Dan and Hannah Hike Chittenango Falls in central New York State

Following a recent trip to Virginia where our daughter Molly and son Will now live, this week we are off to central New York to support our daughter Robyn as she makes her push to rejoin the US Army.  Previously, for four years, including 15 months in Afghanistan, she served as an American soldier.  She’d like to take a crack at it again.

Cazenovia is to the southeast of Syracuse

Cazenovia is to the southeast of Syracuse

Central New York is in fact Hannah’s childhood home; she grew up in the Erie Canal town of Fairport, near Rochester, NY, some 100 miles to the west of Robyn’s place in Cazenovia (“Caz” to the locals and now Caz to us).

Fairport is a suburb of Rochester, NY

Fairport is a suburb of Rochester, NY

Finding the Trip Advisor ratings abysmal for the Cazenovia Motel, Hannah and I think B and B.  Mary’s Meadow’s Trip Advisor ratings (click on this hyperlink to read some of the reviews) catch our attention with its eye popping 25 of 25 excellent reviews.  Really?  25 of 25.  We haven’t seen such scores since the Mount St. Helen’s B and B.  We roll the dice that are loaded in our favor.

MM house

Prior to our leaving for New York and wanting to treat Robyn to a B and B breakfast, we email Ginny, the Innkeeper at Mary’s Meadow, if we can pay for Robyn to join us for breakfast.  Ginny’s reply.

Of course your daughter can come and eat breakfast with you.  Why don’t we plan on Wednesday morning?   There is no charge for an additional breakfast…we are honored to be able to thank Robyn for her service to our country.

Whoa!  Got to love New Yorkers!

In the very dark predawn (sunrise is nearly two hours away) of Columbus Day morning, we drive south on I-95 to I-495 through eastern Massachusetts and eventually to the Mass Pike (I-90) heading west to Caz.  To pass the time, while Hannah drives I read aloud from my iPhone the descriptive paragraphs of the key points to Margie Warrell’s column about Keeping Love Alive over the Long Haul.

The author

The author

Sitting side by side as we drive in the midmorning on the New York Thruway, we back and forth it on how we are doing with her seven points about keeping marriages successful…

  1. Invest time creating a vision that inspires you both.
  2. Respect your partner for who they are…and who they aren’t.
  3. Be brave in what you say…but kind too.
  4. Build on trust.  Work your ass off to keep it strong
  5. Support each other but always stand on your own two feet.
  6. Work on the “baggage” that can weigh you and your marriage down.
  7. Make time for talking.  The busier you are, the more important it is.

…and the time flies from Maine to central New York State.

Chittenango Creek above the Falls

Chittenango Creek above the Falls

Exiting the New York Thruway at Canastota, soon we are driving down the Gorge Road (Route 13) where we are surprised by these amazing waterfalls that we glimpse through the nearly barren trees of fall.

Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Falls

The Chittenango State Park is no longer charging admission at this time of year, so the gates are open for us to park just above the falls.

For even the most casual of hikers, this stone trail is a mere five minutes to the base of the 167 foot falls.  By comparison New York’s Niagara Falls is 173 feet.

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

Even on an overcast, misty afternoon, others have made their way to see these dramatic falls from the wooden bridge that spans the meandering Chittenango Creek.

The trail then rises above the Chittenango Creek and we hike alone.

Ch side view

It’s only twenty minutes of hiking but stunning nonetheless.

Fromm the top of the falls down Chittenango Creek

From the top of the falls down Chittenango Creek

After hiking on this sprinkling afternoon, we end up at Mary’s Meadow B & B on the West Lake Road out in the country, just five minutes from downtown Caz.  Having seen us drive in, the Innkeepers Ginny and Howard come out to the driveway to greet us and carry our suitcases in.   For $125+tax we are in the Taylor Room with its king size room, private shower, and sitting room off our bedroom.  But that’s only the beginning.

Slumberland at Mary's Meadow  in the Taylor Room

Slumberland at Mary’s Meadow in the Taylor Room

At Mary’s Meadow, the breakfast menu is placed on our bed to fill out before we go out for the evening.  I’ll try the Hearty Breakfast with the Hash Brown Casserole while Hannah has the Omelet Breakfast with every vegetable and cheese listed on the menu!

Nightlife with Dan and Hannah and Robyn

Nightlife with Dan and Hannah and Robyn

As we are known to do, Hannah and I small time it for dinner; tonight we opt for the local Owahgena Pizzeria recommended by our hosts.  Loving our mushroom pizza at the front room table of this take-out establishment, we relax with Robyn and are reminded how proud we are of her.

Hannah and Robyn with our deluxe mushroom pizza

Hannah and Robyn with our deluxe mushroom pizza

At this retirement stage of our lives when we can travel, we love to play the role our own parents played, and that is to treat our kids to dinner.  Generous to the core, Robyn leaves the tip.

She to her apartment and we to Mary’s Meadow, we linger as we hug.

Come Wednesday morning, Robyn joins us for a Mary Meadow’s breakfast extravaganza.

MM H at bfast

Attentive to the max, Howard serves our juices, then a basket of pumpkin bread while Ginny cooks our breakfasts; she could have her own cooking show on cable TV.  Living in Maine we are reassured that Robyn has a lighthouse with our B and B hosts.

We learn of another program Ginny and Howard support – David’s Refuge: Caring for the Caregiver.  David’s Refuge is a non-profit retreat offered free of charge to parents and guardians who care for children with special or life threatening medical conditions.  On average, four times per month they provide a B and B experience free of charge for these families.

At Mary’s Meadow, Ginny and Howard have created a “home” for travelers with their attention to detail and their scrumptious breakfast.  But that’s not why they are a five star B and B.

It’s Ginny and Howard themselves.

We feel like family, cared for and loved.  Their interest is genuine and they have taken us “away” for these few days in spectacular fashion.

Mary Meadow's Innkeepers Ginny and Howard with Robyn

Mary Meadow’s Innkeepers Ginny and Howard with Robyn

And even once Robyn successfully returns to the US Army and leaves Caz, we will be back to Mary Meadow’s again and again.  And again.