I’ve had an interest in visiting Cooperstown, NY for many years – mainly because of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I put it on the “things to do and places to see” list when I first moved back to Albion. I finally decided to do it now – before the nice weather ended and became wise to push it out to another summer, but, hopefully, late enough in the season that the leaves would be starting to turn. I new it was down south and east of here…..somewhere…….but wasn’t sure exactly where it was. So, I got on Map Quest to figure out what route to take. Map Quest really wanted me to take the NY State Thruway….boring!!! And the alternate route it provided was taking Rt 104 east and something else later on in the trip to head south to Cooperstown – that didn’t seem like a good alternative, but would be more scenic, so that’s the route I was likely going to take. Both options gave an estimated travel time of about 4 hours. Well, I was talking to a friend about the trip and told her the routes that Map Quest was recommending and her advice was to get out a map and look up Rt 20 – she was sure it would take me to Cooperstown and be a much prettier route! I looked it up and saw that 20 did, indeed, take me very close to Cooperstown – I just needed to catch either 28 or 80 south from 20 right into Main Street in Cooperstown! But, when I plugged it in a trip estimator, it was showing the trip would take 5 hours, instead of 4….however, it looked like a great route through the Finger Lakes Region! I debated the options with myself and finally decided to get up early, leave by 5:00 am, take Rt 20, and – given some time for a few photo stops along the way – arrive in Cooperstown before lunch!
So, with a plan in hand, my GPS on the dashboard, and a map in the passenger seat, I headed out…….and TEN HOURS later, I arrived in Cooperstown! There were so many wonderful things to see and do along the way and I really didn’t have any pressing need to arrive by lunch time……so, I just took my time and enjoyed my trip!!!! I am so very glad I did!
Here are just some of the great experiences I had taking the scenic route!
I must say, Gabby (my new GPS) was very helpful on this trip! But, she kept trying to get me to skip over to the Thruway and stop this longer route – she’s all for getting me there the fastest way possible! I wouldn’t give in, though! To keep her from trying so hard to get me off Rt 20, I set it up for shorter, intermediate goals that helped her think “OK, it isn’t worth heading north to catch the thruway”! The first thing she helped me with was finding a place for breakfast! I left the house at 5:00 am with nothing to eat. By about 7:00, I was starving!!! I was coming into Canandaigua, so I asked Gabby where the nearest restaurant was. The first choice was Patty’s Place – sounded quaint, so I attempted to go there. But, street construction made finding a place to park near the diner nearly impossible. So, I took the second choice – The Villager Restaurant and Diner! Good choice!!! With my belly full, I was back on the road!
The first place I stopped for a photo shoot was the Montezuma Winery! I was just tooling along and noticed this place set back a little from the road. I chuckled about the name and felt compelled to turn around and get a photo! I didn’t go in or check it out, so I have no idea why they named it “Montezuma Winery” – but, the reason I just had to stop and take a photo was because I instantly thought of “Montezuma’s Revenge” and wondered why anyone would want that thought linked to their wine!!!??? I pulled into the parking lot, snapped the photo, laughed a little, and got back on the road! That was the LAST “quick” stop I made all day!!!
Route 20 goes right through the Finger Lakes region and in several spots skirts right along the top edge of most of the Finger Lakes, so the views were incredible. But, it was the next town I came to after the winery that really got me off track! As I started to drive through the lovely town of Seneca Falls, I began to notice signs for historic sites that I knew would be fascinating to see. The first one that I knew I had to stop for was the National Women’s Hall of Fame! I followed the signs and located the building on Fall Street – the main street in downtown. But, when I got out to go in, I discovered that they were closed on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday……today was Monday!!! UUGGHH!!! I was so disappointed!
So, I looked around downtown and tried to go to the Visitor’s Center across the street – thinking maybe I could just pick up some information and be on my way! But, they were closed, too! It was going to be another hour before they opened and I didn’t want to wait around for that. But, I noticed a distinct theme about women throughout the town – like this store devoted to items only made by women! Unfortunately, it was too early to shop, here, too.
