by Jim Bessey editor
I promised pictures of the gorgeous Adirondack scenery. What better way to get them than to ride thirty miles of railway into the mountains?
|Our Scenic Train arrives at Thendara Station, the Adirondacks|
Between then and now, the weather turned chilly and wet; and the leaves turned from green to yellows and reds, with many trees already baring their branches. We drove 120 miles from home to the stunning Utica Station under dripping pre-dawn gray skies. Our tickets and train were waiting there, along with over 200 other tour members!
|View from the train, as the conductor flips the switch|
"...found ourselves surrounded by wooded valleys and peaks covered in a splendid array of colors"
When our seven-car train was finally underway, the staff served up drinks and donuts to a very long line of sleepy-eyed travelers, handed out mile-point highlight sheets, and offered additional commentary in person and over the audio system. The excursion's tracks are old and maintained on a tight budget. More than once, our train slowed to a walking pace for safety. Once, we screeched to a gritty halt because a man and his dog were too close to the tracks!
|View from a trestle, an Adirondack river (the Black?)|
|Another beautiful Adirondack river scene along the way.|
|The Inn at Thendara Station. Our buses lined up here.|
The Station was big and warm, filled with railroad memorabilia and souvenirs -- and the nice, new restrooms that brought us here the first time, two weeks back. We took a few minutes to warm up, then trooped out to board the bus to Old Forge, just a mile down the road. We had thought about riding the chairlift for the amazing views, but the weather was too foul. Otherwise, food was on our minds, and we had two recommendations from the staff.
|Our train enters Thendara to reload for the return trip|
Old Forge was filled with rain-soaked tourists (too wet, in fact, for taking pictures by then). We headed down the sidewalk looking for either of the recommended places. One was closed; the other was packed. We walked some more, then went back to Walt's Diner, the one with the long line. Turns out the wait was worth it. After a great lunch, we did the tourist thing, starting with a wonderful candy shop nearby.
With time running out on our Old Forge layover, we dropped in on some of the other notable tourist spots -- the giant hardware store/emporium, a lovely interiors shop full of mountain furniture and "butler bears" (we want one!). We checked a couple of souvenir shops and found what we expected. We settled for delicious candy and our full bellies.
With time running out, we braved the rain and boarded our warm bus for the trip back to Thendara Station. We were chilled, tired, in need of fresh coffee, and thinking seriously about sleeping on the train during the trip back to Utica Station. Lin and I bought nice mementos of our trip from the station's gift shop (both Made in America!). We posed for family pictures in front of the tracks while we waited for the All Aboard signal. We chatted with other passengers who, it turns out, lived near our homes.
|Lin and I in the rain at Thendara Station|
When our train lined up properly, we all boarded and headed for our old seats. We got coffee in the Club Car on the way. Before I settled into my own seat, I grabbed the camera and headed back to the open car. There were shots of the Moose River and other scenic spots just south of the station that I really wanted to capture. With the order of our passenger cars now completely reversed, the baggage car was now the final car rather than the one directly behind the engine.
|Looking back from a high trestle. This might be Moose River.|
|Here's a view you can only get by riding the train along the tracks.|
|Marble columns and curved wooden benches fill Utica Station, built in 1914.|
IF YOU GO: Tickets are just under $40 per person. You can order online or by phone. The volunteer customer service is first-rate! Check the website for special packages and for lots of other short-excursion options leaving from stations at Thendara, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid. Keep in mind that the Adirondacks Region may be past-peak for fall colors by next weekend. Of course, the scenery is still breath-taking.
|Fall foliage and an Adirondack river: here's 1000 words-worth.|