The views from The High Line park in Manhattan are very different from what you see from the street.
The High Line Park offers unique views of the west side of Manhattan. The elevated park was built on an abandoned railroad track, providing a vantage point allowing visitors to see the city differently. One can see iconic buildings from the High Line, such as The Edge, near the Hudson Yards development.
One of the things I enjoy about the views from the High Line is the way they change as you walk along the park. The park is divided into different sections, each with distinct characters and views. For example, the neighbourhood near the Chelsea Market offers views of the market and the nearby streets and buildings. The section near the Hudson Yards provides views of the development's striking architecture and the Hudson River. And the area near the Javits Center offers views of the centre itself and the city's skyline.
Every time I walk The High Line, I am offered a unique and constantly evolving perspective.
In September 2018, Bhavna and I booked a weekend getaway on Seneca Lake on the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is day three of three.
Two years ago, in September 2018, Bhavna and I booked a weekend getaway on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Here are links to Day 1 and Day 2.
I was tired from the long drive back from our balloon ride, and my muscles were sore from all the hiking we did yesterday.
Several years ago, Bhavna, Shaan, Kiran, and I had lunch at a local restaurant just before we drove back from a weekend road trip to Williamstown, Massachusetts. On the way back, we stopped at Saugerties Lighthouse to take pictures. I reached into my camera bag, and my heart fell as I realised I had left my camera at the table in the restaurant. I made a panicked phone call, and then we turned around and drove two hours back to the restaurant. So now, I find the last day of an out-of-town adventure the most challenging. I panic about the things and places still on my to-do list and worry about remembering to pack all our belongings.
We had it all sorted in fifteen minutes, and checkout involved dropping our key into a dropbox inside and exiting The Farmhouse. As we packed our bags into Bhavna's CUV, we were bathed in the warm early morning light coming over the hill. The Grist Iron Brewery and the Farmhouse looked beautiful. We drove into Watkins Glen for breakfast and hiked the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park.
Driving home from ballooning the previous night, we visited Watkins Glen State Park before leaving the Seneca Lake area. Bhavna's sister and her family had visited the area a few months before and suggested it was worth visiting. There are waterfalls. How could I do my best to work it into our schedule?
Breakfast in Watkins Glen Village
While breakfast is included in our package, I wanted to eat at one of the well-known breakfast spots, The Glen Mountain Market Bakery & Deli. We arrived too early, so I explored the street with my camera.
Glen Theatre opened in 1924 but fell into disrepair, eventually becoming an adult (a.k.a porn) movie theatre. In 1996, a Watkins Glen resident purchased and restored the property, offering mostly second-run movies. However, for unknown reasons, in 2019, the theatre shut its doors.
Once the deli opened, we found a seat near the window. I ordered a bagel with lox, cream cheese, and locally sourced fair trade coffee while Bhavna settled on a muffin. I was excited to learn that my coffee that morning was from Gimme! Coffee, an Ithaca-based roaster from whom I have ordered whole beans in the past.
Besides ourselves, the deli had one other customer, but several more tables were occupied as we ate breakfast. It seems some customers were regulars as the host greeted them warmly by name.
The two murals on the outside walls of Glen Mountain Market Bakery & Deli pay homage to the bountiful racing history of Watkins Glen. I’m a Formula 1 racing fanatic and looked online for more details.
On October 2nd, 1948, the Grand Prix began with 15 cars racing 8 laps covering 52.8 miles. Frank Griswold from Wayne, Pennsylvania, clinched victory driving a pre-war Alfa Romeo 8C2900 coupe. Briggs Cunningham closely trailed him in his iconic Bu-Merc. Notably, William "Bill" Milliken had a mishap during qualifying, flipping his Bugatti 35, hence the origin of "Milliken's Corner."
Charles Addams, the creator of the Addams Family, also participated, alongside Miles and Sam Collier, significant figures in American road racing history.
