Hudson Valley Day Trips

OK OK the kids want to go to Disney World. You do the math. Plane tickets, hotel, park admission (which is at the $100 mark), food and souvenirs and suddenly ‘It’s a small world” has become “It’s a small fortune and bank loan” to go to the most magical place on earth. Now the “Mickey Mouse club house” DVD’s have been banned and it is time to reconsider your vacation plans. If you only have a week’s vacation time, plan multiple day trips with a variety of activities to make it seem like one great vacation. The Hudson Valley has many different options to choose from and here are a few ideas.

The Rocking Horse Ranch is the perfect option if you want a Disney like vacation minus plane fare, food and park admission. Your overnight stay price is all inclusive covering hotel, 3 meals and a ton of different activities on the ranch.  Horseback riding, a spa, childrens activities, organized game nights and an indoor water park are just a few of the options available to you at the ranch. Zebras, camels and more make up the wildlife exhibit. Horseback riding is a huge part of the ranch but if you love horses but prefer not to ride there are carriage rides, barn tours and even a horse shoeing demonstration. The ranch is open into the early fall with various rates and specials which become more lucrative the longer you stay. It is a viable alternative to a amusement park getaway with its all inclusive nature. The ranch is located in Highland and you can find out more info at www.rockinghorseranch.com

For those of the over 21 age and who like to take a sip of vino is the Shawangunk Wine trail. There are 15 wineries as part of the trail and to get to a bulk of them (with a designated driver) is a challenge but possible. The wineries vary from older to newer and from more rustic to modern. Each winery on the trail has its own sense of character and charm. Find one you like, buy a bottle of wine and pack a picnic lunch and you are set for the way. Often times the wineries have events and music going on during the weekend like Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville. There is a food and wine festival July 26th and 27th that offers  a variety of choices under one roof. One of my favorite wineries with a view is Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. They hold a sangria festival every summer with various flavors and varieties, a BBQ and live music. More info at www.shawangunkwinetrail.com

A tire and water. Thats all you need. Town Tinker tube rentals in Esopus is an affordable and fun option for a summer activities. For as little as 25 dollars you can rent all the gear you need to go tubing down the Esopus and enjoy the sights and sounds of Mother Nature. Kayaking is also available if that is more your cup of tea. Details at www.towntinker.com

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Red White and Boom

Ahhhhh.. i hear the silence of the office right now. Yes a 4th of July that falls on a Friday means a sneak out of work on Thursday for an even more extended weekend is the thought process for most. America is turning 238 years young today and an American tradition is BBQ’s, fireworks and family fun. The options are plentiful, inexpensive and Mother Nature is going to cooperate for the most part this holiday season. Many villages and towns have their own fireworks celebrations and you can find out more and even get a map by texting the word “fireworks” to 410-45.  Here is a listing of some of the larger celebrations and as always all are weather dependent.

Orange County-The town of Newburgh and the Newburgh waterfront host a fireworks display on the 4th of July beginning at 9pm. The great thing about this event in particular is the Newburgh waterfront has multiple dining options to partake in before the fireworks celebration so you are in prime position to view.  Or attempt to make a dinner reservation at one of the venues with outdoor dining and you can possibly time a great meal with some great entertainment. If you want to just view the fireworks and want to picnic there is common area greens and boardwalk along the river to check out the fireworks.

Ulster County- The city of Kingston hosts a citywide celebration on Friday night with live music at TR Gallo park. There will be multiple bands (one of my favorites The Cagneys) performing. Shuttle buses will be available at various locations to bring you to the waterfront as streets on the waterfront may be shutdown to traffic. Fireworks begin at 9:30 and like Newburgh the Kingston waterfront has multiple restaurants and bars to choose from for some pre-fireworks options.

Dutchess County- One of the best attractions in Poughkeepsie is the walkway over the Hudson. This  walking bridge gives amazing views of the Hudson River as well as the Mid Hudson Bridge all year round. People walk the bridge span year round for pleasure, exercise and more and it lends itself as the perfect fireworks viewing location. By going to www.walkway.org you can purchase tickets for 1o dollars to be allowed access to the walkway on the 4th of July night from 6:30 until 10:30. Find your spot on the walkway, and enjoy as the fireworks will go off between 9 and 9:30. Tickets also available at Adams Fair Acres Farms as well as Mahoneys Irish Pub  in Poughkeepsie.

There so many great options here in the Hudson Valley for you to enjoy the holiday. Please leave the fireworks to the professionals Often times home parties include the shooting off of fireworks in the backyard or street. Make sure  everything is done with safety first so you can enjoy future holidays with your friends and loved ones.

