Among our favorite campgrounds is Glimmerglass State Park, at the end of Otsego Lake opposite where Cooperstown resides. But when we made our reservations, the pandemic had not hit the US, yet Glimmerglass was already booked solid for this week in June.
What a fortuitous bump! We discovered Lake Gilbert State Park, slightly farther from Cooperstown than Glimmerglass, to the south and west. Gilbert is much smaller than Otsego but still lovely and popular.
Our site, #2, gets quite a lot of morning and early afternoon sun, necessitating some AC, but it is elevated and relatively private. John, Mary, and Riley are next door in site 3. The only disadvantage of the two sites was that J&M were next to a dusty grail trail going right beside them up to a ball field (not marked on the maps) that no one appears to ever use. The staff, however, would drive up there occasionally, casting dust in J&M’s living space.
Our site #2
Site #3 with John & Mary’s teardrop and tent
The camp area we chose is one of 2 in the campground (called Hilltop) and is grassy and open, with stately trees scattered around the middle and a large bathhouse with 4 private toilet/showers and the usual men’s and women’s group areas. There is also a dishwashing station, and a washer and dryer, but we had some reservations about the clothes washing area, as it’s outside with the dishwashing area.
When we checked in, the group bathhouse areas were closed, but the 4 private rooms were disinfected several times daily. By the time we checked out, the whole bathhouse was open.
There were 4 large RVs there when we arrived and it became obvious they were all together. None of them wore masks the whole time we were there, and they gathered at one site or another to eat and party together. This only got annoying on Friday night when “Green Shirt” had a few too many beers and began talking VERY LOUDLY and being quite obnoxious. One family among the group had mounted a large boar’s head on a step ladder at the hitch end of their rig, and upon its head was an enormous MAGA hat. ‘Nuff said.
Along with Riley, there were a number of dogs there—most were well-behaved—with whom Riley wanted to be friends. So he’d whine and bark sometimes upon seeing some of his species about, which, in some cases, set the other dogs to barking.
The days we were at Gilbert Lake were sunny and quite warm, but there was little humidity. Every afternoon gray clouds would roll in and we could hear thunder in the distance, but it only showered on us once. Riley has anxiety issues with thunder, but on only one evening did he need his “thunder jacket,” actually a dog life vest for water, to ease his discomfort.
The downsides of Gilbert Lake for bicyclists are 2: First, the state of the paved roads is terrible (broken up, patched, and pitted); and second, there are no rail-to-trail conversions anywhere in the area that we could find.
On the 19th (Juneteenth) Jack and I took a short 7-mile tour of the area, sticking to the pubic roads in the campground, checking out the enormous cabin area (33 or so, some of which were built by the CCC back in the 30s or 40s), the beach and concession areas (beach open, concessions closed), and the lower, larger camping loop (called Deer Run maybe?). That camp loop was partially open with 3 RVs in sites, but the staff were doing work around the loop, probably preparing for the July 4th holiday-goers. That campground area is closer to the lake’s beach and is the home of the only dump station in the entire complex.
Saturday the 20th, Jack ran in to the nearest village (Morris) to do a reconnoiter and some laundry. Other than the laundromat, there’s nothing of significance in Morris (not even a grocery store). Meanwhile, I took a ride to check out the path circumnavigating the lake. Signs warn folks from entering, calling it a service road, and the folks at the camp store said there weren’t any bike trails on site, but I took my bike around anyway—John and Mary had walked Riley along the path and reported it to be okay for bikes, so I rode. A spot or three needed some extra care to avoid roots or rocks, but it was just fine.
I did 2 loops of the ride down the hill to the camp store and back to the point where I joined the lake road, circumnavigated the lake, and then climbed back up the steep hill to Hilltop. On one of the tours of the camp store, I saw a Cooper’s hawk lift from the ground near the road and make some effort to get airborne. My guess was that it was carrying something it had caught by the road.
All told, my ride was about five miles each loop, with the lake path being a bit over a mile. One time I did the lake trail counter-clockwise, and the other time I did it clockwise.
Jack got back around 11:30 and John came puffing up to get the car to go back and fetch Mary & Riley. Mary had twisted her ankle and fallen down on her knee along one of the hiking paths, ending up with a significant scrape on her knee and a sore ankle. She was fine, only embarrassed, but walking was a bit of a challenge for her.
