Finger Lakes Region
T3 came with me to visit Niagara Falls and the Palmyra part of the my Finger Lakes tour. We started off early by heading from Rochester east to Palmyra. We started at the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center where we got oriented with the area and hiked to the top of the hill.
Let me just say, that we may not have mountains, but that was a pretty big hill! Kita wanted to walk and it felt like it was straight up. Once you reach the top you discover that you can't really get a decent picture of the Moroni Monument from them, so you have to hike back down a little way.
We thought we go down the other trail, and it turned out to be...not so paved. I felt like it was straight out of Joseph's time. Wooded and dangerous! But we all made it safe and sound.
We then headed off to the Smith Family Farm and the Sacred Grove. We saw a reconstruction on the cabin where the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and walked through the Sacred Grove. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't an actual clearing where you could go, just a path through a little section of woods, but it was beautiful.
The Grandin Building is in Palmyra Village proper and just a block away from the famous corner where 4 churches face each other. The Grandin building was where the first Book of Mormon was published and it was pretty cool to stand on the same floor where Joseph Smith stood.
The we were off to the Peter Whitmer Farm in Waterloo. They have a chapel there that hosted the only General Conference not held in Salt Lake City. We ate lunch at some picnic benches and watched the little ones run all around. It was pretty cool.
After that, Nate and KiLee headed home while I went to see some other sites. My first stop was Abor Hill Grapery in Naples, NY. I had pictured a little restaurant where you could sit and eat, but it was really just a little store with free tastings of grape products. I ended up buying some really good Rose Jelly. Unfortunately, they were all out of Grape Pie...I had been looking forward to tasting it.
AT this point in the day the clouds were starting to look pretty threatening, but I wanted to do as much of the driving tour as possible so I headed down the road to Bristol "Mountain". Heh. They call it a mountain with ski lifts and everything, but it wasn't any taller than the Hill Cumorah, which is to say, a pretty big hill, but definitely not a mountain.
Down the road a little further was Wizards of Clay. I didn't get there before they closed, but wanted a picture of the giraffe peaking out of the building. By this time it had started to sprinkle and was really overcast. I should have taken nature's warning seriously.
But I didn't. I kept driving. This time to Harriet Hollister Park where my tour promised beautiful views of the lake. It was about 6 miles off the main route, and when I got to the park I was the only car around. As soon as you turned off the main road, the pavement ended. I thought, "Oh, well I'll just drive a little way down this gravel/dirt road, snap some pictures and head out."
About 1/4 mile later I was pretty sure there was an ax murderer in the woods who was going to chop me to bits and leave me where no one would ever find the pieces, but did I turn around? No, but I should have. I ended up driving another 3/4 - 1 mile before I got a clear view of the lake. It was still dark and sprinkling, but I took some pictures and high tailed it out. Lucky for me, because almost as soon as I hit the pavement it started to downpour.
Let me tell you a little something about storms out here. They are more intense than anything I've ever seen in Utah. I literally could not see the hood of my car out the window, it was raining that hard. I was going down "the mountain" with zero visibility and no shoulder. I couldn't stop and I couldn't pull over. I just drove slowly and tried not to think about how little water it actually takes to move a vehicle, but all I could think about was how if I hydroplaned I wouldn't stop until the bottom of the hill 6 miles away.
It was possibly the single most terrifying drive I've ever made. Once I made it to the bottom, I pulled over, thought about waiting out the storm, but decided to just hightail it back to Rochester. Tour Over.
I've never been so happy to get to a hotel (even including the night we got to Cleveland!) The funniest thing about the hotel was that it was actually AT THE AIRPORT. I could look out my window and see the terminals. They had a TV channel dedicated to flight information. I'd never stayed anywhere quite like it!