August 21, 2005

Start: Watertown, New York
Burlington, Vermont
Mileage: 202 miles
Route taken: Highway 3 through the
Adirondack Mountains to Highway 86 to Route 9N to Port Kent Ferry to Route 7 exit at Burlington.


        Because it was a Sunday I noticed the churches more as I drove through the small towns of central New York. The parking lots, usually empty during the week, were filled with cars.

        My day had started at 10 a.m. and the people were already safely inside their places of worship, but the vehicles provided the evidence that they were busy.

        Small communities were on Highway 3, but there were all types of denominations; Protestant, Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, Church of the Nazarene, Calvary Chapel.

        It was then I realized how many churches there are in towns. You wouldn’t think would have enough people to fill them, but that theory was resoundingly proven incorrect.

        Though I was born Catholic, I have been practicing Buddhism for a couple of years, which in some ways, really is more of a way of life than a religion. I still appreciate the Catholic Church, even if I don’t agree with everything that is taught.

        I like Buddhism. It is more about peace than conformity and people are encouraged to find the answers, not given them and expected to blindly follow them. I know this will upset my Christian friends, and I don’t mean any insult, it is just my observation.

        I believe there is room enough in this world for several types of religions and if anyone has any type of faith that is good.

        My cathedral for this Sunday was the Adirondack Mountains. The pews of this church were before me, behind me and to the sides of me. It was a beautiful day, with a scant amount of loitering clouds to keep the sun off my neck for brief periods of the late morning.

        It couldn’t have been more than 75 degrees and even in August there was crispness to the air that felt more like Fall than summer.

I was going northeast, chasing the trail of the Canadian border. I had originally planned on going through Route 11, which is a little higher up and runs parallel with Route 3, but it would have skirted the mountain range and I would have missed some incredible scenery.

The trees were crowded together like a New York City Subway platform at rush hour, springing up a couple hundred feet in the air.

The forest was not as dense closer to the two-lane road and through it you could spy the occasional pond. My knowledge of trees is minimal, but I did spot Pines, maples and beech trees.

It is massive, six million acres and you feel the enormity when you pass the sign to the entrance half way up Route 3.

The first named lake I came across was just before Star Lake and it was off to the left of the road. It was small compared to Star Lake and the others that would follow. Star, Cranberry and Saranac Lake are much larger, but I pulled over to look at this one. There were dead trees in the front of it, sprouting up out of the water, spindly trunks with no branches.

It was like they were guarding the lake and it made me stay a respectful distance from the water.

The other three are more recreational. There were boat docks at these lakes and people enjoying them.

I had breakfast in a little town before Tupper Lake and with the Sunday rush, had to sit at a table with a couple who were already eating.
        They were locals, the husband living in the area his entire life and it was gracious of them to let me sit at the opposite end of the table. They were extremely pleasant and we talked about the town and motorcycling and each other’s lives. It was a far better way to eat breakfast then to read the newspaper alone.

When I got on the bike, I was invigorated, but Libertad was not. The altitude had messed with the carburetor a bit, and she was being a little difficult.

I had to worry against flooding the bike with too much gas and feathered the throttle while enough air tried to enter the chamber to start the bike over.

It took a little finesse, but she finally coughed and spit to signal she was ready to go. We headed towards Lake Placid.

The little resort town is the site of the greatest moment in sports history and I had to play tourist for just a moment.

The 1980 United States Hockey Team’s victory over the USSR was a thrill I was able to watch on television and have relived many times in documentaries.


To actually see where it happened and touch the ice was pretty special. I have always loved hockey and this is definitely the sport’s greatest hour.

The size is what you notice first. The arena is small, with a capacity of 7,800. It doesn’t even look like it would seat that many.

There was a lone figure skater practicing her routines on the ice. I and two teenagers were walking around, though she didn’t even notice us.


Her coach noticed me putting my boot on the ice and yelled at me from the top of the stairs to get off the ice. His voice carried throughout the arena and I quickly complied.

From Lake Placid I continued northeast and came across an unusual body of water. It was outside the Adirondacks and was near the New York/Vermont border.


It is the Au Sable Chasm, a box canyon carved out 10,000 years ago during the ice age. The natural waterfalls were formed from the erosion.

Port Kent is four miles away and it was there I caught the ferry over to Vermont. The ferry runs hourly across Lake Champlain and it was a nice way to get across the huge body of water that at one point was considered to be named a great lake.


While I was on the 85-minute ride I came across three women from Montreal who were spending the day down in the states. They were very nice and invited me to Montreal, but I vowed before I left on this trip to stay in this country. They did make a tempting offer, however, and one day I will have to go to that city.