After lunch (and ministering to Mary’s wound and resting her ankle) we all set off for Cooperstown. Mary thought that a gentle walk around the town would ease some of the stiffness and swelling in her ankle, which John wrapped with an Ace bandage.
A stroll and an ice cream later, J&M drove up toward Glimmerglass, and Jack and I hit the grocery store for the goods to make a Dutch Oven dinner for us all the next day, on our final night together.
On Father’s Day Sunday, J&M headed north to link up with Mary’s brother at a half-way point for them both. Jack and I had a lazy day reading and napping. Every day of our stay we heard and saw a Cooper’s hawk circling overhead—possibly a mate to the one I saw on my solo ride on the 20th.
I fixed the DO goulash dinner for us and we enjoyed the meal and a quiet evening around the fire, which, as usual, included some distant thunder, some gray clouds, and a sprinkle thrown into the mix.
On June 22, we packed up our houses on wheels. J&M headed south, back to Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA en route to their home and garden; and Jack and I headed north and east to New Hampshire and an old friend, Ashuelot River Campground in Swanzey, NH.
Along the way toward Confluence, we hit Ohiopyle, one of my (and Jack’s) favorite destinations along the Great Allegheny Passage trail. While we’ve camped at, cycled through, eaten in, and wandered around Ohiopyle on many occasions in the past, we’ve never visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s nearby Fallingwater house.
It was a long day, even though we only covered 30 miles on our bikes, with one or two significant climbs up to extraordinary views. Here are some random pix of the trail (taken both before and after our Wright adventures) the Youghiogheny River, and some sights along the way.
When we rode into Ohiopyle, we took a moment to look at the raging river, which is famous along this stretch for rafting and kayaking (experts only). We were told by the locals that a few days ago, due to Gordon, you could not see any rocks nor the waterfall, there was so much water flowing past after the storm.
We gathered at Wilderness Voyagers to change our shoes, lock up our bikes, and board the van to head up to Fallingwater—possibly the most famous of F. L. Wright’s architectural achievements. Designed in 1935 for the Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. family (of the Pittsburgh department store fame) Fallingwater was completed in 1939, constructed of sandstone quarried on the property and built by local craftsmen. The decks are made of reinforced concrete cantilevered over the signature stream beside which the home is built, and which is an integral feature of the structure.
While the Kaufmanns never lived full time in the home, it was private until 1963 when son Edgar Kaufmann Jr. entrusted the home, its contents, and grounds to the Pennsylvania Conservancy. Fallingwater is the only Wright work to enter the public domain with all of its original furnishings and artwork intact.
Unfortunately, they do not allow photographs of the interior of the home, but it was set up in the exact way the owners lived in it, right down to the type of whiskies they served. Also, the artworks on the interior were quite varied and beautiful—all were originals—so I was disappointed that I could not photograph and share some of the best.
Anyone who knows anything about Wright knows that his primary passion for his architecture was that the structure(s) would inhabit their environments nearly seamlessly. He was a prime advocate for merging the inner spaces with the outdoors. Fallingwater is most assuredly an excellent example of how that might be achieved, and then lived by the inhabitants of the structure. Some of the beams holding up the house are embedded in the rocks, and you can see some of the natural, in-place boulders integrated in part of the fireplace. Through a glass door and down some stairs, you can take a dip in the bright stream water that flows beneath the home. Desks and other pieces of furniture are constructed around or imbedded into elements like chimneys, glass corner windows, and doors.
If you ever get the opportunity, it’s worth the fee for the tour, despite my feeling of being herded through the rooms of the home on a specific schedule so the guides could get as many people in and out of the home as efficiently as possible. There were tons and tons of people there during our tour, but no stragglers or folks not “contained” in a defined group. So we felt as if we were nearly alone in the house.
Also, we were not hurried: none of our questions (except one or two that our newbie guide admitted she did not know the answers to) were flicked aside or ignored, and our guide proved quite knowledgeable about every amazing aspect of the home.
We were able to take some pix outside, as we finished in the Guest House and were headed back to lunch and our pick-up point. So I’ve grouped them below—but first I wanted to show my photo of the “most famous” perspective of the house, side-by-side with Rachel Sager’s mosaic of the same view (from my post dated Sept. 15, GAP 5, Part 1).
