Ithaca is gorges.

My side of the family — Dad, Mom, Nathan, Caleb and Grandma — came to visit us for a week! They arrived late last Thursday and stayed out at the airport, then after Ian and I got off work, we picked up a Philly Car Share minivan and went to Ithaca, New York, for the weekend! Mom and Dad have been planning on taking us (me, Nathan, and Caleb) for years, since they met at Cornell while doing their graduate studies. Visiting me and Ian in Philadelphia put us just a few hours away. I told Ian he's lucky mom and dad didn't get around to it earlier, so he could come too! Anyway, this will be a VERY photo-heavy post, especially Ithaca, because it really is gorges, which are gorgeous! (Saying taken from a shirt you can buy there.) And, of course, I'll share about the rest of their visit in Philly! So apologies for this being so long, but hang in there: mostly photos means it takes less time to just scan through, right?

We left in the early evening on Friday, which meant we hit a little rush hour traffic on the way out of the city, and then Ian was driving in the dark (and some heavier rain — Grandma was impressed with his driving skills!). We ate at Roy Rogers — don't do that. Arby's is better. Around Scranton (yay for The Office!), Nathan requested a rest stop. Ian tried to exit where it said to exit, but it just brought us around and back onto the highway. Their exits are really confusing. He tried again, and we ended up at Scranton International Airport. So Nathan hopped out and used their facilities. Not a bad rest area.

scranton international airport

Saturday morning we woke up refreshed and ready to see Cornell. Mom and Dad took us by all their spots: Dad's old dorm, where Mom had an office, the lab where she did her research, the Ag Quad, and the scenic places they went to while they were there. It was fun listening to their stories. Dad told us how it was an adventure to bike down the steep incline of the road connecting downtown to campus/College Town, and Mom hoped Souvlaki House, a Greek pizzeria, would still be there — it was, but we discovered it Sunday morning and they didn't open until the evening when we needed to be on our way back, which was sad. Ithaca is in the finger lakes area of New York, and reminded us of mountain towns in Colorado. Cornell's campus is at the higher point of the city and is nestled among all the gorges and waterfalls. I can't explain how beautiful it all is, so I'll just continue with the large amount of photos I warned you about...

dwight & kris back @ the dorms
Dad and Mom in front of Dad's old dorm.
the bell tower
the clock and bell tower.
ivy at a library
ivy on one of the libraries.

Caleb demonstrated how musical the roof of the library is — Ian said it was probably hollow underneath to collect rainwater to reuse for watering and such.

A nice family offered to take a family photo of us in front of Ezra Cornell's statue.

the family with ezra cornell
waterfalls on cornell's campus
One of the waterfalls on campus — this is only the first half of it, more goes under the bridge we're standing on in the photo.

There was a footbridge crossing this waterfall, and you could walk beside this small lake. This small lake had lots of geese, and I had Cheez-Its. Which resulted in this video. When I ran out of food, I started getting a little nervous the geese would be upset and attack me. And I don't think I like the sound of my voice, just in general. Do I really sound that mousy?

Dad showed off the really old ivy — note how thick that vine is. Cornell is the only land grant Ivy League school, so he said it is at Cornell the ivy is grown for everyone else. He's pretty proud of that ivy.

dad is proud of that ivy
plant science building
the plant science building off the ag quad.

After lunch, Ian and I went to get the van and pick up everyone else. On the way, we saw a groundhog.

groundhog on campus

We adventured on the path down Fall Creek Gorge under the suspension bridge on campus. Mom and Grandma played it safe and stayed in the van.

warning: natural area
waterfall view from the bottom
the waterfall.
nathan & the suspension bridge
Nathan, and the walking suspension bridge above him.
ian & anna in the gorge
me and Ian.
stairs to the gorge
the stairs back up.

We next drove to Ithaca Falls, a 150 foot drop further down Fall Creek.

caleb & ian @ ithaca falls

Then we went to the overlook for Taughannock Falls, which is a 215 foot drop. Taller than Niagara Falls at 170 feet, even if it isn't as wide. Here's mom taking our picture.

kris takes our photo at  taughannock falls

After dinner at a Thai place, we went back to Cornell so Ian could see this space, designed by Michael Van Valkenburg, a well-known landscape architect Ian met at a design charrette with Van Valkenburg's firm and Olin Partnership for a project on Penn's campus. This project is the area in front of their performance hall, and it's a great place to gather after seeing a show!

the theater building
water feature
The beautiful fountain in the space, which depicts how the landscape was formed/is in the area.
trees @ bailey plaza
Some of the trees surrounding the space.
the clock tower at night
The clock tower at night.

