Friday, August 7, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Adirondack Museum to Horseshoe Lake

The pit stop for this leg of the tour... no wait... this isn't the Amazing Race.

The meeting place for this portion of the tour was the Adirondack Museum.  It's a great place for a rendezvous, but it's also a great place to visit as a destination in its own right.

The museum is perched near the top of an escarpment so that it overlooks Blue Mountain Lake. But you won't know that until you are well into your museum visit.
Google maps
The theme for this expansive and well-endowed exhibition space ought to be 'the Adirondacks, a place where modern life and the wilderness meet'.

As you enter the museum's campus, there's no mistaking that you're in the heart of the Adirondacks, yet the space has a big city metropolitan feel to it. The exhibits are meticulously curated and presented, the documentation that provides insight and context for each exihibit is plentiful and comprehensive, and the objects in the museum are of obvious museological importance. In fact there is at least one piece in the collection that is on loan from the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.  You don't get exhibits on loan from the Smithsonian unless your museum has stature and pull.

It was mid-afternoon when Stephanie and I began our visit. We knew we would only be able to see portions of the museum's exhibits.  We also had a lot of ground to cover to get properly acquainted.

We began our visit by purchasing admission tickets (my treat).  From the reception desk outside the gift shop we headed over to the boating wing. The docent on duty (a very kindly and knowledgeable gentleman whose name I can't for the life of me remember - Jim help me out... he was on duty when we were there too) took notice of our armoured pants and boots, put two and two together, and took us straight to a corner of the canoe exhibit to show us a photo of a turn of the century (20th not 21st) motorcycle (it could have been an early Harley) rigged as a canoe transporter.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Another star of the boating wing is a 19th century ultra-lightweight canoe, cedar I believe, that beats a modern day Kevlar ultra-light by a whopping two pounds!  A ten-pound vintage canoe, can you believe it?

We strolled and talked, and talked and strolled.  The museum was an ideal setting to get acquainted.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Stephanie was at turns earnest and serious, sharing her considerable riding and touring experience, learning about the museum's exhibits... and playful.  I witnessed first-hand her signature selfies as works in process.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
250cc Superhero!
We wrapped up our visit at the museum's café.  Jim Mandle really, really wanted the three of us to enjoy this visit and had devoted considerable care and expert attention to an itinerary that was frustrated by the fortuitous sale of his Lake Luzerne home. I had to make sure that Stephanie and I sat at the corner table with the stunning views of Blue Mountain Lake.  Jim these shots are our heartfelt expression of our thanks to you for making our little two-day adventure so very pleasant.
We chatted over our late afternoon snack, getting to know each other. Our conversation inevitably turned to thoughts of a campsite as the afternoon turned to early evening.  It was time to make tracks.

Stephanie and I quickly agreed that Jim's suggestion of a camp site at Horsehoe Lake made the most sense for us. We had each saved Jim's e-mail messages so we had a really good idea of how to locate the evening's destination.
Off we went northbound on Highway 30 with Stephanie in the lead.
Cruising north on route 30 was joyful and thoroughly satisfying.  We stopped at the village of Long Lake to refuel at the same spot where I had topped up my anti-freeze earlier in the day. With a plentiful supply of gasoline we pressed on.

Stephanie pulled over to snap some photos on the causeway that crosses Long Lake.
We got rolling again and in no time we had covered the 22 kilometres from Long Lake to the junction where route 421 heads west, ominously marked as a dead end.

Memories of my ride with Jim came flooding back as we crossed the stone bridge where Jim and I had stumbled on the artists painting in plein air.  This time there were no artists to be seen  but this picturesque spot had attracted swimmers upstream sliding down the gentle rapids on the far side of the stream, and a couple of anglers trying their luck where the water spills north into Tupper Lake.
Hopping back on the Vespas we continued on 421.  The roadway degraded as we made our way to Horseshoe Lake, eight kilometres further west. Potholes, heaved pavement, and loose gravel slowed our progress. We crested a rise and there on the right was a gravel driveway leading to what seemed to be one of the campsites that Jim had suggested.  Stephanie asked that I stay put while she investigated. There were signs that the site had been recently used and we wanted to make sure we weren't about to take someone else's spot. Jim had suggested that if the first spots off the paved portion of 421 were unavailable, me might continue past the point where the road turned to dirt because there were other spots further on.  Stephanie was minded to explore a little further, so off we went.

It turned out that nothing seemed obviously better than the first site, so we turned back and settled on that first one.

As soon as we parked the bikes we were viciously attacked.

It was the camping equivalent of Pearl Harbor. The word had gone out that there was fresh meat at the lake, and wave upon maddening, buzzing wave of winged marauders single-mindedly bent on devouring us whole, made Stephanie and I the ground zero of insect armageddon.  It was a bug-o-calypse of magnificent proportions. That said, not the worst I have experienced, likely because the mosquitoes and blood-thirsty deer and horse flies were struggling in vain to pierce our armoured clothing.  Another reason to ride ATGATT.

Fortunately, modern tents are easily pitched closed, so once we had our safe houses ready for us, we knew there were no invaders within.  That was a very good thing because while we were setting up house, the following conversation occured. Me: "Did you bring any bug spray?" Stephanie: "No. Did you?" Me: "No." So much for my Boy Scout pledge to be prepared.

I made the smallest possible opening in the tent flap, threw all my gear in, then zipped the flap up tight.

