Items tagged with 'summer'

A checklist for summer

summer checklist 2017 composite

The summer solstice -- with the longest daylight of the year -- has arrived. You know how in winter you dream of doing all those summer things? Get out there and do them! That time is now!

So we've put together a checklist of summer stuff to do...

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Capital Region swimming pools 2017

victoria pool large

Pool days.

Swimming pool season is here.

Some of the Capital Region's municipal pools, beaches, and spray pads have already opened, and many more will be opening soon.

After the jump, a list of town/city swimming pools, spray pads, and state beaches around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost.

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Capital Region swimming pools 2016

victoria pool large


Swimming pool season has arrived.

Many of the Capital Region's municipal pools, beaches and spray pads have already opened, or will be opening soon.

After the jump, a list of town/city swimming pools, spray pads, and state beaches around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost.

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A stolen summer day: outside

sand island sacandaga lake

Sometimes the best places to get away are a little out of the way.

If you're lucky enough get a summer day all to yourself -- no work, no commitments, no rush -- you've gotta spend it outside, right?

Because as cold and harsh a winter's day here can be, we also get some of the most beautiful summer days -- bright blue skies with puffy white clouds, warm sun, and the occasional cooling breeze.

So we asked a handful of people who love spending time outdoors how they'd spend a stolen summer day...

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A stolen summer day: eating

stewarts happy camper ice cream in cup

"Happy Camper" ice cream from Stewart's got a mention.

By Deanna Fox

Seasonal foods are one of summer's pleasures. Fresh berries, salads, corn on the cob, and ice cream from a favorite seasonal stand are the stuff of many summer memories.

So if you could have your favorite summer treat from anywhere in the Capital Region, what would it be?

Deanna Fox asked a few local food lovers that question.

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A stolen summer day: wandering

Mass MoCA Tony  Iadicicco.jpg

One of the stolen day destinations mentioned. / photo: Tony Iadicicco

Summer comes and goes so quickly upstate. And there's that constant tension between accomplishing all of the everyday tasks that are necessary to complete in our daily lives and diving into summer's pleasures.

During winter we get the occasional surprise snow day in which to curl up with a good book and a hot chocolate, or make a snowman. So what about summer?

We asked a handful of people what they would do with a stolen summer day...

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Favorite lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and other bodies of water

canoes at Grafton Lakes

Grafton Lakes got a mention.

It is currently time to do all the summer things. And "all the summer things" often includes finding a lake, river, stream, some body of water to take in the view, relax by, dine next to, kayak in.

A few weeks back as part of the River Week drawing, we asked you about your favorite bodies of water around the Capital Region. There were a bunch of good suggestions. So, as with the neighborhood highlights, we combined all the suggestions into a clickable map and listing.

Have a look...

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Capital Region Swimming Pools 2015

victoria pool large

The Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park is opening daily starting Saturday, June 27.

Pool season has arrived. Many municipal pools around the Capital Region have already opened, or will very soon.

After the jump, a list of town/city swimming pools (and state beaches) around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost.

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Pick your own strawberry season 2015

strawberries box strawberry field samascott

So very June.

Strawberry season is here! Many local farms have recently opened for pick-your-own strawberries, or will be very shortly.

It seems like there's a fair amount of variability across farms this year -- some have gotten an early jump and others are still waiting for their berries. If we get a few sunny days following this rain, things could move along quickly.

A typical strawberry season at many farms in this area only lasts a few weeks, though some farms have strawberries for longer stretches -- even most of the summer -- because their fields include a range of varieties that produce at different times. When you're at the farm stand, ask about the varieties the farms are growing. In our experience people are happy to talk about what's available, for how long, and why. (It's also a good idea to call ahead or check the website before heading out.)

Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!

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Summer suggestions for a young adult visiting from out of town?

flowers Central Ave Washington Ave-S emails:

My (French) sister is 18 and she is flying to visit me for a month in August. I'm very excited to have her.
Her English is pretty good for a French kid her age. I would love to involve her in local activities -- she wants to get to know the American culture badly. (And she really wants to speak as much English as possible.) I don't know what an 18 year old does in the summer around here, though.
So far I've filled a volunteering form at the Albany Public Library, they might keep her busy for a few hours a week. I feel the service industry would be a bit too brutal for her first trip here. She loves volleyball, I'm sure she could play in the park this summer, but a youth league would be even better, if such a thing exists.
Maybe this is something people reading AOA would know about (or be interested to share)?

