Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back from a Long Weekend Away

Last Thursday my family and I headed north, over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and into upstate New York: farm country! It was lovely to watch the scenery go by and see the patchwork of fields and woodlands, with the Catskills hovering in the background.
Right after we checked into our little hotel in Cobleskill, we headed out to Howe Caverns, only 10 minutes away. The cool, dark cave was such a change from the bright summer weather, and we all enjoyed learning the history of the cave, how it was discovered (Mr. Howe noticed some cows hanging out in a certain spot on hot days and found the natural cave entrance nearby), and seeing some of the unusual flowstone formations. Howe Caverns has a river running through it underground, so we also got a boat ride on the river "Styx."

The next day, we drove over the Erie Canal and up into Herkimer, NY where we tried our hands at prospecting for the quartz crystals known as "Herkimer Diamonds."
It was hot, dusty work and even though we all had big dreams of finding crystals like the ones I found in Herkimer as a kid (pictured below), we mostly found only small stuff. (Maybe I should make those into a pair of earrings and a pendant. Hmmm...)

Our one big find was this crystal hidden in pocket of rock. It's about a half-inch long. We brought the whole rock home, planning to gently ease it out of there with more precise tools, but I kind of like the way it looks hidden there in its natural niche. I wonder if any more diamonds are hidden in other pockets in the rock!
Once we got home, I took all the little crystals we found and put them together into that little corked bottle shown on the right. I also took the largest crystal piece we found and wrapped some wire around it. These might make nice pendants, or maybe we'll save them for our Christmas tree this year, as a memento of our trip.

The next day we headed back to Howe Caverns to try out their brand new Zip Line! Here is my daughter Sarah flying on her first stretch. The zip line consisted of four towers with the lines stretched between them, so your ride consists of four zip trips. I was content to stay on the ground and take photos (even ski lifts make me nervous!) but the girls and Mark had a great time.
In the center of the zip line, there is a horseshoe shaped obstacle course challenge.
As you can see, the girls are attached to the structure with a line for safety, because it's got several levels and was quite a challenge. It was great to watch them begin a little nervously, evaluate each section, decide on the best approach, overcome fears and doubts, struggle on, and ultimately be succussful. Further successes brought greater confidence and fewer doubts. It really was an excellent activity and well worth the $10 ticket price. They spent about an hour climbing from one end of the structure to the other, trying different sections above and below, until they had done them all.

After another short ride in the car, we arrived at the Ommegang Brewery just south of Cooperstown. We had some fries with different aioli and spiced ketchup dipping sauces (with a couple of beers, of course!) and then got a tour of the place, which included more beer tasting at the end. Now my hubby wants to try brewing his own at home!
And we couldn't get so close to Cooperstown without stopping there to see the sights. The town is lovely, and despite the fact that we are not huge baseball fans, it was fun window shopping and looking at all the baseball memorabilia, as well as the outside of the Hall of Fame and the statue of the "sandlot kid" just outside of Doubleday Field. We also got some dinner and ice cream.

By Sunday morning, the forecast called for rain, so we headed over to Middleburgh for a quick brunch in a cute little cafe` and then headed for home. Even if it's just for a few days, it's always great to get out for a change of scenery and some new activities we could do together as a family. Now it's time for back-to-school shopping, haircuts, and high school and middle school orientations. Here we go again!

1 comment:

Vivien Zepf said...

What a wonderful trip and all relatively in your "backyard".