Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A Weekend at Letchworth - Part 2 of 2

I'm sure you've been waiting ever since the LAST post for this post about our weekend at Letchworth State Park - I mean I said I'd have it done the next day and all that. Well sorry to take a little longer. Its been nutty around here with launching a boat and scrubbing a boat, and all things boaty.

In any case back to our weekend getaway in upstate New York - the land of waterfalls and rocks.

 I'm going to start with a tour of the cabin we had. I do this because before our trip, it was next to impossible to figure out what to expect of a State Park as far as accommodations go. The park website lays it out pretty well, but 'rustic cabin' can be interpreted many ways.

To begin with, our cabin was in cabin loop 'C'. All of these are considered year-round rentals, but only some of them have electric heaters. The others have wood stoves. A woodstove would have had nice ambiance, but I've lived with wood heat, and I like having electric lights available. Our cabin was small, but met all our needs well. It was three rooms.

Room 1 was a "Multi-purpose room" which included kitchen, eating area, and well, not much else. here it is:

The kitchen table had 6 chairs, and there were beds and cots for 6. There was also one sitting chair in case one of the 6 people in the cabin didn't want to sit at the table. Or something. We never figured out why that chair was there.

It was nice that the kitchen included a microwave, but we didn't have anything to actually microwave in it. Knowing that the microwave was there, next time I'll bring popcorn. Also, a fridge. It isn't really camping of you get a microwave AND a fridge, is it? The only thing missing in the kitchen area was running water.

Off the multi-purpose room were the two bedrooms. Each one had a bunk bed in it plus a single cot. This made for sleeping space for 6 in the cabin. 6 lonely single people who didn't want to share a bed. I think the cabins were designed by Quakers. Also the electric heaters have noisy fans that kick in with a rattle, just before the start wafting hot air over you. Don't leave anything meltable in front of those heaters. They really heat!

Every cabin in the loop faced the back of the next cabin. This gave the illusion of privacy. The view, however; left something to be desired. here is the view from our front door:

 Looking at our cabin, you can see that it has an accessible ramp, all the cabins in loop C do. Also there was a BBQ out front, but it was far from level, and experience has taught that out of level charcoal BBQ's tend to dump hot coals on your feet and hot dogs on the ground. Behind the BBQ and picnic table, there is a water spigot. Its that close. Running water less than 50 feet from your front door hardly counts as camping at all.

Here is the water spigot and the back of the cabin. Every time I say spigot I think of Rowan Atkinson performing a wedding. "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spigot." Ok back on topic. The Holy Spigot can be seen in the foreground, picnic tables are midground, cabin is background.

This is the 'other-other side" of Cabin 12. Here you will see a second picnic table and a fire pit. Letchworth State Park is very generous with their picnic tables. We are going camping at an Ontario Park this month, and I bet they will only give us one picnic table, and one place to burn things. Letchworth gave us two of each. We were impressed, but the weather was too poor to eat outside, and we had nothing to burn.

 Finally, the front of the cabin. There is a Muskoka Chair (Adirondack Chair of you are American) on the porch, but they bolted it down, which made me giggle.

So that's as good of a photo shoot of a Letchworth Cabin as you are going to find. I don't think there is much that I can add to the photos. If you are thinking of a packing list, know that what you see, is what you get quite literally. Apart from the stuff in these pics, there are no other amenities in the cabins. Flush toilets are a short walk across the campground. The cabins form a ring around the toilets - that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean. My only other comment about Loop C is that it is very remote from all the stuff in the park. If you want to see the falls or gorge or play tennis or whatever, you will be driving. Maybe bring a bike, but there aren't any bike facilities along the roads, and there are no shoulders.

There was a park in the middle of the cabins. By "was" I mean it no longer exists. Today all that is left of the park is a steel slide with notches in its belt for every child's tooth it has removed, and arm it has broken. The boys Loved that slide, and spent a lot of time in the rain sliding on it. The end of the slide is a good 2-1/2 feet off the ground. Check your insurance policy before you let your kids on the slide.