 

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SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER!

No more pencils no more books no more teachers dirty looks! Uh oh can you hear that? It is the sound of fear, worry and loathing as parents realize they will now be responsible for the entertainment of their children an extra 8 hours or more while school has recessed for the summer. When I was a kid it was a simple as going outside and not coming back UNTIL the street lights came on. Now with the advent of smart phones, I pads and gaming devices children are in danger of spending their whole vacation indoors on an electronic device. As tempting as that may sound as it will keep them occupied here are a few suggestions that will get them out and about with actual people and activities and hopefully before you know it that school bell will be ringing again.

Camp Redwood-Walden is a summer camp that has been around since 1961 giving kids the chance to play sports, do arts and crafts and more. There are boy/girl specif cams for ages 5-12 and then Co-ed Teen camp for teens 13-16.  There is a pool, games and activities as well as my favorite Color Wars. If you would like to take a look at the facility check out their free camp fishing derby from 1p-3p on June 29th. More info can be found at www.campredwood.net

Make sure you check out your local library for FREE programs from the children like crafts, trips and summer reading programs. Having worked in a library I know the incredible resource it can be and all for FREE as your tax dollars pay for most of the services. Many libraries have summer book clubs in which children can read a book for the summer and “report” on it to a library employee. Often times there are events and parties planned through the summer and at the end of the summer as an incentive to keep reading. Many libraries also offer bus trips to amusement parks and such for teens.

One of the best family activities as a friendly price is a trip to Dutchess Stadium to see the Hudson Valley Renegades play minor league baseball. The Renegades are a division of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and they CATER to families. There are always on field games and contests between innings and a lot of entertainment other then baseball to keep kids interested. Also for kids they can be just as entertained by the Renegades as the New York Yankees so long as its baseball. Additionally at a Renegades game kids have the opportunity to get an autograph from players. This one on one opportunity is not something you get in the Bronx. The best part of a day at the Renegades is the cost. They have game packages that include tickets and food making it an affordable day for the family as opposed to major league baseball. So affordable that you can make it a weekly occurrence. www.hvrenegades.com

Tweet me with more ideas: I will publish them mid-summer when you “run out of ideas”   @skyskymedia

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Rules Of Divorce

Ahhhh your 30′s. It’s a time when you are beyond those late night beer binges, have hopefully found your career niche and are on the verge of buying your first home. All part of the “American Dream”. Also in your 30′s your mailbox will become flooded with 2 items. First wedding invitations and then birth announcements. You will have summers where you easily attend 6 to 8 weddings while being in a wedding party for half of those. First comes love, then comes marriage then come the baby carriage. And according to National Center for Health Statistics what follows for 50% of those is divorce. Yes one in two marriages are destined for divorce. It is a discouraging statistic which has only increased as years have gone on. What is the radio for this? Money? environment? just the overall stress we constantly live with? Taking it a step further maybe we has humans were not meant to be monogamous meaning not meant to devote our whole live to one person. Regardless it is a fact in todays world and has been something I have been dealing with as mid thirties person. And it has raised or sorts of uncomfortable questions to me.

My parents separated a few years ago. This was after almost 40 years of marriage. To say this was awkward and jarring would be an understatement. To say that it is still rather heartbreaking to this day would be a truth. My first thought was “if you lasted 40 years together why throw in the towel now?” To which other people reminded me that yes it has been 40 years and if your not happy why spend the last few years of your life unhappy. Doesn’t everyone deserve happiness?  While everything remains cordial it still brings up many moments to remind you the bond is broken. Suddenly family holidays become a “choice”. Where are you spending your time? With what parent. Who is left out? Or do you choose neutral territory so there is less awkwardness amongst everyone. The other disconcerting thing about divorce and separation is that not only are you removing yourself from your former spouses lives but it is also a “divorce” of family and friends you met through that person. Sure you can remain cordial with a former spouses friends but does your relationship in effect just “end” right there. I suppose it doesn’t have to but if you continue a friendship then is there an element of being disloyal?

