Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Travel Day Three

The crows wake me this morning at 5:30. Their ruckus down by the shore is deafening. They’re having some sort of difficulty important only to crows. I put the pillow over my head. The only thing this does is produce bad dreams. I toss and turn until Andy gets up at 7:30. This morning he has to go hunt for a cup of coffee. This place doesn’t even have a pot sitting in the office. He comes back with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a blueberry muffin for me. He’s working on some big bun thing. It looks too sweet for me. I work on the muffing, but that turns out to be a bit too sweet too. After the coffee I can tell that the devil is still after me.
I make the mistake of logging into my work e-mail. The sale VP looks like he may screw up my plans for Fridays off during the month of August. I can feel my jaw set and I’m ready for a fight! I realize what a stupid thing it is to check on work when you are on vacation. I log out. Between the el Diablo and the VP I am now in a bad mood.
We take off about 9:30 and head up 86 toward Lake Placid. I’m intent on getting to Whiteface early. The motel guy was telling us that it might shower later. The weather is looking wonderful right now, but there are a few clouds off in the distance. Andy is meandering along. We spot a deer trying to decide to leap across the road or not. She doesn’t, thank goodness. As I follow Andy I can feel my irritation rising. I don’t know why I’m feeling so pissed. Oh, yea, the work thing. Even though I know this I can’t shake it. Andy stops and wants to know if I want to go up the lift to the ski jumps at Lake Placed. “NO. “ He looks surprised. I calm down. “I prefer not too” I say. He shrugs; we take a few photos and head off. On the way to Whiteface he pulls over again. “Do you want to see this gorge?” he asks. I don’t really want too, but it is his vacation too after all. We go into the visitor center and I find the ladies room. I’m trying to shake the devil once and for all. When I emerge, he’s looked the place over and decides he doesn’t want to do this after all. I’m suddenly feeling better and not as grouchy as we head on our way.
As we start our climb I’m excited. I’ve heard so many motorcyclists talk about their climb of Whiteface. We pay our toll at the booth and begin our accent. The road is a bit rough, but the climb is pleasant. We stop at a few of the viewing spots and take photos. The view in my rear view mirror is pretty good too, and I anticipate this for the ride back down. We reach the summit parking about 11:00 and take the elevator to the summit observation platform. There are clouds, but the sun is winning over. We enjoy some great views and linger at some of the best viewing spots. A nice young lady named Brittany takes our photo for $10. It’s a great photo with the elevation posted right beside us. We hike down the foot path to the “castle” restaurant for lunch. The path is only 1/5 of a mile but the rocks are very slick in spots. I’m shocked that my boots, which I thought had good grip, don’t.
We have the burger basket for lunch. For the price we paid, you could have bought four Burger King Value meals, but what the heck, we’re on vacation. We check our AARP map and decide which way we will take to Massena. After our lunch and head back down the mountain. I let the engine take me down in 2nd and sometimes 3rd. I avoid the break all the way down. It’s just right and comfortable. There are a couple of vehicles ahead of us and I can smell their brakes burning.
We head back the way we came on 86. Why is the road so much more enjoyable going in this direction? Could it be that I have left the devil and work behind me? Or is the view just better in this direction? I have a feeling it’s a combination of the two. We pick up 458 and head west. There is road construction to contend with, and at spots we have to cut the engines and commune with nature. Just before we reach 11b we stop for gas at a Mom and Pop that has a single pump. They serve ice cream. Today’s flavors are vanilla and black raspberry. Soft serve only. While Andy is paying, I notice the menu board. Hot dog, Michigan, Potato Salad, Tuna Salad. I recognize all but the Michigan. “What’s a Michigan?” I ask. It’s a hot dog with spaghetti and sauce with bits of onion and pepper in it. I’ve never heard of it. “It’s very popular around here” she tells me. Hmm, is a hot dog like having a sausage? I think I’d rather have the hot Italian sausage, but not anytime soon. No hot stuff for while.
We arrive at the Eisenhower Locks in Massena around 4:00. As we pull up my childhood memories are shattered. The parking lot is sparsely populated and the grass is growing up through the cracks. The observation deck is still there, and it is the only place the public is allowed. When I was a kid, you could stand along the lock as long as you stayed behind the red painted line. The ships back then used to be waiting their turn to get through the lock. Now the place is barricaded and the people are funneled to the observation decks. Homeland security? I tell Andy about my disappointment and he kindly reminds me that I am talking about forty years ago! I blink a few times and realize he is correct. In my sweet memories all the way here, I was a kid in the back seat, looking at Mom and Dad in the front. I feel a bit weepy now, realizing how long ago that was and that Mom is no longer with us.
We are fortunate in that a Canadian vessel is closing in to the lock. The ship is moving ore down the seaway. The process takes more than an hour. The vessel takes up the entire length of the lock. The gates are closed and the water level raises the ship to the next level. The gates open and the vessel continues down the river.
My part of the journey is now over, and it’s Andy’s turn to take us on an adventure. We pull out the map again. We look it over, have a few words about the options and then head off about 5:45. He’s going to take me north, that’s all I know. We head through a Mohawk reservation area and I spot a Casino. I chuckle to myself. If there is one thing besides a dirt road that Andy can find without looking, it’s a casino. I expect him to pull in, but he rides on by. I can’t believe his self control. We arrive in Malone at 7:00 and call it a day. We find an Econo Lodge and the place is decent. I’m good! I have something safe for dinner. I plan to sleep well tonight.

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