Back On The Trail

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November 12, 2018, Prescott-

I gave my knees a mild reality check, this afternoon, going to  the Centennial Trail, on the northwest side of town and hiking a small section that I had not previously explored. It was light, by my usual standards, but gave me the workout I needed, to confirm that I can handle more intensive fare.

Here are some scenes of that sector-and of the other end of the trail, now undergoing sewer pipe replacements, for the homes which abut the trail.

I would have gone up the usual north side of the trail, had it not been for the work being done.

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The road I had to use was Westridge, a street about 1.5 miles west southwest of this access point.  It was fine, as the trailhead led to the one area of Centennial that I had never hiked.   The 1.5 mile loop that I ended up taking was good, both time-wise and in terms of workout.  I now know my knees are back to normal, and can gradually build up to that which I am accustomed.

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The trail sticks to the side of Westridge, for about 500 yards, before veering off into the Boulder Preserve.

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We have a penchant for naming things after what they replace. My hope, having seen well-planned homes place in the wilderness, is that this will not be a mindless, chock-a-block  intrusion on a special place.

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Here, I rejoined more familiar parts of the Centennial, and continued on through the public section of the Preserve, for another .75 mile.

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I look forward to returning to the north side of the trail, once the sewer pipes are completed, sometime in the Spring.

Back to The (Changeable) Future

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August 19, 2018, Prescott-

“You’ve lost your shimmer!”- So I was told, this morning.

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Before sitting down for the last four posts of “The 2018 Road”, let me indulge with some reflections on yesterday.  August 18 has been an auspicious day, since 1984, when my then best friend passed on, suddenly, in the midst of getting his truck unstuck-of all things.

I joined a newly welcomed friend, on a hike around Lynx Lake.  We walked at a leisurely pace, from the north trailhead to the south side of the lake.  As it was rather sunny when we got to the small south side beach, I suggested that we continue, counterclockwise, along the more rocky eastern shore.

In all my circumference hikes along the lake, the last being in 2016, the trail has been dry as a bone.  It was not so, today, with three water crossings along the east side-hardly surprising in a monsoon that has been second to none, as Lynx Creek and Salida Creek flow into the lake, from the east and the dam’s spillway has a few inches of water flowing.

So, we each had a new experience, she with the lake itself and I with the different dynamics of the trail, in wet conditions. Then, there was a spot where the trail was washed out and I had to follow a bushwhacked area, much to the chagrin of the five people who were “depending on (my) knowledge of the trail.”  All made it back to the north side safely, though.

In the course of this hike, a long conversation ensued, about who I was and where I was headed in life, as well as the same, to a lesser extent, with respect to my hiking partner.  Most of this is confidential, but I will share a couple of insights she had about me, which explains the remark at the head of this post.

The things I can share are: 1.  I would do well to get out more, socially.  2.  I need to be open to possible sudden, drastic, very specific life changes.  These remarks, she said just by looking at me.  The second has occurred to me recently, given the precarious state of my MIL’s health, and despite her (MIL’s) occasional insistence that she will make it to the age of 100, (she is 92), and to my son and his fiance talking of marriage, within the next ten months (No further specifics yet, so please don’t ask).  As for the former, I am getting out more, socially.   Intuition is a marvelous thing, though, as I’ve found out, some of it puts one at risk of, “Well, duh!”, in response.  No one really likes to be  second-guessed.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 36: A Tennessee Nirvana

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June 30, 2018, Crossville-

I relaxed last night away, binge watching some True Crime series with my host, Chuck.  Being of a similar age and temperament, we get along very well.  His wife, Laureen, who invited me in the first place, was not far away, but was busy with some prep for today’s pool party and barbecue.

As it happened, the event was  attended  by two of  L’s siblings, her sister’s cute friend and the friend’s elderly father.  We splashed around, ate our fill of Chuck’s grilled treats, and various salads and casseroles served up by the ladies.  It was low key, but just the sort of thing that my peripatetic soul needed, after resuming a headlong itinerary, between Spring Hill and here.

The setting was divine.  The ladies, including the comely friend, preferred to either not be photographed or that the photos remain off social media.  As always, I comply with this request.  The property, though, is salubrious, and I am grateful to Laureen and Chuck for greeting me so warmly.  Crossville thus becomes yet another link in my cross-country chain of homes.

Here are some views of the Tennessee Nirvana (my term).

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A party does not have to be huge, to be joyful or memorable.

