Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seneca Lake Camping Part II Watkins Glen, NY

We eventually check in at Watkins Glen State Park campground and set up. I am grateful for the boys help as they pick up wood, and set up the tent. and VOLIA!!

Its a masterpiece of sleeping heaven. I even have them run to the local rest room to plug in my blow up bed. I may enjoy roughing it, but I have to have my air bed. We had a great sight nestled in between some wooded area, and the sites were actually large. Mary's site next door was not as nice and we decided even before they got there they would be tenting on our site. We never even used her site. We were suppose to have several more people with us. Max per site was 6 and I think we originally had even more than that. Our site was 262, was close enough to the playground and the restroom, while giving us ample room and privacy. It worked out perfect.
Once we were all set up the boys went to the playground. I met up with them later and spoke with a women who was from Massachusetts. She (I cannot remember her name) was camping with her family (her son Luke was with her). Luke was Gavin's age. She reported that we had the best restroom of the four loops. LUCKY US!!! She also reported that the swimming pool had been closed the entire time they had been there, but they had explored several of the state parks to the east. Buttermilk Falls, & Treman are outside of Ithaca. I was unaware of this, but if your are camping in a state park you get access to all state parks during your camping stay. I have a park pass, but it's good to know. Sometime I would like to hit up as many NY state parks as I can. We got to two of them on this trip already. Seneca and now Watkins Glen. She was very nice. We wished them a good time and hoped that the pool will be open tomorrow.

Back at the site we waited anxiously for Mary and her boys to arrive.
They finally made it, now it was time to have some fun.

We helped them unpack and got the fire going for dinner. Master fire starters. Dinner was easy...speghetto's cooked over a camp fire. Hey, I only had one day to figure out meals, we had originally each taken one meal, now Mary and I had to create all of the meals. I think it was still a success.

The boys didn't seem to mind. Mary brought the veggies, beans we cooked right in the can.
After dinner we had the ceremonial camping s'mores! Of course this was after the boys had to find the perfect roasting stick.

They were YUMMY!! and chocolate always goes well with wine.
As it got darker, we stayed up and told ghost stories...they almost always started with.."it was a dark and stormy night".

I so wish I had taken a picture of the moon, because it was absolutely amazing that night. Perfect for a camping evening. Before we all knew it...it was bedtime.
The following morning we made breakfast on the camping stove. We had the works. Pancakes, bacon, sausages, and eggs. I tried to do bacon over the fire, but the boys didn't have the patience for it.

Next up was a tour of the Watkins Glen gorge.
I suffered from an incredibly painful charlie horse cramp (several actually) earlier that morning. (Nothing is worse then waking up, in the woods screaming at the top of your lungs, in intense pain from a crap in your leg that would compare to giving labor.) It had hurt so bad and I was still limping about the campsite. I was also worried about my back and the trails, so after some discussion and a commitment on my behalf we compromised with a trip via the shuttle to the top and making our way down the gorge instead of both ways. I think it was a doable compromise.
I took this information from Wikipedia-"Located on the southern tip of Seneca Lake, one of western New York's deep, glacial Finger Lakes, Watkins Glen is the site of scenic Watkins Glen State Park, but is probably best known for its role in auto racing, being the home of a street course used in road racing, a famous racetrack, Watkins Glen International, and a historic race, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix. The racetrack was also the scene of the 1973 Summer Jam at Watkins Glen rock festival attended by an estimated 600,000 people. At the time, this set the world record for the largest number of people at a pop music festival.[6] The concert featured the bands The Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers Band. On July 1–3 of 2011, the band Phish hosted Superball IX, a three-day music festival on the same grounds of the Summer Jam of '73. Superball IX drew approx 30,000 people and track officials and local residents called it a huge success.
Watkins Glen is also the home port for True Love, an 84-plus-year-old schooner that has been featured in several Hollywood movies, including High Society (1956) and The Philadelphia Story (1940). This magnificent wooden sailboat is now available for charter on the Seneca Lake.
The International Motor Racing Research Center,[7] an annex to the village library, is located in Watkins Glen." Wikipedia cited. It was named after Dr. Watkins who was a prominent member of the community in the 1800's.
Perhaps it is best known for the location of the NASCAR racing and our family actually went to this a few years ago. The summer jam of 73' (a little bit before my time) would have been a great time I'm sure!
We made our way to the main entrance of the park and prepared for our hike.  At 10am it was already staring to get crowded. I must admit this is an amazingly beautiful park.
 The informational description on how the gorge was formed. It is all quite amazing. Water created all the curves and craters that make up this park over years and years of water flowing over them.

The glen water power once was the fuel that powered the flour mill many years ago. If you look in the picture above you can just see the hole where they harnessed the water flow to run to the mill.

