Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wilkes-Barre Labor Day

Locomotive at Steamtown National Historic Site.Планов куда-нибудь поехать в этом году на длинные выходные в честь дня труда у нас не было. Поэтому я немного удивилась, когда после обеда в пятницу Даня предложил: “А не сьездить ли нам куда-нибудь на пару дней?”. “Ха, а чему тут удивляться — тут же мысленно одёрнула себя я — было бы удивительно, если бы при его любви к путешествиям, он НЕ предложил бы куда-нибудь прокатиться.”

Kids by an old steam engine.Вобщем, пару идей у моего любимого мужа уже было, и после кратких раздумий мы остановились на относительно недорогом варианте гостиницы Hampton Inn в городке Wilkes-Barre (произносится “Уилксбэри”) в штате Пенсильвания. Ехать туда по нашим меркам относительно близко — около 140 миль. Мы приглашали и собой и даниных родителей, но в связи со скороспешностью наших планов, они не без сожаления отказались.

Taking a ride on an old train pulled by a steam engine.Я быстро собрала чемодан, Даня сьездил на физиотерапию всвязи со спиной, и часам к 6 вечера всё наше довольное семейство отправилось в путь.

Kids taking a ride on a miniature train model.Выехали из города мы без преключений. Я ожидала застрять на мосту Верразaно и/или на Стайтэн Айланде, но мы проехали эти, как правило забитые в такие дни, места без всяких проблем. По пути мы остановились поужинать в японском ресторане “Мизуки”.

Machinist room of a Big Boy locomotive.Это получилось случайно — мы сначала попробовали сунуться в один из сетевых американских ресторанов (Friday’s), но в пятницу вечером там была очередь минимум на 40 минут. В “Мизуки” же не было очереди, еда была очень вкусной, а счёт оказался совсем небольшим — нам с лихвой хватило двух порции хибачи на четверых.

Different generations of locomotives.В гостиницу мы приехали около 23:00 и сразу же отправились спать.

Italian festival at downtown Scranton.Следующий день, субботу, мы начали с посещения музея паровозов в соседнем городе Scranton. Музей Steamtown, основанный в 1960-х годах в депо, где когда-то оперировала большая железнодорожная компания DL&W, был выкуплен конгрессом в 1980-х годах и превращён в национальное историческое место — National Historic Site. Теперь он оперируется государственной службой парков, что для нас дополнительный плюс из-за коллекционирования печатей национальных парков.

Lunch at ale house.В музее было много разных старых поездов. Мне лично очень понравился вагон первого класса с купе на одного человека. Кровать там складывалась днём в удобное кресло, а в комнатке был умывальник.

Great beer is served. Waiting for food.Ароша и Анюта с удовольствием залазили в разные кабины паровозов, где можно было крутить разные колёсики и дергать рычаги. Мне было там скучновато, но это не главное.

Go-karts! Alёna's driving Anna.Еще мы там приобрели билеты на короткую поездку на паровозе. Честно говоря, там тоже было не супер интересно, но в какой-то мере любопытно. Сиденья там были составлены в ряд, как в автобусе, но их направление можно было менять, передвигая спинку с одного края сиденья на другое — такое я видела впервые. Ароше это дело понравилось, и нам даже пришлось его остановить из боязни повредить что-то в старом вагоне. После поездки на настоящем поезде, дети прокатились на миниатюрной версии, где сидеть надо было поверх вагонов.

Lunch before our hike. Waiting for food.После музея мы отправились в Скрэнтон пообедать. В центре города, куда мы приехали в пивную с высоким рэйтингом в TripAdvisor, как раз проходила ярмарка итальянской еды, но к счастью мы смогли запарковаться возле ювелирного магазине недалеко от нужного нам места. Хозяин магазина решил немного заработать, и продавал право парковки на лоте возле магазина по $6 за два часа. Что же, очень даже резонно.

On a trail.Когда мы проходили мимо палаток с едой, то был соблазн купить что-нибудь сьестное прямо там, недоходя до запланированного места, но так как на улице было жарко и есть бы пришлось стоя, мы всё же дошли до Backyard Ale House, о чем ничуть не пожалели. Еда там была вкусной, пиво лёгким и холодным, да и народу было немного. На ярмарке мы потом купили лимонада. Он очень понравился Ароше, и я обещала как-нибудь сделать такой же дома.

One of many many mushrooms we saw.Потом мы поехали в гостиницу и провели несколько часов в бассейне — наличие джакузи всегда сильно увеличивает время, которое дети могут потратить на водные процедуры.

