Winter Wonderland in Spring
19.03.2013 - 23.03.2013 -7 °C
As we were leaving Montreal, a snow storm arrived!! It just seems like every time we leave a place, the snow comes. Most people would think this wasn't a good thing but we really haven't seen a good snow all winter so we're quite keen to get into it. We took the train from Montreal to Albany. It took a very long 8 hours to get there. It only took 1 hour for us to cross the canada/america border. Customs officers came onboard the train to check our passports but we stayed stationary for nearly 2 hours. Some lady had problems with entering USA. From what we saw, she presented them with photocopies of her document, instead of a passport?!?! What a retard. So a 8 hour long train ride ended up being like 10 hours. We kept ourselves well entertained with movies, magazines, and lots of snacks. Sleeping does help to kill time too, and that's what Michelle did.
By the time we got to the Albany (the historical capital of New York State), we were buggered. So we just had dinner at the hotel's restaurant- some steak and buffalo wings!! It's pretty cool watching the snow fall from our window in the dark.. We didn't see anything in Albany - just a quick stopover to rest and to pick up our rental car.
After breakfast, the hotel's courtesy van dropped us off at our car rental office (Budget) and we were off on the road driving to Lake Placid. It took us just over 2 hours to get there in our new Chervolet Malibu with only 1700miles on it. Here in Lake Placid they hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. So as you can imagine, in winter it is just covered in snow!!
Once we got to there, we bought ourselves some food then went to check in at our motel - Town house lodge by the lake. Once we were settled in, we decided to drive into town to see what its all about (it's only down the road, but since it was snowing we thought we'd drive in). We bought our ski package pass which included ski rentals, ski lifts and a 2 hour ski lesson for tomorrow. We then had a quick stroll amongst the snow, trying not to fall into the lake which wouldn't be a problem since it is frozen.. but it was quite hard to differentiate between land and lake.. it was all white.
Mirror Lake in the background:
We had one of the best 'proper' meals we've had in America in town at the restaurant/pub called Generations. We filled our tummy with a perfectly cooked steak and crab cake. They had the best crab cake- made of real chunky crab meat.
Day 2: Skiing lessons
We woke up early and headed off to Whiteface mountain which is only a 15 minutes drive from town. We collected our skis and we were ready for our ski lesson with our instructor Kevin, who just so happened to be the spitting image of Bill Murray! We were given 'blades'- the shortest skis, apparently it is easier to learn how to ski in them.
We started in the 'mixing bowl' slope (ie. beginner slope). Kevin taught us how to turn and stop properly!! Apparently there is a technique on how to get back onto your feet when you fall too. Trust me (Michelle).. it is easy to fall, but so difficult to get up. We were pretty excited by the end of the 1 hour that we could nearly ski properly!! Blake mastered the 'hockey-stop' pretty quickly.
Once Kevin was confident we had some control on our skis, he took us us up the 'bear' slope (slightly steeper slope). We went down the 1st run very slowly without too much problem. Blake didn't do his barge ahead straight ahead approach and stop when he smashes into a tree, which was good. We attempted the bear slope for the 2nd time and Kevin was pretty satisfied that we can ski on our own well enough to not kill ourselves, so that was the end of our 2 hour lessons.
After a quick rest and a bite to eat, we went out skiing on our own. The minute Kevin left, we somehow instantly forgot how to ski. Mind you the sun had just came out, and the snow getting quite icy. After a few more runs we decided to call it a day.
Before we left, we decided take the gondola ride up to the top of the little Whiteface mountain. From there we could see THE whiteface mountain. There were lots of people skiing down it. Think it was part of the old olympic track. It doesn't look like we'll be attempting it anytime soon. Think we need A LOT more practice!!
On the way home, we decided to grab some yummy lunch at the Lake Placid pub/brewery after skiing. The beer tasting platter was only $8 for 6 small glasses which wasn't a bad deal. jalopeno soup; onion soup; baby back ribs & BBQ chicken with waffle fries
We woke up slightly sore today- not as bad as our 1st attempt at skiing with Steve in Canada. Today we went to check out the Olympic Jumping complex which was free entry for us because we purchased the 'Olympic site passport'- which included the gondola ride and various olympic sites and discounts on bobsled, skeleton rides etc. It is worth it if you want to check out all the olympic sites in Lake Placid.
There was hardly anyone at the Jumping complex when we got there. The cable lifts were not working so we were told to drive around the back and use the elevator to the skydeck on top of the 120m jump tower. Neither of us will be trying this sport anytime soon... These people must be nuts!
The view from the start of the jump:
We then headed towards the Olympic sports complex which is where the bobsled and skeleton tracks are located. We were so excited to go on the bobsled track. We had about 1.5hour to kill before our scheduled time for the bobsled ride, so we walked around the complex and watch the professionals do a skeleton & bobsled run. These guys flew past! It was almost impossible to get a photo... Fortunately for us Michelle has a lot of patience.
Before our turn on the track, we watched everyone before us go down the track on tv. The first few runs looked really slow and we were thinking this is way to slow for us, we should tell our bobsled driver to just go as fast as he can. I (Blake) asked the drivers if they had their wheaties for breakfast and tried to give them a bit of a rev up. When it was our turn on the bobsled.. it felt pretty fast to us- we ended up travelling about 100kph which felt real fast. The exhilarating part was the corners where it was a struggle to keep sitting up straight . Michelle hit her head a couple of times- think she must have just made the height limit for the ride. That's probably why we had to wear some crazy thick helmets .
And we survived:
Today is our 300th day on the 'road' (ie. since we left home). Pretty exciting. But it also means we'll be going home soon. We woke up this morning and our car was covered in snow. Clearly it snowed last night. Its been great seeing so much snow, since we don't get that in Australia. It is like a winter wonderland here (in Spring) . We are loving it.
We started the morning with a wine tasting at Swedish Hill winery (the actual winery is in the finger lakes, a few hours south of here), followed by lunch at the Steak & Seafood restaurant in town which wasn't exactly great food unfortunately but the lobster bisque and crab cake was yum. The steak tasted like it was boiled, had no grill marks and was overcooked . Not the best 300th day celebration food...
Crab cakes; lobster bisque; rib eye; rainbow trout
After lunch, we saw some dogs running down the lake, so we thought we'd go on the dogsled ride on the lake (Mirror Lake). It was a quick 5 minute ride, but riding on the frozen lake was pretty awesome. The dogs were alaskan huskies which looked like the cross between a siberian husky and a border collie sheep dog. They did love to run though. It was pretty cold, we so then went to the other 'winery' in town called the Goose Witch Winery (also from the finger lakes and way better). We bought a wine to chill in the snow pile in front of our room- why do you need a fridge when there's a huge pile of snow in front of your room.. heheh
Michelle found a new way to cook noodle that does not require a pots or microwave.. Its called cooking in the kettle- What a genius idea!! It is one of those coffee brewing one so no element for the noodles to get caught in. Don't worry, we thoroughly washed it after. Although, next time you want to use a kettle in the hotel, we suggest everyone should give it a check and rinse first. You never know.. some genius like Michelle- might have just cooked up a storm in the kettle beforehand .