October 11, 2013

Lake Pleasant, NY: Happy Surprise on the Less-Traveled Road Home from Montreal

So often in my travels, it's the unexpected -- the unplanned -- that become special highlights.

It happened again this past weekend, as we drove home after four days in Montreal for the World Parkinson Congress. After lunch on Friday in Lake Placid, and then a slow ride along uncrowded mountain roads... past Saranac Lake... Tupper Lake... Indian Lake... we stopped for the night at the Lake Pleasant Lodge in Speculator, NY, a town of about 400 in the southern Adirondacks.

Ever hear of Lake Pleasant? I hadn't. Planning the drive south through the mountains, I wanted to stop somewhere that was about four hours from Montreal. "Lake Pleasant" seemed to fill the bill.

In Lake Placid, I asked the waitress how long it would take to get to Lake Pleasant. She looked puzzled. "Never heard of it," she said. Hmmm. I wondered if I should have picked a more familiar stopover.

After checking into our modest, comfortable motor lodge, this view reassured me:


But the best surprise -- and the highlight of the trip -- came when I walked up the lodge's driveway and spotted a small "River Walk" sign across the highway. I decided to check it out.

Here's the entrance to the walk:


The walk featured plaques along the way that described the plants, trees, birds, and animals visitors would see. This unusual creature wasn't in the catalogue:


One of the signs explained what life was like for the many guides who escorted adventurous travelers through the uncharted mountain wilderness in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most important quality those guides possessed was "storytelling." Around after-dinner campfires, vacationers enjoyed the tales their guides spun into the night. Sounds better that sitting in front of a TV and having "the soul drained out of us" . . . a phrase I heard in Montreal.

I'd covered about a third of the walk before the fading light -- and my flagging energy -- made me head home. Back at the lodge, the clouds and gathering darkness only enhanced the view:


Before we hit the road the next morning, I returned to the River Walk to renew the enjoyment and to try my trekking poles, which I'd schlepped to Montreal but hadn't used there. Here's what the "walk less traveled" looked like after breakfast:


I'm trying here -- not succeeding -- to sync my feet with the poles. Evidently, I need more practice.


But the poles helped support me in an erect posture, just standing in place. And just standing in place and savoring the view made me think about my "Aging with Parkinson's" glass . . . half empty or half full?

The afternoon before, it felt half empty. I was frustrated not being able to charge through the full circuit of the walk before dusk . . . something that would have been easy just a few years ago. Instead, I had to settle for seeing just a third of the trail.

But in the morning, supported by the polls, standing still in these woods, the glass seemed half full. I did what wouldn't have occurred to me in my younger years: I just stopped, watched, and listened. Before Parkinson's, I always charged through life as I would have done on this trail -- racing along to gather as many experiences as possible. But just standing still on the River Walk and loving the moment, I learned a lesson about how I might more fully enjoy the rest of my life.

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Here's more information about the Speculator region of the vast Adirondack Park.

1 comment:

Irina said...

Beautiful ! ! !

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