KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
Our son, David, thought Six Flags Great Escape would have to be our next travel destination after seeing the names of a few of the rides. Roller coasters with monikers like The Steamin’ Demon and The Comet would appeal to almost any nine year old.
With our holiday plans set, we loaded up the car and started making our way to Lake George, New York, home to Six Flags. Along the route, I wanted to make a pit stop at the Wild Center. Set in the Adirondack forest, the Wild Center is perhaps the best natural history attraction we have ever visited. There are plenty of interactive exhibits but the most unique feature is the outdoors Wild Walk. The pathway is elevated nine metres above the ground. From this perspective, you can see the canopy of the Adirondack forest for kilometres.
David loved the walk, especially the net that resembled a spider’s web. David jumped up and down testing its strength. He also enjoyed swinging on the suspension bridges and just generally, making his parents nervous!
After finishing up the Wild Walk, we hit the road and pulled into Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. The following day, David woke up at the crack of dawn as if it were Christmas and his birthday combined. We had a quick breakfast and were almost the first people through the gates. The first ride David wanted to check out was a twelve storey mega-coaster called Flashback. David queued up for the ride and sat down as my wife, Sandy and I held our collective breaths. The ride delivered all the thrills as promised and at the end, David had a look of pure elation. The rest of the morning pretty well followed the same routine with David trying the rides with maximum scare value and Sandy and I trying not to be helicopter parents.
By the afternoon, I had worked up enough courage to try out the a few of the family rides. I thought I was up to trying the Canyon Blaster coaster and the Raging River whitewater river rafting adventure. After trying both, it made me yearn for the days when David was three or four and the merry-go-round was a big adventure. I must give Sandy full credit for having the nerves to try out the Comet wooden roller coaster with David. Part of the famous coaster was built in 1927.
There was plenty of entertainment to keep us busy in between rides including a 50’s musical revue and high-flying divers.
A full day of rides had made us tired. After a bite in Lake George, we headed back and checked out the indoor water park at the Great Escape Lodge. I had a perfect view of David trying out the water slides while I sat in the hot tub.
The following day, we wanted to see more of Lake George. The town has been a mecca of tourism for a long time. It is easy to understand why with the lakeside location and the surrounding Adirondack mountains. We started the morning by driving up Prospect Mountain and were treated to a panoramic view of the region. Making our way back into town, we took a stroll along the beautiful lakeside boardwalk. David saw the Minnie-Ha-Ha Paddlewheeler on Lake George so we decided to check it out. We took a beautiful one hour cruise on the lake as we learned fascinating information about the area.
We finished our day with an activity that made me feel more like we were in Texas than New York State. We made our way to the Painted Pony Championship rodeo located about ten kilometres outside Lake George. During the summer season, they hold a full rodeo three times a week. Of course, nothing goes better with a rodeo than a Texas BBQ. We pulled up to the Painted Pony with the smell of bbq in the air. I am glad to say that the ribs and chicken tasted as good as they smelled. After eating enough to last us two days, we headed to the rodeo grandstands. Along the way, I checked the license plates to make sure they read New York state and not Oklahoma or Texas. The rodeo was as good as anything I have ever seen. We watched bareback bronco riding, bull riding and steer wrestling amongst other events. With our best yee-haw, we finished our time at the rodeo and went back to the lodge.
The following day, we followed the Hudson River all the way to Peekskill New York. Even though Peekskill is one hour from New York City, it feels like it is a world away. The charming town has a compact downtown with a number of funky restaurants. We obviously decided to try the tacos. They were almost as good as Sandy’s, who is from Mexico City. We ended our time in Peekskill taking a boat cruise on the Hudson River. We knew we were in good hands with Captain Mary Driscoll who had spent eleven years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve and twenty-five years as a ship captain. She provided us with a lot of information about the Hudson River and surrounding area. Cruising peacefully down a river seemed the perfect way to end our trip after our adrenaline filled roller coaster rides and rodeos.
Special thanks to Lake George Tourism for providing David for assistance with some attractions for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.