When Mike and I started making plans to run our New York race, we decided we wanted to do a race that was not in the city. After scanning our trusty Running in the USA website, Mike found the Tibbetts Point Run. We were drawn to the location which is on the St. Lawrence River where it meets Lake Ontario. My mother and her parents and grandparents used to summer on the St. Lawrence Seaway, so being in that area had an additional appeal. We signed up for the 10K but there is also a 5K that is run at the same time.
We had the luxury of stopping to stay with my sister, Kate, in Vermont on our way from Maine to New York. That visit and the picturesque views made the long drive much more pleasant.
We stopped in Sackets Harbor, NY where they happened to be having a Canadian-American Festival. We had no idea we would be lucky enough to witness the fire truck pull!
It is a charming town with beautiful views of the lake.
Cape Vincent, where the race is held, is about 25 miles north. After reviewing the somewhat limited lodging options in town I had chosen the Buccaneer Motel for our accommodations. The fact that I had chosen it is significant, because it meant I couldn’t complain. There is a rumor among my family that I have been known to emphatically voice my, shall I say, “not always enthusiastic” opinion when our room didn’t meet my discerning (they say fussy) standards. You would have to confirm that with them.
Although the motel itself was not fancy and offered limited frills (such as soap or shampoo), it was just a few blocks from the race and it was right on the water.
We loved watching the boats on the river heading to or from Lake Ontario and I was completely enthralled with the wind turbines across the river on Wolfe Island.
As we finished dinner the night before the race, I realized that there would potentially be wonderful sunset views at the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse that we had stopped at earlier that day. We raced over just in time and joined lots of others who were there for the same reason.
It truly was stunning.
The race the next morning traveled on a flat course through town and out to a gorgeous route right along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The 10K was an out and back course that looped around the lighthouse. After the race we returned to the lighthouse for a few photos
and then decided to take the ferry across the river to Wolfe Island in Ontario.
Fifteen dollars and 10 minutes was all it took to get us and our car across the river and voila’! We were in Canada!
Wolfe Island is the largest of the Thousand Islands. We loved the quiet, rural feel of the island and the transfixing wind turbines that have such a majestic presence on the island
We wished we had brought bikes to explore the miles of bike-friendly roads.
On the ferry ride back to Cape Vincent we met a cyclist who was heading to Acadia National Park in Maine (our favorite place) and we excitedly shared our suggestions for his visit.
The next morning we followed this small furry creature for a bit
on our way to this coffee shop.
After a tranquil start to our morning, we ended our visit to Cape Vincent and headed home.
State: New York
Date Run: July 21, 2013
Quest Race #: 13
The Bottom Line: This relatively small race features a flat course with a stunning view of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Its proximity to Wolfe Island, Ontario provides an opportunity for a fun, easy trip to Canada.
Our adventures in Michigan continued the day after running the 13.Wine Half Marathon. We enjoyed breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe which was just minutes from the Lakeside Inn on the Red Arrow Highway. The food was appealing and the service was prompt and friendly.
Fruit, granola, and yogurt breakfast.
At the suggestion of our new 13.Wine Half Marathon friends, Ron and Lori, we continued north on the Red Arrow Highway to St. Joseph’s or St. Joe’s as the locals seemed to refer to it. We were impressed by the immense sandy beach and the recreational facilities such as a fountain pool and a remarkable carousel housed inside a glass enclosure. We walked out to the end of the jetty (?), pier (?) that offered a chance to venture out into Lake Michigan without leaving land. After our stroll, we thankfully sought refuge in the air conditioned carousel building to escape from the still oppressive heat. Sitting in comfy chairs watching the carousel whiz by with enraptured children was an ideal way to recover from the heat before meandering up the hill to choose a spot for lunch.
View looking down into St. Joseph’s
Mike on the jetty.
We settled on Caffe Tosi which is a bakery, restaurant, and coffee shop. The atmosphere was welcoming and the food was just what we were looking for.
We had lunch at Caffe Tosi.
After lunch, our travels continued to Saugatuck, the second place that we had been encouraged to visit. We found it to be an enchanting water-side town with a multitude of galleries, wineries, and restaurants.
Uncharacteristically, we had no lodging reservations – a situation that we found liberating. After strolling through the town and scoping out a few establishments, we stopped for tea and then perused the local Yelp listings for some suggestions.
We enjoyed refreshments here while we contemplated our lodging options.
Stellar reviews and a quick call answered by a most welcoming innkeeper directed us to the Beechwood Manor Inn. A drive of only a few blocks brought us to a quiet, tree-lined residential street. The Inn was beautiful and as soon as we walked in the door, we knew we had made a wise decision.
The Beechwood Manor Inn
Our room was gorgeous, spotless, and luxurious.
Quiet new-age music was playing when we entered causing me to instantly feel I was in a spa. Bliss!
We enjoyed coffee on the porch the next morning before savoring a gourmet breakfast in the dining room.
Our hosts could not have been more welcoming and accommodating. They provided suggestions for activities and dinner. They offered beach chairs and towels for a visit to the beach and had a bottle of wine ready for us after we returned from more touring. They recommended the Everyday People Cafe for dinner and arranged for us to have a table within moments of arriving there. The restaurant was buzzing – obviously the hot spot of the area. We loved our waiter whom we decided was a toss-up between Richard Dreyfus and Billy Crystal. He was personable and unobtrusively attentive. Perfect! The food was, as my grandfather used to say, “an epicurean triumph”.