As a young adult, -S's sister will no doubt be able to find her own way to a large extent. But -S is trying to get her visit here off to a good start.

So, got a suggestion for -S's sister this summer? Please share!

Beach trips from the Capital Region

rhode island beach waves

Sometimes nothing short of the ocean will do.

By Lauren Hittinger

August is here and it's time to get out there and do all of those summer activities on your list. One of my favorites is a trip to the beach. And while Grafton Lakes or Lake George are nice, they don't really compare to the Atlantic Ocean.

The good news is that the Capital Region is close to some wonderful destinations for a day trip or overnight getaway to the beach.

Here are my top picks for ocean beach spots nearby...

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Capital Region county fairs 2014

cow costume contest Altamont Fair 2013

Sure, the county fair means rides, games, and food on a stick. But it's also an opportunity for some kids to compete for a ribbon (and have some fun while doing so).

County fair season in the Capital Region starts this week with the opening of the Saratoga County Fair in Ballston Spa. And there will be a county fair pretty much each week through Labor Day.

Here's a rundown of county fairs around the region.

Remember: drink plenty of water -- and eat many foods on a stick.

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Pick-your-own blueberry season 2014

box of blueberries at samascott

Blueberry season has started around the Capital Region, and we'll soon be right in the prime part of the season. Blueberries are are one of our favorite fruits to pick because:

1) The bushes grow about waist or chest high, so there's not a lot of bending or reaching.

2) The berries tend to be cheap -- usually between $2-$3 dollars per pound.

3) They freeze beautifully, meaning we can load up on berries during the summer and enjoy them months later.

There are a handful of farms around the Capital Region that offer pick-your-own blueberries. Here's a list with some info. And, of course, if you know of a place that should be on the list, please share.

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Capital Region Swimming Pools 2014

victoria pool large

The Victoria Pool is currently open weekends -- it opens daily starting June 28.

Updated June 27

Summer has officially started and that means pool season is here. Many public pools around the Capital Region have opened, or will very soon.

After the jump, a list of swimming pools around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost.

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Pick your own strawberry season 2014

strawberries in box in strawberry field at samascott

Always a happy sight.

Strawberry season in the greater Capital Region has arrived! Many local pick-your-own farms are now open for the season.

Many farms just opened PYO during the last week or so. The cold spring and some of the rainy weather of late has apparently held back -- or sort of paused -- many of the strawberry fields. But the recent run of sunny, warm weather has things picking up, and this coming weekend is looking like prime berry picking.

A typical strawberry season at many farms in this area only lasts a few weeks, though some farms have strawberries for longer stretches because their fields include a range of varieties. (It's always a good idea to call ahead or check the website before heading out.)

Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!

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Pizza at Kay's Pizza

Kay's Pizza cheese pizza

By Deanna Fox

It is said that the pizza you grow up with is the pizza by which all other pizza will ever be judged -- regardless of how good or bad that childhood pizza was. As a result, pizzas of many types -- and a range of relative merits -- have a special place in the hearts of people.

Sure, that very poofy crust/exceptionally thin crust/sweet sauced/tangy sauced/underbaked/overbaked/whatever pizza might have its flaws, but it's your pizza. And eating it evokes memories.

No matter what type of pizza holds that place in your heart -- and no matter how good (or bad) that pizza is -- there is little doubt the pizza from Kay's will stand up to it favorably.

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Free summer concert series schedule 2014

living colour band

Living Colour opens the At the Plaza series this Wednesday, June 4.

The free summer concert series season starts this week with the At the Plaza series at Empire State Plaza on Wednesday. There are a handful of these series around the Capital Region, so we figured we'd make it easier to keep track of them by pouring them all into one schedule one page.

And here is that page...

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Drawing: ValleyCats championship tickets (+ballpark food)

joe bruno stadium night game 525x350

The ValleyCats take on the State College Spikes at The Joe in the NY-Penn League Championships tomorrow.

The Tri-City ValleyCats have reached the New York-Penn league Championships, and on Tuesday night, win or lose, they'll play their last home game of the 2013 season (games 2 and, if necessary, 3 will be played at State College PA.)

We have a four-pack of tickets for the tomorrow's game, that include food vouchers -- and we're giving them away, maybe to you.

