Day 9 - Long Drive Home

  • Posted on July 29, 2006 at 8:40 pm

We made it back to Bethesda. Everything is just how we left it, except for one thing–I looked out the window, and I saw all these giant trees that I don’t remember being on the street. They are all over the place, on all the streets we can see from our balcony. I swear, I am not going crazy, there were no trees when we left. How did these huge trees get here? Some of them are three and four stories tall! We’ve either returned to a different version of Bethesda in some other parallel universe, or traveled through time, or the city planted giant trees while we were gone.

Although the vacation is over, Larry will still be posting the funny little video clips, so keep checking back! I’d like to keep blogging, but my life isn’t really that interesting. But if we do anything interesting, or take any more trips, I will definitely update the blog. In fact, we are going to Ohio in a couple of weeks. So the blog will continue :-)
adios.

Day 8 - Ugh, more rain

  • Posted on July 29, 2006 at 8:27 pm

We woke up early so we could get a head start on the day, before the rain started to pour. Art Delvin’s Olympic Motor Inn really was a great hotel–we loved our balcony, and our room even had a couch and a fridge. Compared to the hotel in Montreal, this was very spacious and nice.

We drove to High Falls Gorge, a violent churning waterfall on the Ausable River. Unfortunately, the rain caught up with us, and so we carried our umbrellas as we walked the precarious paths and climbed slippery stairs to view the falls. I kept thinking of a story my parents told me as a child–a colleague or neighbor (I forget) had a daughter who fell into a river from a high trail and they never found her body. Granted, the trails there seemed well guarded, but you never know…luckily, neither of us fell in. I saw a frog (Grumpope, presumably) and a snail, but no more bears and no Rhett Miller.

High Falls Gorge

We drove down the street, passing “Santa’s Workshop” (yes, who knew that Santa really lives in the Adirondack Mountains?) and paid the $14 entrance fee to the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway. Visibility = zero. We didn’t care though. We drove up the mountain to the castle near the top, where a certain wheelchair-bound president had an elevator installed so that he could get to the very top. That elevator was in the middle of a creepy cave, and it really looked more like the elevator to hell. Going down? But it shot us 27 stories up to the very top of Whiteface Mountain, where we saw spectacular views of…clouds. It was like we were on top of the world.

Whiteface Mountain

We vowed to come back another time, another year, and take the elevator ride up on a sunny day, so we can actually see the elusive Lake Placid. We really do want to go back, because the whole area is beautiful, and we could really spend a lot longer than one day there. We’d like to return and go hiking, fishing, boating, etc., maybe rent a cabin on the lake. Would anyone like to join us another time?

Since the rain put a damper on most outdoor activities, we made the hour drive to Westport, where we were staying our final evening. Wow, Westport. There were a total of three restaurants, and NOTHING else. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Talk about a sleepy little town. We ate lunch at the Galley Restaurant right at the marina. Ok, the worst part about this restaurant was that the bathrooms were ACROSS THE STREET in the MARINA BATHOUSE. Ew. I know, I know, when you travel, you have to get accustomed to some not-ideal and not-so-clean bathrooms, but this was just too much for me. I’ve never had to go across the street to do my business.

Welcome to Westport

So there we were, in Westport. The Inn we stayed at was very nice and pretty, and our room, although small, was well decorated and cozy. We pretty much just spent the afternoon hanging out, me reading and Larry playing on the computer. For dinner, we walked up the street to a pizza shack. The other clientele included a family wearing just socks and no shoes, and group of three families that had parked their yacht in the marina and stopped off for a pizza pie. Quite a mix. Oh, and the server was carrying her baby as she took orders and bussed tables. At least we were allowed to BYOB.
To top off our fun day in Westport, we watched three episodes of 24-Season 4 in our room. If you are reading this and you are from Westport, I apologize if I have offended. Maybe it’s more enjoyable for older people, because there seemed to be a lot of retirees. If you are reading this and you are retired, I apologize if I have offended. I’m just saying that I personally would not go back.

Day 2 - The Videos

  • Posted on July 28, 2006 at 6:13 pm

Our footage from Gardiner and New Paltz, NY.

Day 8 Forecast

  • Posted on July 28, 2006 at 9:11 am

Rain

Today's Radar

We are right by Saranac Lake. :-(

Day 7 - Bear Attack and Gas Crisis

  • Posted on July 27, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Today was our last morning in Montreal. We had another breakfast at the cafe attached to our hotel. It was just ok.

Before leaving the city, we walked around the neighborhood a bit in search of souvenirs. We didn’t find any, but we did find some more beer to buy. Running alcoholic beverage bottle count: 11. Gifts: Big fat zero. We just couldn’t find any souvenir shops. It was raining (yep, I used the bubble again!) so we didn’t really want to go too far.
We left Montreal and headed back to the Etas Unis (United States.) We had to wait an unbearably long time (ok, well at least a half hour) in the line to get back into the country. And our gas gauge was dropping and dropping. I was so nervous that we would run out of gas in the line, and we’d have to push the car to the shoulder, in front of everyone waiting to get across the border, and the Canadian Mounties and the American Border Patrol would come out with giant weapons and yell at us and detain us in a room with no windows or AC, thinking we were up to no good and trying to smuggle Canadians or Tylenol with codeine into the country, and all the while our chocolate would be melting and our wine would be overheating in our abandoned car. I was thinking about the call I’d have to make to my parents (um, Mom, can you bring us a gallon of gas? I’m at the Canadian/American border and I’m in trouble.) And our cell phones didn’t even work at that point, so I was going to have to call collect. But luckily, we made it through without a problem, and our border patrol man was nice and let us through with only one question (man: “whose car is this?” Larry: “my wife’s.” man: “oh, the boss’s car.” Yes, that’s right.) We rolled into a gas station on the US side just as the gas light lit up. Phew.

We made it to Lake Placid, New York without any incidents. Lake Placid is a beautiful town, with such scenic mountains and trees. (Little Known Fact [or maybe well known to everyone but me]: Lake Placid is also a past Olympic Games town, just like Montreal.) I think there are more log homes per square mile here than anywhere else on earth. Our hotel is great, and we have a balcony with a beautiful view of the mountains. We walked around Main Street and did a little bit of shopping. I was attacked by a bear:

Beth being attacked by a bear

We ate dinner at the Lake Placid Brewery, where we sampled their six beers:

Beer

We drove around and enjoyed the sights, and stopped off for ice cream at the Misty Mountain Ice Cream Stand. Now we are in the hotel room (yay for wireless internet) trying to decide if we should drive the scenic highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain tomorrow, or if we should take a gondola ride to the top. Or both. Or if we should go tubing in the Ausable Chasm. We’ll update you tomorrow and let you know what we chose!

Bon soir.

Day 6, Continued- Magical Foie Gras Goodness

  • Posted on July 26, 2006 at 11:37 pm

And finally, the moment arrived, la piece de resistance, the time of our reservation at the Magical Foie Gras Goodness Restaurant, Au pied de cochon. They were only a little disappointed that it wasn’t the “real” Larry King.

The meal was fantastic. “Best meal of my life” and “best dish I’ve ever had” were uttered at our table. Really.

We started wth raw oysters. Delicious, briny and meaty. Our appetizer was called Plogue a Champlain, a buckwheat pancake topped with lardon (French for “thick and delicious bacon”), cheese, and foie gras, and topped with real maple syrup. This dish was truly amazing. The foie gras melted in our mouths. The combination of flavors was incredible. Oh, I could go on…

Plogue a champlain

The next dish was a foie gras and boudin tartlet. It consisted of thick pieces of chilled foie gras, chunks of boudin, potatoes and onions on top of a pastry. Boudin is a black sausage type thing, I think it consists of organ meats. I’m not really quite sure, and it’s probably better that way. It was delicious. Not quite as good as the pancake dish, but delicious in its own right. But by this point, we are already getting SO FULL.

And then comes the duck in the can. Yep, that’s right. It’s a duck breast stuffed with foie gras and cooked inside a can with cabbage and onions. It was brought to the table in the can, opened in front of us and slid out of the can onto a plate. Another amazing dish–again, the foie gras melted into magical goodness, and the duck was tender and juicy.

Duck in the can Unveiling the duck

The duck on a plate
Too full for dessert.

Ate too much today.

Thank god we walked about 8 miles.

Oh, and P.S., thanks for reading and for all your excellent comments!

Ciao.

Day 6 - Hot

  • Posted on July 26, 2006 at 11:36 pm

Wow, what a day.

We are whipped. We just ate at Au Pied de Cochon, and now we’re sitting at a cafe in the Latin Quarter. Slowly digesting our food.

We began the day by taking the metro downtown to eat breakfast at Eggspectation on Aubrey and Tim’s recommendation. This place had more varieties of eggs benedict than I had ever seen in my life. We both ordered the Bagel Benedict, a version of eggs benedict with smoked salmon, gruyere cheese and a bagel. Yum. Here is a picture:

bagels benedict

Then, we walked down Rue St. Catherine and checked out the downtown shopping district. We didn’t buy anything though. Will power. Then we headed to Old Montreal and walked around the narrow, cobblestone streets. Rue St. Paul is the oldest street in Montreal, and it’s filled with cute little shops. It’s really the closest thing to Europe I’ve seen on this continent.

Oldest Street Boucherie and Charcuterie

We sampled some amazing little chocolates that melted in our mouths, full of tasty fillings like raspberry, caramel and coffee. (And we promised the shopkeeper that we’d be back to buy some…sorry nice French-Canadian Chocolate Lady! But thanks for the free chocolate!)

We found the Notre Dame Cathedral–not designed after the one in Paris, but still beautiful in its own Canadian way. There was an orchestra rehearsing inside and it was a peaceful moment.

We then headed to the waterfront. (Little known fact: Montreal is an island!) I left my precious bubble umbrella at one of the piers. (I brought it along for rain insurance, so it would be a bright and sunny day. Of course, it was.) Not to worry, we raced back to the pier and it was still there! Here’s me, enjoying my bubble in the sunlight:
rain insurance

We saw the coolest busker ever. He calls himself The Hug Busker, and he is a guy giving out free hugs. When he wasn’t hugging, he was standing perfectly still, like a statue. We didn’t get any free hugs, but we enjoyed watching him:

Hug Busker Giving a hug

By this point, we were hot, sweaty and sun burnt, so we headed back to the hotel to cool down in the AC. On the way, we stopped off and bought some ice wine and a bottle of Unibroue beer. Alcoholic Beverage Bottle Count: 7. Gifts for Friends and Family: Still 0.

We got a snack at a cafe called “Juliette et Chocolat” - delicious chocolate crepes. Yummy.

Chocolate Crepe

Got to save our appetites for the magical foie gras goodness…

Day 5 - More rain, more animals

  • Posted on July 25, 2006 at 11:32 pm

We woke up a bit late today…the cheese curd on the poutine last night really turned us into zombies.
We got a complete “American” Breakfast at the cafe in our hotel this morning. Thank god, really, because I really didn’t want to eat a Canadian Breakfast.
We decided to start the day with a visit to the Biodome, at the old Olympic Village in Montreal. From the architecture, you might think the Olympics were here in 1970, but I actually think they were held here in 1986. So, getting to the Biodome required navigating the Montreal metro system–all in French, of course. We managed to buy the tickets, insert them into the proper slot, and get on the right train!
The Biodome was cool–we saw lots of exotic animals, like the weird, smelly, hairy, pig-like creature.

Hairy Stinky Pig

We did not see Pauly Shore, which was a big disappointment. Doesn’t he live in the biodome? Maybe he was hibernating.
We then took the metro to the “Mile End” neighborhood, and we got bagels at the Fairmont Bagel maison, one of Montreal’s most famous bagelries. Little known fact: Montreal is known for its bagels, a lighter, sweeter, chewier version than the ones we are used to in the US. The bagels were so good. We ate them in a park, while the sky became darker and darker.

Fairmount Bagel
On our walk home, we came across an enticing restaurant bragging “100 bieres” (100 beers). We couldn’t resist. (Although interestingly, none of their 100 beers were from the US.) As we drank, it rained and rained. 2 beers later, we made a run for it to the nearest metro.
We decided to check out Fourquet Fourchette for dinner–the restaurant the serves Unibroue beer, one of Larry’s favorite breweries. I had a conversation completely in French with our concierge, and she made a reservation at the restaurant for us. It was a good thing, because when we got there, there was a large table of about 30 guests, and a man playing guitar and singing Quebec folk songs to them VERY LOUDLY. But, the other 100 tables in the giant restaurant were completely empty. We don’t quite understand why, because the food was very good. Larry had in house-smoked salmon and a Caribou filet, and I had pate and a “bravette” of beef, whatever that is.

Caribou Dinner

The only explanation for the empty seats is that the city is “between festivals”, as the concierge said when I told her the story (in French, of course.)
We’re sitting at a cafe now, eating gelato and planning out tomorrow. We’re going to check out the art museum, go to Old Montreal, and then to top off the day, we’ll be eating dinner at Au Pied de Cochon, the magical foie gras goodness restaurant.
Oh, P.S. to Aunt Char, Rhett Miller is my favorite singer/songwriter. I heart Rhett!

Day 4 - Montreal, finally

  • Posted on July 25, 2006 at 10:50 pm

After breakfast on Monday, we hit the road for Montreal. It was a pretty drive through the Adirondack Mountains, although we had a hard time finding a place to eat lunch. None of the little towns were open! We finally found an Irish hole-in-the-wall in Elizabethtown. There, we met a very friendly grandma who told us that the chairs in the restaurant looked just like the ones in the prison up north. She didn’t seem like she had done any hard time, but you never know. Some grandmas are crazy.
We breezed through Canadian customs–thank god. I always get nervous, even though I have nothing to hide. We made it to Montreal, and Larry was a bit frazzled by that point because he couldn’t read any of the signs. He was driving blind, relying on me to tell him where to turn. But I’m a good navigator, and we made it!
Our hotel, the Hotel St. Denis, is in the Latin Quarter, with lots of shops, bars, restaurants and vagabonds nearby. There are scruffy young kids peddling for money, or just hanging out on the corners looked despondent. And most of them have the cutest little puppies. It’s sad–I just know those puppies haven’t had their shots. Our hotel room is small and dark, but clean. It’s not luxurious, but it suits our needs just fine.
We walked around our neighborhood, stopped off in a cafe and had a Stella Artois beer, and then ate dinner at a local brewpub, where we had our first experience with poutine. It’s a Quebequoise specialty that consists of french fries, gravy and cheese curd. It tastes better than it sounds, trust me. But those curds must expand in the stomach, because we were so full after dinner that we just went back to the hotel room and crashed. The beer was good-similar to what you’d find at the Rock Bottom Brewery in the USA.
Montreal is wonderful. I’ve tried out a few French words, and I’ve been told by husband to stop being such a wuss and just TRY to speak more French. It is so cool to hear French spoken all around me, and see signs and billboards in French.

Smartie Sign

The Canadian accent is not as strange as I thought it would be. My French vocabulary, formerly hidden in the depths of my brain, is slowly making its way to the surface and I’m remembering more and more.
Alor, c’est tout…a demain!
Oh, and P.S., our hotel does not have Internet access (what were we thinking?) so that makes things a bit difficult with the blogging. We’re trying, though!

The drive to New York

  • Posted on July 25, 2006 at 10:08 pm

A little taste of our drive to New York. It rained most of the way, but was pleasant otherwise. Video editing is coming along slowly, as there is little time with all the fun we are having. More to come later.