Not to ruin the drama, but this is the last major day of the trip. I got a hold of a marina that had a pontoon boat we could rent, so we jumped on it. A quick visit to the grocery store across the street to get lunch supplies, then we drove half way back up Seneca lake to the marina. Sonora was beyond excited.
On the north end of the lake there is a canal and we went up it for a bit, lots of cool boats and houses.
A steam powered boat!
Eventually we cam back out into the larger lake to hang out and boat! Deep down inside, we’re all kids, and even mom got in on driving the boat!
Sonora even jumped in the water, but it was super cold and that didn’t last!
We were told not to go farther than half way down the lake by the rental company. We did our best to comply, till we realized that we were farther south than we realized. We rounded a large island that turned out to be Seneca Lake Sonar Test Facility. This is a government facility used to test SONAR equipment. Read about the interesting details in the link if you want to know more. It is strange boating near it and wondering what it is.
It got a bit rough out here for our little pontoon boat and we were wondering if we took on too much! A few times the front of the boat went under a wave and sent water towards us! But we finally made it back to return the rental.
Our vacation was complete as we had seen everything we came to see and delivered the kids back to Maine safely. We started driving home. I realized quickly that Niagara Falls was on our way home, so we made a slight detour.
I’ve been trying to rent a boat to go see Boldt Castle. Danelle, Steve, and I did this back in 2005 and had a great time. I guess its more popular as we couldn’t just get a boat at a moment’s notice. Sonora was very disappointed, but that is how things go. Just the same, we decided to go see the castle. The ladies were not disappointed at the castle and it changed a bunch in the last 13 years! Here are just a few of the photos!
On the ferry back to the mainland, Sonora and I had some fun.
After the castle, we had to decide what to do next. The trip was winding down, but we still had time. We started driving towards home. But first, there were supposed to be decent waterfalls to see in Watkins Glen, NY. I took the scenic drive going down the west side of Seneca Lake. This lake is at least 25 miles long, so we had lots of fantastic views during our drive. It also turns out that Watkins Glen was awesome and HUGE!
It didn’t look like much from the street, but the three of us started hiking down about 90 minutes before sunset. Mom was nervous to go down, but I talked her into going a bit further. She was also worried about getting back up the hill. After scouting ahead, we realized that it was possible to hike all the way down from the top and get to the visitor center across some bridges. I offered to hike down with mom and Sonora, and then run up to get the van and pick them up. This gave the girls an easy downhill trip so we could all see the glens.
Going down, these steps could be a bit slippery at times!
This is one of many waterfalls in the area!
One of several bridges that lets you get from one side to the other of the glen.
Mom checking out the bridge.
I’ll be going back up these shortly. I can still feel the burn!
I wish we had more time to explore here. The day was done. We were ready for a motel and some sleep!
Today is what all the rush was about… We had a 10am reservation at the Revolution Rail Company.They have rail biking excursions on old railroad lines that are no longer in service. I had to reserve a few months in advance because its popular and fills up fast! I should have done it 1 day later so we had more time in Maine. Anyway, we got there early anxious to see what it was all about and not miss our reservation.
There were several ski lifts in the area and we found an old Gondola on display.
Eventually we wondered back to the station to check in and await departure for our trip. In the mean time, we played bags.
And even better, we finally got started with our trip. There is nothing quite like spending time in a yellow school bus!
Sonora got the tiny seat in the back.
I sat with mom opposite Sonora.
We didn’t know what to expect, but the rail bikes were very cool. Revolution Rail had them custom built just for us to ride.
Here we are just pas the half way point on our way back.
The rail ride was spectacular and I’m glad we had reservations as they were full! But all good things end and it was time to move on. This was the last planned activity we had planned for the trip. The rest would be winging it.
Speaking of winging it, I talked mom and Sonora into a “short” 1.1 mile hike. Only most of it was up a mountain. They didn’t give up, but they wanted to! I think the view was worth it. And the hike down was super easy!
Again, we drove on, not knowing what we would see. When I saw some float planes, I stopped. We saw that the rates were reasonable and did our best to contact the pilot. Unfortunately, we never did get a hold of anybody and only got to look on from land.
This day had us driving again late into the night, but totally worth it.
We got up early to get started with our long drive. Its Tuesday and we had a reservation for a Wednesday activity in New York. Today was about leisure travel westward. We started off visiting a few last minute things that I saw driving around Topsham ME, but didn’t see yet.
