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Within reach My daughter, when attending school in Massachusetts, attended a workshop in the Berkshires. The rest of the class and the instructors were marveling at the beauty but my girl was unimpressed.

She spoke to the instructor "I don't get it. What's so special here?"

"Where are you from?"

"The Finger Lakes of New York."

The instructor replied "You need to understand. Most people aren't blessed enough to come from a place of real beauty."

Those words came back to me as I was driving up Rt 34 passing Cayuga in its deep blue mood. Yes, we do live in a wondrously beautiful corner of the world. A corner about to explode with color and personalities that are unique to the Finger Lakes. It's getting time to dust off the camera and get out into the Autumn Leaves.

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Hiking trails are everywhere. Old railroad beds, all the State Parks, the Cornell Plantations, less known town parks like Havana Glen in Montour Falls, very well-known ones like Robert H. Treman State Park. It's time, once again, to experience the outdoors and leave the world with all its stress behind.

Autumn releases scents different from any other season. Rain, falling delicately on Oak leaves in the woods with the hint of a campfire nearby will relieve any built-up stress and open your mind to the wild world on the other side of that fence along the superhighway. Go ahead. Cross the fence.

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There are activities as well for those more socially inclined. The Farmers Market in Ithaca comes to mind quickly. The vendors are in full harvest mode with the freshest produce you can ever ask for. The aroma of hot cider and cocoa flow around you in one of the greatest scentuality experiences in the area.

If fantasy appeals, the Wizarding Weekend is only a few weeks away. Loosely based on the Harry Potter novels (but not related with J.K. Rowling or Warner Brothers), the event has captured the imaginations and creative spirits of people from all over the country. I'm pretty sure you can find butterbeer somewhere and there just might be a wand merchant – just in case you forgot yours.

If you are looking for something truly special to do, consider Captain Bill's in Watkins Glen, and their Saturday Night Endless Summer dinner cruise – do it soon, the last sailing is October 22. Dine, dance and enjoy Seneca Lake as the Finger Lakes present its last riot of color.

The Finger Lakes are just a piece of the greater beauty of our New York, and the colors change at different times in different places. The Adirondacks are in their full glory now, and the colorful leaves are slowly working their way here, amazing everyone who takes the time to notice.
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About the first week in November, the leaves will finally surrender with just a few stubborn colorful holdouts refusing to give up. Enjoy the all-to-short season while it lasts. Make the time. Walk the trails with your family – or your sweetheart. Enjoy the festivals and all things Finger Lakes in this most beautiful season.

Here are some places to look for ideas. Don't let this season get away! After all, it's within reach!

And do some exploring for yourself.

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.

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