After receiving input that driving the 401 in southern Ontario wasn’t scenic (and eager to pay US fuel prices), we decided to cross back into the US in northeastern NY rather than Niagara falls on the west side. This allowed us to visit the Adirondack Mountains.
We found King Phillips Campground just a couple miles from downtown Lake George. The kids thought it was one of our best campgrounds because we had a big “yard" and they were to build mini forts and carve wooden swords.
Adirondack park is massive. It covers more than 6 million acres (about the size of neighboring Vermont). There are many outdoor activities to do in Adirondacks. One of them is whitewater rafting. We found good reviews for a company (SOC) located on the Sacandaga river. It was class 2 and 3 - just the right amount of adventure for our first trip. It also included a mile+ where we jumped out and floated briskly down the river together.
Katie had been patiently waiting to go on her first horseback ride since the day we departed. It was time. We arrived ready to saddle up at Bennett's stables as soon as they opened the next day. Katie said the hour ride was "better than I had imagined….except that I didn’t get to “steer” my horse because it had to be led."
Katie on Copper
Anna on Sinbad
JAK on Willie
Mommy on Dillenger
Daddy on Dillon
Because we were only 20 miles from Vermont and the weather was good, we decided to check it off our list of states visited and see the birthplace of the Navy (Whitehall, VT).
Back in Lake George we road our bikes down the 2 mile hill to Lake George beach. The water was clear, cool and clean with the various ferries coming and going from town. On a number of occasions, when people would find out we were from Indiana, they would ask “are you lost?”. Inquiring why, they said that they almost never see anyone from the midwest at Lake George. It’s a huge vacation destination, but it appears only for the east coast.
Lake George is buffered by Prospect Mountain and the lake. Prospect mountain is 2021 ft and provides panoramic views of Lake George. We attempted to hike up it before dark one evening, but the climb was more than we could handle. Determined to see the view, we arose at 4:45am and tackled the steep 3 mile roundtrip hike before we packed up camp. The sunrise was partially obscured by the humidity induced fog, but it was rewarding to be the first people of the day to make it to the top.
We hit the road and headed west to Niagara Falls. We did not have reservations and were lucky to find a Passport America park with an opening on Grand Isle. We are not sure Cinderella would approve, but the Cinderella Motel and Campsite was friendly and perfect for a couple days of touring the Falls.
Since we are giving “vacation mode” our best effort for this last week, it was time for Mommy and Daddy to indulge in one of our favorite, albeit very unhealthy, dining out foods - Buffalo Chicken Wings. We headed into Buffalo, NY to The Anchor Bar, originator of the recipe. Mmmmm
After researching online we found out that there had been a recent TV show that did a nationwide search for the best wings in America. The Anchor Bar had taken 7th. #1 was also located in Buffalo. The next day we stopped at Duffs for lunch. We were split on which was better. Duffs had more sauce and kick and the Anchor Bar’s were slightly more crispy. Both very tasty, but not significantly different than good wing places back at home.
Ok, enough gorging ourselves on US food, time to head back to Canada. We crossed the border (jeep only) without issue. We brought our bikes and enjoyed the trail that follows the Niagara River to the falls. We decided to do the “Behind the Falls” tour in which you descend in an elevator and have a portal view in two locations behind the falls and on an external platform.
We stayed until sunset to see the lights from the Canadian side.
The next day we packed up and received permission for a late checkout from Cinderella. We parked the jeep on Goat Island and explored the US side by bike. We would agree with the general sentiment that the view of the falls and the state of the city is better on the Canadian side, but if you have bikes or want to walk the trails, the US side is less crowded and very enjoyable. You are able to get much closer to the edge of the falls on the US side.
We headed southwest, unsure again of where we would stop and a bit nervous about the fact it was a summer Friday night. We wanted to stay near lake Erie and find a park that had activities for the kids. We found a place, but they were full except for what they called “Open Camping”. We had never heard of “Open Camping”. They couldn’t even tell us if there were openings available - “you just have to drive back to the big open fields and see if there is a spot”. Well, we found a spot, but it required us to back in and wedge ourselves between a tent and a pop-up camper - neither of which seemed to be very excited about us arriving:)
The next day we played Pickle Ball for the first time. It was very fun.
Then we decided to head to the pool and relax…..mistake!! We returned to check the pool 3 times that day only to find the same level of craziness. This is summer weekend camping at a private park. Not exactly our thing.
The next day we headed to central Ohio to visit our good friends the Brickners and make the final stop of our trip. They had a perfect driveway for us to park and enjoy our last evening on the road with loving friends.
We had a bonus treat because they returned from Indy that day and surprised us by bringing two of our four nephews. Isaac and Luke were able to drive back to Indy with us the next AM. It was both exciting and somber as we completed our final drive and crossed the state line after 12 months of adventure.
We will do one final summary post before we wrap up this journal of our trip. We are thankful for God’s watchful eye over us, our safe travels, and now our return home. May He bless you and your family in this coming week.