Saturday, June 09, 2007

New York state of mind

To Lake Placid, New York in the smart car for a three-night tour. Depart Toronto 08:00 Tuesday on Highway 401. Quick pit stop at Tim Horton's on the main highway aborted due to coach arrivals. On to Port Hope off the highway where Tim's is more convivial in the rain. Gas at Joyceville - unmissable 83.9 cents a litre - the smart car took on $10 of diesel among the trucks at the truckstop. Heavy rain on the road to the border. Picnic at Brockville, ON, in a parkette by the wide St. Lawrence river. Across the river at Ogdensburg, where the customs post is deserted. We planned to stay, but it is rather charmless so we push on to Potsdam. The weather isn't with us but we find the Clarkson Inn in town - so many small towns in America have lost their hotels downtown, as they have migrated to the highway.
Potsdam, a college town, has two intact city blocks dating from about 1900. We take supper at Sergi's Italian Restaurant, a short walk to 10 Market Street, which has haphazard service - "The owner is out and we can't find the cheese." Chandeliers, ornate plaster ceiling, a neon sign saying "Italian Food" in the window, $38.41 for two including wine.
Breakfast next morning at the Village Diner, at the Adirondack Trailways bus stop - $15 including tip, endless coffee. The smart car is a conversation piece for the morning punters. On departure a man with a handlebar moustache and flat hat stops us on the road to rave about the smart.
Drove on through the forest to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Annette bought a fleece in Saranac Lake due to the cold weather. We checked out the Adirondack Tourist Railroad followed by a quick tour of Lake Placid, the Olympic village, and lunch at Saranac Sourdough. To Karen & Pete's house. Much historical research followed by salmon supper. Slept in a cabin in the woods with a woodfire in the stove. Next morning to John Brown's farm and grave in North Elba.
In the evening to Saranac Lake for Texas banjo-man Danny Barnes with Kris Delmhorst at Bluseed Studios. There was a sell-out crowd of a hundred or more with some folk turned away. Kris opens the show and is evidently enjoying herself with a radiant smile throughout. Danny Barnes follows with "this banjo is usually in-tune but it is the humility" - you had to be there - also "It isn't really bluegrass if the girl doesn't die before the end of the song." Barnes tries some of his fantastic "barnyard electronics" on the crowd but all doubts are blown away as the crowd stands to demand an encore and joins in on "Keep on the sunny side of life."
Overnight at Lake Placid Club Lodges followed by cooked breakfast at Gus' corner cafe in Gabriels, including sliced tomato! The lady who served us, part Cherokee, part Scottish, insisted I looked and sounded like Steve Irwin! We get diesel at Leroux Quickstop outside Fort Covington at $3.099 per US gallon, but are mortified as we roll into Akwesasne Mohawk Indian nation and diesel is $2.86. Back into Canada at Cornwall and rolling west bound on old Highway 2 to avoid the main highway. We stop for tea and cake at friends in Belleville after seeing a massive eastbound jam on the 401. We reach Toronto and divert onto the Don Valley Parkway to avoid a jam up ahead, making home at 20:00. I'm whacked this morning.

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