I woke up and actually didn’t know what to do with myself. It was early September 2020, the nineth month of the worldwide pandemic. I had cleaned out drawers and closets, cut down the understory around my house, sewn masks, painted a picture, lost four pounds on Noom, and relearned how to make yeast bread. I just couldn’t bring myself to watch another episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” on Netflix and the book I was reading was good but not that good. Uncertain days, months and maybe, years stretched before me. I missed my normal life, traveling, meeting with groups of friends, festivals, and long afternoons sitting in sunny coffee shops in front of my laptop fantasizing about becoming a famous writer.
I felt hollow and totally dissatisfied. I needed to escape. I checked the weather, the next day would be sunny and pleasantly warm. I laid out clothes and organized my purse making sure I had my camera and extra batteries. And then I waited. When light flowed into my bedroom window I got up, drank my coffee and refused to clean up the kitchen in an act of rebel defiance. My domestic duties would be there when I got back for the next days, months, and years. I showered, dressed and opened the garage door to let the sunshine greet me and call me to adventure. My new car is the color of pine needles, I named it “Hunter”. Former vehicles had names like Silvia and Ruby but I’m a different woman now, truly brave and adventurous. Hunter is my noble steed. He also has Sirius XM and I chose music from the ’70s and because of the some divine intervention the station seemed to play all the songs I knew and loved. I turned up the volume and sang. Pumped and a bit giddy, I headed to the mountains, The Adirondacks Mountains, a great destination for a day trip.
I was free. A joyous woman on the road, living life. I came upon some construction and was stoppped by a flagman with a long white beard. I rolled down my window on the passanger. Laughter is the best medicine, I thought, especially during a pandemic.
“Santa”, I said smiling, ” so this is what you do during the summer!”
The man didn’t smile but replied, “Yup, I do a lot of things!”
I drove off. Damn! I had officially crossed over the line to crazy old lady. I quickly decided to take my sudden my vitality down a notch, a speeding ticket could possibly be my next problem if I didn’t settle down.
I had been doing research about logging for a future blog post. In my reading I had learned about a town called Everton that was abandon after the good trees there were depleted at the turn of the 20th century. Looking at my trusty topographical NYS map I found Duane St. in St. Regis Falls, NY that morphed into Everton Road and then became The Red Tavern Road. My persona quickly changed from crazy old lady to explorer determined to find clues.
Traveling to the mountains first required traveling north along flat roads surrounded by farmland but turning east, the trees began to hug the road, hills presented themselves and I felt the myself go higher and higher.
I noticed more conifers. The area was logged for spruce trees to make paper at the mill in Deferiet, New York.
My dad brought my family to The Adirondacks when I was a little girl. I have loved those mountains and woodlands ever since. I took it all in.
Red line against the green, I wondered why. Edging of an old road?
I found a spot that seemed to be somewhat denuded of trees.
The St. Regis River seemed to have become my travel companion as it suddenly appeared once again on this back road.
I drove on and ahead I saw some white water. I came upon guard rails and a parking area. A sign indicated that I was near Everton Falls. I was determined to take the rocky path to the water’s edge and get a picture. I broke my ankle in Israel in November of 2019. I’m healed but now I walk always maintaining a deliberate connection between my feet and my brain. I watch each step and sometimes use the trees as impromptu railings. I made it.
I was thrilled to find The Red Hotel. The the last section of road got its name from that establishment.
The sign said it was established in 1830. Was it a hangout for the loggers at the beginning of the 1900’s?
Near by was a cabin, was it from that era?
As I continued, I looked into the woods hoping to see some remains of the logging camps that once existed or the railroad tracks used to transport the logs.
I saw many places that might have been the entry roads into the cutting areas.
I drove until I was almost to the end of the road. I saw a sign for Deer River Campsite, I needed information and drove in. I love to travel because I find that wherever I go in the world people are generally welcoming and nice. I stopped at the camp office and shortly after the owner came up the road on a golf cart. He was a little guarded to begin with but after I told him I had an interest in history he became an ally.
He went back to his residence and copied pages of the local history to add to my research and then he told to drive around the campground and feel free to take in the beauty of the landscape. I’m so grateful our paths crossed.
Sitting quietly on that bench on The Deer River Flow in my beloved Adirondacks, I found my escape. I have wonderful friends. Some would see this scene and say “so what”. But I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who understand what nature offers us, raw honesty, assurance, and vivid lessons of resilience and perseverance. A deep sense of peace washed over me at that moment and even seeing this picture now renews that feeling and brings tears to my eyes.
I drove back to St. Regis Falls and stopped at a place that I thought sold books but it turned out to be a lending “library”. I chatted with the woman in charge and asked her about any remaining evidence of Everton. She advised me to come back again when the leaves have fallen and walk the trails. I assured I would explore with respect, that I just wanted to understand the lives of people who lived and worked in the mountains and surely loved them as much as I do.
I’m The Autonomous Traveler! Right now I can’t travel to London or Jerusalem or Thailand. But my definition of travel has, in a strange way, expanded within its confinement. By participating in active observation and noticing along with the attitude of appreciation and acceptance, travel is rewarding in any locale. And if you are sincere in your interest and listen to the people along the way you discover wonderful new perspectives.
I will be making my third visit to The St. Regis River soon. I will be rewarded with beautiful fall colors and hopefully be able to find one of the deserted lumber camps and some long forgotten railroad tracks. My hope is to connect even more with the soul of that lovely destination. I will let you know what I find.
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