As we drove back to the inn we had to stop to take pictures of the stunning sunset. It had been a truly outstanding evening.
The next morning we enjoyed a gourmet breakfast at the inn then began our travels back towards New Buffalo where we planned to spend the night before flying out of Chicago the next morning. We had been reading about the dunes as we traveled in this southwestern area of Michigan but had not really encountered them first hand. The Warren Dunes State Park was on our way to New Buffalo so we decided to stop to see if we could actually experience the dunes. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that there truly are impressive dunes in the area.
When we reached the top of the first dune we were greeted with more dunes.
The view of Lake Michigan from the top of the dunes was impressive.
The weather had been threatening all day but as we walked near the beach some impressive cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning sent us scurrying for the car. Our next plan was to visit more of the wineries in Baroda.
Gravity Winery was our first stop. The skies were becoming dramatically dark and thundery as we entered the winery. We were met by an enthusiastic employee who explained their tasting system where you choose 4 wines and they pair them with cheese for the whites and chocolates for the reds. After making our tasting selections we enjoyed the weather excitement as we sat on the covered patio to do our wine tasting.
We were impressed with all of the wines that we tasted and after some pondering we purchased a bottle of Lemberger to take with us.
We had run past Free Run Cellars during the race and we knew we wanted to visit it. The name caught our attention and also provided a photo op for the typically camera-shy, Mike, who volunteered this perfect pose.
We sampled the wines and loved them. Sadly, we were unable to ship them home so we left with only a cork screw. We were truly impressed with all of the wines we tasted while on the Michigan Wine Trail. We had been clueless about this fabulous wine country. The ability to visit multiple sophisticated and distinct wineries within one town was an unexpected surprise. We loved the intimate feel of these small wineries which clearly invested so much personal devotion to their products.
Our trip continued the short distance back to New Buffalo. What a difference a couple of days made. What had been a town teaming with tourists on Saturday was now, on Tuesday, a relative ghost town. Apparently midweek in late August was not the peak of tourism. We ventured down to the beach and were met with literally hundreds of seagulls covering the beach…as well as signs indicating that the beach was closed due to E.coli. Ah ha! That may have explained the shocking difference in tourists.
Once again, we did not yet have plans for where to stay. After some research we happened upon the Lake Country Inn.
The Lake Country Inn, New Buffalo, Michigan
Due to the quiet pace of the town there was a sign directing visitors to call a number if interested in the inn. We called and were assured the owner would be over momentarily…which she was. She gave us a tour of the available rooms which are all a different, distinct color. They were all lovely but we/I selected the “Green Room”. The inviting over-sized chair and ottoman were a big selling point.
This inn also offered towels for the beach, as well as a community kitchen with a fridge for saving leftovers or chilling wine, wine glasses, cork screws, dishes, etc. A continental breakfast is served in the kitchen in the morning.
We settled in and enjoyed our bottle of wine from Gravity before heading across the street to Brewster’s Italian Cafe for dinner.
We needed to leave for the airport early the next morning so we enjoyed a quiet last vacation evening in our indulgently cozy room.
The Bottom Line: What had started out as a chance to run a fun race in Michigan evolved into an enlightening and highly enjoyable mini vacation. We would highly recommend a visit to this region for a chance to taste fabulous wines, view the stunning beauty of Lake Michigan and the dunes, and to experience the establishments, sights, and culture of the local towns.
The scenic, flat route that took us down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boat House Row, and along Kelly Drive soon became a welcome part of our visits to Philly. Since both of our daughters were attending college in Philadelphia we were making relatively frequent trips to the city from our home in Maine. So when we learned that the Philadelphia Marathon course traveled along routes we were already familiar with, we decided to sign up.
Mike chose the half marathon and I decided to train for my first marathon. On race day we joined the crush of thousands of other runners lining up in the corrals in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. While waiting to hit the course, Mike overheard another runner talking about attempting to run a race in every state. Although we had been running and racing for years, this race in Philadelphia was the first race we had done outside of New England. After the race, Mike broached the idea with me and we agreed we loved the thought of making this a goal. And besides, we had just checked Pennsylvania off the list! Thus began our (literal) journey to run a road race in every state.
We began this adventure in November 2010 and as of today we have run in 18 states. This quest has brought us to places that we would most likely never have visited. But it has offered us an opportunity to participate in a myriad of new experiences. The people we have met have been enthusiastic and welcoming. Trying the local food and drink has become a significant part of our travels. Our races have allowed us to run beside Great Lakes, along palm tree-lined bays, through vineyards, past historic sites, to the Atlantic Ocean and so much more. Beside the enjoyment that we derive from this quest, we have been pleased to feel that our entry fees are supporting many wonderful causes.
This blog will chronicle races that we have run already and will include our thoughts about the course, race swag, highlights, tips about local activities, restaurants, lodging, and more. There will be periodic posts about our day-to-day runs and thoughts and reminiscences about past runs that haven’t been designated “check-off-a-state” runs. And of course as we add another state to our list we will chronicle that adventure.
We are enjoying this quest so much that we thought we’d share our experiences and perhaps inspire others to give it a try on whatever scale seems right. Our philosophy about running is that it’s all about the journey. Thanks for reading this far. We hope you will continue to follow us.