Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Numbers looking up at Albany International Airport

Albany International Airport, according to recent figures, has the most on-time arriving and departing flights in the region and its boarding figures are up from last year.
According to the Times Union, the number of passengers boarding planes increased at Albany International Airport in May, compared to 2010 levels for the same time period.
A total of 104,234 passengers flew in May 2011, compared to 101,455 in May 2010, an increase of 2.7 percent.
There's been more good news at the airport in recent months too since the Albany airport topped local lists for having on-time flights.
According to the Times Herald-Record, the airport bettered New York City and Hudson Valley airports for the title.
Albany International Airport topped Stewart International Airport and Stewart's other primary competitors with the best on-time percentages for arriving and departing flights in 2010. Stewart led its competitors in both categories in 2009.
Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics show that for 2010, Albany finished half a percentage point ahead of Stewart in on-time departures.
Also, did you know that Albany International Airport was the first, and remains the oldest, municipal airport in the country? Well, now you know.

Dirty Blondes and a Playboy Playmate in the ADKs

For anyone who likes dirty blondes and/or Playboy playmates, you may want to hang out a bit in Lake George and Ticonderoga over the next week or so.
The Adirondack Brewery is holding their inaugural (not to be confused with first annual - as one of my former co-workers pointed out, there really is no such thing as a first annual event) Miss Dirty Blonde contest.
It's too late to enter yourself but you can still reap the rewards since the 12 finalists will be featured on posters, online at, and on the brewery's Facebook site.
You can also vote for your chosen contestant online and at establishments that serve Adirondack Brewery products, August 1 - 19. The final three and Miss Dirty Blonde 2011 will be announced on August 22, 2011 and will win up to $5,000 in prizes.
The contest was inspired by the Lake George Brewery's top-selling Dirty Blonde ale.
And, just north of Lake George, the small town of Ticonderoga will be getting "some extra spark" (as the Associated Press put it) due to a planned visit by Playboy Playmate Mei-Ling Lam, the magazine's June Playmate of the Month (I found a picture with her wearing clothes- surprise - that I posted).
She is scheduled to ride in a convertible car during the town's July 4th parade Monday. It is still unclear what she will be wearing...if anything.
Of course, I'm not the only one to have picked up on this - Q103 has something on their site today too.
Her business manager Brian Little is a Ti native. And her fiance, former Atlanta Falcons running back Ken Oxendine, will be traveling with her.
While parade organizers are less than thrilled, I have a feeling the parade spectators might not mind.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Planes Halted at JFK, Turtle power!

I've heard of a lot of reasons for flight delays - equipment malfunction, too much traffic, drunk pilots - but this must be a first.

I was watching a news segment on this and the pilot said he was wondering what was crawling on the ground. He could actually see the 150 little turtles heading out to the bay to nest for the summer.

The turtles were IDed as TMNT - not really. They're diamondback terrapins.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I need a little travel chaos in my life

I admit I may plan out a bit too much to do when I'm on vacation. Just a bit.
It used to be because I only had a week, or two weeks of vacation time to play with. But, now, I have three weeks and I'm still doing it.
I think I've come to the conclusion that I need (just a bit of) chaos in my life - which probably also explains my being a reporter.
Though, in my defense, there are other factors. For my trip to Ireland for example, I'm doing a literal whirlwind self-driven tour of the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher, Giants Causeway, and Dublin. So whirlwind, one day I plan to sleep only five hours then drive 11 hours.
Couple reasons this is happening: 1) Less days paying for an expensive rental car, 2) Less money paid for lodging/food, and 3) The plane ticket was cheaper for flying that Wednesday/Thursday instead of going a day earlier so I'd have more time there before the wedding. I'm a cheap, chaotic monkeybutt it seems. And I'm ridicules. Like I said, I admit that.
Even last year, I felt kinda bad at parts of the cross-country road trip when I'd drag Adam and Jess out of bed at 6am to make sure we'd be on schedule for the next stop. Sometimes we really didn't get enough sleep, and sometimes we weren't completely not-hungover. But, it all worked out. And that's how I feel this trip will be too.
It'll be busy, it'll be rushed. But it will also be fun and with amazing scenery.
Then I get to relax a bit when I get to Iceland - well, if your definition of relax means going straight to a geothermal spa from the airport to make sure I have time to do two other bus trips during the rest of my stay....

Saratoga Race Course Giveaways

It's almost horse racing season again. That magical time of year when a $2 bet can somehow make hundreds with an exacta, trifecta or superfecta.
On top of this, there's free stuff (according to The Saratogian).
  • July 31: A black baseball cap with red Saratoga Race Course logo
  • Aug. 14: A white t-shirt with black Saratoga Race Course logo
  • Aug. 21: A black gym bag with red Saratoga Race Course logo
  • Sept. 4: A black longsleeve shirt with red Saratoga Race Course logo
NYRA officials also announced several special events, some new and others returning favorites, that will be held this year. Those events include:
  • Two twilight racings days
  • A Mardi Gras celebration
  • Mid-summer St. Patrick's Day celebration
  • Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry day
  • College Day
But, really, the only incentive I need is knowing that I'm visiting the oldest organized sporting venue, of any kind, in the country. Ok, Ok, that and the bobble head dolls.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Beautiful Day for a Trip to the Canal

While I love my job, there are days where things get very hectic (ie 9am press conference, 10:30am Five Questions interview, attend school graduation at 2pm, write three stories, go to 6:30pm meeting).
And even though my day Tuesday, when I went up to Mechanicville and Stillwater, was one of these over-scheduled days, it didn't feel like it. And that's probably because my job that day included touring around Lock 4 on the Champlain Canal and then taking a 1.5 hour boat ride on the 110-year-old Tug Urger.
Water in general is a soothing and healing thing. Then, you add a boat and you're really having fun.
I had my lunch at the lock as I waited for the Tug Urger and checked out the cool/old infrastructure and picturesque setting adjacent to an island near Stillwater in the Hudson River.
The ride's highlights included a sighting of two very big eagles (not sure if they were bald or golden eagles), meeting three very knowledgeable and friendly crew members, and firing off question after question about the tug, built at the turn of the 20th century. I'm writing an article about it today too.
I guess my point is, though, that if you haven't gone to check out the canals, locks,etc you really should. The Canal Corporation has picnic tables, kayak launches and the information kiosks nearby for both the boaters' and visitors' convenience.
I remember, as a kid, my dad would take my siblings and I to the Erie Canal locks near Rome, NY whenever we'd go back to visit his family. I didn't quite understand why the canal was cool then, I do.

