Thursday, August 31, 2017

Small NE Colleges, Urban Hiking and a Little Disc Golf…


Before leaving Lisbon Beach Campground we took one last walk along the scenic St. Lawrence Seaway. After our walk we packed up, ate lunch and hit the road. It would be a longer drive this day of around 150 miles and after about three hours we pulled into Twin Ells Campground in West Chazy New York.


We have a nice pull through site with full hookups and all for only $20.00 per night, thanks to Passport America. Oddly they do charge extra for electricity even at the daily rate which we will have to go back and pay prior to departure. Our first excursion was over to Plattsburg New York to check out the town and the college there.


The town is a nice town with historic buildings many of which have been renovated and the whole town seems to be undergoing some revitalization. It appears to be a mostly blue collar downtown area with a nice mix of stores, restaurants and bars. Nearby is the State University of New York at Plattsburgh founded in 1889. It is a small school of 6350 students with a few notable buildings.


Another day we decided to drive around Lake Champlain, a huge lake by any standard. Why this lake isn’t included in the USA Great Lakes is a bit puzzling. Especially puzzling since it was named the nation’s sixth great lake in 1998 when then President Clinton signed a bill however after a public uproar of the naming it was rescinded 18 days later. So we did have a sixth great lake for 18 days.


On the other side of the lake from our camp site is Burlington Vermont home to the University of Vermont which was founded in 1791. We parked in Visitor Parking near the athletic fields and walked around campus. We happened to arrive between classes and it appears there is one major walkway from the dorms near the athletic fields to the core campus. We know this because we were walking amongst many of the nearly 12,000 students as they were hustling and bustling across campus. We felt as if we were ants in a large colony merely following the ants in front of us…


The University has many cool buildings on campus including Williams Hall and the Old Mill building. Also interesting is the Colonial styled Ira Allen Chapel. There is also an amazing green space in the middle of campus with beautiful stately trees under which many students were sitting under while taking time to relax or study.


We did learn something new as the Vermont University mascot is called a catamount. I always knew there were many different colloquial names for a cougar such as mountain lion, puma and panther but now I know they are also called catamounts! I never knew that! Researching the new word revealed it originated as late Middle English from the word catamountain derived from the phrase cat of the mountain. Interesting…


We also found a nice Disc Golf Course in nearby Cadyville NY and a nice Happy Hour at Olive Ridley's in downtown Plattsburg so that is where we ended most days enjoying cold pints of Beaver Bite IPAs brewed by Paradox Brewery from Schroon Lake, NY. 

NOTE: We are currently in West Chazy NY and then we will move on over to Graniteville Vermont through the Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why I Ottawa… In the Land of 1000 Islands and Daytrip to Ottawa Canada


We left the Syracuse area to drive another 147 miles north where we pulled into the Lisbon Beach Campground in the area known as the 1000 Islands. This is a nice town park with full hookups and 50 amp service on the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway which flows between the USA and Canada.


We are booked a few days so one thing we did was drive around this area to visit some of the small towns in upstate New York. One town was Potsdam NY which is home to Clarkson University, State University of NY at Potsdam and Crane School of music. As we were driving to Pottstown I kept thinking I knew someone from there and sure enough our good friend, Rose who lives in our former home town College Station is from there (small world). Well, we did stop and do a walkabout around the town. We found it to be a neat little town with some character and there was even a small music venue in Ives Park!The music wasn't our type but it was nice nonetheless.


The trees are beginning to show their Fall colors as we noticed a lot of purple leaves in this area. Our next stop was another town nearby in Canton NY. It was another small college town with some interesting looking architecture in some of its older buildings


The next day we took a trip to a nearby city as well but this one was in Canada. The main reason we came to Ogdensburg NY was to visit the capitol city of Canada, Ottawa. Because of our past unpleasant experiences we dislike crossing borders since it seems we are hassled at each one. Mostly our problems have been upon returning to the USA but I was also detained many years ago when I visited British Columbia. Fingers were crossed in the hope that maybe this time would be different. Sure enough the lady officer at the crossing into Canada though not exactly friendly did not hassle us at all! Maybe our luck has changed


The drive up was pretty simple but finding parking was not! We finally did find a underground city garage with public parking lot at the Art Museum after looking around for about 30 minutes. As we emerged from the lot we were awestruck by the magnificence of the Parliament Building on Parliament Hill, with its grand Victorian architecture. What an absolutely cool building. Not to be outdone were several other grand government buildings and statues. On Wellington Street was an extremely long table set for dinner.  We discovered there was an event called Dinner for a Thousand where chefs from all over Canada converge to prepare dinner for a thousand people! Sounds fun!


