Date of Trip: June 2009
We went to Gilbert Lake State Park, in the Central Leatherstocking region of NY. from June 20-27, 09. It’s located in the town of Lauren, NY. We had never ‘done’ a state park, and this was our first venture. We rented a cabin, which cost us just under 495.00 a week. The cabin had 2 bedrooms, one with a double bed, the other with bunkbeds and a single bed. In the ‘lvingroom/dining room area of the cabin was another single bed. Our cabin also had a kitchen with a gas stove, a full size refrigerator, and a sink with cold running water. The only drawback was we had to heat water to wash the dishes. The cabin had a flush toilet, which was located in it’s own small alcove of the screened in porch. The cabin had a fireplace, as well, in the living room area, a table and chairs, and on the screened porch-which looked out on the woods, were two lovely adirondeck chairs.
This park allows you to bring your pets, providing you bring a record of their innoculations. We bought one of our cats, as our older cat needed a break and was being looked after by my sister. Our younger, more rambuncious cat, Ruffy, accompanied us. He’s a great traveller, and seemed to really enjoy coming with us, though we could never get the ‘come along kitty’ harness on him, so he remained in the cabin the whole time. Yet, I think he really enjoyed it! He had alot of space to run around there, and plenty of beds to sleep on. There is no air conditioning, but it was so lovely and cool, as the cabin is in the woods that you don’t need it. The windows open and are screened, and the porch doors open to the rest of the house, so you can get in plenty of fresh cool air. We bought a fan, but only used it once. You have to bring your bedlinens, cooking pots and dishes, and towels as well as your luggage, but that was ok. There was plenty of cabinet space for them. You have to take a shower in a bathhouse, but the showers were always available when we went, and very clean.
The park is lovely, with a lake for swimming, paddle boats you can rent, fishing. There are also many nature trails you can hike, and enjoy. One time we went hiking, and came upon some bear tracks, and bear droppings. We got pretty nervous, because the whole area went very quiet, as though there were a bear around, so we turned and hiked back! Our first day there, when we arrived, we got there just about 3. It was pouring rain, so after settling into the cabin, we went and got some firewood, and then went to walmart to get some groceries. It was still raining, and we were tired, so we came back to the cabin, lit a fire inside (it was chilly) we cooked hotdogs over the fire on sticks, like real campers! and made smores! The cabins don’t have TV or radios, but we bought our own radio. It was hard to get reception, so we spent alot of our evening time cuddling with each other and the cat, playing with the cat, and reading and talking. We put our large air mattress in front of the fire in the living room. We didn’t need to-pleny of beds, but we liked the idea of cuddling in front of the fireplace. My husband became obsessed with fires…when we were at the cabin, he spent alot of time making fires when he could, including the firepit outside and our barbecue (both supplied by the park)
The second day, after having some cereal and then going for a shower, we came back to the cabin and changed into our clothes…we always drove to the showers and went in our jammies, then came home and changed. Then we went out to explore. We decided to do the ‘wine tour’ which actually started off with a wonderful Cider Mill! It’s called the Fly Creek Cider mill, and is actually the only working cider mill left in the area. The cider is wonderful, and they have a snack barn and lots of wonderful dips and salsas for free to taste. It’s simply fantastic. There is a place to sit outside that has ducks, geese, hens and a turkey who come up to be fed. There are coupons one can get from their website and get money off. We bought some cider and fudge, and enjoyed it immensely. Then we went off to the brewery Ommegang, which is close by. It has the only Belgian beers brewed in the US. It’s very formidible, and quite wonderful! there is a free tour, and a sampling of the beer. We bought a large bottle of their specialty ale to have with our meal one night! Then we went to the Bear Pond Winery. It’s got a great selection of wines. We had a tasting that was 4 for 5 dollars, which you got back if you bought wine. We did, and it was great! We wound up going to their little food place next door, with a coupon, we got 20 per cent off, and our late lunch cost us all of 10.00 for two burgers and a large fries and two drinks. Their burgers were home made with all the fixings, and their fries were home made. It was great quality for the money. We went back to the cabin, took out bottle of wine to the lake, and sat there and had wine and cheese and crackers and fruit-we had bought fresh strawberries at a farm stand…as a supper. It was too cool for swimming, but we walked around. It started to rain, so we went back to the cabin.
