Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fly/Drive East-Midwest #1

Hello! I'm not of fan of flying, but my husband informed me we had  a voucher from Southwest Airlines to use up before it expired, so off we went on a trip last week. This time, it was a fly/drive vacation to the East Coast and back. We had great weather and a great time!

Day 1: We left from the Gerald Ford International Airport. Had to change planes at BWI (Baltimore-Washington International)to continue onto Providence, RI. My husband explained we'd save around $300 by renting a car from Providence instead of from Baltimore. He is very diligent when planning our trips!

The airport in Providence has interesting displays - lots of references to boating. I saw maritime photos and even a sailboat propped up near an exit. We were only spending the night in Providence, and it was already around 9:30pm by the time we were on our way to our hotel. It looks like an interesting area and I think it'd be nice to spend more time there. Bonus: the local accent is fun to hear (of course, I figure our Midwestern accents stick out just as much to their ears.)

Day 2: Left Providence for the drive up to New Haven, Connecticut for lunch. We wanted to return to this place:

Claire's Corner Copia in downtown New Haven, across from Yale. Although this restaurant has been around since 1975, I never heard of it until I bought one of its cookbooks several years ago from an antique store in Allegan, MI. The year after that purchase, we ate at Claire's Corner Copia, and I always wanted to go back. 

Claire's is a small place; no wait staff. You go up to the register and look over the huge blackboard  behind it:

Lots of choices, but I eventually settled on the Arthur Avenue Sicilian sandwich, loaded with broccoli raab and other veggies, on a great multigrain bun. My husband got the Tofu Scramble. We both enjoyed our lunches. 

The weather was pleasant in New Haven, so I would have liked to walk around the storied Yale campus for a bit, but my husband reminded me that we had a little over 4 hours' drive to our next hotel, up in Ithaca, NY. So bye bye, New Haven, it was nice to see you for a little while again! 

Nice drive up to Ithaca - skirted the Catskills, so there were hills and scenic vistas along the way. Got into Ithaca in time for dinner, which was at Bandwagon Brew Pub downtown. My lunchtime sandwich was big enough that I wasn't really hungry for dinner, so I settled for a salad. My husband ordered what he always gets at Bandwagon, a Cajun-style andouille sausage/shrimp entree served over a cornmeal waffle. 

Day 3: We had lunch at another venerable vegetarian restaurant, this time at Moosewood in downtown Ithaca. Claire's Corner Copia has a small handful of cookbooks, but Moosewood has probably close to a dozen. I happen to own several myself. But while perusing their "browsing copy" shelf, I spied this:

Their latest effort had just come out last month! I flipped through it while waiting for our lunches. It looks like a very nice, very "now" cookbook. I saw mention of spiralizers, "bowl" meals and other indications of current vegetarian trends. 

Also seen at Moosewood:

 Scene from the room we dined in. 

The dessert list looked great, but I was full enough from my Thai Peanut Salad, and my husband also passed after eating his stir fry.

After lunch, we split up to explore different parts of Ithaca. He went up a very steep hill to explore the Cornell campus, while I popped in and out of shops. We've been to Ithaca several times already, so I revisited favorite haunts like the craft-centric thrift store Sew Green and the big used book store, Autumn Leaves. 

But instead of buying secondhand at Autumn Leaves, I actually bought two brand-new tomes at the indie bookstore Buffalo Street Books:

I've always liked indie bookstores anyway, but had learned via a local paper at the hotel that Buffalo Street Books is struggling financially. In fact, an emergency meeting had been held just the night before my visit, in order to inform the public of their difficulties. As I paid for my purchase, I told the clerk I'd read of that emergency meeting and wished them well. He said community support at the meeting had been encouraging.

Also seen around downtown Ithaca:

Didn't stop in here, but liked their sign!

And right next to Sacred Root was this:

The Leslie Puryear Community Stage. I didn't find online info on this stage, which looks to be portable. But I did learn that the late Leslie Puryear had been a longtime community activist and a key player behind the Ithaca area's popular GrassRoots Festival. 

After whiling away the afternoon in Ithaca, it was time to drive two hours south to Williamsport, PA. Two hours of traveling can seem like a drag after a busy day of sightseeing, but the US 15 route offers great scenery along the way: one tree-covered hill after another. Never much traffic on this stretch either, so it can feel quite remote. I like that part, as long as it's not starting to get dark (then I worry about not seeing deer in time).

Edit: Oops, I'd neglected to mention that we ate dinner in Williamsport upon our arrival there! We dined at The StoneHouse, where my husband and I each had a small pizza. He enjoyed a couple of craft beers too. He liked his pizza but I thought mine was only so-so. I tend to be very picky about commercial pizzas; it doesn't take much for a perceived ingredient imbalance to throws things off for me. In the case of The StoneHouse, the pizza sauce tasted a tad too sweet. There are entrees on the menu that look pretty good, however - maybe I'll try one of those next time. Nice atmosphere inside the restaurant, even if I wasn't crazy about my pizza.

One benefit of The StoneHouse: after a busy day in Ithaca, it was nice that the restaurant was but a short walk from our hotel. We were staying at the downtown Hampton Inn, which is a great location if you want an easy trip to Wegman's (a top-rated regional grocery store chain), Kohl's, or various nearby restaurants, watering holes and locally-owned shops.

And there are now a couple of other hotels down the block from the Hampton Inn. We've been coming to Williamsport since 1992 and the downtown area seems to be thriving more now than it had during our earliest visits. Great to see!

All for now; I'll save the second half of our trip for my next post.