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Archive for the ‘America’s Scenic Byways’ Category

I was browsing around today and I found a good article about the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway in the Arizona Daily Star. The route starts at the old copper mining town of Clifton and follows US route 191 north for 123 miles to Springerville.  You’ll travel along a working copper  mine for several miles, over ridge lines well over a mile high and through some very thick forests.

I did a litte more research and learned at GoArizona.com that Route 191 used to be US route 666 and was known as “The Devil’s Highway”. This site recommeds that you stop at what’s left of the Stargo Cemetary which has burials that date well back into the 19th century. They also note that there are some very good fishing streams near Alpine.

I found yet another article about the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway that suggests you make a stop at Blue Vista and enjoy the spectacular desert views. This sound like a great place for a picnic so unpack your wicker picnic basket here and stay a while.

If you’d like even more information about US route 191, there is a good article on wikipedia.org. I’ve never been on the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway but if I ever have a chance to spend some time in Eastern Arizona, I will pack my camping tent and digital camera and spend a week or two here. I hope you do too!

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When I started this blog I really thought I could keep three or four blogs up at once. Unfortunately I found myself spending more time writing than doing anything else. My work on my website was lagging behind and I wasn’t relaxing or sleeping enough. Well, I just couldn’t go on that way so this blog suffered badly.  For that I apologize. Since I now know I can’t keep up four blogs with original material, I’ll use this blog to help you find articles on scenic travel from other great bloggers or authors. So pack up your wicker picnic basket and hit the road. I hope you enjoy the trip.

Here’s an article I found in the Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune about the Old Red Trail Scenic Byway.  The Old Red Trail Scenic Byway travels along Old Highway 10 for 110 miles from Mandan to Dickinson, ND.  The Old Red Trail has many points of interest along the way including a dinosaur museum and outdoor recreation areas. If the article in the Tribune has whetted your appetite like it did mine, you can learn more at the State of North Dakota’s website page on the Old Red  Scenic Byway.

If your interested in learning even more about the Old Red Trail,  I found an interactive website that compares travel in the day when the Old Red was state of the art to travel on today’s Interstate 94. This one is going to take a while so grab a cold drink and check out the Old Red Trail website.

I hope you like the new format of this blog. Whenever I discover something of interest on America’s Scenic Byways I’ll link you to the article I found and provide you with some resources for more information. Please let me know what you think of the new format by leaving me a comment.

Thanks and happy travel!

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Over the next few weeks we’re going to enjoy two scenic drives in the State of Missouri. We’ll start off in the Capital of Jefferson City and follow the Missouri Rhineland to St. Charles near St. Louis. We’ll pass through several historic German villages and visit a bunch of wineries along the road. From St. Charles we’ll hop on the Interstate and skirt St. Louis to the Village of Leasburg. Here we’ll wander into the Ozark Mountains for a completely different kind of scenic drive. So let’s pack our camping gear and picnic backpacks and get on the road.

The Missouri Rhineland is famous for its family owned wineries. Missouri’s wine industry dates back to the middle 1800s when German immigrants began planting vineyards along the Missouri River. By 1856, Missouri wineries were producing 100,000 gallons of wine per year and that production rose to almost 2,000,000 gallons by 1890. At that time, Missouri was the biggest wine producing state in the Country. By 1900 Stone Hill Winery in Hermann was the third largest in the world. Many of its wines won gold medals at World’s Fairs from St. Louis to Vienna.

Just before prohibition took effect, Missouri had over 100 active wineries. During prohibition only one winery, St. Stanislaus Novitiate in St. Louis, was allowed to continue producing sacramental wine. Missouri’s wine industry remained dead until 1965 when Stone Hill Winery reopened its doors. Today the wine industry is healthy as over 70 wineries are operating in Missouri.

The most commonly grown grape in Missouri today is the Norton, a red grape often known as “the Cabernet of the Ozarks”. Other common varieties include the Native American Concord and Catawba and French-American Hybrid varieties like Vignoles and Chambourcin. Until recently it was commonly believed that Missouri’s winters were too cold to grow vinifera grapes but recently some wineries have been experimenting with varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Since wine making is so important to this part of Missouri, it makes sense for us to begin our visit at Summit Lake Winery near Jefferson City. Summit Lake Winery opened in 2002 and offers an excellent selection of wines made from Native American and French Hybrid grapes. They have an outdoor terrace that offers beautiful views of the Missouri River and Jefferson City below. In the winter, you can sip any of their great wines while sitting around their warm fireplace.I hope you have a chance to visit Summit Lake Winery and when you do, remember your wine carriers so you can bring home some of their great wines and please tell them that The Pennsylvania Wanderer sent you.

