Upstate New York

20150711_185456smFrom Conneticut, we headed north again to Up State New York on one of our many quests to see all things GREAT in our country; this time Niagra Falls!

We decided to make a stop in Ithaca, NY which sits at the bottom of the Cayuga Finger Lakes and is home to Cornell University, at the suggestion of a friend.  And that’s where we happily spent the better part of our week.

Our 100th Day on the Road!
Our 100th Day on the Road!

Getting to Ithaca was filled with our usual misadventures.  We left CT with no place in mind to stop overnight on our way there, and so yet again arrived at a state campground in somewhere NY at closing time, with no reservation.  But we’re old pros at this now, so we found a campsite that was open from the many, and parked.  A ranger stopped by later that evening to collect the outrageous fee for our one night with electric only connections ($37).  So it worked out, as it always does in one way or another.  We stayed there just one night and the kids and I explored the lake and grounds on an accidental LONG, HILLY walk/bike ride that ended and also practically began with me putting Bean’s heavy bike on top of the jogging stroller and pushing her and Jonah up and down the hills when she decided she couldn’t ride them, while wearing malfitting flip-flops.   Somehow exactly this happens to me about every day.  They lure me away from the RV with cries of, “Just look at this MOM!” and “Come over here, I want to show you something.” And before I know it, I’m miles from the RV with all 3 kids, in bad shoes (if any at all), and no food or water.  They get me every time!

We left “Somewhere NY” when Joe got off work and drove the remaining miles to Ithaca.  We had decided this was the weekend to turn Jonah’s car seat to front facing, thinking it would help him to stay entertained in the car longer if he could watch shows with the girls.  Ha!

The calm before the storm.
The calm before the storm.

We started driving and everything was going fine, but we’d gotten a later start then we wanted.  Because of this we did not beat the dreaded darkness that we try so desperately to try to evade when driving and especially parking the RV!  So night descends as we are pulling into Ithaca and still have another 20 minutes to our campground.  It’s at this time that the road starts to fog, and we start climbing the hills, on windy roads, that are poorly lit, and narrow and Jonah starts to whine.  Ya know, no big deal.  Then the fog gets really bad, meaning we have to drive really really slow and are taking longer to get there, and Jonah’s starting to amp up.  And Up. And UP!  Tick-Tock.  Family sing along of “Wheels on the Bus” (the only song that calms my crying babies in the car; all of them).  Girls fight over who gets to pick the next verse topic.  Parents yell, “Stop”!  Singing stops working.  Baby just cries.  And I pull him into my lap as soon as we enter the campground.  FINALLY!  Joe turns Jonah’s car seat back to rear facing that very same night after we take 40 mins to park the RV in the DARK.  Hello Ithaca!

20150710_121031smWe had a really sweet spot at Pine Creek Campground in Ithaca with lots of privacy and shade.  There was a pool, playground, lots of green space and best yet a fishing pond that was adorned with frogs that we would try to catch in the evenings.  As cheap as I am about camp fees, staying at a nice, roomy place makes all the difference!  ….Just got to find one that’s cheap too!

20150710_121036smIt was a super sweet few days with lots of campground walks and attempts at fishing and hunting down the many waterfalls that Ithaca has!

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We don’t usually catch much, but we sure enjoy trying….for like 10 mins, then we are board and want to RUN! Maybe that has something to do with it?

The Ithaca Farmers Market BLEW US AWAY!  I’d run across a mom going on and on about “The King of All Farmers Markets” on a website while I searched for things to do in the area.  And being the farmers market lover that I already am, that’s all I needed to hear to make sure the farmers market made our to do list.  So we all went and checked it out one afternoon.  We were intimidated just by the parking situation.  We couldn’t even SEE the farmers market from the parking spot we managed by the grace of God to fit our big dually butt into just as someone was pulling out!  Whew!   When we finally got our first glimps of it after our half mile  hike, I think I heard angels singing.  I was in a happy place for as long as I could keep my kids there without embarrassing me.  THEY HAD EVERYTHING!!!  And GOBS of it!  Good thing we came hungry!  We each got lunch from a different booth and shared family style!  After of course we had to get $1 ice cream cones and play in an old tree stump that had been turned into a playhouse while we looked out on the lake.  Sweet!!!  Oh, and not to mention I just had to buy more produce than we were able to fit into the RV!  And the hummus!  OMG THE HUMMUS!

As God as my witness, I will get more of this!!!
As God as my witness, I will get more of this!!!

