Friday, August 26, 2016

More Ithaca Pictures

Wow what a week. I'd actually uploaded these on Sunday night thinking I'd squeeze in the writing on a lunch hour at work, but no such luck. Anyways, these are the rest of my pictures from my long weekend in Ithaca. Women Swimmin' was great, and then the rest of the visit was fun, too - I stayed with my friend Louise, and we squeezed in a lot of Ithacan summer fun. We ate very well - I never sleep well the night before I have to get up early and travel somewhere, so I just went with it and made another batch of fresh mozzarella; there were tomatoes and basil ready to go in my garden at the club the next morning, so I picked some of those, although I suspected that was a little on the coals-to-Newcastle side, which it was, Louise had beautiful beautiful tomatoes and basil from her CSA, but it was fun making a Brooklyn-meets-Ithaca caprese for dinner (and Louise had this chocolate balsamic vinegar that made it even more amazing, soooo good!). She also had corn, and fresh peaches, and I was especially happy about the peaches 'cause I hadn't had any of those yet this summer and in my mind the northeast summer produce trifecta is corn, tomatoes, and peaches, and it hasn't been a proper summer until I've had all 3. I actually stopped at a farm stand on the way home, same one as I'd stopped at on my way to Waterford the day before I launched on my Waterford to Brooklyn paddle in 2014 and loaded up on more corn and more peaches - I was just in a state of fresh produce fixation and couldn't resist! We also had s'mores one night, and there were also s'mores in Michigan, it's been a good summer for s'mores. 

Michigan s'more - want some? :)

Other fun things we did - no pictures of either of these but Louise taught me how to play croquet (I don't think I'd ever played that before and it was fun!) and dominoes (we had a set of dominoes when I was a kid and I did understand the basic concept but I genuinely can't recall whether I actually ever played the actual game with them instead of just standing them up in a line and then knocking them down, I enjoyed the game too). We also went for a good swim in Lake Cayuga on Saturday afternoon - this has been such a good summer for lake swimming for me, and although this is my third time out there to help out with a swimming event, this was my first time for much in the way of swimming in it myself. I think there was some bobbing around in the water off of a dock in 2014 but no real getting in and swimming for a ways. Loved it! Such beautiful clear cool water, and so many little fish (and one great big one, a carp, I think), I think if I lived out there I would go swimming every day while the water was warm enough! Sorry I didn't take the camera for that, I just wanted to swim this time. 

Sunday we went for a great bike ride on Ithaca's Black Diamond Trail, a rails to trails property that's been in the works for over 30 years and is finally coming to fruition. I was ever so slightly concerned about how the name incorporated the term for the most difficult downhill ski routes, but Louise explained that that was the name of the railroad that ran there. The property's been slated for recreational use for a very long time, as I mentioned, and funding earmarked again and again, but every time something would come up and the funding would get diverted to that. Finally a few years ago they got a new guy in the parks department there who really set his mind to getting it done, and it's finally happening! Not done yet but there's a nice section of it paved and again, if I lived out there I think I'd go biking every day. Hoo boy, and swimming every day, 2/3rds of the way to being a triathlete there, ha ha! Anyways, there was supposed to be a group ride on a new section of the trail, only when we got to the meeting place nobody was there. We drove around a bit until we found a family who'd just come back from a bit of a ride and they had a discouraging report - the section we'd thought was about ready to open was still unfinished and very rocky and muddy. I'm no mountain biker so we decided to take a pass on that and head back to a finished section that Louise had ridden before. We nearly threw in the towel when it started to rain, but then she stopped at a place just to show me the trail and it was so pretty I decided I really wanted to go, and she was game.

Look how pretty!

