Finger Lakes Region of New York

First Day, Thursday, October 9, 2014.

We left the house at 5:50 a.m. Odometer miles registers 0.

Drive 40 miles up on New York Thruway. Get off just before the toll plaza to get onto Route 17, the Quickway.

103 odo miles to exit 97, Morsston.

105 miles and entering Catskill Park. This is before mile marker 316.

113 miles to get to Delaware County and the Beaver Kill located before mile marker 308. The Catskill forests and mountains look great. The leaves are turning colors which adds to the beauty.

Exits 92 and 93 around Cooks Falls. Reach an area with lots of bridges over the Beaver Kill.

Mile marker 299 very scenic.

Rest stop before mile marker 294.

137 miles from home. Exit 87 for Hancock. Stopped at McDonalds for breakfast.

157 miles corresponds with mile marker 266.

160 miles before mile marker 262 is a sign saying here is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Go over the bridge over the Susquehanna River.

164.5 miles corresponds to exit 79 for Windsor.

See a sign for 10 miles to go to Binghamton.

Exit 77 for West Windsor.

Before mile marker 252 see a sign for US 86 which is the future name for Route 17.

173.2 miles from home. Mile marker 251. Junction with US 81 heading north to pick up Route 79 west to get us to Ithaca.

175.7 miles. City of Binghamton at mile marker 9.

Exit 3 for Broad Avenue.

Exit 5 for Route 11. Pass by a Cracker Barrel and an Applebees.

Exit 7. Cedar Creek.

Mile markers 24, 25 and 26.

Pretty, open view of farm areas.

Mile marker 27.

Exit 8 for Ithaca. McDonaldís and Arbyís here at Whitney Point.

194.9 miles from home. Stopped at Hess for gasoline. McDonaldís, Dunkin Donuts and Subway.

197.3 odo miles, junction with route 79 west.

Pass Lisle. Lots of farming areas.

Entering Tioga County. Pretty deserted road. Lots of warning signs for tractors.

Turkey Hill State Forest.

213.7 odo miles. Entering Tompkins County.

Pass Caroline, Slaterville, West Slaterville and Besemer.

Sign saying Ithaca is 4 miles away.

Bethel Grove

223 odo miles and reach Ithaca. After a 3 hours and 50 minutes drive.

Pass Pine Tree Road to Cornell. Downtown 2 miles away.

224.8 odo miles and a sign for City of Ithaca.

Going down hill.

225 odo miles at sign for Stewart Avenue. We will return here on our third day of the trip to meet with our goddaughter.

Follow the signs for Route 89 which will take us up along the west coast of Cayuga Lake.

227 odo miles for Route 89 north.

227.4 odo miles. Stop at Cass Park on the right side located on Cayuga Lake. Took a photo of the sign for Cass Park Docks. Here there is a play ground, a swimming pool and a ball field.

230.4 odo miles. The town of Ulysses.

The ride up so far has not been very good because there are homes all along Cayuga Lake together with the area being heavily wooded, so that you canít see much of the lake.

233.3 odo miles. Stopped at the Cayuga Nature Center. Across Cayuga Lake is a factory that mines the salt in the area. The guide says there was a saltwater area here once. The salt vein goes underneath the lake and up underneath the Cayuga Nature Center land.

Next stop was on the right at the Taughannock Falls State Park. Here is a boat marina, picnic tables, sheltered picnic areas and plenty of shore line for fishing.

We head up the road a little ways to see the Taughannock Falls on the left side of Route 89. Itís right there by the parking area. The falls are beautiful. They are very high and the water drops straight down the cliff to the water below.

239 odo miles to Seneca City.

247.9 odo miles to the town of Ovid.

We go down Deerlick Spring Road on the right. Itís a short drive to the town of Kidderís Landing and the shore line of Cayuga Lake. There is a trailer park here, together with some great looking houses. We stopped to take photos of the lake by a house along the road. Just love the peach and cream colors of the house.