My hippy self was so so happy there!  Probably my most favorite thing we did while in Ithaca.

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The place was shaped like a cross. This is just one cross arm of the market!
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They loved this; simple.
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If we lived here, this would be our Saturday every week!

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A very close 2nd Fav of ours was Joe spotting this little stream that flowed under a road near our camp. We packed up the fam and went down for a swim and it totally renewed us!

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Deeds had so much fun running free!
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Joe showed Loralai that there were minows in the water and then we found some crawfish. The kids were BUSY the entire time after that!
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“Come on Bean! Over here!”
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I love when just a little thing can make you all so happy, especially when that little thing is nature.

Our 3rd Favorite thing we did while there was go to the Science Center in Ithaca.  I had seen it while we were driving around and it looked cool.  Going was the BEST decision of my life!  Okay, maybe a little of an overstatement, but not much.

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This table was right at the front door when we walked in and was a topographical map that the kids could change by moving the sand around to create lakes, mountains, or deserts. They could make it rain by holding their hands over the map. It was such a cool teaching tool and all 3 kids loved it!
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Jonah just hangin’ with the boys. He loved this coin funnel.
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While Jonah wolfed down pretzels at the snack table, the girls made sound cones and learned that sound travels best over tight lines, wet lines. Cool!

 

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They played and played and we shut the place down! We also got our museum pass there that would get us into museums all over the country as we travel. Yay

And our 4th fav thing was done on our last day in Ithaca.  You see Ithaca has this saying, “Ithaca is Gorges”, cause it’s chalk full of gorges, and where there are gorges, there are waterfalls!  We had the town brochure that boasted 10 waterfalls in the area.  We got around to seeing 1 of them; Ithaca Falls.

20150713_185433sm The falls were beautiful, but would have been enjoyed much more if there hadn’t been a yellow caution sign at the start of the trail warning about lead poisoning from the water, and the couple playing grab ass on the rock would have been a little more discrete, and the dude who had never ever fished before hadn’t been learning to cast right in front of where my kids were sitting.   But even with all that, we had a good time.

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“Ithaca is Gorges!”

It was hard to leave Ithaca, but after 4 wonderful days there, it was time to see those Falls!  Niagara Falls that is.

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They were MASSIVE! But totally not in the way I’d been imagining. I should pay more attention while watching movies. I thought the falls would be some of tallest in the world! They were not. What was so breath-taking about them was the total volume of water that poured over them on 3 sides!
It was cool, but very crowded all around the falls!
It was cool, but very crowded all around the falls!  Must be a popular destination or something?
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We rode on the boat, The Maid of the Mist to get as close as possible to the falls. It’s a MUST DO when at the falls! We all loved it! Even Bean, who hates getting wet!
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Rainbow! and Sisters!

We did pop over on rainbow bridge and drive into Canada for a bit.  We parked for $18 and got this shot of the falls from the Canadian side.

20150716_125634smEveryone says the falls are so much prettier from this side, but I wasn’t that impressed.  The CA side seems super commercialized with stuff like Rainforest Café, and water parks, and Malls, and Ripley’s right over the boarder.  The major viewing place to see the falls was right outside the mall.  I mean, I totally could have been doing the whole thing wrong, as doing things for the first time that is usually the case, but I just didn’t see the appeal.  Where as the US side had FREE parking, an overlook that stretched way over the river below to get pics of the falls and was lined with state park after state park along the river.

While in the Niagara area we stayed at Four Mile Creek State Park on the shores of Lake Ontario.  It was one of our favorite camping spots so far!  Huge spaces and GREEN!  And as we pulled into our spot, two sisters, about our girls ages stood on their scooters at their spot directly across from ours and watched us park.  It didn’t take our girls long to spot them and demand out of the truck and 5 mins later, this was happening…

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I think they are making mermaids out of clay, all orchestrated by Lou including finding everyone a smock to wear.

So definitely one of the best things that can happen to you while traveling is for you to find friends for your kids to paly with!  But even better than that (and we are talking white buffalo rare here) is when the kid’s parents are awesome and fun to hang out with too!

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Very intense game of “Spa” going on here.
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Me and Leah.
Eric and Joe.
Eric and Joe.

They had us at “We raised our own pig to eat.”

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Rock collecting, that quickly led to…

 

swimming in Lake Ontario.
swimming in Lake Ontario.

This was a very cool week.  We left with mad respect for Upstate New York, our first trip to Canada story (not that interesting, but still), and some new friends to visit in PA!

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Our amazing spot at Four Mile Creek State Park.

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