Monday, July 21, 2008

Lake George

Dinner Under Thunders

Area: Adirondack Mountains - Up State New York


Travel Month:
July 2008

Camping, Drive, Wilderness

Total Distance Covered:
2000 Kilometers on tarmac

View from the cruise


This was the second leg of our trip to Canada. We took a few days break after Kawathra Lakes camping before going for this one. This was in the cards for the longest time but we could not make it even while we stayed for many years in Canada and the US. But this time in our visit we took the opportunity to do this one for sure. So here we were driving towards Niagra to cross the border into NY on our rented Charger. The border formalities were almost none other than the customs guys asking me to take my sun shades off while talking to him.

We entered Buffalo and stopped at the Walmart for some supplies and were surprise to notice that there were only old people working in the whole store and no young person was visible anywhere. This town is a dieing town as many other US towns. There are run down streets and houses and communities, the youngsters move to bigger cities as soon as they could and leave their elders to live at their own. This is very much appose to the eastern mentality where the family values still prevail and parents are taken care off.

Anyhow we were already on I90 towards Syracuse. The drive was nice especially on a rented Dodge Charger that I took because kids insisted to take that black beauty. We had couple of time cars coming next to us to probe us to have a go with them and I could not resist this mustang with two blacks in it. I told Asif on the radio that I'll slow down after a few miles run with these guys. It was very interesting race with that mustang, I thought they would not let me even touch them but it turned the other way round and the kids had a time of their life by making noise at the top of their voice and the charger was tested this way.

Campground and Lake George

We slowed down for the other car to catch up and then crossed Syracuse and moved further towards Albany the Newyork capital. As soon as we came out of the toll road we saw some smoke coming from Asif's car. We stopped at the side of the highway and noticed that after filling engine oil, he forgot to put the cap so while driving the oil kept shooting out and now it was all over the engine and due to engine heat it started to produce smoke.

After preventive measure we drove to the next gas station 10 kms ahead in Albany, to check the car thoroughly. We filled up the lost oil and the car was ready to go. We drove for another 1.5 hour to reach Lake George where we intended to camp. It was getting dark when we made it there so we thought to stay in a hotel for the night and would look for a good camping spot the next day. After some search we found a nice hotel and checked in to two suites. Lake George is one of the most visited lakes in the Adirondack region and is very popular amongst visitor, hence expensive and busy.

We are loaded like this when we have our own gear

Adirondack Mountains is a protected area of several hundred square kilometers and is name as one of the Park Preserves of US. There are numerous number of lakes and small villages with in this park. This is all low altitude mountains with a lot of greenery and fresh water lakes. The area looks like mini Europe. Lake George is the most visited place in this region, it is a long and thin lake with a number of resorts and private summer houses and mansions dotted on the shores all along making this a picture perfect lake.

Kids enjoying the weather on top of the mountain
Once we settled into our rooms myself and Asif went out to pick up some food and found a Dominos just about to close. They first refused and said it was close but when we insisted that there are still 15 minutes left they agreed to give us a take away order. Everyone was hungry after the whole day drive so did justice to food. As soon as the kids got some energy the run around started again. Playing and jumping all over, they enjoyed the small park in the hotel but it got very chilly soon and we had to come indoors.

The night was very soothing and we had a good night sleep. Yesterdays journey was exciting but long so except me everyone took some time to come out of warm and cozy beds. I loved the morning chill air and the green trees around, the view of the mountain behind the trees in front of our rooms was outstanding. I had a chat with the owner and he told me many things about the area, he also told me about some nice camp grounds to explore before deciding on one.

Crisp sunshine came out and the morning became very pleasant. There was a different sort of smell - pine smell, in the atmosphere giving a feel that one is in a hill station. Everyone was up and we got ready for our drive.
This was a small town, we drove from one corner to the other, visited some camp sites but I was not convinced to stay at a campsite that closer to the town. So we drove to the other side of the lake to explore a State campsite on the hill. It had nice views and secluded one too, we picked a spot deep in the site right on the hill under gorgeous pine trees. The trees were really tall and majestic. Campsite was not crowded so we got our private area as no one camped around us atleast, bathrooms were not far too. We pitched our tents in the next hour and kids had a look around and explored the campsite and the area. Everyone loved this spot. We drove back to the town to fetch some supplies and lunch as we had a light breakfast earlier. We had some nice fish n chips and a lots of it. There were some tourists in the market place but when we reached another small village Glen Falls, we found several people going to one big store - none other than Wal-mart.

