Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Cortland Adventure...

It's been about a week since I was up in Cortland and life here on Long Island has been anything but tame since I have been back with brush fires and less then stellar work days, so I never sat down to write about my upstate adventure.

Redbull and my favorite T-Shirt
First of all my drive up to Cortland took FOREVER.  I hit the road at 4pm armed with Redbull and Cool Ranch Doritos (my favorite Dorito, don't judge).  By time I got to the Cross Bronx I had more then finished my Redbull and I got stuck in an hour's worth of painfully slow traffic (with added speed bumps, oh yay).  I figured once I was off of the George Washington bridge there would be a rest stop and on i80 there is no such thing.  This was not my usual drive through New Jersey.  I love rest stops and I had planned on eating (once past the bridge) at one.  By time I got past the GW bridge it was getting dark out and I started panicking about the lack of rest stops as I needed to hit a bathroom (thank you Redbull and speed bumps) and I also needed fuel.  I tried getting off at one exit to only detour myself 30 minutes.  I wound up seeing a Target off to my left and I just exited and somehow managed to find that Target.  Sometimes my sense of direction works well and it did at the moment or I am just extremely good at finding Targets, you pick.

I did not eat at Target and the rest of my way up I barely stopped.  I think I made another fuel stop, but for the most part it was a dark and very long drive.  I don't mind long drives, but at night they drag.  I got off of i80 to get on i81 and my nav said another 97 miles on i81.  There is something about hearing that kind of distance that makes me want to smack my head into the steering wheel repeatedly.  "UGH, really??? I am not even, ugh, I give up." 

I wound up not getting to my families house until 11:30pm.  A five hour trip took me seven and a half.  Thank you Bronx traffic.  :/

Friday my step-dad took me (and everyone else also) to Ithaca to see waterfalls.  Specifically Buttermilk Falls and Cascadilla Gorge.  Cascadilla Gorge is actually on the Cornell Campus and the trail is closed.  There is a huge sign that says Cascadilla Gorge is impossible, which we are all pretty sure is supposed to say impassible.  My guess is this is a prolonged effect of the last summers hurricane Irene.  The sign claimed this is due to falling rocks.  So we set out to Buttermilk Falls after learning Cascadilla was closed.

In-between we went to this amazing Mexican restaurant called Viva! Taqueria & Cantina.  It was so good.  My only real experiences with Mexican food are Meson Ole!, El Mariachi, Salsa Salsa, Taco Express, and Taco Bell (yea I know, not real Mexican).  So I haven't sat down in a Mexican restaurant in a long time.  What really stuck me with this place was all the vegan options.  I am not vegan nor do I ever intend to be, but I am lactose intolerant so eating vegan dishes can be beneficial for me and in this case it was.  I had Vegan Nachos (they also had Not-So Vegan Nachos with cheese).  The best nachos I have ever had by far.  I actually ate every bit of food (minus the enormous amount of chips) on the plate.  It was chock full of black beans, rice, guacamole, ranchero sauce, etc.  It was delicious.

Buttermilk Falls
We then set off for Buttermilk Falls.  Until last Friday I had never seen a waterfall and it was something that was definitely on my bucket list (one of the very few tame things that doesn't involve being a thrill seeker).  Technically, I have always wanted to walk behind a waterfall, but walking up along side one is just as good.  I didn't realize the trails are created so that you can follow the waterfalls up.  I thought it was going to be more like following a trail and then here is a waterfall and back to the trail.  They are quite impressive.  Once back home and editing photos I started looking up information on the waterfalls and I did not realize they only run for a few months and dry up at the end of the summer.  I wonder if our lack of snowfall will cause them to dry up sooner.  I don't like snow so I am fine with them drying up early.