Checking out others' travels...

As both a hiking and travel enthusiast, this blog from the Times Union's The Outdoors makes me so completely jealous.
It made me think of my June 2004 train trip through Switzerland into Zurich. Going through the Alps was amazing.
The only hike I've done that compares with that beauty (green pastures, wildflowers, snow capped mountains) was when I did the Conundrum Hot Springs hike in Aspen (which also had a nude bather or two). That was 18-miles round trip - and we did it in one day even though there are camping grounds at the end - but it was soooo worth it when we got to the springs and had a nice long soak.
Made me wish the Adirondacks had more subsurface volcanic activity so we'd have hot springs like that too.
Getting back to the blog (by Gillian Scott and Herb Terns), the photos were just great too - one is borrowed on this blog - and I liked the narrative.
But I do have one correction - bungee jumping was actually invented in New Zealand. Though, I totally agree that Australians are fearless, globetrotting people. But, they don't much like being mistaken for the Kiwis.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nude Beach Near Capital District

(Now I have your attention, right?)
Let me preface this post by the heck have I lived here for nearly 28 years and not known there was a nude beach just 3.5 hours away?
So, one of my friends (who wishes to remain anonymous) went to a beach on Sandy Hook, New Jersey where there was the option to bathe and sunbathe in the buff. My friend opted not to, but her male friend and the rest of the beach were pretty much naked, she said.
The beach is called Gunnison. While it is on Sandy Hook in New Jersey, it should not be mistaken for the Sandy Hook beach - where you would likely be arrested for swimming nude.
The difference in all this is that Gunnison is a nationally-run beach, so when the state passed a law in 1999 prohibiting municipal and state beaches from allowing nude activities, Gunnison beach was able to remain as it was since it didn't fall under that jurisdiction. (yay!)
During the summer, there's a $10 charge for cars, fyi.
A small price to pay for the experience, in my opinion.
As for local (legal) nudist beaches....I'll need to investigate that topic further, through personal research if need be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The land of "lands"

And, actually, I just realized that all of the countries I'm going to this summer/early fall have "land" at the end: England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Iceland. Not very creative in Europe, are they?
Thinking they'll hopefully make up for this in other beer and scenery.

I'm going to Iceland!

My title pretty much sums it up. Other than my internal feelings of: AAAAAAAAHHHH!!! (excited) But yeah, I'm including Iceland in my Northern Ireland wedding trip in August/September.
Of the people I've told so far (which has not been many since I really didn't want to internet jinx it and then find that the plane tickets suddenly became out of my price range) there's been a mixed bag of sentiments. While mostly very positive and enthusiastic, I found the non-reactive responses kinda interesting.
Sure, the name of the country kinda brings up negative connotations - Ice-land. (Or as Sanka in Cool Runnings would say: "Ice? As in Eskimos, and igloos, and penguins, and ICE?") But, it will be summer when I go so I'm not too worried about it. Actually, I want to go back in the winter (I haven't even gone there yet and I'm already planning my next trip....yep) since they're known for a hotel made of ice and there's even a heated beach - but they're only open in the winter...I checked.
And, besides, anyone who has watched Mighty Ducks 2 (D2) knows that Greenland is actually full of ice (true story, seen it from planes) while Iceland is very nice.
I intend to find out if that is true in person, though.
I first started thinking about including Iceland in my trip when I read an article this past weekend about how it's been very cheap to go there due to their economy issues. Though, the article also warned that the government has started taxing a lot of items (sometimes up to 25 percent) to make up for the recent lack of revenue.
But I figured I would check the airplane fares to Iceland and go from there. The fares were Great. I'm flying from Boston to London for $404 one way using Iceland Express. Iceland Air was another option but a tad more expensive. And, on the way back, the flight from London to Iceland was $100 and $277 to Boston.
Throw in the $70ish I just paid for Ryanair flight round trip from London to Dublin, and I'm paying a lil under $1,000.
Know what most airlines wanted to charge from Albany to Belfast? At least $1,050, and usually a lot more.
So, now I'm not only excited about seeing a place I've always wanted to go, I'm also thrilled to save a bit of money in the process.
Now just crossing my fingers that there's not a volcanic eruption that will affect flights...again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Loonie Toonies

While we're on the topic of money, I wanted to bring up how easy a drive it is to Canada yet how annoying bank exchange fees can be for the two currencies.

On my trip to Ottawa earlier this month, I thought I was so smart to be using my debit card/Mastercard instead of going someplace to exchange cold hard cash. I figured it made more sense to do that since we would only be there on an overnight trip.

While there, I continued to think this way - especially since I did have some American cash on me and many of the places actually accepted it since the forms of currency are pretty close in value ($1.00 = .9793 Canadian).

But then, when I got home and looked at my monthly bank statement, I noticed that for every card transaction I made there was a 35-cent fee and there was an initial fee for crossing the border and using the bank's/card's exchange service.

