Monthly Archives: September 2016

Sept 25, 2016 Somerset, PA

On Sunday, September 25th, we left northwestern Pennsylvania and headed south. We stopped outside of Pittsburgh and had the oil changed in the RV. We continued to be amazed at how hilly Pennsylvania is as we went up and down hill after hill. After reaching an elevation of 2,800 feet we descended down into the Laurel Highlands where we had five nights booked at Laurel Hills State Park. We were disappointed to find the campground was very hilly and it took us awhile to get the RV level.
20160926_110042On Monday we drove just outside of Shanksville to the Flight 93 National Memorial. This is a Memorial dedicated in 2002 to the thirty-three passengers and seven crew members who died when the plane was hijacked by four terrorists. 20160926_121414

After hearing about the planes that had flown into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, these heroes made the decision to try to reclaim the plane from the terrorists, knowing it meant they would likely die. The plane had been redirected towards Washington, DC. The plane crashed at 563 mph upside down into the Somerset County field.20160926_11592920160926_11334520160926_11344220160926_113147
The Memorial is made up of a Visitors Center and a Memorial Plaza. The Visitors Center had detailed displays describing the events of the day and what they know happened on the plane. Several of the passengers and crew were able to make phone calls to loved ones, and the terrorists mistakenly made an announcement over the radio instead of the intercom, which alerted the control tower that the plane had been hijacked. Later the black boxes were recovered as well. It was very touching to see an entire wall with the names and faces of those who died that day.
Very little was found from the crash but they did discover small personal items from the passengers which were on display. They did find a credit card that belonged to one of the terrorists and this helped in the investigation to determine who was behind the attack.
A mile from the Visitors Center is the Memorial Plaza, which borders the crash site. A boulder in the field marks the point of impact. The fields and woods in the distance marks the final resting place of the passengers and crew, their remains still present. A wall is created with each person name and flowers, flags, stuffed animals and notes.20160926_12223120160926_122352

One veteran left his boots in honor of the fallen.20160926_115431

After DNA tests were completed, it was suggested by the coroner that the large impact crater be filled in.
The Flight 93 National Memorial is very well done. The experience was very heart wrenching and emotional for us. As Bill said, it was hard to hold back the tears. We visited on a beautiful morning in September, much like that day in 2001. We were pleased to see the Memorial busy with people and a group of school children. One thing I noticed was how quiet it was both at the Visitors Center and the Memorial Plaza. People gazed at the displays with sadness, most saying nothing or talking softly.

The black boxes were recovered for flight 93 but the black boxes from the other three planes were not recoverable. 20160926_113831
One of the forty that died that day was a flight attendant, she was the only one from Florida. Her name is CeeCee Ross Lyles.20160926_115013
As one of the displays said so well, “A common field one day. A field of honor forever”.20160926_120303

We went geocaching and found a covered bridge, a tank and a helicopter near an American Legion.20160926_13020620160926_130128
Our final Pennsylvania stop will be coming up next in Gettysburg.

Sept 23, 2016 Punxsutawney, PA

We left our quiet, peaceful campsite at Buckaloons Recreation Area in the Allegheny National Forest and spent two nights at Cook Forest State Park near Cooksburg.  The time went by quickly watching college football and doing laundry.
When we first arrived on Friday we set up our campsite and then hopped in the car for the short drive to Punxsutawney where Phil, the famous groundhog, makes his appearance every year on February 2nd. The town is obviously eager to promote their connection to Phil because everywhere you look are statues of Phil.20160923_16271020160923_14483520160923_14493020160923_14491120160923_150438
We drove to Gobblers Knob where the Groundhog ceremonies and fireworks are held each year on Groundhog’s Day. There was a trail there where we did some geocaching. It was a hot day and the mosquitoes were out in force.20160923_150606
We drove back into town and visited Phil and his wife Phyllis. They have a nice man made burrow next to the public library with a large viewing window. Phil and Phyllis were both sleeping and didn’t even notice our visit. We left him a note requesting a short winter and early spring. I don’t think Phil’s accuracy has been very good lately.20160923_16281720160923_16294520160923_163357
It was a nice little trip and fun to see where all the hoopla is done every February. By the way, none of the movie “Groundhog’s Day” was filmed in Punxsutawney.
Next stop will be Somerset, PA.

