Posts tagged weather
My 2013 fall break might be best described as “surreal.”
Surprisingly, that’s not (entirely) because I can’t believe that it was my last, but rather because of the freakishly summery weather that accompanied said “fall” break. With this past weekend’s temps hitting the mid-70s, I actually think it was warmer in Ithaca than back home in Volcano: and it’s October!
Since going home for a four day weekend is always out of the question for me, though, I did appreciate the balminess: it gave me a few beautiful days to visit some of Ithaca’s most autumnal attractions. Catching some quick glimpses of fall colors helped me forget that I was stuck in the middle of the summer that wouldn’t die (even as I overheated in my jacket and riding boots).
Before I graduate, I intend to visit every easily accessible waterfall in Ithaca. I’ve already crossed Taughannock off that list, so the logical next step was Robert Treman Park.
(Luckily enough, Treman is a state park, or I wouldn’t have had much of an adventure at all. Thanks a lot, government shutdown. )
Treman Park is home to Lucifer Falls, a waterfall that drops from a height of more one hundred feet above the gorge. During my visit, I naturally couldn’t get Pink Floyd’s Lucifer Sam out of my head, but in retrospect, I’m finding Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor a little more fitting. Don’t the trills and triads remind you of a multi-tiered waterfall?
(Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is also a pretty nice Lucifer Falls piece.)
What makes the water here such a deep teal? The river inside the gorge was the same color as the rushing currents of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. I guess I really can’t leave Scotland behind, no matter where I am.
The walk from the park’s upper entrance to the falls and back was a little under a mile, I’d wager–but the frequent sets of steep stairs made the journey a bit more challenging.
The sequel to our falls adventure began with (second) breakfast at Waffle Frolic in. If you haven’t visited the Commons in a while (like me!), you’re in for a surprise–most of it is under construction.
Because this is Ithaca, though, the barriers around the construction have been transformed into a massive public art project, and its many murals include the charmingly rustic map of Middle-Earth we found across the street from the Seneca bus stop.
After an ample amount of both waffles and frolicking, we headed down Rt. 13 to the Ithaca Sound Maze, a corn maze stocked with a good handful of homemade instruments for visitors to play.
Since I’ve never visited a corn maze before (a pineapple maze is the best we can do in Hawai’i), I didn’t expect to be so excited by the novelty of wandering around and getting lost in a homegrown labyrinth. It was hard to not follow the example of the toddlers who ran frantically around each bend, laughing and leaving their slow parents to get lost somewhere among the ears.
The curious instruments, however, are what really make the Sound Maze an utterly fantastic day out. There are pots tuned to major triads to bang on, giant plastic buckets stacked together to form a wall of drums, and strange musical contraptions built out of bicycle wheels and a rainbow plastic tubes: all in all, definitely worth more than the $5 entrance fee.
Maybe I can satisfy my music-loving heart by opening my own maze somewhere across the country after I graduate?
(But a maze themed around vocalization instead of physical instruments, perhaps? So many possibilities!)
Batten down the hatches, kiddos. There’s something powerful brewing up for this Halloweek–and it might turn out to be way tricksier than we expect.
After an enjoyable night at Risley’s annual “Masquerave” Halloween dance (and by “night” I mean “forty-five minutes”), I woke up this morning to find my various Internet feeds flooded with meteorological news concerning both of my current “homes”: New York State and Hawai’i. Though the sudden tsunami warning issued last night in the islands fortunately amounted to nothing more than a precautionary measure, the approach of Hurricane Sandy has East Coast mainlanders in full-on storm battle mode.
Like occasional late-night treks to see the lava flow and the unfortunate smell of volcanic vog, hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions were a major part of my childhood in charming Volcano, HI–and not necessarily a bad one. When you’re young and in love with Little House in the Big Woods, an unexpected power outage is absolutely thrilling. Too innocent to worry overmuch about the dangers of storms, I would stare out of the window and watch as the sunken areas of our yard filled with water while the rain gauge overflowed like a fountain. Reading by the light of our headlamps and camping lanterns as thunder clattered outside made my life seem almost as interesting as the stories in my books.
In a completely expected turn of events, however, experiencing a hurricane while away from my family sounds drastically less romantic.
