Category Archives: Travel

Just Because

Step back in time with this 3 minute home movie taken in 1962. Location: Las Vegas.

Do yourself a favor. Put it on full screen.

H/T: Small Dead Animals

Upstate

For my birthday, Hubby wisked me away to upstate New York for a long weekend. Now, I’m a fan of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but I have to say…the Adirondacks are wonderful, beautiful and WAY bigger than my beloved Whites.

Hubby and I are both geeks so the  entire weekend was a historic pilgrimage.

First stop: Fort Ticonderoga 

Looking out on Lake Champlain

Looking out on Lake Champlain

I knew about Fort Ty because of its role in Henry Knox’s cannon drag to Dorchester Heights and Ethan Allen’s “In the Name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress…” It was a hot, humid day but the reconstructed barrack buildings were naturally cool. The Fort is situated along a strategic (and beautiful) point on Lake Champlain. My only disappointment was the interpretive material in the Fort. It’s dated and disorganized. In three different places there was info about Henry Knox but in only one of these spots did it mention Dorchester Heights by name. I did watch a video about the Fort but it was mostly about the military history of the Fort (lots of “flanks” and “movements” language. Kinda a snore, actually). There were plenty of costumed interpreters and some young lasses dressed as lads came out to perform on their fifes. (Do boys play fifes anymore?) Hubs and I spent nearly two hours walking around and reading everything. (Yea, we’re that geeky.)

Second stop: Crown Point

Cool Ruins

Cool Ruins

I didn’t know much about this fort but Hubby is a big French and Indian War fan. He visited this place years before and was eager for me to see it. I must admit…I liked it better than Fort Ty. The place is a ruin and was lightly visited the day we were there which just added to the quiet and calm. It was a British fort whose heyday was during the American Revolution. There was a French fort, Fort Frederic, which was around during the French and Indian War. The French blew up their fort (the ruins are visible) when the Brits were threatening siege. The Brits took over the area and built Crown Point. Like Fort Ty, CP is also on Lake Champlain and the whole area is simply beautiful. Crown Point is a NY State Historic Park with a GREAT museum and a FANTASTIC 12 minute video that explains the history of the fort. A must visit for any history geek.

Third stop: John Brown’s Farm

I died so you could High Jump.

I died so you could High Jump.

Yes, THAT John Brown. Born in Connecticut, hung in Virginia, but lived a short while in New York. He only visited his farm in Lake Placid (yup…miracle on ice and all that) seven times but his wife/widow lived there and his body and those of his sons who were with him at Harper’s Ferry are interred on the property. This is another NY State Historic Park that receives drive-by tour buses (they rarely stop according to the interpreter) and is in the shadow of the Olympic High Jump (strange). We toured the home which is not large but for a $2 admission, worth the money. I’d say…if you are a Civil War/Abolitionist/African-American history geek, it’s worth the trip. You can see everything in less than 45 minutes.

In the midst of all this geekiness, we camped out in a B&B called the Tumble Inn located in Schroon Lake. If you think that Lake George is lovely but all the tacky tourist shops ruin the atmosphere, try Schroon Lake, about 20 minutes north of Lake George. The evening we arrived, there was an honest-to-goodness square dance on the town park along the lake. So Americana! The town of Schroon Lake has a tiny strip with a few restaraunts and shops. I totally recommend the place (and the B&B – GREAT BREAKFASTS!!!).

It was a lovely time and wouldn’t mind going back someday. Maybe by then Fort Ty will have done something about those interpretive signs. Check out more NY pics on my Flickr site.

Reality Stinks

You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island in a summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old stars are peeping out and the sea keeps its mighty tryst with the little land it loves. You find your soul then. You realize that youth is not a vanished thing but something that dwells forever in the heart.

-Lucy Maud Montgomery

I think it’s an unwritten Canadian bylaw that anything that has to do with Prince Edward Island must include a quote from it’s most famous islander. Before I go on, I must confess (I’m catholic, I can do that) I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time one week before my PEI trip. I only knew Anne from that excellent t.v. mini series that everyone watched in the 1980s.

The book paints a bucolic picture of a rural island with red soil, farms, presbyterianism and small town relationships (and everything that entails.) Twenty first century PEI is about the same (except the presbyterianism – they became United Churches). Today’s population totals 138,000, so it’s possible that locally grown PEI potatoes outnumber people like 100,000 for every 5 PEI’er. In the touristy stores, not only can you buy Anne stuff, but also a sack of potatoes. Don’t believe me?
 

