Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016: Running away in Runaway
We depart from Mike’s Mom’s 95th birthday party about 3PM, glad to be on the road for a long-awaited “runaway” in Runaway. We are heading to a conference in Quebec City starting October 5, but have built in extra time to hike in the Adirondacks and enjoy the fall colors along back roads. We stop for the night at a rest stop near Rochester, New York.
Monday, Oct. 3, 2016: Discovering the Adirondacks in the fall
We drive east past Utica, New York and head north on scenic Rt. 30. We wind along country roads where the fields are golden, after the cutting of hay and corn, and pass many lakes, large and small. On this sunny day, the colors are spectacular. Pass Malone, New York, we camp at Fish Creek Public Campgrounds on South Pond, southwest of Saranac Lake. Being able to be off the grid, we don’t use any services, but we enjoy the lake view. Our neighbor is Mike from Watertown, a retired teacher, who has been coming. here to fish for 30 years.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016: St. Regis Mountain
It is a gorgeous sunny morning. At 9AM, we arrive at the trailhead for St. Regis Mountain, elevation 2,874 ft. According to the Adirondack Mountain Club guidebook, at the top we will have “the best view in the Adirondacks.” We start out the 6.6-mile roundtrip in dense forest, marked by massive boulders. After alternating steep rises and easy flat land, we rock scramble the final ascent, 1000 ft. in one mile. About 2PM, we reach the granite dome summit. We eat the last of our energy bars and fruit, and then climb the fire tower. The 360-degree view is spectacular: lakes and ponds; trees in brilliant reds and yellows; hills and mountains, near and far. At the top of the fire tower we meet a guy from Saranac Lake, who pond-hopped here in a 16 lb. Hornbeck canoe, built not far from here. He points out the landmarks.
On the way down, we meet Randy and Michelle from Philadelphia. His interior flooring company was just bought by a company in Medina, OH, not far from us in Willoughby. They had seen our camper in the parking lot. We make a slow descent, with Mike taking many pictures of mushrooms. Back at the RV, Randy and Michelle soon show up. She has a cross-shaped gash in her forehead where she was wacked by a branch on a steep descent. She refuses any first aid while they take a quick tour of the RV. They head to an emergency room, but promise to visit Advanced RV.
We camp at High Falls Park Campground in Chateaugay, NY, east of Malone, on Rt. 11. Again, we have no need to plug in, but we the campground. We walk to the falls, which has very little water after this dry summer. We read David Brooks’ new book, The Road to Character, by a campfire and listen to the Vice Presidential debate on Mike’s Ipad.
Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 – Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016: Quebec City
We head east on Rt. 11 into Vermont, and cross into Canada, east of the first finger of Lake Champlain, at the Alburg/Noyan Border Crossing, very quiet and easy. We take back roads through lovely farmlands and well-maintained small towns to Quebec City. At the Chateau Frontenac, the valet parks our RV in the front courtyard. We have a great conference. With the group, we tour the Ile D’Orleans, a beautiful agricultural island on the St. Lawrence River; the Citadelle, a fortress along the first line of Quebec’s fortifications; and walk the surrounding historic park and Old Town. At noon Sunday we depart. Because the hotel courtyard was shaded, there was no solar charging, but after four days of running the refrigerator, freezer, and occasional lights unplugged, we had 37% remaining in our batteries.
Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016: Burlington, Vermont
From the Quebec City conference, we make it to Burlington, Vermont for the evening. We walk this college town and eat a delicious farm-to-table dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. We “sleep stop” off the grid at the boat launch parking lot on Lake Champlain.
Monday, Oct. 10, 2016: Ben and Jerry’s and the White Mountains of New Hampshire
After breakfast at the Healthy Living Market and Café, less than a block from our “campsite”, we take Scenic Rt. 302 east on another sunny day, with lots of yellow birch and hills dotted with red. We’ve hit the peak of the fall colors on this trip. We arrive in Waterbury, Vermont, at opening time for tours of Ben and Jerry’s factory. We join a group of about 40 people for a 30-minute guided tour, including a movie about the history of the company, a walk through production, and samples of the day’s experimental flavor (green apple and cinnamon – OK). We enjoyed the playful atmosphere and the commitment to family farms, no GMOs, and sustainability.
We take Rt. 112 east into the White Mountain area of New Hampshire, where near Franconia Notch we hike the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. We stop in Glen, NH on Rt. 302 at the Red Parker Pub for dinner and to watch the Indians play the Red Sox for the American League Division Championship. We sit next to an Irish immigrant from Boston, his wife and twin 6-year old boys. They are Red Sox fans, of course, but know our team well, too. Everyone is kind to us Clevelanders, even after we win in a Division sweep. We “camp” that night in the parking lot of the pub.
