I never lived in a vacation destination before. Geneva is rocking.
Have you looked into a local hotel lately — just one of the standard ones, not a boutique inn or anything. The hotels must be hopping, otherwise the prices wouldn’t be so crazy. A casual search of websites (not trying to squeeze out the best deal) revealed 41 Lakefront Hotel’s budget option for this weekend is $195, Microtel $251, Holiday Inn $304 (Member discount), Fairfield Inn $303. Last I checked, Geneva doesn’t even appear on the “New Yorker’s Map of the USA” — “New Yorker” as in NYC.
It turns out we’re not in the middle of nowhere, rather “The Source of the Finger Lakes” surrounded by alcohol tourism, which also turns out to be a big deal these days attracting abundant visitors. But don’t forget fishing, boating, and farm-to-table restaurants.
Okay, cool, but where we live is also flat out beautiful. Have you driven along a county road lately. Talk about lush. The emerald green fields of corn are neighbored by golden wheat just now being harvested. The cabbage crops are laid out neat and orderly but sprouting in variegated shades of green — hues of pistachio, shamrock, and mint. This verdant and earth tone richness has been relentlessly framed by vivid blue skies this summer, and looking across just the right hillside those fields of green and gold border lakes that echo back tungsten and indigo to the blue sky above.
Sunday, as the last of the thousands of triathletes slowly made their way along the route through town, friends took us on a drive in their convertible to Seneca Farms in Penn Yan. Driving across the rounded and curved landscape on that cloudless afternoon, I couldn’t help but feel blessed.
We lived in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont where it is drop dead gorgeous all year no matter what the weather. But it is too remote to be a beehive of tourism. There is a summer crowd of course, like there is here along the lake. Québécois would come down to bicycle, and other stray attractions would garner some tourism, but not like it has become here.
Before Vermont we lived in cities in which visitors come and go all year long as part of their economic and social vitality. But in a city, who is visiting and who lives there, is indistinguishable. Tourism fades into the fabric of urban life.
Tourism has become the big dog in the Fingers Lakes. It is a $3 billion industry that supports over 59,000 jobs. “In Ontario County, were it not for tourism-generated state and local taxes, the average household would have to pay an additional $592 to maintain the same level of government service.” (Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine). Those are big numbers.
If I sound like I am cheer leading tourism, it’s only a reminder to myself not to get grumpy when the lakefront gets crowded by special events. Veering on my bicycle around milkshake drinking and ice cream licking families and couples not paying attention can provoke consternation. Same thing when favorite quiet spots aren’t so quiet any more. So I chastise myself not to be so stingy. There is so much to share, and clearly it is a mutually beneficial relationship between visitor and those of us being visited.