Sept 19, 2016 Warren, PA

With the autumn chill beginning to nip at our heels, we left western New York and headed south to Pennsylvania. We passed farmland and fields preparing the fall harvest. We arrived in western Pennsylvania for a 4 night stay at Buckaloons Recreation Area in the Allegheny National Forest outside of Warren. The French were here in 1749.20160920_105028
20160920_113625On Tuesday we drove twenty miles north to Jamestown, New York right over the Pennsylvania border. I had been looking forward to this all summer because Jamestown is the birthplace of my favorite television personality of all time, Lucille Ball. For as far back in time as I can remember, I have loved Lucy! In Jamestown is Desilu Studios, a re-creation of the studio soundstage  where “I Love Lucy” was filmed. In a separate building is the Lucy-Desi Museum detailing the lives and careers of Lucy (‎Lucille Désirée Ball) and Desi (Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, better known as Desi Arnaz).
20160920_113641First we went to the Desilu Studios where they had re-creations of the living room and kitchen sets from “I Love Lucy” as well as the Hollywood hotel suite from the show. Memorabilia and costumes from the show were on display, along with information on Fred and Ethel (William Frawley and Vivian Vance).20160920_11464220160920_11491120160920_11514720160920_120814
20160920_124628The Lucy-Desi Museum had eight galleries with displays, gowns and costumes, photographs and personal memorabilia for both Lucy and Ricky, including Lucy’s 1972 gold Mercedes-Benz and her grade-school piano.
For twenty five years the town of Jamestown has had a Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, giving new comedians a stage to showcase their talent. Famous comedians have traveled to Jamestown to support the festival with their performances, including Joan Rivers, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, the Smothers Brothers, Bob Newhart and more than 100 others.20160920_13080020160920_11543820160920_11591620160920_130726
While in Jamestown we also drove by Lucy’s birthplace,20160920_150048

her childhood home in nearby Celeron,20160920_145146

and Lake View Cemetery where Lucy’s ashes are buried.20160920_153136

Lucy and Desi were married November 29, 1940.20160920_125542

Throughout the town are four Lucy murals.20160920_15531020160920_15473020160920_15452620160920_154339
20160921_18292520160921_14381920160921_16090120160921_16100720160921_16104420160921_163834On Wednesday we drove to Titusville, Pennsylvania to tour the Drake Well Museum. We were surprised to find another Titusville in the United States since we were familiar with Titusville, Florida. We discovered that Titusville, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the American oil industry. In 1859 crude oil was found from the world’s first successful commercial well by Edwin L. Drake. Drake came to Titusville as an agent for the Seneca Oil Company. Oil naturally seeped along Oil Creek, but Drake and his driller, Uncle Billy Smith, adapted existing soft well technology and struck oil. This sweet crude oil (Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil) is a type of petroleum with less than 0.42% sulfur. The Drake Well Museum has a comprehensive display of over 500 artifacts detailing the history of oil production in the United States. We watched a film called “The Valley That Changed the World” telling the story of oil discovery in Titusville.
On the museum grounds they had replicas of various buildings from the 1800’s as well as drilling rigs and derricks. In one building they had a full size replica of Edwin Drake’s engine house and derrick that encloses the famous well that struck oil in 1859. Also included were working reproductions of the wood-fired boiler and steam engine that Drake used to drill and pump oil. The museum guide turned on the engine to show us how it worked. We enjoyed talking with him about the history of Titusville. After Drake’s discovery of oil, people poured into the town to buy oil leases and work in the new businesses that sprang up. Churches, schools and banks were built and refineries grew throughout the region. Oil related machinery was designed and produced in Titusville.

Here is the how the steam-powered engine drilled then pumped the oil

The town became known as “Queen City” because of its rich cultural opportunities including the first opera house in the area. Main Street was lined with beautiful mansions from money made by oil. Today those mansions still stand as evidence of the town’s past wealth, though the population and wealth has steadily declined over the years.20160921_18230420160921_182245

And this sign talked about how many men made money and then loss their money it also suggests that Lincoln may have lived.20160921_154056
The museum certainly exceeded our expectations and we easily spent a couple hours there touring the museum and grounds.

