So far we’ve made two trips to the Wegman’s Good Dog Park in Syracuse (they also have a Yahoogroups mailing list here). Great place, nicely kept clean with running water, dog bowls for the water, toys, benches, a double gate, and an agility course for the dogs. Very very nice. and gets used a lot. And it’s right inside the Onondaga Lake Park, which is nice on its own with bathrooms, miles of trails, the old lock system, etc.
Still amazes me that the City of Watertown nixed the idea, despite the interest in it. I guess you can’t expect too much of the people and government of Watertown and Jefferson County. I find myself more and more disgusted by the people of this area, despite my love for the region. We have a seemingly endless supply of redneck attitudes sometimes.
Anyway, the park was nice, and the local SPCA does have a pay dog area and Fort Drum has a dog park. Maybe someday, in the far future, we’ll actually get one here. Though that would pre-suppose the local population actually embracing the present, which may never happen.
Also, south of Syracuse is Jamesville Beach State Park, which has an off-the-leash area as part of the park. Very little trail system along the stream there, with a few places along the way for the dogs to go into the water.
Google Earth Overlays
They work great, and very easy to use. I took a screenshot off a local Jefferson County property info website, grabbed the latitude and longitude, and used the Google Earth overlay feature to superimpose it over my property so I could reference where the boundaries are. Amazing how easy and useful it is.
Camping Trip to Evangola State Park, Buffalo Area
Monday, we got an early start, between 9:30 and 10, for our trip. It was safe and uneventful, which is the most important thing, but took longer then we expected it to. There was a large amount of construction on the Thruway, and slowed us considerably.
At one point we spent about half an hour crawling at a few miles per hour in two lanes. Come to find out, they were fixing a tiny strip in one lane, barely three or four feet wide. Seemed strange to delay hundreds of cars on a large highway for such a small thing in the middle of the day. But who can guess at the thoughts of New York State and the DOT?
Again, the Aztek’s features came in handy. In a regular SUV the seats would likely have been folded down, and there would have been a heck of a lot less room, height-wise, in the back. As it was we had the cavernous (at least it seems so when you look into other SUV’s) rear section. I was able to easily fold the front passenger seat back, and climb back into the rear while my wife continued to stay in line. I could then get the dog’s water dish and water out of where we had it packed in the far-back, then sit down in the back and hold the water dish while they drank.
As usual we were carrying a number of things in the soft car-top carrier, which gave us even more room in the back, splitting up the rear between space for the dogs and storage space (using the handy versatile netting) to do so. I could then stow the stuff without bumping my head on anything, and climb back to the front relatively easier. The dogs were refreshed.
We had decided to stop somewhere and buy food rather than bringing it. My wife’s Garmin Nuvi and my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx both use the same maps and similar software, so we were able to quickly access and cross reference the locations of a Wegman’s as well as a PetCo within a relatively close area. So we wouldn’t have to make a lot of detours. Unfortunately the Wegman’s was no loner there and we found no sign of it. The hazards of using maps in general – paper or GPS. But at least with GPS maps changes can be quickly submitted and edited.
We did find a Topps, and we picked up a harness for Tucker (he has had some serious physical problems lately and the vet recommended using a harness instead of a collar for our trip). I experimented with the harness on him, and he seemed to adapt quickly to it.
Finally we headed toward the campground, noticing a place selling campfire wood along the way (you’re not supposed to bring your own wood from one part of NY State to another, so as not to spread wood-born parasites and such). We checked in at the campground, having made a previous reservation of course, but the girl couldn’t tell us whether that gave us a pass for other state parks,which it usually does. You’d think she’d know…
We found our site, which was a bit smaller than we figured it would be, but off to the side was plenty of space back toward the water.
Unfortunately there was a fence, and for a good reason. The waters of Lake Erie were right there, but at the foot of a fifty foot cliff (see photo). The lake was beautiful though, and we couldn’t see the other side except for a distance projection. The shore curved out to the left and right of us. To the right of us was the beach at the park.
We set our tent up, and got our stuff organized. At this point there were a number of others camping in the area, but not a lot. While putting up the tent an older couple with a van and RV pulled in, did a bit of loud talking and yelled directions back and forth while maneuvering the beast into their spot. It took them longer to park it then it took us to put our tent up. And we have a large, slightly complicated tent to assemble.