This section is more scenic than Route 89 because itís right on the shore of Cayuga Lake. We drive up to Wyers Point Road and then have to get back onto Route 89.

258 odo miles to Deanís Cove State Marina Park.

Along Route 89 between East Varick and Fayette the coast line of the lake is visible.

270 odo miles and we park at the Cayuga Lake State Park and take some photos.

274 odo miles. We reach the junction with Route 20 and 5 west. We go east on 20 and 5 and take a photo of the sign for the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. We donít know where the visitorís center is located, so we decide to turn around and come back to the Refuge the next day.

We head west to the village of Seneca Falls. We park near the Womenís Rights National Historic Park. The last time we were here was about 37 years ago. There wasnít much here at that time. They only had the ruins of the Wesleyan Chapel where the Womenís Rights conference was held. And there was no visitorís center that I can remember.

But now they have reconstructed the Wesleyan Chapel and they have great exhibits at the visitorís center. Furthermore, they have an Elizabeth Cady Stanton small park across the street from the chapel. Itís a pretty park with a view overlooking the Cayuga and Seneca Canal which links the two lakes.

We go past Waterloo and head for the Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. Looking to the west from the park we see the Visitor Center and the large Ramada Inn building. The many weeping willows were originally planted in 1890.

We pass by Canandaigua on the north end of Canandaigua Lake with its Sonnenberg Gardens to come back to it the next morning.

314 odo miles. We get on Route 444 north to go to the Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor. It was the largest Iroquois village in the 17th century with 150 long houses. In 1687 the French destroyed the village because it wanted to have a full monopoly on the fur trade in the area.

It was really interesting seeing the reconstructed long house. There are double bunks that go the full length of the long house on both sides of a central walkway. They can really hold a lot of people in the long house. The Seneca were a matrilineal society. A man who marries a woman goes to live in the long house with his wife and mother-in-law and all the wifeís female relatives.

The bunk beds hold lots of artifacts of the Seneca. There are bead necklaces, chests, trade goods such as knives and pots, a canoe of bark, a rifle, baskets, snow shoes, paddles and animal furs.

We went into Victor to stay at the Best Western Inn. We ate dinner at the Dennyís nearby.

Cayuga Lake: Cass Park & Cayuga Nature Center

Taughannock Falls State Park

Deerlick Spring Road & Cayuga Lake State Park

Seneca Falls - Women's Rights National Historical Park

Seneca Lake State Park & Ganondagan National Historic Site


Second Day, Friday, October 10, 2014.

Got up early and ate at the inn: scrambled eggs, sausage and orange juice.

The odometer reading was 324.9.

Drove back down Rt 444 south to get onto Routes 20 and 5 heading east. We go back to Canandaigua in order to go to the Sonnenberg Gardens. Sonnenberg means sunny hill in German and the mansion here does sit on top of a small hill.

The Gardens are located at 151 Charlotte Street. The mansion here was once the summer home of New York City banker Frederick Ferris Thompson and his wife Mary Clark Thompson. Maryís father was the daughter of Myron Holley Clark, Governor of New York State in 1855. They had no children. The couple bought the property in 1863 which then only had the original farmhouse. In 1887 they replaced the farmhouse with a 41 room Queen Anne Style mansion.

Frederick passed away in 1899. Between 1902 and 1919 the widow built nine gardens on the property. Mary died in 1923 and the nephew inherited the estate. In 1931 he sold the property to the federal government. Then in 1972 the government transferred the property to a local non-profit organization.

We pay the admission fee and go into see the beautiful Display Garden. They had lots of different type of Dahlias in bloom. We took photos of Dahlias of colors of bright red, violet and a combination of orangish center and pink on the perimeters. Also saw Cosmopolitans.

We go into the Garden Gift Shop and Wine Tasting Room. Enjoyed looking at the various gift ideas. There is a cafť close to the Gift Shop called the Garden Cafť.

Walked over to the Japanese Gardens complete with a Japanese Tea House. Not many of the plants were labeled, but we did find a label on the Austrian Pine tree (Pinus nigra). Saw a small tree we have at home, the Kousa Dogwood.

