We have just returned from our annual autumn road trip to Cooperstown, NY. Every year we return to the area where the wife and I tied the knot. At the top of Mary Brown Hill Rd, just passed the Stress Mountain sign (a sign that still hangs there), lies the original acreage purchased by my parents that started the whole quest for a place in the country. Up on that mountain overlooking the valley, my father built the trellis under which my wife and I were married. The mountain is a few short miles from Cooperstown, just a quick ride from Oneonta. We always detour off the highway to meander down those country roads, chasing the memories of those young days of our time together. We laugh at the good times we had there as we slowly drive by the old woodlot. A little further down the road we come to an intersection and turn left.
Aside from our special little place near Cooperstown and the regular baseball tourism making the pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame, there are some wonderful antique shops, old time candy stores, and loads of twisting roads for the two-wheel enthusiast. There is also the destination of our road trip, Fly Creek Cider Mill. The mill is a quaint place filled with samples of every kind. Dips, salsas, syrups, jams, jellies, sauces, wines, and candies, all fill the shelves of the barn-turned-store. The outbuildings hold a bakery and snack bar, as well as, an antique tractor display and chicken coop. It is a worthwhile detour, especially for the person looking for a present or a reminder of their trip.
Our next stop, and make sure you leave room to eat, is the Brewery Ommegang. A Belgian brewery right outside Cooperstown. Drive up the lane, under the arch, and find a parking spot. Take the tour and sample some of the finest beers made in America, some of them more than just beer. The brewers added a cafe to the visitors center. The food is excellent, consisting of fondue and a variety of crepes, both sweet and savory. The bratwurst paired with the Witte is a can't miss lunch. The PB&J waffle for dessert will even have the adults fighting over the utensils. Do yourself a favor and make sure you do not pass on any of the desserts and don't think about sharing. I wouldn't think of visiting the area without stopping here.
If you still need more beer, or root beer, and need some Hall of Fame souvenirs, stop by Cooperstown Brewing, just down the road from Ommegang. This is a more baseball oriented brewery. All of the beers are adorned with baseball names and labels. The shop is small and deals in growlers. It doesn't have the character of Ommegang but is worth a visit. This also holds true for the winery a little further down the road, Bear Pond, for the wine tasters in the group. It is a little place with warm, friendly folks happy to share their knowledge and their wine.
As always, we return from our journey down some back roads with full bellies, happy spirits, and a truckload of stuff. The back of the truck is filled with beer, wine, jams and jellies. The cooler holds cheeses, pies, cider and fruit. The kids are giddy with pockets full of candy and fudge. Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad are smiling with old times and new memories. And we all talk of our return trip next year and the places we missed or didn't have the time to stop by this year. The area is golden brown this time of year and the farmland is the perfect backdrop for a road trip. There's a ton of other places to find along the way, or rediscover from years gone by. It is a region where a person needs to slow down and take their time to find all the hidden gems. I intentionally miss a stop here and there to ensure we have something to look forward to next year.