We then took a walk along the fence at the back of our site (there was an old bathroom/shower building that had been closed down back there too). The trail led along the fence and then to a “no trespassing” sign, and little gully. Across it was a wooden fence and camps or homes along the water.
We sneaked down the gully and out onto the small beach at the foot of the high overhanging cliffs. The dogs went into the water a bit, and I studied the various layers of stone above us. Fascinating stuff, unfortunately I did not get a pic, having forgotten to bring my camera along for our walk. The layers were amazing.
The lake seems to be never calm, as we sat a bit on a large stone and talked while we looked at it. After a bit we headed back, but took a different path and came out in the “recreational area”, an old rec hall, broken down and closed, an overgrown tennis court and basketball court, and running water access nearby.
The whole campground seemed a bit run-down but still functional.
After getting back to our site we decided to drive around a bit, and try to find wood and some Geocaches. The Geocaches seemed to be along a river, and the only access was the river itself, as the land around it was posted no trespassing. We saw the Indian Reservation and gambling casino, found some fast food places in case of need, and drove back the way we came a short distance to find the camp wood. The park itself had camp wood, a small bundle for $5.
The woman selling the camp wood that we had passed was a bit in the bag, but nice enough, offering fifteen pieces of wood for $10, plus any scrap for free.
We got back, looked through some NY state booklets I had brought along, as well as referenced different parks and such on both of our GPS’s for locations to go the next day.
Then we had out dinner, some stuff we had bought at Topps.
Beside us another RV had come in, another beast and another older couple, with their grandkids. They spent most of the time inside with the air conditioning running, leaving their small dog outside to bark, but were out eating and running a fire while we were eating. As soon as they finished they let the fire run down and went back into the RV, not to be seen again. Is that really camping? Maybe that’s what the people in the primitive camping section say about us with our electrical access, I don’t know.
We started the fire after a bit, and after walking down to the bathrooms/showers (which were at the opposite end of our camping loop – not far but a bit inconvenient). Again, the bathrooms left something to be desired but at least everything worked. There was also water and garbage collection, as well as washers and a big sink for washing dishes.
Nearby the bathroom people were playing their music quite loud, a tiny worn out camper and lots of beer cans around. Quiet hours at 10!
We watched the sunset, took some pics and then I started the fire and had it going quite well. I’m a fine fire starter but as soon as I put our larger wood on it acted a bit strangely, and didn’t want to start. After a bit it went out but I revived it (I pride myself on using only one match and zero starting fluid/gas/whatever – you shouldn’t need to. Unless you like doing it that way of course!).
The larger pieces burned fitfully for the rest of the night as we sat around it, enjoying the peace. Well before quiet hours it settled down to be very quiet indeed. Nice, compared to last year’s camping at Sampson Park in the Finger Lakes, when the bugs or frogs in the trees squawked or chirped all night, and there was the occasional bit of noise from people (though nothing bad).
We sat for quite a while, not even getting out our marshmallows and s’mores for some reason, and then went to bed.
Unfortunately some clouds had come in and I debated about putting my large tarp over the tent. Inside it was sweltering, but the wind quickly picked up and I had to close the rain flaps despite the heat. The wind whipped the tent quite a bit, keeping me up for a while though Jenny slept fine. It was really windy.
Finally the wind facing our direction calmed a bit, or changed directions and was blocked by the high Maple trees around us. And I could get to sleep, but woke up a few times to the breakers against the cliffs behind us. But those were soothing, versus the wind whipping the tent flaps, and I slept okay, only having to get up to go to the bathroom, taking the dogs with me to do their biz.
The morning was quiet when I woke up, I thought perhaps I had awoken way too early so I allowed myself to fall back to asleep a few times. When I did check the time it was just before eight, so I gathered my clothes as quietly as possible and got the dogs out to do their stuff, then put them back into the tent into their own little beds, and went to the shower.
It was so quiet yet. In the bathroom I found one of the two showers had no showerhead, and asked the middle-eastern gentlemen if his had one. He said it did and I decided to wait, shaving and wandering around. Finally I took my shower (again, not the nicest in there but okay) and complained about the bathroom and lack of showerhead about the state of government facilities along with another dude, who had come in waiting to shower also.
