The true beginnings of this trip occurred months ago. Actually, it might be even further in the past than just months. Basically, my mom told me at some point that, when I eventually made a return trip to Lake Placid, she wanted to come with me (to watch me fangirl the whole time, essentially). So when I first started hearing whispers about a Miracle on Ice 35th anniversary reunion there, my first thought was that this would kind of be a perfect time to cash that in. The reunion was officially announced/tickets went on sale in mid-January, and as soon as I saw that sucker online I shot a quick text to my mom. It was something along the lines of, "There's a reunion happening ON MY BIRTHDAY. Hypothetically, if I were to fly home for this thing, would you want to go with me?"
Her answer: "Yeah! Ask dad if he wants to come too!"
So I shot a quick text to my dad. "Mom said she'll come with me to this thing. Do you want to come too?"
His answer: "Sure, why not?"
And that's how I ended up convincing my parents to come to Lake Placid with me, with a grand total of zero persuasion necessary. (I can't even tell you how shocked I was by how easy it was. I was expecting to have to beg a little bit.)
Anyway, fast forward about a month -- a month that passed in a haze of growing excitement bordering on delirium -- to last Thursday, and I found myself driving to the Colorado Springs airport at o'dark thirty in the morning to catch my plane. Seriously, the sun was barely rising as the plane took off. I was going to take a selfie in my car when I got to the airport, but I forgot. Because it was 4:45 in the flipping morning.
Despite my history of bad experiences with my usual Dallas layover, this time was smooth sailing! I had plenty of time to make it to my gate, and even got to sit there and wait for awhile before boarding. My flight made it to JFK with no issues. And there's no punchline to this story! I spent that afternoon and night at home, and we hit the road at 7:00 am Friday morning.
Lake Placid is about five or six hours north of Long Island, and our drive up was shockingly easy. There was no traffic -- not even by New York City -- and the weather was clear. And my dad and I have sort of done the road trip thing before, so a six-hour drive was like nothin'! We arrived at the hotel probably right around 1:00, just in time to grab lunch, where we were given these coasters.
I had a bit of a moment. And those coasters are now sitting on my coffee table.
After lunch, we strategically decided to head over to the Olympic Center, which is the complex that contains the Olympics Museum and both hockey arenas (from 1980 and 1932). Not only did I have a mighty need to go to the museum, but all tickets for the Miracle on Ice reunion were general admission. So we planned on killing two birds with one stone: go to the museum, and scope out the arena to figure out the plan for the next night.
The Olympic Center also happened to be right around the corner from our hotel. Like, super walking distance. It was pretty awesome, though the walk did include a certain hill.
Fun story: when the '80 Olympic hockey team was in Lake Placid for its first training camp in August of '79, Herb used this hill as a part of his conditioning regimen. So every time we had to make the trek back up the hill to the hotel, I told myself that if Jim Craig and Steve Janaszak could run up and down it wearing all of their goalie equipment, I could walk up and down it without slipping on slush or frozen snow and killing myself.
We made it safely down the hill and into the Olympic Center, via one of the entrances closest to the 1932 arena. There was a youth hockey tournament going on that weekend, so the place was swarming with little Canadian boys speaking French (I kid you not. TOO CUTE). And the old rink was constantly occupied, so I wasn't able to get any pictures of it, unfortunately. But it's this tiny little place; I think it seats around a thousand people. The '80 team played one game in there during the Olympics, which is kind of mind-boggling to think about.
But after a quick minute we continued down the hallway and came upon the Herb Brooks Arena, where the doors are unlocked and the arena is yours to explore. (That in itself is like stepping back in time to 1980.)
Since they were setting up for the reunion event, I didn't get to see the arena as it normally exists. I also didn't get to get a picture of myself there because it was so dark every time we were in there. So that was all kind of a bummer, but if that's my trade-off for getting to be at the reunion? Dude, I'll take it! (It's also a really good excuse to come back again, so there's that.)
There's also a pretty nice view from the arena concourse.
That speed skating oval is where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals. CASUAL.
After we had the arena all scoped out, we headed downstairs to the Olympics Museum! It's only one room and admission is $7, which is kind of steep, but I loved it. (Shocker.) It has all sorts of Olympic goodies...
...but really, if for no other reason, just go for the hockey stuff.
For me, the credentials (which also included the full sets for the Swedes and the Soviets) and the whip alone were worth the price of admission! There's also a TV in there that plays a good portion of the end of the Miracle on Ice game, and it's set up in a corner with some benches. So that's worth a watch if you've never seen it before. Or if you have seen it before. It's worth a watch in general. Just watch it, basically.
When we finished up there, we braved the sub-zero temperatures and the icy hill to head back to the hotel before dinner, and so ended day one! So now I will SHUT UP and return soon for part two. :)