Another side of New York: Cazenovia
In the summer of 2016 my husband was working on a wind farm on the edge of the finger lakes region of upstate New York. When my plane landed in Albany, I loaded up my 10 month old and we drove 2 hours to our RV which was parked at a campground off the beaten path. Honestly, everything in that area off the interstate was the beaten path. It was scary. Google maps took me through 100 miles of dark road, where country houses looked vacant and fog lingered on the crests of small hills as our rental car sped through. There were deer caution signs everywhere, but I was spooked and my cell signal was spotty. In the dead of the night I was met with my husband’s warm arms. I hadn’t seen him in 10 weeks.
When the sun rose I was amazed. We were surrounded by the most beautiful green trees, a cloud scattered periwinkle sky, and silence for miles. Just outside of the campground were crops, farmhouses and deer frolicking along the edge of the road. I expected this kind of beautiful country in Louisiana, that land of my grandparents, but not New York, the same great state known for the concrete jungle that is Manhattan.
The hills rolled on for miles, covered in gorgeous trees and crops. As we drove to a small diner one afternoon (the only one open for miles) we passed a large horse drawn coach driven by an Amish family. The most surreal part of the experience was the red and orange safety reflectors on the rear of the coach; a reminder of the old world meshing with the new.
On another afternoon, we visited a small grocery store owned and by the local Mennonite families. The Adirondack chair on the front porch was so beautifully crafted, but I was really impressed by the store and it’s contents. Fresh spices, pickled eggs, cured meats, cheeses, and even fresh meat cuts that were all locally made and very reasonably priced. The teenage girls behind the counter wore matching pale blue dresses with white bonnets. An very tall older gentleman had a bowl haircut, a button down shirt, suspenders, and brown cropped pants. They were so very friendly with our baby and their jalapeño pickled eggs were to die for! On our way out of town, we stopped by Oxbow Falls. It is just a five minute walk from the parking area and has a gorgeous view, but in late August all of the water was dried up. It was still worth the stop.
All of this is about a 20 minute drive from a very modern shopping mall and suburban living, but they have done a very good job keeping themselves isolated. 30 minutes west will take you to a lovely wine country in a quaint vacation spot called Skeneatles (which I will talk about about another time). Without seeing it you would never believe it was there.