Saturday, September 29, 2018

New York ~ Last Two Stops ~ Bath and Falconer


August 20, 2018 we moved to Bath, NY for a four night stop. We are gonna miss these mountain and valley views as we head closer to the Midwest.

Jellystone Park of the Finger Lakes is where we stayed. A well maintained, pretty campground with 100 sites, cabins and tent camping.

We were in Site 99 a gravel pull through with full hook-ups. The patch of grass was a little wider than normal and we had a fire ring and picnic table. The WiFi was spotty. We paid $25.00 a night with our Passport America discount.

The view of the lake of was quite relaxing. They have a pool, playground and lots of activities for families. There are some walking trails through the woods. We had only one day of no rain to explore, but Nancy and Mielikki made the most of it. The trail took us across the lake from our campsite (yellow arrow) and past a small waterfall. Mielikki wasn't too thrilled having to pose with Yogi, but she managed.
The full moon was beautiful over the lake.

Just outside of Bath in Avoca, NY we found the Caboose Motel, which of course made us think of our son-in-law Steve. You can sleep in your own train car, they do have a regular motel as well and it is all for sale if anyone is interested.

We made a stop in Corning, NY, home of Corningware, and the Corning Museum of Glass, (bottom picture). They offer tours, demonstrations and glass making workshops.

There were a few Roadside Oddities, as well as a very cool Trompe-l'oeil painted wall. The bricks and lettering look so real, but it is just a flat wall.

The Clock Tower was built in memory of Erastus Corning, by his descendants in 1883. The town of Corning was named after him. He was a prominent businessman and politician.

The Little Joe Tower  is a monument to Corning's technological innovation. It was built in 1912, representing a giant step forward in thermometer tubing production technology. By using a process called "Vertical Draw", hot glass was pulled up 196-feet by cable, creating a continuous tube. It was then cooled and cut to the length needed.
Today, thermometer tubing is done by a "Horizontal Draw" method, so Little Joe is no longer in use for glass making, but makes a nice historical piece.
The image of "Little Joe" at the top of the tower was taken from a sketch made by an itinerant painter who visited a glass factory in Pittsburgh.
The symbol has undergone a series of graphic modifications and today is a Corning trademark.

Next to the tower is a beautiful bronze sculpture of a Glass Blower.

South of Corning is Elmira, NY, which is the final resting place of Mark Twain. Samuel Clemons, aka Mark Twain, summered here for more than 20 years. His wife Olivia Langdon was from this area. They had a house at Quarry Farms that overlooked the Chemung Valley and river that is said to have been an inspiration in his writings.

Twain died in 1910 and the family plot in the Woodlawn Cemetery includes a memorial to Olivia, who passed away overseas. The additional graves are their children and the Langdon family.
We saw the Twain home when we visited Hartford, CT back in June.
Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow. Mark Twain

Unfortunately there were not any races being held at Watkins Glen International while we were in the area but we did get to see it and snap a few pictures.

There are Waterfalls everywhere.
L: Aunt Sarah's Falls ~~~~~ R: She-qua-ga Falls
The Village of Montour Falls is appropriately named as they have two large roadside waterfalls. The name "Montour" comes from Queen Catherine Montour, a prominent Native American woman of Seneca Indian heritage who lived at the village site in the 18th century. The Aunt Sarah's Falls are on the side of Route 14. The falls are well over several hundred feet tall from the top of the gorge, but the top 2/3rds is not visible. The lower 90-feet are visible from the road. It free falls for the first third of the way, then fans out over a shale slope for the next third of the way and then free falls again.
The "She-qua-ga" waterfall is 165-feet tall and right in town. The word means "Tumbling Waters". There is a sketch of the falls in the Louvre, made around 1820 by Louis Philippe, who was later the King of France.

The Ithaca Falls, in Ithaca, NY are just a short walk from the road. The falls are 150-feet tall with a width of 175-feet. They are at the end of a small park that is in the process of being rebuilt. The trees along the river have amazing root systems. The tunnel in the bottom right picture is what is left of this areas industrial past. This was once the site of many mills and factories. In 1828 a stone dam was built just above the falls to direct water to the mills. From 1880 to 1987 the Ihaca Gun Company's factory was just south of the falls. In the late 1990's testing of the soil found high level's of lead from shotgun testing. A major lead clean-up effort took place from 2002-2004, with additional soil being removed as late as 2015. The factory was destroyed and luxury apartments are planned for the site. Not sure that is where we would want to live!

The Taughannock Falls are in the state park named for them. The park is on Cayuga Lake and offers hiking, camping, boating and swimming. The falls drop a dramatic 215-feet into a wooded gorge.
There is a trail that takes you to the base of the falls, but once again Nancy's back issues prevented us from doing that. But you have a beautiful view from the overlook at the Visitor Center.