Also in the Japanese Gardens is a statue of Buddha.

Adjacent to the Japanese Gardens was the Roman Bath. Inside is a deteriorated swimming pool. Nevertheless, we enjoyed examining the pool and the Roman architectural style.

You canít avoid seeing the mansion on the property. Itís huge. The Italian Gardens are on one side of the house. Inside the area are four sunken gardens. On the side of the Italian Gardens is a long walkway to and from the mansion complete with Roman columns in keeping with the Roman Bath.

We walked over to the Carriage House and the Aviary. Right behind these small buildings is the Department of Veteran Affairs, built here when the property was owned by the federal government.

The rock garden is a large area and there are lots of interesting sunken and very narrow stone-lined passageways in the garden.

After seeing the rock garden we went back toward the entrance booth. Took photos of the two ponds here and more photos of the mansion on the sunny hill. One of the ponds contains Japanese Coy fish.

We thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the gardens. Everything was so beautiful: the gardens, the overall landscape and the mansion. It was a very relaxing walk through so much beauty. You can tour the mansion, but we decided to stay outside and enjoy the scenery.

Exiting from the gardens, we took Route 21 north to US 90 east. We went all the way back to the northern end of Cayuga Lake to see the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The odometer reads 379 miles by the time we reach the Visitor Center at 3394 Route 5 & 20 East, Seneca Falls, New York.

In the main pool area were a great many of the well-known species known as the Canada Goose. The main pool here is very wet and muddy. The place smelled a little like a farm.

Inside the visitorís center, they have a great collection of stuffed birds. There were a lot of duck species on display as well as a great display of a huge grown American bald eagle and a juvenile bald eagle. Lots of other types too, including a favorite of mine, the scarlet tanager.

Also on display is a huge stuffed beaver. I didnít realize they grew that big.

After the enjoyable visit to the center, we took the trip around the perimeter of the various pools. We are not birders, but we saw a great blue heron and a white egret amidst all those Canada Goose specimens.

Amidst the various pools, there were lots of beaver shelters.

We made the full swing around the refuge area. Via Routes 5 & 20, we went west toward Auburn. Then we take Route 34 south. We pass the home of William H. Seward. Lewis Payne, conspirator with John Wilkes Booth, tried to kill the then Secretary of State Seward, but failed. Seward was also a New York Governor and a U.S. Senator. Heís also the man who committed "Sewardís folly" in purchasing Alaska from Russia.

We pass by the house for now, because we are on our way to see the Harriet Tubman houses at 180 South Street (Route 34). We arrive a little late for the start of the presentation of the Harriet Tubman story by the very committed guide Christine Carter.

Harriet was born in 1822. Her name was Minty. As a baby she was taken to a second plantation. At the age of 4 or 5 she was left at home caring for her siblings. She was so good at this job that her owner hired her out as a nanny and house keeper.

Three of Harrietís siblings were sold into the deep south. At age 14 she worked in the fields. One day she saw a slave walk off the fields. So Harriet walked off the fields too. She followed the man into town where he was spotted by the owner. The man took off running and so did Harriet.

The owner picked up a piece of iron and threw it at the escaping slave, but the iron piece hit Minty on the side of the head. This injury left Minty with spells of black-outs. The owner now saw Minty as damaged goods. Minty would take advantage of her injury too at times, pretending that she has more black-outs than she really has in order to get out of work.

Her owner was a man named Stewart and he had a shipping business. Minty would work with her father Ben Rose. It was her father who taught her so many helpful survival tips for the woods. It was he who taught her how to follow the North Star.

In her 20s, Mintyís name was changed to Harriet. She married John Tubman, a freeman, but she was still a slave and was hired out like an ox to actually pull farmersí ploughs.

Brotus, the owner, died. Elizabeth, his wife, took over from her husband, who left her with considerable debt. This meant some rough changes for Harriet. Harriet used to get paid for her work, but Elizabeth now stops that. Elizabeth also wants to sell off some of her slaves to pay her debts.

