Our Great New England RV Adventure: Part 2
From Gilead, Ohio we followed I-71 Northeast to the outskirts of Cleveland before hanging an easterly right at I-90. Our 80 mile encounter with Pennsylvania was merely a handshake. The countryside was inviting but if not for lengthy construction delays our wheels never stopped turning before we crossed into New York State. Our self imposed rule of at least spending a night in a state meant that for now anyway Pennsylvania could not be listed as a visited state.
The Chautauqua-Allegheny region of New York was blanketed with hillside vineyards that mostly seemed to slope down toward Lake Erie. It was surprisingly more beautiful and full of character than I previously imagined. We had grabbed a last-minute two night reservation at the Westfield KOA which was just a five minute walk to the shore through a small municipal park. After pitching camp and eating dinner we strolled down to the watch the sunset. It was an absolutely still and almost cloudless mid-summer evening and finally, after driving almost 1500 miles across the heartland we were looking for a green flash over water once again.
We woke up the next morning with a strong desire to spend our day of “rest” out and about looking for an adventure. With no pre-conceived expectations of what the day would bring we set out on a drive through the rolling farmland to Lake Chautauqua, the home of the Chautauqua Institute before angling our way back to the tiny hamlet of Lilly Dale. Lilly Dale was established in 1879 as a retreat for spiritualists and freethinkers of the time and its still very much the same today as it was then. Our first clue that this was no ordinary tourist spot came when we were stopped at the gated entrance. Once we explained that we were curious to see the village we were given a two hour pass to park and walk freely through the grounds.
The first sign we saw simply said “Inspiration Stump” and had an arrow pointing down a path into the woods. We were inclined to follow without even knowing why. Soon we found ourselves at an outdoor sanctuary of sorts. In the middle of a clearing there was the sawed off stump of a huge tree that once stood there. It was obviously intended to be a speakers platform as it was surrounded by lumber pews placed in rows around it. As it turns out such notable speakers as Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and John Edwards had lectured in this very spot. A group of several dozen people were scattered in the pews listening intently to a speaker. Our curiosity was peaked and we took a seat to the rear.
As it turned out the person speaking was a spiritual medium and she was engaged in the reading of an audience member who had lost a family member. One by one, guest mediums were introduced and audience members were read. For about an hour we sat listening quietly while crouching in our seats, our body language saying “please don’t pick me”. Afterward we walked through the entire village and had lunch at an outdoor coffee shop. On the way back to the truck we walked down the Fairy Trail through the forest which was probably as creepy as it was quaint in our opinion but it was interesting nonetheless.
The next day we headed east on I-90 and experienced first hand just how long it takes to drive across New York. We left early and drove past the Finger Lakes district all the way to the Cooperstown KOA were we had made last-minute reservations for a two night stay. The campground was selected despite being considerable off the beaten path simply because options closer to our route were harder and harder to come by. Not being big baseball fans we had no idea at the time that the Baseball Hall of Fame just happened to be located in Cooperstown.
Our day trip to Cooperstown was a big hit, if not a home run. Pun intended! Town was extremely crowded since the annual induction ceremony was just a couple of days away and while we opted out of visiting the hall of fame museum itself we did catch the vibe of the place while we were there. We climbed through the stadium seats of “Doubleday Field” and we spent a lot of time searching for tee shirts and gifts for our kids and grandkids who are big baseball fans. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Cooperstown is how it came to be that baseball’s most hallowed ground is located in such a tiny town.