An Amish Farmer’s Auction in the NY Finger Lakes

August 2015 – During our stay in the Finger Lakes of New York we were fascinated by the comings and goings of the Amish. We saw them all over the place and were fortunate enough to meet a few Amish people and even see some Amish farms at work.

Amish open horse and carriage Ovid New York

A stylish Amish buggy rolls by in the FInger Lakes of NY

Their horse buggies are intriguing. They have enclosed family-style buggies and open air two-seaters that look like a lot of fun.

Horse and buggy Amish New York

These fun buggies were everpresent.

One young man showed us his two-seater open-air buggy up close. Rubber does not meet the road on these vehicles. They have steel tires! They also have well crafted drum brakes. Mark joked that soon he’d be upgrading to disc brakes like we did on our trailer!!

I asked him what a buggy like his cost, and he said around $3,000. As for a horse, he said it depends on whether you want a fast one or a slow one. Sound familiar?! The fast ones are more expensive, on the order ot $3,000 or more. A slow one can be found for around $2,000 or maybe less.

As he described what it takes for a young adult to buy a horse and buggy, his sparkling eyes and fresh faced good looks were no different than those of any other kid dreaming of a set of wheels. That youthful longing for the freedom that comes with keys (or reins) to your own personal ride is a truly universal teenage quest!

Amish open buggy and closed carriage

An open air two-seater and an enclosed family buggy side by side
The two seater, favored by young men for courting, costs around $3,000.

The Amish are hard workers, and we caught glimpses of them working in their yards and fields. Everything is done without the aid of gasoline powered engines and electricity, but their houses were big and tidy, and their lawns were neatly mowed.

Mowing the lawn in Amish country

A young Amish woman mows the grass with little kids in tow

Out in the farm fields they use teams of horses for plowing. Our friend Ralph, who is neighbors and friends with several Amish families that live nearby, and who grew up on a farm himself, commented that the Amish are always careful not to overwork their horses. “They use twice as many horses as we would have for the same job!” he said at one point.

Amish Farming Lodi New York

The land is tilled by a team of horses

What a contrast it was to attend the Empire Farm Days trade show and festival in Seneca Falls. Human sized farm equipment went out in the 1950’s, and the machinery that is used today is truly gargantuan.

Massive Farm Equipment at Empire Farm Days Seneca Falls New York

Modern farm equipment dwarfs the driver inside

Empire Farm Days Seneca Falls New York

Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls. This machinery cultivates plants!

Empire Farm Days tractors Seneca Falls New York

A little different than the small Amish family farms scattered around the trade show.

We walked around the fair grounds wide eyed with wonder at the size and scale of the machinery. We noticed a few future farmers playing with some tractors in a sandbox. Those little kids probably can’t wait to drive a combine for real.

Future farmers Finger Lakes New York

Future farmers dream of driving big tractors

Meanwhile, back in the world of the Amish, a different kind of farm gathering was taking place. We attended the Seneca Produce Auction in Romulus and were blown away by this event that is at the heart of Amish farming culture in the area.

Outside, the horses and buggies were all lined up while the farmers took their wares inside to auction them off.

Amish horses and buggies tied up_

Amish horses and buggies line up at the Seneca Produce Auction.

Amish horses and carriages lined up

A one horse power engine — parked and resting.

Inside, huge boxes of beautiful, ripe melons and corn and cucumbers and peaches and tomatoes were all lined up.

Produce at Seneca Produce Auction Finger Lakes New York

Huge cardboard boxes of produce filled the auction hall.

Amish men and women were dressed in black and royal blue. The men wore straw hats with a ribbon and the women wore white bonnets. It was summer, and the kids were barefoot. They all milled around, watching the proceedings.

Amish man at farm auction Finger Lakes New York

Bearded Amish men and women in white bonnets, all wearing black and royal blue, went about their tasks at the auction.

An auctioneer moved from one box of produce to the next, singing in a totally unintelligible patter, selling off this wonderful produce to buyers from the nearby markets. Next to him, an assistant scribbled furiously on a clipboard.

The auctioneer’s fabulous song rang out off the walls of this building, but we could not make heads or tails of his words. Try as we might, it was impossible to know what he was selling or to whom or for how much!

Amish at the Seneca Produce Auction

Surrounded by a crowd, the auctioneer sang out the ads and closed the sales in a lightning speed patter
that we couldn’t understand at all!

He moved quickly, and the crowd shuffled along with him, inching from one box to the next. Obviously the folks right around him knew exactly what was going on, and a raised eyebrow or wave of a finger probably bought them a crate of cantaloupes. So there wasn’t a lot of random arm waving going on!

Both Amish and non-Amish men moved the boxes from the auction hall out onto waiting horse drawn carts with forklifts. It wasn’t clear to me how the forklifts were propelled, but the Amish were careful not to drive or operate any machinery that wasn’t within their code. Non-Amish mingled with the Amish freely throughout the auction hall, some buying produce that got loaded into their trucks and some just watching the fantastic goings-on.

Tomatoes at Seneca Farm Auction Finger Lakes New York

The produce was beautifully ripe and ready.

