Day 0 - June 24, 2008
Welcome to my trip. As I write this, I am preparing to drive to London, Ontario for the first day of my trip. As it is already 8:00 p.m., I am calling this day 0 of my trip. My plan is to update each day of my trip at the end of the day with highlights of the day - or just what I came across.
The basis of the trip: I am going to New York to attend a conference next week, June 30 to July 2. It is in Saratoga Springs, New York, just north of Albany. I am presenting a session on Tuesday. As I wanted to someday go to the Ellisburg, New York area, I figured this would be a perfect time to do so. I can do genealogy research on the many Decker relatives who lived here in the 1820s and later.
Away I go. Camera ready, some hotels lined up to get me started. I'm off.
11:55 p.m. - I pulled into the Knights Inn in London, Ontario, after driving 199.0 miles. That's pretty dead on for MapQuest, as it said that it would be just over 200 miles. And the timing was pretty good as well, considering I stopped in Bridgeport to fill up with gas ($67 at $3.989 a gallon - what a bargain!). I reached Port Huron in just 2 hours and 15 minutes (122 miles) and crossed the Blue Water Bridge. I used my passport for the first time (officially). I know the picture is bad - it was dark out, so I took a video with the camera on my dashboard as I drove across (listening to Let the Good Times Roll (loud) by The Cars).
This worked out to be the perfect place to stop, I figured I had driven about far enough tonight. I kept thinking that it would be a real bummer driving without my cruise control working, but... well it kinda was... but I got used to it, so long as I went the speed that the van seemed to want to go. It was real interesting when I got into Canada, as every time I got used to a speed, they changed it on me (first it was 60 km/h, then bumped up to 100 km/h, then right after that back down to 80 km/h as I went through construction). A little bit more driving tomorrow than today, but it will be light out the whole way, so should make it more interesting. Also I will be going to places I haven't been before (once I pass through Toronto, as I was there once - on my high school senior trip 25 years ago!).
Day 1 - June 25, 2008 (Wednesday)
I was right about Toronto... there were a lot of places that 'sorta' seemed familiar, and I know that I was in the same area as 25 years ago... kind of like it was familiar, yet different. So much for the passage of time, I guess. Toronto is a hopping place... lots of people out on the street doing things. First off, as I was coming in to town, going from 401 to 427, it seems like I had to change lanes left about 10 times just to stay on the highway, and I still ended up stuck on an exit. Oh well.. I ended up using it as an opportunity to drive into downtown on Queen St., the old route instead of the freeway, and got to see interesting parts of town, driving down along with the trolley cars, riding on the trolley tracks.
Is this a good price?
The Hard Rock Cafe was great... and I did it again.. I bought another t-shirt along with my shot glass. But the burger was delicious, and the service was great, as usual. I'm interested to find out how much I actually paid, once it gets changed back to American dollars. The same thing goes for the gas I got later (some c$73, at c$1.327 per liter). Yea.. OK.. what's that, besides a full tank? Here in New York gas is going for $4.25 or so.
So after leaving Toronto about 12:30 p.m., I continued east on 401 through Ontario, until nearly to Quebec.. close enough that I considered going there, just to cross off another province. Nah.
There were these signs that made me smile... at two places along the way they had these signs indicating that the right lane had to exit, but either the lanes were just added or somehow they used to be through lanes, so they stuck a "New" sign on top of them. I laughed at the way they do it there, as it looks as though they were going for an "exciting" look, reminding me of something they would put on a cereal box or a tube of toothpaste. I also see there are many more ways to warn of ice on a bridge than I used to think.
Went on past Kingston, Ontario (with many thoughts all the way about the family history in Kingston, NY), then finally turned south (500 miles into the trip @ 4:30 p.m.) and crossing back into the U.S. at the Thousand Islands Bridge ... well, actually two bridges with customs being on the island in the middle.
