Monday, October 14, 2013

Ithaca is "Gorges"

When Nasher and I finally found our way back to my brother's house after the Invictas concert, ( we got a little lost), we cracked a bottle of wine and settled into reminiscing and catching on up on our present lives.  Pierre the cat was hangin with us but managed to escape into the night.  The plan was that I would go visit my cousin in Ithaca, NY on Cayuga Lake and be back in time for a picnic on Loon Lake where Nasher lives. I was originally going to go on Friday and return on Saturday but the other girls we were going to get together with wanted to do something Saturday night so I headed out the next day, Thursday, for Michelle's.  Should have stuck to my original plan.  The girls changed the picnic to Sunday.  No problem.  Off I went in the trusty Trailblazer to Ithaca. I was a pro at getting out of Penfield now but not a pro at driving on the New York Thruway which is full of semi trucks that are allowed to travel at high speeds and in any lane they want to. Out here there are speed limits and they cannot travel in the fast lanes. I was sure happy when my exit came up.
Ithaca is a college town, Ithaca State College and Cornell University being the colleges. Michelle's husband Ian is a professor at Ithaca State. He and their son, little Crosby,were in Cape Cod so it was going to be a girls night with 2 yr. old Joanie, Michelle and I.  Ian and Michelle bought a very cool old house and have been restoring it bit by bit. It has three floors. Typical "back East" house.  My grandparents had one similar but the third floor was an attic with all sorts of treasures in it.  The children's bedrooms are up on the third floor in Mich's house. What a great place to grow up. Ithaca is known for it's Gorges and beauty parks.  It is on Cayuga Lake, another of the Finger Lakes. It looked like rain was moving in and it did. Little Joanie was having nothing to do with this stranger intruding into her home. One can't be too careful at 2 years old.

We headed to downtown Ithaca for dinner and a walk around. The shops sell "Ithaca is Gorges" everything, the usual bumper stickers, tee shirts, hats , scarves, underwear and more. Drizzly rain and thunder prevailed but we didn't care.
When I was in college in Rochester, NY I visited a couple of my friends who were attending Ithaca State. The town was vaguely familiar even though it is undergoing a renovation.  The restaurant Mich chose was called "Just A Taste Wine and Tapas Bar". Excellent choice. We stuck with the Tapas part of the menu.  Cute Joanie had her little treats from the "Mom Bag" and seemed to be having a good time. Everything was delicious! College towns tend to have reasonably priced menus too. A glass of excellent Grenache was only $4.50 compared to $9. out here. We grazed on five different little plates, which was one plate too many. Here is the current menu. We had the Tortilla Espanola and Spicy Shrimp saute which are still on the menu as well as fabo deep fried ricotta stuffed squash blossoms with amazing green-herb-poblano chile sauce. Wow! Garlic braised greens and a house made smoked Polish sausage just about finished us off.
By the time we got home a huge thunder and lightening storm was raging.  We couldn't hear much of it once inside her cozy house sipping another glass of wine.

The next day was raining and gray.  She said we could go to visit one of her favorite gorges. I was up for that!
It seemed a little muddy out and I definitely did not have good hiking shoes on, actually no hiking shoes on, just Croc slipons. Mistake.
The first park looked like a disaster area. It reminded me of the mudslides after El Nino storms out here. Huge piles of mud and debris. Where did this stuff come from? Well the storm the previous night was a doozie. We were turned away from the entrance of the park as clean up crews were scooping up mud. They told us the Gorge was closed and would be for weeks due to the slides.  "Let's go to Buttermilk Falls" said Mich." It is not as spectacular but still pretty". Okay lets.
Cayuga Lake is a glacier lake formed 15,000 years ago when mile high glaciers covered this area.  Here is a good website to read up on it's history and check out pics. When we pulled into the Buttermilk Falls parking lot we were allowed to pass for free because Friday is "Senior's Day". Woo hoo. I had to show my ID though just in case I was only 30 yrs old trying to pass for over 60. The rain had turned into a drizzle and off we went. The falls did not seem at all timid. They were roaring down the cliff and looked more like Niagra Falls.  Signs were posted prohibiting swimming. No kidding! The little wooden bridge was barely passable as the water was so high. The buttermilk colored falls were spectacular and I took a few pictures.

