I visited the long-abandoned Van Nattas Pumping Station in Ithaca, New York while on a life-changing several-week-long road trip to the Finger Lakes in 2016. It was such a contrast to the grit, decay, and crime of Cleveland, Ohio, where I had lived for two years working contracts. I had just been let go from a temporary position at the Federal Reserve Bank, just been mugged for my phone, and had an unreliable apartment. I was missing nature, small-town life, and easy back road romping.

I packed my camera backpack, hopped into my Subaru, and made the five-hour drive to the Finger Lakes. I fell instantly in love with the region’s many waterfalls and historic sites—including Van Nattas.

From that visit, I made an effort to move to Ithaca and was able to secure a dream position at a local university. In early 2017, I said goodbye to Cleveland and hello to Ithaca, a fresh start.