Chautauqua; a delightful place to take an autumn break

 

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One of the wonderful things about Niagara is its central location to so many other fabulous finds. We love to take day trips or overnights to some of these places. One of our favorites is Chautauqua! It’s a short drive from Buffalo and Niagara, and an easy and pleasant day trip, to be sure.
The Lake Chautauqua region of Western New York is fresh and full of voluminous vistas. The hills which rise up from Lake Erie and house Lake Chautauqua, offer beauty to the beholder, around many twists and turns.
One of the largest grape growing regions in America, the Chautauqua area is a supplier to Welch’s grape juice and has several wineries as well. (See link below).
My favorite season to visit this area is the autumn, when the leaves are turning, the air is still warm and the scent of grapes tickles your nostrils with happy little joy tendrils.

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My cousin and I rented a condo on the property of the Chautauqua Institute and did everything we could to enjoy ourselves! We love taking photos and walking and this is a regular paradise to do so. There is some interesting architecture here and the Institute is filled with charming homes from around the turn of the 20th Century. The owners take pride in dressing up their front porches with delightful flower arrangements and greenery by the dozens. Who wouldn’t be happy taking pictures of such a place?
A community, reminiscent of days past still exists in the summer, with a small bleed over into the fall. People sit and rock on their porches, magazine in hand, chatting with neighbors and drinking iced tea. Ideas are born this way.

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The Atheneum is an old hotel, on property, with a delightful wrap around porch, facing the Lake and the famous clock tower. In the autumn many of the porches’ chairs are empty whereas during the summer season you’re lucky to snag one! http://www.athenaeum-hotel.com/ The hotel lobby is a step back into yesteryear, with a gracious environment long gone. It somehow reminds me of Mark Twain. Oh wait, yeah he was here. This is a cool article describing the roots of the Institute, (but note, it’s an older article and the prices are not correct): http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/03/travel/chautauqua-s-quiet-charm.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

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There’s also the Busti Apple Festival a way out in the country, in the town of Busti that is well worth the trek. They’ve got the old mill up and running, fiddlers fiddling, cider pumping, corn a shuckin’ and lots of vendors selling their arts and crafts. They also display some crafting, like caning, with the demonstrators in costume. It’s held the last Sunday in September and runs from 9-5. http://www.townofbsti.com/apple.htmlu

During the winter, the President’s Day Weekend Winter Festival is held in Mayville and includes a Snowball Dance, snowmobile rides, a Lego Creation Building Contest and a fireworks display. http://www.chautauquachamber.org/events/eventdetail.aspx?EventID=260
At the beginning of spring, buckets can be seen hanging from maple trees all along the countryside. A Maple Syrup Festival is held then, in nearby Jamestown. http://aboutchautauqua.com/page/4
Of course, in the summertime the Chautauqua Institute reigns supreme with all she has to offer: http://www.ciweb.org/#1 and humbler activities such as boating, canoeing, hiking, biking, antiquing and wine tasting, museums and children’s activities are all easily available with a variety of accommodations to choose from. (See links below).
For general information on activities: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g1987130-Activities-Chautauqua_County_New_York.html
For wineries and tastings: http://www.chautauqua-wine-trail.com/wineries.html ,
For water activities and more: http://www.chautauquarentals.net/Links.html
For hiking and biking: http://www.post-journal.com/page/contkent.detail/id/501773.html?nav=5099
Photography, hiking, biking, wine tasting, boating, festivals, Niagara, Chautauqua County, Chautauqua Institute, Buffalo, New York State, crafts, maple syrup, Atheneum, Mark Twain, Antiquing, Legos, Lego Creation Building Contest.

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The secret inspiration of the gorge

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One of my all time favorite places to write.

There is a space along the Niagara gorge, between the Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool Parks that holds my heart. The land slopes gently downward, among slithering bends, parallel to the mighty Niagara, though lofty heights above. A stately old bridge graces a water run off and large trees play hide and seek with chipmunks and squirrels.

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I love lazy autumn afternoons, when the air is still and the sky grey, when there is a mere wisp of a cool breeze, indicating what is yet to come.

But nothing can properly describe the breath taking visuals, nor the total immersion of sounds; a regular feast for the senses; crickets, katydids and grasshoppers chorus their canticle, alongside the hum and roar of the waters rushing below. Up above, whirlybirds (helicopters) hum their constant Niagara tune, a theme played multiple times daily, delivering thrills to hundreds of tourists.  Cars and lawnmowers chime in to remind us that this is actually a giant slice of nature placed in an urban setting…or perhaps the other way around.

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A residential area is directly across the Robert Moses Parkway. Deveaux has many stately old homes.

The Canadian side is so close, one feels as though they could reach out and touch it, (if you had a freakishly long arm)! The Niagara Glen is just across the way, a place my high school class made an annual visit for our year end picnic. Now here I sit, writing from Western New York, an observer of little bodies climbing up and down stairs and rocks like ants.

Back here, in continued observation, the Great Niagara Whirlpool is to my left. (It’s also home of the Spanish Aero car accessible from Canada only). To the right are both power plants, the American Niagara Power Project and Canadian Sir Adam Beck. The Niagara Power Project is easily accessible from here, a mere stones throw away. The Robert Moses Parkway also jangles along the gorge from beyond Youngstown NY on one end and to the far end of Niagara Falls on the other.

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This is the converted Robert Moses Highway. On one side there is a road, and this side is a pedestrian and bike pathway. Part of this land is protected so that the flora and fauna can grow naturally.

