Uke seven, and what I did on my summer vacation

There was a plan; there’d been a plan since sometime last year. Go to the Adirondacks, warm up with Snow Mountain and Little and Big Crow Mountains, then do our fourth High Peak: Giant Mountain. Plans, hah. Don’t talk to me about plans.

Plans met plantar, as in fasciitis, and the plans looked endangered. That was after I’d made our camping reservations for August 12–15. But the PF seemed to be improving, and I decided I could give it a try. Do one or both warmup hikes, call off Giant if I felt I had to.

Then last Friday Kenny twisted his ankle at the dojo. Not too badly, but it was still hurting a little on Saturday. Sunday he said it felt fine. We left Syracuse early, crossed the Blue Line into the Adirondack Park about two hours later, and arrived at the exit near the campground about two hours after that. (It’s a big park.) On the way we stopped at the visitors’ center for some leaflets and coupons. Due to, ah, non-optimal planning, we ended up in Westport for lunch, going on a whim into Why Knot Pizza… which was good; Kenny praised his calzone highly and my pepperoni slice was about as good as by the slice pizza gets in my experience.

Then we headed for Snow Mountain. (Which was in the opposite direction with respect to the campsite of where we were, of course.) The Deer Brook route, which is what I had a writeup of, was closed due to impassibility, so we took the high water route. Kenny’s ankle was hurting by the time we approached the summit. My foot was hurting some, too. But we did get to the top; view was pretty good.

Back down, took Ibuprofen, and headed to the campground: Lincoln Pond. There are 35 campsites here, 25 clustered on the west side of the pond, and then ten remote sites: three a little north of the main area, three more on an island (bring your own boat), and four at the north end of the pond: a mile or so north on Lincoln Pond road from the campground entrance, and then another mile maybe east on Kingdom Dam Road. We had site 35, one of those last four. No running water at the remote sites, but nice views, quiet, and fairly solitary… if you don’t count the gnats, the ants, and one frenetic chipmunk. Actually I saw very few ants, which is odd, considering how very many anthills there were. We managed not to put our tents on top of too many of those. 35 was the only site at the north end available when I made the reservations, and is the only one of the four not on the water. I got a look at 34 after its occupants left and its view down the pond is very nice. And fewer anthills. Both had broken fire grates, though; fortunately we didn’t need one. We had dinner, Kenny played on his DSi, I read, we went to bed.

Monday we slept in, me past 8 and Kenny past 9. We had breakfast, and Kenny went fishing while I went to get gas — the empty light had come on the evening before. Unfortunately I drove the 4 miles into Elizabethtown with the emergency brake on. I figure the pads must have been nearly shot anyway, since I didn’t notice anything wrong until I got out and smelled the smoke. I got gas, drove back to camp, picked up Kenny, and drove back to E’town to consult with a mechanic who said it was fine to wait until we got home to have our mechanic service it. (As long as the regular brakes didn’t fail, of course.) By then it was late morning, and Kenny did not want to do more mountain climbing due to his ankle, so we went with Plan B. Plan B had not existed since sometime last year. Plan B had existed since about two minutes after we cancelled Plan A and can be summed up as: Tourist Traps. Kenny proposed using one of our coupons, for the Barton Garnet Mine. Garnets it was. We headed south and got off at the most magical exit on the Northway for lunch at the Family Deli, another spur of the moment choice. Not a deli in reality, I would say, but they had surprisingly good burgers — in fact the best burger I’ve had in quite a while. Fries were a bit limp though.

Then to the garnet mine. Surprisingly cool place. They mined commercially there for the better part of a century, and there are still garnets; here you can see garnet inclusions the size of a soccer ball or larger from a hundred or so feet away:

If you want to see more garnets there, you can look down. You’re standing on gravel that includes bits of garnet, everywhere. So they give you some time to go garnet prospecting. We collected some garnet bits and a couple of rocks with some nice inclusions. The gift shop includes some horrible crap and some nice stuff. Kenny picked out a crystal lamp and some tumbled rocks, and I bought a chunk of amethyst. Don’t tell Heather but we got her something too. Then back to camp: Dinner, reading, smores, uke.

Tuesday morning we went to Lake George. There’d been a coupon for The Fun Spot and Kenny wanted to play laser tag. Driving an hour to play laser tag doesn’t make much sense but we didn’t ask it to. In fact we played mini golf (more stone mini golf holes!) and drove go karts before the laser tag, and it all turned out to be pretty fun. Kenny wanted to stay for more but I ruled in favor of lunch (we reverted to Taco Bell) and then northward to Pottersville again for the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves. This was another case of more worthwhile than I’d expected. Kenny got himself a bag of crystals and minerals. The gift shop there also has some horrible crap but then a lot of fascinating mineral specimens; almost more a museum display than a shop. The caves, falls, potholes, and so on were pretty great. Kenny didn’t want to go inside any of the caves though, especially after seeing the huge rock that fell from the stone bridge once (back in 1953 or something).

We drove back north on the back roads along Lake Champlain. Kenny has now seen Vermont. We ended up in Essex where we looked at the menu at the Old Mill — most of the entrees were upwards of $20 — before having dinner at the Essex Ice Cream Cafe. Their real food menu had two items of which one was sold out but the other, a turkey wrap, suited both of us. Ice cream (Hershey’s, meh) for dessert, and then back to camp. The only substantial rain of the trip fell that night.

We considered going to Fort Ticonderoga this morning but since I needed to be back in time for uke we decided to save that for the next time we try for Giant. We just headed for home and arrived around 3 pm.

The last Uke and Ice Cream Therapy performance was a little different. It was indoors. We were at Driver’s Village, the former Penn-Can Mall, by the Brick House Cafe whose owner enticed us to put her on the schedule with a promise of homemade ice cream. We also had solos by two members of the group, and a couple of songs by a guest band — I want to say Canvas Moon but I may have that wrong; fronted by luthier/musician/songwriter Mark Wahl on a uke he made. We have a month off, now, and uke lessons and jams will start up for the fall on Tuesdays starting with Sept. 11.


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