Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meandering

Mapping out one location to the next can sometimes be a little crazy and doesn't always work the way I envision, sometimes leaving gaps in landing places. It could have something to do with availability in the cities we are bound for, or it could be my procrastination and indecisiveness. It can be a struggle to find a place because we can’t make up our minds where we want to go next, but it all works out in the end and gives us an opportunity to see sights that would have gone unseen by us otherwise. We had five days between Toronto and Boston, five days with the open road and no agenda, nothing to do but explore and spend quality time with friends. 

Cayuga Lake
Our week of meanderings took us to the Finger Lake region of New York and then to the official “Jersey Shore,” Monmouth Beach where the “Compagno Car of Chaos” descended upon the Prince family. We left Toronto, bound for Ithaca, fairly early in the morning, hoping to avoid the mayhem of traffic at the border, but alas everyone else had the same agenda! We sat in a line of cars for close to an hour and part of it on a bridge spanning Lake Erie no less. Now I don’t know about you all, but being grid locked on a bridge sort of freaks me out; it tends to make me feel vulnerable. I don't like the lack of an escape route other than jumping to my death, maybe I am being paranoid or I have seen way too many doomsday movies, but seriously it kind of scares me.

Only thirty minutes of being petrified on a bridge before we finally approached our gate, passports handed over, we were asked a few questions and then because I had put Tom’s Global Entry pass in his passport for safe keeping, we got sent the inspection zone! Sitting in a building, wondering if they were going to inspect the car, pull out all of our strategically packed belongings and us visualizing our cargo pummeling the Customs Agent as he opened the car door, but the stars aligned and they only asked us a few questions and then cleared us for Sentri. Although looking back I feel like I was robbed of a great photo op, Customs Agent having to be rescued after bag after bag falls from the Ford Flex, arm extended, reaching for aid, between the Samsonite luggages. I should stop now before they revoke our privileges, especially since I now feel obligated to take another trek across the border in order and utilize our expedited credentials.

Swimming Hole at Robert H. Treman State Park
We landed just outside of Ithaca for two nights, ready to take on the Finger Lakes region, hikes, wine and all, and mostly just ready to move our legs after spending the majority of the day in the car. I had researched some of the pet friendly hikes and vineyards so we had a pretty good grasp on what we could and couldn't do in town, definitely more than a day and halves worth of adventures, forcing us to pick and choose our favorites. The downfall was we were constantly on the move and didn't have the pleasure of taking our time - we lost a bit of the leisure aspect of travel we both enjoy so much, but still spectacular.

Finger Lakes is surrounded by stunning waterfalls and swimming holes, we only hit three of the many that surround the area, ones that we knew where in pet friendly parks and we knew Ethel could join us. We started with the Lower Falls in Robert H. Treman State Park and I wish we would have come prepared in a bathing suit. This is an amazing little water fall that cascades right into a giant swimming hole, with a diving board and all. The place was just beckoning us to jump in, it was so hard to resist stripping down to my skivvies and not taking a dive.

Lucifer Falls
Further up the park lies the magnificent Lucifer Falls, a bit of a jaunt to get down to it, and Miss Ethel demanded to be carried for half of it, her poor little old legs! Dog in arms, we made it down to the base, in awe of the energy and yet the serenity of this fall - here lies that moment that I wish were not rushing, because this is a moment that I would have loved to of been able to bask in.  It would have been nice to sit and listen all day to the gush of water as it fell from the mountain, enjoying that wondrous mix of vitality and peace that only Mother Nature can give.


After hiking back out, we were ravenous and thought it would be best to stop for a bite of food before heading off to a wine tasting. We stopped right in the heart of Ithaca, ate some lunch and perused the streets. I was slightly disappointed since I had heard how adorable this town is, but unfortunately it was under some major construction while we were there, entire streets blocked off, masking its certain charm.

