Saturday, August 31, 2013

NY State Fair Part II

I thought I had better catch up on part II of my State Fair adventure, before things got away from me, but I wanted to recap yesterdays events too. I was busy all day. I worked from 8-4:30 at Inpatient, (I played volleyball once again, boy do I suck) came home just in time to pull some dinner together before I met up with Tami, Christine, Jenny and Renee for "Walk and Wine." This was Tami's gig. She wants us all to work our way up to running, I don't know about the running part, but we did walk 1.7miles last evening before we broke into the Red Cat. Only a little back pain to report, so I am happy. The reward of wine and friends at the end helped too. It was nice to see Christine, and my hubby was gracious enough to transport all of our etho induced butts home afterwards. (Can you believe I forgot my camera?)
But on with part II of the Fair.-From 1pm-4pm I was stationed at the Vera House booth with two other volunteers. One women left at 2pm as a swing shift and I cannot for the life of me remember her name, but Faye was they other women I worked with. We chit chatted about our lives, while we offered information about the services Vera House provides and pushed while plastic bracelets into patrons hands.  I was told to get rid of as many as we could. Somehow we still had some left over in the end. The boys stayed within the boundaries I gave them, taking a few trips to the milk building and off to play putt putt at one point.
While tending the booth we were able to listen and see on the screen the 60's band The 5th Demention. I had no idea who they were but once they started playing I had heard of some of their songs. Age of Aquarius, and Let the Sunshine were two that I recognized. That was enjoyable. Getting restless, the boys bargained for cash, and I was off walking the many other booths located with in our area. I scored a few more freebee items, and learned about some of the women services provided within the community. I also ran into Dale who is now working at ACR. We took a few moments to catch up and recall past stories. She has married, and is enjoying her new position working at outreach mostly within the jail settings. Soon after the band ceased playing, I had obtained my 2nd or third FREE pen, and listened with some interest about an all women's business/advocacy group that I could totally see myself  getting involved with (that was until I heard about the annual $90- membership fee, and you still had to pay for several of the themed events) my shift ended.
4:15 I was to meet with a staff member from Vera House to drop off the supplies and the rest of the Fair was awaiting.

These amazing characters were walking throughout the main court, so we had to stop and say hello, then we made our way towards the NY State Lottery to meet up with Mark and play some mid-way games. We made a quick stop to see the puppeteer ending his last performance of the day, saddened that we missed it, but thought the puppets were way cool, I took a few shots of my favorites.

 With these two characters I can only imagine what the performance was about.
Once at the NY State Lottery booth, and no Mark yet (we were to meet him at 5 and it was only 4:30) we decided (or should I say I was forced) to play some mid-way games.

Cheep as I can be I honed in on one of those "I Got it "games where each game only costs one quarter. First game I won! Horray, now we can stop playing right? NO. In order to get the Minion stuffed doll you have to win two. Well we did everything to make it happen and no luck. We settled on cashing in and walked away with a $6- (that is how much I spent on games) basketball. I actually felt it was a fair price although one quarter would have been nicer. Since we were right next to the Poultry building we took a quick trip through (stinks like nothing I can describe)  I forced air out my nose, and we were able to enjoy the many thousands of fowls housed in rows upon rows all ready for judging.
I thought this guy was a little different.

