This past weekend I decided to take a road trip on the spur of the moment to go and explore Lake Placid in upstate New York, and you know how much I love road trips!!!
I’d visited once before, but back in the early 90’s shortly after moving to Canada so didn’t really remember much of the visit. In those days I wasn’t a photographer nor did I spend the time like I do today trying to capture the essence of the places I visit.
I had decided to leave early and make sure that I arrived at Lake Placid before lunch, so that meant that I had to be up for 5:00 am and on the road no later than 5:30am… Yes, I know I’m pretty anal sometimes, but still the best part is that I didn’t have to worry about anyone else and could leave when I wanted. However, that I know is both a blessing and a curse truth be told, because ultimately I get to do what I want, but the downside is that I have no one to share the memories with… 🙁 What can I say, it is what it is!
After driving east along Highway 401 to Prescott, which is approximately 3.5 hours from Toronto I exited and headed south across the border to the US. A super easy drive especially at that time of the day. Whenever Zach, Sam and I ever take a road trip we always leave super early to get a jump start on the day, maybe a good option for your next road trip.
After crossing the border what I found was incredibly fascinating…
Many of the towns I passed through after crossing the border were European in name with the likes of Potsdam, Lisbon, Madrid and Stockholm all along the road to Lake Placid. It definitely gives you a sense of the original inhabitants of this area and their European roots and sensibilities when they first settled this area. The further east and south I traveled into the Adirondack mountains the more beautiful it became.
Lake Placid’s history is well documented given that it has hosted two Olympic Winter Games (1932 and 1980) which I find fascinating especially given that its literally a sleepy little town for much of the year, although clearly a ski destination in the winter.
Adjacent to my hotel and just down the hill is Main street, on which both the Olympic Ice Hockey arena and that the Olympic Oval are situated. The speed skating oval is actually the High School oval, and therefore an outdoor venue right in front of the school and just paces from the street. Actually pretty cool to walk out onto the oval and imagine the pageantry of the games right there!
The Olympic Museum is small and tired, but it does have some cool memorabilia. Yes, it was home to the “Miracle on Ice” in which the young amateur American Ice Hockey team beat the powerful Soviet team (who were the best team in the world by a country mile in those days – 1980) for the coveted Gold Medal. Its a constant theme in Lake Placid… 🙂
I was up early on Saturday morning and had decided to go visit the Olympic Ski Jump facility that I could also see from my hotel room balcony, and only a short drive away.
Upon arriving at the Ski Jump facility I was the only person around except for a guy working on the chairlift, who informed me that I had to go to the bottom of the slope to buy my ticket. No worries it was well worth the drive back down to the main spectator area to get my ticket. After riding the chairlift back to the top of the hill the attendant directed me to the 120 meter tower where another attendant could take me up to the top for a better view.
What I realized is that the highest tower is an additional 120 meters on top of an already incredibly steep hill… Can you imagine for one minute strapping two large skis to your feet, pointing them down a narrow track and then launching yourself off a 26 story building? Crazy right???
Clearly ski jumpers have ice running through their veins to have the courage and composure to do this dangerous and I’m sure thrilling sport. I tip my hat to you all! 🙂
Next up was a hike to the peak of Whiteface Mountain, although I realized before I started that it would be a 9 hour hike at a minimum so instead opted to drive up to the “Castle” and weather station at the top Whiteface Mountain on the Veterans Memorial Highway which was constructed during the depression by local labourers and opened in 1935 by then President Franklin Roosevelts as a memorial to all veterans of the Great War.
I was treated to fabulous 360 degree views of the Adirondack Mountains along with the Green Mountains of Vermont in the distance, Lake Champlain and the local finger lakes…mother nature at her very best!
I decided on a round about drive via Saranac Lake on my way back to Lake Placid, where they have a lovely little Farmers Market on Saturdays which is well attended by locals and tourists alike, and a fabulous opportunity to walk and talk to some of the the stall holders and check out the local produce!
Each night I found myself eating at a different local watering hole, featuring live music with a vibrant and eclectic clientele, and you know how much I love people watching!
This weekend was the Lake Placid Marathon/Half Marathon (Sunday morning) so there were lots of runners in town for the run, as well as the myriad cyclists who love this area for the steep climbs, then lastly, but definitely not least the bikers from all over the North East who come up here for the winding open roads and the friendly hospitality. As I said…eclectic!
Well, nothing like an impromptu road trip just for fun! Is it time to dust off the maps and think about somewhere fun to explore over the weekend? I’d definitely recommend Lake Placid as a place to visit, if you want some insider tips let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige. 🙂