Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Driving Mid County - Scio to Angelica by going East

ALLEGANY COUNTY: While the Tourism Board calls this the Mid-Country Driving Tour, it could be called the Green Fields and Neighbors Tour. That’s how our 6 hours and 61 miles spent driving and walking on the tour felt. We came home with hand screened T-shirts, sausage, Red Curry squash, spinach, bagels, pancake mix, brownies and lots of news from folks we found.

            Generally my husband Rick does the driving and I write but he wasn’t available so my friend, Joanne Allen, came along. It is suggested that the tour start in Scio and head toward Friendship, but we started in Scio and aimed for Alfred to catch the last of their farmer’s market.
            I travel the Vandermark Road twice a week to rehearse with the AU Symphonic Band so that road, for me, means watching for deer and thinking of my destination but this time I made sure to focus on what the road passes.   
Scio Playground
            Just after the turn, I had to note with appreciation that the Scio community came together to provide for their neighbors. They put a charming bronze sculpture in front of the school and, across the street in Fireman’s Park, they built an inviting picnic pavilion that may be reserved at the clerk’s office. There is a playground, a ball diamond, and a tennis court with parking for events on both sides of the road. The school, Lion’s Club and Fire Department blended resources admirably.
            The Vandermark holds cabins, houses, farms, and green fields with white sheep or black cattle. There’s a farm house for sale on Waugh Brook Road where recent rains created mud enough to coat my cars and others. Two favorite named places on the Vandermark are Uncle Cooter’s Farm and Whiskey River Farms (where birds are always on the roof of the tailored barn).
            The Vandermark State Forrest hosts public hiking trails and the Philips Creek State Forest stretches from Vandermark to groomed hiking, skiing and horse trails. Turning right to pass the Vander View Golf Course and enter Alfred, one passes a Palliser house. This is one of many houses built around the country in the 1800s after people checked the Palliser catalog, found a pleasing house, and purchased the plans. Many such houses have a tower, porch and a touch of gingerbread.
Palliser House
            We took this detour to shop at The Rogue Carrot, a store that may forever be Kinfolk to me. It’s the natural grocery store in Alfred where everyone goes for local produce and now more and more locally made art. Several huge ceramic pieces are on hand as well as functional pottery, soaps, cutting boards and jewelry.
            What’s the most popular item at Rogue Carrot? Bananas for smoothies are a hit with students but just now there’s a run on cider and cider-donuts unless it’s Thursday. Thursday is all about fish and bagels delivered by Jessen. Eat well. Get clean. Feel good. It’s all there 7 days a week.
            We stopped at the Alfred Farmer’s Market on Main Street where we heard live music from the Decker and Ruch families making it easier to dance some warmth into one’s damp-chilled extremities.  We tried some of Mascho Homestead Farms’s sausage and heard about the heritage turkeys from Chilson’s in Belmont then admired Robin Kellogg’s work - Kellogg's Alpacas. Near her knit and felted work was a penned in mamma and baby alpaca accepting grass from the fingers of slightly wary college students. Kellogg’s Alpacas will be open on November 14 & 15.
feeding alpaca
            Back on the trail we found the location of the old fire tower on Route 244. It seems to be a communications tower now. In the old days one could climb to look around but now a gate and lock indicate a new attitude.
Canacadea Country Store
            Next we passed the Country Cabin Bed and Breakfast, a business that supports local artisans by using locally made pottery and art work in the rooms and kitchen. And just down the road is the Alfred State Farm. Keep November 17 open because from 4-6:30 students will meet you near the green houses at the Agricultural Building and bus you to the farm for a tour. The organic farm is making news in agricultural education.
            We turned left onto Route 21 and stopped at the Canacadea Country Store in Alfred Station where Laurie Lang was selling candies and coffees and then found the Quest Farm Produce stand open so bought more fall produce there. Quest will be open till Christmas with local pasta, organic meats, whole grains, and produce.
Quest Farm Produce
        If you don't know this, learn it now. Friday is Pieday at the Tinkertown Hardware. Stop by for hardware, breads, pie and cookies.
            We turned left at the signs to Route 86 in Almond but passed by the highway to find cemeteries, farms and huge barns – some standing proudly and some just reminders of the past. Near the western side of Angelica are the remainders of the old county poor house or work house and the home of Major Moses Van Campen, circa 1808.
            If you aren’t in a hurry and haven’t been there lately travel all the way around the town circle and look at the restoration work that has gone into making the buildings there shine with history. We parked on Main Street and spent some time in one of the shops. The Angelica Country Store and Antiques which boasts that they have the state’s largest collection of vintage costume jewelry and it would be hard to imagine any store with more. There are drawers and trays and racks and hangers of every style and color of costume jewelry for fingers or toes, necks or wrists or just to dangle from your ears.
Angelica Sweet Shop
            A visit at the Angelica Sweet Shop for a cup of hot chocolate and a visit with Karen Ash was next. We heard about the ongoing success of the Angelica Community Radio station. They broadcast 7 nights a week and their signal will reach further when they get the rest of the equipment installed. Getting the radio on the air has been a huge project.
            We made a left at the American House and Hotel and passed the homes of the Bromley/Daggets went to the other side of Route 19 to see the charming Episcopal Church. The driving tour continues to Friendship and back but it was getting late. Businesses in Angelica were already closed so we just headed home to cook squash and try on those T-Shirts.

 References: On Facebook:  The Rogue Carrot, The Holly Trail, Tinkertown Hardware, Alfred Farmer’s Market, Angelica Sweet Shop, Mascho Homestead Farms, Kellogg’s Alpacas, Quest Farm Produce, Angelica Country Store and Antiques, Angelica Community Radio

Box: Visit the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce and Office of Tourism at the Crossroads Commerce Center, 6087 State Route 19N in Belmont. Call 800-836-1869 to request brochures.  Publications include Scenic Drives, Festivals and Events, Historic Allegany County and Hunting & Fishing. They also have brochures from local businesses and organizations. Their website is