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2014-09-25- Watkins Glen State Park and Driving Adventure

If you have not been to Watkins Glen, you should go but probably not on a race weekend because the roads through town are narrow and congested and they have apparently not heard of left turn arrows for traffic lights. There are several major draws in this area not the least of which is the Watkins Glen International Raceway. Now, I’m not saying that we are ready to beat land speed records, but when was the last time you saw a capped pickup truck with two kayaks strapped on for dear life, negotiating hairpin “S” turns over a 3 ½ mile racecourse vainly attempting to catch up with the pace car ahead? What a blast and for the other “racers” a laugh! The racecourse itself is located way up on the top of a hill overlooking Lake Seneca and the picturesque Finger Lakes Region of NY. For $25.00, you can take three laps around the racecourse with a pace car. At one of the local car dealerships, if you bought a car like a Charger, Challenger, Mustang or Camaro with the SRT package, you got a day at the track and it was cool to see these “hot” cars whizzing by. Then there was Bob who initially pooh-poohed the 55 mph speed limit but who, despite masterful negotiation of the turns, was not able to go more than 40 mph around the curves. We did hit 55 on the exceedingly short straightways though. After 2 laps, the pace car/security truck stops at the finish line for photos and off for a third lap and an end to our racing career. Of course, when asked, we smugly reported that our kayaks were really the latest in aerodynamic, air foil technology and we were the official test drivers for the Wilderness kayak systems designed to cut through the waves as easily as they cut through the racecourse air. Ha! (Might have been more convincing in wet suits) Still it was great fun and next time we see a road race at Watkins Glen on the TV or in person, we will have an appreciation for how fast and how scary the course is and what big balls the drivers have.

Then, we went to Watkins Glen State Park; again, a must see for anyone. Seriously, we have been all over and seen some spectacular things but the river pushing and creating narrow, fantastical shaped curves carving sandstone and shale into waves of layered gray is every bit as powerful as some of the more well known western sights. There are 19 waterfalls (and 800 steps) to the top of the Gorge Trail. Some of the waterfalls are tall while others are mere steps. Still others are veil like shimmering in the light let in by the trees on either side. You can walk underneath several of the waterfalls but expect to get wet even this late in the fall. The amount of water is impressive. If you are in the Watkins Glen area, do this!

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