Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A return trip planned!

What is wrong with me? I took on multiple days of coverage this week and next! Crazy for the MONEY I guess, but it has limited me on my trip taking.....but not planning.
If you read my post of our Jellystone vacation, you might recall that we all missed several of the things offered at Niagara Falls due to the crowds. I have been holding on to the four remaining attraction tickets since and decided on Tuesday that we should take a trip back there to use the booklets and four remaining already paid for and will expire at the end of October admission stubs. These such attractions include the Cave of Winds, The Aquarium, The Niagara Adventure Theater, and The Discovery Center. I felt that we really had to get back there just to use the tickets. (I know I will be spending more money in the long run, but hey what ever, after all I am working more hours and making some money.)
After speaking with the adult male of the house, and making my own decisions, my first thought was a $52- 1 night stay in a 1 room cabin with no bathroom...but heat. My families idea was a two room cabin with a bathroom, heat, kitchen, and living room and one more day at $112- per night. Guess who won. So anyways I made reservations yesterday and we will be looking at a nice weekend at The Niagara Falls KOA with a bathroom, a KOA member ship card, the two dogs and a bill of $301-.
I am pretty excited to see how Riley will weather a vacation with our family as this will be his first and I am excited to have the opportunity to re-visit one of  NY's first State parks. It should be a great adventure, and we will only be 6 miles away from the park this time, so we might even be able to break up the day and come back in the evening to view the falls illuminated. Plus we get to go camping in the fall, and camping in the fall is my favorite. I was so disappointed that we were not able to get reservations for a Halloween weekend at either Jellystone, or Old Forge this year (they were completely booked) that I was pretty sure we would not be camping again until 2014. Although the KOA is not offering a Themed Halloween weekend, they still have the outdoors and the fun of fall surrounding it. (I'll have to get on the Halloween weekend for next year EARLY).
We will not be missing Halloween despite the booked cabins however, but instead we are getting tickets to Fright Fest at Great Escape. Another family favorite for another weekend in October.
For now, I will be spending this week working. I do have an exciting weekend coming up. Cazenovia's Homecoming is Saturday and Sunday the girls will be visiting for a day full of scrapping/crafting. Gee! When I started this blog, I thought I might be entering some thing maybe one a week, but our trip taking is EXTREEM. I guess you don't have to be living on the road to make your dream of seeing the USA a reality. I will just be taking it one State at a time, and apparently NY is a great place to start.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Finger Lakes Wine Tour/Watkins Glen State Park

View of the Finger Lake Winery at Three Brothers.

Wow what a weekend. Saturday was spent crafting, cleaning, and shopping. The four of us; the two youngest boys, my hubby and myself  had a nice dinner at   The Euclid  Restaurant. The evening was spent pretty low key and I prepped for adventures on Sunday.
Sunday was the first (soon to be annual I believe) Girls Wine Tour, and we loved every minute of it.
 There were 8 of us crazy ladies all crammed into the mini van for a day of wine tasting, shopping, and great fun. I gave all the girls pink bandanna's to wear somewhere on their body, as well as ring bubbles to blow when they were feeling a little bubbly!

(There really were 8 of us, but apparently when you ask your husband to take a picture, he really does not notice when there is one person missing totally and one person cut in half when he aims (what aim? click only). Mary's missing, but here we are; Me, Jenny, Tami, Cathy, Doreen, Renee, and Mindy.)
You cannot see Mary or that my car reads 2013 Wine Tour or Bust! 
Off we went around 9:20am to head for the grapes of the Finger Lake region. We took rt 20 through Auburn, then onto 414 stopping first at Montezuma Winery just outside of Waterloo and Seneca Falls. 
Montezuma is also home to a natural park and refuge for wildlife. Along the electrical towers there are large nests that may actually house Eagles. I only saw this one carved outside the winery. 
The winery was a nice mix of crafts, novelty wine items, and of course wine. They also make vodka out of fruit. I didn't taste any as I was DD for the trip, but the ladies were all in for a few sips. 

That one must not have tasted as good as the last. 
There were some fun wine glasses, and I really was hoping to find the wine shirt that read, "Wine takes the Bitch out", but there were none left. I thought this glass was appropriate instead. 

How about these wine holders, isn't it great?

