Up early for our first stop, Gloversville New York, traveling at a relaxed pace. Down time is spent making a list of all our “to-be-fixed” items, or as I call them, our “it’s always something”. We will slowly make our way to Red Bay Alabama, home of the Tiffin Manufacturer and LilyPad’s birthplace. This is the second of our twice-yearly treks to the dusty parking lot with RV hook-ups in the middle of nowhere. The list grew because they didn’t fix some things correctly last visit, even after being stalled there patiently for 30 days. Among other things, the separated sewer vent pipes and the separated diesel heater vent pipes are a must do. The horrid smelly odors seeping inside of LilyPad makes our travels far less pleasant. Along with the yucky smell, being pulled in tight each night while on the road can irritate even the calmest of nerves.
Two overnights in Gloversville, one for dinner with an old high school chum of John’s and the next night, dinner with our niece and nephew before we move-it-on-down-the-road.
It took a full day of driving before we arrived at our next few overnights, Clute Memorial Campground in Watkins Glen New York. Nothing special about the campground but a premier location for visiting wineries and Watkins Glen State Park. Within walking distance of WalMart and across the street from Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in New York, the campground is close to dozens of wineries, enough to keep one busily sampling wines for weeks. Grape vines are packed together along the lakes edge and sporadically placed craft breweries and liquor distilleries are squeezed in-between the crowds of wineries.
This is a “don’t miss” area even with dogs and kids in tow. Most of the wineries are kid and dog friendly, room to roam for the kids, water bowls and uncarpeted floors for dogs. All have amazing views, scenic areas to stop and relax, parks with lots of room for youngster and fur-babies to run and much for all to discover in the natural beauty of the lake.
Woke up early to explore Watkins Glen State Park. This adventure would be without KatieBug as dogs are not allowed on the trails. We began our hike at a slow pace, cane clutched in my hand, walking up the trail along the wide stone pathway,
watched an artist construct a stone meditative art piece,
more stairs to reach Central Cascade,
further up, making a hairpin turn, steps rising up and over the suspension bridge and the wondrous birds eye view of the water carved stone of the Narrows.
Higher up the trail, another fantastic view before winding back down the mountain.
Back down through the Narrows,
past the completed meditative art piece and
a pause to observe the centuries old shifted rock plates along the canyon walls
and following the path along the water, out to the Main Entrance. Most of the walking was level enough for me but I was armed with my trusty cane for the stairs and uneven areas. Even with there being 800 of them, the stairs were nothing to stop anyone from enjoying the park. Our slow and steady pace kept us from becoming intensely overheated and gave us time to savor the views.
An abundance of places to stop and rest along the paths, all walkways very well marked, this late in the year there were lots of small, medium and large waterfalls scattered along the trail.
A TripAdvisor review forewarned us, suggesting we bring water and wear comfortable shoes so our day was pleasant, even with no bathrooms until you return to the gift shop. KatieBug would have loved the hike had she been allowed.
The mist while standing under the Cavern Cascade Falls were wonderfully refreshing after our long trek.
We came about two weeks too early for the fall leaf colors but that gives us a reason to return.
Next morning we had breakfast at Berta’s, a small diner owned by a friendly senior lady who prepares all her dishes with the fresh herbs that she grows out in front of her café.
After breakfast, we drove around Seneca Lake. Several areas had signs to slow down for horses and carriages. Mennonites live in the area. They are Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland. At that time they were part of the Holy Roman Empire. Through Simon’s writings, he articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. I was uncomfortable taking their picture so I used one from the internet.
We stopped to visit a dairy owned by Mennonites and sampled several different seasoning infused cheeses. Came away with two wonderful flavors of cheese curds, or as our daughter Liz calls them, squeaky cheese…it squeaks against your teeth as you chew and they have a delightful flavor and texture.
With noon mere moments away, it was close enough for us to begin our marathon of wine tasting. We picked three wineries close by, those having the most interesting names, along with one distillery. Deciding to start the day off with the biggest kick, we drove to Finger Lakes Distilling and sampled several wonderful sips of whiskey, gin, vodka, grappa, brandy and one liqueur.
