Cobleskill, New York
We planned on going to Lake Placid, NY for our next stop but looking on the map it was further than we wanted to drive in one day. So I got the AAA book out and looked for something to see between Watkins Glen and Lake Placid. I found a cave! Caves are always interesting so we ended up in Cobleskill, New York, and Howe Caverns. Driving time was around 3 hours. We stayed at Hide-A-Way Campsites in Cobleskill. A very nice and quiet place. It was about 5 miles off the freeway up country roads and past large dairy farms. They put us in a nice pull through site with no one in front of us. We stayed here 3 nights.
Monday 8/8/16 The next morning we headed to Howe Cavern and Adventure Park. Howe Caverns is your typical tourist trap and the Adventure Park is a way to suck more money out of the tourists. But we had to do something! Howe Caverns is named after Farmer Lester Howe, who discovered the cave on May 22, 1842. Noticing that his cows frequently gathered near some bushes at the bottom of a hill on hot summer days, Howe decided to investigate. Behind the bushes, Howe found a strong, cool breeze coming from a hole in the earth. Howe proceeded to dig out and explore the cave. The rest is history. The tour lasts about 80 minutes and shows the majority of the cave. You begin at the elevators and continue to the end of the underground Lake of Venus on a small boat. Then turn around and head back to the entrance. There is also a Bridal Altar in the cave with a glowing calcite heart. Lester Howe's daughter got married there in 1854 and since then over 650 couples were married at the Bridal Altar. After the vows, it's customary to step on the glowing heart for many years of wedded bliss. The caverns were okay and worth seeing if you are passing by but I wouldn't make a special trip to Howe Caverns.
I guess they weren't making enough money so they built an Adventure Park right next to the back parking lot. It has a couple short Zip Lines, a Rock Wall, an Air Jumper, Climbing and Balancing Ropes and something I've never seen before, an H2OGO Ball. The H2OGO Ball is a 12' inflatable ball that they put in 5 gals. of water and a couple people and then roll it down a big hill. Looks like fun but we didn't do any of this. Too much money for all these activities but it looks like it would be a lot of fun for kids.
On the way to the campground, we saw an advertisement for another cave, The Secret Caverns. This one really looked like a tourist trap. All the advertising signs we saw for this cave looked like they were hand painted sometime in the 80's. Kind of like from a graffiti artist. But again, we were close by so why not. When we pulled into the parking lot there was a big tour bus full of Chinese tourists. We just couldn't believe this cave was one of their stops! The tour guide said he was expecting four more buses. We had the same experience at the Corning Museum of Glass a couple of days ago. (also about 4 buses) So, we decided to go back to the campground and come back later. We came back about 2 hours later and we were the only ones there. Although we had our own private tour our guide was terrible. We could have walked through ourselves and got the same experience. The cave had a lot less modern improvements than Howe Caverns. You walked on the dirt floor through skinny openings but it did have a 100-foot tall waterfall at the end! The discovery of this cave was kind of like Howe Caverns. A farmer was missing a couple cows and found that they fell into a big hole in the ground.
Tuesday 8/9/16 Looking on Tripadvisor.com we found a state park with hiking trails close by. John Boyd Thacher Park. Located mostly atop the Helderberg Escarpment, the park has several hiking trails that offer panoramic views of the Green Mountains in Vermont and the Taconic Mountains of the Hudson Valley. Just a short drive from where we were camping so we packed a lunch and headed out. We were very glad we found this place! Something different than we have ever hiked. The Escarpment is a giant U shaped rock wall. We took two different trails and stopped about halfway for lunch. One called the Indian Ladder Trail which takes you near the bottom and one that follows the fence on top. A really nice hike with great views. According to Rose's Fitbit, we did 7.44 miles and 43 flights of steps. Check out some of the beautiful views below.
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