Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lax-achusetts

Thank goodness for a mid-week holiday, or else I might never get this post done before the next trip!  We had a busy weekend in Massachusetts, and now it's a partial workday, a holiday, another workday, and then we're back on the road.  I suppose I should pack.  But first...Massachusetts!

We got on the road right on time on Friday, around 3pm.  But 20 minutes in, I realized I forgot the case of water in my car trunk.  In the meantime, Jacob wasn't feeling that great (which I guess was an issue with the last trip), and I wondered if he was having car sickness issues.  So, we stopped at a Wegmans before we got out of Rochester and picked up a new case of water (they're only a few bucks for 35 bottles) and some natural ginger car sickness medicine for Jacob.  It was a pretty quick stop and soon we were back on the road.

The jovial mood didn't last long, as we started running into traffic pretty quickly.  We hit backup after backup, and after a while we figured out that we were following a thunderstorm.  The pavement was almost always wet, but we were in sun and no rain in sight.  It turns out that there was even a tornado (!) right near Verona, just past Syracuse, probably shortly before we got there!  Anyway, all we can figure is that the numerous accidents and other slowdowns were due to crazy rain ahead of us.  Yet we didn't hit it at all for the first few hours.

Traffic eased up after Syracuse through Utica, but sometime after that it started getting slow in spots again.  We seemed to be catching up to the rain, however, as we had rainbows in the sky for at least an hour or more of that leg.  They started out as two bottom halves and eventually became a full one.


Around that time we started hitting some actual rain in spots, and we noticed that the rock walls on the side of the road had waterfalls that aren't normally there!  Hard to see in this picture, but if you look close, you can see the whole wall is full of cascading muddy water.

The rainbow was huge and slightly comforting considering how challenging the first part of the trip had been!  Around that point we had to start thinking about dinner.  None of the rest stops had much for Jacob, so we searched for a familiar place ahead of us, and we found a Five Guys in Schenectady.

Once we got off the Thruway and on the expressway to Schenectady, we started to hit hardcore rain.  The sky got so dark--like 9pm dark at 7:30--and the rain started to get intense.  It was like buckets of water splashing on the windshield at times.  Then we'd get in a short lull, and you could literally see the next wave coming at us.  You can see it coming in this picture where the road looks a little whiter...

This video probably only begins to show how crazy it was, but here goes:



It was NUTS.  Anyway, we finally got to Five Guys and ate dinner before chasing down the rain again.  It seriously felt like we might never get there.  We had to make another potty stop, tried to get the kids to sleep, and just generally pushed through the dark and lack of scenery to the hotel.  Craig did great at the wheel.  Eventually we got to the hotel, a Holiday Inn Express, and it was pretty awesome.  Cool room, very nice and modern, comfortable beds, and of course the best hotel breakfast ever!  Cinnamon rolls for the win!

It was a late night, but luckily we didn't have to rush in the morning as the games were later in the morning than usual.  Breakfast was great, and then off to the fields we went.  The site was interesting, as it was at Fort Devens, a former military base, much of which is abandoned but still standing.  The flow of the games was good--45 minutes on, 45 minutes off.  We got through our three games pretty quickly, all things considered.  We tried a chair umbrella this time to ward off the sun, and I still got a little sunburn, but the overall effect was much less brutal than the Syracuse tournaments where I got so much sunburn.  Of course, the tightening mechanism on the clamp lost its knob on day 2, but I think I made a good fix yesterday with a single wing nut from Lowe's...we'll see!  Anyway, the boys ended up 2-1 on day one after a pretty lopsided loss to one tough team.  It was good enough for third place, which put us in the winners' bracket the next day.  Oh, and Jacob got a goal!

You can see what we believe are the old barracks in the background.  The brick was gorgeous, but otherwise they were not in good shape.  Rotting dormers, boarded up and broken windows.  It was sad.

High jump!

Perhaps we'll have another lacrosse player one of these days...

After a little break at the hotel, we headed to a nearby entertainment venue another family had told us about, Kimball Farm.  A few other families were heading there, as well.  Jacob ate some leftover pizza before we got there, as the menu didn't look promising for him, but the rest of us did eat there.  The place was really cool, with tons of activities.  They had a zip line, something resembling bumper cars, mini golf, bumper boats, a driving range, a pitch and putt, an arcade, a general store, an animal exhibit, ice cream stand, and more.  We were lucky the rain held off while we were there, and Jacob was able to run off with his teammates to do bumper boats and golf.
The zip line station is to the right--Carter really wanted to do it, but maybe I'll feel better about it if we come back here next year.  The bumper car-type thing was to the left.

Our view at dinner...looking across to the arcade and bumper boats.  One of the mini golf courses was in view to the far right.  The truck was a dairy truck with their name on it.

