Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lost, Seeking A Sign

(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush


Before you explore an unknown Adirondack backroad make sure you have GPS, a good map, or at least a compass.

My friend Jack invited me to take a drive through the regional hinterlands.  It was a rainy day but there was always the chance the clouds would clear, releasing the bright sun.  Either way I brought my camera along.

We traveled to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and then began to return home on the main drag, Route 3 East.  Around Vermontville I saw a peak covered with a thick low hanging cloud but couldn't get a good shot over the treeline.  We took a sideroad hoping for an open spot to capture the image.

You would think locals such as ourselves would know two basic facts by now:

1.  Backroads out in the wild countryside are usually forest corridors, walls of trees on each side, clear views are rare.

2.  Backroads are hardly marked with signs.  When you encounter an intersection there isn't a signpost indicating the names of the roads or pointing towards the nearest community.  You are on your own.  Limbo.

So Jack kept driving, thinking that if we just kept going we would end up back on Route 3, a few miles past Vermontville.

There was no way to track the direction of our travel.  The sun was reduced to a pale sheet spread across the leaden sky, hardly a useful reference point.

Jack spotted a sign on the side of the road.  It was one of those ancient historical markers, rust brown with raised yellow letters.  The sign said that we were on an old turnpike that ran between Port Kent and a place called Hopkinton.  No details were provided to the present name of the road, even a county road number.

At another point we checked out a "witness post" sign.  The white metal plaque stated that a survey marker was nearby, do not disturb, contact Washington, DC, for more info.  An indication that we were really in rural limbo.  Speculation: if someone removes that marker the area will fade into nothingness.   

Later at one intersection I spotted a sign — not an official state one — that simply said PLATTSBURGH with an arrow pointing to the left.  The sign looked homemade.  I suspect that one of the few people who lived in this area got tired of people pounding on his door, asking for directions back to civilization.

The road took us back to Route 3.  Relieved to see the familiar passageway we drove on, only to find ourselves driving once again into Vermontville.  Despite the fact it seemed we were traveling eastward, we had backtracked miles to the opposite point.  Like I said: Limbo.

But I did get some good photographs on that maze of backroads, including shots of collapsed buildings, forgotten, left to the forces of nature.

My theory: the owner of a pre-buckled structure wanted to maintain his property but couldn't find his way back to it, he kept driving in circles and gave up.  Without proper maintenance entropy did its job.

And with Halloween approaching I suspect that the souls of lost travelers unable to reach their final destination will be seen on those twisty, never-ending Adirondack backroads.

But I won't be one.

One spot did open up during the backroad odyssey so I could capture the low clouds obscuring the mountains.

1 comment:

Rolene said...

Indeed, Luke, an apt description of any backroad in the North Country. Pat and I got lost on many of them, any time we took a "Sunday drive" with no particular destination in mind. Your final shot of the cloud cover is wonderful, showing the real density of the cloud.