traded the beauty of the Green Mountains in Vermont for the beauty of the
Adirondacks in New York – a toss up if we had to vote on the most scenic.
Adirondacks 1000 Islands Campground
was our base for the next 30 days. First
up was a mini-family get-together with Lucille’s brothers, sister, aunt,
cousin and families at Lake Bonaparte, just a few miles from the campground.
Lake Bonaparte was named for Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Napoleon.
Joseph was appointed King of Spain by Napoleon. Joseph eventually moved to the
States and maintained a vacation home in what is now called Natural Bridge, New
York. Unfortunately, his home
burned recently, leaving no trace other than a lake as his namesake.
our get-together, we enjoyed wonderful company, great meals and fabulous
sunsets. Brother Roger and wife
Kathie had been in the Rome, NY area on temporary assignment awhile back and
were excellent tour guides on both the usual and unusual.
We toured the Erie
Canal Village in Rome, learning about the history of the canal that opened the
way west from New England to the cities surrounding the Great Lakes.
Parts of the canal are still viable but no longer its entire length.
Roger introduced us to the best local store for squeaky fresh cheese
curds – darn, we just had to make a couple return trips.
A special treat was meeting their friend Red
Grandy, a prize-winning Stars and Stripes photographer during the Cold War.
Red is best known for his picture of General Eisenhower’s surprised
look at hearing that President Truman had fired General MacArthur from his Far
East Command. Red gave us a tour of
his den, the walls covered with photos of actors and actresses, prizefighters
and presidents – each picture with its own story.
Roger was also our tour
guide at friend Grant’s property where several antique tractors were
displayed. Grant is in the process
of applying for a license to open a tractor museum, so we got a sneak preview.
Croghan, NY is the home of the American Maple Museum and the Maple Hall of Fame for North America. The
is located in a converted schoolhouse built in late 1800s.
Presented is the history of the maple sugar industry from past to
it takes 40 gallons of sap, preferably from a sugar maple, to make one
gallon of syrup. All the taps are
removed at the end of each season, which is usually one month around Feb/March.
The tree then heals over the tap hole.
Tap holes only have to be about 1” deep to get the sap running.
The museum curator told us about another interesting place to visit –
the Croghan Island Mill, a woodworking plant, located on Croghan Island.
All woodworking machinery is operated by waterpower from the Beaver
River. Several years ago when a
bridge over the river had to be replaced, water was rerouted, thus shutting off
their power supply. The local
electric company hooked them up temporarily to power.
They found out that water could power all the machines and electric
couldn’t, so they had to vary use of the machines and were very glad to get
back to waterpower when the bridge replacement was completed a year later.
days aren’t all spent touring and visiting. Part of July was spent
getting truck repairs done, seeing a dentist for an emergency repair, taking
Shelley to the vet for her own dental work, getting a haircut and perm, grocery
shopping, and stopping at ice cream stands. Oops – that wasn’t a chore
at all. We read that there are over 8,000 dairy cows in Lewis County
alone--they must all produce ice cream! There are ice cream stands and
shops in every town, no matter the size. Our favorite was in Natural
Bridge, where the sundae specials rotated every day – maple sundae with maple
soft serve, chocolate sauce and waffle cone pieces, whipped cream with a cherry
on top – yum! It was almost worth extending our stay to catch that
attended Harrisville’s Fourth of July parade, festival and fireworks.
Harrisville is so small, they had to import the parade’s one and only marching
band from a town twenty miles away. The parade may have been small but the
town made up for it with a spectacular fireworks display – a fitting end to an
Independence Day celebration.
cousin Janet and her family live in Richfield Springs – we enjoyed visiting
with them one afternoon. On the way back from her home, we stopped at Fort
Stanwix National Monument, in time to catch the evening retreat ceremony,
learning the history of the retreat - originally to signal retreat from enemy
forces but progressing to a ceremony signaling the end of the day.
The Seaway Trail runs 454 miles, along the New York shore of Lake Ontario and up the St.
River following the Thousand Islands. There are actually over 1800
islands. To be officially considered an island, it must remain above water
year-round and have at least two trees on it. From the shore, we spotted a
postage stamp house that entirely covered its island, complete with the
requisite trees and some shrubs. We started the trail at Alexandria Bay,
where we stopped at the Cornwall Brothers Store, a combination museum and seller
of antiques. There were some gorgeous period clothing, all original and in
great condition, on display on the 2nd floor, including a coat made from curly
black lamb fur that was worn by a carriage driver.
then headed south to Cape Vincent to see the lighthouse on Tibbetts Point.
Cape Vincent is a quaint town, nothing like ‘Alex’ Bay. The lighthouse
volunteer said that Clayton, a larger town just up from them, boasts of having
five gas stations. Cape Vincent has one gas pump. Come wintertime,
the city pretty much closes down except for the few locals who remain year
round. They don’t get much snow but it does get pretty cold. The
lighthouse is no longer in operation, having been replaced by a signal beacon.
