Let me begin today by filling in some of the details I missed yesterday when I ran out of gas late at night.
Here’s what I saw when I arrived at the Iron Kettle Farm yesterday. I entered with some trepidation because it was the end of a long day and I didn’t know what I would do if I got a cool reception. The first person I met was Lyla:
She was at the food “barn” and when she heard my self-introduction, she went and got her cousin Bonnie:
who said they had been expecting me — thanks Marien and Carl for phoning ahead. She is one of the three children of the owners of this fine establishment, Skip and Jeannie Jackson (you saw the following picture yesterday as well):
What very fine people they all are. They welcomed me warmly, brought me into the “back” and fed me up with hot chile and cheese, corn chips, hot dogs, hot cider. Skip and Jeannie had no problem with me pitching my tent there and together we found an excellent, sheltered spot, with electricity.
Apparently the Iron Kettle Farm is legendary in the area — everyone knows about it. It has been running since 1969 and grows each year. I can’t capture the scale of the place. There were animals (more about that later), hayrides, food concessions, and an extensive pumpkinization (my word) of common children’s themes. Here are a few examples of the dozens of instances of the latter:
The pumpkin theme was everywhere:
All of the pumpkins are grown locally on the farm. It is a very popular autumn destination and they do most of their business in October and the last half of September. I think it is great fun for kids and I wished the grandchildren I’m heading to visit in Toronto could have been there with me — we will make it happen someday!
It was dark by the time I was set up, with one side of my tent fly pegged to a bale of hay and the other to a wheel of the stoller. Can you see the electrical cord sneaking into the tent?
Right next to this spot was the place they kept the goats, calves, ducks and roosters. Here are a couple of pictures I took this morning:
These animals were all talking as the sun set and I wondered what the night would be like, but they eventually all settled down, like me; earplugs helped too!
As I mentioned yesterday, I did my best to respond to comments and then blog about the day, but the temperature was dropping so I had to give up. Once I was tucked tightly into my three-season sleeping bag, however, I was warm as toast and slept through most of the night.
Earplugs did not block out the roosters early in the morning so I leaped out of bed (well, extracted myself from my sleeping bag), repacked everything and headed over to the food barn by 6 AM where Skip had already been for an hour and a half getting ready for another busy day. One of the things he had to do was make a LOT of doughnuts with this machine:
so I freed him up to do other things by volunteering to “catch” the doughnuts as they came off the assembly line:
I figure I “caught” about 250 of those puppies.
When “we” had made enough for the first onslaught of people later, Skip said he would take me over to the Squirrel Club for a coffee — there was still time before opening. This exclusive little club consists of a bunch of guys in the area who get together at a farmhouse for coffee every day of the year except for the first day of the deer hunting season. Not all of them are there every time, but here is who was there today:
So going from left to right we have Roy, Bill, Skip, Jim, Andy, Ron and Ben. The meetings are always held at Andy’s place. The sugar-coated doughnuts are Skip’s offering (needless to say). They discuss anything and everything and only men are allowed. Oh, and it’s called the Squirrel Club because they are all self-proclaimed nuts. Skip and I only stayed for 20 minutes or so, but it was one of the best 20 minutes so far in my entire trip.
Skip and I spread out my Finger Lakes map when we got back to the manse and looked over my planned route through Ithaca. We decided that it would be better not to travel north between Seneca and Cayuga lakes as it’s pretty empty of places to stay there. We thought it would be better to head for Watkins Glen, rather than Ithaca and then go up the west side of Lake Seneca. I’m sad not to see Ithaca, but it’s for the best.
Soon I was ready to leave and Skip presented me with a bag of sweets — homemade doughnuts, homemade chocolate chip cookies and a homemade pumpkin pie whoopie. Please don’t tell my wife! I was so grateful to them for all their kindnesses to me and Jeannie insisted that I “pay with hugs”. Just sweet!
So I left that great place, promising to come back with my wife soon:
It was nippy out so I put a toque on under my Tilley hat:
There was still an occasional maple (Canada, here I come!) that hadn’t changed color:
I ran across James, who makes these nice boxes and sells them beside the road — no advertising, just taking advantage of the traffic heading to the Iron Kettle Farm:
I’m sure everyone has seen those little vehicles with right-handed steering used by mail carriers. This mail carrier uses his own car but just sits in the passenger seat. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he pulled up, so I had him pose to show me how it is done. Unbelievable:
What’s this about?
Seen in a little gazebo, the conductor has lost her head!
Trains powered by horses?
