Well, it's official! Naomi Lynn has lived in Central New York for three years now. And in those three years, she's definitely learned a lot...

Okay, so technically it's been three years and four days, but I decided to do this anniversary post on the day I started at Lite 98.7, which was back on November 17, 2014. Yes, a lot happens in three years, including a lot of new experiences, lessons, adventures, and more. I wanted to share with you 20 things that I've learned since venturing out to the Utica area, after living in Michigan my entire life.

1 - Central New York is a very giving area: It's unbelievable how much this community comes together to help those in need, whether it's America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk, a GoFundMe Page set up for a family in need, or any other time our neighbors need help. We're quick to do it.

2 - KanJam is the Best Backyard Game Ever: I had never even heard of KanJam before I moved out here, and boy, I was missing out. Now, it's a regular spring, summer, and fall outdoor activity.

3 - The Food Options are Endless: Seriously, there are so many great restaurants and eateries to choose from, with everything you could possibly want. It would take years of dining out every weekend to actually eat at all of them. Sounds like a good challenge, though.

4 - Speaking of Food... Lots of Dishes I've Never Heard of: Gnocchi, Chicken Francaise, Dolmades, Baklava, Chiles Rellenos, even Hats and Broccoli... These are dishes I had never heard of, but because the Utica area is such a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds I get the opportunity to try them all. It's been a learning process, especially when I'm not sure how to pronounce the name on the menu, but then I get to discover new tastes, and it's amazing.

5 - We're Spoiled with Beautiful Scenery: You don't have to travel very far to be surround by hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, and all the other breath-taking views. I also learned that traveling Higby Road will give you some of the best views of the fall foliage without leaving town.

6 - Some People Still Can't See All that Utica and the Mohawk Valley has to Offer: When I first moved out here, the question I got the most was "Why Utica?" and it wasn't in a good way. A lot of people dwell on the past and the hard times the area has gone through. And some people just don't want to see all the good that's happening, and how CNY is moving forward. Luckily, not everyone feels that way, there are many people who have hope for this area.

7 - We Have Many Choices When It Comes to Breweries: Obviously Saranac Brewery is a big one on the list, but we also have Woodland Farm Brewery in Marcy, Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, Crazy Williez Brewery in Ilion, Copper City Brewing Company in Rome, and so, SO many more.

Inside Woodland Farm Brewery in Marcy
Photo Credit: Luke Austin/TSM

8 - Speaking of Breweries, We Know How to Drink: Whether it's having a glass of wine with the girls after a long day, or throwing back some Saranacs while camping, we know how to have a good time and we know how to handle ourselves as well.

9 - You Can Fish in the Erie Canal: I saw someone doing this in Little Falls last summer and was a little surprised. I also learned that those who fish in the Erie Canal do it for fun, maybe not the best idea to keep the fish to eat.

10 - The Boilermaker Road Race is an Unbelievable Event: Stand at the start line of the Boilermaker, watch the wheelchair division go by, see all the runners take off, and tell you don't feel moved. It's such an inspiring and emotional event to see, words can't even describe it. But I'm so happy I get to see it ever year, and I'm so happy I learned what this fantastic event is.

Runners From the 2017 Boilermaker Road Race in Utica
Naomi Lynn/TSM

11 - The Adirondacks are Close, and are the Perfect Place for a Little Getaway: I love how close Central New York is to an amazing getaway that feels like it's thousands of miles away. The Adirondacks are perfect for adventures all year around, and we're definitely spoiled having a little slice of paradise so close.

12 - Some Things I've Had to Get Used to Not Having Anymore: Unfortunately, there are some things I've had to give up (well, give up on a regular basis). Tim Horton's and Dairy Queen are probably the top ones on my list. Sure, I can get Tim Horton's when I travel to the western side of the state (and believe me, I do), and there's a Dairy Queen outside of Syracuse, but it's not a place I can run to whenever I have a craving. Luckily, we have other options, so I can (more than) get by between my few trips to the other side of New York.

13 - Our Red Pandas at the Utica Zoo are the Absolute Best: Seriously, they have to be the cutest animals on the planet. I had never seen a Red Panda before, and it's so great that we can go visit them pretty much any day we want. I love hearing about the people traveling all across the country to see these adorable animals.

14 - Everyone Has Their Go-To Place for Chicken Riggies: Every place (and every person) makes their chicken riggies a little differently. Some are more hot, others don't have mushrooms in them, sometimes the sauce is more thicker... There are many variations. Everyone has their favorite place for riggies and there's no point in arguing on whether one place is better than another. We all just have to agree that we have different tastes.

15 - Same is True for Pizza: Exactly the same. You can spend forever trying to tell someone that your favorite pizzeria has the best pizza, but good luck convincing anyone to switch. Oh, and wings. They fall into this category, too.

16 - It's Been Three Years, But the Roads are Still Confusing: Don't get me wrong, I can get around a LOT better than before, but there's like ten different ways to get to any destination in Central New York. I can get to places, but I'm pretty sure I take the longest route. Everywhere.

17 - You Can Find a Michigan Favorite "Vernors" at Certain Stores: Found it at Beer Belly Bob's in Ilion, and I know there are a few other places in the area that sell this ginger ale soda. If you haven't had it before, pick it up the next time you have a stomach ache or a hangover. It will fix you right up.

Naomi Lynn/TSM

18 - There's Never a Dull Weekend: You can always find something to do in the area. There's always some sort of charity event, music playing at local bars, or your usual go-to places like the Utica Zoo, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Fly Creek Cider Mill, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad... I could go on and on of all the things you can do in the area on any given day, but seriously, that's SO much. You know it is.

19 - Our Utica Comets are Awesome: I've always been a huge hockey fan, and to move to Utica and find out that we have an AHL team right here, was just the best news. Not only that, but going to my first Comets game and hearing how dedicated and passionate the fans are... I am home.

20 - I Still Have a LOT More to Learn: Yes, I've taken in a lot of information in the last three years, but I still have a lot to learn. It will take me years and years and YEARS to learn everything about this area. I definitely need to catch up on my history of Central New York and there are still many things I haven't experienced yet. But I'm looking forward to it all.

Here's to you Central New York! Thank you for welcoming me with open arms into your community. I'm so happy to be a part of such an amazing area, that definitely doesn't get even half the recognition it deserves.




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