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.
My itinerary from the Adirondacks had me pointing a few hours south, but a last moment cancellation had me scrambling for a spot to lay my head (and celebrate the big birthday). What luck as I moved myself from my tent in Tupper Lake to a grand property in Pawlet, VT on 54 acres. I could most definitely pontificate on how much I enjoyed this location and the people, and how normal life felt in this rural region north of Manchester. Not only did I feel comfortable cycling, hiking, and chatting on the Green with strangers over ice cream, but I was in complete comfort in my Airbnb and ready to move in through Fall! Best of all, a good friend and I were able to meet within 35 miles to start the new year off with plenty of food and fun. I'll tell the story easily with few words as I took more than 110 photos this past week.
From the indoor life, I arrived to the Adirondacks for a first night of 43 degrees in the tent! Refreshing, and simply one night that was followed by three days of rain. By day 2, I had the entire 12 tent sites to myself for 48 hours and wasn't really minding it. I can walk in the rain and Mother Nature made sure the sunset did not disappoint. That said, I was glad I'd booked a 10-day visit to Tupper Lake as I biked along the Adirondack Trail a few times discovering lakes and rivers, as well as enjoying the Town Park. Word is there's a Rail-to-Trail route planned from Tupper Lake to Saranac Lake and I'm not sure that pleases me. Will this develop the town? I hope not.
When I arrived, I was clueless as to where hiking would take place but learned about the "Tupper Lake Triad" -- three small mountain hikes totaling 7+ miles with 2000+' of elevation gain. The best part was that Coney, Goodman and Mt Arab were all within 30 minutes of my tent. While the mileage seems short, I agree with a gal I met at the Coney peak that "an Adirondack mile is different from most" on the East Coast.
The final gift I was given were camp hosts who were tremendous! There were no rules & regulations posted, and while people were considerate, the hosts were actively managing and keeping everyone happy. A great experience all the way around, and as I drove East toward the Green Mountains of Vermont, it was a scenic tour of small towns and lovely places I hope to return to for a stay.
It's been 2.5 weeks of the indoor life: a planned visit to housesit then socialize with a friend. While life in the toxic US culture stretched this an extra week, it took just 3 days, a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself, and lovely greenspace to alleviate the PTSD.
I've been to Rochester on day trips, but living in the South Wedge neighborhood has been a much different experience. High school friend (!) Barbara has a gorgeous townhouse located where you can enjoy Highland Park (150 acre arboretum), visit the Mount Hope Cemetery (196 acres near the U of R), and easily pedal onto the Erie Canal Trail. Walk a mile and a preserved, regenerated neighborhood feels like small town life. If not for winter...
This was also a great time to be productive as the year is indeed flying by -- bike repairs, teeth cleaning, amazon necessities, mail delivery, and plans in place to sleep for the next 30 days. And so it goes, as I roll back into my little tent at Little Wolf Pond tomorrow.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover