2009, the end of August/Beginning of September, all 18 years of my life had been packed into a truck and I was on the move from Chicago to Boston to start my freshman year at the Art Institute of Boston (majoring in photography). My lovely boyfriend(now fiance!) promised to help me in the move so after packing my life away (and enlisting the help of my parents to drive the big truck. They took a little road trip too and stopped at Niagara Falls!), I left Chicago and flew to Pittsburgh.
Scott and I decided to make a 2 day mini road trip out of the occasion. After a lot of research, I picked two waterfalls(state parks) in New York for us to visit. First stop, Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen, New York. From there we went to Ithaca and the next day drove the ten minutes to Buttermilk Falls. After basking in the late summer heat and the beauty of the water, we made our way to meet my parents in Boston. Below is a more detailed account of our first ever road trip together from Scott and lots of photos taken by me during our trip.
I’d driven to Boston once before. That time had been more direct – more direct and lonely. Emily Autumn blazing while tearing along at 90 miles an hour with fruit snacks and terrible iced tea. With only my own ears to hear the complaining. Fucking Connecticut.
This time was very different. We left very early in the morning. I think we meant for earlier, but things didn’t often work out for us. Hoping on my beloved turn-pike we rocketed past the seemingly endless expanses of absolute nothing in PA. Then we drive a good hundred miles in the wrong direction, through a whole lot of nothing in PA (aside from Kendra- back roads, no signs, as navigator, I couldn’t dind us on the map and this trip was pre-smart phone with GPS /aside) Then our road died.
Lost in unfamiliar territory, frightening and alone, we did like good little lemmings and followed the crowd (this was pre-death of our road). Twenty some cars in a row all heading in the general same direction probably a good sign, yes? (aside from Kendra – We were about 95% sure that these 20 cars had been detoured off the road we had been detoured off of. There were no signs to get BACK to the road however. And we ended up on back roads, Following people we thought were trying to get back to the same road as us. /aside) Sure worked great till we hit an intersection and everyone chose a different direction. Including, oddly enough- me.
Pick ups, banjos and incestuous marriage- we fled back quickly. Chose again and eventually found a way out. After all that, getting to Watkins Glen State Park was easy.
Some history of the park via NYFalls website:
Converted to a state park in 1906, Watkins Glen was previously a happening mill site, then private tourist resorts (Glen Mountain House and Swiss Chalet). Formally known as Jefferson, NY as dubbed by the founder Dr. Samuel Watkins, a prominent land owner in the area. Portions of the trails you walk were once used by native Americans to traverse the glen. They have been developed by the state with natural stone masonry and enhanced with tunnels in the early half of the 1900′s.
The town’s name was changed in honor of the founder shortly after his death in 1852. Due to the notoriety of the Glen, another change took place when the Postal Service changed it in the registry as people commonly addressed letters to Watkins Glen instead.
The ravine was gorgeous, if over-populated.
Here is some other basic information also from NYFalls website:
Number of falls: 19
Size/Types: Ranging from 3 to 60 feet high. Cascades, punchbowls, plunges and chutes.
Best time to visit: Spring, summer, fall. Gets crowded during summer weekends. Closed in Winter.
Waterway: Glen Creek. (Formerly Glen Maria Creek).
Time: 2 hours
From Kendra – We didn’t walk the whole trail. We probably didn’t even walk 1/3 of it. We were both pretty out of shape and there were sooo many stairs! We took our time and spent a few hours though. I stopped often to take pictures which helped us get less winded and tired. Someday, it would be great to go back and walk the whole trail, I think we probably missed a lot of great sites.
Then it was off to Ithaca.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of our trip in the next few weeks.
Be sure to check out our Travel Set on Flickr to see more from Watkins Glen and the second half of our trip, too. Also, check out Kendra’s original posts of our trip for her account and more photos on her blog, Like a Bird. Day 1 HERE and Day 2 HERE