(August 8, 2014)
The sun greeted us as we awoke on our last full day of vacation. After a quick breakfast in the hotel dining room, it was time to load up the FJ and head south. Utilizing all secondary roads, we meandered our way southeast toward Lake Champlain.
At one point in the morning we stopped at a scenic overlook at what I believe is called the Appalachian Gap where we enjoyed our last glimpses of the lovely Green Mountains.
I really liked this shot I got with the lake down below and the road curving around the mountain.
Eventually we arrived at Larrabees Point and boarded the Ft. Ticonderoga Ferry for our short 7-minute trip across the southern tip of Lake Champlain to New York.
We crossed on this ferry 8 years ago with our big F150 pickup truck and our huge pop-up camper. Back then I had a lot of anxiety and wouldn’t get out of the truck! I enjoyed the ride this time. We couldn’t have asked for a more lovely day for crossing the lake.
The Ft. Ticonderoga Ferry is one of the oldest ferry points on Lake Champlain.
There were two seagulls watching as we crossed, one on each side of the ferry. I was able to get a decent photo of one of them, despite the bright sunshine.
Fort Ticonderoga was our last sight-seeing stop of our trip. I was anxious to visit the fort, as we had tried to see it eight years ago on our way to Maine but arrived too late in the day. It turned out to be the perfect stop — just the right amount of time to feel like part of our vacation but not too long to be rushed on our drive toward home.
The history of the fort is very interesting. Built in 1755 by the French, it was occupied by the British in 1759 and then by the Americans in 1775. It’s unique star shape was meant to maximize the field of fire.
There were cannon.
A fife and drum corp entertained visitors.
At this point you could march behind them down to The King’s Garden. Later in the day they returned to the muster grounds within the fort.
The upper floors of the barracks house a wide array of displays covering the long history of the fort. It was very interesting and informative. There is even a display honoring the aircraft carrier Ft. Ticonderoga that fought heroically in WWII.
I tried to frame an interesting shot.
Outside the fort are re-enactors presenting what it would have been like on an average day at the fort. For example, this young woman was selling produce from her garden to the soldiers to supplement their rations.
These men were sawing logs. 🙂
After exploring the fort, we ate lunch in the America’s Fort Café with a table that overlooked Lake Champlain. When we were finished eating and shopping, we walked down to The King’s Garden. It was a decent hike and we could have driven, but we figured we could use the exercise since we would be sitting in the car the rest of the day.
In the early 1900’s Stephen Pell undertook the vigorous project of restoring Fort Ticonderoga which by the late 1800’s was all but completely destroyed. The Pell family would build a home on the shore of Lake Champlain named The Pavilion which would at some point become a hotel and then revert to a private home. When we saw this interesting and lovely building near the entrance to the garden, with no sign to explain what it was, we could only guess is that it was a stable or carriage house in the days of the Pells.
The gardens themselves were beautiful. The functional “soldier’s garden” is considered one of the oldest gardens in America, dating back to the original French occupation of the fort in the mid-18th century.
It was cute, they had child-sized Adirondack chairs tucked within the sunflower bower.
I believe it was Stephen Pell’s wife who had the vision of expanding the formal colonial revival gardens. The King’s Garden was originally designed in 1921 by a leading landscape artist of the day.
The beautiful reflecting pool is crowned by this lovely bronze sculpture “The Young Diana” by Anna Hyatt Huntington.
I thought the tiger swallowtail butterflies rivaled Diana for beauty.
You cannot tell it from this photo, but the Pavilion is in a state of decrepit disrepair and needs extensive renovation. There were signs everywhere warning of danger and to not go near.
There was this really pretty white gazebo near the lake and I desperately wanted a photo of it, but a group of teenagers had taken up residence and refused to move! We walked down to the lakeshore and dawdled around but do you think they would leave? No! Very aggravating!
Farther away from the Pavilion we found this old cabin. Again, no sign to explain its existence. Lake Champlain was a popular getaway in the mid-to-late 1800’s, so this possibly could have been a vacation cabin at some time. I guess we can use our imaginations and believe it to be whatever suits our fancy.
Heading home could not be delayed forever and we knew we had a good way to go down the road. We took the scenic route through the Adirondack Mountains but didn’t stop to enjoy the views along the way.
I have to brag just a little and say that once we got off the turnpike in New York back last Friday, we hardly drove even a handful of miles on any expressway again until we re-entered the New York turnpike near Syracuse today. In our opinion, the best way to see the beauty of this great nation is to get off the beaten path!
Once we were back on the turnpike headed west, we put our home address into the Garmin. It told us our time of arrival was 1:30 a.m. I tell you, it made it very tempting to try to drive all the way home! We thought better of it though, knowing that we are not late night people and would have a hard time staying awake. Not to mention that it would get the beagles all riled up in the middle of the night and then no one would get any sleep! So, we wisely got off the road at the same exit we did on our way to Vermont – Batavia, NY – just after 8 p.m. We paid an exorbitant amount of money for a room at the Red Roof Inn (seriously, it was outrageous!) but at least we got a good night’s sleep. (The cost of rooms in that area is so high because it is only about 40 miles from Niagara Falls and Batavia also has a racetrack and other attractions. It’s also close to the Finger Lakes Region.)
Our adventure came to an end the next day – Saturday – around 2:30 in the afternoon, with lots of beagle kisses and cries of excitement to have mom and dad home again. Trust me, the 3 beagles were way more enthusiastic than our 24-year-old son! 🙂
Mark found he enjoyed a real vacation so much that he’s already talking about where we can go next year!! Thank you for traveling along with me. I hope you enjoyed the journey!!