It was a wonderful scene, and probably not too far different than one that would have been typical at the turn of the last century in farm towns across the country.

Amish at the Seneca Produce Auction

Simple white caps and black aprons over long dresses.

I had been amazed to discover earlier on that the Amish speak German at home first and then learn English in school (which they attend through the eighth grade). They call their everyday German dialect “Pennsylvania Dutch,” but they conduct their church services in High German. I asked one woman if she could converse easily with Germans travelers who visited the area, and she said they could, even though many words are different.

How intriguing it is that they are all essentially bilingual. Besides first generation immigrants, there aren’t too many communities in America that deliberately raise their children to speak two languages fluently, especially that choose to teach English as a second language.

I was charmed by their accent when they speak English. It is essentially a standard American accent, but a few words here and their caught my ear as sounding a little different.

Amish farmers Finger Lakes produce auction

Working on the crates of melons up front, the row of peaches will be next.

As the produce auction progressed, the row of horses and buggies outside the auction hall grew smaller as people left with their boxes of watermelons and tomatoes in tow.

Amish horse and wagon with plastic chairs

Hauling produce away in an Amish flatbed trailer, complete with plastic chairs for driving.

The horses pulled flatbed wagons, quite different than the buggies we had been seeing around town until now. A few horses were even set up for a triple tow, pulling the family buggy with a flatbed trailer hitched up behind.

Triple tow Amish horse and buggy and wagon

Some Amish even triple tow with a horse, family buggy, and flatbed full of fruits and veggies hitched behind!

What a heartwarming delight it was to be able to brush shoulders with the Amish a little bit during our travels and to learn about their way of life and see them in their daily tasks. We really cherished our time spent in their company and left wanting more. The Amish community is growing rapidly, benefiting hugely from the decrease in infant and childhood mortality nowadays, and their numbers are increasing at around 5% a year. Much to our surprise, we learned that their population doubled between 1991 and 2010.

The New York Finger Lakes are a wonderful area for an RV road trip. From quiet country roads, to encounters with the Amish, to the absolutely breathtaking beauty of Watkins Glen, is it a place well worth making a detour to go see!

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Watkins Glen State Park NY – Absolutely Breathtaking!

August 2015 — During our stay in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York we enjoyed several weeks of thrills in August.

Photographing Hector Falls Finger Lakes New York

Glorious Hector Falls in the Finger Lakes of New York

We enjoyed watching the Amish families in their horses and buggies and we discovered lots of waterfalls at the south end of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.

One day we decided to set off and see the mother lode of them all at Watkins Glen State Park. On our way there, we both noticed a waterfall out of the corner of our eye as we zipped by. It was Hector Falls, and Mark brought the truck to a screeching halt so we could see it up close.

Hector Falls Finger Lakes New York

Hector Falls is a wide waterfall that slips under the highway…

What a beautiful waterfall. It is right by the side of the road, and it even slips underneath the highway below a bridge where it stair steps down a series of wide, flat shelves.

Hector Falls stair stepping cascade Finger Lakes New York

Stair steps of waterfalls beneath the highway at Hector Falls.

Mark spotted a beautiful flower growing in the underbrush too.

Flower

What a unique flower!

When we got to Watkins Glen State Park, the skies began to threaten. But we forged ahead anyway, walking along the Gorge Trail that follows the carvings made by Glen Creek in the soft sedimentary rock. Almost immediately, we found ourselves in a fabulous canyon filled with a pretty waterfall with a stone bridge crossing the creek.

Bridge Watkins Glen Ithaca New York

We were rewarded with a fantastic waterfall
and stone bridge right off the bat!

The heavens decided not to spare anyone on the trail that day, and a deluge soon fell. Savvy New Yorkers had come with their umbrellas. They know how unpredictable the weather can be. We had our ponchos, but they were hardly enough, so we hunted for rock overhangs here and there, crowding in with other hikers to find whatever protection we could as the rain fell in buckets.

Watkins Glen stone stairs and bridge New York

The heavens opened up repeatedly during our hike.

Now and then the rain subsided and we could make our way further down the trail. The canyon walls fell away for a while and the creek flattened out into a beautiful mirror that reflected the thick green foliage around it.

Stream in Watkins Glen State Park New York

The views in Watkins Glen are ever-changing
and truly stunning.

There were waterfalls everywhere, big and small.

Waterfall Watkins Glen Gorge Trail New York

Water spills over the rocks.

The waterfall at Cavern Cascade was tall and straight. This one was lots of fun because the trail went behind it!

Cavern Cascade Waterfall Watkins Glen Gorge Trail New York

Cavern Cascade is a dramatic vertical drop!

Cavern Cascade Watkins Glen Waterfalls Gorge New York

The Gorge Trail scoots behind Cavern Cascade and goes
behind several other waterfalls too!

The lush foliage and flat creek lured us forward until the rains came again.

Watkins Glen State Park Finger Lakes New York

Serenity between the wild falls.

