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My Other Whimsy Pages    Finger Lakes Trip with photos

August '98 Travails

John Burrough's Roxbury


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.

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Taughannock Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and walkway in Robert Treman State Park.

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     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. 


Thank You Mr Trull!

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