Category Archives: upstate New York

3 friends, 2 cities, 1 lucky human – part 2

On Sunday, it was time to head north of Albany with two vintage friends for a little time in Saratoga Springs. We were at our hotel by noon, parked the car and took off on foot to explore Broadway and all it offers. The Holiday Inn where we stayed was super convenient to Congress Park and we again had dreamy weather. We allowed ourselves to be entertained by the ducklings for a bit as we strolled into town, feeling zero urgency to do anything. Saratoga was hopping and filled with tourists and we thoroughly enjoyed window shopping, sussing out a place for dinner and picking places to stop in on Monday, not wanting to deal with shopping bags and dressing rooms on such a blazingly beautiful day.

Lunch was takeout from Putnam Market, a variety of salads and a lemon bar to share, which we took to a shady bench in the park. At that point I was totally ready for a siesta, but we reinterpreted that as some chill time by the hotel pool. We lucked out and achieved bliss with a quick dip or two alternated with stretching out on a chaise in the sun. Refreshed, we took a long walk into and around Saratoga State Park and I realized how well I’ve come to know that piece of land in my time upstate. It was fun to show it off.

Dinner was at Forno Bistro, coincidentally this week’s restaurant review in the Times Union. Before dinner, though, we were compelled to have a cocktail on the veranda at Salt & Char. I completely enjoyed my very first Moscow Mule, essentially dubbing this my official cocktail of Summer, 2017. After our drinks and a lot of giggles, we went to Forno and had a positive dinner experience, made even more exceptional by my being greeted by a former student, who was dining, with an enthusiastic “Hi, Silvia!” We shared a couple of antipasti, a pasta and a pizza and left satiated. It was too nice to go directly “home,” so we took a walk around Caroline Street and found ourselves at Ben & Jerry’s where I stepped out of my comfort zone of Cherry Garcia and Coffee Buzz Buzz and tried Coconut Seven Layer Bar instead. It was a great way to end the night.

Our first stop Monday morning was Mrs. London’s where my friends experienced their first almond croissants. These are no joke and since we were early (9:00), we had the place nearly to ourselves and were able to enjoy our cafe au laits in a most leisurely fashion. We timed things perfectly and, fully caffeinated, we got some quality shopping in. At our first stop, Violet, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase a coupon book filled with special offers from local businesses. From an initial $15 investment, I saved more than $40 which made this a really good buy. The shopping was pretty epic and I cleaned up with 4 dresses, a skirt and a super cute pair of cropped Hudson jeans. After what feels like months and months of exclusively online shopping because of my schedule, boutique shopping felt like a real luxury.

Who am I kidding? It’s all such a luxury. To have the friends, time and money to make quick getaways like these possible is an indulgence that I’ll never take for granted. That’s why I’m one lucky lady.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, SPAC, Summer, upstate New York

Walkway over the Hudson Half Marathon – 6/11/17

In our ongoing quest to check items off our runner’s bucket list, Chrissy and I headed south to take on Sunday’s Walkway over the Hudson half. Due to the crazy early start time (7:00 a.m. with a suggested arrival time of 90 minutes earlier), we drove down Saturday evening and enjoyed a few hours of hanging out with friends, including another Sunday morning warrior, and an ideal sunset walk.

Morning came early. We bumbled around having some breakfast, preparing our gear, and getting sunscreen-ed prior to leaving the house well before 6:00. Parking was kind of a pain in the ass, but after a solid 15 minute walk we found our way to the port-a-potty line, right in front of the starting line. After a flyover by some historic planes and the national anthem, we were off promptly at 7:00.

The first couple of miles were challenging with what felt like a few decent hills. On a hot morning I worked really hard to pace myself and committed myself to maintaining a slow and steady pace. We traveled from the roads to the beautifully shaded rail trail before we ventured out onto the walkway and crossed to the west side of the Hudson. The sun was really beating down by this point, mile 7 or 8, and I took my brag worthy 7 Sisters shirt off and continued in my tank, relishing the faint breeze on my shoulders. I began taking two cups at the water stations, drinking one and dumping the other over my head.

The mile markers were great with notes about the environmental themes the race is based upon and encouraging images. The support was great with lots of spectators and enthusiastic folks lining the trail in numerous spots. Mile 8 was particularly significant because of the height I reached as I jumped into air after noticing the snake curled up on the side of the trail. I got elevation!

