Aviously

Because, aviously…

From June 10th-14th I headed out on a road trip thru NY, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Montreal, Canada. Over the last two months, I’ve talked about most of the places I visited. Here is a full recap of the trip.


SUNDAY

I headed out on the road, for the most mileage of any day (and the most time spent sitting in the car).

Brooklyn–>Cooperstown — 200 Miles

Cooperstown, NY. Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I parked in one of their free lots, located 1/2-3/4 of a mile away from building, and walked on over. There is a trolley that makes its way around town that could be taken, and I also walked by LOTS of street parking that I could’ve stopped in instead, which I guess is an offseason perk to keep in mind.
When I walked in I was faced with a long line to buy tickets, so I did the modern day thing and logged in to their website, bought tickets there, and skipped right past the line.
The Hall is a great place to spend a few hours, and I particularly enjoyed the team lockers with more recent memorabilia.

Cooperstown–>Saranac Lake — 200 Miles

I headed to Saranac Lake for the night, a nice little town just outside of Lake Placid, and stayed at the Best Western.
Before I settled in for the night I drove around town and stopped by the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage, just for an outside look as it was after-hours, and took some time to enjoy the views of the lake.


MONDAY

I always like sleeping in the city where I’ll be the next morning, even when it means driving those extra hours the night before…and this was no exception as I woke up just minutes from Lake Placid and was able to head to the Lake Placid Sports Complex as they opened up for the day.

Driving into the complex you drive past the ski jumps and are treated to views of the biathlon course as you turn into the facility.
Walking into the gift shop you purchase your tickets for the bobsled run and get to view a nice little museum as you wait for the tour bus to take you to the top. On the way up we had a few stops, showing the former track, and some good vantage points to take picturesque mountain views.
Once at the top, they gave me the option of walking down within the run or taking the bus back down…naturally I chose to walk down, and take in the Olympic course.

When I made it back to the bottom I headed into town and the Lake Placid Olympic Center. The Center has a tour, but having gotten there just after one started, I decided it wasn’t worth waiting around for the next one. Instead, I wandered around the building on my own. From the Herb Brooks Arena to the outdoor speed skating track, there’s a lot of history in this quaint town.

After that I made my first audible of the trip. When I had been at the top of the bobsled run the tour guide had pointed out all the sites from the games, including Whiteface Mountain, where skiing had occurred.
I headed to the mountain and drove to the top, a nice 5 mile drive up a decently steep road, with multiple stops available along the way for great scenics. But what you forget is, that when you get to the top (after a final few hundred foot climb), you’ll have even nicer views, especially when the weather is nice and clear…because it can get awfully cold at the top most of the year.

Whiteface Mountain–>Montreal — 110 Miles

After I finished at Whiteface Mountain I headed on the road to Canada, with an easy border crossing and headed into Montreal. And despite climbing Whiteface earlier in the day, I decided to do the double and went up Mount Royal.
I faced my first French snafu, as I couldn’t read any of the parking signs to figure out if and what I would need to pay at the mountain lot.
I spoke to one of the locals, with a lot of hand gestures and bartering, we came to a mutual agreement of money as he gave me the remainder of his day pass.

Once I was done at the mountain I went and checked in to my hotel, the Best Western Brossard.


TUESDAY

As I headed into town, I faced rush hour traffic and accidents, and double-thought taking a hotel outside of town, just for the lower rates and free parking.

Parking was simple, with a few lots open throughout the day around the compound, and I started off at the Montreal Tower. The tallest inclined building in the world, taking the elevator to the top, which then provides nice views in all directions around the city.
After coming back down I took a very enjoyable tour around the Olympic Stadium, going behind the scenes of the swimming pool, polo pool, the tunnels beneath it all, and the actual venue.

I had originally planned on visiting the Observatory, but I quickly realized after visiting Mount Royal and the Tower, that I didn’t need yet another view within a couple of miles, of the same skyline.
As such, I had parked in the area of the Observatory when I drove downtown, which quickly became a mistake as it was nowhere near where I really wanted to be.
Where did I want to be? The historic stuff. City Hall, the markets, Notre Dame, and the Old Port.
The clock tower was a great little find at the end of the port, with a door tucked away in the back, and no charge to head in and go to the top.


