We really had a lot to do at home in preparation for our departure, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at Esperanza with friends.
No detail has been spared. The linens on the beds are first class, the paintings fit the environment, the mirrors and chandeliers sparkled, the guest rooms are period with beautiful furniture, drapery and rugs and the bathrooms are modern and state of the art. Green, rolling lawns dotted with white chairs overlooked a one of a kind view of Keuka Lake.
We ate in the small tavern room because the formal dining room was closed for a function but the food was "slap your chest and fall back in your chair good. Three of us had one of their specials - turkey wellington with local brie and blackberry gastrique. Gawd.....
|Bill and Dave examine a beautiful bedroom cupboard|
|Tom, Dave, Bill and Robin|
Lewis reminded me that, while I painted a beautiful picture of OUR Thursday, he didn't exactly see it that way. He went to the vet's office to receive an annual inoculation and that it wasn't all that exciting. They took him in a back room and a stranger....a very nice young woman, but a stranger nonetheless, stuck him with a needle and then tied a bandanna around his neck - a bandanna with ghosts and pumpkins! He felt it made him look like a sissy, but she looked so pleased that he just put up with the indignity of it all. When one is a poodle, one has to guard against looking too fancy and frou frou.
Yesterday, Saturday, was cold and windy and gray. A perfect day to spend outdoors watching horse racing, right? Only the 121st annual running of the Genesee Valley Hunt Races would get us (Dave) out in that kind of weather. At least the rain had pretty much stopped by the time we got to Nation's Farm.
|beautiful Nation's Road|
This traditional Valley event is held every year on the second Saturday of October, rain or shine. It's a celebration of horses, hounds, agriculture and the Valley itself. In addition to Steeplechase type races (racing over jumps), flat racing, stock horse racing (riders using western type saddles), and plenty more races in a more light hearted vein. There was a card of Hobby Horse races, and the very popular "weiner dog" races. The Hunt paraded their hounds down the center of the race course and then opened the gates so the spectators could come in and meet the hounds. It didn't go as planned......
The atmosphere is wonderful, almost like an old fashioned country fair. People of all ages and dogs of all description walking the grounds, standing at the fences to cheer on the racers, tailgaters vying for Best Tailgate Picnic awards, sheep, chickens and hound puppies patiently enduring pets, kids playing with trucks and sand pails in piles of shucked, dried corn kernels, the smell of hot cider and blooming onions and the sound of live, unamplified music.
|one of the unique tailgate spreads|
|start of the 3 1/2 mile timber race|
|neck and neck finish!|
|stock horse race|
|happy Hobby Horse contestant|
At a break in the races, the Whipper In brought the hounds into the infield and the announcer told us all a little about them as they trotted happily back and forth at the feet of two or three beautiful bay horses. When the group came back in front of the judges stand, the rider's dismounted and the spectators were invited in to meet and pet the hounds.
|Happy Hounds = gay tails!|
|sniff sniff sniff|
|lets all pet the doggies|
One hound took a good look at all the children swarming the pack and took off, tail down, in the opposite direction. Hounds are not supposed to break from the pack....they're to stay together.
When young pups are taken out for their first few times, they are "coupled" with an older hound so they can learn the ropes and stay with the pack.
As I said, hounds are to stay together but when a few of the pack noticed the escapee they were conflicted. Are we supposed to follow him or stay here? Stay - go.....stay - go.....
Within a few minutes, half the pack split and followed the runner. Mayhem ensued.....hunt horn was blown, hunting whip was cracked (in the hunt, the whip is used as a communication device, not to hit the hounds), outriders rode after the split pack..... In the end, everyone was reunited and we all were reminded that you just can't trust kids or dogs to perform perfectly when someone is watching......All in good fun, they left the field laughing.
Our financial advisor was sponsoring a hospitality tent for friends, family and clients and we were invited to join in the camaraderie and good food. The wind break their tent provided was also much appreciated!
|hospitality tent decorations|
We had a wonderful day but soon it was time to go home and get down to business. We were almost ready to hit the road but there are always plenty of last minute details to take care of.
The nastiness of the day finally receded and by evening we were treated to a beautiful sky blue pink sunset.
This morning the sun had a little trouble breaking through the fog but the result was ethereal.
Once the sun finally broke through we enjoyed a last second cup on the deck stairs and then hooked up the Jeep and pulled out around 10:30.
We're south of Erie, Pennsylvania for the night and tomorrow we'll begin our west, east, south and west journey.
|gratuitous poodle shot|