So then I get down to Watertown shortly after 5:00, and find out that the great deal that I got on my hotel room was just that... too great. Somehow I guess that Expedia has messed up their rates, and are charging less than half of what the hotel's actual rate is. I knew the price was too good to be true, but the gal at the desk was great and ended up giving me a good room and a good price, and I am happy. Oh.. and Expedia should be able to refund my money... on Friday. Yea... two days. But it's just another day.
I was so full from lunch that I waited until about 7:00 before asking about a Chinese restaurant (only two lights away), and having a great dinner. Now just chilling out before I start (hopefully) doing a lot of genealogy research over the next couple of days. Every hotel room in Watertown is sold out for the weekend for some event going on up at Fort Drum (wherever that is, I saw the exit on the way down), so I will have to move south this weekend and go from there.
Day 2 - June 26, 2008
Sorry, no pictures to post today. I never even got the camera out. It was rainy this morning, just kind of misty/drizzly, as I went to the Jefferson County building and went into the clerk's office. They were very friendly and helpful there. The main records that they had available were census records, especially the New York state censuses. Most were very nicely indexed by Town, with names & members of the households on 3x5 cards, alphabetized, and very well organized. I spent the morning looking up Decker, Converse and Graves, all related members of the family. Interestingly I found Minard Decker living with his sister Rachel in 1875. This is the Minard Decker, son of Jacob Decker, but a different mother than Sarah Bovee (as he is not included in the will of Phillip Warner, grandfather of Sarah and Elizabeth Bovee).
So, after lunch I went next door to the courthouse and up to the third floor to the Surrogate's office, to look through the wills and such. Didn't find as much, but some very interesting bits of information. One will there for James Decker, who died in 1881 and I could not connect, went on for some 450 pages (at least) as the case went through probate and everyone testified... tons of information. I found other information with the Decker and Converse/Convis names.
The rest of the day turned into a wild goose chase, as I decided to try and get to the South Jefferson Historical Society in Adams before they closed at 4:00, but alas they weren't open. I called this evening and found out they will be open about 9:30 in the morning. That works out well, because when I got back to Watertown about 4:30, I found out the genealogy room was only open 12:00 to 4:00, and will be again tomorrow. So tomorrow is planned. I also talked to the Town Historian of Ellisburg tonight, and mostly she has cemetery records. I plan to do that on Saturday. I'm still deciding what to do on Sunday, or Saturday night for that matter. I'm checking out of this hotel tomorrow morning and don't plan on coming back to Watertown after I leave the library tomorrow. I'll be moving to the Super 8 in Pulaski.
So the final act of the evening was to head out to Walmart and buy a new wallet. Hoo-ray! Also bought some candy, then went to Pizza Hut (hadn't eaten since breakfast - it takes away from research time!) and back to the room to eat, snack, and relax & prepare for tomorrow.
OK... so... it's a hotel. The Travelodge in Watertown, NY. Two nights, no A/C, and the good deal that wasn't.
Day 3 - June 27, 2008
It's payday. Somewhere back home money got magically deposited into my account, so all is good. I spent 79 minutes on hold with Expedia to get a refund on the Travelodge reservation that got canceled, so all is good.
Other than that, it wasn't all that adventurous today. I headed down to Adams to research at the South Jefferson Historical Society, and I was able to gather some very interesting information. I will still have to make sense of some of it. The number one thing of interest seems to be the preoccupation that William H. Decker had with women named Jennie. I've always been confused with the first and second wife both named Jennie, the second being Jennie Freeman. Then today I came across another Jennie Freeman who married Racine Converse... it seems that for a time this Jennie Freeman was also living with William, at the time that he was married to Jennie Freeman... must have been a niece or something... confused.
One the way from Watertown to Adams, I saw this interesting sign on the highway. It makes me wonder what they were pretending the clearance was. Or... maybe people just didn't believe it was only 14 foot high. No. It is. Actually. Yea.
So, then it was back to Watertown one last time, to visit the library. Genealogy hours 12:00 to 4:00, and it was already pushing 1:00 by the time I got there. They have a Decker file, but most of the stuff is more recent and not possible to connect to the family. I did find an obituary for Foster Converse, as well as a few marriage and death dates that I didn't have. Next thing I knew it was 4:00 and time to go, and take a couple of pictures of Watertown, New York as I headed out of town for the last time.
