1. Get yourself invited to a party.
2. Stop at Cheesecake Machismo and select 12 individual slices arranged into a Frankencake for $40.
3. Prepare to be the most popular party guest.
Image: cheesecake machismo.com
I love Cheesecake Machismo. I don’t get there too often because I have no self-control when it comes to their cheesecake. If you were at my brother’s house last weekend, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. Seriously, I don’t like peanut butter stuff yet still went back for a second forkful of the slice of PB cheesecake.
Beginning last Friday, I ate cheesecake every day this week, except for Tuesday when my stomach was feeling a little off. I’m pretty sure my belly ache that evening was actually the result of withdrawal, kind of cheesecake dts.
Of the slices I sampled (11 out of 12), my favorite was the green tea and chocolate. Or the caramel pumpkin. Or, maybe, the cookies and creme. Who am I kidding – my favorite flavor is the one on my fork.
Time to eat that last slice.
When I think back to my teen years two things stand out distinctly – and I’m not talking about sex and cheap beer. No, in the small town where I grew up, a place with limited transportation options and even fewer entertainment opportunities, cruising (or walking) around listening to the radio (or cassettes) was our recreational past time. During my recent visit home, I discovered the familiarity I once had with the roads, be it on my two feet or four wheels, remains.
Decades have passed since I last resided in Greenwood Lake, yet the curves of the road continue to be as familiar to me as my own hand. I consciously approached the village from the east. I wanted to go over the mountain, the same mountain I had walked, hitchhiked and driven for years. While there have been some changes along the side of the road, particularly in Sterling Forest, the twisting and curving path of that black ribbon snaking through the woods and between rocks, hasn’t changed.
Driving over the mountain flooded me with memories. There was a fogged in night when my mother managed to negotiate the road with an open driver’s side door and the assistance of the double yellow line. I remember a late night return from work in a blinding snowstorm which caused my coworker (who was driving) to slide off the road and into a ditch. We were eventually rescued by a passerby whom we rewarded with bags of candy pilfered from the gift shop on the thruway rest stop where we worked.
At the top of the mountain there used to be a pull off spot to take in the view – and hang out partying. We used to claim that on a clear night the lights from NYC’s skyline were visible from that vantage point. I still like to think that they were. One of my most vivid recollections is from a wild night of drinking with a large group of people from town. When it was time to head back down the mountain, one of the guys decided he didn’t want to be in the car, he wanted to be on top of the car. I watched in horror, from the car immediately behind, as he climbed out of the moving vehicle and stretched his body long, arms extended, gripping the lip of the roof while traveling 50+ mph down the narrow and winding road. While he survived that escapade, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot a few short years later. In retrospect, maybe he was trying to kill himself even then.
I turned off the mountain prior to approaching the village. I wanted to drive down a different road, one I had frequently taken when I was in the mood to walk instead of hitchhike. It was a good decision. I was pleased to see that the area had remained essentially free of development and that the trees which stood vigil beside the road remained the most prevalent residents. I wondered who else might remember the year those same trees were devastated by gypsy moth caterpillars, the sound of the leaves being munched impossible to drown out even with my Walkman blasting Van Halen’s Eruption.
In my head, I can still hear both.
Last Sunday, while most of you were probably still snug in your jammies sipping coffee, the Lunar B*tches reunited in a parking lot up at Thacher. It was grey and wet and chilly, but the festive and costume-clad crowd pumped us up for our 6 mile trail run, the Squirrelly Six. I was glad that I had gone with 3 layers of varying thickness, along with gloves and a hat. The dampness was bone chilling and while the rain wasn’t constant, it was cold.
We hit the path at 9:35, due to a slight delay to accommodate those waiting in line for restroom facilities, and spent the next approximately 70 minutes dodging puddles and chainsaw wielding werewolves. The course isn’t made for breaking personal records, with bottlenecks and a couple of daunting hills, but it is made for fun. Because of the soggy conditions, caution was required when navigating the rocky, tree root-ridden paths covered in wet leaves. It was slippery and the downhill portions were the ones which I found to be most dangerous – and where I witnessed a runner go down, fortunately without injury.
This was the 10th year for this event and I definitely see myself continuing to participate in this uber fun race. Despite the weather and trail hazards, it was a beautiful run with lots of leaves still clinging to their branches. This year’s shirt may be the best one I’ve ever received – a bonus second only to hitting the trail with my favorite running girls.
Last Sunday I did what I’ve done on countless other Columbus Day weekends – I drove down to New Paltz to get out on the trails in Minnewaska. In years past, it was more a walk around the woods with the girls, but in recent years it’s been all about running trails. Let me go on record, right here, right now, and say that this will be my first half marathon, 2015.
James and I hit the trails about 2pm under bright blue skies, parking in the Awosting lot. We ambled along hitting Cardiac Hill, gaining more than 1000+ feet of elevation,* and racking up more than 12 miles. Along the way we were treated to views which rivaled the breathtaking quality of the steepest ascents. It was a spectacular afternoon and I wish I could do this run with more frequency.
James is great running partner and I thoroughly enjoy the comfort we have with one another after more than 35 years of friendship. I can’t say either of us would have predicted the joy we would each take from running in the woods. It sure is different when you’re not running from the cops! Lakers, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Can’t wait to do it again.
*which is a lot according to my friend, James, and the way my ass felt the next day.
This place is so special. Feast your eyes on this morning’s beauty…
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?
Did you play that game when you were a kid? We usually alternated between Red Light and Mother, May I? on autumn evenings which grew more quickly dark as each day passed. They were fun games to play during times, which I recall as, much more simple than today. No batteries or cords necessary.
These days, I run for fun. Unfortunately, negotiating my way around the streets of Albany isn’t always fun. I play a different game now – Green light, red light, one-two-three. Are you familiar with it? It’s where you watch the light cycle through from green to yellow to red and then count “1, 2, 3″ before approaching the intersection. If you fail to follow the rules, like the scofflaw driver blowing through the red light, you’re likely to get run over. Really.
There isn’t a single time I’ve been out getting some miles in, when I haven’t observed drivers running red lights. It is no joke. I can appreciate the frustration with Albany’s lights which sometimes seemed timed expressly for making me late for my destination. I get it. But, seriously? Is it really going to be worth running a person or animal over? Drivers in Albany really need to drink a big old mug of slow the f*ck down.
Red light cameras are controversial and considered by some to be invasive, but I truly believe their value in potentially protecting lives exceeds their threat to privacy. Folks are concerned that the company which will be monitoring the cameras will be aggressively doling out tickets because they are a for-profit entity. So? Don’t run red lights and it will cost you nothing.
Albany is a fine place to live. We have invested in schools and libraries and crosswalks. There are cool new places to shop and eat and our mayor is committed to the arts. Wouldn’t it be great if families felt comfortable moving into our city because they knew that public safety was a genuine priority? I’m all for quality of life tickets a la Giuliani, jaywalking, bike riding in the wrong direction on the streets, drivers failing to respect pedestrians in crosswalks and red light runners. Give them a warning then give them a ticket. If the ticket comes from a camera monitored traffic light, give them the picture, too. It’ll last longer, right?