Category Archives: New York

Salt Point Brewery, Purity Ice Cream, Coyglen Airbnb, Tompkins County International Airport – Ithaca, NY

Before we landed in Ithaca, I alerted Dirck that the airport was little more than a Quonset hut so imagine my surprise when it looked completely different. Still small but more like an airport. The rental car agent fillled me in that since my last visit 2 years ago the airport has been overhauled. And of course it’s the little things that impress me including a vending machine in the women’s bathroom with free tampons and sanitary pads. I’ve never seen that before. The world as it should be!

Coyglen Airbnb

We arrived on a crisp fall day and Ithaca never looked better, with the trees starting to turn red, yellow and orange, the sun shining intensely through fast moving clouds, making the pastures a dazzling green and Cayuga’s waters shimmer. I was instantly happy in this place that I have loved since my parents took me here as a child.

Our Airbnb (Coyglen) is as lovely as the photos. An upstairs apartment in a pretty old white farmhouse with a curving wrap around porch. It sits high atop a green pasture that looks out across the hills at a slit in the woods that is Buttermilk Falls. A sweet yellow lab not unlike ours came over to greet us as we sat near a weathered wooden barn in plastic Adirondack chairs, marveling at the view. We are just south of downtown off of 13A, near my other favorite state park, Treman.

The owner told us the house was part of a dairy farm and the gravel road that runs past the house and old weathered bar is Coyglen road and leads to Coyglen, a very rugged hike with no paved trail. Hikers get very wet but the scenery is worth it, I’m told.

Madigan Mint please

Dinner was in Lansing, at Salt Point Brewery where we met our friends whose wedding we are attending. Dear, dear Myra, my friend of 40 years who I haven’t seen in two years. She came rushing over with arms outstretched and I did the same. A long overdue hug and we were off to races, catching up, meeting members of the wedding party from Kansas City, Wichita and Des Moines (believe it or not.) This is the bride’s family. The groom, Myra’s son, is from Connecticut. They met as students at Cornell. Lovely people all and we had a great time, sitting outside on a lawn around the fire pit, with the lake in the distance, drinking beer and cider and eating very good pizza.

Dirck and I couldn’t resist stopping at Purity Ice cream, an old haunt downtown, which we passed on our way back to the Airbnb. Love this place!!

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Delta Airlines: Your wait time is 8 hours and 52 minutes….really?

We have not flown since March of 2020 and I have been reluctant to fly anytime soon, even post-vaccine, unless absolutely necessary. Now I see this was wise, after receiving schedule changes from Delta today for two necessary trips in October that we are looking forward to — a wedding in Ithaca and a bar mitzvah in New York City. Both schedule changes were not great. I tried calling Delta for help with rescheduling and got a recording that my wait time was…8 hours and 52 minutes.

I thought the “basic fare” meant I could make changes to my ticket with out a fee but apparently not — even though the airline made the change, not us. (This still doesn’t seem right and I’ve looked back at the language from Delta when I bought the ticket and it’s NOT right. We bought our basic economy tix on March 23 — so they should be refundable and changeable, with no fee:

FROM DELTA: Updated as of March 3, 2021

Yes, you can. We understand that your plans may change, to continue simplifying travel, we have eliminated change and cancel fees for tickets originating in North America (excluding Basic Economy tickets purchased after March 30, 2021, which are non-refundable and non-changeable).

By eliminating change fees, you have the flexibility to change the date, time or location of your trip without a fee. Sometimes, your new flight may cost more than your original flight. In this case you would need to pay the difference in price.

MEANWHILE….The website said my only option was to cancel and get a full refund. I decided to keep the Ithaca flight – even though we now have a 3-hour layover in Detroit (maybe I can meet up with my dad at the airport?) – because there were no better options. Meanwhile the flight cost us $358 when booked a few months ago. If bought today, it would cost $908. So I guess we were wise to book ahead. I also had to rebook my car rental to adjust the pickup and drop off times – maybe I was lucky the price for the rental only went up $12?

With the NYC flight, Delta appears to have gotten rid of one of its two direct flights (the early afternoon one) from Des Moines to LaGuardia. Instead of rescheduling me on the other direct flight (at 6 a.m.) Delta rescheduled me for a flight at 10 a.m.-ish with, again, a long layover in Detroit. This time I opted to cancel my rescheduled flights and rebook (for the same price) with the 6 a.m. direct flight, which is not my favorite hour to travel but I’m thinking direct flight is better than ever right now, given the high likelihood of cancelations. Friends who recently flew to see their son in Alaska from Des Moines – had problems with every leg of their trip (three flights each way).

