Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter in upstate NY and a very special meeting

After spending a day with my parents in New York City, Florian and I planned to go up to Ithaca to spend a couple of days hiking, camping in the van, checking out the groovy town, and visiting a couple of friends. 

Do we love the cold? Do we crave discomfort? No! Decidedly not, on both counts. I suppose you would say that we enjoy adventure though, and we like seeing new things, and we like going dog-friendly places, so that was enough for us to plan this bizarre venture.

We got there in the evening, early enough to check out the hippie stores in the tiny town in the valley below Cornell University. A nice pedestrian mall, very quiet as of course the students were on break.

Ithaca is famous for its waterfalls, so we wanted to at least check out what might be out there on our first night. We found Ithaca Falls easily enough, and though we couldn't see much in the dark we took the dogs for a nice walk along the stream and resolved to come back the next day. Then, after stopping at the natural grocery for some snacks, off to a suitable place to park for the night. 

The overlook to Taughannock Falls, in the State Park, seemed an agreeable enough place, but not to the officer who asked us to leave at 2:30 in the morning. Fair enough; the city park was a better place to stay anyway.

We woke up to falling snow, which probably kept the van warmer than it would have been. "Woke up" may be putting it generously, as the only sleep I think I got was one of those weird lucid dream/trance-like states for a while before the officer made us leave the overlook, where I envisioned someone wanted to kill us as we slept. Relaxing! 

The city park was a nice, open place for the dogs to run around a bit.

Our first trip for the day was back to Ithaca Falls, which were as stunning as they seemed in the dark. 

There is a little trail up to the falls, and some incredible houses perched at the top.

What a view to enjoy with your morning toast. I'm not sure how well I'd digest, but it is very beautiful. 

That was a very short trail, though nicely accessible right from the center of town. 

Many of the longer ones were closed for the winter, 

so to find a good walk to go on, I was glad we had a local contact.

You already know this is if you have been more up-to-date with your blogging than I have, but we got to meet the one, the only, Pamela, Honey and Mike from Something Wagging This Way Comes! 

Honey is just as you would think from her online persona: sweet, beautiful, loving, and good-hearted. 

Fozzie made a bit of a fuss upon meeting Honey, as expected, but settled down quickly as we started walking. 

Pam, hubby Mike, and Honey took us on a gorgeous walk up above one of the falls, then back down to their house next to Ithaca Falls. Pam and I, and Mike and Florian, talked a blue streak. What joy to meet a fellow blogger and finally get to talk about all the things we'd thus far only communicated through blog comments! 

Amazing the insights that come through that kind of conversation. It never really hit me so forcefully, but Fozzie could just do without other dogs. He tolerates the foster dogs, is usually OK when allowed to wag and sniff leashed dogs, and I had always thought that his leash reactivity was excitement and desire to meet. 

But Pam simply said to me, apropos of dogs in general, Some dogs just don't like other dogs, and it really hit home. All of this canine social time is not that easy for Fozzie, and he would clearly rather just be left to cuddle with the humans. He wags and sniffs when allowed to meet, but his body is still pretty stiff. He can enjoy a good run with a compatible foster dog, but doesn't seek out these sessions. 

So the pressure's off Fozzie. Yes we'll have to see other dogs on our walks, and I'll have to foster more little demons, and when we know the dog is a sweetie like Honey I may ask you to walk beside her for a while. But I'll try to be more understanding of the fact that others of your own species make you uncomfortable, and not require you to ever change that perspective.

So much easier to just hang out with sympathetic humans, isn't it Fozzie?

In addition to the life-changing insights, Pam gave us some of her very nearly life-changing vegan banana bread (made with tofu--I never would have thought of that), 

and Fozzie settled in for a good rest after all that exertion and social pressure. 

Honey seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing.  

What a good girl, and so understanding of a strange dog's needs.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we were ready to head out on another hike. 

We found the Six Mike Creek Gorge Trail after a short, harrowing drive in the soccer mom van along the icy, hilly, windy roads of Ithaca.

The trail is mercifully flat, and apparently covered with wildflowers in the spring and summer.  

Like seemingly every trail in Ithaca, it goes along a creek and ends at a waterfall.  It was still snowing, and the trees were coated in snow. 

It was very magical and silent

We knew it would be cold in Ithaca, but I don't think we were expecting more than a foot of snow. Such things are hard to imagine when you are hiking in sunny, 55-degree weather just 8 hours south. 

