26 August 2008

RoadTrip Part IV: The Adirondacks via Troy

Monday 4 August

We hit the road just after breakfast on our way to Elk Lake in the heart of the Adirondacks. Having discovered RoadFood.com I had a little detour up my sleeve. We stopped at Famous Lunch on Congress Street in Troy for some of their chili dogs that are out of this world. They are about a third of the size of a regular dog on really good soft buns, mustard, onions. Absolutely delicious. Washed down with grape soda. Yum.

While we were driving around Troy we came across the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) looming above us from the street below. A pretty fantastic looking creation that looks like a viking ship perched on the hill encased in glass. It may not be the best visual neighbor, but it is striking.

After a beautiful drive up the interstate we pulled into the Elk Lake Lodge situated in the middle of a private forest reserve. It was like stepping into a postcard.

24 August 2008

RoadTrip Part III: Ithaca

Our two days in Ithaca were spent mainly showing John my old haunts and spending time with our good friends Joe and Leslie and their perfectly behaved two-year old Nick. They recently re-potted themselves back in Ithaca after 5 years in DC, but I met Leslie while we were in grad school at Cornell. I was more than a little envious of her new life in Ithaca. The older I get the more interested I become in living in a small town with lots of peace and quiet, a vegtable garden, and a low crime rate. Then you throw in the cultural resources of Cornell and you have one great place to live.

I showed John all of my favorite places around town and campus. (Although none of my pictures do justice to the beauty of Cornell's campus so the one at tip is kind of lackluster.) We also spent lots of time in the Aboretum and Botanic Gardens that are part of the Cornell Plantations and made our way through the Johnson Art Museum. The Johnson has a great collection and an impressive I.M. Pei building that is perched on a hill at the corner of Cornell's Art's Quad. It has amazing views of Ithaca, the countryside and the bottom of Cayuga Lake, the largest (I think) of the Finger Lakes. We also had a surprisingly good lunch at the famous Moosewood Restaurant. I say surprisingly because I never really had a good experience there when I lived in Ithaca. The food was really pretty darn yummy.
One of the highlights had to be the Ithaca Farmer's Market. Housed in a beautiful timber-framed pavilion they not only have amazing local produce for sale but lots of great prepared food as well. Cambodian, Cuban, Japanese...there was even one vendor that had a portable wood-fired pizza oven on the back of a pick-up truck.
Without necessarily meaning to, the first weekend kind of set the tone for the whole trip:
  • Lots of used book browsing and buying. Not having to pack for a flight, our turnk filled up pretty quickly with books.
  • Gardens and Nurseries. John is an avid gardener, and I don't mind a pretty place to sit and read. The northeast has so many wonderful gardens it was like heaven on earth for John. Plus they have a had a very rainy summer so things were pretty lush pretty much everywhere we went.
  • College Campuses. You will see in future posts that we stopped at quite a few college campuses. In addtion to gardens the northeast is dotted with pretty campuses.
  • Yearning for small town life. I think we really got bitten by the small town bug on this trip. A little too young to start thinking about retirement, we nevertheless talked about wanting to end up in a quiet town or rural area somewhere in the northeast. Ithaca is probably too remote for John's taste, but the way of life is highly appealing to both of us.
Next installment takes us to the Adirondacks.

RoadTrip Part II: DC to Ithaca

Friday 1 August

States Covered: DC, VA, MD, PA, NY

Our trip started with me picking up John at Dulles Airport as he deplaned from a cross-country flight from San Francisco. Conventional wisdom would have suggested that we wait until Saturday the 2nd to get going on our trip, give the poor man a chance to catch his breath, etc. Nothing doing. I was hell-bent on getting on the road as soon as possible. Americans don't get enough vacation time, I was going to make every minute count.

By about 4:00 pm we were headed up Route 15. Although the road was only two lanes and little slow, I was overjoyed to avoid the I-95 corridor. The drive in Virginia also passed through some beautiful, rolling hills with horse pastures, vineyards and for a bit, a minimum of sprawl. It was nice to have pretty stuff to look at seeing as John had a little trouble separating himself from his work. He spent the first hour of the trip on his Blackberry tying up a whole lot of loose ends. Later we went through beautful farm country in Maryland and equally beautiful landscapes in Pennsylvania before it got too dark to see anything.

We cheered as we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. A Yankee at heart (and by birth) it felt good to be heading north. (I don't care much where my ashes are sprinkled when I die, but I must admit that my will makes it clear that it should be in a state or territory that fought on the side of the Union.)

We made great time stopping at Dairy Queen along the way and making Ithaca by about 11:40 pm. As every American must know it ain't a road trip until you stop at the DQ. Also, having no DQs in DC (why?!) it is hard for me to pass one up...

RoadTrip Part I: The Itinerary

I am too lazy to figure out a good way to keep this all in chronological order without having one giant post that includes everything. So I will stick with my previous method which is to post them in chron order realizing that readers will have to go back and follow the part numbers (or read them in reverse chron order, but that way you might miss something)...

We had a fabulous time taking 17 days to make our way through some of the prettiest countryside in the Northeast. There was a time earlier this year when I felt like a road trip was kind of a boring vacation. Not that I didn't want to do it, but at work I was planning trips to Italy, Japan, Tahiti, and a hundred other places for other people. A road trip just seemed a bit of a let down. I couldn't have been more wrong. The whole trip was amazing and we both wish we were still on the road.

So this was the path we took:

1 Aug: DC to Ithaca, New York
2 Aug: Ithaca
3 Aug: Ithaca
4 Aug: Ithaca to Elk Lake in the Adirondacks
5 Aug: Elk Lake
6 Aug: Elk Lake
7 Aug: Elk Lake to Woodstock, Vermont (with a dip into New Hampshire)
8 Aug: Woodstock to Great Barrington, Massachusetts in the Berkshires
9 Aug: Great Barrington
10 Aug: Great Barrington
11 Aug: Great Barrington to Hudson, New York
12 Aug: Hudson to Hyde Park via Connecticut
13 Aug: Hyde Park to Tarrytown, New York
14 Aug: Tarrytown
15 Aug: Tarrytown to Philadelphia
16 Aug: Philadelphia
17 Aug: Philadelphia to DC

It turned out to be about 2,000 miles when all was said and done.

22 August 2008

Coming Soon...

No doubt many of are surprised that the Mindy Cohn post was so important that I decided to let it stay at the top of the page for the past three weeks. As much as I think Ms. Cohn's art deserves extended attention, the real reason is that we were on a 17-day road-trip through upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticutt, and Pennsylvania. The trip was amazing, we had a fabulous time and got to spend time with many good friends along the way.

Plenty of pictures will be on their way soon. First need to figure out how to download the thousand-plus pictures from the new camera.