During the early years of oil drilling “torpedoes” were used to increase the yield. These torpedoes consisted of nitroglycerin dropped into the drill hole.  Nitroglycerin was carried by horse and wagon and then to motorized vehicles like this dodge truck.20160921_16442020160921_164332
John Heisman, for whom the Heisman Trophy is named, grew up in Titusville and played a rugby style version of football here in the 1880’s.20160921_151908
The next blog will continue our Pennsylvania travels.

Sept. 15, 2016 Letchworth State Park, NY

Thursday we left Niagara Falls and headed to our last stop in New York State.  Along the way we passed around Buffalo.  This city gets its electricity from Niagara Falls and was the first city in the country to have electric street lights.  The traffic around Buffalo was pretty heavy even though it was past the morning rush hour.
20160916_134341We arrived at Letchworth State Park near Castile. This park was not originally on our planned itinerary.  We had actually booked a different state park.  But when we were in Seneca Falls I happened to read that Letchworth State Park was voted the most beautiful STATE park (not national park) in the United States in a 2015 USA Today Reader’s Poll.  So of course we had to change our plans and visit this park.
Also known as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park is 14,350 acres of magnificent beauty along the Genesee River.  Tens of millions of years of erosion wore away rock forming river valleys.  Glaciers buried areas of the valleys under masses of sand and gravel.  Three deep winding canyons are from the Genesee River detouring around the blocked sections of riverbeds.  Each year the river cuts deeper into the cliffs, with some cliffs 600 feet in height.
To call it the Grand Canyon of the East is definitely a stretch, but there is no denying the beauty of the seventeen mile Genesee Gorge, the thick forests and the three large waterfalls.20160916_15381220160916_15385320160916_16063120160916_16075120160916_160803

The state park once belonged to the Seneca Indians.  In the mid 1800’s William Letchworth purchased 1,000 acres of land and deeded it to the State of New York in 1907 to preserve the land for future generations.  Letchworth felt strongly about preserving the Native American history of the Seneca people and Genesee Valley.  On the park property is a restored Seneca Indian Council House, the statue and grave of Mary Jemison, and the cabin Mary lived in. 

20160916_130952Mary was born in 1743 on the ship “William and Mary” while her parents were en route to America from Northern Ireland.  They landed in Philadelphia and Mary and her parents were part of a group of Scots-Irish immigrants who headed west to settle on the frontier.  They settled on territory that was under the Iroquois Confederacy.  One morning in 1755 at the beginning of the French and Indian War, six Shawnee Indians and four Frenchmen kidnapped fifteen year old Mary and her family.   Mary’s family was killed and she was sold to the Seneca Indian tribe.  A Seneca family adopted her and she grew up there.  She fully assimilated into the Seneca culture, married and moved to Seneca land in what is now Letchworth State Park.  She chose to remain with the Senecas her entire life. The Seneca Indians honored Letchworth with the Native American name “Hai-wa-ye-is-tah” meaning “he who does the right thing”.20160916_13045020160916_131327

There are three major falls in Letchworth State Park, the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. There are short hikes to each fall. Western New York is under an extreme drought so the falls were not as magnificent as they could have been. I would love to see them under normal conditions. In some of the pictures in this blog you can see how low the water level is in the Genesee River.


Middle Falls in the middle and the Upper Falls is in the distance

The Upper Falls is 70 feet high and a horseshoe shape.20160916_124529
The Middle Falls is the largest of the three falls at 107 feet high and 285 feet wide.20160916_12225420160916_122523
The Lower Falls had two ways to view the falls. There is an easy way and then a hike that involved 127 steps down and of course 127 back up. And of course we chose the hard way!20160916_14485620160916_145709

As we were trudged back up the 127 steps a lady in front of us suddenly stopped and called out to Bill for help. There was a big black snake stretched across the steps. Those who know me know I am terrified of snakes. Terrified. I hung back while Bill went up and waited for the snake to move. Mr. Snake took his good old time moving but eventually started slithering up the natural wall. Bill told me to go ahead and just not look to the left. I went up those last 50 steps so fast I don’t even remember climbing them! Bill managed to snap a couple pictures of him before he slithered under some tree roots at the top of the wall.20160916_15255820160916_152536
There is a nice footbridge down at the bottom that takes you from one side of the gorge to the other.
20160916_143049We stopped by a statue of a CCC worker. We owe so many thanks to these young men who worked so hard in state and national parks all over the country so we have such wonderful parks to enjoy today. The stonework steps and walls they labored to put in is amazing, not to mention trails and buildings and picnic tables. The list goes on and on.20160916_14312320160916_160657
We also met a new friend!20160916_14350120160916_143645