Anyways, back to our travelogue. On Sunday morning we woke up with hot heads from the heater blowing on my cranium all night (I slep on a mattress on the floor). After dousing my head in cold water to stop the sizzling, we had breakfast, packed up the cabin, cleaned it, locked the kids outside and took the pics above to convince you that we live in an idyllic world where our children can keep a camp clean.

Then we drove to Tea Table Picnic area. Cuppa liked the picnic shelter. I was impressed by it too.

 Tea Table is a flat surface where the Letchworths used to come for tea. Or something. It is one of the better picnic areas in the park. The view from Tea Table was really nice. Turkey vultures were circling on the updrafts and thermals from the canyon walls. Sadly I didn't get any really good pics of them.

The lookout had Pay-noculars just like Niagara Falls. The boys thought they were some kind of climbing apparatus. Then I put a quarter in one and Buddy thought they were the best things EVER! After that he asked for a quarter at every viewing station.

 We left teh Tea Table picnic area, and headed for lower falls. It was the only falls we had missed the day before. and we were determined not to mis the last of the three major falls in the park.

The walk to lower falls starts at this pavilion. Check out the rock stacking here. Who has time to make perfect arches out of stones and mortar. Amazing work.

After leaving the pavilion with the arches, there are exact ONE BILLION stairs you have to descend to get to lower falls. Half way down you think you will die, and you no longer want to go to the stupid falls, because really, who cares any- OMG lookit that bridge!

How in the name of allthings holy did that bridge get there. It looks like its out of "The Princess Bride" you expect teh six fingered man to step out any moment. And you go all like "My Name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father..."

And so half a billion steps later, you find yourself descending the last of the stairs, and at the smallest, but prettiest of the falls. These falls feed into a tight and narrow canyon, and then go...


OK, maybe its more Shrekish, you know, where he rescues princess Fiona, and she insults him for being an ogre, and Donkey is all like "Dat Cold, Dats real Cold." and then they start making jokes about Farquad, but Fiona doesn't get it. You know that scene? Yeah, maybe the bridge is more like that.

 This rock has balls. The balls are from when organic matter got churned around in the river, and then sediment built up on it. There's a thing about rock balls at the visitor's center.

Now the thing about the Princess Fiona/Buttercup bridge and the billion steps is that now that you've been lured into the honey pot, you have to go back from whence you came or perish forever ... UP the billion steps you go. And if you are 3 (or 40-ish) that trip is onerous. I found it helpful to sword fight invisible enemies and repeat "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

At the top of all the stairs there is another spot where there was a park. And another slide that the lawyers love. Because we are good parents, we allowed our children to risk their lives on the slide while we photographed them.

And example of a sliding casualty. Cuppa fell off the bottom rung of the ladder and rolled around in the wood chips. He was too tired to get up.

Then with help from Momma, he got his slide on!

So some takeaways from camping in The States:

1. If you eat out once, you will have leftovers for a week. You will not need to bring any other food since the serving sizes are ridiculously huge everywhere.
2.The cabins are really well equipped for everything except sleeping. If we did this again, I would bring an air mattress rather than sleep on the plastic mattresses and steel frames.
3. At the border they will search your car for firewood and fresh foods if you say you are camping. packaged foods were OK for us to bring into USA. Consider bringing money and stopping at a Piggly Wiggly or something. I don't really know what the grocery stores in Buffalo are called.
4. Bring an activity for the kids. If we weren't on the trails or outside the kids went batty in the small space of the cottage, and crayons were only interesting for a very short time. The slide of death held endless appeal though.
5. Leave your schedule and ideas at home and go with the flow. When hiking tired us out we went antiquing in nearby Mount Morris. It was fun, but totally unplanned.

On the way home we got a bottle of Vodka at the duty free. It helped me write this post. I wonder if it will be as witty in the morning...

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