Fallingwater from above.
Every room has one of the cantilevered decks outside.
The structural supports for one of the decks incorporates the rock of the landscape.
Artwork is everywhere.
The falling water upon which Fallingwater is build (and on which its design is based).
We had lunch at the Fallingwater cafe, which was excellent. But again, because of Gordon, we were not able to participate in some of the things we had hoped to do in and around Ohiopyle, so we all elected (and we persuaded our Wilderness Voyagers driver) to go a bit farther afield from Ohiopyle to see another Wright property, Kentuck Knob.
This was quite a different endeavor for Wright, although he still had the concept of fitting the structure into its environment, and bringing the “outside in”—at least on one (the private) side of the structure. It was obvious that this commission was undertaken by a family with more limited means than that of the Kaufmann family. In 1953, I.N. and Bernardine Hagan bought 89 acres in the mountains above Uniontown, PA. The Kaufmanns and the Hagans were friends, and based on their visits to Fallingwater, the Hagans hired Wright to design their home. Kentuck Knob was one of the last homes to be completed by Wright.
Kentuck Knob was designed in a hexagonal motif as a “Usonian” house. Linguists and historians believe the term was coined in 1903 by writer James Duff Law. In Here and There in Two Hemispheres, Law quoted one of his own letters, “We of the United States, in justice to the Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title ‘Americans’ when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves.” He went on to propose the terms “Usonia” and “Usonian” and it appears that Wright picked it up. The first known published use by Wright was in 1927.
In Wright’s lexicon, it evokes his vision for the landscape of the United States—including city planning and all types of architecture—to distinguish the art form of the time from all previous architectural conventions. In his vision, affordable housing would be made widely and universally available by designing low-cost homes that used passive solar heating, natural cooling, natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating. They were usually envisioned as one-story houses with flat roofs, and often in an “L” shape to fit around a garden terrace, merging the indoors and the outdoors for comfort and light. Characterized by locally-found native materials, they incorporated his passion for visual connections between indoors and outdoors by using lots of glass and basic, simple designs. The term “carport” was coined by Wright in connection with his Usonian vision, to indicate a minimalist shelter for a vehicle.
In Pleasantville, New York, there is a 1950s-era intentional community created on the Usonian model, which is now an historic district. Wright designed 3 of the 47 homes in the Pleasantville community.
Likewise Kentuck Knob incorporated the Usonian vision by being single-story, low-cost, and designed to take advantage of radiant floor heating and passive solar gain. The hexagonal proportions of each and every room makes for fascinating decorating and furniture choices and designs.
Again, we were unable to take photographs inside, but the exterior is interesting, with narrow windows on the “public” side of the home, that are made more private with the addition on the outside of a repeating pattern cut into some of the beautiful red cypress wood from which much of the interior is made. The central “heart” of the home is the kitchen, from which all the rest of the rooms “radiate.” Modest in square footage, the kitchen “ceiling” reaches up to the roof, which is the source for light, having a glass ceiling. A retrofit of screening helped the kitchen from becoming too hot to stand in. Wright intended for there to be only natural light in the kitchen, which made it impractical for cooking at night, so another change by the owners was pretty neat countertop lighting and fixtures ahead of their time.
This tile is F.L.Wright’s “signature” on the structure.
Entryway and drive-up.
Privacy “screens” over the narrow front windows.
Along the back of the house stretches a long porch offering solar gain in the wintertime, and shade in the summer, with through-holes in the overhang roof so the winter sun could melt the snow/ice on the porch floor, but also offer lovely “rain spouts” during summer to unite the interior with the weather and surroundings.
When the Hagans lived in the home (full time) there was a spectacular view from that back porch. There is debate about whether to cut the now-grown trees to re-kindle that view from the house, but it’s only a short walk to an open area (available for weddings, etc) from which visitors can take in that view.
And all along the way, and everywhere around the property, high and low, is outdoor art, sculptures, wind chimes, and wonders. At the “bottom” before the shuttle takes visitors up to the house, and all around the house itself are beautiful and interesting sculpture walks that visitors are encouraged to wander.
