Birthday Outing 2016

This year my birthday happened to fall on a Saturday. So to celebrate Luke,  his parents, and I took a very long day trip.

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We picked up the ornaments made earlier in the week from the glass studio in Corning. For more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2013/12/28/a-corning-christmas-present/

Then we headed to Watkins Glen State Park to hike the George Trail.

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Being a very warm Saturday, the trail was crowded but as always worth it. We have had a very dry summer so far, and light winter, so the falls were not as full as normal, but still it is a beautiful place.

 

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After our morning hike we drove up to Ithaca to the farmer’s market for a late lunch. Diana was happy to find more than 6 stalls selling organic produce and was surprised to find a pre-made completely organic lunch of samosas and salad. For more on the Farmer’s Market see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2014/06/12/playing-tourists-with-the-grandparents/

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We picked up a few groceries, then roamed to see what options were available for lunch. At the table was a variety of food from a Sri Lankan curry to Momos all with local organic strawberries for dessert. We went back through one last time after lunch to pick up some goodies. Diana and John picked up some local maple syrup, cheese, and wine.

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With full stomaches we got back in the car and headed to Cornell university. There we stopped at the botanical gardens welcome center and explored the gardens. After a nice walk through the rohdi’s and sitting in the shade we decided we were ready for dessert. We climbed up the hill from the garden parking lot and over to Cornell’s dairy bar. We discovered all of this on our camping trip in Ithaca a few years ago for more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2014/07/06/our-first-camping-trip-part-two/

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The ice cream was just as good as ever, creamy, and just enough flavor and sugar. After enjoying our afternoon treat, we got back in the car and drove the Corning Plantations Arboretum drive passing ponds, orchards, and the student farm. Taking a break to look out over the plantations, we decided to take a short walk to a suspension bridge over looking some of the falls on campus. When we did we discovered even in the low water many people were out swimming in the heat.

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Getting back in the car we headed down to greenstar a local natural and organic food store to get Diana dinner and a few groceries for their trip ahead. We then went to get Chinese food for the rest of us to go.

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With our to-go meals in hand we drove to Buttermilk falls on the outskirts of town. We found a picnic bench to sit and enjoy our dinner at while watching the falls. With how dry the year has been there was little to  water flowing over the rock but it was still a pleasant view. For more on buttermilk falls see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2013/06/27/an-ithaca-birthday-adventure/

A long last outing of our touring behind us, we drove back toward home. It was great day and I was happy to be able to spend it with family.

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

Ithaca-fest

In the summer time here in the Finger Lakes there is at least one ( if not many) festivals every weekend. So there is no way to check everything you want to out all in one year. Last year we stayed local and went to Glassfest for the weekend of Memorial Day.

For more on this see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/glassfest/

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This year instead we decided to go to Ithaca-fest; another town-festival this one always held the weekend after Memorial Day. Over the past year and a half we have explored several Ithaca based festivals and always enjoyed them for the people watching (college students), local musicians, and of course the best varied and international festival food in the area. For more on some of the Ithaca festivals we have enjoyed see:

Apple Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/apple-fest/

Chili Fest: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/ithaca-chili-cook-off/

So we left around 1pm on Saturday and took the scenic route through Walkins Glen toward Ithaca enjoying watching the sail boats on Seneca and Cayuga lake on the drive up. When we got to town it was clear the whole city was buzzing with activity. This 4-day long festival kicked-off with a parade on Thursday, and festivities around the commons are held Friday-Sunday.

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Each day of the festival multiple stages placed throughout the closed roads hosted local musicians representing all ages and styles of music. In addition to this, the park and church stages included smaller local cultural activities such as youth dance, Hawaiian dancers, belly-dancers, youth orchestra etc.

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Several city blocks were taken up with local crafts: photographers, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers, food goods and more. Speaking of food this past week was also Ithaca restaurant week featuring special offers from some of the best local restaurants as well as several local ingredients/sourced three course meals. One full block of the festival was devoted to the many wonderful varied food vendors everything from Tibetan, Thai, and Indian to Tacos, BBQ and potato pancakes. We enjoyed walking the winding streets even though it was very busy.

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We were a little surprised with how extensive of a hype this festival gets that the commons, which has been under construction for more than the past 6 months, was still torn up and unfinished. Also, for the many stages and performers there were no places to sit and watch the musicians, performers, (or just people watch). There were some tables set up for the food vendor area but it was far from enough to accommodate this large crowd.

 

We did noticed that this was much more  family festival then previous Ithaca festivals. There was only one winery represented, a very small beer/wine area at one performance stage, and few college students around. Instead the festival crowd was mostly made up of  families enjoying the sunshine,  children’s activities and rides, and some local ice cream.

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Overall it was a great day to be out and about but we were done exploring after an hour and a half and left the crowd behind to explore on our own. In our explorations we found a new Korean grocery store and the best Chinese food we’ve had on the East coast we drove home happy (and a little sunburnt).

Have you done any local exploring? What summer activities are you looking forward to?

Belated Birthday Outings

As I mentioned on Saturday Luke was out of town for his birthday so we put off birthday celebrations until he got home on Friday. On Friday I made him one of his favorite desserts: cinnamon rolls (see Bread of the month: Irish Cinnamon Rolls). Then to continue the celebration had him open b-day cards and presents.