This is a town with some major construction going on in the main square. And by the expressway.
Good Chinese food. in Watertown, New York
Well... it was time to head down to my new hotel in Pulaski, New York, but I had a little time to spare so I went looking for a cemetery. I found one. Well, I found more than one, but I ended up at the Zion Church cemetery in Pierrepont Manor. This is the one where Jennie Decker, William H Decker's first wife, is buried. It took a while, and I had to pull out the picture that David Decker took a while back, but I finally found it. It's now in three pieces and showing lots of wear.
So.. here I am in the Super 8 in Pulaski, New York, planning out my visits to the cemeteries in the Town of Ellisburg tomorrow... primarily Ellisburg and Saxe cemeteries. And I had some great Chinese food from a place here in town, spent 79 minutes on hold with Expedia, and am just finishing watching the movie "The Wedding Crashers" on TV. All is good. Well, except for maybe that movie thing. And tomorrow I will end the day in Albany.
Day 4 - June 28, 2008
Well, I woke up today to rain. Hard rain. Lots of rain. Pouring. I only mention it so many times, because I spent that last few days doing research indoors, because that is when the county office, historical society, and library were open. Now that it's the weekend (Saturday), it was the day that I intended to spend visiting cemeteries. And it began with thunder and lighting. And rain. So much that I didn't bother to take a picture of the hotel, but later when I was heading back south and ready to get on highway 81, I drove by and took the picture above.
OK... so checking the weather it didn't look like it would rain real hard all day, so I headed out and drove past the cemeteries and the village of Ellisburg. Not much of a village. Some houses, a church, a couple of businesses. A few more houses. Just not much here. The South Sandy Creek runs right through the village.
As 11:00 neared and the rain hadn't quite stopped yet, I headed on back up to Adams for breakfast/lunch at McDonalds, and when I finished so had the rain. For now. I went back on down to Saxe Cemetery and paid it my own visit. Primarily here are the graves of John M. Decker and his wife Phebe, with Sarah Decker (his mother) being right behind them, and John D. Decker (their son) just to the left.
I also went over to the cemetery in Woodville, as there were many Converse graves there. The main interest there is that there are several Converse relatives living in the area, although primarily the family of Rachel W. Decker who married James M Convis who is not buried here.
Down at Ellisburg Cemetery, just south of Ellisburg, has more graves of the Decker family, particularly Elizabeth (Bovee) Decker who married Michael Decker, my great-great-great grandparents. She is buried along with James M, Polly, Willie, Mattie, and Jas. M. Convis. Also in this cemetery are Harley J. Decker next to William H. Decker and apparently his wife Jennie (small stone next to his with just her name), and Isaac W. Decker in the plot for the Kibling family, his wife being Lodema E. Kibling.
Interestingly, I already have pictures of all these graves, and they are located on my website. They were sent to me by David Decker a few years ago, and they are dated 2002. I even used his pictures to help locate a few of the headstones in the cemetery (e.g., using the trailer & garage in the background to place the location of Harley and William Decker). But I still wanted to see the graves for myself, get a feeling for where they are, and to also see the village of Ellisburg. Mission accomplished. Then it started sprinkling again, off and on. It all worked out great. As I took pictures of those that I know are related, I then changed to video and recorded a short video of the headstone with my attempt to read what is on it. Between the records, the video, and the picture, I should have a good record. Sometimes it is easier to read the headstone through the picture than it is with the naked eye. We'll see.
So, after several days of wandering around Jefferson County, it was finally time to head east again. I came down highway 81 to the New York turnpike and drove straight to Albany, about three hours. and arrived at the Howard Johnsons by 6:30 p.m. After a quick trip to the store (more soda-pop) and Denny's, I returned, settled down, ate, and now completed my journal entry. (Almost)
Tomorrow is Sunday, and it is my float day, meaning I can float around and do what I want. I would like to go the the Albany Public Library to do a quick look for records from Albany County (primarly Berne), and also to head over to Massachusetts and Vermont for a quick trip (lunch or dinner - gotta eat there for it to fully count as a 'visit'). I should do laundry also (been saving my quarters), before I need to head up to Saratoga Springs on Monday for the start of the conference.
