5 October 2015 - Lexington, KY - Rochester, NY - Finger Lakes Region, NY - Ithaca, NY - Cape Charles, VA

     From St. Louis, MO, we made tracks to Louisville, KY, where we spent several days.  This is the home of Churchill Downs and numerous distilleries.  We took a tour of the Downs and watching a race was part of the deal.

How can you not LOVE the hats!
     Probably the best known distillery is the Evan Williams and their Bourbon Experience, located in the heart of downtown Louisville, combines two of America’s favorite things—history and Bourbon.  We took the Speak Easy Tour and were led through a pseudo fire place and fake safe door. After providing the correct password to the proprietor, we were admitted into his Speak Easy bar looking like it came right out of the Prohibition Days.  We learned that in those days there were 3 political parties—the Democrats, Republicans, and the Prohibitionists.  The latter group probably morphed into the Tea Party of today. 

     There were 30,000 Speak Easys in NYC during prohibition and interestingly enough, crime was increased during that time—far greater than when bars and saloons were allowed.  Our guide was an excellent actor and attired as you’d expect an “illegal” bartender to be.  His Speak Easy is beautiful with a dark wood glistening bar; antique furniture, dark paneling—making us feel like we were in a time warp.  By the way, Evan Williams was KY’s first commercial distiller and the only grain they use is corn.  

     Our next stop of significance was Cincinnati, OH.  This probably won’t be amusing to you but it cracks me up—I must be easily entertained. Guess what street our RV Park was on??? Round Bottom Road!!! They had to dig deep to come up with that name. 

     This was our first visit to Cincinnati and our first taste of Cincinnati Chili at the famous Skyline Chili in downtown. Call me a skeptic but cinnamon in chili? It was absolutely outstanding! Our server said she puts bibs on all first-timers.  The manager, cook, and server treated us like royalty.  We had the 5 Way Chili—-spaghetti, watery/runny chili, beans, onions, and about 5 pounds of cheese on top.  The cook emerged from his cocina and said he saw us trying to twirl but said, “that spaghetti is all cut up.  You can’t twirl Cincinnati Chili” and they all laughed.  That was really a fun experience—gastronomically speaking as well as entertaining.

     The staff said if we really wanted to round out our Cincinnati experience, we needed to walk over to Fountain Square and have Graeter’s Black Cherry Chocolate Chip ice cream.  We were obedient and it was mouth wateringly scrumptious and a treat for the palate.  We told Graeter’s that Skyline Chili sent us so they described a pizza joint around the corner but we could not eat another crumb.  We have it filed away for next time.  Perhaps an omen and warning from the street name of Round Bottom—-to shun Graeter's Ice Cream and Skyline Chili. Round Bottom---a prophecy?  The city has a magnificent waterfront with miles of paved hiking/walking/cycling paths.  We had a fabulous time in Cincinnati. 

     Lake Erie State Park, Brockton, NY, provided a very refreshing interlude.  We’ve been going to commercial/privately owned campgrounds that have a different flavor than state and national parks.  The views were breathtaking from high bluffs that overlooked Lake Erie.  The sites were huge with mature shade trees and we were perched right on the water’s edge.  This park is smack dab in the middle of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt providing easy access to many fine wineries.

     We’re right on the water and even though it looks as if it’d be smooth sailing out there, the waves are lapping at the shale shoreline. The soothing sounds are reminiscent of my years spent on Pensacola Beach—however this may be a tad more comfortable. We’re kicked back in our recliners beneath the huge mature leafy trees listening to the tranquilizing rhythmical music of water meeting shore; no blinding sun nor sand in our chairs. This is so palliating after a hard day of retirement. I just may never want to leave here. Trees are showing some color changes; wood camp fires are filling the air with the sweet scent of fall; the park is meticulously maintained and only the wave’s reverberation and the bird’s song pierce the air. This is peace personified!

     Bill’s sister, Doris, and her quite large family live in upstate NY and we were eager to spend a few days visiting there. Her green thumb produces a flower garden comprised of a palette of colors and varieties.  I love nothing better than real homegrown tomatoes.  She had so many that they were rotting on the ground and on the vine.  I tried to rescue as many as I could.  

     She surprised us with a bottle of wine named Kindred Spirit.  In case you don't know, that's our boat's name.

     Who’d have ever thought!  We enjoyed visiting with so many family members. Bill took me on a Bender Tour of every place he ever lived in that area, the schools he attended, his university, companies where he'd worked, and the reminiscent journey wouldn’t be complete without one of his favorite meals from a historic greasy spoon and then a trip lakeside for a big bowl of Abbott’s Frozen Custard which is a great way to build up that big ol’ layer of fat for the wintertime.  

