Railbiking The Adirondacks: My 40th Birthday Celebration Weekend Vacation Destination Review #3

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On Turning 40. 😭😢😖

Let’s not go there, shall we?

Where/How To Celebrate? 🎉🎂

For my big 4-0, Mike and I had tossed around the idea of doing something different than our usual go-to weekend activities. Something special. Just the two of us. ALONE.

First and foremost, thank heavens for grandparents. Big shout out to Grandpa H and Grandma B for their willingness to take our little ladies for an overnight.

On our way to Chestertown!
And we’re off!

Obviously, Mike and I jumped (for joy) at the opportunity to have one whole day and night just to ourselves. But where to go? Our discussions frequently referenced the idea of celebrating in a novel, preferably non-home-esque setting. Maybe even with a pre-arrangement of evening activities that diverged from our standard “out to dinner, then home and Netflix and chill.”

And no, I’m not being saucy. Really, Mike and I watch Netflix, chill, and finally pass out in bed shortly after the movie or comedy show commences. We’re forty, remember?

(well, Mike is actually forty-one…. yuk yuk yuk….)

FACEBOOK To The Rescue?

Back in early September, I came across this video on Facebook:

How fun did THAT look? Whoa! I shared it on my timeline, and didn’t think about it again until Mike asked me about it after he saw my post. My initial feelings on the idea of booking a railbiking trip? I told my husband that as awesome as it looked, I’d bet money it was wicked expensive to do. Rich hipster-who-owns-a-Prius type expensive.

To my surprise, I was absolutely wrong about the affordability factor. Railbiking was, actually, aging hipster-who-drives-a-used-Volvo type affordable!

(That would be me with the used Volvo, BTW.)

The Cost. (Reasonable AF!)

Railbiking prices
Learning the price of railbiking the Adirondacks changed our thought process from “that looks fun” to “we’re going.” From https://www.revrail.com/. Click “book now” to see availability for 2018.

When Mike and I found out that it cost only $70 to rent a tandem bike (for the two of us together) and go on a 2-hour, 6-mile railbiking tour through one of the most beautiful, and until now, unexplored regions of New York State, I couldn’t believe it! (FYI: A quad rental costs $130, which is also a great price for four people). My inner bargainista was thrilled!

I said to Mike, “We have to do this.”
He agreed.

 

In A Nutshell…

First view
The view at the beginning of the trail. Gorgeous!

According to the Revolution Rail Co. website, riders travel through “the beautiful Adirondack forest canopy along the banks of the Hudson River, and then over the Hudson on a spectacular trestle bridge….. [to] explore a section of the Adirondacks that has never seen passenger traffic.”

With this being such a unique, affordable activity, I initially assumed that all the tour slots would likely  be booked for the rest of the 2017 season, at least. In the fall, tours only occur Thursdays-Sundays, and the last weekend of tours for 2017 was to be the weekend before Halloween, which was, at that point when I was planning this, only about 8 weeks away.

I couldn’t believe it when I looked online. There were still openings left for fall, 2017! Most railbikes that were available were quads, but I was able to find a few open tandem rental slots to choose from. Including one at 4 pm on the day before I officially turned (cry) 40. Score!

Railbiking For All Ages, If You Dare

Tandem and Quad Railbikes
The railbikes were actually assembled by the owners of the company, and are brand new, as 2017 was Revolution Rail’s debut year of operation.

I had assumed that at least this first time, railbiking would be an experience just for Mike and me. I figured S3 would be deemed too young to ride at age 3 by RevRail, plus it is a fact that my youngest lacks the minimal amount of focus needed to pedal a railbike 6 miles in 2 hours. Even if by some miracle she was deemed old enough to do.

Well, color me surprised once again! According to the FAQ page of the Revolution Rail Co. website, S3’s age does not prohibit her from riding a railbike (though my personal knowledge of who and how she is, does).
From their website, here is their policy regarding children:

“Infants can ride with mom or dad in a front-mounted child carrier.

Ladies at the diner
The girls did have fun with the grandparents that weekend, but I know S11 really would have loved to come with us.

Toddlers can ride in a front-mounted child carrier also, but if they can sit up on their own and hold their heads up, we have 5-point harnesses for them and they can ride along in their own seat.

