This time he gets to drive!

Trip Start May 12, 2012
Trip End May 19, 2012

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Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Museum

Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Woke up this morning and stumbled around for a while.  Went downstairs at the Clarion and had the free complimentary breakfast, which wasn't all that good.  We noticed that the staff at the Clarion is, for the most part, not very friendly, and the breakfast concierge was no exception. 

There was no coffee (horrors!) and the bananas were all bruised.  But we managed to get down enough carbs to get us focused, packed and on our way.  The first order of business was to get some cash.  After our close call at Payne's last night, we knew that we might run into more places that didn't take plastic.  We found a bank and were surprised at how easy it was to get more cash.

Next stop was the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Museum.  We were the only guests, so we got a personal, 2 hour tour of the keeper's house, the lighthouse, and the auxiliary museum.  It was really interesting and the chief volunteer (whose name eludes me) was enthusiastic and informative. 

Dan climbed all the way to the top of the lighthouse and took some great pictures.  Donna wimped out and sat in the newly recovered chair at the bottom of the stairs and waited for them to come back. 

The county correctional agency had sent over some convict labor to help get the museum ready for the seasonal grand opening.  They were women and they all had shaved heads, but seemed to be working hard.  I guess it must be a real treat for them to get outside on such a beautiful day, and today was another fantastic one. (We've been really lucky with the weather on this trip.)

We finished up at the lighthouse about 12:15 and headed out.  We had been talking about going to the Finger Lakes, and after looking at the map, Dan was very excited about it.  Of course, that's because Watkins Glen is at the southern tip of Seneca Lake and he knew the Watkins Glen International Speedway was there.  (Ah Ha!  There was an ulterior motive...)

We cut across a small 2 lane highway and caught the Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86), and headed for Watkins Glen.  We had 2 near death experiences along the way.  First, we noticed that we were both getting really sleepy.  We rolled down the windows and shut off the air conditioning, but after thinking about it, we both believe that the rented Jetta we were driving was trying to poison us.  Maybe carbon dioxide???  We can laugh about it because we outsmarted the car by rolling down the windows.

2nd scary thing that happened was just before we took the cut off to Watkins Glen.  There was a car in the left lane going the same speed as Dan, a car behind him that was pretty close, and a car merging from the right, also going the same speed.  He thought about it for a second and them floored the gas petal.  Who  knew Volkswagen Jettas had such pick-up.  He roared ahead of everybody and saved the day!

Another fact for anyone who might happen to be travelling through New York state by car.  Not every rest stop has a rest room.  Enough said.

Got to Watkins Glen about 3:30 and headed for the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.  It's a fairly new hotel that sits right on the south end of Seneca Lake.  We didn't have a reservation, but lucked out and got one of the last two rooms with a lake view.  The first one was the Admiral's Suite which went for $400 per night.  Donna wanted to stay in that one, but Dan opted for the efficiency suite, which is only $250 per night.  (Apparently he's forgotten that Donna is celebrating her birthday for the entire month of May and should get to make ALL decisions...)  But the room we have is lovely and has a patio/balcony that looks out over the lake. 

By this time Dan had discovered that for a mere $25, he could sign up for the Watkins Glen International Speedway Thunder Road Tour.  The beauty of this tour is that HE gets to drive around the track twice, following the pace car.  We walked to the Shop, which is NASCARs outlet in downtown Watkins Glen and got the ticket. He starts his engine at noon tomorrow!

The next stop was the Crooked Rooster, where we went to sample the local Rooster Fish beer.  Good stuff, and a really cozy little pub.

Had dinner at the Seneca Harbor Station. This was the train station in the old days. It's been restored and converted into a marvelous fish restaurant. We shared a grilled fish platter and some key lime pie.

After dinner we walked out on the pier and looked at the lake.  The waterfront has been developed in a very nice way and actually won an award from the American Institute of Architects.  Had a quick drink in the hotel bar and are now thinking about turning in for the night.  Exciting times coming tomorrow!

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