Travel Tales: Accidentally Reenacting Jason and Lorelai's First Date

The story of when we could not find dinner ANYWHERE!

This story takes place on our Fourth of July trip to central NY to see Taughannock Falls.

I was always a fan of Jason on Gilmore Girls (maybe because I actually married a Jason…).

Of course, Lorelai had to end up with Luke (as we can all agree), so of course something insanely dramatic had to happen to break up the really good vibe Jason and Lorelai had going. I try to keep that part of the show unacknowledged in the back parts of my mind, along with Pirates of the Caribbean 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (I lost count somewhere after the third one…).

As much as I hate how they had to break up (#spoiler…), I love their first date episode.

First they go to the awkward fancy restaurant where Lorelai is uncomfortable, so they leave. Then they go to the taco drive-through, which is not Jason’s thing, so they leave. They finally end up at a grocery store, and amid errand shopping, manage to pull together a worthwhile spread and a memorable first date.

I always thought it was a really cute scenario… until I actually lived it.

The Ithaca Commons—cute downtown area with restaurants.

Not that this was our first date (on our first date, we were late for dinner because of a car fire on the highway, and by the time we went to IHOP, no one, literally NO ONE but us came in or out of the restaurant the entire time we were there!); Jason and I were happily married by the time of this story.

We had gone to Ithaca for the long holiday weekend. Saturday night, after arriving in Ithaca, we went down to the commons for dinner.

We actually went to our first choice for a restaurant, only to walk around the whole building and stare in the windows, finally to find out that it was closed down (#post2020).

So Jason found another restaurant he wanted to try and we set off in search of it. Probably because we’re us… we couldn’t find it, and we ended up in Red’s Place, Jason’s third choice, but a very agreeable alternative.

After finishing a lovely meal there, we walked back outside in search of ice cream, and found the other restaurant we had been looking for right next to Red’s…

So that was Saturday.

Sunday we woke up early to explore Taughannock Falls State Park before the crowds set in, and then headed to Cortland for lunch with my relatives and a round of mini golf at the world’s longest mini golf hole!

They suggested we go to The Boatyard Grill for dinner. It’s a bit fancier and expensiver (is that a word…?) than our taste, but since we were on vacation, we decided to give it a try.

After driving around the massive, maxed out parking lot, parallel parking into a tight spot along the road by the boating center (Jason did the driving), walking five minutes from the car up to the entrance (that may be slightly exaggerated), and feeling completely under-dressed, we were told they could seat us by 9.

I guess you don’t try to go out to eat on a holiday that also happens to be a weekend.

Oh well. We weren’t that super into it anyway.

I had the brilliant idea that we go back to the commons to check out that other restaurant that Jason wanted to try, since we now knew exactly where it was!

We got to the commons. We found a good spot to park (not like yesterday). We got out and walked down the eerily empty street (not like yesterday). We headed straight for the restaurant we knew was there. And it was closed.

Not only was that restaurant closed, nearly all of the many restaurants that one day before had been overflowing with people, were now closed. The commons was completely dead.

I guess the perks of owning a small town local business is that you can close up shop for holidays. Yay.

Alright, it’s time for the trusty chain restaurant.

We headed over to Texas Roadhouse, passing a Chili’s on the way, that Jason said could be our backup backup (how many backups do you think you would need?).

Keep in mind that this is summer 2021. The summer of the great labor shortage, when everyone was getting paid to be unemployed and nobody wanted to work.

By the time we walked into the Texas Roadhouse, it was 7:45, and they closed at 8. They said, “Sorry, we don’t have time to seat you.”

We said… “I guess we’ll have to go to Chili’s.”

They said, “Um…nope. Chili’s is closing. All their workers refuse to work past 8.”

Maybe we were better off waiting to be seated till 9…

Luckily, there was also a nearby Wegmans. Wegmans is a grocery store. They have food!

Wegmans is the BEST grocery store!

We were hoping the cafe area of Wegmans would be open (the hostess at Texas Roadhouse asked if we could bring her back a sub!).

It wasn’t.

But, like I said, Wegmans is a grocery store. They have food.

So (not for the last time), we pull a Jason & Lorelai. Grab what you can and make a great spread!

The good news is, Wegmans is really the best, and they have lots of prepared foods that you can just pop in the microwave in your hotel room and have ready to eat.

So we grabbed a bunch of random meals and sides, and headed back to the room (where it was probably getting close to that 9:00 seating time). Of course I bought something healthy and ended up eating Jason’s (as usual).

The moral of the story is, never go out to eat on a holiday weekend!

The other moral of the story is, Wegmans is the best.

Our fancy 4th of July dinner.