DAY 7 (Sunday) – FAYETTE. This is a totally rural location, where I went to church. The formal organization of the LDS Church and the first actual worship service were held at this farm about 25 miles east of Palmyra. The Whitmer family gave Joseph Smith and his wife a quiet place here to live and study. The Church has a historic site at Fayette with the farm house and fields, and a chapel is located on the property. It is a Mormon custom, as in many churches, to ask visitors to introduce themselves, and in the adult Sunday School class, about half the attendees were not regular members of the congregation. After church, the “outsiders” stayed to tour the visitor center and the Whitmer home and farm.
Returning to Palmyra, took the scenic route through the charming town of Waterloo (“Birthplace of Memorial Day”) and along the north ends of Seneca and Canandaigua lakes, two of the Finger Lakes. I had been told that these were popular resorts and Canandaigua lakeshore homes are among the priciest in the country. I didn’t focus too much on the properties or the resort aspect, trying to keep the spirit of the Sabbath, but it was obvious from the crowds and traffic that this is a prime vacation area. I went through downtown Canandaigua and again enjoyed the 19th century architecture, including the imposing domed courthouse.
DAY 8 (Monday) – PALMYRA. My last full day. I took a ride via Newark to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Newark is bigger, and according to my hosts, bought into the urban renewal fever and scrapped much of its historic downtown. Indeed, it lacked the village atmosphere of other towns. The wildlife refuge is small compared to some in the West. But it is a place for birds of many kinds to nest and breed. Not much mammal life was out, but I saw some great blue herons.
From there, I went a little south to Seneca Falls, to see the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. Upstate NY was a hotbed of suffragette activity in the 19th century, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt are honored there, along with other important female leaders in various fields.
Back in Palmyra, I finished seeing the museums, walked around some of the other neighborhoods, and visited the local historic cemeteries. One huge cemetery near the south side of town had something intriguing that I had never seen before. It was a stone tomb or mausoleum set into a hillside with prominent lettering: “Public Vault” and 1848. I suppose that meant anyone could purchase space there, rather than being a vault for a specific family. Maybe it was the equivalent of a potter’s field, but for cremated remains rather than bodies.
Curiosity killed the cat just once, and I decided to try Palmyra’s one Chinese restaurant. It was not the greatest gourmet experience of my life. They tried, but it didn’t work. While I was there, several people came in to pick up phone-in orders. I surmised that they were locals whose experience with Chinese food was limited. At least I helped that nice family pay their rent. When I told my hostess later that I had gone there, she chuckled knowingly.
I felt drawn to the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah one last time, and not knowing when I might return, I took the time to go back and feel the special atmosphere. Toward the end of the day, I drove back to the Canal in the adjoining town of Macedon, where there is a park built around one of the locks. I had been to this park before as well as the marina ar Palmyra, and found it relaxing to be immersed, so to speak, in trees and water.
DAY 9 (Tuesday) – ENROUTE HOME. Over a leisurely breakfast, I had a last chat with my hostess, Barbara; Bob had already gone to his day job. She was delighted that I'd had such a wonderful time, and that they and their home had been part of it. After bidding farewell, I went to one last Church history site, the farm north of town formerly owned by Martin Harris. He was an important early leader, who provided the funds for the initial publication of the Book of Mormon. His home is gone, but the house that stands there now is unique. It was built by a later owner from lakestone, cobbles from golf ball to baseball size gathered from around Lake Ontario. This was a common building material around the Great Lakes. The stones were sorted by size and appearance and used with mortar to create durable insulated walls and a refined but countrified look.
On SR 31 westbound, city traffic began to appear around Pittsford. When I got to Rochester, I had plenty of time before my flight but not enough for any major museum or house tours. So I looked around the city a little and decided to spend my last couple of hours out in the country. I followed a road sign for Spencerport, knowing nothing about it but guessing that it was on the Canal. It was a good choice, a little town with a pleasant street of shops and restaurants, a small marina, and a lift bridge across the Canal. This is not a drawbridge with an articulating joint, but a one-piece span that rises and lowers vertically. I walked onto it, suddenly heard a bell clanging, and looked around for the train--and then realized the bridge was being raised for a vessel to pass under it! I had not had the good luck to see the Macedon-Palmyra canal lock in operation, but while I was at Spencerport, I saw the lift bridge in action twice.
This time, my flights went off with no glitches: ROC-DTW and then DTW-SFO. I was allowed to carry on both of my bags, and this leg of the trip was first-class so I got fed. I landed on time and returned home after a marvelous trip: new sights, fine people, and wonderful experiences.
The End :)