In the next part of our trip to Missouri we’ll visit the State Capital of Jefferson City. This historic city offers many indoor and outdoor attractions. We’ll visit the State Capital, the Runge Conservation Nature Center and the Governor’s Mansion. We’ll see you again soon and until then I wish you happy and safe travels.

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Our trip along the Seaway Trail comes to an end at The Thousand Islands. This region of Northern New York and Southern Ontario is one of the great tourist attractions on the continent. I could spend years writing daily posts about the Thousand Islands and not cover everything there is to do here. Instead I’ll tell you a little about some of the attractions along the Seaway Trail and then provide you with some links to additional information.

Click for driving directions for day three.

Henderson Harbor

Henderson Harbor

Henderson Harbor was first discovered by European explorers in 1615. Ever since then it has provided recreation to visitors who arrive by land or by water. Lake Ontario’s gentle breezes make the harbor perfect for sailboats and fisherman alike. Those breezes also provide respite from the summer heat as the high temperature at Henderson Harbor averages about 10 degrees less than the surrounding communities. For more information, please visit Henderson Harbor’s website.

About eight miles from Henderson Harbor is the village of Sackets Harbor. This charming village was a focal point of naval activity during the war of 1812 and today you can visit the Sackets Harbor Historic Site. Sackets Harbor also acts as home to the Sackets Harbor Bicycle Loop. This 21 mile loop also visits Sulphur Springs, Brownville and Dexter. I suggest you begin your visit to Sackets Harbor at the Visitors’ Center at 301 West Main Street. For lots more information, visit the Village of Sackets Harbor website.

Another 25 miles along the Seaway Trail brings us to the village of Cape Vincent. Cape Vincent has a very strong French heritage as it was a trading post between Iroquois Indians and French settlers as far back as the 1650s. For the past 40 years, Cape Vincent has celebrated this heritage with an annual French Festival. This festival, held in July, features arts and crafts, children’s programs and a giant parade. Cape Vincent is also home of Tibbets Point Lighthouse, the Cape Vincent Historical Museum and over 50 buildings on the State and Federal Historic Register. Learn more from Cape Vincent’s website.

The Town of Clayton is home to the Antique Boat Museum. Started as an annual antique boat show, the museum now consists of 10 buildings, over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space and 1,900 feet of dock space. Among the exhibits is La Suchesse, a 106 foot houseboat that was built in 1903 by Geroge Boldt, the millionaire manager of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. Clayton also plays host to the Handweaving Museum and Art Center and the 1000 Island Museum. Check out Clatyon’s website for more information.

Our final stop is Alexandria Bay which is just 11 miles up the Seaway Trail from Clayton. One of Alexandria Bay’s main attractions is Boldt Castle. Built between 1900 and 1903, the castle stands six stories tall and has 120 rooms, tunnels, a drawbridge and Italian Gardens. During construction George Boldt’s wife Louise died and the heart broken Mr. Boldt stopped the construction. The castle sat untouched until 1977 when the Thousand Island Bridge Authority bought the property and began preservation and renovation. Here is a video of the castle that you might find interesting.

Alexandria Bay is also the home of some fantastic sport fishing and there are plenty of charter boats available for hire. You can also enjoy a boat tour of the bay on one of several different boats. For more information on this great tourist destination, check out Alexandria Bay’s Website.

This completes our journey up the Seaway Trail. I hope you enjoyed it. For additional information on the Seaway Trail and the Thousand Islands, please visit any of these websites: www.1000islands.com, www.visit1000islands.com, www.roundthebend.com or www.seawaytrail.com.

If you’re looking for picnic backpacks or other picnic accessories, please visit Picnic Baskets and More and if you need a camping tent or other camping gear, visit Camping Gear Stop.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. I’d especially like feedback on how I can improve this blog. In the meantime, stay tuned very soon for my series on the Missouri Rhineland Scenic Byway.

Map of today’s travel.