Louise loves biking and is good enough at it that she was able to coach me on the fly, which was good because another friend loaned me her bike for the day and I'm not sure I've ever ridden a bike as good as this one was and the gears were a lot more complicated than anything I'd ever dealt with - there was a separate shifter on each handlebar, yikes. Louise just had me set the one on the left side and leave it alone, though, and as it turns out riding a bike really is just like riding a bike - I started out a little shaky (honestly can't remember the last time I was on one) but it got better as we went along. 

me with the nicest bike I've ever ridden - thanks Alice! 

We rode up to where the trail crosses a really pretty gorge with a little cascade and back. At one point I'd said something about "could do this all day" but eventually my sitzbones were saying otherwise, but this view was worth a little sitzbone pain. So pretty! There's a reason that one local slogan is "Ithaca is Gorges".

After the ride, we headed back to Louise's, I wanted to shower before I hit the road. We made 2 stops on the way back - the first so that I could take a picture of a moose. Yes a moose!

There are a lot of artists in the area, and this is the creation of a very talented local sculptor who uses his front yard as gallery for new creations for a bit before sending them off to their new owners. We'd driven past here a couple of times and I'd spotted a couple of his works in town as we drove around too - lovely stuff and I think it's fun and generous that he shares his work with his neighbors this way. Louise said the moose was actually staying in the area and she was happy about that, she really liked this one. I would guess that he's pretty much life-sized, by the way!

Last stop before I hit the road was at the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that Louise is a member of. I'd already been treated to some of the tomatoes from this place and they were spectacular. This was really something for a city dweller like me to see - I've never been involved in one of these but my impression from urban friends who are (and it's very popular here in NYC, I have lots of friends who part) is that you pay something to be a member and then you get a box of veggies, whatever's ripe, every week or so. Seems like fun although you do hear funny stories about people trying to figure out how to use ten pounds of whatever specific thing was leaping off the vines this week before it goes bad. Here in the Finger Lakes region, you're practically at the farm already so instead of the farmer bringing you boxes, you go to the farm, and the farmer works out a fair division of the produce among the members - and if something's at the peak of the season, the farmer may declare free pick. That was the case with the cherry tomatoes this time, so I got to bring a box of lovely orange sunsweets back to NYC with me. This farm also had flowers available and the glads were simply stunning - wish I could've taken a couple for myself but there were a lot of miles to drive and then boat unloading and stuff schlepping at the end so I didn't think they would last, so I just took pictures while Louise picked herself a lovely bunch. 

After that it was back to Louise's for a shower, and then I hit the road back to NYC. Between the bike ride and the farm stop it was a late start, but as I said to Louise before I left, I just couldn't think of anything that we'd done that I would've skipped to get back to NYC an hour or two earlier - such a good trip!

A couple more pix from the road and Ithaca -

Trusty Romany all ready to ride at Sebago.

Scenic overlook in the Delaware water gap, en route to Ithaca.

Trusty Romany, out standing in a field. OK really there was a parking lot but I ducked down to make it look like a field. Same place in the Delaware water gap. Driving back through this area was really stunning - there was something about the temperature and humidity that had raised thick fog over all of the water in the water gap, and the mist wound through the hills and woods, and then the moon started coming up, and it was all very beautiful.

Ice cream stop on the way to Ithaca. I thought that I recognized this place and had been taken here after a hike on an earlier visit, and I was early enough that a stop for ice cream was entirely plausible; as it turns out it's really still a pretty good drive to Ithaca so maybe it was just a similar-looking place, I did see other little ice cream places like this, all doing a booming business during this steamy steamy heat wave. This place's particular schtick was 40 flavors of soft serve. 

I got a small peach in a waffle cone. Yes that's small. Want some? Can't imagine what large would look like, or how messy that would've gotten!

A friend's barn, just 'cause I like it.

Trusty Romany at the Valley View farm stand where I stopped for corn and peaches and honey on the way home. 

Which brings us back to "We're not in Brooklyn anymore!"
And what a fun little escape it was.

This post produced with the flavorful assistance of a Flower Power IPA from the Ithaca Beer Company. Yum.

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