Once we were done we came back to have the town and visited lake at different spots. We took a big round and went up on the hills to have a view. The area is really beautiful but full of summer homes of the rich. Most of the streets leading to the lake are private roads. Roads are well paved.
We stopped at a marina to click some pictures when suddenly some clouds, dark black and full of thunders came and rain started. Just before myself, Sajeel and Asif entered the car a lightning hit the pole next to our car and there were kind of fireworks all over us. We hurriedly entered the car and were definitly terified because of the ordeal. The sparks fell on our cars and us but luckily we were safe and thanked the Almighty. It was a close call.

Our campsite in the tall trees
We drove off to continue our ride around the lake and enjoyed the remaining afternoon by sightseeing. The rain and clouds added to the glory of the scenery. It rained a few times during the day for short spells followed by some sun shine and clouds again. It was a very nice drive, the trees were green, the water in the lake was like crystal, the huts and lodges on the lake banks looked unreal but spectacular, the boats and cruises in the lake were providing a mesmerizing view. We did not feel tired at all due to the freshest air and cleanest environment. This lake offers all sorts of water and mountain activities and has become so popular and a must see in New york.

It was dark when we made it back to the site. It was time to cook food and make a big fire at the camp. Kids love to burn the match boxes and love to sit and play around the fire. Its a natural instinct I believe. There were no clouds now but we could feel the humidity and freshness in the air. The ground was wet but due to on the slop there was no accumulation of water whatsoever. Perhaps this was one of the cleanest air we were breathing in the whole trip. We sat around the fire, we chat around, we had a walk around, visited bathrooms in flash lights and did the necessary chores before retiring that night.

Sajeel, Iman and Moosa in good mood but looked tired

The next day was planned full of action too. We went to take a cruise and boarded on a nice and spacious one. We and a few other families occupied the seats right in front on the deck to have the nicest view. Cruises are always good for a few hours and then they become boring unless you are on a big cruise with all the facilities and you are traveling for few days in it as a home. Especially with small children, they get bored quickly of the static scenery. But this couple of hours gave us another angle of enjoying the beauty of the lake. Looking at the lodges, hotels, houses from in the lake was amazing. It is definitely one of the best lakes having such big mansions on it.
Once the cruise was finishing we met another patch of clouds coming our way. We rushed to the cars and then drove off to the highest hill in the area managed by the senior citizens. You need to pay toll to use the paved road snaking up in the mountain. A nice 30 minutes drive. It got all cloudy in a few minutes and we were driving right through the clouds. At one view point we got a clear window and had such a nice view of the lake, it looks different from different locations!!

Once we reached almost to the top it was raining cats and dogs. We were the only ones in the last parking from where they drive you to the summit on mini bus. We waited for some time for the rain to stop before asking the bus to take us to the top. It was a real feel of being in the mountains, the smell, the colors, the atmosphere and every thing. After a while when the rain became drizzle, we all boarded the mini bus and the old man drove us to the top. He asked us if we wanted to get down as it started raining again as soon as we reached the top. We could not resist, so we got off at the top in the rain. It was a small park cum picnic spot at the top and we saw signs of picnics that people would have enjoyed during better weather. However for us, this cloudy weather and rain was the perfect time to visit this place. Soon this place was fully covered with clouds and the visibility reduced, but the rain stopped. This was a good time.

All the kids wanted to stay there more but we started our descend through the trail and did not take the bus for the short ride. The walk was through the slippery trail and we carefully started going down. The dead or fallen trees were providing compost for others. Therefore the jungle was lush and healthy. Once we were down at the parking and in the open area, we let the children loose to run around and burn their energies - the excessive one. Driving down we got good weather and stopped at the look up points to click some snaps.

