Recent Travels: Watkins Glen

Okay, if you ever want to enjoy the Finger Lakes on a budget, keep reading. Whenever I want to do anything on Seneca Lake–like wine trail, hike and eat good food–I usually camp in New York State’s only National Forest. It’s a little slice of nature right in the heart of wine/beer/spirit country. There are a few group campsites that cost money but for the most part you can camp for free anywhere in the forest just as long as you set up at least 50 feet from any body of water or trail. That’s easy enough. There are even bathrooms nearby incase you don’t get your kicks from peeing in bushes…sissy pants! The forest is not only close to Seneca Lake (plus Watkins Glen, the speedway and Farm Sanctuary), it’s also convenient to Ithaca, Trumansburg and anything having to do with the west side of Cayuga Lake.

The Finger Lakes National Forest is different from a state park in how it’s managed. It’s all about providing a wide variety of recreational opportunities and managing for a variety of wildlife habitat types. There’s hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, blueberry picking, snowshoeing, skiing, biking and snowmobiling. They mow, prescribe burn and stock ponds. There’s no fee to get in so it’s also different from a state park in that respect. Instead, they raise funds through other means such as harvesting timber and allowing livestock grazing. It’s pretty neat to be hiking in the forest one minute and the next minute you’re in a clearing with a herd of cattle.
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Not cool people! Not cool!

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This past weekend, my Hudson Valley friends, Cassie & Lauren came to visit me and I figured this would be an ideal weekend excursion. We enjoyed some delicious microbrew at Two Goats Brewing overlooking beautiful Seneca Lake; headed into Watkins Glen to eat, drink more microbrew and listen to live music at the Crooked Rooster; then we camped in the National Forest for the night. We set up right next to Potomac Pond and fell asleep to the sound of frogs calling en masse. It was the perfect nights sleep until a duck got there in the morning. This paticular duck’s constant jibber-jabber incorporated itself into my dream and nearly drove me insane. Then we broke down camp and ventured into Watkins Glen to eat brunch at the Glen Mountain Market (yum!). The rest of the day was spent hiking the extremely packed but still awesomely majestic Watkins Glen State Park, chomping down ice cream, and venturing back up Route 414 to taste wine at Atwater, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge and Hector Wine Company. After that we parted ways and put the lid on one heck of a perfect weekend. Enjoy the photos…

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2014-05-26 12.54.27 2014-05-26 13.10.082014-05-26 13.07.26 2014-05-26 13.10.38 2014-05-26 13.17.102014-05-26 13.13.49 2014-05-26 13.38.04 2014-05-26 13.48.522014-05-26 13.40.50 You can pay to park at Watkins Glen State Park or just find a space on the street and walk in for free. Either way. The downside to parking on the street is that it’s 2 hours max and that’s the bare minimum for hiking the gorge. If you have the cash, pay to park and then spend the day enjoying the the glen (which is in walking distance to breweries, eateries, shops and the lake) without having to worry about parking tickets or moving your car.

As an exciting side-note: I finally got to field test my insect repellent. I forgot to spray myself as I was setting up camp and I heard Cassie exclaim something to the effect of “Good gawd girl, your arms have been eaten alive!” The mosquitoes had a field day biting my exposed arms and I was just too engrossed in setting up my tent to notice/care. When I had the chance, I sprayed my arms and legs and every last itchy welt was gone within minutes. We then headed out to the brewery where I had people comment on how great I smelled. It’s moments like these that I wait for and savor. I nonchalantly blow on my fingernails, polish them off on my lapel, slap on my best shit-eating grin and say “Why thank you, it’s my very own Sweet Pea’s bug spray. It repels insects and attracts humans.” When we got back to camp, I immediately sprayed myself and was never bothered by an insect again. I even ended up sleeping with three mosquitoes in my tent and was never feasted on. This leads me to believe that I dang done well with my little concoction.

I was also debating over whether to add polysorbate 80 or polysorbate 20 to the repellent because it helps emulsify and solublize (yup, that’s actually a word) essential oils and water and alcohol. It seems to be used in a lot of commercial as well as handmade room sprays, perfumes and repellents so I was feeling like I was possibly missing the boat. But the more I read about this ingredient, the more uncomfortable I am with using it. The repellent is great without it. You just have to shake it so everything blends together. No biggie. Why spend money on an extra ingredient, which is basically unnecessary and potentially harmful? Seems kinda silly. That’s the direction I’m taking with my lotion too. Why add a chemical preservative? Oh because the product has water in it and water breeds bacteria. Okay, just get rid of the water. Bam! Easy as that. Same with emulsifying wax. I’ll just use the heaps of beeswax I have instead. And speaking of bees…

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5 thoughts on “Recent Travels: Watkins Glen”

  1. Love your shirt! I keep laughing about it.
    And thanks for the knowledge on camping. We always want to go but couldn’t think of a place close by that seemed decent.
    We used your bug lotion this past weekend and heard all the same compliments. You rock Pea!

    1. That shirt was fifty cents at a Goodwill in Delaware. Best find/purchase ever! I think it suits me well.

  2. Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
    to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to
    get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hey, the great thing about WordPress or Blogspot or anything similar is that you don’t have to know any code at all. There are templates you can choose from and all you have to do is type in your content and upload any photos. And there are plenty of tutorials to get you started. So give it a go and enjoy!

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