Kids throwing stones into some river at Ricketts Glen State Park.Поужинали мы в ресторане “Lucky’s Sporthouse” возле гостиницы. И еда, и пиво были так себе, но мы были слишком уставшими, чтобы ехать куда-то в более заманчивое место.

Steep stairs.В воскресенье мы запланировали поехать в какой-нибудь парк и погулять на лоне матушки-природы. Вариантов было много, но мы остановились на Ricketts Glen State Park — там должна была быть живописная дорога к водопадам, а водопады мы любим. Ехать туда от нашей гостиницы было миль 30.

People by a cliff at the brink of the biggest fall on the trail.По пути мы совершенно случайно увидели небольшую площадку с go-carts и минигольфом. Так как времени у нас в принципе было много, мы решили на этих самых go-carts покататься. Честно говоря, я ужасно трусила и даже немного поотпиралась, когда Даня сказал, что я тоже буду кататься. Как оказалось, я зря боялась, и было очень даже весело. Даня ехал в машинке с Арошей, а я с Анютой. Детям тоже понравилось, хоть они и не рулили. Ароша просился поиграть в мини-гольф, но было жарко и много народа, поэтому мы поехали дальше.

Snack break.Перед тем, как пойти на прогулку по парку, мы зашли подкрепиться в небольшую забегаловку. Там продавали roast beef sandwiches и картошку фри. Ароша от сэндвичей с мясом, само собой, отказался, и мы купили ему салат с овощами на гриле — овощей там оказалось мало, но он поел и поделился с Анютой. Было не очень вкусно и дорого.

Family units.Мы боялись, что идти по парку будет тяжело, потому что была как раз середина дня и ярко светило солнце. Но оказалось, что тропинка идёт через прекрасный теснистый лес, где царят полумрак и прохлада. Лес оказался очень грибным. Примерно раз в минуту мы слышали радостный Арошин крик “грибы! смотрите, грибы!” и первые раз 7 мы честно шли и смотрели. Потом нам надоело, а Ароша всё время сокрушался, что с нами нет дедушки, который наверняка просветил бы любознательного внука и рассказал бы ему какие именно грибы он имеет счастье лицезреть.

One of many waterfalls on the trail.Гуляли по лесу мы пару часов. Видели три мелких водопада и один побольше. Спускаться до конца, чтобы лучше увидеть самый большой водопад, мы не стали, потому что дорога стала скользкой из-за воды, и мы решили, что с маленькими детьми туда идти опасно — плюс у нас с Даней была неподходящая обувь.

Daniel.На обратном пути Ароша и Анюта уговорили нас снова заехать на площадку с го-картс, чтобы поиграть в мини-гольф. Они даже отказались от бассейна — и то, и другое было бы слишком утомительно — в пользу этой забавы. Что ж, почему бы и нет. Лично мне мини-гольф кажется ужасно скучным, но дети получили удовольствие. В какой-то момент Анюта отправилась там на небольшую детскую площадку с качелями и горочкой, а Даня с Арошей еще раз прокатились на машинках — Ароша помогал рулить.

Mini golf.Поужинали мы в мексиканском ресторане. Было очень вкусно, особенно приготовленное на наших глазах гуакамоле, и совсем недорого.

Putting apples into a bag.На следующий день, в понедельник, мы отправились домой. По дороге, мы решили заехать в большой торговый центр (mall) в надежде купить что-нибудь стоящее с хорошей скидкой в честь дня труда. Когда мы заехали на битком забитую парковку, то начали сомневаться в правильности нашего решения идти по магазинам в такой день. Но, как говорят, охота пуще неволи, поэтому после 20 минут кружения по лоту, мы наконец запарковались и отправились за покупками. В результате мы купили всем пару необходимых и не очень вещей (зимние куртки детям, спортивные штаны и тёплые рубашки Дане, юбку мне), и поехали на ферму собирать яблоки.

Lots of apples. Heavy.Поесть в торговом центре, как мы планировали заранее, мы не смогли — слишком много людей было в кафетерии, так что там были грязь, шум, очереди и отсутствие свободных столиков. Вместо этого, мы немного проехали в нужном нам направлении и быстро перекусили фаст фуд. На нормальный ресторан времени не было — боялись опоздать на сбор яблок.

Apple picking.Несмотря на небольшую пробку, мы успели приехать на ферму где-то за час до закрытия. Мы были на этой же ферме два года назад, когда Анюта была еще совсем крохой. Мы насобирали 30 фунтов яблок, 12 початков кукурузы, и пол небольшой коробочки малины (больше не было).

