Finger Lakes

We left Niagara Falls on a Sunday so we got caught in the line up for the dump. Note to self: check out on Mondays or Tuesdays or… From Niagara we headed for the Finger Lakes. Trying to avoid tolls (common on the interstates out east), our GPS wound us up and down hills on bumpy backroads criss-crossing the countryside. It was scenic for me, but for Chuck it was not so much fun.

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Still it was sunny when we arrived at Keuka Lake State Park to find a nicely maintained campground on the hillside above the lake. Again we had to park on the grass (what’s with that here in the Northeast?) but there seemed to be a bit of gravel underneath on one side so we aimed for that. We set up and sat down to enjoy the sunshine in our large private site. It was a good thing because when the rain moved in the next day the rest of our campsite quickly became a puddle and we weren’t sitting outside anymore. 😦

On one of the nicer days we headed for Watkins Glen about 40 minutes away. This natural gorge has 19 waterfalls along the 1.5 mile trail. It was beautiful and I kinda wished we could go back and walk it all again another day.

The area is known for wine tasting and with over 200 wineries in the Finger Lakes region trying to decide where to go was daunting. I read a couple of wine trail brochures and a Fodor’s article and settled on a few of the wineries on nearby Seneca Lake.

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Our first stop at Anthony Road was disappointing. The grounds were beautiful, there was even an old Airstream behind the barn, but the place felt sterile. They had a small gallery and a beautiful porch overlooking the lake but it was so quiet in the tasting room that sound echoed in the building.

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There was no friendly welcome but still we bellied up to the nearly empty tasting bar and plunked down our $5 (different from wineries we’ve been to in other places everywhere here charges $5 for a tasting flight which sometimes you get to chose and sometimes you don’t). The gal behind the counter offered little chatter beyond the description of the wines, even when we tried to strike up a friendly conversation. She’d pour one wine, give us the rehearsed spiel about it’s characteristics then turn her back to stare out at the lake. Oh well, they did at least have a decent Pinot Gris.

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Hard to see, but there is a cool silver hawk at the top right of the rusty tree.

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The next stop was a much smaller winery, not on the official “tasting trail” (with over 200 wineries in this region only some pay to be in the tasting trail brochures). Here we were greeted warmly, and as we tasted our wines, we had a friendly chat about our travels. I think Red Tail Ridge probably ended up being our favorite stop.

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All the wineries had cool metalwork like this gate at Fox Run.

Our third stop was another major winery but this one was friendlier than our first. At Fox Run we discovered a new wine called Arctic Run. How could we resist the blue bottle? This region is know for it’s Dry Rieslings and while they were ok most of them weren’t what we wanted, but this blended white table wine said it went well with guacamole and chips. Wow that’s right up our alley!

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By now we were both kinda tasted out, but stopped at Three Brothers since they had a brewery as well. This place was interesting just for the decor. We opted not to taste but instead bought an IPA and some root beer to take home with us which both turned out to be pretty good.

The Finger Lakes area has a large population of Amish and Mennonite families. We saw several horse and buggies clopping along the side of the road. One day I stopped at Oak Hill Bulk Foods, a Mennonite store to marvel at the huge selection of items packed in little bags. From hundreds of candies to flours, pudding mix, oats, pretzels, nuts, pasta, spices and more, they had it all. But the most amazing thing were hidden in little white bags near the register–fry pies! Oh man, these things were amazing!

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I opted for cherry with cream cheese and black raspberry. When I got back and we ate them we couldn’t believe how delicious they were. They took us back to those Hostess pies of our youth, only so much better! Needless to say we made another stop to get more before we left town and I’m actually thinking of going back later in the summer. It just might be feasible since we need to return to Ohio for some warranty work the first of September. Hmm, if I route it right… 🙂

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Chuck had some decent weather to try out his new toy and got a great shot of our solar installation. Should be fun to get some arial shots of the places we visit.

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Next we head to the Adirondacks and then to south Lake Champlain for the 4th of July. Then we have a week in Vermont with a visit to Ben and Jerry’s before heading to the coast of Maine and up to Acadia for our next National Park.

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