended her phone out past the guardrails to get this shot.
2012 Honda Accord, with Walkway Over the Hudson in the background.
It was a fun walk, but I was happy to be back on solid ground.
Car odometer that reads 110345 miles.
We returned home, 911 miles later.

This past weekend’s road trip was certainly memorable. Adirondack Park is a must-see destination for anyone who enjoys beautiful scenery, nature, clean air, and history. The Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid is free to visit (although special events may require the purchase of a ticket). The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is open year round from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, and is $7 for adults, students and seniors are $5 each, and children 6 and under can enter for free. Saugerties Lighthouse is freely open to the public to visit during daylight hours, but the interior of the lighthouse is only accessible to guests who have reserved a room in the bed and breakfast. The Walkway Over the Hudson is free and is open year round, although hours of operation vary throughout the year, so check the website before you go.

I hope you enjoyed following along with this road trip and exploring upstate New York with me. And thank you, as always, for coming along on my journeys down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.

6 thoughts on “Do You Believe in Miracles?

  1. It’s 6:30 a.m. and all I can think about now is how good that chocolate dessert with raspberry glaze looks! Absolutely delectable. I love how the Lake Placid olympic facilities continue to preserve their history even 38 years later. That “miracle” event took place just a year or so before I was born, but I would still love to check out the attractions sometime. Looks like a great trip. I wonder what the rates are at Saugerties Light for an overnight stay at the B&B. I had to laugh about the fact that you can’t use a hair dryer there. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The dessert was amazing- all the more so that it was made with no flour, yet had the consistency of a cake. The lighthouse is $250/night per person. Pricy, but you’re paying for a very unique location.

      Like

  2. Looks like it was a great trip! I enjoyed reading about all the cool spots you guys went to and the fun facts behind them.

    Like

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