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016: Mt. Washington Cog Railway and Demo glitch
We are up early to head northwest on Rt. 302 to the Mount Washington Cog Railway. We arrive at the 8:30AM opening, but we cannot get seats until 12:30. I had assumed that since school was back in session we would not need reservations, but then three busloads of “leaf peepers” arrive and I understand. This gives us a chance to hike some of Mt. Washington, the highest point of the Northeast at 6,288 ft. We set out on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail right behind the train station. It is gorgeous, with waterfalls and pools along the river, but tough rock scrambling. We hike 2 ½ hours and cover only 2 ½ miles.
We have a perfect, clear day for our ride on the Cog Railway to the top of Mt. Washington, where we have one hour to explore the Visitor Center and summit. We learn why this mountain has the reputation as the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather,” with hurricane-force winds and blowing snow. We enjoy the views of some of the other Presidential mountains, scramble the rocks of the summit, and chat with other visitors from all over the world.
Back at the camper, we decide, after about 5 days of using the RV, it is time to empty our tanks. This RV is a demo model, right? Because of a power failure in the utility closet, the macerator valve actuator is without power, so the macerator does not work. Mike, looking on the bright side, decides it is good to test out the manual back up. We go to Walmart, and in their RV section, find a 3” sewer hose. Behind a hotel, we locate a dump station (for the tour buses) and, with me holding a flashlight because it is now dark, Mike is able to gravity drain the tanks in 20 minutes, start to finish.
We go south on Rt. 16 to Jonathan’s Seafood in Conway, New Hampshire. After dinner, Mike asks the foreign-born hostess if we can spend the night there. She looks alarmed at the couch in their lobby, and says, “Here?” After we explain about the RV in the parking lot, her manager gives the OK, saying, “You can guard our restaurant.”
Wednesday, October 12, 2016: Squam Lake, New Hampshire
We hit the road early and stop at our new favorite place, Dunkin’ Donuts. It is clean and friendly, the coffee is good, and they have great WiFi. We have a scenic drive down Rt. 16, past White Lake, to Rt. 25W and 3 to Holderness, New Hampshire. We hike around Squam Lake “the most beautiful lake in New Hampshire.” We make a novice hiker’s mistake: planning on a 2-mile hike, we take no food or water. The trail, although challenging, is enticing, and we end up hiking over 5 miles. We are glad to get back to our camper.
Late in the afternoon, we arrive in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at my cousin’s house, where we park the camper on a narrow city street and move into their house for two days.
Thursday, October 13 – Friday, October 14, 2016: Pawtucket and Newport, Rhode Island.
We relax with my cousin and her husband, as we always do, and visit my 105-year old aunt. We enjoy exploring the harbor at Newport, including visiting the IYRS School of Technology and Trades, where they are restoring the Coronet, a 131-ft historic Schooner Yacht, launched in 1885. We hike in the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge nearby.
Friday, Oct. 14, 2016: Train to New York City
Today we head to New York City to see our son, his fiancée, and her parents, all in from Hong Kong. Our plan is to park the RV at the Stamford train station and take the train in. We call the station about needing 10ft. clearance and are told that an attendant will show us where to park. After many round and rounds, we finally find the attendant and the garage she directs us to, but the attendant there tells us that no garage can accommodate our height. We drive around the neighboring area and find a Hilton where we leave the RV with a kind valet who promises to take care of us. Their driver takes us to the train station. It’s an easy train ride to the city.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016: Low bridges on Sawmill River Parkway
We have a great stay in the city and take the train back Saturday afternoon. At the Hilton, the valet brings out our RV and does not want to charge us! Grateful, Mike leaves a generous tip.
We head towards the George Washington Bridge and GPS guides us to the Sawmill River Parkway. As we enter the parkway, we see a sign saying “No Commercial Vehicles, Trucks or Tractor Trailers”. Why? Does that apply to us? Don’t think so. Soon, we see why. Ahead, above us is an arched stone bridge, with clearance of 9’4”. Mike slows down, moves across three lanes of heavy, honking traffic, and gets in the lane going under the highest point of the arch. We make it. But, we have about 10 miles and 6 more bridges to go. Clearances range from 9’6” to 10’6”, but using the same center lane technique, we clear them all. When we cross the George Washington Bridge, Mike has a headache. We drive to just east of State College, Pennsylvania, wash the RV at a Flying J and stay the night in the truckstop.
Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016: Back home
Back home safely, we are grateful that we had such good weather, saw the colors of the Northeastern foliage at their peak, stayed healthy and had fun. We did not hurt Runaway and she was a champ of a demo.
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