Saturday, September 4, 2010

Watkins Glen State Park - Saturday, August 28 to Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moving day!  I have to outsmart the cat as he knows when the routine is different and he doesn't like travelling in the truck, so he hides under the bed when he suspects something different is happening.  When we start packing up the trailer I have to close the door to the bedroom so he can't hide under the bed, from under which it's impossible to retrieve him.  He hides instead under one of the reclining rocking chairs, but I can get him from there and put him into his carrier.

It's a really beautiful day today.  Grady is very unsettled for the first part of the trip, so I have to pull him onto my lap to calm him down, which he finally does.  We stop for lunch and groceries near Bath, NY on I-390 and put Grady in the trailer (again closing the door to the bedroom).  It's a lot cooler in the trailer, and he's more comfortable there.

The entrance to Watkins Glen State Park is right in the town of Watkins Glen on route 14 and we get registered easily enough, fill up with water at a spigot just three sites up from our campsite, so while the tank is filling, Brad and I walk up to our site.  We have no idea how we're going to get the trailer into this site.  We can't do it from the direction we're currently heading; we're going to have to come around the other way because it's an easier turn, but even then it'll have to be a sharp turn and the road is so narrow it's a hairpin turn and there's really no room to swing the truck.  But we'll give it a shot.

So after we fill, we back the trailer up to the main road, and go around to the other end of the loop road to come at our site from the other way.  Brad pulls ahead of our site until the back end our 31-foot trailer is well ahead of our site and starts turning the truck (with a trailer, you have to turn your vehicle in the opposite direction), but it takes several feet for the trailer to start responding to the turn, and it's not soon enough.  He has to go forward and try again.  A neighbour comes over to help.  "It's a tight one," he says.  The trailer is a double axle, and as the trailer turns, the wheels on one axle are folded inward and the wheels on the other axle are folded outward.  Everything is creaking and groaning, including me worried about bending an axle or popping a tire off a rim in this very tight turn.  The wheels are not actually even rotating, just pivoting in place at this point because the angle is so sharp.  But still it won't work because the front end of the truck is locked up; it'll go into the bushes.  Brad has to pull forward again.

The neighbour, Frank, Brad and I assess the situation.  Perhaps we can't camp in any of these sites in the loop where the turns are too tight?  But Frank makes a good observation.  The campsite next to us is still vacant.  We might be able to pull forward into the site next to us, and turn the trailer around into our site as there seems to be enough room between the trees.  "It might work," Brad says, "But how do I get out when we leave on Wednesday?"  Well, going forward is always easier than backing up, so we'll worry about that then, and we could always go out the way we came in - we did it at Killbear Provincial Park a couple of weeks ago!

So Brad has to go back to the main road to turn the truck and trailer around again and come at it from the original direction, and I guide him in to make sure he doesn't hit any trees or the firepit, and voila!  No problem!  Of course, we may never be able to leave, or we may have to have the State Park Rangers cut down some trees so we can leave, but that's a problem for Wednesday!

We no sooner park the truck, when Frank appears with three beers - Molson Canadians, no less!  "Are you from Canada," I ask.  "No.  I'm from Germany" he says.  "I moved to the States about eleven years ago.  I just like good beer."

The next morning, we decide that we should go to the camp office and see if anyone has the site next to us booked for the day we're leaving, because we will likely need that site to get out, just like we needed it to get in.  And it turns out there is someone arriving on Tuesday for a few days - we leave on Wednesday.  So Molly, the park clerk, suggests that we move tomorrow since the people next to us and across from us are leaving then and we can use either site to get out.  She provides us with a list of possible sites for us to move to and we go on our bikes to check out which ones we can get into and out of easily.

Having made our selection, we return to the office, and Molly closes the site for us so no one else can book it (she can't reserve it for us because of the way the computers work!).  The new site is actually much more private than our current site, backing onto a wooded ravine and our neighbours are further away than they are here, so it's a good move.  However, having to pack up and move is a bit of a hassle, but will also provide us with the opportunity to dump our tanks and refill with fresh water.

Brandon and his girlfriend Jessica are coming down to join us today for our stay.  We don't expect them until tonight as they are coming from just outside Algonquin Park where her cousin is getting married this weekend, so they have a seven-hour drive to get here.  So we decide to hike the South Rim Trail which follows the gorge along the top on the campground side.  This trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail which is several hundred miles long and passes through beautiful woodlands, but there are no good views of the gorge or Glen Creek below.

At first we hike upstream, and after about one hour or more, we turn around and head back downstream, all the way to where the trail merges with the Gorge Trail.  Here we sit and have a picni, before heading back up the trail to return to our campsite.