I love the labels on the bottles, I also love the names, here was one I liked at Montezuma, (although Cathy did not particularity enjoy the wines taste)

Wine tasting finished, a few souvenirs bought we were off again....
A map eye view of Cayuga Wineries. We spent most of our tour on Seneca Lake.  One of  the Highlights of the Wine tour and certainly the most FAVORITE and where we spent most of our time was at Three Brothers on the East Side of Seneca Lake. 

Three Brothers won the van award for the best winery. It had what I referred to as a Disney land for adults appeal. Lots of creative staging went into this three styles of distilling.
Doreen, Cathy and Mindy obtained a tasting passport which include like 26 different types of  tastes, while Mary, Renee, and (yes) I did have one wine slushy! I got myself a cup to take home too. Tami and Jenny enjoyed samples along the way. First stop was the fun wines (I like to call them bath tub or hot tub wines, because they are generally fun names, desert style and sweet tasting.)
I absolutely LOVED the names and labels of these gems. Can't go wrong with a name like Take me home, or Nearly Naked. The featured slushy was Scandalous with peach added and it was YUMMY! 
I thought about getting Cathy this gem to see if we could GROW her a Boyfriend. 
 I swear I don't know them, Renee and Doreen wore shower caps on their heads for most of the tour at Three Brothers...... 
Cute....and they just keep getting cuter as the day progresses. 
A little more sophisticated we enter into the Stony Lonesome winery for some classy wine. No bath tubs here.
Just really cool wine barrels. 
and look some wine facts....
Here is Tami and I enjoying the fun! See my slushie in the back...I apparently do not need ETHO to be silly.

Next stop was the War Horse. This is the brewery part of Three Brothers, and they also make their own root beer too! We all obtained Free samples of the root beer, and I tried a few VERY hot jams. WOWOWOWOW!!! Ghost hot!

The War horse them is everything Military and we had fun enjoying the decor. Renee climbed into an antique mail box as she needed to be sent out of state.

Silly girl...
I found some funny wine cups too. Check out the WINE SOLO cup inspiration. 
and some fun Beers too!  (I so love the Labels on these guys)
I had to take the picture upside down, as they were hanging backwards on the rack. 

 Next adventure at Three Brothers brought us to the Bayou of the deep south.

Bagg Dare winery was by far the best decor of the locations on Three Brothers.  

Gators might git ya!

There were some great PHOTO opts at this place. I so took
 far to little, and I took tons. (I was afraid I would run out of space on my card, NEED to develop some of those from three months ago). Here are some of the fun ones!

Daniel Boon hats!

Pirate thongs.

Several masks. There were also pink moustashes that Renee and I tried on.
How about some BIG BULL!!!! or is that Buffalo?

And I just loved this is also one of the names of the wines.
 Here is the local Wine label line up at Bagg Dare.
Skirt Lifter and Well Hung. Cathy reported she enjoyed Well Hung the best. YOU GO CATHY!

Once we felt we had exhausted the Three Brothers (it was already after noon by then) we were on our way South on the East side of the Seneca River. Next stop, although I warned the Wine Tour virgins that Three Brothers would be the highlight of the tour, was at Wagners.

Far from the bath tub wine and funny labels we had found at Three Brothers, Wagners is much more sophisticated and refined. The girls went ahead and tried the pre-selected eight wines listed and spent most of the tasting with funny faces of disgust. This is not to say that this winery is BAD wine, because I am sure MANY people enjoy this style of wine. It is to say that once again, we gals are cheep low class wine drinkers and we enjoy the garbage found in things like Red Cat. These exquisite French named wines, were low on the list of favorites and NO one bought a Bottle for home from this place. Beautiful scenery and nice deck along the water. It also has a Brewery, but none of us tried the beers.  
  I did catch this label on one of the beers. I took a picture for my
 little guy, he so loves the Husky's.
 NOPE, we will not be returning to Wagner next time. What next? People were getting hungry, and there was (as illegal as it is) alcohol being consumed in the rear seats. So hungry, buzzing people are not so well kept, so we hurried down the road to one of our Must stops. Hazlitt. Home of the RED CAT wine. 
Maybe I should have taken a picture of the sign, but isn't this just GREAT! A Red Cat porta potty!