Middle falls taken at night

After dinner we drove back to the Middle Falls which is illuminated at night. There was a huge full moon over the falls. What a beautiful, peaceful setting.
We have certainly enjoyed our time in upstate New York.  Even with a drought the waterfalls have been magnificent.20160916_16000920160916_122730

The Adirondacks were beautiful and we loved the history we stumbled across in Seneca Falls.  On the downside, it is an expensive state to visit.  Even the state park campgrounds are pricey, the gas higher, and we paid about $75 in road and bridge tolls.  But we would like to return again, perhaps later in the fall when the leaves have turned.  But not too much later in the year as the temperature got down to the mid 40s one night at Letchworth!
Next stop: Pennsylvania as we head south

Because there’s a lot of life to live!

Sept 11, 2016 Niagara Falls

Picturesque Seneca Falls exceeded our expectations and we would have stayed a couple more days but we had reservations at Four Mile Creek Campground about fifteen minutes from Niagara Falls.  It was an easy drive and as soon as we got settled in our campground we drove to nearby Fort Niagara.

20160911_15410920160911_160445Originally the fort belonged to the French and was built in 1726.  It was expanded to its current size in 1755 because of increased tensions between the French and English.  The fort played an important role in the French and Indian War and fell to the British in 1759 during the Battle of Fort Niagara.  It served as a British base during the Revolutionary War and was ceded to the United States in 1783 at the end of the war.  The British recaptured the fort during the War of 1812 and held it during the remainder of the war.  After the war ended they gave it back to the United States.  It is now known as Old Fort Niagara State Historic Site and is a National Historic Landmark.  It is said the fort is haunted by a French soldier who was beheaded there during a duel and he wanders the grounds looking for his head.  The paranormal claims have been investigated by the “Ghost Lab” on the Discovery Channel and on the Syfy series “Ghost Hunters” in 2011.20160911_15583320160911_15585020160911_160405

20160911_161513We also found a marker that indicates that WW II prisoners of war were kept here.

Our campground is located along Lake Ontario and we have a lovely view of the lake from our campsite.  On a clear day you can see the Toronto skyline across the water.20160911_15474920160911_154622
Of course our main reason for coming here was to see the mighty Niagara Falls.  Monday morning we left bright and early for the short drive to Niagara Falls State Park.  There is no charge to enter the park but you do have to pay $8.00 a day for parking.  Niagara Falls is America’s FIRST state park, established on July 15, 1885.  There are few words to describe the power and beauty of the majestic falls where 750,000 gallons of water PER SECOND flows over Niagara Falls. Today we visited the American side of the falls and can see across the water to Canada.  Our first stop was the Observation Tower which provided us with a view of both the American and Horseshoe Falls.20160912_09435620160912_09454120160912_095132

20160912_10043720160912_100347Next up was a ride on the boat, Maid of the Mist.  The boat takes you right to the base of Horseshoe Falls where it hovers for several minutes while we are sprayed with water and feel and hear the thunderous falls above us.  But first we have to pay admission where we are handed a poncho to wear before boarding the boat.  The ride was short but it was exciting to be that close to the bottom of the falls and we could only gaze in wonder.  It was hard to get pictures because it was so wet we had to place the camera in a plastic bag to keep it from being ruined.  Between the water and the heavy mist it was hard to get pictures but I think Bill did a great job as always.  In some of the pictures you can see the boat we road on down below. 20160912_10014020160912_10133520160912_10065220160912_132252

We walked on some stairs near where the boat let us out.

Next we wanted to do Cave of the Winds, but first we had quite a long walk from one side of the park to another.  For those unable to walk there is a shuttle to take you around the park for a small fee.
The walk was a wonderful way to see the falls and park.  We walked across a pedestrian bridge onto Goat Island.  There we walked to the overlook to view Horseshoe Falls which is on the Canadian side. We walked past a memorial to Nikola Tesla, an idol of Bill’s. This is where the first hydroelectric power plant was made and used to provide electricity to Buffalo NY.20160912_12032220160912_12133920160912_12151720160912_121257

We viewed the American falls from Goat Island.20160912_11515820160912_11530320160912_11534720160912_11552420160912_120517

20160912_123617We then bought tickets to our next attraction, Cave of the Winds.  Here we were given another poncho, water shoes and a bag to put our own shoes in.  We were then taken 175 feet down in an elevator where we walked along a series of steps and boardwalks at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls.20160912_123953

20160912_124319One location was called “Hurricane Deck ” where the power and wind from the thundering falls simulated a hurricane.  It was really fun and despite the ponchos we both got wet.  One amazing thing is every November the walkways and boardwalks are removed so they do not get caught in icy waters in the winter.  In the spring they are rebuilt for summer tourists.20160912_12500720160912_125023

We finally took a view of the Horseshoe Falls which has one side in the USA and the other in Canada.20160912_13172820160912_132105
After a walk back over the pedestrian bridge to the parking lot, we were tired and hungry.  We grabbed a late lunch.  On the way home we stopped by Whirlpool State Park where we walked down to an overlook of the Niagara Whirlpool on the Niagara River and the Niagara Gorge.
Tuesday we drove across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.  The view of the falls is prettier from this side because you have more of a direct view of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.  The Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side of the river.  Another difference is when you look at the falls from the United States you look across the water at Canada.  The Canadian side is very touristy with hotels, casinos, a ferris wheel etc.  When you stand in Canada and look across the water at the American side you are looking at Niagara Falls State Park with plenty of trees and green space.  Much more appealing!20160913_18072720160913_18121420160913_181939

We also took this video of the American falls from the Canadian side

After getting a few pictures in daylight we grabbed dinner and waited for it to get dark.  At 8:30 PM they illuminate the Horseshoe falls with multicolored lights.  We were a little disappointed that the lights were not deeper in color.  It was really hard to get a decent picture with the darkness, moving water and mist.20160913_204514

This is chart that show how the Horseshoe Falls has receded over the years because the rock wall face underneath crumbles.20160913_211109
It was going to be a long walk uphill back to the car in the dark so we paid to ride the Inclined Railway (funicular) back up the hill.  After driving back across the border into the United States we arrived back home.
We enjoyed our short time at Niagara Falls and will next head to our last stop in New York State.

Here is a nighttime video of Horseshoe falls taken from the Canadian side.

