It was about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday when I mentioned to my editor and co-workers here at the Enterprise that I had to head over to Lake Placid for a scheduled interview. I told them I planned on leaving around 9:15 or so because I expected the construction on state Route 86 to delay my trip somewhat.
"A friend of mine told me it took an hour to get to Placid the other day," reporter Jess Collier responded.
"Hogwash!" I exclaimed. (I'm taking some liberties here: I didn't use the word hogwash. Fun word, right?)
You see, I travel to Lake Placid often, and I've run the construction gauntlet on the Sara-Placid Highway once or twice a day, every day, since construction started in June. The trip has never taken more than 25 or 30 minutes.
I was wrong. Big time.
One hour and 20 minutes (and only 8 miles) later, I arrived at my destination. My interview lasted about 15 minutes, and fortunately, the two individuals I met with were quite apologetic. (I'd mention their names, but I don't want anyone to scoop my story.) One of the women actually mentioned she may cancel a lunch meeting she had in Saranac Lake so she could avoid the trip.
My Facebook news feed provided a wide range of reactions to the construction delays. Some people took it in stride, opting to read "50 Shades of Grey" on their Kindles while they waited, while others were simply outraged, and they used words that I wouldn't dare to print in a family newspaper to describe their outrage. I reached out to a few folks directly to get their thoughts on the trip.
Kathy Ford of Saranac Lake works at Adworkshop in Lake Placid. She said she left home at around 8:20 a.m. to leave herself about 40 minutes to get to work, hopefully on time, by 9 a.m.
She got there at 9:45.
"Seems like we moved along at a snail's pace when we did move, inch by inch, until we finally got through," Ford wrote in a Facebook message. "Thank God I caught a great yoga class in the morning before I headed to work. Kept my sanity, and could even laugh about my commute. Wish there was some way they could notify folks about the anticipated time delays daily. Sometimes, I've waited five minutes, other times, like today, over an hour!"
Ford said four or five employees at Adworkshop were late to work because of the delays.
"Not a productive morning for our agency," she said.
Jen Wells was driving to Placid for a real estate seminar and waited in traffic for about an hour. On her way home, she said she almost witnessed a collision "because of the way traffic was backed up on McKenzie Pond Road."
When work crews finally turned the sign around from "stop" to "slow," Wells described the sound as a "symphony of car engines" starting at the same time. Also, it's worth noting that some people I spoke with didn't experience delays at all - Lake Placid News Editor Rich Rosentreter told me Wednesday afternoon that he cruised right along.
I'm sure Wells, Ford and others would agree with me that in the grand scheme of things, a few days of backed-up traffic is a pretty minor inconvenience. It's better than driving through construction in Boston, and it's a miniscule problem compared to the litany of issues our nation and world face. Also, if my '95 Toyota Camry could talk, it'd probably tell me to put a cork in it - I'll take the delays over a $500, pothole-induced mechanic bill any day.
So I guess my point is this: If you're driving between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid in the next few days, give yourself at least 90 minutes. It's summer, and we live in the Adirondacks. If you reach your destination early, so what?
By the way: On my return trip to Saranac Lake, I decided to take Supertramp's advice and "Take the Long Way Home" - through Wilmington and Bloomingdale. When was the last time you glided around the bends and took in the sights along Franklin County Route 18?
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.