We packed up and left in the rain, planning to follow HWY 9 south on the East side of the river. The Lake George area is beautiful and vacationing here would be a dream. Older homes, cabins and 1950’s style motel/resorts line the winding road that runs on the lake’s shore. I can picture Sheri and I, drink in hand, watching the sun go down from the comfort of an Adirondack chair. The majesty of the area comes to an end as the lake does, leaving me with a wooded view for the rest of the ride. I see another T@G at a scenic overpass but no acknowledgment of our commonality, no T@G brotherhood from the car with New York plates.
We pass through Glens Falls and I am reminded that the city hosts the High School Basketball championships each year. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Pierson winning the Class C championship which at the time was held in Rochester. I was talking to David Pharaoh about it at the Sag Harbor Legion a few weeks ago. The work ethic of that team! Every night during the summer, practicing on an uneven asphalt court, chain nets rattling with each successful shot. The overtime win was a big deal back then and its anniversary should be now.
I am spoiled when it comes to High School basketball. Hopkins is a basketball school and our teams expect to win. Our boys coach was ESPN High School coach of the year and our girls coach joined him in the Minnesota High School Hall of Fame. We are consistently ranked top 10 in the state and usually nationally ranked as well. But we don’t have that small-town feel; David taking on Goliath. In 1978, sleepy Pierson High slayed the giant.
Highway 22 was a nice ride through Saratoga Springs which was busting with activity. Main Street was packed and the restaurants very busy. After Saratoga Springs, the route turned ugly. Traffic, stop lights, and strip malls. I can see this anywhere and wanted to bypass this type of scenery on the trip. But the route takes me South so I continue.
I finally have cell service and am bombarded with texts and phone messages. My phone was catching up with the last two days of activity. With no service, Sheri didn’t know I planned on staying two nights at Roger’s Rock and thought the worst. She had just come back from the Sprint Store hoping to ping the location of my phone. Out of all the passwords I left her, my phone wasn’t one of them so Sprint couldn’t help. The relief in her voice was evident and I felt bad for the worry I caused. I had been regularly posting, texting, and calling before the Adirondacks and the lack of activity had her thinking I had gone off the road and was in a ditch. Today’s technology allows for us to stay intimately connected, accessibility is expected and when it disappears we steer towards caution. Way back when, our comfort level with anonymity was greater, a few days off the grid would go unnoticed because there wasn’t a grid. I believe I soothed Sheri’s worries and she knows the plan for the next few days of the trip.
The route split Albany and Troy in two, their urban centers surprisingly busy after my drift through the Adirondacks. Thanks to not paying attention, we ended up on the wrong side of the river but enjoyed the ride. When I realized the mistake, and looked for a route to the correct side, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, what I thought was a rustic, covered, tourist attraction, provided passage. I have been wary of tolls since my experience on the PA Turnpike and almost avoided the RVW, but was happy to see the toll collected only on the East bound side, so I passed for free.
Saugerties, NY was our planned destination and hoped to find camping for the night. There is a KOA nearby and my now existent cell service said there were other camps as well. The streets of Saugerties were closing for Sunday night but the camper still received attention. The stores are a variety of styles; restaurants, next to antiques, next to service, next to retail. There was a creative vibe to the town even when closed.
We decided to stay at the Rip Van Winkle campground. Large and family run, we weren’t disappointed with our site which was nestled under trees at the end of a small, tree lined dirt road. All the sites are like this and I liked being in the woods. Once settled I decided to drive back to Saugerties, about 10 minutes, to explore what it had to offer. I liked the town and it didn’t take us long to walk the length of the four spokes that jut from the center. A lot of neat stores including the Inquiring Mind Bookstore and Café which was closing. “Come back tomorrow doggie and you’ll get a treat.” said one of the exiting workers. The bookstore is dog friendly so Mable can browse the aisles with me. Mabel received more attention as we strolled with three young women stopping to hear her story. They were from NYC and Seattle, missing their dogs after getting some Mabel love.
After touring Main Street, we cruised to the Saugerties Lighthouse. It turns out to be an enjoyable half mile trek along a wooded path. The lighthouse is a B&B as I found out from one of the guests when I climbed up on the porch. The light is short and looks out on the Hudson River. The night was nice for a stroll and I liked looking out over the water.
Our site provided visibility for the camper and our Travelswithmabel.com banner across the back. A couple from Queens walked by with a dog that perked Mabel’s attention. They stopped, their two-year-old boy, liking Mabel. I explained what I am doing and conversation turned to the small towns I have seen along the way. The man, from England, or so I think based upon his accent, had an interesting point. “The benefit in America, is that we will move. America is more mobile than Europe.” he said. I can’t argue the point because I don’t know. But when looking at my history, I have seen many moves since leaving high school. Sheri and I moved multiple times before settling in Hopkins and I am sure my boys will move at least once. There are many family examples of picking up stakes and trying their luck in new environs. But I think it requires a certain mindset, one full of hope for a future or empty of hope in the present. The decision to leave “what you know” can be very hard when circumstances don’t demand it. I think back on my trip through Brooklyn where I wondered why people live where they do. For the residents of Brooklyn, their normalcy, different than mine, the decision to move might be the farthest thing from their mind. The man continued, “I am a contractor, and in old times we would come into a town, do work and then move on to another town.” He looked at his wife and said, “I guess we could be considered like….” “Gypsies,” his wife replied. The little boy was drawing their attention, full of energy his interests were pulled in many directions so it was time to move on through the camp.
The camp was quiet as darkness spread. Across the way, crying kids and the yelling Mom break the calm. The wooded pockets do more to segregate than merge campers into community.