To enter, please answer this question in the comments:

The end of the ValleyCats season is reminder that another summer has come and -- nearly-- gone. What's your favorite memory of the summer of 2013?

We'll pick one winner at random. That person will get a package that includes four tickets to Tuesday's game, plus vouchers for each person to get:

+ 1 beer or soda
+ 1 hot dog
+ 1 bag of chips
+ 1 ice cream sundae

Tuesday's game starts at 7 pm. Tickets to the game are still available and start at $5.50 online or $6.50 on game day.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:55 pm Monday, September 9, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 10 am on Tuesday, September 10 and must respond by noon that day.

A field of sunflowers?

sunflower blooms closeupKristen emails:

Do you know of any fields of in-bloom sunflowers in the area? I got the idea last year to photograph my daughter in a field of sunflowers when I passed by an awesome one on Rt. 9H by Kinderhook, but I never made it down there before they died off.

We gotta admit we're posting Kristen's question because we really like sunflowers and the thought of a whole field of them makes us smile. So we'd kind of like to know, too.

Got the scoop on some sunflowers? Please share.

Let's get ready to crumble

blueberry crumble in bowl

Blueberry crumble.

By AOA Greg

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (whatever that is) for this moment of cooking bloggery.

One of the great things about this time of year is the almost overflowing bounty of good local produce. There are all the vegetables, sure. But the thing I really associate with summer is the fruit. Strawberries early in the season, cherries, peaches, blueberries and raspberries -- and then just as summer's ending, apples.

And when we have an abundance of summer fruit, it's time for crumble. It's easy to make. Here's how.

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Collecting Summer in the City PoeTweets

blue sky tree topThe Albany Public Library's "Summer in the City PoeTweet Contest" ended Saturday night. The week-long contest was pretty much what it sounds like: short poems about summer in Albany, submitted via Twitter.

We thought it'd be fun to collect the entries from the context hashtag. So... that's what we did.

There were some beautiful entries.

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Temperature vs. power

There's been a lot of talk this week about how the heat wave is putting a strain on the state's power grid. The org that oversees the state's grid predicted that cranking up all those air conditioners would push the state's electricity usage up to or beyond the all-time record. And on Thursday Andrew Cuomo was urging New Yorkers to conserve energy so as to lessen the chances of power outages.

Update: The state's electricity demand broke the record Friday, NYISO reported late that afternoon.

All that talk got us curious about the relationship between temperatures outside and power usage. So we pulled the data for both daily max temps and max "load" on the state's power grid. There's a graph above -- but don't squint, there's a large format version after the jump (along with some notes).

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Air conditioned

air conditionerNew York State HVAC fact of the day: Of the state's roughly 7.2 million households, an estimated 5.3 million (74 percent) use some sort of air conditioning. Of the households that use air conditioning, 74 percent use window units (as opposed to central air or some other tech). [US EIA Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2009]

On Monday, the org that oversees New York's power grid projected that this week's heat wave could push the state's electricity usage close to its all-time peak level, set August 2, 2006 (it hit 95 that day in Albany). [NYISO] [Weather Underground]

Adjusting the temperature on the air conditioner from 75 to 78 can save about 18 percent in energy costs. (Oh, and pushing the temp way down to "cool the room off the faster"? That doesn't actually cool the room off the faster.) [National Grid]

Capital Region county fairs 2013

Summer scene fair by Crystal Powell

An annual summer scene. / photo: Crystal Powell

It's July and that means county fair season will soon begin in the Capital Region. Saratoga gets things started July 16, and the season stretches through September 2.

Here's a rundown of county fairs around the region.

Remember: a fair is best enjoyed while eating some sort of food on a stick.

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Today's moment of summer

sour cherries on tree samascot 2013-July

Well, a recent moment of summer. We went to Samascott in Kinderhook at the end of last week to pick cherries, blueberries, and strawberries.

Cherry season had just started and the trees were loaded with fruit. The sour cherries were almost a glowing red, which made the whole scene look a bit surreal.

About sour cherries... We came across a NYT article from a few years back about orchards in the Hudson Valley that grow sour cherries, many of them in Columbia County. In that article, the owner of Samascott mentioned that the sour cherries are popular with people from eastern Europe. And though it's just one instance, our experience last week followed with that: We were one of the few people speaking English along the rows of cherry trees.

Anyway, we had heard that sour cherries make good pies. We can now happily confirm that.