This is probably not a new thing (I admit I haven't been out of the country in a while) but it still annoyed me since I used my card numerous times and the fees obviously added up. I guess for my quick trip, it still made sense to just do what I did (though if I had known about the fee I wouldn't have used my card as much).

I have gotten notices about an increase in the fee to use my line of credit (it went up from $5/use to now $10/use) but I don't ever remember seeing a notice on an international exchange fee being implemented.


If anything, maybe someone else will learn from this...

Also, a fun thing you may or may not know: the Canadian dollar coin is called a Loonie and the 2 dollar coin is a Toonie. Wonder if that's where we got Looney Tunes

US Dollar VS the Euro

There's good news (for the US) and bad news (for Europe): the instability in Greece has in fact affected the Euro which fell slightly against the dollar this morning, according to the New York Times. This, of course, is great news for anyone going to a European country in the immediate future. But, kinda bad for those living in Europe.

I was at a get together for a neighborhood/lake association in Grafton last month and a few people there were talking about the Euro and how expensive the exchange rate is making European travel for anyone who normally uses the US Dollar. (the rate was $1.4315 equating to 1 Euro Friday, now it's $1.4295)

Granted, not much of a difference but it shows the affect of a bad economy in Greece on the majority of the European Union.

With this, comes further good news (for Europe) and bad news (for US): the drop was directly caused by a delay in a bailout for the Greek government so once that is paid, the Euro should go back to where it was before.

And, as usual, the British pound as a pound. (from $1.6178 to $1.6209 for 1 pound) Which, again, is not particularly good news for me since I'm going there come fall.

But, for those looking to get some bang for your buck, I was reading an article (I forget where, maybe the Times Union?) about where good travel deals can be found right now. The dollar is currently strong in South Africa and Iceland, where I'm actually now thinking of going after the N. Ireland wedding. I'll add Egypt to this list too, though it wasn't mentioned in the article but the exchange rate is really good now.

The article also mentioned good deals in Vancouver since so many hotels were built for the Olympics and now there are obviously not as many tourists to fill them (and you should be safe now that hockey season is over...yeesh).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm disappointed, Vancouver.

I love hockey as much as the next guy (or girl in my case) but...I really expected better from you, Vancouver.

While I have not yet visited your city - on my to-do list - I really would have thought that this action would come from Boston. In fact, after they won the World Series it did come from Boston.

I understand that the last (several) games in the Stanley Cup finals were kind of a let down for everyone and you're probably disappointed. But injuring 150 some people, rioting, flipping over cars, and the like are never the way. Who do you think you are, Albany Keg-n-Eggers?

Now, go sit in the corner of the country and think about what you've done....oh, you're already there. Well, then, stay there. And no hockey for you least August.

(photo from here)

Hooters opens/Broadway Joe's closes

I was just watching Megamind, the movie with Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt as a bad guy and good guy in an animated mainly-for-kids-but-also-entertaining-for-adults film. One of the main themes in the production was that there is always a ying and yang/good and evil.

Or, as demonstrated this week, where God closes a bar....he opens a Hooters.

My roomies had a Groupon for Broadway Joe's in Albany, the bar right near the Times Union Center, and they figured they would use it at a trivia night recently advertised. They went to the South Pearl Street establishment and found out that the place is slated to close Saturday (June 18). Not only this, but they were also not doing trivia.

I guess the place will be renovated and reopened as a Wolf's 1-11. I haven't looked into this too much myself, yet, so I don't know details.

But, I will say that I was never very impressed with Broadway Joe's. It has a prime location and yet it's almost dead before events/games. I think a Wolf's 1-11, especially if it also has a games room, will fit in well in its stead.

And, back on Wolf Road, Hooters has finally opened. I remember when I first heard the rumors of its triumphant return while waiting in line to pay for a bridesmaid dress at David's Bridal in January. A (very) random place to hear about such things, but nonetheless, you can't really beat such an estrogen-filled business for gossip.

And now, six months later, the rumors have become reality. The grand opening was tonight (Thursday). I hope they bring back the old trivia games they had (maybe even the old teams like the Lynch's Mob will return too) and this could fill the trivia gap Broadway Joe's is leaving. Ying and Yang forming a balance, right?

There photo, by the way, came from here.

With good business, comes issues with parking on River Street in Troy

I was at Brown's Brewing Co. Wednesday night (former Taproom, former Troy Brew Pub) on River Street in Troy. My friend I was meeting there informed me that the large parking lot adjacent to Brown's is now charging $5 per car.

My understanding is that the lot is part of the Hadley property, with the Hadley building not too far away.

Really, it makes perfect business sense to do this. Before 4pm on weekdays, people still need to pay to park on the streets with the new-ish meters (that will soon grace Albany streets too). The municipal lot near Ryan's Wake, free without a permit on nights/weekends, usually fills up pretty quickly. And, if you're going to Dinosaur BBQ, you can almost forget about parking in their lot if it's a peak meal time.

Though, there is the Uncle Sam parking garage. Maybe it's just me but, parking garages kinda sketch me out. Even if they too are free on nights and weekends.

But, I may change my tune.

With limited parking in this up and coming area (some street parking is lost right now too due to exterior construction at Revolution Hall), Hadley could make a pretty penny from the people out and about and looking for parking.

Business is obviously up in the area - Brown's deck now even has those beepers to tell you when your table is ready - and it's only going to improve with Bomber's coming.

Some might just pay out the $5 (which I hear they are taking in cash or credit) and others might just walk a couple blocks from the parking garage.

I, personally, hope Don Boyajian does tear down the buildings he owns next to the future Bomber's and create a parking lot - and then not charge for it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In other Greece...

