Blogs > Millennial Traveler

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

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's been a long week....'s a video of some Caribbean beaches and soothing sounds of the waves.

'Cuz sometimes you just need to escape. Even if it's just for a 9 minute video :)

Eiffel Tower Closed this Past Week

In case you hadn't heard - because I barely did - the Eiffel Tower was closed part of this week due to a strike.

That woulda stunk for tourists only in the City of Lights and Love for a short amount of time.

Good news: It's been reopened.

(This message brought to you Yeah, I'm kind of a procrastinator)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tonight: Summer at the Plaza Kicks Off

It's summer! (in case you couldn't tell by the 80-90 degree temperatures and the Summer Solstice)

Summer also means your tax dollars hard at work for community entertainment at the Empire State Plaza. The free concert/entertainment series starts tonight with bands playing at the plaza from 5pm-9pm.

Tonight's line up includes: Hard Soul, Et Tu Brucé, and The Zombies.

(from the OGS site)

There's been some annoyances with the "Ground Rules" at all the events which include no coolers and no alcohol. My response to that: isn't that what they say about most area events and people are somehow able to bring them in anyway? I guess we'll see how they uphold the rules.

You can see a complete list here of the Summer at the Plaza events, also including Bret Michaels, Kansas, movies on their Open Air Cinema, and a New Music Festival.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carnival's New Leadership, Reduced Advanced Bookings

Carnival Cruise Line has replaced their CEO Miky Arison, son of a co-founder of the company, but he will remain as chairman of the board, according to the AP.

While I have no behind-the-scenes knowledge here, it seems like a marketing move to show that they realize there were issues this fiscal year which, in the end, has affected their bottom line.

(From a Forbes story, which ranks him at #68 in Forbes 400)

The AP story states that advanced bookings are down from last year, despite cheaper deals being offered.

I don't blame cruise-goers. Carnival was plagued with issues in the first and second quarters, including the Carnival Triumph woes and a Saratoga Springs teen dying on a NYC-Caribbean cruise in February.

All of these problems resulted in a Passenger Bill of Rights being made by the Cruise Lines International Association last month.

It's my blog's 3rd Anniversary

Three years ago, today, I posted my very first blog entry, which was about my first trip that I remember as a child to Frontier Town in the Lake George area.

I remember debating about having a blog - would I have time? Does there really need to be another blog out there, especially about travel?

But, I'm so glad I decided to do it.

Over the years, I've written about my cross-country road trip (one of the reasons I started this blog), and talked about trips I've taken over the past few years including to Denver, Northern Ireland/Iceland, and a cruise to the Caribbean this past February.

I've written about everything from a Vagina-Shaped Building in Chicago that I saw on my trip (that story still gets a bunch of hits), my 100th post, my fun issues with EZ Pass , and more recently I've come to enjoy talking about local businesses - especially food trucks like Wandering Dago (and their bacon shake) - and the unique Speakeasy in Albany.

I've remained fairly on target for my visiting one new country/ one new place each year goal - last count I've been to about 29 countries and I'm 30 years old.

It's a big world out there, and as my blog description points out - I'm not done yet. So, thank you all for reading and being with me along the way. Cheers! And Cowabunga!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tightrope Stunt Not Actually at Grand Canyon

So, extreme props to the guy who tightroped over a canyon over the weekend. But he probably should have been more specific that it was technically not the Grand Canyon as advertised.

Here's the story.

Saratoga Track Giveaways for their 150th

Those Sunday giveaways this year include a horse bobblehead, a miniature of the track, a T-shirt, and a beer stein, according to media coverage today.

Maybe I'm a bit of a complainer, but I was kinda expecting more from the giveaways this year for the 150th. Of all the "free" (with paid general admission) toys, I guess the track miniature sounds the most appealing, to me. The beer stein initially sounded kinda cool - but then I realized it was just like the stein they gave away a few years ago...and is now collecting dust on a shelf closet in my apartment.

(Photo by: Erica Miller/The Saratogian)

Still, it being a monumental year, I'm contemplating attending the Travers this August at the oldest  sports venue in the country. Might be a bit crazy, but possibly kinda fun too.

