Category: Friends

…to the shores of wine country

Sunday, July 27th, 2008 | All Things, Arts, Drinks, Family, Friends, Music, NYC History, Travel

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.

We stopped in for a tasting at 72-acre Long Point Winery in Aurora — the second winery to open its doors on the eastern side of Cayuga Lake, in May 2000. (King Ferry Winery was the pioneer, in 1984.)

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.

From the wine trail to the ice cream trail

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.

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From the sales of Montezuma…

Sunday, July 27th, 2008 | All Things, Friends, Travel

S and I had reserved high hopes for Montezuma, New York, deducing that the northern terminus of the Route 90 Sale — farthest from the city, and with the least picked-over stock — would yield the greatest treasures. The reality turned out differently: Montezuma, population 1400, had little to offer in the way of sales… or anything else for that matter. We breezed through the sleepy town in under 15 minutes.

The local scene may be much more happening next month during the Third Annual “Montezuma Mosquito Fest”…

Even locating a spot for breakfast turned out to be somewhat of a challenge. We passed on the “German Food” truck in Springport, and settled instead on the Be Happy Cafe in Union Springs, where 2 eggs, bacon and unlimited French toast (touted on the menu as “made with real Italian bread!”) set us back just $4.95 per person.

Even our return pass through lakeside Aurora proved a little disappointing, though we did find a cool collection of authentic ship steering wheels, bleached and weathered from years of salty spray, handles worn smooth by countless captains’ hands. No doubt a bargain at $125 apiece, but the prospect of lugging one of those iron-cored hubs onto the Metro North proved too daunting, even for our intrepid crew.

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Cayuga Lake

Saturday, July 26th, 2008 | All Things, Drinks, Friends, Travel

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 ofJust Like Heaven” on the jukebox.

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