Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10 back home to the States

The rest of the photos for this day of travels are here

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (4) The morning was cloudy and damp in Ontario and the day seemed gloomier yet with our need to find a place to repair the Tracker.  Our plan was to cross the border, and then stop to see if we could find some kind of repair shop to check out the transmission.  Without a phone or internet access, it’s so difficult to function reasonably.  Garmin Girl proved so dependable taking us through complex freeway systems that we didn’t hesitate to try it again today.  I drove the MoHo with Mo following behind in the Tracker while we set the address for some unknown place in West Seneca, New York.

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (10) The border crossing was uneventful, without even a request for our animal papers.  Understandable in the MoHo perhaps because the cat was safely tucked away in his carrier.  In the Tracker, though, Abby was clearly visible, and the agent didn’t say a word or ask for anything but passports.  In a matter of minutes we were in Buffalo, on US soil, with miles again instead of kilometers.  I pulled into a large parking lot in West Seneca, and Mo pulled in behind me.  She hollered joyously when the Tracker slipped into neutral effortlessly.  Who knows.  But finally we could hook up the car again and be on our way through New York to our next destination.

The sweet little neighbors in Toronto told us about Watkins Glen, in the Finger Lakes District, and after reviewing the maps and checking mileage, we decided it was a much more relaxing destination than Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks.  Especially when we realized that we could actually stay two nights and have time to enjoy the trails and waterfalls. With my iPhone once again operational, I checked out campgrounds while Mo drove through the winding, gorgeous landscape of this part of New York.  The hardwood forests are thick, lush, and green, with only a touch here and there of brilliant orange or red tips on the trees.

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (13)  The KOA campground seemed the most likely choice from what I could see on the phone, and when I called they said they were nearly booked due to the Vintage Road Race being held today in Watkins Glen.  She found a nook for us, though, and we took it.  Expensive as heck, but it is Friday and we had no clue where we might land.  The state park was our first choice, but it was also booked except for the dry camps that were first come first served.  We opted for the KOA and shortly were settled in to a somewhat bumpy, marginal site near the pond.  This KOA has an indoor swimming pool and spa which hopefully we will have time to try out tomorrow. The rest of the amenities aren’t that great, and our site doesn’t have sewer, cable hasn’t been installed out here yet, and the wireless internet connection is as slow as dialup. Ah well.  We are camped and settled at least.

After reviewing the excellent brochures provided, we opted to spend the afternoon traveling towards Ithaca and the waterfalls and trails at the state parks in that area.  I kept trying to remember why Ithaca was so familiar to me, but of course, Cornell University is there.  And the Moosewood Restaurant, home of the vegetarian cookbooks that were my cooking bible back in the early 80’s.  Geez. 

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (23) By the time we were back on the road, the skies had cleared except for huge white puffy clouds punctuating the brilliant blue.  Ahh. blue and white and green again.  The tiny town of Watkins Glen, however, was completely off limits because of the races and the closing of the main streets in town.  In dead stop bumper to bumper traffic, we asked the policeman how to get where we were going.  The only route was nearly 50 miles out of the way.  Pretty stupid for them not to have some kind of detour set up for travelers trying to get around in the area.  Back to the iPhone which allows me to see the actual aerial photo and maps and try to come up with a route.  The GPS has no idea about closings and routes and only wants an address.  Once again, I sit in the passenger seat, two fisted navigating, phone in one hand, GPS in the other, and a map on my lap trying to get us through the crazy back roads to Taughannock State Park

Niagara_to_WiltonGlen (25) Eventually we were successful, and the falls were delicate but lovely, and at 215 feet, the highest falls in the northeast.  The trail around the rim of the canyon and the upper falls was well marked, fenced for safety from the extreme cliffs, and dog friendly.  It was a great walk and felt good to be again in a place less populated than we have been recently.

After our hike, we were ready for supper, and I searched the reliable iPhone again for a good restaurant in Ithaca.  There were dozens, but we decided on the BoatYard.  The evening was cool, with a nice breeze, so we left Abby in the car with the windows a bit open to wait for us while we enjoyed our dinner.  The restaurant was great, the service excellent, and we had steaks for the first time in a very long time, with a glass of California old vine zinfandel.  Ahh, delightful!  Until half way through dinner the hostess came looking for us to report that the police were waiting for us because someone had reported animal abuse because Abby was in the car.  Mo stepped out to talk with them, and it was all OK, but it was definitely a bit disconcerting.  Our relaxing, somewhat spendy dinner cut short, we packed up what was left and headed out to see Cornell University and the rest of Ithaca.

The town had seemed so peaceful, but once we entered the Collegetown area it became obvious just how big Ithaca really is, especially with all the students in town.  It was crazy traffic, and students everywhere, steep, winding streets, and no clue as to where we were trying to go.  Even with my two fisted navigation, it was a mess.  After a quick look at the main part of Cornell, we wound our way back through town and south to try to find our little KOA home.  Again, with the roads closed in Watkins Glen until after nine, I had to find an alternative.  This time we routed some very back roads, and over a very steep hill we hooked up with 414 south, just a few miles north of the KOA. 

Whew!  Home!  Out came the leftovers, and we settled in to our evening at home with plans for more waterfall hiking tomorrow.