Regarding trail accessibility, bike and hiking trails, both dirt and paved (adjacent to the Robert Moses Parkway) are varied. The trails available are for both the adventuresome and the more gentle soul. Hikers, bikers, joggers, dog walkers and strollers all live together in perfect harmony…or at least they use some of the same path ways! Picnic tables, and bathrooms are also available. (seasonally).

I prefer to stroll along the top of the gorge, gaze at the beautiful vistas, take pictures in a photographer’s paradise and dodge the occasional squirrel,  sitting ‘neath the tree, with my name on it, putting pen to ink…

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The Devil’s Hole Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

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The Devil’s Hole State Park is 42 acres of both wooded and cleared land along the Niagara River gorge, adjacent to the Whirlpool State Park. The park has a charming trail along the top of the ridge, providing beautiful scenery, including a view of both the American and Canadian Power vistas, which are both accessible to the public. http://www.nypa.gov/vc/niagara.htm and http://www.niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/sir-adam-beck.html   If you descend one of the walkways down to the river, you will be presented with a wild river, full of torrential rapids. There are also trails down below.* Beware this is a dangerous area and to enter the water is deadly. Also, the trails are steep and the footing can be treacherous. http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-buffalo-new-york.

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The Niagara area and beyond are very historical and played a large role in the establishment of the United States as we know it.

Yesterday marked the memorial of the 250th year since the Seneca Native Americans ambushed the British at Devil’s Hole.  http://niagara-gazette.com/communities/x312428187/Devils-Holes-marking-250th-anniversary-on-weekend.

To commemorate the Anniversary, a re-enactment of the events was held. The upper trail is most often used by tourists, joggers and dog walkers, but yesterday, that wasn’t the case; horses and wagons appeared in the normally quiet park. True to period costumes for the soldiers, Native American garb for the Native Americans, and rifle firing over the gorge were the order of the day. There were also walking tours available, and we took one, in which the speakers in essence said the following;

*Warning: the italicized writing is HISTORY. We like it. Not everyone does. We tried to make it interesting, but to each their own…

In 1763 the British held Fort Niagara, after the displaced French, and the Native tribes of the area were unhappy about it. Supplies played a vital part in why the Fort was needed and in supplying Detroit further on down the line.

Now here’s the rub. The Seneca had held this trade route for many years and considered it their right; after all, it was their land and livelihood. They had tolerated the newcomers, having found a useful niche, of sorts, but when the British cut them out of the equation, a smoldering resentment erupted into the ambush at Devil’s hole. About 400 Seneca were waiting for the convoy and when all was said and done around a hundred men were killed, many scalped and found in the river, having fallen the height of the gorge down to the river below. The headmaster survived, having escaped back to Fort Schlosser, up river, above the Falls and lived to tell about it. http://dmna.ny.gov/forts/fortsQ_S/schlosserFort.htm.

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Men representing the 46th Regiment Grenadiers dressed for their role in authentic period costume, tall hats and all. Chris is a regular participant in re-enactments, and a Western New Yorker. We commented on his “chapeau” and its unusual shape and height and told him it reminded us of a German topper. He answered, saying the Germans had also used them and that “it was designed to intimidate by adding height” to the often already taller than average Grenadiers. He also said how another advantage was when the Grenadiers, (who used to throw grenades), found that when they did so, sometimes their hats would catch on fire, and that the  taller hats would not! (At least that’s what Chris said)… Eventually these same hats morphed into the bearskin hats we know and love today as those worn by the Queen’s Guards displaying them in front of Buckingham Palace. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearskin Chris kindly posed for this photo; a fine looking specimen, at that.

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We spoke with Al Parker, also known as Ho/yen/dah/onh who was one of the Seneca representatives. He was sure to tell us that his native name means “He got it”, which we found amusing! Parker felt the main thing that came out of this historic event was the treaty between the English and the Seneca Nations. Parker is on the Board of Directors at Old Fort Niagara and is involved in the French and Indian War re-enactment held there each July, http://militaryhistorynow.com/2013/07/08/living-history-french-indian-war-comes-alive-at-fort-niagara/ He also told us that some of his fellow participants at this event were regular re-enactors who act in movies as well! Pretty cool.

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2chicks2go… Where?

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Welcome to our blog. We are the two chicks! Jennifer and Sherrie, Daughter and Mom. We live in Niagara Falls, NY.

During our travels, people always ask “where are you from?” and we say “we’re from Niagara Falls.” Inevitably. they know just where that is, with their only question being, “which side of the border?” because Niagara Falls is the “world’s most famous address.” And the second question is “living in a tourist area, where do YOU go for vacation?”

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So, we thought that we would answer those questions and more in the form of a blog. First of all, for those coming to visit our world famous attraction, we will happily give insider information, tips, and tell you what we like to do.

Secondly, for those of us that live in the Western New York area, you know we’re sitting on a treasure. Wouldn’t it be nice to have consolidated where-to information, schedules and reviews at your finger tips? We would also like to share our enjoyment of local fare, markets, restaurants, and the wine trail. Jennifer and Sherrie also enjoy cooking- we will contribute some recipes of the bountiful produce that Western New York has to offer here on our blog.

Living in such a centrally-located area, we have access to so much. World class events, dining, entertainment, hiking and scenery. For people that are visiting our area, they may not be aware of how this hub can lend to an exciting extended vacation and for locals to enjoy day trips. As anative born Canadian, Sherrie has a unique perspective of both sides of the border.

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That brings us to where we like to vacation. Sherrie has traveled extensively across most of North America, where as Jennifer has traveled abroad on several different occasions. We would also like to share some of these experiences with you.

So put on your yellow rain slicker, and lets get ready 2 go.

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