Cirrus Life – Vacation July 2020, Day 5, 6, 7, & 8

July 22, 23, 24th 2020

Day 5

Since Laura is training for a virtual half marathon (Bird in Hand), the day started out with a nice 3.5 mile tempo run. We got up early and drove down to the waterfront and ran along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail so it was flat and we could do a quicker tempo run.  Mission accomplished then back to the hotel for coffee and in-room breakfast of fruit and yogurt (or coffee and biscotti for Phil).  It started to rain a little so we hung out then headed out to knock of some falls. ‘

Once again we were surprised by hidden gems tucked away on Ithaca’s back streets.  The first park we went to was Ludlowville Falls which is at the base of a steep hill near a small town park.  There were no signs but a man picnicking with his kids pointed down.   The falls were a single, high stream of water that ended in a very enticing swimming hole.  There were not many people around so after taking a few pictures, Phil stripped down (to his shorts!!!) and went in.  The water was cool and not very deep but perfect for looking at the waterfall from the ground up.  We spent a while hanging out on the rocks and watching in amazement as the water fell off the top of the cliff then separated into individual beads.

After drying off, we headed a short distance to Cornell University which is perched atop a large hill overlooking Ithaca and Cayuga lake.  We parked in a forbidden lot and scampered over to the suspension bridge to look down on Triphammer Falls which is the foundation of the Beebe Lake Dam.  The falls are in the middle of campus and can be seen clearly from a pedestrian only bridge and also from a vehicular bridge.  These are dramatic falls but after being so close earlier in the day, it was not as exciting. 

We decided it was time to eat so we headed down the hill. BUT WAIT – we passed by another falls on the list so Laura banged a Uie in the Mom minivan and screeched to a halt at Cascadilla Gorge.  Again, these falls are tucked away in a residential neighborhood with minimal signage.  A well kept stairway and walkway led beside these series of falls which were beautiful.  It was quiet and cool in this wooded oasis.  The gorge ran more than a mile from Ithaca City up to the Cornell campus.  Again, there were very few people on this trail so we could enjoy the solitude.

Both of us were getting hangry so next stop was trusty Wegmans which was a mile away for a huge salad and some sushi.  As is the case everywhere in NY, we had to wear a mask inside but there was ample seating outside where we could enjoy the food.  

We had to round out the day with another winery.  The choice was easier since not all wineries have restaurants and we had just eaten so we headed to the west side of the lake and stopped at Lucas Vineyards for a tasting.  This winery is nestled on the hillside with a breathtaking view of the lake and surrounding farmlands.  We went inside to order and unlike other wineries, we picked our flight and it was served to us outside in small plastic glasses.  They were served on a paper plate with crackers and a bottle of water.  So we didn’t have the benefit of hearing about each wine, but the samples were labeled and we could read a description.  It was nice to relax outside and sip the wine.  And of course, Phil left with two bottles of each of his favorites.  It was a different experience but it worked and seemed to work for everyone else scattered around outside of the winery, sitting in the sun or beneath ample tables with shade.

As usual we were back to the hotel by 6 pm to have a snack and settle in to read and do computer work for the night.  No doubt the day will start early tomorrow, maybe even with a run 😉


Day 6

Shocking I know but today started with a run in accordance with Laura’s training program and I went along because we all know I needed it! We ran from the hotel along the main road and then along side roads in quiet neighborhoods. Back at the hotel we munched on strawberries purchased at the store the day before and other assorted foods in our hotel room stash. To great debate I finished the remaining coffee we had brought to include some Laura had attempted to hide under a napkin. We relaxed a bit and I attempted to study a little for my upcoming training but that didn’t last long. 

We headed out with the plan to knock out the rest of the must see falls in Ithaca: Businessman’s Lunch and Lucifer Falls. The old mill was pretty cool perched on the hillside somehow still clinging onto the the vertical rock wall. Sorry I thought I took video of the fall as I have for all the preceding days but it isn’t not on my phone so evidently I didn’t hit the record button.

From there we drove from Ithaca to Seneca Lake and through several areas of the Finger Lakes Forest. The storms lingered on the horizon and we could hear them but they seemed to be keeping their distance. We pulled over at one trailhead that looked like a farm access or logging road and hiked down through the woods and adjacent open grassland. At one point the road became increasingly narrow and the grass increasingly high and I increasingly hungry and we had some “discussion” as to whether to continue and if I was appropriately dressed to continue on the current path. We returned to the car and drove some more. Just outside the forest land we stopped, turned around, and found another trail. This one much more to my liking; we hiked the loop trail to some beautiful forested area.