It sits at the confluence of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. When
ships come from either direction, they must take on a pilot, either lake or
river, based on the direction they are heading.
last stop on the Seaway Trail was Sacketts Harbor to tour the Sacketts Harbor
State Historical Site, where a critical battle of 1812 was fought.
We find that local townspeople are anxious to pass on great places to visit. Based on a local hairdresser’s recommendation, we drove up to Wanakena, just at the beginning of Cranberry Lake. Wanakena is a neat little town founded by the Rich Lumber Company at the turn of the 20thcentury. They moved their machinery, buildings, even housing, from PA where they had farmed all the available lumber. At its peak, population was between 2500-3000. Rich Lumber encouraged other businesses to start – veneer, lathe strips, barrelheads, paper mill – all related to the lumber industry. When the lumber was gone, they moved further north but because Cranberry Lake had now become a tourist draw, buildings were left for the tourist industry. All is gone now except for remnants of some of the original buildings--not even a sign of the RR tracks. One really neat thing was the suspension bridge walking path built over that portion of Cranberry Lake, by Rich Lumber Co. The town has one general store and a post office, no other businesses. The road was one way in and one way out. A walking tour of town had different stops/stations that had flip pictures of the town back years ago.
people told us we had to see Lake Placid. On Sunday July 25th, we made the
trip. And it was our luck that day to be there during the 6th annual Lake Placid
2004 Ironman Competition. The Ironman consists of 2.5 miles swimming in
Lake Placid, starting at 7 am, then 100 miles of bicycling, then running a
marathon, 26 miles, as a finale. Traffic is disrupted around the area for
about 18 hours. As a result, state highways become one way for the day,
causing us to find another route out of the city. We did manage to spot a
glimpse of the Olympic ski jumps – wow! It was scary just thinking about
going up, let alone jumping off the jumps!
our ‘detour’, we came across High Falls Gorge so we stopped, had lunch and
toured the gorge and falls. It was a pleasant detour, very nicely laid
out. We saw old growth Adirondack forest as well as new growth. The
Ausable River formed a gorge, with double falls, through this section of the
visited Kingston, Ontario, via the very small Cape Vincent ferry, capacity maybe
six cars. Our truck straddled the deck, bumper to bumper from the drive on ramp
to the drive off ramp with maybe two feet to spare. After a 10-minute ride
to Wolfe Island, we then drove about 11 miles to the free ferry going to
Kingston. This is a much larger ferry, capacity about 55 vehicles,
including large trucks. We took the 50-minute Confederate Trolley Ride
that was jam packed with non-stop info. We saw a lot of the older and
historical part of the city. After the trolley ride, we drove to the
Kingston Penitentiary Museum, housed in the original Kingston Penitentiary
Warden’s residence built in 1873. The museum houses an unusual
collection of prisoner-made illegal weapons, including a crossbow made out of
toothbrushes and other household items.
Murney Tower, a national historic site, was built in 1846 as part of the defense fortifications of Kingston but it was never used in that capacity. By the time the tower was finished, the threat had gone away. The architecture and construction were unusual – the lakeside walls 12 feet thick at the top, 15 feet at the base, twice the thickness of the land-based side. There are 4 suchMurney Tower, a national historic site, was built in 1846 as part of the defense fortifications of Kingston but it was never used in that capacity. By the time the tower was finished, the threat had gone away. The architecture and construction were unusual – the lakeside walls 12 feet thick at the top, 15 feet at the base, twice the thickness of the land-based side. There are 4 such Martello towers in that area that were considered impregnable during their time. We came back to New York via the Thousand Islands International Bridge, crossing a very scenic part of the St. Lawrence River.
Before leaving New York we paid a visit to Lucille's cousin Sue and her husband Verne in Cato (near Syracuse). They are building a newhouse and allowed us to stay in their driveway for our short stay.
We made the most of the stay by visiting the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, the Women's Movement National Historic Site in Seneca Falls, and an alpaca farm.
The Erie Canal Museum housed the WeighLock Building which served as a "toll booth" for the canal boats. To determine tolls, the boats would enter the WeighLock Building, one of seven on the canal. Basically, it was a lock alongside the canal. Once the boat was inside the lock area, the gates would be manually closed, the water level would drop, and the boat would sit on a wooden cradle, part of a scale system. The gross weight of the boat was then subtracted from its empty weight to determine how much toll was to be paid. The canal was so successful that it quit collecting tolls. Numerous static displays including a canal boat made the museum both entertaining and educational.
The Women’s Movement National Historic Site in Seneca Falls was the site of the first women's congress in 1848. During the congress, the Declaration of Sentiments was created, based on the Declaration of Independence but focused on stating women's rights. Static displays and interactive videos provided a historical perspective to the women's rights movement.
Within walking distance of where we stayed was the Fox Run Alpaca Farm where alpacas are bred for their wool. The owners of the farm were kind enough to give us a tour of the farm including a photo op with the animals. If you have never seen an alpaca, they are too cute!
We are off to Alpena, Michigan!