Our last stop in New York started on August 24, 2018. We stayed at the Top-A-Rise Campground. Appropriately named as it sits on top of a hill and offers some great views of the farmlands in the valley.

We had two different sites during our week stay. The first two nights were in a grassy pull through with water and electric hook-ups. The sites are narrow, this one is right next to the playground. Second site was a gravel pull through with full hook-ups. Both sites had a picnic table and fire ring.
L: first site ~~~ R: second site 
The park is well maintained. The majority of sites are permanent campers, with the park being open from May to October. The WiFi and our Verizon signal were okay. The laundry room and bathrooms were clean. We paid $32.00 a night with a combination of our Passport America discount and their weekly rate.

The New York, Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian carving is in Dunkirk, NY. This was the 7th carving on the "Trail of Whispering Giants". His name is Ong-Gwe-Ohn-Weh. Carved in 1973 from an Elm tree, he stands 10-feet tall.

While searching out the Indian carving we came across the Dunkirk Lighthouse.
Located on Lake Erie, the first lighthouse was built in 1827. In 1857 it was refitted with a 3rd-order Fresnel lens and lantern, which has a light range of 27-miles. That light is still used today in the current 61-foot lighthouse built from 1875-1876,
At that time the Victorian keepers house was also built. Bricks from the original keepers house formed the foundation for the new house. The square tower was built around the old tower so it would be more compatible with the keeper's house.
There is a lot of history here besides the lighthouse. The first shot of the 1812 War was fired near the west bank of the lighthouse. During WWII twelve active Coast Guard personnel were stationed here along with the lighthouse keeper. The waters of Lake Erie off Dunkirk have been the site of several notable shipwrecks.
As we traveled south on Hwy 5 we found the Barcelona Lighthouse in Westfield, NY. It is also known as the Portland Harbor Light and overlooks the Barcelona Harbor on Lake Erie. The lighthouse was built in 1829. The conical tower and attached keeper's cottage were constructed of fieldstone. The light came from eleven lamps with 14-inch reflectors. It was the first lighthouse in the world to be powered by natural gas. The gas was brought in from about a mile away through wooden pipes. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1859, and was privately owned for over 100-years. Today it is owned by the New York State Office of Parks and Rec.

Also in Westfield, NY we found a statue of President Lincoln and 12-year old, Grace Beddell. While campaigning for office Lincoln received a letter from Grace that advised him to let his whiskers grow, as it would improve his personal appearance. In the letter she said "all the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be president." Lincoln vised Westfield and Grace received a kiss and a thank you from him.

Just outside of Westfield we came across this really cool garage - now Nancy wants a garage so she can paint it like this!

Portland, NY has a bronze statue of Brad Anderson and his beloved dog Marmaduke.
Anderson was born in Jamestown, NY and created the comic strip Marmaduke in 1954 and continued to draw it until his death at age 91 in 2015. The statue was created by sculptor Don Sottile, who met with Anderson to design the sculpture. Anderson wanted it to be playful with Marmaduke interrupting his work. 

 Scary Lucy ~ Artist Dave Poulin  ~ 2009

Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY and grew up in Celoron, NY. She lived in many places as a child including Wynadotte, MI for a short time. Both Jamestown and Celoron have memorials to her. In Celoron there are two statues, "Scary Lucy" and "Lovely Lucy", as they are called by the locals. The first one was hated so much by everyone in town, they petitioned to have it removed and have another one created. They got their second wish, both statues are in the Lucille Ball Memorial Park. You can tell which one they hated - it really doesn't even look like her.
Lovely Lucy is so much better!
Lovely Lucy ~ Artist Carolyn Palmer ~ 2016

In Jamestown, NY there are murals as well as a museum. The mural of Lucy, Desi, Ethel and Fred is claimed to be the World's Largest I Love Lucy Mural. The image is from an episode from the show titled "California, Here we Come". 
The museum not only holds memorabilia from Lucy's life but other comedians as well and they host a comedy show here.

The Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown is where she is laid to rest. There are hearts painted on the road that lead you to the Ball family plot. The sidewalk leading up to her tombstone also has a heart on it.

One days adventure took us into Pennsylvania to see the Kinzua Dam and Kinzua Bridge State Park.
They are just outside of Warren, PA.

The Kinzua Dam was built from 1960 -1965. It is on the Allegheny River and at 1,877-feet long and 179-feet at it's highest it is one of the largest dams east of the Mississippi River.

