Last week, I was thrilled when friends from Staten Island that our family had not seen in five years came to visit. The challenge was that they came in the middle of the week, in March and have fairly diverse interests. They also had only one day to spend here. What to do?
Tom loves anything to do with history. He’s also a Civil War buff, which I knew from a trip we had all made together to Gettysberg. Susan adores flowers – she introduced me to the Philadelphia Flower Show. They both enjoy outdoors activities and trying new restaurants in the locales they visit. Many of the places I might have taken them if it were May through October were closed, but we packed in a full day, nonetheless!
Follow us through our day. First stop, Rochester’s High Falls and Historic Brown’s Race District.
It wasn’t a great day for a scenic view of High Falls and the Pont de Rennes Bridge – drizzly rain that threatened to turn into snow – but we ventured out on the bridge to get a view of the 96′ urban waterfall. The turbulent water was much higher than usual and looked angry that spring still seemed so far off. Next, we stopped at the Center at High Falls, where I caught up with Sally Wood Winslow (who is easily one of the city’s most knowledgeable residents about the city’s history and goings-on) while they perused the downstairs museum that includes a virtual tour of Rochester in a real taxi. They also raved about second floor exhibit that currently features a photo exhibit by some of the city’s talented photographers.
Next, Susan and I headed on to Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park where the Spring Show is on display through May 2. One section of the conservatory focuses on seasonal plants and flowers and the balance takes you through tropical rain forests and introduces you to desert flora and fauna. While we went through the conservatory, Tom, who is an avid fiddler, headed off to Bernunzio Uptown Music on East Avenue where he purchased a beautiful vintage violin/fiddle that he swore would have cost four times as much in New York City. Bernunzio specializes in stringed instruments, although they also carry amps and other instruments as well.
Since it was a little after 1 p.m. by now, I suggested lunch at Orange Glory Café, a delightful little restaurant on East Avenue near the Little Theatre that is open only during lunch hour, but that also does catering. For more on this restaurant, see “Orange Glory Café – Six Years of Glory-ous Cuisine.”
After lunch, I selected the George Eastman House as our next stop because Susan loves historic houses and Tom is both a photography and a Civil War buff. I was certain that the museum would be a hit because it is the restored former home of George Eastman and currently has a small portion of its 1100 piece archival collection of Civil War photos on display in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
Although I’ve been to the museum numerous times, the docents are excellent and I always learn something new each time. For example, this time I discovered that George Eastman was responsible for starting the city’s first dental clinic where parents could take their children to provide an annual check up for only a nickel. We had one senior on the tour who remembered receiving annual checkups at it.
The Civil War exhibit was illuminating in that it shed light on the social changes that took place as a result of the war. When our soldiers go off to war now, we take for granted that we will know the plight of most Americans who are wounded or killed. During the Civil War, many families were left to worry and wonder in perpetuity about the plight of loved ones who didn’t return home. The photographs – all black and white, except for those that had been hand-colored – showed the photographers’ journalistic role in documenting the war. They captured images that included everything from battle scenes and soldiers at rest, to memorials and the hangings of the men convicted in the assassination plot on Abraham Lincoln. The original of Gone with the Wind is housed in the museum’s vaults, and Susan and I found its screen tests fascinating.
I had hoped to include a wine tasting at the end of the day, but we were out of time, so I ran into a local liquor store that carries Finger Lakes wines and
picked up a bottle that we tasted before heading off to Taste of Texas Bar-B-Q in Spencerport. Taste of Texas is a fun and funky family-oriented barbecue joint that claims “We are a hole in the wall with a whole lot of taste.” The decor is early garage sale, but the ambiance is friendly, and it’s fun to watch your order “pitched” to the kitchen on a clip and clothesline system.
At our table, we ordered a variety of dishes, including pulled chicken, pulled pork, ribs, a hamburger and grilled salmon, and everyone raved enthusiastically about the entrees as well as the sides that included mac & cheese, coleslaw, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, baked beans, sweet potato and regular fries. The adults in the group also enjoyed a variety of beers including the tasty Cascazilla by the Ithaca Beer Company. The meal topped off a wonderful day!
The Center at High Falls is open Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday Noon-6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. A donation of $2 per person is requested.
Lamberton Conservatory is open 7 days a week, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. except Christmas Day. Admission is Youth (0-5) Free, Adult (19-61) $3.00, Youth (6-18) / Seniors (62 and up) $2.00.
Bernunzio Uptown Music is open Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-6p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Orange Glory Cafe is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is Adults $12.00, Seniors (65+) $10.00, Students (with ID) $5.00, Children (12 and under)Free, Museum Members Free.
Taste of Texas Bar-B-Q is open Monday – Thursday 11a.m.-8p.m., Friday 11a.m.-9.p.m., Saturday Noon 9p.m., Sunday 1p.m.-8p.m.