A piece of the Berlin Wall
A lighting fixture at the entry drive
This sculpture near the view moves with the slightest wind — it is by the same artist who made the animated water sculpture as well as a light fixture over the master bed that moved and changed with the whispers of wind in the room.
This wind chime sculpture buzzed with the flow of air across its tines
From Ohiopyle to Confluence is only about 11 or 12 miles, so we puttered on along the last of the GAP trail that follows the Youghiogheny River. At Confluence, the Yough is channeled into an enormous recreational lake of the same name. Where the Yough River, the Casselman River, and Laurel Hill Creek merge is the town appropriately named Confluence. From here eastward, the GAP follows the Casselman River.
Among our options for the day was a cycle to the dam that tames the Youghiogheney River. But we were all pretty worn out, so Allen drove us over in Minnie van. An enormous spume of water was gushing out of the dam, and the locals who were there to see this anomaly reported that they’d never seen so much water being released from the lake at once. Directly below the dam is the “Outflow Campground” which appeared to be in serious jeopardy, if they were releasing so much water to ease stress on the dam.
We also heard that the remains of Hurricane Florence were due to reach the area, that night and the next day, adding to the burden left by Gordon the week prior. So the release was in anticipation of a night and a day of additional rain.
We overnighted in a “guest house” in a nice neighborhood—part Air BnB and part small Inn—and the group enjoyed a single malt whisky tasting hosted by Allen, after having dinner on the porch at the Lucky Dog Cafe (I needed some bug spray to have been able to fully enjoy our meal) which served delicious Mexican-inspired food.
Our trip to and stay at Selkirk Shores State Park (July 8) on the New York shore of Lake Ontario was uneventful. We off-loaded our bikes upon arrival to see what the “beach” might be like, and to check out if there was any cycling of note.
Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing of note — nothing to recommend this State Park for any of our future or our friends’ travels.
Possibly, it was because it was the Sunday of the weekend after the Independence Day holiday, but the place was full of trash. It looked beaten to a pulp, and none of the sites or the campfire rings had been cleaned in quite a long while. I never saw a camp host or a park ranger of any stripe. There were out-of-control kids screeching everywhere, and we didn’t even want to put down our outside “rug” because our site was so grody. Unidentifiable greasy spots everywhere, broken shards of who-knows-what on the “platform” and in the grass, bits of candy and cigarette wrappings hither and yon — it was seriously unkempt and dilapidated. Even many of the paved roadways around the picnic, camping, pavilion, and boat launch areas were pitted, pot-holed, broken-up, and useless as pavement.
Every site was chock-a-block to the next, without even a hint of privacy, even to the point of sharing the electric pedestal between every two sites (many of which were inconveniently situated in poison ivy and oak). The “platforms” for a trailer or tent were four cement squares arranged together to form a box, and many of the slabs were broken and heaved away from their partners.
The “beach” was okay, I guess, with a lifeguard and everything. But to one’s left peering to the southwest was a nuclear generation plant that was particularly ugly. Up to the right it might have been pretty, but we would have had to cross the beach to see that direction. Re: screeching children above.
We rode down to the boat launch area, and through a couple of picnic areas with pavilions, and there were tons and tons of people everywhere. So the place is popular. But definitely not our cup of tea.
The bath house was on the seriously elderly side, and not clean at all. I can take old facilities if they’re kept as clean as possible despite having old fixtures, etc. This was not that.
We read that the place was originally built as a CCC camp back in the 1930s, and one can imagine the well-to-do of Syracuse coming “to the shore” to escape the heat of the city. And I admire the effort to re-purpose and keep up infrastructure. But this place — at least the camping areas — is not keeping up with the minimum necessary maintenance.
Instead of sitting outside, we cocooned for our simple meal of re-heated shepherd’s pie, and decided to watch our first movie on the road from my laptop. Hidden Figures is a very very good flick. We enjoyed it immensely.
We staged everything for an early departure on Monday, July 9, and were rolling out of Selkirk Shores by 6:40A. Not only did we not want to stay a moment longer than necessary (all this for just $45/night!!) we had a long drive to get to Camping de l’Ile in Roxton Falls, Quebec, Canada.
