Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spencerport to Fairport via Watkins Glen (August 22 to 31)

After an overnight stop in Newark, we entered the Cayuga Seneca Canal, overnighted at Seneca Falls and cruised down Seneca Lake in south 25-30 mph winds to Watkins Glen.  Carolyn Ann got a great fresh water washdown.  The two days of cruising had been uneventful for us but took place during a time of great concern for friends and family.  Irene was bearing down on the Bahamas where one of Joe's sisters lives,  NC where one of my sisters lives, and putting various boater friends at risk, not the least of which was Sea Dream coming north from Brunswick on Mike and Linda's first "real" cruise.
Former GH owner's Ted and Terry arranged dockage for us at Watkins Glen Yacht Club which served as a great base.  Ken, one of their friends, helped us in and drove us to Elmira to pick up a rental car.  Those of you who know Joe won't be surprised to learn that he and Ken ended up knowing people in common from Joe's days studying driving simulators while at the training center in Brunswick.  They're sure they must have met somewhere along the way.
Once we picked up the car our first stop was the Corning Museum of Glass.  If you like glass, or even just art, make this a destination sometime.  Our plan had been to spend an afternoon there.  Then we found out we could blow glass.  Then we found out our ticket was good for two days.  Then we found out we could form glass.  Then we found out we still hadn't seen everything!
Our first day at the museum we watched various demonstrations and took a short guided tour.  The tour was valuable because we were given a basic history of glass making in general and art glass in particular as well as information about several glass artists and their techniques.
 There are several pieces by Tagliapietra who is recognized as the best glassblower in the world.  Pictures cannot do these pieces justice, especially because of the glare on the glass cases.  Joe worked hard and got some that at least give an idea of what we saw.
They also have a few Chihuly's, whose museum in St. Pete we will have to visit this winter,
and some by Toots Zynsky who uses thin glass fibers to build her pieces.  They had a short video of her describing and showing her process that was fascinating.
Later in the afternoon it was time for us to blow our glass ornaments.  As it turns out, the only part we actually did was the blowing, but it was still fun.  The next day when we came to pick up our "art," we learned that the one I had made had a flaw.  They said I could make another and keep them both, so I did.
While there, we saw people forming glass flowers.  There is no blowing involved, but you get to do more of the work yourself, so later that day we did that too.  We figure it's something we'll probably never do again, but it was a great experience and we really enjoyed the young artists who worked with us.

Saturday morning we were glued to the tv as Irene worked her way north, making landfall in NC.  By this time all our boater friends had found places to stay that they were reasonably comfortable with and my sister had moved inland from her beach house on Duck.  Unable to be of help to anyone we decided to take advantage of our good  weather and walk down the gorge (glen) that Watkins Glen is famous for.
Howard, from the yacht club, helped us drop our car at the bottom and then delivered us to the top for the mile and a half walk down.  It has 800+ steps on the way down - which we were told is much easier than walking up! - and many waterfalls.
 The stone walkway and steps have been built in very naturally and don't detract from the natural beauty of the gorge, which is amazing.  This was a totally different experience from the Letchworth Gorge - both spectacular in their own ways.

After lunch it was time to drive back to Corning to pick up our flowers.  It had gotten too late to visit another museum so we decided to visit the Corning museum store and then stopped in for one last demonstration.  Jamie and Dan, who we'd seen before, were working on a large project combining both of their styles.  The demos usually last about thirty minutes.  This time, even though they had made some parts earlier in the day, they worked for an hour and a half to construct a large pot with an undersea sculpture on it.  It is an exhausting process with no time for breaks.
Sunday, again glued to the tv, now in the rain, we watched as Irene unloaded on New England.  We were on the western edge, and very secure, so were never threatened.  Joe worked at contacting boaters we knew were in the north, some of whom had not expected to be quite so involved with Irene.  Everyone managed to weather the storm well, though.

Have you noticed that we are in the Finger Lakes of NY and have not visited any of their wineries yet?  When  Ken brought Joe back from returning the rental car, he offered to take us to a few.  He doesn't drink wine so he'd be the DD and his wife Robin, who does, would be happy to come along.  So, the plan was to take off on the tour before noon on Tuesday.
Erie Canal Lock 8
Over a leisurely breakfast, Joe was checking his email and got some disturbing news.  Of course we knew there was unprecedented flooding in Vermont, but we were assuming if we just extended our stay in the Finger Lakes - no sacrifice there! - that the water would recede.  Joe learned that two of the lock houses on the Erie Canal were gone, another had water surging just short of the roofline, the dams would need to be inspected - once they were no longer under water - and who knows what damage was being done to the locks and the equipment used to run them.  And it's the end of August.  Joe always says that our plans are written in Jell-O, so go east has turned into go west.
We called off the winery visits and headed up the lake to Seneca Falls.  As we exited the Cayuga-Seneca Canal onto the Erie Canal, there was a brief moment of indecision.  If you happened to see our SPOT it looked like we made a wrong turn.  Joe made the turn to the east thinking that we could take the Oswego into Lake Ontario and then go through Canada like on our first loop or possible out the St. Lawrence and then down the canals to Lake Champlain.  Word is that canal system is not as badly damaged.  However, after more thought we decided to turn back west - for various reasons.  We'll keep an eye on conditions to the east, but we're now planning to go back through Buffalo to Lake Erie, around Michigan and down the Illinois from Chicago.  Using the inland rivers, we'll make our way to the Gulf at Mobile, as we did two years ago, then across to St. Pete.  Stay tuned...

There are more pictures on the picasa site:

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