Last Friday I drove down to New Hampshire to participate in a course taught by Mors Kochanski at Tim Smith's Jack Mountain Bushcraft & Guide School. I bade farewell to Spring and to Monty at the the house at 4 in the morning and drove about 30 minutes to a town east of Toronto. There, I met up at a Tim Horton's with Decado who provided me with a walkie-talkie, and a generous gift of a walking stick that he had carved himself (a picture of which I shall post soon enough). When I post pictures I will encourage everyone to commission one for themselves.
My trusty GPS device led me along the winding path, Decado followed at a distance and we kept in crackly-touch during the 15 1/2 hour drive using the walkie-talkies, pretending to be gnarly truckers. 10-4 Roger that, etc... Copy that.
We crossed the border into the United States of America (also known as 'The States', 'America' and the 'U.S.'). This fairly large country is located immediately south of Canada, and immediately north of Mexico. It contains Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful (in Yellowstone National Park), Arnold Schwarzenegger (in Calee-Fornia), Britney Spears, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. It also contains New Hampshire and Adirondack mountains.
We drove through the latter to arrive at the former. Stopping first for the obligatory McDonald's meal at a McDonald's beside the Fort Drum Military Reservation and Base in New York, home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, we lined up behind a gaggle of soldiers dressed in fatigues, ordering Big Macs, Filet o' Fishes, and Chicken McNuggets. This made the war in Iraq and Afghanistan somehow more real to me. These were young soldiers - purposeful and serious.
This original and brilliantly conceived photograph is of the sign at the western entrance of the Adirondack national park.
Every so often I would make an ill-conceived, abrupt and somewhat madly inefficient stop to take a photograph. Decado is seen above seething with anger and utter fear due to the abrupt stop. The backdrop looks more magnificent in real life. Not including this photo would minimize the suffering he experienced during the long, caffeine-fueled ride. He was a pleasant fellow to be around during the weekend and I suspect was tempted to kidnap Mors Kochanski and take him home to Georgetown, Ontario.
Lake Placid was the location for the Winter Olympics in the year 1980. I believe that downhill skiing, the luge, the elbow, the Charleston and the Wankel Rotary Engine were all sports showcased in this picturesque vista. The town of Lake Placid - known for its freakishly large alligators - is a posh town, populated by extremely well-dressed, rich-looking folks. They earn their living from selling alligator meat and conducting tours of dusty, deserted Olympic venues.
My little camera doesn't pick up the whoops of excitement I expressed at seeing genuine lumpy things called mountains (of which there are none in or around Toronto). Despite this limitation, you can look at the images, say 'Whoo!' to yourself, and that will sort of bring you around to how I was feeling.
At the south end of Lake Champlain, we drove through Moriah. This is a really cool name. I think it would be a good name for a pet iguana. It contains magnetite deposits that would make your compass have a fit. It also is the site of some fairly horrific, albeit historical battles. It makes me want to learn more about early U.S. history.
This bridge gets you over to the other side of Lake Champlain.
Ticonderoga is another nice looking town. Ticonderoga is a great sounding name, I think I would name a chocolate bar the 'Ticonderoga Bar'. It would contain caramel, and crunchy peanuts. The commercial jingle would be very solemn sounding. Ticonder-OOOGGAAAA!!!!
I think I would like to stay in the town of Lake Placid for a while. I don't really ski or anything, but I enjoy bowling and I am certain that they have a good bowling alley or two. I'd have a beer or two while bowling. Yes. Yes. That is a plan.
If you stick your arm out of the car and take photographs, you likely won't get magnificent photos like you thought you would. Case in point above.
I pulled over to take photos of Theodore and Duncan. These cute donkeys had a little run of their own, surrounded by gobbling turkeys. A sign on their stall read 'Theodore and Duncan'. Those were their names. I don't know what the turkeys' names were. They did not have their names inscribed in a sign hung above a stall.
Theodore and Duncan were about 4 feet high and quite fuzzy and very curious about me. I wanted to take one or both along with me. While I could have (practically speaking), because all my camping gear was in the trunk, and the back seats were unoccupied, I am really not certain what donkeys eat and decided not to take them along for the rest of the ride.
Next time I will ask them to accompany me on the ride.
It's a good thing that I didn't bring them though, because the ride was really long, and donkeys bray loudly when bored (I imagine). Two loudly braying donkeys in a car just make a drive miserable.
Soon the verdant hills and placid mountains of the Adirondacks and Vermont turned to the more rugged mountains of New Hampshire.
We drove the last hour or so in the dark, and found ourselves in deserted meadows a couple of times due to my inept and blind faith in my GPS device.
Finally we got to a dirt road, allowed a waddling porcupine to cross, and pulled into the Jack Mountain Bushcraft & Guide School property.
Tim Smith et al. were clustered around a picnic table having a bite to eat for dinner.
We shook hands, met the other 4 students and Mors Kochanski and settled in.
I set up my tarp in about 3 minutes, and settled down by the fire. We sat, talked, met one another and drank a bottle of beer or two.
It was a good start to a nice evening and a nice couple of days down there. I will follow with more posts detailing the following days.