"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

July 17, 2018

July 14 - Finger Lake International Dragon Boat Festival

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park

"The sensation of energy expands with increasing relaxation."―Ilchi Lee
Today we went to the Finger Lake International Dragon Boat Festival, held at Taughannock Falls Park. Dragon boat races are one of the most typical traditions of Chinese Dragon Boat Festival which was traditional held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. They began in the Guangdong Province of China more than 2000 years ago. For more than 20 centuries the competition took place as a part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, but beginning in the 1970s dragon boat racing emerged as an international sport. But the history of dragon boats in competition reaches as far back as the same era as the original games of Olympia in ancient Greece.
A dragon boat has a long narrow shape. Traditional dragon boats were made of teak wood. Currently, boats made for competitive purposes use carbon fiber and other lightweight materials. Both the fore and aft of the boats are decorated with dragon’s head and tail and the body of the boat is carved or painted with traditional patterns like waves, clouds or beasts, using bright colors such as red, blue, green, black and gold. 
The crew of a dragon boat usually consists of a drummer, a sweep (steersman) and paddlers. The main force comes from paddlers who power the boat and the drummer who guides the frequency and synchronicity of all the paddlers' moves. The drumbeat is also a useful way to inspire the crew’s spirits in competition. The sweep controls the direction of the boat.

July 16, 2018

July 13 - Finger Lake Cider House

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true” —Lyman Frank Baum
As we've said many times before...one of the things we like the best about being in Ithaca for the season is exploring all the great little places to sample locally made wine, cider, liquor and food. These small family owned places pride themselves in using fresh locally grown ingredients and the products they produce are wonderful.
Kyle and his family gave Stan a gift card to the Finger Lake Cider House for Father's Day. They're located just up the lake from us and we've seen their sign many times, but didn't think we'd like hard cider...we were wrong. Many of their dry ciders were very good, they were more wine like than we expected.

Finger Lakes Cider House at Good Life Farm is the hub of the hard cider renaissance in New York apple country. They feature their own Kite & String Cider as well as amazing ciders from rotating guest cideries each month. Here's the meaning of their name: 'Kite' means light, playful, balanced, and fun.  'String' means grounded to a place, their small farm. All their ciders are made from farm-based orchards. The tasting room and balcony overlook their crop fields, apple orchards green houses and horse barn...with a view of Cayuga Lake in the distance.
Our favorite cider was called Funkhouse '17, it has herbal, buttery, earthy notes and is bone dry, with a bright front palate giving way to notes of toasted oak and ending with long chalky tannins.
Their eco-friendly farm has been producing certified organic fruit and fresh vegetables, meat and poultry since 2008. In 2012 they decided to add cider production to their list of endeavors and began planting 300 cider apple trees annually; they now have 38 varieties of American heirloom, English and European cider apples in their orchard. In 2014 they transformed a barn into their impressive Cider House and they now have a spacious tasting room and bar and a lower level equipped with a kitchen and cider-processing facilities. They have a small menu that features ingredients grown on their farm or bought from neighboring farmers in the Finger Lakes region.  
A flight of cider and sandwiches for dinner. Stan had the smoked pulled pork on a sourdough roll and I had toasted cheddar apple sandwich with pesto. Both were served with a salad made with greens from their garden. 
 Here are some of the ciders we tasted
The view from their balcony  
On Friday nights the cider house features local musicians. While we were there we listened to Whistlin’ Dyl. He's an original singer songwriter who cooks up ballads, hillbilly thumpers and alt-rock songs with a smidgin of crooning and a splash of soul. 

July 13, 2018

Mid July Update

Allan H. Treman State Marine Park

"Never say dreams are useless because useless is the life of those who can't dream." —Jim Morrison

Just a little update of some of the things we've been doing since we returned from the western Erie Canal. The weather has been pretty hot this month...hot for New York and hot if you live on a boat with no insulation. Some days have been almost as hot as Texas, but at least those days don't last long. So what do we do when it gets hot...we try to find a cool spot to spend the day. Some days that means going to a park on the lake and others it means going to a mall.
One particular hot day we made a trip to a large, very large, mall in Syracuse (Destiny USA). The mall has over 250 stores, go carts, a rope course, mirror maze, miniature golf, I-Max movies and several escape rooms. A little something for everyone. We walked several miles, had a great lunch and bought a few things...it was a good way to stay cool. 
We have the best seat in town for the Ithaca fireworks...all we have to do is sit on the the deck and enjoy.
Our son and his family rented a little house on the lake during the July 4th week. We had a wonderful time playing with them.
There are so many cute and interesting places to eat around this area...the other day we found a place on Seneca Lake called The Elf in The Oak. A great lunch with a great view.
July 11th was our 37th wedding anniversary. We had lunch at the Thirsty Owl Bistro that over looks Cayuga Lake. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch with views of the lake...what's not to like. 

