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It was great to see that local interests have been heard and John Burroughs' boyhood home is now accessible to the public. Watch for notices in the paper (or read my Community Events page) for open days - there were several this year already. I'll post them as I have them. Even if the house isn't open you can peek in the windows and tour the grounds.
In the photo above, the broad view shows how the house was "rusticated" by
Burroughs in his later years. The roofline ornamentation was removed, the porch became an
"Adirondack style" porch and all the paint was burned off the siding. (It nearly
burned down in the process!) That revealed the rich color of the wood visible in the
closeup of the shuttered window above.
Only three rooms are open for viewing, but they are filled with artifacts and reminders of a simpler age. The furniture, made by John Burroughs (rustic) - or by his son Julian (arts & crafts), the many photos of family and friends, framed personal notes from Roosevelt and Burbank, even the cradle he rocked in as a baby are all on display.
A walk up the lane will reward you with the sightings and songs of many birds, and on my visit we were lucky enough to have author Robert Titus summarize the geologic history of the region and point out the glacial scratches on the "Henry Ford rock". Some days everything just goes right, but whomever is in your group, this is a rewarding visit.
Top it off with a walk past the spring to the famous meditation rock above John Burroughs' grave site. Here you can get a hint of what the view must have been like when the valley below was mostly fields.
If you can tear yourself away, you are very near the Round Barn where the Patakan Farmer's Market is held every Saturday. And that's just down the road from the Catskill Center For Conservation, in Arkville. There is usually an art show on display and people interested in talking about preserving the Catskill Mountains. I always stop there to say hello. There is even a depot with a steam train ride just down the street. How can you go wrong? Art - Nature - Railroads - Conservation - and Good Food . . . all 30 miles from NY Thruway exit 19. A wonderful day trip!John Burroughs
My Finger Lakes photos:
Watkins Glen walkway, bridged waterfall, and stairway.
Taughannock Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and walkway in Robert Treman State Park.
It was really a whirlwind tour of the Finger Lakes (33 hours and many hundred miles) that should have been much longer! TIME!! But it was packed with fun. I only photographed the waterfalls in the many state parks we visited, and still I managed to fill several rolls of film with shots of all gorges and falls. The Finger Lakes region is rich in natural beauty.
We drove into Ithaca from the east, cresting the bluff to see Cayuga Lake spread out before us. I was traveling with a Cornell alumnus so a tour of the campus was our first stop. The changes to the campus over the last 30 years made it almost unrecognizable, but the chapel and the student union haven't changed, and the new architecture mixed with the old is stunning. Naturally, there are nice plantings and gardens to see, but the (seemingly) endless road construction (not-to-mention a faded memory) made it difficult to find our way around. Besides, it was in the nineties and humid, so the many water courses and falls held greater appeal than the dusty July gardens. So, after a modest tour we went to Buttermilk Falls State Park to cool off.
The swimming area was very crowded (it was a hot Sunday afternoon and this is almost in downtown Ithaca) and very structured - swimming here, wading there, diving there. We weren't in a secluded woodland pool, although thats what it looks like. There were even lifeguards! Ah, civilization. I had to sneak into the park before it opened the next morning to get the photo above. Ditto with the Robert Treman State Park a few miles away. It also had a beautiful natural pool at the bottom of a falls packed with swimmers. The photo above is from the pathway along the stream above the falls. It was cooler near the water and the changing elevations must have kept many people from the trail. It was a delightful and surprisingly uncrowded hike.
Since Watkins Glen is only 25 miles away and I always wanted to go there, we shot over as the afternoon ended. Fortunately, it wasn't one of those big weekends at the race track. Still, traffic was backed up going into town. It felt like Lake George Village on a Sunday afternoon - the streets were nearly parking lots. When we got through it, it was close to dusk, and the guard at the gate cautioned that they were closing in an hour. (They have a nighttime sound and laser show that you can come back for.) Still, we had that time to explore the cool, moist canyon and it was worth it. I'd go back any day - the scenery is beautiful. It reminded me very much of the Robert Treman State Park we had just left, although this seemed narrower and more structured. They even have a bus here to drop you off at various points along the gorge, and carefully graded stairways and walks to make this accessible (to some degree) for almost everyone. Really a fun, family destination - and right in the middle of town. How handy!
After a quick drive up and down the other side of Seneca Lake, we headed back to the Comfort Inn in Ithaca. With so little time available, we should have spent more time in the parks and not taken that drive. It deserves at least a day, not a few hours, but at least we got a feel for the region. Next time we'll take longer.
The next day we did a "drive by" of Taughannock Falls, although I did get out of the car to take the picture above. It is higher than Niagara and very dramatic viewed from the turnout. Following the road down to the lakeside park we saw the inviting trail back in to the base of the falls. Next trip, I promised myself, and we were off on a scenic and circuitous drive home. We stole an hour for a peaceful walk through Cornell's Sapsucker Bird Sanctuary, and only managed to get back on schedule because the Finger Lakes Book Barn was closed unexpectedly. (Darn!)
All-in-all a fun trip. The countryside between Saugerties and Ithaca is beautiful. The lower trip out through Binghampton, and the upper route home through Cooperstown were filled with little view, snack and tourist stops. Everywhere we went the people were nice, the food was good, and there was plenty to see and do. I can't wait to go again.
Correspondence Worth Sharing
A thoughtful note reprinted here with the permission of the sender
When I was about two years of age, my first memories of the "outside world" were of large earth moving machines (monsters) which skinned the ridges and knocked down my friend Tommy's house. What I didn't know was that my Dad was helping in all this. He was a "hard rock miner" in one of the many tunnel projects on the Pepacton Project. We lived in a house owned by Mrs. Signer. It was near a large cauliflower field. This was where I saw my first African Americans. A scary sight for a lad who had to keep one eye out for the neighbor's goose and ran smack in to three folks who, when they grinned at me, had the whitest teeth a two year old ever saw. Our life in Arena was short-lived because the "water was coming", my mother said. It never fails, when my children watch Bambi and the mother dear says "the hunters are coming", I think of my mothers words. Next we moved to Arkeville. This is where I first heard snow chains on cars. The noise was musical. Next we moved to Trout Creek. I couldn't guess why we were always moving. None of my friends were moving. Little did I know that those folks had already moved from the Arena area. Least ways, now I can brag about attending school in a one room school house at Trout Creek.
Now I'm grown and reflect back on those years as very interesting ones, but, ones that I know now cause much hardship and pain for families displaced by the demands for the greater good of the majority (NY City). In the south where I was born (not on a frosty morn!), the Tennessee Valley Authority did much the same thing to our people and it was an extremely bitter time for our folks. I think this is why I often feel like the Catskills are an extension of my personal feelings. Life there was beautiful, harsh, and sweet in my memories. There were other projects. Some to provide even more water for NY City. Some to provide subway courses for NY City. Plenty of work for displaced southerners who were not afraid to take the risk involved in high paying underground work. I relegate myself to the fact that if my father hadn't been employed there, someone else's father would have been. We met a lot of fine folks in Delaware County. Some like the Beckus's in Trout Creek come to Andrews NC every couple of years. The Van Valkenburgs, also from Trout Creek, whom allowed me to visit with their son during the summers after we moved on to other jobs.
I apologize for rambling but I did so love that area and long for the opportunity to take my children to the Catskills and show them where Daddy grew up.
Thank you for listening!
Jerry L. Trull email@example.com
10 Clay St
Andrews, NC 28901
(Eric Rudolph country)
Thank You Mr Trull!
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