Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Mission to Explore New York


It's sad how many important yet underappreciated educational resources sit lonely in our backyard. Practically every small town has a historical society and museum. Many are unique, offering collections and perspectives not present in more prominent institutions: Cuylerville has a museum dedicated to antique tractors; Waterloo has a museum chronicling the history of Memorial Day; Bloomfield has a museum of vintage construction equipment; Hammondsport has a museum named after aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss; Elmira's Soaring Museum focuses on engineless flight; Le Roy has a museum dedicated to Jell-O. Many of these institutions are owned and run by private citizens, an outlet to express and share hobbies and passions. Many are so overlooked that they lack official visiting hours and open only by appointment. Admission is seldom more than a few dollars.




My plan for the first few weeks of summer is to appreciate these places first hand, and chronicle my adventures with this blog. I've identified about 75 locations in Western New York that I believe would be intellectually enriching to visit, and I aim to visit them all over the next few weeks. Many of the places are museums in small towns as listed above, but I mixed in a variety of other sites as well, ranging from state parks (Taughannock Falls has the tallest waterfall east of the rockies), to salt mines (the American Rock Salt site, near Geneseo, is the largest salt mine in America, with a shaft reaching half a mile below the earth. I've recently sent a request for a guided tour of the mine, including a trip to the bottom of the shaft!).




Here are some tenets for this adventure:
  • Day trips - hotels rarely (if ever) needed
  • lean, muscular travel - high on protein, low on sugars
  • low cost
  • low drama
  • low prep time
  • avoid typical highways in favor of more interesting roads
  • speak and get to know locals when possible
  • drive with windows down and moonroof open.
I've made a custom Google Map with most of the target locations, which can be found here.

In addition, below I've sorted the sites by region in order to identify sites which will be visited same-day. The list is not yet complete, but offers a general picture of the itinerary. To any like-minded individuals who would be interested in joining me on any part of this adventure, contact me. It would be great to have travel companions, especially on some of the longer day trips. Simply figure out what you're interested in from the list below, and let me know!

Downtown Rochester and nearby:
Southeast of Rochester:
Route 5 West (before joining Rt. 20):
West of Rochester:
Buffalo:
Genesee River Valley:
Dansville:
Routes 5 & 20 (near Canandaigua):
Routes 5 & 20 (near Waterloo):
Routes 5 & 20 (near Seneca Falls):
Corridor between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes:
Corning Area:
East of Syracuse:

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