Category Archives: United States
Thursday 12th October we left the motel and continued to drive north on I87 leaving it to drive a circuit of the Catskills area. The interstates are useful for getting somewhere quickly but, like all motorways, they aren’t very scenic plus there was no where to stop when I saw something I wanted to photograph. I was looking for a white church, with red trees, green grass and no power lines!
The Catskills is a mountainous region west of the Hudson Valley and hosts a mixture of cultures, both manmade and natural. In 1894 the state constitution was amended so that thousands of acres will be kept as wild forest lands. It’s the closest place to New York city to see the Autumn leaves.
We left the I87 and drove onto route 28 to join the country roads passing through Arkville. This house in Arkville had one of many Halloween displays we saw. Halloween is big business here and the shops were full of costumes and decorations for your house. This garden had so much going on.
In Arkville turn north to Roxbury then head back east on Rte 23 which passes through colourful Tannersville. All the houses and shops were painted in lots of interesting colours.
The Halloween display outside this shop was a bit scary. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had been someone dressed up but I don’t think it was.
After coffee we continued for a few miles east to the Kaaterskill falls. There are so many wonderful hikes in this area and the Kaaterskill falls was recommended to us. With a change of shoes we were ready to go. There were a lot of leaves on the ground already from the recent rain but still a lot on the trees.
The Kaaterskill falls are at the end of an enormouse gorge. It was very autumnal to start with but we soon warmed up when we started walking. The views were stunning. The walk was downhill into the gorge until we came out into a clearing at the middle level. The falls were in the shade but you can still see the strata in the rocks. The falls were greatly reduced at that time of the year but it would be spectacular with the snow melt.
Looking up you could see the observation deck which is only a short walk from the car park.
The surrounding colours were beautiful. The water fall continued and so did we.
The last part of the path was steps which made it easy to get to the bottom pool. I’m sure in the summer it would be lovely to have a dip but a bit cool that day. I counted the steps back up- 198! My poor knees but it was good to get out of the car for some exercise. The views across the gorge were glorious.
Once back at the top we walked to the observation deck to look down onto the falls for more amazing views.
Our walk had taken several hours but we really enjoyed it. Afterwards we headed back to the I87 because we had about 120 miles to travel north in New York state to the Saratoga springs area for another airbnb. After dinner we arrived at a beautiful New England style house hosted by Joanna with a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room just for us. Really nice and completely different from our Philadelphia experience.
The Adirondack mountains cover 9375 sq miles from the centre of New York state to the Canadian border. With many peaks over 4000ft high. Like the Catskills to the south, much of the Adirondacks’ dense forest is protected by the state constitution. It’s also a great place to see the colour show of the Autumn leaves. Lake George is the gateway to the Adirondacks. A 32 mile lake with paddle-wheel boats rides on the crystalline water’s. Friday 13th we stopped there for breakfast before our hunt for more Autumn leaves continued.
There were many more smaller lakes and rivers to see on our onward quest towards Lake placid.
Lake Placid is a tiny resort town made famous by the winter Olympics of 1932 & 1980. It is sited by the mirror lake. Unfortunately with the wind that day there weren’t any mirror reflections. We parked up and walked around the town. Every where was fairly small including the local library and this beautiful stone church on a small rise.
We had a delicious lunch overlooking the mirror lake.
After lunch we drove further north and up towards the Whiteface mountain toll road where the Olympic ski races were held. Whiteface is the only peak in the Adirondacks accessible by car. Unfortunately it had clouded over and the colours of the leaves weren’t great. Furthermore when we got to the toll gate we found it was closed until May!
Not to be put off we decided to walk up. It was nice to have the road to ourselves apart from a couple of bikes who also got round the barrier. At first the view was obscured by trees in the fore ground but after about an hour of walking up we came to a clearing designed for picnics where the scenery was magnificent. The sun came out in bursts to improve the colours.
When we got back down to the car the light had brightened and there were some lovely reflections in a small lake by the toll gate.
We continued to drive through the forest towards Platsburgh where we stayed in a wonderful airbnb with KC in her querky house. Again we had a bedroom, sitting room and toilet to ourselves on the lower floor. We sat in the garden with her in the twilight drinking her homemade wine. Airbnb is certainly the way to meet local people.
