September 27, 2003


After yesterday's orgy of webification and connection, tonight we're back in a place with no phone. This does not bother me particularly, believe it or not.

We started off our day searching for a Curves so Becky could get her third workout of the week. Becky was prepared with a list culled from the telephone directory. The first one was closing at 10:30am, so there wasn't enough time for her to do her required circuit before they turned into a pumpkin. They suggested another one on her list which was alleged to be open until noon. We set off to find it armed with the phone book notes. We got to the vicinity and drove through half a dozen completely disconnected strip mall parking lots, but there was no Curves. Becky called them and found out that they had moved but that the woman working there was new to the area and couldn't tell us how to get from the old location to the new. All we had was a AAA map of the whole state, so the few landmarks the worker was able to give us were not much to go on. diet dilemmaBut somehow Becky managed to wrest the info she needed out of the too-general map and we found our way there. Well, almost there. We actually found our way to another parking lot from which you could not drive to the one where Curves was. I had Becky walk to Curves (horrors!) and I took the car through the two traffic signals, two u-turns, and other random maneuvering that was required to attain the correct parking area for accessing the front door of the establishment. While Beck worked out, I sat on my ass and read The Lord of Castle Black like a good little geek.

From there we headed up 87 to Lake George which seems to be an extremely popular vacation spot based on the density and proliferation of places of lodging. It was pretty deserted as we drove through. The lake is long and lovely, and will be even more lovely next week when more of the trees have started to turn colors. So far on the trip the extent of the color has been a few isolated trees or parts of trees which have jumped the autumn gun. The color was just an added benefit of going at this time of year, it wasn't the reason for our trip, so we're just as happy to have less color and less tourists. At a turnout we chatted with a guy walking his dog from his RV. Turns out he was from Grass Valley, CA and moved out to Syracuse to escape the high cost of living. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for him, depending how you look at it), there's a new super mega Mall of America slated for Syracuse so property values have gone up by tens of thousands of dollars since he bought his house. You've got to work hard to escape it.

From Lake George we took Highway 9N up to Ticonderoga where we had lunch at "The Hot Biscuit". I was disappointed that we were there outside of breakfast hours but I ordered some biscuits and gravy to go with my grilled ham and cheese. The server asked whether I wanted turkey or beef gravy. I was so startled by this question that I answered it as asked, then changed my answer (from turkey to beef) before realizing after she had left that I didn't want either, I wanted that white sauce with sausage that is the only gravy I've ever known to be closely associated with biscuits. And indeed, when my order came my biscuits were drenched in beef gravy. The biscuits were quite good, the gravy less so, and the combination just wasn't what I had in mind. I didn't interrogate her about this strange culinary infraction, but Becky and I theorized that biscuits and gravy being a principally Southern concoction, and us being pretty deep into Yankee territory, it's conceivable that the dish hasn't made it into this part of the country. I'll test this later in the trip. The other possibility is that my server was especially dense. You'd think, though, that a place called "The Hot Biscuit" would know how to serve biscuits and gravy!

We proceeded out to Fort Ticonderoga after lunch. The Fort is privately owned and operated by a non-profit. It is also largely restored. The location is truly idyllic in its current peaceful existence. model of Fort TiconderogaThe Fort sits on a hill at the southernmost point of Lake Champlain where the waters of Lake George run into it through a short river. Lake Champlain runs north to the St. Lawrence Seaway. flag that never flew over the active fortLooking at the location today it's hard to imagine how it could have ever been of strategic importance, but apparently it was. Many battles were fought there both before and during the Revolutionary War.

one of many cannons at Fort TiconderogaThe Fort itself is open to the public for a $12 per person fee. Both the Fort and the museum displays inside are well worth examining, but the interpretive material could be better. Becky and I were both disappointed that there wasn't a high-level overview showing the importance of the Fort through its history. Fort TiconderogaNeither one of us has much of a head for history unlike Becky's siblings so we were clueless about the big picture of the Fort's history. We got there between guided tours so we might have a different opinion had we caught that. I was especially annoyed by the lack of any indication of what portions of the fort were original and what reconstructed. I suspect that pretty much all of it is reconstructed, but it would have been nice to know when and by whom and using what reference materials.

Fort Ticonderoga Ferry Established 1869After the Fort we headed to the Fort Ti Ferry. Ferry coming in to the NY shoreThis is an automobile ferry that runs across Lake Champlain from New York to Vermont. The trip across takes all of 7 minutes. The ferry holds 18 cars. It runs across the lake on two cables, one at either side of the boat. Fort Ticonderoga Ferry pilot houseIt's propelled across by some kind of motor in the pilot house on the side of the whole contraption. Fort Ticonderoga VT landingBeing from Puget Sound country where ferries hold hundreds of cars and run for hours, we found the thing adorable.

So, Vermont. New state for both of us (as have been PE and NY, and OH for Jeff). It looks just like Vermont should. Rolling hills, charming hamlets, cows. It's Saturday night and this is the first time we've seen "no vacancy" signs on the trip. We didn't have any trouble finding a place with space, though. We're in Brandon at The Lagasse's Steak House & Country Cottages. The cottages are a variety of little salt boxes back away from the road. When we inquired about them they just gave us keys for two available units and told us to go take a look. We chose the one farther from the road. The weather today is just perfect for humans. The air is the perfect temperature, just warm enough to avoid a chill, just cool enough to be refreshing. We availed ourselves of the steak house for dinner. Becky partook of the Saturday special all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet which, despite the name, also included roast turkey, salmon, pasta, potatoes and other tasty comestibles. I had a lovely delmonico steak. Both meals included their standard all-you-can-eat salad and bread bar, plus all-you-can-eat fresh jumbo shrimp (not an oxymoron in this case). Goodness, that's a lot of food. All good too. Most expensive meal on the trip so far, but we've been mostly only eating out once a day, so we thought a bit of a splurge was in order.

Posted by jeffy at September 27, 2003 05:04 PM

Huh. I had always imagined that Lake Champlain would be bigger.

PS--I shall give a dissertation on the strategic importance of the fort upon your return.

Posted by: Rachel at October 3, 2003 01:20 PM

I happened to come across this site when doing a quick search for The Hot Biscuit to find their phone number. I happened to have worked there in the past. It is, in fact, a shame that you didn't manage to make it for breakfast, since biscuits with sawmill gravy (white gravy with sausage) is their signature breakfast =) I also highly recommend their strawberry shortcake for desert (a half-order is usually more than enough, a full order is a meal in itself!)

Take care!

Posted by: Karen at March 7, 2004 07:21 PM

I'm originally from the Syracuse area. Hopefully the "SuperMall" will fall apart. No one lives in that area anymore, which is why housing costs dipped so low. The Mall won't bring anyone back and further turn the deserted City of Syracuse into a ghost town. But what do you expect in the same state with (as you so aptly mentioned) the Thruway that discourages people from making side stops. Of course, I'm not doing any better in my new home in Jersey! :o)

I came across your site doing a search for Niagara Falls... spent four years of my life there. While it comes down to personal taste in the end, one thing must remain sacred... nowhere has wings that taste as good as those at Anchor Bar!

Hope you enjoyed the trip!

Posted by: at April 28, 2004 01:06 PM