The next day we decided to drive to Cooperstown. If you are into baseball, it’s great. We aren’t great baseball fans, but the town is very quaint. They have a trolley to take you around if you want to do that. We just found a spot to park, put out money in the meter, and took a walk. Went down to the lake, and watched the birds flying. We then went to their wonderful library, which is a lovely old time library, bought some books at a book sale, and then went to their small gallery where they were having an exhibition. Went back and got the car, and we decided to stop at the Cooperstown Cheese Company. My husband is a chef, and loves good cheese, so this was his stop. Well, apparently it had been bought out by this fellow who is promoting barbecue. Husband is from Mobile, Al, worked for years in New Orleans, so we had the barbecue-pulled pork sandwiches and a side of roasted corn. It was very good that first day! However, it was not the next day, and it should be mentioned it is expensive for what you get-a simple bun with cut up pieces of smoked pork on it with barbecue sauce. The corn and any side is an extra 2.50, which to be honest, is expensive. The second day, the corn was way overcooked, and the sandwich was just so so. The half a rack of ribs was 18.00, which was just too much to spend. We had a sampling. It was ‘ok’, but rather dry. I think the place has some potential, but the prices have to be better, there need to be more options to the menu, and the store needs to have more stock on the shelves. We then took a drive around the countryside, and went for a walk/hike around the park.
That night my husband cooked us a light meal, and we had toasted marshmallows for dessert. The next day husband and I went to a local cheesemaker named Linda. You can meet Linda, and the wonderful goats that make the milk for the cheese you buy at Sherman Hills farm (http://www.sherman-hill.com/). We got to meet and pet the goats, and bought some lovely different types of cheese, including the most heavenly feta cheese I have ever tasted. We’d do it again in a heartbeat! Thank you Linda! If you’re in the area, please check out Linda and the goats-her goat cheese is wonderful. Which leads me to say that you’re in the middle of dairy country. There are milk farms everywhere, and lots of small farms that have their own farmstands and places with produce for sale! Do check them out!
We ate lunch at a wonderful local Diner, the Corfu diner. Do check them out. Their prices are very reasonable, their food is just great. They are located in the ‘city’ of Oneonta, I’m probably messing up the spelling. But you’ll know. After the goats and lunch we took a drive to nearby Delhi and checked out some great local food at a small market there. There are alot of markets all around. In many of the tourist places, like Fly Creek, you can pick up a little map with lots of info and coupons in them. Check out the local produce and farms! After that, we went back to the cabin and had a wonderful fish fry on the fire out back! It was alot of fun, and we roasted mashmallows afterward.
The next day we went to Howe Caverns. Now, to be honest, though the drive was fun, the place was just ok, and I thought it was pretty over rated. I didn’t much care for it. It was 18 dollars a person to get in, and do a tour. We did, but I think it was a bit of a rip off. I guess having been to the Grand Canyon, and seeing some wonderful rocks outside there, and at Red Rock Canyon there, caves just aren’t my thing…I get too claustrophobic. I didn’t do the boat ride, and another couple told me I didn’t miss anything-they found it boring too. I thought it was the only part of our trip I could have done without. It was pricy and over rated. That afternoon, we came back and I went swimming in the lake. My husband waded in, but thought it was really too cold. We wound up going back to the cabin, going for a walk, and then grilling some veggies and shrimp over the fire for dinner. It started to rain, so we took shelter inside and cuddled. Our cat ate shrimp with us, and raced around from window to window, chasing a fly!
The next day we took a drive up into the mountains, then went to see Linda again and bought some more cheese. She suggested we take a ride to a nearby town where they had alot of good local produce and also one of the only alpaca farms in the area. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find them, but we did find alot of wonderful scenery and a small local park with a great lake. We sat by the lake, took a walk, and then went to the town of Catskill. It was nice, and I’d like to go back. After a local lunch at a small place, we drove back through scenic hills to Gilbert Lake. We went hiking, and then saw some really large bear tracks and some scat. The whole forest went really quiet, and it freaked us out, so we turned and walked back, after a little stop by a wonderful ice pond, which reflected the sky into the water. We were the only people around, it felt as though we had the park to ourselves. We sat outside, and then took a ride back to Walmart and a local food store to get our cat some more food.
The next day we went back to Fly Creek and then had breakfast at a small place up the street. Great breakfast-I can’t think of the name of it, but there are only two places to eat in the little town, and it’s the one open in the morning! Great food!!!!! After leaving, we went to Bear Pond, picked up more wine, then took a drive. We went back to Gilbert Lake, and went swimming. Husband mainly read on the beach, and talked with other folks. People are very nice there, and I can’t say enough good things about the park. We went for another hike, and then relaxed that evening, packing some of our stuff. We left the next day.
Some of the highlights of our trip were Linda and the goat farm, the wonderful Gilbert Lake and seeing so much wildlife, deer, a fox, an otter, ground hogs, and so many birds! It’s just beautiful country, and I would suggest it to anyone. If your family need a fairly low cost vacation, renting a cabin makes sense, too! You can bring your family pet, and you can cook over the barbecue. Theres swimming, hiking and fishing if you like it. Theres so much nature around you. Our cat really seemed to enjoy it. The only drawback which was not so hard was having to go up the road to take a shower….but this wasn’t so difficult when one considered everything else. It was a great break!