NEXT UP:  Memphis, for Lovers and Fighters

The 2018 Road, Day 29: The Cleansing Storm and Saturday’s Markets

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June 23, 2018, Tifton, GA-

After a short pass by Clemson University, which I found closed for the evening, I headed off to look for a campsite along  Richard B. Russell Lake.  Named for a conservative senator from Georgia, who was noteworthy as both a pragmatist and a parliamentarian, despite having misgivings about integrating whites and blacks at the Federal level, the lake, formed by damming the Savannah River, draws people of all ethnicities.

I chose the first campground on the South Carolina side of the river:  Calhoun Falls State Park.  The town was named for another senator, John C. Calhoun, who strode the floor of his chamber, orating in defense of slavery, whilst privately educating his own slaves back home.  Even the most seemingly venal of people can be complicated.

The Southland has always graced my camping efforts with a torrential rain, and last night was no exception.  Despite the cleansing downpour, with copious thunder and lightning, my tent and rain flap stayed put.  It also helped that the tent site is on porous ground.

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Here are some views of  the lake, looking towards the Georgia shore. Note that the soil along the shore is red.

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I made a stop at the camp store, for a bit of breakfast, before heading out.  Two sweet teen girls were minding the store and made sure I had fresh coffee and a scone, on this soggy morning.

Outside, the dock and its attendant were getting ready for a more promising day of sunshine.

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I took county roads to the town of Calhoun Falls, then to McCormick, before going on to Edgefield, the hometown of another of South Carolina’s more provocative figures:  J. Strom Thurmond.  Before Donald Trump, before George Wallace, Strom Thurmond stood for keeping things as they were, in bygone days- before coming to his senses in later years, and actually being mortified by those who cited him as an example of a man who could “keep the races apart”.

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I found numerous mementos of the Civil War, as was to be expected, and solid antebellum architecture.  Then, there was the turkey.  Edgefield’s more eclectic claim to fame is as the headquarters of the American Wild Turkey Association.  One of the men with whom I spoke had been to Prescott, and had hunted wild turkeys in our National Forest.

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I took in Edgefield’s tiny, but welcoming Farmers’ Market, purchasing a couple of gifts for my family in Florida.  Then I poked around a bit in Edgefield’s town square.

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Below, is the town’s memorial to its Confederate  war dead.  Being on the opposite side of the slavery issue, I nonetheless recognize that people of earlier times had to go through their growing pains.  Then, too, so do many of this day and age.

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Other memorials honour those fallen in subsequent conflicts.  This memorial stone commemorates World War II.

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I stopped in Park Row Cafe, for a muffaletta, which held its own with the more famous New Orleans versions of the sandwich.  I was greeted warmly by the young lady who I had met on the street, earlier.  The cafe’s manager, though, was a bit more guarded, wondering aloud about “the western Yankee”. She was quite glad to see me go.  Too bad, as the place has wonderful fare.

Down the road, and a bit north of the river, is Aiken.  It is home to another Xanga friend, who was not at home when I visited downtown.  I can see the attraction, though.  Aiken had a larger Farmers’ Market than Edgefield, and was considerably more vibrant.  I spent most of my time here in New Moon Cafe, a fortuitous discovery, as I was missing Artful Dodger.  I sat, nursing a Haitian pour-over, absorbing the positive energy.  I found this magnetic little cafe a great excuse for returning to Aiken in the future, even if Xanga friend is not around.  Here is a small hotel that might be of interest to those not inclined to camp.

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New Moon is all about power!

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I took this photo from a discrete distance as, underneath the signage, another patron was relaxing with coffee and the paper.

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Leaving salubrious Aiken, I wanted to make fairly good time getting to north Florida, before turning in. So Augusta, Lake Oconee, Macon and Andersonville all wait for another time.  I made a mental note, as to the exquisite beauty of Oconee and its Reynolds properties.  There is much also that Georgia has to tell, regarding the struggles of men with one another.  Americus showed the way towards amity, whilst Andersonville chronicles the flip side of Maryland’s Point Lookout, being the site of a POW camp for Union soldiers, just as the latter was for Confederate POW.

So, I stopped here, in Tifton, just off I-75, enjoying chicken salad at a Zaxbe’s.  I still am determined to make it at least to Ocala, tonight.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 28: Falls Park Afternoon

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June 22, 2018, Greenville, SC-

I spent several days here, in and around this small, but bustling, commercial hub of western South Carolina, in late February and early March, 1987.  One of my brothers and his family lived near here then.  I can recall the Museum of Christian Art, at Bob Jones University, and Falls Park on the Reedy, as highlights of that visit.

