Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Town And Country Vacation: Part Two

Hello! Yesterday I talked about the "town" part of our recent vacation, so today I'll conclude by talking about the "country" places we visited. 

We left Pittsburgh on a Monday morning, taking State Route 28 up to I-80 in the Brookville area. Route 28 starts as a limited-access highway but eventually becomes a two-lane road. Plenty of nice scenery and a few old villages along the way, and I saw a number of small white churches that would have made for nice photo ops. I love the scenery in Pennsylvania!

Our destination was Williamsport, PA, but shortly before we got there we made our usual stop at Purity Chocolates near Allenwood. I've written about this business before. Sure, there are many chocolate shops around, but not all of them have their factory connected to the retail shop, visible to customers. 

Looks like a sports theme was going on the day we visited:

Appears to be footballs on the top rack and baseballs below them (plus there's some flat molded chocolates underneath the baseballs, but I couldn't tell what they were meant to represent). Football season will begin soon (high school football is huge in these parts), and as for the baseballs - well, the Little League World Series will also begin soon - several miles away on literally the same road. I think a chocolate baseball would be a great souvenir of a visit to the Little League World Series!

Speaking of that sporting event and of souvenirs, I did manage to combine the two during a visit to the American Rescue Workers thrift store in Williamsport: I purchased a t-shirt celebrating a local team that made it quite far in the tournament in 2011. It was a big deal at the time in the region, of course, and we were cheering for that team to go all the way, but they didn't. The t-shirt was in fine shape; looked practically brand new. I paid $3.50 for it, but I bet it had cost at least three times that much new. 

Williamsport is actually a "big city" for its region; we stay there because it has the best choices of hotels and eateries. But like every other town in the area, hills and rivers are close by. 

And we saw plenty of both during a walk along the Pine Creek Rail Trail. We first walked along this trail during a visit last summer. This year we parked at the Ross Run Access Area and walked to the village of Cammal area and back, a distance of around five miles round trip. 

Saw nice scenery, of course:

View along Pine Creek.

Cottages along the way; Pine Creek is visible in the background of the first photo:

Houses in or near the village of Cammal:

The third photo is actually of the garage belonging to the house in the middle photo. I liked the numerous birdhouses decorating the little building attached to the garage on the side. 

For years we have passed this stone house on the way to hiking trips on the nearby Black Forest Trail, and I've always liked it. It was for sale a couple of years ago and obviously someone had bought it, for a lot of work has been done recently. It appeared that new windows have been put in, and while we passed by I could see workmen fixing up the garage. I don't know the history of the house, but it must have one; this isn't a common building style in the area.

We encountered several people on bikes and one pedestrian couple. Should have taken a photo of an older couple we saw on bikes: they came pedaling up to stop at a bathroom facility along the trail and we chatted with them for a bit. Their bikes had matching baskets attached to the handles, which I learned the woman had woven herself. The design was Native American, she said. Very nice design at that - and the basket was just the right size to hold their neighbor's dog, who had happily come along for the ride. 

The day after our stint along the Pine Creek Rail Trail, we headed up to Ithaca, NY. Ithaca is a college town and so doesn't exactly have a small-town feel, but it's a bit off the beaten track, so it seems like it's out in the country. 

You can get quite a workout walking to the campus of Cornell University from downtown Ithaca - it's a steady climb up. We've all done that before, but this time just my husband did the climb while our daughter and I checked out the shops in the downtown area. 

Of course I had to visit Sew Green, a thrift store devoted solely to fabrics, trims, yarns, patterns, craft books and a few other odds and ends related to sewing. (of these categories, they have more fabric than anything else). They also offer sewing classes for all age groups.

Sew Green had expanded since my first visit there two years ago; it'd now doubled in size. I was happy to see that; more room for browsing! I bought a couple of fabric pieces that were on sale plus a pattern for making a fabric wallet. I also rifled through the "free" box and selected three pattern leaflets. 

There are a number of charming shops in downtown Ithaca but I made only one other purchase there, also at a secondhand store: Judith Fertig's Prairie Home Cooking cookbook, from the used book store Autumn Leaves. Lots of solid recipes here, including some that were new to me. For instance, did you know that you can make a flavored syrup from peach leaves? (unsprayed, of course). I had never heard of this, but Fertig says the syrup has a delicate almond flavor. 

I loved this pottery at Handwork:

The same potter also had a shelf devoted to doggy-decorated wares. I saw a lot of things in this shop that I would love to have!

Creativity abounds in Ithaca:

I'm not sure what this is called, so I'll just call it a "utility box". We saw several of these around town, each painted in a different way. 

The pedestrian mall, called Ithaca Commons, is currently undergoing some construction, so a typical wooden barrier was set up around the work zone. And probably typical of a town like Ithaca, sections of the barrier have been painted to represent various community groups and businesses. I took the picture of the artwork for Bandwagon Brew Pub because that's where we went for dinner. It's a microbrewery with a small menu; locally sourced food is a strength. 

A more crude example of artwork:

This large painted wheel was residing at the Tompkins County Workers Center, found on the second floor above Autumn Leaves. We don't know much about this center, but  we enjoy walking around in it to see what's going on with local social justice. This wheel is part of an anti-fracking organization housed at the center. I also saw  a table of fundraising items, including bumper stickers and anti-Walmart buttons. Two men were seated at a long table nearby, one giving earnest advice or expertise to the other. Basically, this is a place for the "little guy" - nice to see people looking out for workers instead of just the bottom line!

With that, I conclude the "country" portion of our vacation. I hope you enjoyed traveling along with me! We had a great time. 

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