There are many nuances and unanswered questions to an all to common situation. The reason I wrote this piece was to garner your advice and suggestions on how to navigate the complexities of being an outsider to divorce. How do you or do you not even continue your relationship with those friends and families whom you met thru the divorcee. I supposed every situation is different as some are more cordial while others can be on a “Jerry Springer” level. Tweet me @skyskymedia

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Sniffle Sniffle Cough Cough

I was just minding my own business. Going through the motions and my day. It was a long day but nothing unusual. I turned in. went to bed ready to tackle the world in the morning. Upon awakening I could immediately feel it. The light heaviness in my chest. I wasn’t in pain but it was there. I immediately cleared my throat. I began to speak as if I was on the radio doing my on air announcing job. Everything sounded ok but yes. THE FEELING was there. “It” was coming. A clear sign that sickness was on the way. My body often gives me a one to two day grace period between when the warning signal sounds and when its “too late”. I immediately went to the drug store to stock up on syrups, pills and the sort trying to deny what I know was the inevitable. SICKNESS is coming and I cannot stop it. As predicted the post nasal drip began to become more prevalent.  Later that day towards the end of my on air shift a gravely scratchy element to voice began to show itself. Here it comes. Sick is on the way. As if planned out like a novel, the progression and symptoms laid themselves out day by day to follow until a full blown sinus infection has blossomed. Speaking, let alone speaking for a living became impossible and I had to call in sick to work.

It is amazing how even as adults we regress to childhood mentality when we are sick. Suddenly I was wishing my Mom was standing by with chicken soup in hand and available to wait on me hand and foot. When I was kid she would lean her head against my forehead and instantly know with the “mom internal thermometer” if I had a fever. Now I actually had to get up myself and take my own temperature with the newfangled digital thermometer.  I don’t think its a coincidence that “mom” is embedded in the word thermometer. If my stomach was bothering me Mom was standing by with a basin next to my bed. Now as an adult my apartment is littered with used tissues, dirty cups and opened medicine packets. As sick as you were as a child there was a kind of happiness that you were missing school and the drudgery of the school day. Now, as an adult reality is yes you can call in sick. However the trade off? Yes you will be that much behind on the work you missed. Or worse yet be expected to “check in” to your work email via your home and smartphone.

One American tradition remains true to at home sickness, as an adult or a child. THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Yes, it is unwritten law that you watch who “comes on down” to spin the wheel and bid on the showcase showdown. Plinko may not be Penicillin but it sure does help you feel better.

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Kardashian Kindness?

I cant believe I am about to come to the defense of a Kardashian but in the name of human kindness, I will bite the bullet.  Sure the family is famous for being famous. Yes we all secretly had some satisfaction in Kim’s ill fated 70 day marriage after one of the most over the top affairs in television history. In the end I don’t blame the Kardashians for anything they have achieved in the public eye as they obviously entertaining  to enough people to garner the success they have had. I am all for a capitalistic society. But the person I am defending is not the Kardashian girls but rather the lone male (Bruce isnt a Kardashian, I am not even sure male). I am speaking of Rob Kardashian.

He too, is part of the family and is in the public eye and works at….well I am not sure what he does. He sells socks I believe. Rob has been in the news as of late and is being crucified from the press ; not making a sex tape; not making racial remarks while owning a basketball team; not for cheating on a spouse. Rob had the audacity to GAIN WEIGHT. Yes in the glam filled, perfect world of Hollywood this man is battling what so many “normal” Americans battle every day. He was photographed at a local airport on his way to his sisters wedding with captions like “may need to re size the tux”. Kardashian has had a documented  bout of depression and anxiety.  He has not flaunted his “celebrity” nor made poor public choices like some of the others in his family. He merely is living as a human being and dealing with something that “normal” people do. Yes I am sure more viewers of Keeping Up With The Kardashians HAVE dealt with weight issues MORE than choosing which gown to wear to the Emmy Awards. I find it disgusting and a double standard for the public and media to make fun of another human being for this issue. Governor Chris Christie has been the butt of many jokes, Saturday Night Live skits and such for his weight. I am wondering what the public reaction would be if there was an overweight FEMALE politician who was carrying some extra pounds was the punchline to fat jokes. People would be outraged! There would be an uproar. The talk shows would be filled with self esteem experts and why this “isn’t good for your daughters and woman”. But men are supposed to be able to be just take the criticism?  Ridiculous. The glass houses are abound. Put the stones away.

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Here’s whats APP-ening.

OK it’s time for my roundup of the latest, coolest more time wasting purchases and downloads in your life; apps! Short for applications, these mini programs available on smart phones can be useful business tools as well as tools to kill time and become obsessed with like Flappy Bird. Dong Nguyen created the most popular game for smartphones and then abruptly pulled the game calling it “too addictive”. It has now been announced that Flappy Bird will return in August as a multi players game where you can interact with other people. Here is a list of my favorite new apps most of which as available on both Android and Apple platforms and most of which are free or available for a small purchase price.