Kids age 4 and up can ride in their own seat, using our seat belts.”

So next year, S3 will be good to go, and we can try out a quad! At age 4, hopefully she will have developed more patience by then. Conversely, S11 expressed disappointment that she didn’t get to go this year, so I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to join us in 2018!

Fun, Unique, Friendly Lodging

Pine Tree Motel and Cabins
The row of cabins at the Pine Tree Motel and Cabins.

Mike and I rented a cabin at Pine Tree Motel and Cabins for the night. This ended up being a fantastic choice! The cabins were adorably quaint. Each cabin had a cute little front porch, and inside housed a queen sized bed, a TV, a small table and chairs, and a bathroom.

Pine Tree Motel and Cabins
The inside of our cozy cabin.

The owners of the Pine Tree Motel and Cabins are husband and wife team Norleen and Bert McClelland. We met Norleen as she was doing what us ladies’ do best, multitasking! Norleen was in the midst of simultaneously cleaning cabins and checking people in when Mike and I arrived, mid-afternoon. Norleen made Mike and I immediately feel “at home” at her place of business, and was very accommodating, warm, and just, well…. pleasant.

The Fire Pit
The view from our bathroom window of the community fire pit area, before the par-tay started.

Behind the row of cabins, the McClellands set up a community fire pit for all motel and cabin guests to enjoy. Most folks head out there starting around sundown, and the party is happenin’ until either everyone goes to bed or the sun comes up. Mike hung out at the fire circle for a while that night, chatting it up with some of the other patrons. Personally, after 6 miles of railbiking and a very yummy-yet-filling dinner at the (interestingly titled) Odd Duck Restaurant, I was too pooped for Circle Time: Fire Edition. Plus, I’m, well, antisocial. But my husband, who has more healthy people

The Odd Duck Restaurany Sign
The restaurant where we had dinner has a kick-butt name, the Odd Duck. The burger I ate there was also, indeed, kick-butt!

skills than I do, had a nice time schmoozing while I napped for a few glorious hours. Thankfully, I was able to get up around 11 pm and hang with Mike a bit, enjoying the solitude, quiet, and joy that is uninterrupted conversation.

The Pine Tree Motel and Cabins is located less than 20 minutes from the North Creek Railroad Station, which is RevRail’s starting point of departure for their railbiking tours. Which was a very reasonable distance!

The North Creek Railroad Station

Revolution Rail Co
The starting point for our adventure!

Mike and I arrived at the North Creek Railroad Station at 3:30 pm, as per RevRail’s e-mail confirmation. Our tour was scheduled to start at 4.

Inside the station, after we checked in, Mike and I browsed what was actually a gift shop containing both RevRail items and North Creek Railroad items. Pretty smart of those RevRail peeps to begin check-in a full 30 minutes before departure… and in a gift shop. Heck, I fell for this simple-yet-effective marketing strategy almost immediately, spending close to $100 in less than 10 minutes on gifts. A sweatshirt for me, a t-shirt for S11, a toy train for S3, a water bottle for Mike, and 1-stop souvenir shopping was complete!

Good Luck Eagles
When we walked inside the Railroad station, I looked straight up, and whaddaya know? An Eagles concert was playing on the flatscreen! I took that as a good omen!

A few folks wandered in to the station between 3:30-4, inquiring about the possibility of vacant spots or no-shows. They waited until 4 pm, looking less and less hopeful with each new person that entered the building. Finally, they were all told via group announcement that sorry, the 4 pm tour was full, aka everyone who booked had shown up. “No lucky swooping in happening today, folks, but perhaps try again tomorrow?”

Ouch. Sorry guys!

Oh, and RevRail? Turning away customers after less than a year in operation? Color me impressed!

Let’s Get On The Bus!

S11’s favorite show at age 2. S3 liked it too. Beware: this song many end up stuck in your head for the rest of the day today.

School Bus Ride
Boarding the bus at the North Creek Railroad Station.