Full and ready for some vino we headed off to Six Mile Creek Vineyard for a wine tasting. Six Mile Vineyard was great, the staff was exceptionally friendly and they let Miss Ethel into the tasting room with us, even offering her own water bowl. The wines were tasty, the atmosphere excellent and the view and the grounds were gorgeous. Throughout our eight months we've been to quite a few vineyards, of course most during the off season, but it was so nice to finally see succulent grapes growing on the vines - the fruit of the nectar of which one is drinking.  The staff encouraged us to take Miss Ethel for a walk through the grounds. The landscape was stunning and a lovely way to relax. It’s nice when we can bring the critter to places like this with us. I highly recommend this place to those of you who are traveling with your dog and if not, still stop in for a tasting.

Six Mile Creek Vineyard
One last hike to snap us out of our food and wine coma, a stop at Buttermilk Falls. Again we were taunted with another swimming hole at the base as we hiked up the side to the top of the falls. Once top side and sitting in the shade, we looked out as the water rolled down the mossy rocks and into pool below, the screams of children splashing and playing in the background was surprisingly calming. Sitting for a moment, we relished the mood before heading back down the hill and into the car for a ride along Cayuga Lake.

Buttermilk Falls
The next day we were Jersey Shore bound, to stay with the Prince Family for a few days, in their beach retreat and summer escape from Brooklyn. Heather greeted us with wine, dinner, good conversation and of course lots of laughter. I was looking forward to one of my favorites, "Heather Adventures" - in which I was so spoiled with as part of our NYC jaunt! She always has a way of finding the best “off the beaten path” excursions to do and she never fails us. This time, lavender picking for all of us, so excited I could almost smell the rich scent of lavender. Now I think we all had in mind lush fields of lavender, visualizing the Provence landscape, rolling hills of incredible rich purple. Imagine our surprise when we rolled up to some ladies house; yeah we went lavender picking out of somebodies back yard! Even though it wasn't what any of us had in our mind’s eye, it was still an adventure for the books! Chickens were running amok, stories of bee swarms and the eccentric group of ladies shopping in the lavender store for pillow sprays and lotions, made it all worth the drive. Did I mention the store was the front yard, next to the badminton court?

Heather and her adorable boys
A visit to the Jersey Shore wouldn't be complete without a stop to Point Pleasant to take in all the clich├ęs that give Jersey its reputation for being a little rough around those refined edges. Point Pleasant didn't disappoint, we were surrounded by Snooki and Pauly D’s look-a-likes galore. My jaw dropped as I just sat back and watched the people walk by, surprised that it really was true, that reality television hadn't failed me and that this world truly exists; people watching at its finest!

Ethel, taking time to smell the lavender or possibly chasing a chicken
Of course being on the ocean, Tom, Ethel and I stopped over at the pet friendly Asbury Beach for a bit, to breath in some of that salt air. It is amazing what a sea breeze, the crash of the waves, and the sand between your toes can do for your center, such a calming essence, it gets me every time. It was exactly what we all needed before taking the trek the next morning for Boston.

Sunset in Jersey
Our five days in between homes was a great opportunity to catch up with friends, wonderful late nights full of reminiscing and enjoying the sights we wouldn't have had the pleasure to see otherwise. Thank you Prince Family for letting us invade your beach escape for a few days, and introducing us to new friends. We loved being able to catch up with you all and your hospitality was much appreciated! Next up Boston!!! 

The Amazing Prince Family!

4 comments:

  1. That is such a cute picture of Ethel in the lavender. Looks like you had a blast.

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    1. Lucky shot! She generally has two modes: sleeping or mach 50!

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  2. Seriously, LOVED seeing you in dirty Jers. I need Tom's Mom's {secret} meatball recipe. I promise I won't tell a soul or try to pass it off as my own. You made Jersey amazing. Cobbler for breakfast and laughs by night. I'm going to miss you.

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    1. Thank you so much for having us, it was a fabulous time! And yes, I will message you the recipe, I believe all good food should be shared! :)

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