Elsewhere: NPR recently had an interesting story about a Michigan State scientist who is "the country's one and only tart cherry breeder."

Jeff Alonzo, the guy behind the ESP fireworks

Jeff Alonzo.jpg

Keeping the holiday drama off the ground and in the sky.

So, say you're shooting off 10,000 fireworks in a crowd of 25,000 people on the Empire State Plaza. Hypothetically, of course. You'd want the guy in charge to be a pretty calm and focused, right? The kind that likes to keep his drama high above the ground.

That's the kind of vibe you get from Jeff Alonzo.

Fireworks are a family thing for Alonzo and his Mechanicville company. His great uncle founded Alonzo Fireworks in 1939 and ran it through 1950. His father picked it up again in the 70s.

When other kids' parents were warning them to keep away from fireworks, Alozno was helping his dad on displays. Today his son is helping him prep for tomorrow's big ESP show.

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The summer so far...

summer so far pie chart

In pie chart form.

(Inspired by Ann Friedman's excellent pie charts for The Hairpin.)

Where to see the fireworks 2013

Thumbnail image for SummerCrystalFireworks.jpg

There's gonna be fireworks.

The Fourth of July is Thursday. Time for fireworks!

After the jump, a short list of places you can ooooh and aaahhhh while watching the Capital Region sky light up.

Going someplace else for a fireworks show? Tell us where.

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Capital Region Swimming Pools 2013

victoria pool large

The Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park.

It's summer. Hooray!

And as if on cue, pool weather has arrived.

After the jump, a list of swimming pools around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost.

Spoiler alert: Most are already open!

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Pick your own strawberry season 2013

strawberries box strawberry field samascott

From last year's crop.

Strawberry season in the greater Capital Region is starting! Many local pick-your-own farms are now open for the season, or will be very soon.

The recent weather hasn't done the farms any favors. We get the impression the hot/then cold/then hot/then dreary and very wet weather has held many strawberry crops back a bit. But it sounds like a few warm, sunny days should have the berries back on track. (And, as you might expect, fields are very wet right now -- so prepare accordingly.)

A typical strawberry season in this area usually only lasts a few weeks -- so don't wait too long.

Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!

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The grassfed burger at Pirates Lakeside Grill

pirates lakeside grill grassfed burger closeup

By Daniel B.

We've been blessed with a long cool spring, but soon it will get hot. And when it does you will be faced with three choices: sweat, seek air conditioning, or head for the water.

A patch of shade with some cooling breezes coming off the water is one of summer's great pleasures. Waterfront dining options far too often take advantage of the situation and charge outrageous premiums on barely adequate food.

Yet somehow in the Capital Region we've seemed to avoid the worst of that. You can eat on the banks of the Hudson at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que or in sight of the Mohawk at Jumpin' Jacks without being gouged for the view. These places are locally famous. But there is another restaurant nearby that most people probably have never heard about. And it has a nicer view than Dinosaur, uses better meat than Jumpin' Jacks, and is a veritable haven for local and regional food lovers.

Pirates Lakeside Grill is also home to the $5 grassfed burger.

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Free summer concert series schedule 2013

Thumbnail image for brian patneaude quartet playing on roof

The Brian Patneaude Quartet returns to this summer's Up Beat on the Roof series at the Tang Museum. (photo: Andrzej Pilarczyk)

The free summer concert series season starts this week with Alive at Five in Albany on Thursday. There are a handful of these series around the Capital Region, so we figured we'd make it easier to keep track of them by pouring them all into one schedule one page.

And here is that page...

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The Jackburger at Jumpin' Jack's

jumpin jack's jackburger

By Daniel B.

Some will say the first day of fall is on Saturday, September 22. And technically they would be correct. Although somehow they have neglected to consider that the last day of summer falls on September 2.

That is the last day Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia is open for the season.

One of the great things about the Capital Region are all of our seasonal food stands. Whether they specialize in burgers, fish fry, soft serve or homemade hard ice cream, each one is a treasure trove of good memories for generations of area residents. But you can't eat someone else's fond recollections.

Not having grown up here, I have none of these sentimental ties binding me to any of our beloved regional institutions. So I consider myself lucky to be able to try each of these places with a fresh perspective. Still, before first heading to Jumpin' Jacks I did my research to find what exactly about this riverside restaurant residents recommended.

