Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heading to Cooperstown

We made our way back to the car at the Newark Aiport at about 5 pm on Wednesday and headed for Cooperstown. Apparently there was no master plan when greater Newark's roadways were constructed - when viewed on a map, the "system" (and I use that term loosely) looks like a web spun by a very disorganized spider. Not wanting to decipher a route on our own, we put our faith in our trusty GPS, good 'ol TomTom.

The trip north through Newark and into New York state to Cooperstown would take us (or so we thought) about 4 hours, so we expected to arrive at our bed and breakfast at about 9:30 pm. We settled into the drive on the sparsely inhabited New York State Thruway (a well-kept toll road), lamenting the fact that we couldn't enjoy the mountainous scenery. Dusk was settling in rapidly, and there is no such thing as Daylight Savings Time on the east coast, so the extent of our sightseeing on this leg of the trip consisted of marvelling at the ghostly shapes of the Catskills silhouetted against the setting sun.

Cooperstown, despite its fame, is located in the remote countryside of northeastern New York. After exiting the interstate just south of Cooperstown and topping off the gas tank, I consulted the map, and noticed that TomTom wanted to take us on a road that I did not see on the atlas. That should have been a red flag right there. But being tired and impatient to settle into our room after a long drive, we decided to trust TomTom in all his infinite wisdom (computers are always right, yes?).

As we drove deeper into the sparsely populated and mountainous countryside, TomTom continued to confidently announce our turn by turn instructions. As we turned onto a one-lane road that seemed to lead straight up a mountain (TomTom identified this road as a state highway, but we sure weren't seeing any signs), Cory and I began to become concerned. The images of the road on the LED screen matched the twists and turns that we were making, so we still felt that TomTom was not leading us astray. It wasn't until the road narrowed further and became gravel with weeds growing through that we started to panic. Cory swore he saw a Dead End sign some ways back, but I hadn't. Finally, the road abruptly ended at the crest of a hill (the type of remote place where someone might dump a body). TomTom was oblivious to the fact that there was no road there, and continued to tell us to proceed forward. My ears at this point were popping from the elevation. Panicking, I ordered Cory to turn around, which he had to do in the middle of the "road", and we both prayed that our little G6 would not get hung up. The only creatures out there were probably bears and crazed ax-murderers, but I sure didn't want to find out who (or what) might descend upon us should we become stranded. We hurried back to the main road and the safety of civilization, wondering if we had stumbled into the Twilight Zone.

Our surreal detour cost us about a half-hour of travel time, so we didn't arrive in Cooperstown until about 10 pm. Needless to say, we had turned off TomTom and used the atlas the good old-fashioned way. We easily found the Landmark Inn on the outskirts of town, and picked up the key to our room from the foyer of this lovely Victorian bed and breakfast. We settled into our comfortable room, and rested up for the next day.

After a delicious breakfast served on fine china at Landmark, we walked into town toward the Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is very much like Zionsville, quaint with many little shops and restaurants. Apparently we were visiting during the Hall's off-season because it wasn't crowded at all, and we actually had some of the areas all to ourselves. We spent almost the entire day there, reading the displays and absorbing the incredible history housed within those walls. We were both very impressed. Some of my favorites were Lou Gehrig's locker, the special area devoted to the Babe, and the Baseball Cards display. Cory loved anything related to the Cubs, the Plaque Gallery, and just about everything else. There was so much to see and read that it would have been almost impossible to digest it all in one visit. What an incredible place.

Inside the Hall of Fame, the Plaque Gallery displaying all of the inductees, from the first class of 1936 to the present.

Cory and the plaque of his childhood hero, Ryne Sandberg.

Besides all of the plaques, uniforms, bats and balls, the Hall also had a section devoted to ballparks and fans, called Sacred Ground. The cornerstone of Ebbets Field also rested there.

Cory pointing out the Cubs on the Standings Board in front of the Hall of Fame, #1 in the Central Division on the day of our visit.

Cory checking out the bat that Babe Ruth hit his "called shot" with in the 1932 World Series. Pretty amazing to be in the same room with so many famous objects and pieces of memorabilia.

Here I am in front of the Chicago Cubs locker. There was one with mementoes from each team in the majors.

Below is part of the baseball card exhibit. Look closely and you'll see Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, among others.

Here's our room at the Landmark Inn, Room #2. It had a private entrance and porch off the parking lot. The house itself was originally built in 1856, and they had some incredible photos displayed there of the house in its early days.

Our day in Cooperstown was extremely relaxing and renewing, especially after just experiencing the mad pace of NYC. We rested up that evening for our journey the next day to Niagara.

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