My Route

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Day 10: Wednesday, 11th July. Destination: Aunt Polly’s B&B, Newcomb, New York

We left Ticonderoga at 6:45 am, hoping that getting out of the plain early would help us avoid the worst of the day’s heat and humidity. The road took us up a long, gradual incline into a raincloud-covered land of woods and lakes. The road passed occasional lakefront cabins and houses scattered amongst trees and comfortably dilapidated timber mooring decks, giving the place an end-of-season air though it was probably just midweek and rainy. Jolting me out of fog-bound reverie, a small dog came tearing out of nowhere onto the road, barking madly. At that same moment, a car came round the bend on collision course with the dog. A fraction of a second later a log came hurtling through the air aimed at the car, together with a loud shout. My heart was beating wildly. Whether or not the driver saw the log, or heard the shout, or come to think of it how the dog escaped without a scratch, I’ll never know: it all happened in an instant. The dog sped back up to the garden and the car whizzed past. The log lady neither cautioned her dog nor acknowledged my existence, but I left the scene with the distinct feeling that she thought the whole drama was somehow my fault.

A little while later I passed the lovely and mysterious Eagle Lake, on the look out for our breakfast stop in the town of Paradox. The town turned out to be no more than the solitary but welcome Paradox General Store, a timber building with a porch and a wooden bear carrying a sign saying ‘welcome’. I went in and ordered two egg muffins and a coffee, then wandered to the outhouse before looking back down the road to see E&E pulling up. Breakfast, after a 16 mile uphill start, was most welcome.

From there it was uphill into the Adirondacks. As it turned out, the sky remained overcast and relatively cool, and the humidity dropped so we survived the day in better shape than we’d feared. We passed a buffalo farm and took a break for coffee and to ask what the difference was between buffalo and bison. Not much, apparently. Just outside Newcomb hunger got the better of us and we stopped at a roadside store to share a large pizza. The timber shack exterior and low, dark’n’dingy interior made me suspect that this isn’t as well-off a town as some we’ve come through. A stale smell hung in the warm unconditioned air as the waitress bustled about, serving tray in one hand and flyswatter in the other. Thwack. That said, though, the pizza wasn’t bad. I just hope those were olives.

We ended the day at Aunt Polly’s B&B in Newcomb, a lovely and characterful place with equally characterful owners who shuddered at the thought of us dining at that roadside store. They sent us to the Newcomb Bar & Grill, where the only veggie item on the menu was tortilla chips covered with the kind of liquid cheese you get at cinemas – possibly the worst crime against food ever perpetrated. Now I don’t want to criticise, but this place made the roadside store look good. But I don’t want to dwell on the negative: there was beer and there was pool, which we played (badly), and rock’n’roll on the jukebox. ZZ Top’s ‘Tush’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s live version of ‘Freebird’ were my favourites. Back at the B&B, before heading off to bed, we watched half of the movie ‘U.S. Marshall’ on TV in the guest living room, where a full-size (toy) bear sat next to us on a comfortable armchair.