Friday, June 9, 2017 – Lake Placid to Alexandria Bay, New York
Picturesque Lake Placid, in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York, has twice been home to the Winter Olympics, in 1932 and 1980. Several of the Olympic venues can be toured, but there are limited hours in June, as it's still the off-season. But we were mainly interested in going up the ski jump, and luckily it was open this morning.
The thrill of victory!
Also luckily, when we got to the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex, we learned they were currently conducting pool training, which we could watch for no extra charge before proceeding up the mountain. So we paid our $8 each and headed for the pool. It was fun to see the athletes trudge up the stairs in their heavy boots, fly down the ramp, and launch themselves into elaborate aerial tricks before splashing down in the water. They wore all of their usual ski gear, plus a life jacket. There were strong jets in the swimming pool to break the surface tension of the water and also to help propel the jumper to the edge of the pool. Wearing all that gear, they could use a little help with the swimming.
Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex bunny slopes
Practice makes perfect
After watching the athletes train, we drove up to the top of the hill to the base of the ski jump towers. There is a chairlift as well, but it wasn't running today. From the base of the taller, 120-meter (394-foot), ski jump, we took an elevator up 26 stories to the observation deck and proceeded through the ski jumpers' prep area and out onto the start platform. Looking down the ramp, you get a sense of just how nuts these athletes are! The view was spectacular.
90- and 120-meter ski jump towers
Looking down the 120-meter ramp
Tom and Jana in the Adirondacks
We ate lunch at a Subway in Saranac on our way to Mt. Arab, outside Piercefield, New York. In the early 1900s, over a million acres of the Adirondack Park in New York were devastated by fire, causing the state to install fire towers all over the Adirondacks. The towers became obsolete in 1990 when aerial observation became the norm. A two-mile round-trip hike leads to the fire tower at the summit of Mt. Arab and a lovely view. It was super windy at the top of the tower, making me question the structural integrity of a 100-year-old tower!
Trail to the tower
Mt. Arab Fire Tower
Tom from the top of the tower
It was a beautiful hike, and I managed to avoid the copious amounts of poison ivy and poison oak all along the trail, but we were absolutely attacked by black flies. Interesting thing about black flies – apparently they inject an anesthetic, so you can't really feel them bite you, and also an anticoagulant, so you bleed and bleed and bleed. I thought they were just annoying and ignored them during the hike, and by the time we got back to the car, I was a bloody mess.
We're staying the next couple of nights in Alexandria Bay, a village on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the Thousand Islands region of northern New York. From Mt. Arab, we headed north to Ogdensburg and drove the last 40 miles or so west into town along the scenic seaway.
St. Lawrence Seaway
Captain's Inn & Suites is a simple motel with an outdoor pool, a nice grassy picnic area with volleyball and horseshoes, and even boat docks on a creek leading to the St. Lawrence Seaway. We should have brought our boat! The motel is located a short walk from Alexandria Bay's small downtown.
Boat dock at our hotel
Older dock at our hotel
For dinner we walked downtown to Skiffs Bar for beer and pizza. The bar had a menu posted in its window, but they actually order the food from Korner Pizzeria next door. Anyway, it was delicious, and one beer led to another, good live music began, and we stayed for hours. Except for us, the crowd seemed to be all locals, enjoying a night out at their favorite bar before tourist season starts very soon.
Skiffs Bar, downtown Alexandria Bay