A leaf-peeping excursion ends in Oneonta

One thing you hear central New York residents say often is that they love the seasons, the changing of the all-natural guard, the determined emergence of spring, the warm embrace of summer, the festival of colors offered in fall, and the sharp crystalline days of winter.

I’ll say the same thing about the seasons, usually as a defense mechanism after noticing on the Weather Channel that it was 80 degrees and bright sunshine  — AGAIN — in San Diego. 

So in an unplotted and not very organized fashion we did some leaf peeping last Saturday on a glorious sun-splashed afternoon. We hooked up my new DroidX’s navigation  system and wound our way toward Oneonta. We drove through Leonardsville (where wife L looked longingly at the The Horned Dorset Inn, through South Edmeston and New Berlin, into and out of Morris, and finally landed in downtown Oneonta.

We  found a small independent bookstore called the Green Toad, with the requisite attached coffee shop filled with students from Hartwick College and SUNY College at Oneonta.  Several restaurants and bars dot Main Street, offering some variety though I can’t speak to quality.

The Autumn Cafe

Except for one place: The Autumn Cafe. We stopped in for lunch at this eatery, not far from the open space filled with park benches that is home to the farmers market.

The cafe has a good feel, with well-worn uneven wooden floors, three brightly painted columns that run down the center of the restaurant, a small bar with several good draught beer selections, and a stage for live music. A nice deck is available during warmer days, though some of the college students were glad to be outside to take in the waning sunshine during our late lunch.

I enjoyed a sandwich called the Denver Smoked Chicken Melt. It was open-faced, served on French bread, and topped with roasted peppers, green chilies, cheddar cheese, and Dijon mayonnaise. It had a nice flavor; though I could have eaten more, even with my side order of roasted potatoes, which were well seasoned.

Wife L had a pastrami sandwich on rye bread. Again, good, but this was not a piled-high concoction. Daughter B’s turkey sandwich was a winner,  a generous offering on delicious wheat bread made on the premises.  Her side order of potato salad was unusual, with a vinaigrette-tinged flavor that was a nice change of pace.

Sandwiches ran around $8, and there are several vegetarian options available and enchiladas and fajitas that looked interesting. I would go back.

We took the five-minute drive to Hartwick College, a small liberal arts school with glorious views from its lovely campus. Bring walking shoes if you want to stroll here, there are stairs everywhere as  you climb from one tiered section to the next.

We also drove through Oneonta College, a much bigger place with a couple of  interesting buildings amid all the SUNY brick.

I had been to Oneonta before, to go to the ballpark that was home of the Tigers, a NY Penn League team that played in the city  for 44 years.  I’m glad I went when I did, because the team moved earlier this year to Norwich, Conn.

There still was some baseball this summer  in venerable Damaschke Field, with a team from a collegiate summer league calling it home.  The ballpark is worth visiting, it’s  old and rickety, but beyond the outfield fence are beautiful rolling hills that make for a wonderful backdrop.

But baseball talk is for another season, at least for us Mets fans.



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