Kids on a farm.Дети получили кучу удовольствия, а яблоки мы потом ели две недели (в холодильнике осталось еще штуки две). Еще я купила баночку очень хорошего местного мёда. Жалею, что не две, потому что Ароша с удовольствием пьёт воду с мёдом и лимоном. Кукуруза оказалось слишком сладкой на мой вкус, но детям она очень понравилась, и они сразу же стрескали по два початка (просили еще, но я не разрешила).

Corn picking.Добрались мы до Бруклина без больших пробок, и к 7 часам уже запарковались возле дома. Данины родители пригласили нас на ужин и накормили вкусным пловом, что было очень кстати, потому что к вечеру мы изрядно проголодались.

Raspberry picking.
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Labor Day in Catskills

Catskill Mountain Lodge. Main building.We didn’t really have any plans for the long weekend and were thinking that we’ll end up spending it in hot, humid and noisy Brooklyn. But on Wednesday I had a strong urge to just get away and unwind a little bit from what seemed to be a barrage of bad news and annoyances that has been getting to us in the past month. So I opened Google Maps, navigated to Catskill region and typed in “lodge” in the search box.

Our rooms at the lodge. Second floor, center.We didn’t want to spend a lot of money — our favorite cabins in Pocono run $1,200 for 2 night stay. I looked through several sites and saw a place that looked like it could work for us. Their website didn’t have rooms available, but a call turned up 2 free rooms, next to each other with a single queen bed in each for only $95 a night. Even though the place had very mediocre ratings on review sites I figured — how bad can it be?

Arosha near the lake.I booked it right there on the phone for a two night stay. Even if the place turned out to be bad, we wouldn’t be spending too much time indoors anyhow as there were tons of parks around and things that we could do. That was a good call on my part. Now we had a family getaway set for the upcoming weekend and we would be staying in Catskill Mountain Lodge in Palenville, NY.

The drive to the lodge on Saturday morning ended up being much better than expected. We only got stuck in some mild traffic outside of the city and got to our destination in a pretty decent time. On our way we stopped by a Chinese buffet which was a new experience for Arosha and a well forgotten experience for the rest of us. Arosha liked picking and tasting a large variety of food — even though he might end up not liking something he never minds to try — anything and everything.

North-South Lake.The lodge turned out to be just fine. The owners were pretty friendly. They instantly checked us in and even gave us a refrigerator free of charge once we requested one to be put in our room — mainly for Arosha’s milk. The interiors were pretty dated, but rooms were clean and side by side to each other — as promised.

There was a what looked like a nice pool on the premises, but we never got around to trying it out. Either way — the people who leave bad reviews are just not living in the real world — don’t expect to get a five star Hilton when you’re paying $95 a night on a holiday weekend. Just be realistic and you will not be disappointed.

North-South Lake.We decided to spend a second half of our first day exploring a nearby state park — North-South Lake Campground. This place was familiar to Alena and myself as we discovered it back in 2003 while spending a weekend in the region. In fact, we liked it so much that we ended up bring the whole circle of our friends here — twice — for camping.

Lots of flowers around the lake.I wanted to take a couple of pictures of the lake and everyone else just wanted to go for a walk. At some point Arosha managed to escape far enough from Alena and by the time Alena realized what was going on Arosha made a run for the lake and took a complete dive fully clothed. Alena seemed distressed, Arosha was ecstatic. At this point she just took off his clothes and let him have at it.

My picture taking though didn’t go too well. I was taking long exposure shots while forgetting to block off the viewfinder. As a result all the photos ended up being overexposed in the center of the frame. I had a couple of normal shots which were OK, but all long exposures are junk. But it was a good end of the day nevertheless.

Kaaterskill Falls.On the way back to our lodge we stopped by Kaaterskill Falls and I took a couple of photographs that I ended up liking. And by this time there were practically no people there as opposed to the time when we were passing them on our way to the park. It was a long weekend after all. Everything was crawling with people.

We finished our evening off with a dinner in a steakhouse located on the lodge premises. The restaurant actually had a live jazz band inside, but it was a bit too loud — we wanted to be able to have a conversation during the dinner, so we opted for a table outside. Since the sun was down at that time the temperature was very pleasant and we still could hear the music just at the right volume.

Kindred Spirits Steakhouse & Pub. Our lodge restaurant.My steak was very good (a filet mignon) as was Alena’s duck. My parents decided to try a ribeye and a New York strip and while they were not bad they weren’t as good as my choice. We started the dinner with baby clams in garlic souse and topped the whole thing off with a nice bottle of red wine.

Overall it was a very good start of a nice little trip except for the fact that Arosha kept needing a diaper change about 10 times a day which is not normal at all. At the end of the day his butt hurt so much that he couldn’t sit which was putting a damper on all our moods.

Arosha at an apple orchard.Our second day was even simpler than the first. After waking up and eating a breakfast (sandwiches, eggs) that we brought with ourselves we decided to find an orchard and do some fruit picking. But at first Arosha went for a ride on a set of ancient swings and carousels that were present on our lodge territory.

On our way we were stopping at numerous yard sales and then we stopped by a supermarket to buy some ointment for Arosha’s butt. At that supermarket Arosha ran off from us and my dad ran after him. Apparently at the end of that chase my dad fell down pretty hard while trying to avoid Arosha who fell down in front of him. That was quite unpleasant for everyone.

Arosha on apple tasting quest.Finding an orchard wasn’t a problem. There is a number of them nearby and we picked the closest one to our lodge. Even though their website hasn’t been updated since 2011 we decided to take our chances and we lucked out. First of all this orchard was huge — they had rows and rows and rows of apple trees covered with apples and basically no people at all. A very different experience from our last fall.

Two of many many rows of apple trees.I think Arosha took a bite out of every kind of apple that orchard had and it had a lot. We picked 2 full bags of different kinds of apples and then 2 small boxes of raspberries. Arosha of course was picking raspberries right into his stomach. I tried a few too. Raspberries and apples were delicious. The staff was very friendly and we bought a liter of their fresh apple cider which also was very delicious.

Lunch at a local market.Then we ate lunch at some local spot that we stumbled upon accidentally — thin crusted pizzas. Everyone liked these very much. At this point we didn’t have any more plans so we started driving home. However on our way I saw a sign toward a historic lighthouse located on Hudson. We decided to make a small detour and stop by.

Lighthouse trail.It ended up being a very nice hike along Hudson shore through the luscious woods. This was the first time when I actually touched Hudson waters. My dad also showed us a plant that he used to show us when we were kids. It has small bean like things growing on it and when you touch it they explode with their seeds. Alena saw it for the first time and every time one of these would explode at her touch she would scream loudly and jump about 2 meters (almost) into the air. Arosha also enjoyed popping these things up.

The trail got flooded. Lighthouse is barely visible.Even though the hike was nice we didn’t get to our final destination. There was a high tide and it flooded the final part of the path. We did see the lighthouse, but could get close enough for good photographs. The hike was still worth it. I’m glad we did take that detour.

Hudson shore.And we finished the day at the same steakhouse at our lodge. This time we decided to simply go for burgers with a round of beer. And again it was nice and thus our second day came to a conclusion.

Ashokan Reservoir.On our last day our main objective was to get back home and hopefully avoid getting stuck in a lot of traffic. But before leaving Catskill region we decided to make one last stop near Ashokan Reservoir — the main source of drinking water for New York City as it turned out.

Bridge crossing Ahoskan Reservoir.The lake was beautiful with somewhat menacing looking clouds and dark mountains on the horizon. We walked along the shore and I took a number of long exposure shots, remembering to close off the viewfinder this time around. I ended up with a good number of photographs and some of them came out well.

Ashokan.All that came to an abrupt conclusion when a police officer approached us and informed us of the fact that we were trespassing. Turns out that there were indeed signs hidden in the bushes stating that you can only get down here with a proper permit, which we obviously didn’t have. Luckily for us he was a nice guy who ended up just giving us warnings and asking us not to do it again.

Flowers near North-South Lake.And that was pretty much it. We got into the car, stopped on our way for lunch and got all the way home without many problems, while Arosha slept. It ended up being a really nice Labor Day family getaway.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lazy Memorial Day Weekend

AlenaThis year we spent Memorial Day weekend at home. This goes against our recently established tradition of driving someplace reachable by car on long weekends, but these past 6 months have been a little bit out of the ordinary for us, so we are allowed to do as we please. )

We actually considered going to Cape Cod, but the truth is that I just wanted to relax and get a couple of days of nice sleep (and the fact that we came back from our road trip just a few weeks ago also contributed to a desire to be passive). Plus Cape Cod is kind of pricey, especially on holidays, and we’re trying to save a bit in preparation of more frugal times.

Three days flew by. On Saturday we went out to dinner to Al Di La (I think I had satisfied my black ink risotto craving for a long Twenty nine weeks.while now), and on Sunday — to Danya’s parents (his dad cooked a delicious cream of broccoli soup, and his mom treated us with a new dish made with pork, tomatillos, potatoes and other vegetables).

After Sunday night dinner we watched a whole bunch of the Russian game “What? Where? When?” which Danya’s parents recorded from Russian TV for us. I’ve noticed that when at the end of the game the best player is asked to choose the most interesting question, he/she invariably picks the one he answered himself. Isn’t if funny how the human brain work? By the way, I guessed one question — and you know what, this was the most interesting one! ) If you’re curious, that question sounded something like this: “Traveling through Britain, Guy de Maupassant often saw the following picture: 3-4 cows and one sheep grazing together. What was the purpose of this?”