Sept 8, 2016 Seneca Falls, NY

Thursday morning we left the Adirondacks and headed west to Seneca Falls, population 6,700. We thought it was going to be a short three night stop on our way to Niagara Falls without much to see or do. Boy were we wrong!!
We camped at Cayuga Lake State Park near beautiful Cayuga Lake, one of the longest of the Finger Lakes. During the past million years, glaciers covered New York state. As they moved through river valleys they carved deep troughs with steep sides. When the glaciers receded about 10,000 years ago, water filled these troughs, creating eleven Finger Lakes. Cayuga Lake is thirty-eight miles long and 435 feet deep at its deepest spot. Cayuga Lake is named after the Cayuga Indians, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois in New York.
I was looking through some literature about the area and came across Watkins Glen State Park about thirty minutes from our campground. I read that in 2015 it was voted the third most beautiful state park in the country in a USA Today poll. All the reviews I read talked about a gorgeous 1.5 mile (three miles roundtrip) hike with 832 steps and nineteen waterfalls. We both love waterfalls so even though the 832 steps seemed a bit daunting, we decided to give it a try.20160909_111629
20160909_093118We headed out early Friday morning. On the way to Watkins Glen we came across a plaque in the small town of Waterloo. We had no idea that Waterloo, NY was the official birthplace of Memorial Day, with the first ceremony held in 1866. Some of the interesting things we just happen to stumble across is amazing to us. 20160909_093044We drove beside Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes and the deepest lake in the state.
We didn’t realize that the town of Watkins Glen is renowned for auto racing and is considered the birthplace of American racing.   Since 1948 Watkins Gen has hosted international automobile car racing and in 2015 was voted the best NASCAR track in the country in a USA Today Reader’s Poll.  The town has an International Motor Racing Research Center with 5,000 square feet of racing history.  From April through September they host NASCAR sports car and racing events. This weekend was the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix and as we drove down Main Street they were getting ready to close off the street for a parade. To our dismay we discovered that even though the state park was open, the parking lot was closed. We asked where we could park and they said our only option was to find a parking lot or side street parking, which seemed highly unlikely on a parade day in a tiny town. Across the street from the park was a restaurant and Bill decided to go inside and ask if we could park in their restaurant parking lot for a few hours. I told him there was no way they would allow that on parade day. We pulled into the lot and I stayed with the car while he went inside to ask. He came back a few minutes later and said the owner said no problem and refused to take any money. Yeah!!
We grabbed our walking sticks and headed over to the entrance. We had an idea what was ahead when we saw a beautiful waterfall at the entrance. This park certainly lived up to its #3 best ranking. Everywhere we looked there was beauty. We were apprehensive about the steps but they were nice stone steps put in years ago by the CCC and easy to climb. I had worried they might be uneven and slick, but no problem. The hike on the Gorge Trail was not tiring at all because we were constantly stopping to gaze in wonder and awe at the beauty. We followed the gorge trail as it wound over and under waterfalls.20160909_11111420160909_11403320160909_11431820160909_11592220160909_12072320160909_12192020160909_12201920160909_12264920160909_11234620160909_135502
At the end we walked up the last of the stairs which were steel steps called “Jacob’s Ladder”. Once at the top we could either walk back down the 832 steps or take the easy “Indian Trail” back. We chose the easy hike and once we were back to the car we put our hiking gear away and decided to go into the restaurant for a late lunch. We thought it was a small way to thank them for letting us park in their lot. Bill had lunch and I had a big slice of fresh blueberry pie! On the way home we took a different route and followed Cayuga Lake seeing wineries along the lake.20160909_154053
20160910_14073820160910_142224On Saturday we decided to spend our last day in Seneca Falls exploring the small town and finding some geocaches. First we stopped by the town Visitors Center which had a fantastic museum detailing the history of the town. European settlers first moved to the area and began farming. In the 1820’s the construction of the Erie Canal changed Seneca Falls to an industrial and shipping center. We were surprised to see all the items designed and manufactured there from water pumps, TV picture tubes to wooden rulers.20160910_13314820160910_13425520160910_13505320160910_140408
20160910_150328Seneca Falls is the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement led by resident Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The first women’s rights convention was held here on July 19-20, 1848. Today there is a Women’s Rights National Historical Park, established in 1980, in the middle of town. We stopped by the park, saw a film and looked at the exhibits. Amelia Bloomer, for whom bloomers were named, lived in Seneca Falls. She didn’t invent bloomers but wore them and promoted them in magazines.20160910_15050020160910_150738
20160910_14312620160910_143112Our last stop of the day was at the “It’s a Wonderful Life” museum. In 1945 Frank Capra stopped by Seneca Falls to get a haircut on his way to visit his sister. It is said that he was so taken with the quaint little town that it was his inspiration for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in the famous Christmas movie. There are several similarities between Seneca Falls and the fictional Bedford Falls, including they are both mill towns, had a grassy median down Main Street, homes of Victorian architecture, a large Italian population and a toll bridge. The free museum opened in 2010 and is full of memorabilia from the film that fans have donated or loaned to the museum. We were the only visitors there when we stopped by and enjoyed talking with the guide who obviously loves the movie. He said he has lost track of the number of times he has seen it. Every year in December they celebrate with a parade and all sorts of events. This year will be a big celebration since it is the 70th anniversary of the movie.20160910_144641 20160910_14471220160910_14474820160910_142407The guide so enthusiastically described the upcoming celebration it almost made me want to brave the snow to attend. Almost, but not quite!
Yes, tiny Seneca Falls far exceeded our expectations. We could have stayed a couple more days but Niagara Falls was calling!

