November 5, 2013

The Hush Before Winter

Schricker,-Mary-Dec2010By Mary Schricker Gemberling

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile”
William Cullen Bryant

Although the October days were still warm, and the nights had just a hint of autumn coolness, it was time for our annual fall leaf trip. This year, we decided to ooh and aah our way across four states into the Finger Lake Region of New York, with our final destination being Lake Placid in the Adirondacks.

Perched in my comfortable seat in the RV, my job as human GPS was to read the maps and glean pertinent information about the many small towns we would circumvent. We took off on a Sunday afternoon and drove a few hours to just past the Illinois border into Indiana. On Monday and Tuesday, as we drove across Indiana and Ohio, the scenery remained much the same with golden fields of corn and soybeans accenting the landscape.

The leaves gradually grew more colorful as we entered the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. Nearly one thousand miles from home we reached Watkins-Glen New York on the southern tip of Lake Seneca. What a beautiful place! According to American Indian folklore, the Finger Lakes were formed when God placed his handprint on some of the most beautiful land ever created. There are eleven finger shaped lakes, one more beautiful than the last.

With over a hundred wineries, the Finger Lakes region is the largest wine producing area in the eastern United States. The infamous New York cheddar cheese is also produced in the many dairies that dot the landscape throughout the region. We took a scenic boat trip around Seneca Lake and found out that a major industry in the area is the refinement of salt. Located 1,800 or more feet below the ground’s surface, a very large salt vein, which includes the Watkins Glen mines, sit on the Appalachian Basin. This is all that remains of a sea that once covered parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Ontario, Canada. After two days of wine and cheese tasting and traversing the many small towns around the lakes, it was time to pull up stakes and move on to our final destination.

We decided to camp the next two nights in Herkimer New York, conveniently located at the base of the Adirondacks near the historic Erie Canal. The canal, completed in 1825, played an important role in the settlement of the United States, especially in circumventing the Appalachian Mountains, a major transportation barrier to the western part of the country.

The following morning, we drove to Cooperstown, a beautiful New England-like town on Otsego Lake, founded in 1786 by Judge William Cooper, father of James Fennimore Cooper, author of “The Last of the Mohicans.” Another renowned Cooperstown resident was Abner Doubleday, who was credited with founding the game of baseball. We toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a collection of memorabilia, and information which chronicles the history of baseball. It was impressive and interesting, even for a baseball novice like me.

The next morning, we began our accent into the Adirondack Mountains. The varied fauna and diverse topography made for a magnificent journey up the mountains. The village of Lake Placid, host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. We lunched on the outside patio of the highly rated Great Adirondack Steak and Brewing Company, against the backdrop of the massive snow- capped mountains. What a sight to behold! After a bit of retail therapy in the charming shops, we drove the spiraled roads back down to the valley below.

The Pennsylvania Dutch Country would be our home base for the next two nights. My husband, Gary, was on a mission? He knew that the Gemberlings had first settled in this part of the country after arriving in Philadelphia from Germany in the early 1700s, but he was curious to know more. He found the Gemberling-Rex house, now on the National Historic Registry, in nearby Schaefferstown, and set the wheels in motion for further research into his ancestry.

The following day, we set off south to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Our first stop was Hershey, Pennysylvania, home to one of the largest chocolate factories in the world. As we drove down Hershey Blvd, the faint aroma of chocolate seemed to permeate the air and coerce us into stopping for a taste. After satisfying our palates, we headed toward historic Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During the Revolutionary War, Lancaster was the largest inland city in the Colonies. With over 10 million visitors per year, tourism is the primary industry of present day Lancaster County, home to approximately 59,000 people. It is the oldest and largest Amish community in the United States. with an estimated 31,000 residing in Lancaster and the surrounding area.

It was time to set out for our final trek home back through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. We decided to take a slightly different route via Interstate 80, and spent our last night in Brown county Indiana. Upon arriving and setting up the RV, we decided to explore the nearby town of Nashville. What a charming, quaint “art colony.” Monopolizing on the tourist industry, this town has figured it out. Even on a Tuesday, the streets were packed with visitors. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this eclectic community. The next morning, we prepared for the final drive home. “We can’t wait to leave and we can’t wait to get home again!!!”

“Autumn is the hush before winter.”

Mary Schricker Gemberling, former educator and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of two books, The West End Kid and Labor of Love; My Personal Journey Through the World of Caregiving (available at )

Filed Under: Personal Growth

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