Vacations have become much shorter as projects and work take up more and more of my time. In 2007 my wife, Judy, and I visited the Chautauqua Lake region of New York. When I lived in West Virginia I needed my urban fix. Now that I’m back in the urban world it’s time for a change of pace in the country.
The Chautauqua region remains a relatively free-of-development area. There are no major sprawling areas. Small town America reigns. The major draw during the summer is the Chautauqua Institute . While we included the Institute as part of an evening cruise, most of our time was spent in other lesser known sites.
We spent a day at Lily Dale , the Spiritualist Center, located on Lake Cassadaga. This is a town dedicated to the “dead.” People come to visit “mediums” who communicate with spirits on the other side. Pastel painted homes provide the backdrop for the flock of people, mainly women, who come to find a link to their past. Services include an hour of meditation and giving light at the Healing Temple or performances by professional medium at the Inspiration Stump. The town has many cats patrolling the streets as people wait for their next visit to the world of the spirits.
For my adventure with my wife, Judy, we stayed at a marvelous bed and breakfast, the Morning Glory , located just outside Bemus Point. The country inn provided easy access to the Interstate highway linking Erie to Jamestown, as well as the myriad country roads that led to towns like Mayville , Chautauqua, Sherman, or Celeron.
For one of our days we decided to hike along the rails to trails section that links Sherman and Mayville. We had no idea that French Creek, the waterway that meanders by Sherman is one of the most ecologically diverse and viable ecosystems in the United States. The hike featured grasshoppers and a dog as trail guides. I’ve never experienced a team of grasshoppers that would leap and then wait until neared them to take the next jump along the trail. For close to half a mile this rather humorous combination of walking and leaping continued. Then we left the French Creek area, crossing the highway and walking along a farm road just outside of town. As we ambled down the road a dog, “Fluffy,” joined us. Judy exclaimed that Fluffy was a reincarnation of a dog she had as a child. At first we thought Fluffy would turn around and head home, but Fluffy wanted a morning in the woods. We joked that Fluffy was really a ghost dog. It provided protection for hikers. We discovered that Fluffy was really Jaz and did have an owner on Kendrick Road.
We entered a wetlands area where Fluffy took a swim and then continued on her way with us. Along the way we ran into a another group that explained that the trail went for 11 miles, all the way to Mayville. We turned around after about 2.5 miles and headed back for lunch at Vincenzo’s Restaurant, an Italian enclave in Sherman. Judy was sure that Vincenzo was an outcast from New York City. With his gruff voice and hard face he didn’t look like the “folks” that made up the rest of the town.
For our dinners we enjoyed two fine meals in Bemus Point. The Hound and Hare provided the best meal for the trip. The Italian Fisherman served up the largest bowl of pasta that became a meal for a second day. We ended our visit to Bemus Point with a beautiful evening sunset on Lake Chautauqua.