Day 5 - June 29, 2008 (Sunday)
Hmm... what a day. As I started out, the odometer showed that I had so far driven 883 miles, so it was somewhere around 875 last night when I got to the hotel in Albany and then headed out for more soda and dinner. Today's agenda was to take my side tour to visit a couple more states, then end up at the Albany Public Library for their Sunday hours of 1:00 to 5:00.
So I started out by drawing a little map that I could easily follow to get to Massachusetts, the up to Vermont, then return back to Albany. It worked like a charm. I headed up highway 87, then took 2 east until I reached Massachusetts. This road follows along the sides of mountains, winding around, up & down (many, many signs warning of steep grade). Finally, as I neared the state line I pulled off the road and walked up a mountain. I figured the view had to be great, but in the end I saw a lot of trees and got some great exercise. And a few pictures, but not like I expected.
I thought it was rather interesting that this sign (below) indicated that the stop sign is four miles ahead. I think that's the furthest I have ever seen the stop ahead sign before the actual stop sign. It was entirely downhill for the entire four miles. About 50 feet past this sign, it turns out, was the state line between New York and Massachusetts.
I drove on to Route 7, then headed north to Williamston to find someplace to eat. This was to follow my general guideline that the best way to make sure that it counts that I have been to a state is to actually get out and get something to eat or drink (As opposed to walking across an airport like I did Arizona and Colorado). Well, I cruised up and around Williamston, then headed farther north and didn't find anywhere that I wanted to eat. Before I knew it I was in Vermont, and had to turn around and go back to a Citgo in Massachusetts to buy a sandwich. Then I started eating it and headed back up to Vermont. So, in short, I visited both states twice today. Technically.
Vermont was a little easier. I followed Route 7 as far up as Bennington, where I stopped at a Friendly's and got a double scoop Black Raspberry ice cream cone.
After leaving here, I made a quick left heading back west in Rte 9, which interestingly turns into Rte 7 when you're in New York. Then it was just a matter of driving back to Albany. Route 7 was much smoother, flatter, and straighter that Route 2 was, but not as scenic.
When I got back to Albany, I headed toward the Albany Public Library and finally figured out not only where it was, but also where I could park, and went inside. There's an Albany history room, but not much in the way of records, and even less considering my family lived in Albany County, but not the city. There was a great book here that details Dutch houses including the Johannes Decker house down in Shawangunk (color photos and all). It was also included in another book that included architectural drawings, which appeared to be similar to those that are in the Library of Congress, also on this website. After a couple of hours there, I went through everything they had that seemed to be of interest. I expect I will find more at the New York State Library, where I spent a couple of days some years ago.
Back at the hotel, it was a good time for doing laundry. Mileage now reads 993, which means I spent about a 100 miles for my little jaunt to visit the other states. After the laundry was done, it was a good time to walk over the the Mexican restaurant that is part of the hotel, and I ordered Chicken Fajitas, and drank a raspberry colada while I waited. Something about raspberry today, I guess, with the ice cream cone earlier. It just worked out that way. Well, my food took some time to come out, apparently the ticket got lost or something, but I wasn't bothered (I was just going to come back to my room, anyway). But they wanted to make it up to me, and since this was my last night in town, they couldn't give me a free meal. The manager was willing to give me some money back, but I asked her about dessert. She gave me cheesecake and strawberries:
Three pieces! And tons of strawberries. For just me. I don't know how I will get through all this. I've eaten one piece already, soon I can have a second one. Later, I'll have to try and enjoy the third. After all, it is cheesecake!
