On the Road Again: Upper State New York

Who knew that it would be warm enough to be sunning myself in upstate New York during the first week of October?

Ah… my gratitude is immense—you may remember that I’m the one who mourns  summer’s passing. (It’s not like i haven’t paid my dues—having lived in the north woods of Maine for 7 years;  I can split wood and build a fire with the best of them.)

But I’ve never been to the Hudson River Valley before and it is soothing to the eyes and a balm to the mind; I recommend it heartily.

The distant mountains remind me of the Smokies in height and hue—though Ellioto says they are not as high. And the trees are beginning to yellow, tinging the landscape with the promise of changing colors as the reds are now beginning to blush. I see what all the fuss is about.


Wineries prosper between N.Y. City and Troy, extending in full force near the Finger Lakes,  due west of here. Fruity whites—particularly Rieslings—are the favored flavor, if a bit sweet for my astringent taste.



Saratoga Springs is a happening place—well suited for my shopping urge. Upscale resale didn’t let me down!







The restaurants are plentiful and creative as are the wine bars, trendy with their Indy beers.

 Busking on the sidewalks, musicians                                entertain, a perfect setting for Ellioto’s birthday!







Saratoga Springs was named after the sparkling mineral water that feeds the soil and those who care to fill their bottles.  In the early 1900’s, there was a movement to halt the over-consumption of the bubbly sustenance which was being bottled for its natural carbonation.


We dined at a tavern that has been in business since the early 1700’s at a time when the area was occupied by the Algonquian-speaking Mahican Indians before they were displaced by both Dutch and British colonists.

The springs were appreciated by the natives for their healing qualities. which they shared with their interloping friends (sorry, if I sound a little caustic).

Our deep-dimpled waiter told us that many report hauntings on the premises. The Inn is quaint and the food was delicious—I hope to copy the creamy, tangy tomato bisque recipe` which they were generous enough to promise to send to us, for the asking.

You may recognize Saratoga as being famous for horse racing which began in 1863, which greatly increased the city as a tourist destination. But did you know that the creation of the potato chip is purported to have been here? Legend has it that in 1853, a diner visiting Moon’s Lake House was dissatisfied with the fried potatoes that he ordered and sent them back to the kitchen multiple times. The chef sliced them thinner in response then covered them in salt and deep fried them—and that’s the beginning of America’s most unhealthy snack!


Soon, we’ll be moving on to Germany–thanks for reading and may Peace be with you.

The Good Natured Traveler

Reflecting on Madrid: 1st time around

Last Winter,  I was fortunate enough to make 3 trips to Madrid—thanks to Ellioto, who was on a 6-month fellowship to Universidad San Carlos III de Madrid.  He was living on the top floor of university-housing, so we were living with the students, so to speak.

Coming from a college town, I probably felt more at ease with college students than they did with me. English is not so much a second language with the locals as it is for the students who have helped us more than once–otherwise, I would still be trying to figure out those coin washers at the laundromat!

Arriving on St. Patrick’s Day, my Irish soul felt the luck of amazing weather, fresh and clear, luring my jet-lagged self out into the day. This weekend the temps are in the 70’s, though it’s a bit early and not yet consistent. With nary a cloud marring the baby-blue, an occasional jet streaks stripes above me. The breeze gentles my spirit as I settle into this exotic land.

There are date palms trees here, the result of Madrid’s moderate climate. Birds harken in song and across the lush green lawn, groups of college kids dot the grass, their guitars plucking Spanish rhythms as they sing aloud. It’s hypnotic and I could not sit still as I acclimated to the Spanish thrum.

Others practiced gymnastic flips, on high and low bars, offering me a show. Boom boxes revved-up their moves, while their incomprehensible chatter reminded me that I am the foreigner here. And so, they posed and showed off as I snapped a few shots.

Similar to Oxford’s crosswalk-law, cars stop for pedestrians and no one seems rude or irritated. Thus, I vowed to return home with a more agreeable attitude.

There are not as many bicycles as in other European cities that we have visited, but there are bike paths, parks with fountains and playgrounds located every few blocks where families with dogs, complete the wholesome scene. Grandparents in tow, the children seem mellow and happy.







And what of Spanish food, you ask? It is not as spicy as Mexican; local cheese is delish; Paella is a staple and the wine is less expensive than bottled water however, I never did get used to having fried anchovies served up with my beer!

Autumn’s Sweet Breath

 Sitting in the sweet morning’s early light, in my own backyard in SW Ohio,  I’m conscious of how Autumn is chasing away Summer’s close breath, like the coolness of a breath-mint, clean, fresh and mentholated.

But the grass is still deep emerald green, having had enough rain to make Ohio stand proud and pretty in its party dress.

The cornfields offer their own kind of show– red=headed tassels as the sun lights them from above. The stalks vary in colors, from green to yellow and russet brown–determined by what?  When they were planted?  The elevation and drainage? It’s a question that my 8 year old grandson, Ty, might ask.

The black-eyed Susan’s have run out of colorful petals and remain as dark seed pods, easy-access to the birds.

The cone-flower, Echinacea,  has lost its flirty color–a come-hither to the butterflies– offering a harvest of wellness tea for the changing of the seasons—bittersweet and blessed.

Traveling the world has offered me a perspective about my own hometown to which I’d been blind:  the beauty of a pasture; the sparkle of a lake;  the smell of fresh-mown hay–triggering childhood memories of times when I would lie on the warm summer earth, trying to make images of the clouds, punctuated by occasional  jet streams  criss-crossing the soft blue sky, adding a distant hum to the crickets’ and cicadas’ cadence as I spun my dreams.

Soon I will be on the road again–traveling in awe and wonder, hopefully meeting a new friend or few.  It’s nice to appreciate what I am–and love  because of whence I came.

All the best,


The Good Natured Traveler