Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Reed: Fun, fun, fun! Today was my day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I saw things from the Who, my favorite band. I got a shirt with the names of all of the people inducted there.

Bryn: We spent most of the day there with our friends Brandon, Jeremy, and Melinda. We could only take photos in the lobby area. Reed is standing with the George Harrison memorial guitar made by Yoko Ono. Bret is posing by the tribute guitar to Michael Jackson. The main exhibit featured Bruce Springsteen.

Afterwards all of the boys had a nice long swim and water play session in the pool, followed by dinner at Melinda's favorite Cracker Barrel restaurant. And the day would not have been complete without some more energetic swordplay from these Greek warriors. They played on a big lawn area on the side of the restaurant. We had to leave after a train went by on the nearby tracks and a police officer stopped to see what was going on. Since it was already 10:15 pm, we said our good-byes and went our separate ways. Cleveland is another place that deserves a longer visit!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Niagara Falls - Second Honeymoon! And Back to Ohio.

Bryn: Good-bye to Lynn and Tim, our time together was much too short!

Westward across New York to Niagara Falls. An appropriate place to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. We donned blue plastic raincoats and climbed aboard the Maid of the Mist for an exhilarating, drenching, up-close view of the falls. We even ventured into Canadian waters, thus adding a second country to our summer road trip.

Randy: This was truly awesome, in the most literal sense of the word.

Reed: The boat took us to American and Horseshoe Falls. Everybody who went got really wet! It was a really fun day!

Bret: We had a fun time on the famous Maid of the Mist boat. In the mist, it seemed like it was raining.

Bryn: We drove southwest along the eastern edge of Lake Erie (Great Lake #2 for us), sneaked through the edge of Pennsylvania, then entered Ohio again. At a gas stop, we saw a sign for James A. Garfield National Historic Site, so we went to see it. As it was just before closing time, there was no time for a house tour, nor the junior ranger program. We were able to learn about our 20th president in the visitor center, and walk around the grounds to read wayside exhibits.

In Cleveland, we met our friends Brandon, Jeremy, Melinda, and Murray for dinner near the Ohio Canal. These are our Camp Half-Blood friends, so the boys engaged in some rousing swordplay. More fun planned for tomorrow.

July 26 - Ganondagan Festival

Bryn: Lynn, Reed, Bret and I went to Ganondagan State Park. This is a Seneca village site, once inhabited by about 4,500 people. There is a recreated longhouse and a small cultural center. How lucky for us, we happened to visit on the weekend of their Native American Dance and Music Festival! Talk about traditional local food--we had corn soup, buffalo burgers, and fry bread. I liked seeing the baskets in the longhouse and talking with some of the basket makers and other artists. The Iroquois social dancing was also fun, the beaded clothing that the dancers wore was beautiful.

Bret: I got a paddle, it goes with the song I learned in school this year. The nephew of the man who made this told me the Ojibwa story that goes with the turtle design. Here is the song I learned: My paddle, keen and bright, flashing like silver, follow the pale moon light, dip dip and swing, dip dip and swing.


July 25 - 26, Rochester NY

Bryn: We drove from Rome, arriving at cousins Lynn and Tim's house near Rochester after lunch. They took us to Lake Ontario (our first Great Lake on this trip). We walked to the end of the pier, there were lots of clouds and a brisk wind (more on this later). Then we strolled along the boardwalk to Abbott's Custard, where we tried our first local food tradition (more on this later too). Lynn also gave us a brief driving tour of Rochester.

Back at their house, the boys enjoyed rousing games of pool, ping pong, and wii. The sky was getting darker, then Tim's sister called - turn on the tv, there's a tornado warning! We watched tv and had a huge dump of rain. We all jumped when lightning hit nearby, Randy had a great view of the bolt out the sliding glass door. The tornado did touch down and caused damage in Corfu, a few towns over from where we were. Whew! We decided to order pizza and buffalo wings (more traditional Rochester area food), then played some board games and some wooden toys and puzzles that Lynn's father made.

Sunday - see next post!

Sunday dinner - Garbage Plate! Randy's friend Dave told him about this truly traditional Rochester food. Tim said that Randy was their first visitor who ever asked about one. Bravely, the men in the group all tackled one. The basic consists of a couple of cheeseburgers topped with fries, macaroni salad, then spicy meat sauce. Tim went with the basic. Randy varied by having cheeseburger and hot dog, and substituting baked beans for mac salad. Reed went with cheeseburgers, home fries and baked beans. Lynn, Bret and I went with more traditional sandwiches.
I'll let the boys add their comments....
Randy: A garbage plate is (at least where we went -- apparently each restaurant has a slight variation on the theme) three cheeseburger patties covered with macaroni salad (?) and french fries. This whole concoction is covered with mustard, a meat sauce (kind of like a beanless, not-very-spicy chili) and onions. It is both as good and as bad as it sounds. It is very greasy, but tastes ok until all the fat catches up with you. Our host Tim has it once a year and that's probably enough. My frequency is about once every fifty years and I expect that frequency to decrease with time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rome, NY

Bryn: We spent the whole day in Rome, where my dad grew up. We started at Fort Stanwix National Monument. Yes, the boys earned junior ranger badges! We attended a Revolutionary Weapons demonstration, and the boys asked plenty of questions afterwards.

