Pulling into the Westborough rest stop on the Mass Pike (Boston’s nickname for Interstate 90) minutes before nine, Dani and I said hi to Shayna and Topher as the rest of the group arrived. It took us just under an hour to get completely organized, and as we pulled back onto the highway our 6-vehicle convoy was greeted with a light rain. We cruised towards the New York / Massachusetts state line at a speed comfortable for everyone, chatting intermittently on our CB radios (yes, we still use CB in off-road communities). Rob and I are both licensed HAM radio operators, and as such were having separate conversations occasionally as we went along.
We crossed into New York at noon exactly, and chatter on the radio turned almost immediately to plans for lunch. Jenny got to work on her phone researching restaurants ahead of us on our route, and we settled on the 518 Pub in Amsterdam, NY for what turned out to be rather slow service, but very good food. It was still raining when we left the Pub, and a few of us ended up working on Topher’s Jeep trying to diagnose a problem with his front passenger wheel bearing. After we settled the issue everyone got back in their cars and we headed on with just over three hours to go until we reached our campsite for the night. Getting off I-90, we merged onto NY-12 north, winding our way through the countryside as sunshine broke through the clouds and cast shadows across the open road. I drove along ever so slightly over the 55-mph speed limit, windows down and sunroof open as Dani napped in the passenger seat.
We drove past miles of lusciously green corn stalks, past grain silos and farms, with views for miles to our east and rolling hills off to the west. After 7 hours of driving, we arrived at Santaway Park in Theresa, NY around 18h30. Months earlier while planning this trip I found a free campsite listed on iOverlander.com (a great resource for free and pay campsites around the world for individuals overlanding) and decided we’d attempt to stay there. The website listing for Santaway Park was rather vague, but thankfully we managed to fit all 7 vehicles and 2 trailers in a small cul-de-sac at the end of a well worn dirt road overlooking a meandering river.
Camp was set while Jenny and Shayna started cooking the meals they had pre-prepared; we dined on bourbon infused steak, sautéed mushrooms, green beans, and grilled chicken, with Claude’s home-made cookies for dessert. The group gathered around a fire that Shaun built as people ate and a few of us did dishes. Darkness set as the fire grew and craft beers were passed around, but I was exhausted and excused myself for bed around 21h30, falling asleep in our new REI Quarter-dome 2 tent to the sounds of the woods around me.
Tomorrow we start our day with an hour drive to the Canadian border, beginning our nearly 500 mile clockwise route of off-pavement adventure through Ontario.