Ithaca, New York – Hippies, Gorges, & Dead Groundhog

It’s a little after 11PM on a Sunday night, we just got back from Ithaca, New York.  If you don’t plan on attending Ithaca College or Cornell University, you’ll probably never end up in this neck of the woods.  It would be a shame if you never got to see Ithaca, it’s in a beautiful setting with ubiquitous waterfalls and gorges, but what I really love about the town is it’s absolute devotion to being a far left, tree-hugging, grass-smoking, oasis for hippies, liberals, and intellectuals.  Residents preach composting, bongs are in plain sight in the front window of many retailers, recycling bins outnumber trash cans, and a strong micro economy built around local farms, co-ops, and even it’s own currency (see Ithaca Hours).  It’s a town trying really hard to achieve utopia, but ends up settling for a beer instead.  It does a better job of being Woodstock, than Woodstock, seeing both, I’d take Ithaca any day.

Here are some of the highlights from our visit to Ithaca:

Ithaca Farmer’s Market – An open air market housed in a big wooden pavilion.  The sun shines through the rafters and hits the tomatoes, peppers, corn, and blueberries, making every vendor’s offering look like a perfect photo opportunity.  The smells really bring the place to life, not just the fresh fruit and vegetables, but bakers making fresh crepes, pies, and breakfast burritos, really have the place attacking all your senses.  A couple farmers were selling their own wines, I sampled several varieties and ended up bringing three different bottles of blueberry wine home with me. 

In the Farmer’s Market (Jack, me with my new Che wearing Che shirt, and Winston with the hat he picked out from Old Navy)

Sun coming up, shining on the fresh veggies!

This is what it’s all about.

Buttermilk Falls – There’s a bunch of breathtaking waterfalls and gorges in Ithaca, all of them bring a unique experience.  Most of them are accompanied by a well carved out trail complete with hundreds of steps carved from the stone next to the falls, allowing you to appreciate them from every angle.  At the base of most waterfalls, they have a deep swimming area to cool off in, even in the height of August, the water was at a chilly 63 degrees.  We had to drag Winston out once he started shivering. 

Two natural beauties!  Jack & Buttermilk Falls

The Che shirt is working with the babes!

The Town – It was Jaclyn’s brother’s birthday so it was celebration time.  We ended up at a tapas joint (Just a Taste).  One of the best reasons to go to Just a Taste is their flights of wine.  What is a flight of wine you ask?  Well, it’s a sampling of six different wines in a category, for example they offered an Italian flight of wines where you get to try 6 different Italian wines.  People were trying white wine flights, local flights, and red flights, I just grabbed a whole bottle of local Riesling and got a healthy buzz.  I think we ordered close to 20 items, they were all meant to be shared and they tasted wonderful, I think this is a must do if you make your way up to Ithaca. 

Laurie (Jack’s sister) is on the right and her wingwoman Meghan on the left, sampling one of the many platters at Just a Taste

Jack’s brother Matt, wife Shanna, and their gorgeous baby girl Iona at Just a Taste.

On Sunday, I was craving a burger and ended up at a place called Mustard.  The burger was juicy, made from fresh ground beef, and the fries came with a great mustard sauce.  I give this place a thumbs up too, but it seemed to lack the festive atmosphere of Just a Taste. 

Jaclyn trying to seduce me in front of Mustard

Ithaca Beer Company (Apricot Wheat) – One of the best beers I’ve ever had.  Smooth, flavorful, and a pleasant after taste, it’s like a Lay’s Potato Chip, you can’t have just one. 

Some Side Notes:
We found this groundhog in a doorway, some people think it’s Gus the second most famous groundhog of Pennsylvania.  We concluded that he was hit by a car moments earlier and spent his last moments alive tucked away on this doorstep.  Matt notified the police who were later seen with a noose like device headed in the direction of the groundhog.  Not sure if it was related, but we later heard firetrucks too. 

I have heard several students mention the high suicide rate at Cornell University.  I think this generally comes from the access to high ledges along the gorges and the tremendous pressure they put on themselves to succeed at a level of excellence.  Dr. Morton Silverman (Director of University of Chicago’s Student Counseling & Resource Services) conducted a study to determine suicide rates at different universities.  Cornell was at 4.3 suicides per 100,000 student years (below the national average) vs. MIT’s 14.6 suicides per 100,000 student years.  Cornell is an elite school in a magnificent setting, the suicide thing doesn’t happen as much as people think (thank god!).

Let’s end this on a positive note!

An example of the amazing gorges, I’m taking this picture from a bridge looking straight down (I’m guessing I am 150 feet up).

We attempted to take a family picture with the auto timer feature on the camera, Matt and Shanna’s dog Ernie wanted to be in the picture too (he totally photobombed us!)

Thank you Matt, Shanna, and Iona for a lovely weekend in Ithaca, it was a great vacation with family.  Love you all!  Go Ithaca!

101 thoughts on “Ithaca, New York – Hippies, Gorges, & Dead Groundhog

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