Settling down back in upstate NY in the beginning of May, Jamie and I were looking forward to a great summer. We were excited to spend time with my parents and also to get out and experience all that we could with the 3-4 short months we’d be there.
At work, we jumped through orientation and hit the floors, learning on the fly as we’re typically offered only a couple days of training. I had worked at Lourdes Hospital in the Emergency Department before going back to nursing school, so I was familiar with the facility and even ran into some old colleagues along the way.
We wasted no time getting outdoors, and at the recommendation of my mom, the three of us and Charley headed to Ricketts Glen in PA, about 3 hours south in the PA highlands. It proved to be a worthwhile trip, as the mid-May rain and snowmelt had the streams swollen and waterfalls crashing.
Another PA spot we’d hit several weeks later, and one that we’ve frequented in the past, was Salt Springs State Park. The drive to Salt Springs isn’t nearly as much of a commitment, as its well under an hour to get there, and it offers numerous trails and streams, with a chain of waterfalls that give the overheated hiker a number of opportunities to cool off.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Jamie, mom and I met up with Uncle Mark and Rita to canoe down the Chenango River, starting at the Tioughnioga River, one of its tributaries. We had never been river canoeing before, but Mark was helpful in showing us the ropes and ensuring we didn’t do anything reckless. Probably about 7 miles of canoeing over a few hours took us back south and west to our disembark point at Chenango Bridge.
In June we celebrated by Mom’s birthday (June 25) a couple of times. On the 25th, Mom, Charley and I picked up Uncle Mark and Chloe, Rita’s daughter, and headed eastward, with our destination being the eastern edge of the Catskill mountains. We parked at North/South Lake campground and hiked along the escarpment that faces the flatlands of the Hudson Valley. With the top of the escarpment being about a thousand feet higher than the bottom of the plateau, it offered views as far off as the Green Mountains to the northeast in Vermont. Along the way back to the car, we stopped off at sunrise rock and artist rock, and took in views facing back on the mountains cradling North/South Lake.
It was my second trip to the Catskills that week, as Jamie, Charley and I had gone up a few days prior and hiked a segment of the Devil’s Path up to Westkill mountain.
When we arrived back home that evening, we celebrated Mom’s birthday with cake and a family zoom call. That weekend, we spent time up at Skaneateles Lake, kayaking with my mom and dad, having lunch at the Sherwood Inn on the northern end of the lake, and stopping by Anyela’s Vineyard and Winery on the west side.
Once we returned back home that evening, we had some of the Whalens over for a small covid appropriate gathering to celebrate Mom’s birthday. We were treated to an excellent sunset as well!
To kick off July, we made our way back up to Skaneateles Lake, this time to meet up with our friends Dave and Cait. Again, we dropped kayaks in the lake and set out for a couple hours, checking out the impressive shoreline houses and estates.
After working up an appetite on the lake, we grabbed a bite in town and drove over to Carpenter falls, a waterfall situated on the southwest side of the lake and dropping off the gorge from high above. We bounced around the trail a bit, skirting the gorge edge for maybe a mile, then Dave and I dropped down the steep grade to test out the waters. All in all a nice day trip with excellent company.
Next up on our to do list for the summer was a trip to the high peaks region of the Adirondacks near Lake Placid. Charley sat out on this trip, instead opting so spend some quality time with her grandparents back in Endicott.
The weekend was cut short by a series of rain showers on the back end, but we enjoyed our time hiking and sightseeing. We were also lucky to be up in Lake Placid the same time our friends Mike and Devin were up from Brooklyn visiting Mike’s parents. We were treated to an excellent brunch the day we left town, complete with bottomless mimosas (thanks Rick!).
The following weekend we made our way back to Massachusetts for our friends Kathryn and Shawn’s wedding. The trip was very touch-and-go, but the wedding was tons of fun and it was so good to see Jed, Moe and the rest of the family while we were home, if only for a day.
The Monday after the wedding, we set out for Binghamton yet again. Unfortunately, Monday was also Jamie’s birthday. Spending 5 hours in the car is no way to spend a birthday. So later that week, Jamie, mom, and I took a day trip up to Cooperstown. For having grown up in upstate New York, I’m a bit ashamed of myself that I haven’t spent more time in the Cooperstown area.
A historical town full of culture and charm, Cooperstown sits on the southern end of Otsego Lake and, of course, is the home of the baseball hall of fame. But on this trip, we spent time enjoying lunch on the shore of the lake at the Otesaga Resort Hotel and going to Glimmerglass State Park. To wrap things up, we went to the nearby Ommegang brewery for a beer and some nachos. I’d say Jamie was satisfied with her birthday celebration (I hope)!
About a week and half later, it was back to Mansfield MA to celebrate Abbey and Ethan’s wedding. A wedding that saw the guest list drop from 200+ to 15 due to Covid, we celebrated Abbey and Ethan in a more intimate ceremony setting in Ethan’s parents backyard. I had the privilege of officiating the wedding, and Jamie was Abbey’s Matron of Honor. We got a ton of family time and spent the weekend going slow and enjoying the company of one another.
A week or so after the wedding, I boarded a flight to Phoenix, with the plan to meet up with my brother Kaivan (living in PHX) and help him drive back to New York to escape the oppressive heat and enjoy summer and fall back in the northeast. I landed in the evening, and by 8am the following morning we were on the road headed north to Flagstaff.
Our route took us from Flagstaff up through Four Corners monument to Telluride, where we planned to spend a few nights hiking in the area and getting a taste of the town. Accompanied by his dog Lulu, the three of us hiked in the mornings, and enjoyed scenic drives through the San Juan Skyway or off road 4WD roads in the afternoon.
After Telluride, we made our way up to Denver to see my friends Joe and Olivia and spend a night in town before aggressively pushing eastward. We got a round of golf in at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden and were treated to an excellent taco dinner by Olivia.
We made it to Terre Haute, IN, after a long day of driving through eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri the following day. One more day on the road through Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and western New York brought us back home to Binghamton and thus ended our cross-country trip.
We took one last trip back to Massachusetts to see family and friends before our big trip out west:
Last year, for our anniversary, we had gone to a Head & the Heart concert while in Seattle and had a blast. This year, Jamie found out about a drive-in concert in Philly with one of our new favorites, Mt Joy, headlining. We loaded up the car for an overnight trip to the city of Brotherly Love, complete with an anniversary dinner at Talula’s Garden and drive-in show at the Philadelphia Phillies stadium parking lot. The drive-in show experience was a bit strange, but fun nonetheless and Mt Joy didn’t disappoint.
The next week, we wrapped up our assignment at Lourdes Hospital and said goodbye to our coworkers. The 17 weeks had really flown by as we learned a lot and handled the new situation and workplace as best we could.
Wrapping up our excellent summer, we had a get-together at Beer Tree Brewery in Port Crane with some of the Whalen family. It was so good to see family, as with covid we unfortunately weren’t able to have too many gatherings while we were home.
A few more photos from hanging in upstate NY below:
One last sunset from the backyard to round out this blog post:
Stay tuned for our next blog posts about our trip out west to California!