Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall color tour

I feel like I should apologize for not letting everyone know that we did take our annual July/August up and around the beautiful state of Michigan.  Things got rather hectic when we arrived back home and then after so many weeks it was just not gonna happen.  But now autumn has arrived and we’re out hunting for fall color and falls with water!  H rolled his final decision dice and Pennsylvania won!

Getting out of Toledo on a Sunday morning was easy since all the road construction was halted for their day of rest!  Rt 20 took us to Norwalk Ohio and then on to the interstate, past Akron and Youngstown.  Picturesque northwestern Pennsylvania with her small quaint towns, vibrantly colored hills and sprawling farms kept us Oohing and Ahhing at every turn.   All that rural-ness meant no gas stations and the next decent sized town was 20 some miles away when H chose to take a 10-mile side trip to visit the Kinzua Sky Walk at the SE edge of the Allegheny National Forest

The engineering masterpiece – the Kinzua Viaduct once soared 301 feet high and 2,053 feet across was once the highest and longest railroad bridge in the world.  This bridge had spanned the gorge for over a century but was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003.  Eleven of the 20 support towers were ripped, twisted and thrown to the valley floor along with all the lush green trees that lined the valley.  The Kinzua Sky Walk was built on the remaining 6 original steel towers and was opened to the public in September of 2011.  Out at the end of the reinvented pedestrian overlook is a glass floor, which shows dizzying views of the valley below. The walk out to that section of thick glass was dizzying enough for me so I did NOT venture to step on to it!  I stood near it to take a quick picture and then grabbed hold of the sturdy railing that surrounded the entire walkway!  Two other – closer to land - overlooks offered even more amazing views of the walkway and the opposite hillside still strewn with the collapsed rusty supports.  In another year the visitor center will be completed and open and filled with more history and amazing facts about the bridge and sky walk.

On to Smethport for gas and breakfast - with just a pint or two of gas yet in the tank!   Once all of our “tanks” were full we drove thru the “Mansion” district and tried to imagine living in one during their heyday.   The road beckoned and we pushed on to the Tioga-Hammond Lakes Area and the Ives Run Campground that nestled in the valleys by the two end to end reservoirs.  What a gorgeous campsite we were issued!  We sat high on a knoll that overlooked the sloping hills, the dark peaceful water below and the tall earthen dams that were built on the opposite side.  Once settled we explored by foot the sprawling campground with all of its spacious green sites, ample boat docks and launches. We even drove the “two track” path that led up thru the glowing golden trees.

Day three arrived with dark clouds, rain and wind but who cared – we were off to explore the neighboring state of New York via the nearest town of Corning and then to revisit Watkins Glen!  By the time we arrived at WG the sun was out and the hillsides were again looking like overstuffed richly colored velvet quilts!
As we approached the long, dark, narrow, damp, deep crack in the mountain that is known by the name of Watkins Glen Gorge, memories of our biking days rushed back to us.  Along with other visitors, we wound our way up along the wet walkways that hung to the sides of the crevice, past ribbons of water and crashing waterfalls.  From near the top, the widening edges of erosion from all the centuries of water that had rushed past showed how the water had washed away the sides of that once solid rock. Amazing and awesome!

The village of Watkins Glen sits at the very southern tip of Seneca Lake.  The 30-mile long, 3-mile wide lake is next to the longest lake in the collection of lakes in NY referred to as the Finger Lakes.  The WG harbor is home to a vast amount of pleasure boats – both sail and motor!  We found the public pier and the tour boat – the Strollar IV that was built in 1934, just backing out of port!  At the end of the pier was the schooner True Love!   Out past the pier were the growing dark ominous clouds of the next storm so we climbed back in the truck and headed south. We headed south 5 miles to the small town of Montour Falls to see if the She-que-ga Falls had changed much over the years.   Nope – it was still right there at the edge of the “historic” downtown, prominently displayed at the back of the little park just like she had been all those years ago when the motorcycle was our main vacation vehicle.  We laughed because the very first time we tried to find it, we had ridden ALL around the town and could not see it!   We must have driven right by it but never looked at the back of the park!  We finally drove Main Street TOWARDS the mountain – and low and behold – there it was! 

Today we revisit the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania and the quaint town of Wellsboro, which still lights up her nights with gas lamps!