7 Great things about Rochester, NY

eastman Quad at UR

Before my son started graduate school at the University of Rochester, I had never visited the city. Now, it almost feels like my second home (well, at least in the late spring/summer/fall; Miami, where my daughter lives, is my winter/early spring second home – aren’t I a lucky woman to have so many climates from which to choose?). I just spent a week in Rochester helping my son unpack in his new house, and thought I’d write a post on the things I love about this city in western NY.

Letchworth State Park

Autumn – beyond anything else, I love fall in western New York! The reds, oranges and yellows of the trees are amazing and there are SO many spectacular places to hike not far from Rochester (Letchworth State Park is about an hour away if you want a truly beautiful hike through a gorge with several waterfalls). Orchards for apple picking abound in the area – we enjoy tasting “new to us” varieties and making apple pie with our loot!

The Genesee Riverway Trail – a 24 mile paved trail that runs from the Erie Canal on the south side of Rochester up through downtown, ending at Lake Ontario. The trail runs right by the campus of UR, so we’ve walked the trail from there up to High Falls just north of downtown Rochester. This trail connects to the Erie Canal Heritage Trail just south of campus, in Genesee Valley Park.

Erie canal heritage Trail

Erie Canal Heritage Trail  Part of the 365 mile long Erie Canalway Trail, the Heritage Trail is itself 86 miles long. One of my absolute favorite things to do in Rochester is to rent a bike from Towpath Bike in Pittsford and ride along the canal. It’s a scenic, mostly level ride, and absolutely spectacular in the fall!

Pittsford dairy

Pittsford Farms Dairy – Pittsford itself is an adorable town, particularly Schoen Place along the canal where Towpath Bike is located. But Pittsford Farms Dairy deserves a special mention – it’s a dairy, bakery, ice cream parlor and retail store, all in one. The ice cream is to die for, and they carry all kinds of baked goods and dairy products, as well as locally made jams, sauces, etc. We try to stop by every time I visit (alas, during my most recent visit we were so focused on unpacking that we didn’t make an ice cream run – next time!)

lilac bush

The Rochester Lilac Festival – For 120 years (it started in 1898!!), Rochester has celebrated the arrival of spring with a free festival in Highland Park, where thousands of lilacs bloom. Highland Park is beautiful all year, but during the festival there are concerts, art shows, booths selling hand-crafted soaps, lotions, and other wares, as well as 5K and 10K runs and many other special events, drawing over 500,000 visitors each year. Last year, I was able to run about 4 miles of the 10K, so my goal is to make it back in a year or two and run the entire 6.2! This year, it runs from May 11-20, so if you’re in the area, I highly recommend you stop by!

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra – My husband introduced me to the joys of the symphony when we were in college. Now, it’s fun to watch our son enjoying the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra! Luckily for us, the RPO had a concert while we were in town last week, so all three of us were able to attend A Night of Symphonic Rock. The orchestra played classic rock and tunes from Broadway musicals such as Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, then a classic rock cover band played the second half of the show. RPO has tons of special events, including movie nights – the orchestra will play the soundtrack as they show Ghostbusters and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets later this year, among others! And as a bonus, they sell student tickets at a steep discount – some shows cost as little as $15 if you are a college student!

eletrical box art

Electrical box art  – this may seem like a small thing, but I love how the city of Rochester has turned the street corner electrical boxes into art! Each one is painted differently, but it’s a simple way to beautify a utilitarian item. My Scooby tried really hard to blend in with this one!

So there’s my completely random collection of things I love about Rochester…I’m sure there are tons of other things I haven’t discovered yet! If you’ve been, what are some of your favorite places or events???

Dang it, Where’s Deanna??

Me on trail

Recently, I set out to have an adventure (my first as a new blogger), and I succeeded spectacularly! I left my house at “O-dark thirty,” as my dad would say (Navy-speak for “way too early for sane people”), to drive three hours to hike with women I had never met. There were about ten of us in a wide range of ages and ability levels but the women were a friendly bunch and it was a gorgeous fall day in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I had a grand time.

IMG_5998

We finished the hike, I returned to my car, changed out of my hiking boots, and set off for Grandad’s Apples for some apple picking. This is when the REAL adventure began!

For those of you with keyless cars, did you know that your keys don’t have to be inside the car for your car to start? They just have to be near the car, say on top of the car where you might set them while changing out of your hiking boots. Did you know that the car will start, and it will keep running even after the keys fall off the top of your car? And that your car won’t give any indication that the keys have left the car until you stop for gas an hour away and try to restart the car?

**Would it be too much to ask for manufacturers to add some kind of alert, maybe a loud beeping and a lighted key symbol on the dashboard, to indicate that the keys have left the car?**

So Elvis had left the building, and Charlotte (my Mini Cooper) was stuck blocking Pump Number 5 at the Exxon station in Hendersonville, NC, a good three hours from home. I called my husband, who was THRILLED to hear my request that he drive six hours round trip to bring me the spare key. My next call was to the AAA roadside assistance specialist, who was confused to hear my request to tow Charlotte from Pump Number 5 to the Starbucks at the opposite corner of the intersection, where I could comfortably wait three hours for my husband.

“Is that more than 3 miles?” she asked me.

“No Ma’am, it’s about 300 feet.”

Tow truck

An hour later, the tow truck driver deposited Charlotte into a parking space at Starbucks and after grabbing a latte, I texted my adult children about my adventures.

“Oh, Mother,” my oldest replied.

“That’s what your dad said, only a bit more colorfully,” I texted back.

My husband finally arrived with the key at 6 PM, and we decided (since there was a little bit of daylight left) to return to the scene of the crime and try to find my keys. Truthfully, I was almost more upset at losing my Ampelmann key chain (a souvenir from Berlin) than my $250 remote key fob, but I also had my house key, office key, and multiple tags (my library card, YMCA membership, etc) on that key ring.  Although we searched and searched, we had no luck, and finally got home at 11:30 PM, keyless and tired.

But all was not lost….the next morning I received a call from my library, saying that a woman from Ohio found my keys! She and her husband found them in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and tracked me down through my library card on the key ring.  Four days later, due to the kindness of strangers, Ampelmann was back in the house. Whoop!

P.S. No, I never made it to Grandad’s Apples, and yes, the kind couple from Ohio have affirmed my faith in humanity.

P.P.S. It pays to have some kind of store card or tag on your key ring; this is how my heroes were able to track me down.

P.P.P.S The next time I took Charlotte in for an oil change, I mentioned my adventures to the service rep, and he told me there was a software update available that would fix the issue. He personally tested it out by starting the car and then placing the keys on the ground…lo and behold, Charlotte started loudly beeping and a light on the dashboard started blinking! SOOOO…if you own a Mini Cooper, test it out, then call your Mini dealer for a software update.

Do you have any funny travel stories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…