The Thirsty Owl Wine Company
Stan had the salmon with diamond-honey glaze, toasted hazelnuts & coconut roasted veggies and I had the scallops with a quinoa lentil cake served over sprouts. We chose their 2016 Chardonnay as a pairing. Its described as having aromas of tangy green apple, medium-bodied with mild oak. Fruity flavors are balanced by a light, buttery mouthfeel and a lively finish.
A little cool front had moved in, so it was cool enough to anchor out for the night...we spent our anniversary night enjoying the peace and quiet of the lake, the beautiful sunset and a few nibbles on the flybridge.
Looking towards Ithaca
Good night Cayuga Lake

June 23, 2018

June 20 - Seneca Falls, NY

Seneca Falls Town Dock

"Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves." —Henry David Thoreau
The Cayuga-Seneca Canal is actually two short canals that join the Erie Canal to Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. The first lock is about four miles south of the Erie Canal, this lock takes you into Cayuga Lake. We decided to complete the Cayuga-Seneca Canal so we took a right after lock 1 and followed a well-defined canal about 8 miles to Seneca Lake. We’ve now done all the canals in New York.

On our way back down the canal towards Cayuga Lake, we spent the night in Seneca Falls. This sleepy little village was once a thriving mill town that used the waterpower of the Seneca River to operate its mills. When the locks were built to provide a usable canal between the lakes, the river was dammed at the current location of locks 2 and 3. This created a 50’ deep lake that submerged much of the downtown and the mills along the river. Seneca Falls has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Woman’s Rights movement. Women obtained the right to vote, own property and many other rights in this small village first. 

We saw a lot of these little canal rental boats. If you don't have a boat that can make it under the bridges...this would be a good way to see the Erie Canal.
Docked on the wall in Seneca Falls
We had dinner at 84 Fall...it was wonderful
Seneca Falls has long believed itself as the inspiration for Bedford Falls in the film classic It’s a Wonderful Life. If you'd like to see some evidence of the connections and similarities between the two towns go to this link.

Thursday June 21 was our last day on the move and it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The following pictures are from Thursday morning. This is the old Seneca Knitting Mill.
Trinity Episcopal Church over looks the canal
Lock 2 and 3 of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal are staircase locks...you move straight from lock 2 into lock 3. We were raised 50' from the Cayuga Lake side to the village of Seneca Falls.
 Typical view in the Cayuga-Seneca Canal
The start of the canal coming off of Cayuga Lake
Looking out toward the lake
It was a beautiful day to head down the lake...we had a great time, but it feels good to be home.

June 21, 2018

June 19 - 15 Years on the Erie Canal

We're headed east today, we went 50 miles, did seven locks that lowered us 110' and went under 88 bridges...other than that there is nothing new to tell you about. So I guess I'll share a little more history on the Erie Canal.

The first company to offer travel on the canal was the Canal Navigation Company. One could travel upon the canal for the small fee of four cents per mile which accounted for board and lodging. A tourist at that time would have paid approximately $2.80 per day. Horses would tow the boats while walking along a paved towpath next to the canal. The boats and would travel nearly 80 miles per day switching horses every six hours.  
A typical packet boat could accommodate about 30 people. It was about 60-70 feet long, with accommodations for a dining room, where two rows of tables were set. At night, mattresses were spread on the seats of the table and cots were suspended from the roof. The deck was perhaps the biggest attraction of the packet boats. Tourists could see nature, sing, dance, play instruments and completely immerse themselves in this totally new experience. However, passengers quickly discovered that there were many complications that could hamper their experience. Deck-top activity was interrupted every quarter mile by low bridges. When the captain screamed “Low bridge, everybody down!" passengers had to either scamper back into the cabin or lay face down on the deck to avoid getting knocked off the boat. Considering these bridges were a common occurrence, it made recreation on the deck extremely difficult. Inside the boat wasn’t much better, there was not much of a view and the heat in the summer was unbearable.  
The Erie Canal Song was written in 1905 to memorializes life on the Erie Canal between 1825 to 1880 when the mule barges made boomtowns out of Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and transformed New York into the Empire State. It's the most recognized of all the Erie Canal folksongs. It's interesting to note that the cover depicts a boy riding a mule leaned down to fit under a bridge, but in actuality the song is about the people on the boats and the way they had to duck down or get off the roof to fit under bridges.
You can listen to the song here