Sunday, October 6, 2013

And More New York

This week I have a couple stories to tell which will take up the majority of my post. The pictures will have to fill you in on the rest. 

I started out in Watertown/Fort Drum, where I'd spent the night in a hotel someone set me up with. Because hotels aren't apt to say, "Oh, stay as long as you want, we don't mind..", or at least, when they do so, it's with the expectation of what, in my estimation, seems almost extravagant pecuniary compensation, I was pushed for time when it came to writing emails, going through my pictures, and my last blog post. After checking out, I spent a couple hours in the lobby finishing up. 

I needed to buy food for the week on the way out of town, then sat outside the store and ate a fair proportion of what I'd just bought. As a side note, I sat there for about an hour, and the only person that really stopped and talked to me happened to have been from the Midwest.

Finally, I made it out of town towards late afternoon, facing the largest hill I've had to deal with since the western states for sure, pushing my bike most of the way to the top.

Just after cresting the hill, I went for my headlight, having settled to the bottom of my pack, only to discover that the bracket had come loose. It was almost fully dark, and I had to find everything, and put it back together. Apparently I'd got the attention of a lady living locally, who came and asked, from a distance, not knowing much more about me than that I was stopped, and slightly uncertain, if I needed help. I said I was alright, but could use a place to camp for the night, and so was handed off to Sean, the "hired man", working for his stay on the premises. He gave directions, and went on ahead.

The old restaurant, apparently, and now shed and greenhouse where Sean lives.
Well, I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but when I arrived, Sean already inside, I wasn't exactly sure where the entrance was, or how to let him know I was there. So I had an awkward few moments, not sure quite what to do, 'till he came out looking for me. 

Now, this "home" of Sean's.. he had electricity, but no plumbing. In fact, water for drinking, watering the tomatoes, washing up, everything, was collected rainwater from the roof. (Water off a galvanized tin roof has a distinctive flavor to it, by the way). He had a bucket toilet around the corner. The building was heated by wood, he had a refrigerator and microwave, and an ancient commercial kitchen gas cook stove/oven. 

The guy slept on a recliner next to the stove, with the radio on all the time. He said since his TV broke, he's been reading a lot - 1000+ page novels, some political commentary.. he had a decent shelf of books. His bib overalls didn't appear to have been washed in some time, and he obviously had neither shaved nor had a hair cut in a few weeks at least. I'd have guessed Sean was 70 something, till he mentioned visiting and taking care of his 84 year old father..

"I bet you've met a lot of interesting people along the way."

I felt like saying, "Yeah, I think you go near the top of the list..". When mention was made about wondering if I was a safe person, I told him that as long as he expressed any concern for my safety, I knew I had nothing to worry about, he appreciated this statement of trust.

I was still hungry, so was grateful when he offered me some food. He'd have given me some fresh apple cider, but it had been started on its way of going hard..

It's beginning to feel quite natural for me to sleep outside rather than in some unfamiliar context, so I turned down the offer to sleep in the camper or inside the shed, and slept quite well. As I was packing to leave in the morning, he said he'd give me some money, but didn't have any himself, to which I assured him that he'd given me more then plenty, in food, shelter, and just being hospitable. 
A Civil War Memorial
Well, the next few days I had limited interaction with people. The Adirondack region of New York is the least heavily populated place I've been since the western states. 

I saw houses for as low as $50,000. Later I saw townhouses for $300,000. I guess which road you're on makes a huge difference.. 

Oh, yeah.. and lots of "No Trespassing" signs.  

Spent a bunch of time on gravel roads - not because it was the less busy route, but because it was the most direct route. 
I should say, I spent more time with less cell service in New York than in anywhere else on this trip.
This is a good section of the road. Some places the sandy gravel was almost too loose to keep my bike upright on..
At one point, Google tried getting me on a road that, for all I could tell, did not actually exist. Consequently, I found myself headed in the wrong direction (again on a dirt/gravel road). I passed a couple pickups, and within half a mile broke my chain. So, I pushed my bike back, and asked one of the guys for a ride to the nearest bike shop - 10 miles away. The next shops on either side would have been over an hour distant..

