Thursday, July 31, 2014



Our friend Rick, the Sultan of Solitude, warns us to escape camping crowds in summer, "Avoid water features."  
(I believe the Sultan also avoids electricity, paved roads and fee stations.)  We of little faith have slipped a ways off the shining path in the last few weeks.  We have seen a lot of water features but suffered only slightly.  

One of our bike rides along the Erie Canal returned us to a place Tom and Carole led us to years ago.  Behind the welcoming "harbor" at Holley NY and down a little path among tall trees is a surprising waterfall

The 35-foot fall is a "Waste Weir" diverting unneeded water from the canal.  A great lunch spot and a poignant memory of our earlier visit.

Of course, a week on the shores of Lake Ontario at Lakeside State Park qualifies as a water feature.  The spacious park was a perfect staging area for cherry picking, canal path riding,  cherry pie eating (at a place that has been baking pies for 200 years!)  and a visit to Niagara Falls.

And if size matters, The Canadian side of the falls is pretty impressive.

 "Totally worth the border hassle," she says.

"Marginally," he replies, remembering that travel writers have been warning travelers of taste and discernment AWAY from the Niagara area for nearly 150 years. 

 We took good advice and approached on the

The ride along the rim and through palatial neighborhoods was green and peaceful.  The Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit.  The last couple miles toward the falls are uphill, on the road shoulder, in heavy traffic and through a short tunnel.  We arrive at the overlook threading our way through a mass of humanity taking selfies over their shoulders. 

The views ARE breathtaking and so much more impressive from the Canadian side.

Obligatory picture of the "Maid Of The Mist"

Letchworth State Park  showed us grand water features which were nevertheless more intimate than Niagara and far less crowded. On our first round of waterfall peeking on Sunday, a nice crowd enjoyed the huge picnic area and grounds of the Glen Iris Inn.  

After the downpour that welcomed "Our Sister Beth" to the camper, the streams quickened and Middle Falls and Upper Falls roared while we had relative solitude.

"The Grand Canyon of the East" cuts down fast and deep so the walls are steep.

Side streams like Wolf Creek cut down more slowly and leave a series of hanging falls.


 "Lake Bethany" added yet another water feature...

The Pine Creek Bike Trail

is one of our favorite places and now we had a chance to share it with Beth and our niece Kristen.

This is the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" and the underlying stone is less fractured; the walls are steep and forested to the top.  The bike trail follows a railroad grade at the bottom. No dramatic falls, just clear water, wildlife and an excellent surface to enjoy.  
Earlier Pine Creek Adventures

The water feature here was not so much the creek (which always has a gaggle of bike riders along its length), but the "Plumbing" which the Corps of
Engineers created for flood control and dilution of mine runoff pollution in the Hammond Lake area. 

We camped at Ives Run and the Sage of Serenity was quite right; the place was crammed with families enjoying the weekend water sports and the excellent facilities.  We were a mile away in the non-electric sites with a great view of the lake and just a little too much dust stirred up by the boat trailers.  Weekend over, it was the most blissful spot in the area.

The water feature review continues in the next episode, but we can't part without a word about our foodie find.

 The Cast & Crew in nearby Mansfield Pa "is not much to look at" to quote nearly all the reviews, but wait till you see the menu!  

 Your friendly chef is happiest in Improv mode and only reluctantly commits his creations to a Menu, but the reading is guaranteed to have you salivating.  We tried some menu items even though each category gives you a chance to trust the chef to impress you.  We gave him the nod for dessert and this was the delicious result.


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