I had planned a surprise trip with Danelle to Boston, MA earlier this year. Some personal things came up and we canceled the trip. Of course the airline didn’t provide any refunds, so we had airfare we were not using. I figured we would never end up using the airfare. However, it worked out that I ended up changing jobs. I negotiated a few extra days off between positions. My goal was to go paddling to clear my head, but Danelle had other plans. She wanted to spend time with me and use the airfare.
We ended up looking around different travel websites trying to find the cheapest airfare that would make the most of our airfare credit. There weren’t any airfare searches that take dates and starting cities that sort by price… After lots of searching, we found what we were looking for. We booked a trip to Albany, New York. My mom was going to come in town from Kansas City and watch the kids to afford us this opportunity.
Fast forward to the start of our trip. We started on Saturday afternoon after the kid’s soccer games and when my parents could arrive. At the St. Louis airport, our flight got delayed right off the bat… So off to the Airport bar for a beer!
One beer for each of us and an appetizer and I felt that I would need a second job to afford them. You have to love airport prices! The flight to Albany was nice and we got there in the dark. Part of the goal of this trip was to see the leaves changing color. The summer was late, so I was hoping that the views would still be above normal.
When we got to the airport, we headed to the Hertz terminal to pick up our rental car. I tried to get a convertible for the trip to enhance our viewing pleasure, but the Hertz website wanted over $500 for that privileged. Instead, I had a boring sedan reserved for us. I struck up a conversation with the guy at the rental counter and asked what type of upgrade I could get. I didn’t expect much and asked tentatively about a convertible. It ended up only being $15 more a day. So for less than $200, I had a 2013 V6 Mustang convertible to take us around New York.
Our hotel room the first night was a strange modern affair. It was the first room that I have ever stayed in that didn’t have carpet, but we liked it. It felt cleaner than other rooms we had stayed in before.
Did I mention I rented a convertible? Maybe that was a mistake. I woke up to rain and a forecast of more rain/cold. I just knew we would find a way to get the top down, even if we had to get wet, but this was not the time… We took off in search of breakfast and found it at Grandma’s. The restaurant/bakery smelled great and had fantastic food. It was overdecorated [like a grandma with only time could do] for Thanksgiving/Halloween.
After breakfast, we wanted to see a bit more of Albany, then get out and see the countryside. We stopped for a visit of the USS Slater. Its a World War II destroyer that has since been retired from service. The guided tour was nice, but I would have liked more time to see the sights and not be rushed by the group. The tour was also in an intermittent rain which dampened the view a bit.
Done with our tour, we took the interstate North to get out of the city. Since we weren’t in a hurry, we stopped along the way to see the sights. Our stop in Glen Falls was something I didn’t expect. There at the falls was the sight that inspired the book “Last of the Mohicans “. The falls were inspiring and would have been better had somebody not put a hydroelectric plant at the same location. Of course, it was raining when we visited. While it stinks that we got wet, it was also empty!
Back in the car and heading North, I finally convinced Danelle to take the convertible top down. We turned the heat up to the max setting and put the top down. It was cold and looked to rain on us any moment, but I felt free. We could look anywhere and see the scenery pass by us. I would have liked it to be warmer though. As lunch time approached, we found a small town. There was some sort of theme park there and we stopped for a photo.
In that same gravel lot, I may have done some crazy driving. I’ve been told that the only difference between a rental and a 4 wheel drive vehicle is that a rental can go ANYWHERE! Hertz should send a thank you letter to my wife for riding with me at all times, or that car would have had much less rubber on the tires 🙂 Thanks to Danelle for putting up with my antics!
This type of random travel without pending deadlines is fun for us. We stop when something interesting is found and just try to enjoy ourselves. A bit of nature and just time to talk!
On the second full day, we decided to cross lake Champlain and go into Vermont for the day. The lake is several miles long north to south and around a mile wide. The wind was coming from the south quite hard, but the ferry was still open. Not to miss a moment of life, once parked, I put the top of the car down. Lucky for me, the control tower of the ferry was next to us. With the large waves and wind, there was significant spray from the lake in front of us and a few massive sprays found the inside of the car.
I was thankful for the convertible top, because there was no room for me to get out of the car and explore. With the top down, I slipped over the side and started walking around the boat. Everyone else on the boat stayed confined to their cars and looked on at us. Most people on the ferry are locals and take the joy of the crossing as a way of life instead of an adventure. With tons of prodding, I finally got Danelle out of the car to take in the experience. We even managed to set up the camera on the stair railing and get our photo.
Once across the lake, we spent some time on an island connected via a bridge. We found a campsite next to the lake and explored the shores. Coming in off season is great because we had the whole place to ourselves!
Possibly the highlight of the trip was a short hike on the Long Trail in Vermont. We got directions from a local and it was recommended as a nice short hike seeing a highlight of the trail. The Sunset Ledge didn’t disappoint either. The view was breathtaking and we probably spent 20 minutes enjoying the beauty before us.
While we wanted to stay and hike longer, a plane ticket and pending rain drove us back to the car. We started the drive back towards Albany knowing that we had an early flight the next morning. We had a few more stops, but it was mostly a push to get back. To say we had been there, we made a minor detour to Massachusetts and had dinner.
I was a bit worried about the trip home. Our plane was delayed a few times and the gate changed. Then when we did board the plane, I found a coloring book on the boarding device that had me a bit worried about their skills…