As it turns out, there are many people who love Jumpin' Jack's despite the food. True, the fact that a seasonal food stand has such a beautiful riverside location is stunning -- it's great to eat on the banks of the Mohawk River, even when there isn't a water ski show.

But I've got a few words for those who are dissatisfied with Jumpin' Jack's signature burger.

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Moxie's is more than plain vanilla

moxies exterior

By Casey Normile

The first batch of Mexican vanilla ice cream that Moxie's ever made was technically illegal.

"But only a little illegal," Pamela Allie-Morrill explains. Ms. Pam, as she likes to be called, is the daughter of the eponymous Mohamed "Moxie" Allie -- she now runs the ice cream stand in Wynantskill. She says that original supply of Mexican vanilla hitched a ride into this country in her cousin's suitcase. It wasn't exactly an act of smuggling.

That Mexican vanilla has since been replaced with Mexican vanilla sourced via Illinois. But it's still an integral part of Moxie's Around the World of Vanilla -- a solar system of vanilla ice creams in a dish that surround Moxie's signature flavor, Blue Moon.

So, why vanilla? Pam says it's simple -- it was the most readily available flavor when she was looking to make her mark on Moxie's eleven years ago. And the vanilla sampler has been a popular staple at the stand ever since.

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Picking a summer read: Susan Taylor

Book House exterior.jpg

Summer reads from The Book House.

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

Susan Taylor reads about 200 books a year. So if you need a recommendation, she's your woman.

Susan has been a bookseller since 1982, and has worked at The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza, the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, as a publishers' sales rep in New England, and a a book buyer at the Wellesley Booksmith. She returned to the Capital District -- and The Book House -- in 2006.

After the jump, her suggestions on picking a the perfect summer book, and her 2012 summer reading list.

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A great (inexpensive) day at the track: Crystal Capritta

Crystal at the track.jpg

A fun (and affordable) day at the track with Crystal and Mike.

By Crystal Capritta

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

Mention Saratoga Race Track and many people think fancy clothes and spending a lot of money. But you can have a lot of fun at the track without spending a ton of cash.

My husband has gone to the track every summer of his life, and I've been right along with him since the first summer we met. Over the years I've won a few of the bets I've placed, and my husband has been known to hit a rare trifecta.

Here are some of our insider tips to having a good time at the track on the cheap.

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Making a fabulous summer cocktail: Nick Ferrandino

Nick Ferrandino new world cocktail summer.jpg

Yes, it's as good as it looks.

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

One of our favorite ways to enjoy summer is with a cool cocktail out on the patio/deck/porch/stoop. So we checked in with New World Bistro Bar bartender Nick Ferrandino for help on making something delicious, but a little bit different. A Mayflower -- made a bit like a mojito, but with different ingredients.

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Camping with kids: Katie Beltramo

Katie B Kayaking .jpg

Camping with Katie

By Katie Beltramo

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

Today, Katie has some ideas on how to make camping with kids easier and more fun. (Many of these tips could apply to first-time campers of all ages -- because you know you want your own flashlight.)

Every year I ask my kids what they want to do over the summer, and the overwhelming, number one, far-ahead-of-everything-else choice is camping.

I was not "raised" a camper. I camped once, as a Brownie, in someone's backyard. Still, come to think of it, I remember that camp-out vividly. So I guess I loved it, too.

These days, no doubt because I'm a far kinder and more indulgent parent than my own parents were, I do quite a bit of camping. And it's pretty fun, actually.

So wanna make some memories with the kiddos? I'll help you get started.

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Buying a bicycle: Carl Johnson

Carl Johnson bike 2.jpg

Carl in Troy

By Carl Johnson

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

In most people's minds, summer is the time for biking.

But maybe you haven't ridden for years, and you find all the new bicycle styles and technology more than a bit daunting. Don't let that keep you from getting back on a bike and enjoying the absolutely amazing riding that the Capital District offers.

Here are some tips on how to buy a new bike.

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Hosting a great barbecue: Christian Noe

Christian Noe Summer Barbecue

Grill master Christian Noe from Nighthawks Kitchen

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

Christian Noe is a guy who knows what to do with a grill. The proprietor of Nighthawk's Kitchen at the Troy Farmer's Market teaches popular cooking classes on things like grilling, sausage making, and award-winning mac 'n cheese at The Arts Center of the Capital Region.

Noe shared some delicious tips with us on how to create a festive backyard barbecue that you can actually have time to enjoy with your guests. He also settles the charcoal vs. propane debate. Sort of.