LL Bean’s headquarters is in Freeport Maine. Their retail location is open 24/7 which is quite interesting. We walked through several stores. I’m surprised to say that I out-spent my mom shopping (found a great bent shaft carbon fiber canoe paddle).
So we finally started driving. I took random state highways that appeared to have decent views and they didn’t disappoint. We finally stopped on the side of the road to check out this river and enjoyed the sounds of the water rushing by.
I took a chance and turned into a busy looking nature area named Sabbaday Falls. The name has an interesting story you should learn about by visiting and reading the signs. You can’t see the waterfalls from the highway or even the parking lot. I asked somebody coming back from their hike if the trail was worth it, not yet knowing at all what it was. This is something you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area! Its a very easy hike to the three tiered waterfall.
We stopped on the New Hampshire/Vermont border to get a photo on a bridge mom would not walk on. I had issues getting Sonora to join me.
She thought we might fall through.
She isn’t happy out in the middle!
Back on land again!
Eventually, we make it to Lake Champlain, a lake that is on the border of New York and Vermont. The lake is 120 miles long and as wide as 12 miles. We took a ferry across.
Our night ended with a few hours of night driving before finding a suitable motel.
Colleen invited us to stay in Maine two days so she could show us around where she and the kids live. We were excited to see some of the highlights of Maine. Mom and I stayed in a motel while Sonora spent two nights with Michaela. The next morning driving over to Colleen’s house, we stopped to check out a few roadside attractions that we drove past the night before.
We spent the morning at their house hanging out. I managed to turn several horses in the display around and get a photo for Hannah. (Its a running joke with my sister to send her pictures of horse butts)
We decided to go out to lunch before our day’s activity. We went to Sea Dog brewing company. Mom and I ate there the night before but didn’t mind going back as it was quite good!
Here’s a selfie of the group. From left to right, Sean, Colleen, Travis (Colleen’s Husband), Mom (Grandma Pat), Sonora, Hogan (me).
Eventually, we went out to “Land’s End”. Its a shop and the end of a long row with a beach. We hung out on the beach for a long time and walked all through the shop.
One interesting note is a product called Moxie. Its a regional soft drink that has a cult following. Cult because of its bitter taste. I purchased one. Sonora and I could each only manage a single sip before handing it away to Michaela to finish. I wished I had a steel brush to clean my tongue of the aftertaste!
We had a great time. Eventually, we finished up and headed back to Topsham. For dinner, we were invited to Pete and Mary Beth’s house (Colleen’s parents). They showed us around their amazing house. It is set right on the edge of public land that won’t ever be developed. This gives them a giant space to explore and hike in year round. On the edge of their property, Pete built a magnificent tree house for Michaela and Sean to play in! I’m impressed!
For the dinner that they hosted, Pete did to me what I do to others, over served my drink. He offered whiskey and I accepted, but he poured the glass nearly full. I didn’t finish it, but it was a laughing point for the meal. It was a great night enjoying their hospitality and seeing their genuine love of their grand kids being home safe!
The second day was a day at the beach. Pete and Mary Beth gave us two different tents and some chairs to use since we planned to be there all day. We packed a cooler with lunch and drinks and headed out together in my van. Once we got set up, we took turns hanging out at the tents to watch our stuff.
Sonora with our two tents.
Looking down the beach.
Looking out at the water
I missed Danelle, so I left her a note (that I took a photo of and texted to her) in the sand.
Mom may have borrowed my message for dad 🙂
Its an old BAK (Biking Across Kansas) joke that Holly would write “Giggles was here” at the SAG stops. We added it to the sand and sent her a photo.
The last set of photos from our day at the beach came from an outing with mom. Before we left, dad told me to push mom a bit out of her comfort zone, that she would do nearly anything. So I took him up on it and took mom for a hike over to see a large rock outcropping at the beach.
This is the view from the top of the rock. The specks on the beach is where our stuff is set up.
Mom at the top of the rock.
It was a hard climb up and worse down because we were both barefoot! Beyond this, we all took turns playing in the sand. Sonora, Michaela, and Colleen loved the 68 degree water and I tolerated it as long as I had to. I was surprised how busy this beach was for a Monday!
We went back to Colleen’s house for dinner that night. She took us for a walk around the property including an abandoned railroad track.
We were sad to say goodbye, but it was time. We packed up Sonora back into the van and headed back to the motel. We finished the second phase of this trip and now our party was down to three people.