Poutine, Lake Champlain, Stewart's

DAY 67 -- Hearing my wife talk about her time growing up in upstate New York, I've heard her mention a few specific things several times that would be required in order to get the "full experience" -- a cold LaBatt, a treat from Stewart's, and a nice steaming gut full of poutine.

French fries and gravy, sir.

Grabbing lunch at a local place called Pasquale's, my dreams were realized. You have to understand, I love stuff like this -- foods that are bad for you all smashed together into one mixed up serving. In college, one of my favorite things to do was to fix up a pot of instant mashed potatoes with brown gravy, dump in a can of corn, mix and serve. Kind of like a primitive version of those KFC bowls.

Anyway, one thing is clear. Poutine and Tim were M.F.E.O.

Fries. Gravy. Cheese.

Bake. Consume.

. . .

We spent some time at a local beach this morning soaking in the sun and exploring a portion of Lake Champlain. The kids had sand and water so they were content.

Apparently Amy's brother and I were unknowingly on Dad Patrol.

I suppose I haven't mentioned that Amy's brother and his family are here, too. They flew to the area from Illinois and met up with us yesterday evening on this trip back to where they spent many of their growing-up years. So if you start seeing four random people showing up in multiple pictures over the next week, that's who it is.

So back to Lake Champlain. I plan to see Champy this week.

Champy is the Lake Champlain version of the Loch Ness Monster and one morning as I enjoy my coffee next to the water -- before the rest of the world is stirring -- Champy will surely say hello.

Stay tuned.

. . .

With poutine off my list (although I'm sure I'll have it again before we leave the area), we also hit up a Stewart's today for some ice cream.


Stewart's is pretty much a gas station that sells ice cream.

. . .

Amy carried a watermelon today.

Nobody puts Amy in a corner.

. . .

When she was younger, Charlotte came home from a trip visiting her cousins in Indianapolis with two snails they'd found. We bought a small terrarium and she kept Cookie and Nellie alive and well for about two years before they went to snail heaven.

After a trip down to the water this morning, we're apparently back in the snail business and caring for
Herb, Shelly, and friends.

. . .

The kids played on a playground while Amy and her brother visited their old school...

...and we all stopped by for a quiet visit to the grave site of Amy's brother who died as an infant when she was eleven.

Some trips down memory lane, some great views, and a sunburned forehead.

Hoping for more poutine tomorrow.

BFF, HOF, Upstate NY

DAY 66 -- I met my friend David when he and I were five. We started kindergarten together and were best friends from the start. All these years later, states have separated us, we've gone extended periods of time without being in touch, and we've both earned our fair share of gray in our beards ... but nothing will ever keep us from picking up where we left off each time we're lucky enough to see each other. Coincidentally, David lives not too far north of Amy's childhood friend we'd been staying with -- and north happened to be the direction we were headed.

Man. So great to catch up with old friends.

. . .

With nothing but time on our hands, there was no way we were going to miss an opportunity to drive a little bit out of our way and visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I've wanted to visit Cooperstown since I was a kid and getting to our final destination a few hours later than initially planned was totally worth it.

I'll save you from the countless pictures I took of Cubs mentions throughout the Hall today and share with you an even more "Tim" version of the tour. Including...

...the San Diego Chicken. Or as I remember him, the co-host of Saturday morning's The Baseball Bunch...

...this recorded tribute to Fernando Valenzuela. A record I now need to find...

...a pack of Big League Chew, of course...

...a sign in support of Jose Canseco. I mention this not only because Canseco was one of my childhood favorites, but also because if you're not following his train-wreck of a Twitter account, you're missing one of the best things the internet has to offer...


...the Phillie Phanatic...

...an exhibit that made me want to punch the closest person in a Cardinals shirt...

...but then I remembered that all is right in the world...

...this joke of a story that supposedly saved baseball at the cost of questionable records...

...a Pete Rose visual. Interesting. A guy banned from the Hall of Fame with a screen explaining that he's banned. Not quite banned if you ask me...

...and finally some outdoor practice before hitting the road for our final destination.

. . .

Three and a half hours later, we finally made it. Our final destination -- Plattsburgh, NY -- my wife's childhood home.

Playground, Carousel, Swim with a View

DAY 65 -- What a fun day with Amy's childhood friend and her family! We killed about a hour in a pretty amazing playground called Recreation Park in Binghamton before the carousel opened.


Apparently there's a circuit of carousels in this area that offer free rides ... rides at least four times as long as those we get at the mall for two bucks.

Also an afternoon swim with an amazing view.

Big thanks to Carolyn and Ken for being a part of the Summer of Tim!

More driving tomorrow.

The Drive

DAY 64 -- When my alarm went off at 3am, I felt like I hadn't slept. Our plan to basically carry the kids to the car so they could sleep through the first few hours of the day's drive completely backfired. As we pulled out of our driveway at just after 4am, it was clear that they wouldn't be going back to sleep.

Vacation begins.

Over the next sixteen hours, we covered five states and somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 miles.

We stopped for rest area picnics...

...a playground break at a state park in Pennsylvania to burn off some steam...

...and saw what is surely the most beautiful rainbow we've ever seen. The photo certainly doesn't do it justice but I am certain that today was the first time I've ever seen the "bottom" of a rainbow -- the point where it visibly appears to hit the ground which, in this case, was right next to the interstate.

Spoiler alert. No pot of gold.

Finally, we hit our first destination in New York where we're visiting one of Amy's childhood friends and her family.

It took two IPAs for me to realize I had no gas left in my tank and Day 1 of our trip was officially in the books.

And we all still like each other.

Bags: Packed

DAY 63 -- The bags are packed. We're ready to go.

...I'm standing here outside your door.

Or something like that.

Vacation begins bright and early tomorrow morning but not before a celebration at church in honor of our new pastor, Casey Taylor, and his family.

Pastor Casey. Vacation.

Both sure to have great things in store!