Monthly Archives: August 2015

Friday Night Fooding

It took us a while, but we finally go around to going to Dundas Park Kitchen, voted best cheap eats 2013. The kicker is we used to live so close by to it and now we had to transit out one way*. We looked up the menu online and I had high hopes for dinner. I knew already what I was going to order, there was no question: breakfast sandwich! Brent had been considering the half chicken meal but was dissuaded by a side of soup. I had a bite of his sandwich and I could not for the life of me decide if it was better than mine. We swapped back and forth again, still no verdict. Both sandwiches were amazing, but in different ways too. The chicken in Brent’s sandwich was better than the breakfast sausage in mine, but the toppings, oh man the toppings were amazing. I wolfed it down in no time.

For dessert we had ordered two cookies and a galette (fruit filled pastry with almond). We were too full for the galette, but I could not resist the cookies. The chocolate chip one with a pretzel in the middle was pretty good, but I could do without the pretzel. The chocolate chips were all melty. The birthday cake cookie however, that was the best birthday cake cookie I have ever had. Ever. It was so fresh and chewy and tasted like vanilla cake. I caved and ate the pastry as we walked home, it was a bit dense but the fruit filling was good, especially with the hint of almond flavour.

If I lived closer this would definitely be a regular haunt for me.


*this will become a recurring theme until I get used to it



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Cake Batter x2

You might be thinking I’ve given up my baking/cooking Pinterest project, as I have not posted in forever. I’ve been busy, and avoiding baking as it is starting to have its toll on my poor, poor waistline. No worries, I recently had some more baking excuses! And they happened to be themed: birthday cake! I hate admitting that another year has passed, but I used my birthday and a recent long weekend spent at the cottage as excuses for more baking.

For our weekend at the cottage I made birthday cake blondies from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I was hesitant at first, as the recipe calls for boxed cake mix and I prefer making stuff from scratch. In the end however, I was pressed for time so it worked out well. The recipe is very simple and straight-forward, it takes no time at all. The only trouble is the baking time, it was off for me. My first batch came out a little over-baked and so I reduced the time for the second half. This might be because I was using a toaster oven, but for future bake it for 5 minutes less and check on it. They were delicious and did indeed taste like cake batter. Next time however I will try using yellow cake mix, as I had used vanilla and the flavour of that overpowered the cake batter flavour at times.

Continuing in the birthday cake excuses for birthday vein, I chose to be more adventurous with my second recipe. I decided to attempt to make cake batter truffles. It seemed easy enough plus I had some extra cake mix laying around from a previous recipe and I had just bought sprinkles for the cake batter blondies. The truffle part was easy to make. What they neglect to mention is that the sprinkles will bleed colour into the truffle and onto your hands as you shape them. Then came the hard part: the chocolate coating. Things really fell apart here. It became a terrible mess and I started having flashbacks to that time I tried to make cakepops. It was a kitchen disaster all over again. Really, unless you having awesome kitchen skills, this recipe is not that great and not worth the trouble.


Cheapest Dinner and Dessert

Now that we have had to start transiting out in one direction, it only makes sense to start stacking our fooding adventures if it makes sense. And so one evening we found ourselves on the subway going to Eglinton West. The plan was to go to Randy’s and grab the best Jamaican patty for dinner. Not exactly our usual dinner style, we ate our beef patties (the chicken and veggie were sold out) as we walked to our next destination: Doce Minho bakery for best Portuguese custard tarts. I kept burning my mouth trying to eat the beef patty, I was hungry and it was delicious. It was difficult to wait for it to cool. It got a bit messy at one point as the filling oozed out when I bit into it. The beef patty had a nice spicy kick to it. The custard tart was only ok. It was by no means better than the ones at Venezia. Those were amazing, I still dream of them sometimes. It might be that the ones from Doce Minho were not warmed up, but even still that would not have closed the gap. So far dinner was very inexpensive, we had not even broken $15. Yet.