We also went to IKEA and got some shelves and door handles for the new wardrobes. I was wearing my nice pregnancy dress and Park Slop. A place across from Al Di La.felt like a “hot mama” for a change. ) I mean, when I am with Danya I always feel pretty, but when I am on my own (especially at work), I just feel fat rather than pregnant (maybe the fact that I mostly wear pants to work contributes to this). I also miss being a blond, but this is such a small sacrifice for the sake of the little one, that I should not even mention it. )

We started watching “Babylon 5″ again after running out of shows to watch. It’s not bad, but we still remember too many details. I can’t wait for the season 6 of “Entourage” to come out on DVD — Ari Gold, where art thou?

Also, the watermelon season has officially started. I can’t get enough of them and keep bothering Danya to go and get yet another one. He jokes that I already got a pretty big watermelon with me at all times — why do I need an extra one? )

Another good thing I’ve done on the weekend is talking to my family in Minsk. I don’t do it often enough, and a couple of hours spent chatting with my sister and mom were very satisfying (I also talked to Tanya through Skype — didn’t hear her in ages, so it also was a pleasant experience).

And now we’re back at work. I wish we could just stay home together and do nothing for a couple of weeks (and don’t be stressed out about money at the same time) — this would be so awesome! ) Need to buy some lottery tickets. )
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Presidents Day Weekend

With a Presidents Day coming up we booked ourselves a little trip for the long weekend. This time around we’re going to drive south of New York and visit our local states and their capitals.

We will make Annapolis our base of operation1. Annapolis itself is a capital of Maryland. I’ve seen the name many times on the road signs, but have never visited the city itself.

One of our objectives will be visiting the capital of our nation — Washington, DC. The reason is to collect all the capital’s National Parks stamps. The city has a ton of monuments and memorials and each one has a stamp. For all the time that I’ve been there we’ve never visited after we started collecting those stamps.

On our way back we’ll stop by Dover, which is a capital of Delaware. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Dover before, but I never realized that it was a capital and therefore I’ve never seen the capitol building.

Update: Trip had to be canceled due to massive snowfall that buried our destination in snow.

  1. Doubletree Hotel Annapolis, 3 nights, king size bed room. 30,000 hhonor points for the first night, and $89.10 per night for the other 2 nights. Plus a room upgrade and free breakfast as our Diamond VIP benefit. []
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

It’s Wednesday and people have started wondering why there is no update yet. So here it goes. We had a very good weekend and did a lot of fun things.

Purple Cottage of Clove Cottages.Our cottage was in a secluded place, away from the noisy towns, and that’s exactly what we were hopping for. Yet it was located close within 5-10 minutes away from the places that we wanted to visit.

Cottage itself was clean, yet it has been furnished with antique furniture it seemed. The owners were very nice and they baked some scones for all the guests on Sunday. They also have 2 llamas for pets, but sadly we didn’t end up with any good pictures.

"Helpful" notes all over the place.Another strange thing was that they had instructions for everything. I mean all the cabin was taped up with small notes on proper and not proper ways of doing things.

Saturday


On Saturday morning we ate our breakfast at one of the small delis in High Falls and went on on our first adventure of the day — biking. We rented 2 mountain bikes for $25 per day each and took them on a local trail. We had a lot of fun.

Alena and mountain bikes.The trail was packed dirt, mud, puddles and stones. Road bike would have 0 chance of going through there. It would’ve been scary and unfun. Mountains bike — that’s a whole other story. I could maintain pretty high speed and it was handling the road just fine. My bike had dual suspension on the rear and the front. I even managed to ride up a no-road hill alongside the trail and got off from it without falling and breaking my neck. Fun.

Mountain bike. Some bridge in the middle of the trail.Our ride took a little bit less than 2 hours and was 14 miles in length. Not too bad of a time for a dirt trail with practically no cycling since the end of April.

After that we drove through the local winery trail. The first winery that we encountered (El Paso Winery) had a nice and friendly owner, but a pretty bad choice of wines, at least in our opinion. They use the grapes from Long Island (the owner asked us if we ever heard of such a place) and don’t really grow anything there themselves.

El Paso Winery.We tried 6 wines and were quite disappointed. Nothing like our tasting in Maine. Not to be time wasting bastards we still bought 1 bottle of the wine that we found least bad.

Stoutridge Winery.After that we drove through a bunch of wineries that were either closed or we just couldn’t find the tasting place. And at the end we ended up at a place called Stoutridge Distillery & Winery.

