Category Archives: Summer

Time and $$ or Why I don’t fly out of Albany

My third-grader came home from school a few weeks back with a math project assignment.  My His task was to consider and solve a “real world” math problem.  We decided to use his math skills to create a budget for our summer trip to Florida, figuring out travel expenses, which parks to visit and where to stay.  We sat down at the iMac and got busy.

The first component of our trip was airfare.  I mentally estimated $300 a ticket, a generous number I thought considering the trip would be in August. I mean, who really wants to go to Florida in August?  Using Travelocity, I plugged in our dates and destination (trying both Orlando and Tampa) and was shocked by the result – $401 per ticket and 7+ hours of travel with 2 stops between Albany and either destination.  Are you kidding me?

I know that Southwest, an airline which wouldn’t show  up in a Travelocity or Expedia search, has a nonstop flight between Albany, but their schedule isn’t yet open for our late summer dates.  I decided to change our departure airport and see some other options.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that we could fly nonstop from Bradley Airport (84 miles from Albany) for a total of $340. That’s for both of us.

I quickly checked a couple of things – how much will parking be?  Approximately $7 or $8 per day.  What is the baggage policy of the airline (Jetblue) offering this stellar fare of $170 r/t? One bag free.  I mentally did some math…

Driving to Hartford should take about 2 hours, which means that ultimately it will be faster to drive to Connecticut, park my car and board a nonstop (2:50 minutes) flight than it would be to fly from Albany.  Parking will cost about $75, gas and tolls perhaps another $35 or $40 for a total of approximately $460, or $340 less than flying from the lovely little airport less than 20 minutes from my house.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I love to travel.  In the past two years, I’ve flown only once from Albany International Airport, choosing Logan (Boston), JFK, Newark and now, Bradley, instead.  If the difference in price is $40 or $50, I wouldn’t  mind spending a little more for the convenience of local, but when you’re talking about $100s, well, I just can’t do it.  Unfortunately, choosing local when it comes to air travel, isn’t nearly as palatable as choosing local for produce is.

$800+ to travel from Albany to Florida in August is a price I’m just not willing to swallow.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, Rants, road trips, Summer, travel, vacation

Moms@Work – August posts

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Let’s forgive me for not getting to this until what is essentially the second week of September, ok?  Seeing that the school year is beginning so late, I’ve kind of been pretending that this past weekend was Labor Day.  But, without further ado…

For the third year in a row, I completed the Warrior Dash down at Windham Mountain.  Kind of pleased with this year’s results: 62nd of 779 in my age group, 1463 of 7300.

I became obsessed with Orange is the New Black.  Have you watched it yet?  When does season two start??

My Quinnie became sick while we were on vacation and I reflected on how stressful sick children, far from our pediatrician, can be.

I had a meltdown about needing bangs – STAT!

The movie theater became the perfect babysitter so I could take a run.

Finding the “perfect” Cape Cod house can be a real test of patience and acceptance.

And there are a few things you don’t want to find in your temporary beach home.

There was a little bit of panic as the days of August started growing shorter.

And a lot of discussion about twerking and expressing oneself.

Finally, my piece from the Sept/Oct issue of Women@Work talked about how not to Fear the Fall.

What have you been up to??

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, Events, Exercise, family, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Moms@Work, Observations, running, sick, Summer, travel, vacation

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

Rocking out the summer – part 1

1234252_10151851105492889_627358023_nIn the past few months, I’ve been to some really great shows up at SPAC. Despite the cold start to the season, Memorial Day weekend, when Griffin and I went to see both nights of the Dave Matthews Band, and the ridiculous prices demanded by Live Nation for shows and refreshments, I gotta say, it was a great summer of music.

Last week, I wrapped up my SPAC 2013 schedule with two different but equally enjoyable shows. Wednesday night was my umpteenth time seeing the Allman Brothers – it’s practically a summer institution, right? The night was made special, though, by the addition of Steve Winwood as an opening act. And the company I was keeping, of course.

Generally, the Allmans are a lawn ticket event for me, but there was a special TravelZoo offer which I took advantage of to land two balcony seats for less than $60. This was my third Steve Winwood experience and, while I prefer him in a smaller, more intimate venue like the Egg, he never disappoints. He truly is a legend and I can’t imagine ever tiring of listening to him play, particularly when it’s Blind Faith and Traffic tunes.

The Allman Brothers, playing with a full lineup including Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, were their usual hard rocking selves. Greg continues to sing most of the songs, but Warren seems to be stepping up to the mic a bit more these days. While there was no Whipping’ Post, a couple of other nuggets were pulled out and I’d consider it a solid show. A definite highlight was when Winwood joined the gang for a cover of the Band’s The Weight – pretty awesome and unforgettable.