There are practical considerations, too. Back home, my house would be stocked with all kinds of food–in fact, since we lived in an area frequented by hurricanes, I’m pretty sure we also kept a kind of “hurricane emergency kit” with granola bars, extra water, and other essentials. Because most of my food preparation requires electricity, though, it’ll be hard to scrounge up balanced meals if the power goes out for an extended period of time. Recent product recalls in the natural peanut butter market have unfortunately ensured that my number-one vegetarian no-prep staple (PB & honey sandwiches) is out of the question. Still, at least I’m off the meal plan: imagine being stuck in a dorm with nothing more than a bag of chips and some cereal because you can’t get to the dining hall.
Ithaca doesn’t seem to be in quite as much danger as NYC or other areas (Cornell hasn’t cancelled classes yet, for example), but it’s still a good idea to be prepared in case of an emergency. For readers who have no idea what to expect from the (hopefully im)perfect storm, here are a couple of pointers from someone who’s survived a couple of ‘em in her time:
- Go hit up Bear Necessities (or, if you’re feeling brave, something a little farther away like Target or Tops) tonight. Regardless of any storm’s actual impact, people tend to freak out when natural disasters are imminent and end up buying everything. Wegmans was absolutely packed today, so I recommend picking up some non-perishable staples as soon as possible.
- Remember your umbrella & raingear tomorrow. Ithaca’s chance of precipitation only jumps up to 90% around 2PM on Monday, so make sure you don’t get fooled if it’s just drizzling in the morning.
- Fill up that reusable water bottle (you don’t have one? Have Cornell’s decidedly unsustainable sustainability campaign posters taught you nothing?). Actually, fill up a few if you have them.
- Got a flashlight? No? How about a leftover glowstick from Halloween party shenanigans? Round those dudes up as well.
- Be informed! Since I am apparently the only person left in the universe who doesn’t have a smartphone, take advantage of your superior technology and check on the weather reports and warnings constantly. If we’re lucky, we can weather the storm without an issue–but you don’t want to be this uninformed guy when things go wrong. (And yes, I got to see that video clip live on the news back when I was in high school: at least you inland mainlanders don’t have to worry about tsunamis too!)
Perhaps my title is a little over-dramatic. Cornell students are rather lucky to have an airport within a short distance to their university at all. Other schools I considered during my application process were often in towns too small for any air traffic centers, which is a definite con for someone who lives as far away as I do.
Anyway, happy 2012, readers! I’ve returned to Ithaca for my second semester and Sarr Above the Busy Humming will continue to update on its regular schedule from now until the summer. Adhering to my tradition of making a big deal out of silly things, though, allow me to start off the New Year with my First Ever Live-Blog, reporting on location at the Ithaca Airport! Since I always strive to be so precise, please note that the actual name for the building that’s currently keeping me from the 12-degrees-F weather (oh boy) is the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. Now you know.
(…Okay. So this isn’t really a liveblog. I’m just stuck at the airport and it seems an appropriate time to discuss my experiences commuting to and from Cornell in full detail.)
I’ve been airport-hopping since I was too young to remember (that’s what happens when you’re a Hawai’i citizen with East Coast relatives), so I certainly know my way around a terminal. That said, Ithaca is one of the tiniest airports I’ve ever seen (which is saying a lot, considering that I’ve also spent a lot of time in the miniscule Hilo Airport on the Big Island). ITH features flights to a select handful of U.S. cities from an even more select group of airlines–Delta, Continental and United. There’s one baggage claim, two gates and a little “honor system” snackbar instead of a food court. Winter travelers should also remember to bring warm clothing in their carryon bags, as it is necessary to exit the plane by way of the wild and windy tarmac.
Today, I came to Ithaca after two brief layovers in San Francisco and Newark. Last year, nasty weather had forced me to take an alternate route through Rochester, so this marked my first real arrival at ITH. I hadn’t realized how incredibly small the planes are, either. The aircraft taking me out of Newark probably held no more than twenty people, and I’m willing to bet that all the others were also Cornellians.
All right, there ends the liveblog: after I finished that sentence, the flock of students (who, by the way, were all Cornellians–ha!) began to dash towards the airport exit to catch the bus. That’s the other thing about ITH–it’s not exactly walking distance from campus, but the TCAT (number 32, if you were wondering) and various Ithaca taxi companies all frequent the area to ferry any car-less passengers back home.