     We were looking forward to seeing New York's Finger Lakes.  We've been there by boat but the perspective from land is somewhat different.  Just outside of Ithaca, we found a very remote (that translates into no phone or wifi) park that was another piece of solace. At last! A break in our marathon travels to don our hiking duds and hit the trails.  This region is exquisite and a water-lover's utopia with lakes, cascading waterfalls, rivers and creeks, all carved thousands of years ago by ice-age glaciers. Consequently, this makes for some of the best wine-growing areas in the world!

     It was quite interesting to learn that, per square mile, there are 758 graduate-degree-holders in Ithaca.  One one hill of the city is a Tibetan monastery and on another, a 50,000 watt solar plant.  One of the breweries grows its own hops, a deli raises its own pork and a bar that mixes its cocktails based on what's fresh at the farmers market.  Do they have waterfalls???  There are over 100 within 10 square miles of downtown.

     The Ithaca area provided more hiking opportunities than we could explore in our 5 days there.  The highlight being Watkins Glen State Park, the oldest and most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks.   Glen Creek has poured down the glacially-steep valley for 12,000 years leaving 19 glistening waterfalls and cascades from its paths.

      Watkins Glen State Park is the most famous of the Finger Lakes Parks. 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 rim trails overlook the gorge. We hiked the Indian and Gorge Trails which includes more than 800 stone steps and our foot prints are on every single one of them.  

     Cavern Cascade is one of the two waterfalls that we could walk behind, made possible by the wearing away of a thin layer of shale rock underneath a tougher layer of sandstone.  Rainbow Falls is the other one and in late afternoon, the sun creates a rainbow there.

     Fractures in the rocks tell a story.  The cracks, called joints, run up the wall.  We followed them with our eyes across the creek bed and up the opposite wall.  They represent a continental collision that pushed up the Appalachians in PA and the Allegheny Plateau which includes the Finger Lakes Region.

     The Treman State Park is an area of wild beauty with the rugged gorge called Enfield Glen as its scenic highlight.  We hiked the winding trails following the gorge past 12 waterfalls, including the 115 foot Lucifer Falls.  Our hike led us through an oasis of cool (enough for a sweatshirt), dense woods in a long, narrow gorge.  The trails also offer spectacular views, unique geological formations and a narrow valley quite rich botanically. On site is a historic 19th century grist mill that was interesting to see its preserved remains.

      I took a day off to read and paint so Bill, fueled by his youth and never-needs-recharging batteries, hiked 8 miles of Buttermilk Falls which gets its name from the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek, flowing down the steep valley into Cayuga Lake, another of the Finger Lakes.
      NY’s Finger Lakes area is definitely a destination and for more than just a few days.  If you relish immersing yourselves in nature and enjoy hiking, put this on your traveling Bucket List.  We found it absolutely “gorge-ous” and were left spellbound.

     For Bill, the trip’s highlight was the Canadian Rockies.  For me, it was the zipping!  I believe we’d both agree that Watkins Glen ran a very close second.

     Kinda feel like we’re winding down as we travel to Cape Charles, VA, for our semi-annual trawler rendezvous.  Then we'll put "home" in our cross hairs and travel southward as we head to Kindred Spirit III who’s awaiting our return as she rests in Brunswick, GA.  We both admit to missing her although 6 months of land travel has been a wonderful respite.

     Cherrystone RV Park, Cape Charles, VA, is huge!  There are 300 acres right on Chesapeake Bay and over 700 campsites. There are FOUR swimming pools but for some reason that I fail to understand, above the Mason-Dixon Line, pool plugs are pulled Labor Day.  The weather's just as nice as it was then so what's the deal?  We're right on the bay and an unobstructed view to the west with beautiful sunsets!

     We have seen many many things but it has really been a marathon of a trip.  Next season we’ll go slower and stop and smell the roses.  There’s no way to see it all but we sure did try.  I would’ve loved more “lay days” and when the opportunity was presented, I relished every moment.

 Now our blog's all caught up and my feelings of guilt about being remiss have vanished with the currently setting sun.

“You must search for the loveliness of  America. It is scattered. It is not obvious.  But when you find it, it touches you and binds you to it like a great secret oath taken in silence.”
     Struthers Burt, Jackson Hole, WY, Dude Rancher 1934

Bill and Laura
Cape Charles, VA



Dinata Misovec said…
We also love Ithaca and the surrounding region. Daughter Jennifer went to Cornell, so we took many trips there over her college career and have been to all the places you mention. Jennifer's wedding was at Watkins Glen, at the pavilion at the top entrance to the park. You are right. There is so much to see and do there. We need to go back even though Jennifer graduated years ago.

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