Jenni went to Cornell University for undergrad and Ithaca is a lovely town in upstate New York, so we figured this would be a nice place to spend our one-year anniversary. By coincidence, it was also Homecoming Weekend.
September 21, 2013 (Saturday) – Armed with Dunkin Donuts coffee we set off for Ithaca. The leaves have begun to change but the colors are not yet in full effect. We arrived around 1 pm and checked into a nice room at the Statler with a view over the clock tower and hills.
You may know that Cornell has a hotel school of world-renown. The Statler functions as both an upscale lodging property and training grounds for some of these students.
Alumni and students were swarming and we were glad to be rid of Sven for the day. We picked up tickets and Jenni received the alum gift of a wine glass contraption that excited her.
Outside the stadium was a large paved area with lots of sections and tents for various schools (i.e. law, business, liberal arts, etc.). We bought wine in the drink section near a food station serving Dinosaur BBQ before realizing we would get six drink tickets and free food at the arts and science tent. The BBQ pulled chicken with coleslaw on a roll was surprisingly good.
It began to rain and we headed into the stadium to watch Big Red take on Bucknell. Is there a more laughable mascot than Big Red?! Both of my mom’s parents and my wife (i.e. nearly my three favorite people in the world) attended Cornell University, but c’mon. Worse still were all the attendees who with their existing or impending Ivy League degrees could not figure out that using an umbrella inside a stadium might obstruct views and lead to rain pouring in unnatural ways onto others. Seeing Jenni so happy to be back made this but a minor inconvenience.
We tore ourselves away from this world-class sporting event as College Town Bagels (aka CTB) beckoned. I do not know if all Cornellians feel the same way, but if you asked Jenni to encapsulate her college experience in one phrase, it would likely be CTB. Were she forced to choose between me and CTB, well…Given that it was really pouring by now and homecoming weekend, I was surprised to find CTB merely crowded and not a madhouse.
We split the Vegetarian from a massive selection of bagel sandwiches and related items. It consists of veggie cream cheese, tomato and melted Muenster cheese served open face on your choice of bagel. Which for me was the rosemary salt bagel, a superb selection, indeed. With the obligatory pitcher of sangria we snagged a picnic table under cover before moving inside.
I do not feel old, but I did make a mental note that since the newly arrived freshman are in the class of 2017, I graduated college when they were born. Unfazed, we walked over to see Jenni’s sophomore year house and I insisted we try to enter. We disclosed to the group of guys living there now that we are from Los Angeles and one had a Dodgers shirt on but I said I was not that into baseball. He replied that this was now the baseball house. The bookshelf filled with dip cans should have tipped me off.
Next we walked to Jenni’s senior year apartment and entered a random unit with youngins preparing for a centennial Tri-Delt formal party. Everyone was pretty friendly and respectful of this aged writer.
With the old palaces and castles segment of the walking tour complete, we hit the dive bar Dunbar’s for an $11 pitcher of Shock Top. We struck up conversation with a few other patrons when I offered them some of our beer. This is often an effective method. Apparently Rulloff’s is a better option for later in the evening. Instead, as Dunbar’s emptied out, Jenni got some pad thai from the Asian Noodle House (not near as good as she remembered) and I hit CTB for the second time. Partly to honor my grandparents who went to Cornell and lived in Queens for 60 years, I ordered the…Queens. Which is a bagel with egg salad, tomato and bacon. The Vegetarian is better, but it was still good.
September 22, 2013 (Sunday) – Today was our one-year anniversary! We agreed that we are in a much different place physically and spiritually than we would have guessed on our wedding day. A stroll downhill took us to Carriage House Café for brunch. Jenni raves about the brie-stuffed French toast here maybe even more than about CTB. But let’s be clear, I am not contradicting my earlier statements. This is but one dish, whereas CTB is a way of life. Initially told the wait would be an hour, Jenni advertised our anniversary and 15 minutes later we were lounging on a couch perusing the menu.
The French toast with berry coulis is very good, but the hype was a tad too much for me to overcome. We were denied mimosas by the antiquated law forbidding alcohol service before noon on Sunday.
The up hill walk burned off a quarter nibble and we heard Coldplay emanating from the clock tower. It drizzled on us a bit but cleared up and we walked all over the attractive campus. Check out the neat permaculture exhibit/bench below.
In the afternoon we picked up Sven, cruised by the impressive Greek houses and parked down in town. We saw that Michael Franti was playing at the State Theater tonight, and two minutes later we saw Michael Franti standing on the corner. We walked up and down the Commons which had the entire middle area torn up for construction. There are lots of shops and some bars and restaurants. We went into a used bookstore and I miraculously resisted adding a Biggie book to our storage locker.
I confirmed that boba (aka bubble) tea and Thai food are everywhere before heading back to the hotel to watch the end of the Giants’ weekly embarrassment. We headed downstairs for a cocktail in the bar lounge before our 6:30 pm anniversary dinner at Taverna Banfi.
The charcuterie plate was very good, though it needed a little more cheese to balance out the meats. We also split a seared feta grapefruit salad and Jenni got the cavatelli Bolognese. My duck was outstanding, with a maple parsnip puree and brussels sprouts alongside. They started us with free glasses of champagne for our anniversary and the bottle of 2009 Foxen pinot noir we had was outright wonderful and an even better value. A successful anniversary!
September 23, 2013 (Monday) – One more stop at CTB and we departed for Burlington, Vermont to visit my Dad and Linda. Throughout this bucolic area we saw many farms, rivers, wildflowers and signs for maple syrup soft serve. The town of Greene, New York looked nice, as did the Sherwood Inn. There are towns here with a divided Main Street with cars parked head-on at angles in the middle. We noticed statues of union soldiers and crossed the Chenango River.
We drove up the western side of Lake George which is a popular resort area. This brought us back to the land of painfully slow speed limits and above-ground pools. In Crown Point we visited Gunnison Lakeshore Orchards and got a fancy (as opposed to utility) half peck of apples for $8 shortly before crossing the bridge to Vermont.