Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Shakedown Cruise – Day 2

On the second day of our first adventure, we headed north on Route 3 toward Watertown. The pretty highway follows the coast of Lake Ontario and while I’d driven the road before, it was different hauling a trailer. First of all, everyone travels faster than the speed limit and secondly, there are few places to turn off to let folks by. (The type of thing you note while towing but don’t give much thought to driving solo.)

As we crossed the Salmon River, it brought back old ski trips where I’d see anglers, standing side-by-side in the frigid waters, hoping to entice a spawning salmon to their line. “Look at those idiots,” I’d sometimes muttered forgetting that soon I would be out in the same sleet and cold air, in a Lycra suit – racing the Tug Hill trails. Different strokes ….

Passing beautiful Henderson Harbor, we got a couple of good views off to the west but I was concentrating on the traffic, which was picking up as we entered Watertown. We managed to navigate our way through lane changes and traffic lights and soon were heading out of town on Route 11 – another road I’ve spent many hours on during my work days.

Two major changes in the last 20 years that I’ve watched is the dramatic growth of Fort Drum as the 10th Mountain Division has expanded and taken more deployments and the influx of Amish/Mennonite families moving in and buying old farms. So, we saw a number of buggies but no Humvees.

We had our first on-the-road lunch in Governeur at a gas station where Mary picked up some Subway subs while I walked the dog and got her settled in the truck. It was rather civilized without the Vizsla’s brown nose sniffing our food and after some “remove the evidence” hand wiping, we were on our way.

The drive up to Potsdam and down to Colton is pretty. We were heading to the Higley Falls State Campground on the Racquette River. The campground is nestled in big pines with sites well spaced and placed. It had looked good online and we weren’t disappointed. However, as I clanked by way along the access road and found our site, it was an “oh, oh” moment. I needed to do a 90 degree back in, avoiding several big trees. Some folks were sitting out across the way and I said to them, “Get ready for 20 minutes of comedy – I’ve never backed this thing up.”

Just then their son-in-law arrived in his pickup – and offered to guide me. (This is typical of the help we ran into everywhere.) Well, after a lot of coaching, false starts, wrong turns, we got the trailer lined up on the site with room to keep the truck hitched.

The site was great. Neighboring sites were no that near and we could walk down to the river for a beautiful view. First order of business was to grab a swim before the area closed for the night and off we shuffled down the path toward the beach.

This was our first swim of the year and it was great. The beach is fine and the water, while bracing, was not heart-stopping cold. The river is very wide in this area and it was just like swimming in a pond. Like most streams in upstate NY, the water is tea-colored from the tannic acid.

Power at some of these campsites is a little dicey and while this was supposed to have 15 amp service, we had some circuit breaker issues. I got the refrigerator running for the first time on gas, after some tinkering, so that helped our overall situation. We went down to the water, sat on a log, and watched a gorgeous sunset over the river.

We had a good night and in the morning, after a bike with the dog using the Springer, used the gas stove for the first time. Bacon and eggs while camping always tastes a little better.

We really like this campground. The sites are spaced and sited well and it has a good “family” feel to it. For water activities, it’s unbeatable.

Going carefully through our departure checklist, we did everything right except to remove the 15-30 amp adapter (I had a second one). That got added to the checklist.

We hated to say goodbye to this nice setting (checkout is 11 AM but you can stay all day), but we had miles to move to a two-day stay near Plattsburgh.

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