Monthly Archives: July 2013

Watkins Glenn State Park, Corning Glass, PA Grand Canyon

IMG_20130727_111606_090.jpg We arrived at Tompkins Campground which is part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cowanesque Lake Facility near Lawrenceville, PA on a Thursday afternoon.  The campsites are just great: roomy, paved, and easy to back a camper in to.  We enjoyed having such an easy arrival and were quickly settled in.

P7268835.JPG On Friday we drove to Watkins Glen State Park.  Along the way we enjoyed the lovely countryside.  In town we stopped to pick up a sandwich to eat on the hike, found a parking lot for the truck and walked to the park. Knowing it was going to be a fairly strenuous hike down the gorge we opted to pay for the shuttle and hike back down to town.  Judging by the look on the faces of several who opted to hike up rather than down I think we made a good choice.  Even with walking sticks and hiking down hill it was plenty steep for me.  Since we started at the top we immediately went down about 180 or so steps down into the gorge and to the trail by the river.  The railroad trestle behind and above us was very imposing.  We followed the smooth rock trail that was built by the CCC many years ago.  Along the way the trail has tunnels and a winding staircase. The river was quite impressive with the falls becoming larger.  At one point the trail even took us behind a waterfall. There are many photogenic spots and we enjoyed each one.  With so many other people on the trail going both directions and I felt like we were swept along when sometimes I would  like to have stopped and spent some time just enjoying the view without the constant parade of people.

IMG_0860.JPG A couple of days later we visited Corning Museum of Glass.  It is well worth the trip and I am glad we took the free tour with the docent.  This gave us highlights of the museum such as the Tiffany glass wall and why it looks three dimensional.   We saw ancient glass that has been excavated as well products like the lens used in the Palomar observatory In California and windows used by NASA, along with stories about many other exhibits. The tour ended with a free glass blowing demonstration with on going explanation of what was happening.  We went back to spend more time in areas we found interesting during the tour.  There is also a gift shop and cafe at the museum.

P7308883.JPG Another highlight from the area is the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  This is a beautiful place for a day trip from where we were staying.  It was a scenic drive and we enjoyed looking at the historic houses and buildings  in the towns.  We did the mile and a half rim tour which was rather steep.  The view of the river below was beautiful. The bike trail down through the canyon was tempting.  It’s part of the “rails to trails” projects that are happening across the country where old rail lines are being removed and transformed into wonderful bike trails.  We would have loved to ride the bike trail but we knew it would be too much for us.  We enjoyed walking in the woods and hearing the sounds of nature. This area was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and there is a statue in honor of these men.

Scott and I have enjoyed this beautiful New York/Pennsylvania stay and recommend it to all who love the beauty of nature.


May-July, 2013 Expenses

Campground Review: Cowanesque Lake, Tompkins Campground, ACoE, Lawrenceville, PA

Tompkins Campground is on the PA side of the NY/PA state line just south of Corning.  Arriving at the campground from Corning is rather interesting.  There is road construction, county roads, and more county roads.  Once you follow the sign to the campground you wonder if you’ve accidentally turned onto the wrong road as you are on a narrow patched bit of barely-over-one-lane blacktop.  After a short distance you cross into PA and the road improves considerably as you pass under Hwy 15.  Then it deteriorates a bit as you travel the final miles to the campground.

IMG_20130727_111425_182.jpg The campground is very nice.  You might say that there are three different campgrounds.  The best area is along the lake.  These are full hookup/50 amp sites with a beautiful view of the lake.  The next best area is on the hill away from the lake.  Even though Cowanesque Lake is near by, you can’t see it for the trees.  The sites, though, are big and mostly level with full hookups and 50 amps.  The third area generally lacks sewer hookups and some sites have only 30 amps.  It’s nice enough though, especially for weekend campers.  Also, the pricing structure reflects the different levels of campsites.

IMG_20130729_102857_947.jpg There are playgrounds, horseshoe pits, a laundry, and, for the boaters a nice dock.  The Corning Museum of Glass, Watkins Glen State Park (with wonderful waterfalls), and the scenic “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” are all reasonably close by.

There’s no park WiFi and my Verizon cell hot spot barely works (and that’s with a Wilson Sleek signal booster).

If you are looking for a nice, quiet camp spot look no farther, this is it!


Ellicottville Memorial Public Library

Name: Ellicottville Memorial Public Library

Location: 6499 Maples RD., Ellicottville, NY 14731

IMG_0825.JPG  Ellicottville Memorial Library is part of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System.  If the material you want is not on the shelf it can be brought in from another library in the system. As you enter the library there  are public access computers on the left and wifi is free for those with their own electronic devices. The Children’s Department is a warm welcoming area with stuffed animals and glove shaped chairs surrounded by books encouraging girls and boys to read. For teens and adults there are several work/study areas with large tables and comfortable chairs.   The Kernes Fireplace Lounge has a couch and chairs. This area is used by the Ellicottville Book Club on a regular basis. Some of the other activities that take place at the library are Art and Exercise Classes

IMG_0823.JPGOne of the fun  things that stood out to me was the large “Away from Home Gnome” board where customers who take a paper Gnome figure on their trips can post pictures when they return home. This library is reaching out to encourage literacy in the community and provide a place for the community to come together.


Campground review: Allegany Mountain Resort at Rainbow Lake, East Otto, NY

2013-07-19 21.01.36.jpg Like most Americans, when I think of New York I think of the sprawling city that defines urban life in this country,  That vision is about as far from western New York as one can get.  This is gorgeous, wooded territory that reminds me more of the Smokey Mountains than anything else.

IMG_20130724_110333_712.jpg We’ve been at Allegany Mountain Resort for the past week and have really enjoyed the setting.  The property is situated around Rainbow Lake.  My guess is that a walk around the lake is about two miles.  There are 700 or 800 sites here, most of them permanent; a nice getaway from Buffalo, around 50 miles to the north.

There are plenty of amenities: two pools (one indoor), canoes and kayaks, tennis and volleyball courts, mini-golf, and much more.  Over the weekend the place was packed and there were many activities, especially for teens and children.

IMG_20130724_110237_024.jpg Now, all the above doesn’t mean everything is just wonderful here.  This is an old campground and that is quite apparent.  The campsites are small, obviously planned before people traveled in the larger RVs of today.  I tried three different campsites before I managed to get into one.  In fact, I got stuck in the first one and thought for awhile that I would need a tow to get out.  Also, the roads are narrow and some are very steep.  Making one turn I nearly took out a post and then, making another turn I managed to drop the driver’s side camper wheels into a fairly deep ditch.  Damage was minor and it could have been worse.   Damage was moderate – bent an axle, found months later when a tire began to show considerable wear, around $350 for the repair.  The “overnight” campground area has no sewer sites and power is 30 amps.  The power and water hookups aren’t where you expect them to be.  I had to get out a water hose I’d never used to reach water and I had to borrow an electric extension cord from the campground to reach the electric.  Then, over the hot weekend, the voltage kept dropping below 102 volts which caused my trusty surgeguard to shut the camper’s electric down. Once the weather cooled, the electric settled down.  Word is that this section is slated for a 50 amp upgrade.  One lesson I learned from my arrival here is to never let anyone (even people with the best of intentions) talk you into trying to park in a spot that you feel isn’t suitable for your rig.  They may tell you that “people park here all the time” but when you get stuck or manage to damage your rig, it will be you who pays for the repairs.

If you have a small camper you’ll love coming to this resort.  If you have a bigger one, try to arrive on Sunday-Wednesday when there are plenty of campsites, then, in the overnight area, head for the first two roads up from the lake for the best chances of getting a site you can get in to and that will be somewhat level.  The farther up the hill you go, the harder it will be to find a spot.

Would I return?  Yes!  That is, unless I had to arrive during a busy weekend!  In that case, I’d find another place.

Meanwhile, I think a couple of issues with the F350 have been fully resolved.  The truck had an overheating problem when towing in heavy traffic in Dallas.  It had never repeated until the day we came here.  As we pulled up a long grade near this campground it overheated again.  I took the truck to a nearby Ford dealer and they found that the fan clutch wasn’t engaging.  It is supposed to spin the fan at a much higher speed when towing on a long uphill.  The repairs were covered by warranty so, while we were out $100, we didn’t have to pay the full cost which was several times that amount.  Then, as I drove, I felt a familiar shaking of the steering wheel.  While on one of our first tows we had a tire tread separate and we ended up buying two new tires.  Now one of the remaining two originals (which should have given us at least a year’s more service) had suffered the same failure.  We put the spare on and found matching tires in Buffalo.  This time, there was no warranty, so we dropped a big chunk of change on the new tires.  Hopefully, we’ve now solved the biggies and we will get a break (knock on wood) from these kinds of issues for awhile.

We’re finishing up our time here tomorrow, but the move will be just a few hours to the east.  The adventure continues.

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