Waze- This is my favorite and most useful find in awhile. It is a traffic/navigation app that shows you road conditions in real time. As the website says “nothing can beat real people working together”. Rather then using the Department of Transportation or other business information for road conditions it is a community based system. Drivers contribute information to the app itself. If the Newburgh Beacon bridge has construction an slow downs you will know about it in real time with driver commentary. It is also one of the most graphic rich apps that make the maps easy to read. If you see an icon on a police officer then that is your signal for an upcoming speed trap (I have benefited from this info myself) . This is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices.

For Apple only is a new app called Pantomime 3D. This is a great game app that turns your IPAD, Iphone into a 3D game paddle. After setup you look right through your devices screen which acts as a virtual game paddle for different activities and competitions. It is really amazing because it keeps the 3D view all during the app use so you really feel like you have a paddle  in your hand. This is a free app available in the ITUNES store.

How many times have you looked at the dreaded battery icon on your phone and played the game where you try to let the day finish and get everything done before the phone totally dies. If you are like me you probably lose that game and eventually end up missing messages, texts and phone calls from people who tried to reach you after your phone runs out of power. They are left hanging and wondering why you are not responding and you are helpless if in a situation without a charger. With the new app “Last Message” you choose certain recipients whom will receive a custom message from you. when your battery gets to the point to where it is about to shut off your phone, and informing them what is about to happen and why you may not be reachable. You can set it up as a text message warning, tweet of Facebook. This app is available for Android only for now.

 

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Mothers Day in the Hudson Valley

Sure breakfast in bed is the usual favorite for mom. She wont tell you that the eggs are a little runny. She appreciates the happy face you made with peanut butter and raisins, although not appetizing it’s the thought that counts. Recently a new mom friend of mine posted her 2 1/2 year old son’s Mothers Day school project online. It was a question and answer that said the following:

How old is your mom?  5

What’s your mom’s favorite color? pink.

Whats is her favorite food? muffins.

Whats is your moms job? Eating.

Why do you love your mom? She gives me hugs.

The innocence of a 2 1/2 year old tribute to mom continues into childhood. Ages 5-12 the take home projects get more recognizaible and dare I say useful. As the teen years hit and hormones rush the mother’s day gifts become more obligatory and are infused with teen angst. Then into adulthood is what I call the golden years of gift giving. The kids are now more financially sound and some are parents themselves so they know what is useful and what can be termed a “useful gift”. Less are the returns and the placement of the gift in that “special memory box” and more are the using of department store gift cards.

Moms are problem solvers. Moms are multi taskers. Moms don’t buckle under pressure. A new study was released in which if the daily tasks a mom does coupled with the amount of hours invested were called a “real job” the salary would be $119,000. Well deserved. When choosing a gift for mom you can go two directions. The pampered “I would never spend my own money on this” direction or the practical “I hate spending my own money on this” direction. Here are a few ideas for each.

Practical

1) Coffee. If Mom is a coffee drinker then create a nice gift basket containing all the essentials of here caffeine fix. The items could include mugs, thermos, flavored and or specialty coffees, syrups, biscotti, gift cards to the local coffee retailer and even a bean grinder she can use for her coffee choices. Another spin on the basket is to create a “Morning Basket’. Include items she may use/need on a typical morning. This could be breakfast items, moisturizers, candles, and even a coupon for “homemade” breakfast to redeem on those days she may not want to get out of bed.

2) A subscription to Blue Apron. This is an only service found at www.blueapron.com. It is a food delivery service. It doesn’t deliver meals prepared per say but rather the ingredients to make a meal. This is a great time saver knowing you do not have to shop for the ingredients for a recipe. They are all shipped to you and ready to be used for a meal. Things that save time and aggravation leave time for enjoyment.

Pamper

1) There is always “that restaurant” that you have been meaning to try. Being a mom means you have children obviously so your dining out options are often dictated by where you can bring the kids. If you want to get mom out of a place that has a ball crawl, or table side coloring books then send her to a nice adult only restaurant. The key to this gift is to make the reservation in addition to the gift certificate. If you just hand over a gift card for the meal then it will invariably become something they don’t get to schedule in to their already busy lives. Rather, pick a date in the future and book mom a reservation. Work out some child care if possible and create a no brainer situation for her.

2) Depending on Mom’s age there is a great musical on Broadway right now that will surely be enjoyable. “Beautiful” is the story of singer and songwriter Carole King. The musical contains many “I didn’t know she wrote THAT song’ moments and is a great bio. Save money by purchasing matinee tickets but this is truly a performance to be seen.

