Thursday, October 13, 2016

Let's Go East: A Short Trip To PA And NY

Hello! Took a short but sweet trip out east for a long weekend. Williamsport, PA was our base, but we also visited a few other places. 

But before we reached Williamsport, we stopped at the nearby Purity Candy Company. I got my obligatory behind-the-scenes pic of chocolate crafting:

Looks like the folks at Purity are getting ready for Thanksgiving! To the left are a pair of milk chocolate turkeys. They would look pretty good-sized if not for being dwarfed by the dark chocolate mega gobbler to the right. I think he weighs in at five pounds. Every fall we're at Purity, I get a kick out of seeing these big boys. 

Penny pinchers' hint: there's a "bargain corner" near the register, with baskets of "seconds" in it. I plucked a bag of milk chocolate-dipped pretzels, while my husband bought a bag of dark chocolates with various fillings, mostly vanilla creams. There's nothing wrong with the taste of these goodies, they are just a bit irregular. 

I regret to say I took no other photos around Williamsport - it was chilly and drizzly the day we arrived, and we weren't around much the next day. So I'll have to just describe what we did and saw.

We stayed at the downtown Hampton Inn. From there, we walked to The Stone House for dinner. Had a decent wood-fired oven pizza. After dinner we walked along the Susquehanna River Trail.

The next day posed a bit of a dilemma. I wanted to drive around in the countryside to view the glories of fall color massed on the hillsides and to view the many quaint small towns in the region. My husband wanted to drive up to Ithaca, some two hours to the north. So we compromised: instead of taking the limited access US 15, we drove on some back roads up to Ithaca instead. Somewhat to my husband's surprise, the alternate route didn't take any more time. (and to be fair to US 15, the scenery along that route is really nice too. However, as with any limited access road, you're more removed from the countryside and the towns).

It had turned quite chilly in Ithaca, so it really felt like fall that day! Nevertheless, we had a good time. Ithaca is home to Cornell College, and thus has a freewheeling sort of college town vibe that we like. 

These two photos are from the crazy quilt-like community bulletin board inside the DeWitt Mall, an old school building turned mini mall. The first photo has an ad for hula dance lessons, while the second photo shows info on a soapmaking class. There's a lot going on in Ithaca, it seems.

Alas, it was a Sunday, so some of the shops in the mall were closed for the day. No browsing for antiques at Pastimes and no checking out used books at The Bookery. But the co-op bookstore Buffalo Street Books was open, as was a branch of GreenStar food co-op. And if I'd been hungry, I could have eaten at the nationally-known Moosewood restaurant. 

After looking around in DeWitt Mall it was time to head over to Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian shopping area. It was nice to see that the construction that had been going there for seemingly forever (or at least two years) is finally over. No more concrete construction barriers and torn-up sidewalks. 

Ithaca Commons, now open for strolling again. There are a lot of cool businesses located here, ranging from outdoorsy stuff, eco-friendly wares, fair trade, art galleries, restaurants and more. But since I had slept poorly the night before - and since it would be my turn to drive the two-hour return trip to Williamsport - I didn't have a lot of energy to shop. So instead, I happily browsed the big selection of used books at Autumn Leaves, and came out of the store with a couple.

Dinner was close by, at the Bandwagon Brew Pub. My husband always looks forward to the Cajun-influenced shrimp and andouille sausage served over a cornmeal waffle. (I asked them for the recipe but they refused to give it to me). He got some of their brews too. Being the designated driver, I had to settle for some coffee. I enjoyed my burger though. 

 The next day was sunny and pleasant, so we drove up to the Pine Creek Rail Trail and walked around four miles. I neglected to take some photos, thinking I'd already shown off some fall photos in a previous blog post. I couldn't find these, so to refresh your memory I'll show off some pics from a summer visit a few years back. The views hadn't changed, only the fall color is missing! 

Summer or fall, the Pine Creek Rail Trail is always pretty!

From the rail trail, we began the drive west toward home, stopping in DuBois for the night. This was a short trip but we still enjoyed the scenery along the way. Even driving on I-80 is enjoyable in Pennsylvania. 

DuBois is a small town of around 8,000 people, and there isn't exactly a lot around it. Therefore, you know a restaurant located there must be notable if it has over 300 reviews on TripAdvisor and over 100 reviews on Yelp. And when all those reviews on both sites average out to 4.5 out of 5 stars, you figure it must be pretty good. 

If you're talking about Luigi's in downtown DuBois, you'd be right - those 4.5 ratings are on the money. I'm hard on restaurants, but in three visits thus far to this place, I've been happy. The menu looks amazing, but I've only ever gotten the stromboli. You get your choice of three items for the filling (just like pizza ordering), then patiently wait for the monster to bake. And by monster, I mean that it comes already cut in half. It'd be hard to handle otherwise! One half is more than enough for me. Very good. My husband had pasta with marinara sauce and enjoyed that as well. Luigi's is definitely a must-stop if you ever find yourself near DuBois. 

After spending the night in DuBois, it was time to make the long trip back home. There has been frost in DuBois overnight, but it was sunny all the way home, and it was in the 70's as we passed through Ohio and across Michigan. It's always nice to have good driving weather on a long trip!

So yes, it had been a short trip to Pennsylvania and New York, but it had been a good one.





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