I’ve seen plenty of kitschy, horrible, overdone (sometimes extremely so) halloween displays, but I thought this one was effective because it was understated:
Rivers-of-the-day pics (pretty even when the skies are grey):
Confusing street name:
Top half missing:
By the time I got to Spencer I had to make a decision. Somewhere between where I was and Watkin’s Glen I have at least one night where I will have to knock on doors, asking for permission to camp out in a yard. There was a bed-and-breakfast just a mile off the road, so should I stop or press on? It was threatening to rain and I didn’t relish setting up in the rain so I opted for the b&b — good decision, as the evening is nasty and wet now.
I’m the only customer right now — sweet! Pauline, the general manager, was here to welcome me:
and the owners, Stirling and Bea came home later:
Stirling understands what I am doing very well as he rode his bike right across the USA when he was younger (as well as other impressive long-distance trips). We had a most enjoyable discussion about the subject.
I’m clean, dry and warm tonight. Thank you gentle readers for bearing with me in this longish post.
Dan asked me just last night if you were going to Watkins Glen – of course, his question was prompted by the obvious racetrack interest – we’ve been there. I only had two family vacations in my growing up years and one of those was also to Watkins Glen – hiking through the Glen with all the gorgeous water runs – I remember it well. Last time we were there, sadly, it was a drought and it was only a shadow of it’s former self. I even remember the little motel we stayed in – I’d say a much better choice for you. Enjoy the view!
I am indeed going through Watkins Glen, though I think it will be in the middle of Day 17 so I will not have time to linger, sadly.
Good for you Allan.. Time for a break I suspect. I see only a little over 12 miles today.. Understandable.. We are praying for you! Sleep well! And press on tomorrow.. A big milestone day… JIM
Definitely a milestone. I was sort of dreading reaching the halfway point, knowing that there was as much work ahead as I’ve already done. But now that I’m here, it just feels like another day. Thanks for all your prayers, Jim.
Wow , we love reading these posts.
Glad you are doing well……
Beautiful pix ……..
Be well , our friend.
be safe .
Thanks, Joe. I don’t know about warm — it’s getting colder and colder. But I’m working hard on safe. But the way, I don’t mind cold walking days at all; I’m just a little apprehensive of camping on a really cold night — hasn’t happened yet.
Following you daily and enjoying each one, but today’s was the BEST! …praying for your safety.
Wow! Bob and Kathy! So glad to have you along for the ride (walk). Thank you for your prayers.
Thank you Allan for sharing your travels. I’ve been greatly enjoying your posts of your progress. I may need to plan a trip to the Iron Kettle Farm next fall.
You should do that, and bring young children — they will love it.
It’s no surprise that the railroad used horsepower in 1828. Reliable mechanical engines were right around the corner, but not yet. When they finally did get an engine they used it for a couple of years until it crashed through a bridge and killed the engineer and a few others. they returned to horsepower after that. I noticed that one of your river pictures included the pilings of the previous bridge as well as part of the old road surface. I love running across stuff like that.
As far as the mail man – that is normal operating procedure here in our neck of the woods. All our mail carriers do the same thing. It looks unnerving but they do just fine. Evidently the rural post offices do not provide vehicles for the carriers but reimburse them mileage. I have yet to see a right handed PO vehicle here. They do give them special training for it.
I have to admit I do not look forward to your reaching your destination, well I do look forward to you getting there, but I’ll sure miss your daily chats! Of course I read them with your distinctive Canadian voicing! Onward!! And I’ll pray that you don’t have to be mushing in the rain tomorrow! God does rain on the just and the unjust alike, though!
Well, well. Most interesting about the trains. Yes, I saw those pilings as well and wondered at them. I’m thinking that travelling in the passenger seat might be called “going postal”. I think the forecast for the next few days has been revised to merely cloudy with maybe a sprinkle here and there. It would certainly be nice not to have to walk in a downpour.
Loved the doughnut pictures. We were waiting for day 15 for a long time. You have to work on the selfies! Also liked to scarecrow in the outhouse. Here right now with your wife. Did you hear the moo of the cows when you were sleeping?
The cows were mooing VERY loudly while I was blogging but had settled down by the time I was ready for sleep. The earplugs were great, though useless against the piercing roosters. But it was time to get up anyway. Glad you’re enjoying my adventure with me, Olivia!
Allan, I’m so enjoying your daily posts. I look for them before I retire each day. What shall I read after you cross the finish line?? Perhaps you will also walk back home, so we all can enjoy this adventure a bit longer!
no, no, no — my feet balk at the very suggestion!! But I’m glad you are reading Inge.
Just loooooooooove that head covering!!!!!!!!! Glad you opted for the B&B tonight. I’m wondering how the smell was last night at the farm?….and we will NOT tell Fi about the goodie bag. Lots of love
LOL. There was no smell; they keep the animals and stalls very clean, I guess. It was a pretty sweet camping situation; ten degrees warmer and it would have been perfect.
