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Following The Waterways – Mohawk, Niagara, Finger & Buckeye Lakes

Vermont-NY State Line

After a weeklong visit in Vermont, we headed west and settled in for a good long drive toward home. It’s a 1000 mile trek, and I looked for an interesting route that would take us home without having to scale too many mountains. We ended up following a course of waterways, starting with the Mohawk River in New York State.

waterways

Mohawk River

It’s my habit to pick up a road map at every state line we cross. Each Welcome Station has a nice pile of official state maps waiting on the counter. It’s one of the small courtesies still offered to travelers for free. There’s something about a paper map that’s just deeply satisfying – the creases of the paper, the colors of the lines, and the staggering size of the unfolded map. You can see the whole state at once in fabulous detail without having to scroll a tiny electronic screen. A paper map gives you a sense of your place in the state; where you’re going and how far you’ve come. And the detail offered in a paper map just can’t be found anywhere else. Google Maps will happily show where you can spend money, like the closest Starbucks or Arbys. But only the Official State Map will lead you to the Shrine of Saint Kateri.

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A Long Drive to Lake George

by Richie
A Long Drive to Lake George

Lake George

Call me a wimp, but I’ve found the best way to beat the sweltering southern heat is to pack up and head for the mountains. I’m talking about the eastern mountains – Alleghenies, Poconos, Catskills, Adirondacks. Where the air is crisp and clean and nights are so cool you want to open the windows and sleep under grandma’s quilt. Lake George

Having the mountains in mind, I chose a zig-zag route up to Lake George in New York. Turns out the route was a little more challenging than I expected, but not in a way that could have been anticipated. 

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Lily Dale Assembly

by Richie
Lily Dale Assembly

Lily Dale, NY
On Cassadaga Lakes
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 Lily Dale Assembly In 1848, the Fox sisters of Hyde Park, NY successfully made contact with a spirit on The Other Side who described the circumstances of his murder and the name of the man who killed him. And thus was launched the Spiritualist movement.

Within a few years of the sisters’ startling discovery, conventions and camps sprang up where the methods of spiritualism were discussed and taught. These were popular retreats, especially since women featured prominently in the movement, which coincided with Women’s Suffrage.

By the 1880’s, Lily Dale became the largest and last of the Spiritualist retreats, and remains so today. This gated community of about 200 homes is open only for the short summer season, and is home to renowned mediums and instructors. To live here or to own property here, you must be a sanctioned and registered spirit medium.

SIGNS

Each home has a sign announcing the medium who lives there, and an appointment book for personal readings is usually laid open on the porch. The town was bustling with visitors this Saturday, and many practitioners had notices posted on their doors saying their appointments were full for the day. 

We did not opt for a consultation, but we did attend a couple of free workshops and walked the dozen or so little streets. The town is lovely, everyone is friendly, and all are like-minded. You won’t find any skeptics here.

 HOUSES

Lily Dale offers many types of lectures and instruction series, usually conducted over a long weekend. There are a couple of hotels (circa 1890), and several guest houses where you can stay. I’m tempted to try some classes next summer!

 STREET

 

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I Love Lucy

by Richie
I Love Lucy

Jamestown, NY
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 LUCY

We spent the day in Jamestown, the hometown of Lucille Ball. This is also her birthday weekend (August 6, 1911) and the crowds turned out for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Serious Lucy aficionados have come from far and wide to attend numerous events, including tomorrow night’s big production with Jay Leno and daughter Lucie Arnez (sold out show!)

By chance, we lucked into the festivities this weekend and spent the afternoon poking around town. Jamestown is a good-sized town with a long history, and the older neighborhoods are paved with red bricks, oddly enough.

  TOWN

We toured through the extensive Lucy & Desi Museum where the film sets from the I Love Lucy show are recreated. Many of her costumes and effects are on exhibit, along with the personal histories of her and Desi. When she started to make it in show business, she sent for her Jamestown relatives, one by one, until all were relocated to California. SETS

The museum had several sitting areas where her TV episodes were playing on continuous loop, and I knew we were encountering some serious fans when the audience could recite every line. One gal gave a running commentary on the wardrobes, “She wore that same dress in the episode with Harpo Marx!”