We did not make it all the way up the waterfall trail at Buttermilk Falls and I am happy we did not.  While walking up the path I was internally disappointed my companions did not want to continue up but on the way down I was pretty happy I walked down with them when I did.  Walking up the path is a wild climb but going down is scary.  I feel safer being on a trapeze then walking down the side of a waterfall.  Some of the steps are lose and steep with dirt dips in-between steps.  I was afraid of tripping over the steps since they were uneven.  Going up them was simple as I just stepped on the edge.  I have also fallen down enough staircases to know better, so when possible I took to the dirt sides.  I would much rather swing across the trees Tarzan style then walk down the stairs, but I walked.  Further down the waterfall the steps are carved rock and after a few they all start to blend together, not to mention the change in air from being up on a mountain and back at ground level.  I got so dizzy and nauseous walking down the second portion.  I am very certain eating prior to our climb did not help my nausea.  I also did not realize that nausea is a side effect of the antibiotic I had just started taking.

Being at the waterfalls was amazing and I am sure had I been by myself I would have enjoyed it more.  I am kind of funny like that.  When I am with people I don't enjoy nature as much nor do I get as creative with photography.  I get a bit shy.

My step-dad wants to take me to Watkins Geln State Park if I can get my butt back upstate when the trails are open.  He says it's like walking through Riverdale AND you can walk behind some of the waterfalls.  :o)

Saturday I spent mostly sleeping and losing my mind before my step-moms birthday party.  I am not very good at relaxing especially in a foreign place.  I want to explore!  It's torture for me to be away from home and laying around.  At home I have no problem laying around.  I am also not very good at sitting still.  At work I am constantly up and down from my desk because I can't sit there for too long or I get batty.  I also kept finding myself very sleepy while upstate.  This frustrated me.  I am visiting people and all my body wants to do is sleep?????  Ugh!  So I slept a big portion of Saturday and I felt really guilty about it as I kept waking up and I could hear Rose cleaning down stairs and setting up.  Turns out she didn't mind one bit.  In fact, everyone kept telling me I probably need it and to go lay back down.  I am so used to constantly feeling as though I am  never doing what is deemed appropriate in other peoples homes, family and friends homes.  This was not the case and it was actually really nice.

To make things better Rose also has EBV and a bad case too so she gave me a bunch of pointers and useful information.  My doctor had suggested I take echinacea supplements to give my immune system a little boost but the pills are massive and because of that I know I will not take them.  Rose has the same issue and she has echinacea tea!  She also gave me some other pointers on medical privacy in the workplace that I will not elaborate on.  I will say that certain people are much too bored where I work and they watch my time (especially since I have been sick).  My thinking is either I am here or I am not.  I didn't have to work through mono.  I could have been on three months medical leave, but I chose to work and some days it's difficult to get there, stay focused and efficient because all my brain wants is my pillow.  I can't tell you how many afternoons my desk looked comfy enough to rest my head on because my brain is exhausted.  I am muddling through it though but because I am working and the stress from said people I am not getting better making the situation worse.  I think my time is the business of mine and my boss' and no one else.  I really appreciate my chat with Rose about it because most people I know who have EBV do not have it this bad.  They keep saying "oh you always have that" and yea any virus always exists in your system but the body builds up antibodies and that's what my body is not doing hence the echinacea suggestion.  Part of me wants my doctor to demand I take a leave of absence because I won't do it until she says I have to.  Won't that make for some happy bored people!  When it comes to work I really just want to do my job with out distraction to the best of my abilities with some down time and stay out of the catty wars.  For the most part I do I pretty good job staying out of the cattiness.  Anyway, its very comforting to be able to talk about the EBV with someone that actually understands what I am going through!  Thank you!

