We started week 4 of our trip at Watkins Glen State Park in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes Region. The Finger Lakes formed about 10,000 years ago when the last glacier receded from North America. Glen Creek slowly cut into the rock hillside left by the glacier and created the Watkins Glen gorge which has been a tourist attraction for more than 100 years. Ed’s family visited Watkins Glen when he was a young boy and this is the first time he has been back in over 50 years (we think). We found this old photo of Ed camping—we can’t confirm that this was at Watkins Glen but it does show that camping was more challenging in the 1950’s.
Monday at Watkins Glen we decided to hike the length of the gorge, only three miles, but with the elevation change this was a challenge after living in flat Florida for 24 years. We started early in the morning due to the heat, which also allowed us to avoid the crowds. This was good because by noon the parking lot and gorge trails were packed. The gorge really is very pretty but, note to future visitors, avoid weekends. After successfully completing our hike of the gorge, we rewarded ourselves with a short tour of some of the wineries and microbreweries along Seneca Lake (we are told there are over 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes Region).
Watkins Glen is not far from Ithaca where Ed graduated from Cornell University 40 years ago. Here’s a summary of Ed’s career:
- 1973 – graduated from Cornell and went to work for CH2M HILL as an environmental engineer
- 2012 – retired from CH2M HILL
- 2013 (this week) – returned to Cornell for first visit since 1973
We walked around the campus and Ed met one of his professors who had just started teaching in 1973 (he didn’t remember Ed). All in all, Cornell was pretty much as Ed remembered, except much hotter. We did enjoy going to the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca which is a world famous vegetarian restaurant. Coincidentally it opened for business the year Ed graduated so he had a brownie with ice cream to celebrate the coincidence.
The next day we decided to go kayaking, despite the continued heat. We kayaked in the morning on Waneta Lake, a small lake that does not usually get classified as one of the Finger Lakes. We then decided to visit some additional wineries on nearby Keuka Lake, one of the prettiest Finger Lakes running north from Hammondsport.
We have now sampled wine and microbrewed beer in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York–our trip is starting to turn into one long beer and wine-tasting tour. We thought we would be doing much more hiking, biking and kayaking during this trip which would get us into great shape, but at the rate we are going we may end up as overweight alcoholics.
We are now camping at Cayuga Lake State Park at the north end of Cayuga Lake, near the Town of Seneca Falls, home of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. We watched a little TV Thursday morning and two of the top news stories were: “Northeast heat wave hits 6th day” and “Early retirement may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s”. Is someone trying to tell us something? In local news, there was a chance of thunderstorms with damaging winds and hail (probably not good for our Airstream).
This weekend we are visiting Ed’s brother Dave and his wife Kary, who live on another of the Finger Lakes, Skaneateles Lake. A cold front passed through with a lot of rain and much cooler temperatures (finally)–perfect for an after dinner stroll on the Skaneateles waterfront.