August Backlog: Summer Road Trip: Downtown Memphis

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The next day of our summer trip, we met my brother work downtown Memphis after a half day of work. We walked with him and Stina to the more famous area of Memphis: Beale street.

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We came into town the week after Elvis week and saw a few impersonators still wandering around. As we approached Beale street, we stopped at a famous peanut shop.

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I waited outside because they mix all of their nuts together (for more on this see why I am tree nut free) with my brother as Stina gave Luke the tour. Everyone got samples of their favorite peanuts as a snack and we continued walking.

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We passed a statue of Elvis across from the Hard Rock, and the Gibson guitar factory and then we were on Beale street. A very quiet walking street in the early afternoon, the street is filled with big named Jazz bars and night clubs including the original coyote ugly bar.

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On this street is also a bar which hosts parked outside one of Jerry Lee Louis’ cars. All along the street, similar to in Hollywood on the sidewalk are jazz and blues musician names.

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We continued walking to the Peabody hotel and did a fast tour of the hotel and the famous ducks in the pond (to learn more see peabody ducks)

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After a lengthy walk around we got lunch and got back in our cars. We drove down toward the Mississippi river waterfront and parked at what is called “The Pyramid”, and old sporting area that has now been turned into a giant bass pro shop.

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We went in and saw there was a lot to take in. This “shop” has a restaurant and bar with bowling alley to start with, it’s own fudge and sweets shop, hotel rooms built like cabins you can rent on the third floor, and a live alligator display.

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Add this to the fact that the place is decorated to resemble the bayou with floating docks and boats you can tour in a few feet of water filled with catfish. Like most bass pro shops it also included many stuffed and staged animals of all types.

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Luke and I both found good hiking/camping pants downstairs in the apparel then we went upstairs. On the second floor is a duck hunting museum including wood ducks (word?) and a display of guns. There is also a free arcade sample of duck hunting, and a place to test out bows for hunting.

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They had one of the best camping sections I have ever seen and a large hunting dog section as well. Let’s just say my husband was a happy camper.

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We left downtown Memphis and head back to my brother’s place where we got local BBQ and played a board game during dessert.

Lessons Learned: Round 2

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Last weekend we reserved a campsite at a state park down the road from us in Dansville: stony brook park. We had been watching the weather reports closely and were not sure how much rain we would get but decided to go anyways. After, all we both have lived in the northwest.

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Thursday and most of Friday I spent buying supplies, prepping, and packing.  We left and got set up Friday night. We enjoyed our beautiful view of the brook from our campsite, set up the tent, and table, and got a fire and hot dogs going. Everything was going well.

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We had a good night sleep and next morning made a large camp stove breakfast with strong coffee. After a few hours enjoying the campsite, reading and relaxing, we decided to walk the gorge and rim trail. I got my sunscreen and bug spray on and was ready to go.

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We got less then a quarter mile in when we heard claps of thunder. I thought we had brought our thin rain coats with us to the trail head; but we  ended up driving back to the campsite. When we got back we decided to wait out the weather. Luke took a nap while I read. I stayed sunny the whole time.

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When Luke woke up the rain hit, and it hit hard. Luke had some work to do so we decided to go home for a few hours while it rained then go out to dinner. When we came back to our campsite it was still wet and raining.

We decided to get a fire going anyways and to make ourselves some berry cobbler over the fire in foil (which turned out very yummy). But when we got ready to go to the tent for the evening we discovered our sleeping bags were wet. There was water dripping in at the center of the tent.

Lesson Learned: If you are going to be adventurous and go camping in the rain make sure your tent has recently been waterproofed.

We  cleaned it up, put a towel down where it was dripping, and moved our sleeping bags and clothes away from walls and the center. We tried to settle into our sleeping bags for the night, but it was humid and the water that came into the tent caused everything to be a little damp. I knew I would get damp and as the temperature dropped after the storm passed, if it passed, I would get cold. We tried to stick it out.

Lesson Learned: If you want to be adventurous when camping, no matter the weather, do not go camping near your home. It is too much of a temptation to know you are 10 minutes from a warm dry bed.

By midnight we were back at home. When we returned to our campsite the next day we decided we needed to tear down camp. The rain was not letting up and we found our tent site was turning into a puddle. Because it was pouring we had to pack the dry items, then put towels down, then the wet items. When we got home we hung all wet items including sleeping bags, tents, picnic tablecloths etc. in the laundry room to dry.

It was still an enjoyable day and a half outdoor, we had a lot of laughs, and spent the rest of the weekend together, as we had planned, (mostly) away from technology. On the plus side also items on the house to-do list left on the list for months finally got accomplished.

Here comes the sun!: Stony Brook Park

Well it’s taken much longer than anyone wanted for us to get sunshine, but it’s finally here. It amazes me how it can be snowing Easter morning and the next weekend we are basking in 65 degree weather!

