Five Hundred Miles...

A Rogue Wanderer Traveling The River of Life.. Travel, Motorcycles, and Growing Old Against My Will

Monday, August 27, 2007


The Adirondack Mountains comprise six million acres of nothingness, and this is as it should be. But in this nothingness is so much to see and do that you will wear out many sets of tires before you see it all. Susan and I took four days and while we filled every day, we did not even touch the needle on to of the tip of the iceberg.

Here it is late in the season, and work has kept me off the road, going out six days a week, walking past the 800 in the parking lot, only getting out for some local day trips. I had had to blow off a planned Colorado trip, a North Carolina, West By God trip, Pine Barrens ride and every single grand plan that I had laid out in January. I had to get out.

Anxious to put work-city-civilization-traffic behind, I put the hammer down on the five hour slab ride that put me off exit 30 and onto route 73 west and into the park. The weight of a thousand and one problems lifted off my shoulders with the sight of the High Peaks, and for some reason, I felt at home. I have been coming to these mountains since 1958, and the sight of mountains always warms my soul.

As the evening faded, a canoeist paddled across the lake off the rear deck of our cabin just outside Lake Placid, and we decided that in this nothingness, we would do nothing. No plans, no itinerary, but just follow the front wheel and see where it would take us on the roads that wound through this “Forever Wild” wilderness.

We began with breakfast and a brief exploration of Lake Placid. If there is a commercial hub here, this is it. Having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980 and the “Miracle on Ice”, Lake Placid has retained its small town feel with an international flair and feel to it; fine restaurants, chic shops, license plates from just about every state and accents from around the world. Even in the summer heat, the Olympic spirit is alive and well. In the village parking lot, the US Luge team is offering introductory rides off a flat bed truck to introduce Americans to this very strange and exciting sport. And, folks, late comers to the game that we are, our kids are doing great.

But I had something bigger in mind. I have been fascinated by bobsledding since I can remember, and here, in our very own Adirondack Mountains is one of two sites in the country where civilians can actually sample a downhill run.

We went.

There is only one word that describes the buck-a-second fifty-five second ride on a wheel equipped bobsled, with the walls mere inches from my head, getting rattled around as it thunders down the half-mile chute……

Okay, two words if you’re gonna be persnickety What a rush!!!

We rode.

Lake Placid, for all of its attractions, is not the Adirondacks. To see the mountains, we have to get on the road. We ride out of Ray Brook west on 3, to Saranac lake, then on to Tupper Lake, and turn south on 30 to Long Lake and Blue Mountain Lake. Did I mention that there are a lot of lakes up here? The only thing more common than bikers are kayakers.

The spirit of the mountains is the mountains themselves. The small towns and villages are their heart; the long stretches of two lane blacktop the arteries though which we ride. In the mornings and the evenings, the smell of hikers campfires waft across the roads, reminding me that that there are people in those trees, up on those mountains, camped along those streams and lakes. It is when I get within my head, when the cobwebs clear out, the juices flow, and I suck up every mile as if it is my last. Mile after mile of roadway, through valleys and towns, the only sound that of the V Twin, my arm tired from waving, passing like minded souls alone and in groups, all seeking the nirvana that is mountain riding. And when the signs say “Rough Road Ahead”, they mean it.

I like to do what I call “Snoop ‘n poop” riding. I’m not particularly interested in how fast or how far I go, but what I see and experience; when even getting lost is grist to the mill of the ride. And, you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you’re going, can you?

We found an American Mountain Man encampment at the Adirondack Park Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, where I busted off a round-ball and savored the acrid smell of black powder for the first time in years. The kick of a .54 was comforting though.

The museum is a celebration of Adirondack arts, crafts and history, From Adirondack Guide Boats, and the world renowned Adirondack Furniture

We continued down to Regulator, heart of Adirondack lumbering country, turned west on 30, then north on 8 up to 28 west then north on 28N towards Minerva. I had heard a biker bar, and found Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon in this little bit of nowhere, a treasure trove of mostly Harley Davidson memorabilia and three bikes on display. I passed on a beer, thank you. Riding two up is new to me, and I was just getting used to it. I had to constantly keep in mind that I was riding for two.


Of the forty six high peaks in the Adirondacks, only one--White Face Mountain--is accessible to wheeled visitors. Completed in 1835, the five thousand foot peak provides a world view of the mountains and on some days, you can see Vermont. The view from the top reminds me of how vast this park is. Larger than Rhode Island, it takes in more land and more roads than can possibly been seen on one visit. I leave this story here, because riding out the next day is something I don’t like to think about. In my heart, I’m still in the mountains, and that’s where I want to stay.


  • At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Ponch said…

    Hey Sundial, the Adirondacks are 6 million acres, not 6 million square miles. That would make the park 3/4 the size of the former soviet union.

  • At 8:14 AM, Blogger Warren D. Jorgensen said…

    Ooops. Thanks. I'll correct it.

  • At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Frederica said…

    Wow, there is a lot of helpful data above!


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