Before boarding the bus to the trail, us railbikers listened to a short schpiel from the lady who had been checking us in regarding rules, safety. and what we should expect to experience. It seems that RevRail, being such a new operation, has relatively few employees. This particular gal worked check-in, served as one of our two railbiking guides, turned all of the bikes around when it was time to head back for the second leg of the trip, AND I overheard her telling a group of my railbiking peers that she helped assemble the bikes, as well! Wow.

On The Bus
Mike and me on the bus, feeling like the crazy kids we were when we first noticed one another, back in high school, circa 1992.

The bus ride didn’t take long-maybe 10, 15 minutes at most. It was kind of fun to be on a school bus once again, and with Mike, too. He and I actually did go to high school together, though we didn’t get together until a few years later. However, we had ridden on a bus together once-on a town ski trip, back in winter, 1993. Mike and I had secret crushes on each other back then, though neither of us knew of the other’s feelings at the time. Alas, my only memory of him from that particular day almost 24 years ago is when he locked some poor kid in the charter bus bathroom as a joke on the ride back home. What a punk! 😂

View From the Bus
The view of the Hudson River from our bus window.

The views from the bus were pretty great. Up in the Adirondacks, the Hudson River looks nothing like it does in the downstate ‘burbs where we live. Up here, the river is extremely narrow, almost stream-like. Actually, North Creek is only about an hour from Keene, NY, home to Lake Tear of the Clouds, which is the source of the Hudson River. The mouth of the Hudson is known as Upper New York Bay, which is located in both Manhattan, NY, and Jersey City, NJ, where ultimately, it flows out into the Atlantic Ocean. Mike and I live much closer to the Hudson’s mouth than its source, and so seeing the vast, grand river that often serves as our hometown’s backdrop look so much tinier and gentler was a pretty neat sight to behold!

Time to Bike!

Before Takeoff
Mike and me on our bike, prior to the start of the ride.

After getting off the bus, we received one more short pep talk from our female guide. She reminded us that there is no bathroom, which was pretty obvious to me, but I am sure the occasional doofus biker has probably asked her that exact question, mid-ride. Hey, I wouldn’t put it past folks. Our female guide was then joined by a male guide from the trip that had just finished up.

All of us were then sorted into groups of either two or four, so that we could be placed on the correct bikes with our respective biker peeps. Mike and I hung back from the group, as I told him that I wanted a bike toward the end of the line. Why? Looking at the other railbikers on this tour, I could tell that Mike and I were two of very few Gen X-age bikers. There was one Baby Boomer-age couple on our tour, with the woman half of said couple announcing (loudly) how old she felt today, and how she hoped she could keep up with everyone else on the tour, more than once. Damn lady, relax, I had thought to myself. Its a railbiking tour, not the Tour de France.

I truly have no patience. I know this.

Second to Last
Our view before takeoff!

The rest of the group was Millennial-aged people. Surprisingly, there were no under-18 kids on this particular tour at all. Oddly, I didn’t notice this complete lack of the presence of children until our male guide said it aloud. Its amazing how quickly one can get used to child-free quiet. It took me less than one afternoon! 😂

Anyway, I wanted to be last because I was afraid I’d be Mrs. SlowBiker and hold people up (I already was pretty sure I’d be holding Mike up, but he has to deal with me. LOL). I already felt old, being one of the oldest bikers in the group and turning 40 the next day, I didn’t need to feel both old and slow! However, once Mike and I got on our bike, my husband made an interesting discovery. One that made all my worries evaporate instantly, actually! It’s good thing to be married to a smarty smart guy, most of the time.

The Bikes

Pedal to the Metal
The bike had one axle for every two wheels. Since Mike is much stronger than I am, my pedaling was really for naught.

As we were about to climb into our bike seats, the male guide informed us that one person had to sit in the seat that controlled the brake, as each bike had only one brake control (which made sense). He called it the “responsibility seat.”

I passed that particular opportunity onto Mike. My husband, always the, good sport took on the brakeman role without argument, too. Mike used to race bikes in high school anyway, and on a near-professional level, too. Meanwhile I was lucky that I didn’t fall off my 10-speed while riding down my driveway, helmetless (it was the 80s) and break my brain. So yeah, bike responsibility = Mike! 😂 It just made sense.

Ready to roll
Our guides were really cool about taking photos for us bikers. Here we are right before takeoff.

