Every time a birthday comes around, my mother rolls her eyes and sighs, “When do we stop the huge celebrations for the birthdays?” Well, if you have absolutely ridiculous friends like mine, the answer is: NEVER!! For my friend Erickooo’s 25th birthday this year, we took a road trip to Lake Placid. Driving to destinations instead of flying automatically helps save money: instead of paying expensive air fares, multiple people can chip in for gas money and take turns driving.
HIGH GORGE FALLS – Our first stop was at the frozen waterfalls. For $15 you’re given ice cleats so you can walk along the waterfalls that have frozen over. (They also have snowshoeing for an extra $13, but there wasn’t enough snow.) You can take your time walking, so you don’t have to rush. And the views are just spectacular! There are information panels surrounding the walk, so you also get a chance to learn (good for kids, okay for adults lol).
JAMAICAN BOBSLED REPRESENT – Yes, I actually walked around the town in this outfit. And proudly might I add! That hat cost me $1, the scarf and gloves were a gift, I got the insanely thick sweatshirt on-sale for $7, and my sexy pink snowpants are from the kid’s section for $20. I managed to stay super warm (and super stylish) for under thirty bucks!!
DOGSLED RIDE ON ICE – If the ice is thick enough, you can take a dogsled ride across the lake for $10 a person. Now, I originally thought it was $5 a person, so was weary when the dogsled dude said $10. But, then again, when the hell am I gonna get to get pulled across ice by dogs? So $10 it was. I was actually able to make a fairly funny video during the ride, but I have absolutely no idea how to post it on here. Anyone know??
HOSTEL – I know, wtf, a hostel?? Don’t worry, it was nothing like the creepy movie where people kill for fun! The Hostel-experience was actually quite pleasant. For $30 per person per night, you stay in bunk beds (that did have nice sheets but I’m paranoid and brought a sleeping bag), and have easy access to 3 bathrooms, full kitchen, about 50 different games, and 100 books to read. Everyone was friendly and the owners were way relaxed (our names were on a dry erase board as our “check in” – see below). Our room had 2 bunk beds, so we shared the room with another girl one night (she was literally there for 8 hours to sleep and we only saw her once).
The only slight downside to the Hostel: we were on a completely different time schedule than everyone else. We stayed out late and slept in; everyone else was asleep by 10PM and up at 6AM. So it was hard to be social with everyone else when we were going as they were coming. Still, the weekend wasn’t about being friends with our Hostel bed-mates so it didn’t matter in the end.
SNOW TUBING – If you’re not into snowboarding or skiing, or can’t afford it, then snow tubing is a great option. For $9, you can tube for an hour (although no one was checking our tickets so I’m sure we could’ve done this for more than an hour). We did it at night, which made it more fun under the moonlight. You can also link together for more laughs. Only downside: you have to walk back up after you go down. This got tough after the first few times
BOBSLEDDING – This was the big splurge of the weekend. For $80, you get to go down an actual bobsled track in an actual bobsled. A driver and a brakeman go with you, and you pretty much curse and scream the whole way down. Afterwards, they give you a tshirt, bobsledding certificate, pin, drawstring bag, and a photo of you with the bobsled (remind to post that later :]). Since you only go down once, the $80 isn’t really all that worth it. But how many people do you know that can say they’ve gone bobsledding?? LOL the 45 seconds meant working an extra 8 hours, but once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are worth it. Plus, an 80-year-old went the day before, so I had to do it if they could!!
PICNIC IN THE CAR – Another good thing about staying at the Hostel was the kitchen! To save money, we brought up all the food we’d need for breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks. In total, it cost about $30 per person for a whole weekend’s worth of food. Had we eaten out for all those meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, snacks and drinks), it would’ve cost over $30 per person PER DAY!! By bringing the food, we saved more than $60 each.
OLYMPIC CENTER – A good thing about touristy places is that they are almost always focused around a central building. Lake Placid was home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games, and therefore has a huge Olympic Center that is free to enter. We were able to walk around the ice arenas and witness a part of history. One thing I noticed that I thought was funny: the 1932 arena could probably hold about 100 people. I guess not many spectators travelled for the games back in 1932.
