May 5: Keeseville - Crown Point, NY - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

May 5: Keeseville - Crown Point, NY

Heart 1 Comment 0

ANYONE WHO THINKS there's a difference between chalk and cheese ** has never shopped at Family Dollar. Cheese - I'm not even sure it was actually real cheese - was all we could find of what we wanted at the Family Dollar in Keeseville. It said something of the place, a town which had slid on to hard times and didn't know how to get out. The entrance from the north was closed motels, failed hotels and restaurants all but begging people to look their way. We bought cheese to make sandwiches and it was obvious that it too was down to Keeseville standards.

The motel we stayed in, though, was fine. Nothing classy but just what we needed on a cold night that turned to thunder and downpour.

"Thanks for staying with us," said the slightly ritzy woman behind the counter. Big smile. "'preciate it." When we left in the morning she asked where we were going, how far we'd ridden, just generally took an interest. That's what I like about Americans. They take an interest. Cynics back home say the friendliness is commercial, at best superficial. I'm not sure it is. But whether it is or not, I would rather have people who are superficially cheerful than authentically miserable.

The day was to end in luxury, in Crown Point north of Ticonderoga, where we had booked a bed-and-breakfast with our friends Richard and Karla. They had driven up from Maryland, which is south of Washington, to join us. We met when Richard rode the Transam four years ago, the time I conked out at mid-distance, and Karla flew to be with us on occasions. I was heartbroken to leave that trip because I loved America and because never have people thrown together at random become such lasting friends. There have been reunion tours every summer since and another will start in France when we get home in the fall.

Karla - our saviour in the mountains
Heart 0 Comment 0

Richard and Karla brought the weather with them because for the first time we rode in sunshine. The countryside had a green, European air that made us feel at home, except that the houses of white clapperboard could only have been American. The road rose as we left town, not hard but in a panting way. We had it to ourselves and the rising sun pushed us to discard clothes as we advanced.

There were white houses and houses in pastel colours, and dignified, sharp-edged churches with needle towers, and chasing mountain streams with froth on their lips. Going down one descent, through a village on a left-hand bend, a dull roar announced a deep, bouncing waterfall that poured beside a tiny library with weekly storytelling hours. A brown fence of wooden logs surrounded the library. Behind it stood a triangular patch of land grown with daffodils and a wooden bench on which to sit and eat Family Dollar's unexciting cheese to the grandeur of the waterfall and the occasional cold kiss of its spray.

We stopped for coffee and sticky buns at a cafe which had grown out of a convenience supermarket. We rode on as the cloud started to thicken but the temperature stayed firm. The wind blew hard in our faces.

That evening we stopped at a bed-and-breakfast place run by a Mrs Tiggywinkle character. Chintzy is the only word to describe it: frills and fussiness everywhere. But welcome. But not a dragit all day.

** A British expression I gather now isn't used in North America, thereby killing the joke for many.

AMERICAN FLAGS SEEN: 82

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0