Sunday, July 26, 2009

NY Trip: Driving and the B&B

I got the germ for the idea of going to NY a few months ago. No, not just because I wanted to have a trip scheduled AFTER Charleston (Orlando not being until October; so long to wait for a another outing (me with my itchy feet, that is too long to wait)) but, rather, because I realized it had been FIVE years since we were last in Ithaca and FOUR years since we'd seen Mr. B's brother Mike and his family (they came here for our wedding celebration weekend June 2004). Also, I had yet to meet Mr. B's other brother Kevin, his Aunt Judy and Uncle John, his Uncle Lyle and his three cousins Kathy, Sharon and Joanne.
So, we planned it around Kevin's birthday (July 20th) and what we thought might be Mr. B's 35th HS Reunion (this, however, did not come to pass as no one wanted to organize the reunion). An added bonus; Mrs. Sr. B Roberta was also thinking of flying up from FL around the same time. And, of course, who could complain about the chance to take our fairly new car on a long road trip? I LOVE road trips (usually; more on this, later).
First things first; I had to secure us a room. In 2004, we stayed at a Days Inn or some such place; Mr. B said it was fairly reasonable rate-wise so that is where I started searching. My God, things have apparently changed! The cheapest rate I found (for somewhere we'd be willing to stay) was around $150 a night (for a MOTEL). No thanks. So, I started looking at Ithaca area B&Bs and found a few that seemed ok, especially given the rates of the other places. We settled on The Coddington Guest House near Ithaca College; a fairly modest place with three guest rooms, breakfast included in the rate (of course). Cheaper than The Best Western!
We left home dark and early at 5:22 am Friday. There is not a lot of traffic on the roads we normally travel at that hour so we made it to the freeway in SIX minutes and to the border of NC/VA in one hour.
For the most part, the early part of our drive was ok except for one major snafu outside of DC where I needed to find a bathroom and we got stuck in some traffic, were going the wrong way ("This isn't the way I remembered it!" was definitely the theme of this trip) and I thought I was going to explode. Luckily, Mr. B managed to get us off the congested freeway (accident, we later discovered) to a shopping mall where I was never so happy to go inside an A.C. Moore (and thankful for Mr. B's ability to drive Starskey and Hutch style through the unknown streets!)
Back on track, sort of; we ended up on a smaller highway up towards PA. A pretty enough drive but it wasn't the way Mr. B wanted to go (I'd printed out directions via Yahoo Maps which he decided were not right (but we ended up following them after the getting turned around the wrong way drama). Also, for whatever dumb reason, we left the atlas in the other car. Word to the wise. Don't attempt to drive somewhere without a map; Internet directions are ok, but remember they always advise "Please check first to make sure these roads still exist!" (I'm not really sure how you are supposed to do that other than what we did, which is, you get up there and find out they DON'T really exist). Like I said, Mr. B, who used to drive this way all the time back in the late 80s, was flummoxed by what he thought was one thing and it turned out to be another.
On to PA via 83 and then 81. Ok, except once we got onto 81 toward NY, we discovered they were doing bridge repair on EVERY SINGLE BRIDGE. Traffic was backed up and bunched up and, basically, we got held up about two hours in this mess (BTW, although the lanes were blocked off, NO ONE was working on ANY of the bridges!) I was driving during this stint; I was quite upset because every time I wanted to blast Rush's "Red Barchetta", we'd get slowed down. I'm sorry, it is against all rules to play that song when YOU ARE NOT MOVING!
Once inside NY things picked up until we got near Binghamton where, once again, traffic came to a halt. This time it was an accident (sorry to see that, of course, but happy it wasn't more bridge repair or construction).
We should have been to the B&B by 3:30 or so, as it turned out, we arrived about 5:45. The owner, Denice, had even called us to make sure all was still ok!
A bit about The Coddington Guest House:
This house has welcomed many first-generation Italian immigrants since they began to arrive in Ithaca at the beginning of the 20th Century. From large families to mail-order brides, many of these immigrants stopped first at 130 Coddington Road on their way to a more established existence. The Coddington Guest House honors those memories and traditions that were so much a part of the Ithaca community when its ranks swelled with hopeful strangers from afar. May these walls continue to be welcoming.
Our room was comfortable enough; the bed certainly was. We had a private entrance (not that we really needed it) and breakfast each morning was served in the sunroom. The food was quite good, too. We had fresh fruit and breakfast breads each morning and then a different entree (well, there was one duplicate; we had an egg souffle (roasted red peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, basil and cheese)) twice. The other days we had home made waffles and sausage, an interesting chilled oatmeal, fruit and yogurt breakfast parfait and a nutmeg and egg bread pudding.
The first morning, another couple was there; the man walked right into the kitchen and said, "Guess who died last night?" Walter Cronkite, of course. The other days we shared the B&B with a young family from Maryland (she'd gone to Ithaca College) and their inquisitive and talkative three year old son James (with fire engine red hair to match his bold personality). In general, James was well-behaved (we never heard him other than when he was with us in the breakfast room). Denice had a fourteen year old son whom we caught glimpses of, one of her friends from FL was visiting (she joined us for breakfast twice) and there was a man living there as well but we don't know who he was as he was never introduced. Denice told us she'd bought the B&B 10 or so years ago with the idea of making it family-friendly; her son being quite young at that point and she having had experienced difficulties in staying at a B&B that didn't frown upon children. She said as it's turned out, she doesn't actually get too many children staying there as most people that stay are parents or family members visiting their student at nearby Cornell or Ithaca College.
In general, Mr. B and I like B&Bs because you get a bit more personal touches, usually a wealth of information about the area (Denice also works for The Wine Gazette so she had a lot of advice about wineries and restaurants) and typically very good breakfasts (far superior to the cold cereal, day old danishes, containers of strawberry yogurt and crappy coffee you get at chain motels, if you even get that).
My only beef, and it's a minor one, really was that BECAUSE it was a family-oriented place and because we were off the family room area, we could hear Denice yakking on the phone from time to time (and she had a loud voice to go with her boisterous personality). But, since we really were not there very much at all, this wasn't a huge problem. We'd probably stay there again, but maybe in one of the rooms upstairs next time.
Here are a few pictures of the B&B (most courtesy of the web site as, unusual for me, I forgot to take pictures myself!)

Front; our room on the left (large picture window; great view of the lake!)

Front porch; our private entrance was the door you see there
Breakfast area leading out to sunroom where we ate each morning
Mr. B with Cayuga Lake behind him

So, after we got settled in Friday night, we took off to meet Mr. B's family for a few beers and dinner at one of their favorite places (which I'd read about on their Facebook pages), "The Plantation" (nicknamed "The Plant").
Mrs. B


Margot said...

The b&b sounds good. For on the road, next time take a p bottle. (hee hee!)

Mrs. B said...

Hard to do that, I think, if wearing pants!