You can find other 150th events and promotions - including an ice cream social and a 150th app - here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flashback Friday

I can be a bit sentimental. I was recently looking through my photo albums on Facebook and, over the years, there's quite a bit of photos and memories. I thought I'd share some, starting with a couple of my first photos posted to Facebook. Yep, back in 2006.

This is my friend Liz and me at Disney World. After graduating from SLU - where I met my friend Liz freshman year - she moved to Melbourne, Florida which happens to be a short distance from Orlando. I took a trip down there the year after we graduated. Despite being an avid Disney fan - at least of the old Disney cartoons - that was my first trip to Disney World.

We got there right when they opened at 7:30am and didn't leave until closing around midnight. It was kinda a long day - but awesome :)

And this is the VAB at NASA, which I visited during that same trip back in the fall of 2006. Did you know that the Vehicle Assembly Building is one of the largest buildings - by volume - in the world? Now you know...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fireside Chat with FDR Actor at Saratoga National Battlefield

It's been an interesting past week with the opening of the Speakeasy in Albany and the new Bomber's in Troy. And now...there's a president coming to Stillwater. A dead president. (actual an actor depicting FDR)

If you're looking for activities for this weekend, a real fireside chat with a fake FDR might be kinda fun at the Saratoga Battlefield.

Here's more info from the press release:

Stillwater, NY:  On Saturday, June 22, 2013, Actor Gary Stamm will portray the 32nd President of the United States at Saratoga Battlefield for a campfire program at the Battlefield Visitor Center.  This free program begins at 7 PM.  Listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt talk about the park's 75th anniversary, the role he had in its establishment, and his administration's work to expand the national park system!

“Saratoga’s importance has drawn many visitors”, notes park Ranger Joe Craig, “including Presidents of the United States.  Yet of all the presidential visitors, none played such a critical role in the preservation of Saratoga National Historical Park as Franklin Roosevelt.  He was a man fascinated by history, and recognized that historic sites were as worthy of preservation as the many natural wonders that make up the national parks system.”

Gary Stamm, a Wisconsin resident, brings a vast experience in performances on stage, radio and television.  His performance credits include singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, voice talent for Hanna-Barbera Productions and his one man performances as Franklin Roosevelt. 

For more information about this or other events, please call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777 or check our website at or our Facebook page at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Southwest Airfare Deals

Southwest is doing another decent deal on airfares.

This time, instead of giving us 72-hours to book like last time, the deadline is next Friday, June 28.

One-way flights start at $59 (their deal last week was $49) and the complete list of estimated flight prices is here.

Happy Deal-hunting/traveling!

Redbox Offers Streaming Free Trial

We've all been there:

You're at the grocery store about to walk out with your cart of newly-purchased items and you see the Redbox, which is literally this big red box. Surprised that there isn't the usual long line at the miniature entertainment facility, you look at the clock on your cell phone and figure you have a few minutes to browse.

There's new titles, games, and some old classics. You find at least one or two movies that you wouldn't mind paying the $1.08 (w/ tax) to see overnight.

But then, your adult/financially assertive conscious sets in, and you realize you probably won't have time that night to watch the film and you really don't feel like paying more than $1.08. On top of that, you already have Netflix - which, while it's a jumble of random old and new (mostly bad) movies/shows, it's *you're* jumble of random old and new (mostly bad) movies/shows. And you take pride in that instant que you've compiled.

So, in the end, you decide not to use Redbox. And so the cycle continues.

(photo from the Redbox site)

This happens to me nearly every time I go to the grocery store. And, I'm guessing, it happens to most everyone else since the Redbox folks are expanding to include an $8 package with 4 DVDs from their kiosk each month plus streaming, powered by Verizon and you apparently don't need to sign anything to stick with Verizon.

Sounds a bit familiar, right? And they're offering a one month free trial (again - a bit familiar).

Well, I do have to hand it to Redbox, they're selections are usually a bit better than Netflix and the $8 price is competitive so I'm curious about who will end up getting the package. Or, this may mean that Netflix might have to step up their game and get less B,C,D movies and more awesome 80s/90s throwbacks.

