I have traveled to a foreign country and toured every inch of it alone, camped in the great open woods with a girlfriend and what we could carry in on our backs, and once slept on the ground on a 27,000 acre uninhabited coastal island for three days with two girlfriends, several wild pigs and raccoons, quite capably caring for myself and friends.
In recent years though I’ve discovered what a blessing it is to have a mate who enjoys my company and sharing in my crazy adventures.
It wasn’t always so, and because I know what its like not to have him in my life, I’ve resolved never to forget just how blessed I am. Riding is fun. Riding with him is more fun. Riding along together and finding an antebellum mansion tucked away in a thicket or visiting an ancient church and graveyard in some equally rustic nook is priceless.
For some reason I turned to look behind me on one of our rides and saw a jewel of a home sitting there abandoned and forlorn. It was so well hidden you didn’t see it unless you looked back over your shoulder from the other direction. I rode on past it, caught up with Martin and told him what I’d seen and we turned around and went back for a closer look.
From the date on a stone pillar we knew the home was built in the 1840’s and it had obviously been abandoned for years, but we could imagine it at dusk with candlelight streaming out the windows and children playing on the lawn. Dinner simmered at the hearth while the gentleman of the house sniffed appreciably and mama fussed about, readying everything for the evening meal. If two people have imagination and knowledge of, and appreciation for life in times past, it doesn’t take much to turn a ride into an unforgettable adventure.
The following account dates to an era when women going out, without male escorts, and enjoying nature and scenery on their own was such a rare occurrence it drew close scrutiny, but I somehow doubt these adventuresome women minded.
Are men necessary on a motorcycling and camping trip? If you ask that of Mrs. Verrill or Mrs. Filier, of Springfield, Mass., you will be told emphatically that they are not, and they will give their own experience as proof. A long anticipated tour seemed about to fall through because their husbands were unable to leave their offices. It was a case of going without the husbands or staying home, and both the wives said, “Let’s go,” so they wheeled out the two Indians and started with Mr. Filier’s sister in one sidecar and the baggage and camping outfit in the other. No attempt at speed was made this day, and night found them cozily camping in the deep woods below the Shaker Village on Lebanon Mountain.
An early start was made the next morning, for the cool shores of Lake George seemed to be calling. Through Nassau they sped to Albany, where tanks were filled with gasoline and oil, and then on to Saratoga for lunch in one of those large but almost deserted hotels which recall the former popularity of the place. North of Saratoga the road was good, but they were not tempted to linger until Glens Falls had been left behind, when they slowed down to enjoy the beauties of the road which led over green hills and through sweet-smelling pine woods until suddenly they saw below them and in the distance Lake George in all its silvery beauty, nestled close beneath two green mountain sides.
The engines were stopped and for some time they sat enjoying the wonderful view. Boats, looking in the distance like small white insects, were floating on the water, while along the green shores could be seen occasional houses, with here and there a glimpse of a road winding under the trees. But the sun was sinking, and a camp had to be found for the night, so down the road they sped, turning west into the village of Lake George and climbing a long steep hill which seemed to trouble some of the cars they passed, but did not daunt the sturdy Indians. Just beyond the crest of the hill was a road of the country variety—stony, narrow and full of ruts—which looked promising. Along this they picked their way easily for a few hundred yards when watchful eyes spied a green, level place beside a peaceful brook, making an ideal place for a camp. In a few minutes the tent was up and supper cooking, while two wide-eyed boys appeared from nowhere in particular and stood watching three girls who were able to motorcycle and camp without masculine assistance.
The night was cool and refreshing, as nights always are in such surroundings, and morning found them eager for a closer view of the lake. Accordingly tent and baggage were left behind and yesterday’s path retraced as far as the village, where they swung onto the road which goes along the west shore of the lake. Quick time was made to Bolton’s Landing, a distance of about ten miles, where the motorcycles were taken on one of the steamers which ply the waters of the lake.
From the upper deck of the boat there was a splendid view of the Narrows of Lake George where the mountains on either side shut in the lake between almost precipitous walls, between which the waters are dotted with literally hundreds of islands, many of which show by a glimpse of white duck on the shore or by a wisp of smoke above the tree tops that other campers are familiar with the charms of Lake George.
Beyond the Narrows the lake widens, and soon the steamer stopped at Sabbath Day Point, a historic place, where dinner was just being proclaimed at the quaint little hotel with the aid of a huge, old-fashioned dinner bell. The invitation was irresistible. North of Sabbath Day Point the road was followed along the lake shore, growing wilder and more beautiful as each quickly passing mile took them into more thinly settled country, until the settlement around Fort Ticonderoga at the north end of the lake was reached. The arrival was well timed, for the afternoon boat was about to start for the other end of the lake.
A quick dash, and the motorcycles were on board, and once more resort was had to the upper deck for observation as the boat steamed majestically down the lake stopping here and there at small settlements on either side until the boat was docked at Lake George village about dusk. The camp was found intact, and another night was passed beside the brook.
Thoughts of home were uppermost in all minds as the sun roused them the next morning, so after a hasty breakfast the tent and baggage were hastily packed and they set out for home, husbands, housekeeping and the other annoyances which are dear to the feminine mind. Through Luzerne and Corinth to Glens Falls they sped. Then back the same day through Albany to Pittsfield to Springfield where they arrived happy and rather triumphant at the success of their first manless tour. – Motorcycle Illustrated. July 5, 1917.
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