Fireworks

I really don’t think that I know anyone that doesn’t like watching fireworks. Actually I should rephrase that… I don’t know any human being that doesn’t enjoy watching fireworks. Dogs on the other hand, I know a lot of them who absolutely hate fireworks.

If you think that people don’t like fireworks, come to the Finger Lakes during a fireworks show and try to drive down any of the roads that are near where the fireworks are being set off. Sometimes I wonder if there are more cars at the fireworks shows than people that live in the entire surrounding county. With this being said, if you are going to watch a fireworks show in a popular location, be sure to plan accordingly. Traffic gets very heavy after the fireworks conclude as everyone races to beat traffic (it usually doesn’t work) and get home to get to bed before having to be up to go to work the next morning.

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I think fireworks are such a cool thing, with all the different shapes, sounds and colors that are produced and the variety of shows and combinations that are put together. Professional display companies put on big displays on the different lakes for locations like town parks as well as private residences, and individuals often light off fireworks from their properties as well. The most prominent company in the area is Young Explosives Display Fireworks.

The most popular time of year for fireworks in the Finger Lakes is obviously around 4th of July and throughout the summer months. Many local fire companies and carnivals also put on shows throughout the summer to accompany their events. Weddings are another popular event for fireworks. The next most popular time for fireworks is New Year’s where many cities put on fireworks displays to kick off the New Year. I always get excited when I come across unexpected fireworks displays. Watching fireworks next to the lake is a cool experience. The way that the fireworks sparkle and shine off the water is truly a sight to see.

Check out this video

 

Do the Lakes Freeze?

A question many people ask is do the Finger Lakes freeze? Unfortunately the answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no answer. Some of the lakes freeze and some of them don’t. There are a lot of natural forces that play into whether or not each lake freezes. As we have discussed before, the weather in the Finger Lakes is quite unpredictable. Last winter it barely snowed, but 2 winters ago it seemed like it was below zero for most of the winter. Many factors also depend on the lake itself. The smaller the lake, the more likely the lake is to freeze. Because of the size of Seneca and Cayuga lakes it takes a very, very, very cold winter for them to freeze. The shallower areas are also obviously much more likely to freeze more solidly than the areas that are towards the deeper middle areas.

Because the lakes do freeze, most people take their docks out of the water at the end of the season and drag them up on shore or put them in storage. Many people have their docks on wheels so that it makes it easier to roll in and out. Cottages with permanent docks on the smaller lakes that are likely to freeze put bubblers in around their docks to keep the water immediately around the dock from freezing. On the large lakes where freezing is unlikely, some people don’t even bother with bubblers.

2 years ago we had one of the coldest winters when there was a record amount of ice cover on the lakes. People who had had the same cottages for their whole lives reported frozen areas in front of their cottages that had never frozen before. Some permanent docks were ruined as temperatures got so incredibly cold to cause even areas with bubblers to freeze. If people were lucky enough to not have the areas around their docks freeze, some people faced problems as ice began to break up.  As large sheets of ice melted and moved down the lakes it actually destroyed many docks that were in its path.

Once the lakes do freeze, the lakes become places for many outdoor activities like ice boats, pick up hockey games, and ice fishing. I can remember when I was little going to my cousins cottage, shoveling off the ice, bringing a hockey goal down and taking shots on the ice. Ice fishers can usually be spotted in their colorful ice fishing huts that stand out against the white ice.

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Whenever areas of the lakes do freeze it is important to be safe and smart if you decide to venture out on the ice. Even if the lake looks frozen, it is hard to tell how thick the ice is as well as how deep the water is underneath the ice if you were to fall through. It is not a good idea to venture out onto the ice when temperatures are above freezing.

Photo retrieved from http://www.fingerlakes.org/uploads/pages/images//1958060_10152274922606737_2005471788_n1394215646.jpg

 

Snow Means Cold and Cold Means Winter

I figured that I would follow my last post about snow with a post about winter. After all, snow usually means cold and cold usually means winter. Hopefully there aren’t too many of you that hate snow and winter so much that you will hate me for doing this, but if you are one of those people I encourage you to give winter a shot. Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, but in the Finger Lakes, winter usually starts a little bit before then.

There are a variety of things to do in the winter. Ice Skating, snow shoeing, skiing, ice fishing and hiking are all good options for winter in the Finger Lakes. There are many small waterfalls that cut through the sides of the hills into the lake that make for beautiful pictures when they freeze. My favorite thing to do is definitely to ski, and I recommend going to Bristol Mountain for that. Once the lakes freeze, ice fishing is a popular thing for people to do. Another popular activity once the lakes freeze is ice boating. Ice Boats look a little like sailboats and glide over the ice using the power of the wind. They are very fascinating to watch and I often drive down Lakeshore Drive on Canandaigua Lake to see if I can spot either ice fishers or any ice boats as it is an area where the lake tends to freeze early because of how shallow it is.