If you're interesting in trying the free Redbox Instant trial, check this site out.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bike Could Soon Be Allowed on NY Amtrak Lines

There's something romantic about taking the train. And there's something even more romantic about biking. So, in one trip, allowing both those things would just be magical.

A group of New York lawmakers are pushing Amtrak to add bicycle baggage cars to their Adirondack and Ethan Allen lines with the intention of encouraging travelers from New York City and Montreal to set their sights on upstate destinations for bike vacations. Amtrak is currently building between 25 and 30 baggage cars at the CAF facility in Elmira, NY, estimated Schumer, and the senator would like to see baggage cars added to the two upstate lines, according to an article that ran into today's Record by my colleague Ian Benjamin.

A “Bring Your Bicycle On Board” program already exists for the Boston-Portland line, as well as the New York-Charlotte line. The program also exists in California, where it has gained such popularity that reservations are required. However, currently the Adirondack line only allows for boxed bikes, the article continued.

And while Amtrak considers that, they should finalize an answer for possibly allowing pets on board too - which some US leaders wanted to see happen. Or maybe just a R/R Yappy Hour?

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Troy Bomber's

It happened. It finally happened.

No, I didn't marry Chris O'Donnell..... No, I didn't swim the English Channel. Not yet...for both of those. (just kidding, hunny!)

(The bar at the Troy Bomber's)

What happened was the Bomber's in Troy finally opened its doors. There was a soft opening/sneak peek on Monday with a good array of people - I saw friends from Troy High, from post-college, from working at the paper. It was a good, fun group. (though, with an open bar and free food - I think it'd be hard not to find a good, fun group)

The new location opens officially on Wednesday in their location at the corner of Federal and King Streets in Troy, right near the Green Island bridge. And just in time for Rockin' on the River.


The inside looks just like the other two Bombers in Albany and Schenectady. The slight difference is that the bottom floor is *not* just for food. The first floor is a large bar with multiple booths and tables and TVs, and a patio for outdoor seating. The second floor was closed on Monday, and I'm guessing it will be used for private parties (which are options for the Albany and Schenectady bars as well).

(the patio)

The décor is exactly like the other places - sombreros, chicks riding burritos - but it's larger than the original Lark Street location. The exterior kinda reminds me of the Schenectady one too since it's a nice, brick row house.

But, unlike both of the other locations, there's on site parking and plenty of parking after business hours in the lot adjacent to the Green Island bridge.

(the interior)

The Troy location will be open Mon-Wed 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Thurs-Sat 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sun 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

I remember when this project was first proposed - apparently back in 2010 (I can't believe it's been that long actually). Back then, they were talking about putting the site in Troy's Antiques District at 215 River St.

Then, in 2011, the location was proposed and approved for the site that opens this week - 2 King St. At that time, the city started getting a lot of good feedback about the business moving to the area and said it was akin to Dinosaur BBQ's arrival. But an estimated $700,000 was needed for renovations at the site.

The city is still hoping - rightfully so - that the new Bomber's will ignite a renewed interest in that area of the city. (As a reporter, I got a multitude of calls from people wondering when Bomber's was  going to open because they wanted to put in other new bars in that area - but only if the Bomber's opened. And they opened. Finally.)

So, on behalf of the Troy community, Slow Poke Rodriguez, I'd like to say - (in a kinda Moe's reminiscent way) - Welcome to Troy! And, in all seriousness, we're really glad you're here - finally. :)

Niagara Falls State Park Renovations

New York State recently unveiled $1.8 million in renovations at the Three Sisters Islands park in Niagara Falls. The changes, the first phase of a multi-year plan, include  a new trolley shelter, expanded parking area, new pedestrian walkways and overlooks, enhanced landscaping, as well as new railings.

(on the NY side with the falls in the background...when I had shorter hair)

 Luna Island received a $1.1 million overhaul, including new pedestrian walkways, overlook improvements, enhanced landscaping as well as new benches, light posts and railings. The Cave of the Winds saw a $1.7 million renovation of the tunnel that leads visitors to the gorge as well as the installation of new high speed elevators, according to the state.

(Looking over the falls on the NY side)

There was also a groundbreaking last week for $4.3 million to revitalize Prospect Point.
Listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, Niagara Falls State Park attracts over 8 million visitors a year. And Niagara Falls, in general, attracts about 12 million tourists annually, officials said.

