Could there be a more peaceful place to take a mid-tour “week off” than in Ithaca in upstate New York. Lucky for us, Katy’s parents have taken us into their beautiful home with a huge garden, backyard and swimming pond in the back.
After getting off the ferry in Hyannis Port at 11pm on Thursday night, we drove the 400 miles in shifts through the night to arrive at the house at 7 am on Friday morning. Why stop the crazy all-night driving expeditions now that we’ve started?
Knowing that our time here in Ithaca needed to be both productive and enjoyable, we’ve managed to find a nice balance of time between working and experiencing Ithaca this weekend. Saturday we did a good amount of running around, shopping to restock the trailer and our supplies of lantern mantles, propane fuel, tea lights, paper bags, laundry detergent, garbage bags, wine bottle openers and serving utensils. We visited Bruce’s Fast Lane to get the oil changed on the jeep which at this point has towed the trailer over 5000 miles since leaving Santa Cruz on August 15th.
Every place we visit on tour priority is finding a reliable, hopefully free and comfortable wireless internet location. Often, once we find that place, we will spend more hours there than we may spend sleeping. This place in Ithaca is the Ithaca Bakery on Meadow Street. Good sandwiches, muffins, tea and $1 for 24 hours of internet; our new home away from home (away from Katy’s parent’s home). We found our corner table near the wall outlets easily and have been there numerous hours the past couple of days. So we say Ithaca is our “rest stop”, but of course what that means is we get to do work uninterrupted by a weekend dinner and plan the remaining dinners on tour. A list of tasks which includes, but is not limited to accepting reservations, sending out invitations, replying to various inquiries, contacting chefs and purveyors across the country, making rental orders, replying to press inquiries and then just dealing with any other fun obstacles that may pop up along the way. A good amount of work for our team of four. One thing that Veronica has found entertaining is when people call the Outstanding in the Field “office” (a.k.a. Veronica’s cell phone, wherever she may be) while we’re driving across the country. Sometimes it takes a second to explain to someone that we need to scramble to find a pen and paper in the Jeep to write something down and that no, we’re not sitting in an office somewhere in Santa Cruz. We make our office where we go and these days it happens to be at 400 North Meadow Street should anyone want to stop by.
Saturday night Leah and Veronica went to Moosewood Restaurant, which Leah – the vegetarian of the crew – was excited to learn was located in Ithaca. We enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh soups, pasta and local beer.
This morning Katy’s mom Elizabeth recommended we go and check out the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. We were impressed with the permanency of the set up, complete with highway signs, a large parking lot and a long covered structure with built-in stalls for farmers and artisans. This market has been here for a while and is not going anywhere soon. Even though Elizabeth said it might not be as busy on Sunday, we managed to wander around for hours, tasting, smelling, eating and admiring what the rows of vendors had to offer: from fresh blueberries and wine to hand silkscreened shirts and jewelery.
After a few more hours of internet work at our favorite Ithaca wi-fi hotspot we headed to the Hangar Theater to enjoy some local entertainment: the closing night of the theater’s summer series with a showing of “All the Great Books – Abridged.” This high-energy, highly entertaining three man show was essentially a fast-paced classroom lesson of the 86 “world’s greatest books”, complete with midterm and final exam. A great taste of local talent and a very amusing performance.
At the end of the show we were sure to reflect on the fact that had this been a regular weekend of farm dinners we would be just beginning to tear down the tables and collect the glassware off the 128 foot table and be grateful that we were on our way to bed instead.