WEDNESDAY

Wednesday was supposed to be a closely timed day, as I headed from Montreal down to Vermont.
The problem in Vermont is that things are spread out, with each thing about a half-hour from the next, and when only open for a few hours a day, it needs to be timed right, or else you can’t make it to all of them in one day.

But it started with a flat tire as I pulled out of my hotel, and I quickly went to Google to find a place to get it patched.
I found a Mr. Lube in a local Walmart, and despite pulling in at 8AM, the time listed as their “Open Time”, I quickly found out that times are fluid in Canada. The first mechanic didn’t roll in until around 8:15-8:20, and you had one person come every hour after…meaning that me, fourth in line, didn’t get out of there with a tire patch until 10:30AM, to head to my first destination two hours away.

Montreal–>Vermont Teddy Bear Factory — 95 Miles

As I passed back over the border into the US, I presented the US Border Agent with my Passport and Global Entry card. He promptly handed the Global Entry card back to me, saying “that just confuses my system…and then proceeded to pull my car over and do a full head-to-toe inspection.
After clearing that I was back on my way.

My first stop in Vermont was the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. While it’s mostly geared towards kids, taking a tour here gives a good insight on how the bears are cut and stuffed, and a little history into the company.
After the Teddy Bears I hightailed it over to the Quarry to try and catch their last tour of the day.

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory–>Rock of Ages Quarry — 55 Miles

The Rock of Ages Quarry had been an add the day before to my itinerary, and I’m super glad I did. Rocks aren’t usually a big interest of mine, but being able to see them cut it out of the mountain, and the factory where they turn it into monuments and other uses, was very cool.

Rock of Ages Quarry–>Ben & Jerry’s — 20 Miles

I drove a half hour back to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, having passed it earlier to make closing at RoA, and instantly regretted making the journey.
They are open until later in the day than some of the other stuff, which allowed me to travel there after hours, but one of the things I had missed, due to the flat tire, was the Lake Champlain Chocolates tour.

But that didn’t deter me as I headed back on the road, for an almost three-hour trip down to Springfield, Mass.

Ben & Jerry’s–>Springfield — 180 Miles

In Springfield I booked a last minute Priceline hotel, staying at the La Quinta Inn & Suites.


THURSDAY

Springfield was a last minute addition to my trip, as I ended up a day early after Montreal became a Monday/Tuesday trip, instead of Tuesday/Wednesday. But despite that, thanks to Google Trips, I was able to plan out stuff to do.
But that couldn’t stop me from being a real New Yorker, and assuming there wasn’t parking at anything this day…walking a few miles throughout town, to locations that all had ample parking. Oh well! I’ve never turned down a walk before, so no reason to start then.

My first stop of the day was the Springfield Museums.
Located around the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, this is a grouping of five museums, in which the lady at the front desk was nice enough to count me as a college student for a little discount.
These five museums are a Science Museum, a Local History Museum, two art museums (Art and Fine Art), and one focused just on Dr. Seuss!
There was a school group on the grounds that day, and I based which building I went to with wherever they weren’t, and I did a good job avoiding people!

Afterwards, I headed thru town to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, where I surprisingly had a good time, despite it not even being one of the Top 5 sports that I follow.

Following that long day, I headed back to my car to go home…quickly discovering that New York City is the root of all evil when it comes to traffic, as my final 55 miles took two and a half hours to get thru.

Springfield–>Brooklyn — 150 Miles

Here are some of the movies I’m looking forward to this fall, which seems to start slower and have more once November/December rolls around.

