History, Harbors, Lobsters & Family
Ron at Acadia National Park
This was our second visit to western New York and we really wanted to see some areas we had seen before and add new sights, but were limited to choose just one new spot--- Watkins Glen. Ron had been there a long time ago on a school trip and wanted to share it with me. We stayed at Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake.
From our base at the campground, we went in several directions. First we visited the Glen and hiked the three-mile-832 stair step trail. It was beautiful. We decided to stay for Timespell --- a laser light show in the gorge. If you go there, miss this one. It was a big disappointment. One day we took our bikes to nearby Geneva and biked a 37-mile route from the book 20 Bicycle tours in the Finger Lakes by Mark Roth & Sally Walters. The tour took us through rural farmlands and the quiet towns of Phelps and Gorham. It was an easy ride, but the day was too hot for it to be comfortable. Another day, we drove to Corning, home of Corning Glass Works, and spent the whole day between The Corning Museum of Glass, The Hall of Science and Industry, and The Steuben Glass Factory. We did not do the winery tours (16) since we had just done some in Michigan, and we had to pass up the Mark Twain Musical Drama in Elmira and the Genesee Country Museum. Both were highly recommended. The town of Waterloo looked inviting too. Next time!
Sunday, August 25, we headed east from Seneca Lake on route 20. It was a lovely drive through neat towns with big beautiful houses. Skaneateles was especially attractive and we wished we could have stayed a while. As the country got hillier, the motorhome struggled so badly that we had to unhook. I drove the car and led the way to the Coast to Coast Campground at Gansevoort which was a little north of Saratoga Springs. One of the first things we happened upon, once settled, was a farmer's market. It was very small, near the village green ---no more than a dozen vendors; we bought beets, carrots, corn, cucumber, potatoes, radishes, home made apple cinnamon bread, and overdosed on veggies the next two days. We visited the Saratoga National Battlefield and decided to bike the 10-mile circle route rather than drive. It was a wonderful ride but again very hot, and since we hadn't planned to bike, we were not properly dressed for it. After visiting the park, we discovered the charm of Saratoga. It was the racing season, so it was a busy place. No, we did not go to the track, nor did we visit the famous mineral baths, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame, or the National Bottle Museum. We did do a little browsing up and down main street. I never saw so many "horsey" things in my life. You can buy anything with horses pictured on it in this town.
We did visit the Grant Cottage State Historic Site a little north of town and were very impressed. It is exactly as it was the minute General Grant died at 8:08 a.m. on July 23, 1885. Grant's son stopped the clock and it sets on the mantel as it was that minute. The strange thing about visiting the cottage is that one has to drive through a prison to get to it. Guards order you not to stop until you get to the cottage and give you a big list of do's and don'ts. When a TB sanitarium was built near the cottage, no one ever envisioned that that institution would one day evolve into a prison. It is remarkable that this place has been protected. Credit goes to the dedication of The Friends of Grant Society.
New Hampshire, home of the White Mountains, is a pretty state with a lot of funny names; the Pemigewasset River, Kancamagus Highway, and the Winnipesaukee Railroad were ones we became aware of immediately. We had some bad experiences in New Hampshire so my report may be slanted unfairly against the whole state. Camping in one Coast to Coast Campground was a horrible experience. But that is another story.
Good friends of ours had told us not to miss the “quaint” town of N. Conway, so since we were near, we took the drive but got caught in a massive traffic jam. The road into, through, and out of N. Conway has large outlet malls---one after another. License plates were from all over, and I am sure there were bargains to be found, but we were not in the mood to fight crowds. We drove the Kancamagus Highway through the White Mountain National Forest and found that enjoyable.
Maine is beautiful in a simple way. The coastal towns, big homes,
and seashore are refreshing and the people are very friendly. We arrived
in Acadia National Park on Sunday, August 30. The weather was perfect,
campground rather empty, and many ranger activities going on since it was
still officially summer. We attended three evening ranger programs in the
campground. That is part of what makes camping in a national park so much
fun. One day, we got up early, drove to the far side of the park, and joined
a ranger for a two-hour walk/talk to examine the tide pools. He did a super
job of getting the group involved, and everyone learned about the abundance
of life in the little puddles of water left behind when the tide goes out.