Sept 6, 2016 Ticonderoga, NY

20160906_14423220160906_10033920160906_103144Our time in the Adirondacks was drawing to a close so on Tuesday we traveled to nearby Ticonderoga where Bill was ecstatic to visit the newly opened Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tour.  The sets, under license by CBS Consumer Products, recreated the sets of the Starship Enterprise as they were laid out at Desilu Studios Stage 9 in Hollywood.  Visitors are transported back to 1966.  Bill is a huge Star Trek fan and loved touring this set.  He didn’t know that Lucille Ball was instrumental in getting Star Trek on the air when she agreed to film the series at Desilu Studios.20160906_10111220160906_10121420160906_10143120160906_10163120160906_10253420160906_10275820160906_114618
20160906_115101Next we went to Fort Ticonderoga which played an important role both in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.  It was originally built by the French in 1755 and called Fort Carillon.  Located a the southern end of Lake Champlain, it was captured by the British in 1759 and named Ticonderoga, an Iroquois name meaning “it is at the junction of two waterways”.  In 1775 Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys along with Benedict Arnold took the fort from the British in a surprise attack during the Revolutionary War.  This was the first victory of the Revolutionary War.  The cannons from the fort were taken to Boston and helped persuade the British to evacuate Boston in 1777.20160906_11443920160906_11470620160906_12225020160906_12270720160906_122723
20160906_12395720160906_124005The British abandoned the fort in 1781 and it was looted for stone, metal and wood by settlers looking for material to build homes.  In 1785 the fort’s lands became the property of New York state who then donated the property to Columbia and Union colleges in 1803.   In 1820 the fort was sold to William Ferris Pell who first used the property for a summer home.  When more and more tourists came to the Adirondacks, he converted his home to a hotel.  In 1909 the Pell family restored the fort and opened it to the public.  The fort is now maintained by the Fort Ticonderoga Association, a not for profit organization.
We enjoyed touring the fort, soaking up the historical significance of the events which took place here.  It was somewhat disappointing to discover the original fort was wooden, not the stone structure of today.  We asked about this and it was explained that the fort was in such poor shape that only the stone foundation remained, leading the Pell family to mistakenly believe that the entire fort was stone.  It was also pointed out that a member of the Pell family was related to a stone mason so they were able to get stonework done easily and cheaply.
20160906_14422420160906_145725As part of our admission we were given access to Mount Defiance, an 853 foot high hill on the New York side of Lake Champlain.  In the 1777 Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, the British army placed artillery on Mount Defiance, causing the Americans to withdraw without a fight.  The Americans had mistakenly thought the hill to be inaccessible and never fortified it.

World War II Navy aircraft carriers were named after Revolutionary War victories: Lexington, Ticonderoga, Saratoga and Yorktown.
20160906_152522On the way home we stopped to find a geocache.  The short hike led us to a peaceful little waterfall.  We love it when geocaching takes us to such beautiful places we wouldn’t otherwise find.
We enjoyed our time in the Adirondacks.  We were glad to see Labor Day end and with it all the summer tourists.  The campground is now quiet and peaceful once again.  Ahhhhhh!
Next stop:. Seneca Falls, New York


