Archive for August, 2011
A beautiful HOT summer Saturday evening and we are sitting comfortably on the lawn behind the amphitheater of CMAC listening to an incredible performance by Steely Dan.
I love gully hiking. Gully hiking with waterfalls and frogs are a plus, and Conklin Gully has lots of both. This gully is a spectacular treasure that has views on par with Watkins Glen, but is much less travelled and beautifully preserved. The day I chose to hike was a perfect 70 degrees. There had been a heavy rain the night before so the creek was flowing nicely, and the rocks were glistening with color.
Conklin Gully is located in the High Tor Wildlife management Area at the south end of Canandaigua Lake, just north of the town of Naples. The easiest way to access the Gully is via a parking lot on RT 245 (Rushville Rd), just before Parish Hill Rd.
This is a hike that requires you to wear good shoes and to be able to hike in the stream. It can be very slippery in parts and if you continue up past several of the smaller waterfalls you are faced with much steeper climbs, requiring the use of ropes, tree roots and reckless confidence.
Each bend in the stream presents a new breath-taking view of cascading water over angular planes of stone. Many of the waterfalls are 10’high or less. Sometimes the walls are mossy and lined with ferns, and sometimes you look up 100 feet, at sheer cliff walls.
Several falls up I encountered a really bizarre sight. I pulled myself gingerly up over the top of a broad rock ledge only to face a solid carpet of dead millipedes. I must have discovered the sacred burial grounds!
I followed the creek up for about 90 minutes and never ran out of creek bed. I finally came to a waterfall too high, slippery and steep to scale. Looking for the path where others had gone, I scrambled up several hundred feet of a very steep hillside, using stone ledges, tree roots and tree trunks. Warning: Don’t look down until you get to the top.
At the top I found a well-marked trail with red blazes. I followed that for another 15 minutes until I saw a wooden box mounted on a tree marked FLT.
At this point I heard the first rumblings of thunder. I turned around and started trotting back down hill. The red rail led to a blue trail. The blue trail led to the parking lot. I climbed into my car just as it started to pour.
This was the perfect hike. If you wanted to take younger children on this gully hike, the first half mile is pretty safe and full of frogs and waterfalls.
However, let a couple hours pass and the visual thrills are eclipsed by hunger pangs. I begin to think about a heavenly brunch from the Bluewater Grill. Heavenly because they serve the best Bloody Marias — made with Tequilla —not vodka, hot with horseradish and a string of olives.
I bet you did not know that 20th Century Fox and IBM had their beginnings in Auburn New York. Neither did I until I took a trip to the Cayuga Museum.
The Cayuga Museum of history and art, is housed in a classic Greek Revival Mansion built in the mid 1800s, by Dr. Sylvester Willard, who made his fortune in corn starch. Willard Case inherited the mansion in 1916. He donated the property so that it could be preserved as a museum in 1930. It appears to have been relatively untouched for the last 85+ years.
Outside a beautiful wrought iron gate still remains, and the original massive wood front doors still perform as entrance to the museum.
There is a suggested admission of $3 — perhaps this is their admission that this museum a work in progress, a bit of a hodge-podge, but completely charming. This is not a heavily curated museum, rather it is a genuine piece of local history that has been lovingly and gently preserved.
The front entrance way is lavish with marble floors, beautiful wood trim and a curved stairway winds up with a thick bannister and stained glass window at the top of the stairs.
There is also a business entrance on the east side which later had a Tiffany window added.
Upstairs, one room has beautiful “crazy quilts” hanging on the walls, while next to that is the children’s bedroom, with samples of their clothing, a cradle and doll, plus a display of their toys in a glass case,
The adjacent room, in stark contrast, is a collection of items from the original Auburn prison, including artifacts from the electric chair and a carved stick from the executioner with the names of everyone he had executed.
Auburn was the first prison to contain individual cells, the first to institute the widely imitated “Auburn System,” the first to execute a prison by the electric chair. There was also an asylum in Auburn.
Nearby, in a tiny alcove there is an incredible 3,100-piece thousand-year clock built by Willard LeGrand Bundy, a local jeweler, in his spare time. He and his brother formed a manufacturing company in Binghamton in 1989, inventing the first employee time clock. This firm changed its name to International Business machines in 1924, now known today as IBM.
Wilard and his son Ted Case were the inventors of talking films. Their back yard laboratory still remains, in the same condition as when they with darkroom, and recording studio. This studio is the birthplace of Fox Films (now 20th Century Fox).
Today the carriage house is being restored to house a restored lab. The carriage house is beautifully painted and sports a ram weathervane that came from one of the woolen mills originally located along the Owasco Inlet.
Most impressive in the grounds behind the museum is the largest Ginkgo Tree in New York State. we have a very tall and spindly Ginkgo in our front yard. I wanted to show it a picture of this massive specimen for inspiration.
The Cayuga Museum is located right next door to the Schweinfurth Gallery on Genesee St in Auburn. Hours are Tues-Sun, noon to 5.