This time it was quite a downpour, but somehow we found a spot to hide and stay relatively dry. Mark looked up and saw some berries hanging on a branch and got the most creative image of them with the rain streaming down behind them.

Rain on berries Watkins Glen State Park New York

Looking out from our hiding spot along the rock wall, Mark sees a wonderful photo op!

Once the rains released us — and all the other hikers that had been tucked against the sheer rock walls with us — we followed the trail as it snaked along the most spectacular curves of a narrow canyon.

The Narrows Watkins Glen Gorge Finger Lakes New York

The Narrows was carved over millennia
by patient Glen Creek.

The rocks had been expertly cut by the creek over millions of years, and small waterfalls fell into crystal pools right next to our path.

Waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park New York

The waterfalls fell in cascades.

If we had been frustrated by the rain two minutes before, we were imminently grateful for it now, because there was no sunshine to make hotspots of light on the rocks.

Watkins Glen State Park cascades and waterfalls New York

We were so fortunate to have a day with brooding skies, rain and all!

The dull, flat light created by the black skies was absolutely perfect for our photos.

Rainbow Falls Watkins Glen Gorge New York

Rainbow Falls let loose a fine stream of diamonds up top.

The heavy downpours made the water run faster too. At Rainbow Falls the thin strand of diamonds falling from the highest rocks was absolutely stunning. We were in awe that Watkins Glen was such a jewel in the Finger Lakes, and my jaw dropped as I saw the photos taking shape on the back of my camera.

Rainbow Falls Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail New York

I couldn’t believe my eyes when this appeared
on the back of my camera!

Afterwards, flushed with excitement, we stopped for an ice cream cone at the Snack Shack. The rain was still falling, but a little cupola near the state park entrance was a perfect hideaway. We ate our cones in utter contentment. What a special place — and what a special day!

Snack Shack Watkins Glen State Park New York

Wet, tired and incredibly happy, we capped a perfect day with an ice cream cone.

The New York Finger Lakes are a wonderful area for an RV road trip, and Watkins Glen State Park is truly a “must see” destination while you’re there. For RVers headed that way, our links below might help you plan your travels.

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A Peek Inside the Amish Farms of the NY Finger Lakes

August 2015 – During our stay in the Finger Lakes of New York, we got very accustomed to hearing the clip-clop of horses’ hooves as the Amish made their way across the countryside on the back roads. These sleepy lanes are ideal for their old fashioned way of getting around, and we saw them everywhere.

Amish carriages pass each other in Finger Lakes New York

Two Amish buggies pass and wave at each other on the country lanes of New York’s Finger Lakes

Amish horse and carriage Finger Lakes New York

The heartwarming sound of the horses grew familiar during our stay

Amish horse and buggy trotting Ovid New York

These guys move right along

The Amish live very simply, farming modest plots of land, traveling by horse and buggy, wearing hand sewn dark clothes and avoiding anything driven by a gasoline engine or electricity. These choices seem a little odd, but the nice benefit for the people who live near them is that they are preserving a way of life and use of the land that is a unique throwback to the America of 100 years ago.

Amish farm near Seneca Lake New York

Amish farms filled the countryside

We loved driving down the roads between the Finger Lakes and seeing one small farm after another. Without the Amish this land might be just ordinary house lots or huge commercial operations like everywhere else.

Amish farm Upstate New York

A classic scene from another era

Some of the lifestyle choices that the Amish make are to avoid dependence on society at large. So, living without electricity, a cell phone, TV, computers or car means they don’t have to purchase all those services or depend on the non-Amish people who provide them. It also means they live a lot more cheaply than most people!

They do, however, carry mortgages, pay taxes and buy things, so they need a way to earn a living. Many sell produce and livestock they raise on their farm or manufacture things they can sell.

Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

The Amish are entrepreneurial and sell their goods to outsiders as well as each other.

Our special friends who live in the Finger Lakes area have befriended their Amish neighbors, and during our visit they took us to meet several Amish families so we could see the inner workings of their daily lives. Just down the street, Toby operates a chicken farm

Cage free hens Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

Happy hens wander around outside on a summer afternoon.

He has 5,000 hens who lay 4,700 eggs every day. These are “free range” chickens who can come and go from their coop as much as they want. He said they tend to all go outside at dawn and dusk when the weather is good, although there are always a few stragglers who prefer to stay inside.

Chickens inside the chicken coop

Things were a little more chaotic inside the coop.

He has one rooster, a big white fellow that has a room of his own at one end of the chicken coop. His door is always open, so hens can visit him and he can mingle with his female friends. I assumed he was there to help the hens get in the mood for laying, but Toby said they will lay whether a rooster is present or not. He just keeps the rooster because he likes to hear him crowing in the morning!

Down along both sides of the chicken coop there are little boxes where the hens can go in to lay. Most of them get their laying done before the afternoon, and the eggs gently roll out the backside of the box. These are then collected by hand. An automated conveyor system brings the eggs to the front of the building where they are put into cardboard egg cartons.

Egg collection Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

Eggs roll down for easy collection.

