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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chasm, Chorus, Cousin, and Home

View from bridge looking West
With a deadline to be home approaching, we left Fern Lake and headed downhill towards Lake Champlain. Following the Ausable River, route 9N is a scenic drive with views of the rock strewn river heading East towards its destination on the lake. If you don't jump on the interstate, following the river brings you to Ausable Chasm. Rainbow Falls, in the photo at the left, is viewed from the bridge crossing the river. Free parking lots at both ends encourage walking out on the bridge for this birds eye view of the Falls to the west and the chasm to the east.
North Star Underground Railroad Museum
View from bridge looking East

For a fee, the chasm has tours, but if you are just passing through, you can get good views from the main bridge and the smaller bridge at the head of the falls. The tours of the two mile long chasm are worthwhile if you have the time, especially since they culminate in a boat ride down the last stretch of rapids.

We stopped and enjoyed dinner overlooking the top of the falls.

A new addition to the area is The North Star Underground Railroad Museum. Arriving too late to visit this time, we will be back.

 Tuesday evening was spent visiting the Cumberland Bay Chorus where the men graciously let me join in a rehearsal.

Chorus president, and old friend, Mike even let us camp in his driveway so we didn't have to drive to a campsite after an evening of ringing chords.

Mike and Pam's puppy explored the van and was ready to go camping with us.
Cousin Tracey provided a wonderful driveway respite in NJ. We enjoyed a fun dinner out and getting to meet the three spoiled puppies. Thanks for the visit!

 The drive home from NJ went very smoothly with only a few minor traffic slow downs. We definitely prefer this route to driving through Pennsylvania.

Low clouds only revealed the Delaware River Bridge once we were on the deck.

While we had discussed stopping at an Alpaca farm Harvest Host for an overnight in Virginia, temperatures in the high nineties lead us to save it for another time and continue on to our air conditioned sticks and bricks home. 

That's another trip wound up with no vehicle problems, though it is time for an oil change. Fuel usage averaged 19.2 mpg.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fern Lake & Friends

Fern Lake, in New York's Adirondack Mountains, is a special place. My family has been going there since I was in Junior High, it is  where I learned to sail in an over-canvased Grumman canoe, and still has my favorite visual balance of water and mountains.

Three days with this view at the family cottage were a real treat. Family and friends came down to visit, and share food & memories on the dock.
 Ski trails are visible on Whiteface Mountain, site of the 1932 and 1980 winter olympics. A weather station sits on the highest peak, looking like a castle from this distance.

 Cool morning air creates morning mist.
 Friendly chipmunks are accustomed to being hand fed peanuts.
Mount Marcy is the highest of the Adirondack High Peaks.
Dad drew this key to the mountain view to answer visitor's questions about which peak is which.
We walked the trail to this natural sandy beach where locals have been coming for decades.  Originally owned by a timber company, the end of the lake is now a hunting club that graciously allows people to use the beach.

Good friends came to visit on my birthday. Thanks so much to Juleigh, Rebs, Marie & Eileen for your company and wonderful homemade foods!

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Cumberland Bay State Park was our choice for staying "in town" for the reunion. The park is on the shore of Lake Champlain and dry camping was $24/night plus a reservation fee of $9. Terrific views of sailboats and the Green Mountains of Vermont are tempered by traffic driving to catch the ferry on Cumberland Head.

We were lucky to get a spot in July, especially during the Mayor's Cup sailing weekend. Wind and rain may have contributed to availability.

Parking parallel to the water on Friday night for the best view was a mistake. Morning brought a strong wind out of the south waking us as it shook. Kite surfers were out taking advantage of the wind and waves to do aerobatics. We later heard that many traditional sailboats dropped out of the Mayor's Cup race due to uncomfortable conditions.

Driving into town Beth indulged me a visit to the old D&H train station where we were lucky enough to see the Northbound Adirondack pick-up some passengers bound for Montreal.

This area of town has improved considerably since the 1970's. A public park, marina and a couple of restaurants replaced the freight yard, turntable and roundhouse. Hopefully, someone will restore the upper floors of this unique building someday soon.

After a tour of my old high school in the morning, visits with old friends, and tours of the new museums on the old Air Force Base, we backed in to a spot at the Elk's Club with a view of Lake Champlain.
What a great place for a party! The Elk's have a beautiful 1901 mansion on the lakeshore where graduates from PHS gathered to catch-up with each other after 40 years. Many thanks to the organizing committee for making this a fun and memorable reunion.

Friday, July 8, 2016

North from Saratoga

Despite being born in the area and visiting multiple times over the years, I'd never visited the Saratoga National Historical Park. Driving east from Saratoga, the park is on the highlands overlooking the Hudson River. The battlefield commemorates a significant defeat of British Troops by the American Army in 1777.

The visitor's center has a good orientation film along with maps and artifacts from the battle. Rangers are available to answer questions.

An interpreter, dressed in period garb, explained the significance of the cabin used as the US Headquarters during the battles.

 Canons overlook the Hudson River route that was defended against British General Burgoyne's foray from Montreal.

 Further north, in Schuylerville, the park includes the restored summer home of American General Philip Schuyler. In addition to Schuyler being a military leader and statesman, he was a pioneer in developing canal systems. His early efforts at surveying and investing lost him money during his lifetime, but were instrumental in the Champlain and Erie canals.

 With that in mind, we stopped at lock number five on the Champlain Canal. Though we never came this way in our sailboat, traveling from the Atlantic Ocean north into Lake Champlain could be a fun adventure.

 Here are the gears and levers that work the lock doors. More on this area can be found on the Lakes to Locks website.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gettysburg and Dingmans Falls

Off on another trip today, this time to northern New York for a high school reunion.

Our first stop for fuel was next to "Pickle Bob's Ice Cream" in Haymarket, Virginia. Beth always does a good job, with the help of Gas Buddy, planning the best places to stop for diesel fuel. In this instance, any savings in fuel was offset by Pickle Bob's delicious espresso chip ice cream, without any pickle mix-ins.

Impressive Bathhouse
 Gettysburg Camping Resort was our stop for the night. We redeemed another of our free 30 days Beth won at the Hershey RV show last fall. The campground is directly adjacent to the battleground, so is very convenient if you are visiting the area. You can see more info and pictures of the area in our post last fall.

Campsites aren't very private, but we had a quiet night, much quieter than I expected after discovering it was "bike week" in Gettysburg. The bath house is one of the nicest we've found with 12 private rooms, each with an individual shower, toilet, bench, and sink.
Campsite at Gettysburg Camping Resort

Thursday we spent most of the day crossing Pennsylvania. For some reason we always seem to run into construction and heavy traffic delays in this state. With some rain added in traffic seemed worse than normal. Deciding to detour onto a less traveled route, we explored The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the PA/NJ border. The unexpected highlight of the day was finding Dingmans Falls.

Visitor's Center
The visitor's center had helpful rangers that encouraged us to hike the trail even if we were behind schedule. They did caution us that the parking lot can be filled on weekends.
Dingbats at Dingmans Falls

An immediate reward, this narrow ribbon waterfall, is right around the first corner in the trail. It is much more attractive without the silly people in the photo!
Two-tenths of a mile down the trail is a beautiful set of falls, well worth the visit.  If you are inclined, there is a trail, with steps, 107 feet up to the top of the falls. What a great place to stretch our legs and enjoy the calm for a few minutes.

Back on the road, svIntuition turned over 24,000 miles on the odometer.

Made it out of Pennsylvania before sunset and enjoyed a visit with my sister in Malta, New York. For short visits, driveway camping is the best!

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