Unable to fly on Saturday because it was just too dang cold, Earl and I bundled up and went for one of our “crazy” Jeep rides. I put the word crazy in quotes because people always say that our rides are out of the ordinary. The ride wasn’t one of our longest, not by a long shot. At 7 hours and 15 minutes of driving time, we had time for wonderful conversation, reminicing, political debate and exchanges of socio-economic opinion. As always, when we spend time together, we had a blast.

Our ride took us through the North Country of New York State. The North Country is the area between the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence Seaway, right along the Canadian border. Admittedly this is my favorite part of The Empire State. I enjoy it in both the winter and the summer, for different reasons depending on the season, but one of the things that I enjoy most is the vibe. It’s somewhat economically depressed up there but everyone we’ve ever talked to in those parts seems to be down to Earth. Good ol’ boys and all that.

Along our travels we stopped at the St. Lawrence Centre Mall. Built in 1990, this modestly sized mall outside of the Village of Massena has seen better days.

A rough estimate tells me that about 75% of the storefronts are vacant. The western end of the mall wasn’t really heated anymore. We found it to be quite chilly. Only two of the five anchor locations are still populated, only JC Penney and Bon Ton remain. Hills/Ames, Sears and one of the anchor (we couldn’t figure out what it used to be) are all empty. Another typical anchor location actually houses an Ice Arena, which was part of the original plan when the mall was built.

On the bright side, the Food Court still had a decent number of options. I noted on the listed hours that the mall closes at 7:00 p.m. during the week; most malls in these parts are open until 9:00 or 9:30 p.m.  There wasn’t much in the way of shopper traffic when we walked around, stretching our legs. That’s what we do on these long rides, walk around and stretch our legs in a shopping mall.

It kind of makes me sad to see these shopping malls slowly dying, but things change and people change and it’s important for those that market to the public to keep up. I hope that the St. Lawrence Centre finds it’s way to a new found glory someday.

The rest of our trip was wonderful. We stopped at our favorite Buffalo Wild Wings in the Empire State, on Arsenal Street in Watertown. Admittedly, we enjoy seeing the soldiers and such from nearby Fort Drum. The place is always packed, the beer is always good and there’s always cheering of the various games on the televisions.