Toby knew the production of his flock right down to the egg and tabulated it on a clipboard each day. Recently he had seen a dramatic and scary drop in production — down to just 3,900 eggs a day. The veterinarian could not explain it. Toby suddenly got the idea it might be a bad batch of feed and exchanged all his feed for another batch from the feed company. Sure enough the egg production began climbing again, and it was just getting back to his usual 4,700 eggs a day when we visited!

Hen on Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

Toby doesn’t know his hens individually, but he knows exactly how they are doing as a flock.

Perhaps what floored me most was that he had bought this flock as chicks and they had all grown up together. So, they lived as a group their whole lives. He would keep the flock for just 14 to 16 months, and then, when their production began to fall off below 4,500 eggs a day, he would retire them and sell them off to buy a new flock of chicks. Sadly, their next step after retirement would be a trasnformation into chicken nuggets.

Amish grocery store Seneca Falls NY

Hollow Creek Groceries in Seneca Falls

We stopped at Hollow Creek Groceries to see what a small Amish grocery store was like. Since they do all their own cooking and make all their baked goods from scratch, the store carried many different types of flour. Cake flour, pie pastry flour, in both white and whole wheat varieties, and bread flour of several different types. It was amazing how important flour is to the Amish kitchen, considering how many modern kitchens don’t have any flour in them at all these days.

Hollow Creek Groceries Store Finger Lakes NY

I’ve never seen so many different varieties of flour.

We also discovered that the Amish in the Finger Lakes area power their homes and businesses with piped in gas. At night their houses are as well lit as any electric house, but the lights are all propane based.

We were very fortunate one afternoon when an Amish mother and daughter stopped in to visit us in our fifth wheel trailer. They were fascinated to see our little home on wheels. As we showed them all our appliances and how they work, we found we all had a lot in common with them. Just like us, their refrigerator, range, oven and hot water heater ran on propane.

They don’t use solar power, however, which surprised me. I would think they could maintain their independence from outside society with solar power, but it isn’t something their culture has embraced, at least not in the Finger Lakes.

Gas powered lamp at Amish store Finger Lakes New York

The Amish rely on gas power for many appliances, including lights.

We also visited an Amish dairy farm. We arrived right at milking time, and not knowing anything about farms or cows, it was quite a surprise to see the cows being hooked up to milking machines. I had expected to see the Amish do it by hand, sitting on little stools.

They laughed out loud when I told them that, and then showed us some very sophisticated stainless steel refrigerated milk tanks that kept the milk at a precise temperatures. This particular dairy farm sells all their milk and cream to an organic yogurt company.

Cows on Amish dairy farm Finger Lakes New York

Cows lined up for milking.

The farmers at this dairy loved cats and had quite a few farm cats running around. One black cat was particularly fond of the cows and had struck up quite a friendship with one of them. She rubbed her head all over the cow’s nose, and the cow gave her a gentle licking. I was so struck by this sweet relationship, I reached out and patted the cat as she passed me. Ooooh – her head was all gooey!!

Cat and cow on Amish Farm Finger Lakes New York

This little black farm cat had a touching relationship with this cow.

There was a little calf out back that was in a pen by itself. It was still nursing age but drank eagerly from a bottle.

Calf on Amish dairy farm Finger Lakes New York

A calf is being bottle fed.

There is something fascinating and heartwarming about how the Amish choose to live, even though it is a hard life and a lot of their rules don’t necessarily make sense. The directives they follow are set by the local bishop, so the list of things they can and can’t do varies from region to region.

One central commonality among them all is that they worship in each others’ homes, not in formal churches. So, they make an impact on the world around them by their style of dress, the way they get from place to place, and their many farms and the goods they sell. But you won’t see a big community church or imposing Amish steeple anywhere.

Amish horse and buggy in Ovid New York

We thoroughly enjoyed this little glimpse of Amish life.

We loved our RV travels to the Finger Lakes and were fortunate to be able to get a glimpse of the Amish in their daily lives. Perhaps the most special thing about the Amish in the Finger Lakes is that their presence is not marketed by the local tourism boards as an attraction the way it is in other places. This makes them blend into the landscape as being an unusual facet of the surrounding communities rather than standing out as strange museum pieces.

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Waterfalls, Wildlife & Wineries in New York’s Finger Lakes

August 2015 – The Finger Lakes region in New York really surprised us with its serenity and beauty. Not only did we find a really fun town in Seneca Falls where boaters pull in and tie up on the along the river, but we were enchanted by the pretty scenery along Seneca and Cayuga Lakes themselves.

Seneca Lake New York at Sunset

Beautiful view of Seneca Lake

At one time the Finger Lakes were a rural escape for downstate New Yorkers that wanted to get out into the countryside upstate. There are some lovely old mansions along the edge of Seneca Lake and our friends took us on some wonderful back roads to see them.

Finger Lakes New York summer mansion

There are many beautiful old mansions near the lakes

Finger Lakes NY mansion of yesteryear_

Not a bad place to get away from the city!

As we were admiring the mansions, we suddenly noticed some deer in a field. Looking closer, we realized they were two spotted fawns and a red fox, walking slowly, all together! What total luck!!

