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.
Much to my surprise, I spent just two days at Bald Eagle State Park, a beautiful 5,900 acre spot in north central Pennsylvania. When I arrived early on Sunday, it was packed to the max; but by 2pm it was peaceful, and I enjoyed biking and trail walking and reading by the lake. I thought, I can survive a weekend crowd for 48 hours to have 12 days of this!
Fast forward to Monday night and just a few spots down the road, one guy was "prepping to fish" until midnight and then again at 4am. Across the way, a 3-tent group partied until 2am while their dog barked on and off for no less than 2 hours. Surprisingly, "quiet time" starts at 9pm here, but without enforcement why would anyone adhere to rules? By morning I was exhausted and got into it with a toxic person who made me feel unsafe and truly unhappy. So I packed, reported to the office, and was thankfully on my way to a friend's house one week early. Bad behavior wins, and I'm losing my sense of humor.
Enola, Pennsylvania -- an area of about 2 miles and 6,000 people -- has been home for the past 10 days. It's one of many small towns on the Western Shore of the Susquehanna River, directly across from Harrisburg, the state capital. As I pushed north, I knew this area was bike friendly (the Capital Greenbelt) but what drew me into this little town was an affordable and delightful Airbnb.
The house was built in 1906 for George W. Fisher, the first Yard Master at the Enola Rail Yards, the largest freight yard in the world until 1956. Externally, the three-story brick structure looks ho-hum, but the owner has restored and decorated the interior perfectly. I've been in comfort mode: waking with the sun beaming in through the bay windows, sipping cappuccino and eating homemade shortbread at 6AM. This host is amazing. Daily, I've headed in different directions, but within 5 miles, I was able to hike, sit by the riverfront, bike, trail walk, and play tourist. I'm still trying to figure out why this area has not been overrun.
Tomorrow morning I head just a few hours northwest for another 10-day stop in PA. It's back to the tent and lakeside at Bald Eagle State Park. It seems the summer is starting to fly by!
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover