Another side to New York

31 May

You would have thought after all the excitement of Watkins Glen and its waterfalls and cascades we would have had enough, not us! Our next move was to Taughannock State Park where a roadside stop before the campground gave us our first look at the falls.

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The medium sized campground had a small area of 16 sites with electric hook ups, it was a short walk from here back to the riverside trail which took us to the base of the falls we had looked over on our approach.

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The rocky, sheer sides to the gorge towered above us. To  the left of the path was a similar rock face, not quite so sheer and showing signs of many rock slides. While I am calling them ‘rock slides’ the face is actually more like shale, tiny slivers of flat rock and seemingly quite unstable. Warnings not to climb the slopes were placed along the  trail which only the foolhardy would ignore.

 

 

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As the water falls over the edge of the rock a ledge, not quite visible in the picture, sticks out, apparently quite often large chunks of this can be seen falling into the pool below. From where this picture was taken to the water drop is approximately 500ft away, we were getting a little damp!

 

 

 

 

There seems to be a repeating story with our visits of late and after a lovely sunny day overnight, storms disturbed us once more. Next morning we intended to walk the rim trail from the campground along one side of the rim crossing high up past the falls and back down the other side. More puddles and mud than the day before greeted us but as usual with appropriate footwear we paddled on.

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From one of the outlooks we could see how much more water was flowing along the river today and out to the lake. We would have missed this lake view had it not been for a little bird who persistently ran just in front of us. He seemed to want us to go to the overlook which we were going to pass by, we had already looked down at the river. When we followed him we saw this was a much better spot to view from. Clever bird! He stayed with us a little longer before flying off, probably to guide the next ones on the trail.

 

 

 

 

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Upstream from the main falls and at the point where we crossed the river was another series of smaller falls which were still quite pretty and noisy too with the volume of water gushing over them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This area does not seem to see much foot traffic, its not so close to the parking areas and was a little more wild. The bushes to the side of the trail were full of honeysuckle flowers, the usual yellow but also white and a delicate shade of pink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we crossed the foot bridge I thought it looked a little old and broken in places. The path led us down some steps then under the bridge, looking up we could see the extent of the wear and tear. I think it would be fair to say it could do with some tax dollars spending on it!

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Unfortunately as the trees were now heavy with leaf the overlook of the main falls, from the opposite bank was obscured but our walk in the woods was pleasant and good exercise at around 6miles in total.

We needed one more stop over before our week end destination at Oneonta and chose to spend it at Chenango Valley State Park. More mud, this time the rain had arrived the night before us and our walk around the lake was a very soggy one. The main lake had obviously flooded at some point over the winter, our trail took us past the swampy inlet beyond the lake where smaller trails were closed due to tree damage.

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We spotted a pair of fox cubs playing in the sun in a fire break between the trees, one ran off, I think he saw me, but the second one was so busy amusing himself chasing his tail he was oblivious of my observations. Unfortunately they were just too far away to get a decent picture.

Memorial Day week end is the official beginning of the camping season for many. Campgrounds fill very quickly and we had been lucky to secure a spot near the town of Oneonta. Over the last 18 months or so I have been in e-mail contact with fellow travellers Paul and Sue, our paths have almost crossed several times but we have never quite made the connection – until now! We were delighted when Sue called to say they would be staying on the same campground.

We all arrived Thursday afternoon and after setting ourselves up got together to begin the first of many real life chats. We sat in the shade of a tree beside our site and laughed at the fact green caterpillars seemed to like crawling up my leg at regular intervals, the wind was strong and gusty but later when it dropped we began to be bothered by mosquitos and eventually gave up and retired. It was at this point I realised just how many times the pesky things had bitten me, will I ever learn?

Our first full day together we drove out in Sue and Pauls smart new truck to visit the nearby town of Cooperstown. We strolled through the town and beside the lake which is where I managed to take the only shot of them the whole week end. Far too much talking going on!

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P1170557From Cooperstown we followed a local beverage trail which began at the Fly Creek Cider Mill where we were able to see the very old cider press and read about how they use it. We of course had to try some samples, well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it?

 

 

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I was very taken with the ducks in feather bonnets in the orchard behind the buildings!

Cute.

 

 

 

From here we visited two breweries with very different characters. The first Ommegang is a medium sized brewery, very modern and pristine. They brew Belgian style beers which we tasted, Robert liked most, Sue liked a few, I actually liked one (I usually really don’t like beer) Paul has a strong dislike of beer and, as our driver, tasted a very small amount. Our second brewery was Cooperstown Brewing Co. and as soon as we walked in the door we saw the difference, the tasting room reminded me of an old style English town centre pub, our guide took us through to the brewing area describing the method they used to brew their English style ale. It was interesting to take note of the differences in the methods. The bottling plant was also interesting, an antique system bought from one of the large brewers many years ago still serves the company well, bottling their ale each week. This time the samples were not so much to our taste.

We had hoped to eat at the Cider Mill but as they had no veggie options we had not been able to. By the time we got to our last stop we were all quite hungry, it was around 3.45! We demolished Panini, ours with mushrooms and roast veg, Sue and Paul had turkey, we all enjoyed a helping of French fries on the side! Then on to wine tasting….I had planned to make us all pizza for tea, but that had to wait until Saturday as we were now not so hungry!

Thursday night we had been treated to a Mother Nature light show once more and Friday was just the same. Beautiful warm sunny days followed by very active thunder storms at night. Saturday we all drove out to Gilbert Lake State Park to hike some trails, this is one of the many things the four of us have in common – we love to hike, and we are well matched in ability. We have the same GPS system too, I was hoping to get a lesson with ours which we have not used much. Sue had downloaded the Geocache which were hidden on the trails,we had never tried this pass time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of hunting out 3 en route. Well, we all found 2, then lost the men who went deep into the woods looking for the third, while we, deep in conversation, waited for them about fifteen minutes. They came back disappointed. As the trail continued we came across power lines downed, we presume by the recent storms. A brown track in the grass showing where the live wire had scorched as it fell. The trail was extremely wet and muddy in places, the afternoon was hot and humid so back at camp we all needed a shower before the promised pizza.

Our last day together Paul and Robert puzzled over and partly resolved an RV issue we were having, Sue and I having yet more time together to chat. Sunday evening we were entertained by Paul and Sue in their RV which is a 5th wheel, we found it interesting comparing the two different styles of vehicle. The 5th wheel felt very much like a small apartment. After a tasty meal cooked by Paul once more we all fell into easy conversation for several hours.

Each time we meet new friends we part hoping to meet up again at some point, those on the road we are more likely to meet, those with fixed abodes it takes a little longer to get around too, but, as Sue and Paul criss cross the country in much the same hap hazard way we do, chances are we will be able to repeat our very pleasant few days in another location.

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