This is a place we’d discovered on our very first trip to Quebec to see if we wanted to purchase an Alto or not (of course, we did) and we were tent-camping in a lovely, shady, grassy area of this private campground. It was so nice, and the people so friendly, we decided to hit the ground there, beside a nice river (home to the falls, we assume).
Getting here from Selkirk Shores took us about 8 hours because we stopped for a while and a bit of wifi for breakfast, and then again for lunch (possibly 1.5 hours in stopovers) and there was a significant stoppage along the highway as our “faster” route AROUND Montreal merged back into the through-Montreal road. Never did figure out what the holdup was, but that added every bit of a half hour to the journey.
But we finally arrived, and we’re right beside the river, surrounded by folks speaking French (two groups of which have already taken a tour of Roomba); the breeze is blowing fresh (although the mud in the river — or possibly a nearby farm using manure for fertilizer — is a bit stinky) and the temps are cooling to the low 80s. We have electric and water in Site #4 (although for one night and with our onboard jugs of water, we did not hook up the hose or filter). This arrangement is tight like Selkirk Shores was, with no privacy between the sites, but they’re bigger, and many trees shade each site. On top of which, it’s much more quiet and we can hear the river babbling to us at our back. It’s just a nicer place in nearly every respect (and has private showers that are clean and well-kept, as well as excellent wifi at the sites).
I had forgotten, however, that to take a shower here, you need Canadian dollar coins. There is no heat control, no faucet control, just the meter. One dollar lasts a long-ish time, mind you. But be sure before you head to the shower rooms (each private with a toilet and sink also) that you have one or two dollar coins with you.
We fixed the second of the two Delmonico steaks we’d purchased at Pete’s Meats, the same way we’d done it our last night at Bald Eagle, with Gauvreau’s Compound melted on the top again. Accompanying was the last of our lettuce, a chilled can of green beans, topped with pecans and cheese for a salad, and good old fashioned grits from our “emergency stores.” We’d tried to empty our fresh and leftover foods before crossing the border in case they had a problem with some of the stuff in our fridge (they didn’t, even though the crossing fellow was a bit of a prat).
Sometime around 7 o’clock, in the town of Roxton someone had an accident that took out a power pole, so the campground was without any power at all for the evening. We had still been running our air conditioner, so we switched to the fan, and stayed outside for the evening.
Lovely evening with an exceptional sunset.
Although going to sleep was a bit hot in the high 70 to 80 degree range, we slept fine and the next AM the power was back on. The worst of it was that there were no lights in the bathrooms, so we had to remember to carry our headlamps with us — the toilets still flushed, though.
We arose early on Tuesday not for any rip-snort need to get to our next stop, but so we could have sausage rolls for breakfast and leave enough time for the grill to cool before we wanted to leave mid-morning.
Next stop: La Jolie Rochelle, site 13, where we’re likely to see an Alto friend or two before the Big Rally at Safari Condo.
One of the things I forgot to mention about Glimmerglass State Park is that a significant colony of crows hangs out there, and makes a tremendous racket every morning.
With the heater on overnight, it’s not much of a problem, and I like crows anyway. But just sayin’.
The crows weren’t nearly as noisy as all the children that came in for the weekend. We were surprised at how full the campground got – of course, it might have been because of the Morgan Rally.
When JB mentioned there was to be a Morgan gathering up at the Museum House (Hyde House) I was really looking forward to seeing lots of horses.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be leetle, low-riding cars that looked like MGs. Actually, they were pretty cool. I looked up the Morgan Car Company and it’s a family-run biz that’s been in Worcestershire, England since 1910.
This was a “Quite British” event, with the tweeds and fine hounds, and some of the folks were going to participate in a race after the show, and they wore early 20th century leather “helmets” with goggles.
The weather persisted in being gloomy, and every day you could smell rain coming or just past; we never got our bikes off the rack, and never got back into Cooperstown. But Otsego Lake (“Glimmerglass Lake” in James Fenimore Cooper’s [1789 – 1851] Leatherstocking Tales) is beautiful in any light.
We gathered for a campfire at Ken and Dianne’s site to share a variety of Ken’s homemade cheeses and go-withs, had a final celebratory whisky to cheer friendships old and new, and hit the hay. We had (mostly) broken camp before the rain dumped over our final night at Glimmerglass and we got an early start for a mostly uneventful trip to Bald Eagle State Park in PA.