Wines for tasting.Now this was a whole different story. First we got a very good presentation from the wine-maker himself. He was very excited and full of passion for his craft. We tried 4 white wines and 2 red ones and were very impressed. We tend to favor white semi-dry wines more, and we were very pleased with his selection. We ended up buying 6 bottles.

Wine maker.For dinner we came back to High Falls and went to Depuy Canal House Restaurant. The place had the most ancient furniture I have ever seen and the clientele was no less ancient. Even though they had some Zagat Award and their prices could rival many places in Manhattan we were not impressed.

Restaurant interior. Or was it an antiques store?Alena got served a meal with an elaborate name which could’ve been gotten in any pizzeria for $5. And my meal was somewhat similar. Not that the food was bad, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to match all the fuss that they are making about the place.

And that was our first day. We went back to our cottage and from what I remember went to sleep soon after.

Sunday


Umm, raspberries.Next day we started with a hike through the forest right from our cottage (no driving anywhere). Turns out our cottage was on top of a pretty big mountain and when you go down you end up at a river which formed a couple of large pools where one could take a nice swim. It was pretty cold thought and we weren’t really in the mood. We did see a whole bunch of deer while hiking. It seems they are everywhere.

Forest hike.The next objective was a farm of some kind. We went to Stone Ridge Orchard. First we proceeded to raspberry part. We did collect a lot of them, but mostly into our mouths. Then we also collected a pair of buckets which we had to pay a bunch of money for. Considering the price I assume the part that goes into the mouth was priced in as well.

Let me just hover up to that apple.Then we went to the apple garden. It was full of trees covered in … wait for it … apples. The part that we were supposed to pick in consisted of McIntosh apples. But we also wondered into the peach part, plum part and tried a bit of everything.

Plum tree.With 2 bags full of apples we were done with the farm. It was fun. I’ve never tried it before and I haven’t been a fan raspberries for a long time, but I found these very delicious.

The rest of our plan was simple — buy a lot of cheese and drink a lot of wine. And then do stuff. Well, you know.

We stopped on a large yard sale on our way to the cheese shop. I have to say that these towns have 3 yard sales on each block. And it seems all the restaurants and whatever else they have in these towns are designed with stuff obtained at said yard sales. They keep each other in business.

Peach tree.The reason we were stopping at this is that I had a splendid idea — somebody somewhere is selling some great older Nikon lens with great optics for cheap. I was not lucky enough to find any Nikon glass, but my thesis was correct. We did find a cool Kodak camera made somewhere in the 40s and we did find some Minolta lenses. Of course I have no use for either, so we bought nothing.

In the cheese shop we tried at least 10 different cheeses and bought small slices of about 6 I think.

Cottage window.We stopped by another local restaurant — Egg’s Nest — for lunch. This one not only was full on antique furniture, it also had a corresponding smell. o.O The food however was pretty damn good. After our Maine trip, as Alena noted, we did not became fans of lobsters, but fans of mussels. I never thought I’d be able to eat this kind of stuff, and enjoy it on top of it.

Egg's Nest restaurant.Ate a good bowl of French Onion Soup and ordered some fancy quezadilla with more cheese inside to go.

Mussles.At our cottage we grabbed a couple of DVDs (they didn’t pay for cable, but they had a good large collection of weird tapes and DVDs from 80s and earlier it seems). We grabbed our worst bottle of wine (didn’t want to spend a good one) and drank it with our quezadilla and cheese. The movie that we ended up watching was Firm with Tom Cruise which turned out to be pretty good.

Drive Back


In the morning, after checking out, we drove back to I-87 through New Paltz (about 15 minutes away from our cottage). New Paltz seems to be a college town with a lot of young people who looked like they were coming Gyro place in New Paltz.out of a 2 day long high.

We ate breakfast at a local Greek place (a pair of gyros) and there wasn’t much more to do there.

On our way back we stopped in Woodbury Commons Mall which was filled with people and cars. It took us 30 minutes at least to find parking and even more time to get out of there.

I wanted to get some new shoes, but wasn’t sure of my size again, so I wanted to try some on before ordering online. Long story short we ended up spending about 5 hours there! shock I know, I was shocked myself. However we did stock up on a lot of new clothing, shoes and other stuff. We also did adjust a bracelet on my watch and got a pair of white gold diamond ear rings for Alena. They are really tiny and we wanted to get some for a long time, so she could wear them all the time and prevent her ear piercing from closing up.