Ask the Allmans and I’m sure they’ll agree – Saratoga Springs is certainly the August place to be.  Check out this Seen gallery for some great crowd shots.

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Filed under Events, Music, Saratoga, SEEN, SPAC, Summer

Tortilla Flats aka as the place with a waiter who must have flatlined

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

We stopped in at a little joint Sunday afternoon down in the West Village, Tortilla Flats, hereafter referred to as the place with the worst service.  Ever.

Our party of three arrived at what I think of as the “shoulder season” of dining hours, around 3:30 or so.  There was a distinct lack of greeting after we entered, but the bartender finally acknowledged us and directed us to the lone waiter, Mr Frazzled and Angry.  Just like his hair.  He agreed to seat us and selected the only unoccupied dirty table.  Naturally, it needs to be bussed and wiped, which he did in between other tasks.  His sense of prioritizing was poor.

We sat and perused the menu, giving the margarita list the bulk of our attention.  We selected a path to tequila awareness (Sauza Hornitos) and waited for the server’s return.  We waited a long ass time, actually.  We waited so long that we finally sent a representative to the bar to place the order directly with the bartender.  In a remarkably rapid fashion, the server brought us our pitcher, with the correct number of glasses salted (2 out of 3) and garnished with limes.  Drinking commenced.

About midway through our first drinks we again flagged the server down to place an order for nachos with sides of guacamole and salsa.  A short time later we received our nachos, which were unlike any nachos I’ve ever been served.  They were flat, looking more like a quesadilla than a pile of crispy chips topped with cheese and beans and whatnot.  For clarification we inquired if we had been served the correct item and to remind the server that we had also ordered a couple of sides and that utensils, plates and napkins would be helpful.  With a remarkable level of surliness for a human being over the age of 16 or so, he retrieved our guacamole and salsa, but no plates or napkins.

At this point we were drinking our second drinks on fairly empty stomachs.  You see, we didn’t have plates or napkins or utensils with which to eat our food.  Even though those are all obviously, to most, considered essential items when consuming food.  Eventually, once the ray of sunshine who was our “server” had cleared a neighboring table (which was unoccupied) and stood at the bar for a few minutes, we received plates and napkins.  Silverware never was provided.  The (finger)food was tasty.

My commitment at that particular moment in time was weighted heavily in favor of the tequila, so I elected to not sit that kid down to painstakingly itemize all of the lapses in service which he had committed.  Our interlude ended on a high note when the waiter inquired how everything was – a question he posed for the first and only time as we paid the check.  We were able to exit the restaurant laughing, a state I don’t imagine he was able to replicate with the paltry, yet still generous, 15% tip we left for him.  At least there’s always tequila, buddy.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, NYC, Restaurants, Summer, sunday

What I missed

IMG_2475After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?

  • My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
  • My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
  • My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
  • Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
  • Him. Because I like having him around.

What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?

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Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation

Meteor shower of love

Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn't eventually necessary.

Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn’t eventually necessary.

Last week, I had the brilliant idea to get a beach bonfire permit so we could take in the Perseids Meteor showers, beachside. Like last year, we were shut out of our first choice beach, Newcomb Hollow and “settled” for White Crest. If you’re unfamiliar with these Wellfleet ocean beaches, trust me, they’re all beautiful. The only true disadvantage to White Crest is the remarkably steep dune one must navigate from the parking lot down to the beach. And, of course, the return climb up the dune.

The weather was fairly cooperative, but there was a bit of fall in the air. Jeans and sweatshirts were necessary, as were marshmallows, lots of marshmallows. I have to say that watching my brother build and maintain fires in the wood-burning stove of our childhood home, really has paid off. I can build a fire, Jack London. Naturally, we were a bit half-assed about things – I had some paper, some cardboard, a little kindling and a $10 bundle of soft wood and a lighter, but no bucket to fill with water to extinguish the fire. Never mind. We figured it out.

While we didn’t go all out with s’mores fixings this year, I have to say the boys have really mastered the art of toasting marshmallows to a perfectly gorgeous shade of brown. They really were the best toasted marshmallows I ever recall eating, at least that’s my excuse for eating as many of them as I did.

The fires of other sky watchers.

The fires of other sky watchers.

Good friends, delicious marshmallows and a blazing fire ocean side made for a pretty special evening. But the best part of the entire night was when Quinn and I were sharing a chair, in a practically reclined position, staring quietly at the sky. He nestled into me, and I wrapped my arms around him. Our eyes searched the heavens for trails of light and we made a vow to never forget this night.

It’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteors will ultimately appear, but the light shining in my son’s eyes as he promised to always remember that moment, provided all the illumination for which this mom could ever wish.  Magical memories.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, family, Summer, vacation