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Winter Park - August 18-19

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 1:38 PM

Winter Park Alpine Slide

After arriving back in Denver, we headed up to Winter Park and Fraser where we spent the weekend in Larry and Shirley's condo.  We slept until just after noon on Saturday, and then got up and went and grabbed lunch at DeAntonio's Pizza.  We then went into Winter Park and did some wine tasting at Verso CellarsWe then wandered around Winter Park for a while before heading back to the condo to relax. 

We headed back into Winter Park at about 7:30 for our anniversary dinner at Gasthaus Eichler.  The food was wonderful and made for a great anniversary dinner.  After dinner, we headed back to the condo and relaxed in the hot tub with a glass of Peller Estates' Ice Cuvee before heading to bed.

On Sunday, we slept in again and the got up and went to have breakfast at the Mountain Rose Cafe in Winter Park.  We then went back and cleaned up the condo.  After cleaning the condo, we waited out a brief thunderstorm to ride the Winter Park Alpine Slide, which is the longest alpine slide in North America, before heading back down to Denver to finish our vacation.

Photos from Winter Park

 
By: Shane
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Niagara-on-the-Lake - August 15-17

Friday, August 24, 2007 9:47 AM

The CN Tower

On the morning of August 15, Andrea and I got up early and checked out of the hotel and then hiked up to Grand Central Station where we caught the subway out to the AirTrain to JFK for our flight to Buffalo.  The flight on JetBlue was delayed nearly an hour by a maintenance issue, marking another delayed flight on this trip.

Upon arriving in Buffalo, we got our rental car and then went to lunch at Anchor Bar, the inventor of the Buffalo Wing.  We then drove out to Niagara-on-the-Lake and checked into A Vineyard View Bed and Breakfast

We then went to Peller Estates to ask for suggestions about packaging wine to take it home as checked baggage on the airline.  Since none of the wineries in that area routinely ship wine outside of Ontario, they didn't have any good answers, so we decided to head back across the border and look for some suggestions online.  Everything suggested lots of bubble wrap, so we went to Target in Buffalo and picked up a couple of rubbermaid tubs and a lot of bubble wrap to package all of the wine we planned on buying. 

We then went to dinner at Chef's, which is Andrea's favorite restaurant in Buffalo.  It can best be described as a heart attack on a plate, but it is wonderful food.  We then headed back across the border to call it a night.

On the morning of the 16th, we got up for breakfast at the B&B.  The breakfast was very good and we got to chat with a pair of interesting couples from Ottawa and Montreal.  We then headed out to do wine tasting.

Our first stop was Caroline Cellars which was right next to our B&B.  Their wines are generally ok, but not the best of the area.  We then went over to Frogpond Farm, which is the only organic winery in the area.  They had a fabulous cabernet franc the last time we were there, but were all sold out of that but we did get a bottle of their cabernet merlot.

We then went over to Peller Estates, which is Andrea's favorite winery.  We decided to take an "Art of Food and Wine" class that went through the basics of how to pair food and wine using Peller's Ice Cuvee sparkling wine, chardonnay, and cabernet franc icewine paired with a watermelon soup, a corn salad, and a strawberry cream pastry.  After that class we went on a vineyard tour that had a tasting of the riesling and the riesling Icewine to see the differences of the wines made from the same grape harvested at different times.  We then went through the store and bought a whole case to take home as well as a decorative box signed by the winemaker.

Next we headed out to Jackson-Triggs, where our favorite is the cabernet franc rosé.  We then went to my favorite winery, Palatine Hills, where we tried pretty much everything and came back with a couple bottles of the cabernet franc, one of the gewürtztraminer icewine, and a few others.  We then followed up with brief visits to Stonechurch Vineyards, and Coyote's Run.  Coyote's Run is rapidly becoming one of my favorite wineries as well. 

We then headed up toward Toronto for dinner, trying to make a stop at Crown Bench Estates on the way but they were closed when we got there.  We then continued up to Toronto where we ran into the Blue Jays game day traffic since we were going to dinner at the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower.  Dinner was wonderful and our timing was just about perfect as we got seated very shortly before sunset and got to watch the sun set to the west as we were getting our appetizers.  Following dinner we went back outside and took a bunch of pictures of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto before heading back to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

On the morning of the 17th, we got up for breakfast again at the B&B.  After another excellent breakfast, we finished packing everything for the trip home.  We then went down through downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake one last time and up to the confluence of the Niagara River with Lake Ontario.  Niagara-on-the-Lake is extremely beautiful at this time of year, with manicured flowers lining practically every street in the city. 