Rose's birthday party was a lot of fun.  It reminded me of my trip to PEI last spring where I was with a bunch of vet students for my friends bachlorette party.  Apparently, I spend a lot of time with veterinarians.  Rose is a Vet Tech at Cornell and quite a few of the party goers were some of her students.  All of which were very sweet.  One of them got slightly under my skin.  Most of the people I know that are vets or students tend to be vegetarians.  This student is a die hard carnivore and that's fine by me, to each his own.  However, she is that kind of carnivore that can not stand vegetarians and forces her diet on others and that I don't care for.  I had a rant a few weeks ago about being force fed vegetarian food and not liking it.  I am not sure why people can't just mind their own plates.  What difference does it make that I don't like meat?  Which by the way she had said was worse then being a vegan.  Thankfully Joy and Rose had buttered me up with Pinot so I pretty much laughed at this girl.  She also (as a vet student) started going on about culinary techniques and indian spice variations which I found very odd.  Are you a Vet Student or a Chef?  Working in food service and buying spices I really wanted to pipe up and inform her that curry is in fact ONE spice and there are not a bunch of different curry powders.  Yes it is a blend of spices and yes there are different brands, but you will not find mild or hot curry powder, it's just curry.  After the vegetarian comments I left her for a lost cause.  I realize now it's a personality type I don't care for, one of absolute knowledge and correctness.  One of my girlfriends a few years ago morphed into this person and since then being around people like this makes me sick, because for the most part they have no idea what they are talking about.  I would take them more seriously if they were not so absolute in their opinions.  It's the absolution that suggests a lack of knowledge and insecurity to me.

My Aunt Robin and Uncle John who also live in Cortland (about three houses away) were at the party as well.  I enjoyed catching up with them.  It's really nice talking to other "found" family members because what my step-dad does not say to me they do and it's reassuring.  They were telling me how excited everyone was for me to be there and to have me "back" and I am excited too, but my step-dad and I don't show or tell each other this.  Not that we can't or it's awkward, but I think we're just both on the same exact page and have no clue how to express it so we just accept that we are happy to be back together.  It's really great hearing it from other family members.  My Aunt Robin makes the most amazing cakes ever!  She made Rose this fabulous chocolate cake with a very light chocolate mouse filling and chocolate ganche frosting.  I can't even describe how good it was.  I don't like chocolate but this was chocolate perfection.  I doubt anyone could not like this cake.

It's always interesting hanging out with my "found" family.  It amazes me at how much I am like them even though I haven't grow up with them.  I didn't see my step-father for almost 20 years and yet I am so much like him.  I have the same type of music appreciation, similar religious views, the same love for all types of art, the same genre of comic enjoyment, even the same tastes in tea and coffee.  My step-dad is a Starbucks diehard.  I like Starbucks.  I don't go to other coffee houses.  The biggest reason being I know what I am getting at Starbucks and I know they offer dairy free alternative unlike Dunkin' Donuts or similar places.  Friday morning Rose asked me if I wanted coffee or tea and I said "I drink tea but not typical tea so I will just have water."  She pressed on and asked me what kind of weird teas and started looking through the tea draw mumbling peppermint, chai, etc... usually when I say tea people hand me lipton, leave it to my family to be the tea drinkers all make the stink face at the notion of lipton tea.  She had all sorts of Stash, Bigelow, Yogi, and Celestial Seasonings.  Yay!  Did I die and go to heaven on the drive up?  All sorts of tea brands and flavors that I love AND Starbucks?  All of the sudden I had this memory of being a kid and begging my step-dad to buy Sleepytime Celestial Seasonings not because I liked tea at the time but because I liked the sleepy bear on the box.  I turned around to my step-dad and said "did I get this tea obsession from you too?"  My mother definitely never drank tea, only coffee and very bitter coffee.  Bleh.

