Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brrrrrrr Baby Brrrrrrrr

Friday evening Bill & I loaded up the Jeep and headed north to the Chautauqua, New York area for a weekend getaway. It's an easy drive of just over 4 hours. We enjoyed the drive while listening to satellite radio. We arrived in the area early evening and could make out what looked like well maintained old homes and lots of snow.

On Friday morning it was 50 degrees in Columbus but by the time we reached our bed & breakfast that evening it was 15 degrees! We checked into the Great Tree Inn in Mayville, New York. The Inn is an 1820's farmhouse and our innkeeper was Samantha "Sam" Botha. Our room was charming with a gas fireplace that took the chill off.

Sam recommended we dine at Webbs Captain's Table Restaurant just down the road. We both had really good walleye. After dinner, we headed to the Inn, tired after a long drive.

The next morning, we lounged by the fire in the sitting room and talked with some other visitors. They were familiar with the area and were there to visit some local wineries. We ate a great breakfast at the Inn and hit the road.

We drove about 15 minutes south and arrived at the grounds of the Chatauqua Institution. Bill and I drove around the grounds. It was desolate on Saturday but during the summer season it is packed with residents and visitors participating in the cultural and religious programs. There wasn't much going on but we could see the potential in the winding streets, densely packed with homes, churches, auditoriums and theaters.

Our next stop was an outfitter and outdoors store. Unfortunately for Bill, the store was closed on Sunday so Bill was unable to rent cross country skis. We gathered some information about kayaking and biking - warmer outdoor pursuits for summer months!

We stopped in Johnstown for a pleasant lunch at a little coffee shop. Johnstown's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Lucille Ball. We didn't visit the Lucy & Desi Museum this trip - we'll save it for next trip. We searched high and low through Johnstown looking for the local train station (Bill finds inexplicable enjoyment in checking out old train stations whereever we are) until, finally, success! It was a dilapidated old brick structure and Bill braved the cold to check it out while I watched from the car.

We headed over to Long Point State Park for a brief hike. It was a cold and slippery hike and I was glad to get back to the warm car. There were many outdoorsmen on Chautauqua Lake ice fishing, skating and snowmobiling. It looked a little risky to us. We could see the water under the ice and there were cracks close to shore.

We ended our travels in and around the town of Westfield. We were told that the area is well known for wineries so we set out to find one to visit. We easily found Johnson Estate Wines, located just outside of Westfield. We had a nice time sampling the local wines. Mary explained the nuances of the various wines we tried and gave us some of the history of the winery. We told her how much we appreciated her son Wayne's service in Iraq. We left the winery and stopped in at a local antique shop and headed back to the Inn.

Saturday morning, Sam described that evening's dinner menu and asked for our choices. She reminded us to pick up a bottle of wine. We sat down to a very nice dinner. Much to our very pleasant surprise we discovered the meal was included with our room - what a nice unexpected treat!

Sunday morning arose cold and crisp. We had a hearty of breakfast of eggs florentine and headed off to church. We had passed a cute little Epsicopal church, St. Paul's, just up the road from the Inn. One of the things we like to do when traveling is attend a local church. Not only do we get a nice flavor of the locale but we usually are warmly welcomed and this was no exception. The interior of the church was simple and lovely and the service was pleasant. After the service, we were invited to join the congregation for coffee and cookies. Everyone was very friendly and Bill had a long conversation with a gentleman by the name of Paul. He actually lives on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution. He shared lots of interesting information. We will be sure to look him up when we are back in the area.

We headed back to the Inn, packed up and hit the road. The 4 1/2 hour drive took close to 7 as we wound our way through the countryside of New York and Pennsylvania. For Bill and me the journey is often as interesting as the destination!

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