Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series chronicling a trip Hall County resident Bill Rezak made across the eastern U.S. on a motorcycle.
My brother, Dave, and his family have a lovely summer retreat on Tuscarora Lake about 25 miles southeast of Syracuse. Our parents purchased this bit of heaven in 1954 and Dave and his family lavish upon it all the TLC it grew accustomed to.
The lake is an old reservoir built in the early 19th century as a feeder for the Erie Canal. It’s now purely recreational and it’s gorgeous. I enjoyed a few days hanging there with my bro.
On Monday, June 4, I headed northeast to explore the Adirondack Mountains. Adirondack is an Iroquois name meaning "bark-eaters" and used to describe their enemies, the Algonquins. Adirondack State Park is the largest state-operated facility in the country, covering more than 6 million acres. It has over 3,000 natural lakes, making it a unique vacation paradise — at least in the summer.
In a steady rain, I cruised up New York highways 28 and 30 through Old Forge, where my parents used to rent a cabin for a week or two of vacation after my dad came home from World War II. He was a founding member of the United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration and was stationed in North Africa (as a Palestinian immigrant to the U.S., he was fluent in Arabic), Italy and Yugoslavia from early 1944 until 1947.
You can read about his contributions as a part of "The Greatest Generation" in my upcoming book, "The Arab and the Brit," available this November.
At gorgeous Tupper Lake, I picked up N.Y. 3 to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, perhaps the best known of the Adirondack lakes. Lake Placid was host to the Winter Olympics in 1932 and in 1980. You may remember "The Miracle on Ice" when the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Russians for the gold medal in 1980. It was a special moment in U.S. Olympic history. I spent the night in Lake Placid.
From there, I took a little side trip, still in the rain, up to the top of Whiteface Mountain. While not terribly high at 4,600 feet, Whiteface — which derives its name from obvious wintry reasons — was home to the alpine skiing events of the Olympics. It offers a magnificent 360-degree panoramic vista for 100 miles in all directions.
On a clear day, the skyscrapers of Montreal may be seen 80 miles to the north. Not on my day — I was in a cloud. Sorry, no pictures!
Then I hopped on N.Y. 73 southeast to U.S. 9 down to Lake George, as lovely a spot as there is on the planet. It’s on the far east side of Adirondack State Park and features a picturesque little town at the southern end and plenty of cruise opportunities.
Revolutionary War Fort William Henry is on Lake George and makes for an interesting trip into the nation’s history. The fort was the feature of James Fenimore Cooper’s wonderful adventure tale, "Last of the Mohicans." In 1757, the Algonquins inflicted atrocities on the British regiment quartered there. It’s an interesting tour.
I had reserved accommodations in the village of Lake George for three days in order to attend Americade, billed as the world’s largest motorcycle touring rally. I dislike touring in groups, but I wanted to test-ride some of the manufacturers’ new offerings (they were all there) and take in some instructional sessions. .
I decided that my favorite Lake George restaurant is The Boathouse, located just north of town and right on the water and very pretty. Of course, The Sagamore is one of the classiest places in the country if you don’t mind paying dearly for the experience. It is an incredibly opulent resort built in 1883 for wealthy vacationers from Philadelphia and New York City. It features an expansive porch with lines of Adirondack chairs in which to sip your afternoon refreshment and contemplate the lake and surrounds. One could easily spend several days being spoiled there, provided one wished to afford to do so!
I quite enjoyed the Americade gathering. In addition to every domestic and foreign bike manufacturer displaying their wares, the rally featured booths where you could have your bike air-brushed, pin-striped, loaded with glowing LED lights or every conceivable kind of chrome eye candy. It is the dream of every motorcyclist to have his or her bike tricked out in a unique fashion. Those bikes are works of art.
Also, available to part you from your cash is leather apparel, biker jewelry, a gazillion different types of sunglasses and T-shirts galore. I managed to leave with a few bucks left in my pocket, but not much.
Also, of high value to me were the many motorcycle operator training classes free for the taking with your Americade registration. I’ve been riding for years and have logged at least 100,000 miles on bikes, but I know that I can still learn new safety practices and I found these classes most worthwhile.
I attended a session on cornering at speed, which is something I’ve always enjoyed and at which I considered myself proficient. I still learned a ton. I took a course on what to pack for long excursions. I could have probably taught this myself, but still managed to pick up a couple of new ideas. I sat in on a session on riding in the rain. I did a lot of that on this trip. It’s not much fun, but when it’s time to ride, it’s time to ride!
And lastly, I took classes on swerving and emergency braking. The concepts covered here can only be learned by practicing in empty parking lots. I have logged hundreds of miles practicing maneuvers in parking lots, but none recently. I vowed to do more of this. Any biker who doesn’t hone skills in this way is asking for trouble. In an emergency, muscle memory is the only hope of survival. And muscle memory can only be created by repetition. Look for me in the East Hall Park parking lots.
After three days at Americade, I headed back to Syracuse for some more face time with my family. I took U.S. 9 south from Lake George to Glens Falls, N.Y. There is a lovely falls on the Hudson River in this picturesque town.
From there I angled southwest to U.S. 20, one of the most beautiful of the U.S. highways. It rolls through gorgeous farm country from small town to small town following the Mohawk River and Erie Canal across the state. It is said that when the Erie Canal opened in 1825 providing a roadway for raw materials from the midwest to factories in the east, it created Michigan.
I stopped for a delicious lunch at the Tally-Ho restaurant in Ritchfield Springs. It’s a fun local eatery. U.S. 20 has always been a favorite ride of mine.
Bill Rezak lives in Hall County. His upcoming book, "The Arab and the Brit," will be available this fall.