Prime Minister George Papandreou offered to step down from his post if that would facilitate the formation of a national unity government with Greece's opposition political parties, according to two Greek officials familiar with the matter. (from the Wall Street Journal)
From the photos in Athens, there seems to be a lot of unrest in this ancient country where the first glimpses of Democracy and philosophy were born. Kinda ironic now, isn't it?
I loved my time in Greece in 2004 and again in 2007 but I have to admit I've seen this coming for a while. The country is in economic turmoil and political ruin. The prime minister's offer is interesting but I don't know if it will help, at least not in the short term. It might be a bit too little too late.
It seems there's been a cloud of civil unrest making it's way up the Mediterranean - in Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, and Greece.

As I've said before, I still think it's odd that the EU would grant Greece membership but not Turkey since they both obviously face high-profile problems.
There's not a lot we can do over here to help really but I think it's good to at least stay informed of these things and realize we could have it a lot worse than politicians who occasionally send sext messages.

And, on the quasi-bright side, maybe...just maybe....this will affect the Euro so it might go down a bit before my European trip in the fall. Maybe.

How the other half lives

In my opinion, there is no such thing as frivilous travel. Even so, I've found that a lot of people seem to need a reason to travel sometimes. And when they don't have a reason, they end up cashing in their vacation time and staying home - which is a shame.
I have yet to have this problem. I have the complete opposite "problem."
While I love all of my friends and feel very honored to be invited to their weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, baby showers, house warming parties and divorce parties (yep), any vacation time or money that I might have used for my own adventures goes toward these festivites.
My vacation time is not only booked for this year but I already know how I'll be using it next year as well.
I'm not complaining - much - but I almost wish I knew how the other half lived. Not the rich half. I'm referring to the group of people whose summers aren't booked up by late spring, and aren't in multiple weddings a year (sometimes even on the groom's side).
Reflecting on my own habits and behavior, it almost seems like I need the structure. I need to be told "Ok, you have five weddings this summer so plan accordingly." Otherwise, I'd probably squander my time away anyway on silly things like having time to make photo albums, or go for a long ADK hike like I used to before I got to "that age" where everyone was getting married, having babies, and buying houses.
I miss my freedom sometimes with these things, even though I know I can say no - I don't want to because I love my friends dearly and want them to know that by being there at these important milestones in life.
I was having a conversation with my friends who came along to Ommegang this weekend about this and how one of them had not really gone on a vacation in a while and she talked about the days she was traveling a lot due to weddings and the like. I thought she would be relieved not to be bogged down by these things anymore but it almost sounded just the opposite, that she missed going to the events and having a reason to hop on a plane and see friends, even if it was just for a weekend.
There's the cliche that you don't know what you have until it's gone. I know what I have and I truly appreciate it. I'm blessed with good friends, good health, and a starving-artist salary that somehow allows me to do what I want, with few sacrifices.
And I think I will miss these busy wedding seasons and summers.
But I also think I will enjoy that first year that I get to decide where I'm going for my summer vacation and picking that spot for no other reason than that it's a place I want to visit.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who needs Geico?

As you may or may not know, I am moving to Troy by the end of the month. I'm wicked excited to say the least (so much so I've resorted to beach slang to show my enthusiasm...totally tubular).
Along with the excitement of living in an old brick row house - finally escaping the cookie-cutter confines of my last two apartments in Albany and Brunswick - I realized I would also be saving money in gas since I plan to walk to work more since I'll only be a mile away from The Record anyway.
Well, this close proximity to work has gained me an advantage in the contest of saving money on car insurance - an ever-present conflict demonstrated through an infinite amount of TV and radio ads.
I called my insurance provider today (Ameriprise) to update them on my upcoming change of address and by the end of the phone call I had a new insurance quote - which is about 10 percent cheaper than my current policy. All from moving closer to my work and planning to get a bit of exercise in the process.
I look forward to spending those savings on other other bills, and maybe a couple beers in Ireland.
I'd recommend you check with your own insurance providers to make sure they know how close/far away you are from work and if that might impact the premium.

The Liberty Belle Crash

When I first heard the news on the radio about the B-17 crash in Illinois, I had a horrible feeling it was the Liberty Belle.
I had the chance to ride in the plane a couple years ago for a story. It was a really fun experience. I can still remember how weird it was to feel so much air go by me as the plane took off (since part of the top canopy was open) and how cool it was to look down at Albany and the Hudson River and Troy from the perspective of a WWI pilot or bombardier in the clear/open bomb targeting spot under the pilot.
The craft was a real beauty.
While I'm glad no one was killed in the emergency landing (also glad I wasn't one of the people on it at the time), it is a tragedy that the plane was destroyed as it was a piece of our history.
We should consider ourselves lucky to have had the opportunity to ride it or even look up at it in the sky during its visits to the Capital District.

The Village People are Coming! The Village People are Coming!

If, like me, you missed out on seeing the Village People play for free at Alive at Five a couple seasons back then you're in luck.
(*eerie voice*) They'rrre back.
I got a press release from the Saratoga Casino and Raceway this week which stated the concert would be at the Vapor Night Club June 23 at 8 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to the show and tickets can be purchased at
It's $30. A small price to pay to hear such wedding reception and karaoke classics like the YMCA and Macho Man performed live by most of the original Village People.
It probably won't be as cool as when I got to see the Thunder from Down Under at Vapor (which I plan to write about when they come back), but men dressed up in fun costumes will always be entertaining in my opinion.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I have a bit of a secret...I've been to Cooperstown more than two dozen times and I still have never been to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't tell the government. I have a feeling this is grounds for being put on an anti-American, terrorist list.

As a kid, my parents took me to the Leatherstocking Country town for the fall festival at the Farmers' Museum and then back again later in the winter for the winter carnival in the downtown section of Cooperstown itself.

My fondest memories of both involved food, like all my memories apparently. The farmers' museum festival always had the best homemade pies and soups. And the winter carnival had a great chocolate tasting right in the inn my family used to stay in, the Tunnicliff.