While in many respects, the US and Canada have to partner on many things with regards to Niagara Falls tourism it definitely feels like the Canadian side gets a bit more of the tourists - despite the closer views available on the American side, including at the state park.

I found this Washington Post article on the topic interesting where they grade each of the tourism aspects of the US and Canadian sides. With categories like water-fun, hotels, casinos, restaurants, and other tourism sites, Canada did end up winning.
One thing that I think would definitely help, would be turning the State Park into a National Park. Which, honestly, I'm kinda surprised hasn't already happened.
But, I really think with further investment, NY and the US can really improve and entice more of the Niagara Falls tourists.

Alligators in Long Island

When visiting Long Island this summer - maybe for their beaches or wineries - you may want to keep an eye out for alligators.

It's not something you expect to hear, or see, when going to Long Island, NY. But, in the past few years and with sightings as recent as a week ago, there seems to be an increasing pattern of encountering these reptiles.

Now, I don't always cite the New York Post. But when I do, it's apparently about alligator sightings in Long Island. The NYP reports that there have been at least 16 alligators found in Long Island in less than a year, which is nearly half of the total amount discovered in the 1,401 square mile area since 2003. The article continues that the alligators have been averaging about 2 to 3 feet long.

Five of the alligators have been seen in the Peconic River, according to Newsday.

The alligators, which cannot survive the NY winters, appear to have come from people who bought the animals as pets then released them as they got too big. Owning alligators could bring a prison sentence of up to a year or a $1000 fine. And there's a maximum fine of up to $250.

This is not a new problem. Ie - the alligator pictured above was caught on the Long Island Expressway in 2011.

If you do happen to see one, you might want to call 631-444-0250. And/or call the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (preferrably the TMNT from the 80s/90s and not today).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Vermont Culinary Resort Two-Night Trip for $299 on Travelzoo

There are few things I like to see in one sentence more than: "Vermont 2-Nt. Culinary Resort Retreat w/Dinner". The $299 deal's normal price is $713 - so you save about 60 percent.

  • A three-course dinner for two at the resort's farm-to-table restaurant is included, with the option to eat alfresco for a more secluded experience
  • This AAA 4-Diamond resort boasts a culinary school led by top local chefs and a full-service spa -- Travelzoo readers exclusively receive access to the spa facilities plus discounts on treatments and cooking classes
  • Saves nearly 60% on regular rates when visiting all summer long, Sunday-Thursday arrivals
  • Last-minute June stays also include a $25 resort credit
  • Here's the deal, including the fine print.
    (photo of Vermont resort on Travelzoo site)

    They're also promoting a coastal Maine cabin retreat for $149.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    Speakeasy in Albany

    It was raining. Long tan rain coats filled the streets. And of all the gin joints in all the world, I walked into this one: the new Speakeasy in Albany.

    There was a man playing an old piano, and a few others on bass, guitar, and trombone. You could hear them outside the brick building, beckoning thirsty Thursday guys and dolls from the rain.

    The front door of the Speakeasy, in the basement of the City Beer Hall, had boarded up windows and a doorbell. We rang and were greeted by a red light and a dame who showed us inside to the hostess - she took down my boyfriend's information since he had been given one of the "keys" to the newest and swankiest bar in town.

    Everyone inside was dressed to the nines - long pearls, short dresses, suits and ties. As their drink menu says: "Please dress sharply, and speak easy." The band played on, some danced, but most drank.

    There are about 30 items on their drink menu with a section for Prohibition Era cocktails and New World Concoctions. There's also high-end beer and wine on draught.

    The ambiance really is something from the 20s or 30s. There's no phones (not allowed, according to the rules below). Black and white photos line the brick walls of the dimly-lit bar with upolstered couches in one corner and a staircase leading into the City Beer Hall in another. (though the stairway is used as an exit only and you cannot re-enter the Speakeasy from those stairs)

    There's friendly and polite bartenders, who truly believe in serving ladies first as a true gentleman should, and small booths lit mainly by candles. Even the bathrooms were classy and well-decorated.

    The music was perky, entertaining and not too loud.

