June 15, 2013

Day 232 - June 14, 2013: Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Battlefield

Anne woke up with the realization we are going to be here for a few days, and she was determined to get us off this wet boat and out exploring. We rented a car and planned to go north to Sarasota Springs. The car rental office told Anne a young man would pick us up shortly here at Lock 2. After half an hour, he called admitting he was lost and asked for help. Anne repeated we were in the Erie Canal, Lock 2 at 5th and Broad. Ten minutes later he called again, and again twice more.

We waited out on the street corner almost an hour before he arrived apologizing for having gone to the wrong lock. As we traveled back to the rental office, he hesitated, then stopped and tried to figure out on his cell phone where we were. Anne volunteered to guide him using his GPS capable smart phone. He finally admitted to us this was his first day on the job and he was somewhat new to the area. Anne tried to comfort him, saying that we all have a first day on the job, and he should not let it bother him.

Arriving at the office, the young ambitious gal behind the desk remarked sarcastically that it had been 1 1/2 hours, and it was about time he got back! We are fairly certain he got a good working over after we left and that those two might not get along well henceforth. Anne is worried about this nice young man.

The Waterford Visitor Center docks we left yesterday are now floating near the peak extent of their holdings, the cement walkways next to the docks are under at least a foot of water, and the famous green square across the channel is totally submerged. The NY Canal Corporation was right in moving us when they did, and we are much more appreciative of that today.

Great Laker was on the outside of this floating dock
The walkway and patio in front of the Visitors Center under water

Saratoga Springs is best known for mineral water springs, beautifully restored homes, horse racing, and a nearby Revolutionary War battleground. Plus, this moderately sized town (26,000) has a surprisingly upscale shopping street which we walked after gathering information at the Visitors Center. Our walk also took us past the Colombian Spring, first discovered in 1803 on a farm, which the Indians claimed had healing powers. Today, the area has many hotel/spas for tourists, which tout magically healing springs. We drove Union Avenue among the many historic homes and passed the well known Saratoga Race Course which opened in 1863.

The Columbian Spring (1803)
48 Union Avenue, a 1906 Colonial Revival
Saratoga Race Course
The Saratoga National Historic Park is about 15 miles east of the city, and we drove around the north end of Saratoga Lake on the way. The battles here are arguably the most important of the last few hundred years, as they were the turning point for the Colonies against the British in the Revolutionary War, and led to the creation of the great democratic experiment known as the USA. On September 19 and October 7, 1777, battles were fought along Bemis Heights overlooking the Hudson. The British troops, supplemented by German mercenaries, were led by Gen. John Burgoyne, while Major Gen. Horatio Gates and Gen. Benedict Arnold led the Americans. After great losses, Burgoyne surrendered weapons and retreated.

Freeman Farm battle site
Bemis Heights overlooking the Hudson River
Today there was little rain in the Mohawk Valley, so we are hopeful the flooding will start to recede.

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