Friday - Sunday May 22nd - 25th, 2009
Destination Unknown 2009.pdf
This was the 3rd DU trip that I was planning. I started to think about it back in November of 2008. Back then gas prices were dropping but I was leery of another long trip due to the cost of fuel for DU 2008 when we went to Niagara Falls, a 400 mile each way trip, over 900 miles total.
So I started with two ideas, the one I really wanted to do and one closer if fuel prices started to sky rocket again. While planning, I priced everything for gas at $2.50 a gallon figuring it would go up around Memorial Day weekend and it did.
Planning a trip, whether short or long starts with an idea of where you want to go and a destination activity. Anyone can plan a trip, but it does take some research and thinking about what the scouts would enjoy doing versus what an adult might enjoy. Plus we needed enough activities to fill two days and a backup plan if the weather was rainy or bad.
I started advertising DU in late March. I had to give some generic clues without giving any real hints as to where we were going. Even my son Jake was puzzled and based on his questions to me had no clue where we were going or what we were going to do. So the secret and surprise were well kept up to DU weekend!
We were to meet at the temple for 5pm on Friday the 22nd of May. We started with 13 scouts and 4 adults signed up. But thru different reasons, we ended up with 8 scouts and 3 adults. We managed to fit everyone into just two vehicles plus the trailer. This saved fuel costs for a 3rd vehicle. We did finally get going around 6pm after a few last minute changes and arrangements. I was driving as was Jim Dowd. We both had the address of the campground programmed into our GPS’. But I also printed directions and a phone in case one of us got lost. Luckily the GPS worked great! Although we did have a 30 minute traffic delay on the pike. We were heading west.
The campground was approx 295 miles from the temple. We camped at Sned-Acres campground in Ovid, NY. (www.sned-acres.com) Now you’re probably saying “where the heck is Ovid?” Well, it’s in the Finger Lakes between Seneca and Cayuga Lake.
We made good time, even with the delays, and arrived at 11:20pm. The owner stayed up for us and showed us where we were camping. He also gave us a flag to use for the weekend. Camp was set up quickly and we were all in bed by 1am. We were not in any rush for Saturday morning, so we could sleep in a bit.
Saturday morning came and the weather predicted showers in the afternoon. The flag was raised in a small ceremony. We had a delay of about an hour due to propane tank and regulator problem. We ate breakfast and went on our way. Class A’s were what to wear as we would be in public (my thinking anyways). After a 35 minute ride, we arrived at our first stop: Watkins Glen Gorge. Because of no available parking spots we went to the top to park and walk down the gorge.
The gorge was carved out of rock over millions of years. Somewhere along the way, steps were put in and it became a state park. Where we were starting at the top, we had 3 hiking choices. One on either side of the gorge and the other down into the gorge. This is the one we chose.
I had asked the scouts to count the steps down. About 5 years before we (Faye, Jacob and I) had gone up and down the gorge and counted the steps. I had an idea of about how many there were. But somewhere around 300 everyone told me they had lost count and wanted to know how many there were. Not wanting to scare them, I told them at the end. I think it was 997 steps and covered about 1.5 miles each way and dropped about 500 feet.
The gorge was pretty neat. Lots of waterfalls (18 of them!), rock carved by the stream, lots of gorgeous lookouts and a great place to take pictures. At the bottom we visited the gift shop, sat under a tree and had lunch and relaxed for a bit. As it was already 2:30pm it was decided to skip the walk back up and go on to our next destination for Saturday. Two of us rode the shuttle bus to the top and brought the vehicles down and picked everyone up.
A 25 mile drive south took us to Corning, NY, home of the Corning Museum of Glass. Glass is so common most people never think much about it. The museum is a fascinating place to learn about glass thru the ages and how it is used artistically and in everyday life. There were shows we could attend on glass blowing, breaking glass, fiber optics (very cool!) and a few other subjects. http://www.cmog.org/
After walking thru the museum, we headed back to the campground for dinner and relaxation.
Sunday came and another beautiful day was upon us. After breakfast, first stop was right down the street (Route 89) at Taughannock Falls State park in Ulysses, NY. We parked in the last two spots and hiked in. The trail was flat and easy and paralleled a river bed that was running very low. Some chose to walk in the dry spots on the river. We were in a gorge again and the top was a few hundred feet above us! http://www.taughannock.com/
The falls were at the end and stand 215 feet to the top. They are the tallest in NY and 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls. But Niagara beats Taughannock in sheer volume. The cliffs are made of limestone and tend to “joint” of break off in square sections that look man made but are not.
We went back and went across the street to the park for the lunch break. The park is on the shores of Cayuga Lake which is around 35 miles long and 400 feet deep at its deepest spot. We also learned that salt is mined from 2300 feet below the lake in a salt mine. I can’t imagine being half a mile down and knowing that 400 feet of water is above you!
After lunch, next stop was just south of Ithaca at Buttermilk Falls State Park. Since two of us were a bit achy from Saturdays walk, Dr. Kelley took the scouts on a quick hike up the side of the falls and over and back down again. By the time the scouts had returned, they had seen enough waterfalls for the weekend!
We worked our way back to the campground. Since it was too early for dinner, everyone had some free time to relax and do what they wanted. Some napped, some swam in the cold pool and eventually a pool football game ensued, the game room was visited as well as other campground activities. Mr. Dowd hiked the 1.2 mile trail along the gorge next to the campground and found it interesting.
The scouts worked together to make the chicken fajitas. Many of the campgrounds guests stopped by to chat and compliment us on our well behaved scouts. Some also were intrigued by our meals and came sniffing by saying their mouths were watering!
Sunday night the campground did a bonfire for us and we all found out just how hot it could get as we kept moving further and further from the fire. I think I ended up about 40 feet away at one point. All too soon the fire died down and it was bedtime.
Monday came too quickly. Tents were taken down and everything was put away. A quick breakfast and we were on our way a little past nine am. We did stop at the Auburn, NY Bass Pro Shops/Sportsmen World store for about 90 minutes. Then it was time to come home. We arrived back at the temple around 5pm. The weekend went quickly, we had a lot of fun and we traveled 750 miles total.
I’ve already started thinking about DU and other trips for next year. But that will be decided at the planning meeting in September.