October 6, 2010

#21, #38 & #84: Go to Applefest, On a Wine Tour & Bowling At Helen Newman

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Question: What do apple festivals, vineyards and bowling lanes have in common?

Answer: They are Ithaca’s holy trinity.

Ok, false …b ut they are the triad that defined my weekend. And to be frank, the apples and vineyards of Ithaca are serious selling points for attending college in upstate New York.

My weekend began with #23: Attend the Apple Festival on the Commons. Allow me to briefly praise Applefest: there is food, it’s a festival … what’s not to like? If you haven’t been to Ithaca’s annual Applefest, the event is definitely worth the trip into the Commons. Unfortunately for apple lovers like myself, the festival only happens once a year for a three-day span, but I suppose that’s what makes these things “special.”

If you don’t particularly enjoy apples, fear not! In true Ithaca style, there are plenty of random happenings during the festival completely unrelated to apples, including, but not limited to, musical performances, artisan crafts booths and non-apple related food stands (i.e. the Taste of Thai stand was completely irrelevant to apples, but I’m not complaining…). If you can’t enjoy yourself at Applefest, you must not believe in fun.

Moving on to #38: Go on a Wine Tour. If I could create a new rendition of the “Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirt, I think “Ithaca is Wine Tours” might be my pick. (Alright, that’s awkward, but you get the idea…). If you spend four years as an undergrad at Cornell and don’t attend a Wine Tour, you are missing out. This past Saturday the Ithaca weather gods were on our side, and granted us with beautiful weather, which undoubtedly made the wine tour I attended ever more glorious.

For those who are unfamiliar, a “wine tour” is essentially when you travel from one vineyard to another tasting the various wines they produce. You then have the opportunity to buy bottles of the wines you just tasted and drink them in the vineyard. Wine tastings are generally low cost (at least, monetarily speaking) and a great activity with a group of friends. If you haven’t been on a wine tour, I encourage you to join a campus organization that will take you on one (only half kidding), or plan a wine tour yourself.

I will keep this weekend’s wine tour anecdotes to a minimum, since my friends are hoping to be employed or excepted into graduate school in the coming months, but I will say: good times were had by all. I was, however, yelled at for taking “too many” saltine crackers during the tasting at Pompous Ass Winery. Yes, this is actually the name of the vineyard, and I suppose they were just trying to uphold their reputation. I took a whopping total of four saltines from a basket of 500. I didn’t realize four crackers was an outrageous request, but next time when I don’t visit your “pompous ass” vineyard, I’ll be sure to bring my own saltine supply.

The weekend culminated in #84: Go Bowling at Helen Newman Lanes. Despite living on north campus for an entire year, I had never been bowling at Newman. It is probably best for public safety that I keep the frequency of my bowling trips to a minimum, but when I asked H, S, K, B, and H if they would join me to cross off #84, they gladly obliged (thanks!).

The combination of my overly competitive tendencies and lack of bowling skill had the potential to ruin the fun of #84 – but alas bowling was still a smashing time (pun intended). Let it be known: bowling at Helen Newman is an exceedingly underrated activity.

Though the lane technology is a little outdated, the old-school vibe of the facility added to the experience. We had to keep score by hand on a paper score sheet, but this forced us to brush up on our basic arithmetic, and at the completion of the game we had a tangible memento from the outing. B was all about the jukebox, and repeatedly feed quarters into the machine to play songs, effectively creating a soundtrack for the evening. There was a range of bowling competences amongst the group, but clearly leading the pack was the sleeper pick, H.W.

I don’t know why the Helen Newman bowling alley doesn’t get more publicity. If you’re looking for wholesome fun (or not, there is a bar within alley) Helen Newman Bowling is where it’s at.

Apple Fest, vineyards and bowling lanes might not be the holy trinity of Ithaca, but they are the sources of classic Ithaca experiences, or at least – gluttonous and humorous leisurely pursuits.

Original Author: Eve Shabto