Sunday, July 27, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #169 – Alert: Don't Waste Your Time! Antique Wireless Museum, Bloomfield, New York, July 6, 2014

I don't usually use pictures of places like this as Photos-of-the-Week, but for the Antique Wireless Museum, I'm making an exception. This place REALLY ticked me off. I discovered the place on my way through New York State to a new location. I checked it out and found out it was not open the day I was passing through the area. That annoyed me, but didn't really make me angry. There was a similar museum in Connecticut near Bradley International Airport that wasn't open very many hours, either. Basically, the place pictured above was only open for a couple hours on Tuesdays and for three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, THAT is NOT convenient for the public. It should have been my first hint.

I passed by and figured that's two out of two museums on this trip that I had a really personal and somewhat passionate interest in that I couldn't enjoy. Okay! Deal with it. But, I was several miles away and had planned to go in a different direction be about 100 miles away by Sunday, July 6th. However, I was really drawn to see this museum. So, I went on the Web site and it pretty much convinced me I would stay an extra day where I was and then back track to the museum on Sunday to enjoy their displays and hopefully see some things I hadn't seen before and learn something new. After all, isn't that what specialty museums are all about?

So, Sunday July 6th arrived. I took my time in the morning and then headed back to the little village of Bloomfield, NY (a place I had never been before this trip). I arrived around noon in Bloomfield and found a shady spot in the little village, parked and entertained myself until about 1:40 PM when I drove the approximately five minute drive to the museum arriving at 1:45 PM. I was the only car in the parking lot. About seven minutes before the museum was scheduled to open another car pulled up. It was someone from the group that operated the museum. He was there to pick up some paperwork to take home and process. We chatted and he filled me in about the museum and 2:00 PM arrived and passed. Time continued, 2:05, 2:10, 2:15 and no one showed up to open the museum. The guy I was talking to didn't have a key so he couldn't even get in to get what he needed.

Finally, at 2:15 PM the guy I was talking to called the director of the museum at his home and asked who was coming and when the museum would be opened. He was informed the museum was closed for the 4th of July holiday weekend (this was two days past the holiday) and no one was coming and it would not be opened. By this time a couple other cars had stopped and we then notified them the place was closed. Now, here is why this place should be avoided – first, it's run, obviously, by rank amateurs, actually, most of them were probably local amateur radio operators. Second, they had a very nice Web site with the hours, inconvenient as they were (only open about 8 hours for an entire week) prominently posted. But, was there a notice that the place would be closed this weekend for a holiday that shouldn't have had anything to do with operating the museum during their stated hours two days after the holiday? Absolutely NOT! Was there a sign on the door indicating the place would be closed this weekend. Absolutely NOT! In fact, It cost me time and a bunch of extra gas to return to this place for absolutely no reason. Yes! I was very pissed off, to be frank about it.

So, later that day I wrote a very terse email to the director, an amateur radio operator, whose email was listed on the Web site. It bounced back. In other words, this guy either didn't care enough to have a working email address on the site OR he saw it and bounced it himself preferring not to deal with the public. The museum is a qualified 501c3 non-profit organization. Obviously, they did the least possible to comply with the requirements of being a 501c3. In fact, they found some wealthy benefactor to put a pile of money into the organization for a big fact tax deduction, I'm sure. They own four buildings. From what I could see through the front door, there actually is a very nice display inside, however, it's only a small part of the collection of gear they have that's been donated to them for tax deductions. They had even just received a truck load of equipment from a no long operating Voice of America facility in California, at taxpayers' expense, I'm sure.