Another day we rode our bikes on many of the carriage roads. In one, less
traveled, area we came upon blueberry bushes loaded with ripe berries and
picked enough to fill a quart zip-lock bag that we happened to have along.
The carriage roads were designed and built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,
in 1915. He saw it as a way to enjoy nature free from the disturbance of
the automobile. Doesn't that seem strange since he made his fortune in
oil? If we had stayed there three weeks instead of three days, we would
still be wanting more, so we are thinking of going back some year as volunteers.
Massachusetts looks like England---if you are looking at the names of towns on the map. Cambridge, Framingham, Needham, Weymouth, Chelmsford, Leicester, Ipswich, and many more are very familiar to us from our travels in England. After having so much difficulty trying to follow route 1A, Ron was fit to be tied, and said that we were not going to tour Boston. This was one of those times when the interstate would have been better. When we approached the tunnel into Boston, we were told that we couldn't go through. They don't allow RVs because of the propane. In the jumble of traffic, we were hastily told which direction to go, and we promptly got lost for a while.
Once settled in the overgrown and nearly deserted Wompatuck State Park southeast of Boston and near the bay, Ron calmed down, and we took off in the car to find the Adams National Historic Site in Quincy. We could not follow the route (no route or street signs) so we gave up. The next day when we got our mail in Cohasset, I inquired about the best way to get to Boston. To our delight, we found there is a commuter ferry which leaves every 20 minutes or so, each morning, from nearby Hingham Harbor. After checking it out, we decided to go the next morning.
The four dollar, 35 minute trip aboard a large passenger ferry was comfortable, and we were deposited right near the heart of the city. We easily found the beginning of The Freedom Trail, did the first part on our own, then took the free ranger walk/talk for the remainder of the trail. It was a great history lesson.
After we returned to Hingham, we looked for a place to eat and choose Ye Old Mill Grill. Their special was stuffed Lobster (stuffed with shrimp & scallops in a cracker base). Dinner included fresh rolls, chowder, french fries, wine, and dessert for $13.95. Since Ron had raved about his last lobster, I decided to try again. We both ordered the special, and it was so yummy that I will never, ever forget it. It was something to die for. I hope you can find this place some day. And do go on a Wednesday, when they have this special.
When we left the state park, we took the interstate all the way to Sturbridge and a CCC park only a few miles from Old Sturbridge Village. It was billed as living history, and they did a pretty good job. I was expecting that every one would be in 1833, but some were and some were not. I understand that weekends are not the best time to visit if you want real first person living history. We went on a weekend. The admission price allows one to go two days in a row which we did. It was well worth visiting.
New York (again).
Our campground was near Hyde Park and two other special places ---Roosevelt and Vanderbilt National Historic Sites. We went one day, and visited both homes with Susie and little Taylor, learning just enough to make us want to delve into the histories. Ron and I went back another day and got completely lost in all the documents and history in the FDR Library and Museum. We were also able to include a tour of Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage nearby.
The Frederick & Louise Vanderbilt home was garishly typical of those of the Gilded Age. They had no children, so after Frederick's death in 1938, Margaret Van Alen (Louise's niece) inherited the estate and all its furnishings. She already had several mansions of her own and couldn't afford to take care of it. When she heard of the neighbor's (FDR) plan to donate his home to the park service, she did the same---for a nice tax write- off. It has been a ward of the National Park Service since 1940.
FDR's home was the exact opposite---very simple and homey. I did not know that FDR was an only child, that his home belonged to his domineering mother and that Eleanor raised her five children there with her mother-in-law, who really ran the show. Lots of neat history prompted me to buy two very large books. All this touring just whets my appetite for more information.
New Jersey is where Ron's sister Linda and her family live. That was the reason for our visit there. We found a nice State Park (Cheesequake) near their home in East Brunswick and enjoyed three days of catching up on family. It was here that we got word that Ron's Mom needed more help than she thought she would after her bunion surgery. We were planning to be in Florida by mid November, but offered to go early if she needed us. She did. But first we had to see Ron's son David, before he took off for his three-year stint in Spain.