And who could resist Easter Egg colored chickens? Wonder if their eggs come out pre-dyed for an Easter feast?
The Poultry building also has, rabbits, hamsters and gennie pigs. (I cant spell them and I don't like them either). This guy was pretty cute however.
Finishing up the "fowl" (smelling) building we returned to the Lottery Building to find my husband and this time he was there. The heat was outrageous, and I was beginning to be done with the whole fair experience. We made some final inventory on MUST's before we started to wind down the day. I must get a baked potato, Mark must have his annual sausage sandwich, and the boys wanted more GAMES. I rustled up a few more bucks for Mark and the boys to make their way down the mid-way and I took off to the Horticulture building for my annual (often voted most favorite and best deals of the fair) $1- potato. I think at one time many years ago we got them for FREE, but it is still a steal for a dollar and they are always yummy.
As I walked towards the building I took notice of a sign reading on sale now "Stories of the NY State Fair" $3-. I decided that I would enjoy that kind of a read, and made my way into the air conditioned NY State Parks building, and purchased one pre signed by the writer. I also scored a free granola type nutrition bar while I was there. I have since read the book completely and although the stories were of interest, I would have liked to have heard other perspectives and maybe some more factual information. Hey it was a $3- find at the Fair, what can you say. Potato Booth here I am... 
I was told to expect long lines, but it wasn't that bad and it went quickly.
I spotted some FOOD Drive art on my way out and thought they were pretty neat. There had to be about five structures in all and every last bag, box and can will be donated to the hungry.
I made my way through the Horticulture Building piping hot potato in hand and quickly glancing at the array of prize winning flowers/plants surrounded on the outskirts with natural oils, soaps, and some assortments of items such as jewelry and homemade crafts. I seek refuge at the NY State Parks and locate a solo bench for myself to sit an eat my potato. YUM
Eating a baked potato can sure make you thirsty, so of course I had to have a Wine Slushie to wash it down.
This is a twist of two wines. I was able to have two FREE tests and my final decision was the combo. Small but good.
Thinking I better reconnect with the boys, I headed back only to wait, and to wait, and wait some more and it was SOOOOOOOOOO HOT. There never seems to be a breeze at the fair ever.
Finally we reconnect, two new prizes added to the collection. Glass edged mirrors won at the balloon pop. Great wins after $50- of playing. Next up and this was about when I was feeling I had had enough. I was hot, tired, feeling broke, and simply just wanted to find a nice place to sit and have some dinner. We got some cheep burgers and drinks. (They actually sell burgers and dogs for only a few bucks at some locations, is it the best burger at the, but at least we got some dinner in). I ran off to get Mark his sausage sandwich and waited in a line that took forever feeling overwhelmed with heat. Finally, SCORE. I head back to my group and the boys had obtained two more balloons to suck helium out of...then it was a game of blowing the balloons up and letting them fly. I was so hot and tired I let them enjoy...
All of us, even Mark was ready to go so we headed towards the car, stopping along the way to watch a small performance, or examine a new deep fried item on a menu.
As I looked back at the fair as we were leaving, I noted that we really had not even dented all of the fun things the fair has to offer, and sadly said goodbye. Next year we will take on our favorites and continue to make more memories. Good Bye NY State Fair, until next time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NY State Fair 2013 Part I

Yesterday, my son and his friend Ryan and I made our way to the NY State fair. We took the bus in as Mark was to meet us there after his work shift, so I gave him the parking pass.

 Before I begin to type about how wonderful the NY State fair was yesterday, let me get all of the things that were NOT great out first as to avoid any bitterness in the many more things that were great about the day I had yesterday.

First: it became unbearably HOT! Not the sun is shining down on you, how nice HOT, but the sweat is burning your eyes out just standing HOT! The humidity was unavoidable and made just about everything uncomfortable. Add a few thousand people and it was awful.

Second: And this was totally my fault. I spent WAY to MUCH money. A dollar here, a few there, just one more $2-soda and a $9- cold burger and fries, and I was out over $100+ bucks. (I actually do not want to know how much over the $100- I spent, but I was NOT planning on blowing the budget yesterday on CRAP and somehow I did. I know for a fact that you can have an enjoyable time at the fair and NOT spend so much money. I think the heat, and the fact that I had two very rambunctious boys board out of their minds as I tended to the Vera House booth took away all RATIONAL thinking and I was giving out $10-s and $20-s like nobody's business.

Third: I didn't get to do or see as much as I would have liked or taken as many pictures. (I did get several pictures, just the same) Not such a bad thing, we did get pretty busy in the 7+ hours we were there, I just would have liked to do and see more things. More pictures would have occurred if I had the opportunity to SLOW down and I wasn't so irritated by the heat and the money I was spending.

 I have decided next year, if I do volunteer, I will do it SOLO and enjoy the fair SOLO before and after so I can check out the things I might like to do. Then take a day just for the family with a budget in mind and do the things THEY want to do. I do not particularly enjoy the games or the rides. That is however my son's favorites (although he insisted on the milk bar at least four times).   OKAY...Now that that is done, let me tell you about the enjoyable day.

We took the bus in which I actually prefer over driving in and finding parking. The bus pick up is located at my church and the church offers bottled water. lost kid tags, maps, and a snack as you wait for the bus to take you to the fair. (FREEBEE's and NO parking issues). The bus takes you right to the main gate, so there is no walking from the parking lots! (There have been a few times when returning home has been a nightmare, because there are so many people trying to get back at the same time. We have had to wait for a second bus to arrive on a few occasions).  Otherwise, it is my recommendation and first choice.