The farmers' museum would also have oldtime baseball demos, not unlike the games I saw this weekend at the Ommegang brewery. And, just down the street from the Tunnicliff toward Glimmerglass Lake, there was an amazing three-tiered hill great for snowtubing and sledding.

These are my memories of Cooperstown. Oh, and walking by Doubleday field. But, other than the field and the 19th century style baseball games, not much baseball thoughts to speak of in a place home to the country's Hall of Fame.

I went back to Cooperstown this weekend with some friends to mainly check out the nearby brewery (though we missed this one and might have to go back).

The cute downtown area, sprinkled with interesting brick and stone architecture that is obviously old, was oddly familiar to me but more so with memories from the eyes of a child and young teenager. I hadn't been back to the town in years. It was really cool actually seeing everything finally from the point of view of an adult and I finally understood why my parents took me back year after year (because when you're a kid you're kinda like 'really? Cooperstown?').

The town, with stores and tourist spots lined up along the main street, was a bit expensive (I paid $12 for my lunch with included some mango and three...yes, three...shrimp) and I remember the Tunnicliff being kinda pricey but also worth it because the rooms were really quaint/cozy/ and anything but cookie-cutter. I remember watching The Three Stooges for the first time as a kid in the inn's lounge.

Cooperstown is about 1.5 hours from Albany. The town boasts only having 1 stop light.

I made a point to visit the hill from my childhood too that I remember going down and climbing up a myriad of times. One time actually a local newspaper photographer captured me going over a small bump and flying for a bit in the air. I was 7-years-old and astounded that that was newsworthy. The hill is now a bit smaller than I remember, but aren't most things compared to the childhood memories gauge?

And, as per tradition, we walked past the Hall of Fame...but did not go in.

At this point, I'm not sure I ever will. It might be one of my claims to fame....also like the fact that I've now been to Vegas twice and have never gambled there. Again, that's just a tradition now and another story.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Beer from Lemons

I internet jinxed myself. It seems whenever I announce something on Facebook, Twitter, or even apparently my blog, it tends not to happen. Exhibit A: I was looking forward to going up near Ti this weekend, as stated in my previous (guest) blog, and I ended up not going hiking near there as I had planned.
But I can't complain, really.
My friends and I still met early Saturday morning, even though I only got about five hours of sleep the night prior. Crystal, who lives near me, arrived just as the rain started to become a bit heavy and Jessie, whose wedding I will be in later this summer in Maine, got to my place as the downpour began. We obviously were not hiking today.
We started brainstorming - there was a Soapbox Derby I read about on, and Americade up in Lake George, or my parent's camp in Grafton could be nice. Then, even though it was 8:30 in the morning, I came up with the idea of going to a brewery, Ommegang to be specific. I knew it was less than two hours away and in an area I used to visit often as a child - Cooperstown.
We agreed that the brewery was the way to go. So, we had breakfast at the Cafe Madison near my house which is of course well-known for its brunches and laid our course for I-90 then Route 88 using, much to my dismay, GPSs.
We got there with no problem but had to park in a nearby field with the visitor parking was already full, even though they had just opened for the day at 11am which was not too much before we arrived.
There were two games of old-style baseball going on with one game with rules from 1864 and another with rules from 1867. The main difference is that an out can still occur if a ball is caught after it bounces with the earlier rules (I only know because I asked one of the players).
It felt very Cooperstown-y, ya know, since the place is known for the Baseball Hall of Fame. And I guess our impromptu trip was well-timed since the teams only play at Ommegang maybe once or twice a year.
The actual beer facility is comprised of a large, old-looking brewery area and a gift store/pub in a separate building out back, near a large field. My bf and I have been meaning to check out their annual summer camp outs which I hear are fun and involve a lot of drinking. They sell out every year.
The beer tasting, which we arrived just in time for, was probably the best I've ever been on (and I've been on a lot of beer tasting/tours). For one, it was free. And, on top of that, it included sampling four of their mustards/condiments and three of their cheese dips (I liked most of them because horseradish was a main ingredient in a few of them). At the end, there was a dark chocolate pairing with their Three Philosophers brew, which was one of about six beers we tried.
The brewery, established in 1997, is named after an annual festival in Belgium that has roots back to the 16th century. They have Belgian beer partners and name many of their beers with Belgian names - like the popular Rare Vos actually means sly fox in Flemish.
Granted, after spending $40 on gifts for my boyfriend and sister and myself, the tour,etc was technically not free anymore but it was still worth the 1 1/2 hour trip.
When you go: be sure to ask what the Princess parking is near the brewery (it's kind of funny) and save some time for the Dollhouse Hall of Fame nearby. We didn't get to check it out but it's free and it just sounds...uh...interesting.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Experiencing “America’s Fort” In a Day

It's Friday...and you know what that means....I'm being bombarded by news (I had to wake up earlier than usual today, which isn't really that early for people with normal schedules, to try to see a racing pigeon and go to the Red, White, and Blue Day in Troy). On top of this, I have rewrites up the waaazooo. I'm too nice and can't say no to my PR friends. *le sigh*

Anyway, my new friend Lauren Grimaldi wrote this awesome blog (so I wouldn't have to today hehe) and I'd like to share. I'm heading up to the Ticonderoga-ish area this weekend to go hiking so I'll hopefully have a nice story from that too, even though it's supposed to

K, on with the blog....

With the beginning of summer approaching, finding an affordable, fun day trip was top of mind. For a family of 4 or 5, airfare, trains, & buses could cost an arm and a leg. So with a budget in mind and the fear of “cabin fever”, I sought out day trips that were reasonable and fun for the family.

