Daily Archives: August 10, 2006

My Travels with Charley: Boston or Bust Part IV

Albany and Ithaca
We had planned, having missed one day in Amherst so that I could go to the doctor in Brattleboro, to buzz Amherst on the way to Ithaca, via Albany, but I was pretty wiped out from the day before and we decided to rest all day, pack and drive through Burlington into New York.  We took route 9 through miles of Vermont farmland and small towns; towns without Starbucks, the Gap, Walmart, McDonalds.  We did pass a lot of CVS, Rite Aids and Walgreens, but for the most part, Vermont, Upper State New York and rural Massachusetts are much more pristine than the West Coast.  Huge stretches of forest and farmland remain relatively untouched by large corporations and chain stores.  (Actually even East Boston was surprisingly unmalled.)   We traveled from Marlboro to Albany and had dinner with activist Naomi Jaffe (The Weather Underground)  who I also have worked with on line.  Her wisdom and clarity as an activist is so refreshing and inspiring.  Her understanding of political complexities, resounding.  It was wonderful to finally sit with her.  I had seen her interview on the film and had communicated with her on line, so meeting her brought with it a real sense of familiarity.   We talked about the “lesson of the sixties.” I was sitting with two veterans of SDS, after all.  (Born in 1959, I was still a child through those years.) Naomi identified the lesson of the sixties “That you can win!”  “That the Vietcong won!  They defeated the United States, the largest Imperialist force in the World.”  We also talked about disability rights,  and the reluctance of many human rights groups to see this issue as integral to the overall issues of social justice and what it takes to get this issue front and center.  We also discussed teaching methodology; the difference between knowing a subject and teaching one, and the praxis of radical pedagogy as we ushered in the ghost of Paolo Freire.  While I have written to Naomi for years and have read her input on important issues,  and watched her interview in the film The Weather Underground, it was even more clear in talking to her, how well read,  well versed and dedicated she is in political struggle, theory and application.

Naomi Jaffe  ©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserved
The next day we traveled to Ithaca, driving slowly though miles of countryside of upper state New York. We had decided to stay at a Bed and Breakfast in Ithaca so that I would have a nice place to rest if I wasn’t feeling well, while Andy met with old friends.   I was terribly disappointed in my weakened state, my disability and the fact that I had not been able to enjoy Amherst/Northhampton the way I had hoped.  Nonetheless, most of the day I felt pretty good.  As we entered New York we passed Cherry Valley, where my family had gone camping when I was a child and where we found fossils in slate formations, remnants of when what is now the East Coast was ocean before being thrust thousands of miles skyward to form the mountains that parallel the Atlantic Ocean; an event that took place over 200 million years ago.  As we were going through Cooperstown I realized that I had vacationed at a farm about 40 miles away, every summer during my childhood.  We decided not to look for the farm on this stretch of the trip, to try to find it on the way back to Boston.  It was pouring rain, and getting late.  As it was, we didn’t arrive in Ithaca until early evening and barely made it to a restaurant in time for dinner.  (Everything closes at 9 pm there. It’s worse than Los Angeles!) We drove around town, and the University, which is huge. We drove past the gorges that run dramatically right though the campus.  We hoped to spend some time the next day walking around.  Campus would have been difficult on a scooter, as many places are very steep.  Downtown Ithaca is in a valley and would have been much easier to navigate.  We ate dinner at the renowned Moosewood Restaurant. The food was wonderful, but the handicapped entrance was around the back, Access to the patio was through the front.  To sit on the patio would have made the bathrooms inaccessible to anyone in a wheelchair, unless one wheeled all the way around the block.
I had been pretty strong when I got out of the car, but as we were leaving the restaurant, the legs that brought me in the front door, let me know that getting back to the car and from the car to the bed would not be as easy as the previous 300 miles had been.
The next day I would have liked to have walked around Ithaca and visited with the people from Andy’s college days, but I was just too sick.  We had traveled the entire day before and I needed to spend much of the day sleeping.  We ate a wonderful breakfast of blueberries, muffins and fritatta provided by the B and B (Bullfrog Pong in Newfield N.Y, just out of Ithaca)  and I ate a lunch of feta cheese and blue berries I had carried in a cooler, along with the leftovers from the night before.  Andy brought me a Vietnamese noodle dish for dinner before heading out again to have dinner with friends.
Though perfect for me, because I am ambulatory, The Bullfrog Pond B and B is not ADA accessible, a small lip to the front door would make passage with most wheelchairs difficult and help would be required, and the furniture in the bedroom as well as the positioning of the bathroom would be difficult, though not impossible.  The spacing of furniture within the house itself; the living room and dining area were, on the other hand, very accommodating.
Bullfrog Pond B and B  Newfield, N.Y. (just outside of Ithaca.) _ ©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserved
We left Ithaca the next day after viewing the amazing gorges that cut right though the University, and visiting Buttermilk Falls, in one of the nearby state parks.  Andy showed me from the car, key places on campus, where he lived, the different academic buildings and sixties Cornell history. Then we headed out to find the farm that was somewhere in Bovina, New York.
Newfield Covered Bridge, Newfield N.Y. ©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserved

Buttermilk Falls ©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserved

One of the gorges on the campus of Cornell University  ©2006 Emma Rosenthal All Rights Reserved