  • 9/14 – A Simple Favor – Paul Feig (Director of Ghostbusters (2016) and The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale) directs this comedic thriller, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively
  • 9/28 – Smallfoot – An abominable snowman (Channing Tatum) discovers humans, or “smallfoot”, in this odd musical with James Corden and Zendaya
  • 10/5 – A Star is Born – Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut, alongside the acting of Lady Gaga
  • 11/9 – The Girl in the Spider’s Web – The first book of the reboot is being turned into a movie, as Claire Foy (The Crown) takes over the iconic role of Lisbeth Salander
  • 11/16 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The second movie in the Harry Potter spin-off (after Where To Find Themis sure to see all sorts of new creatures
  • 11/21 – Ralph Breaks the Internet – Couldn’t wait to shut up and drive after the first one, and this sequel looks to be just as electric as they visit The Internet!!
  • 11/21 – Robin Hood – Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), and Jamie Foxx star in a classic remake
  • 12/14 – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – This animated Spidey snuck into the movie world, as we focused on Tom Holland in the Marvel version, but this movie looks solid
  • 12/19 – Mary Poppins Returns – 54 years since she last showed up on the screen, and 25 years after the first one took place, Emily Blunt takes the role of Mary, and Lin-Manuel Miranda co-stars
  • 12/21 – Bumblebee – Transformers’ Bumblee and Hailee Steinfeld, both in the same movie…need I say more?

Recently I had to deal with an abandoned car, and had another instance of NYC and the NYPD just ignoring the problems in front of them, since it was easier to make believe it didn’t exist.

Someone parked an out-of-state car on my block, with its bumper thrown in the back seat, and left it there for four weeks.

It was parked shortly after alternate side parking restrictions, on a Thursday afternoon, and a week later it picked up its first ticket, as it was improperly parked during that time.

12 days after it was initially parked, on Tuesday afternoon, I filed it with 3-1-1 as abandoned, and within 2-hours the NYPD had updated it with:

The Police Department responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary.

Really? Okay, cool.

Two days later, as that Thursday restrictions rolled around again, the NYPD traffic enforcers came around gave the car a ticket, placing it on top of the one from the week before…on a vehicle already listed as “abandoned”.

So I reached out and Tweeted to the 66th Precinct and my local councilman, saying:

This is ridiculous. 66th Precinct just added another ticket to this car for alternate street parking (on top of the other ones already on there), but don’t think it’s an issue?!

And the 66 responded saying:

Great, Friday, July 27th should be the end of this vehicle taking up a parking space, and preventing the street from getting cleaned.

Except it wasn’t…as no one showed up to look at it. And despite follow-up tweets from me on Monday and Tuesday, nothing changed.

As I came home on Thursday, the third one that it was illegally parked on, I saw a traffic enforcement agent putting a third ticket on it, on top of the other two that were starting to shrivel up from sitting in the sun.

I got out of the car and walked over to the agent, who surprisingly didn’t speak English. As I tried to have a conversation with him about the vehicle, asking him “What do I have to do to get this car towed”, he just walked away repeating the line “I’m just doing my job”, ignoring what I was saying and just wanting to get on with his day.
The real question is, why is he able to put a ticket on a car that already has two for the same violation, and not be obligated to call it in for a removal?

After he left I walked down the block, where a car from a different precinct was pulled over, and asked them for advice. They told me to call the 66 and ask for a Tow.

So I called the 66 directly and spoke to someone at the switchboard, who said they would send someone out to take a look.

Before the end of the hour a cruiser had pulled up, and shortly after a tow truck showed up and removed the car.
Seriously, that’s all it took in the end.

But it’s a little sad that in the summer months, when traffic is down in the area, it still takes weeks to get a reported abandoned vehicle, with tickets piling up, off the streets.

Google Trips is the perfect companion for your next trip, whether you know what you are going to be doing or just need some ideas.

The app is simple enough, add your location and dates, and the app starts to take care of the rest.

