I grew up smack dab in the middle of the Finger Lakes in Penn Yan, NY.
I have lived in Rochester, NY; Clarksville, TN/Ft. Campbell, KY; and Oahu, HI. And I chose to settle down right here in the gorgeous Finger Lakes region. The hustle of the city, the hospitality or the south, nor the paradise of the Pacific could lure me from Finger Lakes for the long term. To answer a common FAQ: Yes I lived in Hawaii, and yes I came back to Western New York by choice.
I had no idea the Finger Lakes was a special place as I was growing up. I lived in a small town with a real downtown where the aroma of roasted buckwheat drifted for miles. The closest real city was an hour away. We were surrounded by dairy farms, lakes, hills, and mile after mile of corn fields and vineyards. It wasn’t really that special, it was just home.
Sure I went to Roseland when I was a kid (not the Water Park), swam in Keuka Lake, learned to sail on Owasco Lake (and sailed on Seneca and Keuka as well), had a dinner cruise on the Viking and frequently consumed fried chicken and ice cream at Seneca Farms. One of my good friends in high school, who is now the wine maker at Hunt Country, used to bring me half gallons of fresh grape juice in high school (thnx Jon!).
Looking back now, I realize, this was the most magnificent childhood ever! I just didn’t appreciate it.
When my husband and I lived in Clarksville, TN – just 40 miles from Nashville – we did the typical touristy stuff. We saw the Cumberland River (how can you miss it, really), we toured Andrew Jackson’s home (The Hermatage), we saw the Parthenon, and went to the Grand Ole’ Opry. We walked up and down Broadway Ave a few times and I’m sure we heard some at least one big time country music star singing in a bar while they were still just a singer in a bar.
But we didn’t really get down to the special, hidden gems of central Tennessee. We didn’t appreciate it. (In our defense, we didn’t live there very long and he was in Iraq most of the time).
Then, Hawaii. Absolutely we did touristy stuff in Hawaii. You can’t not do touristy stuff. Arizona Memorial. Mighty Mo (pictured). North Shore. Honolulu. Waikiki. Halona Blow Hole. Pali Look Out. Diamond Head. And we did explore hidden gems like the Kolekole Pass, Mokuleia and Ka’ena beaches, Ford Island. I mean, for crying out loud – both homes we lived in are located yards – yards – from where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The entire time I lived in Hawaii, I wished to be home in the Finger Lakes. Every conversation I had that started with “so where you from?” always involved a lengthy explanation of cow pastures and lakes shaped like fingers versus Taxi Cabs and Times Square. I think it’s possible that describing the landscape of the Finger Lakes so many times in the 3 years I lived there, is how I truly learned to appreciate it.
While living in “Paradise”, it was actually the Finger Lakes region that seemed like a far away paradise to me.
What I’m Up To Now
In addition to blogging away and exploring the Finger Lakes region, I also have an online business (plus blog and YouTube channel) at vidpromom.com where I teach people how to create awesome GoPro videos and family movies. In the offline space, I work with local business specializing in web marketing and social media consulting. For more on that, visit meredithmarsh.co. I have 2 lovely little girls and a handsome tough-guy husband.