My journey today, led me back to Falls Park, to meet an old friend from Xanga days. K is a military veteran, whose son is currently serving as well.  She lives in a city not far from Greenville, and so agreed to meet for lunch and a walk around the park.  It took several minutes for us to find one another, with confusion on my part, as to what she meant by the “park entrance”.  There are actually three, so I went to the one closest to the West End Historic District, where she found me.  We enjoyed a fine lunch at Smoke On The Water, overlooking the Reedy River, and swapped Xanga tales.  Then, it was time to revisit the park, in earnest.

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There are multiple places for people to cool off, in the running water.  This fountain, on the grounds of River Place, drew several families, as the day was heating up.

This footbridge leads into Falls Park, from the north.

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Here is a view of West End, which has been revitalized since I was here last.

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We enjoyed this, and other, views of the Falls, from Liberty Bridge.

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With many people taking one another’s photos, including us, K and I were glad to be in this one selfie.

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That led to another shot of the Falls.

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The flowers at Falls Park were not at their peak, but diligent care has kept the gardens well-balanced and adorning the grounds.

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The lower park, closer to the water, is always among my favourite parts of a river walk.

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Nature offers some strange scenes, of suffering and resilience.  Looking at the trunk of this tree, from this vantage point, I can almost discern a face.

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We continued to head back to the park entrance, as K had to avoid afternoon traffic.  Above the falls, the river offers as much beauty, as below.

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These cataracts, close to Liberty Bridge, help control the flow of water, in times of flooding.

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Ten Artispheres, by John Acorn, commemorated the tenth anniversary of Greenville’s Artishphere Festival, in 2014.

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After K left, I spent some time along the river, close to the place where I had parked.  Ducks and geese were more plentiful, in the serenity of upriver.

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This view of downtown shows the variety of architectural styles is present, even in a smaller city.

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Near an overpass, I spotted the testimony of the timeless.

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These geese were also glad to find the shade of the bridge’s underpinnings.

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The Peace Center Amphitheater and Wyche Pavilion was empty, this afternoon, but is sometimes used for weddings and other special events.

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Greenville has polished itself a fair amount, in thirty one years, and like many former textile centers, has used the rivers which once generated their mills to generate a thriving economy, based on tourism and other outdoor-based enterprises.

NEXT:  Camping in the Rain and Two Saturday Markets

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 2- The Commander’s Chapel

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

Coming around the bend,as it were, from Varnum’s headquarters, I saw a tall castle-like structure, fronting a sizable cemetery.  This is the first section of Washington Memorial Chapel that greets the visitor, from the north.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Chapel is not part of Valley Forge National Historic Park, but being surrounded by the park, it is well-visited by thousands, in the course of a year.   It was constructed from 1904-1917, at the behest of Dr. W. Herbert Burk, a local Anglican minister, with the blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The design and materials evoke the sturdiness and timeless aura of the enduring stone churches of Europe.

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Homages to the power and endurance of history are contained, in the commemorative discs, embedded in both the outside patios and the interior floors.

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In the foyer of the chapel, there is this memorial tribute to Dr. Bodo Otto, and his sons, who staffed a combat hospital in nearby Yellow Springs. The Ottos had come to Philadelphia, from Gottingen, in what is now Germany, in the 1750’s.

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These views are of the north side of the structure.  Note the Carillon and Bell Tower, in the background.

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This is a statue of Rev. William White, Chaplain to the Continental Congress and first Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia.  It is located in the Chapel’s courtyard.

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This Justice Bell hangs in the foyer of the Chapel.

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These arches lie on the east entrance to the Chapel.

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This Wall of Honor has names of many veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the present day.

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Here is  a view of the Chapel’s interior.

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This memorial, erected by the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter, in 1993, represents a concerted national effort to recognize the diversity of our nation’s builders, from the beginning of America’s story.

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A small Gift Shop and Cafe is operated by parish volunteers.  The cafe was welcomed by me, after a day of exploration in the heat.

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The only identified grave at Valley Forge is that of Lieutenant John Waterman, of Rhode Island, d. April 23, 1778.  This obelisk was erected at his gravesite, in 1901, by the Daughters of the American Revolution, in honour of all those who died at Valley Forge, during the American encampment.

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Both the Chapel and the obelisk overlook the Grand Parade, where the Continental Army trained, whilst at Valley Forge.

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So, it was with humility that I stood and gave thanks for their long ago sacrifice, which started the process, far from perfect and far from finished, of building our nation.

NEXT:  General Washington’s Headquarters and the western sector of Valley Forge

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 1-The Battlefield and Encampments

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June 14, 2018, Oley, PA-

That moniker above could apply to this little farm, where I am camped, until tomorrow morning.  It more immediately applies, however, to Valley Forge, where I spent most of the day. Like Steamtown and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, admission to Valley Forge is free of charge.  The value of the stories it tells, though, is priceless, eternal.

