I’ve been here in Bath, NY for almost 2 weeks now – time is surely running fast. In that time, I’ve had the pleasure of taking in many of the local attractions, and also visiting some of the local towns. This past Sunday, I drove about an hour north to a little town called Avon. Its known to have many natural springs and was popular in the 1800’s with the perceived healing powers of the minerals contained in those springs. Lots of hotels and spas were built to placate to the rich for their relaxation and leisure, but many succumbed and closed as the spa era ended, and the healing powers of the springs were debunked. My business in Avon was not the springs, but rather two flea markets that run every Sunday. It was going to be a hot day, reaching the 90s by noon, so I got there early to beat the heat. Lots of antiques and misc stuff was featured, but alas I came home empty handed (good thing as I don’t have much room for any new stuff). But, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt for me anyway. Earlier in the week I visited Hornell, NY – a small sleepy town with Americana flare. Main street was like many other American Main Streets – quaint, lots of shops, eateries, and for the purpose of my visit, a movie theater. Hornell was a big railroad town back in its heyday, but sadly, like many other towns who have lost their primary economic drivers, has been in steady population decline for several decades. Many of the Main St shops are vacant, and those that remain are supporting a very small dwindling population. This decline was especially evident at the movie theater as I was sitting alone at the 1:00 PM showing of Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom in a theater capable of seating 200+. I don’t think they covered their expenses with my single ticket purchase, but at least I made my contribution.
Glen Curtiss Museum
I have to admit, I knew very little about Glen Curtiss before visiting the museum, and now that I’ve been there, I’m kind of disappointed that I hadn’t learned more about him in primary education history class. Yea we all know about the contributions made by the Wright Brothers, and Charles Lindbergh. But one could certainly argue that Glen Curtiss made as many or more contributions to aviation history. He made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. There were many other achievements Curtiss made – too numerous for this little blog. Anyway, Glen was a prolific inventor, engineer, and speed junkie. He was involved with bicycles early on, then engines, then combining the two to create motorcycles, then airplanes, then using airplane engines to make really fast motorcycles. Later in life, he also dabbled in RV design and manufacturing which I found particularly interesting. I also learned Curtiss was embroiled in legal patent disputes with the Wright brothers for years until it was finally resolved by the US government to allow open/unrestricted development of aircraft to support WWI. Interestingly, they would later combine efforts to form the very successful Curtiss-Wright Corporation. History has it that Orville was not happy having his sir name appear second in the new company – too funny.
In addition to all the motorized bicycles and early planes that were on display, a couple cool pieces I saw in the museum were the Smith Wheel and a P-40 in renovation. The Smith Wheel, though not invented nor built by Curtiss, made me think that perhaps this was one of the early versions of or the inspiration for the modern day “5th Wheel RV”? The P-40 rebuild was also very cool. This specific plane, along with one other P40, was recovered from a Florida swamp. The two aircraft struck each other in a training flight in 1945, and crash landed in the swamp where they sat for more than 40 years. They were finally recovered in the mid 80’s after a 2-year salvage effort and used as recovery exhibits for many years. The museum eventually purchased them in 2011, and has been working on the restoration since. It’s a painstaking process where they reference build diagrams and manufacture a piece at a time to reconstruct the plane – which reportedly will have only 25% of original parts when completed. Once complete, it will be featured in the museum.
Back to Geocaching
It’s been many, many years since I’ve been Geocaching, and one of my retirement bucket list items was to get back into that activity. I have absolutely no aspirations nor expectations that I will attain any significance in the Geocaching community as has been the case for my big brother who is a Geocaching legend in New England. But rather for me, it is just to get out there, visit some cool places, take some hikes, and do some treasure hunting along the way. It’s clear from todays adventure that I’m rather rusty at this. I chased after six caches, and only actually found two of them. I’ll have to spend some quality time with my more learned brother in Jul and Aug to get some tips and tricks on how to actually find these things! But, the exact reason for me to get back into it has taken me to a couple of really nice areas I may otherwise have missed. One such place was Mossy Bank Park. I actually drove by a sign about this place a week or so earlier and really didn’t give it much thought for a visit. It had not appeared in any of my “tourist must see lists”, and was kinda obscure and off the beaten path. Wow was I wrong about this place. Yea it’s a nice drive back in the woods, and when you get there, there’s a nice little playground for the kids, some picnic pavilions, and a hiking trail. It’s that hiking trail that I had to take to search for one one of the caches, that led me to the parks most noteworthy attribute – a high vantage lookout point that overlooks the entire city of Bath. It was absolutely spectacular!
That’s about it for now – more to come after some of my wine-trail tours, and the visits to the Corning Museum of Glass and Watkins Glen. Till then – safe travels! Happy 4th of July everyone!