We still had one more place to go, dessert stop number two of the evening. La Paloma on St. Clair near Dufferin had recently been voted best gelato. It was a hot summer day and we were already on Dufferin St., it only made sense to go there. I’ve yet to have bad gelato, but would this be better than Dolce Gelato? It is hard to say, really they are on par. At first when I looked at the cup size, small seemed tiny. And even though in a small you could only try one flavour, I decided not to risk it. I was right not to, the scoop was huge and bulging over. It would have been far too much to get the next size up. Of the three flavours (Brent had a medium size and two flavours) the amaretto (i.e.: the one I had chosen) was by far the winner. The gelato cost more than the tarts and the beef patties combined.

It was a long slow walk back home. It took us just over 2 hours to get back. Pretty soon we will have to start transiting both ways.


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Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts: Double Loop- Day 10

Sun. July 19, 2015:

Massachusetts- Connecticut- Toronto

I woke up and I was kind of looking forward to going, our bed was like a cement slab and my back was hurting. This time for breakfast I had only gotten yogurt and granola. I started watching The Grand Hotel but then I realized I would need the iPad in the airport, I bailed on watching and instead plugged it in to charge. It was nice to have an afternoon flight, it meant we did not have to rush in the morning. We still had to drive back to Connecticut and return the car. This was the last leg of the trip, our double loop. We had been driving for an hour and no new license plates. Looking at my map it seemed like no one ever leaves West Virginia.

Our car was due back at the rental at noon, we got to the airport at 12:15pm. Brent was all ready to go through security, having forgotten that first we need to get our boarding passes. It was such a small airport that there were no self check-in kiosks. At the ticket counter there was a sign saying that they would be back at 1pm. I back-tracked to the Dunkin’ Donuts I had said there was no time for. Brent wandered off and ended up going back to wait in line. Just as I arrived he was about to go up to the counter, I had impeccable timing. We got through security quickly and had time to spare. We found a pub and had lunch while watching highlights from the PanAm games. We half-joked about delays, though I was secretly worried. We had a delay-free flight back home.


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Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts: Double Loop- Day 9

Sat. July 18, 2015:


The first thing we did in the morning was to Google where the Boston Symphony Orchestra was playing that evening. Based on last night’s ballet, I was starting to think that the Tanglewood Festival was a casual affair. I was right, the dress code (if you can call it that) for the orchestra was “informal”, and I kind of figured that if the concert is taking place somewhere with the word “shed” in the name it would be casual. Breakfast at the hotel flat out sucked. I had a crappy piece of raisin bread toast and a yogurt. There was granola, I tossed some in my yogurt but still- what kind of a hotel doesn’t serve pastries for breakfast?!

Unfortunately for Shakespeare on the Mount, an outdoor performance of Shakespeare as part of Tanglewood, we had to get dressed up real fancy. We had lunch reservations right after, at Blantyre (Inn?). We looked up the weather before heading out, it said no rain until the evening. We grabbed a towel to sit on for the grassy lawn. As we were picking up our tickets at will-call (a tent with a foldable table) we felt a few rain drops. What’s a few rain drops we thought? No rain until the evening the weather service said. At will-call we found out that they rent lawn chairs for $2/each. Much better than trying to get comfy in a dress and heels on a small towel on the grassy knoll. We wound up using the towel as an umbrella when it rained. At first the rain was not that bad, the play went on. It was an abridged version of Hamlet. The rain let up, giving us hope, only to come back with a vengeance. The sky tore open and it just poured rain on us. Off in the distance you could hear peals of thunder. The play was paused and we were ushered into the barn. The company policy was to wait it out for 15 minutes and see if the rain subsided. We were now not only hilariously over-dressed, but soaking wet to boot. In the end we decided to leave, we, the chairs and the towel were soaked. Due to the delay we would have to leave early and we would not have a chance to freshen up before lunch.

I felt silly in the hotel, standing there aiming a hair-dryer at myself. I did not feel like getting undressed as we did not have much time. I briefly considered ironing my clothes to dry it. I had worn heels and thanks to the rain, they had torn up the lawn. There were tufts of grass and mud caked onto my heels. At least I had aerated the lawn for them. In the parking lot of the Blantyre, in our fancy dress clothes, we saw a guy in khakis. I swore I’d be pissed if he ended up going in there dressed like that. (He did).

