Friday, August 18, 2023 - We leave the shores of Lake Ontario for inland New York State and the small town of Mt. Morris. Just outside of town is The Ridge Campground on the Mt. Morris/Nunda Road (Route 408). The drive took about two hours and we skirted around the north side of Buffalo, NY. The weather was good and the RV Life application kept us out of trouble and on truck routes.
After setting up the RV, we decided to drive over to the Letchworth State Park. It is billed as the "Grand Canyon of the East Coast" due to its 600 foot tall vertical cliffs along the river. We drove to the Lower Falls of three major falls on the Genesee River. (Pronounced like Tennessee, but only with a "G" in front) The trail was a little muddy, but not too bad as we hiked along the ravine to the viewing points for the Lower Falls. The Lower Falls were very pretty. We then drove to the Visitor Center and were amazed to find that they were still open after 7:00 pm and with virtually no one in the park. There is a small bridge that was built back in the mid-1800s across the chasm of the river just below the Lower Falls. Lisa and I hiked down to this bridge and it gave us a pretty good view of the Lower Falls. Then it was back to the RV for dinner and some "R&R," Rest and Relaxation.
Saturday, August 19, 2023 - Today we decided to go to see the rest of the Letchworth State Park here in the west center of New York State. We drove to the main entrance to the park where the upper and middle falls are found. There is also a museum, snack bar, house that has been converted to a beautiful restaurant, and a picnic area. We parked at the first parking lot that we came to and began the hike down 127 stairs to the Upper Falls. This falls is situated just below a large railroad bridge that was built in 1999. There has bee a railroad bridge here since about the 1050s. This is a special arch bridge that does not have any bridge supports down in the river bottom. The weight of the bridge is being pushed sideways into the ravine sides by the type of construction. The Upper Falls is a very pretty falls and with the railroad bridge in the background, it is even prettier. We hiked down the path to the picnic area where you also have view of the Upper Falls. We then hiked downstream to the Middle Falls. To me, this is the most magnificent of all three falls here on the Genesee River. The Middle Falls is a sheet of white water all the way across the gorge. Be sure to see the photos in the photo gallery of all three falls. After taking lots of photos of the Middle Falls, we walked back up to the picnic area. I decided to walk up to get the truck and let Lisa relax in the Sun at the picnic area. After my return, we talked to a very nice ranger who had been working here for about 12 years. He told us about four fatalities that had occurred while he was a ranger here and that each one was due to people making foolish decisions and getting too close to the falls or the edge of the ravine and falling over the side. Many people think that you won't get hurt or that it is like the cartoons where you just pop up again without any injuries. Kind of crazy. We then went to the Letchworth State Park Museum. There are many artifacts here collected by the gentleman who the park is named after.
We then left the park and went back to the RV for lunch. After lunch, we drove to Geneseo, New York to go to a theater to see the movie, "Oppenheimer." It was a very good movie, but you really had to pay attention to follow what was happening. After the movie, we drove to Mount Morris and had ice cream. The ice cream was good, but charging $8 for two scoops was a bit much. Lisa had a single scoop cone and the total cost was over $14. We won't do that again. Mt. Morris is a very pretty town. Also, a guy named Francis Bellamy was born in Mount Morris, and he is the person who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States. The town or Mount Morris takes credit for his writing of the Pledge although, Bellamy's family moved out of Mount Morris when Francis was just five years old.
Sunday, August 20, 2023 - We slept in and then had breakfast. We were planning to drive to the Watkins Glen area of New York to check out some places to stay for the next few days, but we decided that it was not worth the one hour and twenty minute drive; one way. I decided to work on the blog and try to get caught up.
After working on the blog and then having lunch, we decided to take a drive about four miles to the east to the site of the Mount Morris Dam. This is a very special dam. It does not have a lake behind it? This is a major flood-control project that is designed to trap water behind the dam when there are very large amounts of rainfall in the area. There have been several devastating floods in the area with a very large flood on the average of about every seven years from 1865 until 1952. The Genesee River flows through Mount Morris, Geneseo, and then on to Rochester, New York. These large floods devastate the town of Rochester and cause many millions of dollars worth of damage. The dam was proposed in 1942, but was delayed until after WWII. Began in 1948, the Mt. Morris dam was completed in 1952. Total cost of the project was $25 million. It was built when hydro-electric power was a key player in all dam construction. There are two penstocks built into this dam, but they have never been hooked up to a turbine generator. The water behind the dam is allowed to flow through the dam and the pass-through gates are only closed during periods of high chance of flood. These gates are then opened slowly to allow the water build up behind the dam to pass through at a safe rate for the towns downstream of the dam. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes dropped over seven inches of rain in the watershed behind the dam. Water was released from the dam that did cause some damage below the dam, but the intent was to no let the water overflow the spillway at the dam. This would have caused more damage. See the photos of the dam in the photo gallery.
From the Mount Morris Dam parking lot, Lisa and I took a hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. This is a very nice trail and a small part of the trail follows the canyon of the Genesee River. We hiked two miles out and then two miles back for four miles total. We did see one small snake lying across the trail in our path. We circumnavigated it and went on our way. This was a very nice hike on a nice trail along the rim of the Genesee River Canyon. This canyon is between 600 and 800 feet deep. After the hike, we returned to the RV and I took a nap. Life is good!
Monday, August 21, 2023 - After breakfast, we decided to go take a bike ride on one of the local "Rails to Trails" routes. After researching the local trails, we decided that they were not in very good condition and many had large gravel that made riding a chore. For this reason, we decided to go back to the Letchworth State Park Visitor Center and begin a bike ride from there on the paved road in the park. This road is in good condition, has very little traffic, and extents for about 21 miles from the Mount Morris Dam to the Upper Falls area. We ended up with 23.5 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation change. A couple of the grades were in the 15% grade range and I was glad that I had my Trek gravel bike since the gearing is more conducive to climbing steep grades. We rode to the park RV campground and then back to the Visitor Center. It was a fun, somewhat challenging ride in places, and provided excellent views every so often. After the ride was complete, we drove to the small town of Perry where we purchased diesel (for $4.69 a gallon), and then went to Subway for lunch. We then returned to the RV to clean and then put the bikes away for tomorrow's travel to the finger lakes region and Watkins Glen. This is only a drive of about one and half hours, and we are not supposed to check in until 2:00 pm, so we will leave at about 12:00 noon, our checkout time here. The campsite at Watkins Glen costs $75 per night and we are not overly happy with that. Virtually all of the campsites in this part of upper east are expensive. They charge it because they can get it!
Tuesday, August 22, 2323 - Today, we head out for Watkins Glen where we have reservations for three days.