The 339-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park is home to a 600-foot pedestrian walkway. It was made from what is left of what was once the longest and tallest railroad structure. The railway was 2,053-feet long and 301-feet high. It was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003. You can walk out on the skywalk and also view the area from two overlooks.
Views through the freestanding binoculars at the overlooks

Construction of the viaduct started in 1881 and was completed in just 94 days! This was accomplished by masons building 110 stone piers that marked the footprint across the valley. Workers slid ready-made Phoenix Columns down troughs to the valley floor. Using assembled parts, ironworkers started the climb. Workers on the ground used a three-legged pulley system called a gin pole to lift up the iron parts. Skilled workers perched atop the towers operated a wooden crane to help build the next tower. This process was repeated until the viaduct was complete. Due to the high winds in the valley, trains could only travel at 5-miles an hour across the viaduct.
As bigger locomotives and longer trains came into use these tracks needed to be sturdier. So 18-years later the iron structure was dismantled and rebuilt with steel latticework. It was quite a task. It took up to 150 men, working 10-hour shifts to complete the job in 105 days. Workers manned two 180-foot movable platforms called travelers. They were anchored at each end of the viaduct. Workers on the platforms reconstructed one tower and then moved to the next. When the teams met in the middle, the job was done.
Freight traffic stopped in 1959 and the area became a state park in 1970. From 1987 to 2002 passenger trains traveled these tracks. In June of 2002 inspections determined the structure need repairs and it was closed to all traffic including foot traffic. Repairs began in February 2003 but on July 21, 2003 an F1 tornado, with wind speeds of 73-112 miles per hour, struck the side of the viaduct. Eleven towers from the center of the bridge were torn from their concrete bases and thrown to the valley floor, where they lay today.
The viaduct was taller than the statue of liberty -
you can build your own track!
The Visitor Center is laid out very nicely. They have wonderful displays, many of them interactive that take you through the entire process of building the viaduct. There are also video screens that tell how various products were made around the same time as the viaduct. A train runs along a track behind the TV screens and once the train stops the video on the screen starts to play.

As you can all imagine Nancy was not thrilled with walking out to the end of the skywalk. In fact she stopped about a quarter of the way and went back to solid ground. Once again her stubornness paid off and she forced herself to go all the way. Les did have to take all the pictures as there was no way she was going close to the edge!

You do have quite the view of the surrounding valley, the river and the destruction left from the tornado.

Of course there is a glass floor - who came up with this idea? Les and Mielikki were very brave and stood on it. Nancy got her feet to the edge of it while sitting down!

She did like it much better under the platform and enjoyed taking pictures there.
 The park is free and the skywalk and overlooks are handicap accessible.

Once back on solid ground we enjoyed a snack from the Little Sister's Big Rig food truck. Fried corn on the cob and a hot dog.

The best part of this stop was spending a day with Trish and Carolyn. They are both Licensed Reiki Teachers from the International Center for Reiki Training where Nancy worked in Michigan. It was such a relaxing day just hanging out and catching up.
Up next is Warren, OH and ten days with family.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Communication made easier
When we pull into a new campground Nancy usually guides Les into our site. Especially when we have a back-in site. Every camper goes through this and it is always entertaining to watch, we know we are just as funny as everyone else. While we generally do a pretty good job with hand motions, it can be confusing as to what exactly the instructions are. Do you want me to go left or right? Straighten the wheels or turn them? You get the point.
There are a couple of ways to make this easier. First off you can simply use your cell phones and the driver can have theirs on hands free, of course you need cell coverage for this and some places just don't have it.
Walkie Talkies help to take the guess work out of it all and you don't need cell coverage. We do not own a pair yet but we are seriously considering it. There is a wide variety available online and in just about any store. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and range anywhere from $40 to over $100.
There is also an App for that! Yep, you can turn your iPhone or Android phone into a Walkie Talkie, you do need to have internet access for them to work so if you are out of range that could be a problem.
For iPhones there is the free Zello App.
There are a number of other apps on Google Play, Two Way Walkie Talkie, Voxer, TiKL Touch Talk and MotoTalk are just a few.
Happy Communicating! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New York - Dolgeville


This trip to Dolgeville, NY on August 13, 2018 was the start of working our way to Michigan. The drive was so pretty. The farms surrounded by the mountains just seem so peaceful.
We stayed at the Spruce Creek Campground. It is a beautiful place, 20 acres in total. A mix of RV and tent sites, from primitive to full hook ups. We were in Site 88, a level gravel pull through with full hookups. The sites are a little wider than normal. There was no WiFi, the laundry room was very clean and the park is well maintained.

There are cleared paths for walking, some that take you along Spruce Creek. Lots of flowers and bird houses too.
Nancy and Mielikki had fun exploring every morning. The apple trees lost a number of apples after a storm and Mielikki had a blast playing with them. The storm also treated us to a rainbow.

The Salisbury Center Covered Bridge was just down the road from the campground.

It crosses the Spruce Creek. Built in 1875 by Alvah Hopson, it is the only covered bridge in Herkimer County and one of only 29 in the state. It is a Wood Burr Truss bridge, 42-feet long and 16-feet wide.
There is a park on one side and paths on the other. Mielikki loved all the rock hopping.

We went diamond mining one day at the Herkimer Diamond Mine.
Herkimer Diamonds are double-terminated quartz crystals. Various sized crystals are found in the rocks. It was a hot dusty day but a lot of fun. We only found tiny crystals but Nancy is excited to make a necklace from them. A fire in October 2017 destroyed their historic barn that housed their store and museum, they are working hard to recreate it.

There are decorated horses and ballet shoes all over town

What is now the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center started out in 1915 as a trolley station for the Hudson Valley Railway Company. The Beaux-Art design building was considered the gateway to the city. Many people traveled here for the medicinal properties of the spring waters.
With the increase of automobiles the trolley business slowed to a crawl and the station was closed. In 1941, New York State bought the building and turned it into a "drink hall", but not for alcohol. After entering through a turnstile, visitors could buy bottled, state owned mineral waters. Different waters were recommended at different times of day. The drink hall closed in 1965 and the property was deeded to the city, who later turned it into the Visitor Center.
This is another city we recommend spending some time in. There is lots to do, art galleries, shopping and dining and it is also home to the Saratoga Race Track.

The Yaddo Gardens  in Saratoga Springs, NY was a gift from Spencer Trask to his wife Katrina in 1899. With her name being Katrina only made us want to go more.

The gardens are free and open year round. As you approach the entrance you pass a beautiful fountain.
The lower section includes the rose garden and the upper section has a pergola with a woodland garden behind it.

Both gardens have fountains. There are a number of statues throughout the gardens as well as benches and places to sit and enjoy the beauty.
The goldfish in the rose garden fountain looked as if they were swimming in the clouds.

Stepping into the woodland gardens was like stepping into another world. Shaded and quiet with large ferns and beautiful wildflowers flowers, pretty sure there were some fairies as well.

After the gardens, we enjoyed some refreshments at the Artisanal Brew Works. Good beer and good people.

Roadside Oddities ran from Superheroes to Muffler Men.
Leather Guy calls Vail Mills, NY home. He started off as a replica of Steve Alvord, who owned the leather shop he stood outside of.

Then he was gone for awhile and Marty Greco bought him and restored him so he could advertise his log home business which also closed up. Now the 24-foot tall, 975 pound statue greets visitors at the Wildlife Museum. 
Mountain Man is just a little north in Gloversville, NY. He also has been the greeter at a number of places that have gone out of business. Currently he is at the Adirondack Animal Land. The Rose Mural is on the side of a building in Albany, NY.
Nancy was so excited to get a picture of Spiderman in Johnstown, NY, along with her Batman, Spiderman and Captain America hanging out in his hand.

Kirk Douglas was born in Amsterdam, NY and the park named after him has a pretty waterfall. It is also where you will find the Car on a Smokestack. 
Nipper the RCA Dog and the Pig over the door are in Albany, NY.


Albany is the capitol of New York so we headed there on a Saturday as it makes taking pictures so much easier. The capitol building is part of the Empire State Plaza.


Construction started in 1867 and was completed in 1899 at a cost of 25 million dollars. It was the most expensive building of its time.

Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886) was the 21st President of the United States. He is buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery just north of downtown.

Just north of Troy, NY is the Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River. There is a park at the bottom of the falls with different levels of viewing points. The falls are 90-feet high and 1,000-feet wide. Niagara Falls are 830-feet wide. They range in height from 75-feet on the north side to 90-feet on the south end. Much of the flow is diverted for power generation.

Up next is Bath, NY. The last stop before visiting family in Ohio.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Tank sensors
The black water, grey water and fresh water tanks have sensors in them so that you can tell how full or empty they are. Well, at some point every RVer complains about their tank sensors not working.
In August 2016 we told you about chemicals that are designed to clean and deodorizer your tanks. There are a few other things you can do to help keep your sensors working for a longer period of time.
1 - Don't dump your tanks too often. Waiting until the tanks are full or at least 2/3 full helps to keep things liquid and not drying up in the tank and on the walls of the tank. So when you finally dump everything comes out.
2 - Dump your black tank first, then your grey tank. This way the cleanest of the dirty water is running through your hose last.
3 - Use lots and lots of water. This really helps to keep things from drying out in the tank. We also occasionally will add water with a hose into the tank after dumping to rinse it out and then flush again. Back in December 2016 we talked about a spray hose that we got that helps to clean off the walls.
4 - Clean with the GEO method. No one really knows where the name came from but this home-made method has been around for decades. Use 1-cup Calgon Water Softener - not fabric softener and 1-cup Dawn Dishwashing detergent. Put this into your tanks just before a drive and dump when you arrive at the next stop,  or if you are stationary leave it until you dump again. If you are diving you can also add a couple of bags of ice cubes to help the agitation.