We stood there admiring our handiwork for a moment.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
It took mere seconds to reach a consensus that this was perhaps a great place to spend the night, but not a place to grab our evening snack. Stephanie had picked up some cheese, dried sausages and some head cheese earlier in the day.  We hopped back on our mounts and made a bee-line back to the  Tupper Lake inlet. When we got there, the swimmers were leaving and the anglers had left, so we had that wonderful slice of Adirondack wilderness to ourselves.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
We sat on a smooth rock, shared our dinner and chatted some more.  The bugs left us more or less alone.  I suspect that they had massed such an impressive offensive over at Horseshoe Lake, that they had left themselves no option but to leave a skeleton force at the Tupper Lake squadron. They were no match for our armoured clothing, and no match for the speed of our Vespas.

It was nine-ish by the time we declared dinner done, and made our way back to mosquito junction.

I made the smallest possible opening in the tent flap and dove inside, made a clumsy U-turn, and zipped the door shut.  I sat in the tent, surrounded by saddlebags and my two dry bags and assessed the situation. As far as I could tell I was alone in the tent. I zipped the window open pleased that the mosquito netting let the breeze in, but excluded the bloody bugs.  Stephanie was still outdoors, softly cursing the bugs and mumbling instructions and encouragements to herself.  I realized that I had left the fly panels closed, and I asked Stephanie if she wouldn't mind opening them for me, which she kindly did on the spot.

Stephanie settled into her tent as I began unpacking.  Mattress pad, sleeping bag, pillow, camp chair... then I struggled out of my armoured gear, jacket, boots, pants... At length, I collapsed on the bed, spent. Once we were both well settled in, the conversation resumed, tent to tent. It was strangely and wonderfully intimate. We were utterly alone, voices floating between the tents.
Stephanie had some whisky which she offered to share.  She poured a shot or so into an empty water bottle, barely unzipped her tent flap and tossed me the booze, which I retrieved in a similar manner.

I got a decent education on the merits of whisky, bourbon, and scotch, little of which I remember, other than the gift of warmth and relaxation that Stephanie's whisky gave me.

Darkness fell slowly but resolutely, and our exchanges waned slowly too.  Neither of us said goodnight.  It wasn't by any means a lack of consideration, or a lapse of good manners. For my part it was more that I didn't want to close the day, to end the conversation. It was heaven, and I wanted it to last, knowing that it couldn't. We were tired.

At some point our voices fell silent and we slept.

17 comments:

  1. What, no bug spray? On the other hand, Stephanie's booze was a great idea. The museum looks very interesting. I'll put it on my list... for 2016...

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    1. Ahhh booze... got to add a flask to my touring list.

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  2. Cool meetup complete with some "non-selfie" photos. Venturing into the woods with no bug spray. Pretty daring...

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    1. Shows my dire lack of real-world outdoor skills.

      Stephanie explained the virtues of camping in the southwest, particularly California. The only issue in some arid places is shaking your boots for scorpions.

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  3. Your report only makes me sadder that I wasn't able to join you both. I am glad you guys enjoyed the museum and camping at Horseshoe Lake. You think those bugs were bad, you should see the really big ones in the Adirondacks that can carry your Vespa away! Next time with a real "Adirondack Guide", we'll show you how to deal with those little pests. Hope we can ride again soon. Jim

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    1. Jim, does the bug-off solution involve eating something noxious, or is it more along the lines of bug-swatting and shooing Sherpas?

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  4. That area of the Adirondacks is awesome ... as long as you have bug spray! I never leave home without it (well, not since spending a night in the Adirondacks back in 2010!)

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    1. Karen, that's another thing to add to the touring list.

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  5. Once again, David, well-told and entertaining. I love that the speed of your Vespas left the mosquitos in the dust. Oh the conceit of you, you... Vespiti? Vespari? Vespini? Vespots? (Oh dear--it seems I've lost touch with my scootering roots.)

    And y'all gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "tossing back a few whiskeys" (from mosquito-besieged tent to mosquito-besieged tent). Cool.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

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    1. Thanks for the high praise Ry. It's a pleasure to serve up a story that bears reading.

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  6. What a long, but full day.

    We learned around Crater Lake how great armored gear is against mosquitos.

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    1. Brandy it's so true.

      At one point, the only exposed part of my body was the portion of my face uncovered when my modular faceshield was raised. And a mosquito bit me on the one place it couldn't seen to be swatted, right on the edge of my left eyebrow. So enterprising those mosquitoes. Now if we could harness that energy for something akin to honey.

      Wait a minute, nurse-less and doctor-less transfusion services...

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  7. And yet another item has made it into your packing list eh? Perhaps two if you include the "medicinal whiskey"?

    tent to tent conversation...sounds great.

    fwiw, I hear cigars and their noxious smoke also drive away the mosquitoes. I am assuming, the attacking hordes precluded the making of a fire?

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    1. Dom, a fire would have been a useful deterrent to those miserable beasts (someone explain to me how no one smacked one of those two mosquitos on the Arch!!) but previous campers had piled garbage on the fire pit that no one should burn such as plastics and so on. Besides we didn't have anything to roast such as marshmallows or hot dogs.

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  8. The museum- excellent, the riding also, but the camping, umm, I have to say I like motels. You are entirely admirable you Canadian woodsman but...

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    1. Michael, you stalker of alligators you! Nonsense! What's a few thousand mosquitos to a man who will approach a man-eating alligator armed with an iPhone?

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  9. Hi David ,
    Wow what an adventure you are having!
    You have really done well with the Scoot commute, You have found some really wonderful...true people.
    I wish my scoot and tent was there!
    Tent 2 tent chatter sounds like you are having a great time.
    I am sure the internet can be a dark bad place, But used right it can bring some lovely folk together and you have done just that:)

    Kind regards
    Len

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.