Saturday, June 16, 2018

It's Quiet Upstate

Sometimes traveling is less about discovering new places, and more about recapturing old friends.  Lucky for me, often I get to do both.  

For Memorial Day, Brittany and I flew to upstate New York to visit Gio, who's completing her Master's at Syracuse, and Amanda, who's relocated nearby with her husband, Andrew, who's attending Vet school at Cornell.  I'd never had any friends in upstate New York, and all of a sudden I have found myself with three.  More than enough reasons to visit!

That first day of our long weekend we found ourselves with "crises" left and right.  On her way to pick me up, Amanda called to say she'd be late because a hostage crisis was blocking the roads in her small town of Cortland, which was just above "got caught in a glitter tornado" on my list of reasons she might be delayed.   

Not long after, Brittany had a work "crisis" with a client and declared she needed to get to an outlet because her computer was dead.  Google mapping a Starbucks, we were disappointed to end up at one inside a Price Chopper grocery store, with no dedicated outlets.  Ever the problem solver, Amanda unplugged the coupon machine and used her long arms to get Britt plugged in and set up on top of some Runts and Poopsters (3D squishy poop emojis, of course).  The old ladies shopping were both perplexed at the corporate pop-up and also the sudden lack of coupon dispensing. 

Back on the road, I kept checking in on the breaking news in the "hostage situation."  One site reported that, "Officials say a male and female locked themselves in a hotel room at the Hampton Inn on River Street and refuse to turn themselves."  This raises two questions: 1) Is it illegal, or even unusual, to lock hotel rooms in Cortland, and 2) Were they tanning?  I couldn't get enough of this hard-hitting journalism.  Later, they reported that apparently the woman had left the hotel room.  Gasp! 

Back to our own drama, things calmed down quite a bit once we got to Green Lakes, a lovely spot with pure, multi-hued waters. 

And then we headed to another lake (we were in the Finger Lakes area, mind you!) for BBQ, hammocks, and the sunset.  Milo was the most psyched in the group.

The next morning we set out for Ithaca and its quaint, ever-popular farmer's market.  I enjoyed all our many drives, with so many shades of green everywhere, colonial homes, and American flags proudly flying.  We learned that there are many terms for organized communities in New York, including "hamlet" and "village," and enjoyed learning how the ones we drove through were classified. 

Once at the market, we grazed on almost everything they had to offer over several hours, starting with the best cinnamon roll I've ever sunk my teeth into. 

To continue our day of meshing the outdoors with food, we hiked Buttermilk Falls.  As everyone loves to say, it was simply gorge-ous (the water flows through, ehm, a gorge).  This was definitely a highlight of the weekend.

We took in the beauty of the falls and the layers of the earth, watched families and friends screech with joy and laughter in the water. 

We hiked up past all those excited people to find quiet and peace, as if we had those areas completely to ourselves.  

We "forest bathed" and played silly games and ate cheese and bread from the market.

And then we stripped down and dove in.  Well, less dove and more tip-toed while cringing and cursing at the frigidness of the water.  But we persevered! 

And soon we were dunking our heads under the waterfall, feeling wild and icy and free.  We kept getting braver, each going farther and staying longer, until I took my last turn and crossed under the falls, lounged back on the rock ledge, and looked up at the water falling around me, never ever wanting to leave that divine spot.

After that, we had definitely earned a beer.  Everywhere we went had quite a "come as you are" mentality; some were dressed up for graduation parties, we were still dripping lake water.

Sunday was dedicated to self-pampering.  We went to Skaneateles (pronounced "skinny atlas," which I simply could not get over, the image of a very slim book of maps always top of mind), and enjoyed baked goods, a walk about the historic downtown, and a tasting at a local winery, Anyela's Vineyards.

Then, it was time for a few hours at Mirbeau spa, part of a French-inspired inn that has modeled its grounds on Monet's gardens. 

Our last day was the most low key, and I loved the luxury of just hanging out with people I love, no agenda, nothing needing doing.  Such a rare feeling of timelessness and freedom.  That morning we took a quick hike with Milo nearby (the most exciting moment of which occurred later, when I had to remove an uninvited tick from Amanda's leg). 

And then we spent a languid afternoon eating brunch, video chatting with Kristen and her new gem Rosalee, and playing many rounds of the card game Shithead.  (Kristen, I bet you didn't expect to see baby Rosalee's name in the same sentence as the word "shithead," but there you have it.)

And we rounded out the day by visiting Empire Brewing Co, beer tasting, playing more cards, and giggling through our last few hours together.

 Flag pic for Memorial Day!

It was a great city break and wonderful to spend a few unhurried days visiting dear friends.  Thanks to Amanda, Andrew, and Gio for hosting us and planning so much fun.

Next up, the hustle and bustle of New York City!

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