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Then on Saturday we enjoyed a morning/afternoon of lazy sleeping in (and cinnamon rolls) at home then drove up to Dryden NY. Why Dryden? It is the home of a new hop farm and microbrewery: Hopshire.

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Outside of it’s awesome name, Hopshire serves high quality brews made with local honey, grains, and their own home-grown hops. We discovered them at the Ithaca Chili fest (see Ithaca chili Cook Off) where they were giving away samples of two of their brews: a light honey beer called :Beehave and a spicy brown ale called: Round Yon Virgil.

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We pulled up to the brewery and stepped into their taproom:s a cozy room  with a bar and a spare room with a large dinging table. Each door way was framed with  ornately decorated wood framing  carved with leaves and hops and the taproom walls were decorated with vintage beer advertisements.

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Luke decided to try a flight of what was on tap starting with the lightest beer and ending with their IPA’s. His thoughts: they revile the northwest’s beers  (which if you know anything about beer that is saying something). The favorite picks included: Fiddler’s Grain a red ale and their best seller the Shire a darker scottish ale. Even though I am allergic to barley there were one or two tasters I couldn’t resist doing more than smelling. For more on this see (Wait Barley-Free means no beer right?). After signing the guest log Luke decided to use some b-day money and take home a growler of the Fiddler’s Grain and a new hat.

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To finish of our birthday outing we drove into Ithaca for dinner at Maxie’s Supper Club a cajun/southern inspired restaurant serving: blackened fish, gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ,  grits, and more. They offer their full menu every-night until 11pm and in addition to their 4-6pm happy hour they are also an oyster bar.

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As we were brought to our seats I could see that even though it was early on a Saturday night the place was getting busy.  Decorated with new orleans style color themes and decor it wasn’t long before our water glasses were filled and cornbread with honey butter was brought to our table. After glancing at the menus Luke ordered the shrimp and cheese grits with their tasso gravy sauce and I got the house jambalaya.

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As we tried not to fill up on cornbread we watched other people receive delicious looking dishes of ribs, shrimp skewers, green fried tomatoes, and crabcakes.

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And our dinner? Amazing, Luke’s shrimp ‘n grits came with an open face andouille sausage on top and had an awesome  texture, and kick and so did my jambalaya filled with chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. We quickly filled up and never had to wait for service; our water glasses were always full as were the multiple baskets of sweet corn bread.

It was a perfect birthday dinner out.

2013 in review

I know we are a little more than a week into the new year but it has taken me a full week to get back into the normal routine of things (I can’t be the only one who’s in the post-holiday struggle for normality). As I look back on almost a full year with this blog I thought I’d review some of the highlighting events of 2013.

So here is a review of 2013 blog style:

January: survived our first NY winter:  A Lesson in Independence and explored our local museum’s winter events: 2300 degrees

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February: Started a new Valentines tradition: Valentine’s Pie: a New Tradition, and explored what it means to be newly married :Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage Myth busting: Round 2

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March: Celebrate Luke’s birthday with brewery tours/tastings in Rochester: A Chemistry lesson for a birthday present, Shared about my allergy to barley: Why I am barley free: Part One, and celebrated Easter: Hot Cross Buns and Berry Salad

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April: Celebrated 6 months of marriage: Wow it’s been 6 months!, shared details about our wedding:The Dress and  learning how to look for a job: Patience: giving myself time

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May: Traveled to the West Coast for an Oregon vacation and my brother’s college graduation: Vacation Highlights Part 1: Family TimeVacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

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June: Went Kayaking in Rochester: Kayaking and BBQ, bottled our first homemade barley-free beer:  Bottling our first homemade brew and celebrated my birthday in Ithaca: An Ithaca birthday Adventure

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July: Explored local festivals: Two festivals and Korean BBQ, Fixed up the front porch: Home Improvement: The Front Porch Project, and traveled to Washington to be apart of pre-wedding events for my brother’s wedding : Pre-wedding Jitters

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August:  Particpated in my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower: Stina’s bridal shower and other wedding events, attended two local foodie festivals in NY: Smoke on the WaterTaste of Ellicotville, and hiked a local landmark: Walkins Glen State Park= Gorge-ous

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September: Looked back on my brother’s wedding: The Wedding, and shared more about my job-search: A New Year: Teacher without a classroom

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October: Picked pumpkins and attended an Apple Festival: Picking Perfect Pumpkins;  Apple Fest,  shared about my allergy to tree-nuts:Why I am tree-nut free Part one,  and celebrated a year of marriage with a trip to Niagara Falls :Niagara Falls anniversary Part One

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November: Kept busy with non-blogging activities and shared about them in: busy: and update

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December: Started two new holiday traditions: Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa and Christmas Concert TSO. Attended our local holiday festival: Sparkle and shared our Christmas with my parents: A Very Corning Christmas present and A handmade and heirloom Christmas

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That is one very full blogging year! And that is only a small portion of the blog-post in this past year and doesn’t include any of my recipes. So what can you look forward to reading about this next year? You’ll find out soon enough.