For the reasons I will state below, I have dubbed today, “The Day of Excellent Decisions.” Take this as a guide for an excellent day on a future trip or just feel happy for us that we had a day that made up completely for the first one.
Step one: Drive from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts along the scenic Mohawk Trail for gorgeous views of rolling hills, mountains, and foliage of all colors. I had the pleasure of driving this route and in addition to the stunning scenery, the road was so fun to drive on.
Now, this next step maybe wasn’t the best, definitely not on par with the others, but it was part of the journey:
Step two: Arrive in Troy, New York and proceed directly to the Uncle Sam Monument. We were sketched out a bit by the very close proximity of the monument to an associated bus stop. To the point where people were milling or sitting by the statue, so we didn’t feel comfortable taking a picture with it, but we did take pictures of it. We then proceeded down to the riverfront and admired the nearby architecture and bridge. When we’d had our fill, we went to explore a little bit of the town, which was cute and artsy.
Step three: Proceed to Albany, New York and the Empire State Plaza. The plaza is really impressive—two huge reflecting pools surrounded by five skyscrapers and at least three other buildings of unique and beautiful architecture. We only went into one of the skyscrapers, the Corning Tower, in order to go to the observation deck. Making the scenic aerial view of the cityscape even better was the fact that it was free to view it. When we were satisfied, we exited the super-speedy elevator on the ground floor and walked around the plaza, enjoying the sun and admiring a farmer’s market that was set up at one end. We debated buying some local alcoholic beverages, decided to save our money for lunch, and proceeded to step four.
Step four: Go to Jack’s Diner for classic diner lunch. When we first pulled up, I wasn’t sure about it because of the rough-looking exterior. However, when we got inside, it was cozy and very 50s-diner-esque. The fries were crispy and soft and the burgers were cooked and put together well. Excellent stop for good and cheap diner food.
Step five: Go to Secret Caverns in Howe’s Cave, New York and take a tour with the endlessly entertaining Kevin. What I was expecting out of this place: a sketchy, overly touristy place that would be questionably worth the money. What I actually got out of this place: a tour of an impressive cave complete with quirky explanations of what the formations look like and a hilarious host named Kevin who kept us laughing and learning with puns galore and fun facts about the cave. There was even a point where we went through in total darkness (except flashlights). Definitely worth the money and I highly recommend it to anyone traveling close to Albany, and just in general.
Step six: Stop into The Tepee in Cherry Valley and buy some souvenirs. They have your typical tourist shop things and some more unique wares as well. Plus, nice employees who take your picture for you outside of the shop, give you recommendations for what to do next, and ask you to stay in touch.
Step seven: Get hot dogs from Heid’s of Liverpool. Seriously. Do this if you are anywhere close. Even if you’re not. Go. Go to Heid’s. I mean it—right now! But, in all seriousness, the Franks I had were incredible, their mustard is to die for, and their cheese fries could beat almost anyone.
Follow these seven steps, and your life will be made better, guaranteed.
And, if you’ll indulge me for a quick moment of self-reflection, this is what I imagined a road trip to be like—driving through gorgeous scenery, doing things I never imagined I would, and meeting all kinds of kind souls along the way. Day three was good to me.