So, what this place is, as far as I can tell, is an expensive hobby for a bunch of local amateur radio operators (and I've been and still am an amateur radio operator for 55 years) that is using non-profit tax status to have lots of toys to play with and probably even sell off at a profit under their disguise as a tax deductible non-profit. While I really have extremely negative feelings about the IRS and I'm also not a huge fan of non-profits because they are used quite often to profit those who operate them, I have a mind to report them to the IRS and suggest they investigate the museum . I'll think about that. So, far, of course, I've not been able to make contact with them. I'll try again and suggest they read this blog post. So, to all my ham radio and wireless enthusiasts who read this blog


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #168 – You Meet The Nicest People, Albion, New York, July 2014

Meet Steven and Lindsey from Portland, Oregon. This cute, young couple shared the Walmart parking lot with me in the small, upstate town of Albion, New York one evening. I'd guess they might be in their mid 20's, but they seemed to have the “living free” idea figured out already. Good for them.

Steven and Lindsey are standing in front of their converted, 40', 1984, Bluebird former church bus. They were living in Florida for a year and decided they needed a home on wheels to take them on an adventure through a major portion of the U.S. and a small portion of Canada. So, they found this church bus with less than 70,000 miles on it for sale in Georgia for just a couple thousand dollars. They brought it back to Florida and went to work on it this past April. They stripped out all the bus seating, redid the walls and ceiling, put a new floor in it and then built in their small, approximately 300 square foot “condo-on-wheels.”

To be sure, they didn't have a lot of time to invest (nor a lot of money) in the interior conversion before they planned to leave on their cross country adventure to their home territory in the Portland, Oregon area. It is not luxurious like the million dollar plus commercially built Bluebird Wander Lodge motor coaches and similar. But, they built their own home, the way they wanted it. It wasn't plush, but it was comfortable appearing and just what they wanted and needed for their lifestyle.

This is one of the absolutely best parts of being a living free, wandering, location independent traveler, meeting really nice people. If you'd like to know more about Steven and Lindsay, their converted “schoolie” (the term used for a school bus conversion) and their cross country adventures (including a not so pleasant time with the Canadian Customs Officers) check out their blog at

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #167 - On The Brink, Niagara Falls, New York, July 2014

Here is one of the great "levelers" of the world. I took this photo right at the edge of where the American Falls of the Niagara Falls formation goes over the edge for more than a 150-foot drop to the lower Niagara River. The water flows from Lake Erie with an elevation of about 570' above sea level through the upper Niagara River over the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls - the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Canadian (Horseshoe) Falls. The water from Lake Erie continues down the lower Niagara River into Lake Ontario with an elevation of about 245 feet above sea level.

The view from the American side of the river is not as breathtaking as it is from the Canadian side. I didn't go over to Canada on this trek. I've seen the falls numerous times beginning when I was a young teenager. My main interest was in visiting the city of Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls, Ontario is the Canadian sister city on the other side of the river accessible by going across the Rainbow Bridge or the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.

My last trip to Niagara Falls was in the late 1970's or about 35 years ago. At that time there were several new luxury hotels that had been built to accommodate the new Niagara Falls Convention Center, built to (hopefully) attract another revenue source - trade shows and large conventions. Apparently that didn't work out too well. From what I learned, the Convention Center changed hands several times until about 12 or 15 years ago when the Seneca Indians, claimed sovereignty over the Convention Center ground and turned the structure into a huge gambling casino with a huge parking garage and massive, high rise, all glass resort hotel. I recorded at least a couple conventions at the Convention Center, my reason for revisiting Niagara Falls in the latter 70's.

The city, in general, was old and run down when I was there as a teenager and in the latter 70's. It hasn't changed. If anything, it may have aged and deteriorated more over the past 35 years. It immediately reminded me of my impression of my recent visit to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Interestingly, Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the other side of the bridge is a beautiful city. My advice, you should see Niagara Falls if you've never seen them. But, do go over the bridge and enjoy the Canadian City and a far more awesome view of the falls. Here is one interesting historical/geological note. During my lifetime, Niagara Falls has move about 69 feet closer to Lake Erie. It erodes the rock ledge the water goes over about one foot per year. About 12,000 years ago, the falls were actually located at the place where the lower Niagara River now empties into Lake Ontario.