Not being familiar with the course was a little disconcerting. I just didn’t know what remained between me and the finish line. Fortunately, it was surprisingly shady and not terribly hilly. Despite those positive conditions, I was friggin spent and the last two miles were kind of hellacious as my feet burned uncomfortably and I rode the line between muscling though and feeling nauseous and a tad dizzy. When I finally caught a glimpse of the finish line, I couldn’t have been happier. Half marathon #5 in the past 10 months is in the books. Time to find another race.

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Filed under Events, Exercise, friends, Recommendations, road trips, running, sunday, upstate New York

6 days of skiing

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Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.

After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions.  The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.

Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.

The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.

Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.

There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Snowverwhelmed!

We got a lot of snow last week, more snow than I’ve seen in a few years. As I got ready for bed more than 48 hours after the snow first began, I could still hear snow removal happening – blowers and plows and trucks battling the nearly two feet of powdery whiteness. It was truly awesome.

On Tuesday evening, the first night of the storm, when I cross-country skied from the DelSo to Center Square, it was much more quiet. There were few cars on the road and I was able to ski right down Delaware Avenue, switching from side to side as the occasional vehicle approached. The skiing was great. The powdery snow offered no resistance and the wind failed to live up to its reputation. I was smiling at least as much as the people I encountered along my way. For some reason folks always seem amused by the sight of a person cross-country skiing on city streets.

Less amused were the drivers of the cars (and buses) that were stuck along my way.  I’ve never seen so many vehicles stuck – it was unbelievable.  Without exaggeration, there more than a half dozen cars being pushed on Lark Street alone.  It was a mess.

There have been a lot of complaints about the snow removal, or lack thereof. As a city resident who lives on a street that seems to fall pretty low on list of priorities, I understand the frustration. Arcadia Avenue was barely plowed and even now, nearly a week later, parking is compromised and we’re voluntarily still leaving our cars on a single side of the street.

There are claims that some streets were given preferential treatment, I understand there’s even a video supporting that claim. I don’t know.  There was a lot of snow. No matter how many plows there were, there weren’t enough. People worked really hard. The snow was relentless. It was definitely snowverwhelming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Celebrate Life – even in 5 degrees!

IMG_1140Yesterday was a day I was not looking forward to – the forecast for frigid weather, the loss of an hour, the long bus ride… I had a few moments when I even considered bailing on the half marathon I had committed to running, but I dug deep and found the motivation to get my a** out of bed and over to East Greenbush to meet the bus that had been organized to take a couple of dozen runners to Rock Hill, N. Y. for the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. I’m glad I did.

I don’t know when I started to get blasé about running 13.1 miles, but somehow it happened. When my Lunar B*tch Karen asked if I was interested in running this particular race, I don’t think I even looked at the course or hesitated. Bundle in the fact that the race is a fundraiser to support those struggling with cancer and I was all in.

The weather forecast for the race changed at least three times in the week prior to the run – from rain to cloudy and finally, to plain old cold. Like, really cold. Single digits cold. The morning of the run I dressed in a single layer on the bottom and 3 layers on the top, and boarding the bus with an assortment of additional UnderArmor items in a bag. Can I tell you how different activities are when you have the right clothes? There’s a reason I troll Marshall’s for running gear, people!

The bus ride was great – a pleasant ride through beautiful scenery and well worth the $25. As we drove along in our warm bus it was easy to forget how truly cold it was outside those windows. Once we were parked, though, the bitter temperatures slapped me in the face and reminded me what I’d be facing for the next couple of hours. I picked up my race packet and started layering up eventually going with 2 bottom layers, 4 layers on top finished with a vest, 2 pairs of gloves and a fleece hat that velcroed under my chin that I am so glad I tossed in at the last minute. I was as ready as I was ever going to be!

We started at 10:00 a.m. I didn’t know it at the time, but the temperature was 5 degrees. The wind chill brought it down to -4. My ignorance was bliss. The first mile was brutal – the wind was blowing and my nose was running like mad. My face hurt and I was almost overwhelmed by the thought of another 2+ hours in those conditions, but that first hill warmed me up a bit and my playlist was great. I settled into a comfortable pace and started to enjoy the challenge.

The course was beautiful, circling around a couple of small lakes and reminiscent of my hometown. There were some hills for sure and the lakeside pieces were definitely cold, but the sun was shining and I eventually warmed up enough to unfasten my hat’s chinstrap and remove both layers of gloves for a short time. The body is an amazing thing.

