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

June 30, 2012

June 30 - Brewerton, NY

Slow Blog Day
Winter Harbor Marina

We spent today catching up on normal life activities. I balanced our accounts, labeled pictures while I still remembered where they were taken and did a little research on the Adirondack Mountains. Stan did a little research on places we will be traveling on the boat later this summer and installed the electric charts of Canada that we will need. We spent a lot of time relaxing on the flybridge watching the weekend boat traffic move up and down the Oneida River. It was a beautiful day, although a little warmer than it has been, nowhere near the temperature the rest of the country is getting right now. Sometimes we just need a day to relax and catch up...today was that day.

June 29 - Brewerton, NY

Watkins Glen State Park
Winter Harbor Marina

We spent the morning hiking at Watkins Glen State Park. It is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound (it did). Within two miles, the glen's stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. The park is a beautiful work of natural art and it was first opened as a tourist resort in 1863. It's amazing what a little water and thousands of years can create. We got to the park just before 8:00 and enjoyed the first half of the hike without seeing another person, by the time we left it was getting a little crowded.

After the hike we headed home along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake...what a gorgeous area. Since this is a glacial lake the shores are very steep and the views are amazing. This part of New York is mostly dominated by rolling pastoral land, with beautiful little farms everywhere. We stopped at Wagner Vineyards for lunch; they have a nice restaurant named The Ginny Lee that overlooks their vineyard and the lake. We sat outside and enjoyed a wonderful lunch with a great view. Our next stop on our way back to the boat was Seneca Falls, they have a public dock that is close to their downtown area, so we checked it out. This is one of the stops we would have made if we had taken the boat into Seneca Lake...I'm glad we decided to rent a car, so we could see more of this great area of New York.

Watkins Glen State Park - the word glen comes from an old Greek word meaning "small, narrow, secluded valley." It describes this area perfectly.
Seneca Lake
Lunch view
Video of Watkins Glen State Park

June 29, 2012

June 28 - Watkins Glen, NY

Canadian Falls
Winter Harbor Marina

This morning we walked along Queen Victoria Park and the Niagara River to view the falls from the Canadian side. Finding parking that is close to the falls is more difficult in Canada...we finally found a lot that was close to Clifton Hill. This street is like a small amusement park; it contains gift shops, wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, restaurants, hotels and themed attractions. I guess it would be a fun place with kids. It was a nice morning and we enjoyed our walk to the Table Rock Visitor Center, which is at the top of Horseshoe Falls. It’s hard for me to describe how amazing it is to see these falls, the amount of water that flows over them and the sound it makes…it’s all incredible.

After our visit to the falls we headed to Watkins Glen at the south end of Seneca Lake. Seneca Lake is the largest of the glacial Finger Lakes in New York and the deepest lake entirely within the state. It is promoted as being the lake trout capital of the world. Due to Seneca Lake's unique microclimate it is home to over 50 wineries, many of them farm wineries. On our way down the lake we stopped in Geneva for lunch, we found The Water Street Café, a little diner that looked like it was out of the 1950s. The food was very good, the prices were very reasonable and the staff was very friendly. Our next stop was at the Miles Wine Cellars, a beautiful winery right on the lake. We could have docked our boat and visited this one. This winery is also a brewery, so we did the brew tasting instead of the wine. The grounds were amazing and the beers were very good.

The town of Watkins Glen is very quaint, with a nice little main street full of stores, B&Bs and restaurants. Stan’s quest for this year’s cruising season is to find local brewpubs, and Watkins Glen didn’t let him down. We found a place called The Crooked Rooster Brewpub; their brewery name is Rooster Fish Brewing. Stan said the beer was very good…I had my old standby…Coors Light! We had dinner at a local favorite named Jerlando’s, a cute little Italian place close to our hotel. The restaurant was packed when we gott here…which is always a good sign. The food was wonderful.

Part of Clifton Hill
Horseshoe Falls
American Falls
Horseshoe Falls
Stan and Horseshoe Falls
Going down to the winery
Miles Wine Cellars
Views of Seneca Lake
Watkins Glen
Video of the water flowing over Horseshoe Falls

