image: Flicker by ph4nn1 Chicago Skyline Panorama
Last summer I made plans to go to Niagara Falls and Toronto with my kids for a few days. We’d never been and it seemed like a cool and economical getaway. I made hotel reservations and enthusiastically crowd sourced for some tourist recommendations. Then my two older sons got jobs. Plural. Not one to complain about employed children, I cancelled the trip and instead took my youngest down to NYC for a couple of days. That slacker doesn’t have a job, but I suppose he is only 11. Soon enough, little man.
A few weeks after the change in plans, I ended with both a Southwest voucher and a credit on my credit card, a situation which I immediately interpreted as a sign from the universe to buy a plane ticket. I reached out to my posse of friends, a number of whom were also celebrating a milestone birthday this year, to gauge interest in taking a weekend trip somewhere. While there was interest, it didn’t translate into action, so I decided it was time for me to take my first ever multiple night solo – Chicago, here I come!
So, I’ve got three nights in Chicago coming up in a few weeks and I’m a bit overwhelmed by all of the things there are to do! The luxury of traveling alone means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to, which is pretty amazing. Knowing myself, I see my days being structured kind of like this:
- Wake up, get out and do something.
- Go back to the hotel for a nap.
- Take a run.
- Take a shower.
- Go out and eat something tasty.
I imagine there will be alcohol involved, at times, too.
The two things I definitely want to do are the architectural boat tour and an art museum or two. I know there are a million places to eat, but I’m most interested in places where I can eat at the bar.
What can you tell me about Chicago?
What would you do if you arrived at your Adirondack getaway, a yurt in a semi-remote location accessible only by foot, in the dark? Would you confidently venture up a trail that you vaguely remember from that one other time you were there? Keep in mind, of course, that you’re toting a ridiculous amount of gourmet food, as well as 3 hardcover books, a heavy (and delicious) bottle of wine, bottles of water and some other stuff that you think you absolutely must have for the night, all of which equals a heavy load. Oh – and you have a city dog on a leash who just might be afraid of the forest.
Well, if you’re me, you take purposeful strides up that steep hill in the direction that seemed familiar until it no longer felt familiar. After a few minutes of consultation and consideration, you conclude that continuing blindly in the dark is more than a little irresponsible and you head back down the trail which, not too surprisingly, leads to a place other than your original starting point. Bearings now gained, thanks to an app on your iPhone, you walk out to the road with all of that prosciutto and pâté getting heavier by the minute, and then back up the long and rugged driveway to your car and declare Take 2, summit to yurt. And this time, you are successful. Those small reflectors marking the trail really helped.
Once in the yurt, ridiculous city shoes off and fantastic bottle of wine opened, you settle in and begin to enjoy the sense of being away. Food gets busted out, without benefit of plates or utensils, other than the plastic ones tossed into the Cardona’s bag at the last minute. Candles are lit and the wine is uncorked and then swilled directly from the bottle since you remembered a corkscrew, but not a cup, much less a glass. You begin to truly relax, charmed by the coziness of the yurt and the company. Surprisingly, the dog who seemed more than a little tense on the walk (it’s become a “walk” rather than a hike, retrospectively. Thank you, wine) up to camp settles down nicely at the foot of the futon and the sound of a nearby train only adds to the atmosphere. Lovely.
Morning breaks slowly and much later than expected. The skylight above filled with grey then shades of blue which grow increasingly more saturated. The first peek out of the door reveals a golden view of leaves and water and mountains. The air outside doesn’t jar as expected because it is nearly the same temperature as indoors. A mid-morning meal gets made from last night’s leftovers in the hopes that our load on the way down would be lighter, as were our spirits. A brief escape successfully managed. We’re definitely doing this again – but with less food and more appropriate footwear.
- Troy has some really nice homes (while running a 5K).
- Apparently when he isn’t playing golf, Donald Trump plays”pussy grabbing.” It’s a sport that only gets discussed in locker rooms, but is played where ever famous men find vulnerable women. Sounds fun, right?
- It is possible to check out events in three different counties in a single day without completely exhausting one’s self.
- The more often I drive to Kinderhook the shorter the ride feels.
- Fall foliage season seemed to take a long time to start this year, but is moving very quickly.
- Samascott Orchard is very welcoming upon arrival but feels kind of militant when you depart.
- I haven’t met a Nine-Pin cider that I don’t like.
- Coming across an abandoned hair weave on the sidewalk when I’m running always makes me uncomfortable.
- The Half Moon Market is a terrific gathering of artisans in a beautiful space that should be used more frequently.
- My goal of running a 1,000 miles this year is within my sights.
Filed under Albany, drinking, Events, Exercise, friends, holidays, Local, News, Random, road trips, running, sunday, Troy, upstate New York
- Run a half marathon.
- Check out the sales at Macy’s.
- Buy nothing. You really don’t need a thing.
- Have dinner out.
- Get a pedicure.
- Go to bed early.
- Eat a delicious salad.
- Take a run.
- Have a beer.
- And a shot.
- Laze in bed an extra 20 minutes.
- Feed the birds.
- Put on a pretty white linen dress (because it’s still summer, at least for today).
- Read birthday messages on Facebook.
- Try not to listen to the news of the latest unarmed black man being killed by the police.
- Charge the battery for your 35mm camera. You’ll need it.
- Have a hot flash.
- Ask your flag waving children to fly the Irish flag just for today in your honor.
- Arrange to have a carrot cake baked by the same friend who made your wedding cake.
- Order 15 pizzas from DeFazio’s.