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We took advantage of the perfect spring this past Sunday by driving to Dansville after church with the sunroof open. We grabbed some taco bell for lunch and watched a few planes take off at the airport.

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Then we drove over to Stony Brook Park, our closest state park which is only 10 minutes from our house for a picnic.

The park has been closed since we moved out here. It’s still too early for the trails along the water, but the picnic area as well as the playground were well used by local families and their dogs enjoying the blue sky and first signs of green grass.

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We ate our fast-food picnic then wandered around. The park has tennis and basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and a summer-time natural swimming pool.

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We drove around then went to the southern entrance were there is a camp ground. This entrance was closed off so we moved on.

We know we will return later in the year. Looks like a great place to get out in nature without a long drive and maybe take a family dog to walk around (more on the dog topic to come).

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What are your first favorite spring activities?

Our First Camping Trip: Part Three

This is the las piece of our First Camping trip: for more see our First Camping Trip: part one and two.

Monday was our last full-day of camping so we wanted to savor it and take it slow. We started the morning with a super still and quiet campsite, coffee, and a big breakfast of eggs, potatoes and bacon. We planned to make this a water day; so we packed up our swimsuits and covered ourselves in sunscreen and headed to the state park marina.

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The Tauhannock Falls Marnia is right across the stress from the falls gorge trail. The water from the gorge river/creek flow directly into the lake through walkable inlets. Luke grabbed a book and I took a journal and we found a perfect resting place along the Cayuga lake waterfront at the Marina to peacefully read on the picnic quilt.

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After an hour or so we checked out their rental kayaks and found only one tandem. We decided instead of heading out into the large lake’s open waters alongside the many larger fishing and power boats to drive into Ithaca. We drove back into town and found Puddledockers; a kayak and paddleboard rental and retailer found close to the farmers market. For under 40 bucks Luke and I were able to rent a tandem kayak for two hours. After discovering we had our own lifejackets and had obviously been kayaking before they gave us our paddles and a laminated map of the inlets and waterways around Ithaca and out towards the lake.

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We took off around 2:30pm; a time that is after the most sun and wind but still early enough to not get dark or cold. We explored the marinas around Ithaca and paddled past the Farmer’s Market at Steamboat Landing. We enjoyed touring the many sail and power boats on our way out toward the State Park Marina. We enjoyed sharing the waterways with many goslings of geese as well.

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Although it was a Monday we were not alone on the waterways; other kayakers who had rented from the same location also toured the area as well as several groups from both Ithaca College and Cornell’s rowing crew; we passed both of their rowing centers along the marina.  We turned back around before we hit the more open waters of the lake then backtracked down along the canals that go under roadway bridges that parallel downtown Ithaca.

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We came back to the dock at Puddledockers at 4:10 after a relaxing paddle around. We had enjoyed some beautiful views of the cities parks, Marinas, as well as some great views of Cornell and Ithaca College up on the hills.  Before heading back up to our campsite we stopped for an afternoon treat at Yogurtland.

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Then we went back to our spot along the Cayuga river at the State Park Marina for another hour or two of journaling, reading, and relaxing; this time we were joined by Geese and some shore side fishermen. As we got closer to dinner time the BBQ summer dinner crowd came in and we headed back to our campsite for our own dinner: tacos. That night we enjoyed the last of our firewood and our last quiet night of camping.

The next morning we were happy to see that although it had rained during the night our tent was dry. We got up and moving with coffee and a quick breakfast and took down camp. We were on the road and back to reality (after a stop for some extra coffee) and got home before 1pm ready to unpack and regroup for the rest of the busy week.

Our First Camping Trip: Part two

For the first part of our camping trip please see: our first camping trip: part one

Sunday was had set aside to be my birthday outing day. The campsite became quiet as the local campers packed up for check out at 11am. We both took the morning slowly and took quiet showers. I had the bathroom all to myself, which on top of the fact that the shower was decently clean and had hot running water is a luxury in the camping world.

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We prepped for a day in-town then drove back into Ithaca. Starting our outdoors in-town visit we parked at the Mulholland Wildflower preserve aka Six Mile Creek gorge then walked across the street and down a small hill to the base of a beautiful waterfall known as Businessman’s Lunch. Here many people had already set up blankets on the large smooth rocks in the middle of the creek for sunbathing, picnic lunches, or for reading.

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College students and local couples alike enjoyed dipping their feet in the water and taking in the sun. Luke and I picked a large rock to share and joined them laying back and taking a mini nap in the sun to the sound of the waterfall. By lunch time the spot was getting busy with college students bringing their lunches and books so we decided it was time to move on.

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We walked back to the car where we had a snack lunch then took off on the Mulholland/Six Mile Creek trail along the water way that flows down the falls down the street. It was a beautiful walk through wooded trees and along rolling waters, we passed many people exercising, walking their dogs, and more college students hiking up from the bottom of the trail towards the waterfall with coolers in hand.