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Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway

Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway

For me, every trip to Oswego means a Saturday evening at Oswego Speedway. Home of the unique looking and extremely powerful supermodifieds, Oswego Speedway is among the fastest 5/8 mile asphalt tracks in the northeast. In September, the speedway hosts two of short track racing’s premier events. On Labor Day Weekend, Oswego hosts the Classic for supermodifieds. This prestigious race has been won by such greats as Bentley Warren and the late Jim Shampine. A couple weeks later, the modifieds take the spotlight for their annual Race of Champions. If your schedule allows, I’d strongly recommend you head to Oswego Speedway for one of these great events. If not, the track runs every Saturday night from May into September.

We’ll end day two of our Seaway Trail adventure by heading up to the Selkirk Lighthouse and backtracking a few miles to Selkirk Shores State Park. Land purchases around the mouth of Salmon River exploded in the 1830s after a prominent government engineer recommended that a port be built there. In 1838, the Selkirk Lighthouse was commissioned and two massive piers were built in anticipation of the ships that would be coming. Unfortunately a railway was soon built through nearby Pulaski and a spur of the Erie Canal led to Lake Ontario in Oswego. These two events meant that Port Ontario never grew as the investors had hoped and the lighthouse was soon decommissioned. Today the Selkirk Lighthouse is available for overnight rent and can accommodate up to nine people.

Picnic at Selkirk Shores State park

Picnic at Selkirk Shores State park

The Salmon River is known as one of the great salmon and steelhead fisheries in North America. The town of Pulaski is home to well over a dozen bait and tackle shops to meet your fishing equipment needs. If you’re looking for a guided fishing experience, many of these shops are home to charter boats and their captains. There are also plenty of hotels for those who need accommodations but for those of you who prefer camping, let me suggest Selkirk Shores State Park. Selkirk Shores State Park’s campsites overlook a bluff on Lake Ontario. In addition to Great Lakes swimming, visitors can expect outstanding fishing and spectacular sunsets. Small boats can be launched from the Pine Grove site, and larger boats from Mexico Point on the Salmon River. Summer hiking and biking trails are used in the winter by cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. Selkirk Shores is on the direct migration route for a wide variety of bird species, so birdwatchers flock to the park. There is also a playground and picnic area. Selkirk Shores State Park would be a great place to end day two of your trip along the Seaway Trail.

Next time, we’ll pack up our camping tent and picnic basket and continue our trip on the Seaway Trail to The Thousand Islands.

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After enjoying the cliffs at Chimney Bluff State Park, we’ll take a pleasant 45 minute drive to Fair Haven Beach State Park. Fair Haven Beach is a family oriented park. It’s sandy Lake Ontario beaches are among the finest in Upstate New York and the hilly woodlands above offer excellent hiking. Inland you’ll find Sterling Pond which is surrounded by campsites and cabins that are available for rent. Along with swimming, the pond offers excellent fishing and has rowboats, canoes and paddle boats for rent. The park also offers playground and picnic facilities as well as sports playing fields. Finally, waterfowl hunting is permitted in designated areas during the appropriate seasons.

Fort Ontario

Fort Ontario

Another 35 minute drive along the Seaway Trail will bring us to historic Oswego. Oswego is the home of Fort Ontario. The original fort was built in 1755 and was a British outpost during the French and Indian War. The first fort was destroyed by the French in 1756 and rebuilt in 1759. The second Fort Ontario was destroyed by American forces during the Revolutionary War. The British reoccupied Oswego in 1782 and built the third fort which was turned over to the United States in 1796. The third fort was attacked and destroyed by the British during the War of 1812. Between 1839 and 1844, the current Fort Ontario was built in response to the threat of a new war and a potential British invasion from Canada. Between 1944 and 1946, Fort Ontario housed victims of the Nazi Holocaust. In 1949, the State of New York began developing the fort as a State Historic Site. Fort Ontario is now open for tours from early May until the middle of October on Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 – 4:30. There is a small admission fee.

Today Oswego is considered by many to be the most important port on Lake Ontario. In the springtime, Oswego Harbor’s sheltered waters offer some of the best brown trout and steelhead fishing in the Great Lakes. In the summer, many anglers turn their attention to the fine walleye and bass populations. In Oswego Harbor, September means coho salmon. Large numbers of the big fish gather in the harbor in preparation for the autumn run. The local charter captains can brag about their clients who have caught spectacular fish including a 33 pound coho in 1998 and a 33 pound brown trout in 1997.

