July 2004

 

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Sunset on Lake Bonaparte.

We 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.

During 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.

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Canal Boat at the Erie Canal Village, Rome, New York.

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.

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Antique Tractor.

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

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Crogham Island Mill still uses water power to operate the mill woodworking tools.

 museum is located in a converted schoolhouse built in late 1800s.  Presented is the history of the maple sugar industry from past to present.  Factoid:  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.

Our 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 special again.

We 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.

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Fort Stanwix dates to the American Revolutionary War years.

Larry’s 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.

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Yeah, it's small but it has two trees, therefore, it's an official island!

 Lawrence 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.

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Tibbetts Point Lighthouse.

We 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.

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Monument to those that fought in a critical battle in the War of 1812.

Our 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. 

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Wanakena was founded by the Rich Lumber Company.

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 20th century.  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.

Several 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!

During 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 Adirondacks. 

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On the Cape Vincent Ferry.

We 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. 

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A Martello tower at Murney Tower Historic Site.

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 such 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 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.  

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Home on the farm.

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 new house 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.

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Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse.

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.

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Aren't I cute??

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!

 

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