I'm not sure I'll ever find a need to return to Niagara Falls, New York except possibly to cross into Canada to visit Ontario and the Canadian provinces. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New York or Bust - Trek #2 Recap (to date)

An historic and iconic part of the development of New York

I admit I've been somewhat remiss in posting while I've been on this current trek. I left you at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut when I dropped my son off to fly back to Los Angeles. So, following is a quick recap of this trip until tonight.

June 15 & 16, Sunday and Monday, Windsor Locks, Connecticut - another motel night, completed a client project on Sunday and Monday morning. Monday afternoon visited the New England Air Museum at Bradley International Airport - definitely worth the time. Left Windsor Locks for the New London-Groton area.

June 17, Tuesday, met and had breakfast with an old high school friend, Dave Marsh, who took me on a tour of the area after breakfast including the New London U.S. Naval Submarine Base and other interesting and historic sites. Great day. Left for the Stamford area and met with John Florian, founder and publisher of VoiceOverXtra, an online magazine for voice actors and voice-over professionals (I've dabbled in that profession for over 30 years). Enjoyed a great seafood dinner overlooking the Long Island Sound with John.

June 18, Wednesday, drove from Connecticut into New York State and went to Cornwall on Hudson to look up a part-time vandweller I met last winter in Florida. Found where she lived, but she was on a trip to Vermont, so no meeting. Went on to Newburgh, New York and spent the night there.

June 19, Thursday, moved up to the Albany area where I spent the night, but not before attempting to look up another old high school friend. Unfortunately, I learned he had passed away about nine years ago.

June 20, Friday, made my way further north to Saratoga Springs. I had exhibited there for my fledgling recording business in 1968 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel. I also recorded humor conferences in Saratoga Springs in the later 1980's and hoped to visit the couple that ran the conferences. I was not able to connect on Friday so I moved up to the Glen Falls area for the night.

June 21, Saturday, dropped off a package at the post office that needed to be sent to a client in Virginia. I then drove around Glen Falls where I had recorded a band festival on March 29, 1969. I remember the date because I drove from and back to Syracuse in a blizzard and it was my birthday. I then went back down to Saratoga, drove through Skidmore College, went to the hotel where I recorded the humor conferences and revisited the Gideon Putnam Hotel. I received a phone call from Joel Goodman, the sponsor of the humor conferences and it turned out he and his wife had been staying in Maryland to care for his mother. I headed to Herkimer, New York for the night.

June 22, Sunday, I explored part of the Erie Canal, the town of Herkimer and down to the Village of Ilion. I discovered a beautiful little RV park and marina operated by the Village of Ilion. So, I relaxed and stayed there for the afternoon. I stayed in Herkimer again that night.

June 23, Monday. I decided to go back over to the RV park and marina and do some housework on My McVansion. Enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing day on the Erie Canal watching pleasure boats pass by. I moved that night to New Hartford (just outside Utica, New York.

June 24 - 26, Tuesday through Thursday, I took my time driving over to Syracuse going through Clinton, and visiting Hamilton College, then Hamilton and visiting Colgate University and then Cazenovia and visiting Cazenovia College. I had produced record albums for all three of these colleges. Additionally, I provided sound for a Richie Havens concert at Cazenovia College. This was all back in 1968 and '69. I then made my way past Cazenovia Lake and made my way through East Syracuse, Dewitt and finally Syracuse where I arrived at my friend, John and Pat Hottenstein's home where I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening's at their home parked in their driveway. John and I attended the Master's Degree program in Television and Radio at Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University from 1967 to the summer of 1968. John is also a United Church of Christ Minister and officiated at my wedding to my first (and really, my only) wife, Cynthia. John and Pat were wonderful hosts and helped me revisit and remember my days at Syracuse, taking me around town and the university, enjoying several meals at various restaurants, a minor league baseball game and a dinner with their daughter, Kirsten, who I bounced on my knee when she was six years old. This time I met Kirsten's daughter and her new granddaughter. I even got to bounce three-month-old Caroline on my knee.

