“You’re from the US, but you’re driving a rental car from Quebec?” the border agent asked us.
“Yes – long story but we’re visiting Montreal and missed the US. We’re here just for the day to see the Adirondacks,” my husband replied. Chuckling, the agent waved us through. Gone were the signs in French. We stopped at a McDonald’s pleased to find the menu in English. After a crowded day in Montreal, we decided to see Lake Placid – just 90 miles south of Montreal.
At the Visitor Center, the agent suggested a gorgeous and scenic drive. It didn’t disappoint. Trees, greenery everywhere – very much like North Georgia but different. More sophisticated? Older?
We took the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the summit. For $11 fee (which was worth it) we drove on this road opened by FDR 1936. A stone elevator could take people from the parking lot directly to the observatory, but it wasn’t working that day. No matter. We wanted to take the hike up to the top.
Stumbling on roots and rocks, I didn’t think this would be a fun path. However, mid-way through the path smoothed out (although still climbing). We had gorgeous views of many of the lakes that dotted the Adirondacks. At the top, we did the usual checking out of all the vantage points. But the fun thing was to go inside the stone building that holds a weather center. Inside this small museum was information regarding the dedication of the center and a time lapse picture of the same view from each day in the previous years. So you could look at the view today, see what it was last March, the previous December, even the previous same day in June to see the changes – from knife-cold snow to brilliant oranges to budding springtime.
Afterwards, we went to the Lake Placid ski center. It wasn’t quite what we were looking for but here you could take a gondola to the top and ride your bike (or hike) to the bottom during the summer. In the winter, it’s a full-blown ski resort.
Then, we drove into the tiny village of Lake Placid. Ironically, the Main street is situated on Mirror Lake. Lake Placid is on the northern end and is fronted mainly by a marina. We ate at the Cottage Restaurant on mirror lake while watching canoes and watercraft on Mirror Lake.
Taking the 2.3 mile hike around the lake, we passed cute village shops. At the southern end a bit south of the lake, we passed by the Olympic buildings for both 1932 and 1980. In front of the high school was the track and Olympic Rings. If we had more time, we would have gone to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
Back on the lake path, we rounded the public beach access. Kids, families and people crowded the tiny beach area. On the eastern side we passed large Adirondack style houses with of course – Adirondack furniture. Rounding the northern end, we walked over to the marina and Lake Placid.
As we headed out of Lake Placid, we drove by the Olympic Jumping Complex. It resembled a ghost town, but then again it was summer.
We took a different route back – driving to Essex, NY. Here, we crossed Lake Champlain on a ferry to Charlotte, VT. As residents of Burlington told us on the boat, when you drive into Burlington, you’ll see anywhere USA stuff, then it gets pretty. They were right. Entering the town reminded me of Milledgeville, GA that I would see later. Small streets, houses took us to the town center (like Natchez, MS) where we drove through University of Vermont. A popular restaurant area is Church Street Marketplace.
We parked the car at the Waterfront and enjoyed the boardwalk before eating dinner outside at the Skinny Pancake. We saw lots of grunge and Bernie Sanders supporters in this super casual and laid back restaurant. In fact, nobody (even the young people) seemed in a hurry!
Leaving, we got back to Montreal around 10 pm.