As we finished dinner and Jacob's teammates were all milling around and climbing on a nearby rock, Carter decided he wanted in on the fun.  And kudos to him, he made it up by himself!  Look how big it is!

This is the bumper boats.  Jacob is not out there, but I wanted to be able to show what he did.  Unfortunately I couldn't do it with the golf course, but they looked really cool!

The foliage around the place was gorgeous.

The silo near the ice cream stand (we would have tried it but it was crazy overpriced!)
While Jacob played, we talked to other parents and visited the general store with Carter.  Eventually Carter and I wandered over to the arcade, just to look around.  Much to my dismay, it was a little pricey.  However, as we were getting ready to leave, a couple handed us a play card with two bucks left on it!  We played a couple games, then went to find Craig and Jacob since we had been gone for a while.  Reunited, we wandered back in to use the last of the money and redeem the points on the card, but it ended up being a little tough.  Jacob wanted to play but he'd already had nearly $20 worth of fun (happy to do it for his bonding with teammates), and I thought Carter should have some fun.  But he kept wanting to play games that were too old for him, cost too much, or wouldn't earn points, and he was just as happy sitting there with the demo mode on!  Eventually we were just ready to go, so I played a quick game to maximize points and get us out of there without argument ASAP.  As we tried to figure out how to spend our points, someone else handed us a card with points left on it!  Our lucky day, for sure!  We ended up having plenty for what the kids wanted.  Jacob picked out something we've basically forbidden--a Baby Bottle Pop candy (and we only let him get it because it was free) and Carter got a stuffed snake and two Airhead candies.  Happy boys!

Baby Bottle Pop!  (UGH.)


Just a few pics from the long walk back to the car...
Looking back toward the food and country store.  Goats to the right and a pretty tree-canopied patio at the far end.

Cool birds outside the animal experience

Really pretty view over the driving range--notice the hills in the distance to the far left.

More pretty flowers...

The woodsy path back to the car

The big boys watching Carter run around right before we left.  That area was really pretty.

Carter was running around this circular rock bench and was happy to pose for a picture with his snake!

One more gorgeous one!
We had an even later start the next day, and I'm pretty sure it was even hotter than the day before.  Our first game was a tough match, but the boys gutted it out.  Jacob chipped in a key assist and we won 5-4!  We found out later that their goalie (and possibly one of their other players) was a year older.  That isn't supposed to happen, but apparently they knew they couldn't beat us with their usual one, so they made some excuse and had an older kid (who was a head taller than our goalies) step in.  We saw the other kid play in their next game, and he looked pretty much like our goalies.  Brutal.  But we were so excited to see the boys advance to the final!

Carter found two balls after one game that were just sort of lost behind the net!

In the final game, we held a 4-2 lead at half, which was shocking because this was the same team that decimated us the previous day.  One of those goals was a rocket by Jacob!  But as the game wore on, some crappy officiating cost us our momentum, which then cost the boys their confidence.  The opposing goalie took care of the rest, and we lost 7-4.  The boys were bummed, but it was a great run.  We heard later that one of their kids told one of our kids that they were going into fifth grade, so who knows if they cheated, but I think it was probably a good character builder for the boys either way.

On the way back to the car, Carter wanted to run into his favorite play area for the weekend...a maze of what was apparently the stash of soccer nets for the fields we were on.


The buildings adjacent to the parking lot were gorgeous with their balconies and arches.  Too bad they were empty, too.  Hopefully someday they find a way to restore these.

Eventually we were headed home.  We stopped at a McDonald's to eat dinner (Jacob ate pizza again), and ran into half of his team at the rest area!  Carter got the Despicable Me 3 toy he wanted, and after it took him forever to eat, we got back on the road. 

Who can resist looking like a french fry?  And that face he's making with the pursed lip coy smile?  That's a new one.  No idea where it came from!
We drove toward the sunset for most of the way, and I tried to get a good shot outside a Dunkin' Donuts near the Fultonville/Fonda exit.
Too bright but pretty in its own way!

I sort of liked this one better from the road.

We got home pretty late, but the trip sure felt shorter this time around without the extra traffic and extreme rain!  The boys all stayed home on Monday and I worked until 2pm, which was challenging but better than I expected.  We ended the day with a trip to the drive-in to see Despicable Me 3.

We had a productive day for the holiday, with sleeping in, yard work, pool time, a trip to Lowe's (we finally bought a grill to replace the one we lost in the crazy wind storm), more yard work (mulch and stone for the areas around our back patio), some laundry, and finally meatball making and blog writing to close out the day.  No fireworks this year, but maybe next year if our schedule has a little more wiggle room.

I think we're sort of in disbelief that we're doing the long trip thing all over again so quickly, but we're looking forward to a little bonus "vacation" around this trip.  Our plans are still not finalized--nothing like the last minute--but maybe that's part of the fun, right?  We shall see...

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