First shuttle runs at 10am. We had enough time to take a peek at the main gorge entrance, take a bathroom break and pay for our shuttle admission. $3- per person. As cheep as I am when we were watching people huff up the hills on our way down, I was NEVER more grateful for paying that $3- fee.

We made it to the top...and started the 1.5 miles down to the bottom where we had just come from.

The steps were STEEP!!! I can only imagine what the trail looked like years ago. I sought out some old pictures to find out. This picture there are no real trails or stairs.

 That stairway looks pretty scary to me.

 I am guessing it was much more "dangerous" then as it is now, but honestly there was not much keeping people safe, you really had to be aware of your surrounding when you were walking, one false step and you could surly go over the edge.

 The train bridge. There were several of the old time photo's featuring this bridge, and according to the reading, the original bridge washed away during high waters several years ago. Apparently there are pieces still in the gorge. Mary and I saw these medal pieces and wondered if they were once part of the bridge.
Alex poses along the waters edge. It is illegal to swim in the gorge, although some of those wade pools do look ever inviting. Wading didn't seem harmful, but we really didn't stay long enough for the kids to venture out. They pretty much were way ahead of us moms.

 A dragon fly.

Once we made our way down the first set of stairs I think we were all feeling more stable and comfortable with the walk. The boys had fun checking out the growth along the surrounding walls. It looked like rocks you might see in a cave (stalactites), but when you touched it, it was mushy. Mary and I concluded that it was fungus or plant life not rock. The boys were grossed out. It was kind of strange.

 Trying to get the boys to stay still for a second was impossible, I tried this blurry shot.
 Here is a good example of just how steep the steps were and just HOW little there was of safety around the walkway.

 This was a poor shot. (with the sun and the shadows it was difficult to tell if I what I was getting in that tiny view finder) this is suppose to be frowning rock. Mary and I never thought we really found it. Up top it does resemble a side of a face, but it does not seem to be frowning. There wasn't anything in the park flyer either.
Still blurry....what was going on with me?
There were so many changes in the grade and so many sound changes too. The areas where there were water falls were so loud we were yelling above them, then there would be long stretches of calm water and total quiet except for our feet brushing along the rock path. Every ending of a waterfall was another calm then I would think we have finally come to the end, and there would be another descend and another waterfall. I believe there are 13 waterfalls and 888 steps in total. 108 in Jacobs ladder (our initial steps down from the top) alone.
 I wish these didn't have the sun spots, this location was so amazing. It looked like something out of the Amazon jungle and  not in the middle of NY State. It was unbelievable. So wish we were not trying to chase down those boys, who were always running ahead.

 I think those are some of the boys. This was taken from behind the falls.
The above picture was where I was standing when I took the picture above it.
We come to a few additional trails as we walk, but we are taking the Gorge trail and keep heading down.

It continued to be beautiful all the way down to the end.  In the picture above people can walk across this bridge and get to the campground area trail of the park. Thinking it would have been fun to walk up and cross over. Maybe if I go back I will make the trek from the campground to the gorge.

 Looking at this angle, it is a LONG LONG LONG way to the bottom.
And a long long long way up. Mary, Ben and Alex hike up these stairs to inform us there was a nice view of the parking lot. Thanks but no thanks we will pass on the climb.
After our hike we were all ready for a little lunch, so we headed back to camp had some lunch, then packed up to hit the Olympic sized pool with diving boards. The boys LOVED the diving boards and took over 20-30 jumps.

 Gavin trying to dive and falling ass over tea kettle...
 Ben was getting pretty good with the dives and kept getting better with each jump.
 Done with the dive... cow-a bunga dudes.!!!
 Alex would simply walk off the edge.

The pool was beautiful and so much fun. We had so much fun in the pool most of the afternoon was spent in or around it, we even came back later in the just before closing to take one more dip. The evening hours meet with card games, a few hot dogs on a stick over the fire and some mac and cheese.
 I think we played the longest game of UNO ever known to go that long.
Mary had to leave that evening, but she stayed til late. The boys and I enjoyed the rest of the evening with a few more s'mores and hit the bed pretty early. Sometime before I actually fell asleep fireworks were going off in the distance, I was so tired I never got up to see if I could see any anywhere, and I fell asleep shortly after the last POP!
The following morning, I woke up several hours before the boys so I had a chance to catch up on my reading for the adult book club. I got a good chunk of Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King  read before they boys awoke and announced they were ready to go home. We quickly packed up the car, had some no heat breakfast of muffins and we were on our way home. Originally I had hoped that we would do some more swimming and take in the village of Watkins Glen before we took off, but we were all pretty ready for the comforts of home. In addition, we had all run out of battery charge on our phones and hand held game systems so I think the boys were having withdrawal. We got home and dad was so glad to see us as were the dogs. Sometimes the best thing about traveling is coming home. Great time was had camping and I am already ready for the next camp adventure.