Once you have a location in place, there are a few things that pop up, and auto-populate, to help you out, some of them include:

  • Reservations – One of the cool parts of Google (which many find creepy, but I love) is that Google Trips will import things from your emails, such as hotel and plane reservations, and if it doesn’t pull it in, you can manually place the information yourself
  • Things To Do – This tab includes Top Spots, tailored spots just For You, Local Favorites, Landmarks, Kid Friendly, and many other “things to do”
  • Saved Places – When you place that little Star on a location in Google Maps and save it off, it’ll show up in this folder
  • Day Plans – This tab will group together items that are in a nearby area, and actually map out a walking path for you to hit them all up
  • Food & Drink – An overview of local cuisine, specialties, and nightlife, as well as some of the Top Spots, sorted by cuisine and costs
  • Getting Around – This is one of the cooler sections, especially in a foreign locale, with information on the airports, public transportation, taxis, walking, biking, and driving, With driving it’ll give you tips such as when traffic will be heavier, where and when you can park on the streets, and any odd restrictions that the city may have
  • Need To Know – These are the essentials that you need to know when going somewhere. Who do you call in case of emergency (911, 112, etc.), what hospitals are available to you, and if you need healthcare? What is the sales tax like, where are the best places to shop, what currency can you use, and how much is standard tips?
    And in a modern day twist, where can you find WiFi, or more importantly: Free WiFi hotspots.

The app is available on Android and iOS, and for more of everything that I just said, check out their shiny website!!

Heartbreak is unavoidable, and loneliness is brutal. I’ve learned that the key to being happy is to tell your truth and be OK without all the answers. This is my story. This is Simply Complicated.

The opening monologue paints the picture for this YouTube Red documentary into the life of Demi Lovato.

As her recent struggles have played out, now is a good time to view the 2017 film, and look into everything she has been through and struggled with.

Her battles with bipolar disorder and being manic, plus her constant on-again/off-again addictions to drugs, drinking, coke, as well as an eating disorder.

To only complicate matters was her love-at-first-sight with actor Wilmer Valderrama, who is 12+ years her senior, who she dated for 6 years before they went their own ways, but still remain close friends, as we’ve seen in recent weeks.

This documentary is an interesting watch, as you see how she faced thoughts of suicide from an extremely young age, and how at the drop of a dime she can snap (which has led to her punching one of her long-time friends in the face).

There are a few more things to focus on, such as her American Idol performance while hungover, and getting rid of her phone while living in a sober apartment, but ultimately, you should give this a watch and see for yourself.

One of my more popular travel posts, and the one that is most open and revealing, is my cost breakdowns of my trips, so that you can see if you can do it, or try parts of it.

Here are previous editions from Niagara, Virginia, and San Diego.

Below are Attractions, Hotels, and Gas Costs + Tolls


ATTRACTIONS

Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame = $23

Lake Placid Bobsled Run = $9

Lake Placid Olympic Center = Free

Whiteface Mountain = $12

Montreal Olympic Stadium Tour = $24.70

Montreal Clocktower = Free

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory = $4

Rock of Ages Quarry = $4

Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour = $4

Springfield Museums = $16.50

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame = $24

TOTAL COST OF ATTRACTIONS = $121.20


HOTELS

Best Western, Saranac Lake – Booked via Best Western = $98.90

Best Western, Montreal – Booked via Best Western, Two Nights = $308.39

La Quinta Inn & Suites, Springfield – Booked via Priceline = $87.97

TOTAL COST OF HOTELS = $495.26


GAS AND TOLLS

Gas Costs = $114.23 covering 1114 Miles…which comes down to about 10 cents a mile! (Or 30MPG at $3/Gallon)

When I went to Niagara, I spent a lot of time on the NY Thruway, and going thru Staten Island…these ran the tolls up.

This time, 3 out of my 5 tolls were in NYC, equalling 90% of the cost.

Hugh L. Carey Tunnel = 5.76 * 2 = $11.52

RFK Bridge = $5.76

NYS Thruway, Harriman Toll Plaza = $1.19

NYS Thruway, Amsterdam = $0.95

TOTAL COST OF GAS AND TOLLS = $133.65


TOTAL COSTS

Attractions — $121.20
Hotels — $495.26
Gas and Tolls = $133.65
TOTAL = $750.11

Finally learning what a Quarry is? PRICELESS

Two hardcore board-gamers meet at a bar trivia night, and over time fall in love and got married.

