12% Grades and Twisty Mountain Roads

The trip from Finger Lakes to Southeastern Pennsylvania was a bit longer than we prefer at 340 miles, but certainly doable. It was a mix of back roads and some interstate. In order to avoid low bridges and road weight limits, we try to stick to truck routes when towing the fifth-wheel, and that’s exactly what we did on this drive. I use Google, the Allstays app, and a truck atlas for guidance.

We’ve driven through the mountains in the west with no issues. Through either luck or good planning, we’ve never needed to take the trailer up or down a grade more than about 8%, something that is usually very manageable for Opa by downshifting into 3rd or 4th gear and using the brakes occasionally to fine tune our speed. He’s always felt comfortable on descents as long as he has relatively cool brakes (because the engine is keeping the truck/trailer at speed) and has a lower gear to shift into should the road get steeper on the way down.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

Although we’re not huge architecture geeks, we’ve been on a bit of a roll lately with Frank Lloyd Wright. We toured Taliesin last year, and toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s S.C. Johnson buildings this fall with our Excel group while I was healing. Oma loves water and Fallingwater was close to our next destination (the Shenandoah’s), so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to tour the house built over a stream.

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Hiking Glen Creek Gorge

The Gorge at Watkins Glen State Park is a highlight of the Finger Lakes region. The Gorge was created from a combination of glaciers and erosion. The mix of shale, limestone and sandstone erode at different rates, resulting in the beautiful succession of waterfalls through the gorge. Being both Fall and apparently a bit of a drought, the water flow was not very high, but it was still very pretty.

There is a parking area off the highway, as well as another inside the main State Park area. Parking in the highway lot costs $8.00. On weekends, there is a shuttle that runs from the upper to the lower trailheads (meaning you can walk one-way, either up or down). We chose to go during the week, both so that we had fewer people (although we were hardly alone) and also because they were not collecting money for parking in the lot near the pool in the state park. That did require some additional walking to get down to the start, but a few extra steps didn’t hurt us.

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Finger Lakes Wining

From our base in Watkins Glen, we had access to tons of wineries. There are well over 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes region, so of course we had to sample a few.

As you would expect with an area with that many wineries, you could probably find almost anything somewhere. However, the climate favors white wines, and Riesling is clearly king. Sweet wines (white or red) are also quite common, so this area is quite a bit different than any other wine region that we’ve explored.

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Cow Madness – Hiking in Finger Lakes National Forest

Finger Lakes National Forest was close to Clute Park, so it was a natural place for us to go for a longer walk with the dog. We sampled only a couple of trails, and we found them somewhat similar to our forest trails at home. Except for the cow pastures.

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The Corning Museum of Glass

We’d heard that the Corning Museum of Glass was worth visiting, so when we needed a break from wineries, we set out on a day trip to check it out.

Glass rope sculpture woven by the artist and women from an African village
Glass rope sculpture woven by the artist and women from an African village

The Corning Museum is located in Corning, New York, in Steuben County. I knew of Corning, Inc., of course, but hadn’t realized that so many different glass and crystal manufacturers had been located in the area.

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Clute Park Campground

After leaving the casino near Erie, we headed to the Finger Lakes. We considered several state parks, but the weekend was booked up on the sites that we seemed to fit in. After looking at a lot of options, we chose to stay in Clute Park, a municipal park in Watkins Glen. The location seemed to be a good base for exploring the Finger Lakes, it was across the street from Seneca Lake, and we could have the luxury of full-hookups for the duration of our stay.

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