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After this we drove up to the Cornell campus. All this time we have lived an hour away from an Ivy-leauge school and have not even by car toured the campus. When I discovered they had Cornell Plantations: a botanical garden, and arboretum open to the public I decided we had a good excuse to check out the campus.

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We arrived at their botanical garden welcome center and were surprised to discover that the Cornell campus actually was placed right in-between two gorges/river that ran through campus. These gorges parallel each other; one Fall Creek Gorge flows through the top of campus to a Tripplehammer falls before flowing into Bebe Lake at North Campus to past the Arboretum and Garden. The other Cascadilla Gorge runs on the South end of Campus closest to the City of Ithaca and was closed for reconstruction being done this summer by Cornell students.

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The botanical gardens were beautiful; although not as expansive as I am used to in SoCal they had well-labled areas for herbs, ground coverings, winter plants, etc. After wandering the gardens at the hottest and most humid part of  the day we decided to climb up the hill past their vegetable garden to their food sciences center. Why did we go to a science building? It is well know for Cornell’s Dairy Bar. A modern sculpture of a glass milk jar marks the entrance to the campsus’ dairy/creamery.

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We entered the lowest level and turned the corner to find the dairy bar, here locals and students alike can by pudding, yogurt, cheese and ice cream made by Cornell students as part of their food sciences and creamery. I got a scoop of Bavarian Raspberry: Bavarian cream ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and raspberry swirl. Luke got a waffle cone with mint chip and kahlua. We sat enjoying our sweet (early b-day) treat in a air conditioned room decorated in red, black, and white with cow spots.

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We then got back to our car and drove up to the Arboretum. From the car we enjoyed a tour of the grounds including their crabtrees, wildflower garden, past their ponds with lily pads and geese and back out onto the main road. We drove back down past campus and got a car view of  Triphamer Falls on our way back into town.

Ready for an early dinner, we drove to a  Thai restaurant called Tamarind.  For my early bday dinner we enjoyed red curry with chicken and spicy beef with crispy noodles. To top off the best Thai food we’ve had here in New York we got amazing (non-powerederd) Thai teas! The perfect end to my second in a row b-day outing in Ithaca.

 

Our First Camping Trip: part one

Although Luke and I have been together for more than 3 years we have never been camping just the two of us. So this summer we are staying local and enjoying some of the amazing sites here in upstate New York.

Luke took off work June 20th-June 24th and we reserved a camping spot at Tauhannock Falls State Park outside of Ithaca. After several trips to Walmart for supplies, we packed up and left after Luke got off work on June 19th. We found our site, ate dinner and set up camp just before it got dark then enjoyed some hot cocoa and looking at the stars.

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Saturday we enjoyed coffee from the percolator and decided what our day of  exploring would look like. With more coffee in to-go cups, we started the morning with a drive up the West side of Cayuga lake, it was a beautiful day as we passed by small towns wineries, cideries, and farms. We picked up some free firewood along the roadside then made a plan to head back down towards Ithaca to explore Alan Tremen State Park.

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By having a campsite at one of the state parks entrance into the other parks for the duration of camping was free. I’d looked into the local waterfalls and gorges we had yet to explore in the area and found Alan Tremen State Park. When we arrived we parked the car and explored the welcome center and historic Old Mill.  Because of the waterways in the 1800’s a large Mill was made here using the water to power to mill’s grinders for production of flour and buckwheat. Luke and I enjoyed exploring the three story workings of this old mill with a back porch view to a beautiful waterfall. We set up a snack lunch along the water in prep for our hike along the gorge trail.

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We got a small way down the gorge trail path before realizing that it was going to dead-end because of repairs and construction. We decided instead to take the North rim trail to where we could see an outlook over Lucifer Falls; although it was not a clear shot it gave us a better ideas of the gorge trail. We walked back to the car deciding this was definitely a place to return to once repairs were done.

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our glimpse of Lucifer Falls

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We then drove back up to Tauhannock State Park and up the hill to a outlook for the Tauhannock Falls. This gave us a almost bird-eye view of the tremendous thundering falls. It is here the the north rim trail of the fall gorge area ends.

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Afterwards we drove back to our campsite to regroup then walked down to the trail for the Tauhannock Falls gorge. Unlike most of the gorge trails in the area this one stays open year round; the pathway is wide and flat so people were bringing strollers and wheelchairs down the path easily. Many people wore swimsuits stopped somewhere along the trail to dip their feet (or more) into the river as we headed upstream towards the falls.

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At the end of the path you turn a corner and there is Tauhannock Falls; crossing a bridge over the roaring river you come to a picture/spot and standing area. The falls are so large that you don’t have to get too close to the edge of the viewing area to get covered in a rain like mist. Fortunately we came near the end of the day so taking picture without mass amounts of people was easy.

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After the walk back to the campsite we were ready to settle in for the night. We finished off our first full day of camping with some pre-made shrimp pasta, games of cribbage, and a campfire with s’mores for dessert.

Stayed tuned for Part Two of our Camping trip