The hotel was really fancy on the inside, there was a mounted deer head over the fireplace and fancy porcelain figurines and beautiful wooden furniture everywhere. The servers at the restaurant were all dressed like 50s diner waitresses. It was really weird and at odds. We had looked the menu up online earlier, we went in expecting a prix fixe lunch. Luckily they had changed that and we could order a-la carte. A lady at a nearby table had ordered the steak (which had been my prix fixe choice) and it looked like way too much food. Instead we split a cheese plate, which only solidified my thought on cheese plates: they are too risky if you are not an avid all-types-of-cheese lover. The goat cheese was not for me (or you know, wretched). We also ran out of crackers and had to pile on the cheese. For the mains we ordered sandwiches. It was a nice light lunch, even though I got full and could not finish my sandwich. The winner was the grainy mustard in my sandwich. My only complaint was: who serves a sandwich with cheese and doesn’t melt the cheese?! Who does that?! In a ham and cheese sandwich that cheese should be melted! My sandwich did not exactly match with my glass of rose wine, but I had to try something from their huge fancy award-winning wine collection.

We tried watching Lost on Netflix, but Brent was dozing off. I brewed a cup of tea and settled into a comfy chair with my book, Catcher in the Rye and caught on my reading. After a while I got fidgety, Brent woke up, and we went down to the vending machines for some snacks. The stupid machine would not sell me a Snickers bar, it kept telling me to give it the “correct change,” last time I checked vending machines give change. It would also not return my money. After mashing a few buttons I ended up getting a Crispy Kit Kat. Having not learned my lesson, I again tried to buy a Snickers bar. The only thing that ended up working was Famous Amos mini chocolate chip cookies. They were not good. We finished watching Lost, while eating the world’s crappiest snacks.

Afterwards Brent drove me to the outlets, I cracked and could not resist a mini-shopping trip. Partly I used the excuse of having to buy my sister a birthday present. I had no luck with that though. I did buy some workout clothes, which made me feel better about all the bad eating lately. At the Lindor outlet the cashier convinced me to sign up for their loyalty card, saying that of my 5 chocolates I’d get 3 free and the program works in Canada. Then it came time to spell my last name. She laughed and asked me how to pronounce it. When her co-worker walked by she showed it to him, he also laughed.

Brent picked me up an hour later and reported that there was no line-up at Friendly’s. When we got there we realized the line was to the pick-up window outside, not because the place was especially busy. Inside however was a different story, we got one of the last free tables. Maybe it was the dinner rush? The bacon cheeseburger was ok, but it was nothing to rave about. The clear winner was the waffle fries. We had to get ice cream for dessert because Friendly’s advertised itself as an ice cream parlour. There were a lot of options and there was quite the debate. In the end we settled on Friend-Zs (what happens in Canada when it’s zed?). They were like McFlurry’s, and that way we could get them to go. We thought maybe we would get to choose the ice cream base, but nope it was just the same old vanilla soft serve you get everywhere. The Butterfinger one was good, but it was no different than getting a Blizzard. Brent had one with Reese cups and hot fudge, it was way too rich and too many flavours. It was fun trying to feed him as he drove. As we got close to the hotel I could hear the GPS giving directions… from inside the armrest console. Oops. Outside our room, our neighbour was sitting on the hall-porch with a giant magnifying glass reading a book on a music stand.

On our way to the symphony there was a road sign about Tanglewood parking, we followed it, ignoring the GPS and soon realized we were going the wrong way. We managed to get back on track and find the parking lot at The Shed at Tanglewood. There were a lot of people there to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform music by Mozart. Apparently there had been general admission tickets available for lawn seating. Thankfully they had not been sold online, and we had seats under the covered roof. In keeping with the spirit of the day, when we had actual outdoor (semi-outdoor) stuff to do, it rained. We wandered the grounds a bit. There was a gorgeous view of the Berkshire Mountains and you could see the rain off in the distance as it started moving closer to us. The performance was great, the conductor was very passionate in a wacky sort of way. he clearly loved the music and loved his job. I felt so cultured, having already been to the ballet and to Shakespeare, now listening to the orchestra (ladeeda).