We then headed back across the border to Buffalo and headed out to the airport to catch our flight home.  Our flight out of Buffalo was delayed by AirTran due to a late arriving aircraft even though the weather seemed to be fine everywhere it would have flown from.  We finally arrived in Atlanta only to have our next flight delayed almost three hours, first due to weather, then to wait for connecting passengers who had also been delayed, and then because AirTran couldn't bother to deal with maintenance paperwork in the first two hours of the delay.  We finally arrived in Denver around midnight, almost three hours late.  AirTran also has by far the worst leg room of any of the airlines we flew on and some of the worst customer service I've seen on any airline.  They are definitely an airline that I will avoid in the future.

 
By: Shane
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Yankee Stadium - August 14

Thursday, August 23, 2007 2:53 PM

Andrea and I at Yankee Stadium

After dinner we got on the 4 train at Grand Central Station and took that up to Yankee Stadium.  Our seats were in the box section in the 3rd deck about a third of the way down the third base line.  It was amazing to get to experience Yankee Stadium.  On the 14th, they had a number of remembrances of Phil Rizzuto, who had passed away the night before.  All of this definitely added to the sense of history in the stadium.

The game was definitely a snooze though.  Aubrey Huff hit a grand slam for the Orioles in the 3rd to give them a 5-0 lead.  The Orioles steamrolled the Yankees 12-0 behind 6 2/3 innings of one hit ball from Daniel Cabrera.  The Yankees fell to 0-2 in games I've personally attended this year, making me think that I should go more often.

That being said, after visiting Yankee Stadium, I can understand why the Yankees want a new building.  Despite what you see on the field, the stadium is largely a dump.  The concourses are narrow and completely overcrowded all the time.  The areas underneath the stands are also very dingy and suffer from a number of noticable maintenance issues.  While I still think that it is a shame to tear down a building with such great history, and I think that another renovation would be capable of solving most of the stadium's problems, I do understand the rationale behind building a new stadium.  As a baseball fan and a history buff, I'm definitely glad I got to attend a game there before they tear it down following the 2008 season.

 
By: Shane
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New York City - August 11-15

Thursday, August 23, 2007 2:36 PM

The view from our hotel room in New York

On the morning of the 11th, we got up and ran into Ken and Becky and their families in the lobby and stopped to chat with them before we went to breakfast with Brian at Luiza's Diner, right across from ESPN in Bristol.  After eating breakfast, we drove down to New York. 

Arriving in New York, we were staying at the Millenium UN Plaza Hotel.  We ended up driving around the hotel 3 times before we could figure out how to get in and we stopped and dropped off our bags since the room wasn't ready yet.  We then went and dropped off our car, and caught the subway back to the hotel. 

Once we checked in and got our bags, we went and met my sister at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to go get tickets for a Broadway show at the TKTS booth.  We ended up getting tickets to go see "The Drowsy Chaperone."  We then went to dinner at a restaurant that Heather recommended called Mars 2112.  The restaurant was Casa Bonita with a Mars theme.  It was a completely cheesy tourist attraction with ok, but completely overpriced food.

After dinner we went and browsed through M&M World in Times Square before heading back to the Marriott for "The Drowsy Chaperone."  The Drowsy Chaperone was completely hilarious. The premise was that an older musical fan was sitting in living room, sharing his favorite musical record with the audience.  This is a great show and definitely worth seeing.

After the show, we walked around looking for dessert and ended up stopping at The Bread Factory Cafe on 7th Ave.  Heather then went and caught the train back to New Jersey and we caught the subway back to the hotel and called it a night.

On Sunday the 12th, Andrea and I decided that we were going to try and have another theater day.  We went back to the TKTS booth in Times Square and got tickets to see "Mamma Mia!"  We then went up to Central Park to see if we could get tickets to the free Shakespeare in the Park that evening.  Unfortunately people had clearly been waiting in line for hours for these tickets at this point and the line was so long as to be hopeless, so we wandered around Central Park for a while before catching the subway back to see Mamma Mia. 

We had a quick lunch at Famous Famiglia Pizza and then went over to the Winter Garden Theater to see Mamma Mia.  Mamma Mia was another great show and we both really enjoyed it. 

