– Buffalo, New York to Burlington, Vermont –

Ripley and I have a new state today! Neither one of us has been to Vermont before. Mark has, of course, but he did all of the lower 48 in one year, so he’s hard to compare to. We spent most of our day in New York, though. We did a little more driving than we had to so that we could look around.

We started our morning at 6am today, and we managed not to go back to bed. By 6:20, we were out the door and on our way over to the Ellicott Creek Trailway. We were very pleased with our choice. It wasn’t too far from our La Quinta, and the trail was nicely paved and ran for quite a distance. It was a bit lacking in shade, but I wouldn’t say that’s a negative early in the morning.

Ripley loves rolling in nice grass because we don't have real grass at home
Ripley loves rolling in nice grass because we don’t have real grass at home

There were several signs along the trail about walking with a friend, and a policeman was riding around the trail on his bicycle, which makes me wonder if they’ve been having crime issues of late. In googling it, I discovered that a body was found on the trail in 1990, but I can’t imagine that’s a good reason for an increased police presence now. Maybe that’s just the norm? It didn’t seem particularly dangerous. The trail had a wide path cleared on either side, so you could always see at least 6 feet in either direction. That contributed to the lack of shade, I expect.

When we were finished with our run, we stopped at the water fountain and watered Ripley. It was a mistake. As soon as we got back in the car, she hurled on her seat cover again. As I speak, all of her towels and her seat cover are in the hotel’s washing machine, soaping away the funk of multiple puppy yaks. I guess in the past, we’ve waited until we got back to our hotel to water her, but this trip we’ve been a little less careful. Obviously she can’t have water for at least 10 minutes after a run. When we watered her back at our hotel this morning, she didn’t have any issues, and it was only 20 minutes later.

Birhouses in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Birhouses in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

We stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve missed it since my last visit almost a year ago now. I think Mark finds it interchangeable with Dunkin’ Donuts, and he may be right, but in my head it is so much better. My one sad moment came when I discovered that their orange and apple juice are from concentrate. Alas. Nothing can be perfect.

Ripley had her bath this morning before we showered, and she was quite disappointed in me when I tossed her into the tub. That added 15 extra minutes to our already slightly late morning, since we’d spent 15 more minutes cleaning up puppy puke. In fact, after we applied more Febreze, we ended up switching around our entire backseat layout, so our clean princess didn’t have to sit on the damp, still slightly pukey side of the puppy sling. I like to think she was grateful for the cleaner seat.

Ripley at the lock on Cayuga Lake
Ripley at the lock on Cayuga Lake

Still, we were out of our hotel and on the road by 9:30, which is exactly what I would expect when we were running 30 minutes late. It usually takes us almost exactly 3 hours to get up, run, get cleaned up, have breakfast, and get out of a hotel. We can even do it in less time if the running trail close enough to our hotel that we don’t need the car, but that doesn’t happen too often. Obviously extenuating circumstances add to the time.

After our eventful early morning, we had a relatively quiet late morning. We got back on I-90, which is still a toll road, and tried to settle on a place to stop to see the Erie Canal locks before we got to Syracuse. There are lots of locks in the area, but not too many close to the highway. We settled on one near Seneca Falls, which you might recognize as the spot where the first women’s rights convention in the US was held, if you know your history.

Water level difference in the lock
Water level difference in the lock

Just north of Seneca Falls is a little wildlife sanctuary called Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and it is basically a 100-acre swamp filled with birds. On the drive through it, we saw occupied osprey nests on the poles for the power lines. At first we thought they were maybe bald eagles, since those are said to nest in the area, but we didn’t end up seeing an eagles, after all.

The wildlife refuge has a visitor center, and we stopped there briefly to see if they had a cancellation stamp for our National Park passport book. I forgot that the national wildlife refuges aren’t technically a part of the national park system, so it didn’t really belong. We got the stamp anyway, and I got some cute butterfly earrings at the little gift shop for $13. I love a deal.

The bagel sandwich, to satisfy Mark's bagel cravings
The bagel sandwich, to satisfy Mark’s bagel cravings

From there, we turned briefly south to get to our lock, which was actually on Cayuga Lake, and is technically not a part of the Erie Canal. It’s close enough, and the lock was still neat to see. I’ve never seen one in person before. The water level didn’t change much from section to section- perhaps only a few feet. We didn’t see any boats going through, and no one was outside manning the thing, either. A little air-conditioned building stood off to the side, and Mark figured that the guys running the place were hanging out inside, watching TV and waiting for a call on the radio. Since they weren’t out there, Mark wandered around a bit more than he should’ve, I suspect. I’m pretty sure at one point he was trespassing, although I doubt he’d have really gotten into any trouble.