Leaving Tanglewood the traffic was not bad at all. They had redirected it so that everyone exiting used both lanes. We were driving on the wrong side of the road, it was a bit scary but there were enough other cars that I was entertained by it and I felt British. I ended up having a Sierra Mist craving, sadly there were no gas stations on the route back. It seemed our hotel was full of Tanglewood-goers.



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Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts: Double Loop- Day 8

Fri. July 17, 2015:

New York- Massachusetts

Breakfast at the hotel was a voucher to be used at a sit-down restaurant. It was free, but it did not feel like it was worth the effort. We had a busy day planned and I relished the chance to instead sleep in and just go to Dunkin’ Donuts on the way instead. The Chips Ahoy iced coffee tasted more like liquid cookies than it did like coffee. That pretty much sealed it for me: no more messing about at Dunkin’ Donuts, it was coffee or bust. You cannot start a day of travelling on an empty stomach, a Chips Ahoy creme donut was just the thing to get the day going. After all, chewy Starbursts were not enough of a breakfast.

Our day started at Fort Montgomery. The admission was free and there was no tour, it was my kind of historic site. I soon found why this was so. There was not much left of the fort, just remains and foundations, as parts of it had burned down after the Revolutionary war. The site seemed small and there were info panels strewn about. They had cannons set up as they would have during the war, facing the Hudson River. It was fun to stand behind the 32 pound cannon and imagine firing at incoming ships. It also provided a nice view of the river. The site turned out to be larger than we had anticipated, it had a trail to a zoo that we did not have time to check out.

We did not have more time at Fort Montgomery, as we were booked on a tour of Westpoint Military Academy. For some reason our tour group consisted mostly (seriously more than 80%) of a smaller sub-tour group of Chinese tourists- I’m not sure why they did not have a private tour, it was a large group. The sub-tour group would rush onto the bus and cut in line as if there was limited seating or the bus would leave them behind. The bus had reserved seating and we were all guaranteed a place. Because it is an active military academy we had tos how our passports, we were not Americans. The tour was good, we drove around campus and stopped at various points. We did not get to see everything, but we did see the main lookouts onto the river. On the tour we found out that this was the site of Fort Clinton. I had seen information about it at Fort Montgomery and wondered why we were not going there. Now I knew. After the last stop we sat near the front of the bus so we could be the first ones off. We wanted to beat the parking lot rush. We almost ran to the car, not just to get out of the parking lot first but also to get to the McDonald’s next door. It was lunch time and we were hungry. The last thing we wanted was to be stuck in line behind a giant tour group.

After we had ordered our food and sat down, a few people from our tour came in. One guy went up to the counter and came back with at least 20 empty cups. He then came back for a few more. I considered getting a sundae, but we had plans to go to a bakery later so I held off. I managed to redeem my free smoothie coupon for a strawberry lemonade instead. It was so good, it had actual lemon wedges and chunks of strawberries in it. The sirloin 1/3lb burger was pretty good, however I had to pick out the onions. I always forget about the onions as I am so focused on “no lettuce, no tomatoes.” I won again in the Minions promo, this time a free medium soda.

We arrived at Storm King Art Centre just after high noon. An outdoor art centre, in the blazing sun, in the middle of summer. At first it was great, it felt like an awesome summer day. I was entranced by the giant sculptures, along in big grassy fields. There were a few that moved gently with the wind, it was serene. Then the water started running low, the sun grew stronger and I became acutely aware of the sunscreen and sweat mixing together as a layer atop my skin. On the map it showed bathrooms at the far end of the big field, we got there only to find port-a-potties with no sign of water fountains. Walking back along the other side of the big field, all I could think about was ice cold water at the main building. I had run out of water, and we were walking in the direction of the sun. I was getting dehydrated and fast, the copious amounts of sweat dripping from me only made matters worse. It was torture to walk by the pond, all I could think of was jumping in and claiming I wanted a better view of the Roy Lichenstein piece. Or that I wanted to gawk at the turtles sitting on the art piece that is a wall running through the pond.

