Bhavna and I have always wanted to ride in a balloon but with young kids and work, we never made the time for it. The kids are older now. Shaan is out of the house and a sophomore at Rutgers University. Kiran is a senior in high school and busy with AP classes and college applications. My health has been failing lately and I am feeling more fragile.

When the QuickChek Festival of Ballooning came around I suggested to Bhavna that we should take a ride. But the festival weekend conflicted with another event on the calendar. Seeing my disappointment Bhavna suggested that I search for other ballooning options.

I found a few options in the area but Bhavna thought they were too expensive. She suggested that if we were going to spend that kind of money that we should have a great balloon experience. Searching Google for “best balloon rides in the USA“ I found a link to a Fodors ranking of balloon rides and a similar Fox News article. The nearest one was Balloons over Letchworth. That’s the one I chose.

I booked the balloon ride for the only date remaining for the season. Balloons over Letchworth launches at 5:15 PM from inside the Letchworth State Park and the balloon ride can last about an hour. We were driving just over five hours for the balloon ride so Bhavna and I decided to make a weekend of it. We decided to stay in Watkins Glenn.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/11

I learned that the area around Seneca Lake is home to many wineries, waterfalls, and … breweries. I found accommodation at the Inn at Grist Iron, which has an onsite microbrewery, The Grist Iron Brewing Company. We booked for two nights.

The original plan was to drive directly to the launch site on Friday, then drive back to the Inn, and unpack before heading to the brewery for a night-cap. Thursday night, the balloon pilot called to say that the Friday night flight was scrapped. The weather was not conducive to a balloon launch. A storm was expected. He had a cancellation for Saturday and was able to accommodate us. This was even better than our original plan.

Friday after breakfast we packed the car and drove straight to the Inn at Grist Iron.

The Farmhouse

When we arrived at the Inn the innkeeper, Darlene, a friendly and bright-eyed woman, greeted us, pointed out the location of the Farmhouse, explained the dining options are the brewery and the surrounding area and made some suggested of other breweries to visit.

Our fully restored 1860s farmhouse features wide plank floors, original hand-hewn beams, and various shades of chestnut, pine, and oak for guests looking for the traditional warmth and feel of a bed and breakfast. The house features a large shared dining area, small parlour, kitchen with a vaulted wood ceiling, and French doors that lead out to our covered front porch with ample seating and magnificent lake views. With four charming rooms to choose from – each with their own private bath – guests can enjoy antique furnishings, cosy reading areas, and the comfort of years gone by.

The Sunset Room in the Farmhouse at the Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Sunset Room in the Farmhouse at the Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 31.1 mm, f/5.6

I had booked us in the Sunset Room, a room with a private first-floor entrance and stairway, and a lake facing view so we could enjoy the sunset. The Sunset room is a 2-bedroom suite with a private en-suite bathroom located on the second floor. Our room had a large picture window with the best lake view in the Farmhouse, which can be enjoyed from the antique four-poster canopy bed or reading chair. Bhavna loved the linens and pillows.

The Farmhouse at Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Farmhouse at Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
The Farmhouse – The Inn at Grist Iron—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11

We unpacked, freshened up a bit and walked over to the brewery for lunch.

The Grist Iron Brewing Company

Founded in 2015, Grist Iron Brewing Co. is a microbrewery based in Hector, NY, in the heart of the NYS Finger Lakes region.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11
GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 40.1 mm, f/11

There was a large group of people at the tap room. I am amazed (and annoyed) at how much effort American adults will put into choosing from a menu, especially when the menu is limited to nine beers. When Bhavna and I were finally able to get the attention of someone at the bar we ordered two flights to sample eight of the nine, along with a BBQ chicken pizza, the Grist Iron “Bomber”, (for me) and a Seneca Simple Salad (Bhavna).

Our flights:

GRIST IRON BREWING—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6
GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY’S OL’ BUDDY OL’ PALE ALE—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/5.6

We sat outside facing Seneca Lake. It was very windy; moreover an indication that perhaps the storm was on the way and we would not have the sunset we had anticipated. We talked about how much we regretted not doing trips like these earlier in our marriage and not taking the kids on more vacations to see the USA.

