Friday, October 28, 2011

Sky High Scenic Drive - Allegany County

                 Second in our series of scenic drives, Sky High, was tackled in the rain. Sky High passes through the Village of Wellsville, just down the road from our house, so that’s where we started the drive. Of course, like all the tours, it’s possible to start at any point and go in either direction.
                We stopped at the Bradley Medical Arts building and peeked through the iron gates into the Bradley Gardens to get a glimpse of the pond, the plants, the lawns and the statues. In the past, a person could walk through the gardens but now it’s posted and private. Still, it’s one of the prettiest bits of Wellsville.
                Wellsville’s Main Street with stately homes, well-established trees and wide road all invite people into the business district where a few new stores are popping up. Two of them, Serendipities and Delinquent, are side by side at 175 N Main. Delinquent is Wellsville’s edgy, punk clothing store with band T-Shirts and bullet belts (sizes child through adult) while Serendipities calms the eye with work from several area craftspeople and Allegany Artisans with a few antiques tossed in.
                Worthy of note and holding vigil on Main Street for over a hundred years is the David A Howe Public Library currently hidden behind construction equipment as the entry undergoes a reconstruction. Fairly new to the community is the Wellsville Creative Arts Center with several food and drink choices, live music and clay instruction inside the reconstructed building of the much-missed Carter Hardware Store.
                Other eateries are Modern Diner, Pizza King and the Texas Hot. Our favorite choice for lunch is Better Days Pub serving local foods and weekly vegetarian meals along with seasonally changing decorations and a constant parade of benefit programs for community organizations and members. There’s also the Beef Haus, scene of weekly Rotary meetings.  
                Main Street is a shopping district. Buy antiques, get shoes at Hamilton’s, rock through the Music Alley, choose flooring, try on clothing, get your hydroponic growing supplies, order posters at Ink, or get the bugs out of your computer with help at Computer Clinic – Wellsville’s small business of the year.

                Passing through Wellsville we turned east on Route 417. Castaways is just outside of Wellsville and we looked inside to learn that they are having their first ever Halloween Costume Party with Bloody Mary’s for $2.50 and draft beer for $1.00 starting at 8 pm on October 29. The decorations are up and there will be prizes for costumes. Dress scary. Eat hearty.

                The next stop was Brown’s Marsh. Local birders love this place but when we stopped and waited all we found were ripples and water rings made by creatures hiding underwater. The reflection of the hillside was perfect though.
                Moving on toward Andover we stopped at Kelly Jackson’s stand for some squash.  In other years Jackson’s stand has overflowed with produce but this year just wasn’t good for their garden. A few bright pumpkins and squash are out there and Kelly walks down the drive when she hears a car. She’s thinking of putting out an honor system pay bucket since the crop isn’t worthy of regular hours.

          We struck out in Andover because both the Emporium and Paradise Café were closed that afternoon so we read the blurb in Sky High and splashed through the rain.
                Sky High offers a choice between Route 22 or 417 calling 22 a washboard road. “Washboard” sounded like a warning for a rutted dirt road. Not so. Route 22 is a roller coaster with high peaks that give a view of a ribbon of road plunging down and then racing up the next hill between fields of corn. On a clear day the view must be wonderful because even in the drizzle the sky felt high and wide. We guessed this road is what gave the tour its name.
                Here’s the treasure of this drive for us – Hill Top Deli. With apologies to Independence, this place is the essence of out-of-the-way, in the middle of nowhere, on County Road 22. The deli offers sandwiches on breads baked in the store but the grocery is what caught our eyes. We found: Organic Blue Agave, Organic Honey, Shoo Fly Pie Mix, Uncle Henry’s Handmade Pretzels, a 10 pound milk chocolate bar, Garlic Mustard Pickled eggs and dozens and dozens of spices – many hard to find. 
                 As a result of that stop I may have developed an Uncle Henry pretzel habit and a desire to say Sarsaparilla at odd moments.    

                Moving along through Hallsport we found an ATV trail and lots of evidence of the Penn York Energy Company.  After moving over roads we’d never see we ended up at the intersection of 29 and 19 at Yorks Corners where the old store is now a cute house and the Mennonite Church stands guard over the cemetery.
                Alma Pond is out there and if you are like us you want to know why Alma Pond is a “pond.”  This is not some little round puddle but a long, narrow body of water that seems to deserve a name fitting its size. There are parking areas for the public and there’s the Alma Rod and Gun Club which is for members.
                We watched the rain fall on the water and again found the hillside and clouds reflected in the water while tendrils of mist curled up from the water. I very much wanted a canoe and paddle.


                We came back through Petrolia, home of the Triangle #1, the first successful, commercial oil well in Allegany County. With those modifiers it does sound as if there were a few messy, failed attempts before Triangle #1.
                 With our side trips and the occasional wrong turn Sky High Tour took us over 65 drizzly and rainy miles.

See or call 1-800-836-1869 or 585-268-5500 for events, restaurants, brochures and local tourism. Find brochures Libraries, restaurants and banks. Brochure choices are Scenic Drives, Spring Summer Fall, Artisans & Galleries, Historic Trails, Hunting & Fishing, Fall Winter Spring and Festivals & Events. This driving tour is listed in Scenic Drives.

Elaine Hardman is a member of the Allegany County Office of Tourism Advisory Board. 

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