Thursday, August 18, 2011

Finger Lake District, New York

We had never heard of the Finger Lakes before starting out on our great RV odyssey.  We’ve heard two versions of the tale as to how there are five lakes - all long and narrow.  The first is that an ancient god scratched these long and deep lakes with the fingers of his right hand; the other and more than likely correct is that they are the result of glacier retreat. Some are more than 40 miles long, a half a mile wide and up to 500 feet deep: the northern shores of all are close to 1-20, with only a few miles separating them east to west.  Our RV Park for this visit was very near Canandaigua Lake (took us a few days to get our mouths around that name).

The primary reason for our stop here was to visit old neighbors from Worcester Loop who had moved back to the Pittsford/Rochester NY area about 10 years ago and whom we’ve remained in touch with via email, the odd telephone conversation and a Christmas letter. Eileen was a wonderful friend to me; we joined Newcomers at the same time and were in the same lunch bunch which remained together for about 8 years. Most of us in the lunch bunch were of an age and with children of a similar age. Eileen organized the lunch bunch to meet on the first Monday of each month; we had great lunches, some that lasted for hours.

We arrived at the Canandaigua KOA RV Park on a Sunday, called Eileen and were invited to come on over, immediately! This afforded us the opportunity to meet all the family which has been increased by 3 in the last few years - a son in law and two simply beautiful grandchildren. The following day Terry and Eileen treated us to drive to Terry’s Alma Mater Cornell University; this involved a trip down the shore of one of the Finger Lakes - Cayuga Lake. To our surprise this is a wine district so we learned about “Ice Wine” - the grapes are left on the vines until they’re frozen solid before being picked and then made into wine. Needless to say it is a sweet wine.

Cornell is situated on the top of a bluff between two gorges, with lovely waterfalls in both rivers. We climbed our way up through the campus while our guide (Terry) pointed out all of the different faculty buildings. Some of the older buildings from his time there have been preserved, with newer buildings built to facilitate the newer sciences. One aspect that struck us is that the buildings in Cornell represent the era in which they were built and although some are not really pretty, they are a true representation of their time. It’s a big campus catering for 15,000 students of whom a few were walking around. I would think it is a very busy during the academic year and probably spectacular in the snow. Right outside the gates of the campus is a town called College Town. Before leaving for our return we had a meal in a diner in Ithaca where Terry had eaten as a student. The food was good, wholesome and cheap. We drove home at dusk and Eileen informed us that the area boasts of many famous Daughters, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought for women’s rights in the early20th century and Astronaut Sally Ride.    

On our way to Rochester Tom informed me that he had arranged through his Horgan cousin Betty to meet her Murphy cousins who live in Webster. For Tom it was somewhat bitter sweet in that Betty’s Uncle Thomas Murphy, whom he remembers from his childhood; passed away a few months ago. Tom had hoped to surprise Thomas who was the owner of Webster Golf Club, now run by his sons. We were to play golf there on the Tuesday – the rain just poured down; a bit like being on “Maid of the Mist” so the course was unplayable. That night we met Thomas’s sons Colm and Brendan together with their Mother, Nancy for dinner and afterwards went to their sister Maeve’s home for dessert and tea. There we met Mike, Maeve’s husband and one of their daughters Lauren. We had a wonderful visit and chatted late into the night about the Murphy’s, Horgan’s and our shared beloved Ardmore.

We were in Eileen’s hands again the next day and spent a few hours around Canandaigua Lake.  We lunched, overlooking the Lake from its 2nd floor restaurant, at the New York Wine & Culinary Center. I had Pulled Pork in a Buck Wheat Pancake with Plum Sauce and thought of Debbie and the wonderful meals she has prepared for us. Each item on the menu was matched with a wine or a beer to enhance the flavors. On the ground floor one can take cookery lessons, watch a cookery demonstration and buy NY wine or beer. We walked along the lake in the hopes of taking a paddle boat trip on the lake; we missed out…as we got half way the boat departed from the dock. Our consolation was to return to Rochester and tour the George Eastman House. This was one of his houses and it was furnished beautifully. It had many exhibits but the most interesting was the development of the “Brownie” camera. How many times did people of a certain age (us) have to stand and not move until everyone was lined up for that memorable photo? George realized that the film and its developing would make more money than the camera and so Kodak was born. Later we met up with Terry, grabbed a delicious sandwich and went to the movie “The Help “a great movie and book.

Our next destination was the Adirondack Mountains, more later…

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