Sunday was Easter and none of us are religious.  Thank you!  My step-dad is an atheist and my step-mom is a non practicing Catholic.  Joy was questioning if she fell under atheist or agnostic and I was able to tell her what the main difference between the two are.  She also talked about how she never understood the religious aspects of the Easter egg and I was able to tell her about how its rooted in Pagan tradition.  Without saying anything purely negative about the Christian religion, it has been proven that many Christian traditions were taken from Pagan holidays.  Many Easter traditions are adapted from Ostara (the Spring Equinox).  My knowledge of Ostara is why I was offended when a friend referred to Easter as the Spring Equinox.  Hdsndkjsnfeuftlfndms,c,dmn... ugh.  Anyway, Ostara is the awakening of Mother Earth (the goddess) and the "Easter" egg represents fertility.  For Wiccan's it represents when the goddess and the horned god are married and the goddess is impregnated (hence the egg).  The "Easter" bunny comes from Pagan tradition as well.  The goddess in her earthly form (symbol) is a rabbit.  Rabbits are very fertile animals and serve as a symbol of new life in spring.  I am pretty sure you can put that all together to understand how it works.  What I actually told Joy was a shortened version and the entire time my step-dad is shaking his head and by time I finished he was looking at me astonished at this knowledge in my little head.

It's funny because Ostara is the holiday that got me digging for information on traditions and where they come from.  So Ostara has a special place in my heart and it's one I actually know something about.  :o)


I left Cortland on Sunday morning with the thought that I was going home to a Static Trapeze class on opening weekend (because yes they have classes on Easter the whole world does not shut down on Easter).  My class wound up being canceled so I took advantage of my long ride home by stoping at every single rest stop in the hopes that some had overlooks which they did not.  I know the NY one did on the way up but it was much too dark out.  I hit up my one of my favorite restaurants on the way back Cracker Barrel!  I did not eat there though as I was by myself and it was Easter so loads of families were coming in for Easter Sunday breakfast.  I did spend time wandering through the store and I found it to be less kitsch then it used to be.  They may all be different but to me the store lost a bit of it's nostalgia.  I still would like one of their awesome rocking chairs one day and in light BIRCH.  :D  I did pick up a tea box and a tea infuser that is a dinosaur!  I probably will not use the tea infuser because I don't brew much loose tea and I have an infuser that I have yet to use but it was too darn cute (and on sale).

I left Cortland at 11am and I got home about 7pm... yes 8 hours in the car.  The actual drive was not that long.  I just took a lot of time stopping and wandering around.  I like giving my butt a break.  I also did not get stuck in traffic across the Cross Bronx this time.  Traveling on a holiday of any nature is always pot luck with traffic.  It could mean no traffic because everyone is having dinner or lots because they are all traveling somewhere.  Easter was pretty easy... coming home from Philly on Father's Day last year was crazy traffic.

Me and my Uncle
Oh another thing my Uncle mentioned.  I always get a bit uncomfortable when people comment on my facebook posts.  I find it a bit prying and yes I realize FB is stalker heaven and if I don't want prying to stay off of it.  I get that, I do.  Anyway, he was complimenting me on my posts and sensed my being uncomfortable.  He said "it's not a bad thing, you're interesting, and interesting people get attention."  I never thought about it that way.  Usually when people comment on my posts they like to tell me I post too much implying I have no life or other mean spirited comments.  Thing is I don't post too much.  I know I don't.  I have friends that post every hour and others that go on wild rants with status updates and fill my entire newsfee.  I may post more often then some people but it's not excessive.  On my personal page I started to feel so stifled that I only post quotes, new articles, and funny pics.  I keep everything that I would not want people prying apart off FB.  Even posting quotes people try to psychoanalyze which I mentioned to my uncle.  Why does it have to be about me?  Maybe someone in my life is going through something and I thought it was a good topic to look a quote up on?  More often then not my quote picks are random.  I have one site I love and I scroll through the topics they don't normally relate to my life, but people perceive it that way.  I am just sharing a good piece of knowledge and nothing more.  He also said he enjoys my perspective and how I discuss topics.  I guess that's what it is... life is all about perception.

Not the best photo in the world but this is us on our descent down Buttermilk Falls
On my picasa you can see more pictures from the waterfalls. Alisha Christine: Waterfalls - Ithaca, NY