Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter vacation ~ Day 1

Yesterday was day one of the first winter vacation we've taken in quite some time. We loaded up the car with snowboards, snowshoes, skates, snacks, toys and enough clothes so that I won't have to entertain the thought of laundry for at least a week! We left home about an hour behind schedule which is par for the course when you're traveling with either O'Flanagans or small children. Our first way point was Cornwall Ontario where we would cross into the United States of America. Arriving at the border we marveled at the seemingly countless camera's pointed at us from every angle. At some point the flashes startled us and I was left quietly wondering how many images of surprised motorists were being stored on Homeland Security servers across this land. It's the only time I hoped Keenan was up his nose to his second knuckle! Getting across the border went smoothly enough. The nice border guard passed a pen along with Sean's passport back through my window and reminded Sean that he needed to sign his brand new passport in order for it to be valid. I've never heard Sean use the word "sir" so many times. We made it through just fine and our second surprise came at our first stop for gas. Full service, squeaky clean windows and the tank three quarters full all for a mere $30! Thanks Ricky at the Twinleaf Gas and Tobacco in Hogansburg. You're a gas artist! Our first stretch of secondary highway took us through Mohawk territory, an Akwesasne reserve and the ever predictable casinos which alternated with billboards that read "Gambling is not part of our history". Here's hoping they can pry it loose from their future. The landscape gave way to rolling fields sectioned off by lazy streams with vertical accents of birch, pine and cedar. Then legions of huge, triblade wind turbines marched off into the horizon on either side of us. There were very few farms but there seemed to be quite a few folks settled in along the road. A great many of their homes were in advanced stages of disrepair. The vast majority were either mobile homes shored up with multiple plywood additions or very small shack like structures with muddied yards and generations of retired vehicles trying in earnest to be reclaimed by Mother Nature. Tyvek is about as close as folks can get to finishing their homes. Either that or they're just using using it as a band aid. We saw one place where the top floor had caved in and people were still living on the main floor. Yet another which must have been quite stately in it's day was perched on columns on the edge of a river. The back quarter of the place lay in a heap on the riverbed and the remaining rooms glowed with light. There were lace curtains in the windows. Does someone's grandparents live there? Who calls these less than humble shelters home? How do they get by? After a while we started noticing that most folks had some service to offer or goods to sell. Seems just about anyone can sell gas or diesel and then the ultimate in hope, a full on bridal salon. In 2.5 hours of driving we saw 3 prisons and only 1 school. Horses chained to poles instead of fenced. And oddly, it seems to be popular to encase in glass, statues of Jesus, scenes from the birth of Jesus or wildly decorated birdhouses. I've never been a MacDonald's fan and just recently broke a 12 year stretch of avoiding the place but yesterday I was pleased as punch to cross the thresh hold of Mickey D's and tuck into a Chicken burger. Sitting there we reminded ourselves that we were still in New York state, one of the most populated states in the US and we were one bridge away from Vermont, the 2nd least populated state in the US. What the hell were we getting ourselves in to? After hearing "those 4 words" over and over from Keenan sure enough, we were indeed finally there. Smuggler's Notch is gorgeous and the service is impeccable. We checked in and settled into our room with a new found appreciation for what we have.

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