Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

To many people talking about Watkins Glen brings forth an image of high energy. Watkins Glen was the home of the first auto racing in the United States after WWII, and is home to Watkins Glen International Speedway. Many of the country’s best races can be found at the speedway as well as special events. However, The area offers much more than auto racing. The glen offers activities for those who like the outdoors as well as those that enjoy the finer things in life.

The village of Watkins Glen is located at the south end of Seneca Lake. In the early days of automotive travel, it was a popular overnight destination. The village was halfway between New York City and Niagara Falls, then a two-day drive. The Finger Lake region of New York is a very popular destination for those wanting to get away from big city life. Known for the lakes and rolling countryside, The Finger Lakes region is within the Allegheny Plateaus which is a portion of the Appalachian Plateau. The shores of Seneca Lake are less populated than most of the other Finger Lakes, still you can find many things to do in the area including wine tours, hiking, boating and camping.

Visit Watkins Glen Park

If hiking and camping is what interest you, even mildly, then the Watkins Glen State Park is a must-visit destination. The New York Park website has this to say about the park:”Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet (ca. 122 meters) past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. Campers and day-visitors can enjoy the Olympic-size pool, scheduled summer tours through the gorge, tent and trailer campsites, picnic facilities and excellent fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, which is renowned for its annual spring run of rainbow trout.”

The park has three entrances. The main entrance is located in the village and is the starting point of the Gorge Trail. There is also a welcome center and souvenir shop here. Parking is limited here with some additional parking located across the road. The Upper entrance is near the opposite end of the park and the furthest point of the Gorge Trail. One point to note: the main entrance is at a 440-foot elevation, while the Upper Entrance is at 1010 foot elevation. So walking from the entrance to the upper is all uphill. The south entrance is on the south side of the park and is the entrance for the camping and swimming pool. You can also access the trail system from this point as well.

WatkinsGlenTrailMap

Hiking

At the main entrance you have two trail options, the gorge trail which follows the water and the Indian trail that goes to the to of the gorge and connects to the north rim trail. When you enter the gorge trail from the main entrance, you start by entering a tunnel carved into the rocks. Then cross a bridge that looks down over the last waterfalls. This trail is moderately difficult mostly due to uneven wet surfaces. The views are breathtaking. The Indian trail starts with a flight of steps that take you up to the rim. Once at the top, the trail is tree covered and only a moderate climb. Along the Indian trail are some overlooks that peer down to the gorge. There are also a few points where you can take steps down to the gorge trail. There is a suspension bridge that connects the north rim trial and the south rim trail near the campgrounds at the south entrance.

The campgrounds have sites for tents and RVs. It also has some rustic cabins.

The park is just one of the many things you can do here. This is a great weekend getaway from anywhere in the northeast.

Henrietta Forcefully Relocates Minority Village

Henrietta Forcefully Relocates Minority Village

The Greatest atrocities in the history of man kind started with the forcible relocation of a small minority group. Yet, this past week we see the government of the Town of Henrietta forcible relocate the peaceful Fairy village that has existed for the past five years in Tinker Park.

firy house tinker park

Henrietta Moves Fairy Village

Without due process or a clear location where these fairies would go, the park staff removed the village. The reason the park staff gave? “WE” do not like the type of people that came to visit the Fairies. THEY stated that the Fairy Village attracted people to the park, causing the park to be used by more people. This resulted in the nature trails showing signs of use. Their complaint of litter is valid, but do you kill the goose that laid the golden age? Is it not the purpose of the park to get more people out to enjoy nature? Does the park not have an environmental message that those who are littering need to learn? Is cleaning litter an act that the park staff feel is beneath them?

tinker park

Am I Next?

What the next step? I and many other enjoy the wild life found in the park. Will the park staff start to kill off the waterfowl and deer that call the park home so fewer people will use the nature trails?

Where will this Sweet Home Go? Where are the Fairies? Photos by Charles Davis

Where will this Sweet Home Go? Where are the Fairies? Photos by Charles Davis

I enjoy walking the few trails the Tinker Park has. It WAS good to see young families walking the trails and the enthusiasm the children had while looking at the Fairy homes. I see the removal of the Fairy Village as a statement from the Park, that the children even the adults of our town are not important to them. I understand the concern about litter, but this is not the way to address the issue. The concern about the trail use? If more people using the trails are wearing them out, then increase the budget for the park. We need more people out in the outdoors, learning about nature and what we need to do to save our environment. Get them away from cell phones and online games and out to see the ducks, geese, squirrels and the deer that lives around the Fairy Village.

Bring back the Fairy Village. Protect minority rights.

For rent, New homes in Fairy subdivision

Posted by Charles Davis on Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thousand Islands

As Summer was winding down, I decided to take a trip to the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands has a rich history that helped shape both the United states and Canada. It was a factor in the War of 1812, was popular with Presidents in the late 1800s, and many millionaires built summer retreats here in the 1930s. The area is still a very popular summer getaway.
Thousand IslandsHover over the photo above to show the next arrow. Click on an image to go to the flicker album

For those not in the know, The Thousand Islands is in the area where the Saint Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. The Saint Lawrence River is the passage allowing the Great Lakes to empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The first fifty miles or so has many islands. While the area is known as the Thousand Islands, the official count is 1,864 islands. To be considered an island, the land must have at least one square meter of surface always above water. It also most have at least one tree and additional vegetation.

The Saint Lawrence River also forms the border between the US and Canada. So some islands are in Canada and some in the United States. The border is not a straight line nor does it follow the center of the river. A treaty at the end of the War of 1812 divided the islands so that each country received the same land mass. However, Canada received more islands. The division impacted the border.

The largest island is Wolfe. This island is about 29 kilometers (ca. 18 miles) long, with its width varying from around 9 kilometers (5.59 miles) to a few hundred meters at some points; its area is about 124 square kilometers (48 square miles). The smallest island is Tom Thumb.

tom thumb island

Tom Thumb Island

Just Enough Room Island /Mother-in-Law House

Just Room Enough Island, also known as Hub Island is the smallest inhabited island in the world. The island is about the size of a tennis court. Purchased by the Sizeland family in the 1950s, the island has a house, a tree, shrubs, and a small beach. Local tour guides often misrepresent this house as being built by Bolt for his mother-in-law. Heart Island home of the Bolt Castle is the closest island to Just Room Enough Island.

Just Enough Room Island by Charles Davis

Just Enough Room Island

Just Enough Room in front and Bolt's Boat house behind. Please note the telephoto lens makes them look closer together than they are.

Just Enough Room in front and Bolt’s Boat house behind. Please note the telephoto lens makes them look closer together than they are.

Heart Island and Bolt’s Castle

Bolt Castle is a 120 room mansion that was never completed. There are many stories about it. I am going to borrow some text about it from wikipedia 

“George Boldt, general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and manager of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, and his family enjoyed an earlier frame cottage on Hart Island (the island’s original name) for several summers, which they greatly expanded. In 1900, George Boldt launched an ambitious construction campaign to build a huge masonry structure, one of the largest private homes in the United States. He engaged the architectural firm G. W. & W. D. Hewitt and hundreds of workers for a six-story “castle” as a present to his wife. In addition, four other masonry structures on the island are architecturally notable. Equally distinctive is a huge yacht house on neighboring Wellesley Island, where the Boldts had another summer home and a vast estate, incorporating farms, canals, a golf course, tennis courts, stables, and a polo field.

Heart Island and Bolt's Castle

Heart Island and Bolt’s Castle

The construction of Boldt Castle ceased abruptly in early 1904 after the death of Boldt’s wife, Louise Kehrer Boldt. Boldt never returned to Heart Island, leaving this structure as a monument of his love. For 73 years, the castle and other stone structures were left exposed to the harsh winter weather and occasional vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Heart Island and the nearby yacht house in 1977, for one dollar, under the agreement that all revenues obtained from the castle operation would be applied towards restoration, so that the island would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. In the two decades after acquiring the property, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority spent some $15 million for restoration and improvements here, and work continues annually. The initial goal of the restoration of Heart Island was not to finish what had not been completed, but to restore the island to the state it was in when construction was halted.”

The Shortest International Bridge Hoax

The Fake News International Bridge

The Fake News International Bridge

I remember 30 years ago taking a boat tour of the Thousand Islands and the tour guide pointing out the “shortest International Bridge in the world”. On the tour I went on, they also pointed out the bridge and added a story about the owner having to pay taxes in two countries. However, maps from both the US and Canadian governments show that both islands belong to Canada. Still, it a nice story and great photo op.

Alexandria Belle, One of the tour boats of Uncle Sam boat tours

Alexandria Belle, One of the tour boats of Uncle Sam Boat Tours

Boat Rides

There are boat rides from both side of the border that will take you around the islands. Uncle Sam Tours from Alexander Bay is the one I used and highly rate it. The boat stops at Heart Island before returning to Alexander Bay. You can get off here and pay the entrance fee to visit the island and the castle. To return to the mainland you can take the next tour boat or a shuttle.

Paddle Wheel

Paddle Wheel

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore

Having an unexpected trip to Delmava, I decided that I should check off one of the items on my to do list. Namely, visit the Assateague Island National Seashore and stay overnight. It was a fast look online for camping equipment and a trip to Field and Stream and I had a nice small tent and a sleeping bag. Both on sale I might add.

After finishing a car rally with my brother, I headed to Ocean City Maryland and then the nearby national seashore. I had bought a multiple agency senior pass last year before the prices went up and that allowed me free entrance as well as a 50% discount on the camp site.

Assateague Island Wild Horses Photograph by Charles Davis

Assateague Island Wild Horses Photograph by Charles Davis

I drove around the park and it was not long before I sighted a few horses. Sadly the only time I spotted horses was when I was in the car.

Being a chilly Sunday, the camp grounds were near empty. I found a wonderful site on the bay side, registered at the camping office and returned to the site to set up the tent. Then it was a another drive in the park, followed by a walk along the sand dune.

Camping by the bay side of the island

Camping by the bay side of the island Photo by Charles Davis

The walk was very interesting and I found out why they suggested aqua shoes instead of hiking boots. It was hard going along the dunes but much easier by the surf. I then went for a hike along one of the nature trails.

I did not see anymore horses, but did come across some deer.

Deer

The camping ended up pretty good, it was a little chilly but the sleeping bag was warm enough. Did not like the sleeping bag. I sleep on my side and the bag would not move well enough. So come spring, I will spring for a new bag.

For my first overnight camping trip in decades it went very well. Come spring, I will start camping.

Here is a link to more of my photos from Assateague Island National Seashore

Erie Canal

This week marked the 200 anniversary of the Erie Canal. Growing up the “barge” canal was just a few miles away. The “barge” canal was built a hundred years later that rerouted certain sections of the Erie canal and improved the original. The Eire Canal was the first “superhighway” of the United States. It had a huge impact not only on the western New York but was instrumental in westward expansion.

Found on Wikipedia we learn this about the Erie Canal: “First proposed in the 1780s, then re-proposed in 1807, a survey was authorized, funded, and executed in 1808. Proponents of the project gradually wore down opponents; its construction began in 1817. The canal has 35 numbered locks, plus the Federal Black Rock Lock,[ and an elevation differential of about 565 feet (172 m). It opened on October 26, 1825.

In a time when bulk goods were limited to pack animals (an eighth-ton [250 pounds (113 kg)] maximum, and there were no railways, water was the most cost-effective way to ship bulk goods.

The canal, denigrated by its political opponents as “Clinton’s Folly” or “Clinton’s Big Ditch”,was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard (New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the United States that did not require portage.

Early Passenger Transportation

It was faster than carts pulled by draft animals, and cut transport costs by about 95%. The canal fostered a population surge in western New York and opened regions farther west to settlement. It was enlarged between 1834 and 1862. The canal’s peak year was 1855, when 33,000 commercial shipments took place. In 1918, the western part of the canal was enlarged to become part of the New York State Barge Canal, which ran parallel to the eastern half of the Erie Canal, and extended to the Hudson River.

In 2000, the United States Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor[9] to recognize the national significance of the canal system as the most successful and influential human-built waterway and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America.”

The New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal) is a successor to the Erie Canal and other canals within New York. Currently, the 525-mile (845 km) system is composed of the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga–Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal.In 2014 the system was listed as a national historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety, and in 2016 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Erie Canal connects the Hudson River to Lake Erie; the Cayuga–Seneca Canal connects Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake to the Erie Canal; the Oswego Canal connects the Erie Canal to Lake Ontario; and the Champlain Canal connects the Hudson River to Lake Champlain. The Erie Canal is a canal in New York that is part of the east–west, cross-state route of the New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal). Originally, it ran about 363 miles (584 km) from Albany, on the Hudson River, to Buffalo, at Lake Erie. It was built to create a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.

erie canal

Pittsford on the Canal

Today. The Erie Canal still had a major impact. While barges are rare, locals and tourist alike take to the canal for recreation and sight seeing. The canal pathways that were once used by mules, are now used by hikers, runners and bicyclist. Romantic walks on the river have replaced the luxury barge travel . Where passengers would exit from the barges for refreshments waiting for their turns through the locks, now people enjoy the quaint restaurants and pubs that are along the banks.

Erie Canal lock 32

Lock 32 in Pittsford , is a “modern” lock started a hundred years ago as the Erie Canal route changed by passing Rochester.

erie canal today

In May 2017, a local brewery was renovating, they purchased 6 new tanks which were transported on 2 barges. The media and public followed them as they follow the Canal from New York to their new home. Here they are entering lock 32

The barge being raised within the lock