Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lake George/Saratoga Springs

Lake George/Queensbury/Saratoga Springs NY
Sept. 3,4,5th 2016

For the Holiday weekend, we took a little trip down Memory Lane with a visit to Mark's hometown and youth stomps.Lake George
First stop....BREAKFAST at the Turning Stone Resort.
 We had our breakfast and lunch combo. I'd like to say although the meal was FREE...Mark gambled both breakfast and lunch that day for sure.

After the 3 hour drive we hit up the village of Lake George. The weekend was CROWDED!!!
Both of us struggled at being tourists in this area, Mark especially since he grew up on these streets, but we haven't made a pilgrimage to this tourist town in over a year since mark's mother moved to our area, before that we were here often, even in the off seasons. I have pictures of the kids in front of this haunted house almost every summer; usually with Frankie, the costumed kind, and per Mark, one of the best summer jobs a local could get!!! Although, without Frankie, he had to take a pose in memory.  Further down the main strip in the Village of Lake George we viewed the new hotel. This was not here the last time I visited, it seemed although this was Labor Day weekend, that the area had an incredible influx of people, too many for my preference. New hotels make way for the increase in the area's popularity.
I am forever feeling like area's I once enjoyed with some degree of solace has been ever increasing with the populace. I'll admit I am selfish and want things all to myself, but I also do struggle with crowds in general. I sometimes wonder if it is that the crowds haven't changed...but instead it is me. I am less likely to notice the crowds when I am first visiting a new place, and I am getting to be an OLD lady...who has limited patience with lines, waiting and no elbow room.
Even the Beach, which has expanded it's area to accommodate seems full.
I did catch the older section of the beach, which is now closed. The skies and lake are still beautiful. Crowds and all. Maybe some day I will  consider the para-sailing,
Walking along the shoreline we soon find our feet treading along wooden deck. We observe the many rental boats for fishing, tubing, enjoying the summer sun and any other water activities. If your not so keen on taking on a boat for yourself there are of course the boat tours. The Minne HaHa is perhaps the Lake George's most popular.
I had attempted to make this Lake George trip all about new (or newer) experiences and suggested that we take the boat tour. Unsure, we decided to at least check it out.
There she is. She is quite lovely.
I was getting a bit excited thinking I would convince Mark that WE NEEDED to take the tour!!! That was until I saw the LINE awaiting the next departure and there was still another hour before she set sail. (One more item for the someday list.)
We were entertained on shore by the Minne HaHa musical serenade instead. heard me right....MUSIC!!!! This lovely boat also MADE MUSIC. See those pipes up there? Tunes came from them. (I tried to video it, but I messed up something and when I checked later it was not there...)

I took this one off youtube.

The lines for the tour were simply much to long. So we soon were off to the next adventure.

Here's something new? Well at least new to me. I didn't recall seeing these horse and buggy rides in the past. Perhaps a nice ride? Well maybe not! This is lake George afterall...NOT Central Park!! (Mark and I did do the carriage ride through central park many years ago.)
(later at dinner we saw a number of these guys...maybe heading back to the stables.)
We did a the complete Lake George Village loop Main strip/lake and shore line/more shops, past the Fort, and up the side road to our car. We had scored an awesome parking spot that had over an hour of parking still in the meter, but time was surly ticking down!!! Our few extra quarters would NOT save us from a ticket for sure.
As one heads back towards Queensbury/Glens Falls area from Lake George one is subject to the MAIN strip of traffic. On this road there are more stores, a water park, horse rides, the outlet malls, eateries, Great Escape Lodge and theme Park, lots and lots of hotels and just off this main road and down a ways is the Lake George RV resort.
I have been longing for an RV since Barbie's plastic camper days...but it was only within the last year that I got the hubby even considering the idea of purchasing one. Knowing that we would HAVE one someday and that this was an area we know we would be back to someday. I suggested that we take a look at this RV resort in the heart of everything Lake George. We were granted a drive though pass and the ground were AMAZING!!! Pools, sport courts, stores, restaurants, nice sites (well most of them, there were some in the lower area towards the back of the resort that were super tiny and even some that were in a parking lot.) It looks to be everything Luxury RV living can be. Yep!!! Then I looked at the PRICE!!! WOAH!!!!
Next.....we humbly went to our hotel...Mark's mother was meeting us there as she had come up earlier to spend time with her friends. Not to much to say about our hotel. So I wont.
We still had to make plans for the evening and even though my goal was to do something different from our usual Lake George visits, I knew one thing I wanted to do that we had done before at that was to have dinner at George's. Quick call for reservations and we were all set.
We had a little bit of time before the reservations so Mark took me to the Top of The World golf course to get a good view of the lake. Stunning for sure.
Love all the mountains that surround the lake.