- Open the sunroof on your car on the way to work.
- Turn up the radio.
- Treat yourself to a blow out – that’s blow out, guys.
- Imagine that Elizabeth Warren was running for President.
- Have a hot flash.
- Eat tasty treats from your coworkers.
- Read birthday messages on Facebook again.
- Take phone calls from both the friend who has been there for 35 years and the one you hope sticks around for the next 35.
- Accept happy birthday greetings from dozens of middle school students after your birthday is announced over the school PA system.
- Wear the beautiful necklace you had made for yourself.
- Remove the modesty-lending shirt over your pretty dress because of another hot flash.
- Book Talk challenged books to 8th grade students and watch them become agitated about censorship.
- Glance out the window at the cloudless, blue skies.
- Hope, just this once, that time moves just a little faster for the next 60 minutes only.
- Pound water in anticipation of the evening’s libations.
- Crave a coffee.
- Figure out a way to swing by Starbucks between school and a salon appointment.
- Get excited thinking about having so many loved ones in one spot.
- Wish Jeter could come, too.
- Get home in time to freshen up and gather loved ones together.
- Take a walk with your brother.
- Mingle and mix with folks from all corners of your life.
- Beam with pride watching your children do the same.
- Toast repeatedly with gifted Prosecco.
- Worry when the pizza is late.
- Remind yourself that it isn’t your fault.
- Sigh with happiness. Best birthday ever.
One of the most exciting parts of owning a restaurant, for me, is conceiving and hosting events. The Ladies First party last fall and our New Year’s Day Open House, were two of my favorite afternoons spent at Lark + Lily in the near year (!) since we opened. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to add a third such afternoon event to my chain of satisfying and happy hospitality experiences, yoga brunch.
Originally planned for August, but rescheduled for after Labor Day, our introductory yoga brunch had a reasonable attendance on a morning that threatened rain. I definitely went big in terms of food, but I’m pretty certain the menu was well received and enjoyed. It was challenging to know how much to prepare since Albany is such a last-minute town and people don’t necessarily honor commitments made without prepayment. I get that, but next time a deposit might be necessary to better help me have the appropriate amount of food available. Believe me, there was no hardship in taking a dozen bagels home for the Lilly boys and it seemed more than acceptable to stop at the St. James Firehouse on September 11th to drop off an extra dozen donuts.
Because I didn’t want to interfere with the kitchen’s well deserved weekend, I made myself responsible for the prep and kept things fairly simple by creating a spread of bagels, veggie cream cheese (thanks, John!), Cider Belly donuts, hard-boiled eggs, lots of fresh fruit, homemade granola and R&G’s fantastic yogurt and ricotta cheese. I think I’ll keep the format similar, maybe mixing up the carbs a little and keeping the fruit as seasonal as possible. It’s a fun little project for me that I really enjoy.
I didn’t get to take the class, unfortunately, but everyone came back from the park a bit flushed and more than a little livelier than they were before class. There are some great photos taken by Trudy that really capture the bliss of being outdoors on a late summer morning. Be sure to check them out and mark your calendars for our next class led by the wonderful Jammella – October 23rd. Keep an eye on the Lark + Lily Facebook page for more details.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Exercise, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized
I understand that, to some people, going to the track involves a pink sheet and placing bets, but I’ve always enjoyed it best early in the morning before the crowds arrive. The true beauty of the facility and the horses just shines when the day is new and the air is fresh. It was a gorgeous morning today and I would have regretted missing the time spent with a good friend far more than I missed those couple of hours of sleep. You see, Will, is an early riser and I was on the road a little after 6:00 a.m. to meet him. Watching those horses, full of personality with an apparent need to stretch their legs, was a wonderful way to start the day. Our post-track breakfast at Siro’s, prepared by the legendary Debbie Klauber, felt very much like a reward for our efforts. I hope those horses are fed half as good as we were!
When I mentioned to friends last week that I was heading down to the city for a couple of days, they suggested that I visit Governor’s Island. Although I often stay downtown in the financial district, I’d never really considered taking the ferry to any island other than Staten and knew nothing about Governor’s Island. Our proximity, though, and the budget fare ($1 each way), made this excursion too appealing to deny.
Monday morning we made our to the dock for the 11:00 a.m. boat. It was a cloudy morning, but dry, and the super quick boat ride was comfortable and refreshingly lacking in diesel fuel aroma. We docked and made our way to the bike rental tent, which was just a bit to the right of where we had disembarked. Within minutes we were set up with 3-speed cruiser bikes at a cost of…zero. Yes, the first hour of bike rental was free. Talk about budget friendly!
We took a quick spin around the island, pausing to capture some pictures of our favorite lady in the harbor, and got the lay of the land. We saw the newly completed “hills,” along with a beautiful wildflower garden, amazing residences and brick dormitory looking buildings and an area that has been utilized as a training site for firefighters. I kept imagining how cool it would be to live on the island in one of the historic looking homes…amazing.
On our second lap around, we parked our bikes and climbed the hills to get the best vantage point of the southern tip of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The skies were clearing at this point and it was just so easy and mellow – no crowds, no stress, barely any expense. Phenomenal.
After an hour and half or so of island living, we made our way back to the dock and returned to Manhattan, satisfied with our adventure and pleased to know of another inexpensive option for exploring the city. I’d definitely consider going back again to spend an afternoon or take in an event. On the weekends there are a variety of food options, including food trucks, to sample or you can pack a picnic and go total low budget. Thanks, Colette and Steve!