Best Laid Plans

Monday, March 05, 2007

The kids have been sick and I have not been well enough yet to clean the dirty house, so I have been lolling around, looking for ideas of places to travel this spring and summer. I am very excited about it! Some places we have been wanting to visit for a long time. I'll share a synopsis of our tentative summer itinerary; I categorize it into Day Trips and Excursions-- Day Trips require little preparation (say, for a rainy, gloomy day when we need a change of scenery) but Excursions call for more extensive planning and car travel (perhaps an overnight visit, or gearing up for many hours in the van). I also classify Excursions as days we'd like my husband to go along (which means getting the day off from work).

Day Trips:

Fish Hatchery

Not sure which one to visit. This site has a good list of hatcheries. Van Hornesville is as close as Rome; Rome has more variety, but the kids have not seen much of the Van Hornesville area. Hmmm. If we go to Van Hornesville, we'd probably push further on to see something else in the area, like the waterfalls at Cherry Valley, or Canadarago Lake. Cost: free

Fountain Elms

We've been here perhaps three times already, but I love looking at old historical homes. This one is one of the best. The entire downstairs is devoted to 19th century living. You walk in practically expecting Rachel Williams Proctor to greet you in the parlor. Upstairs, there are numerous displays of the families' trinkets, collections, and other paraphernalia. From the house, one can enter a glass-enclosed walkway to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. I am not too keen on the collections there. That's a funny turnaround for me, because I was an art major in school, and went to Manhattan to study fine arts and acting. But art has become so political today, and does little to elevate. I'd really rather not subject my kids and myself to kinky portraits of nudes, crumpled iron plates welded haphazardly, and slop-art in the style of Jackson Pollock. The museum has only one thing going for it-- it hosts Thomas Cole's "Voyage" paintings. Hudson River School art is my favorite genre of art. Someday we are going to get out and visit Olana... someday....

Steuben Memorial Site

It's a tiny site off Starr Road in Remsen, but we want to go to see it, anyway. We love Revolutionary history, and Baron von Steuben deserves honor to this day. Can't forget our roots and those who sacrificed so that we can live such a comfortable life today! We'd also probably drive around the Adirondack region, seeing where our noses lead us. This would be more of an adventure; perhaps we'd even get lost (again). Maybe we'd go up to Lake Placid and see the John Brown Historical Site. We'll see.

Herkimer Home

How we love the Herkimer home! I first went there as a schoolkid on a field trip, back in 197.. well, never mind. I loved it and vowed I visit again. I've taken my kids there twice, but it has been nearly four or five years since we were there last. It is a great quickie visit, we are familiar with the area, and the admission is not too expensive.

Fort Brewerton/Cayuga County Winery

I'm not sure if this should really be classified as a "day trip." There are so many things we'd like to see in west/central New York that it is difficult to organize them. But knowing us, I think we'd probably wind up chopping our time into short-term visits rather than trying to cram everything into one or two days.

Fort Brewerton is an old favorite of mine. I used to live there, and, since admission is free, I visited often. I was bit by the "history bug" by visiting this fort, and ever since then, my interest in historical sites, especially NY sites, abounds.

My husband is a wine expert. He probably won't admit it, but I think he knows everything. I mean, just about all wine is the same to me (although, one day he brought home some red wine for me to try, and I said that it tasted like "sweaty Italians." His eyes got big and said that the wine was from Italy! So, I guess I am starting to acquire a nose for wine. But I doubt my descriptions will make it in Wine Country.) Anyway, I think it would be fun to see how wine is made and bottled. Admission to the winery is free, but be prepared to spend the bux if you want to buy the bottles.


Beaver Lake Nature Center

Fun, fun, fun! My uncle used to work here. Admission is low ($2 a car, I think) and the trails are varied. It also has a nature discovery cabin. Load up on the bug repellent.

Rosamond Gifford Zoo/Salt Museum

The Syracuse Zoo (as we called it as kids) is so much fun. We haven't been there since my eldest was 5, so my youngest three have no recollection of visiting. Lions, elephants, whooping monkeys (I can still hear them in my ears. You can hear their howls clear across the park), and a new aquarium are going to make for a very fun visit. The safari-like boarded walkways across the park make you feel like you are Henry Stanley trudging through the African savanna. We are looking forward to this.

If we have time and are not too exhausted, I'd like to see the Salt Museum. I've never seen it before. Admission is free, so that is very tempting.

Erie Canal Village

I went here with my family when I was fourteen. It was perhaps the best place I remember ever visiting. I've been wanting to go again for fifteen years now! I asked my husband to give me this trip for my birthday. I don't need any cake--no ice cream, no party, just this trip. Admission is very pricey, which is why this is "gift" level trip. I want to take the kids on the packet boat ride (my daughters, very outgoing and wickedly smart, tell me they will sing the "Erie Canal" song from the top deck of the boat. Well, have a blast, I guess!) This is a "must do" for me this summer.


I'll now list the places I am dreaming of going this year. They are larger and/or more expensive trips, so I can't say with any assuredness that we will go. I also have to keep in mind that we need to plant our vegetable garden this year, and our house needs some major renovating (roof leak has caused some water damage to interior walls-- need to remove the chimney, ugh!). But I list them because I do love to dream. If not this year, then perhaps next.

Niagara Falls Aquarium/Niagara Falls

This looks absolutely fabulous. I love aquariums. I'd skip a dozen zoos to see one good aquarium. A few years ago, we visited the Boston aquarium, and it was incredible! A trip to Boston is too extensive right now, so I figure perhaps we could go west. The kids have never seen the Falls, either. I am very excited about going here. It'd be quite a lengthy drive, but maybe we could stop in towns along the way and discover new things as we go.

Howe Caverns

Another place I visited as a kid. Truly an experience that should elude no New Yorker. Admission is sinfully expensive. I think Governor Spitzer should look into it, ha!


I am by no means relegated to following these plans. I may add or subtract places or events. I have been unable to find out about any historical museum for Gerrit Smith yet; we may search for that on a dull spring day. We'd also love to see a reenactment of something somewhere. Can you believe we've never seen a reenactment? We always seem to miss them. It also doesn't help that the Observer-Dispatch reports about them the day after they occur!!! Our lone attempt to get to a Civil War reenactment fell flat last year. We'd love to see a Revolutionary War one. Fort Stanwix has them sometimes, Oriskany Battlefield has them sometimes... we just have never been able to find out what year and what day they happen! I wish these things were publicized more often.

If I strike it rich, we will go to the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown. We went fifteen years ago when we had only two very small children; the prices are out-of-this world for a larger, older family. What a shame. If I was a farmer from the 18th century and saw how the museum barons were broadcasting my old stuff at such prices, I'd be hopping mad (well, I'm sure that schiester William C. "Stub" Newell would be proud). Another excruciating admission scam is with the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. It would cost us $150+ for a barebones trip up and down the railway, just to Thendara and back. Outrageous!

So therein lies our best laid plans. It will undoubtedly twist, turn, wind, and weave just like the roads we travel. Half the fun is getting there.

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