Rainbow Falls State Park

I know I am playing catch-up from summer activities but that is what happens when you have an infant. Last month when my brother and sister-in-law met Zach (see:Zachary: 2 Months for more) we decided to go on a family hike. Rainbow Falls State Park is about thirty to forty five minutes from where we live.

When we got through the main gate and parked we started sunscreen, bug spray, leashed both dogs and put Zach in the carrier. We walked towards the falls ready for a hike. But there was no hiking along the river or by the five foot fall. Instead Matt and Stina followed a short path to the river bank and across a few rocks to get a closer view. We saw several families swimming and eating lunch at the waterfront.

Confused by the lack of trails, we went back to the gate and were told to drive to the other side of the river. So, we packed everyone back in the car and found parallel parking across the highway from a small trail-head entrance.

The hiking paths were all different distance loops connecting to each other. We took one and figured we would on the way decide if we wanted to keep going or not. The trail was quiet and beautiful with speckled sunlight coming through the pines and the ground was covered in ferns and moss. Even in early July the it was muddy in a few places requiring a planks.

We climbed a slight elevation and down as well as hit a few turns along the way. It was not a high exertion trip which was probably good as this was my first real exercise since having Zach. To sum up it was a nice walk but we have similar views from our flat property at home. I would not probably visit this park again, but find a closer hiking trail with longer straighter routes and maybe a waterfall worth exploring.

Still it was great to get outside and spend time with family.

 

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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

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?