After a long day spent exploring both sides of Niagara Falls we headed into Buffalo to spend the night. The snow was coming down in big flakes and it was great to get off the road for a while. We arranged lodging in a suburb through Airbnb before setting out on the final leg of our journey. It was nice to have a real bed for the night and feel more refreshed for the final leg of the trip.  For the most part, we have been traveling off of the interstate and taking the lesser routes. We get to see a lot more of the country that way, often wandering right through the downtown areas of the smaller communities. We wanted to see the Finger Lakes region in New York so we wandered into Geneva, a town at the north end of Seneca Lake, to get a feel for the area and make an exploration plan. We thought we would just be there for an afternoon, maybe, but oh what a town! You know how in every town there is that one neighborhood where all the really nice older homes are and everyone in that neighborhood keeps their house and yard looking front cover home magazine perfect? Well imagine a whole town like that! Shops, churches, houses, the college campus, pubs, restaurants, all looking like something from a Hallmark Holiday movie. There was so much to do in Geneva and the surrounding lake that we splurged and found a room through Airbnb for the night – this time at a house the owners dubbed the Flying Whale. We were their first guests ever and it was great to get to stay in such a perfectly maintained historical local home. We had been given recommendations from several people to try the food at the Red Dove Tavern. We walked downtown under a full moon just as the six o’clock church bells started. It was surrealistic and we both looked at each other and said “is this for real?!”
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The Flying Whale is registered with the Geneva Historical Society.  Who actually lives in a house with columns like that??
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The Finger Lakes region is amazing – there is local beer, cheese, and wine galore! Many of the wineries/breweries/cheeseries in the area are creating really quality stuff by producing their own grapes/hops/milk. And no matter which restaurant, shop, or winery you visit they are all excited to talk about the area or history and tell you about other restaurants, shops or wineries in the area you should visit.  The people at Belhurst Castle Winery told us about the medieval themed Seneca Shore Wine Cellars and they told us about the Climbing Bines Brewery and they told us about the food at the Red Dove… We could have gone on like this for days but we had traveling to do.
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Wendy explaining the wine at Belhurst Winery and things to do in the area to Amber.
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Seneca Shore’s resident cat (which is why there is a cat on their labels)

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Climbing Bines has a mug club for locals. We had never seen this before but we came to find out that it is somewhat common in the Eastern US.
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Our first stop in Vermont was at the Big Moose Deli to get our pictures taken with a few celebrities.DSC_0626DSC_0629 DSC_0628
DSC_0634Just by luck we discovered the Two Brews Cafe in Bennigton, VT. They had a great selection of coffees for the morning crowd and local craft beers for the evening and a great food menu all day. You could choose a bowl or wrap and then pick a grain, a veggie, and a protein. Lee had to get the explanation a couple of times.DSC_0638 - Copy DSC_0642
Worker explaining how the ‘bowls’ worked to Amber so she could explain it to Lee

The town is also the home of the tallest structure in Vermont, a 306 foot stone obelisk to commemorate the battle that took place near there during the Revolutionary War. We got there shortly after sunrise, when it was snowing lightly, on a very cold, sparkling, morning to capture this picture.DSC_0676We made a quick stop at Hogback Mountain for a chance to further peruse the state’s syrup and cheese offerings and have a short sit before leaving Vermont.DSC_0682Once in New Hampshire we made short rest stops in the quaint city of Keene and the state capital of Concord. DSC_0715Arriving in Portsmouth, NH was exciting because we caught our first glimpses of coastal life. As we explored the port area we discovered many shops have nautically themed names and you might even turn a street corner to see a giant ship being tugged out to sea!
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Portsmouth Brewery is the place to be on a winter weekday. We had a flight (of 12 – the best yet!) and chatted with the locals to find out all the good food and beer places to try on our journey north. DSC_0754And at long last…after 3106 miles…we got our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean!!!DSC_0875

Next up, Maine…finally!