Bret: My favorite part was watching the gun show. And I liked the movie because it gave me information for my ranger booklet. I wanted to look for the musket balls in the grass but they only shot the powder and not real balls.

Reed: The gun crack wasn't so loud, it was more like a thump in your chest. It was really fun.

Bryn: We followed with a visit to St Peter's Church and the Rome Historical Society. They're working on some new exhibits, so things donated by my dad's family weren't on display. Next, a quick lunch at a farmer's market, a visit to a candy store, and over to my dad's old house. We had a little chat with the neighbor, and went looking for the wooded area with ponds where he used to play. Yes, the area is still there and is undeveloped. We followed by a visit to the cemetery. Then we went southwest to Shako:Wi Cultural Center in Oneida, where I was delighted to find an exhibit on Oneida basketry. No photos allowed inside. For dinner, we went to Eddie's at Sylvan Beach on Lake Oneida, one of my aunt's favorite places. We all had pie for dessert and had a toast in her honor.


For Joanie, Kaki, Steve, Eileen, and the Arete guys who each drive a Prius -

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Through the Adirondack Mountains

Bryn: Off through New York's Adirondack Mountains today. Like other mountains we've been through on this trip (Ozarks, Appalachians, Berkshires, etc.), they're less like the tall and rocky California mountains we're used to and are more like green hills. However, they are BEAUTIFUL. Our first stop was the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex, where some of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic events were held. Reed and Bret went on the 1/2 mi bobsled track, along with a professional driver and brake man. They had a respectable time of 43.28 seconds.

Reed: The bobsled was exhilarating! Lots of fun and adrenaline! We also saw a ground hog, or a woodchuck. It came out of the ground and was eating wood.

Bryn: We also passed the Olympic ski jump. Wow, I don't know how ski jumpers have the nerve to rocket off that thing with only skis on their feet! We didn't stop in town in Lake Placid as they're having a big Ironman tournament this weekend, and the place was mobbed with athletes and big tents. We continued past Saranac Lake, stopping at Tupper Lake and The Wild Center. Basically, this is a new interactive natural history museum focused on the Adirondacks. We learned a lot about trout varieties, creepy things in the soil, fungus, trees, etc. Watched an interesting movie about the Adirondacks through the ice age.

Reed: I really liked watching the playful otters the best at the Wild Center. I found out that they like to play with their food, just like I do!

Bryn: We had a quick stop at Old Forge, then on to Verona and our hotel. We're across the street from the Oneida tribe's Turning Stone Casino, one of the big casinos that was started in 1993. I visited with my aunt in 1994, and it has greatly increased in size since then. The surrounding area, which was farmland back then, has all been built up too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some extra Lake Champlain photos, 7/21 - 7/22

1. Bret on the bridge at South Hero, VT.
2., 3. On the ferry.
4., 5. Swimming at Port Henry, NY.

Lake Champlain from the NY side

Bret: Today was an awesome day, we saw Champ from the ferry. You could just see his back. I liked the ferry, I was cold because it was an ominous wind and rain, and it was so cold that I went into the car twice to warm up, and the third time I had to put Reed's jacket on top of mine so I wore two. I was very anxious because I really wanted to see Champ and get a picture.

Randy: Bret wouldn't let me go inside and be warm because he wanted me to watch the whole time.

Reed: I stayed warm inside the van while everybody else froze on the ferry. I saw Champ after dinner, but it was maybe a loon, but it seemed pretty big, much too big to be a loon.

Bryn: We took the 9:15 am ferry from Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY, arriving at 10:30. We drove south down Hwy 22, watching the lake as we went. Our destination was Port Henry, but it was smaller than we had anticipated.

Champ was first spotted in this bay by Samuel de Champlain in 1609 - 4oo years ago!

We ended up having a picnic on the beach, where a little boy came up to Bret and asked him to play. Our half-hour lunch stop turned into lunch plus a 2 hr swim in the lake. While the boys were swimming, I saw Champ. It kind of looked like a jumping fish, but it was triangular. Since we learned all about lake fish yesterday, I know it wasn't shaped like any of them. Therefore, I think it was Champ's tail as it was submerging.