Mark and I jumped into action hoping they wouldn’t bolt. We were absolutely amazed when they calmly stopped (the fox even sat down!) and turned to look right at us for a minute or two, all three of them! Then they moseyed on their way across the field and into the woods, still together.

Fawns and fox Finger Lakes New York

We were astonished as this trio stopped to look at us and then slowly walked on — together!

We moseyed on our way too. Just a few minutes later we glanced over at a meadow and saw a doe and her pure white fawn staring at us.

White deer fawn and its mother Finger Lakes New York

Our jaws still hanging open from seeing the fawns and the fox, we spotted a mama deer with her pure white baby.

These Seneca White Deer are not albinos, and they are unique to this area. We could not believe our eyes and out good luck at seeing one up close! Somehow, the calmness of this region seems to apply to the wildlife too, and the white fawn looked right at us for a long time. Then it turned and, together with mama, bounded off into the woods.

White deer of the Finger Lakes New York

A Seneca White Deer!

What a place!

Sunset and sailboat Finger Lakes New York

We were captivated by the peacefulness of this area.

This is a very rural area, and small farms owned by both Amish and Mennonite familes dot the landscape. I just loved the wide sweeping fields with the little barns and silos and farm houses tucked into the corners between them.

Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

There are small Amish and Mennonite farms everywhere.

Farm homestead FInger Lakes New York

Driving the countryside gave us a flavor of what rural America was like once up on a time.

Cows and Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

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These small farms raise livestock and corn and soy, but a new crop that is quicly sweeping through the region is grapes. There is a rapidly growing wine industry in the Finger Lakes, and there is a beautiful winery every half mile or so on just about every road. For wine enthusiasts, you could spend an entire season out here getting to know all the different growers and their products.

We visited the Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery. It is unique because there is a Winery side of the business and a Brewery side. So, whether you want to sample fine wines or microbrews, it’s just a matter of going in the right door!

Wagner Winery and Brewery Seneca Lake New York

Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery AND Wagner Valley Brewery — two for one!

Out back there is a wonderful grassy lawn filled with picnic benches as well as a huge shaded deck overlooking the lawn and Seneca Lake. We kicked back with a tasty brew and savored the late afternoon.

Grape vines Wagner Winery Seneca Lake New York

There is a fantastic shaded deck behind the winery/brewery overlooking picnic tables and Seneca Lake

We discovered that this is a very popular area for Bachelorette parties. Not for Bachelor parties — those guys seem to have something different in mind when they want to get wild, so they go to other kinds of establishments — but local bachelorettes just love to rent a stretch limousine and take a tour of the Finger Lakes vineyards.

How fun it was to look over and see a crew of beautiful young women lined up for a photo. It turned out this was the second stop on their tour — we had seen the limo driver napping in the limo in the parking lot when we came in — and these young beauties were really living it up.

They were wearing matching tank tops, with the bride in white (there was no mistaking her — her shirt said “Bride” right on it). The bridesmaids wore navy blue, each with her role in the wedding printed on the front too.

Bride and bridesmaids Bachelorette party Finger Lakes New York

These gals were having way too much fun!

I sighed watching them, wishing I had been there, and done that, and had the shirt!!

We carried on, with images of beautiful weddings floating around in my brain, and we found there are cute towns all around the Finger Lakes regions.

Waterloo New York Main Street

Waterloo

Waterloo and Ovid both have pretty main streets.

Ovid New York Main Street

Ovid (pronounced “Oh Vid” not “Ah Vid”)

And in Ovid’s town square there are three brick buildings in a row that each have four white columns out front. These historic government buildings are fondly called the Three Bears by the locals!

Three bears Ovid New York

The Three Bears

The Finger Lakes are also known for their beautiful waterfalls, and there is quite a selection to see. The Taughannock Falls are very tall.

Taughannock Falls with people Ithaca New York

Taughannock Falls – Wow!

Right across from the falls is a viewing area where you can get a good closeup look.

Taughannock Falls Finger Lakes New York

A closer view…

Over in Ithaca, home of Cornell University, there is a beautiful waterfall in the Ithaca Natural Area. We got lost on our way there, driving the tiny roads between all the fraternities and going up and down some steep roads. But it was worth all the wrong turns once we got there.

Unfortunately, we had run out of steam by the time we finished playing there, and we never got to the more famous Triphammer waterfall that is right in the middle of the Cornell campus, apparently at the intersection of University and East avenues. Oh well, next time!!

Ithaca Falls Natural Area New York Finger Lakes

Ithaca Falls Natural Area – a great spot to clear your head after finals at Cornell!

The Finger Lakes are a charming place for an RV roadtrip, offering not only waterfalls and wineries but a glimpse of America’s quiet and rural past that is very hard to find.

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Finger Lakes, New York – Seneca Falls & The Amish!

August 2015 – After our incredibly fun ride on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, we zipped west across the tops of New Hampshire and Vermont. As we went around Lake Champlain, beautiful summer thunderstorms descended on us, and we found ourselves sitting under a rainbow in a scenic pullout in the middle of the lake.

