New York State Fair

We went to the New York State Fair on Sep 5th, and had a great time, for the most part!  The first thing I had to do was to see the sand sculpture in the Center of Progress Building:


The Beatles! This was amazing!




Next, we had to go to the Women’s Building to see the organ from Syracuse’s Keith’s Theatre, which was torn down and the organ was saved. Somebody was playing it, so we sat for a while and listened to him!


All of the pipes are hidden, unfortunately! I would love to see them!

Then we went to the Horticulture Building, which was a HUGE disappointment. I haven’t been to the fair in years, and the Hort building used to be all about veggies, fruits, flowers, honey and maple syrup. Now there is way too much commercialism.

Then we went to the Railroad museum where we saw several old cars, engines and a caboose:



Old Amtrak engine with a panograph! Cool!


James Strate left this car here in Syracuse!






We then went to the Dairy Building to see the butter sculpture:


Then we walked all of the way to the other end of the fairgrounds to see the tractor pull:

Lotsa smoke, cough cough!

And then to see the James Strate train used today – I like the older car better!


Side of the semi truck cab:

Then we went to the midway:

Got something to eat at P-Z-O’s:
P-Z-O's - now only available at the State Fair!

Saw a horse show in the Colliseum which was boring – it was just a bunch of people posting. Then we saw some baby pigs – don’t you love their little black rumps?

Saw many other things but didn’t take pics of everything. There’s so much to see. I can’t wait ’til next year – where I may have to go twice!

Last Week of July

I can’t believe how fast this summer is going!  First, the railroad rail has been fixed, albiet not correctly according to railroad person, but at least it’s fixed:

The bolts are supposed to be staggered, not all on one side like they are here:

Then the antique car show at Sylvan Beach:

Cute T-Bird!

Saw lots of Mustangs of all vintages – nice!



Saw lots of ducks:

Listened to Jack Henke talk about his Sylvan Beach/Oneida Lake books here:

And got a parking ticket for a spot that was CLEARLY not marked as a parking spot that needed to be paid for, and on a Sunday, no less:


Which required me to have to go work off some excess energy by swimming in the lake in the dark.


What’s Wrong With These Photos?

Friday night we went snorkeling (swimming for me, I still haven’t mastered the snorkel yet) and after we were done my  friend got talking to a fisherman, so I went for a walk on the railroad tracks looking for date nails. I walked on one tie and it sunk down real low. I put it in the back of my head to tell my friend about it, and completely forgot about it.

Notice the spike sticking up too far on the left.

Sunday night we were going to go to a far away place to snorkel and we were too exhausted, so we went to the same place we went to on Friday night. And that’s when my friend saw why the railroad tie sunk so low.

Yowsa! This rail is completely broken!

Broken all of the way through!

A derailment waiting to happen. So my friend called the dispatcher to report the problem and to recommend absolutely no trains run over this track until it is fixed.

See about six feet of spikes on the right sticking up too far?

Hopefully we’ve saved a train from possible derailment, and one of our favorite snorkeling spots will stay the same. Except what’s with the pig that left their garbage in the left of this photo?

Various Places from the week

Saturday night we went to the bottom of Pratt’s Falls.

Saw these trees hanging on for dear life:

I had gone a week earlier and taken photos from the top of the falls


Afterwards we went to a railroad crossing, where several trains passed, but I totally love the BNSF train horn, and I would love to have this horn for my car, or to blow when someone wakes me up out of a sound sleep by slamming cupboards at 2AM.  I’m working on how to get one. . .

Please click here if video doesn’t show up, I still don’t know how to embed video from Flickr into WordPress.  I felt way too close to this train so I stopped the video, went behind my car, and continued.  Still felt too close, but I’m here to write about it.

We checked out Woodland Reservoir one evening:

And yesterday I tried snorkeling at Sylvan Beach, but I couldn’t stand not having my nose to breath – this will take some getting used to, but we swam for about four hours – which was the best place to be given the heat. . . no pics because my camera doesn’t like swimming. Ended up with a bunch of bad scratches on the back of my right calf – thankfully not all from zebra mussels, but from rocks, even though I wore pants and fins.  (It sucks you just can’t swim with just a swimming suit anymore with these zebra mussels).  And then waaay too hot to carry the camera around with the strap on my neck, even though we went on the roller coaster and ate at the Canalview Cafe – I had their yummy hummus and pita.   There were lots of old photos and three-d objects inside.

And today my outside thermometer was reading 103 F at 1:30PM – crazy hot, and I wanna be back in the water today. . . will find some water to swim in again soon! For now, this is my favorite time of day when it is too hot outside:


By now, if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a train geek, and lately I’ve been called a railroad fanette, which I don’t know if I like or not, but either way, I like trains. We were waiting on this platform on Saturday night for any train that would pass by in either direction.

