RoadTrip Part III: Ithaca

Our two days in Ithaca were spent mainly showing John my old haunts and spending time with our good friends Joe and Leslie and their perfectly behaved two-year old Nick. They recently re-potted themselves back in Ithaca after 5 years in DC, but I met Leslie while we were in grad school at Cornell. I was more than a little envious of her new life in Ithaca. The older I get the more interested I become in living in a small town with lots of peace and quiet, a vegtable garden, and a low crime rate. Then you throw in the cultural resources of Cornell and you have one great place to live.

I showed John all of my favorite places around town and campus. (Although none of my pictures do justice to the beauty of Cornell’s campus so the one at tip is kind of lackluster.) We also spent lots of time in the Aboretum and Botanic Gardens that are part of the Cornell Plantations and made our way through the Johnson Art Museum. The Johnson has a great collection and an impressive I.M. Pei building that is perched on a hill at the corner of Cornell’s Art’s Quad. It has amazing views of Ithaca, the countryside and the bottom of Cayuga Lake, the largest (I think) of the Finger Lakes. We also had a surprisingly good lunch at the famous Moosewood Restaurant. I say surprisingly because I never really had a good experience there when I lived in Ithaca. The food was really pretty darn yummy.
One of the highlights had to be the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. Housed in a beautiful timber-framed pavilion they not only have amazing local produce for sale but lots of great prepared food as well. Cambodian, Cuban, Japanese…there was even one vendor that had a portable wood-fired pizza oven on the back of a pick-up truck.
Without necessarily meaning to, the first weekend kind of set the tone for the whole trip:
  • Lots of used book browsing and buying. Not having to pack for a flight, our turnk filled up pretty quickly with books.
  • Gardens and Nurseries. John is an avid gardener, and I don’t mind a pretty place to sit and read. The northeast has so many wonderful gardens it was like heaven on earth for John. Plus they have a had a very rainy summer so things were pretty lush pretty much everywhere we went.
  • College Campuses. You will see in future posts that we stopped at quite a few college campuses. In addtion to gardens the northeast is dotted with pretty campuses.
  • Yearning for small town life. I think we really got bitten by the small town bug on this trip. A little too young to start thinking about retirement, we nevertheless talked about wanting to end up in a quiet town or rural area somewhere in the northeast. Ithaca is probably too remote for John’s taste, but the way of life is highly appealing to both of us.
Next installment takes us to the Adirondacks.

40 by 40: The 38th Birthday Update

I turn 38 this week which means that I only have 2 years to finish my 40 by 40 list. It isn’t that big of a list so it seems like that is more than enough time to get it all done. But some of the goals are more difficult than others. In fact, most of what I have completed so far you could probably consider to be the proverbial low hanging fruit.

So, without further ado here is the update:

3. Go to my 20 year high school reunion (completed 7/28/07)
You can read about this one on an earlier post.

4. Pass the TAP Exam (completed 8/10/07)
Not only did I pass the Travel Agent Proficiency Exam, I got 98% on it. Yes, that’s right, I am going into the highly lucrative field of travel planning.

I must say that this decision hasn’t been made lightly. In addition to walking away from the golden handcuffs at my current job, I am setting aside two graduate degrees that I still haven’t finished paying for. I don’t regret going into debt for either of those degrees, they both have provided me with training and experiences that will be useful no matter what I end up doing. Plus, I loved all of the time I spent in college and grad school. I loved my four years at the University of Minnesota. Although I had real mixed feelings about my time at the University of Hawaii, it gave me the opportunity to spend two years living in a sometimes frustrating but ultimately wonderful paradise. And my two years at Cornell University were two of the best years of my life. I loved studying urban planning, I loved my classmates, I loved the campus, I loved living in a small town, and I loved being a four-hour drive from Manhattan.

Now my most recent academic credential, knocking Cornell out of the top spot, will be the Penn Foster Career School. My online travel school alma mater in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

6. Write a blog tribute to the Womenfolk (completed 6/9/07)
Not only did I manage to write this blog tribute, but as a result I’ve had the chance to talk to three of the four remaining Womenfolk. It was wonderful to be able to talk to each of them and satisfy 20 years worth of curiosity.

16. Get a letter published in the New York Times (completed 7/18/07)
Not an easy thing to do, but my strategy of being quick, concise, and on point seems to have worked.

19. Release 25 books into the wild through BookCrossing (ABANDONED 7/29/07)
If I could figure out how to do a strikethrough on this blog I would cross this one out. I thought I would love this particular challenge. The idea is that you tag books you have read with a Bookcrossing label, register them online, and then leave them somewhere for someone to find in hopes that they will pick them up, see the tag, go online to note where they found it and what they thought about the book and then release it back into “the wild” for someone else to find.

I loved the idea of people connecting through books, but the process of leaving them out in the wild gave me more stress than joy. Maybe because you don’t really get to connect with people this way, and maybe because the kinds of books I read aren’t going to find a broad audience, or maybe it is because I am sure that most if not all of the books I have left out in the wild were probably thrown away. In any case, I didn’t find anything edifying about the process and it was stressing me out. So I am abandoning this one which means at least $10 for charity when I hit 40.

20. Make pudding from scratch (completed 7/7/7)
Brown sugar pudding with a tangy whip cream. Delicious and pretty easy to do.

For the full list click here.