Harrietís brothers take off and stay away for two to three weeks, but remain in Maryland. The brothers become afraid and go back home. This doesnít stop Harriet from seeking her own way to freedom. She meets a farmer who takes her to a friend who will help Harriet escape. She goes to Philadelphia via the underground railroad. There she joins an anti-slavery group there and gets two jobs.

Harrietís mother and her siblings are auctioned off. Keisa, Harrietís niece, is to be auctioned off too. Her husband bids for Keisa, but he canít match the money that the whites have. The auctioneer is distracted by a commotion, and the husband grabs Keisa and with his family he gets away with the help of the anti-slavery groups.

Mr. Tubman, with Harriet gone, now remarries. Harriet finds this out on a visit and then returns to Philadelphia. She went up to Canada and again started working with the anti-slavery groups. She then went back to get her brothers out of Maryland. She pulled her brother off the trails in the area and traveled from Maryland to Delaware and then to Philadelphia.

Her brothers now have their surnames changed to Stewart. Harriet take them with her to Canada.

Harriet comes to the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Through her anti-slavery work she has come to know some very influential women in the area, such as Lucretia Mott, who became a leader for womenís rights. She settles in Auburn, New York where Mr. Stewart offers her a seven acre farm. She doesnít move right away to the farm.

Her father was to be arrested for helping slaves get away. She grabs her father and takes him to Philadelphia, then Albany and into St. Catherine, Canada.

Now Harriet moves onto the 7 acre farm.

In 1861 she goes down to Hilton Head and Beaufort, South Carolina and raids the slaves from a camp. For her work she gets $200. She gives it to Auburn.

After the Civil War, Harriet has surgery in Boston for her head injury. She had narcolepsy, a chronic brain disorder that involves poor control of sleep-wake cycles.

In 1869 a book is published dealing with the life and work of Harriet Tubman. From the royalties, she pays Stewart for the farm property.

Harriet remarries to a man younger than she. His name is Nelson Charles Davis. They had no children.

In 1880, Harrietís home burns down. So her supporters build her a brick residence. This residence was somewhat close to the farmhouse on the property.

Nelson dies of tuberculosis. Harriet has financial problems and her property is put up for sale. She attends the auction and outbids everyone by $50 dollars. The total cost was $1,450 dollars.

Harriet establishes the John Brown Infirmary. She took care of a lot of elderly people of all races. She got a lot of help from the local A.M.E. Zion church.

In 1913 she died. Harriet is credited with having saved 300 slaves from slavery.

After the talk about Harriet Tubman, Christine Carter takes the group over to see the farm house (not the nearby brick house). Behind the house was a summer kitchen. The organization owns six of the original seven acres. They would churn out pounds of butter and they had a small apple orchard here.

When the front door is opened the stairs going up are right there in your face virtually.

In 1950 the local church has the home reconstructed. People had thought the house was abandoned and were stripping it. We see Harrietís bedroom and bed just off the living room. In the kitchen is the ice box and the butter churn. Harriet would house from 12 to 18 people in the home. Then thereís the dining room with a back door.

Following the end of the tour, we drive up Route 34 north to Weedsport where we would be staying at the Best Western Inn on Erie Drive.

We ate dinner at the Old Erie Restaurant at 8924 N Seneca Street, not far from the Best Western Inn. At the restaurant, they offer a lot of German food and we had the sauerbraten and spaetzle. The atmosphere was nice, the service was good and the food was good.

Sonnenberg Mansion & Gardens State Historic Site I

Sonnenberg Mansion & Gardens State Historic Site II

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Harriet Tubman Visitor Center & Home

Third Day, Saturday, October 11, 2014.

Drive down on Route 34 south to take us back to Ithaca. We are there to meet our goddaughter Rosemary Li, who is named after my wife Rosemary. We reach the meeting place on the Cornell University Campus at the intersection of Stewart and University Avenues a little late and there stands Rosemary Li, our charming guide. With her guidance, we drive over to Central Avenue and turn right. We park in front of White Hall.

Across the street from White Hall is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

Next to the museum we see a sculpture of three standing figures without heads by Magdalena Abakanowicz on Libe Slope. Rosemary Cooney is disturbed by the missing heads, but I thought it was interesting.

We go south on Central Avenue and go by the Department of Romance Studies building.

We notice the absolutely gorgeous overview of the campus and town of Ithaca from Libe Slope. You can see a long way from here. One of the best views ever from a campus weíve visited.

We come to the southern end of Central Avenue. Look up and you see the McGraw Tower with its clocks on each side.

We walk south on the path and pass Sage Chapel. We head north and pass the Uris Library and the John M. Olin Library. We see a sculpture called the Song of the Vowels, 1931-32 by Jacques Lipchitz, a French born Lithuanian.

We continue north and come to the Artís Quad where there are statues of both founders of Cornell University: Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. Ezra gave a half million dollars to get the university started and Andrew was the first president of the future university. The two statues stand across the quad as if each statue is keeping an eye on the other. Andrew stands before the Goldwin-Smith Hall.

We go east and get onto East Avenue. Heading south we pass by Stimson Hall, a Biological Sciences building. The next building we notice is the Statler Hotel where students learn Hotel Administration.

We reach the south end of East Avenue and turn left to get onto Campus Road. Philips Hall for engineering is on the right side of the road. Then at the corner of Campus Road and Hoy Road on the right we see the new Gates Hall given by Bill Gates and his wife. It is a very modern looking building. Staying on Campus Road heading east, on the left is Teagle Hall.

We turn left onto Garden Avenue heading north. We pass by Teagle Hall at the corner and now head past Comstock Hall. On the left side of Garden Avenue is the Industrial and Labor Relations building.

We turn right onto a path and go pass the Biotechnology Building on the south. Straight ahead of us, looking east, thereís a building looking somewhat like it's made out of lego toys. Itís relatively new and modern looking building. Itís called Weill Hall. We all like the architecture of the building.

We go north and turn right onto Tower Road. We walk a ways and turn left onto a path. We go by Fernow Hall.

Heading farther north we see the Cornell Plantations arboretum below us. There are gardens here on the top. We see a new fir tree we never saw before. Itís the Silver Korean Fir (Abies koreana). We see a Yucca filameantosa plant, a weeping larch, an American smoke tree and the beauty berry shrub with pretty purple berries. There are lots more plants, but we donít have the time to look at them all.

If we had kept going north eventually we would have come to the south side of Beebe Lake.

Head west over to the Agricultural Quad. On the north side of the Agrricultural Quad is Warren Hall. At the west end of the quad is Roberts Hall.

We reach Garden Avenue heading west and then see Bailey Hall, the main performance hall on the other side of the street.

Along East Avenue, thereís the music building, Lincoln Hall East, that reminds me of Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture.

We make our way back to White Hall where we started our walking tour of Cornell University.

Now Rosemary Li takes us over to see the John T. Oxley Equestrian Center. We meet Clifford, a warm-blood, whatever the heck that is. They have a lot of horses and some ponies at the center. My wife and Rosemary Li both love horses. They had a great time stroking the horses and ponies. Iím not a horse and pony fan, but I enjoyed seeing the animals and some of the young women who work there. We meet a pretty young woman named Amanda, who Rosemary Li knows. She purchased a horse from a place that couldnít take care of the horse.

After the visit to the Equestrian Center we have something to eat at College Town Bagels. I had a bagel and cream cheese and it was delicious.

We still had some time to spend, because Rosemary Liís mother and sister Laura were running a bit late and were not expected until about 2:30 p.m. So we went to the F. R. Newman Arboretum in the Cornell Plantations. We parked down by Houston Pond and Grossman Pond. We walked around the ponds and took some photos. Itís a very pretty arboretum here. We also drive nearby to see Fall Creek.