I was getting the sun-crazies, and bad. It was boiling hot outside and I was getting cotton-mouth. As we walked up to the main building we saw a lady posing in front of sculpture while a guy took her picture. He then asked her “you and the sculpture, is that what you want in the photo?” and she answered yes. He replied angrily, “good, because that’s what you got” and he shoved the camera back to her. We were amazed. The inside of the house featured small sculptures. It was nice to be inside and away from the sun, but there was no air-conditioning, just fans. The sculptures felt repetitive and it was not nearly as interesting as the earlier stuff we had seen.

Back outside, no sooner had I refilled my water bottle I had to top it off, as I ended up drinking about half as we walked away from the water fountains. The second half of the art centre was in wooded area, it was much cooler and the area was smaller. The sculptures were not as interesting and some were hard to find, even with our map. We ended up missing a few, but it was hard to tell where we should have gone to see them.

Back in the parking lot I noticed a colourful license plate, but the state name was covered up by the license plate holder. It was driving me nuts, and I never did find out what state it was. The GPS said it was a 2 hour drive to Berkshire Mountain Bakery. I tried to fill my chocolate cravings with chips, but it just was not working. I resorted to passively staring out the window. There weren’t many cars, so my license plate game failed to keep me occupied. We passed a prison but it was hard to see anything. We were driving on the same stretch of road as last time, passing again through Newburgh. I was starting to get sleepy, munching on Doritos kept me awake for a while. Back at the license plate game I only needed 9 more states to complete my map! It felt so close! Brent thought a car with a bike rack on the roof was a cop, it gave me a good laugh. Soon it got boring again, we were passing the same endless row of pylons on the side of the road. We saw a cop backing into a secluded forested spot on the median, facing cars going the other direction. It was the perfect little hidey-hole for him to look for speeders, as he was concealed by all the trees.

Soon enough we were back in Massachusetts and only 20 minutes to go until we arrived at the bakery! It took a little more than that as the bakery was impossible to find. We were going the right way but it seemed like there were just warehouses and then houses, so we turned around and went the other way. The street changed names, so we turned around and kept going. Turns out the bakery is in a warehouse-like building. There was only a small selection of baked goods, as most of the products were bake-at-home and it was more of a wholesale bakery. Brent had a croissant and I had an amazing ginger molasses cookie. We also split a bouchon (like a two-bite brownie only better).

As we got ready for the ballet in our hotel, I wondered just how fancy this was going to be given the name of the theatre was Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Brent Googled it and it turned out we were overdoing it. It was a lot more casual than a fancy ballet. I changed into my maxi skirt instead. On the way there it rained, I was worried because one of the theatre company’s stages is outdoors. The performance was held in what seemed like a former barn, refitted as a theatre. I fit right in with my maxi skirt outfit, everyone else was similarly dressed. The first half of the ballet was OK, there was some contemporary dancing mixed in. During the intermission we wandered around the grounds but there was not much to see. Plus I was getting annoyed because my heels were digging into the ground. The second half was the world premiere of a new show: ballet choreographed to nature sounds. I was not a fan of it. The sound was too quiet and you could hear the dancers as they landed and their ballet shoes squeaking on the stage. We did not stay for the Q&A afterwards. We basically bolted for the parking lot to beat the rush.

We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home for a late dinner. I was too tired and headache-y to go to Friendly’s (which was two doors down from McDonald’s). On the way Brent noticed a street named Premium Outlet Blvd. and commented on how weird it was. As it turns out there was an outlet mall near our hotel! I was tired and my face was slightly burned, all I wanted at McDonald’s was a hot fudge sundae, but no, the machine just had to be broken. I did not have my winning coupon from earlier either, so I settled for 6 piece chicken nuggets (my third choice after ice cream and lemonade of course). While we waited for our food there was a really weird guy checking me out. Brent later said he had ordered a filet-o-fish without the sauce. As we were leaving he checked me out- again. Still craving ice cream, I went to the gas station next door for dessert (so sad). They had a Snickers drumstick ice cream cone, two great things in one! As I was paying, the guy at the gas station asked me if the fun had started yet and smiled. I had no idea what he meant, I just stared at him as he handed me the change.