    The one thing lacking was cigarette smoke and yet the bar still has a smoky atmosphere - possibly due to one of the drinks requiring lemongrass smoke.

    Drinking selections include: the Moscow Mule - Boyd & Blair Vodka, Fresh Lime Juice, and Fentiman's Ginger Beer; Jack Rose - Germain Robin Apple Brandy, Cornelius Applejack, Fresh Lemon Juice, and House-made Grenadine; and Corpse Reviver #2 ($12)- NYDC Dorothy Parker Gin, Lillet, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Fresh Lemon Juice, which is what my fella ordered and said was pretty tasty.

    The New World items included a Ramp Up, Reve de Aubrey, Curtain Call, Papa Doble, Triple Threat, Smoking Bluegrass, Damn the Torpedoes, Midnight in the Italian Alps, and Malice in Wonderland. There's also six-ounce pours of Red Tail Ridge Riesling ($9), Saintsbury Pinot Noir, Evil Twin Pilsner ($7), Unibroue Blanche de Chambly ($7), and Goose Island Bourbon County Imperial Stout ($14). Wines by the glass: Bocelli Prosecco ($11), Grifoni Offinda Pecorino ($10), Rueda Basa Verdejo ($11), Epilogue Chardonnay ($12), Dom. de Pellehaut Cote de Gascogne ($9), Vina Bujanda Resv. Rioja ($13), and Desert Wind Rhua Red ($15).

    Now for the "rules" depicted on their drink menu:
    "This bar is open to anyone, but not for everyone. In order to maintain our peaceful, secretive existence beneath the city, we require the respect of these following house rules: Tables are reservation only. Bar seats are first come, first served. Priority is reserved for members. Please dress sharply, and speak easy. Mind your manners. No phone use or photography. Please be patient. Quality cocktails take time. And Love. Do not bring anyone here unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behavior of your guests. Cash payment due upon receipt of services rendered."

    So, to clarify for the above rules, *anyone* is allowed to go here. But, being a smaller bar, there is likely a capacity limit that could be reached. The exact hours of the Speakeasy are Tues-Fri: 5pm-Close and Sat 8pm-Close. You can make a reservation by calling 449-2332.

    Well, folks, as they used to say: "Now you're on the trolley!" But, remember, loose lips sink ships.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Southwest's 72-Hour Deals: $50-$150 flights

    I came across a Southwest Tweet last night which alluded to some good deals for fall travel. You have until tomorrow (Thursday, June 13) to take advantage of the deals which are good for online purchases of flights for Aug. 26 through Dec. 18.

    I found a roundtrip deal from NYC to Denver for about $250. Not bad.

    You can check out the other deals here. There's a bunch from Albany, but - as you probably know - I prefer the non-stop ones from NYC/Boston.

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    World Trivia Tournament in Albany

    This brings me back to the days of Carmen Sandiego.

    Alright, gumshoes, the International Center of the Capital Region is holding a fundraiser called the inaugural WorldQuest International Trivia Competition on Aug. 1. It's $35 per person or $250 for a team of eight people.

    It's Thursday, Aug. 1 with registration at 5 p.m. and the competition at 6 p.m. at the Polish Community Center (225 Washington Ave. Ext.) in Albany.

    From the flyer:" Why not join the fun? Come and test your knowledge of worldliness and the world around you! Mix, mingle and compete for the title of WorldQuest Champion! The event will provide a great, exciting, high-voltage evening of competition for adult teams of eight to compete for trophies and other prizes (including bragging rights) against other area teams."

    Categories will include flags and capitals, geography, people in the news, current events, international food and international music. Questions will be given in a multiple-choice format.
    There will be door prizes, team prizes, and refreshments.
    For teams who register before June 24th a special pre-event orientation aboard the Dutch Apple will be afforded to your entire team free of charge on Thursday, June 27th from 6 to 7:30 PM. The cruise will include a wine tasting, sample questions and hints to prepare for the competition.

    All proceeds from the competition will go towards the International Center's K-12 education initiatives including Academic WorldQuest, a national flagship education program designed to engage and inform high school students in global affairs.
    Registration for the adult trivia competition can be done online at or by calling 518-708-7608.