Monday 9th October we were all packed and ready to leave but it was raining. Gemma’s garden was a fairly steep bank to climb up some uneven steps so we waited until it eased off a bit. At 11.00 we called an uber and went to the car hire place. After the initial checks we were on our way driving north out of Maryland into Pennsylvania. We headed into the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch community. These religious orders and cultures have been established here since the 18th century. Amish are the best known for their devotion to various degrees of low-tech, plain living but it was really slightly surreal seeing them in the flesh riding up and down the country roads in their very characteristic horse drawn buggies.
They were offering rides around the local homesteads in one of these so we decided it might be a nice way to dip our toes into their culture. We shared our buggy with several other families. Levi, our host in his straw hat, Dutch beard and plain garb chatted away about their culture. The first thing we noticed was that there were no power lines going to the houses.
As we trotted the few miles around his circuit Levi gave an introduction to the plain way of life they lead. We were fascinated that they did not not allow electricity into the house but discovered that this community, each having it’s own slightly different rules, allows a diesel generator to be run twice a day for just two hours to allow them to milk their cows. The power is also used for a variety of tasks including charging compressed air tanks up. This compressed air is then used to drive air powered washing machines inside the houses which along with gas lamps prevent the wickedness of electricity from entering the home. So they have washing machines, I could live there!
They have a very plain and simple life with a structured day that starts at 5am with milking the dairy herd and ends with lights out at 8pm. Youngsters are schooled in Amish schools and rarely go outside of the community other than for something called a run around where young adults are allowed out into the world to find out what it is like and then given a choice. ‘Come back and follow our way of life or go and never come back’. Unsurprisingly the vast majority return to live in the community for the rest of their lives. For such sheltered folk the world must be a scary place.
It rained on and off all day as we continued our drive to Philadelphia. We stayed in an airbnb for the next 2 nights. We purposely choose the cheapest accommodation just to see what you got for your money. Could have gone badly but worked out ok in the end. It was in the ethnic area of town and we were the only whites in the area but Deidre was very friendly. She had 4 rooms available that shared a bathroom and kitchen. It was clean and fairly quiet but i think we’ll go a bit higher next time.
Tuesday 10th we left the car outside the airbnb and took an uber into town, much less stress.
We enjoyed Philadelphia established by Quaker William Penn in 1682. Some if its streets are lined with glass buildings but it’s also the birthplace of American government where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. For a time in its early years, Philadelphia was the second largest city in the British empire, after London, then, along with Boston, the empire’s undoing. From the start of the Revolutionary War until 1790 (when Washington dc was founded), it was the new nation’s capital.
We started our day at the city hall completed in 1901. It’s 548ft high not counting the 27 ton bronze statue of William Penn which makes it the world’s tallest structure without a steel frame. It holds mostly offices.
The fountain in the square outside is allowed to freeze in the winter for ice skating but that day it was giving some wonderful reflections of the surrounding buildings.
The view from the observation deck at the top of the tower was stunning.
There was a lift to the top of the tower but the staircase alongside it was pretty impressive too.
Bill and I continued walking along Market street towards the old city which has been dubbed ‘America’s most historic square mile due to the role it played in the American revolution and the earliest years of American democracy. There is a large L-shaped area designated Independence National Historic Park. It starts where the foundations of George Washington’s house are marked.
Behind the house is the Liberty bell centre which houses the icon of Philadelphia history. Weighing 2080lbs it was made in 1751 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s constitution. It tolled on the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The crack developed in the 19th century and it was retired in 1846.
Independence Hall is renowned as the birthplace of American government. It’s a modest Quaker building and is where delegates from the 13 colonies met to approve the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776. There’s a painting of the meeting in the entrance. It was a beautiful building inside.
We continued to walk around the old part of the city, it was really attractive.
It was wonderful day and the rain kept away. We got an uber back to the airbnb and luckily not only was the car still there it still had it’s wheels! Haha only joking wasn’t that bad. More Philadelphia photos on facebook.
Wednesday 11th we headed out to the Delaware Water gap, a beautiful spot where the Delaware river passes through the Kittatinny mountains. In the pre air conditioning days it was a popular resort destination. It also acts as a border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The 30 mile road on the Pennsylvania side gave some stunning views and the beginning of the Autumn leaves. We stopped at the Raymondskill falls car park and walked down to the falls for a picnic. The falls were small but very picturesque.
After our picnic walked back to the car.
Btw this is the rental car. The bottom 2 categories, small or compact were the same price so we booked compact. When we picked it up we were offered the next size up for a few dollars a day extra. Having already spent a lot more than we intended we turned down the offer. Then they said they didn’t have any compact and this the smallest car they had!
