Sunday, July 3, 2011

Into the Adirondacks

Mountains are a part of the daily experience in Vermont. We live in a valley between the Green Mountains that run north-south down the middle of the state, and the Taconics which are located along the southwestern edge of Vermont. Mike's a Vermonter, but I'm a flatlander by birth, and lived the first 18 years of my life in Indiana. My part of Indiana isn't pancake flat, but the rolling hills simply can't match Vermont's mountains! We've lived in Vermont for over 24 years, and every day I'm amazed, awed, and inspired by the mountain views.

Chris and Sharon met us in Manchester, and we headed north on Route 30 out of Manchester through Dorset, VT. Dorset looks the way a Vermont village is supposed to look:  stately inns shaded by huge trees, a picturesque town green, a historic general store that continues to operate and serve both locals and tourists, and the earliest marble quarry in the United States. The New York City Library was built out of Dorset marble, but today the marble quarry is a popular swimming hole - deep, clear and cold.

Going north out of Dorset we rode along the Mettawee River valley. There are mountains in the distance, but Route 30 winds through prime farmland and numerous dairy farms. What we noticed most today was the variety of smells. You just don't smell the landscape when you're in a car, but on a bike the smells are a part of the surroundings. Sometimes the smells are faint and tantalizing:  lilacs, new mown hay, pine forests. Other times the smells smack you in the face and you can tell you're riding by a dairy farm just by sniffing.

Once we joined up with Route 22 in Granville, the scenery changed once again as we entered the Adirondack Park. Where just a few miles earlier we gazed across fields of corn and wheat in the valleys, now we wound our way on curvy and mountainous roads hemmed in on both sides by tall pine trees, with glimpses of the mountains every time we sped down one of the steep grades. On one of those long downhill romps we spotted Lake Champlain, a large freshwater lake that lies between northern New York state and Vermont. We saved exploring Whitehall and Ticonderoga, two historic towns on Lake Champlain, for another day and another ride.

The Adirondack Park is lake country, with our route leading us past gorgeous Eagle Lake and the wonderfully named Paradox Lake until we stopped in Schroon Lake for lunch. Sharon is from North Carolina, and was thrilled to meet a waitress from the South at Flanagan's who knew how to brew sweet tea. We didn't expect southern hospitality in the Northeast, but finding the unexpected is part of the fun of a motorcycle ride.

Another type of water was in store for us today:  the Hudson River. We rode along the Hudson on quiet side roads in Riparius, watching kids and dogs play in the shallow water along the edges of the river. The Hudson turns into a large, wide river used for commercial traffic south of Albany, NY as it heads to the Atlantic Ocean in New York City. Yet upstate you'll see kayaks and watertubes instead of freighters and tugboats.

On our way back home we stopped by Lake George, both a beautiful lake in the Adirondack Park plus a town jam-packed with tourists for the 4th of July weekend. We much prefer riding along less trafficked open roads, but tolerated 4 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic during late afternoon heat so we could enjoy locally made ice cream. As soon as we polished off the ice cream, we quickly headed out of town onto 2-lane blacktop that led us back home.

We traveled 164 miles through old pine forests, prime farm land, tiny towns and tourist favorites. We sped through the Taconics and the Adirondacks, with Green Mountain peaks calling us home. Small hidden lakes, large majestic lakes, streams where sheep cross at will and the mighty Hudson tied everything together.

Where will the BMW take us next?

Watch video of today's ride here: 

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