Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lake Country, Scenic Drive, Allegany County

Allegany County: What weather! Our garden is summer warm. I planted snow peas, radishes and lettuce yesterday after seeing crocuses poking out all over the lawn. The cross country skis never left their cubby in the garage and we’re back on our bikes already. With a summer attitude, we took off the Lake Tour scenic drive – our 5th in the series of 6 offered by Allegany County.  
                This time we clocked it with the Bike Brain app on a smart phone. It kept track of our average speed, total distance, our altitude, the air temperature and mapped the trip.
                We started in Wellsville and headed out CR 31 from Scio to Friendship to get into the loop. Scenery included grazing horses and goats and we noticed people have piles of firewood left over after our soft winter. Windfall Farms has a shiny new red, metal roof on the barn and the Serenity Hill Golf Course is emerald green.
                My favorite part of Friendship is the side by side elegance of the Town Hall and Ambulance Squad buildings. They are ready for the calendar to turn to 1900 on the outside.  Couldn’t be more charming. 
                We took North 275 to CR 17 to start our drive going against the recommended direction.  We stopped to photograph a rusty truck. Bits of rust are chewing through the paint on my car this very moment, an assault to be sanded off and banished but this roadside truck was to be admired. It was all rust – paper thin metal ready to melt into the earth. This rust brought the truck into some level of art if not beauty, like the rusty vehicles in Sarah Phillips’ wonderful calendars.
                Rick though it was a 1940s specimen, perhaps a Ford. It was a heavy duty workhorse once upon a time with still-solid springs and hubs on the rear end. Might it have carried anything as heavy as the huge granite blocks in front of the house? Maybe not but it was a solid vehicle 60 years ago.
                We passed a parade of Amish signs and an Amish home and sawmill complete with a little girl swinging in a tree with her bonnet strings waving.
                We saw White Creek Honey’s sign painted on a barn door on the left and a creative house fashioned from another barn on the right. There was a small, old cabin whose driveway was reclaimed by weeds. The house’s sway-backed roof is slowing sinking the rest of it into history.
                The fields on this road bristled with last year’s corn crop and the side yards were ready for kids with their swings, trampolines, bikes and play houses.
                In the town of Belfast we veered off the trail into the state forest areas. The Rusford Conservation Camp is operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation as a residential summer camp for children ages 11 to 13 or 14 to 17. Campers pay $350 for a full week of activities such as canoeing and bow hunting. Weekly activities vary so search the DEC website for applications and information.
                We went further into the unknown to find Hanging Bog. The smart phone leaves its navigational ability at some distant cell tower so if you venture in have a compass or a map. Also, please note that the roads are made of something between mud and peanut butter.
                 We went there with a Goldilocks sort of car. Not heavy enough to sink and not light enough to skitter though it was close. The road was so rough and bumpy that I can’t read my notes but I remember the jolts and still have the mud.
                There’s a monument on the edge of the bog, a pond dug by the Civil Conservation Corps in the 1930s when the land was federally owned. What appears to be an island is a floating mass of vegetation – the source of Hanging Bog’s name. The monument is dedicated to the memory of Gardner L Whipple who visited the 4500 acres for 50 years.
                After those dirt roads, we celebrated the paved surface of Rush Creek Road and stopped for a photo of beaver lodges. Stepping out of the car caused an eruption of frightened, jumping frogs and sent small fish headed for the reeds like lightening.
                Rush Creek Road brought us back onto the driving tour route where we passed Granny Gerts on Route 243. Have you been to that place? It’s a pizza/sub shop where the sub rolls are made fresh daily with their recipe. They have gas and a large restaurant but in the acres behind that there is an outdoor concert site where the music and camping makes summer fun.   
                We turned left onto Buffalo Street which becomes Lower Street and then CR 7B. Rushford’s historical society has a Black Smith and Wood Working Museum near Main Street (occasionally part of a tour) as well as a Museum on Main Street. Rushford’s Library is near as is the fire hall and their gazebo where the Rushford Town Band plays on Saturday evenings in the summer.  
                Along CR7B we found the Allegany Hills Country Club and lots of farm land. A brilliant, yellow smart car – part roller skate/part vehicle – sparkled in a driveway on Route 46 – the bit of the trail that leaks into Cattaraugus County.
                Marsh Acres, the county’s largest dairy farm has row upon row of small shelters in the calf field on one side and the largest plastic covered mound I’ve ever seen on the other. Hundreds of tires anchor the plastic cover behind huge barns and all kinds of farm equipment.  
                This entire road is lined with barns – little, big and way beyond big from sturdy and stout to near compost. One of them was painted black and looked dressed for society next to an old cabin, also black. Some of the fields were ready to plant.
                We parked on the edge of Cuba Lake – still low with the state having sand harvested from the lake bed - and rode our bikes the 7 miles around the lake. My favorite cottages are the small ones with porches and maybe a stone wall or chimney. The fences always give cabins a cozy look too. People were out walking, jogging and being pulled by their dogs. A fine “June” day.
                In Cuba we stopped at Mak’s Meats & Cheese and bought some local foods and future dinners and made our first ever visit to the Cuba Cheese Store. Cuba’s Cheese Museum is only open in the summer but this summer it will move from Water Street to reopen in the old Palmer Opera House on Main Street. While looking for the Cheese Museum we noticed an interesting Antique Shop on Water Street but it, like Bob and Carol Riggs’ cute little purple store, Cakes and Curios, was closed. It was after 5 by the time we made it to Cuba.
                Cuba is the site of a gigantic flag pole and some new mural work depicting the Cuba of past years. Main Street has shops, restaurants and another one of Allegany County’s fabulous Libraries.
                We took CR 20 back to Friendship and then over the hill again to Scio and home to Wellsville finishing 99.98 miles in the car. Bike Brain calculated that the journey would have saved 24kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if totally done by bike. It’s all fun and games until someone calculates the carbon.




See or call 1-800-836-1869 or 585-268-5500 for events, restaurants, brochures and local tourism information. Find brochures in 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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