Rainbow over fifth wheel trailer New York

Our buggy tucks in under a rainbow!

Looking for photo ops, we caught the rainbow’s reflection in the back window of our fifth wheel.

Rainbow on fifth wheel trailer

We even caught the rainbow’s reflection off the back of the rig!

Crossing into New York state, we dropped down through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes region. What a fabulous area. Pulling into Seneca Falls at the north end of Seneca Lake, we were enchanted by the boats lined up on the back side of the main street of downtown.

Boats moored on docks at Seneca Falls New York

Boats tie up on the backside of Seneca Falls – what fun!

Boats of all kinds were moored along the two sides of the canal.

Boats moored in Seneca Falls New York

This canal connects the north ends of Seneca Lake (to the west) and Cayuga Lake (to the east)

Seneca Falls Docks and boats New York

What a cool barge – with bikes on deck!

We instantly began talking about what fun it would be to spend a summer on a powerboat exploring all the lakes in this part of the world. Maybe someday!

Powerboats in Seneca Falls New York

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The town of Seneca Falls is very pretty. The main street is lined with old brick storefronts. Mark even found an elaborate mural of a storefront painted on the side of one of these buildings.

Mural Seneca Falls New York

I think they’re open…try the door!

Back in 1848, Seneca Falls was the birthplace of feminism. The concept didn’t have a name then, of course, but 300 men and women got together for two days for the first “Woman’s Rights Convention.” They drew up a document of resolutions — the “Declaration of Sentiments” — and 68 women and 32 men signed it. A wonderful statue commemorates the occasion on the banks of the canal, and there is a Women’s Rights Museum in town run by the National Park Service as well.

Woman's Rights Convention Site 1848 Seneca Falls New York

The first Woman’s Rights Convention was held here in 1848

Across the canal behind this statue stands the beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church. What a great setting, right on the banks of the canal that connects the north ends of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.

Trinity Episcopal Church Seneca Falls New York

Elegant Trinity Episcopal Church.

The Finger Lakes area is filled with small family farms, and we were thrilled to see one pretty farm homestead after another as we drove along the extraordinarily quiet rural roads.

Amish farm Finger Lakes New York

Small family farms dot the landscape between the lakes.

The Amish live in this area, and we soon saw signs giving away their whereabouts.

Amish horse and buggy sign

There are Amish here!

There is something very romantic about horses and buggies and living simply. Seeing a buggy parked outside a barn was a thrill.

Amish buggy parked in front of barn

An Amish buggy waits to be hitched up.

Stopping by the town of Ovid, we were delighted to see many more going by. First you’d hear the clip clop of the horses hooves on the pavement. Then the buggy would pull into view.

Amish horse and buggy Ovid New York

Wow! There’s an Amish horse and buggy going by!

There are open air buggies that the younger men use for courting, and there are covered family carriages.

Amish horse and carriage Finger Lakes New York

Some buggies are oepn air two-seaters and others are covered and have more seats

What was amazing to me was that these horses move at quite a clip, trotting along very fast. Looking at my photos later, in many of them all four of the horse’s hooves were in the air!!

Ovid New York Amish horse and buggy

The clip-clop of horses’ hooves is a common sound in these parts.

Did I mention how quiet the roads are out here? This is ideal cycling country for anyone that likes to ride a bike, and there is a peace and quiet in the air that is utterly refreshing and rejuvenating.

Sunset on farm roads in Finger Lakes New York

Sunrise on a peaceful road.

We are lucky enough to have very special friends who live in the area, and we settled in to stay for a while.

Fifth wheel RV in snazzy colors

Our own buggy, jazzed up a bit.
There are 350 horses under that hood!

The New York Finger Lakes area is a wonderful place to take your RV. The driving is easy, the lakes are lovely, there is a winery every mile, and life is lived at a gentler pace. A pleasant RV park near Cayuga lake is Sned-Acres Family Campground. They have grassy sites set high on rolling hills for smaller rigs and a beautiful, new section with spacious pull-through sites for big rigs. The new section wasn’t quite open when we stopped by, but it will be open imminently.

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Amish Heritage Tour in Elkhart Indiana

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A Farmland RV Fly-By at 55 mph – Highlights of the Northeast!

June 2015 — After saying goodbye to the long tree shrouded road that winds from the Smokies along the Blue RIdge Parkway and into Shenandoah National Park, we pointed our RV to the northeast and began a wild ride.

Our goal was to get from Virginia to Maine without getting too tangled up in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Albany or Boston, and we chose a route along secondary highways that threaded its way between them all.

Silo and red barn farm Pennsylvania Dairy Country

We saw lots of beautiful barns in the countryside

We zig-zagged through small towns in the countryside in Pennsylvania. This is big time dairy farming country, and barns, farmhouses and silos of every shape and configuration dotted the landscape. Red ones, green ones, white ones. Classic!

Green barn in rural Pennsylvania

Not too many farmers paint their barn green!

Red barn in Pennsylvania countryside

Ahh… the country life!

