Category Archives: Saratoga

Has anyone seen the bridge?

That's "my" board - all the way on the right!

That’s “my” board – all the way on the right!

After vacillating for days, I made the decision Sunday morning to spend my afternoon catching some bonus paddle boarding time.  My early obligation of the day went surprisingly smoothly and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to get on the water for one more time this season.

I arrived at the Kayak Shak in Saratoga a little before 1:00 and was on the water, solo, 15 minutes later.  Unlike my previous two paddling adventures, this time I immediately headed east.  The less traveled path was definitely the way to go yesterday.  As I paddled along, the view on either side of the water was truly spectacular.  The leaves were popping red and orange and the sky was blue, blue, so blue.  As the creek curved and turned, there were times when there was nothing man-made to mar the scene – just trees, reeds and shrubs in various rainbow shades.  And turtles.  Lots of turtles.

The man who had set me up on my board said that two miles down there would be a bridge and that became my goal.  As I twisted my core left and right, left and right, the surprisingly mild water splashed my feet and enticing me to jump in for a refreshing dip.  I decided to indulge myself once I had finally reached that confounded bridge, and it was absolutely liberating when I finally made the leap from my board into the warmish water.  I’m certain that September 28th is the latest I’ve ever gone swimming in upstate New York, and I am so very glad that I seized the opportunity that Mother Nature provided.

If you haven’t attempted Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) yourself, think about giving it a try.  I think it is easier than it looks and, from what I read, it burns a fair amount of calories.  It is also the most fun core workout I’ve ever experienced.  I’m going to start investigating waterproof bag options because I really missed my camera yesterday.  I would have loved to have captured some pictures of Saratoga’s natural beauty on an early fall day which felt like summer.

So – does anyone have any recommendations for a waterproof bag to stash my Nikon in?

 

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, Recommendations, Saratoga, upstate New York

Labor Day – sunshine and duck butts

After a summer spent working and vacationing, I elected to spend this holiday weekend, quietly at home. Friday night I ate al fresco at The Cheese Traveler, devouring my burger and merely indicating yes or no with the motion of my head. So good! Saturday, following a run, I ate at Mingle’s bar very much enjoying my salad and paella, along with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Sunday was a day for leftovers and binging on Orange is the New Black with a side order of tennis. It was definitely a lazy weekend, other than for Jeter who spent quality time each day at the Normanskill Dog Park.

Today needed to be different. I needed to burn some energy in the hopes that I would get a good night’s sleep tonight and feel fresh for tomorrow’s back to school activities. I decided that today was the perfect day to give paddle boarding a try – weather, opportunity, mood, it all added up and so, I hit the highway for Saratoga County’s Kayak Shack. I had a Living Social deal, bought earlier this summer for $20, which gave me 3 hours of paddle boarding for two. I was solo (do you think the businesses in receipt of deals for 2 being redeemed by only 1, tsk tsk silently and sympathetically?), which provided me lots of time to focus on keeping my balance, something of which I really need to remain cognizant in a general sort of way.

So, what was it like? I loved it! I had no issue getting on my board and moving from kneeling to standing. There was a strong current, with an accompanying wind, which made my trip out quite an exertion. It is a real abdominal workout, which I welcomed.  Seems like I’ve taken a few shots to the gut recently and any assistance in keeping that area defensively taut is welcome.  For every 4 or 5 strokes on the left side of the board, I had to take a dozen on the right side to remain on a semi-straight path. There were a couple of moments when I absolutely wobbled and fought to maintain my balance, usually when I neglected to pay attention to what was going on in the water around me. I dumped once, but welcomed the refreshing dunk in the lake and had no issue climbing back on board. Literally.

Here’s what I found kind of interesting – I grew up in lake community and feel like I have some experience with boating, be it from my teen years waterskiing or my brief time spent sweep rowing/sculling. Today, I discovered fairly quickly that motor boaters had no real regard for paddlers. There were all sorts of instances when a boat’s wake provided an experience similar to what one would find in a wave pool. It was mostly ok, but I still felt a bit irritated by the lack of respect for those of us with a paddle rather than a throttle in our hand.

I booked along at a pretty good clip as I worked to raise my heart rate and turn my fun into a true workout. The shore on both sides was marshy with leaves threatening to begin changing colors and tons of ducks greedily going bottoms up as they munched on some delicacy underwater. I paddled to a wider part in the water where things really started to feel a bit like the Wild West with motorboats and kayaks and stand up paddle boards chaotically strewn across the water. I grew up in a town filled with cowboys, but we had more of a sense of water traffic regs than most of the people I encountered today.