In 1961, Cameron Argetsinger revamped Watkins Glen to host the final round of the Formula One World Championship. The upgrades included new pits meeting European standards, with overhead cover and enhanced safety measures. The United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen became a cherished autumn tradition, attracting enthusiastic race fans who admired the vibrant fall colours of upstate New York.
This race was a global favourite for both teams and drivers due to its generous starting and prize money, often surpassing the combined total of other races. It received the Grand Prix Drivers' Association Award for "Best Staged Grand Prix" in 1965, 1970, and 1972.
I can only imagine how exciting (and dangerous) those early races must have been with high-performance cars zipping around the streets of Watkins Glen.
We didn't linger over our breakfast. We wanted to maximise our time hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.
Watkins Glen State Park
Earlier in the year, Bhavna's sister and her family took a road trip through New England, stopping in Watkins Glen to visit the gorge. They suggested we start at the top of the gorge trail and hike toward the entrance. They had attempted the trail starting at the bottom near the official park entrance and had a rough time. We heeded their advice, parked on the lower level and rode a shuttle to the upper entrance to the park.
Watkins Glen State Park, in the Finger Lakes, is famous for its mesmerising beauty. The glen's stream cascades 400 feet over 200-foot cliffs, creating 19 breathtaking waterfalls within a two-mile stretch. The gorge trail takes you close to these waterfalls, allowing you to walk beneath and around them, even feeling the refreshing mist from Cavern Cascade.
Visitors have various options for recreation, including an Olympic-sized pool, guided summer tours through the gorge, campsites for both tents and trailers, picnic areas, and excellent fishing spots at Seneca Lake and Catherine Creek, famous for its annual rainbow trout run. Watkins Glen State Park truly captivates with its natural wonders and outdoor activities.
Near the start of the Gorge Trail, we passed the Railroad Bridge, a deck girder bridge over Watkin Glen Gorge, which forms part of the Norfolk Southern Railway. The bridge, built circa 1935 to replace the previous deck plate bridge destroyed by a massive flood, is still open to traffic from Conrail, New York Central Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway and Penn Central Railroad. The previous Watkins Glen Bridge was built circa 1901. The current bridge is 96 metres long, with the largest span just under 37 metres.
Lucky Hare Brewing
We exited Watkins Glen State Park just before noon. Bhavna and I were hungry. After some discussion and knowing that all those hikers coming off the trail would also be hungry and perhaps dining downtown, we settled on our last brewery tour of the trip.
After a few days at Seneca Lake, we realised that Hector is home to more than a few of the lake’s breweries. We decided to visit Lucky Hare Brewing Company.
The brewery sits on a grassy corner between Beckhorn Road and Route 414. Initially, we sat inside, working our way through the tasting menu. Another customer overheard our conversations about beer and our recent brewery tours in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. After some exciting banter, we were invited outside to sit at their table.
Angel and Brian Ash are from Cuba, New York and often vacation in the Finger Lakes. They had just attended a beer festival in Rochester and spent a few days at Seneca Lake. We hit it off.
We talked about beer for a while and realised how much we all love it before I pulled Bhavna aside. “I still have a crowler of Fustigated on ice in the cooler.” Bhavna agreed we should share with our new friends. I got the cooler, schmoozed some fresh glassware from the cicerone, and sat to share one of Troon Brewing’s top-rated IPAs. Brian loved the beer and inquired heavily about Troon. He then said, “These are good people”, got up and went to his cooler. We shared a crowler of “X to the Next” from Red Dragon Brewing that he had purchased at the beer fest. This is one of the things I like about beer culture.
In September 2018, Bhavna and I booked a weekend getaway on Seneca Lake on the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is day two of three.
Two years ago, in September 2018, Bhavna and I booked a weekend getaway on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Here are links to Day 1 and Day 3.
We dined on a simple continental breakfast at the Grist Iron Brewery before leaving for a daytime adventure in Ithaca. We planned to visit Buttermilk Falls, stop at a brewery for lunch, and then drive to our meeting location for our balloon ride. The thirty-minute drive from Burdett on Seneca Lake carried us up and down winding and scenic hills.