They definitely wised up for the 1980′s game; that arena could hold thousands! We were also fortunate enough to come across the ice skating competition for the Empire Winter Games being held that weekend. We got to relax for an hour and watch the skaters compete, all for free! The Olympic Center also had the speed-skating track outside, but the hours opened to the public didn’t coincide with our schedule LOL
ICE BUILDINGS AND ALIENS – At one point, we were at a lost as what to do. It was too early for dinner, but we didn’t want to just hang out at the Hostel. In situations like this, just be spontaneous and drive! GPS systems are awesome with giving you suggestions. We used ours to drive the 10 minutes to Saranac Lake, where we discovered it was the winter carnival and a HUGE ice castle with an alien theme had been built. Sometimes, it’s fun to act like a kid again and enjoy things like this. So we pulled over, climbed the UFO, sat at the Alien-meeting, and went through the escape tunnel. All it cost us was the gas to get there! When it doubt, use the GPS for ideas or drive around on your own
FULL MOON PARTY – Once a month, one of the Inns in Lake Placid hosts the Full Moon Party. For $15 (or $30 if you need to rent equipment), you cross-country ski or snow shoe along lamp-lit trails from bonfire-to-bonfire. At each bonfire is a keg, hot dogs, hot cocoa, and marshmallows. Skiing starts at 7:30 and goes til midnight; afterwards, you head into the Inn for live music and drinks. I learned that I absolutely suck at skiing LOL I can manage the flat surfaces but the downhill made me fall twice (not gonna lie, I walked most of the way and carried by skis haha). I also learned that real skiers have some serious BO issues after they ski for 4 hours and then crowd into a bar LOL
TOBOGGAN – Think of a bobsled, going down only one hill, and shooting you out onto a frozen lake. For only $5 per person, and $5 for a sled (so $20 total for all you non math people LOL), you can go down on the toboggan sled an unlimited amount of times. Being in front scared the sh*t out of me!! Unfortunately, the friction caused us to rip our snowpants a little bit In all fairness, they do have signs warning of this. However, I wish they gave some pointers as to how to try to avoid it.
A tiny rip in my snowpants isn’t going to make me get rid of them though! Unless you’re an avid skier/snowboarder, and wear snowpants on a daily basis, you can fix tiny slashes like this – and if you don’t know how to snow, just ask someone to help you with it LOL something this small isn’t worth buying a new pair over, especially when you’re on a budget!
AUSABLE CHASM – I’m being honest when I say that sometimes, you just have to put the GPS away and let your sense of adventure take over!! By choosing random lefts & rights, we realized we were near Ausable, where another frozen waterfalls and caves were located. For $5 we got to walk by 2 different waterfalls. (For $20 we could’ve done the guided, hour-long cave tour, but we were just too exhausted for it LOL). The views were magnificent, and a perfect way to end the road trip. Ironically, we ended just as we started LOL well, kinda……
SUPERBOWL – I’m not a huge football fan, but I do enjoy the eating and drinking aspect of the Superbowl. We didn’t rush back for the game, but we did end up returning just in time. When you’re on a budget and not that into football, it’s just not worth going to a bar to watch the game. Especially when you have so much beer and peanut butter vodka (mmm reese’s martinis) to drink and an awesome host family that offer to make food for you. Save your money and host Superbowl at your home or someone’s house! You’ll have fun and not pay $6 for a beer worth $2.50!
WINE TASTINGS (NOT PHOTOED) – Apparently, I’m missing photos from the wine tastings. Wine stores in touristy cities will usually always have a wine tasting. For $5, you can taste 6 different wines; Lake Placid was unique because if you brought your glass down the road to the other wine store, you got to taste 6 more for only ONE dollar. So for $6, I got to taste 12 different wines AND got a souvenir glass. This is a perfect way to relax in the afternoon!!
This was my first major FUNemployment of 2012. For all you skeptics out there, I may not have a full-time job, but I picked up a ton of extra shifts at my part-time gigs to afford this, even if it meant getting up at 5AM on a Saturday. Plus, I remained money conscience and avoided souvenirs and fancy dinners. Instead, my souvenirs came with my outings (i.e. bobsledding package) and I ate the $8 chili instead of the $15 burger. Keep a budget in mind, work hard, and you can be funemployed too!!