Monday, July 04, 2005

The Other 3 Nights I Dwelt in a Tent (Adirondacks Trip)

Funny thing about having a blog. Its my blog and my story. And yet, somehow, my friends all like to tell me what I should and shouldn't say on here. Not everyone agreed with my rendition of the Adirondacks trip. So I have now revised the story a little bit. And who are we kidding? The first version was way too long. Hope this meets with everyone's approval a little better.

On Friday afternoon we took off for the Adirondacks for a very fun filled weekend. Due to the demise of the big blue beast, we rented a car from Avis for the occasion. In my car we took me, Burke, Angela, and Rachel. It was my first time meeting Burke, who is a friend of Angela. In the other car (that drove up seperately) there was Walter (the main organizer, Parker (or Eric, depending on what we feel like calling him at the moment), Yenny, and Jason. I have known Eric since we were very small children, and I've known Yenny and Walter for about 8 years, but only have become better friends with them in the past year- all because of weekend hiking adventures. Angela and I have been girlfriends for about a year now, and Rachel and I met a few months ago, and have become good friends. Jason and I have only met briefly twice prior to this, but almost all of us (minus Ang and Burke) are on a listserve together where we discuss all sorts of topics. Frequently we discuss politics, and I frequently find myself in the conservative, vast-right wing conspiracy minority on that list. This listserve is primarily how I know Yenny, Walter, Rachel, and Jason.

We had all decided that it was just way too far to drive all the way up to the Adirondacks on Friday night, plus we couldn't get a campsite up there. So we only went as far as Lackawanna, Penn. We set up our tents there for the night, and all started to get to know each other. Within minutes Jason and I were fighting, while Rachel, Burke, Ang, and Eric all actually got to meet each other. (The story will from this point on include the phrase "Jason and I were fighting" on a frequent basis. And by fighting I mean constantly arguing some political point with each other. At one point he actually blamed the entire Iraq war on me and "my type." I had no idea I was so influential.)

In typical fashion, all 4 girls shared my tent. We used to think it was a 4 man tent, but we have now decided its more like a 3 man. But that never stops girls. We just got in their sardine style and went to sleep. Each of the guys however brought their own tent and went solo. So 8 people go hiking, and we used 5 tents. Go figure. It took almost no time at all to discover we had a snorer among us. I won't divulge which one it was, but lets just say he kept us up all night long.

In the morning we drove from Lackawanna (a word I never tire of saying) to Crane Mountain, somewhere way far north in NY. Its somewhere between Lake George and Lake Placid. I'll probably never be able to find it on a map. Even using maps and having printed directions, it took us forever to find the place. We probably only spent 1.5 hours seriously lost in mountains. But they were beautiful mountains to say the least. Just for fun we switched up the occupants of the cars a little bit, and Parker and I swapped places. Giving me 5 hours in the car to fight with Jason some more. Yenny (from the backseat) even had to ask at one point if we were getting tired of it. At which point we had to argue over whether or not it was getting old yet. To Yenny and Walter, I hope we didn't entirely annoy you with our "discussions."

In a little nothing town called Warrensburg we stopped for one of the worst lunches I have ever had. We pulled into a little roadside diner that appeared charming on the outside. On the inside we discovered that locals apparently don't like tourists and that not all waitresses actually want a tip. We were horribly overcharged for a pathetically small meal, that we had to wait over an hour for. (She somehow managed to take all 8 orders at one time, but serve 4 of the meals an entire hour behind the first 4, and never once filled our drinks. And its not like they were busy in there!) We then kept on going up the mountain where I will spare you the details of how cranky we were all getting as we got more and more lost. We did finally find a road that said something about a trail head, and followed it uphill. We found a pothole in the road big enough for a coffin I think. Thank goodness we had full insurance on the rental car. We plowed on through, found the base of the trail, and started walking (after nearly 7 hours of sitting).