Grist Iron Brewing Company\’s Flight—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 24.9 mm, f/5.6

The food was brought to the table and we dined and drank al fresco style. We were underwhelmed by the flavours of the ales. I don’t think Bhavna liked any of hers. I made the best of it. We decided that after our extremely late lunch — it was 3:30 PM when we checked into the Inn — we would shower and try another brewery. There are about five breweries in Hector but we decided on Two Goats.

GRIST IRON BREWING COMPANY—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6

Two Goats

When we arrived there was a group of people tossing dollar bits at the ceiling. We soon learned that this particular act is a form of entertainment. The dollar bill is pierced with a tack and wrapped in a dollar bit with a quarter. You “win” by getting the toss just right so that the tack sticks to the ceiling. I wonder how many patrons have injured an eye?

Two Goats—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6

The views from Two Goat are beautiful. The property sits on the lower side of the road at the top of the eastern edge of Seneca Lake in Hector.

TWO GOATS BREWING’S NEIPA—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 25.7 mm, f/5.6

We ordered a few pints instead of a flight and went outside to enjoy the view. We stood on the deck looking down at Seneca Lake. The picnic-style tables were occupied by other brewery patrons. It was windy and we could clearly see the storm clouds in the distance. We would not have our sunset that night. Bhavna enjoyed the NEIPA.

TWO GOATS BREWING’S GOAT MASTER ULTRA PALE ALE—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/5.6

I ordered the Floggen Schloggen, is Belgian Dubbel, just because the name is cool. We learned from the owner, John, that he chose the name after a trip to Belgium with his wife. In German, Flügeschlagen means “unfinished business”. John doesn’t speak Belgian and the word “strange and cool” to him. Floggen Schloggen is how John remembered the word.

TWO GOATS BREWING’S 2 GOATS BREWING FLOGGEN SCHLOGGEN—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/5.6

We started talking to John about his brewery and when and why he got started brewing. From our conversation, it seemed he really enjoyed his work. I had packed a few cans of ales from Flounder Brewing, Conclave Brewing, and the Referend Blendery and I offered them to John. We sat at the bar chatting while drinking. I don’t why I did this. I hope John doesn’t think I’m some sort of nut. I just wanted to share.

Sunset at Two Goats—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 17 mm, f/4.5

End of the Day

It was getting late. Because we ate lunch so late, Bhavna was feeling hungry. We drove to the Walmart in Watkins Glen and picked up some junk food and ramen noodles which we prepared in the Farmhouse kitchen. We would regret that the next day.

Farmhouse Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11
Farmhouse Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/11

We looked in the fridge and found the complimentary six-pack of beer from the brewery.

Complimentary six pack of Ol\’ Buddy Ol\’.—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/5.6

Today I worked in Manhattan at the client’s Old Slip address in the New York Financial District. As I have done the last few times, I drove for over an hour into Jersey City and parked in the Paulus Hook neighbourhood. The parking deck is a few minutes walk from the Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal. While I don’t enjoy the commute once I am in the New York office I have more options for lunch and exploration than I do at the Metro Park, New Jersey office.

As I did on my last commute to the Wall Street I brought my camera, my FujiFilm X-T2, and my only lens, the Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR. This is only the second time I have done this since I bought the camera a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of a hassle bringing the camera kit. My TimBuk 2 messenger bag was never meant to carry a camera kit plus all the other things I need for the work day — over the ear headphones, notebook, iPad Pro, snacks, diabetes kits, phone charging kit. It just doesn’t fit well. I managed to squeeze it all but the bag bulked as though the straps would burst. I think it’s time I bought a larger bag.

It was lunch time and I wanted to eat out but with so many options it was hard to make a choice. I decided to walk on South Street and hoped I would find something appealing. Last week I walked toward Battery Park so today I walked in the opposite direction; toward Brooklyn Bridge.

Some people say it’s the end of summer but the heat and humidity on this day suggested otherwise. The temperature yesterday at noon was around 32ºC (~90ºF) and the humidity was over 50%.

