New York: Upstate

The final state of this summer’s US road-trip was New York. New York is an enormous state, so much bigger than we had expected, with huge variety in terrain. From the Adirondack mountains in the North-East and the flat lands of the North-West to the hustle and bustle of New York City, there is a lot to see.

We spend an entire week in upstate New York. We crossed from Vermont across Lake Champlain on a car-ferry. We left Vermont in the sunshine; by the time we got to New York it was raining. The houses here were frequently made of stone, instead of the wooden cladding of New England. We drove west towards Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. We’d hoped to stay in Lake Placid for a few days, home to the 1980 Olympic Games (and an Ironman triathlon) but it was too expensive so we ended up staying on little Lake Flower, near the sweet town of Saranac Lake. Our lodging was right on the water and the motel offered canoe, kayak and paddle-board rental. Triumph! 

We had one full day in the area and we filled it full. I snuck out for a run early that morning and ran along the lake, through the town and round a sweet little ‘pond’. The pond was perfect for a family run, so once I got home, we all went straight back and ran our 2 miles as part of Operation Garmin. The boys are getting into running now – 2 miles is no longer hard for them, they’re in the habit of running which is exactly what we hoped to achieve. 

Once we’d run, we got in the kayaks and headed out on the lake…



….and then, once we’d chilled a little, we hiked up a hill ambitiously named Mt Baker. The views at the top were a bit rubbish (too many trees blocking the view) and the boys were unimpressed.


That evening we had a massive thunderstorm with dramatic lightning and spectacular rainfall. Once it had settled, the Dude invited me to come out on the lake on paddle boards and watch the sunset. I was a little unsure because neither of us are the most stable on water, but we did paddle out a little way and sat quietly watching the light fade over the water. It was actually pretty special. 


The next day we headed westwards. Our next goal was Niagara Falls but that was a long way, so we spent the first night in Syracuse, stopping en route for the wonderful Wild Center.


That night, at Syracuse, we had a family run along Lake Onondaga where the wonderful paved lake path was a joy. Both the boys ran 2-mile PRs, they were pretty chuffed.

One boy is more dramatic than the other

Niagara Falls, the next day, was incredible. I’ve been before, when I was 16, but I’d forgotten quite how special they are. Everyone told us to see them from the Canadian side but we didn’t want to risk any visa hassles so close to the end of our US trip. The city of Niagara Falls is dreadful – there’s no other word for it. Later, we read a couple of interesting articles about the challenges it faces, it’s a pretty depressed and depressing place. We bought tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat trip and were herded like sheep for the slaughter down an enormous elevator to the riverside where we were handed the famous blue plastic capes and funneled onto the boat. Once on the boat, once close to the falls though you forget the town that surrounds it – they are incredible. The water thunders over the edge and smashes onto the rocks below it. The volume of water takes your breath away and it’s just so beautiful and so incredibly lethal. The Maid of the Mist also lingered near the Canadian horseshoe falls where the spray was so intense that it was almost too wet to look at them or take photos. Back on land, we walked up a little staircase close to the US falls to get a better glimpse – we got drenched. It was hilarious.




We didn’t linger in the city of Niagara Falls but headed back east towards Rochester where we spent two nights. Rochester is nice enough but there’s not loads to see or do, and we were car-less. Our trusty California car, which has carried us across the US, needed a little TLC before its evaluation so we could sell it before going to NYC. We walked into Rochester one day for lunch, we hung out by the hotel pool and rested a little whilst the car got checked. I got up one morning and ran 10 miles, the longest I’ve run for a long time. It felt good to run long, but my IT band was sore afterwards!


Our final destination in Upstate New York was our friends’ cabin in the Finger Lakes region. It was wonderful to see them again. One morning, the boys went out early to go fishing. They came back three hours later having caught 45 fish in total and with one perch for us to cook later. We went out to play mini-golf and then went wine-tasting in the lakeside town of  Skaneateles. 



On our last day with our friends, we hiked at Treman State Park near Ithaca. This was bittersweet because it was our last US hike after seven years of hiking here. It was a cracker of a hike – we followed trails along the river, with several flights of steep steps, to a wonderful waterfall and a gorge with a beautiful stone walkway built into the cliff. Fantastic. 




Our last day in Upstate NY was less thrilling and much more stressful as we had to sell our car before we arrived in New York City. We said goodbye to our dear friends (always horrible), we managed to sell the car, which was a  huge relief, and then we rented another car and headed south, towards New York, our final US destination!

Big Apple, we were coming for you!

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