I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I arrived at Cumberland Bay State Park on Lake Champlain in the pouring rain. Because there were so few people there I was able to score an amazing site right on the water, and after I was settled I stood in the rain looking at the lake and begged my bad rain juju to go away!
That afternoon I was met by a dear old friend, Francoise, who drove down from Quebec City to spend a couple of days catching up and hiking with me. Once his tent was pitched on the site next to mine we drove into Plattsburgh for dinner. I hesitated for a moment before following his lead and ordering bison steak, but I have to admit… that, a caesar salad and a glass of wine made for a great meal! And… by the time we got back to the campground the rain was gone!
The following day we drove up to Lake Placid, and beyond to Mr. Joe. I was there last fall on my way across New York after someone I met at a roadway stop told me not to miss hiking to the top of Mt. Joe because the view was spectacular! I did as suggested and hiked it, in the pouring rain. And when I say hiked, I really mean climbed. The trail is steep and covered with large rocks. The girls and I forged ahead last fall, completely drenched and knowing there would be no view from the top, but enjoyed the challenging hike just the same. (Read about it here in Trips and Trails and Puppy Dog Tales)
I went back to that mountain because I really wanted to see the view I was promised, and wouldn’t you know… it started raining the moment we parked the car. I’d told Francois about my experience last year… the endless days of rain, the soggy hike up Mt. Joe to no view whatsoever, and the excessive rain I’d been traveling through most of the last few weeks. The entire drive up to Lake Placid was lovely! When we pulled into the parking lot and the sky opened up we just looked at each other, stunned, and then busted out laughing.
Needless to say the words Deja Vu ran through my mind over and over again as we climbed that mountain. Every single step seemed as though it were already imprinted on my brain. I think the dogs felt the same way! I could tell they knew the trail.
By the time we got to the top the rain had stopped and the clouds lifted enough to allow me to see farther than I had nine months prior. I took it as a small blessing, and vowed that I would return for more of Mt. Joe… on a gloriously sunny day!
Within hours of Francois departing for home, another friend… fellow travel blogger, Mike Shubic… rolled in and took his camp spot. The big highlight of our couple of days together was a trip to Ausable Chasm. I camped very near this spot the same evening I climbed up Mt. Joe last fall, and I remember being stunned at the unexpected sight of these falls as I drove across the bridge near my campground. The following morning before hitting the road, and long before the visitors center was open, I took a quick trip back to this scenic vantage point from the bridge. It’s seldom I get to share amazing vistas with anyone else, let alone a friend, so it was nice to have Mike there to enjoy it with me this time.
Although there were other stops we were hoping to make that afternoon, we decided to take the time to hike the Chasm trail. Wow! We were both very glad that we did! We were like little kids in a candy store with every new corner we turned!
After our trek along the Au Sable River, Mike and I drove into Plattsburgh to a look around and a have a bite to eat. Plattsburgh has a quaint and historic downtown area, with several beautiful churches (all of which we being refurbished in some way and were covered with scaffolding), homes and business fronts.
The following morning Mike and I said our goodbye’s for the second time in about a month. (We first met in Kentucky when our paths actually intersected after months of communicating virtually.) I was heading in the direction of the Thousand Islands region along the Saint Lawrence River, but made one more stop along the way in Brasher Falls. I can honestly say that the only reason I ended up in the Riverside Campground was that it was a midway point between Lake Champlain and Alexandria Bay, and they promised a good wifi connection. (Which I desperately needed after spending so much time camped off-grid!)
What I found was one of the friendliest groups of campers I’ve ever encountered! The bonus was being camped right along the St. Regis river and not too far up the road from Messina, another quaint little town along the St. Lawrence River. I shared some social time with my new friends, took a drive into Messina and out to the locks on the St. Lawrence, and kayaked with my camp neighbors Laurie and Veronica during my short stay. Mostly though, I worked… because I could!
When I continued my journey up the highway toward Clayton, I took a small recommended side trip to a new winery on Black Lake, Bella-Brooke Vineyard and Winery. One of the owners, Larry, gave me a tour of the vineyard and tasting room, poured me a few samples of their four tasty wines, and then gave me my very first wine slushy! This didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but had I not already walked back down the hill to my motorhome while finishing it I might have asked for more!! Very refreshing!
And just down the road from Bella-Brooke… two of my favorite things… old barns and horses!
That completes my promised second post in two days! Tomorrow I’m going to take you on a tour of an area I’ve been wanting to see for ages… Thousand Islands on the Saint Lawrence River! Don’t miss the boat!