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

Stars Hollow, Fireworks, and Minions: Holiday Weekend in review

As I mentioned in my 4th of July post Luke had a four day weekend! Instead of traveling or packing up the camping gear we decided to stay local so Luke could get a lot of “Luke time” (aka play computer games and not think about work) at home. So instead we explored nearby for holiday weekend events and celebrate the 4th with our own BBQ for two.

We started our 4th of July with some patriotic pancakes. Using Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix I added a little honey, cocoa powder, vanilla, and fresh blueberries and strawberries for our Thursday brunch.

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The rest of the day was spent relaxing with no particular plan in mind. For our BBQ using pre cut stew meat, Luke combined soy sauce,  sirachica, and some spices to create a savory but kicking steak marinade. And what BBQ is complete without some corn on the cob straight from the grill? All served with some local hard cider.

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When it got dark we went on a walk to the Bridge st. where we watched fireworks over the Chemung river.

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wish I could take credit for this picture but I’m not that good

Friday was a complete day in highlighted by finishing a good book and making some great homemade fish tacos (recipe to come).

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Saturday we drove up to Hammondsport  just north of Bath where Luke works. And if there is any town to be named a real life Stars Hollow this is it! Named “America’s coolest small town” by Budget Travel, the central park has a gazebo where summer concerts are held Thursday nights.

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Surrounding the park are mom and pop diners and bakeries, antiques, an ice cream parlor, pubs, a toy store, a BBQ joint, coffee shops, city hall, and the downtown church.

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After a humid walk we got back in the car and drove to the northside of town to check out the fireman’s carnival. This small town fundraiser for the local fire department included a BBQ chicken dinner, raffles, and of course carnival rides and all those games to win a giant stuffed pink monkey topped off with a fireworks show later in the night.

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After walking through the carnival, we found the Keuka lakeside park full of people with their families enjoying the waterfront in swimsuits, BBQing, or kayaking on the lake.

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We then drove with the windows down to the mall to catch the last showing of Despicable Me 2. We laughed over and over again at some minion mischief while sharing a box of junior mints

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And today? Well today is our chance to regroup from a great long weekend, check off a few weekly chores, and see what’s ahead for the next week.

What did your family do for the holiday weekend?

An Ithaca birthday adventure

As I mentioned on my birthday, this past weekend we took a trip to the college town Ithaca for some summer b-day  fun. We got moving slowly in the morning because we went to the local drive-in theatre Friday night and didn’t get to sleep until 2:30am.

Fortunately Luke made us some irish cream lattes for the road. By noon we were traveling through the green tree covered hills with the windows down passing small villages and lake side towns.

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We arrived in Ithaca around 1pm and drove straight to the steamboat dock. Here at the base of Cayuga lake is Ithaca’s famous Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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We entered the wood covering strung with lights and began to look around. Like a true farmers market there were many stalls of fresh local herbs, vegetables and fruits, garden plants, dairy products, and meats. But much like the more permanent Pike’s Place Market there were also vendors selling local maple syrup, honey, cheese, wine and hard cider all up for tasting and sampling.

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Interspersed between the food goods were vendor stalls with homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs, incense and essential oils, woodworking and even hammocks. This was a great place to people watch or listen to a street musician playing an acoustic guitar.

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There were also many food vendors from around the world: Cuban, Tibetan, Cambodian, Thai, French, and Mediterranean to name a few. Luke and I chose to order buckwheat gluten-free crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mozzarella herb sauce. We took our food and sat down on the dock watching the ducks, boats, and kayakers on the lake as we ate.

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Satisfied with our market experience, we left with a local bottle of hard cider and stomachs full ready for the next stage of the adventure.

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Driving up the hills we stopped at Buttermilk State Park. This park hosts trails and bridges spanning from the top of lake Treman, to waterfalls through the gorge, all the way down to Buttermilk Falls base where there is a swimming hole. We took the gorge trail down to Buttermilk Falls named for the foamy white water which falls over the grated slate.

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It was a very hot and humid day but it cooled off considerably once we took a few flights of stairs down onto the gorge trail and stood under the cover of the trees lining the gorge’s rim. The gorge trail follows the river as it passes over slabs of slate creating several unique mini-falls along the way.

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Everyone and their dogs, were taking breaks from the humid trail to splash barefoot in the shallow waterways between the waterfalls.

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After our hike, I was ready to cool down my cherry red skin. So we headed to yogurtland.  After sampling a few flavors I chose a bowl of tart blackberry passionfruit swirled with original and a small amount of vanilla topped with cheesecake bits, strawberries, and yogurt chips.

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After our sugary cold treat, we checked out the campsite at the base of Buttermilk state Park then drove up to the commons, the central college area for Ithaca College and Cornell.

After a walk around we drove back down the hill and ended up at A Taste of Thai. I ordered my favorite norm: red curry with chicken and Luke tried their Rad Nah drunken spicy noodles. I was happy to get red curry as good as they come with plenty of fresh chicken, basil, peppers, and bamboo shoots.

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When we arrived back home Luke commented that he saw a firefly. Excited I got out and watched, sure enough I saw that yellow flashing light moving along the grass in our backyard! I guess that is one benefit of living in some humidity.

That was my Ithaca birthday adventure.

Do you have a favorite Farmer’s Market?

How do you like your frozen yogurt?