Fortunately, with only some 2200 miles on my chain and rear sprocket, only the chain needed replaced - saving me $25. After a few hour delay, I was ready to hit the road again - in the right direction this time.

Interestingly, first thing in the morning I find my lens has a tendency to fog up, till it gets acclimated. I took a dozen fuzzy pictures before I got this one. 
Another thing I should say.. I was expecting the "mountains" to be a little bit more of a challenge physically. I hardly gained 1500 feet from where I started to the highest point. I've had single hills over 1000 feet before..  

The next incident particularly worth mentioning was visiting Fort William Henry, from the 7 Years War. Alternately known as the French-Indian War, or by some, the First World War.

At any rate, the modern reconstruction of the old fort exists on the southern edge of Lake George in New York. On learning I could take a tour, by reenactors, hear a canon and a musket, see the bullet moulding process, etc., I thought I'd go for it.  
Fort William Henry, Lake George, New York - 1755-1757
Actually, when this canon was fired, the amount of powder used (2 ounces) was a fraction of what was used in a grenade, which was a fraction of what would actually be used to fire the canon. It was kind of loud, but not nearly as loud as it would really be..
If they weren't all out of budget, I thought about buying one of their non-firing replica guns "for protection".
The Minne-Ha-Ha, docked, and I think the Mohican coming in to port. 
After my tour, which happened to have 3 guides, I being the only one in tour, I loitered around a little, and ended up talking for an hour or so to the youngest of the three, who happened also to be 20 years old. Nate and I really have a lot in common. We're both 20 year olds without clear direction. We both like history, music, traveling.. We both admire those of times past, we both know what it's like to go to college without a clear direction, though he's stuck with it, and I haven't.. 
Modern replicas of the canon that were originally here.

The dungeon cells, in the basement of the fort.
Because I'd spent so much time at the fort, unscheduled, I wasn't sure if I was going to make my originally intended destination, being the William Miller Home. It was 4:00, and I still had 34 miles. At first I planned to only do 20 miles. However, after hitting that point, I wasn't tired yet, and couldn't find a camping spot, so I kept going. 
I find this entertaining: People carrying backpacks, people riding horses, and bicycles, take the trail to the left. Must be self propelled bicycles..
I made an error, in that I didn't let them know I was coming, much less coming late. I thought to call, but didn't get around to it. Consequently, on arriving, at 8:30, no one was expecting me. I saw lights on, and called, and let them know I was there, and asked if I could camp behind one of the buildings, and they said that would be alright. 
An original barn at the William Miller estate.
Actually, someone knew I'd be coming sooner or later, it just wasn't the guy who answered the phone. So I eventually settled in, and got to sleep, and slept in a while. From time to time I thought I'd hear something, and wake up, but not see anything, so go back to sleep. 

Finally, I was awake, and saw someone come in my direction, so we greeted each other. I was given a towel for a shower (much needed, on account of my feet mostly), and told to come in for breakfast. 

As it turned out, those living on site had felt bad about not inviting me in for the night - something they frequently do, and actually I'd been visited a couple times already that morning while I was sleeping - so they saw me long before I saw them.. 
Ascension Rock - where, apparently, a few dozen people at least gathered on the night of October 22, 1844, the night when nothing happened. 
Eventually I ate up, and got the grand tour of the place, including a few extra side trips and such. Before I left, I was invited to visit my tour guides in Maryland, and then again in Florida, if I make it to the keys.. 
The chapel William Miller built, after being told he was no longer welcome in his old church. 

Right about the Vermont/New York boarder, looking at the Green Mountains (from which the state gets its name) on the horizon.
Now I really should make mention of my present context. I rode the afternoon after the Miller Home to Rutland, VT, where I found an Adventist church that had a Friday night Bible study, which I showed up to, part way in, completely unannounced. 

After the study, one of the members was so kind as to do for me what I'd never do for myself, and buy me a couple nights in a hotel room, as well as give me a ride to church in the morning.

Thanks Mr. Adams..
A last shot, just for spite. :D

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