Howard Johnsons - Albany
Day 6 - June 30, 2008 - Monday
Well, it was time to actually do some work. I made the short drive up here to the Hilton in Saratoga Springs. Nice hotel. I've stayed at a Knights Inn, Travelodge, Super 8, and Howard Johnsons, and they have all been leading up to this. This place is pretty nice.
It was easy to get to Saratoga Springs. I followed this boat most of the way.
So the conference has started, and tomorrow is my presentation. I still need to practice. I want to be better prepared than I normally am when I teach class. :)
There are quite a few of us here from Michigan that I know. Five of us went for dinner down the road, and went to a Jazz club called One Caroline. It was a small place, but the group was very good, and the food was.. well... I just love the whole thing. It was a lot of fun and very worth it.
The main sessions will take place tomorrow and Wednesday, along with the Appreciation Event tomorrow night. I'm still laughing about the cheesecake. I just finished the strawberries a few minutes ago.
Day ... what day is this? Day 7 - July 1, 2008
Wow. What a day. It started with me taking my books, router, phones (IP & Analog) and laptop, and whatnot, down to Saratoga 3 to prepare for my presentation at 10:30. Ate a little breakfast, went to the general session (first full day of the conference), then I was up next. My one hour presentation (Teaching Telephony) went very well, if I do say so myself. But I don't have to, because quite a few people (hmm. At least 5. 6?) have talked to me since to say that it was a very good presentation. I was right on time, and felt fairly comfortable, even with about 50 people in the room. At least 15-20 were actually paying attention. :)
So, after that, I packed up all my stuff, ended up taking them out to the van (don't need a router in my room anymore), and took some pictures of the hotel:
Nice room - 402 on the corner, so I have two windows: no views.
Alright.. so that is done, and now I can relax for the rest of the conference, attend sessions, meet with people, and also enjoy myself tonight at the appreciation event. Which brings me to... the appreciation event.
Every year we go to a Cisco conference, we always get a hat at the appreciation event. Usually at the Academy Conferences it ends up being a baseball hat, as opposed to networkers where we get dragon hats, jester's hats, and the fuzzy purple hat (still my favorite). This year we got a french beret style hat. The event was held at the Canfield Casino (an old time casino that isn't a real casino anymore) that is just 10 or so blocks down the road. We took buses to get there.
The first item of business was to start betting on horse races (pre-recorded, all for fun, with $1000 in funny money). I did not do well in the six races, except for my horse in the third race came in 2nd, and I got my $100 back. While we were doing this at first there were hors D'eorves coming around, like really small burgers (about the size of a quarter), small tacos (two bites), and something with shrimp in it. Dinner was really good, but it was like a variety, with a small piece of steak, some chicken, two ribs, and corn-on-the cob (two) that were each about 1/2" long. And then I laughed when they brought out the little piece of cheesecake. See my experience with the three big free pieces of cheesecake I got free the other night above. But it was really, really good, with some kind of rum sauce.
Then... well a few of us started dancing. I admit it, I was sitting right by the stage, and Jackie Barker happened to walk by, and we did a little dancing, a few others joined in, and next thing I knew there were 20-30 of us up there. Then it started going really good. Just about the time that I was thinking I was warm enough, and tired enough.. well, then they put on Joan Jett, and it was all over for me. I had to dance even more, and I kept seeing Dave Chalk take pictures & videos of us with my camera... well, I don't even know what I have on there. I haven't looked yet. I know that Deanne & Jesse got some pictures too.. she said they've got all the goods. So to circumvent that, I will go ahead and post some of the ones that I have right here:
There's Jackie right behind me.
Good crowd shot. Everybody is smiling. We were having fun.
Final Evidence: A video of us dancing. (.mov - 5.3 Meg)
Day 8 - July 2, 2008
OK, so the conference has wound down ... well, actually it ended this afternoon. I guess you can say it wound down to a stop. It was a pretty uneventful day after all the fun yesterday (presenting in the morning and partying in the night). It was just about attending sessions up to the final session. The Cisco provided lunch today was really good, almost didn't want to go out to dinner. OK.. it was food, so I did, but didn't need to eat as much.