Not everything that is nice about winter involves being outside. There are also plenty of fun things to do inside. Find a wood burning fireplace and sit by the fire and sip some hot cocoa with marshmallows. Cuddle up on the couch and watch a Christmas Movie with the one you love. Head to the mall and get all of the great deals that come with the winter holidays. Stop in to one of many local restaurants to try their dish of the day, or week, or month, or season. Take the time you don’t want to spend outside by looking back at pictures from the summer months, organizing them, and ordering prints or making them into a photobook.

If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy winter, it is very common for weather to fluctuate quite a bit. So if it is snowing, windy and freezing cold today, that doesn’t always mean it is going to be the same tomorrow.  Today might be a day for sledding down the biggest hill you can find, and tomorrow might be a day for building a snowman out of the rapidly melting snow and to go for a walk in the park.

Photo Retrieved From http://www.cnoelphotos.com/

 

Snow

Last weekend was the first “real” snow of the season when towns around the Finger Lakes got anywhere from 4-24” of snow. I refer to “real” snow as more than a dusting to an inch. All snow is real but not all snow is “real”. Real snow is measurable. It causes the weathermen to have something more interesting to report about, it causes kids to get excited about getting a snow day and it causes everyone else to get a little nervous about driving on the roads. It causes schools and businesses to have to close. Kids wear their pajamas inside out, flush an ice cube down the toilet, and put a spoon in the freezer, all in hopes they won’t have to go to school to make up an excuse as to why they didn’t do their homework. We leave the TV on to listen for the severe weather updates for snow, ice and wintry weather watches and warnings.

The first snow is always the one that catches everyone off guard. It leaves wives sending husbands to the garage to find the snow brushes, and it leaves many flying to Walmart or Wegmans or Lowes to get a shovel. It becomes hard to find windshield wiper fluid.  Sometimes it even causes people to finally break down and hire a plow company or buy a snow blower. It means always making sure there are extra blankets, gloves and maybe some snacks in the car. Everyone flocks to social media to show how excited they are for snow or how much they hate snow and wish they could move to Florida or have it be summer again.

Even though by our social media posts it may not seem like it, snow is a very common thing in the Finger Lakes. While most of the pictures of the Finger Lakes that many people see are in the summer sun with green grass and green trees, the amount of time with snow covered ground and leafless trees is also quite significant. But this makes for so much more beauty to discover in the winter.

One reason I love snow is the unpredictability of it. You never REALLY know how much snow you will get. Because I do like snow I get really excited when the weatherman says a storm is coming, and I am always very disappointed when 12-14 inches ends up being a dusting to 2 inches.

There are all different types of snow in the Finger Lakes. Sometimes we get heavy wet snow, sometimes we get little light fluffy snowflakes, sometimes we get mini snowball snowflakes, sometimes we get half dollar sized puffy snowflakes,  and sometimes we get a wintry mix. In any case, while towns and cities and the state usually are very good at staying on top of keeping the roads clear, sometimes it is impossible to keep up with mother nature and it requires patience, safe driving, or to stay off the roads.

Festivals aren’t just for the Festive

There are many festivals that occur throughout the Finger Lakes. Every weekend, especially in the summer, there is always a Festival to attend. There are festivals for everyone’s liking from beer and wine, to food, to crafts, to yoga, and everything in between.

One of my favorite festivals of the summer is the Canandaigua Lakefront Art Show. I have been going to the show since I was pretty young and always enjoy the variety of artists, sculptors, jewelers and other people who are selling things or promoting a business. Art festivals and shows are places where you can buy crafts, artwork, tools, jewelry and decorations from local artists and therefore support local small businesses.

Another festival that I really enjoy is the Riesling Festival. The Riesling Festival is held at the New York Wine and Culinary Center and on the Canandaigua City Pier. This year was the first year that I attended the event as this was the first year that I was of drinking age for the event. We got to have unlimited samples of many different wines from plenty of different wineries. There was also a craft beer tasting tent to try a variety of different beers and ciders from local breweries. We even got to stomp grapes! There were also a variety of food trucks on the pier where we sat and ate lunch before going back for more wine. Inside the building was also free cheese tasting.

A big popular wine festival that I have not had the chance to go to but know many people who have and who thoroughly  enjoy going, is the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. The festival is held in Watkins Glen at Watkins Glen International Speedway.

The Lilac Festival is held in May and features local vendors, music, and food. It is a beautiful sight to see with hundreds of blooming lilac bushes in all different colors.

 

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A picture of a lilac at the Lilac Festival

 

Xerox Rochester international Jazz Festival is held yearly in June or July.  The Jazz Fest as it is known to locals is a very popular summer event. Jazz artists from local to well known perform at the event.

