Road Trip! Part IIJuly 1, 2009
As I was saying, we took a road trip to Fair Haven, NY where we had a cottage at the state park for a week. Besides the park there is plenty more to do and see, despite my children’s desire to stay put and do as little as possible.
We went one day over to Oswego, NY where my parents had a hotel room. There we visited Fort Ontario, a fort with a long and varied history changing hands among the British, French, and Americans numerous times. Inside the walls of the fort are attractive stone buildings. This is the view of the officers’ quarters as you come through the gate. There were two commanding officers (or one and his underling) and they and their families lived in this home, basically a duplex. They had servants too there; these officers, at least, weren’t exactly roughing it. My camera batteries took a dive at the Fort but you should check out the Friends of Fort Ontario website for other pictures and interesting tidbits.
This is part of the old fort, newer portions outside of the walls were created later, and during WWII housed the only U.S. refugee camp for World War II victims. There were 982 people staying at Fort Ontario as “guests of President Roosevelt” from mid-1944 to early 1946. I knew nothing about this until I was surfing for sights to see on vacation, but my 9 year old knew all about it and very much wanted to go. Information about the refugee camp is held at Fort Ontario, in a “newer” building (all things being relative – one of the buildings built in the early 1900s). It is called The Safe Haven Museum. There is a video that is very well done. The horrors of WWII are part of it, of course, but done in a manner that didn’t scare the willies out of my 9 year old. Still, as is appropriate, there were a lot of questions about Hitler and evil after our visit.
My parents were ready for a break but the rest of us weren’t ready to call it a day, so we did what we often do when we need some down time – we found a bookstore. The River’s End Bookstore in Oswego is an independent bookstore where we were able to entertain ourselves and the kids came away with a few books.
The next day we went to Sodus Point, NY to see the old lighthouse. There is a museum in the lighthouse now. We had a marvelous docent who told great stories (and recommended a great lunch spot).
You can climb into the lighthouse tower. It isn’t all that tall, but the view is pretty. The light for the light house is interesting in and of itself. You can’t really tell in this picture, but the bulb inside is a CFL.
On the way back to the cottage we stopped at the Sterling Nature Center where we took a short hike. Here we saw a Great Blue Heron rookery. It was a swamp with your typical dead trees, but on the top of many of the trees were large nests, and in many of the nests were large birds. It looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book. I counted 28 nests, but there could have been more. A sign indicated that there had been 60 a few years ago.
And our last stop in the Fair Haven area was a search for the Erie Canal. In the process we stopped at the Montezuma Audubon Center where we took a short walk in a light drizzle fighting mosquitoes every step of the way. Then lunch in Clyde, NY next to the Erie Canal. I hadn’t realized that the canal had been enlarged and rerouted in places until we came upon a small Erie Canal park. Here was a section of old canal where there had once been a lock.
And then it was time to start back west. Next stop – Niagara Falls