Buttermilk Falls and the slippery steps

We started up the natural shale steps with a few other brave souls.  I was trying to be very careful on the muddy steps.  Sometimes I tend to trip but for some reason I haven't tripped once in the past two years since Steve passed away. Maybe he has been the angel on my shoulder. This day was the day after the second year anniversary of his passing.  Did my warranty expire? The angel must have been tending to someone else because I took a bad, bad fall. One of my Crocs caught on the edge of the shale step and stuck there, twisting my knee and subsequently breaking one of my toes. I went down straight into the gravel and mud.  Oh my! My little Joanie was horrified to see me covered in mud but I think I saw a little smile when Mich and I started to laugh.  That was the end of that hike.  I regret that she didn't take a pic of me in that state. An elderly couple was just beginning to take the hike up the steps when they took one look at me and turned around. Good thinking.

My second and third cousins

Back at the house I took a shower and stashed my muddy clothes. I knew something was terribly wrong because I really could barely walk. My sweet cousin was so worried about me and felt like it was her fault but it was not. One should not attempt to hike without proper shoes on. She made me a lovely lunch of homemade hummus ( yum) with veges and sliced chicken.  I decided to leave soon after so I could get back to my brother's house.  Luckily it was my left leg so driving was no problem and it actually gave me a chance to rest the leg.

Safely back at Bob's house I dragged out some ice and sat with my leg elevated icing the knee. He came in and immediately poured me a glass of wine.  We decided to order pizza for a crowd as it was Friday night and surely everyone would show up sooner or later.   The next day, Saturday, I told Bob I had to go to Urgent Care. My leg was so swollen and the toe was black and blue. Off we went.  They took xrays and said I had a badly sprained knee and broken  toe, gave me the names of several Orthopedic Drs., wrapped my leg in an ACE bandage and put one of those shoes with the velcro closures on. The only trouble was that the broken toe hung over the edge. I ditched that and opted for my nice flat sturdy flip flops.  Since I was flying back to California on the following Wednesday it was pointless to try to make an appointment with a Dr. I got a good hobble on and managed to get around okay. 

 This went on for a month. Finally I went to my Dr. and she ordered an MRI. Much to my surprise I had fractured my lower leg bone and strained all of the tendons and whatever else holds your knee together. As usual they had to point out the fact that I have arthritis in that knee which I already knew but also added that I might need a knee replacement in a few years. Now, feeling really bad, I tried to get into an Orthopedic Doc. When the receptionist said it would be 1 1/2 weeks and I said "but I have a fractured leg"! She responded with "well you have been walking around on it for 4 weeks and it only takes about 6-8 to heal". Now THAT made me feel better.  Anyway the good news was it was healing properly and all I needed was a cane, rest and for God's sake do not wear flip flops until it is healed. okay.....

Someday I will get to those "Gorges" and Joanie will be chattering away.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Doin the "Hump" baby!

I was so excited when I got an email saying that my favorite band from the 1960s, "The Invictas" were going to be playing in Rochester when I was visiting. My friends and I were total groupies. Sure we loved the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and most of the British invasion groups but we couldn't go see those bands 7 days a week if we wanted to.  The four founding members of The Invictas were college guys from RIT in Rochester, NY.  They drove around in a black hearse and still do but it has been embellished and souped up.