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Cinco De Mayo

OK OK….now that we can pass over all the bad May 4th jokes ( May 4th being “Star Wars” day-May the fourth be with you), I told you it was a bad joke; lets move on to my favorite holiday to celebrate which is Cinco De Mayo. Great music, Mexican inspired food and a nice cold flavorful margarita is the perfect ingredient for a precursor to the summer months.

Cinco de Mayo or the fifth of May commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. The holiday itself is relatively minor in Mexico but here in the United States it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. There are many parades, school celebrations and mariachi music performances held during this day. The Mexican culture, food and people have always been a favorite of mine to experience hence me wanting to celebrate every year. Here in the Hudson Valley if you are looking for some post work libations and celebrations try some of the following:

In Dutchess County check out La Puerta Azul in Millbrook. They will have Cinco de Mayo specials all day long during lunch and dinner. My favorite on the menu is Sopes which come in chicken and beef, a black bean puree, cheese, shredded cabbage and radish on a corn meal cake. The band Lick The Toad will perform. http://www.lapuertaazul.com/

In Ulster County head over to Mexacali Blue in New Paltz. They will have a special menu, giveaways and as their slogan says Fresh Fast Mex Food; NO Freezers, No Fryers, NO Cans. They have served me one of the most massive and most fresh burritos I have ever had in my life.

http://www.mexicali-blue.com

In Orange County I like El Bandido on Main Street. If tequila and a margarita are a little to heavy and potent for your Monday version of Conco de Mayo try their sangria. You will not be disappointed. It is fresh, tasty and some of the best I have ever had. Surely you may start with a glass by glass order but they will soon change to pitcher.  http://www.el-bandido.com/

I consider myself a margarita connoisseur and if you choose to stay home and create your own the secret to a good margarita is the proportions. If should be able to stand on its own as well as an accompaniment to some great food. Below is my belief to be perfection:

1 1/2 oz. tequila (100% agave a must, preferably a “reposado”)
1 1/2 oz. triple sec or Cointreau
1 to 1 1/4 oz. of lime juice
Salt for the rim of the glass

 

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Sweets- Cupcake wars

There is only so much temptation a man can take! In the effort to live a healthy lifestyle and make “good” nutritional choices I feel that you need to create a fail safe environment for yourself. If you don’t put yourself in a position to make a choice you may regret then the better off you are. Enter Cupcake Wars. Yes for 6 weeks my employer K104 has been holding a competition looking for the Hudson Valley’s best cupcake. My first sign of the impending “war” should have been the gallon of whole milk in the staff refrigerator. We never have milk on hand for coffee but everyone knows that a cupcake goes best with an iced cold glass of milk. Each week home chefs, dessert enthusiasts and professionals compete against each other by presenting their version of the best cupcake made. Criteria includes creativity, taste and style. While a simple chocolate frosted cupcake may not seem like a winner as compared to a Jameson whiskey infused cake, the more simple cupcake could very well be the superior one. Where a lot of cupcake chefs miss the mark is they tend to worry more about the toppings then the actual cake itself. The base cake should be moist and flavorful. Paying too much attention to the topping can cause a dry and hard to swallow cupcake. Another tip being successful in a cupcake competition is to make sure the entire cupcake can be tasted in one bite. Judges are eating a lot of varieties of cupcake and for them to have to go in for a second bite to be able to taste one element will not give a true sense of the cupcake. This year’s variety of cupcakes presented included French Toast, Pistachio, Espresso and Devils Food. I have had an idea for cupcake that has yet to be presented. Based on my taste I think a S’mores cupcake would be a winner. I envision a graham cracker flavored cake with a chocolate buttercream topping. On top of that I would place mini marshmallows and then toast and char them with a flame. To me, this screams campfire!

This weekend head to the village of Fishkill for the annual cupcake festival. The event takes place on Sunday May 4th, on Main Street. There will be samplings of the cupcakes that were in the competition, as well as other food choices available for purchase. A bounce house for the kids and music will make for  great street festival. The winner of the cupcake competition will be crowned on site, given $1000 and will have their cupcake featured on the menu of Bonura’s Little Italy for one month. Festivities kick off at 1pm and the finals of the competition start at 3pm. I realized the fight to curb my sweet tooth was a losing battle when a new establishment opened up across the street from my apartment. Yes, I have sampled Get Frosted cupcakery. And I don’t regret it.

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    Skywalker

    For the past 14 years, Skywalker has been a fixture in Hudson Valley radio broadcasting. He hosts then most listened to radio show in the market; the 2p-7p drive home on WSPK K104.7 Follow him on twitter @K104sky Read Full
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