At first I captured an Amtrak train, then another train, but I talked in the middle of it (duh!) Here’s my last train capture of the night. As I was capturing this train, I felt I was really too close to it, so in the middle I backed up a bit.

If you can’t see the video on my blog, please go here:  NatureWoman on Flickr

On Sunday night we went to another location to try to catch trains, but it was too cold out to wait, so I just caught the setting sun on the tracks and then went to a warmer non-train location.

Letchworth State Park – The Train

Yesterday we went to Letchworth State Park.  It was cold but the sun was shining.  It felt really good to get away from the burbs to relax and clean out my lungs with some cool, fresh air!  While we were waiting for other people to arrive, we saw a train go over the Portage Bridge.  Not that I’m at Letchworth that much, but I’ve never seen a train go over this bridge.  It was cool, yet kind of scary, too, being so close to it.  I love the sound of trains on every level.




Too bad the box cars have to be subject to the people who think graffiti is so cool.


Can you hear the train in your head?


Well, you don’t need to try to imagine what it sounded like.   Here’s a video I took.

Thanks to my Dad for my love of trains.  For family outings when I was a child, one of the places he used to take us was to the DeWitt train yard.  Really.  It was very cool there.

More on Letchworth later!


Trains have always been a big part of my life because of my Dad. This post is disconnected, but the main theme is trains throughout my Dad’s life, and I *know* I’m missing a great deal.

Trains used to run at street level on Washington Street aka Railroad Street in Syracuse, NY for many years. Can you imagine working in one of the buildings with the train running through? Or staying in one of the hotels? I can imagine the windows rattling, the building shaking, and the smell of the smoke.

NYS Conservationist Feb 2007 pg 16
From the New York State Conservationist, Feb 2007, pp. 16-17
The original painting hangs in the lobby of a bank in Syracuse.

In 1935-1936 the NY Central Railway station was built on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse and the trains were elevated. There was a big celebration in the fall of 1936, and my Dad remembered his Dad taking him as a young boy to see the grand opening of the elevated train tracks and the first running of a train on those tracks.

421 - NYCRR Station1 - 300dpi
From the collections of the Onondaga Historical Association

In the summer of 2006 a gentleman came into the Onondaga Historical Association research center looking to write an article about the elevated trains, and of course I told him about my Dad. The article he wrote was due out in the Spring 2007 issue of Syracuse Engineer, which I received just shortly after Dad passed. I was sad I couldn’t show him this article which I kept as a surprise for him!

When I was a young teen we took the cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington, and on the way back down the train needed some repair. Right. In. The. Middle. Of. A. Very. Steep. Slope. We were all very scared.

From the Mt. Washington Cog Railway website.

The crew made it seem like it was no big deal, but being hung in the middle of a mountain at such a dangerous angle was quite intense. Needless to say, I’ve never gone back on that particular railway again.

While growing up we didn’t have much money, so my parents used to take us for a drive on Saturday or Sunday afternoons for entertainment. Gas was all of 29.9 cents. One of the places we went to was the freight yard in East Syracuse to watch the trains do their maneuvering. It was actually pretty cool to watch them unhook and reassemble cars and engines.


They were much more intense than this old postcard shows, but you get the idea.

One Thanksgiving my Mom, Dad and I went to Washington, D.C. to the Smithsonian and spent a great deal of time looking at the old locomotives on display there. Dad enjoyed himself explaining to me how the steam locomotives worked.

My Dad worked for Rotelcom laying fiber optic along railroad beds across the country in the late 80’s-early 90’s after he retired from the NY Telephone Company. I remember he spent a bit of time in Ohio. He would bring home discarded railroad bed artifacts every once in a while.

In 2005 my Mom and I took the train through the Verde Canyon in Arizona. I have to say, I appreciate watching trains more than riding them. It sorta makes me feel yucky to ride backwards. It was worth it to see nesting eagles and eagles in flight.

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A couple of years ago my Dad and my brother took a trip across Canada on the Canadian Railway. They were planning to go across the U.S. soon, and Dad was really looking forward to it.

On Friday I went to our local gardening store where they have a great model train display set up. My Dad and I used to travel around this time of year checking out the model trains at the various stores, including this one. I went into the store to buy my Mom a couple of Christmas presents, and something drew me to the trains, even though it was not easy doing it by myself. It was really cool, as always.









While it was weird being there without my Dad, it was nice to hear the familiar model train sounds, and to look at the intricate details.


This is my Dad hiking along the railroad bed in the fall of 2006 at Letchworth State Park.


He was happy being beside this railroad bed. He would have been happier to have a train go rolling by. He definitely instilled his love for trains into me. Except for when I have to wait for them while I’m trying to get somewhere in my vehicle.

What about you?  Do you like trains – real and/or model trains?