High fuel prices may be forcing most of the antique sellers online; we trekked the entire 50 miles of the sale without coming across a single dealer. But while Route 90 wasn’t the cornucopia of collectibles we’d envisioned, the entire weekend didn’t have to be a bust.
We decided to pack in early after a head-scratching encounter with one local woman and her chicken coop, during which we received some serious misinformation about the normal egg laying schedule of hens. (6 eggs a day? We may be city folk, but we’re not that gullible.)
The eastern shore of Cayuga Lake hosts just two active wineries compared to over a dozen along the western edge. Although we were given (more) dubious information about how the Cayuga County-side farmers historically have been less willing to sell their land for use as vineyards, a more probable explanation for the discrepancy is the west-to-east moving jet stream which creates a warmer (and somewhat less vine-friendly) eastern lake coast.
After picking up several bottles of the whites for which the Finger Lakes region is best known, we moved on, bidding adieu to Route 90. Continuing on the scenic route home, at Ithaca’s Six Mile Creek Vineyard, we sampled and bought more award winning Riesling. That afternoon, the tasting room overlooking the sloping vine-covered hills was also hosting half a dozen greyhounds and their owners, who were at the winery for the Grapehound Wine Tour — an annual Finger Lakes hound/wine tasting event, now in its third year.
Some places are worth a stop, just because you like the looks of them. Richford’s Dairy Treat caught our eye as we made the turn onto Route 79, with its hulking black smoker parked in the front lot, and huge signs advertising BBQ chicken and 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream — mixed to order.
My creamy espresso cone did not disappoint.
Revived by our late lunch/early dinner (not to be confused with the fried-fest we shared at McMurphy’s Pub much later that night), we hit the road once more in search of treasures. The afternoon hailstorm, though, seemed to have dampened not just the farmland, but the momentum of the weekend’s sale. We passed many closed up tents and tarp-covered tables en route to our hotel. So ended Route 90 shopping for the day.
In Aurora, the expanse of farmland made way for a picturesque village of stately homes fronting Cayuga Lake. Much of this historic town was restored between 2001 and 2006 by American Girl founder (and Wells College alum) Pleasant T. Rowland — efforts which nonetheless were not embraced by all Aurora locals. Familiar laments all.
Eventually we made our way off the route to Auburn, a small city notable for three sites: the Harriet Tubman home, Seward House (the family home of William H. Seward, former Governor of New York and Secretary of State under Lincoln, responsible for “Seward’s Folly“) and The Auburn State Correctional Facility. By 6PM, the first two places were already closed; the third, we discovered somewhat by accident while coasting through our hotel’s packed parking lot, situated directly next door. (The hotel’s proximity to a maximum security prison was not all that off-putting, as it turned out: tonight we encountered a wedding reception and a high school reunion in progress.)
Auburn CF was the site of the first execution via electric chair in 1890; Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who shot William McKinley during the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo was put to death there. It’s apparently a point of perverse pride among the locals; Swaby’s, the pub on South Street where we ended up briefly that night, has on display an actual electric chair used in the prison. (Ew.)
Our exploration of Auburn nightlife began and ended there: when the rains let up, we abandoned our watered-down beers next to their busted pool table, having stayed just long enough for me to get in one play of “Just Like Heaven” on the jukebox.
After we spent the latter half of last night chilly and wet, A decided that we needed to make a quick stop at the Ellensburg Fred Meyer for some emergency ponchos. And true to some variant of Murphy’s Law, his preparatory purchase seemed to insure that we would have no need for rain gear; the skies remained clear the entire day.
David Govedare’s sculpture of 16 wild horses was installed on this bluff near the town of Vantage for Washington State’s Centennial Celebration in 1989. Native American Govedare is one of the Northwest’s most recognized artist for his public works, including the lifesize Bloomsday runners of “The Joy of Running Together” (1986) in downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park. (Not everyone’s a fan.)
This 200-foot line of charging horses (no two alike) can be glimpsed briefly from the interstate — if you’re not the one behind the wheel — or more leisurely from the Wanapum Vista Overlook, where we made this stop. Bonus: an expansive view of the Columbia River Valley, Wanapum Lake and the Vantage Bridge.
Govedare’s installation, created from welded 1″ thick tempered steel plates, is titled “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies“; the scene re-creates the legend of the Great Spirit turning loose a herd of the first wild horses onto earth. There is a rather treacherous-looking trail leading up the horses, but my festival flip-flops probably wouldn’t have gotten me very far up the bluff.
Later, at the Cave B Winery adjacent to the Gorge. Inventor/neurosurgeon cum real estate developer Vince Bryan purchased this 550 acre plot of land on which he carved out 100 acres of vineyard; since then, over two dozen wineries have moved into the area. He and his wife built the neighboring Gorge Amphitheatre in 1983 (now owned by Live Nation); in the 1990s, the Bryans added the inn and resort. A golf course is in the works.
We joined up with our Chimposium-visiting friends and together signed up for a tasting of six wines: the 2006 Cave B Sauvignon Blanc; the 2007 SageCliffe 100 Chardonnay (unoaked); the 2007 Cave B Saignée Rosé; the 2006 Cave B Sangiovese; the 2004 SageCliffe Merlot; and the 2005 Cave B Syrah.
A and NO picked up a couple bottles of the Merlot for sipping out on the veranda from which we could take in the awe-inspiring view of the vines and the Columbia River Gorge, while plinking traces of the White Rabbits piano heavy set drifted over from the festival next door.
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