Sunday, after attending Dad's old church there, Bethel Grove Bible Church, we went to The Commons downtown, which is a section of street they converted to a pedestrian area and has lots of shops. Ithaca Fest 2008 was this weekend, so we had some lunch from the vendors here.

food court w/ funnel cake & peruvian food

Ian took some video of a couple dancing to the jazz band.

After lunch, we drove back out to Lake Cayuga so we could see Taughannock Falls from the ground. It's a flat, easy mile walk down the stream, which empties into Lake Cayuga. It's mostly really flat, and Ian and I walked part of the way down stream in the water, instead of the trail.

ian explores a stairway
Ian explores a stairway off the trail.
beside the taughannock falls trail
one of the smaller falls on the way.
daisy on the taughannock falls trail
a pretty flower Ian photographed.
grandma & anna @ taughannock falls
me and Grandma at the falls.

They had info boards at the base of the falls, and we found out the falls are named after an Indian chief who was killed by another tribe in a war, and the other tribe threw his body down the falls.

family @ taughannock falls
the family, minus Ian, at the falls. 
taughannock falls from the bottom
a final shot of the falls.

We got back to Philly later Sunday night and got the family checked into their motel. The next day the went sight seeing, and then we met up with them for dinner at Cuba Libre, which is a restaurant with amazing atmosphere. Sitting there made us feel like we were actually in Cuba. And the food was pretty tasty too.

We took the subway back after dinner, and Ian took some candid shots of the family...

waiting for the subway

Their hotel was just down the street from the Comcast Center, so we passed by it often.

comcast center fountains
the fountains in front of the Comcast Center.

Ian also took some video of the fountains, and also the amazing screen that makes everything look real. HD, look out! The video is a little grainy, so you can't tell as well, but if you see it in person, it will blow you away. There was always a small crowd watching every time we went past.

Tuesday I took my family to Penn's campus (Dad kept joking how they barely had any Ivy, and none as old as Cornell's), and the gardens Ian and I discovered the last time we walked around there. We saw a family of ducks, and Mom was fascinated by the little birds bathing in the little waterfalls.

a family of ducks

A group of little kids with leaders arrived while we were there. I heard one little boy say, "What's that in the water? I bet it's a JELLYFISH!" Ah, kids are so cute.

kids observing the pond

After Penn, we went to the Rodin Museum. It's tiny, but cheap. And we saw the Gate of Hell.

rodin museum

Wednesday I met up with them after I got off work, and we hung out at Independence Mall while we waited for Ian to finish up. Once again, I had Cheez-Its (from lunch this time) and Nathan attempted to get the birds to eat from his hand. It didn't work, but some got close, looking incredibly nervous.

nathan feeds the birds

Ian took us up for an office tour when he finished with work, then we went to Cebu to eat. We talked this Filipino restaurant up to mom, only to find out they had recently changed their menu and had next to no traditional Filipino foods. But mom used her Filipino charm and ended up making friends with the waiter, Geian (it was his first day, and I think we scared him at first, but he was great), and the sous chef, who was Filipino. She scared him at first, too, by energetically waving at him from across the restaurant, and we all had a good laugh. Geian got him over to our table though, and he was really nice. Apparently the menu change is to try to get a different customer base, and apparently Philadelphians aren't fans of most Filipino food (boo). So we missed out on halo-halo (mix-mix, in Tagalog) for dessert, but it was a fun experience, and the food was still good. And we found out mom has met the chef's aunt and uncle, who currently live in Kansas. Forget 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, it's my mom!

Thursday I hung out with them again, and we went shopping to spend Mom's birthday money and get Nathan new shoes. Afterward, we went to the hotel to hang out, since their flight left early this morning. Mom came with me to get my computer so I could work on the bulletin at the hotel, and we took a great self portrait while we were there!

anna & mom

So now you've virtually traveled to Ithaca and spent a week with the family. Thanks for making it this far! And Mom and Dad, thanks for the wonderful time, and for the week-long double birthday celebration! And to all of you — Mom, Dad, Nathan, Caleb, and Grandma, thanks for having fun with us! We love you so much and can't wait to see you in August!

anna's family at the hotel