None of us had ever been to this park before, so we were looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. We are also scheduled to have dinner with some of the Russell family, as we had done last year when Glo, Kerry and we had paused in this neck of the woods, not too far from Avis and Jersey Shore where Russell family cousins abound.
Jack and I drove straight to the campsite while the Hilton clan stopped in Woolrich at the Woolrich store. Meanwhile, JB and Martha had a leisurely departure from Glimmerglass since they had a Monday appointment for a dealership to have a look at his dash lights/breaking situation. Their Sunday night was promised to be spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Wilkes-Barre.
Lovely looking place, Bald Eagle SP: here’s our camp site (#92). How bad could it be, since we saw a bald eagle flying by as we set up? That makes 3 baldies for Jack (he saw one at Shenandoah River that I missed) and 2 for me.
We’re not likely to have robust cell service at Douthat State Park in VA, so I’m trying to upload this bit while it’s still possible. Much more about Bald Eagle SP in the next missive.
The final day of September was overcast and, in the end, quite rainy here in Cooperstown, NY. Highs on the day were in the low-to-mid-60s, so it was a perfect day to spend at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But before I get there I have to mention that on our travel day (Sept. 29) from Lakawanna to Glimmerglass State Park (NY) at the opposite end of Lake Otsego from Cooperstown proper, we stopped for lunch at Brewery Ommegang (as we had done last year). We were a bit too early to check into our campsites in any case, and JB & Martha had made additional stops along the way, so Ken & Diane, Kerry & Glo, and Jack & I stopped and had a delicious lunch and one of their nice beers. I thoroughly enjoyed their Nirvana IPA, a fine accompaniment to my beer-batter-baked chicken breast sandwich with “frites.” Yum.
We linked up with JB & Martha at Glimmerglass, and a fine camping adventure it is here. Here are a couple photos of our site, which is #006.
There is no on-site water available so we all filled our tanks with the freshwater available at the dump station on our way in, and the electric has been happily running our heat pump for early morning and evening warmth since we arrived.
So. The main project of this trip has always been the Hall of Fame and JB, the baseball fan amongst us, and his dream to have his photo taken with one of his faves, Cal Ripken, inducted in 2007. But there is so much more than just a H o F with listings of names and dates here. I’m going to keep the reading part as small as possible and just post some of the many photos (some with captions) I took of what I consider the highlights of my time at the museum.
As we entered the museum proper, we were met with the strange aspect of this:
Inventing Abner Doubleday: In 1905, the US was taking its place on the world stage, eager to establish its distinct heritage. In that spirit, sporting goods magnate Albert Spaulding handpicked a special commission to prove the national game’s American roots. The eventual verdict? Civil War hero Abner Doubleday created baseball in Cooperstown in 1839.
In fact, baseball was played decades earlier, evolving from many similar bat-and-ball games. Doubleday didn’t “invent” baseball . . . Baseball invented Doubleday, a thriving legend that reflects Americans’ desire to make the game our own. (Doubleday Field backs Main Street in the middle of Cooperstown, with this “Sandlot Kid” sculpture just off Main St.)
In the section of the history called “Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience” there were many photos and original documents detailing early players and the abuse they endured in the white establishment.
The plaque introducing this section of baseball’s history read: Almost as soon as the game’s rules were codified, Americans played baseball so passionately that writers of the time called it a mania. African Americans were no different, but in baseball, as in much of American life, they played mostly in segregated settings, including southern plantations as early as the 1850s. On their own sandlots and diamonds, they too developed baseball to its fullest potential. Black communities took pride in these teams and their dynamic brand of the National Pastime. From the earliest times, black baseball was the seedbed for those talented players who paved the way to integrated baseball. The game itself became a testing ground for integrating American life.
Among the pieces of which I am most proud (please note dripping sarcasm here) is this letter from the Richmond, VA baseball team “leaders” in 1883, promising bloodshed if a OH team allows a black player to suit up for the games to be played in Richmond: “We the undersigned do hereby warn you not to put up Walker, the negro catcher, the evenings that you play in Richmond, as we could mention the names of 75 determined men who have sworn to mob Walker if he comes on the ground in a suit. We hope you will listen to our words of warning, so that there will be no trouble; but if you do not, there certainly will be. We only write this to prevent much bloodshed, as you alone can prevent.” —Letter from Richmond, VA team to the manager of Toledo team regarding Fleet Walker, 1883.