Crane Mountain is absolutely beautiful. The trail is not very well kept, and is very, very rocky, but its beautiful. Rachel and I got seperated from the rest of the group at the beginning. (We were looking for a "Ladies' Tree.") So we were about 30 minutes behind the rest till we got to the summit. I can't wait for our pictures to get developed. We took some amazing shots of the Adirondacks while hiking. At one point we passed several different hikers who let us know that our friends were waiting above for us. My favorite part was when a little girl that couldn't be more than 7 or 8, not carrying any gear, came down the mountain, put her hands on her hips, and said in the most authoritative voice a 7 yr old can muster, "Are you Erin? There's boys waiting for you up there!" I felt like I should apologize to her and run faster. We did eventually get to the top, after smelling a few roses along the way. We joined the rest of the group, and started on the down trail. I love hiking, but honestly, I hate the down trails. My quads just never seem up to the job, no matter how well prepared I am. The trip down was fun with the rest of the group. And, oh yeah, Jason and I argued the entire way down. Can't remember what the subject matter was.

We went to dinner at a place called the Black Bear Restaurant, in a town with a name I'll never remember. We met a very nice waitress there (it was her second day on the job) who told us where the locals go to camp. She sent us off to Schroon Manor/Lake very well fed. The prices were a little high for average food, but at least we ate enough to fill up. I sat with Rachel, Eric, and Jason, and oh yeah, fought with him some more there. Its amazing that we can carry over an argument from a listserve for 3 days and still keep on arguing.

We got to a completely unmarked campground off the side of the road pretty late at night. We discovered that all of the regular campsites (this was state property, but unpatrolled) were occupied by some locals were were, um, well, stoned. There is no other way to put it. We stayed as far away from them as possible and camped out in the middle of this gigantic meadow. We had a view of Schroon Lake, a few trees, and several acres all to ourselves. My favorite part was the most unexpected part for me. The stars. I have never seen the Milky Way before. Where we were at, in the middle of nowhere NY, there were no other lights we could see. There were more stars than I have ever even imagined before. I was in awe. I couldn't stop looking. So I pulled out my pad and stayed out under the stars for as long as possible to watch. I couldn't even pick out any constellations, because I couldn't recognize them with so many more stars. But the Milky Way is what amazed me the most. I just looked and looked for hours at the sky. It was amazing to me. It was so beautiful and dark and rich with so many bright stars (I could see all of the planets for the first time as well), that I just wanted to reach out and touch them. Us city girls just don't see things like that often enough. Seeing the sheer majesty of the stars was by far my most favorite experience this weekend. I'm already making plans in my head to go back and see them again. But next time there will be a warm body to snuggle with while watching them.

Again I shared a tent with Rachel, Angela, and Yenny, with the guys in their respective tents nearby. The Snorer was so bad at one point that Ang got out of the tent and went over and shook his to make him get quiet. It worked for a few minutes. At least long enough for me to fall asleep finally. I did hear that the snoring came back rather soon thereafter though. ;-)

In the morning we had already all agreed to not go to Church. We had meant to, but at this point we didn't even know where in the woods we were. We had no facilities to get cleaned up and dressed in either. And quite frankly, we were rather gross and smelly. We hadn't used any modern facilities since Friday morning. So instead we chose to stay where we were and enjoy God's beautiful creations for a few hours. When we finally saw daylight we discovered how close to the lake we really were and a few of us went down to jump in a "rinse off" a little bit. But our lake access was quite frankly, a little yucky and not fun for playing in. So we went back up to the camp to find that Angela had found a much better area. So everyone took off for that. I decided to stay behind and read and relax alone for a little while. We had been enjoying quite a bit of group together time at that point, and I needed a little solo time. I never even got my book out of my bag though. Jason stayed behind as well, and much to everyone's surprise, we didn't fight the whole time. There was, of course, some arguing (over gay rights), but we finally found a little more common ground to work with there, and now can hold a legitimate conversation with each other. I think one of the funniest things said on the entire trip was when Yenny and Walter came back up to the campsite and Yenny said, "Wow, look, they're not fighting anymore!"

Eventually we packed up camp again, and drove further north. We stopped for lunch in a little town with a name I'll never recall at a cafe I'll never forget. It was an organic restaurant with all sorts of fun things inside. We stayed there and enjoyed the beautiful day for a while and then took off to Lake Placid. In Lake Placid our two cars had to part ways though, as the other car was headed to Mt Marcy for a 15 mile hike, and my car was headed for nowhere in partcular. So Angela, Burke, Rachel and I drove around Lake Placid, and completely fell in love with it. Its just a beautiful town- quite a bit like Park City. We saw some of the old Olympics sites, and some of the current training facilities. But my favorite part was just the lake itself. Its huge, beautiful, and clean. We spent a few minutes just enjoying the scenery, and decided to get a head start on driving home. The trip was nearly 10 hours, so we figured we would put a good sized dent in the trip, so that Monday wouldn't be so bad.