Back at the car just as the storm overtook us the rain was heavy and clouds angry with thunder. We drove out of the parklands as we looked over our wine trail guide considering our options. We stopped at Penguin Bay, Hazlitt 1852, and our favorite so far Hector Wine Co. All the wineries have their own personality and many we have found comfortable and enjoyable, a few just so so. Today’s were enjoyable with Hazitt 1852 being really nice with one wine I really liked. However Hector Wine Co was an unexpected treat. First we purchased a baguette, goat milk brie, and salami. Then WE REALIZED THEY HAVE RESIDENT DOGS! Luna and Patches. Everyone there was really inviting and friendly and the market is awesome. You get to walk through the area where all the wine is being aged and taste tested and can choose from a variety of seating. We choose the wine barrow seating and the dogs joined us; perfectly behaved I might add. We snacked on our cheese, bread, and wine to finish out the afternoon before a scenic drive back to the hotel.







Tired, happy, satisfied. 


Day 7 Lake Placid

Today was a good day…… If you are in upstate NY in your own plane how can you not fly north to the Canadian boarder and wave Oh Canada a few times! We were hoping to see a friend in Lake Placid but things and schedules just didn’t work out. However it holds special meaning to us since Laura and I have worked the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon as referees several times and also completed the race as athletes; widely known as one of the toughest courses. 

The weather was bad on Thursday but by Friday morning it had improved as forecasted, we waited to leave the hotel until 9:30 due to fog over the airport and I wanted to make sure the cloud bases continued to lift as forecast. Then halfway to the airport I realized the aircraft keys were on the desk at the hotel so that cost us 20 minutes. However we were in no hurry and we finally got to the airport about 1015 a.m., preflighted the plane and departed to the north toward Sodus NY; approximately 25 nm east of Rochester NY. Once finding Lake Ontario we followed the shoreline east and then north again to the Lawrence River near Kingston Ontario Canada. Flying northeast along the United States side of the river we had gorgeous expansive views of Canada and the US Boarder passing Thousand Island Park, Brockville CA, Ottawa, Montreal & Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport with a lot of French heard over the radio. Once due north of Lake Placid NY we turned south and headed into the Adirondack Mountains which we could see directly in front of us looming on the horizon. This is where Laura quit looking outside and played games on her iPhone.

I was flying visual flight rules VFR but loaded an instrument approach to make finding the airport easier and safer. The mountains were beautiful but there were some clouds at 6500 ft msl which I had been concerned with due to the mountain tops being at 5600+ msl. Therefore I couldn’t fly the instrument approach as published and had to vector myself in closer the the airport than I would have liked to avoid the clouds and ground aka mountain tops. I had planned on the RNAV GPS 32 A landing straight in but ended up high, close, and fast once lined up with the runway 5 miles out with another VFR aircraft below me in the traffic pattern. So I decided to overfly the airport, swing around to enter the traffic pattern, and follow the other aircraft into the airport. This would give me time to lose altitude, slow down, and also not have spacing issues with the other aircraft. I kept a close eye on the terrain and the Olympic Ski Jumps and we landed safely and taxied into the ramp. 

Lake Placid is a small to medium sized airport nestled in the mountains next to the Olympic Ski Jumps; not a great poor weather airport or for the faint of heart. Taxiing in I headed for the fuel pumps or what looked like normal fuel pumps and a kind lady came on the radio and said I was headed for the Jet A pumps and that the Avgas pumps were around the T-Hangars to my left. I S-turned here and there and we finally found an old 1950s looking gas pump under a shed like overhang. She said just pump and let me know how much you get, LOL. 

Once the plane was fueled and we checked in we called a cab to take us to Lake Placid Mirror Lake next to the Olympic Oval. We swam a make shift Ironman loop in the lake then spread out in the sun for awhile to dry off. Lake Placid Brewery is across the street so we ordered take-out and I had diet coke, Laura had an UBU and we both had sandwiches. After that we decided, Laura has a 5 mile or so walking quota, so we walked the 2 miles back to the airport, preflighted the plane, and departed VFR to the southwest to Ithaca NY. The flight was a quick 1 hour direct route and by dinner we where back in Ithaca. 

Tired but happy.  


Day 8 Flight Home & Hound Pick-Up

Today was the return trip; phew a week of vacation and I need to rest!

We had great weather aside from a so so Wednesday weather and even that wasn’t bad. With the current weather pattern I had been seeing there was widespread low visibility, fog, and clouds through 10 a.m. then a mid level layer of clouds through noon with building storms in the afternoon; typical July/August summer weather. So I woke up and checked the reports to confirm the expected and filed an IFR flight plan for a 10 a.m. departure from Ithaca NY.

We drove to the airport and straight to the airplane to load the baggage and acquired cargo. I preflighted the aircraft and loaded the cargo and Laura returned the rental car. By the time she returned we were ready to go. I started the airplane, picked up our clearance, and we were on our way. It was a mix of clouds and clear skies with a few bumps; not as much as I had hoped for, more than Laura liked.

We flew an approach into Westminster, Md with cloud bases at about 24oo msl and landed safely, quickly taxiing to the hangar to unload the goods and put away the plane in the hangar. Then it was off to pick up the dogs before the kennel for Bella and the resort for Buddy closed for the weekend. Both dogs seemed to remember us and were happy to see us again.

Not recovery begins.

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