Monday, August 8, 2011

On to Finger Lakes Region, NY

We left Evangola State Park, NY, along Lake Erie about 10:30am saying goodbye to a fellow Elk in the campground who gave Tom a pin from his Elks Lodge, #25.  We stopped for diesel at $3.59/gal and noted we probably won’t be seeing that price again for a while.  We decided to take the back roads not the Toll Road I-90 as we were just going about 140 miles to somewhere near Syracuse.   We found a Moose Lodge in Waterloo, NY, with enough electric to run everything except the AC.  Fortunately, it rained a little every day so the temperature was down.  It was humid, but we used our fans and were pretty comfortable.  It was a very nice setting off the road and we were the only ones here.  We were about half way between the attractions we wanted to see. 


For those not familiar with the Finger Lakes Region, it is called that because of the long narrow lakes that look like the fingers of the hand that were formed by glaciers as they receded.  Geologists have determined that the bottom of the lakes actually have a bed of glacial sediment over 1000 feet deep.  These are some of the deepest lakes in the U.S., the deepest, Seneca, is 618 feet deep.  All are named for tribes of the Iroquois Nation.  You can see what they look like from the air on Google Earth.


We hung out in the RV the first day we were at Waterloo Moose as it rained most of the day.  The next day we drove west on Hwy 5/Hwy 20 about 20 miles to visit the Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens in Canadaigua.  We began our visit with a quick wine tasting of the New York wines and a lively discussion of the difference between California wines and New York wines.  Now we consider ourselves experts in California wines having lived exactly 4 miles from the Gallo Winery, one of the largest in the world as evidenced by the small round white images in the picture below.  Each of the largest ones is a tank 30 feet high holding 1,000,000 gallons of wine. You can see the perspective by the specs on road to the left being a car.

Gallo Winery

Well, after that fun discussion and getting some great tourist information from the volunteer wine tasting staff, we went to lunch. Tom even enjoyed (he told me he did, honest) seafood crepes, and a tomato and basil salad in a quaint old house on the estate.


We then walked through the green houses. Awesome, only wish Jennifer, superintendent of Floriculture at the Big Fresno Fair could have been with us.

The Hydrangeas were spectacular.  There were blues, purples, pinks, greens and even whites.

We had a tour of the Mansion by a young lad of 12 who knew everything about the Mansion and had only been a docent since June. He had read everything about the history, architecture, and furniture. When we asked him if he were going to study history, he said, “Possibly”. Such a cute boy.


The grounds included an English Garden, Blue and White Garden, Oriental Garden, Rose Garden and many restored other buildings like the Carriage house, Ice House, and Bird Houses.

We have visited many Estates from the Huntington Gardens to Hearst Castle, and this is one of the best.  If you are interest in learning more about Sonnenberg and the philanthropic family, Frederick Thompson and his wife, Mary, check it out at

Our next adventure took us into Syracuse to see the Erie Canal Museum.  I must tell you that growing up in Fresno, the Ag Capitol, what I learned about Erie Canal in elementary school looked like a little dirt ditch with a boat being towed by a mule.  NOT.  This was an undertaking as enormous as the Transcontinental Railroad only 60 years earlier.  This endeavor literally opened up the Eastern Seaboard to Westward settlement beyond the Appalachians.  Little is left of the canal system save a few miles here and there, but we can share a couple of stories that we learned.  There were Weighlocks along the canal to charge the boats to travel much like the toll roads today.  The museum in Syracuse is the last Weighlock building standing and it has a replica of a boat as it would come into a lock, the water drained with the boat coming to rest on a scale and would be weighed. The Captain would pay the toll, the lock would then be filled with water and the boat be on its way. This would take about 15 minutes.

The weigh lock as it looks today.


It is interesting how the building of a canal involved engineering feats that I never would have thought of like pulling trees that were in the way and were hundreds of years old and BIG.  This is one way  the stumps were pulled after the trees were cut down; the other was with mules or horsed pulling the fulcrum.

DSC04793Another engineering feat was how do you pass by another river or creek on your way from Albany NY to Buffalo NY?  You build a bridge filled with water called an aqueduct over the top of the river.  There is only one working one left that has been restored on 9 Mile Creek.  We went to see it, but it was raining so hard I decided I’d better stay in the car just incase I had to move to higher ground. If you believe that… I have a bridge… 

This is Tom, in the rain, with umbrella to match his tie dyed shirt approaching the aqueduct. The railing is where the aqueduct crosses over the top of 9 Mile Creek.


These pictures show the canal as it passes over 9 Mile Creek and underside of the aqueduct and 9 Mile Creek.


We loved all the places we visited in the Finger Lakes Region and this is only a little of what we did. But this is already too long and it is late too, so tomorrow we will be On the Road Again Caching Places that We’ve Never Been.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful area! I love the way you overlaid pictures.


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