After the show, we took the subway down to lower Manhattan, intending to take a look at the construction at the World Trade Center site, but the E line was closed for construction.  This ended up being a good thing as we ended up getting off at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station and decided to walk up on the Brooklyn Bridge.  We the walked back down to the WTC site and saw the new 7 World Trade Center building and the beginnings of the construction on the Freedom Tower.

After the World Trade Center, we went over to Little Italy for dinner.  We walked around Little Italy examining all of the restaurants before deciding to have dinner at La Nonna.  The food was ok, but in retrospect, I imagine we could have done better in Little Italy.  After dinner we went and caught the subway back to the hotel.

On the Monday the 13th, we got up early and went over to the Today Show taping at the Rockefeller Center.  We were both surprised that there weren't very many people there since it looks like so much more on TV.  They actually didn't have much going on for the live audience except for when one of the cast members was doing an outside segment.  After about an hour and a half, we decided that it was pretty boring and left to tour Rockefeller Center.

We went into the NBC Studio Store and got a Rock Pass for a tour of the NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and the Top of the Rock.  We then went outside and did half of the self guided walking tour of Rockefeller Center while we were waiting for our Radio City tour.  We then went and toured Radio City Music Hall, which is a gem of art deco design.  The hall feels much more intimate than a number of theaters that I've been in with less than half of the 6000 seats in Radio City.  We even got our picture taken with a Rockette during the tour.

We then went and had lunch at Hale and Hearty Soup in 30 Rockefeller Center before heading upstairs to our NBC Studio Tour.  During our tour, we saw the sets of Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live.  We also saw the control room that sends the various feeds out over the satellites to affiliates and a small studio where they demonstrated how many of the technologies involved in producing a newscast work.

We then walked back outside and toured through St. Patrick's Cathedral before finishing our walking tour of Rockefeller Center.  We then walked down to the Circle Line pier on the west side where we took a three hour harbor cruise.  The cruise completely circumnavigated the island of Manhattan, starting down the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty and then going back up the East River and then through the Harlem River back to the Hudson River.  In addition to the Statue of Liberty, some of the highlights of the cruise were sailing under and through all of the various bridges, including getting to watch the Spuyten Duyvil Railroad Bridge open and close in front of us, sailing by Yankee Stadium, and seeing the tomb of President U.S. Grant.

After the harbor tour, we caught the bus back up to 6th Ave where we walked up to the Jekyll and Hyde Club, which came highly recommended by Heather.  We decided that Heather must really like theme restaurants, because this one struck me as Casa Bonita with a Jekyll and Hyde/Mad Scientist theme.  The food was again, ok, but also considerably overpriced.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel and went to bed.

On the 14th, we got up and went and had breakfast at the Comfort Diner on the recommendation of the hotel concierge.  The Comfort Diner was a good, classic greasy spoon breakfast that got us set for the rest of the day.  We then walked down 5th Ave and looked at a number of bead shops and then went and walked through Macy's Herald Square.  After Macy's we walked back through the Garment District on our way to Rockefeller Center to see the Top of the Rock.

The newly reopened Top of the Rock is very well done.  The transparent elevator roof gives you a great view of how fast the elevator is ascending.  At the top, the view is definitely a great view of New York City.  We then went back down and headed over to 5th Ave.

On 5th Ave, we went into Tiffany & Co. where we looked around and then I bought Andrea a silver bracelet for our anniversary.  We then walked up to FAO Schwartz where we were disappointed to learn that their bear statue out front had not been returned by the building management following the construction of the new Apple store.  We then walked back to the room to deposit our purchases before heading up to Yankee Stadium for the Yankees - Orioles game which I will detail in the subsequent entry.  We had dinner at Fabio Piccolo Colore on 44th between 2nd and 3rd Ave which was a wonderful dinner before the game.

Photos from New York

 
By: Shane
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Connecticut - August 9-10

Thursday, August 23, 2007 11:09 AM

Brian, Becky, and Andrea

On August 9, Andrea and I flew out to Connecticut for Ken and Becky's wedding.  We left at 8 am from Denver, flying to Bradley International in Hartford via Dallas on American.  The flight from Denver went smoothly and we grabbed lunch in the airport in Dallas.  Little did we know that this would be the only on time flight in the entire weekend. 

The next flight to Hartford was delayed in boarding for about 30 minutes due to a late arriving aircraft.  We boarded, pushed back, and were #1 in line for takeoff when air traffic control had us sit on the tarmac for an hour due to weather over Ohio.  So, needless to say, we were over an hour late getting into Hartford, causing us to miss the rehearsal dinner. 

