Unlike the gently undulating snow-tubing trails we'd encountered elsewhere, Lake Placid's looked like one of those cliffs Wile E. Coyote routinely goes over. A narrow path atop the stairs led to a snowy ledge where we'd plunk down our tubes, an employee at the ready to kick us over the edge.
Once again, fear was followed by exhilaration, followed by the mad desire to do it all again.
Animal Tracking (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2001)
Dog Sledding (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2001)
Skijoring Bethel, Maine (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2001)
Snowmobiling Mont Tremblant, Quebec (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2001)
So we did.
Details: Sledding in Lake Placid
DO THIS IF . . . You like speed, close contact with others and snow down your pants.
DON'T TRY THIS IF . . . If you get cold easily -- one trip down the snow-tubing and toboggan runs is not enough -- or want to avoid scaling icy steps, ramps and paths.
COST: Half-mile bobsled rides at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex are $30 (first-come, first-served); mile-long rides (reservations required) on the new track are $125. Info: 518-523-4436, www.orda.org. Snow-tubing is offered only in evenings, Thursday through Saturday, at the Ski Jumping Complex (518-523-2202); it's $6 per adult and includes tube rental. The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute (518-523-2591, www.neparkdistrict.com/toboggan.shtml) is $5 per person and $5 to rent a toboggan.
GETTING THERE: Continental offers connecting service from Washington into Saranac Lake, 16 miles from Lake Placid; round-trip fares start at $355, with restrictions. Consider flying into Albany; we each paid $98 round trip on Southwest, then drove 2 1/2 hours north on I-87 to Exit 30 (U.S. 9/Route 73). Amtrak's Adirondack (800-872-7245, www.amtrak.com) stops in Westport, N.Y., 40 miles from Lake Placid; round-trip fares from D.C. start at $176. Drive time from D.C. is up to nine hours.
WHERE TO STAY: Lake Placid is a busy place, so we opted to stay about 20 minutes east of downtown at the woodsy Bark Eater Inn (Alstead Mill Road, Keene, 518-576-2221, www.barkeater.com), which comprises a main inn, carriage house, log cottage and stables. If you're lucky, innkeeper Joe-Pete Wilson, a real charmer, will pull up a chair at breakfast. Rates start at $85 per night, double.
Numerous other B&Bs, lodges and chain hotels are in the area, including the gorgeous Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa. Info: Lake Placid/Essex County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-447-5224, www.lakeplacid.com.
WHERE TO EAT: Lots of chain restaurants, but don't go there. We had local brews and veggie wraps at the Hungry Moose (219 Main St.), across from the Olympic arena, for $20. Nicola's Over Main (90 Main Street) has an airy dining area and great food and service; cocktails, appetizers (bruschetta with three spreads), two heaping pasta dishes, dessert and wine set us back $60 -- a great deal.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: Be an Olympian. Ski at Whiteface Mountain. Skate on the outdoor oval where Eric Heiden raked in five gold medals in 1980. Cross-country ski on dozens of trails. Take figure-skating lessons at the Olympic Center Arena. Ride the chairlift to the top of a 26-story ski-jump tower. Contact Lake Placid tourism (see above) for details.