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Capital Region swimming pools 2012

victoria pool large

The Victoria Pool at Spa State Park.

Summer officially starts this week -- the summer solstice is Wednesday -- and it's also going to be 90something degrees. That's pool weather.

After the jump, a list of swimming pools around the Capital Region with info about when they open, hours, and cost. Many of them open this coming weekend.

Stay cool!

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Victoria Pool opens Saturday

victoria pool large

Go ahead -- pretend you're a 1920s socialite.

The Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park is scheduled to be open for the first time this summer this Saturday and Sunday. The pool will be open from 10 am to 6 pm both days. The pool is $8 for adults and $4 for kids (under 5 is free).

The forecast for this weekend: sunny and 80s.

The pool will be closed the following week, and then open for the season on June 23. It will be open every day until September 3.

The park's Peerless Pool will open for the first time on June 23. (It will be open every day after, except for Tuesdays.) The Peerless is $2 for adults and $1 for kids (under 5 is free).

The Victoria Pool is a lovely spot. Lounging poolside with a drink is a bit of affordable luxury.

[via Saratogian and Save The Victoria Pool Society]

Pick your own strawberry season 2012

strawberries box strawberry field samascott

Strawberries -- and strawberry fields -- at Samascott in Kinderhook.

Strawberry season has started! The local pick-your-own farms are open for the season. And it sounds like the crop has turned out OK, despite the weird spring, though some of the farms say the season will be short.

A typical strawberry season here usually only lasts a few weeks -- so don't wait. It sounds like this weekend, and especially the next week, will be the prime time.

Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!

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So long, summer

autumn leaves

Coming soon to a lawn near you.

By Martin Daley

Ironically, as I sit down to write about how great this part of the country is for having four seasons, there's a hurricane spinning out there with the Northeast in her cross hairs. C'est la vie.

When the warm weather arrives in Albany it seems like it's taken YEARS to get here, so each year, as summer approaches, I promise to have more BBQs, see more crap films at the drive-in, and make more road trips to the mountains. But it's the end of the summer, and, as is often the case, I'm left with more than a few regrets.

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Fish fry at Gene's

genes fish fry fish in bun

Catch it while you can.

By Daniel B.

Fish fry is different from fried fish. If you grew up in the Capital Region, you would already know this. But there are countless transplants who come here from far and wide. Many of these people gaze upon our regional specialty with surprise and confusion.

Fried fish is simply a battered and fried filet of fish. Our fish fry is a foot-long thin piece of fried breaded fish, unceremoniously sitting in a plain white hotdog bun.

While most of the world is fish fry poor, we are lucky to have several restaurants around the area dedicated to this dish. Each is special in its own way and each has its dedicated followers. In many ways they remind me of the clam shacks around New England. They are casual places to enjoy tasty fried seafood on a warm summer's day.

But as opposed to the New England clam shacks, Capital Region fish fry is mostly a four-season affair. That is, except at Gene's in East Greenbush Rensselaer, which is only open in the spring and summer. And if you want a last taste of summer, you've got precious little time to get there.

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Saving for a snowy day

blue sky jar

Noted: only small portion of sky blue sky fits in a jar.

Today was so gorgeous that we decided to jar some so we'd have it during the middle of January.

So... do you think we have to refrigerate that? Or, you know, just store in a cool, dry place?

Forecast: The next few days look cloudy and shower-y. Sunday could be OK.

Also: NWS Albany is on Facebook. Who knew.

Something wicket this way comes

But can they take all 10 wickets in an innings?

By Rob Madeo

When I was a boy, we played in the street. Stickball and street hockey, running bases, touch football. Even though there were perfectly good lawns and parks, we just sort of liked the street. Maybe it was the curbs, which were like built-in sidelines. Naturally, you had to look out for the storm sewers that swallowed countless balls, pucks, and Frisbees -- and oh yes, you had to watch for cars -- but the street was our playing field.

I don't see kids playing ball in the street much anymore, even at the dozens of basketball hoops that line our suburban neighborhoods. There are three hoops on my block alone and I've never seen a basketball being shot at any single one of them. They stand like monuments to the idea of sports. Go figure.

But things are different on my street these days. And the kids aren't playing the old reliable
standbys: they're playing cricket.

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The sunset summer

Buckingham pond sunset 2011-08-02

Buckingham Pond in uptown Albany.