After a few minutes of slow walking, I spotted some trees and umbrellas just under the FDR. I thought it might be another urban oasis — a park under the highway. I was curious but I also hoped it was a restaurant. I crossed South Street at Maiden Lane and made my way over to the area.

Industry Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 22 mm, f/16 , ISO 200

Yep, it was a restaurant and a park. I perused the menu at Industry Kitchen but the crab cake caught my attention. The hostess gave me a choice of sitting inside the air-conditioned bar and lounge but despite the heat and humidity, I decided to sit outside where I could observe people and the park. I ordered the crab cake and Camp Wannamango by Harpoon Brewing. Lunch was $34 with tip. But my wife reminded me (we were texting during my lunch) that the view was worth it.

Industry Kitchen—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 26.6 mm, f/16 , ISO 200

After lunch, I explored the backyard of the restaurant — what some may call the South Street Seaport District.

Many people were eating lunches they acquired from the street side vendors. It’s a much cheaper lunch and you still get to enjoy the view from park benches and seats.

Enjoying the view.—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 44.1 mm, f/5.0 , ISO 200
Eating Lunch in the shade—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 34.2 mm, f/5.0 , ISO 200

I was surprised at how many people were out just walking around despite the heat and humidity.

Let\’s all go for a walk.—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/16 , ISO 320
Hornblower Cruises & Events Pier 15—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 20 mm, f/16 , ISO 320
Pier 15, East River Esplanade—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 21.3 mm, f/16 , ISO 320

I explored Hornblower Cruises & Events Pier 15 which is both pier and urban lounge. I had an excellent view of Brooklyn Bridge Park but many sunbathers were simply enjoying the sunlight.

The view towards Wall Street.—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 23.4 mm, f/16 , ISO 200

I was starting to feel the warmth but it was time to end the lunch hour and head back to the office. I took a slow walk back down the other side of South Street toward Pier 11.

I think it’s exciting what I can discover with a few minutes of exploration in my colloquial backyard.

Ancheer—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 34.2 mm, f/16 , ISO 1250
be—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 34.2 mm, f/16 , ISO 400

Backyard: A person’s neighbourhood, or an area nearby to a person’s usual residence or place of work and where the person is likely to go.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Backyard by jansenphotojansenphoto (Dutch goes the Photo!)
What we find in our backyard…

Before we left Belmar, Bhavna reminded me that Beach Haus Brewery is located on Main Street. I could not resist. I had to visit.

It took us longer than we expected to get to the brewery. Bhavna thought that we should drive down the length of Ocean Avenue but I wanted to use Apple Maps. The mapping software took us on what felt like a circuitous route. However, we arrived at the correct spot. Apple Maps had taken us along a more scenic route along Shark River.

From the outside, we could see the inside. The brewery is all glass. The inside is decorated in an understated industrial style with stained picnic tables along one side.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 24.9 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 200
Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 22.7 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 200

Our friendly greeter explained some details about the brewery and told us to head upstairs to the tap room.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 29.2 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 500

The retail area offered some brewery swag for sale.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16.5 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 200

A group of men were off to one side finishing up what appeared to be a craft ale tasting party.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 640

Our friendly tap room attendant, Nick, greeted us and showed us the names and the style of ales available to drink.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 28.3 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 200

I continued to explore the brewery with my camera. The second floor was decorated similarly to the first floor. More bench style seating. We could see the outdoor rooftop patio but did not go outside. Something to explore on our next trip in late summer or early fall.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 28.3 mm, f/3.2 , ISO 200

I had a flight of the following:
* Test Dept.™ New England IPA (Mosaic and Citra)
* Test Dept.™ New England IPA Featuring Huell Melon And Mandarina Bavaria Hops
* Test Dept.™ New England IPA (Merkur & El Dorado Hops)
* American Pale Ale (unfiltered With Mosaic And Citra Hops)

I also tried a sip of the Test Dept.™ – Grapefruit Radler that Bhavna had in her flight. I loved the radler and the mosaic and citra New England IPA. We got a six pack and four pack to take home.

Beach Haus Brewery—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/4.5 , ISO 200