Bottom line – it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If anyone wants to give it a try some weekend before the water grows too cold to be described as invigorating, let me know. I’d love to go back.

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Filed under Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, ideas, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York

Sipping from Siro’s Cup

With Dominick and Carolyn Purnomo.                            Photo by Joe Putrock, Special to the times Union.

Last night I attended my first Saratoga “event,” the 21st Annual Newton Plaza Siro’s Cup.  I was thoughtfully included in a friend’s group and during a very busy week, it was the thing for which I was most excited.  What to wear? Could I forsake peer comfort with foot comfort and wear flats? Accessories were key and I wanted to feel put together from head (day 2 hair, flat ironed and sprayed) to toes (freshly pedicured in a gorgeous shade of pastel sea foam).  I knew I needed to feel confident in my appearance and went with a whole Goddess of Reading look.  I think it worked.

The showers through which I had driven in Albany had completely disappeared and the air in Saratoga was fresh and comfortable.  The fancy cars, Maserartis, Rolls Royces and my dream car, a 2 door Porsche, were parked on display and the whole thing felt about as swanky as you can get when you’re essentially walking barefoot from your own wagon parked in a grassy field.

Inside the party there was an almost overwhelming sense of stimulation.  People were ON.  The multiple bars set up attracted what seemed to be the most outgoing cliques of friend – there was a definite (and deserved) sense of holding court.  The clothes, the makeup, the hair…there was so much to absorb.  Fashion-wise, it seemed that anything went.  Naturally, there were Nantucket Reds, seersucker and linen adorning the guys and dresses in every length and color on the women.  There was a lot of jewelry, along with a fair amount of serious suntan.

A constantly flowing river of attendees were carried on a current of cocktails. People seemed happy and there were many outbursts of laughter to be heard.  The “first party of the season” feel to it made for an excellent vibe.  It was fun.  I loved seeing my favorite Pirate Girl and am so psyched the she has taken up residence for the season, like the ballet or the writers of Yaddo.  There were other hospitality folks there – the generation II Purnomos, Matt Baumgartner, Michael Cocca.  It was nice to see them being on the receiving end of hospitality for a change.

Many familiar faces were in the crowd.  I mean, I’ve worked in local restaurants for long time and have probably served thousands of people. I had a couple of moments, though, of feeling mildly out of place amongst a crowd who have far more lucrative investments than merely budgeting carefully and buying consigned clothes.  A couple of times I greeted attendees I knew from one restaurant or another and I wasn’t recognized without giving my name or context.  Do I look that different?  Am I invisible as a server?  Have I gained weight?*  Am I aging poorly? It was a little awkward to navigate.

Gnocchi and shaved truffles

Gnocchi and shaved truffles

The scene, though, was captivating.  I could have walked, marveling under the star-filled sky, for even longer, but my belly demanded food and I don’t like eating standing up.  I headed to 15 Church and got exactly what I was looking for – something delicious and indulgent to eat and sip and the welcome of friends I’ve worked with over the years.  I wish Saratoga was closer.

Burrata, tomatoes, basil

Burrata, tomatoes, basil

*no charge for that peek inside my head.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, Events, Food, friends, Local, Restaurants, Saratoga, Summer, Wine

Two Step while trying not to step in anything disgusting

628x471For the second year in a row my middle son and I went to both nights of the Dave Matthews Band’s pretty much annual stop at SPAC.  As always, Carter smiled continuously as he banged the drums and Dave praised the crowd and venue.  We had a good time and I got some great crowd photos in the parking lots prior to the shows.  We ran into some people we knew and even made some new friends.  It was fun and I imagine we’ll do it again next time the band is in town.  By then, I hope to have erased some of the less pleasant parts of this year’s shows.

I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve seen DMB, but seeing that it was Griffin’s 6th show, I imagine I’ve got somewhere between 12-15 shows under my belt.  I grew up taking the bus into the city for shows at the Garden and consider myself a concert veteran, but there’s always something new to see, right?  Take that man’s penis, for instance.  What a shocker that was!  I can say with complete honesty that I’ve never before stood in line next to someone who was pissing into a red solo cup – and I hope to never repeat that experience.  The close up of a stranger’s not so privates may have been a blessing in disguise because when that woman on the lawn threw her skirt up and prepared to pull her underwear down to pee on the lawn in front of everyone, it wasn’t that traumatic for me.