So, I got back on the road, but before I could leave town, I noticed a sign for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. I pictured a park like setting that wouldn’t need to be “open” to enjoy, so I followed the signs to find it. WHAT A TREAT!!! Yes, it was a park, but they also had a Visitor’s Center that was open and if I waited just a 1/2 hour, I could go on a park ranger guided tour of the historic church that was part of the park. So, I decided it was worth hanging around there. I wandered around the park and the Visitor’s Center and learned that this was the site of the very first Women’s Rights Convention — long before the Civil War and the Suffragettes and all the rest that I knew about from my history lessons! I had no idea that Seneca Falls played such a huge roll in the history of women’s rights (or, if I did learn it, I had long since forgotten)! In July of 1848, a group of women were having a party in a nearby town. At this party, they decided to organize the convention. Within a few days, they had a draft of what was called the “Declaration of Sentiments” and plans for the convention. They secured a location – the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls, which was becoming known as a congregation interested in freedom of speech for all groups – and invited friends who spread the word and invited more friends. The organizers – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Jane Hunt – hosted the First Women’s Rights Convention ever held in the United States on July 19 and 20, 1848. In those two days, the gathering of three hundred people discussed and edited the Declaration of Sentiments and resolutions calling for equality for men and women under the law. The document was signed by all 300 attendees, including men and women and became the baseline document that all future women’s rights movements and resolutions were built from. I spent close to two hours here and found it absolutely fascinating!
This is a monument to the “Declaration of Sentiments” – a wall with water continuously flowing over the words from the original document etched into the stone! Beautiful!
Inside the Visitor’s Center was a gift shop, library, and several exhibits, including several groupings of statues of the pioneers of the Women’s Rights Convention!
Once I was done with this amazing experience, I hit the road, again……
My next stop was in Auburn. I drove by a stunning church that I was drawn to. I turned around and went back for a closer look and some photos! This church is the Trinity United Methodist Church and it is incredible!
Then, I came upon Skaneateles and Skaneateles Lake. I had heard of this town many times – pronounced like Skinny-atlas, but have never been there. I think it was one of the towns we rode through or near on the train ride to NY City when I was fresh out of high school, but don’t really remember! As I drove into town, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful lake and lovely look of the town. I stopped by the lake to walk around and then walked downtown a little. I spent quite a while there just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. The park by the lake was so elegant and the lake was so crystal clear and clean that I really was tempted to get a bottle and scoop some up to take with me to drink!!! It was a great place to visit and walk around for a while, but looked just a little too rich for my blood – not a place I’d likely afford to stay for long, if you know what I mean!
So, back on the road, again……
I was driving along and came up upon Cazanovia Lake. It was interesting because the road went right along the shore line – literally! There was a small parking area that you could get off the road for a scenic overlook – which might imply the need to look down on something, but it was actually right at the edge of the water – and an historic marker. If it weren’t for the row of boulders, I could have driven right into the lake without the least bit of a bumpy ride!!! When I got back in the car, I noticed my GPS actually looked like it thought I already DID drive into the lake! hahahaha
Just past Cazanovia, I saw signs for Chittenango Falls – a place Mom had mentioned that she thought it might be worth taking a side trip for. So, I took Route 13N – a long, narrow, winding mountain (big hill? not sure which) road. I came up on the Chittenango Falls State Park and parked the car. I then walked a trail to the falls……..OMG……..it was definitely worth it!!! There was a rushing creek (not sure if it was considered a river or not) and a series of waterfalls – a smaller one, a couple of ledges, and then the big one that actually fell over several ledges that made it jog a little on the way down! It was so tall……down to the continuation of the creek/river in the gorge below! How beautiful! I stood there just gazing at it for the longest time! A lady walking her dog came by and we chatted for a while – she lived nearby and said that people around there don’t realize what a treasure they have, here! I was in total awe of it! I took a bunch of photos – none of which do it justice, but you get the idea!
A sweet ten hours after I left the house, I arrived at my intended destination – Cooperstown, NY! I had a wonderful day of discovery and adventure! For the first time ever, I do believe, I had the luxury of not having any real set time line I had to meet and no specific time of arrival requirement! I also had the luxury of deciding to spend another night in Cooperstown to compensate for not getting there early enough to get a good start on my planned activities while there – if I wanted to – which I did!!!! I could just take my time and enjoy the beauty our great state has to offer, learn some new things, gaze at some breathtaking views, and just get there when I get there!!! How amazing is that?
And, then, on the drive home, I gave in and took the Thruway to get home as quick as I could to see my girls!!! The scenery was really quite different! I have no idea where these were taken – could have been anywhere – the scenery was the same the entire way! At least the sky was gorgeous!!! 🙂