blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Another trip to Ithaca

Over eastern Ontario, near the St. Lawrence, looking north
We flew to Ithaca in New York State today; we came here in the spring of 2016 and have been thinking for some time that it would be worth coming back; it seems a good way to spend the Easter Weekend. We are in luck with the weather, although it wasn't good enough for us to set off yesterday. IFR flying isn't so much of a problem in summer but at this time of year it's best to keep out of the clouds because of the risk of picking up ice (as we started to do on our way back from Kingston recently). Let's hope there are no clouds to fly through on the way home. Today's flight was totally clear of cloud.

"Before take-off, a professional pilot is keen, anxious, but lest someone read his true feelings, he is elaborately casual." (E.K. Gann, 1944). This is Chris---every time!---pacing around in the clubhouse at the start of a flying trip.

Ogdensburg International Bridge from the southern shore
Up earlier than on usual Saturdays, we took off from Rockcliffe at 9:40, having filed an international flight plan to Ogdensburg, the closest airport where a customs and immigration service was available today. It only took us 47 minutes to get there from CYRO although we were not allowed to fly in a direct line, and had a headwind. The customs men from the Ogdensburg bridge arrived exactly on time, driving through the airport gateway in their car just as we were going through our post landing checks. These men were quick and efficient too: checked our passports and Chris' pilot licence, went round the plane pointing their Geiger counter at it in case we had radioactive bombs on board (I don't think we'd have had room for any on the back seat, what with the other luggage) and we were cleared into the USA. Three minutes all told.

Landing at KITH, jet holding short of Runway 14
We got out of the plane before our next leg, which was 1 hour 41 minutes from KOGS to KITH (Ogdensburg to Ithaca). The headwinds on take-off were quite gusty, and strong at altitude, so that we feared it would take longer, but less strong as we progressed south of Watertown and Syracuse, with Oneida Lake on our left and the pretty Finger Lakes in their ancient glacial valleys ahead of us. We had an "interesting" approach and landing at Ithaca due to gustier than anticipated winds. Chris handled this really well, as usual. The service at the "Taughannock Aviation" FBO was marvellous, with a very efficient and friendly young lady at the reception desk. She had booked our hotel room for us yesterday as soon as I called to enquire what the FBO could do for us, and when we landed and walked in she had the hotel shuttle bus driver already there, waiting to fetch us into town. Meanwhile, one of her colleagues was parking the plane for us and offering to carry our luggage across the apron in a golf cart.

We've experienced good service at other FBOs, but this was exceptional. The shuttle bus driver was impressed too, especially by the fact that she'd served him a free bagel and a coffee while he was waiting for us to arrive.

Lighthouses at the end of Lake Cayuga, Ithaca
By the time we'd checked in at the new Marriott, the hotel the girl had picked for us (we got a hotel discount from the FBO as well) I was famished, so we ducked into one of the nearby eateries, Simeon's Bistro, for a brunch. After our meal, sauntering towards a large 2nd hand bookshop called Autumn Leaves, I picked up a leaflet at the Information Centre, advertising the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. We didn't do this actual walk but a parallel one on the opposite shore of the Cayuga Inlet, as far as the point beyond the municipal Golf Course where we could see out into Lake Cayuga, where the two lighthouses are. Yachts were sailing on the lake, perhaps for the first time this year, on this warm and sunny afternoon. Other boaters (oarsmen and -women) were getting ready for action too. There are numerous young people in this town, mostly associated with Cornell University, probably, raring to go at whatever takes their fancy. The energy in the town is palpable. I wouldn't mind living here.

In spite of the blustery wind, people weren't wearing coats, and after the first half mile of our walk, nor was I.

Beyond the Farmers' Market, not in operation till the summer, the historic wharfs and the many boat places, we had the pathways mostly to ourselves, and walked out along the top of the wall to the lighthouse at the end of the promontory. Well, Chris calls it a promontory (I had to look up the spelling) but it is just a crumbling wall on a rocky point, really. I was a bit nervous of falling of it into the lapping (and certainly cold) water where Canada geese (with yellow plastic markers round their necks, for some reason) were swimming and the male ones fighting. Chris went ahead but before he reached the lighthouse a female goose, fiercely guarding "at least half a dozen" eggs in the nest she had built on this wall, hissed at him and flapped her wings, so we had to turn around. We warned other walkers coming our way not to approach her.

The walk back into town seemed long and I fell onto the hotel bed, once I reached it, for a short snooze before supper which we found at an excellent Indian restaurant close to the Ithaca Commons.

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