As promised, there were many animals in this post, but my favourite by far were the “Squirrels”! If you have to be nuts to get into that club, sign me up!!
Me too, Dave; me too.
Allan I love the pics and commentary just wish I could walk a few miles together. Press on my friend.
Wow! Sounds like you had a great day! Very impressive place, the Iron Kettle Farm. Really liked the mail carrier’s driving skills. You are just about 1/2 way there. Quite a milestone! Continue the good work!
Hi Allan, Glad you were able to stay at that B&B, they sound like nice and interesting people.Stirling sounds like he had an amazing adventure also with bicycling across the USA.
I think you’ll like Watkins Glen,I remember going there when I was younger, If I remember right though I think it also has waterfalls.
Yes; I’ve been there before. But I won’t have time to see the sights. That’s an interesting aspect of this trip — I see so much that one misses walking and yet I don’t have time to see the things that one sees when driving (and stopping, of course).
It’s Alex your mailman here…… What you’re doing is amazing! I walk every day for a living and I can’t imagine ever undertaking such a journey. All I can say is WOW! Go Allan Go!
That is quite a complement coming from a mailman. But I’m sure you could do it Alex. I’ll bet you could teach me a thing or two about walking.
Just found out about your journey and blog site a few days ago. I am finding the commentary and pictures fascinating. I look forward to reading the postings daily. Far more interesting than the morning newspaper! I feel like I am on the walk with you…minus the sore feet of course. I am praying for you, dear brother.
John! Great to have you along. Thanks for your prayers.
Well it was much colder today in North Jersey and even colder tonight so I’m happy to hear you’re indoors tonight as I’m sure it’s much colder where you are!
It’s becoming a daily habit now that I’m reading the day’s blog entry just before bed…which for me is always late. So Kevin is getting pieces of it as I read something either interesting or funny and have to wake him from his “almost asleep” state. Tonight it was the weird scarecrow thing in front of the church along with your comment that had me laughing. Oh…and Kevin said the big red trailer is possibly used for cars? You have me craving cider doughnuts now after those pictures!
If you decide to walk BACK home again – taking the suggestion of some others who have commented – you could probably time it so that you walk right to CMML for the Christmas party! Now that would be cool! Haha.
Those doughnuts were really good! Skip does another version where he puts a little pumpkin in the mix; apparently they are also a big hit. And he was making caramel apples just before I left that looked fantastic.
I agree that this was one of your best posts… I think its because of the neat people you are meeting. May the Lord give you many more to interact with along your journey! And love all the the pictures, especially the ones with YOUin it now! way to go! I’m sure you burned off all that sugar you ate while walking so Fi has no worries!
Your comment has just helped me to clarify in my own mind something that has been a developing thought. Donna. One of the strange things about this trip is that for most of the day I’m by myself, being passed by anonymous cars and passing anonymous houses and farms. But each of those cars and houses has people with stories. Every once in a while I get to break into that anonymity and experience the richness of those stories. This contrast between bland anonymity and delving into rich new worlds is quite striking and not something we normally experience in our routines; we live somewhere between those two extremes.
Allan, It’s like you’ve stumbled upon another time zone and are taking us back to our roots with these daily postings of America the Beautiful and Bountiful. It’s nice to see how fellow-citizens still rally to the aid of a man on a misson. No turning back now brother, it’s Toronto or bust. BTW your journaling skills and your ability to give us a daily window into your world, as you see it, is most captivating. I’ve gone from the casual to the committed amongst your loyal readership. And just think the best may still be yet to come.
All I can say, it’s the next best thing to being there, so thanks for doing all the work. You are in our prayers.
Tom & Judi E
The journaling is a big part of my day, Tom, not least because of the difficulty of doing it on an iPad. But I really love doing it. I couldn’t wait yesterday, as I was walking, to tell the story of that fine group of gentlemen, the Squirrel Club. One thing I forgot to mention was the deep roots represented in a group like that. Skip was telling me that he has known many of those men since high school. It didn’t occur to me when I started this trek how important to me personally the journaling would be. Thanks for coming along with me!
Hello from Brazil! I’ve been following your journey since the beginning and I have to say it is just amazing what you are doing. Despite of the main purpose and the lack of technology sometimes, I believe everyone should should have this kind of moment to themselves. Meeting new and good people, stay connect with nature, by the way, awesome pictures you got there, I really enjoy staring at them and imagine myself in your place. US has a nice countryside, so Canada (thanks to cable TV). Thanks for sharing this fantastic experience, have a safe and blessed walk (half way left behind already, hooray!).
Following from Brazil — wow! Great to hear from you Paulo. I like the way you imagine yourself in my shoes. It’s a great way to share the trip, but without the weariness. I appreciated you speaking up and making a comment.