Massive Bag for only $9.95 Cdn

Massive Bag for only $9.95 Cdn

Back to Anne…Seeing how rustic the islands is still, I was excited to see Cavendish, Montgomery’s town which was the model for Avonlea. In her time, Cavendish boasted a library, meeting hall, two churches, a school and a number of families who all seemed to be related to each other. Driving north up Route 6, I passed an oyster farm and a number of agricultural farms. Besides the town line sign, Cavendish was announced by the Shining Waters Water Park and Avonlea Village (a recreation of Anne’s Avonlea/Cavendish).

Green Gables itself  is now a National Park surrounded by the Green Gables Golf Course. While walking through the “Haunted Woods” Hubby and I made our way around golf carts and while wandering down “Lover’s Lane,” I noticed a golf ball in the babbling stream. The actual Green Gables home was owned by her grandparent’s cousins and, according to Montgomery, it was the model for Anne’s home. The place was cute and crawling with young, female park wardens wearing dirty fleece jackets. Hubby and I were able to explore the building unhurried. We exited just as a bus tour of retirees arrived. Phew!

That's not Matthew on the ladder.

That's not Matthew on the ladder.

Today’s Cavendish has lost it’s school, a church, the meeting hall and most of the families. As our breakfast waitress told us one morning, “No one lives in Cavendish…maybe 50.” Even in Montgomery’s time, the Anne books brought loads of tourists to the island. Montgomery’s own childhood home was torn down because her uncle (who inherited the place) was sick of the tourists peeking through the windows (it stood empy for a number of years and was falling apart), trampling his crops and knocking on his door to ask questions about his niece whom he didn’t particularly like.

Even Montgomery’s own life didn’t live up to Anne. While on the island I bought a copy of Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, by Mary Henley Rubio. Her grandfather (not the model for Matthew) was a sh*t, her husband suffered from severe depression and was dependent on bromides and barbituates (as Maud did herself). Her oldest son was a clinical psychopath and, to top it off, there’s reason to believe that Montgomery committed suicide.

During her lifetime, Montgomery liked writing books with happy endings and always treasured her time on PEI (she moved to Ontario when married in her late 30s). It’s no wonder that she wanted to be buried in Cavendish, a short trek through the Haunted Woods where her beloved Green Gables stands.

Though I think she would be saddened to see what her novels have done to her hometown.

 

You Get What You Deserve

Ice strands Canadian cruise ship for 30-plus hours

TORONTO – A cruise ship carrying 300 passengers that became lodged in thick ice in the St. Lawrence River for more than 30 hours was freed Tuesday with the help of an ice breaking vessel, officials said.

“Because it was so cold and windy, the wind blew ice from Montreal down into the St. Lawrence River at high speeds and it became very thick, which is why the ship became stuck there for so long,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault said there were no injuries.

Gray said the cruise ship got stuck about five miles from Montreal.

“All of a sudden, there was this loud, grinding noise and we knew we were really in a fix,” he said.

That’s what you get for booking A CRUISE in the MIDDLE OF WINTER IN CANADA!!!!

Sheesh…

Where Ya Been?

I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I’ve been watching each new day dawn over the United States of Obama. It’s all Unicorn Tails and Pixie Dust!!!

Really, I’ve just been keeping warm, doing a lot of baking and visiting friends. (I like this “retirement” thing.) The highlight of the week was visiting my old college buds down in Manchester, CT, the city that feels like a village or is it the village that feels like a city. I don’t remember exactly but I do recall that Manchester is called SILK CITY. (Sounds a bit kinky, doesn’t it!?!)

Exotic dancing aside, Silk City got it’s nome from the Cheney Brothers who were the kindly, wealthy silk manufacturers that made Manchester the city (or is it village?!?) it is today. If George Bailey had actually made money from his crummy Building & Loan, and his self-centered brother, Harry, stuck around, they would have been the Cheney Brothers. LIBRARIES! PARKS! OFFICE BUILDINGS! CUTE WORKER COTTAGES! I’m surprised Manchester wasn’t renamed Cheney City (or is it Cheney Village?!?) But that would have been too “Potterville” for these real life George Baileys.

A work of art

A work of art

My buds live in a real, honest to goodness mansion that had something to do with the Cheneys. Today the impressive abode has been split into very cool apartments. The wood work and flooring are first class and (this is going to sound odd) the door knobs and hinges are works of art. Don’t believe me? That’s one on the left.

The college buds are doing peachy keen in the Nutmeg State. They’ve been loving parents to their new son, Nico, who is as cute as a button and is a remarkably, unfussy baby. (Knock on wood!) I LOVE this pic of Mom and Son:
Sweet

Sweet

The Buds took Hubby and me to Corey’s Catsup & Mustard, situated on Main Street, just past the PRAYER TOWER. (Don’t ask.) The place is known for their pleasingly large hamburgers. Each hamburger was skewered with a gigantic steak knife. These knives would have made Lizzie Borden green with envy.

It was such a lovely visit and I think we overstayed (the guests who don’t leave – ARGH!!!) but it was long overdue. On the way home, we saw cars swerve to avoid a mattress boxspring in the middle of Route 384. Exciting!

Check out the pics (including the Prayer Tower and those Borden knives) on Flickr.

BTW: Wishing New Mother GOOD LUCK this week!!! She’s off to Hollywood to compete on Jeopardy!

Return to La La Land, Part 3

Hubby and I woke up to a partly cloudy sky and with the fizzy drinks completely out of our system, we walked back to the 6 House Pub for our complementary continental breakfast. It certainly felt continental because of the 12 Scandinavians speaking their gutteral viking language on the other side of the dining room. (I noticed they didn’t tip the serving woman. The Euro must not be pulling its earning power like it used to.) 

Jacked up on coffee and danish (see…very continental), we checked out of the motel and headed down Route 7. The sun was trying to peak through the clouds and, at times, it won the struggle. But Hubby and I knew it would be a lost cause later in the day.

We parked at the Running Brook Trailhead and I took this lovely picture before taking our first steps toward Mt. Greylock’s summit:

Running Brook Trail, Mt. Greylock

Running Brook Trail, Mt. Greylock

Not too far up the trail, we got lost. DON’T ASK! But it was a happy accident because we saw this:
It pays to get lost.

It pays to get lost.

Anyhoo…we got back on the trail and made good time up to the summit. The sunshine had completely disappeared but there was still miles of scenery to observe. There were 4 people up on the summit as well. Hubby and I took our obligatory “couple” picture:
Behind us is Adams, MA at 3,491 ft.

Behind us is Adams, MA at 3,491 ft.

We sat for a few minutes looking east and then realized that the temperature was dropping. We headed back down the trail right when it started to pour. Luckily we were protected under the remaining canopy and by the time we made it back to our Matrix, the rain was over and the temperature was warmer.

After all that hiking, there was one thing left to do…celebrate! We heard about a pub in Lanesboro that has an amazing beer selection, The Old Forge Restaurant, on Route 7. Holy Crap!!! This is a great place! From the outside it doesn’t look like much but inside is woody and exudes local watering hole (but not in a “bar” kind of way.) Hubby and I ordered the half order of nachos and butternut raviolis with cranberries. Both plates were amazing but the beer…The beer menu was at least ten pages with liquid refreshment from around the world. We both tried Founders Breakfast Stout and could totally taste the coffee and chocolate! The other beer we tried was the Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Besides Milly’s Tavern’s Pumpkin Ale (Manchester, NH), this was one of the best pumpkin beers we’ve tasted. We sat next to a family visiting the Berkshires from England. It was interesting about their thoughts on America. They were having a smashing time and said Americans were extremely friendly and helpful (except for the employees at JFK airport).

We waddled out of the restaurant and reluctantly got back onto the road toward home. We had a marvelous time in the western part of the state. If only it wasn’t so “tin foil” in it’s politics…

Return to La La Land, Part 2

Nice set piece in Williamstown

Nice set piece in Williamstown

From North Adams, we headed into Williamstown. There would be no Williamstown without Williams College. Beautiful (empty?) gothic and New England clapboard churches line the main road through campus. We parked (again making sure our McCain sticker was not easily seen) and walked around the Thai restaurants and coffee bars. The campus is a mix of traditional academic brick buildings and more modern structures, assuring alumni that Williams is moving into the 21st century.

After assessing that our Matrix was o.k., we headed down Route 7 to our lodging, The 1896 House Country Inn. We stayed in the Brookside building, one of those one-story, 1940’s/’50s, roadside places that’s been renovated very nicely. The Inn has it’s own pub, the 6 House Pub. The atmosphere was relaxing but the food was disappointing. Hubby and I ordered the Butternut Squash Soup, which reminded me of corn meal batter. But the real disappointment was the beer. The pub has a whole selection of Berkshire Brewing Company  (BBC) beers on tap and they offer 22 oz mugs. That’s all good, right? The taps had so much nitrogen that the beers (which I have quaffed in the past) were fizzy like soda and left my tongue tingling long after the beer traveled past my gullet. Too bad.

We crawled back to our Brookside room, climbed into our 4 poster bed, slept off the batter and fizzy drinks, eagerly anticipating the next day of climbing Mt. Greylock. Part 3 coming soon…