Meanwhile I’m braced for future scheduling changes….

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Check out the Wangechi Mutu sculpture at the MET – NYC

(After the fact post)

You don’t even have to go into NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art  to see these four new haunting sculptures. They’re in the four niches of the MET’s facade — the first time that sculpture has been placed in them.

The commission went to Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, whose work I know from the Des Moines Art Center where her Water Woman sculpture of an enticing and somewhat menacing mermaid/siren is a big hit with the fourth-graders I take on tours.  The Met installation is temporary so see it while you can!

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DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the East River Ferry – Brooklyn!

What a glorious day in Brooklyn’s DUMBO (“Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”) neighborhood. Now I understand what the fuss is all about. Last time I explorer the old cobblestone streets and warehouses in the rabbit warren of streets between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, I didn’t find much going on. Flash forward several years and the place is full of people, strolling along Brooklyn Bridge Park, with it’s great views of the bridges, lower Manhattan and even the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Old brick warehouses are now home to trendy shops (Empire Stores, The Modern Chemist), food courts (TimeOut market in Empire Stores), coffee roasters (Brooklyn Roasting Co.), bookstores (Powerhouse Arena/books) and theaters.  (And now I know where Bargemusic – the outdoor music venue – is. And the venerable St. Ann’s Warehouse theatre, where I sat at an outdoor table in a lovely courtyard in the shell of an old brick building, looking out at the water.)

I bought some excellent Thai food at a food truck and ate in the Pearl Street Triangle picnic area,  carved out of a patch of street beside the massive Manhattan Bridge, with the subway rumbling by high above.. Another cool picnic area nearby is the Archway Under Manhattan Bridge.

I took a New York ferry (for a whopping $2.75) that stopped at several Brooklyn spots before the final stop at East 34th street (which was a bit of an odd drop off, right by the midtown tunnel but I walked to Third Avenue and hopped a bus to the upper east side.)

Met some nice people on the ferry including a young family from Argentina and a woman from Montana. Several ferry options are available and the pier is next to the venerable River Cafe (where we attended a bar mitzvah about 30 years ago) and a stand next door that touted famous lobster rolls. (Next trip!)


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Amy Sherold show, Mission Ceviche, Fabrique Bakery, High Line, Hudson Yards, Central synagogue – nyc on a fall day

Is there anywhere like New York city on a sunny fall day? The place was humming with activity, crowds of people outside everywhere enjoying the sights and sounds of a vibrant city.

After a quick direct morning flight from DSM (thank you delta) we had an afternoon to play in the city. What a treat! We took the 6 train south from the upper east side where we are staying at my aunt S’s apartment to 14th Street, stopped at The Strand bookstore (where I did find a copy of a 20-year old book about Vietnam that I hoped to find, except it was hardback), and then walked west along 12th street (relatively quiet and charming compared to 14th), past 5th Avenue (and One Fifth Avenue, where my parents had their wedding) thru Greenwich village to Gansevoort market, where we had delicious ceviche bowls at a Peruvian stand, Mission Ceviche, sitting on seats around the cooks. Across the street, we bought cardamom buns at Fabrique, the first nyc outpost of the bakery we discovered last summer in Stockholm.

The High Line seemed narrower and even more jam packed than usual, which added to the excitement and frustration. Many people speaking foreign languages. Stunning plantings, art installations, architecture, city and river views from on high. Very slow walkers (and I am not exactly fast.)

The eight Amy Sherold portraits of ordinary striking black people (not Michelle Obama this time) jumped off the stark white walls of the large airy open gallery on 22nd street. Stunning. As with the Obama portraits in DC at the National Portrait gallery, I saw black people in particular posing next to these portraits, which I found moving.

We continue north on the High Line to the glittering new colossus of Hudson Yards, which felt like a cross between a Batman set and Disneyland, with huge hulking dramatic buildings and skyscrapers and a copper-colored tower of tunneled walkways that tourists and presumably locals were lining up to walk up and up and down and down. Overwhelming and disorienting and showy and unnecessary are the words that came to mind. (Here’s a promo blurb: Hudson Yards is unlike anything ever built before — a living, breathing neighborhood that champions first-to-New York experiences. Climb Vessel, the interactive centerpiece of Hudson Yards. Visit The Shed, a new center for art and inspiration. Or take in the scene from thrilling new heights on Edge — an outdoor space a thousand feet in the air.)

