In mid-June, we started a month-long exploration of not-New-York-City with a visit to Letchworth State Park (often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East) followed by several days with our friends Sue, Dave, and Lewis at their lakeside retreat in the beautiful Finger Lakes region.
Visiting the Grand Canyon of the East
Calling Letchworth State Park the Grand Canyon of the East may be stretching things a bit. But even if it is an exaggeration, it’s still a beautiful place. We lucked out visiting in mid-June following a wet winter and spring, which made for an enormous amount of water thundering over the falls.
Admiring the dense forests, it’s hard to believe that this area was once heavily logged, with a lumber mill at the base of beautiful Middle Falls. The land would have surely been destroyed were it not for William Pryor Letchworth, a successful Buffalo businessman who bought Middle Falls and the surrounding area as a country retreat in 1859. A Quaker, philanthropist, social reformer, and conservationist, Letchworth restored the land to its natural beauty and eventually gifted it to the state of New York in 1906, with the provision that it be a park. I often wonder what would happen to our world without the vision, hard work, and generosity of a relative few.
Exploring Letchworth State Park
We hiked miles of trails in the park, mostly along the gorge where we could enjoy the river and the waterfalls; toured the interesting little museum devoted to Letchworth; explored the beautiful new nature center; and had a picnic on the veranda of the Glen Iris Inn, Letchworth’s former home that overlooks Middle Falls.
Click on any photo for a larger view
Despite the fact that we reserved a site in one of the “pet loops” by mistake, we scored a beautiful, private site and enjoyed a peaceful four nights at the campground. (Three nights would have been enough, but it’s always nice to have a day for laundry and catching up on life.)
Letchworth State Park offers electric hookups with water faucets conveniently located throughout, nicely redone new bathhouses, and a large, clean laundry. Most of the hiking trails (including the Gorge Trail) are 14 miles from the campground.
Hanging Out Lakeside With Sue, Dave, & Lewis
Those of you who know Sue, Dave, and Lewis or who read their blog Beluga’s Excellent Adventures are familiar with the relaxed and delightful pace of their travels and lives. Spending time with the Banks is exactly as it appears in their blog.
We were lucky enough to spend three nights with them at their lovely summer cottage on Lake Conesus in the Finger Lakes. Despite a patch of rainy, cool weather, we luxuriated in the Banks’ rituals of late morning Second Cup on the deck and afternoon Happy Hour.
Our time together flew by with delicious meals (including dinner at the Rabbit Room, a special local place open only on Thursdays), a leisurely tour of the Erie Canal on a replica 1800s canal boat, and an evening boat ride on Lake Conesus. Sue even shared Mr. Dave’s A-1 Fix-Everything Service to help us with a few minor issues. Nothing like a full-service resort!
It was a delightful weekend of good friends, good conversation, plenty of laughter, and of course, Lewis, who makes any party better. And he’s very warm and cuddly, which is especially nice on a chilly evening boat ride.