Towards the end of my run, as the hills continued unrelentingly, I started to think of people I care for who have struggled with cancer and I ran for them. When my phone died at 12.89 miles, I kept running without music, but with heart, eventually  finishing in 2:25 with a deep sense of satisfaction and sore feet. Like life, it felt like something to celebrate.

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Filed under cancer, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, sunday, upstate New York, winter

Peace, love and cupcakes – Woodstock, N.Y.

How festive is this?

How festive is this place? Not the cupcake place, by the way.

Yesterday I headed down to Woodstock to meet the girls for a little shopping and some catch up time. Although I had been down that way just a couple of weeks ago for a show in Bearsville, it felt like far too long since I’ve simply walked around town and checked out the shops. If you’re in a similar situation, I highly recommend December as the ideal time to wander around Woodstock. It is the absolute antithesis of mall shopping.

The first order of business (ok, the second) when meeting friends midday is usually coffee. The café nearest Tinker Square was jammed so we decided to take our chances down the street a little bit and found ourselves at the adorable Peace, Love and Cupcakes. It’s a tiny little space, adorably decorated in just the right shade of pink, towards the south side of town.

Their coffee game was mediocre with the only brew coming from a Keurig, but my need for coffee was quickly overshadowed by my need for a cupcake. The display case was chock full of the prettiest little cupcakes, cheekily named for musicians, that I’ve ever seen. I only hesitated a moment before rationalizing that when your day begins with a very circuitous 15K, a cupcake prior to linner seems more than reasonable. They don’t call it Sunday Funday for nothing, friends!

Although I’ve never been all that enthusiastic about cupcakes before (I think the frosting is usually too damn sweet), I decided that the Chocolate Snowball was calling my name – and I don’t even particularly like chocolate cake. It must have been a combination of nostalgia for those Hostess snowballs from my childhood and the appeal of a thick layer of cream cheese frosting liberally dusted with coconut.

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My cupcake. Sorry the photo isn’t better – I couldn’t wait to eat it!

I sat down outside to savor my sweet treat. The frosting was perfect, retaining a bit of the tartness of the cream cheese with coconut that resisted mushiness. The chocolate cake was moist and delicious. Together, they elevated my coffee to palatable and made me one happy girl. I’ll definitely go back again for more peace, love and cupcakes. The Ginger Baker has my name all over it.

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Filed under Eating, Food, friends, Recommendations, road trips, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

When music makes one a little sad – The Cohoes Music Hall

Saturday night, a friend and I drove up 787 to check out a guitar player he admires. It was a miserable night, but I was excited to see a live performance and I had never been to this particular venue before. You know me, always up for a new experience.

I don’t remember the last time I went to Cohoes, but I imagine it has to have been at least 5 or 6 years ago. The area surrounding the music hall is one that I am not familiar with, but it seems to have experienced numerous up and down cycles. Typical for a small city, I imagine. We struggled a little bit to find a parking space, but were able to park a couple of short blocks away and fortunately the rain had temporarily relented.

From the exterior, the Cohoes Music Hall doesn’t tip its hand in any way to reveal that it is a performance venue. Even after stepping inside, there was no indication of where to go to access our seats. The stairs up were our only option, so we took them eventually arriving in a lobby of sorts. There was a coatroom, bathrooms and a concession stand, but it was all kind of oddly situated. I’m all about vintage theaters, but this one just felt a little awkward and not particularly aesthetically pleasing.

We made our way, with the assistance of an usher, to our seats. The lights were still up and we were directed to “our bar” where there were quality options at premium prices. We passed on drinks and settled into our comfortable seats and I began to look around. img_0295

It is definitely a cool venue with decorative ceilings, curved banquet seating and an old fashioned charm, but…

There was a distinct air of neglect to the space with the ceiling art faded and the velveteen upholstery shiny with wear. The state of the room made it feel and look like the step-sister of Albany’s Palace or Schenectady’s Proctor’s. It made me wonder who the theater had originally been constructed to serve and what had happened to those people. Would they ever have been able to imagine the run down condition of what once must have been an elegant performance room?

Eric Johnson was well worth seeing (he plays that guitar with his entire hand), but I left Cohoes wishing we, as a community, could better support this venue. I didn’t expect to get the blues more from the venue than from the actual performance.

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Filed under beauty, concerts, Events, Local, Music, theater, upstate New York