NY Road Trip: Finger Lakes Wineries & Lake Lounging

We only had a few days in the Finger Lakes before heading north, and a lot of ambitious plans. We wanted to kayak AND hike AND drink all wines available within a 10-mile radius. Mom didn’t raise a quitter.

The tiny house came with kayaks so we started there. I am not what most would call “athletic”, and I tend to coast off of my confidence alone. In my mind, I was gliding across the water like I was on the college crew team. In reality, Katie and I spent an hour aimlessly bobbing in circles, using the nearby Yacht club as a landmark to avoid getting “lost”. After several nerve-wracking attempts to pass our smartphones between kayaks for photos, it was time to stop showing off and head home. Wineries close early.

A half-dozen wineries and breweries were sprinkled along a single country road just a few minutes from the tiny house Airbnb. Most places required tasting reservations to control the flow of people for social distancing. Dr. Frank’s was by far the most elaborate – a progressive tasting where your party moves room to room, across a breezy wrap-around deck, tasting a different wine at each “station” as bartenders disinfect between parties. Point of Bluff was set underneath an open-air barn and tastings came with a mini hand sanitizer; Azure Hill was on a quiet hill with tables just a few feet from the grape vines. Due to NYS COVID regulations, every wine tasting came with a different snack (one place lovingly dubbed theirs “Cuomo pretzels”). I’m sure the food-with-booze rule is a pain in the ass for wineries that are used to churning out tastings all day long, but can I really complain about a policy that results in Sara getting a snack every 45 minutes? I want all my future wine tastings to include bags of cheese curds.

Krooked Tusker Distillery

I could tell that we were on the brink of fall. The weather progressed from kayak-friendly sunshine to chilled and rainy during our very short stay. We spent an entire morning lounging in the “bonus” lakeside bungalow, playing games and sipping coffee as cool air flowed through the screened-in porch. Waking up by the woods felt like a deep exhale. Mornings were slow and sweet, with stillness in the air and fullness in my lungs. Our evenings were spent dining outside in a town square that resembled Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. Music seemed to flow from the gazebo at the center of town and it was not entirely clear who was controlling it.

We tasted our way through a few popular spots in town – crisp fried chicken with chili syrup over sweet potato hash at Park Inn (recommended by a 2nd grader at the school our waitress worked at) and French Onion Soup at Timber Stone Grill that tasted like crack. I told Katie to let me know when she *thought* she was finished with her soup so I could scrape cheese off the edges of the bowl like a hooligan. All manners go out the door when your dining table is on the sidewalk.

Waterfront Restaurant, just outside Hammonsport town center. Socially-distanced to the max
Salmon – Timber Stone Grill

Each night at the tiny house made me feel further and further from home. I relished the presentness I felt underneath a sky sprinkled with stars. The woods vibrated with night noise and an occasional crack of the firepit. I sat in my hoodie and stared at the fire as it fizzled and felt no urgency at all. Nowhere to go, no idea where my phone was. Grateful for being so incredibly alive.

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