Friday, November 24, 2017
They came over for dinner and we learned the neighbors were having a pumpkin carving party so they got to carve their first pumpkin. Every once in awhile Gail and I get to experience the joys of parenthood. We were so proud of them when they carved the best pumpkin.
One of my desires has always been to climb Treadway Mountain at the northeast end of the lake and I finally did it, making a 15-mile trek that rewarded me with stunning views of Pharaoh Lake and Mountain. I retired my shoes after this hike and nursed a blister for two weeks afterwards. They've been up enough mountains.
I went out on Cayuga Lake one day to accompany them for a training run.
That's not really what this is about.
Tuesday, September 05, 2017
Gail and I decided on a local trip by bike this summer, one that would take us along Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence Seaway and 1000 Islands, and then turn south and pass through the High Peaks of the Adirondacks where we could do some hiking too. On paper, or the google map I created, it was 420 miles, though that didn’t figure in side trips, getting lost and spontaneous changes to the itinerary. We ended up riding 500 miles.
Ha ha, bet you thought I meant bicycles when I wrote “bike.” The quad was a great way to go.
As we’ve done before, we started by taking a TCAT bus out of Ithaca to make the first day a little shorter with less climbing. The bus was almost a half hour late due to a flat tire which we took as a bad omen, but we didn’t get any flats on the whole trip. We had a great time, saw some really interesting sites, saw old friends and made new ones. Each of us had a close call with a collision, Gail almost collided with a lawnmower and I had a van turn right when I was going straight. No harm ensued and we made it home happy and enriched by the experience once again.
Cooking while camping can be a challenge, but Gail is incredibly adept at making an instant dinner more exciting. One night she asked me to get a beer from a rowdy group camped nearby, beggars can’t be choosy so she settled for a Coors Light instead of a beer. When I was getting the beer I noticed corn being put on the grill so went back and negotiated for a couple ears. It turned out to be a nice rice and beans dinner.
Our first stop was Fair Haven State Park where we got a campsite on Sterling Pond. Gail did freshwater research here some 15-20 years ago and was looking forward to revisiting old stomping grounds. Nice park with views of some sandstone bluffs; I recommend it.
Another destination along this part of Lake Ontario was Chimney Bluffs State Park, a place neither of us had been to but wanted to see. Since they didn’t have camping we went to Fair Haven with a full day to ride to Chimney Bluffs, a short ride without gear that we were considering a “day off,” except that was one ride I hadn’t checked the actual mileage of and it turned out to be 22 miles. By the time our day off was done we’d ridden over 50 miles. The bluffs are really cool and we witnessed quite a display of flying by some Kestrels playing King of the Mountain.
Along the ride we saw apple orchards with manicured trees heavily laden with fruit. We stopped at a farm for water and talked a bit with the farmer who responded to my comment that it might be a good year to come out of retirement from my apple picking career at Cornell that the equipment we were looking at carried a moving team of six pickers who drop the apples on a conveyor belt that dumps them into the bins. “Not like the way you did it at Cornell Orchards,” he said.
We had been reading about high water issues on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence since spring and saw plenty of evidence of it. The shoreline at Southwick State Park was eroded back quite a bit. There were road signs that instructed us to ride 5 mph whenever we got within 600’ of shore to prevent creating a wake, not that I think it made any difference, and I saw this tree that was no longer growing on an island but right out of the water. We didn’t see any reference to the 999 Islands.
We splurged for two nights in an International Youth Hostel in Cape Vincent where the St. Lawrence River begins flowing from Lake Ontario. It was a great place to stay, we just had to be patient with the person running it who made for a more interesting if not challenging stay for us.
We hadn’t seen any freighters on Lake Ontario up to this point, but saw a few while there, including these two that looked like they were crashing into the foghorn building.
I took a ferry to Wolfe Island, caught a ride across it in a pickup, almost lost my license and credit cards in the truck, then took another ferry to Kingston, Ontario to visit a friend who I worked with and lived next to us in Ithaca for a few years. Julie arranged a huge welcome for me; thousands lined the docks as I arrived. We then had a small gathering on the third-floor deck of their apartment overlooking the Kingston Yacht Club with Henry and their kids and some other friends visiting from Ithaca. Membership at the Yacht Club came with the apartment so we went for a swim there off the dock and had food and drinks in the restaurant.
Back in the States, Gail did some laundry, visited a brewpub and the DEC Fisheries Lab. She also got to take part in making a shrimp feast at the hostel when a fellow guest provided 10 lbs. of shrimp for all staying there as well as some strangers he met in town and invited. There were pirates in attendance. I got back just in time to eat the potatoes, corn on the cob and salad and visit with a Spanish couple just like another famous seafood dinner from our past.
The second morning started out with some dramatic light, but by the time we left it was all sun and winds at our backs.
Monday, September 04, 2017
Another destination of the trip was to see the 1000 Islands Region of the St. Lawrence River. It was pretty flat and the two days we spent riding along that stretch we had a steady tailwind to assist us. Having a section of road cut through the rock didn’t hurt either. Just after taking this picture a bobcat ran up to the side of the road in front of Gail and she got to see it, her first ever. I was too far back to see it so I'm still waiting. We got to see many of the islands and more freighters, some at the same time.
One stop was at the new pavilion in Waddington, NY where we ate lunch. The upgrade didn’t quite fit with an existing memorial marker, or maybe it was just people spent too much time at Lodge 420 when it was designed. There was also a sweet path along the water running through some backyards. I think some people in Tompkins County should go there and see how things are going as they fight to keep a rail trail out of their backyards. We didn’t rape, steal, sell any drugs or look in windows as we rode by.
We were fortunate to see sunsets every night except one along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. In order: Two at Fair Haven, two at Cape Vincent, one at Jacques Cartier and one at Robert Moses. On the bottom is a display of some dramatic clouds to the southeast during a sunset. It only rained twice the whole trip, both after we’d finished riding and had set up the tent which was fortunate. What was unfortunate was learning that our tent is no longer waterproof in heavy downpours.
Made a point of getting up early enough to see most of the sunrises too. This one is at Fair Haven.