The drive through the trees was beautiful although it clouded over in the afternoon. Frustratingly there weren’t many places to stop. We kept seeing the most beautiful scenes but no where to stop. Eventually we found a car park and I was able to take some reflection photos.
Having driven the Delaware Water gap we made our way back onto interstate 84 then onto the 87. We crossed the border into New York state and stopped at a motel in Poughkeepsie for the night. There were about half a dozen to choose from. The next day was the Catskills.
Monday 2nd October there was no wind as usual so we motored south. We had a day in hand so decided to stop in Magothy bay overnight and dropped our anchor just after 5pm. The waypoint was
There were the usual ‘cottages’ around the water’s edge. One of them was set on an island and built around a lighthouse. I can’t imagine it ever being used for navigation that far inside the bay but it looked pretty.
Tuesday 3rd, after taking my turn on the OCC net on the SSB radio, we got underway again.
This bridge is one of the few possible ways of crossing the Chesapeake from Maryland to Delaware. It was enormous and disappeared off towards the horizon.
It was a shame we didn’t have more time to explore the bay but October was heavily planned with events and our holiday. I had contacted an OCC member and asked if we could leave Camomile on the jetty at the end of her garden, as advertised on the OCC website. It’s an amazing feature the OCC offer and well worth the membership fee. The marinas in the U.S. are way beyond our budget at over $100 a day. Gemma’s place is just south of Annapolis in Crab creek.
There were several other OCC boats anchored in the creek as Gemma allows them to use her jetty to tie up their dinghies.
The jetty is at
Gemma is the port officer for Annapolis and her contact details are on the OCC website if you are members.
Gemma moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands many years ago. It was very generous of her to allow us to use her jetty, we were very grateful. It was so nice to be able to step ashore. Gemma’s house is set up a steep bank which we walked up to look for the supermarket to buy a few supplies.
Wednesday 4th was the day of the OCC US east coast end of season dinner. Gemma and other OCC members did a wonderful job of arranging lifts for everyone. It was nice to dress up for a change. Some of the cruisers we had met on the Maine rally in August were there along with Dick and Moira from the Westerly called Equinox. It was nice to see them again.
Dinner was chicken Cesar salad and a very nice tortellini in a creamy sauce with prawns followed by some chocolate dipped thingys. It was all delicious.
The speaker was a lady from the Chesapeake bay program who spoke about their restoration of the bay and the control of the environment protection they are undertaking.
Thursday 5th I spent a very frustrating day trying to book a car for our holiday and kept hitting brick walls! The problem in the U.S. is that everyone carries their own insurance but as we don’t we would have to take out the car hire’s CDW (they insist). This would only cover the hire car if any one hit us or if we damaged it so we needed a second insurance that was a third party insurance that would cover us if we damaged anyone else’s car or, more importantly, them. I spent all day trying to find cheaper options but gave up in frustration.
Friday 6th again the OCC members arranged for the cruisers to be picked up and taken to the boat show. The Annapolis boat show is almost as big as the Southampton boat show but is divided into two shows, sailboats the first weekend then there’s a 2 day change around with the motor boat show the following weekend. It was great to see some old friends. We were just standing by the Gin tent when who should wander by but Jason of YOLO and Karen. Haven’t seen them since Malaysia. There were also a number of new friends recently made.
It was nice to speak to some old friends on the supplier stands. We finally met the guy who organised our new Staylok fittings when we had our rig failure on the way to the Galapagos. Also Will Curry was on the Hydrovane stand. We almost helped him with a sale by telling his client how good our Hydrovane was and how we wouldn’t be without it. Will had a guest on his stand later in the afternoon and that was Jimmy Cornell. We last met Jimmy at the Cruising Association in London many years ago when he had inspired us to go sailing. It was great to meet him again.
After the boat show we made our way to Solstice in the marina for the reunion we had been looking forward to. Bill on Solstice had invited our lovely friends Jake and Jackie of Hokule’a, now based in California, to stay with him, also Jack and Zdenka of Kite drove down from Portland where we met in the summer. Neil and Ruth had Rutea across the way and were invited and Behan of Totem joined us later in the evening. It was wonderful to all be together again and catch up on everyone’s news.
On Saturday 7th I looked at the hire car situation again including working out if it would be cheaper to fly to Boston and hire a car from there but it was more expensive. I looked at trains but they were also expensive plus public transport isn’t so regular in the States. Buses aren’t so good either so eventually I booked a car at a cost of $25 a day plus over $40 a day for the 2 insurances. Crazy!
Sunday 8th I spent the day cleaning the boat and packing and getting excited.