Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From Great Lake to Finger Lake

Lake Ontario

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today’s blog won’t be very long—we didn’t do that much! When we left the campground this morning, Joe looked at the GPS map and said, “You know, we are very close to Lake Ontario.” I knew that, but hadn’t realized that we were less than 10 miles away. So of course, we could not leave without going to see the lake. Ontario was the only one of the five Great Lakes which we did not visit on our vacation in Michigan back in 2008.

We drove due north to the town of Olcott. It is a little fishing village/beach town with several marinas, a small square of colorful resort-type shops (full of the usual tempting items that no one really NEEDS but are so hard to resist), a lovely large park along the lakefront, a public beach, one largish restaurant/bar, an ice cream shop, and the Olcott Beach Carousel Park. Sadly for us, though, we got there before noon on a Tuesday. The carousel is open Wednesday-Sundays. Most of the little shops were closed (although some opened after noon.) The beach was literally locked up with a gate. We ended up eating lunch in the RV, thwarted in our plans to walk on the beach or ride the carousel.  I did get ice cream for dessert, though, and a few photos, before we headed east again.

Lakeside park and beach, Olcott, NY
We drove a little way along the Seaway route before going south to Medina, which used to be a significant port on the Erie Canal. We drove Samantha over a Lift Bridge like the one we saw yesterday in Lockport, parked in the center of town, and walked around for a while, including along the canal. We were lucky enough that a cute little houseboat came along and the lift bridge had to raise for it, so we got to see it go up and down.  There is tie-up space along the canal for boats, with a dump station and fill station.  Joe and I were thinking it would be great fun to rent a houseboat and take it the length of the Erie Canal! (Anyone want to join us?)

The town itself looks like it could still be the 19th century—so many of the buildings are the original brick or stonework and haven’t been changed much since they were built. Quite a few of them were built with “free stone”, the stone which came out of the Erie Canal trench when it was dug. Our guide explained to us yesterday that the stone was free for the taking, and with so many stonecutters in the area, it was pretty easy to hire someone to cut the free stone into blocks. It was used in lots of buildings, not only locally but also in New York City and even abroad. The Brooklyn Bridge and Buckingham Palace both utilized Erie Canal free stone. One notable building in Medina was Bent’s Opera House, which was built in 1864 at the height of the Civil War. From the outside it was quite damaged, but we saw read that it is now owned by a non-profit group which has plans to renovate the building. 
Main Street, Medina, NY
Bent's Opera House, Medina NY, built 1864
We continued south and east, heading for the town of Le Roy. This was kind of funny—we were going to stop at the Jell-O museum! But unfortunately we’d spent too much time earlier in the day wandering around, and we got there just before 4pm, when it was due to close. We decided to just keep driving—we were really enjoying our “road trip”—and headed for Cayuga Lake State Park. It is at the north end of Cayuga Lake, not far from Sampson and Seneca State Parks, which we visited last week.  This is the 5th NY State Park we’ve camped in on this trip, and I have another reservation for Friday/Saturday nights at Caroga Lake SP—this doesn’t count Buttermilk Falls and Robert  H. Treman parks, where we drove around but didn’t stay. We are becoming quite accustomed to the park system here and it is very convenient!

We didn’t do or see everything, by far, when we were in this neighborhood before, so I had planned to come back via Seneca Falls to see some of the women’s history sites in the town. We took a campsite here at the park for 2 nights. Tomorrow and the next day we will do some sightseeing, and also, I am hoping, put our kayak into the canal somewhere. We are right on Cayuga Lake, though, with a boat launch just across from the campground area, so maybe we’ll go on the lake tomorrow and the canal the next day. I’m finally rested from our whitewater adventure, and ready to paddle again.