In the hotel I tried to open my last drink of the trip, a kriek lambic I had been saving. I had forgotten that not only does it have a bottle cap, but underneath that there is a cork. The hotel did not have a corkscrew and so my beer was trapped. The hotel also did not give free conditioner, instead they had placed two shampoos in the bathroom. A great time for me to run out of conditioner. I went to bed thinking about how poofy my hair would be in the morning.


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Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts: Double Loop- Day 7

Thurs. July 16, 2015:

Connecticut- New York

I woke up at 7:30am and was not having it, I went right back to sleep until 8:50am at which point I gave up on trying to sleep. There was no coffee maker in the room, therefore I had to order an expensive cup of coffee at our fancy breakfast, as  breakfast was not included. included on the expensive breakfast menu was an $8 bowl of Raisin Bran. Who orders that? Why is that a menu item?! I ordered a stack of lemon blueberry pancakes. I was served an enormous stack of pancakes, it seemed insurmountable. That is, until I cut into one. They only seemed big, but they were so light and fluffy that I managed to eat them all.

We ended up taking the same route as we had on our second day, I recognized the signs as we entered New York state (again). It had been a few days but finally I got a new license plate for my map: Colorado. We passed by a State Trooper who wound up speeding ahead of us, clearly he had bigger fish to fry than us for barely going over the speed limit. The two cops sitting in the median looking for speeders also did not seem to care. Later on we saw the State Trooper again. She had pulled over a guy by a roadwork site. We had seen her following him for a while and we wondered if she had waited until he was near the road work so the fine would be worse. The driver was pissed, he was yelling at her when we drove by.

Our first stop of the day was at Cold Spring, NY, a small town on the Hudson River. There was a walkway under the train tracks to get to the waterfront. There was a pretty view of the river and we could also see the military academy that we would be touring the next day. Brent had mentioned an ice cream shop called Moo Moo’s Creamery, alas they did not open until 1pm. On their website they claimed to be the best in the world, I highly doubt that if they are not even open at 11am. I was starting to crash, I was feeling sleepy and in desperate need of coffee.

There was a fancy plaque welcoming us to historic Sleepy Hollow. As it turns out the Sleepy Hollow cemetery anticipates tourists coming to visit and they have a map with points of interest marked on it. The cemetery was a lot bigger than we had expected. I really thought we would be there maybe 10 minutes, walk up to a few graves, look at the headless horseman bridge, see the Old Dutch Church and we’d be on our way. We had to drive from point to point because it was too far to walk. Additionally we saw Washington Irving’s grave, Chrysler’s mausoleum and a haunted tombstone.

We looked up a Friendly’s on the GPS for lunch. After a 20 minute drive through traffic we got to a crappy plaza with no Friendly’s. On the way we had passed a Smashburger, however the GPS did not recognize it when I tried to search. We set the GPS to take us back to Sleepy Hollow cemetery in the hopes that we would take the same route back.

Success! Smashburger was very similar to other not-so-fast-food burger joints like Five Guys and UnionBurger. They did not have anything too fancy that caught my eye, however the bacon cheeseburger sounded perfect. It was so delicious, however it was also incredibly greasy, it was running down my arm. We decided to split an order of spicy fries. Even though we ordered regular size and split it, it was still too much food. We could barely finish it.

When we got to Philipsburg Manor & Kykuit Information Centre we signed in and got our tickets for the tour. Our bus was boarding in 40 minutes and we had time to kill. We asked if we could go look at Philipsburg Manor, as we had bought tickets for an earlier tour but missed it (Sleepy Hollow cemetery was bigger than we had anticipated, and also worthwhile to see). The lady said we could not just go wander around, it was by tour only. Judging by the panels in the information centre we had not missed much. It was all rebuilt and nothing was original. We also found out about a nearby church that had stained glass by Chagall and Matisse, we noted it for later.

