Sunday, September 30, 2007

Clara's Twin Sister's Birthday

This is jumping ahead a little bit, and I'll try to go back and fill in a little bit later on, but yesterday was such a neat day – 'twas Clara's twin sister's birthday . . . and Clara had promised her twin that she would have TWO lobsters, one for each of them . . . so it was out for lobster that evening . . .

We started the evening with another bottle of champagne from the Pleasant Valley Winery in the NY Finger Lakes region, and then went over to the Thurston Lobster Pound in Bernard, ME just across Bass Harbor from our campground (at SeaWall in Acadia NP). Now, for the uninformed, such as all of us just two days ago, a "Lobster Pound" is a shack, of varying level of funk, where they pull the lobster out of a tank, weigh it (hence apparently the term "pound"), then drop it in a vat to cook, and away you go. The one we went to was refreshingly casual and low key with very pleasant atmosphere and congenial staff. In the last two days we have seen at least a dozen such, apparently unrelated, businesses in just the few miles around the Park area.

In one of these places, we saw a guy devour a three pounder all by himself, but we limited ourselves to the "medium" size, just over a pound and a half (shell and all, so there's perhaps a little over a half pound of actual lobster). What we saw was priced at between $10 and $13 per pound. In another of these places the day before, Clara ordered what the menu called "Lazy Lobster," meaning that it consisted of all the meat from the lobster but already taken out of the shell and served in a butter sauce.

The Atlantic Ocean!!

This is jumping ahead a little bit, and I'll try to go back and fill in a little bit later on, but yesterday was such a neat day – we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean, where I have never before been (although I believe that all of the others have, at one time or another), so it's back home all the way from here on . . .

We, of course, had to go sit by the ocean and toast the occasion – with some champagne from the Pleasant Valley Winery in the NY Finger Lakes region. We all exulted over having completed a long and strenuous journey, although all agreed that it had been a great adventure in itself! [Note re the pictures: It was completely dark when we got to the beach since we arrived just at sundown, so the pictures are either close with flash or night-time exposures with somewhat strange color. That's the Atlantic in the background . . . ]

Our odometer registered about 70 miles short of four thousand miles we've traveled since leaving home in Seattle. [Now there has been a little back and forth, a little off the road to a campground, etc., but that's fairly close . . . ]

Tomorrow morning will be somewhat difficult – facing the question "Now what?"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Love Affair with New York

All of us were quite impressed with the atmosphere and likability of up-state New York – the varied and engaging countryside, the towns that were old but well-kept and had that established, civilized air, the trees and lakes and . . . well, we all just loved it. Vicky kept saying that she could easily move there to live.

In the town of Minnehaha, there was a quaint old "hardware" store that seemed more general than hardware, with half an aisle of various sized porcelain campfire coffee pots and a cute "welcoming bear" at the door.

At Lake Durant there was another beautiful sunrise with a kayaker's wake ruffling the ripples of the reflected mountain behind.

Then we saw it,
the sign that spoke volumes to Clara and I – never spend a winter in New York!

The Adirondacks and the Adirondack Museum

One of our favorite areas on this trip has been the Adirondacks, both for its idyllic scenery and for its wonderful museum showing Adirondack-style life and its artifacts. Here are some pictures that show a little of what we saw.

Women's Rights National Historical Park

As I returned from the shower Saturday morning, I noticed that the sun was just coming up over Cayuga Lake so I walked over there and took a whole series of pictures – here's one of them.

After breakfast, etc., we drove the short distance into Seneca Falls, NY to the site of the Women's Rights National Historical Park, commemorating the site of "The First Convention for Woman's Rights" held in 1848 (it would only take another 72 years after that to accomplish the first goal . . . )

Perhaps the most impressive object in the park is a water-wall with the entirety of the Declaration of Sentiments engraved on it, together with all of the signatories. Since it took nearly a dozen separate tablets to show it, I'll just put in one picture so you can get an idea, and I'll put the whole of the Declaration at the end just in case you, like me, don't know exactly what all is in that document – it's very well worth reading!

We also spent some time at the National Women's Hall of Fame before heading up the road toward the Adirondack Museum. On the way up there we stopped for some groceries in Rome, NY and the store just happened to have some clams at a very good price, so . . .

Note the time on the clock at Clara's clam dinner – it's never too late to have a good clam dinner!

~Declaration of Sentiments~
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men - both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right as a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of the women - the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education - all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in church, as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, - in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.

Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Gorge at Watkins Glen

Friday morning we all set off for the Watkins Glen Gorge Trail. Here's a short note about a part of its history:
Around one hundred thousand years ago, the summer climate in the northern hemisphere began to get cooler. Farther north the winter snow would fall and fail to melt some summers. When this happened, local temperatures fell as the white snow reflected more warming sunlight back to space. Before long a cycle of cooling had taken hold. From a center in Labrador where the first snows accumulated, glaciers advanced to the south. Fed by moisture evaporated from warm ocean currents, the Labrador glaciers continued to expand. By nineteen thousand years ago at the height of the ice age, the glaciers extended south fully to Pennsylvania. Watkins Glen and the entire Finger Lakes region were covered with up to a mile of ice. Winter snow accumulating farther north forced the ice itself to flow, dragging rocks and debris for hundreds of miles. This glacial scouring carved "v" shaped river valleys into the wide "u" shaped valleys which now hold the Finger Lakes.
As the glaciers began their final retreat approximately twelve thousand years ago the Finger Lakes region was becoming uncovered again. It is interesting to consider that the first people to see the gorge may have been a band of hunters trailing some of the last Wooly Mammoths near the glacier's edge. At the time the gorge would have been little more than a shallow gully down the hillside. Because the gorge shows no signs of accumulated glacial debris it is thought to have formed entirely since the last ice age. Erosion of the modern gorge was probably just beginning with a roaring flood of glacial meltwater.

Today, two gorges are open to the public. Watkins Glen State Park has been a visitor attraction since 1864, and in 2006 celebrated 100 years of being a State Park.

The Gorge is noted for having nineteen waterfalls throughout the first ¾ mile of its 1 ½ mile length, during which one climbs approximately 600 feet, the last few being the stiffest, consisting of a long staircase of 109 steps. The pictures I've chosen show the eroded layers and the various waterfalls, and one shows a very determined tree growing out between two layers of rock. Many professional pictures are available at

After finishing the hike, we lunched in the village, caught a local Farmers' Market (where Terry found carrots in yellow and purple and lemon orange) and headed off for Cayuga Lake State Park on the next of the Finger Lakes to the east.

Corning Museum of Glass

On Thursday, Terry and Vicky and Clara set off for Corning, NY for the Corning Museum of Glass, while I sat in the campground and worked on pictures and e-mails, etc.

They spent the entire open day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in the museum, seeing everything from antiquities to modern art in glass. Much to our surprise, glass was first "made" around 1500 B.C.E. although how it was discovered that one could make glass is apparently a total mystery. The first picture shows some pieces dated to that era; the pieces are quite small, and are generally vessels, either for perfume storage or for drinking. The second one is old, though not that old. The next pictures are of some contemporary pieces, and interestingly for the Seattleites amongst us, many of these are related to the Pilchuk School. The Tiffany window is approximately 12 feet by 14 feet and came from some socialites home. In the chess set, the black pieces are Jewish persons while the white are Christian, but since the maker came from a Jewish/Christian home, no sectarian slurs are intended. Note the detail on the pieces.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finger Lakes Wineries

On Wednesday we drove from Watkins Glen, at the foot of Seneca Lake, one of the "fingers" (look at them on a map!) to Keuka Lake (pronounced "cue-ka") where we went to three different wineries.

First we went to Bully Hill, where we had a great view of the lake, a magnificent lunch (crab cake with Portobello mushroom underneath and scallops on top), and tasted some modestly good wine. Bully Hill is relatively young as a winery (1958) but has a long and colorful history because its owner is a purist who has waged war with other vintners in the area over covertly using California grapes to supplement the local produce and/or watering it down to cut the acidity. We bought some Baco Noir (a hybrid) and some Chambucerin, a French vinifera that I've never heard of before.

Then we went to Dr. Frank's Vinifera – he was the one who brought some European vinifera grapes to the region and proved that you could cultivate them here. He is best known for Riesling so we weren't impressed. Most of the grapes in this region are French hybrids which have been created for their tolerance of colder weather but have only so-so taste and even less acclaim.

Then there was Pleasant Hill/Great Western, which claims to be the first bonded winery in the nation, dating to 1860. We picked up some champagne there to hold for Clara's birthday next week!

On the way back from there we stopped in a little hamlet at a "trading post" which had to be "the store that time forgot!" It appeared that they ordered new supplies at least once every two years, whether they needed them or not. There were bits of old (and odd) junk here and there, including at least twenty tires, some new, some not, in at least three different aisles. I was dying to take some pictures but thought the proprietor would come after me if I did . . .

Today, Terry and Vicky, and Clara, are off to the Glass Museum in Corning, NY while I hang out and catch up on things. Tomorrow we'll take the hike through the Gorge.

From Four-Mile Creek

From Niagara Falls we went just a few miles north to 4-Mile Creek Campsite at Fort Niagara State Park. With a few yards walk through a line of trees we could reach the shore of Lake Ontario and see the skyline of Toronto across the lake. A few minutes after that picture, I turned toward the most colorful part of the sunset sky and took this picture – no Photoshopping in any way, just the way it came from the camera. Our daughter, liberal cynic that she is, suggested that it was the pollution from the industrialization of southern Ontario (and Toronto) that caused the beautiful colors . . .

On Monday Clara, Vicky and I hung out for a day while Terry rode his Kawasaki in to walk behind/under the Falls on the American side. He noted that it was not nearly as commercialized as on the Canadian side.

The next day we set out for the Finger Lakes region of New York state, noting that there were many wineries there, there was a world-renowned glass museum near there in Corning, NY and there was a great hike in Watkins Glen Gorge.

As we were tooling down the road we saw a country store with fresh fruit, so we had to stop. [The farm (and the store) had been in the same family for 200 years . . . only in New York . . . ]

Then, what to our wondering eyes should appear but "Billy Goat Mountain?" They had trained goats to go up to a high platform, recognize when you had put goat food in a can at one end of a long belt on two pulleys, and pull it up (by grabbing the belt with their teeth) to get the food. What's next?

Eventually we got to Watkins Glen State Park at the bottom of Seneca Lake – more on the Finger Lakes region in future posts.

Niagara Falls

We eventually tore ourselves away and got to Niagara Falls by mid-afternoon. We had two strong impressions:
1) The falls themselves (we could see two different branches) were truly something else – breathtaking! Terry came back the next day from his visit to the American side with two startling figures -- the flow over the Falls is normally 1.6 Million gallons per SECOND! and, at night when the tourists don't see it, about 75% of that is diverted through power plants on the American side!
2) The carnival (some 80 "attractions" from Tussaud's Wax Museum to Ripley's World Records Museum to Marineland and so on ad infinitum and ad nauseum . . . ) surrounding the approach to the Falls almost ruined the whole thing. Those damn Canadians and their commercialization of everything . . .

Captions for the pictures below:
1) These two shots of waterfalls are actually two different falls, one on either side of an island in the middle -- the Canadian side one is called Horshoe Falls for its shape, the other one is very imaginatively called American Falls.
2) I thought we were in Canada! At Niagara Falls! Not in Seattle! Not in Disneyland!

Trivia note: Apparently, according to Etymology Online, the word "Niagara" is merely the name of an Iroquois Nation town and has no further meaning.