Now we went to Rosemary Liís place. About five minutes after we sat down at Rosemaryís table, her mother and sister arrived. Itís always good seeing them. We talked for awhile and then went down to see the Fall Creek waterfall, known as the Ithaca Falls and Natural area, across from the corner of Lake Street and Falls Street. Itís an impressive waterfall. It falls over many rock steps. It looks like there are two falls here. 2/3s of the water is on the right and 1/3 of the water is on the left with a gap between the two falls, where there are little falls between the two bigger ones. When there is a lot of rain, then the waterfall just looks like one big fall.

For dinner we ate at the Viva Mexican restaurant in the Commons at 101 N Aurora St. Viva Taqueria is a California-style taqueria. The food and drink were both excellent. Everyone seemed satisfied.

When we left the Li family, we drove to Cortland, New York and the Best Western Inn there, just off Route 13.

Weedsport, Seward Home & Views Along Rt 34

Walking Around Cornell Campus

Cornell Equestrian Center

Cornell Plantation & Fall Creek

Ithaca Falls & Two Views of The Commons


Fourth Day, Sunday, October 12, 2014.

489.5 odo miles.

Went to Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen near the southern end of Seneca Lake. It was easy to find, but there were a hell of a lot of people going into the park. We, however, got into the main parking lot and got a parking spot without too much trouble.

Itís so busy because the place has earned the title of the Jewel of the Finger Lakes Region. There is quite the gorge here, complete with 19 waterfalls and quite a few bridges. Itís worth a visit. We had made this tour some 37 years ago, but this time it was sure a lot busier of a place.

The sky was a bit overcast. We went into the Gift Shop and we bought a bunch of souvenirs and one photo book on Watkins Glen State Park and another photo book on Ithaca and Cornell.

At Cavern Cascade people are taking photos of other people behind the waterfall.

The Indian Trail takes a parallel jaunt but up in the woods on the plateau. The trail will bring the walker down near the end of gorge trail at the One Mile Point. The Indian Trail is like the express route back and forth. There is a similar woods trail on the other side of the gorge.

In the water are a lot of glacial potholes.

At Glen Cathedral there are lots of areas of what look likes soft shale.

At Central Cascade thereís a bridge over a waterfall.

We reach the One mile point. We see the Indian Trail dropping off and picking up hikers.

We now cross to the other side of the gorge and walk up to the woods and the trail there. This trail takes you back to the main entrance of the park. You can see the pedestrian bridge here where there was a big resort hotel. This was the Glen Mountain House and it opened in 1872. The old lily pond is still here from those days of old. The hotel burned down in 1903.

From the pedestrian bridge you still have a bit of a hike ahead of you to get back to the parking lot. But itís mostly downhill. You have to use part of the Gorge Trail again.

At the one mile point you could have chosen to keep going for another half of a mile and you will reach a Gift Shop. In the summer season you can get a ride back to the main road via local roads.

Ate at Subway nearby the park. Everyone was happy with the sandwiches.

Drove back to Ithaca and Rosemary Liís apartment. We talked a little and when 4 p.m. came we excused ourselves after thanking Rosemary Li for being such a gracious hostess and said goodbye to her mother and sister. We drove back to Cortland and the Best Western. Went to bed early after watching some television.

Watkins Glen State Park I

Watkins Glen State Park II

Watkins Glen State Park III


Fifth Day, Monday, October 13, 2014.

We drove down Route 13 south to Dryden and then kept on going south on Route 38. This took us to Route 79 east. When we got to Route 79 we were at Richford already. Got to Whitney Point where we got gas at the same Hess station we used on the way to Ithaca. But this time we got lost a bit. So we had to ask some people. One fellow said to turn right on the road just before Greenís Hardware Store, but we missed that because there was only the Ace Hardware store now. Stopped for directions at Hess and a local woman was nice enough to lead us to the on-ramp for US 81 heading south.

The traffic wasnít much of a problem, except for where there was highway work going on, and we made good time getting back.

The final odometer reading was 764 miles. We started at 0.


Written by Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

Photography by Rosemary Santana Cooney, Ph.D. 


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