Last week my lab sent me to Cornell University to shadow a lab and learn some cool tricks with DNA. Like many old towns, Ithaca has a lot of character. During my visit I learned that Ithaca used to be the "Hollywood of the East" in the days of silent movies. Nowadays the cinema history has all but disappeared, save a few blurbs in restaurants. I spent most of my week in the lab but I was able to escape early a couple of times to do some exploring. Cornell's campus in huge. I could have spent the better part of my free time just exploring the botanical gardens and the older buildings overlooking Cayuga Lake. The aesthetic appeal of Cornell definitely rivaled good ol' RPI. Ithaca is a mix of charming corners and struggling areas. One of the more charming corners I visited was Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian only street with small shops, restaurants, and modern art sculptures. There's a range of restaurants there, but I was only able to sample a couple: The Ithaca Ale House and Kilpatrick's Publick House. They're both pub-style establishments that served delicious food and had decent beer lists. I'd recommend either. The eatery that stood out the most to me was Shortstop Deli, a deli counter hidden in the residential are of downtown. It's been features on the Food Network and in Gourmet magazine, but the highest praise I can give it is that it ranks in the top three delis compared to my hometown sub shop, Aunt Cookie's. Where I come from there is no higher praise than that.
|Garden at Cornell|
|Old Cornell Campus|
In addition to the dining options, Ithaca is surrounded by the natural beauty of several state parks and Cayuga Lake. I visited two state properties while I was in town. Buttermilk Falls State Park has the characteristic gorges and waterfalls that Ithaca is known for. Unfortunately, Ithaca experienced a lot of flooding from recent tropical storm rains so the gorge trail was closed which meant that most of the waterfalls were accessible. Buttermilk Falls had calmed down but during the height of the flooding it had washed out one of the creek overpasses. Allan H. Treman State Marine Park in on the shores of Cayuga Lake. The park is fairly small but includes a big dog park and has a pretty view looking across the lake. It's easy to forget how big the Finger Lakes are when you live so close to the Great Lakes. But standing on the shore looking out at the length of the lake with the hills raising up on either side, there's no way to mistake Cayuga Lake as little. I saw a Bald Eagle fishing one afternoon which only added to the ambiance of this giant peaceful lake.
|Sneaking on a section of the Gorge Trail|
|Harbor of Allan H. Treman Marine Park|
The Finger Lakes wine region is definitely present in Ithaca. There's only one winery in the immediate area but there's a wine bar in town, Corks and More, which is the next best thing. Corks and More features some local wines along with wines from California, France, Australia, and more. This is a great place to go if you want to try a variety of wines without buying tons of bottles or going on extensive wine tours. You can choose a taste, half-glass, or full-glass from on of the dozen wine 'vending machines' the line the walls. They also have a full bar and tapas menu. If the science thing doesn't work out, opening a place like this is firmly on the back-up plan list.