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival  The Finger Lakes cheese festival is just what it sounds like, a festival featuring cheese.

Ganondagon Native American Dance and Music Festival embraces and showcases the traditions of the Native Americans that lived in the Finger Lakes region. Ganondagon is a center that is open year round and offers many events and activities.

The Grassroots Festival is a festival of music and dance and many consider it to be Woodstock-like. It is held in Trumansburg and focuses on traditional and contemporary roots music.

The Sauerkraut Festival is held in Phelps, a city that was once the Sauerkraut capital of the world. In celebration they have a festival every year with more Sauerkraut than anyone could ever dream of.

had actually never heard of the Finger Lakes Yoga Festival Finger Lakes Yoga Festival until starting research for this blog post. The festival focuses on family, simplicity, nature and fun. There are yoga workshops and other activities to practice having a peaceful mind.

The Garlic Festival is a great festival for all the garlic lovers out there.

The NYS Festival of balloons features dozens and dozens of hot air balloons and is a great sight to see even if you are afraid of riding in one.

The Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show and Sale is held at Letchworth State Park every year. It draws many local, regional and national artists, artisans, and performing artists. It is one of the top 50 art festivals in the USA.

For more festivals, check out http://fingerlakestravelny.com/festivals/

I am sure that you will find one you would love to go to! Until then, enjoy FLX Living!

Seneca Lake and the Navy

If you are visiting certain parts of Seneca Lake you might notice a large gray structure that looks a little strange placed in the middle of the lake. It is a field station of the Naval Sea Systems Command. The Test Facilities and Operations Division of the Engineering Test and Evaluation Department manage the test facility and is an interesting thing that many people do not know about the Finger Lakes.  It is located in Dresden, NY, and can be easily seen from surrounding shores. If you are boating on the lake be sure to keep your distance as they do have individuals that monitor to make sure no boats or other watercraft are getting too close to the site.

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At the facility they perform tests and evaluations of equipment ranging from single element transducers to complex sonar arrays and systems. According to their website “This world-class facility is particularly well-known for its massive lift and power capabilities. All sonar and acoustic testing is carried out by a staff of highly qualified acoustic testing professionals on systems and equipment of all sizes. For example, an entire sonar suite (mounted in its sonar compartment) has been tested at Seneca Lake.” The location on Seneca Lake is the Navy’s primary active instrumental calibration and test facility.

You wouldn’t think that large items can be brought to be tested at the site but that is not the case. Large test items or systems can be brought to Seneca Lake from the Atlantic Ocean or the Great Lakes via the New York Barge Canal System. The canal is able to accommodate barges up to 40 feet wide and 200 feet long.

The system is permanently moored about 1.3 miles from the western shore. The cost of conducting tests at Seneca Lake is substantially less than any similar at-sea assessment that the Navy could use. It also provides a more flexible and responsive testing and evaluation environment. The weather and water conditions are also fairly constant and more predictable which makes it a testing site of choice for major, large-scale projects, especially in a time-constrained environment.

Advice From a Lake

I came across this quote one day while scrolling through Pinterest. Since then I have seen it a few more times, once at a store, once on Facebook, and then once when I was looking for images to post with my blog. I think we can all learn a little from this quote by Ilan Shamir.

Be Clear.
Make Positive Ripples.
Stay Calm.
Shore up friendships.
Take time to reflect.
Be full of Life.
-Ilan Shamir

Be Clear.

Be Clear with what you are saying to those around you. Be clear with not only your words, but also your actions. Be clear with those you love, those you tolerate, and those you would rather not have to interact with. Be clear with yourself.

Make Positive Ripples.

This is my favorite of the bunch. Be positive in everything you do. Even if there are what seems like a million negative things that happen in a day, be sure to find a positive. Send positive vibes to those around you. Positivity multiplies. Be happy and smile, you never know when just a little smile could be what will turn someone’s day around.

Stay Calm.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do not get stressed out over the tiniest things. In the end, everything will be okay.

Shore up friendships.

Family is the source of a lot of support, but so are your friends. Hang on to old friendships and reach out to those you haven’t heard from in a long time. Concentrate on spending time with the friends you get to see everyday. Take opportunities to step outside your friend circle and make new friendships, and invite people into your existing circle of friends.

Take time to reflect.

Look back at what happened throughout the course of the day, the week, the year, and your life. Reflect on the good and the bad. Reflect on things you wish you could have changed, but more importantly, things you can change to better yourself and those around you in the future.

Be full of life.

If you think about the amount of life a lake supports, it is a lot. You have been lucky enough to have gotten a chance at life. If you are reading this you are living a life that is much better than a large percent of the world. Live the life you have to the fullest. If nothing else, act like you are happy to be alive. Tomorrow isn’t ever promised.