Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Tour to New England - Days One and Two

Some of my favorite memories from when I was a kid, include the times the family gathered around the slide projector for a travelogue presentation after my grandparents or an aunt or uncle returned from a vacation.  My father was especially great when it came to putting together a great slide presentation.  He would carefully organize the slides before the family would gather, popcorn would be popped before the lights were turned out, then we would all be in for a treat as he recounted the latest vacation adventures to those who had gathered.  He was witty, funny, and added a lot of historical information about the places that had been visited.  
Now, families no longer live nearby other family members.  We share our trip photos on facebook, or we recount our adventures on a blog.  So, in the spirit of an old fashioned slide show presentation to family, I will be sharing the vacation that my husband and I took throughout New England via my blog.  

* See source

Planning the Trip

Spontaneity is my preferred mode of attack when it comes to living life.  I think this is because planning for future events is just not an easy thing for me to do.  Once I get my mind set on making a plan, I can usually create a good one that I can follow, but when it comes to planning a trip, I really have a difficult time deciding exactly where I want to go, what I want to see, and where I want to spend the most time.  I guess if I had it my way, my husband and I would get in a car and start driving and see where we end up.

Thankfully, my husband wants a detailed itinerary in place before we take off on a trip that will span two weeks.  Also, thankfully, he does most of the legwork, research, and advanced reservations before we take off into the unknown.  He's good at that.  I'm not.  All he requires from me is a general area of where I want to visit with a few specific spots I don't want to miss.

When it came to time to get serious about the planning, we started at Triple A, my least favorite thing to do.  I generally find their trip picks hard to follow and have found them to be misleading at times, but it is a good place to start.  Then, we found a few big maps of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  I love this part.  I love looking at maps and trying to find a route that looks interesting, but I also find it a bit overwhelming when I look at maps of areas where I have never been before.

We also skyped with my friend, Dove, who lives in Vermont about just about everything we needed to know about flying into and seeing her part of the world.  Thankfully, she and her husband gave us great advice.

As we planned for our trip, we decided there were certain goals we wanted to make sure we accomplished:

  • Visit Ithaca, New York.  My husband had been there a few years back and he loved the area and wanted to make sure I saw not only Ithaca, but also Cornell University.
  • Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
  • Spend time in Vermont with our dear friend from high school days, Dove, and her husband, David.  Dove introduced me to my husband when I was only sixteen years old.  You can read a little about Dove here.  Our friendship spans 50 years.  She is a dear, dear friend. 
  • We wanted to see autumn color.  We knew we were visiting before the peak season, but we decided the timing of our visit worked best for us.
  • We wanted to stay in some bed and breakfasts along the way.
  • We wanted to have some good quality family time with my son, his wife, and my grandson who live in the Boston area. 

All of these goals were all accomplished with the trip.

Ithaca, New York

After an exhausting initial day of travel, one where we left Denver at midnight on Sunday, September 18, we arrived in Syracuse, New York in mid-afternoon.  We had a very long layover in JFK.  I think we learned our lesson.  DO NOT, if possible, include a layover in any travel itinerary.  The redeye would not have been so bad if we had flown directly to Syracuse.

We then rented a car in Syracuse and drove to Ithaca.  We reached our bed and breakfast about 5:00 in the evening.  Our vacation had officially begun, and we were very excited.  I gushed over our first bed and breakfast when we drove up.  I loved it on first sight!  My husband had done an awesome job when he found this place on the internet.

Don't you just love this place?  The name of the inn is The Hound & Hare.  If you are ever in the Ithaca area, I recommend you plan on staying in this delightful place.  Situated in Cayuga Heights, a beautiful, wooded and secluded area of Ithaca, very near Cornell University, this B&B had great charm, class, and provided us with the perfect quiet, warm, inviting, and charming place to rest after our long day of travel.  We basically had the run of the place.  We came on the day after homecoming weekend at Cornell, so all the guests for that weekend had gone home by Sunday night.  This meant we could relax without having to visit and interact with other guests.  (We are social people, but we were very tired!)

After we stopped oohing and ahhing over the outside of the house, Jim looked at the email from the innkeeper and read that the key, room assignment, and instructions would be left in a basket on the front door.

We walked in and found this beautiful living area.  Later that evening, I found my husband dozing in one of these chairs.  He didn't take long making himself at home.

Our room, on the second floor, was called The Victoria.  I've included a photo from the website for the bed and breakfast since we forgot to take a photo.  I must say that this room was just perfect for us.  I slept like a baby in its comfy bed.  The bed, the pillows, and the comforter were just perfect.  I literally sank into bed and fell asleep.

Later, I learned that our charming innkeeper was born in this very bedroom!

In the morning, we went downstairs to have a wonderfully prepared breakfast served in great style.

I loved the Franciscan Desert Rose pattern dishes!

Since we were just a little early for breakfast, we were able to take some time to tour the backyard of The Hound & Hare.  A beautiful side patio is shown below.  I took the photo of this patio from the deck just off the dining room.  I couldn't help but think how fun it would be to have a party on that patio.

Below, is the view of the backyard as viewed from the back of deck off of the dining room.  A path next to a nice herb garden can be seen.

This photo shows the back of the house, the deck, the patio, and a part of the herb garden.  The entire property was enclosed by very tall trees.  This added to peaceful, secluded aspect of this wonderful bed and breakfast.

Meet Zeta Sprole, the charming innkeeper of The Hound & Hare.  I truly enjoyed visiting with her.  She was trained as an engineer at Cornell.  She then married a military man and raised a large family.  Eventually, she returned to her childhood home and opened it up as a bed and breakfast after her husband passed away.

Her life is never dull these days.  She has had many visiting professors, alumni of Cornell and even a U. S. Supreme Court justice stay at her inn.

We toured the rest of The Hound & Hare and found every room to be unique and special.  You can take your own tour by clicking on this link.  Each of the four bedrooms is named for one of her daughters.  Evidently, she ran out of bedrooms before she ran out of daughter's names.  She has five daughters.  This gave me another reason to respect her greatly.  I have three daughters, so I can only imagine what it must be like to have five!

Unfortunately, we only planned to spend a late afternoon, evening, one night, and a morning in Ithaca.  We hated to leave this wonderful bed and breakfast in a town I wished I could spend more time exploring.  We only had time for a quick drive through Cornell.  We also ate dinner on the night we arrived in Ithaca at a fabulous Mexican food restaurant called Viva Taqueria.  My sister said we "cracked her up" because we went to New York and picked a Mexican food restaurant for dinner.  Hey, we love Mexican food.  I would go back to this place any time I could.  It was great.

On the day we left Ithaca, we took some time to visit Buttermilk Falls.  Buttermilk Creek flows toward Cayuga Lake and becomes a waterfall as it cascades towards its destination.  The Falls are a part of a much larger park that includes hiking trails, a smaller lake, and even playing fields.

No vacation plan is perfect.  We certainly found that our plan would have been tweaked if we had it all to do over again.  We would have spent more time exploring Ithaca, Cornell, Buttermilk Falls, and we would have spent more time visiting with Zeta at The Hound & Hare.  Maybe we can go back again someday.  We had to leave this beautiful place and more on to our next stop:  Cooperstown.

*Photo from: