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.

Windows 7

I was looking for an old video edit that was not in my digital records, so I pulled out the old camcorder to check the 8mm tapes.    When I plugged the camcorder into our new Windows 7 PC, a Windows Live Gallery dialogue box popped up giving some options for importing the video.  One of the options was “make DVD of the entire tape”.

I tried it and it works like a charm.  It broke the 60 minutes of video into about 18 chapters and created a menu with preview video.   WOOT!   I’ve got about 15 hours of 8mm recordings from 1992 – 2005.   I’ll be transferring them all to DVD in the next few months.

BTW, I found the brief video project I was looking for :

Dad’s night reunion 2010

2001 camping
Back in the early 90’s when our first children were born, church friends Harold, Kevin and myself started a weekly dad’s night to get together and talk parenting, look after the kids, and even drink a little beer.   Little did we know that we were modeling a classic “play group” which was more commonly held by non-working moms.   We kept up the weekly group for many years, and embarked on numerous camping and bicycling adventures as our kids got older.  The photo above is from 2001.   The children became fast friends, nearly cousins.

But with our teenagers entering high school, it became impossible to continue gathering because the kids’ schedules were just too conflicting.   Our last joint adventure was in 2006 when we went on a camping trip to South Florida.

The 3 oldest children are all graduating from HS this year.  Ted is headed for FSU honors college, Gina is going to UF, and Margaret has a full ride scholarship at UCF honors college.   We held a reunion of the group to commemorate and went to a favorite beach in Cape Canaveral for the afternoon, then adjourned to a seafood market in the port for dinner.   It was an great spot with very casual patio dining on the waterfront.  Girls ordered whole lobster dinners for only $20.

See the photoset on

BTW, we demolished the carrot cake.

Some videos from past adventures;

2001, cabin on the FL-GA border:

Feb 2005, camping at Anastasia park:

October 2005, Camping and Snorkeling at Blue Springs State Park:


Grandpa Bob wrote about the class of 2010 for the Marcus (Iowa) blog.   It just happens that he’s got his first two grandkids graduating this spring, one in Florida and one in New York.

from Bob Reed (Sr.)

I’ve given up trying to explain to outside people that Iowa is not flat like Kansas. They simply don’t want to understand that we are blessed with a bunch of gently rolling hills, particularly in the northwest section. And like those little hills, there are a lot of rolling destinies in life.

Oh, the hills aren’t big monsters of earth. They are puny compared to the Black Hills of South Dakota. But the wonderful section of highway between Marcus and LeMars is full of a series of graded, modest heights that seem to mirror the folk who live around there. Each one provides a wonderful vista of the surrounding fields and the road ahead.

I’m reminded of their beauty at this time of year, when our young people are graduating from MMC. Like those succeeding hills, they will soon be engaged in a series of events that will color and inform their lives by their ups and downs.

They will be facing rising challenges—chasing their destiny. Perhaps some of them can’t really articulate what it is they will do. Or what they will be. Or where they will go. But each step, like the mounting and descent of each little hill will see them to new small valleys and further heights.

There was a song—a duet—written by Rodgers and Hammerstein that was dropped from the score of “Oklahoma!” before it opened on Broadway in 1943. Part of the lyrics were

Songs and kings and many things
Have their day and are gone.
But boys and girls like you and me—
We go on and on.

Like other R & H characters, the guy sings what he can’t say, and the girl warbles what she is afraid to know. But they somehow feel that they are on the verge of something, so they approach it with a hint of history, some apprehension, and a prescient persistance.

Similarly, our grads are in for a new life—a venture where dreams may be fulfilled or unrealized. Where ambitions are attained, or hopes dashed. Where potential is achieved or wasted in life’s insane little twists of ups and downs.

They are soon to engage in actions that may change the course of their lives—actions that are sometimes calculated, sometimes stumbled upon. Growing up is never easy on those doing the growing and sometimes lands hard on the people around them. But our young grads must find the life they were born to live.

How? As the Mother Abbess in another R & H show, “The Sound of Music” tells the anxious heroine, “Look for it. Examine. Invest. Alter.”

And while our MMC graduates may not fully understand that their lives may be dictated by a series of events like the little hills and valleys of their geography, they will be affected by them. For there will always be the challenge of a hill beyond the hill.

Congratulations MMC grads of 2010! GO!

Bob Reed

WPHS Prom 2010

The whole gang

Gina organized a group for a limousine rental to the prom.   Mostly crew members, it included a couple of WPHS alums including Gina’s date Alex who came down from University of Alabama.
As usual, we met in late afternoon for a photo session with the group and parents.   Nancy I.  helped Gina prepare and came with to see them off.  Flickr photo set here. Video clip on facebook available here.

roller coaster weekend

We were up and down this weekend.

  1. Friday, Linda dropped her new Droid mobile device in a flooded gutter during the rainstorms, and it died.  We have no insurance and it is $600 to replace it.   It is business critical for her.
  2. Friday eve Gina was ecstatic to learn she was accepted to UF – we took her and girlfriends out for BBQ to celebrate.
  3. I had a great run Saturday AM, best since the marathon last month.grilled meats
  4. After drying overnight in the oven, Linda’s Droid booted up and appears to be running ok.  Hooray!  No visit to Verizon store at least for now.
  5. Gina spent a bittersweet Saturday evening with friends who did not get into their dream schools.   Linda and I had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Nelore Churrascaria in Winter Park.  Highly recommend, for carnivores!
  6. I developed a deep root toothache that kept me bedridden most of Sunday.  I called my dentist at home and he said come in first thing Monday.
  7. Gina called Sunday evening to report her bumper had been smashed by a hit and run driver while parked at a friends house in Maitland.  Thanks to the Murray’s for assisting with the police call.
  8. This morning, dentist tells me I have a fracture below the gumline, and best course of action is a root canal and a crown.  Ka-ching!