We had to take a shuttle bus to the actual Rockefeller house as it was on a cliff/hill called Kykuit about 15 minutes away. As we waited I scoped out our tour group, they all seemed OK. Except for one handsy-couple who were busy making out. They would continue like this during the entire tour. The longer it continued, the more I grew to hate the guy with his greased back black hair full of dandruff. He could barely go 5 minutes without some form of contact, whether that be touching her hair or stroking her butt or kissing her cheek. It was really grating on my nerves. Thankfully we had an amazing tour guide, time never seemed to drag on. The 2hr 15min flew by. It was only towards the end that things started falling apart. There was one particularly annoying pretentious woman. She was looking at a litho in the Rockefeller’s private art collection, she assumed it was Picasso and wondered how much it would sell for. Upon closer inspection she realized it was in fact a litho by Braque, and completely lost interest in it. She also complained that the private art collection, part of a historic house, was not independently curated. She also saw a cement step that she exclaimed she wanted for her front yard. Then she demanded to know whose initials were carved into it, the tour guide looked at her in confusion and said that she did not know.

After the tour we drove to Union Church in Pocantico Hills. The church was closed for tours as it was after 5pm, so we wandered around the perimeter looking for the windows. Not illuminated it was hard to really appreciate them. Driving over a giant bridge over the Hudson River we were stuck in traffic. It was not the worst thing in the world, as we could see down the river a view of New York City, hazy and far away but still recognizable.

Our hotel was called Best Western on the Hudson. That was a total lie. It was Best Western off the freeway 15 minute drive to the Hudson. Brent went to check in while I waited in the car. In retrospect I wish I had gone with him. The lady at the counter thought he said his name was Ramos. She also thought his middle name was his real first name.

We dropped our bags off in our room and headed back out. We drove down to the river, as our hotel was not right next to it. As always seems to happen when we go on vacation, there was a car show going on downtown. Who goes to Nyack, NY for a car show?! Trying to find parking was a nightmare. We drove down to the river in search of a park, but even that we could not find. The plan was to go back, try and find parking downtown, if that failed we’d go get dinner instead.

We did indeed find a parking spot, probably the only one as there were other people circling near us. I still do not get the appeal of car shows. We wandered through but none of it was even remotely interesting. We kept walking down Main Stn the direction the GPS had said the riverfront park was but we could not find it. On our way back to the car we stopped and asked a cop who was directing traffic as the street had been blocked off. He told us we would have to drive to it, and he pointed south of where we were. Walking back to the car was quite the ordeal, as the sun was sitting above the horizon, glaring at us and bouncing off all the shiny cars. Even with my sunglasses I could barely stand it. Looking at the map on the GPS we got to the park on our, ignoring where it was trying to send us. Turns out the GPS was right to not send us to this park. It was a terrible little plot of grass and cement by the river, barely a park really. We got out of the car, looked at the river and left. It was barely even worth looking at.

Because we were in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, I was thrilled when the GPS said there was a McDonald’s nearby. I really feared we would have to eat in the hotel (as “downtown” would have been way too busy). We also had yet to go to McDonald’s on our trip. We stopped at Walgreens for the requisite snack purchase: crunchy Reese cups (amazing, they should be readily available everywhere alongside the regular ones) and a small bag of Doritos spicy sweet chili (as opposed to regular sweet chili?). At McDonald’s I had been hoping for some wacky menu items, but the only thing even remotely close to that was mozzarella sticks. I was tempted by the Reese’s McFlurry for dessert but the damn new menus with the calorie count written alongside the food item were working- I was so discouraged (and secretly heartbroken). They had a promotion going on about a recent movie, The Minions and they had instant win prizes on certain items. I ended up winning a small smoothie. I did not feel like waiting in line to try and get a lemonade instead of a smoothie so I put the coupon in my wallet, ensuring a future visit to McDonald’s. On our way out I noticed a sign on the door for a 50-piece box of chicken nuggets. It was tempting, but I think the only way I would sit down to that would be on a dare/challenge. Or if I was unbelievably hungry. Back in the hotel I cracked open the big cider I had been saving, Nine Pin Cider brewed in New York state. It was amazing, easily one of the best ciders I have ever had. I even drew a bunch of hearts in my notebook around that last line.


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