To get to Norfolk, we decided to take the ferry from Cape May. It was a short drive from Cheesequake. After we got settled in the Coast to Coast Campground, we spent the afternoon touring that Victorian town, then went to bed early so we could get up early and meet the ferry. It was a wonderful way to get through the congested areas along the coast. We stayed in the motorhome during the whole 70-minute trip. Ron sat in his chair reading the paper and drinking coffee while I worked on the computer. What a way to travel!!
Virginia. Our four-day visit in Norfolk was all visit. It was a talking, game playing, meals-together kind of visit, with Dave and Evelyn. We had planned to do some camping with them (they are real campers---tent style), but tropical storm Danielle hung close to shore, kept us soggy, and forced us to change our plans. We really felt bad, because they had their gear all set to go.
So here we are in Florida. We drove two straight days to get here. We
have settled into a very nice private campground in Winter Haven. Joe and
Jenny Hofmeister (no relation) are the owners of the Holiday Trav-l-Park
here and gave us a nice spot for the month. For the off season monthly
rate of $245, we can spend lots of time helping Ron's Mom (Ron is doing
it all now while I crank this out) and we will have plenty of time to get
some other stuff done. The awning is not working correctly on one side,
we have a leak somewhere in the cabover section (around a window I think),
the bikes need cleaning and oiling (the chains are orange from so much
rain), both vehicles need oil changes, I need a permanent, and so on.
Delaware advises motorists that traffic fines are doubled in work zones. I like that.
Speaking of signs. Massachusetts has developed a great way of balancing the budget. They don't put up signs and save money. They also get extra gas tax from the gasoline that the lost tourists have to buy to get out of the state. If they do put up a sign, they make sure that it's behind a bush or tree.
I never thought that I would do it, but in upstate New York, I had to disconnect the car and have Barb drive separately when traveling route 20 east from the Finger Lakes. It must be all those books in the Toyota that made the motorhome struggle.
Against my better judgement, I have now developed a taste for lobster. Since it's the only thing that is cheap in the East, I doubt whether I'll go back just for lobster.
I hate toll roads and am proud that Michigan doesn't have any. However, I didn't mind paying $39.50 (motorhome & car) to cross the Delaware Bay from New Jersey to Delaware on the car ferry. It was enjoyable, easy and saved lots and lots of heavy traffic miles around congested areas.
It was nice visiting upstate New York again. I love that area,
especially in the late summer with all the vegetable stands. I even
picked a quart of blueberries for $1.50. Of course the ones we picked in
Acadia National Park were even better. They were free.
On Thursday September 3rd when Ron and Barb drove into New Hampshire. They were excited to be visiting new territory. It was mid afternoon when the couple drove into Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Ashland (a Coast to Coast park). The gals at the desk were very friendly and explained that staying there for three days was no problem, but after one night in a partial hook up (water and electric), they would have to move to a dry campsite. They understood that; after all it was the last summer weekend before Labor day and the weather forecast was great (for a change). The only other C C Campground in the state was just a few miles away so Barb made a quick phone call to see if the situation there was any better. It wasn't; they'd have to take a dry site for all three days. Deciding to stay where they were, Barb went inside to register.
The free seminars they had been giving in Coast to Coast campgrounds had been so well received that Barb offered the opportunity to the gals at the counter. They thought it was a great idea but had to talk to the boss who wouldn't be in until later if at all that day. Barb left a copy of their book and explained that the only time they would be available to do a seminar would be early Saturday morning because they had a lot of sightseeing to do. She added that it was no big thing if the boss didn't want to offer it to their campers. While all this was being discussed, the registration process was going on. The Hofmeisters were given a site number for the one night and told to check back in the morning about moving. There was an outside chance that they would be able to stay where they were. Al appeared in a golf cart, escorted the couple to their site, gestured where to park and left.
Ron and Barb thought the campground was okay although nothing to write home about. As they walked around that night, they observed that there was a charge for nearly everything like showers and mini golf and agreed that they would like the dry sites they would be moving to the next day because they would be away from all the noisy children's activity areas. "And besides", Ron commented, "the electricity was so low, we might as well have been on our battery."
Wanting to get an early start on the days sightseeing, Barb was up at the office by 9 a.m.. A different gal (Donna) was at the counter so Barb explained that they were ready to move and asked if the boss had given an answer for the seminar or not. She was told that the boss wasn't in yet and that they couldn't move until Al (the escort man) came in at 10 a.m. Barb said that at that point she was sorry that she had even offered the seminar because their plans were hanging in limbo and they wanted to move and get on with the day's sightseeing. With a frustrated sigh, Barb agreed to go home, eat breakfast, waste an hour then come back at 10 a.m..
At 10 a.m. Barb went back to the office, leaving Ron to finish his outside work in preparation to move. After Donna assigned a site (#236), she asked Barb if she still wanted to talk to the boss about the seminar. She said "okay", and a call was placed to Jane. But the gal at the desk asked Jane if she would have "sometime during the day to talk to the lady about the seminar". Right away Barb said "No --- we are not hanging around all day to talk about this. We have sightseeing to do. It is now or never." "Never" was agreed upon. The gal started to summon Al, but Barb mentioned that Ron had to go to the dump station first. She said that Al would meet Ron there. That settled, they proceeded to move.
Ron took the motorhome to the dump station while Barb rode each bike to their new site which was up a hill and on the outside edge of the park. She located the site easily and sat on the picnic table (which was in full view of the nearby dump station) to wait for Ron and the house. There was a line. Soon it was Ron's turn and while he was dumping, Barb saw the golf cart approach him. But when Ron finished dumping, pulled out and parked on the grass by the dump, she walked down to find out what was up. Ron threw up his hands in anger and said "Phil said that we can't move until noon when Al comes to work." pparently nothing moves until he comes to work and Donna made a mistake in saying that he came in at 10. Now Ron & Barb were both upset. The whole day would be ruined. Since the site was easy to see, they couldn't figure out why they couldn't park there themselves. Barb marched down to the office.
Donna wasn't there. Barb explained that they just want to move to get on with their day. Phil came from nowhere and started hollering for Barb to control her "hot tempered husband." Barb asked to see Jane, but was told that Jane would not see her. "Would you please at least call and ask if I can see her," Barb asked again. A call was placed and Barb was told that Jane would see her, in her office. After being pointed in the right direction, Barb walked toward the office. On the sidewalk outside the office building a woman was waiting for Barb. Barb thought, "That's nice she is coming to meet me." Two seconds later that good feeling vanished when Jane became a screaming maniac. She obviously never had any customer relations training because she didn't ask what the problem was. Instead she said that she had been bothered about them three times that morning and she wanted them out of her park. She threatened to call the police if they weren't gone immediately. Barb tried to explain that she wasn't asking for any special treatment and had been misdirected but Jane wouldn't even let her speak. She just kept pointing out and screaming to "GET OUT."
"I was glad to be moving somewhere," said Barb, "so gladly went up the hill to pack the motorhome for travel. All the while Phil, in his golf cart, sat and watched to make sure we were really going to leave. I told him that it would take a little while for me to pack it correctly. He asked why and told me to hurry. Believe me, we did."
Ron and Barb wonder what Jane's problem was and figure that Coast to
Coasters weren't really wanted anyway. That campground pulls non members
off the road and charges $30.00 per night for a site with water and electric
($28.00 for a dry site) so why would they want any Coast to Coaster camping
for only $1.00? Yet they sell memberships into Coast to Coast and
would surely want their members to be treated better than the way the Hofmeisters
This 'N That
Beautiful Sampson State Park in New York used to be the second largest naval training station in the U.S. (during World War II) and an Air Force Training Base during the Korean War. One night someone played taps as the sun set. It doesn't look like a military base but you could feel the ghosts at that moment.
One thing we noticed in New York is that they have a "Pack it out" policy in the picnic areas. You must take your trash back with you. That saves a lot of tax dollars and must be working because they do not have trash containers and no garbage is left behind.