For a far more charming encounter with architecture, we sat in the ornate cavernous Moorish Central Synagogue and enjoyed the gorgeous singing and ceremony of a Shabbat service (we are here for a family bat mitzvah). Also was relieved, sadly, that we had to go through a metal detector to get into the sanctuary.

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Art exhibits to see Fall 2019 in NYC, Chicago, LA, Minneapolis and Bentonville

Thanks to the NYTimes listings, I know what’s on my to-see list during trips East, West and North this year.

In LA – Betye Saar: The Legends of “Black Girl’s Window” – LACMA Sept. 22-April 5.

In Chicago – Photography + Folk Art: Looking for american in the 1930s: Art Institute of Chicago Sept. 21-Jan. 19, 2020 ….In a cloud, in a wall, in a chair: Six modernists in Mexico at Mid Century (thru Jan. 12)

In Minneapolis: Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall – at Walker Art Center thru Jan. 12.

In Bentonville, Ark — The Momentary, which appears to be an outpost of the fabulous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

In NYC: Kenyan-American Artist Wangechi Mutu’s sculptures at the MET – the first-ever art commission for the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade niches (her “Water Woman” sculpture at the Des Moines Art Center is a bit hit with the fourth-graders I take on tours) ; also on my list: the Amy Sherald show (she of the Michelle Obama portrait)…

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Filed under Arkansas, California, Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, museum exhibit, New York, THE ARTS

Swedish invasion of NYC? Welcome to Fotografiska (museum) and Fabrique (bakery)

First I read that our favorite pastry shop in Stockholm, Fabrique (Stenugnsbageri) is setting up an outpost in NYC in the Meatpacking District (on 14th Street, where else?)

Next came news, yesterday, that our favorite museum in Stockholm, is opening an outpost in NYC. Unfortunately it won’t be open until mid-October (we’ll be in NYC in early October) but Fotografiska  is now very much on my to-do list for future trips to the city!

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Taughanock Falls, Ithaca Commons, Cornell, Forest Home, Aurora— exploring old Ithaca haunts

Late post: I set out on a gorgeous morning for the gorges…where else? They have always been my favorite landscape feature here. After a short drive down around the lake past downtown Ithaca, I was at the grand daddy of falls, high-falling Taughanock. It was an easy 20 minute there and 20 minutes back walk on the wide dirt path through the woods lining the flat rocks of the gorge, lined by high canyon walls. Lots of water crashing down on them there falls. I noticed that the beautiful old Taughanock Farms Inn, which I used to go to for a splurge dinner with my parents as a kid, is now the Inn at Taughanock. Still there, as is the Glenwood Pines, an old roadhouse along Route 89. Last time we went there about 20 years ago, the restaurant review I did of the Pines in 1980 was still tacked up on the knotty pine wall.

Nut ridge road (to the cottage @ the lake❤️)

As forewarned, the Ithaca Commons is rapidly being dwarfed by modern high-rise apartments which I gather are designed for wealthy foreign students and remote-location tech workers. Not good. There are still some old brick buildings along what was once a street, some with good little shops, including an excellent craft gallery with some very good local ceramics. Just south of the commons, I chanced upon an amazing shop that sells “not quite perfect” (NQP) Eileen Fisher clothing for a fraction of the original cost. We are talking dresses and jackets for $29, shirts and pants for $19. I cleaned up!

Myra at their cottage!

I did a quick drive through Collegetown, at the foot of the Cornell campus and saw that our old house at the bottom of steep Williams street is still standing, still beating the odds (and gravity). The suspension bridge over the gorge was closed (boo) so went onto the little hidden hamlet of Forest Home north of North Campus and sat on a flat rock, dipping my feet in the surprisingly warm water and watched somewhat wistfully the young kids riding the gently rushing water over the slippery flat rocks. Those days are over for me. Don’t need a third broken arm. I stopped briefly for a late light lunch (chicken soup) at the new general store in an old building in King Ferry and then drove a little further past lovely old white farmhouses and dairy farms high above Cayuga’s waters to check out Aurora, a sweet little town with some well-maintained old buildings (thanks to a philanthropist who went to Wells College there). Some businesses have closed sadly but still a pretty place. Didn’t make it to Mackenzie Child’s, the pricey home goods company based a mile north of Aurora.

