Saratoga Springs.. Oh The Places You'll Go

March 2011 Archives

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Before moving up to Saratoga, I had been told by numerous people to be prepared to spend a lot of time inside my house. They informed me that I needed to get my son a lot of activity toys because we wouldn't be able to play outside during the winters. This, of course, would terrify anyone, I believe, who was use to going to the beach or the playground on a regular basis. I couldn't imagine being a prisoner inside my own home with a toddler suffering from cabin fever. Within the first few days of moving up here, between unpacking boxes and setting up our new home, I found our perfect solution: Saratoga Springs Children's Museum.

Now I could go on and on about what the museum is like and the exhibits they have for children, but their website gives a pretty good description of the place. However, what I can tell you from my own personal experience and watching my own toddler there, he loves it. In all fairness it's not the best children's museum I've ever been to, but to a child, this place is amazing. Every day they have special activities or events for the kids. Everything has an educational purpose and is focused on children aged around elementary or younger. They even have a "crawlers only" play area. We typically like to go once a week for Toddler Tuesday and spend a few hours. By the time we need to go home I, basically, drag him out because he has had so much fun. Although spring is around the corner, winter is still clinging on. If you've never been and have a toddler with cabin fever like mine, I would highly recommend stopping by. Admission is only $6 per person, but I promise it's worth getting out of the house and having some fun.

A couple of tips we've picked up.
1.) A membership pass is a great idea if you go more than five times a year.
2.) For Toddler Tuesday, get there early for parking.
3.) Check out the calendar every month for all the fun activities.
4.) They do have tables and chairs in case you and your little one want to have a snack.
5.) No strollers are allowed inside the exhibits.

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When I was in high school, my mother bought me a yellow Ford Escape. Before I ever saw it, I could have sworn I had never seen anyone else with a car like that. Afterwards, I saw yellow Fords everywhere. To me, it's kind of like when someone tells you, "don't think about pink elephants," and then that's all you can think about. Prior to moving to Saratoga Springs, I'll be honest, I've never heard of the town. When my husband informed me that he received orders to Ballston Spa, I swore he said "Boston" Spa and for the life of me, I couldn't find it on the map. Yet now, everywhere I go, I hear about Saratoga.

Where am I going with this? This past week I decided to head down to Florida to go see my parents and defrost a bit. Although I love my new home, it was going to be nice to head back to the Sunshine state and get away from the snow.

One of the first nights there, my mother suggested we go to one of her favorite seafood restaurants. Looking in the beverage section on the menu there was Saratoga Springs Bottle water. I didn't order it because I didn't see the point of buying something that I could get free within a week. However, I had been at the restaurant before and never noticed it. Now, heading back and after talking about it with my husband, I wish I had bought some.

Later that week, my mother and I were watching Gone with the Wind. No particular reason other then we hadn't watched it in years and needed a good "chick" flick. Again, Saratoga Springs popped up. During the first few scenes, Scarlett, the heroine, insisted she doesn't need to lay down for a nap stating, "When I was in Saratoga, I never saw any Yankee girls taking naps." Once again, there my new home was, and I have watched this movie numerous times since I was five.

Finally, the day before I headed back home, my family and I decided to head to Downtown Disney. Walking along the water, across from it, lies Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. Although I had been to Disney several times this last year, had seen the signs, and considered staying there at one point, I never made the connection. The great thing about the hotel, as I realized now, is how they managed to tie in some key features of town: the Grandstand, the Springs, Congress Park, the Carousel.

I almost feel silly now seeing how I should have known about Saratoga Springs. Almost every day while on holiday, my new home seemed to "pop it's head" into the picture. Each time I got excited and pointed it out to my family telling them more and more about my new home. As I return to New York, leaving the beaches and sun behind, I can't help but be eager thinking that is no place like home.

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Back where I come from we have something called pecan harvesting. Despite how you say it, "pi-kahn" or "pee-kan," it always results itself into a pecan pie and good laughs at the end of the day. Now when I moved up here I determined that my pecan picking days were over until I moved back South; and for the record I pronounce it "pee-kan". But what would be my New York substitute?

This morning, as I made waffles for my son, I realized the perfect replacement: Maple Syrup. I should have thought of going to a maple sugar farm sooner since a friend back home asked me to pick up some good maple syrup for his homebrew. As a child, and even as an adult prior to moving to the Capital region, it was a special treat to have someone bring you maple sugar candy.

As soon as my son went down for a nap, I quickly did some research on the subject and found the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association. According to their website, New York is the third largest maple producing state. Digging a little further, in six different counties, including Saratoga County, different farms are having Maple Open Houses during this weekend and/or next weekend. The Maple Valley Farm, located in Corinth, is roughly 35 minutes away from Saratoga Springs. They will be having their open house March 26th and 27th. As stated by the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association website, Maple Valley Farm will have demonstrations, samplings, hayrides to the sugar house, and other activities.

So if y'all want to get outside this or next weekend and need to get a sugary fix, both of which I am in desperate need of, I would highly suggest taking a trip out to the Maple Farms for a special treat. If you can't make it either weekend, I would go as soon as you get a chance. The maple season ends with spring's warm nights and when the trees start the first stages of budding. And to think, the answer as to what would be my northern substitute for pecan pie was a sticky mess on my son's face.

Here's the farm in case you're interested!
Maple Valley Farm
84 Harris Road, Corinth
Phone: 518-654-9752

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I remember a conversation I had with my boyfriend back in 2003 that if he were to ever be stationed passed the Mason-Dixie Line I wouldn't follow him despite how much I cared for him. My reasons? First, I don't do cold weather. When it would get to be below sixty degrees I would be miserable. Not to mention our idea of snow in the Lowcountry is a light dusting that doesn't even stick to the ground and comes about every five winters. Secondly, I love Southern food. I love my sweet tea, shrimp-n-grits, gumbo, fried chicken, and any type of Southern dish Paula Deen can think of. But most importantly, I don't do Yankees. Let me point out that my boyfriend, now husband, is from Ohio. Anyone who isn't from the South could see these as trivial and almost laughable reasons. However, at the time, they were simple enough to a Southern-going, beach-loving, sweet tea drinking woman like myself.

As Murphy's Law would have it, here I am in Saratoga Springs, New York. Before moving on up here I won't lie and say that I didn't think about divorcing my husband. However, that seemed a bit radical. I mean, we were living in Southeast Georgia, about 30 minutes from the beach. I guess I had to make a decision on which one I loved more: beach and warm weather or my husband. That is a tough one. No, I'm just kidding. Like every move I've made, and I've moved to over a dozen places in my life, I divulged myself into researching my new home. It didn't take long to realize there was an overwhelming amount of things to do in Saratoga and to get excited about my future home.

I don't want to sound melodramatic, but this town is amazing. The first few days my family was here, we just walked up and down Broadway. Locals are beyond friendly and the list of things to do or places to eat are limitless. Yes, there is snow in the winter, but I believe I am having a love affair with it. And of course there are things that drive me crazy up here. For instance, I am guilty as charge for talking on my cell while I drive and have had to quickly change that habit. Then there's Broadway traffic, but that's no comparison to D.C. or Atlanta. If you tried to tell me 8 years ago that I would be in love with a New York town, I would have laughed.

So here I am in a New York State of mind. Already I have a list of things I want to do and see while I'm here. In four years, when it's time to move to our next Naval Station, I don't know how I'll be able to leave. I am completely ecstatic to be given the opportunity to share my experiences of Saratoga Springs and the things to do here as well as nearby places.  I am a "stay at home mom", so a lot of what I do will probably focus on family things. Not all of course and I look forward to any suggestions. Hopefully once my husband and I find a sitter we love, we will be able to enjoy the night life this town has to offer. One thing is for sure, as the state song would say, "New York is different cause there's no place else on earth quite like New York and that's why I love New York." Thanks for reading!

Cheers Y'all!

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Danielle Berry

Originally from the South Carolina Lowcountry, Danielle Berry is a southern girl through and through. Born into an Air Force family with three other siblings, her life included moving every four to five years up and down the East Coast. Although saying goodbye was never easy with every move, a new town always meant more friends and unfamiliar, yet exciting, things to do. Eventually her parents settled in the small town of Beaufort, South Carolina; a quaint coastal town between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. There, she found the porches were long, but the conversations were always longer.

A Converse College alumna, she met her husband, Jared, on a reluctant blind date her freshman year. Married in 2007, she followed him to Southeast Georgia where she was hired as an interior decorator and project manager for James Michael Howard. In 2009, they welcomed their first son, Michael, and she became a full time stay-at-home mom.

This past January, she followed her husband to Saratoga Springs. Although the porches aren’t as long, she has found that the conversations with the locals are. With an overwhelming amount of experiences awaiting, she is excited to be given another opportunity in a new town, with new friends, and new adventures.