For whatever reason, this summer seems like it's had a lot of good sunsets.

Maybe it's all the blue skies, sun, and fluffy clouds. It's like every time we look toward the west at dusk there's a scene that gives us the urge to pull out the iPhone and snap a pic (the modern world is nothing if not mediated).

There's should be a sunset forecast. "Tuesday: sunny, high in the mid-80s, 70 percent chance of a stand-and-watch-worthy sunset..." The weather people should really get on this.

Tuesday's sunset wasn't especially great -- we'd call it league average for this year. But we still appreciated it.

SPAC orchestra tickets + Putnam Market picnic

Orchestra on the lawn at SPAC.jpg


Update: We have a winner! Congrats Ellen.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC is on the lawn with a picnic and a bottle of wine. It's a relaxed, fun, classy way to spend a summer evening.

We're giving away four lawn passes for the orchestra at SPAC this season, and to class up the experience even more we're throwing in a picnic for four from Putnam Market, plus a bottle of red wine and a bottle of prosecco (courtesy of SPAC). Oh, and you'll also get VIP parking behind the Saratoga Auto Museum.

The winner gets to choose one of these performances:

+ Thursday July 28: "Casablanca Night" (screening of the classic movie with live orchestral accompaniment
+ Friday July 29: David Hyde Pierce / Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
+ Saturday, July 30: Celebration of an Artist Night with Emmanuel Ax
+ Thursday, August 4: "All Beethoven" with violinist, James Ehnes
+ Thursday, August 11: "From Russia with Love" with pianist, Gabriela Montero

To enter the drawing, answer this question in the comments:

What's the classiest thing about the Capital Region?

Maybe it's a really classy person. Maybe it's a piece of great architecture, a garden or a museum. Maybe it's a great restaurant or a way to enjoy the summer (or winter).

We'll draw one winner at random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Wednesday (July 27, 2011) to be entered in the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 10 pm on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Thursday (July 28, 2011). When responding, the winner must specify which night they will attend.

Yep, SPAC does advertise on AOA.

Hat Day at Saratoga

One of the things we love about Saratoga -- it's one of the few places left where you can still wear a hat. Not just a baseball cap or beret or something -- but an honest-to-god fancy hat. You see people sporting them all season long at the racecourse, but never more than on opening weekend.

Yesterday 175 people sported their millinery masterpieces both home made and store-bought, for the 20th annual Saratoga Hat Contest. The place was crazy with fun hats, and we got to join Steve Ammerman, Kristi G. and Ellen Z from WPYX in the judges box.

The hats ranged from "that's lovely" to, "hey, neat" to "whoa! look at that!" to "Wow -- they've got a lot of extra time on their hands."

Here's a little of what we saw:

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A quick guide to summer theater festivals

Steven Weber - Three Hotels.jpg

Steven Weber in Three Hotels at WTF.

By Stephanie Preston

One of the great things about summer in the Capital Region: all the theater festivals. And the theater season is currently at its peak.

You've probably heard the names tossed around a lot -- Berkshire Theater Festival, The Mac-Hayden, Williamstown -- but each one has a little something different to offer in mission, atmosphere, style and pricing.

So, after the jump, you'll find a quick guide to help you choose which festival you might like to attend, complete with a few details you'll want to know before you go.

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Summer Scenes: Crystal Powell

horses running at Saratoga

At the races.

AOA is taking it easy this week, enjoying a lot of the great stuff Capital Region summers have to offer. (Yes, ice cream will be involved.) While we're away, a few local photographers will be sharing how they see summer in the Capital Region.

When Crystal Powell isn't out enjoying a great diner breakfast or making cool stuff to sell on Etsy, she enjoys taking pictures. Sometimes she enjoys taking pictures while she's doing those things. Crystal has shared some of her dining and shopping experience with AOA in the past. Here's a look at summer through her lens.

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Summer Scenes: Bennett Campbell

kids playing in fire hose water in Troy

Cooling off in Troy.

AOA is taking it easy this week, enjoying a lot of the great stuff Capital Region summers have to offer. (Yes, ice cream will be involved.) While we're away, a few local photographers will be sharing how they see summer in the Capital Region.

Today's photos are from Bennett Campbell. We're always interested in the world as he sees it -- whether it's local events, the Adirondacks or abandoned buildings. One of Bennett's photos was recently named an honorable mention at the 33rd Photo Regional at the Albany Center Gallery.

