trip report: Saratoga Springs

adirondacklakeGina’s final crew trip and regatta was scheduled for last weekend in Saratoga Springs NY.   Linda and I have both done our share of volunteering with the Booster club over the years, and we were off the hook for this one.  So we planned to attend and get in some sightseeing in the process.     We booked tickets on the same flights as the team, and the boosters had some left over rooms so we took one in the same hotel as the team.

We all flew up to Albany International last Thursday morning.  The team loaded into buses and headed for the race site.  Linda and I dallied in downtown Albany for lunch.  We dined al fresco in a downtown park surrounded by the massive old government buildings, and mingled with the lawyers and lawmakers in the extremely pleasant weather.

Afterward we poked around in the public areas of the legislative building and oohed and ahhed over the bizarre (rococo?) staircases and ornamentation.

We took a side trip on the way to Saratoga and stopped at Saratoga National (battlefield) park.   There was a great visitor center with helpful rangers, and we learned that it was the location of a pivotal set of battles in the revolutionary war, and Benedict Arnold was a central player.  I also learned more about the use of cannons as an offensive and psychological weapon in field combat, and that’s not a pretty story.

Finally to Saratoga Springs, which we found was a lively town with a long history of tourist hospitality for both the spas and the horse track.  There are lots and lots of great bars and restaurants.  The National Scholastic regatta was in Fish Creek just a few miles out of town.    Before the Friday afternoon races, Linda and I took an auto tour through the Adirondacks and found the wild recreational headwaters of the Hudson river.  We were relying on Verizon cell phone navigation, but we ended up driving way out of service range, and up a long dead end road.    Nonetheless, we made it back to the race site in time for our time trials and the five 8-person boats from Winter Park HS crew all qualified for the semi finals, so everyone was upbeat and optimistic that night.

We spent most of Saturday at the race site, and cheered on our Winter Park boats successfully through the morning semi-finals.  Our team had staked out an excellent vantage point on the riverbank at the finish line.   Gina’s lightweight 8, and Jen’s varsity 8 both had white knuckle come-from-behind finishes that left many Winter park parents in tears.   Ultimately, all 5 winter park boats qualified for the afternoon finals, and the boys varsity, the boys second varsity, and girls lightweights all medaled.   Gina was thrilled to end her rowing career on such a high note.

There was a state park next door to our motel that featured continuously running spigots with fresh spring water.  1 of the 4 spigots was labeled MINERAL, and it was pretty nasty.  The others were clear crisp tasteless water.  The tap water at the motel was equivalent and we filled our gallon jug from both sources.

Saturday evening we visited some local gardens and strolled the Saratoga nightlife scene with some other crew parents, but didn’t stay out late because our return flight with the team was very early Sunday morning – we had to get going before 5am.    The team bus pulled out ahead of us, and we caught up at the airport.  Gina and friends bumped into Flava Flav at that early hour and got a quick snapshot with him.  Flickr photos below, and photoset here.

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