My favorite exhibit was a Vitameatavegamin display, where you could recite the commercial and it was broadcast through a 1950’s television! “Are you popped at parties? Are you unpoopular?” DESILU

Early evening was spent at the Lucy & Ethel Comedy Dinner Show at the Willow Bay Theater. Two talented impersonators recreated famous scenes and interacted with the enthusiastic fans.

 SHOW

Tonight we will watch Lucy & Desi’s movie The Long Long Trailer – a DVD we just had to buy!

 LONG LONG

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lake Lounging

by Richie
Lake Lounging

Dewittville, NY
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Tim has recovered from our crappy shared cold and went on a reconnaissance mission today while I lounged on the couch and watched a Jimmy Stewart marathon. Jimmy as a playwright (with Rosalind Russell), Jimmy as a novelist (Hedy Lamarr), Jimmy as a journalist (Spencer Tracey). Good thing this campground has cable TV! sp

Late afternoon I finally rallied and Tim took me to all the swell places he found. Long Point State Park offered an expansive view of Chautauqua Lake, and would be a great spot for a picnic beneath the towering hemlock trees.

 guppys

Guppy’s Tavern was a lively local joint with an overwhelming menu of beers and BBQ, not to mention a huge selection of Italian dinners featuring stromboli the size of a soccer ball. What is the difference between a stromboli and a calzone anyway?

 koa

This KOA is a large property, well maintained, and prettily landscaped. As we’ve seen with other lake campgrounds in New York, there are many seasonal renters here with permanent porches and groomed gardens. Swell place to spend the summer! sunset

Sunset over the lake was watched from a lovely viewing area replete with comfy Adirondack chairs. We even horsed around the playground a bit, and it felt good to be out and about after a day of lounging. 

 

 

 

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Whine Country

by Richie
Whine Country

Chautauqua County
New York
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KOA

 

We have relocated a couple hundred miles west to Chautauqua County. This area is on the western border of New York State and is known for its many wineries and miles of vineyards. 

The trip from Lake Ontario was pretty easy compared to some of our previous travel days, and we enjoyed the New York Thruway for its flat, smooth, and speedy route. 

But this nasty summer cold has really got the better of us. It started with Tim, he gave it to me, and I’ve given it right back to him. We are a mess of soggy tissues, moans and groans, and some whimpering on the side. Usually we take two-hour turns at driving. Today the best that could be summoned was about an hour each.

 We’ll be staying at this spot for a while. Whining and dining.

DSCN6003

 

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Lake Ontario

by Richie
Lake Ontario

Fair Haven Beach State Park, New York
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 DSCN5941

It was a cool-ish and cloudy day at Lake Ontario. Perfect in fact for doing nothing campside. Had it been sunnier I would have felt obliged to exert myself and swim at the beach – the primary feature of this park. But being a bit still under the weather, the day was better spent resting. Which nobody else complained about.

lake ontario

We did manage a short ride around the park. And strolled on the causeway that separates Lake Ontario from a busy bay dotted with homes and boats. Saw a kid catch a strange little fish. “That’s a gobi,” his mother said. “It’s an invasive species in the lake, so we have to kill it.” And the boy promptly slammed the hapless fish on the concrete pier.

 fish fish

Early evening we grilled our supper and dined picnic style. The remains of the night will be spent watching movies. A fine day of rest!

rest

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Finger Lakes

by Richie
Finger Lakes

Fair Haven, New York
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Mohawk River

Mohawk River

We packed up all our loot from Vermont and headed out again. Every cranny and most nooks in the RV are stuffed with goodies from generous family. There’s armloads of beautiful clothes from my mom and Aunt Bon, fresh from the outlet stores in Manchester. Grandma’s paintings are in the closet wrapped in her handmade aprons. Vintage dishes and Aunt Lou’s afghan are hidden in the cupboard. Noni’s wine glass and Uncle Slam’s garden notes are tucked in a corner. Plus a box of Dad’s things he couldn’t carry on the plane. As a topper, we crammed in everything we bought – maple syrup, Vermont bourbon!, a case of Moxie, army pants Tim had to have, and new hiking boots I couldn’t live without.