Traveling North, I took the scenic drive from the Capital District to the Adirondacks, and there rested on the edge of the mountain, all on its own was Fort Ticonderoga! I drove into the Fort on a long path lined with tall trees and the grounds where five battles and two wars had been fought.

Blue waters and green forests from Lake Champlain and the Mountains made a lasting first impression. As I made my way into Fort Ticonderoga, I was greeted by the interpretive staff and became immersed in the history that lied there. I quickly realized that Fort Ticonderoga has a lot to offer its visitors. Not only is it a place for history buffs, but for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

For those who are fascinated by history, this is one of North America’s most significant and historical sites. First built by the French during the French & Indian War, it has a long history of being a strategic location due to its complex controlling passage on Lake Champlain and Lake George.

It made its mark in the American Revolution as it became “America’s first victory” as Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, and the Green Mountain Boys captured it in 1775 from the British troops. The artifacts and largest 18th century artillery collection in North America was remarkable. If that isn’t interesting enough, Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and also Ben Franklin, to name a few, stood where I stood!

After my brief history exploration, I discovered the many other opportunities that visitors can do at Fort Ticonderoga. Open daily is their newest exhibit, the Art of War, where fifty of the Fort’s most significant paintings, photos and artifacts are on display in one pivotal collection. As for children, they can tour the barracks, watch musket demonstrations, and see first-hand the daily lives of the soldiers. Weekends offer an array of events throughout the season.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Fort Ticonderoga offers over 2,000 acres to explore including the Kings Garden. This enormous brick-walled garden is impeccably landscaped full of Lavender, Peony, Lilies, Iris’, Poppies, Snapdragons, and more. These flowers infused the garden with an aroma that gives visitors a place for relaxation and to enjoy the beautiful flowers.
After all the exploring, I had worked up an appetite. What could be more perfect, The Log House onsite restaurant overlooking Lake Champlain which offers visitors breakfast, lunch, and desserts. Picnic areas are also available.

It was a day trip I wouldn’t forget. It had all I could possibly want. Beautiful scenery? Check. Food? Check. Close Proximity? Check. History? Check. Live entertainment? Check. Budget friendly? Check.

Fort Ticonderoga, “America’s Fort” located at Rt.74 East/100 Fort Ti Rd, Ticonderoga, NY. For more info visit<>

(on a side note: I'm having technical difficulties with the photo she took - which is beautiful. I'll work on this...)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Mystery of the Disappearing Lark St Pub

I'm confused.

And I don't mean to step on Steve Barnes or Average Joe's toes....but.... one of my favorite restaurants in Albany - Tandoor Palace on Lark Street - became Lark Street Pub over the winter. I was sad when I found out but I came to terms with it and started going to Gandhi down the road instead (it was a bit more expensive but, ya know, I dealt with it).

Then, I drive by the site at 423 Madison, at the corner with Lark Street, and the Tandoor Palace sign is back up. This was a couple weeks ago.

I got so excited. But, at the same time, was confused and skeptical. I had spoken with the state Liquor Authority a few weeks prior about the spot while researching an article. They said the business failed to do some simple paperwork so technically their liquor license did not transfer over to the new pub name. It was simple to fix and I assumed it would be soon after it was brought up.

But, I followed up with the SLA when I saw the Indian restaurant sign back up. According to the Liquor Authority, the business had communicated to them that they had no intention to renew their license and their license ended at the start of June. To paraphrase the SLA official, the business led the state to believe that they were going to close.

I went by the restaurant tonight, to see if maybe they were selling food but not drinks, and I found a sign on the door: "Closed for Renovations" (or was it "Reconstruction"? Hm...I should have written it down).

In any case, they are obviously gutting the site.

When/If they reopen, I kinda hope they go back to the Indian restaurant. Lark has enough pubs. But a place that has a good peshwari naan, now that's hard to find.

Happy 100th post!

I started this blog nearly one year ago. A lot has happened in that time - I added 8,899 miles to my car's odometer on a cross country road trip, I went to Cape Cod for the second time but for the first time with a guy I love, and I almost lost my snoeshoe boot in a apparently-not-completely-frozen lake. Not sure if I blogged about that last one, but I might save that for a mid-summer post when I need to think of colder times.

In the beginning, I was less than enthusiastic to start a blog. It just seemed like everyone had one and I'm not one to do what everyone else is doing.

But, I have to admit, it's been fun and still is fun.

I think it took a while for me to find my blog voice, it's slightly different than my news reporter persona or even what I post on Facebook and Twitter. (And it took even longer for me to figure out how to arrange photos and do links) Now that I found my blog voice, I don't think I can actually escape it nor do I want to.

I appreciate being in the blog community - maybe we'll do a joint party with the TU bloggers in the future. Maybe.

And I love hearing from readers when I do....I've been stopped at Alive at Five a couple times about posts, I know of at least one business contemplating a move suggested in my writing, and there's been a few times when I'll be talking with people about something and they'll realize the information they're relaying was actually originally from my blog.

It's pretty cool.

So, keep reading and I'll keep typing. Deal?

(On a side note, my 100th post coincides nicely with my 1/2 birthday. Also, cool. hehe)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Severe Weather

This is what is looks like outside right now (only slightly less blue).

While it was a pretty ride home, to say the least, you don't need me to tell you this probably isn't the best time to take a drive. Enjoy the light/sound show from your porch instead.

Preppiest School in the Country

While I was at my college reunion this weekend - admittedly I did do other things besides eat - one of my classmates told me that our alma mater was recently voted the preppiest school in the country.

Well...she was right.

I just found this article on Social Primer which, as a result of a poll, lists St. Lawrence University as the top preppy institute with the usual runner ups like Princeton, Georgetown, Connecticut College and Colgate (which I also looked at attending).

I knew very well when I attended the college that it was rather...preppy. We were known by the "townies" as the country club and there were an unsual amount of men wearing pastels and pink. And let's not forget the popped collars. Oh, the humanity. (But I did it too....especially to keep warm. Remember where SLU's a frozen tundra. Not exagerating - there were regular frost bite warnings and I still remember the sensation of my nose hairs freezing.)

I remember girls in my sorority finding a library book from the 1980s which also listed SLU as a prepster school and said, basically, it was a good place for women to get their MRS (aka find a rich husband).

As a further testament to prep status of the school - also known as Larryland - friends of mine brought their newborn baby to the reunion and dressed him up in burkenstocks, khaki shorts, and a light blue, plaid shirt. They called it their "Larry" outfit. My friends were making fun of the idea of such an outfit...but I saw many people at reunion wearing that very same getup...only in an adult size, of course.

The Lesser of Two GPSs

It was probably a very odd site for other drivers looking into my friend's red VW bug. My two friends in the front of the car (I was in the back) were looking at not one but two GPSs...and a printed out map of directions from google maps.

What can I say, my friends like to be prepared. I mean, you never know when a really big bird might fly into your vehicle, steal one of your GPSs, and then poop on the printed out directions leaving them unreadable. Then, my friend, you'll be glad you brought two GPSs.

I actually encouraged the use of the two GPSs for our trip (from Scotia to Ogdensburg, NY near the Canadian border to pick up more people). I thought it would be amusing and educational to pit the electronic devices against each other.

I'm a bit biased though. I really don't like GPSs. Not too sure where the hatred stems from. I guess sometime around my East Coast road trip when I found the device completely useless - dur, we just follow I-95. Then, on my cross country trip, it really didn't help when our GPS estimated it would take 15 hours to get from Yellowstone to Aspen. It took 12 (which, by the way, was about what I estimated according to the road atlas).

GPSs, I'll admit, have their place in the travel world. They're good when you're in a city and don't know your way around. Or when you decide to switch routes and your printed out directions will no longer work.

But, my opinion, give me a road atlas any day. It's fun to plot your own course and forget the mapquesting, googling, and GPS-shizzle. Though, again, it's hard to do this in a city so I totally understand why GPSs, in phones and other devices, are so prevalent.

For those who care, between the Garmin and TomTom, the Garmin actually had us go a slightly faster route and estimated our arrival more accurately than the TomTom, which could have been because of differences in uploaded information.

And, for those who care further, the Danielle route on the way back was even faster.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Elvii and Americade

While traveling the BLT (as my dad calls it) of the North Country through the Adirondacks back to the Capital District from SLU, we passed - or tried to pass - several large groups of motorcycles. It was a nice day for ride through the Adirondacks but I think the reason we saw so many of the bikers was because of Americade.
I've always had a fascination with motorcycles and deep down I have told myself that I would like to learn to ride them and own one someday...but I have never intentionally gone to Americade.
I have, however, unintentionally gone a few times. I unintentionally do a lot of things. That's half the fun of life, I think.
The weekend usually coincides with prom time and I remember being up there for my senior prom trip to Lake George. It's both amazing and intimidating to see hundreds of motorcycles line the streets of the village. It kinda reminds me of how most movies portray post-Apocalyptic worlds - with biker gangs, mohawks, and leather, a lot of leather.
And last year, again unintentionally, I caught the unofficial beginning of Americade which - I don't know if you have ever noticed - is also when the annual Elvis weekend is in Lake George. I was with a bachelorette party, we had gone on a sunset cruise on the lake and went out that night where Elvii, as we began to call them, filled the bars and restaurants. I made it a mission to get as many photos of the bride with the Elvii as possible.

As we were leaving the next day, the bikers started invading.
Considering Americade has become "the world's largest multi-brand motorcycle touring rally" and considering how nice/hot the next few days are going to be (in the 80s and 90s the National Weather Service just told me), it seems like a trip up would be a good idea for this upcoming week. Their itinerary includes bbqs, boat trips, costume contests and even a parade Saturday morning.
Or, you can do what I do and just unintentionally go after hiking, biking, or shopping at the outlets in Lake George and then just stand in awe at the sight of an estimated 50,000 strong group. Hopefully you also have unintentionally put some ear plugs in your car too. Thousands of motorcycles tend to make just a bit of noise.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Eating my way through my College Reunion

Tonight I'm reporting to you live from Canton, NY and at a much earlier time than last night's entry from Ottawa - I mean, it's only 2:20am this time.

If you've never heard of Canton, which is about 3 hours northwest of the Albany area near Canada, I wouldn't be surprised. I hadn't either until it was time to look at colleges. And whoever was hired to do St. Lawrence University's marketing definitely did their job. I still remember the specially-labeled SLU water bottles and the camera they gave out to perspectives that said "Picture yourself at St. Lawrence." Cute, right?

Well, it's been six years since I graduated (10 since I started college....where does the time go?). Now that I'm back, aside from catching up with classmates, I have basically one thing on my mind: food.

I had planned out my eating strategy for the weekend which would include dinner at Sergi's Pizzeria and Banquet House, brunch at the Dana Dining Hall, and a stop at the Bagelry in Potsdam to pick up a cordon bleu bagel sandwich.

My first stop, and the real priority of the weekend, was having something we like to call a "fat bag." In the simplest terms, this is a medium size pizza, made into a calzone and deep fried. I've been told it has about 1,600 calories, and I don't think that's an exaggeration.

Even so, when I ordered it today and absorbed the aroma of fresh grease on the baked pizza dough, it smelled like college.

Long before attending SLU, most pre-froshes/perspective/visiting students hear about these infamous artery-cloggers. Every student's night out ended at Sergi's. The fat bags come in either cheese or pepperoni, but when ordering freshmen are warned not to actually call it a fat bag. The restaurant dubbed them their famous pizza rolls and they don't appreciate the nickname, for obvious reasons. But, occasionally, an inebriated youth might accidentally call it what is truly is - a fat bag - and get yelled at and possibly not served at all. In which case they might have to resort to their ramen supply in their dorm room. Oh, the strife of a college student...

