Sunday, November 20, 2005

Chapter 4: Last Days in Albany

The remainder of the Albany portion of the trip was full of fun and food. I visited Indian Ladder Farms with Lorraine. One of my favorite places, ILF is an apple orchard in Altamont, NY, that offers pick-your-own apples (as well as the already picked variety). There is also a produce market, a cider mill, and a bakery. They have a small café; they sell crafts, jams and jellies, and offer tours of the farm operation.

We stopped in for apples and cider then drove up the Helderberg Escarpment to John Boyd Thacher State Park for views of the Hudson and Mohawk River Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges. You can actually see Indian Ladder Farms and its orchards in the lower left of the first picture below (remember: you can click on any picture to see a larger version - use the "back" key on your browser to return to the blog). While there, we encountered a group of birders taking in some of the local birds that frequent the cliff face. They had a table set up with a selection of bird books and many bird sculptures. We had as much fun watching the birders as they seemed to be having watching the birds.

The next day, my cousin Michelle and I drove up the Northway to a family picnic that mom was hosting in Moreau Lake State Park in the foothills of the Adirondacks north of Saratoga. We gorged on the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, chips, etc. A bit later, Uncle John and Aunt Grace arrived with steaks and shrimp for the grill. Man, was that good. Most of my siblings were there (5 of 7) with their friends, significant others, and kids. I hadn’t seen my brother, Scott, in many years and I didn’t recognize him at all. When he walked up to me to say hi, I introduced myself to him. We all had a good laugh at that...I spent two nights at my cousin Michelle’s new house in Albany. It’s a beautiful bungalow style house, and she’s fixing it up very nicely. I don’t know why, but I didn’t take any pictures there. On the second evening, we relaxed on the front porch with a glass of wine. Michelle’s friend, Amy, who works near by, stopped for a few minutes to say hello. Amy and Michelle visited Paris in 2004 and we spent a day walking around the city together. Here's a photo of M&A in Paris:

Michelle’s new boyfriend, Dimitri, joined us briefly before we headed over to my Aunt Grace’s and Uncle John’s home for dinner. It was “meet the parents” night for Dimitri. He’s a music teacher at the junior high school that I went to so many years ago, and although he’s too young to have been there when I was (not even as a student – yikes!), he knows two of my teachers from back then. One of them just retired and the other must be very close. Aunt Grace had prepared a fantastic lasagna and the evening was fun and full of memories both old and new. Again, I took no photos. I guess we were having too much fun to fuss about with cameras. Here are John and Grace at the picnic the day before:

Michelle’s brother Mark, now an artist, was also at dinner. Mark was busy preparing for the opening of an art show he was coordinating at the Albany Institute of History and Art. He’s a founding member of Albany Underground Artists, a group dedicated to promoting local art and artists in the community. Although the show didn’t open until Thursday, Mark gave me, our gram and Aunt Kathy a personalized preview on Wednesday afternoon. It was great to wander around the gallery taking in all the works with no hustle or bustle and to have Mark to tell us about the artists and their work. You can see some of Mark’s own work on his website.

I also had a great lunch with my Aunt Faye (dad’s side of the family) at an Italian eatery where we had pizzas, and another with my friend, Lourae, whom I hadn’t seen in over 20 years, at a downtown brew-pub. I spent the final two nights at my gram’s house. She cooked dinner both nights, and the second night my mom was down from Glens Falls. We had a pork roast, gram’s home-made applesauce, a waldorf salad, and other goodies, along with a bottle of Beaujolais that I picked up earlier in the day. That night was hot and humid and thunderstorms rumbled outside. The heavy air and my memories of steamy upstate summers kept me tossing and turning until morning.

I finished my visit to Albany on Thursday, a week after I had arrived. Gram and Aunt Kathy took me out to lunch at the Ginger Man Café, a terrific little restaurant with a very respectable wine list close to downtown. After a great Caesar salad with grilled chicken, I took Gram and Kathy back to the house and headed down the Thruway. I have to admit that I felt a bit strange as I watched Corning Tower fade into the distance in my rear-view mirror. I really had enjoyed being back in Albany and seeing family and friends after so much time away. I guess I wasn’t expecting that.

My flight to San Francisco was scheduled to leave that evening at 6:20pm from Newark Liberty Airport. The drive south was pleasant and uneventful, but the weather had turned and the overnight storms were still in the air. Hurricane Ophelia was churning up the southeastern coast and a deep low pressure system was moving through the mid-west. None of this boded well for an on-time departure.


  1. I remember going up to the Helderberg Escarpment with you in -- could it have been? -- 1982. The views were magnificent. One of these days we'll have to take another trip back to Albany.


  2. Nice pictures! I can't wait for summertime!


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