Of course, men and women of color made significant contributions to the game over time and as one proceeds through the museum, the evidence of this is clear.
My next favorite section was the one about women in the game and reporting about the game and fans of the game. This section of the Hall of Fame was called Diamond Dreams: “Take me out to the ball game,” sang Katie Casey in the famous baseball anthem. Katie was not alone. Women have always loved and played the game, and have worked hard to fulfill their baseball dreams. Stories of exceptions women and their achievements on the field, in the press box, and in the front office pepper baseball history.
Hank Aaron: The list of American heroes who transcend sport to become genuine cultural icons is short and distinguished. Gifted with exceptional physical ability, and unparalleled professional demeanor, mind-boggling consistency, and an internal drive for excellence in all his endeavors, Aaron set a standard nearly impossible to surpass.
His records speak for themselves. When Aaron retired in 1976, he had amassed record totals for home runs, runs batted in, extra base hits, and total bases. “The Hammer” accomplished all of this with a quiet grace and dignity, foregoing the brash pomp and circumstance associated with many other superstars of the sport.
Perhaps his greatest achievement, however, has taken place beyond the diamond. Aaron has used his well-earned celebrity status on the field to transform the larger world off of it. His championing of civil rights, untiring support for numerous charities, and service as an influence ambassador for baseball has only increased his legacy.
One of the seminal eras in baseball history happened over 1973 & 4, as Aaron neared Babe Ruth’s “unbreakable” career home run record. Aaron faced tremendous adversity in pursuing the most hallowed mark in all of American sport, and is respected as much for his dignity during the chase as for the record he broke.
The moment came on April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th career home run off the Dodgers’ Al Downing to dethrone Ruth as the all-time home run King, a title the “Bambino” held for 53 years.
“The way I see it, it’s a great thing to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it’s a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit.” —Hank Aaron
My favorite quote about Henry Aaron: “Trying to throw a fastball by Henry Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster.” —Pitcher Curt Simmons, who played primarily for the Phillies and Cardinals during his 20-year career.
Hank Aaron’s impact on both baseball and the lives of others has only grown since his retirement in 1976. One of baseball’s first African American executives when he moved to the Braves front office in 1977, Aaron used his iconic status as a springboard to fight racial intolerance.
Aaron’s philanthropic endeavors continue to help people all over the world, while his Chasing the Cream Foundation has provided millions of dollars to underprivileged kids. Honored with the United States’ two highest civilian awards (the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Citizens Medal) Aaron has set an excample for generations and underscored the true meaning of the word “champion.”
Right toward the end of the primary exhibits was the famous “Who’s on First” routine by Abbot and Costello. It had been years since I’d seen it all the way through, and I laughed again, as if for the first time, until tears streamed down my face. A true classic. Bud Abbot and Lou Costello perfected the skit during the late 1930s. It was first performed on radio in 1938; and on film in 1940. But they staged the most famous version in the 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties. Over half a century later, Time magazine voted it the “Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th Century.”
The end of the museum included amazing photographs collected from all eras of the game. Here are a few I liked.
On the first floor is the Hall of Fame itself, which consists of bronze plaques like this one of JB’s hero, Cal Ripken, organized by the year each player was inducted.
Also on the first floor (which visitors are encouraged to see last) is a gallery of artworks whose subject matter is baseball. I had no idea that Alexander Calder did an abstract involving baseball.
Norman Rockwell, of course, was represented, as was this Currier and Ives lithograph.
Also, this nice watercolor by Elaine de Kooning (1918 – 1989)
There was also a first floor section, off toward the HoF Library, about the famous folks who reported on and wrote about and called the games throughout history. Outside in the then-pouring rain was a small sculpture garden. In my photo I was able to get three of the four players displayed there, but had to miss out the catcher, who is “off camera” from the pitcher.
After the HoF, we went to Council Rock Brewery – not much to see there, but the food was delicious (better than Ommegang, IMHO) and I drank an excellent un-filtered IPA that was creamy and hoppy in all the correct proportions. Must of us tried a different beer each, and Jack had a Scotch Dubbel that he found quite good. Another excellent meal was had by all, and the rain had let up a little by the time we left.