Now Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) host game nights at their house, inviting over some of their friends: Kevin (Lamorne Morris, New Girl) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury); Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and an array of blond dates; and not their next door neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons).

Now Max’s super successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler, Bloodline) is in town, and he’s the Mark Wahlberg to Max’s Donnie, and he wants to host Game Night, with a special twist: A murder mystery.

Ryan brings along Sarah (Sharon Hogan, Catastrophe), to add to our usual cast of characters, and they set off on an epic adventure, as this murder mystery seems all too real.

With gunshots and fights, Risk and Charades, plus bad guys named “The Bulgarian” (Michael C. Hall) and “Marlon Freeman” (Danny Huston), this movie wasn’t anything like I expected (although maybe I should’ve watched the trailer first?) and was very enjoyable, getting and 8 out of 10.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass is a great place to learn the history of the game, and all the players that turned it into the game it is today.

This three-story building has a different focus on each level, as you start from the top floor and work your way down:

  • Third Floor: Take a lap around as you follow the history of the game from the beginning until today, as the ceiling has the pictures of all the Hall of Famers, and there is an assortment of memorabilia, from rings to basketballs, and keys to the city.
  • Second Floor: Jerseys, sneakers, basketballs, and trophies. From every team and every era. Sections on the NBA and MAAC, and areas devoted to The Media and Coaches. This also starts the parts that are great for kids. Import yourself into NBA Jam, practice your jumps and see how high you can grab a rebound…see if you can palm a basketball or just shoot arcade-style hoops. And the really cool part? Try your hand at being a member of the media. Sit behind the “Sports desk” and give the highlights from the game, or slide into the radio booth and give your own take on some of the most famous calls in basketball history.
  • First Floor: Center Court, a rack of basketballs and an open court to shoot around on. Along one wall are all the different styles of hoops thru the years, so you can try your luck on the old-fashioned literal basket. There’s also a row of hoops, at different heights, to see how high you are able to dunk.

What’s that? Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks want to give you free drinks for your birthday? Who would say no to that?

But it’s not just them that want to give you free stuff, it’s tens of companies, and there’s one company that will put it all together and remind you who to take advantage of to get these deals.

The company is called Huledet, which is Hebrew for “birth”, and by signing up on Huledet.com you’ll get an email on the first of your special month, with a list of online offers, and some local ones to cash in on.

  • Free magazine subscriptions
  • Free Beef Jerky
  • Discounts to Basic Outfitters, Fanchest, Grow & Behold
  • Deals 16 Handles / Burger Bistro / New York Comedy Club / Peapod
  • Free slice of pizza at Bravo Pizza

Not every deal will be good for everyone, but Happy Birthday regardless!!

The fifth museum at the Springfield Museums is the Dr. Seuss Museum, and it may be the centerpiece of it all, as they all surround the National Memorial Sculpture Garden.
In case you missed them, the first four were the Science Museum, the Springfield History Museum, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, and the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

Let’s split this into two parts, the Museum and the Garden.


Dr. Seuss Museum

This museum is great for kids and super cool for adults.

The ground floor is meant for kids, as they have characters from all sorts of Seuss books, from Horton to The Cat in the Hat, and Yertle the Turtle to Things 1 & 2.

When you head upstairs you get to experience the life of Theodor Seuss Geisel. They have his study and desk, as well as sketches that he made, and a family tree. Other things include his stuffed animal, which he kept with him his whole life, and his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star.
They also have notes and cards that he sent to relatives for birthdays and other occasions.

This is a fun place to relive your youth and discover new Seussian adventures, as I did with the book “You’re Only Old Once”, which turned out to be an adult book for those visiting the Doctors and popping pills.


Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden

In the middle of this grouping of museums is a nice lawn, dotted with sculptures of all sizes to commemorate Dr. Seuss. A tall Yertle statue to a tiny little Lorax are the side notes to the two larger pieces.

Horton Court includes Horton and a bunch of other smaller creatures, all next to “The Storyteller”, which has Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat sitting there writing a book, and a giant copy of “Oh The Places You’ll Go”.

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