Oh, and if I haven’t sold you on our local airport yet, let me mention that it also provides every college student’s favorite complimentary service: free wifi.
Bon voyage, readers!
(Prospective students/parents may find Fly Ithaca’s homepage a useful resource. Be forewarned, though: booking flights with multiple connections directly through Fly Ithaca might cause problems for travelers, particularly in the winter. In my experience, the flights were scheduled so that it was nearly impossible to move from terminal to terminal without missing my plane. Make sure to provide plenty of transit time between flights!)
I’m seriously beginning to suspect that I have some kind of incredible cosmic power. Listen, I never oversleep, but today I didn’t wake up until 6:55 am–fifty five minutes later than expected, and five minutes before my 7 ‘o-clock zumba class. As everyone at Cornell knows by now, though, I soon discovered that I was completely in the clear: classes are cancelled until 11 due to flooding! Although I’m just happy to be able to eat pomegranate strawberry yogurt at my leisure and skip cryptology, I’m well aware that these “serious weather conditions” are more serious than just a break from classes, and I hope everyone continues to stay safe if the rain starts again.
As proof of this storm’s power, look what I found when I opened my curtains this morning!
Rest in peace, beautiful tree! Fortunately, it appears as though the porta-potty was the only casualty, and I’m sure it will recover in time.
The really crazy thing about all this is that I planned to talk about storms today anyway–I recently received an email from a reader interested in knowing more about Ithaca weather and how Miss Honolulu here reacted to it.
Did you adjust okay to the weather your freshman year? And how do you like it now? About how many months out of the year do you get snow?
First of all, I’m so thrilled to be answering questions! It makes me feel like I’m on ZOOM or some other dorky PBS Kids show (hopefully someone knows what I’m talking about…)
Before freshman year, I perpetuated this romantic notion that snow was THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. When I was little, I usually spent Christmas with my grandparents in Connecticut, so I had dealt with snow for about two weeks per year at the very most. Unfortunately, coming to Cornell and actually having to live in it was a little shocking at first.
I think the most difficult part was simply realizing that the cold can be dangerous because the weather changes really quickly in Ithaca, a.k.a. Land of Ridiculous Metereological Fluctuation. During October and November, I would run around wearing jeans, a sweater and a jacket and end up freezing. Still, we didn’t start getting real snow until late November, so first semester wasn’t so bad. The best part is that folks from warmer climes get to go home for winter break, which is just around when things start to get crazy in Ithaca (going to the beach is so much more fun when you know you’d be stuck in a blizzard if you were back at school).
Second semester, though, was really tough. The winter seems to go on forever–while we had a few warm days mid-March, I don’t think we were completely free of the snow and cold until early April. Here’s a general and probably incomplete list of tips I have for people worried about the cold:
- Use the bus, especially freshman year (when you get a free pass). Sometimes I can be very stubborn: for example, I refused to take the bus to class last semester, even though I had an 8:40 am class at the Schwartz Center (which is about a fifteen-minute walk from my dorm on North Campus). Don’t do that! Riding to class can eliminate the worst part about winter–trudging through snow–and you can enjoy the scenery without getting too cold. That said, most people at Cornell are not as silly as I am, and buses get pretty packed during the cold months, so make sure that you plan ahead to avoid coming late to class.
- Winter = no (fashion) shame. I obviously didn’t own any winter gear heavier than a sweatshirt when I came to Cornell, so I ended up with a hodgepodge of warm garments in January. I thought I would look freaky with four layers, huge boots, and a knitted babushka, but nobody’s going to judge you. (Okay, I might have gotten a few weird glances for the babushka, but that thing protected my ears and my neck.)
- Exercise often if at all possible. I don’t think I actually had Seasonal Affective Disorder last year, but frequent cardio classes were fun and kept me from going stir-crazy.
I won’t say that I’m excited for the winter this year, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll do a lot better than I did before. Surviving one is very inspirational.
Now I’m off to take advantage of my unexpected break. Again, stay safe and dry!
(Also, please do email me [firstname.lastname@example.org] if you have any more questions.)
*Update: Seems like my title’s a little outdated now, since it has finally stopped raining and Cornell will definitely be re-opening. Yay?