In mid-July, we made good on our promise to scurry back to Cooperstown, NY, just 3 and ½ hours from NYC. It’s a fantastic long weekend destination, especially if you’re a kayaker, opera fan, nature lover, history buff, or all of the above. (See our rave from last summer here—it contains lots of links so you can plan your own trip.)
On our must-do list this time: 1) Attend the Glimmerglass Festival productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Camelot by Lerner and Loewe—still on through August 24, so hurry! 2) Circumnavigate serenely picturesque Lake Otsego, aka “Glimmerglass” 3) Check out the local museums and the local brew 4) Bring bug spray.
We succeeded at all of the above, despite Jean’s screwing up our camping reservations and a CHECK ENGINE light we’ve been ignoring for awhile. We even made some exciting new discoveries…
Hold onto yer hats—and yer books, picnics, and kids! Wind howls across Lake Otsego
…like, “Glimmerglass” doesn’t always live up to the name! A steady 25-knot wind on Day One made paddling a real chore (we’re here to relax, right?) so we beached it and flopped down with the Times…until it blew away.
Even the gulls resorted to walking. (Better mooching on webbed foot anyway.) Glimmerglass State Park beach
Check out the flag! It was one of those days you wish your kayak had a motor.
SIGH. So much for our big “circumnav!” After a couple hours of kayak-surfing and picking sand from our teeth, we got to thinking, “What else can we do today?” Great thing about Cooperstown, there are lots of choices.
The 19th-century working farmstead at The Farmers’ Museum
Next Eureka Moment: The Farmers’ Museum is way more than a petting zoo where you feed the baby animals. Here, you can literally step back in time to an 1840s village and stroll through the creamery, apothecary, printing office, hops house, general store, etc. “Experience rural life nearly 200 years ago,” as the brochure says. And you get to feed the baby animals.
We learned goats have only one row of teeth (the bottom), live up to 15 years, can be housetrained (!) and make great pets. The fact that they’ll eat plants other animals avoid (poison ivy, for example) earned them the reputation as tin-can munchers. They do not eat tin cans, or old tires, or your shirttails, either.
The noble heritage chick
A horse of exactly the same color as the fence
But these weren’t the only animals around…
Steeds of the Empire State Carousel, aka, “the museum you can ride!”
The Empire State Carousel opened at The Farmers’ Museum in 2006 and represents voluntary artistic contributions by over 1,000 New Yorkers.
I HEART NY! 25 hand-carved animals represent agricultural and natural resources of New York State
Hand-carved frames around the mirrors depict 11 different regions of NY. Other murals depict moments in NY history, from the arrival of Henry Hudson’s ship, Half Moon, to the construction of Levittown. (We didn’t say GREAT moments.)
Okay, okay. You can ride…but afterwards, scroll down because there’s one more thing to see.
Meet blacksmith Bob Manker and his 1740s-style Scottish pistol. That he made. (With Paul Spaulding, Robert Cerny and Travis Edgington).
In fact, they not only made the Scottish pistol—they forged the tools to make the pistol! Right here in the blacksmiths shop, using methods accurate to the 18th century. Yep, it works.
Now on display at the Fenimore Art Museum through December 29, 2013.
Forging Perfection: Masterworks From The Farmers’ Museum Blacksmith Shop
You can read more about the project here and here. (And see other bloggers’ posts about masterpieces here.)