An alcoholic tour of the Finger Lakes

We had a relatively peaceful night in our car park and got up ready to see some waterfalls! The first one was within walking distance of the van, so we walked over to check it out. It appears that they haven’t had much rain recently so it wasn’t particularly exciting…


Hoping that Watkins Glen would be a little more interesting we did the short drive down the road. After paying a pricey $8 for the carpark, we walked up to the start of the 1.5 miles hike up the gorge.

The entrance is pretty grand.


We continued up the glen, which was beautiful.


This was a Saturday though and it was incredibly busy. Don’t expect to be able to get any fancy photos as you will hold up the queue of people trekking up these narrow paths.


Still, despite the expensive car park and the large amounts of people, the place was definitely worth a visit. The rock formations are amazing and it had several lovely waterfalls despite there not being much rain. The paths were pretty wet, so make sure you were some decent shoes, I didn’t rock up in flip flops for once (mainly because they broke, but still).


The end of the walk, here the path heads up steeply to the other entrance to the gorge or the start of the Indian Trail, which will take you back down the glen on a higher path.


It’s much quicker to walk back as the path is wide and level, it’s also a lot quieter. Unfortunately you don’t really get any good views of the gorge from higher up, so if it was quieter, I would have chosen to walk back the same way.

Back at the car park, we donated our ticket to the next person we saw waiting to pay. So many people have been kind to us, it was nice to do something small back, keep the good karma going!

We had a busy day planned, with the next stop being our first winery. I had heard mixed reviews on American wine ranging from mediocre to bad, so I was interested to see if it really was that bad. We picked the Three Brothers Winery on the north east shore of Seneca lake as being a well reviewed place and by mid afternoon we were ready to go.

We purchased a tasting passport for $20 which allowed you to taste the wine from three wineries as well as the beers from War Horse. I also tried hard seltzer for the first time, which was a bit of a confusing experience for a brit. If you don’t know, imagine flavoured fizzy water which is alcoholic.

The first winery was ridiculously sweet, but they did say it was sweet wine. It was in a nice location though.

The second place we picked the semi-dry tasting menu which was still very sweet. Stopping briefly for some choco peanut butter fudge tasting, we headed to the final winery which was supposed to have the driest wine. This actually had some nice wine, although to buy them it was quite pricey. We got chatting to some other people at the bar who were also teachers and then the bar man, a teacher too. Who knew, teachers need a lot of wine! The bar man also very obligingly double the tasting quantities for us, so we got to try twice as much.

Then after probably drinking more than we should and driving, we headed off to find a spot. We  were initially planning to stay in the car park for the winery, but it was a big place with lots of different companies, making it hard to find someone to ask if we could. Not wanting to drive far we headed off. Initially we pulled over near a busy main road in a spot where we definitely wouldn’t have been disturbed by police, but I didn’t like how close we were to the road. We drove back to another car park we had passed earlier for a yacht club and parked up there, deciding to have a beer and wait for the sunset over the water. As we sat on the side of the road, Lee noticed some people sitting on the benches at the club and we went over to ask if they minded us sitting on their benches, which they didn’t.P1000696

Inevitably, we got talking and it turns out the owner of the club was on of the people, he told us that we could stay in the car park that night – problem solved. Lee asked if there was anywhere we could hire a boat and another person called Ken said we could go out on his boat in the morning. The sun had set and we all walked back to the car park to let the others have a look at the van, they even offered to leave the toilets and showers open for us which was very kind. Looking forward to a restful night on one of the unusual occasions where we actually had permission to camp, we turned in for the night, excited for a boat trip in the morning.

Ken arrived in the morning and at around 10am his friend Anita, was also there ready to go. We motored out of the harbour and were soon under sail, heading south down the lake.


We made our way down the lake, enjoying the weather, the conversation and Anita’s impressive snack collection. As we travelled down, Ken and Anita pointed out notable places on the shore while we enjoyed the snacks.


After several hours, despite losing the wind, we made our way to the this barge and circled around the back of it before heading back towards the club.


We made good progress on the way back, as we didn’t have to keep tacking across the lake. We did lose the wind briefly, but fortunately it came back as it turns out we didn’t have that much fuel in the tank. We arrived back at the yacht club around 7, after spending an entire day out on the lake. Chris offered us a free beer from the club’s own one keg bar and shortly we said goodbye to Anita. After chatting to Ken and a couple of his friends (also teachers) for a while and finishing our beers, we headed back to the van. We had our next recommendation ready to go for the morning, Letchworth Park.


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