Our dance down the highway was punctuated by occasional scenic surprises that got me leaping out of my seat to try to catch them with my camera. Out of the blue, we came across a fabulous arched bridge. This turned out to be the Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, Pennsylvania.

Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, Pennsylvania

Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, Pennsylvania

We crossed into New York and eventually ended up on Scenic Routes 10 and 23 that follow the farm filled valleys in the Catskill Mountains.

White farm with silo in New York Catkills Mountains in New York

The views along the scenic drives through the Catskills were lovely.

We were flying along, pushed by heavy truck traffic but hanging out the windows anyways to take in the views and enjoy the scenery. Suddenly we passed a covered bridge — and we just HAD to do a U-turn to go back and see it up close.

Hamden Covered Bridge Catskill Mountains New York

Hamden Covered Bridge in New York

What a beautiful place to stretch our legs and breath deeply for a moment. This was the Hamden covered bridge, and we learned later that old wooden bridges were covered not so much to protect the people crossing the bridge, as I had thought, but to protect the bridge itself from the elements.

Hamden Covered Bridge Catskill Mountains New York

We walked through the bridge to beautiful views beyond.

This little piece of antiquity was built in 1859. We walked through and watched the view open up on the other side to a beautiful farmhouse set amid rich green fields.

Farm in New York's Catskill Mountains

A lovely farm just beyond the covered bridge.

RV in Hamden New York Catskills Mountains

Hard to believe that New York City is just 142 miles away!!

Carrying on, we hopped back in the rig and continued east and north though the Catskills. These scenic roads are worthy of a leisurely drive, but we hustled down the highway intent on our goal of reaching Maine. Someday we’ll go back and spend some time really enjoying the beauty of this countryside at a slow pace. One surprise was that there were lots of scenic rest areas to stop for a quickie overnight.

Former townsite of Cannonville New York

Finding places for quickie overnights was easy. Lack of Verizon service so close to Manhattan was a big surprise!

Equally surprising was that we had no Verizon service for many miles and very iffy service for many more. It is hard to believe that this truly rural area is less than 150 miles from downtown New York City. I caught a handful of the fantastic farms with my camera out the window, but there were dozens of others that were far more beautiful that slipped by before I could capture them!

Upscale Farm in the Catskill Mountains

Farming in Grand Style in New York!

Red farmhouse and silo New York Catskill Mountains

The pretty rural scenery made up for the craziness of driving these roads.

Our breakneck pace slowed for just a moment when we crossed over the border from New York into southwestern Massachusetts. A quick bike ride one morning through the village of Williamstown brought us to beautiful a white church that seemed to come right out of a New England picture book.

Church in Williamstown Massachusetts

Williamstown, Massachusetts

We paused again for a breather in Bennington, Vermont, where we met Nicholas, a motorcycle traveler who was on Day 1 of a six week trek across country from Maine to California. We watched in amazement as he strung up a hammock in the trees for the night. The next morning it was only 39 degrees out, but after a hot cup of coffee in our rig while sitting next to our toasty warm heater, he was fired up for Day 2 of his journey which would take him all the way to Philadelphia in a straight shot.

Motorcycle traveler

We met Nicholas on his first night out on a 6 week
cross country adventure

Before moving on ourselves, we were delighted to find out that Bennington, Vermont, boasts three covered bridges, and one of them was sitting in a beautiful bed of wildflowers.

Taking photos at the Henry Covered Bridge in Bennington Vermont

Mark is in his element shooting the Henry Covered Bridge in Bennington, Vermont

Henry Covered Bridge Bennington Vermont

Beautiful shot!

As we were enjoying taking pics of this bridge we heard the rumbling of a huge vehicle coming down the road on the other side of the river. Suddenly, this big old truck poked its nose through the covered bridge!

18 wheeler truck comes through Henry Covered Bridge in Bennington Vermont

Where did this guy come from?

We had been quite startled by the amount of truck traffic on the small country roads in the northeast, but seeing this enormous truck squeeze through a covered bridge totally floored us. Ironically, a few minutes later an 18 wheeler pulled up to the bridge and stopped right in front of it with its flashers on. He sat there for a long time. Finally, he did a tight turn onto another road — he never would have fit!

We laughed that the truckers seemed to find these roads challenging too and that once in a while they even ended up in a tight fix just like we did!!

Moments later a UPS truck showed up, and he didn’t bat an eye as he barreled right through the covered bridge at full speed. Obviously, for him, going through this covered bridge was a regular part of his route!

UPS truck goes through Henry Covered Bridge in Bennington Vermont

Geez, there goes another big truck. Trucks are used to tight squeezes around here!!

After a quick selfie and a chat with a pair of Spanish travelers from Mallorca who were photographing the bridge too, we packed up the rig and left Bennington. We soared up and over Vermont’s Green Mounains and then turned east to climb over the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In no time we had made it to Maine.

Covered bridge in Bennington Vermont

It was a crazy fly-by drive through the northeast,
but we were already finding lots of charm.

So far our travels in the northeast had been just a fly by, but once we hit the beautiful Atlantic coast of northern Maine we would slow way down. As their license plate says, Maine is “Vacationland,” and so it proved to be for us too.

