NY Road Trip: Watkins Glen State Park & Taughannock Falls

We decided to pull our lazy bums out of bed and see the sunrise on our final morning by Keuka Lake. The air was deeply crisp as the light began pouring out over the water. At one point we convinced ourselves that we would take a sunrise kayak ride, but that plan was quickly squashed due to – um – the very first waft of cold air on our skin. Instead we got a chance to sit by the dock and watch the sun push slowly through the clouds. I took this rare opportunity to do a quick solo meditation at the end of the dock. I have been skeptical of meditation for most of my life, but I also never really understood it. I didn’t know how many years of worry I had packed inside until I learned to breathe correctly and do *just one* thing at a time.

I heard everything as I sat on the old wooden slats of the dock. Birds as they passed by, the crack of trees, tiny waves kissing the rocks on shore, the sound of boat masts groaning and clinking. The water was glassy. A solo duck drifted by. I said goodbye with the deepest breath inside me.

We had one “in-between” night on the road before heading up towards Lake Ontario. We booked a little cabin in Lodi by Seneca Lake and spent the day hiking through Watkins Glen State Park and visiting Taughannock Falls on the way. The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park is normally mobbed with people and the narrow path becomes nearly impassable on weekends. Due to COVID, it has remained sparsely populated for most of the summer and a new one-way trail route helps keep you from violating social distancing guidelines. I was impressed by the level of mask-usage during those times when you couldn’t avoid a passing hiker. Groups of people waited patiently while the party ahead of them lazily snapped photos. An overall slower pace remains one of 2020’s few silver linings.

Taughannock Falls is NY State’s largest waterfall. It is normally a striking sight to see, but we arrived at an uncharacteristically light trickle where a powerful rush of water normally flows. Locals and rangers alike commented on how unusual it was to see the falls so scant. Even still, it was beautiful. The water flows down between two extensive cliffs colored with thick green foliage and patches of red moss.

Lodi was a whisper of a town. Our cabin was one of just 3 along a beautiful stretch of secluded lakeside property run by a friendly host who left free snacks in our room (aka, the key to my heart). We grabbed dinner at a local brewery that served tangy plates of Carolina-style BBQ along with beer flights and a sweeping view of nearby hills.

We took some cans to go, bundled into a pile of blankets, and sat by the breezy lake as the sunset intensified. Even after it was below the horizon, sunbeams bounced off the distant hills like an invitation to something secret that was just out of sight.

Lights twinkled and swirled as we sat alone on wooden chairs with cold beers in hand, noticing the way the wind kept changing, and catching faint whiffs of winter air that reminded us how fleeting the fall season can be.  

G’night, summer.

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