A postcard from Boston and Ithaca 23 october 2019

Dear friends and family,

Since we last wrote, we found a use for the winter clothes we’ve been carting around for six weeks. Amtrak took us from south Florida to New England, from steamy heat to falling leaves.

We broke the journey in New York long enough to have a quick lunch with good friend, Ken, before continuing on to the door of another good friend, Alice, in Jamaica Plain, Boston. This was to be our cosy hub in this corner of the USA for a couple of weeks.

The view from from Alice’s loungeroom.

We branched out from Boston to Ithaca in upstate New York. This took quite some time by bus but the journey could not compare to the time it took Chris’s grandfather to get there in 1893. He travelled from Sydney, by a route we do not know, to do his Masters of Civil Engineering at Cornell University. As far as we know, we are the first family members to visit since.

Our neighbourhood in Ithaca. We had a studio room in the fourth house on the left. Close by were the Ithaca Falls. They are at the foot of the long hill we walked up to Cornell at a pace just a bit slower than that of these school kids

We delved into the Cornell archives. The more we learnt, the more Chris identified with the young William Henry Ledger with his scientific training and involvement in the then fledgling ecumenical student movement.

The Masters thesis. Lincoln Hall, where civil engineers learnt their profession

Geoff put his mind to tracking down the home of John R Mott, a founder of the World Student Christian Federation. Grandad Ledger would have almost certainly known him at Cornell.

John R Mott boarded here. He raised money to build Barnes Hall for the burgeoning activities of the Cornell University Christian Association in the late 1880s. Young WH Ledger lived in student rooms there and participated in CUCA activities

Deep in a valley, with Cornell towering above, Ithaca is a delightful town. It is also the home of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where local birders made us very welcome at their monthly meeting. One took us on a day trip along Cayuga Lake (one of the finger lakes) to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. It was a cold damp day and much of our birding was done peering out of car windows as we drove slowly through the wetlands.

A Bald Eagle. (We saw one diving for fish.) The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The wetlands of the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

Ithaca is definitely a place worth another visit and we left with some reluctance. We retraced our bus journey to Boston. New York provided a quick stopover opportunity again. This time we met up with Aussie friends over lunch at the new Hudson Yards. We had promised Polly the cat that we would do this. (Amy and Alec rescued her from the Wagga Wagga pound almost a decade ago and returned her to health before she joined our household.)

Back in Boston, we paid homage to the South Station train station, one of the projects Grandad Ledger worked on fresh out of Cornell before returning to Australia in 1900 to a career of lecturing and engineering.

South Station then, now, and how it might well become, according to this week’s press

Today and yesterday, thanks to the time difference, we found good reason to stretch out our twentieth wedding anniversary as long as possible. Much of it was spent in the Museum of Fine Arts. We also enjoyed a fine dinner of thanks, celebration, remembrance and farewell with Alice.

A Jackson Pollock ‘Mural’ spotted at the museum. Yes, it is a bit bigger and earlier than ‘Blue Poles’

The binoculars were put aside this week. Alice’s lounge room did make a good bird hide from above and a wild turkey did obligingly run ahead of a taxi we were in, however. That made 109 species spotted so far, 98 new to the list.

Signs of Halloween are proliferating. We will be in southeast Queensland by time the tricks and treats begin and home soon after All Saints Day.

So this is our last e-postcard for this adventure. Thank you for sharing the ride!


Chris and Geoff

Heading home