The day will be recounted in three parts:  This post will focus, as stated, on the battlefield and the main encampments, which also feature most of the memorials.  Part two will focus on the Washington Chapel.  Part 3 will feature Washington’s Headquarters.

For exploration of the encampments, I chose the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named for a private in the Continental Army, who kept a journal of his experiences during the terrible winter of 1777-78.

The first stop along that trail takes in the Muhlenberg Brigade’s encampment and redoubt.   The commander of the Virginia Line, of the 8th Brigade, was Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg.

Several cabins were open for us to check out.

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This berm is an example of the cover used by Continental troops, to guard against any British cannon fire.

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Inside another cabin, the only source of heat for the people billeted here is shown.  Some cabins had not only the soldiers, but family members who followed the Army on its mission.

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Here is a longer view of the encampment.

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This signboard explains the situation to which I referred above. Some cabins had not only men, women and children, but household animals, as well.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington Memorial Chapel, a mile or so to the east of Muhlenberg encampment and the National Memorial Arch.

Moving further north, I found this memorial to the soldiers from Massachusetts, who served at Valley Forge.

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Here is the National Memorial Arch, honouring all who served the cause of independence.

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This small encampment, north of the present-day Arch, was commanded by Gen. Enoch Poor, of the New Hampshire Regiment.

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Here are the Pennsylvania Columns, which honour American Revolutionary War generals.  At the base of each column are bas-relief busts of Colonel William Irvine and Adjutant General Joseph Reed.

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Here’s a glimpse of Wayne’s Woods, named for General Anthony Wayne, who unsuccessfully tried to invade Canada, in 1775.  He didn’t encamp here, but the woods were named for him, anyway. Today, the woods are a popular picnic area.

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This marks the site where General Washington pitched his sleeping tent, when he entered Valley Forge, in December, 1777.

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The next two photos show Artillery Park, where Continental artillery was stored and repaired.

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Here is a statue of the great Prussian general, Baron Wilhelm von Steuben, who instilled unity and discipline in the Continental Army, during its time at Valley Forge.

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This house served as the quarters of General James Varnum, commander of the Connecticut and Rhode Island Brigades.  He shared the home with the Stephens family, who owned it-paying rent to David Stephens, during his stay at Valley Forge.

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Although my visit took place in the heat of early summer, a sense of what was endured by the  troops and local residents alike was easily conveyed. My tour of the encampments ended here, and the focus now became Washington Memorial Chapel, the subject of Part 2 of this set of posts.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 2: The Grand Chasm of Ausable

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June 12, 2018, Lake Ariel, PA

I saw the sign for Ausable Chasm, ten minutes after leaving Plattsburgh. Remembering how I had briefly considered making a trip up to the Champlain Basin and Ausable, way back in my feckless University days, I took the exit and headed east.

Ausable Chasm, like Bushkill Falls (July, 2016), is billed as “The Grand Canyon of the East”. It is also, more credibly, called Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Both are relatively compact, especially compared to the Colorado River’s system of gorges and chasms. Both are privately managed, and charge a modest entrance fee-most of the time.

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Today, the ticket seller noticed my VA card, when I pulled out my wallet.  She asked whether I would be attending any special programs and i answered that I would be walking the trails.  She then admitted me for free, and thanked me for my service.

So, starting with Elephant Head, I followed the handiwork of the Ausable River, through 3.3 miles of sandstone.

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I began my walk at Elephant Head overlook, then headed back towards Rainbow Falls. After showing my armband at the main admissions kiosk, I started along the Rim Walk Trail, which offers a series of overlooks, at various waterfalls.

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Nevertheless, gravity does its thing!

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I left the Rim Walk, went a little way on Dry Chasm Trail, then headed down to the Inner Sanctum.

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You can see one of the Inner Sanctum footbridges, below.

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Float trips are a big draw here. A group of twelve was getting ready to head out, as I descended from Dry Chasm.

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Once on the Inner Sanctum Trail, it is imperative to watch one’s footing, as the rock underfoot gets very slippery.

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The sheerness of the drop is impressive, from the bottom, as well as from the top.

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A set of cairns is intended to keep hikers from going into the cave, to the right.

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The narrow ledge and footbridge in the foreground are sometimes part of Adventure Trail, a more advanced exploration program.

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I stuck to the footbridge taken by the gentleman shown above.