    Camping at Martha's Vineyard

    So, I'm thinking about camping at Martha's Vineyard for July 4.

    This is actually kinda uncharacteristic of me since I usually prefer to go to places during the off season for a couple reasons: cost and crowds. But...this trip was my sister's idea and I don't get to see her as often as I'd like anymore. So, I'm thinking of going.

    I've never been to Martha's Vineyard. I think it's awesome that I live so close - relatively speaking - to it, considering all the attention the place gets for celebrity visits from the President,etc.

    I'm not entirely sold on the idea of going, though. For starters, we'll be paying nearly three times as much for a camp ground there compared to *any* other camp ground I have ever been to. I haven't seen the site at the Martha's Vineyard Family Campground, but I'm pretty sure it's not worth $53/night for two people (plus $15 more for any additional adults). It probably has the same picnic table, fire pit, and public restrooms as any other $20 site I've been to. But, since it happens to be on an island a few blocks from the beach in a destination where Taylor Swift goes regularly...I guess that means it's worth another $33. I guess.

    And it appears to be the only campground on the island.

    (From wiki: it's the triangular island near the bottom tip of Massachusetts)

    I'll admit though. Camping probably will be one of the cheaper ways of visiting the place considering if a camp site is $53/night I don't even want to know what a hotel is. (Well, I didn't want to know but I looked - Holy Crap! $2,000 for four nights?!)

    So, I guess, compared with that, splitting $240 for the same amount of time at a camp site doesn't sound so bad.

    I'm still debating it. But, in the end, I think it'd be fun. I'm not really one to put a price on a good time - except maybe $2,000 for four nights in a location that's only a five hour drive from home.

    Since I'm pretty new to that particular spot, any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Netflix-Style Business Travel with Surf Air

    I have to hand it to them - the Brits know their stuff when it comes to traveling.

    There's a new all-you-can-fly airfare program based in California - but I didn't hear about it first from U.S. media outlets (though it has been reported in US outlets and the BBC article actually does quote the NPR). I, personally, heard about it first from the BBC. Like I said, they know their stuff - even our stuff (ie - the Verizon phone taps being unveiled by The Guardian).

    But I digress, I really am intrigued by this new way of paying for flying which seems to be focused on the busy business traveler.

    (The CEO of Surf Air - photo by Wendy Kaufman/NPR)

    From the BBC:

    "Surf Air, a new start-up airline based in Burbank, California, is offering monthly, “all you can fly” subscriptions – promising a corporate jet experience at a fraction of the cost.

    Subscribers pay $1,650 per month for unlimited flights aboard Surf Air’s Swiss-made, single-engine, eight-passenger Pilatus PC-12 turboprops. However, as with Netflix, which allows customers to order all the DVDs they want but hold only a few at a time, Surf Air limits travellers to a maximum of four boarding passes at one time.

    Starting 12 June, the small-scale carrier will offer short-haul flights between four California cities: San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Eventually it plans to expand service to Palm Springs, San Diego, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and the Sonoma/Napa area."

    Closest Space to Stage Contest for Alive at Five in Albany

    The Albany Alive at Five season started - a bit drizzly - yesterday. With a whole season of free music planned, there's a contest to win a parking spot right near the Corning Preserve stage each week.

    The details are in this press release:

    ALBANY – The Albany Parking Authority is bringing back the “Closest Space to the Stage” to award the best parking space in the city for this year’s Alive@5 Concert Series. Each week a winner will be selected at random to receive a free parking space in the Riverfront parking garage, which is connected to the pedestrian bridge leading to the Corning Preserve.

    “Alive at Five is a popular summer tradition here in Albany, and we are once again supporting the event by giving away free parking at the Riverfront Garage,” said Michael Klein, Executive Director of the Albany Parking Authority. “Many concert goers park in the Riverfront Garage as it is conveniently connected to the pedestrian bridge leading to the Corning Preserve.” Event parking at the Riverfront Garage is still only $5 for all Alive@5 concert goers, other than the lucky winners that receive free parking in the reserved “Closest to the Stage” space
    To participate, contestants must ‘like’ the Albany Parking Authority Facebook page and post the message “Closest Space to the Stage.” Two winners will be selected each week and the parking spots will be reserved in their names.
    ParkAlbany Facebook page
    For more information please visit to

    Safe Zone Automated Ticket from Baltimore

    So, it turns out the flashes I saw while going about 70mph through a construction site outside of Baltimore a little over a month ago was, indeed, a camera taking a picture of my license plate. And here I was hoping I was going fast enough where it would just be blurry.