A few quick pictures and we were heading back down the hill for dinner. George's is my all time favorite for the area. There are MANY restaurants in the Lake George area, but this is my favorite for sure. This was one already done...but needed to be done again..on my Lake George trip.

The Salad and soup bar was first, This is where I should have STOPPED!! I was full after...Certainly could easily make a meal!!!
Then the main course. Notice I had a new bowl of soup???....a fly nose dived into my previous bowl. Foods so good, Fly risk death for a taste.  Most of my steak went to my companion and hubby. I was so full.
The log cabin full of all things Adirondack rustic, including the game. Check out this bear!!!
After a yummy dinner, we headed to a local tourist site listed as; Where History and fiction meet!
Coopers Cave. Every time I had visited the area I noted one of those signs on the road Tourist Attraction: Coopers Cave. I just never checked it out. Being that I was trying to do NEW things on this trip. I encouraged Mark to take me.

I never read Last of the Mohicans, and I haven't seen the movie, I may have had a better appreciation of this "attraction" had I, but for all the was rather disappointing.
I am guessing this is the cave. At least the Hudson River was pretty. This is an area in the river where the water flows both directions often creating a whirlpool. You can see it just slightly in the picture. 

I am guessing by the design and the information (The brochure found at the hotel was much more appealing then the actual site itself.)  at the "attraction", this may have been an attempt to encourage visits from tourists. However it failed!!! Poor signs for location, no parking, views of the cave (s) was difficult through the massive fencing and I am not sure if this is the cave one would be referring to or if there was something else. Add the "industrial" backdrop and even appreciating nature was difficult. (It's noisy).

So here you go!!!! I caught ALL of it in these few pictures. 

There is a nice park located up the hill from the attraction and I will admit, the water is pretty!

Once we fulfilled my desire to see Coopers Cave, Mark took me on some of the back streets of his home town. He explained about the area including several of the now closed business's that once towered the river's edge, We drove along the river towards Fort Edward noting the many closed and empty buildings,
History of Glens Falls from wiki:
 The Feeder Canal– Across from this historic canal is a hydro-electric power-plant on the Hudson River at Glens Falls. The canal was created circa 1820 to feed water into the Champlain Canal. During the early 19th century, the New York State Canal System was crucial to the development of the state's economy. Lime, marble, lumber, and agricultural commodities were shipped from Glens Falls from the docks at the base of Canal Street.

Mark informed me of facts or at least interestingly interpreted  local lore as we drove. I may not have become better historically informed but I was enlightened on what areas where reaching in the depths of the dating pool when one was dating a certain girl from one of the local areas. (I can't remember which town we drove through that he had referred to, and I would NOT want to hurt any of those ladies feelings anyways,)
Once we did the drive from  the river, we drove past a few of Mark's personal favorites, a drive down Memory Lane;
 "Talk of the Town" restaurant, the car wash he once worked at, "Bunker Hill", apparently the equivalent to my teen aged drinking party spots, The cheapest hot dog place ever....actually there were a few hot dog places he pointed out, one was a drive up place and one is the home of the Dirt Dog,....a fly by past his High School,  the junkyard turned playground his Grandfather once owned, We viewed his childhood home and those of his buddy's growing up.  He enjoyed telling me stories and I enjoyed listening. (I know, I heard many of them before, but he enjoys the memory so I listen,). He drives down the "Street of Dreams" (Downtown Glen's Falls) laughing about the OTB moving one block down and accross the street. (Aparently the preious location was attracting to many criminals.)
The evening sets in and we get the last bit of day light with a stop at Martha's!!! Absolutely the best ice cream EVER!!!

This fun water feature was added since our last visit. You can see The Great Escape theme park in the background. We ran into Mark's mom there as well.

The day was complete and both Mark and I were exhausted from our busy day and lots of good eats. Sleep was very welcomed. Tomorrow was on to the RACES!!!

We had stayed at a hotel that offered a free breakfast, which we filled up on before getting ready to head to Saratoga Springs. Traditionally we have taken on the Track by finding a shady spot on the grounds. This year Mark's mother had purchased club house seats. (I am so glad she did...the LINES to get in were INSANE!) We breezed right past General Admission and got right in...but first,
We decided on a little sight seeing of Saratoga's main street and tourist area.

The main street like many small quaint towns is lined with stores and eateries. We were fortunate to find a parking place and began exploring.
Once on foot we strolled enjoying the morning air and taking in all of the HORSE inspired items. Most of the stores had some reference to the track. Mark and his mother loved this, and I picked up a track magnet, to add to my collection. Below is one of the original pharmacy's still in tack and in use. what can I say, the streets are charming,
And MORE horses.
and of course HATS....lots and lots of hats.

and a little humor...its the Donald.
The nearby park was stunning. (Wish we had more time to walk it.)
Doesn't this look lovely?