I had to double-check the coach GCWR (gross combined weight rating) to make sure it wouldn’t explode. If a motorhome could bulge, we’d look like a ripe watermelon.

Loaded to the gills, we lumbered in a northwesterly direction to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Our RV planning guide reckoned it would be a 3-1/2 hour ride. In fact, it took almost twice as long to get here. Poor Tim did ALL the driving, as I’ve been fighting a cold all day (achoo!) plus I needed to navigate a complicated route – map in lap, along with two pages of hand-written directions. As we’ve discovered many times before, when we are in the mountains the GPS sets itself on Sherpa Mode and can’t be trusted to route the motorhome along safe, flat highways. It always wants to send us down some graveled logging road because it would shave .02 miles off the trip. So paper map it is.

Outside of Schenectady we traveled alongside the Mohawk River for a while. It was a pretty waterway, winding and bending through a fetching countryside, and at one point a section of the old Erie Canal ran happily in tandem with the river.

Off the interstate for much of the day, we passed through many little country towns most of which looked prosperous and idyllic. A small gale blew up around Fonda, and I was not fonda that twisting, pothole-filled little burgh.

Tonight we have camped at Fair Haven Beach State Park, located on the shores of Lake Ontario. There was a bit of a fuss checking in, as I did not have a current copy of the dog’s rabies vaccination – a strict rule which they really should have posted better on their reservation system. So there I was, coughing and sneezing all over the ranger’s prissy desk and making frantic phone calls to the vets back home. Dammit, which vet was that? Eventually all was resolved with a timely fax and we were at last permitted to proceed to our campsite, where we both collapsed in a heap.

 DSCN5913

 

 

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The Camps of Lake George

by Richie
The Camps of Lake George

Lake George, New York
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Lake George Camps

Our last day at Lake George was spent touring about and enjoying the scenery of this beautiful area. We motored down shady lanes and hidden roads to peek at the homes which dot the shoreline. There are a few new and fancy homes, but the ones I like the best are the old small camps that look like they were built about 100 years ago. You just can’t buy character, it has to be earned.

Climbing up to “the top of the world” we found a hilltop golf course with a stunning view of the lake. Almost a reason to take up golfing!

The signature low-slung Adirondack chairs are everywhere and prove to be very comfy. After sitting in a dozen or so at various locations, I decided we needed a pair at home. They’ll be shipped right from the “factory” in upstate New York, which is really a small workshop with a couple of dedicated guys who hand craft each chair.

 top

 

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Lac du Saint Sacrement

by Richie
Lac du Saint Sacrement

Lake George, NY
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 Lake

 In 1642, French Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues found his way to the Adirondacks. The local Iroquois weren’t too happy with his presence here and chopped off a couple of his fingers as a warning. Not to be deterred, Isaac returned four years later and irritated the Mohawks who were far less generous and killed him. His name for the area, Lac du Saint Sacrement, stuck around for 100 years until the British renamed the lake for King George II. Oh, and Isaac did get canonized for his martyrdom, so I guess it was worth the trouble after all.

Lake George was an important military fort in the French-Indian War, and Fort William Henry dominates the far end of the bay. The French and their Indian allies burned 300 British ships in the harbor, putting a big dent in the occupation.

 Fort

The town became a popular resort at the turn of the century, as the lake stretches for miles and offers grand views of the surrounding mountains. Lodges, motels, and summer homes sprang up, and it’s here that the Adirondack camp style of design is in its most splendid form. Characterized by the ionic deep brown and green color scheme and a passion for rustic woodland settings, these cottages look invitingly cool and shady.

The downtown shopping district is colorful and lively. Steamboats launch from the wharf and offer short excursions around the lake. Motorboats are plentiful, tucked into coves or rocking gently at private docks in front of lakeside camps. We spotted several swimming beaches and families were frolicking in the blue-grey water. town

It was a great day roaming around the area and eating our way across the lake. With luck, tomorrow will be more of the same!

food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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