June 27, Friday, I left John and Pat's after a wonderful reunion (after probably 30 years) and began locating the places I lived while I was in Syracuse. I found three of the four places on Friday. Sadly, two of them were in a nice, middle class area of Syracuse. Those two places had declined considerably. One of them was about the same or maybe slightly improved. I went back to the University and explored the two Newhouse School buildings that had been added since I completed my degree 46 years ago. Impressive. I also met Dr. Rick Wright, a retired Newhouse professor that John had mentioned to me on several occasions. It was serendipity. I stayed in Liverpool, New York that night.

June 28, Saturday. I explored downtown Syracuse and went to Camillus on the west side of town to find the fourth place I had lived. Unfortunately, the brand new townhouse I lived in at the Walnut West complex was now, also very seedy and not even close to the new complex I lived at 46 years ago. I then went down through the Village of Camillus and went to Marcellus where I had a friend who passed on decades ago. From there I went over to Skaneateles, a beautiful, but very touristy town at the northern tip of Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes of New York. I spent the afternoon on walking the town and relaxing on the shore of the beautiful lake. I later took a ride down the eastern side of the lake before returning back to Liverpool for the night again.

June 29, Sunday, I met Dr. Rick Wright at the studio of what had been a legacy radio station, WHEN, in Syracuse and enjoyed spending the day with him as his guest on the air as he did his weekly six hour radio program. Once more I spent the night in Liverpool planning to move on Monday morning.

June 30, Monday, I drove north to Oswego New York, on the shore of Lake Ontario to see a city I had only been to once before. It's an old city, but had a certain charm. It has endured a couple hundred years of serious weather from Lake Ontario lake effect storms. I then drove over to Fair Haven, New York. As a teenager in high school, my parents took my sisters and me to Fair Haven for a couple summer vacations. A family that attended the church we belonged to had a summer home there. I learned to water ski on the Fair Haven inlet off Lake Ontario. That night I moved to Greece, New York slightly northeast of Rochester where I spent the night.

July 1, Tuesday, I spent the part of the day at a State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario and then made my way to Auburn, New York, a city between Rochester and Syracuse in the Finger Lake region, where I spent the night.

July 2, Wednesday, I drove around Auburn taking photos of numerous sites of interest to me including one of the oldest penitentiaries in the U.S. and the cite of the first death sentence carried out by electrocution in either the U.S. or the world. I have to check my photos to confirm that.

July 3, Thursday, I used my Gas Buddy application to find the best price on gasoline at the Lakeside Trading Post in Seneca Falls, New York. The trading post is operated by members of the Cayuga Indian tribe (numbering in the 400's in their native land) and the gas was between 10 and 15 cents less expensive than the other local stations. I spent the afternoon in Seneca Falls and met a very knowledgeable museum curator at the Seneca Falls Visitor Center (and museum). Tanya really made the history of the area come alive. I spent the night in Waterloo, New York.

July 4, Friday. I wandered around Seneca Falls a few more minutes, then Waterloo where I have a connection, but she was visiting in the Pacific Northwest. My plan for the day was to drive down the western shore of Seneca Lake from Geneva, New York (next to Waterloo) at the northern end of the lake to Watkins Glen, a city at the southern end of Seneca Lake. It's also the home of the iconic Watkins Glen Grand Prix and Sports Car Club of America racetrack. And, of course, I visited the racetrack and even shot some short video clips of some Grand Prix cars doing time trials at probably 150 to 200 miles per hour. The next stop was Ithaca, New York at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake where I spent the night. Ithaca is the home of Cornell University and Ithaca College. I spent the night in Ithaca.

July 5, Saturday, I left Ithaca and traveled up the western shore of Cayuga Lake, fueled up at the Lakeside Trading Post again when I reached Seneca Falls, then headed west again with Macedon in my sights for a Saturday night layover. I was actually backtracking to visit a museum I had passed several days before that was only open three days a week and limited hours. Saturday and Sunday were two of those days. So, my plan was to be relatively close to that museum on Sunday. I spent the night in Macedon.

