Tag Archives: 1812

See your Way to the Seaway and Harborfest!

21 Sep

The heart of North America is linked to the wild north Atlantic by the Great Lakes, canals and the St. Lawrence Seaway, nearly all accessible from the Thousand Islands-Seaway, Finger Lakes, Greater Niagara and Chautauqua-Allegheny regions of New York. A 518-mile Seaway Trail takes hikers, bikers and motorists alongside it from Lake Erie and out past the Thousand Islands. Dotting the way are historic homes, forts and battle fields, the incomparable Niagara Falls, quaint villages, universities and cultural centers, museums, wilderness refuges and a seemingly endless choice of ice creams!

Indeed, a very worthy endeavor for dairy lovers who want to earn their treats as they go would be an ice cream bike tour across northern New York! Naturally, you’ll want to include a regional specialty, frozen custard. Vegans can munch their way across the trail as well, especially during the height of autumn harvest season (see events calendar). Just plan to sleep in and not drive or ride if you opt for the wine tastings!

My introduction to the Seaway was a rollicking citywide party,  Oswego Harborfest! Bare Naked Ladies headlined the rock stage, while countless other musicians sharing other genres filled the air around every corner. Crafts and foods kept festive visitors, students and families out strolling and discovering deep into the night. The fest is free for all and lasts four days.

The 2012 Oswego Harborfest will be the 25th (of July), so expect an even bigger celebration. That also happens to be the War of 1812 bicentennial, so keep an eye out for special programs and the occasional redcoat.

A hub of this unique touring area is the Seaway Trail Discovery Center in far mellower nearby Sackets Harbor. I stopped in with my travel buddy, Ed Hancox to learn more about the region from Seaway Trail, Inc. President and CEO Theresa Mitchell.

The Seaway Trail Discovery Center is focused yet eclectic, teaching visitors about this region’s central role in the War of 1812 (more about that in a future post), it’s industrial heyday and continuing agricultural vitality. Kids will love two animatronic figures that neatly capture the Center’s range: Ulysses Grant and a talking cow.

Seaway Trail Discovery Center. (Photo by Erik Baard)

The Seaway region offers ice cream at nearly every turn. Erik loves the cows, live or animatronic. (Photo by Ed Hancox)

The area's agricultural heritage is everywhere, on farms both bustling and sleepy. (Photo by Erik Baard)

After the fun kid stuff, we took a more sophisticated turn by dining with Theresa at Tin Pan Galley. This elegant and intimate, tree-shaded and ivy-covered restaurant features live music, often played by its multi-instrumentalist owner.

Tin Pan Galley's greenery, music and arts fused.

Another informal highlight of the Seaway Trail is the antiquing and flea market bargain hunting one can do along the way. Old industrial row houses and farms yield everyday items from another era — medicine and milk bottles, postcards, glasses, tins and kitchenware and other curios.

A turtle shell estimated to be 200 years old at a roadside flea market near Sandy Creek, NY. (Photo by Erik Baard)

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Thanks for Sharing the 2011 Green New York Adventure!

3 Aug

Greetings from the St. Lawrence River as seen from Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island. (Photo by Gary DeYoung, 1000 Islands International Tourism Council.)

I’m honored to serve my fellow New Yorkers and visitors this year by promoting our natural, outdoor recreational and agricultural riches. For many outside the state, “New York” might be synonymous with big city bustle. I LOVE NEW YORK is proud of the premier city our state offers the world, and there’s so much more to share from our harbors to highlands! The Green Heart NY travel guide is a great way to start, and I hope to augment that wonderful program.

Through this blog we’ll thrust ourselves into adventures, descending together into the deep canyon of Letchworth State Park, biking the Catskill Scenic Trail, whitewater rafting on the Black River, kayaking on Lake Ontario and its tributaries and stand-up paddle boarding on the French Creek. We’ll lace through the Thousand Islands and slip into the Boldt Castle before public hours for a behind-the-scenes tour.

We’ll also delve into history and science (and have lots of fun) with visits to the Seaway Trail Discovery Center, War of 1812 reenactors’ camps, Sandy Island Beach State Park, Fort Ontario, orchards and nurseries, wildlife and agricultural research stations, Niagara Falls State Park, and much more!

We’re very fortunate to have amazing natural resources and farms near a world cultural center. As an urbanite, I hope to learn much from naturalists, historians and rural and small town residents, and to then share those lessons with you. I also hope to promote the positive lessons of life in a dense metropolis, such as the clear advantages of mass transit systems and routines centered on walking and biking.

Upstate and Downstate, we can gain a lot of wisdom and receive a lot of joy from each other!

— Erik Baard, 2011 “Greenest NYer”

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