Travel Journal

Two fellow “Friends of Fatty” have a child (Hi Allison, David and Rune!) with a very cool school project. They send a journal to people they know around the country and have them describe where they live. Being well connected to the world of Fatty, they have access to cool people who live in cool places. Seeing as how I am “endearingly self-deprecating” and live not in a cool but exceptionally cold (and “exceptionally cold” means its is REALLY REALLY cool indeed)  I got in on the project. I thought I would give a preview of my entry….



Greetings from Potsdam New York! When you close your eyes and think about New York, you probably see the Statue of Liberty, sky scrapers and lots of people. You know, New York City. Potsdam is a world away from New York City.


Potsdam is located in northern New York. How far north? Well the closest city to my house is actually Ottawa which is the capital of Canada. We live in a region called the “North Country” by the local folks.

Potsdam got its name from a town in Germany called…well…Potsdam. The reason our towns share the same name is that we are the two places in the world that have a special kind of sand stone know as Potsdam Sandstone. (Bonus question….There are actually 3 places in the world with “Potsdam Sandstone”: Potsdam Germany, Potsdam NY and….where? Hint: No it’s not named Potsdam 😉 )

Let me tell you a little about it here. Because we are so far north, our weather is cool. In the summers it is usually about 75-80 degrees here. A hot summer day for us is about 85 degrees. In fact, it is cool enough here that most of the people I know do not have air conditioners in their homes. We also have “cool” weather here in the winter. Well it’s not “cool”, it really can be kind of cold. In the winter our high temps are usually below freezing. At night? Well, on New Year’s Day it was -20 F. (Authors note: It was -27F this morning in Potsdam)

Potsdam is in a rural section of New York. We don’t have a lot of people here. There are about 17,000 people who live in Potsdam. Some of people who live up here farm and log for a living. One of the things people make here is maple syrup. Yum. Right around Potsdam we have 4 universities. Those are the other places where a lot of people work. I work at Clarkson University as a professor of mechanical engineering. Working at the university allows me to meet people from around the world. I have friends who are from Canada, Australia, England, Kenya and Germany just to name a few. We have students from all over the world too. This makes Potsdam a really interesting place because we have lots of different cultures.

I will tell you the best thing (to me anyway!) about living in Potsdam and the North Country…. All of the fun stuff we can do outside. Potsdam is located on the edge of the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Park is a 10 million acre area in the Adirondack Mountains that was set aside to preserve wilderness in New York State. The Adirondack Park is the largest wilderness area in the US east of the Mississippi river.

My family and I do things like hiking, camping and rock climbing in the mountains. We canoe, sail and kayak on the streams and rivers around my house and in the mountains.


Me? When I am not teaching, you can find me on my bike in the summer. We have great roads for riding on, and even better trails for mountain biking. Each year I ride in a 70 mile mountain bike race in Lake Placid. We start out at a ski mountain (Whiteface) ride over a couple of mountains, and then come back to the ski mountain to ride up (then down) the ski slopes on our bikes.


In the winter I have two favorite outside activities. I ski at Whiteface Mountain (the same one I bike up and down in the summer!).


Lake Placid NY was the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Have you ever heard of the “Miracle on Ice”? That happened in Lake Placid. Because of the Olympics, Lake Placid also has other things like ski jump towers where we watch people fly.



By far, my favorite place in Lake Placid is Mt. von Hovenberg. Mt. von Hovenberg has one of two luge/bobsled tracks in the US (the other is in Utah).


Of those two sports, luge is my favorite. Have you ever watched the winter Olympics and seen luge? That’s the sport where the athletes lay on a sled and go down the track feet first. It’s known as the Fastest Sport on Ice, and the speeds on a luge sled can reach up to 95 mph! When we moved to Potsdam my son saw an ad looking for kids to try luge. They put him on a luge sled with wheels on a small hill and taught him how to steer. Then a couple of months later they asked him to come to Lake Placid to train with the Olympic luge coaches on the track in Lake Placid. Pretty soon he was competing in national races.


Then a funny thing happened. I found out that adults could luge too. And the next thing you know, I am on a luge sled learning how to slide.

Doug Bohl-USA Luge_014

I wasn’t great at first, but I got better. Soon I was racing too.

doug egs start

The best part of getting involved in luge has been racing against people who were in the Olympics. One of my friends is Duncan Kennedy who was in Olympics 3 times. He was in my first ever “big race”. He won the race. I…well…I wasn’t last!

Here is a picture of me and Duncan sliding in that race. We are at the same part of the track. Who do you think was faster????


Like I say, I am better than that now. Still not as good as Duncan, but I am having fun learning and sliding!

So that’s Potsdam. It’s a great place to live. If you are here in the winter let me know, and I will take you luging. If you are here in the summer, bring your bike and we will ride!

doug cu xc smile-1


10 thoughts on “Travel Journal

  1. Doug. I want to thank you so very much for helping with Rune’s project. Frankly I’ll be kind of sad when it reaches the end of the trail because I’m sure there are so many other stories to tell, but there was a required finish date. As you know Fatty is last in line, I think it will be fun to see how he sums it all up.

    As for Potsdam; maybe Summer of 2015, though it’s hard for me to think that far ahead. We’ll see how my introduction to MTB Racing goes this year.

    I spent 2 winters in Alaska and loved how the snow ‘squeaked’ underfoot when temps reached 10 degrees. I imagine even the snow cries when you’re walking outside at -25, though why you are outside at -25 begs it’s own question. Lastly; Wife# (#) went to school in Geneva. She admits that being a WestCoaster she thought a -xx temperature meant “below freezing’, she learned several new things back there.

    Thank you again for your contribution and I hope to share my own Leadville story one day.

    • David, it was fun to do.

      The snow has been squeaking like mad. Plus when you get this far below zero you can hear the trees crack. Little bits of water inside freeze and cause the wood to split. Crazy.

      You know, I have funny feeling you will get into Leadville.

      • I guess if you go by the Wiki broad definition of Potsdam Sandstone ;). I always heard the third place was the Wisconsin Dells. Got that from a Duck Boat Tour guide in the Dells. Clearly more reliable than Wiki…….

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