A quick stop at the Cooperstown Distillery store front so JB could pick up replacements for the local spirit we got him in his absence last year; a jump into the grocery en route back to Glimmerglass and our day out was complete.
Back at camp, we holed up as the rain continued. Jack and I read our books, listened to music, and took Gloria up on her offer to share a Mexican-inspired casserole they were heating up, so we didn’t even have to cook. We slept to the near-constant patter of rain on the Roomba roof, and hoped for the forecast of little or no rain next day to come true.
Thursday, Sept. 10 & Friday Sept. 11
There’s actually not much to say about our long drive south. We went through customs without a hitch, and it rained the whole day.
We took a one-nighter at a great campground called (oddly) Rip Van Winkle near Saugerties, NY, in the Catskills. It’s an enormous campground with lots of seasonal RVs permanently installed. There are tons and tons of things to do there, especially for kids.
We arrived in the rain and set up (but didn’t un-hitch) in the rain. The best thing about Rip Van Winkle? There’s a pizza place nearby and THEY DELIVER to the campground! After the long drive, we opted for delivery to our campsite instead of re-heated pasta (again). It was very cool and the pizza was sublime.
We were parked under a tree, and the leaves were catching the rain that came in waves, and then depositing (what sounded like) enormous drops onto Roomba’s roof at varying intervals. It was so loud and inconsistent, that we both had to put in ear plugs just to sleep. We couldn’t even use the roof vent for “white noise” because of the rain.
In the morning, the rain had stopped, but everything was coated with forest duff splashed up from the ground by the rain. So we rinsed everything that had been on the ground so we wouldn’t unduly filth-up our trunk. Drove out at about 8:30 with the aim to get breakfast on the road.
The tourist season is definitely not over up here — the leaves of the maple trees are just beginning to turn and every community is preparing for leaf peeper season, and pumpkins and Hallowe’en.
Two very lovely communities we drove through and want to recommend for future visits are Stone Ridge NY, off the Rt. 209; and Waverly, PA, near Lakawanna State Park (our next stop).
Lakawanna is a great campground, as you’ve heard before from me. It’s quiet and there are lots of trees between sites, and if you’re a kayaker, canoeist, or fisher person, it’s a great place for activities. Not much in the way of cycling options except right around the camping areas, but we like it anyway.
We got a great, deep site with electric and water (but didn’t hook up the water) and the fire ring is well off-pad, downhill in the woods.
Our set-up is for two days, so we have the awning out, the grill and camp kitchen set up, and even put out my “firefly” LED lights. Home sweet home for the next couple of days.
The weather stayed brilliant, but we needed to get some supplies so we drove into the ‘burbs of Scranton and found an excellent wine store, plus a Weis grocery store. You might have noticed we’ve not cycled since Cape Breton, and that’s a shame. But our arrival/departure timing and the weather have prevented us from bothering to take the bikes off the Roomba rack.
Provisioned, we returned to the campsite (#28) and began dinner and a fire. Ate ‘burgers with fresh tomato, potatoes au gratin, and fresh corn. As we sat by the fire afterwards, at around 8:30P, an unexpected visitor showed up: a small skunk with a startlingly white tail came strolling out of the woods to check things out. As if it owned the place.
It probably does.
It nosed around the fire ring as we sat still as stones (Jack was keeping his flashlight trained on it, which didn’t seem to bother it at all). It appeared to finish with us and headed up to Roomba, and nosed around the grill area a bit, then under the trailer, then back down the small hill to us again.
This second foray, I really thought it was going to come and sniff our very feet and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay still for that adventure. But it thought better of that plan, and headed back to the trailer, but then veered off and went into the woods, proceeding to another campsite.
I couldn’t get any photos for fear the flash would scare it into spraying, and it was full dark so the flash-less pix didn’t show anything but blurrs.
We left the fire, which still probably had 45 minutes to an hour of good burning to watch, and retreated to the safety of our nook in the trailer. Just in case our stripey neighbor decided to return, we didn’t want to be trapped outside again.
I honestly regret leaving that beautiful fire.
We listened to some music read some books, and then hit the hay, hoping our striped friend would not return or feel the need to spray anything nearby.