Around 12:30, we stopped for lunch in Syracuse at a bagel shop chain called Bruegger’s Bagels. They only had the one vegetarian bagel sandwich, so we had that, both on rosemary olive oil bagels, Mark with cucumber dill cream cheese and me with jalapeño. I would eat there again, for sure. The bagels were especially good, even if the sandwich itself was fairly standard.

Bokie's, the hot pink drive-in
Bokie’s, the hot pink drive-in

Past Syracuse, we turned north toward Watertown and flirted with the Canadian border, certainly not for the last time today. From Watertown, we followed the highway across to the very top of the state, because we wanted to follow Lake Champlain down into Vermont. Along the way, we saw dozens of Amish homes and horse carts and the like. We saw men out working their fields with horses or mules and plows, as well. I was pretty impressed. It was hot and sunny, and they were doing everything by hand. I’d have already called it and purchased a tractor and an air-conditioner.

The area has many produce stands, partly because of the Amish and partly from other small farms. Strawberries are in season at the moment, and I don’t think we went more than two miles without seeing a sign for fresh strawberries. We didn’t end up buying any, which almost makes me sad. Maybe tomorrow, before we leave the region, we will grab some.

Chairs on the beach at Lake Champlain
Chairs on the beach at Lake Champlain

Along the drive, I’d expressed an interest in some ice cream, and Mark excitedly agreed. I really wanted to stop at a kitschy local place, so we avoided the Dairy Queen and gas stations we saw in favor of something more interesting. In Malone, we lucked out. They had a bright pink restaurant called Bokie’s, which served all sorts of ice creams and snack foods like a drive-in from the 1950’s. It was tiny and adorable, and we had a lot of fun taking pictures of it. The ice cream was good, too. I love spots like that. We could’ve even hula-hooped with the ones supplied in front of the store.

It was getting along in the afternoon, so we made haste to the town of Champlain, where we ran into the lake and crossed a bridge into Vermont. Did you know that Lake Champlain claims to have its very own monster, Champ? It was purportedly first seen by Samuel de Champlain, the lake’s namesake, back in 1609. Some local native tribes have claimed to see a lake monster as well. It’s supposedly a sea serpent. As expected, no one in the Phillips clan spotted any lake monsters. Maybe he got away before anyone could snap a non-blurry photograph?

Looking out from a bridge across Lake Champlain
Looking out from a bridge across Lake Champlain

Highway 2 runs down across a set of islands that lead south through Lake Champlain, and it winds through several tiny Vermont towns along the way. We were in New York all day, but I saw many more beautiful sights in the hour we drove through Vermont that I did in New York today. Vermont is a lovely state.

When we finished with the islands, we came out in Burlington, which was our final destination for the day. We called ahead to Shalimar of India, a restaurant serving my favorite cuisine (or maybe second favorite: I love Thai food, too), for takeout. Once we’d picked it up, we drove a little way over the the waterfront park to eat. We picked a little table close to the harbor and people-watched while we ate. Burlington, Vermont is full of dogs, as evidenced by our brief visit to the beach area. We probably saw 25 dogs in 15 minutes.

Enjoying our Indian food near the harbor
Enjoying our Indian food near the harbor

Our Dal Makhani was delicious, but the Aloo Gobi was poorly spiced and a little undercooked. Maybe it was cooked a bit more recently? Regardless, dinner was pretty good, and we were really happy to eat something outside of the car for a change. It’s a lovely evening, and we enjoyed sitting outside in the shade.

We didn’t leave the park until 8, and by now it’s already almost 10pm here. We’ve got to get up early to go see Mark’s brother Brian tomorrow, so we’re on a bit of a schedule. Ripley’s things are still washing, so we won’t get to bed until a bit late for my taste. Maybe we will get to our hotel a little earlier tomorrow evening. A girl can dream, right? We’re still going running in the morning, so maybe if I weren’t so gung-ho about exercise, we’d be getting a bit more sleep. I’ve no one to blame but myself.

– Trip Total : 1,872 miles

One thought on “New Jersey Trip: Day Three

  1. You’re in my old haunts of upstate NY! Lake Champlain is beautiful, I remember taking the boat tour, and then crossing from Vermont to NY on a car ferry boat.

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