Friday of Memorial Day weekend found us beginning our home exchange season in Fayetteville, New York. It is about 6 miles from Syracuse in what is popularly known as the Finger Lakes region.
Here, the mighty glaciers carved long trenches in the earth, leaving behind lakes Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Owasco, and Skaneatelis. Northeast of Syracuse is the large and lovely Lake Oneida. This is also the region once served by the Erie Canal.
The land is gently rolling hills. Where the Erie Canal made commerce possible, large industrial cities arose. Otherwise, farming and agriculture were the principal occupations and remain so today.
We left Friday after Carolyn got home from school. Rather than drive 5 hours after working all day. we elected to stop overnight in Schenectady, which is just west of Albany. We’re glad we did. Our hotel was in the city about 4 miles from the highway. Schenectady has an appealing downtown area. It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed walking while we looked for a place to eat.
We chose Mexican Radio, a small chain with locations in Hudson, NY and New York City. We sat outdoors on the patio and treated ourselves to Arnold Palmers made with homemade mango iced tea. The food was superb. We agreed it was easily the best Mexican food we have ever had.
We arrived in Fayetteville before noon. Our home exchange house was well kept and appealing. It reminded me of the house I grew up in and was laid out almost the same. The stairs reminded me of the ones I fell down when I was three. I made a wrong turn on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night and wound scrunched against the front door. You don’t forget stairs like that. These even squeaked the way the stairs did in my parents’ house.
The back yard was why we came. Terraced decks, lots of comfy chairs, a big fence for privacy, raised bed gardens, a pool and a hot tub. We spent the afternoon basking in the sun, reading books, and swirling idly in the Jacuzzi. It was just what we wanted.
Sunday, we had a number of choices. There are lake tours, wine tours, state parks, waterfalls and cute towns from horizon to horizon. We could have made the journey to Lake Ontario but that would have meant a lot of driving.
In the end, we decided on a visit to the town of Skaneatelis located at one end of a lake by the same name. We came for the boat ride on a vessel designed to resemble the lake packets that once served the communities along its 16 mile length. Skaneatelis has been home to many wealthy people who came here to summer from New York City.
The lake shore is dotted with large, comfortable homes built in the era before air travel allowed folks to venture further from home. Each features a boat house on the shore. Some of them are quite elaborate. We saw a few that were nicer than our house!
On Monday, we visited Green Lakes state park a few miles outside town. The lakes are named for the unusual color of the water, a pastel green blue caused by a combination of great depth and high calcium chloride content. We strolled around the two mile trail that borders the larger of the two lakes. At one end is a public beach area teeming with people. The other end offers a stroll through a cool and quiet cedar forest.
On the way back to Fayetteville, we checked out some of the remaining sections of the Erie Canal nearby. The waterway is still in rather good repair, considering it has been abandoned for so long. It is in much better condition than the Blackstone Canal in Massachusetts, for instance.
Tuesday it was time to head home again. Our adventure was perfect. We stayed put mostly, reading and idling the time away. It was a great way to begin our summer season and shrug off the effects to winter.
About 5 miles from the house, we lost our GPS signal and wandered off course a bit. We meandered through farm country for a while before the satellite signal kicked in again and led us back to the highway.
It was actually a delightful detour. At one point, we crested a hill and found ourselves looking out over miles of upstate New York with Lake Oneida shimmering in the distance. The view seemed to invite us to return to the area someday. We look forward to it.