This was our first visit to Buttermilk Falls. Bhavna and I perused the park map at the park office, deciding which hiking trail we wanted to try. We chose the Gorge Trail to Upper Buttermilk Falls and started up the steep treelined hiking trail. I wasn't huffing or puffing, but I did feel the burn in my legs. We heard rushing water splashing against rocks and the pathways made by centuries of flowing water. The hike took just over one hour, mainly because we stopped to take photos. Many hikers were going in both directions, including a family with a blind dog who seemed to navigate the rocky steps much better than I.
Both of us agreed that Liquid Crush was quite good. We bought a few growlers to share with our friends and family back in New Jersey. We were pressed for time, so soon, we were on our way to Letchworth State Park to meet at the starting location for our balloon ride.
Ballooning over Letchworth State Park and Genesee Falls
We had a long two-hour drive to Letchworth State Park along a mostly boring highway and small non-descript towns. We arrived at the balloon launch site about thirty minutes before the scheduled rendezvous with the Balloon Over Letchworth Company, the only hot air balloon company to launch from within the south end of Letchworth State Park. Bhavna and I explored the park for a bit. There were several large groups having picnics.
Letchworth State Park is a 14,427-acre New York State Park located in Livingston County and Wyoming County in the northwestern part of New York. The park is roughly 17 miles long, following the course of the Genesee River as it flows north through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls.
When our balloon captain, Captain Sean Quiqley, arrived, he explained the rules of the flight, how he expected the ride to go, and what we might see. It is all dependent on the weather, mostly the direction and velocity of the wind. Bhavana and I were assured that the ride would be nothing like being on a plane. We could expect no sudden bumps. In the summer of 2017, Captain Quigley celebrated his 30th Anniversary as a balloon pilot and owner of Balloons Over Letchworth. Hence, we knew we were in safe hands.
Captain Sean Quigley is an F.A.A. licensed commercial pilot; he has since logged over 2000 flights in hot air balloons in festivals and races from Florida to Maine as well as in Europe. In 1989, he placed sixth of 38 countries represented in Le Coup Du Monde, World Cup balloon race in Belfort, France. He has piloted his balloon over the brim of Niagara Falls several times and placed ninth in the U.S. in a distance Long Jump competition, travelling over 114 miles in 2.5 hours. In 2004 he flew in a weeklong festival over the Alps at Chateau d'Oex, Switzerland. In January 2012, Sean flew two flights to 13,000 ft. over the Austrian Alps.
Captain Quiqley and his crew, I think it's a family affair, then set about inflating the balloon. This drew a large crowd. Soon the flight crew had raised the balloon, and we embarked. Along with us were two other couples, one of whom were with their adult child.
The balloon ascended slowly, and we slowly drifted over the gorge and the waterfalls. We could feel the mist coming up from the waterfall directly below. We passed over the Upper Falls, an active railroad trestle crossing immediately above it. Our pilot was terrific and had complete control of the balloon.
Our captain had expected our balloon ride to last about two hours. He would take us over the many gorges of Letchworth State Park and skim the treetops. Weather permitting, he might float low over the Genesee Falls and perhaps dip the basket into the river. But on this particular day, the wind did not cooperate. The balloon struggled to rise and did not move very far. We passed over the first gorge, barely rising in the hour we were in the air. After a bit, the captain called out over the radio to his ground crew, who had been following us in several cars, that he would have to bring the balloon down. In the distance, we could see another balloon.
The captain brought us down in a farm field after calling ahead to his crew to warn the farmer, a close friend. Despite the setback, Bhavna and I were happy. That was one thing less on our bucket list.
After the balloon ride, we gathered at the initial meeting point for a quick glass of champagne, some cheese and an exciting chit-chat about ballooning with the captain. We had fun, and on the long, late drive back to the Grist Iron Inn, we talked about ballooning with our children in the future.