Every year my son and I go camping.
It gives us a chance to get away, just the two of us, spend some time together, hang out, talk.
Every year, we pack up the tent, the hammock, some junk food, and we head to Watkins Glen. We camp, we make make vegan s’mores, we hike the gorge, we visit Farm Sanctuary.
Last time out, I broke the tent. Snapped one of the legs. Probably pretty fixable, but not fixable by me. I kept saying, “hey, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” but this summer rolled around and I hadn’t taken care of it at all.
So, like any good dad with no fix-it skills, I searched Air BnB until I found something suitably rustic– a cabin with electricity but no running water. I couldn’t find anything available right in Watkins Glen, but managed to find something just outside Ithaca (and also kind of in the middle of nowhere). The boy and I packed up the essentials– chocolate and marshmallows and nerdy board games– and headed out for new adventures.
Our little weekend turned out to be one of the best “camping” trips we’ve had to date, and the boy has requested that we return next year, which means I will likely never have to make those repairs.
Part of what was so terrific about the trip was finding creepy cool stuff on the Air BnB property, like this little hut, hidden behind some bushes not far from our cabin.
We’re pretty sure we saw this in an episode of “True Detective.”
And of course, there was all the bonding. The games. Sitting around the fire, talking about Really Important Things.
And then there was the food.
Ithaca has long been a little bit of heaven for vegans, and we made a point of trying everything we could during our few days there. For science.
Our first stop was Ten Forward Cafe.
For those unfamiliar, Ten Forward is an all vegan cafe with a Star Trek theme. Sort of a Strong Hearts with Vulcans, if you will. It’s located on the upper level of one of my very favorite book stores (Autumn Leaves) and features a menu full of smoothies, nachos, garbage plates, and more.
For this trip, I went with a Space Junk Burrito and a smoothie. I wasn’t disappointed. The burrito was jammed full of nachos and mac n’ cheese and BBQ soy curls and was just outstanding.
It came with a side salad, and I’m pretty sure the smoothie had some fruit in it, so I was able to pretend I’m one of those “healthy” vegans.
Before heading back to the cabin we stopped in at Green Star, Ithaca’s cooperative market, and loaded up on supplies. Gotta love Green Star, the co-op that almost feels like a supermarket.
The next day involved a lot of wandering around the Ithaca Commons, with lunch at Waffle Frolic. Waffle Frolic is one of my son’s favorite places in the world, and who am I to argue with the boy?
He loaded up on traditional waffle fare while I went with a vegan burger on a waffle “bun.”
We were both deeply satisfied, though a part of me wondered if I should have ordered the vegan waffle dogs. (Spoiler: I took my daughter back a week later and tried those too.)
Dinner that night involved vegan sausages and way too many chips over a few fierce games of Catan and Santorini. Like any good father, I showed no mercy and managed to win roughly half the time.
For our final day in town, it was another stop at Green Star, where we loaded up on vegan treats for the ride home. Like raspberry whoopee pies. Which of course were delicious.
Somewhere in between the board games and the eating and the extra eating, we managed to hike around some waterfalls, read some good books, visit a comic shop, and play with the dogs that greeted us when we left the cabin each morning.
And we got to check out– but not quite visit– Angelhearts, which wasn’t open yet, but whose menu has me itching to take another drive to Ithaca very, very soon.
The take away?
Break your tent.
Rent a cabin.
Experience all the vegan goodness that is Ithaca.