Once at the gate, we got right in with plans to hit the buildings before the crowds start making their way in to these popular attractions. I had my FREE admission ticket for volunteering, and the boys were FREE. (12 and under is FREE). To the right is the Science and Industry Building. (which like many of the buildings has changed it's name over time.) It was for the longest the Niagara Mohawk Building and housed everything and anything about electricity! This year it housed some  Jacuzzi company and several of the local non for profit agencies; IE Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare (where I was stationed last year when I volunteered) and Breast Cancer Awareness, The NY State Nursing Association, and several other medically based business's. We said hello to the SIX...yes SIX SBH employee's who were manning the SBH booth that morning, and got our squeeze ball brains. Then strolled around looking for other FREEBEE's in the area. The boys signed a petition against bullying and they collected rubber bracelets.
Also included in the Science and Industry building is the Fire Awareness. There is a permanent puppet stage and mock house that you can walk through and identify all of the fire hazards. This display has been there since I was younger then the boys in the above picture. If I recall the fashion/d├ęcor and the scenes have not changed over the years. We skipped by this attraction to get an early jump on the Milk Bar line in the Dairy building.

The Dairy building has always been one of my personal favorites, and who can resist ice cold chocolate milk for only a quarter?

Gavin was double fisted!
On this Fair visit we only got the milk, but they have fudge, ice cream, cheese and other yummies too. They also host the annual butter sculpture. These things are great and another must see for my fair trips each year.

This whole thing is made 100% of butter! I wonder what they do with it when the showing is over?
Exiting the Dairy building we entered into the NY State SUNY college tent. We played a few games, got some college info and I even got an Oswego Alumni sticker and added a dot to the NY State map. The boys got balloons and immediately took turns inhaling the helium so they could talk with chipmunk voices. BOYS REALLY! 
Next we make our way over to the Center of Progress Building. This building is an interesting and odd mix of products you might likely see on some infomercial at 2am, booths including controversial issues like the pro-lifers, the anti abortionists, the gay/lesbian/transgender rights, political debates, and things like the NY State government offices. Smack dab in the center was the sand sculpture (which I swear has always been in the horticulture building).    
The Sand sculpture is another one of my favorites, and each year there is one made during the duration of the fair. A few years ago was a Beatles theme, some have been pastures, one year was dedicated in the memory of 9/11. This year seemed to be symbolic of the fair itself.

The boys enjoyed playing a game of FRAUD...where they had to answer questions about FRAUDING the department of Public Assistance and both won plastic water cups. Then we all looked up our family name in this big book of names to get a glimpse of the Beale family crest.
Next on the agenda is the must have no matter what.... fried dough. I can do without it, but the Pizza Fritte is a Gavin must have only second to the chocolate milk.
For $12- we had enough dough to last us the day and more for a late night snack that evening.
It was good and MESSY!!!
We were feeling the heat about then, and took a detour to the NY State Lottery building and all obtained FREE hand fans. I also signed up for some emails etc, and got a FREE tote bag.
After filling up on dough, we headed to the petting zoo for a little animal time.


We all enjoyed the animals, and noticed it was just about time for the circus to start. It was also about that time that the heat was starting to get to me. Of course the last place anyone who is HOT should go is under an enclosed tent with no ventilation, hot lights in your face, stuffed next to people on crowded uncomfortable benches, but we endured at least long enough to see some jugglers, the ceiling dancers (I don't know what else to call them), a few clown acts, and the dog tricks.

Grateful to be out of the tent with a little air, we wondered back towards the Court yard as it was getting close to my Vera House volunteer shift.
We took a quick trip through the DEC (Department of Environmental C (something). where we all said hi to Smokey the bear. I enjoy this building and the stroll through the garden that houses an actual lean-to, that you might find in the Adirondack forest. I have always wanted to do more hiking, and this area always has a long list of things to do in the woods. Next year I will have to take a little time and do some investigating. Mary has wanted me to join her on the mountain climbs as well as the Kayaking. Maybe by next year I can will be more body prepared for such things.
Only you can prevent forest fires.  
As we exited the cabin, we stopped momentarily at the hypnotist show. We didn't stay long enough to get an awareness of how this was being done, (I can only imagine. I participated in something like this in college..I'd rather forget). Gavin was convinced it was fake, I tried to explain only you can allow yourself to be hypnotized and offered the power of suggestion. He was not convinced. Continuing to work our way towards the court yard, we briefly checked in on the NY State Police building. They generally have several shows during the day and there was a demo on  Police Divers. I never had seen that show, but the boys were not to interested so we kept moving. A quick walk through the State Park area, another area I enjoy and would have liked to spend more time wandering through. Stopping only for a quick glance at the several booths representing several of NY state's parks, we ended at the Erie Canal area where the boys were offered an opportunity to learn about the canal system. The both announced their fourth grade field trip to The Erie canal and that they were both well versed in Canal lingo.
I grabbed a few papers on the canal system, perhaps we can all take a few walks along the canal someday.
Look at how much SNOW Syracuse gets in comparison to the surrounding areas.
We said hello to the Syracuse DARE team, and the boys were in awe about the wii game system in the rear of the DARE car. No boys I don't think the car comes with that.

It was getting really close to 1pm and Vera House shift. I  quickly signed up for info on the Chevy vehicle to get a FREE t-shirt. (I have a 3 year old car and have no intent on getting a new one, but FREE is FREE). And the boys spent all of my quarters, plus they broke $1- on those feet vibrating seats.
Best ride in town? Maybe?
Then I was off to my Vera House post for the next three hours. See tomorrow's post for the second half of the day. I will be skipping Flashback Friday to do this.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ryder Park Dewitt, NY

My neighbor Jenny has a set of three year old twins, and when she mentioned that she was "going crazy" last week I offered to go on an outing sometime this week to help her from loosing her sanity. We had originally planned for a trip to Green Lakes, taking my car as we could use the park pass; otherwise it was an $8- admission fee, but we could not figure out the car seats. Instead I suggested Ryder Park in Dewitt.
It is a nice park with some great fun for the girls and it is totally FREE to get in. First up was the playground and although they were a little to small for many of the playground activities, they found a way to maximize the area with the swings, the slide and the smaller rock climbing wall.
Meet Amelia.
and Jessica
Aren't they cute?
Now to climb the rock wall.  

"High Five" we made it.
 Once the playground was conquered, at least for now. It was on to the pond to look for frogs, and with Jenny's great vision we were able to locate a few despite the large population of lilly pads that had taken over the pond. We even although he submerged so quickly I didn't get a picture, saw the head of a turtle.
 That's a lot of Lilly Pads. Wish we had seen them in bloom. I bet it was amazing.
 Can you see him?
How about this guy with just his head sticking out.
I found this guy and caught a shot just before he jumps away into the brush.
It is much more difficult to take the time to focus when the subject takes off on you or when you are with three year olds.
Next stop the Butterfly Garden. The Butterfly garden was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps we are to late in the season, I do not know, but there were NO butterfly's except for the metal one the girls found in the garden.
Jenny did find a caterpillar.
Could this guy be a late bloomer?
The park runs next to part of the Erie Canal, so to keep the girls amused, we played stick boats into the canal way. There seemed to be quite a current running in the water so the sticks and such moved quickly down stream. They must have thrown at least 50 sticks or bark pieces into the canal.
The we played in some really great old tree's. These girls were loving to climb.
Check out this Monster of a Tree. Or perhaps it is two trees that grew together?
As we continued along the trail up ahead on the canal we saw some more critters. It was a flock of Geese swimming up stream. Watching them go against the current was somewhat humorous, but it gave me a little time to snap some pictures. I love how even in the water the stay in formation.

This was just such a cute picture I had to add it.
And this one I really liked.
Around the bend in we found a flower garden full of dragon flies and pretty flowers.
I caught these guys a little to busy in a G-rated park.
One last picture of the pond, can you see the Geese on the other side?
The girls were hungry and thirsty, so we took a little snack break in the pavilion and ate tiny Penguin crackers.

Then it was back to the playground for some more climbing, swinging and I attempted to take my turn at the enclosed slide. I really did start, and had my body all the way in up to my head when I had this incredible fear come over me...What if I got stuck. Jenny couldn't stop laughing at me. Then I couldn't pull myself out of the top part. Glad I didn't take the chance the girls took turns climbing in and out of the entrance.  Amelia refused to go down, and from what Jenny had said, she never had gone down a slide. She simply refused. That was why I had attempted to go down the slide myself in a effort to show her it wasn't so scary. I failed miserably, getting myself all stuck and what not.
Surprise Surprise, she decided to go down the smaller slide all on her own.  Can you see the uncertainty in her little face. (She's the one on the rt). BUT SHE DID IT!!!! and then she did it again and again and again! GREAT JOB!!!
Just before we left we took a walk to the 9/11 memorial site located in the entry of the park.
There really is not much to say about this part of the park. Its a harsh reminder of a terrible day in our history, that often I forget about. We take for granted that in our country in our part of the world we are some how safe from harm.
We concluded the day with two very tired little girls...(and women) and headed home. I was so glad that I helped Jenny get out of the house with her girls and I truly had a good time.  Once home and the girls passed out in their car seats, Jenny and I agreed to do another day trip sometime in the future real soon. Maybe to Green Lakes next time.