08.05.2012 - 11.05.2012
The next few days were good. The weather was not always helpful, but never downright bad. I walked a bit. I did a couple of 30-40mile cycles, after the first of which I was suddenly grateful that I did indeed have a car. The terrain was hilly and it was raining on and off for a few days. Whilst neither was a big deal, having a car mean't it was easier to buy groceries (a 40 mile round trip for anything beyond extreme basics), and also see allot more; heck, in truth, see anything apart from the single road nearby, and a few rough local trails I could walk along. Though I found the bus stop, I never once saw a bus. I started taking the bike in the car, driving off to likely looking points on the small map I had, and then parking up whilst I went for a cycle along a forest trail or a hike up a mountain, or sometimes, both from the same stopping point. But not simultaneously, naturally. That would be quite silly. And awkward. Especially when the weather was wetter or greyer, I just drove, enjoying the scenery and periodically stopping to take in a view, or just be. I was happier driving the gentle curving lumpy roads than on the Interstate where all other drivers seemed to be uniformly moronic, and i soon mastered the real meaning behind most American road signs (eg: what the locals do, instead of what they are supposed to do).
Stream in the back garden
The Adirondacks (no, i still can't pronounce it either) were a welcome sight and place to be, although they were also mostly closed. Winter and ski season is gone, and summer season does not begin until labour day in a few weeks time. So I basically had the whole place to myself. I would not say that they are stunningly beautiful or a must see, or even in many places very different to places that I know: Large tracts could easily be part of Sweden or Finland or Germany or Britain; other bits reminded me of corners of Russia or Japan. But they were definitely at least very pleasant, and also absolutely what I needed at that moment. Though occurring due to pure dumb luck, I had definitely made a good choice.
I stopped off at a waterfall offering “long walks” which turned out to be a mile long, and an extra long walk (1.3miles), but they were also on semi-private land and seemingly the only attraction open in the park. Despite that, I was the only visitor, but baulked at the 22usd charge and moved on. I wandered around the perimeter of Fort Ticonderoga, a key battle ground in both the Seven Years and American Revolutionary Wars, and was disappointed that it, too, was shut. I took a detour into Vermont, driving through the Green Mountain National Forest and spending my first night in a traditional American motel.
One evening back home there was a huge crashing noise in the back garden and I carefully peaked out, half expecting to see a bear attacking a rubbish bin, or maybe aliens landing. Instead, I saw an old drunk guy, bottle of spirits in one hand staggering around. He waved in my direction and headed into the woods, not to be seen again. Who he was, or where he came from when the next dwelling was several miles away, I have no idea.
I have always enjoyed listening to foreign radio, and after some experimenting with a handful of stations, found that 'the Wizard' proved to have the most robust signal, and interesting music choice. Mostly classic rock, it was the adverts that I loved more than anything. I could probably write several posts just on American adverts, but will restrict myself to just a few sentences here: Mother's Day was fast approaching, and adverts of suggested gifts presents for the day featured prominently. Two of the more memorable ones suggested “accessorize your mum” (erm. What?), whilst another asked “what more could your mum want; buy her some of our finest Moodoo or Mulch”.
If I gave my mum a bag of sh1t for mother's day, my suspicion is that she might not be that excited and I might be in for a hard few weeks of grovelling (quite probably, in said sh1t). Perhaps it is a cultural thing.
On the last day the sun was out and temperatures up. It was a glorious day for scenery, and for climbing some hills for the view. I really could not have been happier. That night, my friends again came up, and a wonderful evening was had. The following day after a detour through Schenectady for no reason except that I love the name. i returned the car, and was stunned to discover that I had somehow managed to drive almost 800 miles in 4 days, as well as all the trekking and cycling. I would have guessed less than half that. It had cost me about $90 in fuel. In England it would have cost more than double. Filling up on the last day, I remarked how cheap it was to me, and the woman in the gas station told me that prices had been reduced by 11cents than morning. That is about 7pence. In my entire life, I have no recollection of petrol prices in Europe ever going down by more than the occasional 1-2cents. Here it sounded routine.
I was happier than I have been in a good while and feeling refreshed, and though I could have stayed for many days, maybe weeks, I have limited time at the moment and it was time to move onwards, to see how I now coped with towns and people, or whether I needed more time. I'm off to Buffalo in a couple of days, but first it is a wildly illogical but typically me detour back to New York City.