Last moring.In the end we managed to get home without getting stuck in traffic yet again. Amazing. We were thinking about going out and eating somewhere, but we were so tired that Alena just cooked some dumplings and that was the end of our vacation.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Catskill Trip

Us in our cottage.It’s not even 10pm yet and we are already in our Purple Cottage. We left at 6pm and it took us almost exactly 3 hours to get here with a stop for dinner. We got very lucky and avoided all NYC traffic before the long weekend.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Clove Cottages

Several weeks ago we booked ourselves a trip for a little weekend getaway to Catskill Mountains and that’s where we’ll be going on this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

We’re going to be staying for 3 nights at Clove Cottages1 which are located right between Catskill and Minnewaska State Parks near New Paltz. The drive2 up there is a little over 100 miles, but considering that we’ll have to drive through NYC right before the long weekend it will probably take hours upon hours.

We haven’t spent much time in that area, so hopefully it will be fun.

  1. Staying in Purple Cottage for $429 with tax included. []
  2. 102 miles via Google Maps. []
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Monday, February 16, 2009

New Hampshire

Us at the end of our XC skiing adventure.Our 2nd day was the most memorable for me I think. The reason is XC skiing. I was very lazy and was somewhat refusing to even try, but Alena wanted to go, so I reluctantly agreed.

Alena on skis at Gunstock park.The whole deal was extremely cheap first of all. We paid $35 per person for a ticket to the trail, 1 hour lesson with instructor and all the equipment rental. I think we spent a little over 2 hours on the trails — training and then putting our “skill” to use.

It all started with us getting some help from people “in the know” for putting our skis on. Right after that I saw Alena slowly, but steadily leave me, sliding down the slope. I tried to go catch her, but couldn’t move and couldn’t get out of my skis either. I just kept yelling: “Brake, brake!” ) She managed to ask some nice people on her way though how to stop and they were nice enough to help her. )

Skiing through the forest on an XC skiing trail at Gunstock.I actually managed not to fall a single time, which can’t be said of the rest of the trainees. Poor Alena was doing pretty well, but at one point while we were waiting for the rest of the group to catch up just lost balance while standing still and fell on her back. I felt so bad, but yet again was unable to free myself from the skis. She cried a little from the pain, but after a bit of consideration decided to continue.

The snow wasn’t great, but overall it was pretty fun. I think we might try it again some day on some fresh snow.


Last day of our weekend consisted mostly of driving home. We made 2 small detours on our way thought.

Lowell, MA. Historic city that leaves a dual impression.First one was a stop at a town called Lowell in Massachusetts. It’s designated as a National Historic area, so we went to get our stamps (which we did). The city used to be the beginning of American industrialization at the end of 19th century. However everything fell apart in the beginning of 20th and that’s pretty much how it went through the rest of the century. They say it was reborn, but it really doesn’t seem to be the case.

Waiting to place an order at California Pizza Kitchen at Foxwoods. She's clearly VERY hungry.After that we decided that Foxwoods Resort Casino wasn’t too far off our way and we decided to go there for dinner. Inside Foxwoods Resort Casino.Last time we really loved the food at California Pizza Kitchen (a chain restaurant of all things). We found another one at Scottsdale during our southwest trip.

Today was as great as before. We ordered one Greek Pizza and Chicken Piccata. Really really delicious stuff. And all that for $30. We enjoyed it.

Then we spent $5 on slot machines and went home.

We left for the trip at about 8pm on Friday and got home at about 8pm on Monday. It was a great weekend that I spent with my best friend — my awesome wife and I loved all of it.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Visiting Concord, NH

Hampton Inn. Our hotel for our trip to New Hampshire.It’s 4.30 p.m on St. Valentine’s Day. Danya and I just got to our hotel room, and we’re relaxing on that big soft bed and watching TV. Life is good! )

New Hampshire Capitol building in Concord.We woke up relatively early today, ate complimentary breakfast at the hotel, and then drove to Concord, the capital of New Hampshire. The weather is not so bad today — it is chili, but sunny out there. We walked through the main street of Concord, visited the Museum of New Hampshire History and took a couple of pictures in front of the state Capitol.

One of the central streets in Concord.Concord left an impression of a clean, quite town. The Capitol with its golden dome was shining under the sun. There is a Liberty Bell standing near the Capitol building, and we had to walk through some deep snow to get to it. There is also a statue of Daniel Webster — famous attorney, member of the Senate, and, apparently, a very good speaker. He ran for the president 3 times, but failed to get the desired post.

Rocket near the planetarium in Concord. Ready for launch.After the walk through Concord, we drove to the local planetarium. However, we did not watch the show since to do so would have required almost an hour of waiting, and we’ve decided to skip it.

