18 June 2008

Across the Empire

We thought we would take advantage of the breakfast bar at the Hampton, so by the time we got on the road we had at least been nourished! I don't remember now what time we got away, but it was not a terribly early start. We were riding across the state on Highway 20, which goes across the tops of most of the Finger Lakes. We drove through Seneca Falls, home of the women’s suffrage movement, across Cayuga Lake, and through Auburn. Our first stop was at Skaneateles, on Skaneateles Lake, which we have no idea how to pronounce, so we just called it Skittles. Many of the towns, counties, and lakes have Indian names, which I think is so cool - it really reminds us who was here first and is sort of like stepping back in history - but I have no idea how to pronounce them! We found a spot to park on the street, and I had just gotten us parked when a man knocked on Kim's window. Turns out it was the driver of the bus who was a few spots behind us, telling us that the meter just ahead of him still had 92 minutes left on it. So we thanked him and backed up! We first walked out on the jetty, where several people were fishing. It was chilly today - highs were not expected to be out of the 60's - and with the wind blowing across the water, we were glad we had our jackets on. We were amazed at how clear the lake water was! It didn't seem fair to the fish that the fishermen could see them!
Since the bus that was parked behind us was full of senior citizens walking and rolling around town, we thought it best that we give them a head start, so we chatted with some of the fisherman (rock bass, biting well) and then walked around a bit. We had the names of a couple of Road Food places, so we first found a cute little bakery (Skaneateles Bakery) and we shared a Half-Moon cookie (a great big sugar cookie, iced half with vanilla and half with chocolate - yummy!). Then we checked out Doug's Fish Fry, which was just across the street. Unfortunately, it was too early for lunch and we were not about to put fish lunches to go in our car for a few hours...but it looked and smelled great! There was a great mural of the town covering one wall, and a train ran on an elevated track through all three rooms of the restaurant. Loved the fish light fixture, too!

We did a little window shopping on the way back to the car, and then we were off again. Our next stop was the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park just past Cazenovia. We thought about detouring off to see Chittenango Falls, but we decided not to. Later, we decided that was a mistake, but more on that in a bit. We were just about to give up on finding the art park when all of a sudden, there was a sign for it. We pulled into a gravel driveway and somehow knew we were in the right place. We saw signs for a secret garden - who could resist that? - so off we hiked. After finding the cool little garden area, we drove up the hill to the parking area. There was a little old lady pulling weeds, so we greeted her and then looked around a bit. There were lots of neat sculptures, and then we made our way back to see the gardener. She reminded us so much of our mom - very sweet and knowledgable about gardens and art. She invited us to go in the gift shop/visitors' center, and she was genuinely pleased that I correctly guessed that she was Dorothy, the artist who had sculpted many of the pieces we had already seen. We so enjoyed chatting with her! We poked around a little more, taking some great pix of the loud frogs in the pond and looking at more of the flowers and sculptures. I especially liked the one of the camera!

As we left the art park, we considered turning around and going to see Chittenango Falls, which was only about 13 miles away. Dorothy had told us it was the end of the Appalachian Mountain range and that it had pretty limestone cliffs. We weren’t sure how far we would have to hike to see the falls, and it looked like it could rain at any minute, so we drove on. Once we had really gotten too far to turn back, we realized that Chittenango was the home of L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz. We’re thinking we may have really missed something…

The next place we had planned to stop was Richfield Springs, which is home to the Petrified Creatures Museum. As we rolled into town, we realized we might should eat some lunch, since it was after two. We stopped at the Tally Ho restaurant, which was next to our target, the Village Snack Shop (closed – not summer yet…) Even though Tonya, our server, did not know what was good or if there was anything on the menu that they were known for, lunch was fine. Kim had a grilled cheese and I had a Hatfield sandwich (roast pork, horseradish, lettuce). Since they had over a dozen homemade pies, we each got a slice to go – Apple Cranberry Crumb for Kim and peach for me (even though Tonya had never had it). Tonya did know where the Petrified Creatures Museum was, although you guessed it, she’d never been there. We struck out in search of it and soon almost drove right past it. There were no cars in the lot (bad sign) and indeed, it was closed. And it had seemed so promisingly cheesy!

At this point, we turned south for Cooperstown. The drive was wonderfully scenic as the road hugged the shore of Lake Otsego. We came upon a sign for the Glimmerglass Opera, so we turned in even though the season hasn’t started yet (not being summer and all). Wow! It was HUGE!!! Made us sorry we couldn’t see a show. Soon we were arriving in Cooperstown, where we had just planned to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, as we drove past the Farmers’ Museum on our way into town, we decided to check it out, so we turned around. What a good choice! Turns out we could get
combo tickets for the farmers and baseball, and it was a fun, interactive, educational experience.
We entered through a huge stone barn, which was original to the site. Just inside was the world famous Cardiff Giant, which started as a small hoax and ended up being an international sensation. From there, we walked through the barn learning all about the history of ice cream – fascinating! Once outside, we were at a fair – people walking on stilts, a real carousel, and other entertainment. We rode the carousel, which was run by a man whose son lives in Roxboro, NC. Kim rode Willy the Wildcat, I chose Bucky the Beaver (the first animal carved for this carousel), and Peppy rode on Sophie the Skunk – we hope he’s not in love!

Once out in the village, each building was manned by someone dressed in period costume who told all about what his or her job would have been, back in the day. The frame buildings had all been dismantled, moved, and reconstructed just like the originals. We went in the general store, the barnyard, blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, apothecary, law office, church, inn/tavern, family home, and school. We learned it was really a working village, as most of the things sold in the general store are made in the village. We were so glad we stopped! Even though we were warned to ride the shuttle bus to the Hall of Fame, we took our chances and drove. We ended up parking behind a family from Fuquay Varina, NC. Small world.

There were tons of people at the Hall of Fame! The final (ever) Hall of Fame ballgame was supposed to have been on Monday, but it was cancelled due to the horrible weather. We’re guessing lots of people were still in the area who had come for that game. We had a blast learning even more about baseball than we already knew, and we were awed by the actual Hall of Fame. It was such fun to see our favorite St. Louis Cardinal players and read about the famous and fabulous players from days gone by. Before we knew it, it was after six and we needed to get going.
We had ignored Jill (the Garmin voice) all day, so we paid for it now. We were no sooner out of Cooperstown than she had us on a gravel road that had been pretty washed out in the rain the day before, but soon we got to a real road. We were aiming for Cherry Valley, which is home to the ‘world-famous TePee’ and before long we rolled into town. We couldn’t find the teepee though, even after driving through town. Twice. How hard can it be to find a fifty foot teepee??? We gave up and took off for Albany, and you guessed it, there it was, right on the highway (not where we had been advised to look). We pulled in to find out that even though it was open six days a week, every week, it was closed on Tuesdays. Bummer.
Jill managed to get us past Albany and Schenectady and straight (well, maybe not straight) to our Hampton in Clifton Park. I got to work on the blog while Kim walked across the street for pizza, which we ate in our room. We had our pie for dessert – yum! I was still blogging and Kim did yeoman’s work and got our laundry done. We were exhausted and we had an early day ahead of us, but we were almost all the way across the Empire State!

Tuckered out, but with clean clothes!

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