Now, urine aside, the only other bodily fluid which made an appearance was vomit.  Fortunately, I missed seeing that (re)enter the world, but I became aware of it after someone near me on the lawn stepped in it.  Situations like this completely validate my decision to always wear closed shoes, often rain boots, at outdoor concerts.

Now – the good stuff!  We met some awesomely friendly people while taking photos, including two adorable hula hooping pixies who were so pleased with the photo I took Friday that they sought me out on Saturday to reward me with a hug.  Sweet!  I also ran into one of my favorite parents from school and finally met her collaborator in creating 4 fabulous kids.  That kind of made my night.

As far as the music goes, the set lists were epic and I’m so glad we went both nights because we heard nearly every song we had hoped to hear.  The transitions between songs was flawless and the flute solos provided a fresher sound than the sometimes (to me) tedious violin solos.  Highlights were #41, the acoustic What Would You Say, and pretty much the entire second set on Saturday night.

Towards the end of Saturday night I looked around at the crowd and concluded that pretty much everyone would end the night by either fighting, having sex or falling asleep.  Me?  I slept well.

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Filed under concerts, Music, Observations, Saratoga, SEEN, SPAC, upstate New York

Hello, Wall!

After working for 16 of the last 18 days, I finally hit the wall today.  Maybe you heard the sound of me crashing around 4:30 Sunday afternoon when I returned home from the Hong Kong Bakery, my belly full of terrific Chinese food.  My initial thought had been to grab Jeter and head down to the dog park for a little bit of play time.  But, I started thinking about our last visit’s mud situation down there and my utter lack of interest, (or energy, it turns out), in giving both the puppy and the bathroom a thorough cleaning two days in a row, and decided that a nap for myself was more necessary than a play date for Jeter.  Sorry, puppy.

I climbed into bed with a book and was asleep in less than 10 minutes, a state I stayed in for nearly 2 hours.  Long naps are not typically my thing.  In fact, I boast of my ability to benefit from a mere 5 minute nap.  Sunday, though was different.  Both my body and my brain needed required demanded some down time.  I was tired.

If you know me, you’re aware that I like to pace myself.  All of the activity and events of the last few weeks, though, got away from me a bit and sleep was the only area that had “spare” time built-in.  I think I’ve averaged 5 hours or so of that precious state lately, no more than 4 of those hours  being consecutive and uninterrupted.  Work and boys and Jeter have conspired to challenge, and ultimately upset, my best intentions to balance living with rest.

I am so grateful that I’ve learned to recognize and respect my body’s need to regroup.  Saturday night, after waiting on what seemed to be the entire Western Hemisphere,* I fell asleep with the alarm set for 7:00 a.m. and a firm intention to both run and photograph a race in Saratoga.  That didn’t happen.  Even though I initially put my running clothes on, I just didn’t feel like busting my ass to do both tasks and I elected to go with the job that paid.  It was a good choice.

So, what do you do when you hit the proverbial wall?  If you’re anything like me, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and sign the wall with a big ole Silvia was here.  And you just keep going.

*a bit of hyperbole, but there was a large table of Canadians as well as an even bigger table of folks from various countries in South America via NYC.

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Filed under musings, Random, running, Saratoga, SEEN

Saratoga bites

A few months back I bought a Living Social deal for Javier’s in Saratoga. My motivation was to enjoy a night out and sample some of Brian Bowden’s food. Well, you know how that worked out. Nonetheless, Thursday night we hit the Northway and arrived promptly for our 6:45 reservation.

While the downstairs bar was completely empty, the upstairs dining room was close to full. We were shown to a nice table and looked over the recently updated menu. Eventually we decided to start with fried oysters and a pear salad, followed by the duck breast and monkfish entrees. I settled back contentedly with my glass of bubbles and my favorite fellow, prepared for an indulgent meal.

Our meal service began with dense and cheesy “muffins,” accompanied by softened butter garnished with roasted garlic. Nice. Our first course was served and I don’t know which one of us was more crestfallen by the size of the portion. You see, we’re good eaters and the salad, particularly, was shockingly paltry. Seriously – it was about a third of a pear. Maybe. The oysters appetizer was four morsels – a bit of a disappointment if you’re coming from the Rick Weber school of fried oysters, which is more than likely where this rendition originated.* The oysters were tasty but definitely would have benefitted from a touch of salt and a multiplication of two.

