Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chapter 31 - Henderson to Watkins Glen, New York

July 24th, Day 51: This morning before we left we definitively made sure that Cabo was not alone in the car with our car keys. We did not want a repeat of yesterday. Anyway, our drive this morning was around three hours with most of it being on four-lane divided highways. By far the best part of the drive however,
was when we exited the New York Thruway at Geneva and then drove south along the western shoreline of Seneca Lake. The drive along the lake brought back memories of the five summers that we spent between 2004 and 2008 living in a cottage that we owned on Seneca Lake. This part of New York State is famous for its many vineyards and wineries and we passed dozens of them as we drove south. We also recalled that over these five summers that we spent here that we had tasted the wine in all of these wineries with the exception of one new one that we passed along the way. Hopefully we will sample their wine tomorrow. Our campground for the next three nights is a KOA. It is perhaps the nicest one we have visited so far on this trip and it is definitely the most expensive.

This photo to the right is pretty typical of the scenery here in the Finger Lakes. Acres and acres of grapevines growing down the hillsides surrounding the lakes. In the case of this photo, the lake is Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, about 38 miles long with a maximum width of only two miles. It is no wonder that they are called "finger" lakes.

As I previously mentioned, Kathy and I used to own a small cottage on Seneca Lake and while we know it has changed somewhat since we lived here, we still wanted to pay our old summer home a visit. The outside of the cottage really had not changed that much. The new owners changed the exterior paint colors and installed more modern windows, but one of the things that they did not change was the porch deck that I had personally constructed with my own hammer and saw and the porch furniture which we sold with the cottage back in 2008. The view of the cottage and the lake in front brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

Only a few miles from our old cottage is the small village of Dundee where a number of my ancestors had lived and had died and while I have visited their graves a number of times in the past, I figured that this blog would be lacking without including a few photographs of my weeping over their gravestones. In this first photograph I am standing next to the gravestone of my 4th great grandfather, Samuel Harpending (1778-1852). Great grandpa Sam and his wife Hannah Cozad were among the earliest settlers in this area.

This second photograph shows me kneeing in sorrow behind the gravestone of my 3rd great grandparents Charles S. Baker (1835-1891) and Hannah Elizabeth Harpending (1842-1891). In total I have five generations of my family buried in this small graveyard and my grandfather while not buried here, was born in Dundee. It is not surprising that this little town located between Seneca Lake on the east and Keuka Lake on the west is so important to our family.

It was after three in the afternoon before we returned to our campground. It was a long day considering our drive this morning hauling our travel trailer and then our touring this afternoon, but we enjoyed all of it. Our campsite was a very pleasant place to sit outside and enjoy the rest of the day and evening. Tomorrow we will tour some more.

July 25th, Day 52: We woke up this morning to nice cooler temperatures, which was good, but with skies that looked like it would rain any minute, which was not good. One of the locals mentioned to us when we noted the threatening skies, that the area badly needed rain both to water their lawns as well as the farmlands. All we questioned was the poor timing. Just hold off the rain until Wednesday afternoon, please. Our first visit this morning was to the mooring docks in Watkins Glen at the southern end of Seneca Lake. It was near here that our own boat was stored during the winter months and we thought that it would be fun to walk along the docks.
Obviously the skies were not cooperating and these two photographs reflect the gloominess of the morning.

Only minutes after we left the docks in Watkins Glen headed west to the lovely old village of Hammondsport at the southern end of Keuka Lake, the skies finally opened up and it rained hard for the next hour. The hard rain made driving on the hilly and winding roads very difficult and unpleasant but we were determined to keep moving and not let the rain spoil our day. Fortunately that rain let up shortly after arriving in Hammondsport which gave Kathy a chance to shop for a few souvenirs without getting wet and for us to drive around the village and bring back old memories.
Hammondsport was originally founded back in 1827 and one of the wonderful sights in the village besides the waterfront are the old and well preserved homes.

The Finger Lakes are noted for their vineyards therefore I could not help but take this photograph of one of my favorite fruits, the grape. And it is everywhere.

After leaving Hammondsport we headed up the west shoreline of Keuka Lake (now that it has stopped raining) with the good intentions of stopping at one of our favorite wineries, The Bully Hill Winery.  We have tasted wine here, purchased wine, and had lunch here a number of times in the past and we have never been disappointed. Plus the view from the winery is fabulous. It was only around 12:30 pm when I had a few samples of their wine but as always their wine was delicious and I was forced (by human nature) to purchase a bottle.

This photo of Kathy and Cabo was taken from just below the Bully Hill Winery and it clearly shows why the Finger Lakes Region of New York State should be a destination for all travelers.

We left the winery traveling north up the west side of Keuka Lake. The scenery was beautiful as the highway made its way through the various small towns and past the numerous large vineyards and farmlands. We have had lunch several times at a great restaurant named the Esperanza located just south of the village of Penn Yan and we thought that it might be fun to stop by and check out their current menu. Cabo actually shared lunch with us out on their patio back in 2008. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed on Mondays but I took this photograph (above) of their building because it is such an impressive place and it has great views of Keuka Lake.

We continued north again passing through the village of Penn Yan before turning south and down a highway running between Seneca lake and Keuka Lake back to our new home town Watkins Glen and our campsite.  It was almost 3 o'clock before we arrived "home". Shortly after our arrival at our campsite the skies opened up again and it started to rain.  Now it did not matter. We were home. We sat under our awning listening to the rain and talked about what a great day we have had.  We also talked about tomorrow for tomorrow we will again travel through this wonderful spot known as the Finger Lakes.

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