We had been driving about 3 hours when we realized that we didn't really know where we were going, except south. I think we all agreed (in our car) that the funniest thing said on this trip, was by a toll booth attendant when I asked him where I-83 was. He looked at me kind of funny (he's probably my age) and said in one of the thickest Canadian accents ever heard, "That ain't no road!" He thought I was making a joke out of it, and didn't believe me that I wanted that road. So we called my dad for directions instead. It turns out we wanted I-88. We had a few more fun adventures trying to find a campsite outside of Oneonta, NY. My favorite story involves a very large drunk redneck crowd at a state park. The park ranger even told us we didn't want to stay there. So we found a KOA instead. The funny part about that was that the offices were closed (after 11 pm). The park looked full, but we were desperate, so we just drove around till we found an empty spot, and camped there for the night. We were gone by 6 this morning. The office was still closed, and therefore we were evil little children and didn't pay for our spot. (And on a Sunday! We're going straight to hell!)

The drive home was for the most part, entirely unadventurous. Which is a good thing. I am grateful to be home and sleeping in my own bed tonight. I did learn quite a bit this weekend though. I got my true love for camping back. I will never be the most athletic or physically fit person unfortunately, but that will never stop me from doing the things I love the most. In the past week I have biked 15 miles, canoe-d 8 miles, and hiked about 5. If it weren't for these random opportunities to go out and do something different, I'd go crazy sitting at a desk figuring out drayage and shipping for 8 hours a day. I look forward to the rest of Girls Camp in a few weeks, where hopefully I can pass on to the girls just a little bit of my love for experiencing things out of their general comfort zone. A little dirt on your shins and a few bug bites on your arms are good for making you feel alive. When I told my girls that I love sleeping in a tent and would be going with friends to do it for fun over the weekend, one of them very seriously looked at me and said, "You do this for fun? You like this stuff?" Of course, she doesn't realize that I love escaping the city lights where I can see the Milky Way, and that most camping doesn't involve coal trains at 2 am. But most of all I love getting to know new people, make connections I wouldn't normally seek out, and experience something different. I'm not a very good "Granola Girl." I like my soft bed and expensive shoes. But I really do love sleeping in a tent with the fly off and staring up at the sky for hours on end, while listening to my friends softly sleeping near me. I'm not so crazy about thinking I was sleeping on a rock, and then discovering it was just a headlamp I could have moved all night! But even then, how many of my friends at work or church or home wore a headlamp and went scurrying for wood in the middle of the night this week so they could build a fire in the middle of a meadow? (which actually didn't happen until the morning) How many people fought all weekend with an acquaintance just to find out that you are more alike than different in the end? And then had to upgrade said aquaintance to friend?

One last thought about camping, but this time from the book, "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby (my reading material for the weekend). Marcus, the boy in the book, is lamenting the break up of his mother and her boyfriend, that he's become friends with. The book's narrator says, "He'd once shared a toilet with Roger, when they were both busting for a pee after a car journey. You'd think that if you'd peed with someone you ought to keep in touch with them somehow." I suppose that isn't unlike my thoughts on camping and hiking. After you have shared so much together- the car rides, the meals, the camping, swimming, hiking, and mutual solo time, you have a friendship and bond. After you have "watered" the same trees, you keep in touch somehow.

I'll post some pictures soon!


  1. Sounds like a great story...although I confess, I was kind of hoping the camping story would end like...oh we made out the last night etc. etc.


  2. Anonymous10:20 PM

    I'm sold. Next time you pack up and get ready to go up for round two, I'll toss the canoe to the top of the truck and the girls and I will head out to join you! We promise to stay out of eye range and ear shot so you can play heterosexual rights activist with no one in particular. :o)

  3. jason2:56 PM

    It's funny how everything comes down to perspective.. I had a great time.. and perhaps I can get argumentative.. but I don't think that we argued the whole time.. and reading your peice.. that's the impression that one gets. The stars were amazing.. and it was a great trip. Anyways.. had a good time.. and no.. no cheesy dime novel ending.. sorry to disappoint..
    Thanks goodness for Dems.. or that park wouldn't exist
    [Guns don't kill people... Beretta does]

  4. Jason-
    If you're shooting and you're gun ain't killing people, maybe you should work on your aim! (Or stop using a Glock.)


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