Did you know that it was at Hobart College in Geneva, NY that Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from a medical school in America? After the two year school, she founded the New York City infirmary for Women and Children and in time received many honors, both in America and her native England.
I couldn't get Ron to stop at the Woman's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY. I wonder if he still thinks he is that 1915 George from Yosemite.
While waiting for the Timespell show at Watkins Glen, we walked around town looking for a non-tourist type place to eat. Jimmy's Post Time Cafe' on N. Franklin Street looked like a local's kind of place and it was. We had chicken and biscuits which included minestrone soup, spinach, pie and beverage for only $4.75 each. It was delicious too.
We have been in a lot of wonderful grocery stores but the best so far is Wegmans in Corning, NY. It was overwhelmingly big and beautiful.
One morning while we were biking near Acadia, we saw parents (mostly mothers) with children waiting for the school bus. It was the first day of school. As we approached one bus and saw it take off, we saw the mother put her head on her husbands shoulder as they walked home. When I was near her, I said "Oh, I remember that day." She nodded and tried to smile.
Did you know that Edgar Allen Poe was expelled from West Point but while he was there one of his duties was to guard the mortuary? Figures!! He was kicked out because he refused to conform to standards--- like dress rules. The last straw was when ordered to wear a certain part of the uniform, he showed up with ONLY that part on. West Point does not approve of nakedness.
Another ex cadet was Whistler, the painter (you know, Whistler's Mother). One of the required classes at the school was bridge design. He submitted his drawing of a bridge which included three children fishing off the bridge. Rebuked for adding children to a military situation, he was ordered to re-do it. He did, but this time he had the kids fishing from the bank of the river. Again he was admonished and ordered to "get rid of those kids". The last drawing he submitted showed three small tombstones along the bank of the river. He was gone!
We were in the national park visitor center in Boston, waiting for the ranger walk to begin when someone stole the TV which was running a video on a different level. This guy walked in, unplugged the TV, set it by the door, walked down one or two steps toward the desk to make sure all rangers were busy, then walked out the door. It was then that the ranger saw the TV going down the street. People in that area of the building paid no attention to the TVs removal because they thought he was a worker. One lady even said that she almost opened the door for him.
You know FDR's famous speech which begins "...a day that will live in infamy"? The original of that speech and many others are on display in the FDR Library just as they were typed and edited by FDR. Another word (I forget now) was crossed out and "Infamy" penciled in. Neat!!
I just finished Fortune's Children ---The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T Vanderbilt II. Cornelius Vanderbilt built his fortune by hard work and exploitation of other people. At the time of his death in 1877, he was worth 100 million. His son doubled it and the grandchildren lived lavishly squandering the fortune. Each had more than two fully staffed mansions, large yachts and threw parties which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Very interesting!
My Uncle Don was so excited when he got his copy of our book that he rushed over to a good friend's house to show it to him. This good friend wanted to read the book so Uncle Don left it. When he asked for it back after a respectable time, he was told that the friend's son-in-law from N. Carolina was visiting, started reading the book and took it home with him. Poor Uncle Don felt bad. He hadn't had a chance to read it. We gave him another copy. There is a moral to this story. DON'T LEND YOUR COPY OF THE BOOK. If you want someone to read our book, give them our address.
Uncle Don said that he missed the "Signs Along The Way" section (we hadn't been seeing any good ones) and right away we saw lots of fun signs. Guess New York people have a great sense of humor.
We met a fun couple at the Lebanon, Maine Coast to Coast and I have
a great Interesting People story about them but ran out of room.
I will tell the Salamone story next month. I promise.
A Hair Boutique in Rochester, NY
Concession stand at Watkins Glen, NY
A custom sewing shop at Scena Lk, NY
A coffee and tea shop in Saratoga, NY
Diaper service --- S. Glens Falls, NY
2. Was Benedict Arnold a traitor or a hero?
3. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned war ship in the US. This Frigate was opened to the public in 1934. What is her nickname?
4. Paul Revere was married twice. Each woman bore him the same number of children. How many children did he have?
5. General Washington ordered a large chain to be strung across the Hudson river to keep the British from reaching New York. Name this spot which was a fort is now a place of higher learning.
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