Monday, September 23, 2013

On to New York

Friday morning was somewhat overcast, with some rain periodically, but not too bad for the day of driving we had on tap.  We left Flint and headed on toward Port Huron, where we took the bridge into Ontario.  As we entered Canada, we were somewhat bemused when the border agent asked us if we had planned to cut across Ontario when we left home.  I suppose that may be somehow related to the whole profiling bit in the aftermath of 9/11, but I had to tell him that we were just making up our itinerary as we're traveling.  Fortunately this answer seemed to satisfy him and he waved us on through.  Just a couple hours in Ontario before we reentered the US near Buffalo.

We had initially thought we may stop in Buffalo, as we had been reading about the biking trail along the Erie Canal, running over 300 miles from Buffalo to Albany.  But, since we got to Buffalo earlier in the day than we had thought, we decided to keep on going for a while.  We stopped in Weedsport, a little town I had visited once when Todd and Karen were working for the Merry Go Round Theater in Auburn 15 or 16 years ago.  Todd was an actor with the children's theater company and they would travel around upstate New York, going to elementary schools, putting on short plays, and giving talks to the students about how actors can change characters by a simple change of part of a costume, an accent, whatever--basically teaching young kids how to appreciate live theater.  I had just spent a week at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, where I had been a provisional student the year before during my sabbatical from the law firm, and drove over to Auburn to see Todd and meet Karen. So I spent the night with them and we drove down to Ithaca to eat dinner at Moosewood, the vegetarian restaurant whose cookbooks we had been using for years.  The first time I had tried to go there was when Todd and I were taking the college tour when he was in high school and he was looking at Ithaca College, but they were closed for some renovation then.  Anyway, we had a wonderful dinner there and it was great for me to get to meet Karen for the first time.  They had gotten together the summer before, and we kinda had this feeling that she was the one, and, of course, she was, as they got married a year later.  Anyway, since it was in January, the weather was always an issue and Todd had to get up super early the next morning to meet the other actors at the theater to load up the van to drive to Weedsport.  Karen and I drove there later where Todd and the company did bits from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe--it was really interesting to see how much they could do in just a half hour production to show these kids so many things to look for in live theater--a great foundation for their appreciation of this art form for the rest of their lives.

So we got up the next morning, excited to go biking on the Erie Canalway Trail, hoping to do a good long ride.  We drove out to the first parking area and headed out east along the trail and it was just gorgeous!  Lots of leaves had already fallen on the trail, so our tires would crunch along through the crisp leaves, as we got glimpses of wildflowers along the canal; the air was crisp, and though the skies were still overcast for the most part, the sun would peek out from time to time.  We rode into Port Byron and then suddenly the trail ended and we found ourselves on the roads in the town.  Even though there were pretty wide shoulders, essentially a bike lane, which was marked as such, we just don't like riding this close to fast moving vehicular traffic.  We tried to figure out the maps on the board in this little park, which made it look like the canal way trail was continuous all the way, but we could never figure out how to get back to the off-highway trail.  So, after several attempts we just headed back to the RV--a bit frustrated as we were hoping for another 20 mile ride, but we got in at least 8 before we loaded back up.

We had called a friend, Jane, who was a seminary classmate of Trisha's when she got her Mdiv, who is now a hospital chaplain in Syracuse, to see if she were in town and had arranged to meet her at Moosewood in Ithaca for lunch.  So we just headed on to Ithaca and stopped at a wonderful yarn store Trisha had seen written up with great reviews on the internet, and was it ever a good stop!  They had wonderful yarns, some alpacas especially, unlike what we typically see in most of the shops back home.  The owner of the shop was quite friendly and helpful, and we found some beautiful alpaca yarn that Trisha will use to make me a sweater from the same pattern she used to knit the sweater she did for our grandson, John, when we were on the way to Seattle.   I'm so excited, as this yarn is just gorgeous and Trisha is such a wonderful knitter I know it will be just fabulous!  She's working now on another pink frilly tutu like she made for our little grandniece for another friend's child, so the sweater will likely be a project for next year's trip, but it's super to have that to look forward to!!

So we met Jane at Moosewood and it was just a fabulous afternoon!  As we waited there for her, we looked at two of their newest cookbooks, one of which was focused on healthier recipes--although they have always been vegetarian, when they first started years ago there was not so much emphasis on low fat cooking and many of their recipes were pretty rich.  So, as we talked to one of the original folks who's been there from the get go, he talked about how over the years they've come up with new recipes and refined the old ones to make the ingredients healthier, and more and more of their recipes are now completely vegan, or they set them up so you can alter one or two ingredients to make them fully vegan--wonderful!!  So we had a delicious lunch, and, since we got there at the tag end of the lunchtime crowd, we were able to sit there for a couple of hours without burdening them by holding our table too long.  As we were eating, the rain really started coming down, so after lunch we all walked back to the RV where we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening just relaxing inside and catching up.  We had a wonderful time.  She is a really brilliant woman and now she works with the children's hospital within the bigger complex, so she spends her time with so many children with cancer and other serious diseases, more often than not terminal, which I think just has to be the hardest thing.  But she is very talented with kids--she had worked at Grady in Atlanta before--and I know the hospital is really fortunate to have her there.