    Actually, I was hoping two things: 1) that the flash was just a reflection of the sun on some nearby metal (as my boyfriend was initially trying to convince me of), or 2) that the camera caught the guy going like 10mph more than me in the middle lane.

    Well, that first hope is definitely defunct....Doh.

    I got my citation the other day. The nice thing with larger cities though - I feel like the penalties are usually cheaper since they catch more people. It's a $40 ticket - which is supposedly "double" the fine since it was in a construction area, or I think they designated it a "Safe Zone."

    Considering the awesome time I had that weekend: we went to Dogfish Head brewery, saw my uncle and aunt at the Dogfish Head pub, stayed with my friend Jess who I hadn't seen in nearly a year, went to my first fashion show, went to the last saloon where Edgar Allen Poe was seen alive and purchased hard-to-find coconut beer. Yeah, I guess all of that is worth $40 to add to the revenue in the Baltimore area.

    As for my second hope...still *crossing my fingers* that silver compact car going faster than me in the constrution zone got a Safe Zone citation too.

    And, for others traveling through Maryland, if you see a flash behind you after  you've been speeding a bit, more than likely it was not a reflection of the sun. Here's more info on the Automated Speed Enforcement in Work Zones.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Peace Corps Now Accepting Applications for Same-Sex Couples

    Starting June 3, the Peace Corps has now started to accept applications for same-sex couples to serve together, according to their website.

    "The Peace Corps will foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and is working with field staff to determine options," according to their FAQ site. This is because some cultures respond differently to same sex relationships.

    An affidavit would need to be signed by the couple to apply together.

    And Peace Corps officials recommend that possible applicants look at the site for LGBT alum from Peace Corps for information about the experience.

    In general, Peace Corps serves countries in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia, and Eurasia. They help with education, food, health, agriculture, environmental and other issues in the participating countries.

    There are many benefits and some risks as well. A Peace Corps stint is 27 months, including training.

    According to the Huffington Post, there are about 8,000 volunteers in 76 countries, and 7 percent of the assignments are filled by married couples.

    Peace Corps has been around since 1961.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Statue of Liberty Reopens on July 4

    The National Parks Service has announced that they expect the Statue of Liberty to reopen on July 4. They're open every day except Christmas.

    Along with access to the pedestal of Lady Liberty, reservations are being taken to access the crown of the hollow statue as well. The ferry fee is $3 and the fee to the top is $17 - but the unique walk to the top is truly priceless. Hot, yes (no a/c). Tiring, yes (spiral staircase). Seemingly never ending, yes (393 stairs total). But priceless.

    The NPS' site emphasizes that very few things are allowed into the Statue of Liberty - just one camera per person, your ticket, and any needed medications. That's it. So, fyi, there are lockers which are $2/ hour.

    When reserving, keep in mind that a maximum of four crown reservations are allowed per order and these can be made once every six months. Names on the reservation must match names on photo IDs, except for minors without IDs.

    And, finally, yes, there is a security check for entry into the pedestal and another for going up to the crown.

    (from the NPS site)

    I still remember a field trip to the Statue of Liberty from 5th grade and looking out over the harbor from the Crown. I just saw Lady Liberty while on the cruise we took with Norwegian - they played "Proud to be an American" on the loudspeaker while going by the statue. A little tacky, but a fun/patriotic touch - especially considering many of the crew on board are not from the U.S. and it seemed a good portion of the passengers were also from elsewhere, especially Canada.

    Reservations - which are pretty much required - can be made here.

    A National Park Pass, by the way, cannot be used at the site, according to the webpage.

    Promotions for Andrea Bocelli at Times Union Center in Albany

    The Andrea Bocelli concert at the Times Union Center in Albany is scheduled for Thursday, June 13 at 7:30pm.