After this we drove to the Gunstock park in order to gather the information on the cross-country skiing. We’ve been told that there are two group lessons every day — at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. — and that equipment renting, trail pass for the whole day and the lesson are $35. Not bad if you ask me. )

Our St. Valentine day dinner at "99".We had our “holiday” lunch at “99″ chain restaurant near the hotel. The food was OK, and we even got Danya’s steak for free since they managed to serve him a piece of charcoal first time around…
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Hampshire — Day 0

Just checked into a hotel in Tilton, NH.It’s past 3am now and we have made it all the way to Tilton, NH. We’re staying in Hampton Inn, which we booked for our Hilton HHonors points.1 We didn’t want to stay here because they only had rooms with double Queen beds, but decided that it doesn’t matter much. However we got lucky — they gave us Kings bed room.

Tilton is less then 20 miles away from Concord — New Hampshire capital. This is our first visit to NH for both myself and Alena. Maybe we’ll post more tomorrow — or rather later today. )

  1. 20,000 points per night — as cheap as it gets. []
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Our cabin. Living room and kitchen.Our trip to Pocono Mountains exceeded my expectation and was pretty much perfect, not considering the minor incident of our car losing its braking ability. It was probably one of the most relaxing vacations we had. In fact, it was so good that all the people who went with us who I talked to today were in a state of minor depression from the fact that everyone had to go back to work.

On Friday we all left a bit earlier from work than usual and were on the road by about 7pm. Maruk picked up Ignat and Misha and they left a bit earlier. Surprisingly enough we didn’t get stuck in traffic and our trip there took a bit more than 2 hours — which is unheard of around NYC especially on a long weekend.

Since the latest time to check in was 9pm and we got there a bit after that I asked Maruk to get our keys, which he did. We decided not to stop for dinner on our way there since Misha and Ignat were hungry as well. It was already dark when we arrived and it was a bit confusing inside the resort itself, but we were greeted by 3 flash lights shining in the darkness.

Our cabin. Surrounded by trees.We parked right in front of our door and I was totally impressed by the cabin itself. It was a house built out of cedar and the living room area had very high ceilings going all the way up to the roof. It had a full kitchen with everything you could wish for, including dishes, silverware, pots, kettles, and all kinds of other cooking tools. The living room had a nice fireplace built out of stone. And the house had 3 small, but very cozy separate bedrooms.

Fly agaric growing on the side of a nature trail.The cottage itself was located right in the middle of the woods. Even though we couldn’t see much around, the forest was singing with hundreds of voices of frogs and crickets. And the air was so fresh you knew you were far away from New York City. The setting was perfect for a perfect weekend.


First thing we did when we arrived was cooking a bunch of hot-dogs. Alena or mama made a light salad from fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. We all sat down around the large family table in the living room and had our little, but delicious dinner.

After a bit of talking and going over to Maruk’s house to say hello to his family everyone was ready to turn in for the day, since everyone was fresh off work and after a long drive.

Room that my parents stayed in.Each room had windows which you could open by spinning a handle. I opened ours so we could get in some fresh forest air. There was a conveniently placed dimmer right above the bed. We got under a warm blanket, turned off the light and fell asleep soon after, listening to the sound of rain and singing forest.


Next morning we woke rather early, by our standards at least. I got out of bed, put on my flip-flops and went outside. Turns out Misha, Ignat and papa woke up much earlier and went out for a walk. Mama said that they were on their way back already, but they got lost somewhere around the lake.

Our cabin was pretty far away from other cabins and was surrounded by oaks and maples. Also I was surprised to discover that the lake was clearly visible and was no more then 100 meters away. There was a decent grill nearby and there was another big table outside under the covered porch.

Boat on the Mountain Springs Lake.Later on Misha discovered that they had all kinds of sporting equipment available for the guest without any fees. There were different balls for volleyball and basketball, badminton rackets, there was a volleyball net and we even had a boat assigned to our cabin.

Everything was just great.


The weekend flew by very quickly. People played a lot of badminton, we grilled a lot of steaks, burgers and shish-kebabs, did a lot of hiking around the forest and around the lake, swam a bit, played cards and enjoyed the company of good friends and family.

During the evenings we did a lot of star gazing and sitting in the beach chairs right near the water.

We celebrated my birthday on the Saturday with a big dinner and I got a bunch of cool presents.

We also took a lot of pictures, which I hope to post soon.

Inside our cabin. Living room.That’s pretty much it. Everything was great, the place was great, the company was great. I had a lot of fun and I loved our weekend get-away. We will definitely visit this place again. Maybe during the winter when everything is going to be covered in snow. And we’ll be able to sit and talk inside our cabin around the warm fireplace.
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