We walked all around this bustling city enjoying its many gems. We walked along Rideau Canal which reminded us of San Antonio’s river walk. We happened by a mirrored building reminding us of the Bean in Chicago and enjoyed finding our reflections in the geometric mirror tiles. We also checked out the Byward Market lined on one side of the street with beautiful produce stands and the other side with bakeries and restaurants filled with people enjoying the beautiful sunny day in the city.


We soon realized our feet were tired and we were hungry so we stopped at the Auldinger Pour House. They had a quaint patio overlooking a busy intersection in the Byward Market area. We had a great view for people watching and lucky for us adding to the ambiance was a musician playing guitar nearby hoping to score a few bucks from passing shoppers. His music was very good and went really well with the IPA from Mills Street Brewery in Toronto and our Poutine Fries. Yum, a real road treat!!!


The drive back was a bit more stressful since we didn’t have GPS because we were only up for a day and didn't activate our phones for use in Canada. So our one hour drive back took almost two hours because of road closures and detours. Crossing the border in the USA was surprisingly uneventful and a few minutes later we were back at home.


Today we leave and head a bit further east…

NOTE: We are currently in Ogdensburg, NY an our nest stop is in West Chazy NY and then on to Graniteville Vermont through the Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The New York State Fair and Syracuse NY…


Morning came and off we went to our next destination near Syracuse NY. Our next campground would be at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton NY. We arrived a bit before 2:00 pm but the office didn’t open until 2:00 so we walked around this nice little county park on the shore of Oneida Lake.


We planned to only spend two nights so our first day found us stocking up on groceries but our second day turned out to be a great day as we did more than we had planned. We had originally planned to visit Syracuse and the University of Syracuse on our only full day however as I was looking for things to do I noticed that the New York State Fair was going on in Syracuse as well.


After talking with Sharon we both realized that neither of us had ever been to a state fair so we decided to go to our very first one in New York! To top it off they had a discount on tickets our only day we could go so we purchased two $3.00 tickets so along with $5.00 for parking which made it a fairly inexpensive event to attend.


Going to the state fair had me a bit apprehensive about the crowds and the noise but once we parked and hopped on the shuttle bus to the fair I noticed a sense of excitement bringing me back to my childhood. Once we exited the bus and got our tickets we entered the fair only to be greeted by bright colors, hawking vendors and children riding all sorts of exhilarating rides.


We took in the sights, had several samples of some awesome NY cheese, tasted a lot of beers and wines offered from the various breweries and wineries around the state of New York and marveled at the everything-fried offerings throughout the fair. While we didn’t participate in any rides we were totally entertained by the various forms of live music and the likes of Bandaloni the One-Man Band. We also loved the magnificence of the flying hawks, owl and eagles at the birds of prey program showcasing birds saved by the state’s bird rescue program.


We both walked and walked until our feet grew tired thereby deciding to forgo the evening entertainment. Since it was still daylight we drove over to the University of Syracuse. After talking with a gate guard we got a free parking spot to walk over to see the Carrier Dome where the University plays basketball. They have a national Championship trophy there we wanted to see. Unfortunately there was a freshman convocation event in the dome so we were not allowed to see the trophy but were invited in to see the dome and had a nice look at the facility.


To finish the day we drove through the scenic downtown Armory Square, took a quick auto tour then stopped at the nearby Middle Ages Brewing Company for a nice craft beer. The beer was great and fairly inexpensive but there was no seating so we had one beer and purchased a growler fill before heading home to rest our weary feet…

NOTE: We are currently in Ogdensburg, NY an our nest stop is in West Chazy NY and then on to Graniteville Vermont through the Labor Day weekend.