September is like the worst month of the year. It’s the final quarter of work, the weather fluctuates between cold and hot, and the sun grows less by the day. I have always found September to be a miserable month of returning to the drudgery of habitual life. Maybe we have been trained that it’s the beginning of a new school year, a new beginning—school was miserable for me.
So for the first week of October, the weather turned up and my boyfriend had a marathon in Corning, New York, which I thought would be a nice getaway with my dog. We packed up early, got on a train to get a Zipcar in lower Manhattan.
Before heading to Corning, we stopped in Morris Plains, New Jersey for a 100 Day Old shower for a friend’s baby. It was at Minado, all-you-can-eat sushi house. When I was in college, the first visit to Minado in Long Island was amazing. But as an adult, it was a huge letdown. It is nothing like Todaro’s all-you-can-eat sushi in K-Town. The rice was dry without the vinegar taste and the tempura was absolutely tasteless. Needless to say, Jersey has not offered any good restaurants for me to praise.
Noon came and we hopped back into the car and drove through rocky hills carefully cut and manicured for the freeway with gold and crimson leaves lighting up the fall forest. It was a long 4 hours drive through Jersey, Pennsylvania (we passed Scranton!), and finally back through to the New York border. It is an extremely monotonous ride, the radio doesn’t seem to pick up any station, random pastured with cows and silos litter the hillside. Sometimes we’d pass beautiful church steeples. But overall, I slept most of the dull ride away.
Once we arrived to Corning, the glass museum greeted us, sprawling several blocks with tour buses and marathoners walking the non-walkable sidewalks. At the local YMCA, a beautiful red stone building with classic American architecture of the colonial Northeast bustled with runners picking up their bibs and swags. As it was a weekend of races, the parking lot was full, people milling about, but the town was prepared with volunteers who made traffic moving well and steady. It turned out to be the biggest turnout of runners ever for Corning with 5,000 registered for the full marathon and 1,000 for the half marathon.
A nearby parking lot only cost $0.65 an hour. Amazing. We walked on Market Street, looking for outdoor eating with my dog. It is a cute street, a historical row of buildings, shops, and factories. It is like a town trapped in the 50s or 60s. The artwork lingered from the heyday of the glass period, surreal and picturesque at the same time.
At the center of Market Street, Steuben Place sits on Centerway Square where what looked like the town’s local concert hall stood, wire tables and chairs plotted around the edges. An old coffee house stands at the corner, it’s facade waiting eagerly, calling in patrons. The whole street starts at the Radisson hotel where an art piece with toy replica of the town sits above the steel archway. Throughout the street, you’ll see markings of names, famous names, local heros, and local people who set out to make Corning a big town. At the end of Market St, it hits a non pedestrian street, a local community hall and coffee shop flank both sides.
We found a restaurant with outdoor seating that was also serving pasta. It looked more like a tourist shop but half turned into a juice bar. The young girl who served us lived in Corning all her life as she stumbled through her waitressing. But she was nice and they brought out water for my dog. How nice! The drinks were surprising great since I don’t particularly care for “juice bars” and the salad was amazing, topped with carambola (starfruit) and served with blueberry sauce with a hint of cinnamon. Lasagna and pesto pasta finished the early evening.
We then drove through the darkness of early fall evenings to a small town off the highway where the Econo Lodge settled on top of a windy hill. One Foursquare tip said it’s like straight out of a horror movie. Seeing as we never got to see the motel by daylight, it did look quite eerie.