Later we put my tarp over the tent, just in case of rain, and headed out looking for some trails and parks. Unfortunately we wandered too close to Buffalo, and the parks were just that – parks with not much in the way of trails nor places for the dogs.
We went to a number of different ones, picked up some supplies. I remembered that while driving to our camp I noticed a high bridge over a tall gulf or gorge. When I had checked my handheld GPS I saw that we were passing over Eighteen Mile Creek and that there was a DEC wilderness area nearby. We navigated to it and found a lonely road with DOUBLE guard rails along the steep and very, very high drop-offs. Finally we got to the end of the road and the DEC area. The trail itself was the continuation of the old original road, right along the very edge.
One the way we encountered a mother and a group of young girls in bathing suits who had apparently been swimming, so we knew that there would eventually be some sort of access down the cliff.
We finally found it, a very steep trail. At the bottom was a small stream, some pools of water, and the high cliffs of course. The dogs played for a while (finally a place for them to go into the water!) and then we headed back up the steep trail.
Just now I check the wiki entry on the creek and found that at certain times of year raw sewage is diverted into the stream. Yuk. Good thing I don’t fish!
Heading back to the campground we noticed that it had rained, but at the campground itself everything seemed dry, though we saw that others had draped their tents with tarps too.
We took a walk around the loops of the campground and did a little exploring, then had our dinner, made a few calls, and planned out our trip the next day.
That night I cut the wood into smaller chunks to get it to burn better, which it did.
We cooked out s-mores, gave the dogs some marshmallows, and sat and relaxed for the rest of the night with a good fire going. Later we decided to leave the tarp over everything but had to open the screens because of the heat inside the tent.
It was a good call to leave the tarp on. As I’m sure you know, tents are only waterproof to a certain extent.
That night it downpoured, and the temps dropped. The wind whipped, thunder hit, and Lake Erie slammed the cliffs behind us. But we were cozy and dry inside the tent.
Once the heavy rains died down the crashes of water against the cliffs lulled me to sleep.
The next morning things had dried outside somewhat, but we discovered a slight depression in front of the tent which we hadn’t noticed, and it had filled with a bit of water and leaked a small amount into tent, but not bad.
I also discovered that we had forgotten to cover up the wood. It wasn’t too important as we only needed it for breakfast but it was fairly wet, and combined with the crappiness of the wood in the first place – well, starting a fire would be problematic. Sure enough, anything of any size was too soaked and fire went out once I stoked it to the point of putting anything larger on it.
A bit of a disappointment to me as I like to pride myself on being able to get a fire going quite easily. Not in this case.
The family a few spaces down had been smart, and had put their wood inside their pop-up camper and had a good fire going for breakfast.
We packed up, and headed out after dropping off our garbage at the campground’s dumpster.
We had plotted out the differences in taking the Thruway back versus going through Buffalo to the dog park there, and found little different in actual distance, just time.
The dog park there, in LaSalle Park, is quite nice. It’s called the “BarkYard“, and is quite nice. It’s larger then the Syracuse one, and has a smaller dog section too as well as the double gates. It does not have an agility course not running water, though volunteers seem to have brought some water and other supplies. Quite nice, and we met some interesting people and dogs there.
As usual, B’ellana just wanted to stay around us and had no interest in the other dogs. Tucker, despite his health problems, did a little chasing of the other dogs.
I had never been actually through Buffalo itself, just the outskirts, and I found the part that I saw to be fairly interesting. Old baroque buildings, abandoned and partially-still-used machinery and power buildings, new and interesting buildings with some amazing architecture, lots of parks, lots of construction of new roads and street and buildings, wind turbines on the edge of the city, and more. Wish I had time to explore the city.
The rest of the trip back was much faster, but we did stop at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on the way back.
It took a chunk out of our return time because there are no close Thruway exits nor on-ramps, so we have to travel a distance to get there and back on the Thruway.
Unfortunately there were a lot of construction going on at the refuge, so we didn’t see very much wildlife. Still, it was a good diversion.
The rest of the trip back was uneventful, the dogs as well as us were tired and despite the nice vacation camping trip; I think we were still happy to get home.