    The ticket range is $58 to $353 but there are a few deals out there right now which give buyers a 25 percent discount and even a free ticket with the purchase of another ticket.

    To take advantage of the 2 for 1 deal, go here and enter the password AB2FOR1. There are also specially-priced $75 seats in the lower part of the arena.

    Or any seat still available in the first five rows of the "Golden Circle" is 25 percent off through Wednesday June 12 at 10pm. That discount saves about $87.50 per ticket. For this offer, you can go here and enter ABVIP as the password.

    (from the Center site)

    Back in January, I wrote a story about the 2012 fiscal year at the Center in which a spokesperson said that Bocelli had the arena's top ticket price - $353. The Rolling Stones had previously held the record, with tickets selling for $300.

    Tickets are available at the All Star Wine & Spirits Box Office at the Center, online at, select Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Goosebumps TV Show on Netflix

    I'm usually here to promote going out into the world to go on adventures, and trying new things. But, sometimes, you just need a down day.

    And, for your next reboot-for-next-adventure day (RFNA Day....kinda like the NRA, but not), may I suggest checking out Goosebumps on Netflix.

    If you grew up in the early-mid-90s, you probably watched this show or at least read the book series.

    Personally, I had *all* of the Goosebump books and *all* of the Fear Street books. They're probably one of the reasons I got into reading in the first place - hence - became a writer myself. (Thanks, R.L. Stine!)

    Like any childhood TV show - and like anything from the 90s, in general - it's probably going to be a bit cheesy, but also pretty entertaining.

    This new Netflix development is making me wish I had kept all my Goosebumps memorabilia - I had a coffin shaped box that Scholastic used to ship one of my first book orders, not to mention the myriad of pencils/pens and other stationary items.

    If you're not familiar with Goosebumps, you probably won't like it but - thanks to the power of Netflix - you can watch lots of things, good and bad, and make that decision. The Cliff's notes on the series: kids do bad things and creepy things happen, usually with a twist. And you gotta love the names: ie Say Cheese and Die.

    And I always loved entering the contests. Like this current one - which I'm pondering entering at the age of 30, just because.

    Bacon Shake from Wandering Dago

    I'll be honest. Unlike many people out there, I'm not the hugest fan of bacon. I usually opt for sweet over savory - but the combination found in the Wandering Dago's Bacon Shake is pretty tasty.

    I heard about the shake from a co-worker who accidentally gave me the wrong establishment that made it. He said it was the Brown Bag - which wouldn't have surprised me given the unique items on their menu (ie glazed donut bun, with peanut butter, *bacon*, and a beef patty - if you haven't tried it yet, it's called a South Troy burger and it's delicious).

    But, the owner over at the Brown Bag pointed me in the right direction - The Wandering Dago.

    Like a good food truckie (dude, I'm not a foodie), I did my research....and harassed them on Twitter, a lot.

    Originating in Schenectady, they're at the Riverview Center in Menands a decent amount and go to Troy on a quasi-regular basis for dinner hour and things like Troy Night Out, which is where I finally got to try the bacon shake.

    I waited patiently in line, watching the sunset over the Hudson River. I really had a hard time deciding on which of their $5 shakes to try first - there's the Elvis (peanut butter, chocolate, banana), the Reese's (classic PB and Chocolate), and Peanut Butter and Jelly (self-explanatory).

    But I wanted to try the bacon one - despite it sounding kinda weird - I had a feeling it would be good. And it was.

    The first sip I tasted more vanilla than anything. Then I tasted the savory bacon mixed with the vanilla base. And it was glorious.

    I later recommended that they add chocolate to it (while further harassing them on Twitter) and they agreed saying they would add it to the menu, if a good name was decided on. At a bday party that night, friends and I brainstormed - "Dirty Pig" was given (but it sounded a bit too dirty). It was eventually changed to: Muddy Pig. Which the folks at Wandering Dago said they loved.

    I have since decided that my ideal birthday lunch this year will be a South Troy burger and the Muddy Pig.

    And I repeat: I don't even like bacon that much.

    *You can find more information about Wandering Dago here. And, if you like this, you may also like the avocado fries from Slidin' Dirty.*