While it may seem like I was simply playing all summer, the mind was always at work. With a never-ending pandemic and sheer stupidity on the rise, I had to ponder winter spots to lay my weary head.
It's been 5 years since I pitched my tent at Carolina Beach State Park the first time and fond memories brought me back. While development and traffic continue to increase, this lovely Park is holding its own. Known as one of the few natural habitats in North America for Venus flytraps, the park has sustained 420 acres along the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway. You can walk 9 miles of trails, put a boat in at the marina, and hop on the bike trail at the gate to the southern point of the island.
It's been nearly two months of trolling around northern New York and Western Vermont with the added pleasure of socializing with friends and family in my comfort zone. To add to this experience, I planned travel with a friend for a week including a full day of driving from Saratoga Springs to Smithsburg, Maryland. This is an interesting experience in two cars when one person drives maniacally and the other drives the speed limit. Don't take me there.
Saratoga Springs is my last northeast stop this summer though I chose not to go when the horses were running and the high-season crowds were about. Yet, Saratoga Springs did not appeal to me -- racetracks and casinos -- with Broadway, the main drag, filled with local and chain stores alongside overpriced restaurants. However, in normal times, I would have visited Caffe Lena, the longest continuously operating folk venue in the country, and the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore, a Saratoga icon for 50 years.
Thankfully, what has made Spa City a destination for over 200 years did make for an interesting week. Congress Park in town center has had visitors since the early 19th century for its "healing waters," but nearby Saratoga Spa State Park , 2,379-acre grounds of mineral springs, classical bath and spa houses, and multi-use trails became my go-to spot for many days of touring by bike and foot. Lucky me, the weather was gorgeous all week long, but with fall just around the corner, it's time to point south before the final quarter of 2021 is upon us!
From the Green Mountains, it was a quick drive to Guilderland, a small town between Albany and Schenectady, to visit with a friend and his family who I'd not seen in more than 20 years. In reality, they rescued this homeless gal who couldn't find an affordable spot in the area near Labor Day.
On the way, I enjoyed my first ride along the Mohawk River Trail, discovering not only the beauty of it but its proximity to where I'd be staying for nearly a week. The first night was a reunion with familiar faces, new family members, and a grand feast including my first pie of the year (Very Berry Crumble). The visit was a great get together of incredible morning coffee, numerous conversations, and a daily food feast. Thankfully, the Bike Trail is just 7 miles away, and the neighborhood has trails to the Albany Pine Bush, one of the largest of 20 inland pine barrens in the world. There is always something to discover.
On Labor Day, it was time to return to Vermont for a camping reunion with sister, Anne and niece, Karen. A mere hour-and-a-half drive brought me back over the border to Arlington, along the Battenkill River. We enjoyed three days of walking and talking, eating well, another birthday celebration (!), and enjoying the great outdoors. Mother Nature reared her stormy head on the final night, but gave us blue sky to hit the road again. The compilation of our photos will bring you along!
I'm now nearing a week in Saratoga Springs touring this infamous spot and preparing to edge south.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover