Archive | August 2020

Circus Trip 2018: Horse Racing Museum and Hall of Fame

Day 47, Friday, August 31, 2018

National Museum of Horse Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs, New York

I have long been interested in horse racing.  I suppose it is a natural offshoot of my love of horses.  So when I saw that there was a horse racing museum nearby, I was in!

The museum was founded in 1951, and celebrates the achievements of Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States.  Each year, 8-10 horses are inducted into the racing hall of fame, and are recognized as the best of the best.  Horses like Man O’ War, Secretariat, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Cigar, Seabiscuit and War Admiral.  If you follow horses and Thoroughbred racing, these names are surely familiar to you!

The museum was an interesting venture into the history of horse racing, which traces its roots in America back to 1665!  I enjoyed wandering around learning about the various Hall of Famers, and learning more about the history of the sport.  They had a lot of memorabilia!

After the museum, I found the Spring Street Deli a few blocks away and had the Funny Cide – a sandwich with steak, provolone, portbello mushroom and a horseradish sauce.  It was delicious!  If you are wondering why there is a sandwich called the Funny Cide, he was a New York bred Thoroughbred who is a favorite among the locals!  He was foaled in 2000 and currently lives out his retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park, at their Hall of Champions.

What an interesting dive into horse racing history!

Happy 104th Birthday to the NPS!

Today is the 104th birthday of the National Park Service.  Founded on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service manages 419 units within the system, of which 62 have the highest designation of National Parks.

The National Parks Services has over 20 designations for the sites they manage, including National Monuments, National Battlefields, National Historical Parks, National Parkways, National Recreation Areas, National Seashores, and more!  I have been fortunate enough to visit 34 National Parks, and at least 127 of the 419 units (although I’m probably missing a few here and there).  One day I would like to say I have visited them all!

In celebration of NPS’s birthday, here are a few of my favorite National Parks photos!  As you can see, it is hard to choose just a few!


Circus Trip 2018: Fort Stanwix NM

Day 46, Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York

Construction of Fort Stanwix was begun in 1758 and completed in 1762.  This star-shaped fort was built to protect the British interests at a well-used portage known as the Oneida Carry during the French and Indian War.  What’s a portage you ask?  When goods are being transported by water (especially rivers) there are times when the goods have to be hauled overland in order to get around some sort of obstacle (often a waterfall) along the water route.  It’s along these portages that the goods being transported and the people transporting them are most vulnerable to attack, so that’s where Fort Stanwix came in.

In 1768, the British and the Iroquois signed a peace treaty, to establish boundary lines between the tribal lands and white settlements.  However, the two sides did not include the other area tribes in the negotiations, so it actually inflamed hostilities, which would make things more challenging for both the British and the colonists later on.

In 1776, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the colonists occupied the fort, and set about rebuilding it.  They also renamed it Fort Schuyler.  Of course, the British weren’t ready to let the colonists go quite so easily, and began a siege of the fort.  Fortunately for the colonists, the British siege was not successful!

In 1781, the fort burned down and was not rebuilt.  The site was designated as a National Monument on August 21, 1935, but it wasn’t until 1974 that construction began on a replica fort.  In 1978, it was completed, and now about 85,000 people visit each year.

There is a dry moat around the fort and it was interesting to enter and see inside the star-shaped fort.  There is an informative movie about the history of the fort and the engagements that occurred there, and then you have a chance to wander and see the different areas of the fort.

There is a parade ground, living quarters, a magazine, and more!  I enjoyed checking it out!

After Fort Stanwix, I had a beer and a snack at the Copper City Brewing Company.  The Pete’s Pale Gansevoort Ale was a great way to relax a bit before I set off to find my next home for the night!

Home was a campground in Saratoga Springs that was hands down the weirdest campground of my trip.  It was a marina, with a very rough section of dilapidated trailers and other detritus, with some boats in the small marina.  Clearly this was home for many of these campers.  The campground for temporary campers was a field – drive through and pick your spot.  There were picnic tables randomly scattered throughout, with seemingly no rhyme or reason as to their placement.  And the bathroom – that’s another story!  This was the only shower that I said no to during my entire trip!  Not with my flip flops would I step in there!  Hard Pass!  EWWW!!!  But it was cheap, and I did have a nice chat with a woman who traveled a lot in her RV with her dogs…  It’s not a road trip without some good stories right?




COVID Diaries: Day 157

It’s the weekend! And the weekend is very much needed.

It also poured down rain last night and part of today.  I have to admit, that was much needed too.

My aunt and uncle were in town this week, so I got to spend three evenings with them.  That was fun – I always enjoy my time with them and I know my mom does too.

Last night my girlfriend Tiffany came over and we had dinner and went for a walk.  She is my oldest friend – we’ve been friends since she was 5 and I was 7! I don’t even want to say how long ago that was…

Tomorrow I’m going hiking with two other girlfriends.  It is going to be back to sunshine, and I’m so excited!

Happy Friday!

Circus Trip 2018: Finger Lakes Wineries

Day 45, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Finger Lakes Wine Trail, Geneva, New York

Seneca Falls, New York is right on the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, so of course I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to check out some of the wineries in the area!

I don’t remember how I decided which wineries to visit, but I ended up first at Ventosa Vineyards.  It was lunch time, so I started out with a glass of wine and pizza for lunch; of course I had a Riesling, as that is what the Finger Lakes region is known for!  It was delicious and lovely sitting on their patio overlooking the lake, although it was breezy!

After lunch, I went back inside to have a tasting, and Marissa guided me through some wonderful wines! In addition to Rieslings, Ventosa focuses on the Italian/Tuscan varietals, and grows all of their grapes on their estate.  I really enjoyed their Tocai Fruilano, which is unique and not often found in the United States!

After I left Ventosa, I headed a little way down the road to find Zugibe Vineyards, which was recommended by my server at Ventosa.  My visit there is best described as efficient.  My server was polite and… well… it felt rushed… And not a little unlike I was overstaying my welcome.  I did really enjoy the Dry Riesling though, so I hope she was just having a bad day…

All in all, it was a great day spent visiting the Finger Lakes Region; I would love to go back and see more of the area!

COVID Diaries: Day 152

It’s been a mellow weekend, and also quite a hot one!

I was off Friday, so I have had plenty of time to relax, as well as get in some major yard work.  I’m still working on pruning some large shrubs and trees in my front yard – who landscapes a small front yard with several 30 foot shrubs and trees!?  There really ought to be better education on this topic…

I got my hair cut on Friday – getting rid of the split ends that have been building up since my last haircut in January!  It looks and feels so nice again!  I have my layers back and my curls are so bouncy again!  Except in that picture, because it’s been straightened…  Not that there’s really anyone around to see my hair, but oh well, it’s the little things…

On Wednesday Lelani and I tried out a new trail area in town, and enjoyed a short after-work walk.  Afterwards we got beer and ciders, and walked down to see the sunset over the water.  It was so peaceful!


I finished another book last night, so now I’m up to 26 books for the year.  Not bad so far!  Cora has been enjoying some TV binge watching too.

My aunt and uncle are in town visiting my mom, so I’ll get to hang out with them some later today.  I haven’t seen them since January!

Yesterday some creepy middle-aged guy (more middle-aged than me, btw…) decided to park his car on my grass, get out of his car and proceed to urinate in my yard.  All while I was watching him.  So of course I ran over and yelled at him to leave – I had to channel my inner little crazy girl with a number of choice expletives – so hopefully he thinks better of it next time.  Gross!  I live less than a mile away from at least a dozen places one could go to the bathroom – two grocery stores, a Walgreens, a Rite-Aid, a number of fast food joints, so I’m not sure why he thought pissing in someone’s yard in a well-populated neighborhood in the middle of the city was a great idea.  I don’t understand what’s wrong with some people.

Last Sunday Lelani, Audrey and I went up to the mountain and hiked part of the Chain Lakes Trail.  We got a late start so we didn’t do the entire trail, but it was still nice to get up into the mountains and have a peaceful respite!

At work we’ve decided to have our administrative/office staff continue to work from home through the end of the year.  Another 4.5 months at least of saving on my commute!  I’m trying to stay thinking of the positives, and not the fact that I’ve barely seen any of my coworkers since mid-March.  And… we hired my new boss!  He doesn’t start until September, but that’s one big project off my plate!

Well I need to go get some more housework done, as it’s back to “work” from home tomorrow!




Book Review: In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

In 1959, four members of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas were brutally murdered in their country farmhouse.  The killers left almost no clues, and the savage nature of the crime terrified the community for six weeks as investigators searched for the men responsible.  The news gripped the nation at the time, and a nationwide search for the killers was conducted.

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote traveled to Holcomb to research the murders and interview community members, investigators, and the murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock.  He compiled thousands of pages of notes and eventually wrote what is considered by many to be the first true crime novel.  Capote explores the background and relationships of the family, as well as the killers.  He tracks their movements after the murders, in the weeks before they were captured, as well as their experiences awaiting trial and on death row.

Both Smith and Perry were executed in 1965, and are also suspected of the murder of another family that occurred in Florida while the men were on the run.

In Cold Blood is well researched and well written; the book flows well as Capote weaves together the stories of the family and their murderers.  Of course, Capote did have his detractors; those who said that even though he described the book as non-fiction, quotes and entire scenes were fictional.  I understand the criticism, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really take away from the story to know that some of it might have been created.

I listened to the audio book version; bonus that it was read by one of my favorite readers, Scott Brick!

4 stars.

Book Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss

Some of you have probably read Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley in 1818.  If you haven’t, you probably know the story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created.  Frankenstein was consumed by grief after his mother’s death of scarlet fever, and he buries himself in his chemistry experiments, eventually finding a way to bring human tissue back to life.  The monster Frankenstein is born.

Frankenstein is considered the first science fiction story, but what if it wasn’t a story?  What if Frankenstein’s monster was real?

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, #1)

This novel by Theodora Goss, explores a world in which not only the monster was real, but there were other monsters created through alchemy.  After the death of her mother, Mary Jekyll begins to search into her father’s past, on the trail of a frittered-away fortune.  She discovers that her father was keeping some deep, dark secrets, and not just about the money.  She enlists the help of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and gets caught up in an adventure that was nothing she bargained for…

Sci-fi isn’t my typical genre, but this novel held my interest from start to finish.  Her writing style is unique, told from the perspective of many characters, but it works well.  I love how she blended three amazing stories (Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Sherlock Holmes novels) , and incorporated them into her own.

I listened to the audio book, which was read using a cast of characters with different voices to help the reader keep track of the switching perspective.  It wasn’t until I was writing this review that I discovered that the book is the first in a series of three.  I might have to check out the others!

4 stars.



Circus Trip 2018: Women’s Rights NHP

Day 45, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York

White women gained the right to vote in the United States 100 years ago, in 1920.  But have you ever thought about when the movement for women’s suffrage began?  1848… That’s right – women had been fighting for the right to vote for more than 70 years before the 19th amendment was ratified by the states.  Prior to 1848, there were scattered movements around the nation, but 1848 is considered the beginning of the movement that we know today as the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  So what happened in 1848?

On Sunday July 9, 1848, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jane Hunt met and organized a Women’s Rights Convention, to occur in Seneca Falls on July 19 and 20th. They were all Quakers with the exception of Stanton, and they were fed up and wanted change.  During their planning meetings, they drafted 10 resolutions demanding that women should have equality in the family, education, jobs, religion, and morals.  They restricted the first day of the Convention to women, but allowed men on the second day and invited a number of influential men, including Frederick Douglass.

Interestingly, women’s suffrage was not one of the original demands drafted by the organizers, and the women were actually split on whether or not they wanted it included.  It was heavily debated during the convention, with many attendees believing that its inclusion would cause a loss of support for other resolutions considered to be more “reasonable.”  In the end, it was included, and the Declaration of Sentiments was signed by 100 of the 300 attendees; 68 women and 32 men.

If you are interested, you can read the Declaration of Sentiments, which is modeled after the US Declaration of Independence…

The Declaration of Sentiments

The Historical Park has several sites you can visit.  The Visitor’s Center has a lot of information about the convention, the women’s suffrage movement, and these powerful women who were instrumentation in getting it off the ground.

The Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held was built in 1843 and extensively altered in the years after the convention.  When the National Park Service acquired the site, it was a shell of a building with some original portions of the wall left standing.  They have rebuilt it, showing where the construction is original and what is reconstruction.  It is interesting to see!

I also visited the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt and Mary Ann M’Clintock.  The Stanton and M’Clintock houses are open to the public on tours, but only on select days (not when I was there).  The Hunt house was acquired by the Park Service in 2000 and they are working on restoring it.  It is not currently open to the public, but one day it will be neat to see!

It was amazing to see these sites and experience where five women started on a course that would eventually change history.  It makes me sad that the cause for women’s suffrage took so long that none of these women were alive to see the culmination of what they set in motion.  We still have a lot of work to do, but it is inspiring to see what these women achieved with their voices!