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Driving an RV in the Eastern states – It’s a Wild Ride!

June, 2015 – After a wonderful four weeks in the lush green mountain forests of North Carolina and Virginia, we looked at the map to find a route into the northeast and panicked. There’s a reason that many RVers stick to the big wide open western states, and looking at the map confirmed why: FEAR.

Both Mark and I grew up in the east and drove many thousands of miles there, but zipping around in a small car is a lot different than driving a tall, wide and excessively long RV on those narrow, congested and fast moving roads.

Many interstates in the northeast are poor condition, especially in the right lane, and are overloaded with truckers on tight schedules who whip past at 75 mph or more. So, I plotted a course through the spider’s web of secondary roads from Virginia through Pennsylvania and New York that would land us on the western edge of Massachusetts and see us up and over the Green and White Mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire to arrive, breathless, on the western side of Maine.

Off we went!

Roadsigns on the eastern state highways

Where are we going again?

Yikes!

I forgot that in the eastern states the roads change names and change numbers without warning. And roads merge and intersect and become friends and part ways without ever letting the driver know. We were continually sent off on wild goose chases for route numbers that had vanished 20 or 50 miles back.

Which way do you want to go?

Did you get that?

The road signs come up so fast and with such a myriad of numbers that we were repeatedly left staring out the windshield in a daze, trying to remember what it was we just saw.

“Did you see Route 21 in all those numbers?” I’d ask Mark.

“Hell if I know!” he’d say.

“Well, we want 21 North — or maybe East — umm….wait a minute…” And I’d be buried in Google Maps again, trying to figure out exactly where we were going, only to find out that 21 North was now 18 East — at least for a little while.

Drive on any road in New York state

Truly dizzying. But look, it’s a palindrome! Almost.

The roadsigns were just a blur of numbers, with all the routes going in different directions all over the place. Sometimes the numbers formed patterns, and one was even a palindrome. Almost. Sometimes the roads just went to the devil, literally.

Route 666 Devil's Highway road signs

We’re going to hell in a handbasket.

Meanwhile the cars stacked up behind us, riding so close they were invisible in the rear view mirror. The semi tractor trailers passed us at every opportunity, pushing us out of the way as they zoomed by us on the descents, and then slowing down to a crawl in front of us as they crept up the climbs.

Traffic behind a fifth wheel trailer RV in the northeastern states

Impatient drivers pile up behind a fifth wheel.

At least in New York they call a spade a spade, though, and we got a laugh when we saw a sign written for dazed RVers from the western states:

Beware of Agressive Drivers

Indeed!

You’ve gotta love New York. Not only do they know the temperament of their drivers, they know their habits too. New Yorkers are so plugged in they aren’t given just a plain old Rest Area on the highway. They get a Text Stop!

Text stop rest area road sign in New York

For the modern traveler…

Most of these secondary roads were in really rough shape, especially crossing the Catskill Mountains in New York. We’d forgotten about the dangers of potholes, since they are a rarity out west. A deluge of ungodly blizzards pummeled the northeast this past winter, keeping the plows busy chewing up the roads, and we found ourselves doing a zig-zag dance down the highways to avoid all the endless man-eating, car-eating and RV-eating potholes.

Luckily, the powers that be have set about fixing the roads. However, that made the driving even more scary. Orange signs popped up out of nowhere and cones and equipment crowded the roads for miles at a time.

Roadsign detour in Pennsylvania

The road was small already… and now it’s filled with construction signs and crews!

Oh, and did I mention that these states are NOT flat? The mountains in the west climb straight into the heavens, going up for miles on end, but the hills in the east are like a roller coaster. They go up and down like waves on the ocean. We had installed our new brakes and engine tuner with this trip in mind, and we were now really glad we’d had the foresight to do those upgrades before coming here.

It seemed almost every hour Mark had to slam on the brakes for a red light at the bottom of a blind descent, or jump on the brakes when someone cut us off. Each time he’d mutter under his breath how great those new brakes were.

Roadsigns in every direction New York

Got it?

And did the buggy get stuck? Oh yes indeed. Several times.

In the hilly back streets of Boone, Virginia, there’s a long, deep scrape in the asphalt that is the signature left by our trailer’s bumper hitch. Confusion about road construction on the highway had sent us into this miniature town, and when we got there the only place to turn around had a massive dip in the road that was too much for our wheel base.

And in southwestern Massachusetts I played Twister with a maple tree sapling as I tried to keep its branches out of our bike wheels while Mark did a miraculous turn at the edge of someone’s farm on a steep hill. Once the maple tree released me, I watched in horror as Mark drove off over a lip down a hill that is meant for winter sledding. The fifth wheel overhang almost crushed the tailgate of our truck!

Tractor roadsign

Share the road!

It was a truly wild ride taking our RV from Virginia into the northeast. But in the end, the scars and scrapes on our rig and ourselves were a small price to pay for the great times that lay ahead!

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This was a crazy trip, but the scenery was lovely — have a look: