July 2009 Archives
I'm sure almost everyone knows that the Great Escape is located in Lake George, and I'm sure that most everyone knows that the Great Escape is part of Six Flags. And I'm sure most everyone knows that the Great Escape is lots of fun for all ages. But did you know that the Great Escape takes season passes for all Six Flags parks which includes parking? Or did you know that there is a town just for kids to play in? Or did you know that although small the Great Escape is easy to navigate, it's still full of fun rides?
Since my niece Laura (yes I'm still writing about them for at least a couple more blogs--hey they were here 2 weeks) and her family have season passes to Six Flags she decided to check out the Great Escape. She was pleasantly surprised.
There weren't many long lines and there was a good ride selection.
And Garret really enjoyed the kid's town, even though he doesn't really look like it in the picture.
My daughter was brave enough to ride the Buccaneer, wouldn't have believed if I didn't have the proof.
All in all they had lots of fun. The Great Escape
might not be as big as Six Flags near St Louis but I think they liked it just as much.
So if you are looking for a great way to spend one of the cool summer afternoons we've had recently then check out the Great Escape and maybe you will agree it's a hidden gem!
Mystic Connecticut is worth the trip even in the pouring rain. A few weeks ago we decided to take a day trip to Mystic Seaport. We had been there in May and the weather was glorious, we weren't so lucky this time. On the way through Massachusetts it started to get very foggy and rainy. So foggy that I chickened out and had my husband Mark drive when we stopped at a service center. The further we drove the less the fog became but the rain increased. And it rained and rained and rained, all the way through Massachusetts into Connecticut.
Once we got into Mystic we could see that it had rained quite a bit there before we even got there. The streets were puddled with rain and some of the parking lots were flooded. Since we couldn't go to the Seaport we thought we would try Mystic Pizza (we had planned on eating lunch there anyway) since it was past lunchtime.
Mystic Pizza, the same pizza place from the movie of the same name from 1988, is a quaint, cozy, kitchy place with excellent service and even better pizza. The walls are decorated with memorabilia from the movie and where we sat they had a flat screen tv playing the movie. It was fun to see Julia Roberts and Vincent D'Onofrio ( Detective Goren on Law and Order Criminal Intent) so young. We started our meal with a antipasto salad, which to me was the same as a chef salad except this one was huge with lots of meat and cheese rolled up together and the house dressing which was a creamy garlic was just delicious! Then we ordered our pizza. We decided on the house special which has pepperoni, sausage, meatball, onions, green peppers with mozzarella cheese - a large was only $16.25. We gobbled up every bite.
After lunch we went into the gift shop area where they sell t-shirts, coffee mugs, magnet etc. Took lots of photos but didn't buy a souvenir.
The rain had slowed just a little but since the Seaport was out of the question, my niece Laura suggested we try the aquarium. . Since there had been so much rain the aquarium parking lot was flooded and they were not going to let anyone else in the aquarium but when they found out that my niece, her husband and son had come all the way from St Louis not only did she let us in she let us in for FREE!
The aquarium is made up of several complexes--outside and inside. We went inside first where there were exhibits made up of sea creatures from all over. My favorite was the coral reef which is on the top floor.
Letting you look down into the reef to see all the colorful fish swimming back and forth not to mention the HUGE eel.We found out that there is a sea lion show also on the second floor so we decided to check it out.
The theater where the sea lion show was held was small and intimate, and the show was not only informative but very entertaining.
After a couple of hours of looking at all the exhibits inside we saw that the rain finally stopped so we decided to check out all the exhibits outside. First stop was the beluga whale exhibit, these playful creatures did not disappoint as they would swim by as curious about us as we were about them.
The next stop was more sea lions along with a guide full of interesting information about the residents.
As we walked around there was the penguin exhibit, although unfortunately under construction we saw a rather comical view--penguins inside a huge glass window--totally out of their element.
Some of the other exhibits were closed but they reopened the touch tank full of stingrays. They would glide across the water coming up close enough for someone to occasionally touch them. Much to my surprise one came up right in front of us and seemed to climb the side of the tank--a little frightening I must admit.After a full afternoon of sea life we decided we would leave. When we did we saw what the rain really did. The entire parking lot used for the aquarium was flooded. I guess it's a rare occurrence since the local news was there. Cars were being towed out and people were frantically making calls to their insurance companies. I'm sure that more than one of those cars were totaled.
With the weather finely cleared Laura asked if we were going to Rhode Island. Its was still early enough so we thought, why not?
We had been to (Warrick, home of the Ghost Hunters) Rhode Island the first time we came to Mystic so we decided to try somewhere different. Rhode Island has lots of beaches so we thought we would try to find one. We found three actually and they were all flooded, so Mark said, let me try something. He drove us to Westerly Rhode Island to the beach there. It was magnificent.
The coastline is rocky but there was enough sand to make it a real beach. With skies clear and the breeze blowing warm it was the perfect way to end our Connecticut/Rhode Island day trip.
If you go to Mystic remember:
Eat at Mystic Pizza, its well worth it. They get crowded so try going in the off hours. They don't except reservations.
If possible try Mystic Seaport, its interesting with all the ships you can climb aboard and explore. Kids will love it. There is a charge for admission so check their website for events and fees.
The aquarium is great, just remember there is a charge for admission unless you're lucky like we were!
Most importantly if you are going to Mystic for a day trip get an early start. Its about 3 hours away. If you would like to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of hotels to stay at.
If you go to Rhode Island:
Try the beaches. Rhode Island has some of the most beautiful landscapes and coastline in New England.
Great Escape -- is it really a hidden gem?
The Baseball Hall Of Fame is located in Cooperstown NY, about 1 ½ hours from Saratoga. According to our GPS there really isn't any direct way, actually it took us through very beautiful countryside as the shortest distance there. On the way back we took a different route which we often do.
Cooperstown is a beautiful little town that is home to not only the baseball hall of fame but also Glimmerglass State Park (that has a gorgeous marina), The Glimmerglass Opera and The Farmer's Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum. But the main draw is the Baseball Hall of Fame. Once inside the Hall of Fame you enter the Gallery, which very impressive but that's not all to the Hall of Fame.
Bob Gibson Plaque-- Photo by Laura Mann
Photo by Laura Mann
What might seem to some as a dry subject are somehow made interesting and exciting. They brought back memories of when I was kid in St. Louis, summers in our back yard when my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would come over for a cookout and the ball game would be blasting on the radio. As we walked around reading about the different teams, it was like a blast from the past--names my husband Mark and I grew up with--Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Stan Musial ( all members of the hall of fame) along with more recent greats like Tim McCarver, Jack Clark, Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols.
In the last section of the hall of fame there is a display of baseball cards, from the very beginning of baseball cards--just take a look to see if you had any of those growing up and don't kick yourself if all you did was put them in the spokes of your bike!
After you walk through your childhood be sure to take a trip up and down the streets of Cooperstown. There you can visit all kinds of gift shops and maybe pick up a souvenir of your trip and if you're lucky you might be able to catch a minor league game on a nice, warm summer afternoon.
After we spent hours at the Hall of Fame it was time to head back home. As I said before we took a different way than we got there, sorry GPS lady....
Once we got to Galway we thought we would try Village Pizzeria, a place a friend of my husband's raves about. Well at first we weren't too impressed. It took me finding someone to be seated after standing there for more than five minutes. And after that the service was very slow.....We ordered the BLMT salad which is Applewood smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce, maytag blue cheese and tomato with a creamy blue cheese dressing. I have to say it was very good and big enough for two to share, which we did. After that we ordered a large pizza with the works: sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives and anchovies. A huge pizza for $19.00. Once again the service was very slow but the pizza came out hot and absolutely delicious, and we had plenty to take home. The name Village Pizzeria is deceptive since there is a lot more on the menu than pizza, including pasta dishes, seafood, pork, steaks, veal, chicken and sandwiches. The Village Pizzeria is easy to find, its exactly 12 miles west of Saratoga on Rte. 29. The food is worth the drive if you can stand to wait. Not only do they offer seating inside but also outside which might be a nice addition to your Cooperstown trip. You can even add a game of bocce ball.
If you visit Cooperstown remember:
There really isn't a direct route so don't be surprised if the GPS takes you around and through the countryside. Might be better to plan your own route.
There is a charge to enter the Hall of Fame but they offer discounts to military personnel and AAA members.
Parking is difficult although there are parking lots that offer a shuttle service back to town for a small charge. We just found a place on the street, which is possible most of the time.
Allow yourself at least 2 hours to go through the Hall of Fame, maybe longer for a first visit and if you can stay longer in Cooperstown then there are Bed and Breakfasts, hotels and campgrounds nearby, then you can take advantage of the other attraction Cooperstown has to offer.
If you visit Village Pizzeria remember:
They are a busy place and the seating times and services might be not be great, but I'm sure you will agree its worth the wait.
They offer carry out if you would rather not chance getting a seat.
The menu is more than pizza if you're in the mood for something more or something not as heavy.
For the first day after their long drive from St. Louis I decided to take my niece Laura and her husband Bob to the fishing pier at Ballston Lake. Ballston Lake is south of Saratoga down highway 50 to Outlet Rd. Once you take a left onto to Outlet Rd you will pass the hiking, biking trail and shortly after that on the left is the parking lot for the fishing pier. Be careful crossing the street, there is more traffic than you would think.Once you cross the street and walk down the wooden walkway surrounded by cattails and lily pads you will see the best view of the lake. On the pier there is a rail all the way around except for on the right side where you can put in a canoe or kayak or even an inflatable boat.
When we were there, there was a family with two small girls later joined by a grandma and two small boys. The girls would squeal and the boys would holler when they would catch a little bass or sunfish. It was cute to watch.
As we were walking down the wooden walkway to leave the fishing pier we stopped at one of the cattail lined pools. There we saw two turtles sunning themselves on a log.
We walked down the street (again watching for traffic) to a small bridge. There we stood and watched more turtles and fish jumping in the water. There were small boats with fishermen and kayaks on the lake. It was such a pretty sight, since the weather was clear and warm that day.
After our walk we decided it was time for lunch. We chose to take them to The Good Times Lakeview Restaurant. My husband Mark and I have been there before and really liked it and thought it would be the kind of place that Laura and Bob would like too. Good Times is a non pretentious restaurant, warm and inviting, with a large fireplace and cozy seating. But the best thing about the interior is the view. If you go ask for a seat by the window-- there you will have a great view of the lake, but not only that the windows are lined with a huge bird feeder. While you are waiting for your food you can watch goldfinches, red winged black birds and the more comical squirrels and chipmunks
The menu at Good Times in huge. We ordered Saratoga Chips to start with (we always do whenever we see them on the menu), and the waitress commented on how they are a house specialty. The chips were served hot and crisp with a cheese sauce. I have to say they were some of the best chips I've ever had.
I ordered something I thought was an unusual combination a turkey sandwich with blue cheese. It also had caramelized red onions and spinach on it. And the turkey--real roasted turkey, one of my weaknesses! The sandwich was huge and delicious! Mark ordered the bruschetta, which we had before as an appetizer. It's tomatoes and herbs with mozzarella cheese all on fresh Italian bread. Very good--I think it's the balsamic vinegar that makes the difference. Bob ordered a burger and fries--he raved about the fries being so good I had to order a half order just to try them--and he was right!
Laura got the chicken quesadilla that came with a salad, both a substantial portion. She ordered her salad with the house dressing and liked it so much she bought a bottle to take home! We thought about dessert but lunch was way too filling.
After lunch it was back home, warm from the sun, feeling good from our walk and our bellies full of good food from Good Times!
If you visit Good Time Lakeview Restaurant remember:
The portions are large
They offer mystery dinner theater, details at the restaurant
There are no free refills on soda but there is on tea
If you like the salad dressing, buy a bottle. The bottle itself is unique and reusable.
If you visit the fishing pier at Ballston Lake remember:
Its free!! But you must have a license to fish
Please don't litter. There is a garbage can for bait containers, soda cans etc. Please use it.
But most importantly: Enjoy it! Its a beautiful place to spend an afternoon
Yesterday was amazing! After a late breakfast we went into town, Damariscotta to pick up a couple things at Reny's which is like a variety store. We got some more sparklers and some mosquito coils (the mosquitoes are fierce around here) and a few other things. Then we went into New Harbor which is about 5 miles away. Once there we headed over to Shaw's Fish and Lobster Wharf, a restaurant right on the bay. Their dock overlooks the water. The menu is diverse but of course the main attraction is the lobster. You can buy a single lobster dinner (as of yesterday) for $14.95 which comes with drawn butter, slaw or salad and a roll. Fantastic! But those non-lobster eaters (and I can't imagine who that could be) there is fish, steaks and chicken to choose from.
After lunch at Shaw's and more souvenir buying we headed back to Damariscotta for a couple hours before the Puffin Cruise. Which was the amazing part. The puffin cruise leaves New Harbor at 5:30 every day on the Hardy Boat III. The cost is $24 per adult and $15 for children. On the boat itself there are bathrooms and a small snack bar. Our cruise was narrated by Pete, a member of the puffin project which is run by the Audubon society. He was very knowledgeable and was full of corny jokes. We were able to spot harbor seals, terns, seagulls and at one point someone said they saw a porpoise (Pete's joke: at least now our trip has a porpoise!) and of course we saw puffins. On Eastern Egg Rock there are 101 pairs of puffins that nest there along with terns, seagulls, and guillemots. During the summer for about 6 weeks members of the Audubon society stay on the island. Its very rustic with huts and compost toilets. While they are there they count birds, tag birds and watch their habits and compare the data to that of the year before. A portion of the cost of the cruise is donated to the project.
Near the end of the cruise we spotted a puffin floating on a wave. Captain Mike turned the boat around so that everyone got a clear view. The puffin stayed and turned, what a ham!--he looked like he was posing. After about 10 minutes Captain Mike said we needed to leave and apologized for us being about 20 minutes late, but we didn't mind.
After leaving the harbor we took Laura, Bob and Garret for a ride around New Harbor. It wasn't quite sunset so we got some spectacular pictures. We even took a short side trip to the Rachael Carson Salt Pond. Rachael Carson started the environmental movement. The salt pond is a small pond surrounded by rocks that is filled with small marine creatures. But let me warn you to climb around on the rocks you need sturdy shoes, take it from personal experience!
Then it was back to the campground for a quick dinner and to try some more sparkler experiments.
A picture collage of Maine
Happy 4th of July from Pemaquid Point Maine. We brought my niece, Laura; her husband, Bob and her son Garret along with my daughter Jocelyn's best friend Kristi to one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
We started out from Saratoga on Friday morning around 10 am and got to a rest stop about an hour and half from Boston, where I saw someone I know from Saratoga! If you're reading this--Hi Courtney, Brendan and Jeb! Anyway, once we left the rest stop we headed on into Massachusetts and then into New Hampshire where we ran into heavy traffic in Portsmouth. Once through that traffic it was on to All Points Maine!
Kristi, who had never been out of New York State, was excited when she saw the harbor and the boats.
Once we got into Maine we got into traffic at Bath and Wiscasset and then it was on to Damariscotta. We were traveling in two cars and they were about 10 miles behind us so we pulled over behind some stores along the Damariscotta River to wait for them.
It's a beautiful river and where the fireworks should be tonight.
We pulled into the campground about 6:30 and immediately got set up. We brought a big tent for the kids and the adults were using the travel trailer. About 30 minutes later we were all set up. I was anxious to get down to the lighthouse for lots of photo ops, but as we got closer to the point we saw fog, and lots of it. But that didn't deter the Midwesterners from climbing the rocks almost down to the surf. What a great time they had! About an hour and many photos later they were tired and ready to eat. We came back to the campground--Sherwood Forest, a basic campground, that is the closest to the beach. The site was big enough to accommodate our large tent and our 19-foot travel trailer, along with our two vehicles.
Dinner was quick, hot dogs, smoked sausage and chips--and of course s'mores for dessert.
After we finally got the campfire going we all turned in and slept until after 8 am.
The next morning we got up to a breakfast of sausage, hash browns, eggs and toast and hot, hot coffee. We then packed up and headed back to the lighthouse. This time not only did they climb the rocks (since the fog wasn't as bad) but they decided to climb the top of the lighthouse for the most spectacular view. We went into the gift shop for a few souveniers and a snack; back to the campground and then off to the beach. A thunderstorm threat cleared the beach but it was short lived. The sun came back out and then it was off to the pool. The water was cold at the beach but that didn't stop 7 year
old Garret who jumped on the boogie board and rode the waves, even at the pool the cold water didn't stop him. He jumped off the diving board much to the amazement of some of the other families there, even when he jumped off, slipped and hit his back.
We then settled back in at the campground where I made a big pot of green pepper soup (recipe to follow) and biscuits. We debated on whether or not to go back into town for the fireworks but decided to stay at the site. From the site we were able to see fireworks through the trees, at least some, so the kids walked down toward the beach where they got a better look. All the small communities had fireworks so we were basically surrounded by the lights and sounds. We had a huge bon fire going again and so we did our own fireworks--sparklers--in the most creative ways, first we started out holding them, then we decided to stick them in the ground in different designs and then we got the idea to put them in the fire. That turned into an experiment--we laid them on the logs and we put them in the boxes with them sticking out and let the fire light them. The kids got a lot of enjoyment from trying different ways to light the sparklers. We finished the night off with camper pies (recipe and pictures below) bread filled with different fillings and then cooked in the campfire, a new twist on s'mores.
All in all it was a good day in Maine.
Green Pepper Soup
1 ½ pounds of ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 ½ green peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 large cans tomato soup
½ cup minute rice
salt and pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven brown the ground beef but don't drain. Add the onions, garlic and green peppers. Cook until soft. Add the cans of soup and heat to boiling. Pour in the rice and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Thin with a half a can of water if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve in cups with biscuits.
You will need a camper pie maker. You can order them from camping supply stores. They are cast iron, round or square on a long handle. The pie maker part is hinged together. Open the pie make and oil with either spray or butter. Place a slice of bread in either side then fill with whatever filling you like. We used Hershey bars and marshmallows and strawberry jam and Hershey bars. After you choose your filling then close the pie maker and put it in the fire. As it cooks the edges of the bread will cook off and the pie will seal. It takes only about 5 minutes, but be sure to check it and turn it often. Then enjoy!!
Today will be going on a puffin cruise and then eat lobster if the weather holds out......