In our next installment we’ll spend a little more time in Oswego and them continue along the Seaway Trail to Pulaski. I hope you’re enjoying this journey along the Seaway Trail. If you are, please take a minute and let me know.

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Today we’re going to travel the Seaway Trail in Western New York from Niagara Falls to Rochester.  Our journey will cover 107 miles and take about 3 1/4 hours of actual driving time.  That will leave you plenty of time to see the sites and enjoy a great picnic lunch.  I’d strongly recommend that you take this tour between May and October as icy roads are very possible during the rest of the year.

Click for complete driving directions for this trip.

Niagara Falls from the Observation Tower

Niagara Falls from the Observation Tower

Hundreds of people have written thousands of volumes about the beauty and splendor of Niagara Falls so there is no way I’ll even try and describe them in one or two paragraphs.  I do, however, want to mention my favorite way to see the Falls.  The Niagara Falls Observation Tower in Niagara Falls State Park offers two amazing and contrasting views of the falls.  First walk out to the end of the tower and look to your left for a spectacular view of the the American and Horseshoe Falls.  Next take the glass elevator down to the base of the falls and take the stairs up to “The Crows Nest”.  You’ll truly feel like you’re part of the Falls.  I warn you that you will get soaked as you walk up to “The Crows Nest”.  Admission to the Observation Tower is $1.00 and it is open from Spring to Fall.

From Niagara Falls we’ll head north to Old Fort Niagara.  Old Fort Niagara has stood at the mouth of the Niagara River, 15 miles north of Niagara Falls since 1726.  As a gateway to the Great Lakes, it was a very important French stronghold until taken by the British during the French and Indian War.  Britain held the fort until after the end of the American Revolution.  You’ll have the opportunity to check out some of the best remaining examples of 18th and 19th century military architecture, The French Castle, built in 1726, is the oldest standing building between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.  There are also many artifacts and documents depicting the almost 300 year history of the fort for you to view.

30 Mile Point Lighthouse

30 Mile Point Lighthouse

Next we’ll head east to Golden Hill State Park and Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse.  The park, located along beautiful Lake Ontario has been part of the New York State Park system since 1962.  It has great picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, hunting, fishing and boat launches.  The camping area has tent and trailer sites and is open from mid-April to mid-October.  While at the park, make sure you visit Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse opened in 1876 and was active until 1952.  It’s maintained by the Friends of Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse and has a cottage that’s available for rent.  The lighthouse provides a great view of Lake Ontario.

From Golden Hill State Park we’ll continue our journey east to one of my childhood stomping grounds.  Back when Lake Ontario’s beaches were polluted and closed, Hamlin Beach was the closest beach to home.  Today, since the water is clean and safe, it remains a favorite of beachcombers from all around the area.  It also features several picnic areas, hiking and biking trails that become skiing and snowmobile trails in the winter, playgrounds, fishing and 264 tent and trailer campsites that are open from May until mid-October.

Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY

From Hamlin Beach, it’s just a short jaunt up the Lake Ontario Parkway to my hometown of Rochester, NY.  For culture I believe that Rochester is one of the world’s most underrated cities.  There are many great museums including the George Eastman House (home to the founder of Eastman Kodak and one of the fathers of photography), the Susan B. Anthony House, the world renowned Strong National Museum of Play, the Rochester Museum and Science Center and the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.  Rochester is also home to the Red Wings, AAA farm team of the Minnesota Twins, the Amerks American Hockey League team, the Nighthawks National Lacrosse League, the Rhinos United Soccer League team and several other professional and collegiate sports teams.  Finally, Rochester is an educational center with no less than nine colleges having campuses within the immediate area.  For you campers, there are plenty of campgrounds in the area.  If you have the time, spend a day or two in Rochester.  You’ll be glad you did. For much more information on Rochester, please check out the Official Tourism Site of Rochester, NY.

Join me next time when we’ll continue our journey east from Rochester and see how far we get.  In the meantime, you’re going to need picnic accessories and camping gear for your trip.  Let me suggest Picnic Baskets and More for all of your wicker picnic baskets, barbecue tools and other picnic accessories and Camping Gear Stop for your camping tents and other camping supplies.

Map of your day’s travel

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