5th Day in Ithaca (6th Mar)

This was the final day we would be spending here for awhile, but we promised everyone we would be back in August or September to pick up some stuff from Chris’ place before school begins.

We had another round of burrata in the morning, and Rich even tried a little. He said “That’s a big mushroom!” Cause I had poured some balsamic vinegar onto it and ground some black pepper over the cheese. I don’t know if he liked it but he certainly took a mouthful!

Then we invited him to trek with us at Sapsucker woods, which was too much socializing for him :P So we brought Buster instead.

Sapsucker woods was cold! But the sun was out that day, so we had lots of good sunlight for photos and blue skies.

[Telephone pole cutting through the woods]

Lots of the birds were hibernating, apart from the woodpeckers. We managed to catch 2 cardinals, all majestic and stark against the wintry landscape. One wonders how they survive/escape predators with their bright scarlet coloring. They must not be very good to eat!

[Squirrel nest in the trees]

[Woodpecker holes]

Chris pointed out rabbit burrows and woodpecker holes in the trees and squirrel nests and all sorts of animal footprints. It was a lovely romp, apart from the fact that my ears and toes were frozen by the end of it.

[Me and my Ithaca-mom]

We spent most of the time hopping from patch to patch of sunlight, running through the shadowy parts to get to the warmth of the sun -> certainly something one would never contemplate in Singapore.

We also paid a visit to the ornithology lab viewing gallery and the giftshop – the geese sitting on the frozen lake were so still that chris mistook them to be decoys – until they all moved :P

[Sitting ducks]

I bought a red cardinal finger puppet from the gift shop and LZ got a rabbit finger puppet to accompany it. We also got a gift card for Chris for opening her beautiful home to us – she seemed rather interested in a few of the hummingbird feeders in the shop.

[Boardwalk in Sapsucker woods]

Did you know that sapsuckers are a kind of bird? I guess it should be obvious (given the location of the ornithology lab) but we’d never thought about it before. Chris knows it because she was supposed to think of a bird name for her group when she was in Sunday school years and years ago, and of course she couldn’t choose something as normal and boring as “robin”, or “wren”, like the other groups did. She actually looked up a bird book and arrived at the longest name she could find: “Yellow-bellied sapsucker”. Lol.

[A yellow bellied sapsucker]

Most of the trees looked like this.

This one was still bright green! Chris says it’s hemlock.

After sapsucker woods we headed to BJs to refuel the tank (Chris has a group discount) – we managed to get the fuel to be exactly $10! Never happened before. Then we went to Friendly’s for lunch. The one in Pyramid mall has closed – Chris says it hasn’t been doing too well these days :( She got the all American burger,

we had a clam chowder,

and I had my typical honey BBQ chicken melt with waffle fries.

It was awesome but a bit too much (despite us only ordering 2 mains) Chris gets a senior discount (maybe 40% off? That is Friendly’s largest customer base I think) and a free scoop of ice cream, so I opted for the forbidden chocolate and cotton candy flavours. (She didn’t like the cotton candy).

After lunch we drove down Cayuga Heights Road to Sunset Park – it’s not directly on the roadside (Cayuga Heights Road) but rather amazingly I remembered which turning of Wyckoff the park was! All this driving around really helps us to color in bits of the Ithaca road map in our heads. I’d forgotten lots of things, such as how you can’t go straight down State St to the Commons, you have to turn right onto Green (or is it Seneca), and I couldn’t really navigate to Zaza’s smoothly from church. I’d even forgotten which road Kilpatricks was on!

[You can see most of Ithaca from Sunset Park]

We headed back home after Sunset Park and I rather ungratefully fell asleep while Chris made gingerbread cookies for Olympians. I think I said I would help but all the hiking in Sapsucker woods made us really tired. She woke me at around 4pm to remind us to head to the Schoenfeldts, since we had promised to visit the kids and we didn’t want to disappoint them.

I and K have been really into the making of rubber band bracelets, they both have looms and a ton of colored rubber bands, and K was really impressive! I was also a perfect elder brother, constantly complimenting her indirectly, saying she was the best in the class, that she was even better than the instructor. I didn’t really see any signs of oppositional disorder.

This is Lily the cat.

We had to leave for the clock tower at 5-ish, so we gave everyone hugs and promised to be back in August. The intake batch of compets were having their first briefing so I got to see Keith and Jen!!! Only didn’t get to meet up with Gretchen/Marisa on this trip. Bryan and I zipped through the passacaglia and HK came up too and we got to duet Fuzzy Blue Lights. I think as someone coming back to the chimes after a long hiatus, playing the higher note bells are easier; I was really clumsy as a secondo. There was also a new propped piece by some random guy who I hear was not from Cornell, but arranges pretty nice music. It is one of my favourite songs and so apt for my last concert for some time – ‘I’ll be seeing you’. I think it made Chris cry, the arrangement was so pretty, although I kinda squiffed around the middle part. The Schoenfeldt kids came up the tower, and so did Sandy! I was so proud of her. They had to rush off to Olympians, but I could stick around and take some final shots of the view, some of me and BHC and HK, and then we headed off to Zaza’s for dinner.

We left Brooktondale around 3:30am in the morning to catch our 5:30am flight from Elmira to Chicago and then to Denver, but US Airways cancelled the flight because “the pilot/crew had not had enough sleep or something”. Seriously? They redistributed everybody to other planes (I guess they can just do that since there were so few of us) but our “new” flight into Denver was about 5 hours after our original ETA, which also meant that we would miss most of the grad day at Boulder. Gah!

So we got on a Delta plane to Detroit and set about trying to get on an earlier flight (via Delta), but the Delta service desk wouldn’t/couldn’t help us, because our tickets were booked under US airways. About 5 million calls later we finally got on an 8am flight at Detroit to reach Denver at 10:10am (earlier than our original ETA). I think the reason the Delta guy at Elmira didn’t get me on the 8am flight (instead booking us on a 12pm flight.) was that the 8am flight only had economy plus seats. How can US Airways not pay for economy plus seats when they already screwed up our original flight? Even though we finally FINALLY got seats (after some rather irate calls, which I am ace at making) on the earlier flight, our baggage didn’t make it on the plane (thanks to airline bureaucracy that made it too late for the counter people to track our bags and get it on the correct plane), so it went to Denver on the later plane and the Delta people delivered it to the Boulder University Inn for us, and it was in turn received by the concierge. We didn’t so much as have to lift a finger, except to give the Delta Baggage Services our information at DIA. Delta’s service was impeccable throughout (apart for the ****** at Elmira).

Other than this little hiccup, our time spent in Ithaca was simply perfect and I was super happy to be able to spend all that time with people I’ve missed dearly for the past two years.



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