Saturday, September 25, 2010
I met a neighbor the other day who volunteers for the History Center in Ithaca and passed this picture of our house along to me. I was guessing it was from Armistice Day, 1918, but she has been looking into it and found evidence suggesting otherwise. Stay tuned, hope to find the answer soon.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
11 days of biking, 490 miles, three nights of camping, five hotels and six nights with friends. We left from Ithaca and headed for Lake George to visit the DiBiasis before turning west for a stop with Gail's brother, Geoff, his wife Kristi, their dogs and Kristi's parents, Ann and Chips, at their house on Piseco Lake. Almost the whole trip was downhill! The first leg in particular as we rode about half a mile down to the Commons bus stop and took the TCAT bus to Richford to eliminate 20 miles of not great riding. We must say, other than a few miles in Amsterdam and around Lake George Village, the riding was quite pleasant and New Yorks' roads were in great shape. As always, to see a larger image, just click on the pictures. Ready to really start the ride...
Many of you may recall our bike trip last summer in Wisconsin was cut short when this mysterious ailment made my hands a mess. I've since found that avoiding certain foods (mainly sugar and wheat) and all alcohol, along with regular acupuncture has kept them in fine shape.
OK, so we climbed a few hills. One immediately as we left Richford, then the biggest of the trip just east of Chenango Forks on Rt. 79. This is pretty remarkable considering we went through 16 Central New York counties, including several in the southern Adirondack Mountains. It was on this hill we saw a sign either pointing out a road hazard or the fact that I was frequently craving all the foods I was avoiding. Our first night was at a campground in Sidney where we used three picnic tables since they were available.
If you're ever in Canajoharie you must stop at Betty Beaver's Fuel Stop, even if you're on a bike. And I recommend taking County Rt. 31 if you're coming from Cooperstown. I think it may be the best road I've ridden as it starts out along Otsego Lake without any climbing, then drops off the escarpment to the right behind Gail. Oh, and check out Cooperstown at 6 am, it's really sweet.
Also in Canajoharie we picked up the Erie Canal Path, a portion of the ride that was not actually downhill, but quite flat. We rode about 20 miles to Amsterdam and on the return trip about 20 miles from Rome to Chittenango. Does New York have some great town and city names, or what?
A site we anticipated for months, the Shrine to the North American Martyrs! Let me tell you, the idea of going past on the canal path and missing it weighed heavily on our minds, but of course it was well-marked and accessible. But Gail hung back as I investigated, she was worried about blaspheming such hallowed ground. I skipped the 6000-seat modern round church as a thunderstorm was approaching and we needed to find shelter, but only in The Perfect Spot since things were going so well so far.
Just as the storm really closed in we found The Perfect Spot, a New York State Historical Site featuring a building on the location of a canal store on a lock. It was all open, and nobody else there. We learned a bit and I relived my days as a store clerk in Chautauqua
Once the thunderstorm passed and the rain let up we made it through Amsterdam, our most urban section of the trip, and got a late lunch before getting to Great Sacandaga Lake. We were on a covered deck and by the time we were done the rain had stopped and the sun came out. Perfect timing all around.
On the third day, we tested Gail's riding endurance and acceptance of life with me. There's some previous history with me taking for granted our accommodations for the night, but not enough to teach me a lesson. There was only one campground on the map along the south-east side of Great Sacandaga Lake, and it involved a 68-mile ride to get to, further than Gail had gone this summer, but by no means too far. I suppose if I'd called ahead I would have learned it's one of those campgrounds that don't take campers, then made other arrangements. But no, they turned us away because we didn't have an RV and wouldn't be staying long enough and told us to ride 30 miles to the campground directly across the lake. Lucky us (OK, me) there was a place two miles up the road with cottages and we got one looking directly over the lake.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The first real destination of this trip was to visit Mary Ann and Glenn DiBiasi at their home on Lake George in Bolton Landing. You may recognize Glenn from my trip to NYC earlier in the summer (by bus), or as a regular on the winter camping trips to Pharaoh Lake (by car and skis). They have a nice boat that we used to cruise around on the lake a couple times. Don't be fooled by the motor, it's also a pedal boat and after 200 miles of biking Gail could kick up a wake as she pedaled.
On a walk high above Lake George with the Tongue Range sneaking in from the left and some of the islands we visited. We had to ride over this hill, but the other option was to ride over the Tongue Range plus Graphite Mtn., a 900' climb and 35 mile addition.
Flora, fauna and fun. We got Glenn and Mary Ann to take a walk at an nature preserve/education center near their house in Bolton Landing and there was a butterfly house with these gross bugs, a dead elm tree along the road between Cazenovia and Skaneateles-there was a beautiful living one in Poland but I didn't get a picture, and see if you can figure out the bottom picture. You might want to get a kid who has spent time in a creek to help.
More flora, fauna, fungus. A mushroom on the trail to Mt. Snowy, the largest hemlock I've encountered, and some dragonflies on top of Mt. Snowy, we learned a large gathering of them is called a hetch. You can see six or seven in this picture if you look closely, but there were dozens.
Siblings have a mutual affection for Geoff's new pup, Kita. One of our forays by car to climb Mt. Snowy near Indian Lake. Despite having spent much of her life on and around Piseco, Kristi had never climbed it but we were tipped off to how great it was by a family friend who we ate breakfast with at the Irondequoit Inn. She had last climbed it at the age of 79 or so, which gave Gail a new goal to strive for. We saw her on the trail as she still walks the flat part but not the steep climbs.
On the way to Cazenovia we passed Chittenango Falls State Park where we stopped to recuperate from climbing the hill Chittenango Creek is falling down. By the way, the creek drains out of the south end of Cazenovia Lake and flows north, so there is more uphill after the park when you go this way. We were lucky to get a room in Cazenovia because we were there the night before their triathlon. On the way out of town we stopped at the race site to intimidate the cyclists with our fully loaded bikes and told them we were giving them a fair chance. We also saw our neighbor who won his age group.