 One of the original "garage" bands, The Invictas with three of the original guys got back together in 2005.  They live in different states but still manage to travel and play gigs on the East Coast and in Rochester.  When we were following them they played at an old Inn near Lake Ontario called "Tiny's Bengel Inn".  We would beg anyone who had a car to take us there. My Dad used to drive some of my girlfriends and I there on occasion. So cool. The place was packed with lines waiting to get in. Tiny, a huge man, loved us and always let us go to the head of the line. We wouldn't miss "hump day" Wednesdays that brought us closer to Friday when the  real party began. I don't know exactly when it started but somehow a dance became popular that emulated, well, humping!  Herb Gross, Jimmy Kohler, Dave Hickey and Mark Blumenfeld soon recorded a song aptly named "The Hump". It was a huge hit and number one in many East Coast cities. Someone coined the term "Invictamania" when referring to that era.
circa 1960's The Invictas
 When the band traveled they were actually forbidden to play their hit song in some cities.  Of course they ignored those warnings and ended up being "Banned in Newark" and I think other places.  It wasn't uncommon for the "establishment" to ban songs sang by current rock bands. That made them all the more popular. 
I connected with them on facebook and "Liked" them which is how I got the email about the concert.  I rallied a few of my girlfriends and we agreed to meet there. It was Anne's birthday, however, and after the yellow jacket incident..(turns out there was a huge hive in her wall that the exterminator took care of) , she bowed out.  Her husband had recent surgery and wasn't feeling well either. Okay one down.  Nasher was still on. We were hoping Shelley could make it. 

Sandy Nash (Nasher) came over to my brother Bob's house to pick me up.  They hadn't seen each other in awhile and one thing led to another with Bob pulling out his harmonica to blow a few notes into. He had a band during the mid 70's. It was called "Wale/Wail" depending on the year as it changed names. He can still play a mean harmonica too!!  That link shows pictures of Bob as lead singer. He was the skinny one with long hair and wild blue eyes. Wild days. 
Brother Bob playing his harmonica

Off we went in the direction of  Lake Ontario for the "Concerts at the Shore" sponsored by Wegman's grocery stores. These are free concerts and draw large crowds. The Invictas are a very big draw as all of us "boomers"  like to relive our youth. When we got there it looked like it had rained but the skies were clearing up. Everyone stuck it out.  First thing we see is the hearse in all of it's reincarnated glory.
Very cool hot rod hearse!

 The music was pouring out of the gazebo and the crowd was rockin. "Rock til ya drop" is the Invictas motto! Nasher had the forethought to pack a few beers so we popped a couple. We wandered up to the little table with cd's, hats and tee shirts for sale. It was manned by Tim Kearney a former Bengel's bartender and as it turned out the brother of one of Nasher's old boyfriends. Small world. Tim said he would pass her info on to his brother.
He let us stash our purses so we could get down to some serious dancing.  Honestly the guys sounded even better than I expected and certainly better than many current bands. There were a few new members and lots of instruments and amps. Plus they were hot!! All were in excellent shape and could not only sing but were smokin on their instruments. I love our generation.

When they took a break we got to catch up on old times and were in tears laughing.  What happened to Jim's (Spank) straight carefully "ironed" brown hair? It is all wild and curly now, perfect for a Bass player or "hey, I am just the bass player". Herb, the Lead singer is still the promoter and keeps the crowd rockin out. Dave, the drummer is as mellow as I remembered him.  Unfortunately I did not get to meet the other members.   Nasher was asking about another of her old flings, Eddie who was the roadie equipment guy for the band. He used to pick her up in the hearse at her house. Dad Nash wasn't too happy about that mode of transportation. Jim said he had Eddie's contact info, mentioning that he was once a truck driver but something happened to his eyes so now he was a security guard.  Hello! Don't they carry guns and don't you have to see to shoot one? Peels of laughter, then we remembered when the hearse ran over Nashers leg. Somehow she wasn't seriously injured but they remembered the tire left an imprint. It was so good to see them all again. They went back to play the last set which included "The Hump".  There was a cameraman filming for their upcoming CD. We might be included in the video which would be a total blast. Check out this site for a fun video about them.

We were starving and found a restaurant close by. The hamburgers looked huge so we split one. It was the best burger I have had in a very long time. The lettuce, tomato, onion that usually adorn burgers was actually like a salad, dressed with really good herb-y vinaigrette.
Marina's hamburger

 Just as we were toasting each other with glasses of fabulous red wine, the Hearse pulled around the corner. We waved, they honked and off they went into the night.
Rock til ya drop!