Ann at The Little Bleu Cheese Shop in Rochester
Pounding the pavement in the Rochester neighborhood known as South Wedge (Jason, our interviewee, had indicated it was Rochester's Brooklyn-style neighborhood), Kyle and I discovered a quaint-looking artisan cheese shop. Up for a culinary adventure, we took a peek inside and encountered not only a fabulous display of cheese (please be kind, we are not cheese connoisseurs so I cannot do the cheese justice in my description herein), but some delightful conversation with the owner, Ann. Ann and her husband moved to the city from the outer suburbs in order to open this shop, adamant about being a part of the neighborhood where Ann's brick and mortor cheese shop was located. Ann's passion and love for the cheese business was quite apparent as she encouraged us to "be adventurous" and sample her selections liberally. Her knowledge of the cheese was solid, a result of a never-ending educational process and relationship building with the cheese makers themselves. It was clear that Ann embraced the "farm to table" philosophy of knowing everyone and everything that goes into the production of what I thought was some pretty fabulous cheese. Finally, and it wasn't until later that I really discovered this - Ann is a WRITER. She keeps a blog on her website of her journey into the cheese business that is truly inspiring. She clearly went all-in to achieve this dream. Please read her blog here, it is quite worth it.
AJ and Faith, Our Warm Showers Hosts in Rochester
As we approached Rochester, Kyle and I decided to utilize Warm Showers for accomodations. Warm Showers is a community site for touring cyclists, not unlike Couch Surfing. It is based on the idea of reciprocity - that people will offer up their homes and "warm showers" to cyclists so that they might also be hosted on their own tours. You create a profile and message people currently hosting as you approach their location. AJ was our first respondee. AJ himself has never been hosted on Warm Showers, but enjoys hosting other travelers and hearing their stories. Upon arrival, AJ was incredibly accommodating, offering up his guest room and inviting us to a barbeque he was having later that night with friends. Despite claiming that he did not know what urban planning was about, AJ clearly had it in his genes, a former member of a committee looking to turn the abandoned subway system in Rochester into a uniquely urban area for bars, restaurants and retail, preserving the graffiti and character of the system. Sadly for us, we did not have time to go explore the system. Next time!
Paul, the Coin Historian of Lockport
Sitting at a bench awaiting pickup from Kyle's uncle Keith in Buffalo (we booked it here for a wedding), Kyle and I were approached by Paul, who was curious about our journey. Upon hearing our plans, Paul whipped out a container filled with old coins and handed us a nickel from 1903 as a good luck token. Having captured our attention, he then proceeded to show us some even older coins - one was from 1853! When asked about his hobby, Paul explained to us that he likes to buy old coins from the coin shop around the corner so that he can hand them out to kids and give them a "little dose of history." His favorite coins to distribute were from 1912, the year the Titanic sunk. Before long, Keith's truck pulled into view and Paul waved us off, jokingly calling us cheaters for taking advantage of the ride. Thank you Paul, we will remember you fondly.