The girls got right into the tasting, and I asked for sips of Bambling Berry, which is amazing. For driving the tour Mary and Tami both got me a bottle of this sweet wine. I cannot wait to break into it. 
The grounds of Hazlitt although not as exciting as Three Brothers had some the outdoor tropical oasis. Which is very much like a bar/club. Along with tasting of BBQ sauce and heating lamps. I tried some chicken bbq, and thought about just one more slushy for the day, but decided against it. We enjoyed a big grey bus that appeared. 

The Booze and Boobies tour was scribbled across the chalkboard. Several women had gotten out and did a run around the bus. Looks like a FUN bunch, but I still think we were a little CRAZIER!
Hazlitt maxed out, and everyone starving we headed into Watkins Glen to find lunch. 
First stop however was the lake, and we had to get a few shots in the stockade. 
The Watkins Glen area of the lake offered several beautiful views, although we did not walk out on the pier, I took a few shots around the area. 

 The pier looked inviting, and I bet the views are amazing. t look at all those sail boats docked, a boat ride would be so much fun but we have eating to get to. Just gotta find where. We decided to check out this boat/cruise shop for some ideas for a late lunch in town.
Isn't this just as cute as a can be, a shop that is in the shape of a pirate ship. Lots of pirate themed items for sale inside...Come get your booty, or perhaps a few fake coins anyways. A nice young lady gave us a recommendation for lunch (without sea food, as there were about three of us not in the sea food mind) I cannot stand the stuff, but right next to Capt. Bills is a place for fine dining including Sea Food. Where else? Back a bit is Jerlando's, but before we go I had to get a picture of Zoltar. It reminded me of the movie Big with Tom Hanks. 

I wonder if I played him if he would reverse the spell and make me little....Anyways LOTS of fun things to do around the area it appears, wish we had more time to stay and play.
Watkins Glen is home to the Watkins Glen race track. A few years ago my family and I went to the track compliments of a FREE drawing win I had received. Typically every Aug. this little town is bustling with everything NASCAR. I missed a picture, but there are race flags with American flags on every telephone pole along the street.

 I did get this stencil on the sidewalk however. I just love how some towns embrace the things that make the area so popular. Had I not known about the amazing park we would be visiting later that day I would have thought that Watkins Glen was only know for NASCAR, (see pictures below, but the park put any race to shame in my book) 
Off to lunch......
Right on the main street of Watkins Glen was Jerlando's and although it was 
not the only restaurant in town, it certainly fit the pallets of all 8 of us. The restaurant specialized  in Italian, but had several choices including, can you guess....burgers and fries.

I'm so happy..because I am getting some French Fries. I ordered the Chicken wing burger with fries. A little different. It was a hamburger with two boneless chicken fingers dosed in hot sauce and topped with blue cheese. 
Once we all filled our bellies, Doreen insisted that while we were here we could not miss a quick look at Watkins Glen State Park, and although we were possibly not going to make it to any more wineries that afternoon if we did stop, I am SO glad we did. This Park is AMAZING!
Nestled in this tiny town is this beautiful park, that from Doreen's description has trails for miles that seem to get more and more amazing. Just what we did encounter was pretty amazing, but be prepared to climb some steps. Its all the way up!.

The parking lot is surrounded by mile high walls of slate rock. Trees top off the mountain walls, and a small man made cave leads to the park climb. 
Doreen welcomes us into this cave like climb. 
Inside the cave... I just loved how the man made walkway set with the natural park setting. I am sure it was well thought out as to preserve the park while providing an opportunity for people to get an inside view of its grandeur. 

A view from the first bridge looking down over the parking area. This is one of the 15 waterfalls that are within this park. You can see already how far up we are. (Point Outlook). 
This is the view on the other side of the bridge. The water jetted out of this, giving it a spitting appearance. We all decided it was like a water park ride, but agreed it would not have been a very smooth ride down. Ouch on the rump...or the head..or all over actually.
 More of the gorge as we continue to climb up. This trail is called the Cavern Cascade and from the map we only walked a small portion of the trail ways. According to the readings there are over 800 stairs on these trails. WOW! 
Here is a small section of the stairs we climbed. Pictures cannot give a good representation of how beautiful this place is. 