When we get back to our trailer, there is a note stuffed in the door handle from Brandon that they arrived at 3:40 but went to the campground pool and will be back around 5:30.  That's nice to know, but we have no idea what time it is now.  That's one thing about being retired.  We never wear a watch any more so we never have any idea what time it is.  We don't have to be anywhere at a specific time (like when you're working), so why live by a clock?  It was hard to get used to at first, but now it's great.  There is a clock in the trailer however, that tells us it's almost 5:00, so we know that Brandon and Jessica will be here soon, and they do arrive within the half hour.

After relaying stories about our trailer issues and their wedding fun, we have dinner and settle for the night.

Another moving day, although we don't have far to go, but Grady doesn't like it anyway.  Getting the trailer out is much easier than getting in was.  We pull directly forward into the site across from us and then back the trailer out onto the road.  It takes two tries to line everything up right because of the location of the trees and the elevation of the ground, but again Brad does an amazing job and we get things moved fairly quickly.  Brandon and Jessica babysit Grady in his carrier at the new site while Brad and I take care of the details at the camp office, which may be considered animal cruelty because Grady is really frightened of Brandon for some reason, we don't know why.

Back at the site, the 50 feet of water hose we have doesn't reach to the water spigot so we can refill our tanks with fresh water, so we have to pull the trailer out onto the roadway to fill.  As we're filling, the woman from the camp office comes by and says, "You want to be careful of the poison ivy.  It's all over the park, and it's along this corner right here.  Your water hose is in it."  Now, Brad takes a very severe reaction to poison ivy.  Fortunately it was Brandon who took the hose to the spigot and he didn't walk through the poison ivy, but we will now have to wash the hose thoroughly to ensure that Brad doesn't come in contact with the oils from the plant!  But once we finally get everything set up, this new site is well worth the move as the view is stunning and it's very quiet.

Activites while we're at Watkins Glen:
The South Rim Trail (hiked yesterday, see above)

The Gorge Trail which follows the Glen Creek along its 19 waterfalls through the gorge.  It's another gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky, although more humid again today.  It's very cool in the glen where we're surrounded by the stone and water.  There are a total of 800 stairs on the Gorge Trail, mostly going up from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot which is the direction that we're heading.  From the top, we take the Indian Trail back which follows the gorge along the top, but there is only one good view of the water and falls from this trail.
Watkins Glen, Cascade Cavern in background
Brandon and Jessica at Watkins Glen
Pools at Watkins Glen State Park

A trip to Robert H. Treman State Park where we can swim right below the waterfall.  Unfortunately, they don't have enough lifeguards today, and the "deep end" is closed so we can't swim directly below the waterfall.  And the water is only 60 degrees F.  Okay, that lets me out.  But Brad, Brandon and Jessica all go in - yes, I'm a big, old chicken!  I don't even go in my pool when it's below 75 degrees!
Jessica and Brandon at Robert H. Treman State Park, NY

On our way home to Canada, Brad and I check out Chimney Bluffs State Park which is on Lake Ontario due north of Watkins Glen.  It's a VERY hot, sticky day, so we don't actually hike up to the bluffs since Grady is in the trailer.  These bluffs are clay-molded formations that look like big termite hills on the shore of Lake Ontario.  The water here is also very clear, but the beach is rocky.  There are "No Swimming" signs posted, although I suspect that is because it's a state park and there is no lifeguard present.
Chimney Bluffs State Park, NY

Grady is getting a lot better travelling in the truck.  He doesn't hide under the backseat anymore.  He likes to sit on the console in between Brad and I, so I put a heavy towel on it to make it more comfortable for him.  However, when we're getting in and out of the vehicle, or when we have the window rolled down for any length of time like at the border crossing station, I lock him in his carrier which is always sitting on the back seat.  He has a hard time sleeping in the truck though because it's so bumpy and shaky.  As humans, I think we're used to it, but watching his small body shake all over is actually hilarious.  He tried to eat something while we were moving because I leave his food and water dish on the backseat floor, but I think he kept bumping his face on the bottom or side of the dish and gave up.  He hasn't tried using the litter box in the truck yet; let's hope he doesn't ever have to.

Grady's next trip will probably be the big trip south starting in November.  But for now, I think he's glad to be home.


  1. OK 2nd try: great that Grady is more comfortable, great that poison ivy was averted, and when did Brandon become a hunk?

  2. Well now that Brandon is 21, he has become quite handsome. Apparently girls tell him he looks like Russell Crowe. They used to tell him he looks like his mom, but I suspect he likes being told Russell Crowe more!