The entrees were far more impressive. Both of the portions were reasonable and the plates were nicely presented. The duck was perfectly medium rare, with a touch of sweetness to the sauce and nicely crisped skin. I don’t often eat monkfish, but I certainly would order it more frequently if I was assured it would be cooked as masterfully as the piece I enjoyed at Javier’s. My “poor man’s lobster” was mild, and moist and the accompaniments were a nice foil to the fish. Well done.  I didn’t take any photos of our meals, but you can see the salad and monkfish on this blog.

We had a dessert, some sort of something leche which was simply not my thing, but my dining companion made short work of it. Dinner, before discount, came to just over a $100, pre-tip. Service was capable, but not particularly personable. I’ve met Javier before (and his wife, following dinner) and they are both warm and social. It would be pleasing if the service reflected some of that.

Two days later, I was back in Saratoga to shoot some photos for the Times Union. The occasion? Chowderfest 2014. This was my first time attending this event and it is a huge deal. I believe there were 86 restaurants participating and, from what I understand, this annual celebration of chowder is second in popularity only to Travers Day. Props to Saratoga for hosting an event, in January, which literally fills their streets and sidewalks with folks willing to wait in line to sample minuscule “cups” of chowder. The crowd was enthusiastic, patient and seemingly appreciative of the offerings, as well as the relatively mild temperature.

My tight schedule prevented me from being able to invest time waiting on the sometimes formidable lines, but I would definitely consider participating in this fun event in the future. Truth be told, finding a reason to visit Saratoga, and a place to have a bite, is never a struggle.

*Brian Bowden worked with Andrew Plummer who worked with Rick Weber and those oysters had Rick Weber’s name all over them.

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Filed under Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, Restaurants, Saratoga, SEEN, soup, upstate New York

Riding that train

DSC_0001Last week in our (delayed) haste to soak in the last of Summer 2013, two of my boys and I hopped aboard the scenic Saratoga-North Creek Railroad.  Despite the late night I had thoroughly enjoyed the previous evening at a concert at SPAC, we left Albany a little after 9:00 a.m. to catch our train, which was scheduled for a 10:00 departure.

We pulled out of the station a little late but, hey, what’s the rush?  We had all day to relax in the comfortable double-decker dining car perusing the breakfast menu which featured reasonably priced entrees ranging from $4 for pastry to $9 for the Adirondack omelet, French toast or waffles.  My guys ordered and were served fairly quickly.  Their plates were hot on arrival, nicely presented and portioned generously. The servers were, without exception, friendly and accommodating.

The train took us through some remote areas with beautiful views of the mountains and Hudson River.  The tables invite conversation and the period music playing softly in the background added to the sense of being part of another, more gentle time.  As we approached North Creek the sun broke through the clouds and help to remove the chill of the air-conditioned car – I forgot to bring a sweater.
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North Creek is a friendly little town with a couple of cute shops and a handful of restaurants.  Note: the helpful map distributed at the ticket office is NOT drawn to scale.  If you need more clarification on that fact, please see my youngest son.  He has probably still not forgotten the trek I led him on, which ultimately ended at our chosen destination for lunch.  Which was closed.  I’ve been wanting to try barVino forever but, unfortunately (and expectedly) they don’t serve lunch.  We ended up at Izzie’s Deli and Market, where I enjoyed my chicken salad, served on a bed of greens as I requested.  A few heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, finished the plate.

Dinner is served on the return trip and, again, is fairly priced with entrees ranging between $10 for their Adirondack casserole (described as turkey and assorted root vegetables in a homemade cream sauce finished with a bread crumb, Parmesan and butter topping) and $16 for a 7 oz filet.  We didn’t indulge on the way south but the domed car captured and circulated some pretty enticing aromas.

The leisurely pace of the train, coupled with the 3 hour layover, made for a long day, but it was really enjoyable.  During the ride south I allowed the train to rock me to sleep and woke up fairly refreshed for the return drive down the Northway.  I would definitely take this trip again and am interested in the Ski Train which takes passengers to North Creek where a bus is available to complete the journey to Gore Mountain.  A day well spent.

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Filed under Boys, family, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York