The bagel sandwich order is a bit less complicated and I plan to get it Sunday before heading back down to Albany via the B,L,T (Blue Lake, Long Lake, Tupper Lake) route through the Adirondacks. The cordon bleu sandwiches bring me back to when I was a regular in the Potsdam night scene, attending frat parties, going to pitcher races every Friday, and cheering at Clarkson University hockey games against SLU annually.

Finally, Dana brunch was the day-after ritual for a weekend of partying. Most would just go in their pjs, pull out a red tray, go down the assembly line picking out home fries, eggs, sausage, pasta, muffins and/or waffles. When you got to your wooden seat, you'd people watch and regale friends with tales of the night prior. The experience would be topped off with a trip to the soft ice cream machine.

After the entertaining weekend I've had, I'm looking forward to brunch tomorrow (T-minus 7 hours). I'm debating wearing my pajamas. I think it would add to the nostalgia.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Oh, Canada...

It's 3 a.m. in Ottawa and my feet hurt.

Truly it has been a long day but a good start to the weekend and kick off for my college reunion weekend.

Kinda like a Christmaskwanzaka, or Festivus for the rest of us, this weekend is a jumble of celebrations all put into one - it's my friend's bachelorette party, her birthday, our college reunion, and all-in-all a time for drinking and merriment.

We made it into Canada without any hitches (fingers crossed that that is the case when we try to get back into the U.S.) which was almost a surprise to me since whenever I go to Canada with my friend Clementine (the one getting married in N. Ireland whose bday and bachelorette party was this weekend) we get selected for a search. I think it's because her family is Eastern European and she's been to a heck of a lot of countries. Well, that, and she looks like a terrorist. Not really....I don't think.

Our first stop was lasertag in Ottawa where I did my Call of Duty-fan boyfriend proud and kicked some butt with my fake red phaser-ish weapon in a darkened large room with many obstacles to hide behind and five moving targets - my friends. It was fun. And it was most everybody's first time doing it.

We then went out to eat at the Fox and Feather on Elgin Street, around the corner from our hotel, the Cartier Place and Suites (which, by the way, are really nice and I highly recommend them since our room included two double beds in one room and a pull out couch, living room, balcony, bathroom and kitchen....not to mention the pool, jacuzzi, and sauna on the premises). My friend Liz heard the interior of the Fox and Feather pub was moved piece by piece from Ireland, but I honestly think she mistook it for another establishment about a block away with a cool stone exterior.

Anyway, after we had some food in our bellies, we went to the Byward Market area which was a rather far walk away but worth it since it had more bars than I could count. Our original plan was to go to the Heart and Crown which I heard really good things about. It includes a few separate sections including a pub, dance area and live music venue. The place is so popular, however, the line was way too long and we opted for another place - Patty Boland's.

From the outside it looked fun with two floors, live music, and dancing, and it appeared that there was no line. Come to find that there was a line but it was hidden in a weird side area that led to a patio. And, once inside, the clientele was probably at least five years younger than we expected. Still, it was fun and energizing. Clementine even did a body shot, which surprised even me.

At the start of the night, we didn't think we'd last past 11pm but we were out til nearly 3am. And the memory was capped with a poutine finale. Every night out should end with gravy coated, cheese-curded fries.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

God Does Have A Sense of Humor

Since this week has been a Manic Monday every day – must be Monday’s Revenge since we had it off – I’m going to reminisce of simpler, less manic, times.
First thing that comes to my mind,…is swimming.
I’m happy and proud to say that the pain in my arm that I was afraid would hinder my English Channel training has subsided. Still not sure what caused it but I am glad it’s gone. I can’t help but wonder if it was because of my training that it went away.
I’ve always found water to be almost medicinal – whether it was from the overwhelming smells of an enclosed indoor pool that almost act as a laughing gas if breathed in long enough, or swimming in an ocean, or pristine mountain lake. Or jacuzzi.
Both my father and I weren’t feel so hot during Memorial Day weekend. So, I convinced him to take a dip in the jacuzzi and he said it helped a bit. For me, it definitely helped. I can think of no better way of relieving cramps.
And, the next day, I was doing laps in Lake Elizabeth in Grafton. This was actually the first time I attempted to do a swim work out in open water. I was scared.
Not because of the possibility of cramps, or even that my arm pain might return, I just really don’t like swimming in a body of water where I can’t see what is under me – specifically what might be swimming under me. Blech. But, then again, it might be better not to be able to see.
This is something I obviously really need to get over, especially if I plan to swim the English Channel next year.
So, I dipped in the water which initially felt very cold since I had warmed my body in the sun. As I swam more, the water did feel nice in the heat and humidity.
After a short warm up exercise, I finally started doing the freestyle stroke and put my head in. That sight of kinda-mucky, brown water is not fun. I couldn’t see beyond my own hands, and I kept mistaking my own hands for fish so I’d jump and scare myself every few minutes.
Put me in front of a horror movie and I’m fine, but apparently put me in a lake (with fish, and snakes, and beavers, and pike) and I get all creepy-crawlied out. Still, I swam on and made it to the other end of the lake (about ¼ mile).
I thought I’d give myself a break from looking down into the “abyss” – it’s only like 20 feet deep – and swam backstroke for a bit so I got to look up at the blue sky.
As I was finishing up my laps (I just decided this inaugural swim would be down and back), I saw a cloud that looked distinctly like a clown fish.
I couldn’t help but think to myself that God might just be looking down and telling me that I either look like a fish…or a clown. In any case, I think I had his/her support.