We’re passing through Bloomfield, VT, when we stop at the country store for a cold drink. A clearly exasperated farmer named Bob is at the counter, prattling on about the “Moose Fest,” a fair and classic car gathering in the town of Canaan, 20 miles north. (It also happens to include an event that will soon be taking the country by storm: Cow Plop Bingo.) “Dang,” says Bob. “I hate this weekend. When the Moose Fest comes to town, I go camping. It’s a zoo up there.” I notice he’s buying a case of cheap beer for his forthcoming wilderness retreat. Clearly, the guy needs some alone time.
Despite these dire predictions of gridlock, Meredith and I press on to Canaan (population 970). But the predicted traffic jam keeps not happening. By the time we get to the town center, there’s a solitary guy in an orange vest directing “traffic” into a dirt lot, which contains a total of five other cars. We pass through without touching the brakes once. If that’s a Vermont traffic jam, I’ll take another, please.
Welcome to some of the northernmost parts of the Northeast. I grew up in the East, outside New York City, but this is another thing altogether. It’s a place where seemingly every car has a canoe or kayak affixed to the roof, and hikers, mountain bikers, and climbers are as common as fall leaves. Everyone you meet is in the middle of an outdoor adventure—or planning one. And, of course, it’s perfect for motorcycling, thanks to a dense thicket of twisty, two-lane roads—and plentiful dirt roads, if that’s your preference.
On this two-up trip, Meredith and I completed 1,000 miles through upstate Vermont, New York’s Adirondack Mountains, southern Quebec, and back down into Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Along the way we climbed the toll roads of Whiteface Mountain and the famed Mount Washington. We even found vintage bikes at the Bundy Modern museum in Waitsfield, VT, and met some river otters and a friendly, de-scented skunk at The Wild Center museum in Tupper Lake, NY.
Life Among the Bark Eaters
My history in the Adirondack Mountains runs deep. In junior high school, I spent 30 days here participating in a wilderness survival school, sleeping on the ground, navigating by map and compass, and drinking straight from mountain streams. Being an adolescent, I whined about epic hardships like the lack of pizza and doughnuts, but these many years later, I realize that the experience changed my life. It reset my compass permanently. I’m still happiest when I’m outdoors, away from muggles, and in the presence of trees, wildlife, and, well, nothing at all. In the ensuing years, my father and I camped, canoed, and toured extensively in the region. And later I spent my freshman year at college in upstate New York. That’s a lot of connections.