Monday, July 7, 2008

Getting To Know You

One of our goals when we visit an area of our country is to gain an understanding of the land and people living in the region. We don’t become experts by any means, but we at least fill like we know a little more about the area than we did before we got here. We don’t do anything special, just drive around with an eye on what we are passing and ask questions when we have the opportunity.
Downtown Geneva

Our campground is at the northern end of and about halfway between the two largest finger lakes, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. So far we have been exploring the area around and north of our campground. It is mostly rural farmland. Closer to our campground, the fields are planted in corn and wheat. Much of the wheat is being cut and baled now. Driving north just a few miles, corn and wheat are replaced by fruit trees—huge orchards. A large variety of fruit is grown here—apples, apricots, peaches, plums. And let’s not forget the grapes which the Finger Lakes area is famous for.

The towns, or villages, are small with populations of only a few thousand. In this area, Rochester is the largest city with a population of about 210,000 and a little farther west Buffalo is about 300,000 strong. As we drove along the byways of western New York we noticed that some “towns” seem to spread out for miles encompassing fairly large areas. At their town limits we saw signs welcoming us to the “Town” of whatever. As we continued to drive around we began noticing signs that welcomed us to the “Village” of whatever. We wondered why some communities were designated “towns” and others “villages”. It was a question for the ladies in the campground office and the answer turned out like we expected. It is a matter of levels of government—county, township, and village.
Lakefront Park on Seneca Lake

Cities, towns, and villages are neat, clean and well maintained. For the most part, the downtown or central areas of the communities are old, dating from the late 1700s and early 1800s. The buildings usually have been at least partially restored. We have found them all to be very charming.
Kitchen gadgets

Most of the roads we have traveled have wide shoulders to accommodate bicyclists even if they are not designated “bike routes”. The official bike routes are clearly marked. We also see the occasional jogger on these wide shoulders. Most of the communities around here have public playgrounds for the children or parks. We can always find a place for a picnic.
A Tim Horton's coffee break

Occasionally, we go out with the intent of just driving around to see what we can see. But most often we are on our way to the grocery, or WalMart, or some other specific place. We take a different route to get there each time, which ends up giving us lots of places to explore. If we see something we like we may stop and browse. We can usually find a coffee shop to go into. This is our way of getting to know the area a little better.

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