Like the others, I most thoroughly enjoyed your day 15 post. (Is there a name for a number that is the product of consecutive primes?) Doughnuts for all the organic healthy eating readers, a men’s only club for all the readers in Augusta Georgia and my favourite: you donning a toque as you have reached the half-way mark in your journey to the frozen northland. Les canadiens sont très heureux que tu as choisi un joli chapeau!
Hope you have a great day today. Remember us as the forecast north of the GTA is wet snow!
Great to hear from you as always, Russ. I hadn’t realized the significance of wearing the toque at the halfway point — thanks for pointing that out. Eyes ahead to the GTA, snow or otherwise!
Hi Allan: I have been following your adventure since Day 1 and love your pictures and comments! What a different perspective on life when walking-I love it. I am surrounding you in prayer for safety. Thank you for letting me live your adventure through your blog.
-Al and Wendy Alberts
Lovely to hear from you Wendy. And I do thank you for your prayers. I have been safe so far but there’s lots more ground to cover.
I just got home from prayer with the guys and the breakfast with Mark… You are missed.. But we prayed for you collectively and also we all spent a few moments dicussing your trip and the blog. Carl F, had not been reading this, but I suspect after today, he will be… Mark and I talked more about your trip at breakfast. And it spurred the conversation to what we would like to do…. So your adventure and mission is to press on… Thanks for sharing and thank you for being an inspiration to us all.. JIM
I missed you guys this morning. Thanks for praying!
What a beautiful country we live in, and thanks to your journey, we all get to share. Bonnie and I wake up each morning @ 5:30 to get ready to take care of the critters, and we can’t wait to check your daily adventures. You are inspiring a lot of people, we had a duathlon this past Sunday with a world champion from 2012. I told her about your adventures and she told me about a website: http://www.warmshowers.org They have host family’s all over North America. Be well and safe, God Bless Tom & Bonnie
Thanks for that encouragement, both of you. Each day I am aware of being the eyes for all my gentle readers and I deeply appreciate their prayers for me.
Allan, I took a few minutes to check up on your progress this morning. Thank you for making us part of your journey. Lance (my youngest) came down before school to say good bye but we couldn’t find you. Turns out you were at squirrel club with Papa! You are in my prayers and I hope the weather stays moderate for you.
Thanks Bonnie. I’m sorry I missed Lance. It was chilly today but still great weather for walking. Thank you for your prayers.
Don and I have been following your travels and I just wanted to add to the chorus of “wow”, “you’re making such amazing progress!”, and “thank you for sharing your stories!” May you feel the echo of your many friends along your walk each day..
Amy! Thanks for speaking up — great to hear from you (and Don, indirectly). I love that expression “echo of your friends”.
We laughed tonight because your trip sounded like our trip across Canada 28 years ago! All the way to San Leandro California. We had an OLD car and our 2 little girls in the back. WHAT were we thinking. Such an adventure, but your’s tops it by far. We are enjoying your blog. We will be in Toronto Nov.4-10. Will we connect?
I really hope we can connect. I hope to be to Toronto sometime in the range November 8 or 9. It would be great to see you guys. I empathize with that thought “WHAT am I thinking?”
Love your posts Allan and as I will probably never get over the ” pond” again it is great to see all the photos and read all the comments.
The pond beckons, Fiona — maybe you should just take the plunge. Could Robert manage it?
Nope too long a flight, Doc says no, never mind your walk is the next best thing,
Too bad your change of route kept you from staying with Bill and Shannon. You would have enjoyed it.
It looks like you took a transporter for a warm swim today! Your 14:34:46 update show you in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea a couple hundred miles South of Accra, Ghana 😉
At least it was warm water while I was there! Yes, I’m sorry to have missed them. Warm beds are few and far between in this next section of the walk.
I am thrilled to read that the connection to Mr. and Mrs. Klett led you to a great time at the Iron Kettle Farm. But, I want in on that return trip you are taking to the farm with your Grands!!!
Stay safe and warm….
Keeping you in prayer…
Ginny and Steve
It was a wonderful and fruitful connection, Ginny. Thanks so much for pursuing it with me.
Looks like you are having a really great experience…..one of those once in a
life time events! Glad you can “walk with the Lord and be a blessing!”
Great to hear from you Bob and Joan. It is once in a lifetime indeed. Some people have asked me if I’m walking home. I stare at them in disbelief!
I think you will now be better able to understand the trepidation Mary and Joseph felt on that night when they desperately needed a place to stay after their long journey!
Good thought, Omlette! And I suspect I will have worse nights before it’s all over. Eyes forward!
I love all your pictures, but I think Dracula on the second floor porch from Day 15 is possibly my favorite!
I know — it was just a brilliant idea — it was really effective as I walked past it.