Archive for April, 2012

Bergen Swamp — Finger Lakes Time Travel

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Aliens pop up their heads to view the wooded trail

A hike in Bergen Swamp is like taking a trip back 400 million years! This delicate environment of alkaline and acid soils, favors a diversity of plants uncommon in the area.

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Bergen Swamp contains 2,000 acres of primeval marshland located in the town of Bergen New York, and was the first site to be designated a Natural National Landmark, but has been protected by the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society since 1935.

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May Apples

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Orchard at the trail head

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It's not easy being green in the middle of an acid bog.

There is a huge variety of species that call the swamp home. On my hike I saw, Dog Tooth Violets, May Apples, Trillium, Marsh Marigold, Cinnamon Ferns, Swamp Cabbage, Beech Trees, and other friendly forest dwellers

I was happy to miss the Rattlesnakes, Queen Snakes, Black Rat Snakes, Ribbon Snakes, and Green Snakes … do you see a theme here?

It is important to remember that it is always wet here, so wear boots. I was in Wellingtons and I still went over the tops in a couple of sink holes right on the path.

Finger Lakes Summer

See the red flags? Those are your trail markers

Stay on trails. This is a dense forest and it is easy to get lost. Remember that list of snakes I mentioned above. Plus there is the danger of sinking into the bog, as the swampy soil reminded me of the stuff that swallows up bad guys in the movies.

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This is where you do not want to hike — sink holes


April 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

Connie’s Tex-Mex, Auburn, New York: great mexican food and some Finger Lakes flair

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Connie's Tex Mex, next to the prison in Auburn

Long-time fixture in Auburn, Connie’s Tex Mex offers super-size tacos, with fresh ingredients and generous portions. It took me 2 days to eat my order of Tostadas and salsa. Two chicken tacos were more than I could finish at one sitting and a taco is only $3.25.

Connie’s serves all types of authentic mexican fare as well as barbecue, salads, burgers and subs. The only thing they are missing is beer. I figure that a restaurant located next door to a prison might attract some interesting characters, but at 7pm on a Friday night it was full of couples and families enjoying great mexican food at very reasonable prices.

Note several five-star reviews on Yelp.

Located at 141 State Street, right next to the Auburn Prison. Parking right across the street.

Open 1-9 M-Sat.

April 23, 2012 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Dano’s on Seneca Lake

Finger Lakes Summer

Appetizers = Vorspeisen = spreads

Dano’s Heuriger along the east side of Seneca Lake, is America’s first heuriger (pronounced hoy-rig-er). Dano’s is a traditional Viennese winery restaurant featuring Finger Lakes award-winning wines paired with the superb Viennese-inspired cooking of chef/co-owner Dano Hutnik and pastry chef/co-owner Karen Gilman.

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Ever-changing menu on a giant chalk board

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View inside of Danos

As you ride along Rt 414, on the east side of Seneca Lake, Dano’s does not grab you with a stunning roadside facade. Other than the sign you don’t see much, just a large shingled roof and a big gravel parking lot.

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Ceiling shot

Architect Andrea Simitch designed the building to with the same voluminous space as a barn, and the spacious interior brings to mind the traditional volumes of a farm building, but with much more warmth and light. The west wall is glass, floor to ceiling, placing you right into the surrounding fields.

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View from the deck

Beyond the glass wall that faces the lake, there is an outdoor terrace with seating for up to 60.

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Horseradish Beet Salad, House Pate, Bratwurst

Dano, the chef, makes make his own sausage, and cheese, and re­cently added a vegetable garden and fruit or­chard. He makes a mean chutney.

The menu is completely a la carte. You can order all at once or in dribs and drabs — which we did. Sharing is encouraged. Arriving at 4pm on a Saturday worked out perfectly, as we beat the dinner rush, and could take our time ordering and savoring. Dano’s seats continuously from noon until closing.

We started with three spreads for $9. The Liptauer is their house special and was our favorite A “spread” is pretty much a base of cream cheese with tasty items like feta paprika, onion, garlic, caraway seed, or capers, mixed in producing  yummy things to spread on sliced bread (or gluten-free crackers). We also tried the Pumpkin Seed Oil and the Hotel Sacher spreads.

Our helpful waiter guided us to try some white wine:  A Berger Gruner Veltliner, and a Standing Stone Vineyard Vidal Blanc.

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Sacher Torte — rich chocolate with orange

We moved on to the the House Paté, a Horseradish Beet Salad, Smoked Hungarian Sausage, and a Bratwurst. Any chinks left in our tummies were solidly filled with the rich Sacher Torte and a Red Newt Port.

Dano’s has been named a regional semi-finalist in 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards. The awards annually honor the top professionals in the food and beverage industries, and are considered the Oscars of the food world. This year, there were a record 57,000 online entries.

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Location of Danos

Dano’s Heuriger is located at 9564 Route 414 just south of Lodi, NY.

April 16, 2012 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

Waterfalls of Hemlock-Canadice State Forest

Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Its easier to hike up from the creek at roadside to find these falls

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Looking straight down 50+ feet at the top of the lower falls

Hemlock-Canadice State Forest — 6,684 acres, many of them covered with creeks flowing down into our water supply.

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The 15A access to Reynolds Gully has smaller falls the trail is short and easy.

Hiking creek beds to get the best possible view of several nice waterfalls off the beaten path.

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Careful: the trip from the top of the falls to the bottom can be steep and slippery

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Johnson HIll Trail is easy to follow, carpeted in moss early spring.

I hiked the Johnson Hill Trail, accessed via Johnson Hill Rd, off Bald hill Rd, just off Rt 15A, at the southern end of Hemlock Lake.

Finger Lakes Waterfalls

This one is off state land, but I used a special lens to get close.

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County Line Falls is the first waterfalls you see from the Johnson Hill Trail

There are parking lots on 15A, which lead into Reynolds Gully and another one on Johnson Hill Road with a nice 1.5m trail.

Finger Lakes Waterfalls

Access to trails and falls

Finger Lakes Waterfalls

South end of Hemlock Lake from Old Bald Hill Rd

April 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

Filmore Glen, Moravia’s Treasure

The Finger Lakes region has several awesome parks with waterfalls. Little-known Filmore Glen is another example of the beautiful work of the glaciers that passed through 10,000 years ago and left us the “gorgology” the makes the Finger Lakes region so special. The park has five waterfalls, several miles of great trails and 60 campsites plus a natural stream-fed swimming hole.

Continue Reading April 1, 2012 at 5:41 am 1 comment

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