Working from home. For some, it has become the “new normal” of life during the global pandemic. With many offices and schools still closed, the workplace has become wherever you can grab an internet connection to log into a remote meeting and check your email. While New Jersey is slowly moving forward with its reopening plans, both my wife and I are still in work-from-home mode, as our employers remain closed. Neither of our jobs require us to stay in the state, however, so on a beautiful summer day we returned yet again to the Adirondacks, where we would work “from home” amidst the pine trees, lakes, and mountains of upstate New York.
We had been in the Adirondacks
a few weeks ago, so this time there was no post planned, as our only activities would be working, spending time with a dear relative, and enjoying swimming in one of the numerous lakes that dot the state park. After only a few days, however, I quickly realized that a post was certainly in order. So please sit back and enjoy our latest adventure, which includes a hike to a stunning waterfall, encounters with wildlife, good food, and beautiful scenery: The Adirondack Adventures, Continued.
Well… this looks familiar. Covering most of the northern half of New York, Adirondack Park is larger than most national parks – Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Great Smokies are all smaller than the Adirondacks (via Fodors).
Deja vu? Nah. Just that the “I Love New York” sign, at the New Baltimore service area is becoming one of my new favorite photo opportunities.
I have driven to the Adirondacks enough times in the past two years that I have the route memorized. This tree-lined stretch of Route 28 in New York is my marker for entering the Adirondacks. I’d love to create a collage of these trees in all four seasons.
After six hours of driving, we arrived in the Adirondacks. One of our first stops is Arrowhead Park in Inlet, New York, where we can get out, walk by the lake, and stretch our legs after the long drive.
Arrived! Throughout the four-and-a-half years of this blog, I’ve often remarked that my Accord is “a coupe with the soul of a beach buggy.” However, as much as my car and I enjoy being “beach bums,” I (we?) have really come to appreciate the beauty and fresh air of the mountains.
Fourth Lake. When we weren’t working, my wife and I intended to spend our time at the lake, swimming and floating our cares away. And while we made sure to have plenty of lake time, there were certainly some other cool experiences… South Shore Road
One of my favorite roads to drive in the Adirondacks is South Shore Road. Running through the towns of Inlet to Old Forge, South Shore Road skirts the southern coast of Second, Third, and Fourth Lakes in the Fulton Chain of Lakes region. The road is filled with bends, crests, and curves that can all be taken at speed. Brush the brakes as you enter a turn, apply a judicious amount of power at the apex of a curve, and let your momentum carry you out… it’s easy to pretend you are Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen, racing at the Austrian Grand Prix in Formula One.
South Shore Road also passes Quiver Pond, one of my new favorite automotive photography locations. Speaking of cars… several times on this trip complete strangers came up to me to compliment my car, often saying things like, “Man, I wish Honda still made a V6 Accord coupe like yours.” I appreciate the kind words, but also find it interesting that while Honda is moving on from the 2-door body style (such as the recent decision to end production of the Civic coupe, the last remaining 2-door car in Honda’s lineup), there remain plenty of fans of the coupe-shape. The Food
While there are certainly plenty of fine dining options in the Adirondacks, I associate the park with comfort food. For instance, you can enjoy great pizza (including gluten-free options), a terrific antipasto salad, and spicy wings at Screamen Eagle Pizza in Inlet, NY…
…or you can tuck into great diner grub (such as the Friday Fish Fry) at The Toboggan Inn in Eagle Bay, NY…
…or you can swing by The Ole Barn Restaurant on Limekiln Road in Inlet, NY.
Now this is my kind of place! I swung by to pick up takeout for my wife and our relative, and spent several minutes checking the place out. I asked the waitress for the story of the hats on the ceiling, and she said it was a tradition that just started for no reason at all, but has continued to this day.
Railroad fans, don’t fret! Despite not stopping by any historic stations on this trip, I did see a train! A model railroad runs throughout the restaurant on over 350 feet of track. Local businesses “sponsor” the train by purchasing advertising space on the train’s cars. Pretty cool!
Despite most restaurants now being open for dine-in, we still felt most comfortable getting takeout, so my wife got the taco salad, our relative got the fried chicken, and I went with a delicious burger. How was it? Fantastic!
And of course, no trip to the Adirondacks is complete without a stop at The Donut Shop in Eagle Bay. As I detailed in my last post, you can’t go wrong with a fry cake! Cascade Lake
Of all the places I visit, I am probably the most physically active in the Adirondacks. With over 2,000 miles of hiking trails in the park, it’s easy to find new places to explore. On a beautiful, if warm, Saturday morning, my wife and I decided to hike the trail around Cascade Lake.
We arrived early, and had the entire parking lot to ourselves. While most trailheads are jammed with vehicles in the afternoons, mornings are fairly quiet in the Adirondacks. Get up early, and you can have an entire lake to yourself!
Our hike would take us through the woods surrounding Cascade Lake, with our ultimate destination being Cascade Falls, a 40-foot waterfall. Our total hiking distance was about six miles, which we covered in a little over two hours.
In terms of difficulty, I would give the trails around Cascade Lake a “4” on a 1-10 scale. The climbing isn’t terribly steep, but the paths are strewn with loose rocks, you have to cross through stretches of loose sand, and owing to recent rains, lower portions of the trail were swampy messes. Wear appropriate clothes (lightweight, breathable fabrics are great in the summer), hiking shoes are a must (leave the sneakers, flip flops, high heels, and loafers at home!), slather on the sun screen, bring plenty of bug spray, and remember to hydrate!
As we walked through a meadow, we heard the sound of running water. Following the noise, we came across Cascade Falls.
Arriving mid-morning, we had the falls entirely to ourselves. We stopped beside the pool of water at the base of the falls to rest and take photos. The air temperature was cool, and the photographic opportunities were too good to miss!
While heading back to the car, we detoured to the shores of Cascade Lake to enjoy the view. A 2.5-mile long lake, Cascade covers 99-acres. Owing to motorized boats being prohibited from the lake, the only noises you hear are the sounds of birds, the rustling of tree branches in the breeze, and the waves lapping against the shore. Talk about blissful relaxation! Wildlife
The Adirondacks teem with wildlife. There are plenty of deer and you have to watch out for errant wild turkeys. I have yet to see a moose or a bear (!) in person. However, there are still plenty of other living creatures to photograph – such as this dragonfly.
Speaking of wildlife… the hooded merganser is rarely sighted by humans, as these birds are described as “secretive,” preferring to live their lives away from the prying eyes of humans. Imagine my surprise at seeing one taking a nap on a neighbor’s dock!
I was so intent on photographing the merganser that I literally almost stumbled over this mallard duck with her chicks!
Sometimes, a little enticement can help bring the wildlife to you… such as the hummingbird feeder our relative strategically deployed beside her porch.
Perhaps my favorite photo from the entire trip! Heading Home… and a Historical Stop.
After a fun five days, it was time to head back to New Jersey. As we left the mountains, we passed the Wigwam Tavern, notable for the plane tail sticking out of its roof!
As we headed through the town of Remsen, my wife, who was behind the wheel, said, “Hold on!” and took a fast right turn onto an exit from the highway. For years, she had passed signs for the Steuben Memorial State Historic Site. She decided to satisfy her curiosity (and test my car’s ability to take a fast corner) and check it out!
While I had no clue who “Steuben” was or why he or she merited a state park, we decided to stretch our legs, explore the park, and enjoy the summer day.
Stopping to read the signs around the park, we learned that this was the summer home of Friedrich Wilhem von Steuben, an 18th century Prussian military officer whose career took him to America, where he helped train the colonial army, writing rules and procedures that would shape the development of the US Army for decades to come. He also became chief of staff to General George Washington. This land in upstate New York, totaling some 16,000 acres, was gifted to him after the Revolutionary War as a reward for his service (via Wikipedia).
While his primary residence was in New Jersey, Steuben spent his summers here. It is also where he was laid to rest after his passing, in a woods called the “Sacred Grove.”
Despite his critical involvement in the founding and survival of the Continental Army in its fight against the British, Steuben only had a small limestone marker for a gravestone. In the mid-19th century, German cultural associations in America banded together to create a grave marker that they felt would better honor his legacy. In 1931, then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt designated these lands as a state park to honor Baron von Steuben. Our brains filled with historical information, we departed the site to head home.
And we’re back! Along the way, my car passed another milestone: it’s now the highest mileage car I have ever owned. I sold my 2003 Accord when it had 155,900 miles on it, so my 2012 has taken me further than any other vehicle. Of course, it’s not the miles that makes the car special – what is most important are the memories the car has helped me create throughout the past five years.
The trip was a wonderful getaway to the mountains, a relaxing time to enjoy the beautiful scenery, eat delicious food, meet some cool wildlife, and revel in being outdoors.
In the coming weeks, we have a fun trip planned to a natural wonder a bit closer to home, some high mileage car updates, and yet another long-distance drive. Stay tuned, and as always, thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead.
‘Til next time.