I went out with Deanne and Jesse to dinner, and we ended up, after wandering looking for a good place to eat, at Bailey's Cafe for some good burgers. On the way there I made sure we walked past One Caroline, the jazz club where we ate Monday night. I still can't get over it - it was good food and good music.
Apparently this building (& restaurant) dates back to 1902. That's what the menu says. I haven't taken a picture with the frog yet anywhere on this trip (I don't think he cared much about the county buildings & cemeteries in Jefferson County), so I thought this sign in Bailey's Cafe would be appropriate to commemorate the visit to Saratoga Springs, NY:
Tomorrow I will be packing up and checking out early to drive back down to Albany for a day in the library (I know... not everyone's idea of fun), then I have a 2 1/2 hour drive to Syracuse for my final night before heading home (about 7 hours) on Friday.
Day 9 - July 3, 2008
What a great day. I arrived at the New York State Library and the archives (11th floor) shortly after they opened at 9 a.m. (probably by 9:20), and went to the archives to look at the vital records for the descendents of Myndert. I mostly ended up just going page by page looking for individuals who would have a record on file with the Department of Public Health in New York, the records began being kept around 1880, but initially weren't required to be filed. I was especially interested in Wesley Josiah Decker, as I suspect he remarried about 1885, but that may have been in Michigan.
New York Cultural & Education Center (location of state library & archives)
State Capital complex - Albany
I could spend days at this place - what I could do. There are so many Deckers in the records, dating from 1880 to the 1950s. I spent my time looking for descendants of Myndert Decker, my most direct lines of the family. After working through there until about 2:30, I finally headed down to the 7th floor to the library. I quickly locates some Decker items of interest, including bible records of Tunis Decker's family (or apparently more particularly a genealogy derived from the bible records), as well as those of Johannis Decker and Anna Hasbrouck. These are amongst the D.A.R. bible records collection. Then it took me a bit, but I located a book with church records from Albany and Greene Counties, and spent the remainder of my time transcribing the Decker records out of this book, getting records only from Greene County in the early 1800s. More stuff to post. I finished right at 5:00, closing time. I never even went near the microfilm room. You have to be a genealogy researcher to appreciate any of this. :)
Two and a half hours later (and another $72 for gas), and I am now outside of Syracuse for my final night stay. Tomorrow I drive home. The Comfort Inn seems OK, if the people across the hall would stop slamming their door.
Day 10 - July 4, 2008
I spent my Fourth of July driving home from East Syracuse, New York to Bay City, Michigan. Total distance driven today: 466 miles, in just about 8 1/2 hours. I left the hotel (above) at 9:47 a.m., and pulled into my driveway at 6:15 p.m. I spent about 30 minutes on the bridge near Niagara Falls, waiting to go through customs. There were lines for the toll booths also. Seems as though Niagara Falls was a popular destination for the holiday. I had to stop once more for gas in Canada, but limited it to $40 to not spend any more than I had too there, pretty much what we figured out was the price is about $5 a gallon U.S., verified by my friend from Canada that I saw at the conference.
Some overall notes on the trip: Total distance driven was 1,671 miles, and overall MPG was 22.0. The best price I saw for gas after leaving Michigan was about $3.99, in Vermont. In New York there were just a couple stations east of Albany at around $4.17 a gallon, every place else was in the vicinity of $4.25. With a calculation of using about 76 gallons of gas, and an average price of about $4.25, I guess I spent about $323 for gas, just a little more than I had figured ($300).
My timer in the van said it had been on for 34 hours 26 minutes, most of which I spent driving (or sitting in traffic). That would work out to an average speed of 48.5 miles per hour.
Some other things I can think of:
Tolls paid: over $25
Border crossings: 4
Hard Rock Cafes visited: 1
Hotels visited: 6 (longest was three nights)
Cemeteries visited: 4 (saw many others)
States Visited: Michigan, Ontario (province), New York, Massachusetts, Vermont
Information found: Lots to go through yet.
Best information: Wesley Josiah Decker did move from Ellisburg, NY to Sterling, MI.