Saratoga Springs and Fort Ticonderoga
We left Merrick, Long Island NY at 9:30 after kisses and hugs to our son, Daniel, and to Bonnie, Keith's mom. This was the latest that we had left for a vacation: usually we have to catch a plane at 7 or 8 am on the Sunday of our trip. It was a hot drive up I-87 and we gave out a lot of money for tolls -- something we don't have in NC, but maybe it would help get our roads done faster, or contribute to the highway cleanup. The interstate was clean and I didn't see anyone toss cigarette butts out of the driver's window. We drove a new Chevy Equinox (rental) that looked a lot like a Ford Escape and it only had a CD player, no tape deck (we did bring enough CDs for the trip). I learned that "Radar Love" by Golden Earring is one of Keith's favorite songs.
We crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge or "Frogs" Neck bridge after lots of pitching and sharp turns on the Cross Island Expressway (Long Island) where I thought I would lose my life. We then stopped at this HUGE rest stop with a food court and Roy Rogers before passing more granite rocks on the side of the highway. Then we made it to Saratoga Springs in 3.5 hours and I saw two cyclists with oat sacks slung across their bodies trying to cross a road.
It was about 92 degrees that afternoon and we ate our sandwiches in our hotel room -- the Saratoga Inn, which had seen better days, but it was smack-dab in town and had a very courteous staff and a great continental breakfast, complete with eggs, sausage and danishes. Saratoga Springs is a well-planned town and every street light had a basket of purple flowers in it. There's also a lot of horse statues since this is racing country (the annual races start July 26th). Local CD shops, restaurants, bars, bookstores, and clothing stores line both sides of the main street.
We stopped at the Saratoga Automobile Museum and saw a bunch of British cars, along with a 1969 Boss 429 (hemi-head V8 engine) Mustang with original cream-white paint and Charles Lindbergh's 1928 Franklin, which he drove non-stop from Englewood, NJ to Detroit in 1940. He donated this "air-cooled" car to Ford Museum. There was a 1971 Pinto -- built for racing?! and a racing car called "Poison Lil". Keith said, "Are they talking about my grandmother?"
Then we walked up and down Broadway, the main street, taking in an art fair at Congress Park, sampling kettle corn (it's both sweet and salty) and the Franklin District, which is being rebuilt. One of the houses we saw had a crumpled roof that housed three pigeons and an old man who sat on the front stoop staring across the street with blank eyes. After this walk, I observed an interesting historical marker:
Solomon Northup -- a free black man who was born in Minerva, NY in 1808, but
then he was sold into slavery in 1841, and later rescued in 1853.
We missed his celebration day, which is July 24th where his descendants gather in Saratoga to celebrate his life and accomplishments. He wrote the book,Twelve Years as a Slave, about his slavery experiences in New Orleans and how he was tricked into slavery when he took a job for the circus in Washington, D.C . Go to http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/es/ny/slave_1 for more information on Northup.
That night we had an Italian dinner at the Ripe Tomato, where our waiter gave us generous portions and kept saying "You guys ready to order?", "Everything OK, you guys?" and so on. We get that a lot in NC, too. Afterwards, we tried to check up Cafe Lena, the oldest operating coffee shop in the nation, but they were charging $14 for the jazz band. Instead, we strolled the very lively streets (for a Sunday) and stopped at the downtown Borders which had a good selection of literary magazines and poetry books (not like the Six Forks Borders which has nothing of this sort!). When we walked back to our car, we passed a boy of about 10 singing and playing "Lola" on his guitar in front of a karaoke bar. He was pretty good! His voice carried for about 5 blocks, "Oh, oh Lola..."
Next day, we got up at a reasonable hour and drove north to Fort Ticonderoga which is a pretty big fort in the shape of a star. They had live renactors playing in the fife/drum band (see above photo) and later they gave a canon demonstration. The museum was housed on multi-levels and has been opened to the public since 1908 -- so it's been a tourist attraction for almost 100 years. We saw Benedict Arnold's trundle bed and George Washington's razor. The Americans took over the fort in 1775 through the efforts Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, but and it later lost its military presence in 1778 when the British controlled Lake Champlain. The fort information was both in English and French and I found that I could read the French, which was to be good practice for our Montreal visit.
Next stop: Montreal -- the City of Sin!!
Keith in front of a glittered horse in Saratoga Springs