Friday, May 18, 2012

One Day South, Next Day North (Part 1)

Cohoes Falls - Cohoes, New York
May 16, 2012

After a day of nothing but heavy rain, we were more than ready for some activity and Wednesday dawned cloudy, but the rain had come to an end.  We headed approximately 70 miles south to visit Albany, New York's state capital city and our fifth state Capitol Building of the trip.  The easy way would've been to catch I-87 south, but as you know, that's not us.  We took Route 9 which led us south through Saratoga Springs and on into Albany.   Saratoga Springs had a neat looking downtown area and we'd love to have explored, but didn't feel as if we had the time with a full day planned of things to see and do in Albany.  (Since then, I can't stop singing Carly Simon's, "well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won."  It's driving me nuts!!)  

It was an easy drive into Albany and we found Capitol Park with no problems.  New York's state house is totally different than any others we've seen and once again, our whole experience there was unique.  The capitol building itself is huge, rather imposing and reportedly, haunted.  The first thing that caught us by surprise was how lax everything was.  Not what we would've expected in New York, but then many of our preconceived ideas about New York have been shattered over the last week.  More about that in a later update.  Once through a very light security check, we looked around and finally located an information desk.  The gentleman there seemed surprised when we asked him what we needed to see.  I finally just point blank said, "is it o.k. to just wander around?" and he immediately said, "that's exactly what we want you to do - just don't miss the million dollar staircase."  

Finding that "million dollar staircase" was pretty easy and thankfully, there was information at different points throughout the building explaining facts and history!  There is no way in written word that I can describe this staircase nor portray it's magnificence in pictures.  Here's the history and significance plus a couple of pictures. (Remember, pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them)

Standing at base of Million Dollar Staircase 

Standing on third floor landing looking down.  This was NOT the top!

We were also impressed with the Hall of Governor's...........................
We spent a lot of time here and enjoyed reading.  I am embarrassed to admit that I wasn't aware of how many very important people in our nation's history served as governor of New York during their political careers!   This little state capital project of ours has really become a reminder to me of how much I DON'T know (or have forgotten) about my country!

We were privileged to see the New York State Senate in session and once again, able to wander around freely amongst whatever was going on.  Eventually, it came time to find our way out and back onto the lovely Capitol Plaza!   There was a really cool Farmer's Market happening, so we enjoyed some samples and then sat down on one of the benches to eat our lunch and watch people.

Capitol Plaza is really nice, anchored on one end by the New York State Library and Museum and the Capitol Building on the other.

 From the Capitol looking back across the plaza at the NY State Library and Museum

And then there's THE EGG!

 The "Egg," Albany's Performing Arts Center and one of the most unusual structures I've ever seen!

We would have given just about anything to have seen the inside this building, but it was not to be.  Reading the architectural history tells you that the "spindle" actually goes SIX STORIES below ground.  No way, Jose.....not Miss Claustrophobia here.  I don't even think I'd like being inside the EGG part.  There are TWO full-size auditoriums inside the Egg.

Needing some activity after all that history, we strolled a few blocks towards Washington Park where a very popular Tulip Festival had been held the previous weekend.  I was in hopes there might be some leftovers, but to no avail.  I suspect their tulips made an early appearance this year much like our dogwoods did.  By the time the festival rolled around, the guests of honor were long gone.

A visit to Corning Preserve Riverfront Park and a nice bike ride were next on the agenda.  I was never able to find a good website for the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path, but here is an excerpt from one description I found: "The crown jewel for bicycling in the capital district is the 40-mile Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail. The ride begins (or ends) in downtown Albany across from the pedestrian ramp for the Dunn Memorial Bridge (US 9 and US 20). The trail meanders north through the Corning Preserve and follows I-787 into Watervliet where it empties onto local roads.  My guess is that we rode about eight miles out and back along a perfectly flat paved path that meandered along the Hudson River through some beautiful land.  Other than some noise from the nearby interstate, you'd never have believed you were within walking distance of the state capital complex.  Very peaceful!



A few miles north of Albany lies the village of Cohoes where the powerful Cohoes Falls has a very interesting history and legend.  After seeing a picture in the Albany Tourism info I received when first planning this trip and reading comparisons to Niagara, I knew I wanted to see it.  The newly opened Falls View Park is just lovely, the falls are quite impressive and although very tired, we were glad we had stopped.  It was worth it!  The picture at the top of this post is Cohoes Falls.

Headed back towards Bolton Landing, we traveled a portion of the route known as the Lakes to Locks Scenic Byway.  Oh how I wish we'd had more time and hadn't been so tired.  What a fascinating history of the lock system along the Hudson River and the villages that grew up around it.  Definitely somewhere I'd like to return.

It had been a wonderful day crammed with lots of activity, but one of us had reached zero tolerance and we had an equally busy day planned for Thursday.  Only when forced do we ever plan two consecutive long days of scenic driving and lots of stops, but Tuesday's rain-out made that necessary in order for us to get the area adequately covered.

Our day in Albany was all about history and getting acquainted with New York's Capital city.  The next day would be all about the outdoors.   

Stay tuned for part two.....................


  1. Loved your post! I am an Albany native and I was AT that farmer's market on the plaza that day! :D The world is pretty darned small.

    Also, I share your love of hiking, just wanted to share.

    Love your posts!

  2. Oh My Heart.... That waterfall is AWESOME. We've never seen it or been to that area. It does look a little like Niagara. GORGEOUS.... I'm envious!!!!!

    Have fun... I know you are!!!

  3. I totally agree with Betsy, Cohoe's Falls is absolutely beautiful.