Considering that this October was the wettest October on the books in Seattle, we feel lucky to have escaped to New York State for a week of sun, leaf peeping and festivities. My brother was getting married in the mountains near Buffalo, so we decided to make the most of a cross-country flight and do some touring as well. Coincidentally, some of Nick's extended family reside on a property at the edge of Lake Ontario outside of Rochester, which they named Oakdene. Nick hadn't been out since his teen years and I since I have heard many stories about Oakdene we figured we were due for a visit.
But first, Niagara.
On the advice of many friends, we crossed over to Canada to experience the falls from that vantage. It gives you a much better view of both American Falls and the Horseshoe, or Canadian Falls. Plus, it gave us an excuse to use our passports again. The town near the falls on the Canadian side is quite touristy as well, but once you get down closer to the river, that element mostly disappears and you're left with some great views and a lot of mist. You an get rather close to the brink of the falls and it is amazing to see the volume of water that is tumbling down.
We also found the Nikola Tesla statue and read up on his ideas of hydro-electric power. Nick has Serbian roots as well, and I thought he bared a bit of resemblance to the man. Certainly we both felt humbled by how much he accomplished by a young age.
It was time for us to head out to Oakdene, so we pried Jonas away from the touristy funicular train (that went up about 200 feet and cost $5) and headed back to the states. We arrived in Wolcott at dark, and after some backtracking, finally made it out to where the property began. The family owns roughly 100 acres of forest, largely undeveloped. There is a central cottage that is shared between the families (Nick's grandmother is one of 5 girls who inherited the property).
Some families live at Oakdene year round, while others gather there in the summer months. The property sits on a bluff above Lake Ontario with trails that wind down to the shore. In fact, the original stone cottage has since plummeted down the bluff as its foundation eroded away.
Nick's mother's cousin Chris lives at the property year round with his wife Sue and they were gracious enough to get the cottage set up for us and help us find it in the dark. They own a schooner named the Sara B and were planning on taking her out of the lake the next day for the winter season. That morning they asked if we'd like to go out with them for the last sailing and we were happy to tag along.
The rest of our time at Oakdene we spent sunning ourselves at the lake, exploring the forest and looking for the Grandmommy and Granddaddy oak trees. We enjoyed the rustic quality of the cottage, having fires to warm ourselves at night and lots of candles to see and eat by.
As we departed, Chris rang the old bell that hangs by the new cottage and we vowed to make it back to Oakdene before too much time has past.
On our way to Ellicotville for wedding festivities, we drove the length of Lake Seneca, one of the finger lakes and hiked through Watkins Glenn.
The slate canyon has been carved away by the river and has a few trails to explore. We learned that tour busses drop their loads at the top of the canyon and hoards of tourists clog the trails occasionally, taking numerous selfies and generally blocking the path. We surfed through 3 groups before we had the canyon more or less to ourselves. It was still a beautiful waypoint, especialy with the golden leaves floating down and landing on the dark, wet rock. We hiked both ways and made sure to find the suspension bridge on the way back to our car.
Elliocotville was a charming town and we enjoyed spending a few days there seeing family and being in the wedding. The day of the rehersal dinner our family went out to the nearby Allegheny State Forest to enjoy the sunny morning. The grandparents took Jonas while Nick and I did a hike on our own. We hiked a pleasant loop trail, watching out for the newfound slipping hazard of acorns hidding under dry leaves.
For the wedding day, Jonas was the ring bearer and looked sharp in his vest and bow-tie. I made the outfit to coordinate with the wedding party and put a few little colorful surprises in the linings.
My brother and his wife looked beautiful and their ceremony was thoughful and simple. Jonas wanted to dance the night away, but we had an early flight in the morning out of Buffalo, so we said our goodbyes early and headed to bed.
Our return home was uneventful (the typhoon that was predicted to hit Seattle never materialzed) and we endured the soggy weather of October with colorful memories of our trip.