Bradley International in Hartford has to be one of the dirtiest, dingiest airports that I have ever seen.  The building looks like it was built in the 1950's and no one has done any maintenance to it since.  The halls were all dark and dirty, and the entire facility looked like it was about to fall apart.

After leaving the airport, we drove down to Bristol where the wedding was and checked into the Bristol Clarion Hotel.  It turned out that we were just a block and a half from the ESPN studios, but they didn't give tours.  The desk attendant gave us directions to Queen Street where all of the restaurants were, but all of the street signs in that area of Connecticut must be modeled off of postage stamps, causing us to miss numerous turns; a theme that was to be repeated many times during our 2 days in Connecticut.  We finally found Friendly's where we had dinner and then we returned to the hotel where we met up with Becky and some of her friends before heading to bed.

On the morning of the 10th, we got up and ran a few errands before heading to west Hartford where we toured the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses.  Mark Twain's house is a large, somewhat dark house where he lived during the time of his most prolific writing from 1874-1891.  The Twain house was decorated by Louis C. Tiffany and contains many early examples of what would later evolve into his signature glasswork.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe house is the house in which she lived in the later part of her life.  The Stowes moved into this house in 1873, right next to their neighbor, Mark Twain.  The house is decorated with a number of paintings by Harriet Beecher Stowe as well as a numbe of other items owned by the Stowes.  Best known as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe also wrote a number of other works.  The kitchen in the house largely conforms to the model kitchen laid out in her book "American Woman's Home."

After leaving the Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain houses, we went back to Bristol and quickly changed for the wedding.  Becky and Ken's wedding was at the St. Matthew Catholic Church in Forestville, CT.  The service was beautiful.  We then headed to the Aqua Turf Club for the reception where we promptly got lost again.  The reception was great, complete with an open bar, a three course meal, and lots of dancing.  We were seated with all of the other law school friends who had attended, ensuring plenty of conversation.  We finally headed back to the hotel from the reception shortly after 11 pm, where we sat in the room and chatted with Andrea's friend, Brian, for over an hour before finally heading to bed.

Photos from Connecticut

 
By: Shane
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The Little Mermaid - The Pre-Broadway Engagement

Monday, August 6, 2007 12:41 PM

The Little Mermaid - The Pre-Broadway Engagement

Last night Andrea and I went to see what was only the 10th public performance of Disney's newest musical, "The Little Mermaid."  Denver's new Ellie Caulkins Opera House is home to the pre-Broadway trial for this new show.  The Little Mermaid, starring Denver's own Sierra Boggess as Ariel, was a very good Broadway show already at this point in the pre-Broadway trial, though not without its few hiccups.

Two numbers before the scheduled intermission, they were forced to bring the curtain down for about 10 minutes to fix a technical glitch with the show.  During this brief unscheduled break, we got a brief speech from show director, Francesca Zambello, thanking everyone for their patience and saying how much they've enjoyed Denver for their pre-Broadway engagement.

The show does a wonderful job creating the illusion of moving in and out of the water.  The colors are great and are quite successful in immersing the audience into the underwater world.  The costuming for Ursula is truly incredible. 

The Little Mermaid will definitely be another great show in Disney's repertoire when it opens on Broadway following this tune up in Denver.  Andrea and I definitely enjoyed it and will look forward to seeing it in the future when it moves into a national tour.

 
By: Shane
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Tri For The Cure 2007

Monday, August 6, 2007 11:49 AM

SlowJAM

Yesterday, Andrea, Janice, and Margie swam, biked, and ran respectively in the 2007 Tri For The Cure down at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  They did a great job as a group, coming in in 1 hour, 42 minutes, and 31 seconds for the full time and placing right in the middle of their class and doing much better than any of them individually expected to do.  Their full results are available here.  More articles about the race are online in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

 
By: Shane
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Soul2Soul Tour 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 11:37 AM

Andrea and I at the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert

Tuesday night, Andrea and I went to see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in concert down at the Pepsi Center in Denver.  The show was my first real arena concert.  We ended up sitting way up in the corner in the 3rd level of the Pepsi Center but the show was still a lot of fun.  Tim McGraw was clearly the better performer of the two.  We both enjoyed the show a lot and it was definitely a good way to spend the evening.

 
By: Shane
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