July 6, Sunday, I went to the Antique Wireless Museum in Bloomfield, New York. I arrived in Bloomfield about 12 noon, even though the museum was only open from 2 - 5 PM. I found a nice shady place to park in the quaint village of Bloomfield. At 1:45 PM I pulled into the parking lot of the museum to await its opening at 2 PM. Opening time came and went and no one ever showed up to open the museum. I learned, by extenuating means, that the museum was not open this weekend. There was no sign on the door and no notice on their fairly sophisticated Web site of the closure. So, here is my thoughts on this place DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY TO GO THERE - IT'S AN EXPENSIVE HOBBY OPERATED BY SOME LOCAL HAM RADIO OPERATORS WHO WANT LOTS OF TOYS TO PLAY WITH - AND HIDING BEHIND A 501c3 NON-PROFIT STATUS. I emailed my displeasure and anger about my time and fuel money being wasted and the email address bounced back. This place is totally not professional. I moved from there to Canandaigua, New York, another very pretty and old small city at the north end of Canandaigua Lake, another of the Finger Lakes. I walked around the Main Street area and took photos then went to the lakeshore and found a nice shady place to sit and relax while boat and people watching. From there I drove to Geneseo where I spent the night.

July 7, Monday, I made my way from Geneseo to a small town between Batavia and Lake Ontario toward the western part of New York State. I walked around downtown Albion, another old, small upper New York town. It was in pretty decrepit condition. I made my way to the Walmart where I stayed for the night. A couple hours after I had parked at the Walmart and as I was returning to My McVansion, a 40' Blue Bird converted school bus (also, called a "schoolie" by other vandwellers and RVers) was parked near my van. A young couple, Steven and Lindsey from the Portland, Oregon area were the owners of this one of a kind unit. We met and chatted. They had been living in Florida for the past year, bought this bus in April, converted it and were on a long cross country trip across the U.S. as they headed back to their home territory.

So, that brings you up to date on my trek to this point. Most of the nights were spent in Walmart parking lots on this trip other than the night in Ithaca when I stayed in a Lowes parking lot and the three nights in my friend's driveway in Syracuse. Of course, there were four nights my son and I stayed in motels since My McVansion can't accommodate two.

There have been all kinds of sights, people and places I've seen, met and learned about. I've taken hundreds of photos that I have to edit. More will follow on some of my individual adventures on this trek in later posts. This article only contains the highlights and chronology of the travels. There is just too much to write about and far too many photos to include in a post like this. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #166, Taughannock Falls, Cayuga Lake, New York, July 2014

I love serendipity and the last few days have just been one serendipity after another. I took this photo on the way north from Ithaca, New York to Seneca Falls, New York along the western shore of Cayuga Lake, one of the larger of the Finger Lake series. As I drove I saw a sign for an overlook for Taughannock Falls. Well, since I didn't have any deadline to be anywhere in particular at this time, I couldn't pass up the chance for a shot of another waterfall. I found two interesting waterfalls the day before on my trip south to Watkins Glen.

So, I wheeled My McVansion up the road when the turn came up. The falls is about one mile from the lake. It's carved this gorge over thousands of years beginning at the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.

Now, let me give you a bit of perspective on this waterfall. I shot this photo from the overlook, so I was probably about a quarter mile or more from the actual falls. The vertical fall of this waterfall is 215 feet. To add even more perspective, the longest vertical fall of Niagara Falls is 173 feet on the large Horseshoe Falls. At 215 feet, it is the highest vertical fall waterfall in the northeastern U.S.

To give a little more significance to this photo, if you can see the small colorful dots at the foot of the waterfall, they are people standing on shale rock formations at the base. This was a real serendipity. There are numerous waterfalls around the entire state. If you're a fan of waterfalls, I commend you to consider exploring central New York.