On our second morning, we opened the doors of the van to find that it was no longer snowing but there was a thick layer of ice on the outside of the van, and frost inside on all the windows. No wonder we'd been shivering in our "40-below" sleeping bags!

The dogs seemed toasty enough, though I was very glad that we'd brought the flannel-lined, waterproof, reflective dog jacket we found in the Petsmart dumpster for Fozzie. He seemed to love it too. Pitties aren't made for this sort of cold stuff!

This trip was well worth the incredible scenery, the delightful company and conversation with new friends, and the adventure. But I am willing to entertain the idea that motels can be a reasonable, convenient and fun part of our travel plans, especially the next time we decide to go to upstate NY in the winter!

Think we can convince Florian and the dogs?


  1. What a great post! I think I enjoyed it almost as much as all of you enjoyed your trip! Outdoor adventures are our thing and it sure looks like a place we'd enjoy visiting.

    Have you ever looked into staying in a cabin at a state park? They are dog friendly, we've done it a few times. The price is reasonable and much, much more enjoyable than a hotel.

    1. That is a great idea! I think all the cabins were closed in the Ithaca State parks, but on future vacations I think we should definitely check that out.

  2. Loved hearing about the rest of your visit. But I feel terrible about the cold stay in the van. I somehow assumed that you knew just how cold it would be and just burned at a higher temp than I do. I hope it doesn't keep you from planning another visit to Ithaca--perhaps when the sun is out.

    I never got a chance to tell you how sweet Fozzie was in the house. He came into the kitchen to see what I was up to and to solicit some lovies. He's definitely a people puppy.

    I'm glad you included us in your adventure.

    1. Don't worry too much about us Pam! We really had a nice time despite the sleeping arrangements, which all added to the adventure. We were fortified by our lovely visit with you guys.

  3. It looks so beautiful, and I can tell the pups really enjoyed it too. Can you believe out here in Chicago we have not had an inch of snow yet? I'm kind of enjoying it because snow in the city brings all kinds of nasty things...but seeing your photos and how beautiful snow can be does make me a bit wistful.

    1. Yes, it was beautiful for sure! Not sure if we'll see any in DC either this year, but I'm glad we had a good dose of it in Ithaca.

  4. I've heard so many lovely things about Ithaca and you are really making me want to visit myself one day. The scenery is gorgeous, even in the winter. I am very jealous you got to meet Honey in person! Thanks for sharing all the photos of your trip! You are very brave to spend the night in the van!

    1. Brave--maybe, but more likely just foolish! It was well worth the visit just to meet Honey and her people but the town is lovely too.

  5. How beautiful!! Is the Moosewood restaurant still in Ithica? Their cookbook got me through my 20's!!

    1. Yes it is! We saw it but opted for a fun Mexican restaurant instead...I have the cookbook too and it was a staple in the co-op I lived in in my 20s too...:)

  6. So beautiful! and how wonderful you got to meet a new/old friend.

  7. Lovely post, photos and snow! Your adventures are getting me out and about more myself...interesting what someone else may see in our dog(s) we don't or are overlooking. One reason I enjoy volunteers.
    While I love snow, I opt for the warm cabins or a motel...not a camper person :(. Kudos to you!
    Fozzie looks like he's really having a good time - and what a lovely find with the jacket.

  8. Those pictures look so amazing and so cold! Like a winter wonderland:)

  9. Wow, how beautiful. Now that's a winter adventure
    Benny & Lily

  10. Those are fantastic pictures! I've never been to Ithaca, and I probably wouldn't choose to go there in the winter, myself. I'm lazy, and the cold/snow/ice makes me just miserable. It's a shame I can't hibernate, really ;)

    How neat that you got to spend time with Pamela, Honey, et al! I'm a little suspicious of the vegan banana bread, I confess, but I know little about using tofu in that capacity.

  11. Holey moley! Y'all have been havin some wild times! Good times! Thank you for sharin them and your fantastic photos of your experiences! :D

    Waggin at ya,

  12. It sounds like the perfect trip to me! I love to go on adventures, but have not had the opportunity to take any in years. Thank you for letting me enjoy yours :)

  13. Our Annie is much like your Fozzie. She tolerates other dogs to a certain point, but even then, everything is on her terms. Ah well, I would probably be the same way if I were her. I can't believe that you found his coat in the dumpster; YAY! It looks really good on him.


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