I’d heard that New York’s Letchworth State Park is spectacular. “The Grand Canyon of the East,” according to numerous sources online.
It also just so happened that our family’s “European” vacation to Holland, New York and Wales, New York established a base of operations about a half-hour’s drive away from Letchworth. So even though the destination didn’t have a European connection, we decided to include it in our trip.
It was totally worth it.
We hiked from Inspiration Point to the Genesee River’s Middle Falls and Upper Falls, and the experience was perfect. The weather was beautiful. The trails were not crowded. And the hike demanded just the right amount of exertion, leaving us with a sense of triumphant exhaustion. We finished with a picnic lunch back at Inspiration Point, and then we drove to a different trail-head for a very short hike to see the Lower Falls.
I figured that the morning represented the climax of our little family vacation in Western New York. How could things get better than the five of us experiencing three world-class waterfalls together?!? As we started driving further downstream, though, I think the experience got better.
The winding roads through the middle section of Letchworth State Park forced us to maintain a slower speed of about 40 miles per hour. So we rolled down the windows of our minivan and cranked up the music on our trip playlist titled The Summer of Synthesizer. Elliot made the whole vehicle sway with his enthusiastic bopping along to the music. Olivia and Cor stuck their heads out the windows, letting the air wash over their faces. Even Marci let her hand sail out the passenger window while singing along to the songs she knew.
We got to the other end of the park and discovered that the public swimming pool was not open. That wasn’t too surprising, given the fact that New York is still in a pretty early phase of its reopening from the COVID-19 shut-down. Still, we experienced a brief moment of disappointment before taking stock of the situation and noticing that we basically had that end of the park to ourselves.
We parked in the shade, with the windows still rolled down. Marci reclined her seat all the way back and put her feet up on the dash. Olivia strung up a hammock in a shady grove of trees and lay down to read a book. The boys and I played with a Frisbee in the big, open field nearby.
It felt like vacation.
Sometimes it takes us more than a week for our family to settle into such a level of relaxing and resting. But here, we managed to find that space on just the second day of our abbreviated vacation. I was very thankful.