Forest Home

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Robert Treman State Park, Ithaca Bakery, Bright Leaf Vineyard – Ithaca

Upper Treman gorge trail ❤️

(Late post…)

Fortunately I had my friend Tom to lend a hand, literally, when the gorge trail along the rushing waters between Upper and Lower Treman State Park got a little scary. After tripping on a tree root during a hike in the woods a year ago in Norway and breaking my arm, it is taking awhile to regain my confidence as a hiker.

Ithaca Bakery downtown

After our two-mile hike, we plunged into the ice cold water of the swimming hole at the base of a waterfall with white water crashing down the mossy rocks. So many memories of this place from childhood summers and college summers and summers with our kids. We almost didn’t get to swim because of inhospitable water conditions that closed the swimming area yesterday.

Blue green algae is the scare de jour on Cayuga Lake but no one has been able to adequately explain what the health risks are. And I have thoroughly enjoyed my late afternoons swimming in the lake which is warmer than the gorge pools but still very refreshing. Tonight myra and I went to a wine tasting at a new winery, Bright Leaf, just up the road. We listened to live music, sipped wine, nibbled on crostini and couscous,and admired the sunset over the lake, an orange fireball slowing dropping into the pale blue water.

I also stopped for late lunch at the Ithaca Bakery downtown – the T-burg twist rules! (Tuna with avocado on brown bread,)

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sapsucker Woods/Ithaca and Francesca’s/Syracuse”

Maybe it’s because I am old enough to aspire to be a birder or maybe it’s that I never realized what a cool place an ornithology lab can be, but I was pleasantly surprised by my visit yesterday to The Cornell Ornithology lab at Sapsucker Woods. I arrived as a free lab tour was starting and it was great, about 18 visitors from all over (including a guy from Wales who mentioned living for a few years in Ottumwa, Iowa and loving it) and a very engaging guide who led us into the areas normally off bounds for visitors. We saw some very interesting stuffed birds, bird feet and bird wings in the specimens lab (or some such) and learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about the life and study of birds. (See Notes below) I also walked on one of the sawdust paths in the woods around the attractive modern lab building with a borrowed pair of binoculars (which an 8 year old girl tried to show me how to use) to try to find some noteworthy birds. Next trip I’d like to go on one of their early morning free guided bird walks on Saturday or Sunday.

Sapsucker Woods birding

We had another nice late afternoon by the lake, dinner at the picnic table and a last trip to Cream at the Top for Ice cream (bittersweet symphony and dark chocolate chip!) . Myra and I took a last (for me, this year) morning walk along the lake with her nice neighbor Heather and then it was time to say goodbye. No tears this time. Loved being with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places and I’ll be back!

My friend Tom picked me up for a pleasant 1 hour 10 minute drive to a good restaurant in Syracuse called Francesca’s where I had lunch with my friend Cynthia. Great time catching up after two years of not seeing each other and good food too (antipasto salad, Italian wedding soup). Now at the Syracuse airport with what I hope is only a briefly delayed flight to DC.

Notes from Lab Tour:
ebirds, merlyn bird id
How to draw blood of a bird- from under wing
How to trap raptors (put live prey in trap)
If you heard the bird you saw it (ID by song/sound)
Mallard duck teeth (skull) to tear meat
Red tail hawk foot. Intense grip.
Grey hound hawk eats 30 rodents/rabbits per night…more during mating season?
Owls fly silently so rodent prey can’t hear them.
Other birds have amazing eyes to detect fish in water.
Sheer water hawk spends 90 percent of Time soaring in air. Land to eat and sit on water. Migrating birds sleep while flying.
Reynolds game farm In Ithaca breeds pheasants (game farm rd)
Can bring bird found hit by car on road to lab.
Bird net app to try to Id sounds. In beta. Hear bird sounds in wild and Id by phone. Swift recording box and record sounds and then grad students ID.
Ebird to crowd source population studies.
Technology to record bird sounds. First done at Stewart park. Hollywood. Macaulay library – crazy equipment to record rare bird songs and old field journals
Humans can make Pshishimg noise to communicate and lure curious birds 
lab motto: keep common birds common
Bird of prey movie

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