At this point, you can actually walk behind the falls, I got several shots right up next to this amazing reality. 
here I caught Mindy behind the falls, you can see a bit of Mary too. Just behind the falls, is Spiral Tunnel which we did not hike, but began to walk back down at this point. 
Another view of the falls. 
We only walked a small bit of this amazing park before we all decided to head back to the van. 
Here is a good look at where we had climbed up from. If we had continued to climb up we would eventually get to the suspension bridge which is some 85 feet above the creek. (per the information guide). 
a view from the top. 
A view of the stone walls that surrounded us. I took a small piece of shale rock from an overhang and Mary joked that it could be the one rock holding the wall up from crashing down on top of us. It was all so incredible. I wish we had more time to explore and head deeper into the trails. From my count we had only seen four maybe five of the 15 reported waterfalls along this gorge. This is a definite win in my book and have plans to return in the future. The park is open from May to early November and also has camp sites available. Not sure if I will make it back before winter, but putting it on my to do list for the some days. Incredible! Here are a few more shots at the bottom
I loved this motorcycle, and had to get a shot of it. Scooby is one of my favorite. 
So, one would think that our amazing day was done, but we still had our hearts set on a few more wineries. It was getting close to 5pm and most places closed at 5. Hopeful we raced along rt 14 heading North at this point to find Miles Winery and distillery, which is claimed to be haunted. According to Mary, if you hold a lighter up behind one of their wine bottles you can see the etching of a ghost too. We missed closing by 24 minutes. Bummer. We kept going north and found that Belhurst was still open and stopped for one last wine taste as the evening closed in on us.

Belhurst is a beautiful building set on the shores of Seneca's lake just outside of Geneva. The castle is the setting for many weddings, and is home to a restaurant, pub, hotel and a winery. 
The place has expanded over the years and is much larger, but the castle itself if shown here in my pictures.

A view out onto the lake from the yard.
 Pictures are inside the castle.

The place is truly gorgeous. I pick up a booklet on the history of the place to find that there was some pretty interesting actions that took place on these grounds.  Originally the land was home to a Seneca Indian Village, and sold in 1738. In 1810 it was sold again and ten years later became an actual residence and a home was build. In 1836 is was home to  Henry Hall, who lived alone on the property with one servant. He died of blood poisoning after he sustained a fall It was later found he was actually was an embellishing man from London who had married his step mother escaping to the area to avoid capture.  His real name was William Henry Bucke. After this death the property changed hand two additional times and was named Belhurst. From 1885-1889 Mrs Carrie M. Young Harron new owner of the property and quite well off, began construction of the castle. During this construction one man fell from a tower to his death while another went insane.  Upon Mrs Harron's death her granson took residence and the property was again sold to Cornelius Dwyer. "Red" as he was called opened the property as a restaurant and gambling casino from 1952 til 1975. It has since been owned as well as expanded by the current owners The Readers who have opened the place to what is currently know as today. 
There is of course a legend to this castle, as most have. This legend is about William and his wife Isabella Hall. The legend says that Isabella was an actress who married William. William was at the time treasurer and manager of the public opera house in London. He informed Isabella of the moneys being taken from the theater and patrons and they both escaped to the United States. They lived for several years on their estate until William was awaken to see several ships descending upon the property coming to take them away for their crimes. The legend further reports that William had planed for this day and had created an underground hidden route to escape. As the two followed these underground caverns to the waterway, Isabella was hit by a wave and sent crashing into the cold waters. William was soon surrounded by his capture who had found the underground tunnels and he jumped into the lake himself. Both were never seen again. However one lone light shines in the highest tower at Belhurst and on clear nights it is said you can see two shadow figures holding hands walking the Belhurst grounds. 
Although I saw no ghosts, it is always fun to think there might be one lingering around. 
Blue prints of the castle. 
The girls spent some time in the winery enjoying the Belhurt wines and cuddled on the patio beside the outdoor fire before we were all ready to call it a fun filled day. 
Enjoying the wines, and then sitting on the patio by the fire.
I cannot even begin to say what an incredible day we all had. So much we did and there was still so much we missed. Definitely several future trips will be taken to these beautiful lakes. Much wine consumed, a hole lot of fun had, and all of us ready to climb into our beds at home or get back to our daily lives.