After my husband and I were comfortably sitting on our bike, all strapped in with our belongings securely stashed in the attached basket, Mike noticed that the front two wheels were attached to only one axle. Same with the back ones. My husband then concluded that, “the stronger, faster pedaler is the one who ultimately controls the bike’s speed.”

Translation: My pedaling was just for show. My husband was in control. Well, mostly.

“Unless I yell at you to slow down,” I replied.

No argument there.

The Happy Couple
Awwww.

To start the ride, our guides had each bike start pedaling off, making sure that a good amount of distance had been gained before sending the next bike on its way. Because of this (very well thought out) process of starting the ride, each biking party could pretty much enjoy the trip at their own speed. And after finding out that at the halfway point, the bikes were simply turned around and directed to ride back in the same way we came, learning this “bike spacing process” came as a big relief to me. As we would be going from one of the last bikes in line to one of the first!

They See Me Rollin’….. They Hatin’

(Nope, I’m not posting that video. This is a family-friendly blog, yo!)

Crossing The Bridge
Selfie on the trestle bridge.

The ride was breathtaking. The first 3 miles were ridden during daylight hours, and the fall colors were spectacular. Toward the end of the three miles, we came to a the trestle bridge that the ad talked about, and it did not disappoint, either! On the ride back, our guides took pictures of each bike party on the bridge, the Hudson River flowing behind them, the rainbow colors of autumn framing each shot. Here is ours:

Over the Bridge
Rollin over the Hudson R!
Happy Couple
Me and my love in da woods

I went back and forth conversing with Mike, and listening to music during the 6-mile ride. At times, both of us chose to just pedal quietly, simply enjoying the scenery coupled with the presence of each other. It was a romantic peacefulness that parents of a pre-teen and preschooler don’t get to  experience very often. I loved every moment of it, and I’m pretty sure that Mike did too.

Sunset On The Trail
Sunset on the trail-side view

After the first three miles, we all stopped, lined up, and dismounted. Us bikers then hung out in a woodsy area, out of the way, for about 20 minutes. We snacked, talked, enjoyed the views around us, and uh, bathroomed, while our guides took on the seemingly overwhelming task of flipping all of the bikes around for the second leg of the trip.

Sunset on the trail
Sunset on the trail-the view ahead

 

After all of the bikes were turned, Mike and I found and mounted our bike once again, and began the second half of our tour. We also learned quickly that at least for the 4 pm tour slot, the second three miles were vastly different than the first, in the BEST possible way! How, you ask?

The final leg of our tour included a breathtakingly beautiful viewing of a just spectacular Adirondack Mountain sunset. My iPhone-camera pictures don’t come close to capturing the beauty that surrounded us that evening as we rode back to the starting point of the tour. I was actually a little sad when our journey had ended, which is pretty odd for me. I mean, I was starting to get cold, I was definitely hungry, and I was also very, very tired. Usually, that trifecta is certainly enough to make me glad that the fun is over. However this time, I didn’t really care too much about my hungry-exhausted-freezing state. Like a child, I was having too much fun!

Back to Life…Back to Reality


Oh, that one I will definitely play! A classic dance staple of my awkward pre-teen years.

Mike and I headed back home the next day. We felt well-rested, renewed, rejuvenated, and truly ready to jump back into our regular chaotic lives. Also, we missed these two gals, lots and lots:

Cuddly Girls
Sister cuddles. Love them to pieces!

Our railbiking getaway was an incredible experience. BIG props to Revolution Rail Co. I have zero complaints, and only the ravest of reviews. You done good, guys. Check them out at https://www.revrail.com/. Trust me, you will NOT be disappointed.

Indeed, I truly couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the first year of my 40s. I also couldn’t think of a better person to spend my 40th birthday with, either. Mike, I love you and am so glad we are growing old together. And hey- we still look pretty cute for middle aged peeps, right? 😍

So, I guess I’m old now. But I’m happy, too! I mean, I have everything I have ever wished for, and overall, I truly can’t complain about much of anything these days. Though I probably will anyway. Joe Walsh said it best in the song “Life’s Been Good”…

I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…..

And eh, I’m 40. I’ll complain if I damn well please! 😂😋😍

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

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