Day 587: Annoy in Troy

The Mind’s Eye group left the Finger Lakes Region behind and headed east to Troy on the Hudson River. They chose to take secondary roads rather than the freeway. Their route passed in the vicinity of several state forest preserves, where the group stopped to hike and view wildlife. After visits to Beaver Creek, Skinner Hill, and Mallet Pond, they arrived at their ultimate destination. Named after the famous city from Homer’s Iliad, Troy was founded in the late eighteenth century. Today it has a population of around 50,000.

After checking into their lodging, the group visited the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus for a walkabout. At the campus-area bar where Laetitia went for her post-tour libation, she overheard a conversation among some parents whose progeny were soon to be freshmen and had assembled on campus for orientation. They were complaining about Jake, a friend of their children who was a bad influence. He became the subject of the limerick of the day.

‘Twas his duty, Jake thought, to annoy
All adults from the city of Troy
Be they teachers or preachers
Or fans in the bleachers
Who encountered this rowdy teen boy.

Day 586: Penn Yan Plan

The distance from Middlesex, New York to Penn Yan is only about 10 miles, so Laetitia chose to go there in a roundabout way. They began with a hike through the wooded hills and marshlands of High Tor Wildlife Management Area. Afterward they rented bicycles and went riding in Harriet Hollister Spencer Park. Then they went north along the western shore of Canandaigua Lake, rounded the north end of the lake, and headed south to Penn Yan, which is located at the north end of Keuka Lake.

Penn Yan’s somewhat unusual name, which might seem of Asian origin to some, came about because the early settlers got tired of calling themselves Pennsylvania Yankees, so they shortened the phrase to “Penn Yan,” and that eventually became the name of their town.

During happy hour Laetitia watched a man making the rounds of all the ladies in the bar. When he eventually got to Laetitia, she found out his line was that he was a drama coach casting for a theatrical agency in New York. He promised each girl the possibility of a role in a Broadway play, providing she passed an audition that would be held locally. When Laetitia’s grin told him that she viewed his spiel as bovine feces, he moved on, bypassing the woman on the bar stool next to her. The woman introduced herself and said, “You’re new here. He didn’t bother with me because I’ve heard his line before and rejected it. His only connection to the theater world is playing the rear end of a horse in a local community theater production. The audition, of course, is in the back of his van.” Laetitia smiled, thanked her for the enlightenment, and later wrote the limerick of the day.

A faux drama coach in Penn Yan
Offered girls in a devious plan
A role in a play
In New York, on Broadway,
If they passed a tryout in his van.

Day 585: Middlesex Rex

The Finger Lakes region of New York is quite scenic, and Laetitia decided to spend another day or two there. On the way to Middlesex, their day’s destination, the Mind’s Eye stopped in Letchworth State Park. The park is sometimes known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” because of its magnificent scenery. Here the Genesee River passes through a gorge with cliffs as high as 600 feet. The river passes over three major waterfalls as it traverses the gorge. The group spent the day hiking on some of the park’s 66 miles of hiking trails.

The town of Middlesex, New York, was founded in 1789 on the shore of Canandaigua Lake. Its original name, Augusta, was dropped in 1808 to avoid confusion with another New York settlement with the same name. Middlesex England, which has now become part of greater London, was the likely the inspiration for its current name. A conundrum that arose during an overheard conversation at a table near Laetitia’s happy hour barstool inspired the limerick of the day.

A question that often did vex
An upstate New Yorker named Rex
When he went on a bender
Was, “What is the gender
Of the folks who live in Middlesex?”

Day 584: Valley View

The route from Bath to Great Valley, New York, the Mind’s Eye group’s next destination, passed through several state forests: Klipnocky, Gas Springs, and Plumbottom. One of Laetitia’s guests on the tour, a college professor whose research interest was folklore, had suggested Klipnocky State Forest because of the legend of the “hairy women of Klipnocky.” It is uncertain how the story of these creatures of the bigfoot genre came to be. However every year the nearby town of Canaseraga puts on a Hairy Women of Klipnocky Beauty Contest during their Fall Festival. Laetitia decided to skip the contest—in which many of the entrants were hirsute men in drag—and instead do some hiking and birdwatching in that state forest. She chose Gas Springs State Forest and Plumbottom State Forest because she thought they might be candidates for a book like Bailey and Hurst’s Rude World. She acknowledged that the Brits have a definite edge when it comes to place names that seem rude to minds that run in certain channels, but she thought she would check them parks out anyway.

When they reached Great Valley, Laetitia visited the local pub, as was her habit. The happy hour gossip that afternoon was about an innovative cheerleader who found an imaginative way to encourage the crowd to be spunky.

In front of a football pep rally
A buxom cheerleader named Allie
Did cartwheel and prance
Without wearing pants
And shocked the whole town of Great Valley.