June 28, 2012

June 27 - Niagara Falls, ON

Visiting Canada
Winter Harbor Marina

Yesterday we visited the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Today we drove to Niagara Falls, which is close to the western end of Lake Ontario. We decided we'd spend the day visiting the American side and view the falls from the Canadian side tomorrow. We found a place to park very close to the official visitors center at Niagara Falls State Park. I say official because there are lots of tourist traps that say they are visitor centers. The falls are amazing, awe inspiring even and the park is a great place, but the area outside the park is full of businesses trying to convince you to spend a small fortune to see the falls. The falls are the main attraction and they are free to view. There are many viewing areas in the park that let you stand right next to the edge where the water rushes over the cliffs. The sound of the roaring water is all you can hear. When you stand and look at the falls and see the amount of water that flows over them, it's hard to believe this has been going on for thousands of years. The American Falls began forming about 900 years ago as the Horseshoe Falls continued to erode the Niagara River Gorge in the southward direction. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls separated from Horseshoe Falls at Goat Island about 700 years ago. Only 10% of the water from the upper Niagara River flows over the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which is a boat tour of Niagara Falls. The boat starts off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and takes its passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls. The first Maid of the Mist was launched in 1846 as a ferry service between the Canadian and American sides, pre-dating by two years the construction of the first Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge at the site. However, with the opening of the suspension bridge, the ferry service lost business, and by 1854, became a tourist attraction. 

After viewing the falls we drove into Canada and along the Niagara River to Niagara on the Lake, which is located in Southern Ontario where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario. It’s a beautiful little town full of great little shops, B&Bs and restaurants. It would make a wonderful romantic weekend getaway. We did look at staying at a B&B, but decided we’d drive back to Niagara Falls and stay closer to the falls…we want to see the view from Canada side in the morning.
View of the falls from the Observation Tower
Maid of the Mist going towards Horseshoe Falls
Looking at American Falls from the deck of Maid of the Mist
The top of American Falls
Looking back to the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Maid of the Mist getting close to Horseshoe Falls
Queens Street in Niagara on the Lake
Video of Niagara Falls

June 27, 2012

June 26 – Thousands Islands

Visiting the Thousand Islands Area
Winter Harbor Marina

We picked up our rental car this morning and decided to drive north to some of the towns in the Thousand Island area on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. We took back roads and went through areas full of farms and apple orchards…beautiful countryside, rolling hills and lots of trees. Our first stop was along the Salmon River, where we got our first glimpse of Lake Ontario. It was very windy today and the lake was very rough. We then drove through Henderson Bay and stopped in Sackets Harbor. During the War of 1812 Sackets Harbor was the most active naval station in the United States. The U.S. and British navies engaged in a shipbuilding competition for control of Lake Ontario. Tremendous effort and money was spent, but in the end the two navies never met n a major battle on Lake Ontario. Several land battles did take place here and we visited the battlefield. Sackets Harbor is a beautiful town with a nice harbor.

Our next stop was Cape Vincent where we visited the Tippetts Point Lighthouse and got our first good look at the St. Lawrence River. The water in Lake Ontario and the river is very clear and very cold. Moving up the river our next stop was Clayton, definitely our favorite stop and a place we might bring the boat back to. The town is full of beautiful old buildings, shops, restaurants and a very nice waterfront. They have an Antique Boat Museum we’d like to visit if we get back here on the boat…we just didn’t have time today. Our last stop was Alexandra Bay, definitely more of a tourist town than the other places we went today. We ran into a couple from home…small world! We had dinner at the Riverhouse Restaurant and took the freeway back to Brewerton. It was nice to see a little more of New York than the canals. Tomorrow we head west.

Selkirk Lighthouse on the Salmon River - this lighthouse is topped with a rare example of the early 'bird cage' style lantern room. There are only three in the U.S. like this.
Salmon River and Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Monument at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield
Most of the little towns we have seen in New York have beautiful hanging baskets all over town.
Old building in Sackets Harbor
Tibbetts Point Lighthouse (in Cape Vincent) marks the point where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River in Northern New York State. Built in 1827, the Lighthouse features the only original working Fresnel lens in Lake Ontario.
Cape Vincent Fisheries Research State - Solid construction and good upkeep has allowed this building to stand on this site for 150+ years. Many activities have taken place in the building over the years, from milling grain, planning lumber, and raising fish, to its current use as a fisheries research station.

June 26, 2012

June 25 – Brewerton, NY

Research, Research, Research
Winter Harbor Marina

A cold front moved through early this morning and we were back into the mid 60s today. It was a little cool, but so much better than the temperatures at home…106 in Texas today! We had a slow morning doing a little research on things to see around Niagara Falls and Seneca Lake. After lunch we moved the boat up the Oneida River to Winter Harbor Marina and borrowed their courtesy car to do a few errands. Just a regular day…not every day can be an adventure, some have to be spent on real life activities.

Winter Harbor Marina
One of the docks at Winter Harbor
Storm clouds rolling in...believe it or not we didn't get any rain from these clouds.