At the marina just before the lightning struck the electric poll next to our car

Once we were down, we stopped at a bike rental shop where they were renting two wheelers and tri-wheelers motor bikes. Had we known earlier we would have rented that. There we got to know about the latest forecast of another thunder storm full of heavy rain hitting the are in the next few hours. We had a round of the shops and then headed back to the camp to cook our dinner. There was some light left in the day when we reached our site on the banks of lake george but as we picked up a secluded spot up in the mountain we could not see the lake from our camp but only the feel that we were on the lake. Because we did not carry our camping gear due to long travel therefore we had borrowed stuff from other, and we were missing our kitchen tent badly. So we had put a 8x10 tarp between trees to make our kitchen. We had one table with bench on either side right under the tarp. And we had another tarp-smaller in sixe attached to the roof tarp to cover one half side. We were making daal chaawal (boiled rice and lentels full of herbs) for the dinner. We thought to prepare and eat the dinner before the storm hits us as it was forecasted to hit the area after a few hours from now. But the nature had other plans and we started to hear thunders up in the sky to the south of the lake. The clouds soon took over from the sun and we were under very dark and thunderous clouds in a real bad mood. Dare devils continued to cut onions, garlic and prepare fresh dinner for the night. In a few minutes it started to flash and thunder in such a way that we had not seen in years. The lightning was every where and the water was coming down as streams not rain. We were under very tall trees therefore the wind was not really much but the rain was very heavy. We tucked ourselves under the small tarp and the kids were having a different exposure. It was definitely a scary time for many. The food kept cooking, the thunders kept roaring, the lightning kept striking as if its gonna hit us, and the rain kept coming down very very heavy. The thunders were scarring the women. Pitch dark and then a heavy flash of light followed by a big thunder, continued for the longest time of 2-3 hours. During this time we ate and stayed under the tarp for these endless moments. We were not sure if the tents were leaking or sustaining such a storm as it was so heavy and was difficult to set things up in any way.

After several hours it slowed down a bit and the life started running into our bodies. We checked the tents and everything, there was water gathered at the top squared place on our tent and I pushed it up from inside to remove water from the top. There was some water seeped in due to this accumulation at the top but we were ok overall. The other tent sustained it nicely. Everyone was kinda numb due to these few hours and espacially due to the lightning falling around us so closely. The thunders were so loud and seemed bombs bursting into our ears. But for now it was over and we were safe. I thought we should take some break and let everyone come to normal, so we all went back the town for a stroll and to have a look in the stores. There were a few other people like us in the market place roaming around. We had a nice round of ice cream and everyone cheered up. The skies were not absolutely clear and the weather forecast said, more thunders on its way. So we drove back to the camp to settle down before more rains hit us and it did. As soon as we packed extra stuff and entered into our tents the rain started again with the same intensity and the thunders and lightning woke up again. But now we were in our camp so we tried to put kids to sleep and then kept listening to the thunders and the heavy rain hitting our tent. There was no sleep in my bags at least and it became another night without dreams for me. I had to remove water from the top square of our tent due to its design, again and again and to make sure there is no water coming in from anywhere and everyone is tucked into their sleeping bags nicely.

The rain continued almost into the early hours of the morning and then it stopped and I slept.
The morning was clear and crisp and there was water on the top square meaning it rained again after I went to sleep. There was some water inside the tent towards the slope but I was amazed to see these tents really surviving a severe storm bravely. We really appreciated the manufacturers - thanks to them.

Breakfast was prepared with eggs and other items. We had a plan to continue to New England states but Asif n fmly insisted going back due to some work related stuff and suggested us to continue. But we came together so decided to cut our trip short and would visit Detroit instead of continueing. Therefore we all started to pack up.
Once loaded we went to the mini gold that we promised our children from yesterday and everyone had a 18 whole mini gold. Once completed we decided to take the smaller roads out of Adirondack through some nice scenic area and would also touch a few more lakes like Lake Placid, Sarnac Lake, Tupur Lake. This will add to our distance but we had the full day to drive back to Mississauga, from where we stared our journey. During this journey towards the Thousand Islands we came across many picturesque lakes and scenery. Lake Placid, where once winter Olympics took place was in a very beautiful setting. We passed through dense jungles, open green fields, and were met by rains and thunders twice before we came out of Adirondack area. It became very dark due to the dark clouds during day time and the scenery became more attractive. We had a break at the last gas station in Adirondack and then moved on towards the Saint Johns River to cross over into Canada near Kingston. We crossed the Thousand Islands bridge when the day light was diminishing. Border formalities only took us a couple of minutes and soon we were on 401 towards Toronto.

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