Bret: At Port Henry, we talked to some locals who have seen Champ, and we had fun swimming with our new friend Matthew. If you think we're talking about you, you're probably not him unless you're short, you have dirty blonde hair, and you're five years old. Matthew gave me a bracchiosaurus but we pretended it was Champ. We had dinner by the lake and we think we saw an eel.

Bryn: We had one more search for Champ at our dinner spot. We're sorry we did not get a definitive picture, but looking for Champ has been a blast! From Port Henry, we drove back up north to a hotel in Plattsburg, NY. There are many campgrounds around, but most of them require a 3 night stay. We're not doing as much camping as we had anticipated. Randy hasn't been able to find anyplace to stay in the Adirondacks, so we'll be having a long drive tomorrow.

July 21 - Champ!

Bryn: We started the day with a visit to ECHO – The University of Vermont's Lake Aquarium. The boys both enjoyed the Champ exhibit. They also learned about the large fish of the lake, such as sturgeon, and watched them being fed. ECHO stands for Ecology, Culture, History, Opportunity. There were good exhibits on geology, the environment of the Champlain basin, and the human history of the area. Yes, this means baskets, including an early Abenaki eel trap, circa 1800.

Reed had fun building and shooting paper rockets. Bret experimented with paper kites, with the thought of employing them for aerial reconnaissance in the search for Champ. He also mentioned 'drastic measures' – he could build a large trap for Champ. We vetoed this idea as both Champ and sturgeons are endangered and protected in both VT and NY.

We spent the afternoon watching for Champ around several areas where sightings have been reported – St. Alban's Bay, Grand Isle, Knight's Point, South Hero, and Mallet Bay. Good news – Bret is convinced that the odd thing he saw at Mallet Bay was definitely Champ. Unfortunately, his photo is not clear and is probably non-convincing. But he knows he saw Champ, and is thrilled. Reed saw Champ at South Hero – there was definitely another unexplained oddity in the water, so we support his sighting as well. For those of you who are skeptics, come on up to this beautiful part of the country and spend some time searching. The lake is 427 feet deep, and is considered by some to be the sixth Great Lake as it was formed at the same time as the others, and it is the sixth largest lake in the U.S. Reed, Bret and I all took a little dip in the lake at Knight's Point. The beach had good access, the water was warmish and clear, and the small bay we were in was too shallow for Champ to come close to shore without us clearly seeing him.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20 - Good-bye Cousins, Hello Champ?

Bryn: Despite a lazy morning with visiting, waffle making, boxing up stuff to mail home, playing checkers with Vinny and packing the car, we were able to say good-bye to our generous hosts Catherine and Tom and get on the road by 10:20 am. It was really great to spend time with family at the half-way point of our trip - we were able to relax, regroup, plan some of the upcoming travel, and even get an oil change for the van!
Bret planned this part of the trip so he could earn his Traveler Achievement for his Webelos Cub Scout. He noticed that if we took a minor detour, we would be able to add Massachusetts to our states. So off we went, through the lovely Berkshire Mountains and the northwestern tip of MA on our way to gorgeous Vermont. We came to Burlington, where we boarded The Spirit of Ethan Allan III tour boat on Lake Champlain.
Just to remind those of you who have followed this blog for awhile, Bret chose to come to Lake Champlain to search for Champ, the American Loch Ness Monster. As we drove, he prepared a backpack with a disposable camera, water bottle, and binoculars. He debated bringing his journal book too in case he wanted to sketch Champ, but decided not to as photography is the best way to catch a fleeting glimpse of this elusive creature. He also talked to one of the staff members who grew up in Burlington, and he told us some good places to go to try to see Champ.
We don't think we saw Champ today, but we did see some interesting and unusual waves, so who knows who could have been under there?

Randy's choice for the day was baseball. This evening we went to Centennial Stadium to watch the Vermont Lake Monsters vs Brooklyn. The Monsters ate them up, 8 - 2. Near the end of the game, the boys gave high-fives to Champ!

Bret: This was one of the best days on the whole trip. I think we'll see Champ tomorrow. At the game I got a stuffed animal Champ in a baseball uniform, and two players signed Champ's shirt. I got a shirt for me and a hat too. They're green, my favorite color. And I got to run the bases and I was fifth when I started but I ran fast and passed them all and made it in first. The other ones didn't touch home plate.

Reed: That was a great game. I got a new hat and two of the Lake Monster players signed it for me. I also got to run the bases after the game. I didn't go in Bret's group, I went in a later group. The other cool thing about today was this morning. Tom gave us some antique money changers that I really like. And Vinny played checkers with us. I jumped him twice then he said I won because it was time to go.

Randy noted that the best thing about the day was watching Bret's intense interest in the lake, and having both boys enjoy the baseball game so much.