Autumn in Cooperstown
We stayed at the Lake N Pines Motel, which is a good six mile drive north of Cooperstown. It had the requisite indoor pool and served a continental breakfast in a separate building closer to the shore of Otsego Lake. We took advantage of the free breakfast for the first few days, but by Tuesday we were bored with it and drove into town for regular diner fare.
The motel, like other hospitality establishments in the area, has more going on in season than out. For example, they offer paddleboat rides on the lake during the summer. We couldn’t take advantage of that — we noticed the boats piled up under a pavilion on the motel property — but we had other things to fill our time. I made a point of visiting the pool every day. My routine here would be a soak in the whirlpool, followed by ten laps in the pool, and then a few minutes in the sauna. Early in the week, the cold air outside made the walk back to my room a bit uncomfortable in wet trunks. Gradually the temperatures improved as the week wore on and the walks became less chilly.
Our room had a balcony with a great view of the lake. Anne Marie took advantage of the balcony on several occasions to read a book or knit. Our vacation time is the one time of the year when we share sleeping quarters and a room that has a television in it no less. Normally this is not a problem, but we fell into a routine of retiring early, waking up in the middle of the night (usually due to Anne Marie’s insomnia) and turning on the TV until the boredom overcame both of us and we went back to sleep.
Somehow we avoided seeing Jerry Springer this year, but we did catch a few episodes of his protege, Steve Wilkos. Then there were the court shows: Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, and a new judge on the show that started it all, The People’s Court. We lost count how many of these shows are currently in syndication, but it all upholds the trend in daytime television where the viewer can sit in judgment against the sorry parade of humanity marching across their screen. As for myself, I try not to judge, even as I know I should somehow look away from these train wrecks that pass for daytime entertainment.
Entertainment in the middle of the night is not much better, although you can find some good films if you’re lucky. We caught “The African Queen” one night, and the very bizarre “Head” (starring The Monkees and co-written by Jack Nicholson) on another night. Overall, I’m not optimistic about quality programming returning anytime soon. Any day now I expect to see the sequel to Bambi Meets Godzilla — The Teletubbies Meet Godzilla — playing in the wee hours of the morning.
The restaurants in the Cooperstown area ranged from basic diner (The Cooperstown Diner; The Triple Play Café, The Doubleday Cafe) to upscale (Tunnicliff Inn; The Pepper Mill; Nicoletta’s Italian Café; Hoffman Lane Bistro) to closed for the season (Blue Mingo Grill; Lakeview Restaurant). The finer restaurants all shared one dish in common: tomato basil bisque on their menu. One added roast chicken to their soup, and another was textured with chopped onions. All were very tasty starts for our main entrees. Our only disappointing meal was at the sole Chinese restaurant in town, which resembled any number of other small mom-and-pop operations in thousands of other small towns in the country. I did find a Chinese buffet, but it was in Oneonta, which was an inconvenient distance to drive for one meal.
Overall, we had good weather with just one rainy day, Friday. We returned home the next day with a quick stop at Fly Creek Cider Mill for lunch and to videotape their livestock – ducks, geese and a few turkeys who felt threatened by children riding their bicycles on the grounds. The Fly Creek management quickly rounded up the bicycle intolerant birds, and the turkeys had a time-out in their pen. As we retraced our route home, we admired the turning leaves which were reaching their peak that weekend. It was a pleasant drive capping a very relaxing vacation in The Empire State.