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A short time later, I was back on the rim and returned to the Visitor Center, for a hearty lunch.  I was quite pleased with the views atop and inside Ausable Chasm. Comparing the gorges of the Northeast to the Grand Canyon is understandable, but not necessary.  These unique geologic wonders hold their own.

Intending to visit Fort Ticonderoga, I found that the hours did not accommodate a visit, today. I spent a few minutes in the town of Ticonderoga, and briefly visited the western shore of Lake George, Champlain’s little brother to the southwest. Lake George is just big enough to have its own tides, as well.

Lake George is connected to Lake Champlain by way of La Chute River.

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Ticonderoga is a somewhat busy town, with a small, hard to see traffic light, strung across the road.  I almost got fooled.

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Here are some west shore views of Lake George.

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i headed south from here, grabbing supper in the town of Queensbury and looking for accommodations, west and south of Albany.  My default spot, Port Jervis, must have had a special event. The nearest available room was in Lake Ariel, PA, a bit more than an hour from the Three Corners.  So, I spent the night in comfort, at Comfort Inn.

NEXT:  Homage to Steam

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 1: Where Young Estella Played

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My day along the Champlain Basin would have three parts.  The first, Plattsburgh, is important in my family’s life, because here was the place my maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born and raised.

She was a comforting influence in our early lives, helping my young parents, in what was not the easiest of times for a new blue-collar family. That she had earlier left all she knew, for the uncertainties of New England, in the 1910’s. is a testament to my Grandma’s hardiness.  Then again, Plattsburgh, in those days, was no picnic.

It’s a pretty place now, though still largely a company town:  Georgia Pacific greets the visitor, on the west side of town.

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Scomotion Creek Trail leads the foot traveler into town.

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A key chapter in the fortunes of our country, during the War of 1812, also resonates, along the water front.  Commodore Thomas Macdonough led the U.S. Navy to its signal victory over British, in the Battle of Plattsburgh, August-September, 1814.  The Riverwalk, and the lakefront, help to commemorate this key boon to our nation’s success in fending off attacks even worse than the sacking of Washington.

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This obelisk marks the resiliency of American forces in this area. New York and Vermont militias formed a unified front, under Commodore Macdonough.

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Here is the Saranac River, on its way to Lake Champlain.

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The lake itself looks calmer, this morning.

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The top of this driftwood almost looks like a figure from Angkor Wat.

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This is the ship’s bell from the USS Lake Champlain, which fought valiantly in World War II.

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Like many American towns of the Nineteenth Century, Plattsburgh is graced with fine stone architecture.  Here is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.

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The First Presbyterian Church is also impressive.

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Plattsburgh City Hall fronts the Riverwalk area.

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Plattsburgh’s bustling downtown,

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leads to its Romanesque county courthouse.

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Through all the hustle and bustle, this solitary creature whiles away its days.

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I am favourably impressed with the Myers family’s hometown.  One of my brothers once expressed a desire to visit Plattsburgh. I would heartily recommend such a visit, and would be glad to join him here.

NEXT:  Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 17: Resilience and The Sixth Great Lake

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June 11, 2018, Plattsburgh, NY-

Being in full recovery mode, this Monday morning, I headed out from the hostel around 9, going first to the U.S. Consulate.  It took less than ten minutes to get clearance to cross the border, as I have two government-issued photo IDs.

Next up was the glass repair shop, which was clear across town, but I found it easily. By 3:30, I was back on the road, wending my way, through the beginnings of Montreal’s evening commute, to southbound National Highway 15.

The visit at the border station lasted no more than three minutes, and by 6 PM, I was at Rip Van Winkle Motel, on Plattsburgh’s north side.   It proved a very comfortable spot.  I did meet some interesting characters here, but there was not a hint of menace from anyone.

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Dinner was a short walk away, at Gus’ Famous Red Hots Restaurant.  The Red Hots are apparently the founder’s spicy sausages.  I found gentler fare was fine, for the evening meal.

I got in my good long walk, afterward, heading for Lake Champlain.  Plattsburgh, and a fair length of northeastern New York, lie on the west shore of the “Sixth Great Lake”, with the east shore touching Vermont and a brief north shore in Quebec.  There was low tide, this evening, as I joined about two dozen other people, taking in the gorgeous evening. Few bugs were out and about.

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The Green Mountains loom to the east.

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Here is a view of Plattsburgh’s center, of which more in the next post.

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Here is the quiet community of Cumberland Head, just northeast of Plattsburgh.

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I was exhilarated by my time in Montreal, the unpleasant burglary aside.  Being with youth is always a revitalizing experience.  I am ready for the next set of wonders.

NEXT:  Grandma’s Girlhood Hometown