Since it was after dark when we parted company, we just decided to head to the local Walmart parking lot for the night--the third night in a row that we'd stayed in Walmart lots!  This one was very quiet, and we were quite cozy through the night as the rain continued, but the carhouse kept us warm and dry!  It was good to have a day of a lot of just relaxing, as we'd been driving quite a bit the last few days.  Sunday was another day of mostly driving, as we made it through the rest of New York and on to the Berkshire Mountains and Stockbridge, Mass.  We took mostly back roads, staying off the interstate as much as we could and it was a beautiful drive through the Catskill Mtns. with lots of small towns and villages, seeing more and more leaves beginning to take on their lovely fall colors.  We found October Mtn.  State Park near Stockbridge where we spent Sunday night, but not until we had stopped to walk through the quaint little downtown area of Stockbridge.  There's a lovely curtain shop in the Red Lion Inn where we'd been years ago and where we've gotten some lovely curtains, so we walked through that, and passed by Teresa's Cafe, formerly Alice's Restaurant, made famous in Arlo Guthrie's epic song!  We also passed by the Berkshire Theater Festival, where Todd had spent a summer when he was an acting student at Syracuse.  It's a lovely old complex of buildings, looks much like an old time summer resort.  He had a wonderful encounter when he was there--all of the students work in all aspects of theater during the summer, doing set construction, lighting, sound board, etc., in addition to acting.  Jo Ann Woodward was there that summer starring in a production and Todd was working backstage, handling the curtains for that production.  During one matinee performance, he said someone tapped him on the shoulder and very politely asked him where the restrooms were, and when he turned around it was none other than Paul Newman!!  He had come up to surprise his wife, and Todd had a great conversation with him, said he was just the nicest guy.  Trisha was just insanely jealous of Todd when he told her of that encounter!  Anyway, this little campground is nice, and, like several times before, turned out we were the only ones here, except for a couple of tent campers in the adjoining tents only area.  Today we'll try to do some hiking if the rain holds off and then head on toward Maine, where we plan to spend several days in Acadia National Park.

Leaving Grand Marais, Michigan, looking out over the lake
 Beautiful old post office building along the lakeshore

 Another sign touting their pasties!! LOL!
 Coming back over the Mackinac Bridge to the Lower Peninsula--leaving the Yoopers behind and rejoining the land of the Trolls!

The Mackinaw Point Lighthouse again

 Some colors as we drove down toward Flint

 At Port Huron, MI, heading into Canada

 Coming back into the US

 Shots along the way in New York

 Just love these fields and farms, especially red barns!!
 It's been interesting to see several towns named Lyons--Trisha's maiden name--in different states

 Starting our ride along the Erie Canalway Trail in Weedsport

 Some remains of one of the old locks on the canal

 Some lovely old homes in one of the little towns along the way

 With Jane at Moosewood
Along the way from Ithaca to Stockbridge, Mass

As yesterday was the official first day of autumn, the lovely fall scenes are out in force in all these lovely little towns we passed through!

 "Come on down, it's around the back, just about a mile from the railroad track.  You can get anything that you want, excepting Alice, at Alice's Restaurant!"

 Love this beautiful building in Stockbridge!
 The Red Lion Inn

 Windows in the Country Curtains shop
 Some of the lovely homes in Stockbridge


  1. I grew up in western New York, not far from the Erie Canal. Great place to visit, but I am pretty sure I will never live there again.

  2. Can't believe I missed you guys by days! I arrived in Taughannock Falls State Park, just 8 miles outside of Ithaca on Sunday. So sorry our paths crossed and I didn't get to say hello.

    I love Alice's Restaurant! I listen to all 18 minutes of it in it's entirety every Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving Day Massacre tradition!

    Enjoy is one of my very favorite places. Great bike rides on the carriage roads! Have fun!

    Suzanne (Lynne's friend)

    1. Oh, Suzanne, how sorry we are too!! I love your blog and have thought that we might cross paths sometime. Disappointed that we didn't know exactly where each other would be when so we could have connected. It's ironic that you were at Taughannock Falls State Park--we didn't know anything about it, but the woman at the knitting shop where we stopped on Saturday mentioned it to us, but we passed on it--for want of a shoe, the horse was lost . . . Anyway, we got to Acadia tonight and are looking forward to biking on the carriage roads. Hope to catch up with you one of these days!