Sept 1, 2016 Adirondacks, NY

20160902_153825After a month in Maine it was time to head south.  We had a long travel day as we left Maine and passed through New Hampshire and Vermont before entering New York State.  As soon as we entered New York I started sneezing.  We are thinking either oak trees or goldenrod is bothering me.  Despite the long day the miles went by quickly and before we knew it we arrived at our Lake George campsite for a week.  We were glad to get checked in and settled before the bombardment of Labor Day campers arrived on Friday for the three day weekend.
20160902_15375320160906_092213Lake George is a 32 mile long lake located at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains.  It drains into Lake Champlain and the St Lawrence River basin.  The village of Lake George has a yearly population of around 900 which swells to over 50,000 residents during the summer season.  In 1755 British colonial forces occupied the region during the French and Indian War and the lake was named Lake George for King George II.  On May 31, 1791, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to his daughter saying, “Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a contour of mountains into a basin….finely interspersed with islands, its waters limpid as crystal, and the mountain sides covered with rich groves“.
After the long travel day on Thursday and with Labor Day traffic building we stayed close to home Friday and Saturday.  It was amazing to watch the campground swell to full capacity with campers setting up, kids on bikes and pedestrians everywhere.
20160904_122616Sunday we decided to take a scenic drive through the Adirondack Mountains.  The Adirondack Park encompasses two thirds of upstate New York with over six million acres of private and state (40%) land.  Nearly half the land is wilderness.  There are 46 mountains that exceed an elevation of 4,000 feet.  The Adirondack Park includes more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 3,000 lakes and ponds, more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 1,100 miles of highway and 120 miles of railroad.  It was named after the Algonquin Indians.  The Iroquois called the Algonquins “Ha-De-Ron-Dah” or “bark eaters” because they ate certain kinds of tree bark.  After the Civil War the area became a summer retreat for the wealthy.
20160904_183240We followed one of several scenic byways which took us from Lake George to the Canadian border.  We passed beautiful Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Tupper Lake to name just a few.  We stopped along the way finding geocaches, including one less than five miles from the Canadian border.  We could see the border crossing checkpoint which didn’t seem too busy considering the holiday weekend.  As we headed back south towards home we entered the Akwesasne Mohawk Indian Reservation.  We stopped and bought gas which was about 15 cents cheaper per gallon on the reservation.
20160904_184121We stopped by Saranac Lake to see the Robert Louis Stevenson cottage.  The cottage was closed but we did get a picture of the outside.  Stevenson lived here during the winter of 1887-1888 and the cottage has a large collection of Stevenson memorabilia.  The librarian in me was glad to see it!
20160904_185454By now it was getting late.  We reached gorgeous Lake Placid as daylight was fading.  We snapped a couple shots of the lake and grabbed a late dinner.  There is so much to see in Lake Placid, site of the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics.  It is on our list of places to return to someday.  We arrived home late in the evening after an eleven hour sightseeing adventure.20160904_19013120160904_19004720160904_12255520160904_12252720160904_120624
20160905_12310520160905_13053320160905_145651The next day we decided to take advantage of the Labor Day holiday (therefore no city workers) and drive to Albany to see the state capitol.  One goal we have is to try to see the state capitol building of every state we visit.  We decided to drive first to the small town of Kinderhook to visit the home of Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States.  Near the house was was a tiny “Visitors Center” located in a trailer where we saw a short film on his life.  Van Buren purchased his home and 130 acres of land in 1839 while President.  He named the estate Lindenwald after the linden trees lining the road in front of the home.  He returned here after his presidency ended.  He died here in 1862.
Van Buren was president from 1837 to 1841.  As president he was blamed for the depression of 1837, one of the worst depressions in U.S. history, with hostile newspapers calling him “Martin Van Ruin”.  He also had problems with foreign affairs, denying Texas’ application for admission to the Union because he didn’t want to upset the balance of free and slave states.
In 1840 he was voted out of office when Whig candidate William Henry Harrison won the election.  Van Buren tried to make a comeback in 1844 when he tried to win the Democratic nomination but lost to James Polk who went on to win the election.  In 1848 he ran for president yet again as a third party candidate with the Free-Soil party, a group opposing extending slavery.  His defeat in that election ended his political career.
Before leaving Kinderhook we visited his birthplace (the Van Buren family tavern where he was born burned long ago, no longer stands and is merely noted with a marker) and then his gravesite at the Dutch Reformed Church.

  • Van Buren’s wife Hannah died in 1819 after twelve years of marriage.
  • He is buried with her.
  • He never remarried.
  • They had four sons.

20160905_16115420160905_161829Next was Albany, capital of New York.  The traffic was light and we had no problem finding parking.  Albany was chartered in 1686.  Robert Fulton’s steamboat made the first successful steamboat run from New York to Albany in 1807.  The opening of the Erie Canal between Buffalo and Albany in 1825 caused the city to flourish.  Over the years Presidents Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt all lived at one time in Albany.20160905_16363420160905_165054
The state capitol building was built in the late 1800’s.
We walked to the Governor Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, a huge government complex.  This was a massive urban renewal project initiated by then Governor Rockefeller.  It was started in the 1960’s and not completed until 1978.  We found some geocaches in the area, including one at the Egg, a performing arts center.  The plaza’s 96 acres includes more than 90 abstract impressionist paintings, sculptures and tapestries as well as the tallest building in New York state except those in New York City.  The plaza also has several memorials honoring women veterans, fallen firefighters, MIA’s and Vietnam veterans.20160905_162716