Reminiscent of my favorite small batch distillery in Las Vegas where they make Grandma’s Apple Pie Moonshine, their brass distilling apparatus came from the same German company and looked as if it, too, were built to last several generations.
Our first choice was a “good-un”, a word my family refers to as a grandma-ism. I hold these words close to my heart and they tend to creep into my speech whenever I need to keep in touch with my roots. On this beautiful sunny weekday afternoon, the tranquil surroundings were well-received by both John and I, now that we had temporarily returned to retiree status. We brought home two bottles, a spicy cinnamon whiskey and another berry liqueur. Our liquor cabinet is coming along nicely. If our next contract or volunteer position is anything like our last, I’ll have plenty of choices for a variety of moods to dispel.
This region is known for dry Rieslings. Being red wine drinkers and not finding any that pleased us in our random winery choices, we began asking the next few stops for the names of the area’s top red wineries. We were directed to Miles Wine Cellars and Anthony Road Winery.
Miles Wine Cellars also had craft beer but we kept our taste buds zeroed in on fermented crushed grapes. The grounds were lovely with a vintage wine press posing underneath an old-growth tree.
The historic old plantation style home sat relaxing near the lake, benches overlooking the water and dense grass all across the grounds, an inviting atmosphere. We met one of our campground motorhome neighbors and chatted during the tasting.
Our next and last stop was Anthony Road Winery. Zen like setting, no fee for the tasting but again, no rich bold reds. Someday I will learn to enjoy white wines and expand my taste bud experiences.
We returned home for a KatieBug break. Although most wineries were pet friendly, KatieBug stayed back at LilyPad enjoying animal planet on TV, surrounded by air conditioning and staying cool on this warm sunny day. She and John stretched their legs while walking across the street to Seneca Lake, down along the water’s edge and back home.
We visited as many wineries as possible before resigning to the fact that we could never visit all of them on this trip. With KatieBug at home sung as a bug, us growing tired from the arduous task of bending our elbows repeatedly, hour after hour, standing up sampling wines…yea, I know, it’s a rough life…we drove to the opposite end of the lake to our pre-planned evening destination, Ventosa Winery.
The entrance is gorgeous Italian style décor that continues inside, the perfect setting for formal or informal weddings. To my relief, dozens of nooks and crannies to sit and relax as opposed to the usual required standing position for tastings. We sampled the reds, John ordered us a lite bite to eat and a full glass of wine. We sat on the verandah unwinding while listening to live guitar music. When evening approached, we had a front row seat to a peaceful sunset over the tops of grape vine branches that reached out and touched the calm shores, while their roots sunk into the depths of Seneca Lake.
Although all were acceptable wineries, we both considered the winery tours only marginally satisfying our wines of choice are the big and bold flavors of California, Spanish and Italian reds. Still, the area is worth another visit to further explore its endless natural beauty. Next time we’ll plan to arrive when the fall leaves turn colors and do less tasting but more exploring.
John wanted to visit Pleasant Valley Winery, formerly Taylor Wineries, one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Located in Hammondsport New York, not far from Watkins Glen, KatieBug came along for the drive, taking us passed dozens more wineries. We arrived, John went in to check out the wine offerings while I stayed in the car with KatieBug. John took a few pictures of the small wine museum inside but didn’t like the tasting choices so we took the long way home to enjoy the sights.
Inside the museum, cork as it appears the first time it is stripped from a tree.
A tree must be 25 years old before it can be stripped for the first time. Subsequent harvests from that tree are allowed only at 9 or 10 year intervals. Every time this occurs, the quality of the cork is better. Cork trees are native to Spain and Portugal.
There were several vintage bottling machines in the museum.
Hector Falls, a full block-long water fall along the side of the road, was a nice pause and Kodak moment as we continued our drive back to LilyPad.
Sunset, dinner at a local diner and early to bed for our sunrise departure.
Rolling down the road by 8 a.m. Next destination, Niagara Falls New York.