by Dr. Denise R. Ames
My cousin, Paula, and I took a 6-day, summer road trip from Albany, New York to Maine and then to Craryville, New York where we would join a family reunion.
After our Ausable Chasm adventure (see previous blog) my cousin and I were starving. We headed north on Route 9 the short distance along the beautiful Lake Champlain to the town of Plattsburg, New York. We googled for restaurants and the Twisted Carrot caught my eye. Located downtown, we ordered a yummy hamburger, a big Caesar salad, sweet potato fries, lots of refreshing ice tea, and appropriately, a carrot cake for desert. We split almost all of our food on the trip since portions tend to gigantic, eating out runs expensive after a while, and I wanted to be able to fit into my jeans after the trip.
Filled to the brim, we decided it was time to catch a ferry across Lake Champlain to Vermont. Since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with Lake Champlain. Perhaps it is its role in the American Revolutionary War, or the fact that it is such a deep lake. Whatever the reasons, to a geography buff kid it was one of my favorite lakes.
Lake Champlain is the thirteenth largest lake by area in the US. Approximately 490 square miles (1,269 km2) in area, the lake is 107 miles (172 km) long and 14 miles (23 km) across at its widest point, and has a maximum depth of approximately 400 feet (120 m).
The lake narrowed just north of Plattsburg, NY where we boarded a ferry. We slipped out of the car and onto the upper deck to see the wide expanse of water stretching out between the states of New York and Vermont. The lake actually elongates northward into the province of Quebec in Canada. It was invigorating to feel the spray of churning water making its way to the upper deck to cool me off after the morning’s exertions at Ausable Chasm.
Joining us on the upper deck were two cousins who were on a reunion road trip across New England. It was fun to compare our stories, since we were cousins on a similar road trip, and revel in their reacquaintance after a years-long absence. The 15 minutes it took us to cross the lake zoomed by and before we knew it we had docked south of Burlington, Vermont.
My cousin and I scrambled into our car just in time to rev up the engine and exit the ferry. Once on land, we took a few looping twists and turns to finally arrive at the junction of Route 2, our eastward highway to Maine. I spied a convenience store and suggested we stop to get some ice tea for the road. I am addicted to ice tea (although I water it down to lessen the caffeine intake) and it is a staple drink for me through the summer.
It was at this point that I discovered something very alarming. I had left my bag with camera, billfold, etc. on the upper deck of the ferry! It was only 24 hours into the trip and I already lost my most valuable belongings. I tried to remain calm as we headed back to the ferry dock. Paula seemed to be driving unusually slow I thought considering the emergency but I realized I was overly agitated.
We arrived at the dock and I got the ear of a clerk. She seemed sympathetic and assured me that this often happens (I guess others are as air-headed as me) and she would contact the captain. My anxiety ebbed as I realized that it was probably safe. About 10 minutes later word arrived from the captain that a crew member had retrieved my bag from the upper deck where I was mesmerized by the cousin story and inadvertently left it on the seat. The bag was safely ensconced in the captain’s cabin and would be delivered to me in about 20 minutes. I was greatly relieved. The episode also gave me a renewed sense of the integrity and honesty of most Americans. I was very grateful.
I eagerly awaited the arrival of the next ferry and my belongings. Paula and I joked that we hoped it didn’t sink as it chugged its way to the dock. A crew member met me at the gate and I gathered my bag. All contents intact.
As we climbed back into the car to continue our temporarily sidelined road trip I had time to reflect upon the afternoon’s events. The ferry ride was glorious. I rejoiced in seeing the historic and glistening lake and feeling it spray its droplets of water over me. It was inspiring to see the joy of the two cousins in renewing their bond of friendship and kinship. And finally, I was grateful to the ferry’s crew for helping me reunite with my indispensable bag. Good feelings all around.
Now as we were ready to turn onto Route 2 to continue our road trip, I spied that convenience store once again and I thought it was time to celebrate all the recent events with a cold ice tea. Paula wholeheartedly agreed.
About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames
Dr. Denise R. Ames’ varied life experiences—teaching, extensive travels, scholarly research, personal experiences, and thoughtful reflections—have contributed to her global perspectives, balanced views, and cultural insights about the world. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded Center for Global Awareness, an educational non-profit. She has written nine books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units.
The Center for Global Awareness offers three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, globally-focused books and educational resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a study and conversation program for self-organizing groups of lifelong learners; and their newest program Gatt, Global Awareness Through Travel.
GATT is Dr. Ames’ travel advisory service that encourages supports travelers to see the world with new eyes, learn from the past, understand others, and reflect upon one’s own personal journey and place in the world. She incorporates five pathways—a holistic world history, cross-cultural awareness, multiple worldviews, significant global issues, and personal well-being—into her unique approach to gleaning all the wonders travel has to offer us.