Happy Belated Easter.
As is our custom, my wife and I plan to vacation during the Easter holiday. It marks our ceremonial entrance into the fair weather vacation seasons. It also cuts down on the crowds because it is almost always raining. We don’t mind the foul weather, born and raised in upstate New York we have both grown accustom to willful optimism in regards to precipitation and focus on attractions that are unaffected by gloomy weather. This year, for example, we were under ground.
We typically choose destinations within a reasonable day’s drive, this allows us a quick retreat to save our vacation time for more elaborate plans, and also allows us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and diversity of our home region. We hear so often of local residents traveling great distances to vacation, but never having visited some of the great local sites like the Chimney Bluffs or even the Finger Lakes.
This year we were immersed in planning for AMPLIFY, the new contemporary worship service at Seneca Castle, so we decided to let the drive be the destination. We chose a few highlights we would consider visiting then just got in the car and drove. Our first stop along the way was Alfred, NY. I hadn’t returned to the college town since graduation and I was quite anxious to see how the Bus Stop Shelter we built the last two years of school had fared. The last week of school, was a stressful one as we were camped out in downtown Alfred under a bright blue tarp laying brick pavers in the rain between final exams. I had to head home before the finishing grading was complete, so I was never able to photograph the structure in its final state. My apprehension was heightened in late October 2009 as a large fire razed downtown buildings directly across the street from our structure.
I am happy to report it is still standing, and blending in nicely with the local Architecture.
The next stop was in Binghamton, NY. There really was no major attraction for us to this location, but we needed to spend the night somewhere and this was a logical stop prior to our next destination. We stayed in the Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel, but were dissuaded from exploring the city due to the completely unforeseen foul weather (sarcasm intended). We did manage dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, but contrary to what some seem to think, they do NOT carry a large vegetarian selection as even their green beans are laced with bacon.
We got up early and headed to our next highlight. Howe Caverns. This was a great experience I am glad to have done once. Never experiencing a true cave, it was quite appealing to my scientific brain. But will probably never return, at least not without kids. There were a few disappointments, namely the lack of any significant advanced scientific educational opportunities, and the over commercialization of the experience. This is not to say I did not enjoy myself. I could walk the space and imagine what the experience would have been like before the colored lights, iron railings, and paved walkways, but if I were to say that the obstructive presence of these elements was not, at least, distracting I would be lying. These compromises by themselves would be entirely tolerable if the admission price would accurately reflect these concessions, but it did not. In simplified terms, it cost too much.
I was able to manage some inspiring photographs though.
The next major attraction was Albany, NY. The capitol of the Empire State. And even though The Wife falsely led me to believe she had never visited the city before, it was nice to do some real touristy things. We spent a few hours in the New York State museum, (again a rain-proof activity). Traversed the post-apocalyptic concourse, and were fortunate enough to emerged from the egg into a rain-free world. We spent a few minutes grabbing some photographs and logging some Geocaches before we headed off to the car to catch up with some good friends from college.
These are from one of my favorite exhibits at the museum.
The trip home was a bit more direct, with some detours for more Geocaching at one of the worlds largest lift locks on the Erie Canal. The drive was nice, but there is some mystical phenomenon that occurs when more than one person share the space within the passenger compartment of a vehicle for extended periods of time that leads to general discontent. Overall, both driver and passenger made it home safe and enjoyed a relatively bicker free trip.