We also found one of the many fountains that gave Saratoga Springs its name...The natural healing spring water. (I didn't taste this one, but some taste awful.)
Time was ticking and we needed to get going to the track. It was after all the last weekend and a giveaway day. Giveaway day has always been crowded, but today was INSANE!!!
We were early in regards to post time which wasn't until 1pm. We never could have anticipated the amount of people that would already be there nearly three hours before the first bell rang. Parking was a nightmare.
We actually had to park so far away we took a school bus into the main gate. That was a first!

 Once off the bus...this is what we ran into,
WOW!!! As noted above. I was never so glad to have prepaid seats. Thanks Diane for thinking ahead.
Once we made it through the gates, I jetted to the giveaway line. I cheated a little as the line made its way down one of the track paved walkways. Realizing too late that it was the line...I blended in with a few men. They were nice enough to let me cut. Both were military stationed locally. (Not sure where, sorry I know they told me..but it wasn't a name that I had heard of before so it didn't stick.). Grateful to get up close I snagged three X-large long sleeved pull overs and headed back towards Mark.
This is a picture from the website giveaway 2016 page. Nice yes?
While in the area Mark had his taste of Saratoga Springs water. I know that this one tastes bad, but Mark convinced me to still take a taste...FOR LUCK!! maybe it was FOR YUCK!!!

Water check, freebee (Yep..I had a bag of wine in my small cooler) check. I also had my water bottle ready to be filled with my beverage of choice for the day. I filled it multiple times that day,
We found our seats in the club house. Right in front of the track. LOVELY! The seats are tight however. (I swear people we much smaller many years ago.)
  From the club house we could walk right down onto the track front and get a view up close.  Below picture is a view of the original track seating. (Where we are). 

The course was built in 1863 and the oldest in the country.  Here is a picture from way back when...
Three hours goes quick at the track and soon the first race is off.

I caught up with a friend of mine (Tracy) and her family. She and I did a little exploring and introduced me to the samples of items one could taste, smell and of course purchase.  I found a soap/lotion that smelled amazing. I found it was made from a mushroom, Weird? But it smelled amazing, I didn't purchase it however. Interesting labels!!!
Tracy and I tasted dips, and cheeses, hot and zesty, cool and different. I didn't buy anything but had fun trying all the items. With water bottle in hand sipping as we explored, we walked over to one of the bar areas near the paddock. People were INVOLVED in the race!!! All eyes glued to the multiple tv screens.
I have to say it was one VERY HOT crowded day. After our exploration, I was glad to get back to my seat and sit. I watched the horses get ready for the next race.

And then they RAN by.
I generally do not bet. I know for some that may seem silly. Why go to the track if your not betting. Well...cause I am a looser most times, and I don't care to get all involved with it. Horse betting is a science and it takes work to pick just the right horse.
I have three ways of picking a horse. 1.The name stands out, 2. He happens to be #9, and 3. its ridden by a jockey I have heard of.  I will admit though I generally pick a horse just before the race begins, and I have been disappointed I haven't thrown money down. Sometimes I pick the horse by his behavior in the paddock. Perky or even a little rebellious is often my pick. Its hard to pick the prettiest one cause they are all so beautiful.

In between races, Mark and I take a trip to the paddock and watch as the jockey's walk the jockey row.

Mark knows what owner and what trainer each color represents. I have no idea.
The Paddock area is busy. We squeeze in to watch the horses pre-race as they dance around in their lot area before riding the ring to the exit.

There is always entertainment too. We stop to catch some music and I admire this ladies outfit,

Nearly the end of the day, and we have dinner reservations at an after the track staple in the community; Winslows. One last race before we head for the door. The crowds have thinned as we head into the last race of the day.

I got a picture of this as we headed towards the exit. Love the art over an archway leading to the track. 

Back on the bus, it felt like 100 degree's and we had to wait for the thing to fill up. I couldn't wait to get to our stop. Back at the car we headed to Winslows for dinner.
Their big score is the turkey dinner, so I had that and some french onion soup. Our seats were right by the stage and we got to watch some performances.
The music was from before my time, but my mother in law really enjoyed it.
Once we got back to the hotel we were graced with this.....
I think it is suppose to be a swan. Hey...there was heart in the effort. I put on my swim suit and took an evening swim in the hotel pool before calling it a full day. Back home tomorrow.
Breakfast was waffle made at the hotel breakfast bar before we set out west towards home, another successful vacation complete. I got some pictures of the FOG that laid over the valley as we traveled on.
TTFN...until next time.