Last evening Julie, the boys and I along with another couple traveled to Syracuse, NY to see the 30th anniversary of the classic film “Christmas Vacation”. This event was held at the beautiful Landmark Theater in downtown Syracuse and was followed by an hour long Q&A with none other than Clark W. Griswold himself.
The Landmark was completely sold out to the tune of 2,800 seats. I won’t lie the seating is cramped. I loved this event and to see Christmas Vacation on the big screen was just great. At the end of the movie where aunt Bethany sings the National Anthem the entire theater sang right along.
A few minutes after the movies end Chevy Chase came out for a Q&A about this movie and others along with some Saturday Night Live stuff as well. I didn’t realize until last night that Chevy Chase is 76 years old. I’ve always envisioned him as Clark Griswold.
For the past 20+ years Julie and I have amassed a very large collection of glass Christmas ornaments that hang from our four trees each year. Some are new and some very old.
When the boys were born we began the tradition of purchasing them each a Christmas ornament every year. As they got older we would all jump into the family truckster and head for the Hand of Man in Owego where we would pick our ornaments together. The thought was that Michael and Max would look forward to putting their ornaments on the trees every year all the while building a small collection of ornaments for themselves to take with them once they leave home.
Last evening we took our annual pilgrimage to Owego for our Christmas cheer one last time. Pat Hansen the owner will be retiring and Hand of Man will close their doors in April 2020.
We are truly sad but this evenings outing was wonderful family tradition complete with a few slices of pizza to finish it off.
Another piece of Roadside America thrives in the north country of New York’s Adirondack Park.
Having read all the rave reviews about Donelly’s Ice Cream in Saranac Lake, my wife and I stopped after paddling Moose pond. It was 3PM on a Monday and the line of cars coming and going was endless. Using the same machine since 1953 they only serve one flavor per day and on this day it was (Vanilla & Butter Pecan Twist).
If you are ever in the Saranac Lake area of New York I highly recommend a pit stop at Donnelly’s, It was delightful!
One of my favorite local places to canoe is the small Nanticoke lake. I simply love the fact that you have to walk/carry your canoe a quarter mile even before laying eyes on it. It gives you that extra sense of adventure and tranquility. Here is a short video I shot of sunrise back in October 2017, please feel free to share.
Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.
Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.
Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.
Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.
So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.
I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.
The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.
Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.
After a 25 year absence “Pops on the River” returned last evening to Binghamton, NY. You couldn’t have asked for better weather in order to celebrate a triumphant return. With low humidity, temperatures around 78 degrees under cloudless skies.
I have been living in Binghamton for 24 years and have not had the opportunity to witness this event. To be honest I was 23 when I moved here with my interests more in beer, women and Rock N’ Roll. So I probably wouldn’t have went anyway. Times and tastes change a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still love Rock N’ Roll!! When I heard “Pops on the River” was returning I was extremely excited and could not wait to attend. I had seen pictures, read stories from years past of crowds approaching 50,000. Last nights event didn’t come close to that number but I would say several thousand lined the riverwalk, the Court Street bridge and rooftops. However the images of past did show a very large crowd on the water in all sorts of watercraft.
My wife, son Max and I decided to paddle our kayaks and canoe a short distance down the Chenango river to take in the show from the water. Arriving at the launch there were about a dozen or so cars parked who had the same idea as us. The current was mild which made for a real nice paddle and we were setup right before showtime which was 8PM.
There were many kayaks, canoes and homemade watercraft as well. There was even a pirate ship. However the custom float complete with drunk guys right next to us the entire evening were very entertaining. They were fixated on pillaging a later from that pirate ship I mentioned. During the Binghamton Philharmonic’s final score of “Pirates of the Caribbean” one jumped in the water and swam over to try and acquire a lantern. It didn’t go so well, but again was extremely entertaining. As a matter of fact one of those drunk guys tried to help my son Max get his kayak unstuck from a rock once we were leaving, only to flip him over. It was hysterical!
The music was wonderful. My wife and I enjoyed it very much and Max I know he enjoyed it because he plays in his high school band and loves the music as well.
The evening was capped off with an amazing fireworks show and sitting in the river we had front row seats. Hopefully Pops on the River will return again in 2019!
The firework show was 10 minutes long and spectacular so please watch the video, cheers!