Keuka Lake, NY. Mile 387

The day began bright and clear and we had breakfast outside again – wonderful. Tom noticed that standards have been slipping at Camp Harvey though. He studied me for a moment over his cereal and said:

“Do you have a shaver Dad?”.
“Yes Tom”.
“Then use it”.

We left Watkins Glen at the crack of eleven o’clock and made for Hammondsport on the southern tip of Keuka Lake. I suppose the word that best describes this area is “bucolic’ although it always sounds like a condition to me. “How is he doctor?” “Well he’s a bit bucolic but he’ll be fine”. And so forth. Anyway this is a region of hedgerows and yellow daisies on the verge; rolling countryside nestled with stout dutch barns and clapboard farmhouses. Its really very pretty and as we rolled along from one view to the next it reminded us both of England. Except that the roads are wider.

Hammondsport is one of the few towns where the main street actually ends at the lake and they have made a little park there with a small beach and a place to swim. It was a peaceful spot. The summer crowds aren’t here yet and the schools aren’t quite out (its graduation today in fact). The village is little more than a green central square with low buildings around it; wooden houses, a quilt shop in a restored opera house and some cafes. It caters for tourists of course but it feels like it hasn’t completely sold out. Its still a real place, with a flag on every stoop and village notices in shop windows. I was delighted to find that one of the shops on main street was an old NAPA auto parts place. It felt more like a proper old mechanics shop than a modern parts centre. I had discovered that Harvey’s radiator expansion tank lacked a return hose, so I got six inches of 3/8th fuel line for a pleasing 79 cents (it works just fine thanks for asking).

The road running up the western side of Keuka Lake was described in our Frommers as one of the most scenic in the area and jolly nice it was too, though Philippa deduced that the reviewer in that section may have been unduly influenced by his visit to a local winery followed by a fine meal in one of Hammondsport’s better restaurants. He talks about staggering up to bed afterwards and keeps coming to back to recommend the place. It was a pretty drive though. The road hugged the coastline and through the trees we could see flashes of blue lake fifty feet away. There were dozens of tiny cottages each with a wooden jetty all the way up the lakeside, Most had people on the them fishing or eating or sunbathing. Little slices of life flashing by.

I haven’t worked out how to judge the fuel gauge yet, The needle dawdles across the dial for the first half tank and the next time you look it is down to fumes. I pulled in for fuel at a Crown Gas Station and the mechanic came out to ask about Harvey, wiping his hands on a greasy cloth. “When I saw the first one of these many years ago, I couldn’t believe how ugly it was” he said enthusiastically. Er great, yes, thanks. I think he was just being friendly.

Once full I realised the tank still had twenty gallons in it when it was indicating a quarter tank left, so next
time I won’t be so concerned about its hysteria.

Keuka State Park is right on the lake. The campgrounds are neat and grassy and the guy next door immediately wanted to talk about Harv as we were getting set. Bikes off and down to the lake, freewheeling all the way and not thinking too much about the uphill ride back. It was hot and quiet.

PT and T bobbed about in the lake while I dozed. It was all very, er, bucolic.

Categories: Magic Bus


  1. Been there, nice area to enjoy being leisurely. If you like Hammondsport then you might want to mosey over to Cooperstown. A little touristy with the baseball hall of fame but still has a nice waterfront. Rte 20 is a nice drive too.

    If you get up by Lake George, let us know.


  2. Following the saga with great interest.

    I tried to locate you on the map and confused Watkins Glen with Glens Falls which put you in the south-east Adirondacks. A little Google mapping put me straight (so you won't be in Montreal tomorrow).


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