Does it make sense to drive 55 miles to walk 3 miles in a snowstorm with temperatures in the teens? A fair question.
The answer turned out to be a resounding yes as I was able to explore Oneida Shores Park and stop in at the Thee Diner in Cicero. Both first-time experiences proved to be fruitful and fun.
I drove to the park on the southwestern tip of Oneida Lake last Saturday and was forced to take the toll-thirsty Thruway for part of the ride because the side roads were slick and sloppy. The park has a beautiful lodge tucked into the woods, where I got my route map for the 5K folksmarch sponsored by the Syracuse YMCA.
I do have this curious need to be rewarded for my endeavours. I’m sure it’s a lack of emotional depth. No “it’s the journey” for me. When I hike I need a payoff, a vista of unparalleled beauty. Play softball, I want to win. Badly want to win. When I do these folksmarch walks, I want that pin that comes with a successful jaunt. I blame my parents.
Oneida Shores proved to be a beautiful setting for my stroll (See more photos here). The trees were covered in what looked like gooey marshmallow, and the lake, or more immediately Muskrat Bay, looked impressive in its gray/white expansiveness. I stayed warm despite the niggly temperatures, decked out in my new Columbia jacket that came courtesy of Mrs. Claus at Christmas. (By the way, if you need a thin, crazy warm jacket or any kind of outdoor gear at steep discounts, check out Sierra Trading Post. Great deals.)
The folksmarch folks do a great job organizing these walks, which can be stretched to the 10K variety if you are so compelled. I had bought my cross country skis with me, and I tried it after my walk. But the snow as actually too deep and there were no skiers out before me cutting the trail, so I hopped in my car after warming up at the Arrowhead Lodge and collecting my nifty pin (at right).
The road conditions had improved by that time so I took Route 31 and came across the Thee Diner, which is under a mile from Route 81. I’ll be the first to admit that the diner doesn’t look like much form the outside, but if you are traveling on Route 81 and need a break, this is a great place to refuel.
It is always a good sign for me when a diner offers me options for my cup of tea. I have nothing against Lipton or Red Rose, but when given a chance for an English Breakfast Tea by Bigelow or Twinings, I’m all over it. That was one of several options offered to me by the waitress who greeted me at one of about eight tables in the main section of the diner, which has additional tables in an expanded dining area with large windows letting in the meager doses of sunlight.
I also was reminded right away about why locally owned restaurants are so much better than chain eateries. Instead of hokey pieces of kitsch on the walls that some corporate suit approved after myriad consultations with overpaid designers, there was photo after photo of patrons lining the walls. Real people from the community. That alone speaks volumes.
My breakfast of eggs, home fries, sausage, and toast was right on the mark. I was intrigued by the sign that promised homemade desserts by Cindy, but I didn’t walk that much at the park. Thee Diner also serves ice cream during the warmer months.
After my leisurely breakfast I didn’t mind one bit that I had about 50 miles left to drive. Seemed like nothing at all.
Additional photos from this trip: