October 12 -15
As rain was in the forecast the next day and we’d had our good bike ride, we decided to drive up to Taughannock Falls State Park and perhaps get in a short hike there. This 750-acre park features Taughannock Falls, a 215-foot plunge waterfall that is the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, making it 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls. It is located along Taughannock Creek which flows through a long gorge with cliffs up to 400 feet high.
The waterfall and gorge comprise an example of a hanging valley, formed where Taughannock Creek’s stream-carved valley meets the deeper glacially carved valley that contains Cayuga Lake. The gorge has continued to retreat westward from Cayuga Lake as easily eroded shale near the fall’s base is worn away by the stream, which supports erosion-resistant siltstone and sandstone found in the upper portions of the gorge. Annual freeze and thaw cycles also act upon small faults in the rock, causing large sections to occasionally break away, further expanding the gorge.
We parked in the lot at the Visitor’s Center and joined other folks at the lookout point nearby, as we have done at some many similar settings. We fell into a conversation with a local couple, a common occurrence at places like this when almost everyone is from somewhere else. We mentioned the large number of wineries in the area and the wife commented that she didn’t know about them as she can’t or doesn’t drink. So much for personal recommendations.
We then set out on the North Rim Trail, an easy fairly level path that skimmed the edge of the gorge and ended about 1.5 miles at a bridge behind the falls that would lead out to the Black Diamond Trail. We turned around and on the way back paused at a lookout spot to get a closer view of the falls before eventually returning to the car and the drive back to town.
Our timing was good as light rain began to fall when we pulled into the parking lot at the Regal Ithaca Mall, a large complex that appeared to be limping along on its last legs, as so many of the large malls are doing here and around the world. Undaunted, we now spent the next 2.5 hours watching the latest Bond Movie, the last in the series to star Daniel Craig. We will miss his interpretation of the role, as I feel it came closest to mimicking the original personification of Bond.
We would finish up our stay in Ithaca with the anticipated visit to Ithaca Beer Company. The brewery was founded in 1998 by owner Dan Mitchell and to this day remains a family run operation with a state-of-the-art 50bbl brew system which produces about 20,000 barrels of beer per year. The main parking lot was crowded when we arrived and so we parked in an adjacent dirt lot (glad to be in the Highlander with decent ground clearance).
I walked into the tap room by myself as Joanna had to stay in the car to finish a phone call, so I dutifully ordered a beer for each of us (Apricot Wheat for Joanna and a Lakeside Lager for me) to quench our thirst while we waited for a table to open.
About the time I was seated, Joanna arrived and we placed and order for a Cheddar Ale Soup (made with the Flour Power IPA and aged Cheddar Cheese), to start and then the Cool Dress Salad (chopped egg, bacon, celery, green onion, romaine, field greens, kale, and creamy dill dressing) and a New York State Grilled Cheese (Aged Cheddar on Buttered Sourdough) to split.
Glasses drained by now, we finished with a Chai Pumpkin for Joanna and a Cryo-Haze IPA for me. The food was pretty good, the sourdough providing a distinct tang against the sharp cheddar cheese and the salad an interesting mix of healthy and unhealthy ingredients. We settled up the tab at $53 (not including the tip) and returned to the house for one more evening before heading off to Cooperstown.
A short drive the next day meant we could leave later in the morning and stop in at the Farmers Market we’d heard about and ridden through earlier in the stay. The heavens opened up as we loaded the car, and it was all we could do to try and stay dry as we hastily arranged things inside and then set off for the market.
Originally opened in 1973 as a venue for local growers, craftspeople, and food vendors to sell their goods, the market has moved five times before settling in its current location. It was pouring down rain when we arrived, to park in the dirt lot, just fitting the car into a tight space that was a little troubling as it left the bikes exposed at the back of the car, the rack they are mounted on jutting out into the lane.
But the place was jumping and with the rain coming down in buckets, we figured we’d risk someone running into them versus getting really, really wet. We hustled to the market, which is a long aisle connected to two smaller side aisles, filled with stall after stall of good-looking things to buy. We started off down one end of the long aisle looking for coffee and marveling at all of the products offered.
We found a coffee stand and while waiting to order, we spotted a stall at the very end of the aisle promoting a Breakfast Pita. As we’d planned on grabbing a bite here how could we say no? And were we glad we didn’t resist. Imagine a two-egg omelet with spinach, feta cheese, caramelized onions, and tomato wrapped a freshly made warm pita. Sounds crazy but it was good. We found a place to sit down, a wooden ledge in one of the side aisles, and perched upon it, we drank our coffee and quickly demolished that concoction. We likely will never see the likes of it again, but like many things on a journey like this, it is often the stuff you know you will never see again that leaves you with the biggest impression.
Taughannock Falls State Park: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/taughannockfalls
Ithaca Beer Company: https://www.ithacabeer.com/homepage
Ithaca Farmers Market: https://ithacamarket.com/