Here are a few scenes from his summer adventures in the Capital Region.

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Summer Scenes: Sebastien Barre

Sebastien Moonglow Balloons


AOA is taking it easy this week, enjoying a lot of the great stuff Capital Region summers have to offer. (Yes, ice cream will be involved.) While we're away, a few local photographers will be sharing how they see summer in the Capital Region.

Next up: Sebastien Barre. We have very happily featured many of Sebastien's photos here at AOA, including a great series of urban exploration photos. Be sure to also check out his excellent photo blog.

Sebastien's work will be part of a group of show at the Albany Institute of History and Art, 75th Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region, from July 9 through September 4. A print from the urban exploration series is on display at the 33rd Photo Regional exhibit hosted by The Albany Center Gallery until July 16. And a few of his photos are part of theFence 11 show at The Art Center of the Capital Region in Troy until July 17.

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Summer Scenes: Kim Dunham


AOA is taking it easy this week, enjoying a lot of the great stuff Capital Region summers have to offer. (Yes, ice cream will be involved.) While we're away, a few local photographers will be sharing how they see summer in the Capital Region. First up: Kim Dunham.

Kim Dunham has a great sense of style and a wonderful eye for capturing the simple beauty of everyday things. More than once we've thought we'd like to live in the world she photographs. After the jump, a look at the simple things that make up Capital Region summers, through Kim's lovely lens.

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Where to see the fireworks

july 4th fireworks 2009

Yep, there's gonna be fireworks!

And with the 4th coming on a Monday this year, you'll be able to see them all weekend
long. After the jump, you'll find a list of some of the places you can go to ooooh and ahhh.

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Where to watch July 4th fireworks with kids?

july 4th fireworks 2009Planning for the Fourth of July, CVAA emails:

I am trying to find a perfect spot to watch the 4th of July firework. It has to be kid-friendly. A place where very active toddlers can walk around and is not too crowded would be ideal. Although I won't let the kids roaming around wildly, I don't expect them to sit still while waiting for the show to start either. If your readers have any suggestion, I would really appreciate it. Just a background. We live near Siena collage but would be willing to drive 15 minutes or so. I love fireworks and really hope to find a good spot to enjoy one this year.

We bet there are at least a few spots CVAA and her kids could watch the ESP fireworks, all while having a bit of room to roam.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

photo: Sebastien B

Sixteen memories of summer

lillies in the late sun

There's something about the late day summer light that makes moments feel special.

Last week we asked people about their favorite summer memory as part of the Fourth of July at Taste drawing. There were so many great little stories!

Reading those comments one of the highlights of last week for us. It was interesting see so many common themes from those memories -- ice cream, camping, fireflies, friends, road trips, playing in the dusk of a long summer day. And there were these special moments that people hold with them.

That was a long string of comments, and no one could blame you for not going through them all. But there were so many great stories shared that we wanted to highlight a handful of them. We think you'll enjoy these 16 memories -- and if you do, go skim through the rest of the comments.

It'll make you smile.

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Duckling cuddle puddle

cuddling ducklings with mother

Nap time.

For no other reason than... CUDDLING DUCKLINGS!

It was a warm afternoon at Buckingham Pond in Albany, and the ducklings were very sleepy.

Are there more photos? Do you have to ask?

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Capital Region Swimming Pools 2011


We want to go to there.

Update: Here is the information for 2012!

The last couple of days were just a taste of the upcoming Capital Region summer. And there will be more of that before you know it.

Don't get us wrong -- we're happy to have the warm weather. We just like it better when we're lying next to a pool with one of those drinks with the little umbrellas in them.

We still have a few weeks until most of the public pools open, but there are a few places in the Capital Region where you can beat the heat right now.

After the jump -- a list of Capital Region swimming pools and when they open this season.

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Summer stuff to do with a teen sibling?

ice cream coneCamilo emails:

I would like to know AOA suggestions for activities for a teenager this summer, with a twist. I am an international student at RPI and my brother is gonna come visit me for a long month, so there are a few extra things to consider: I'm not in his legal custody, and he is not a resident/citizen, he does have a turist visa, tho. Also, I'm a student, so price may be a restriction.

We wouldn't want Camilo's brother to come here this summer and have a bad time. So, got a suggestion for them? Please share!

Capital Region Fairs

ferris wheel.jpg

The Ferris Wheel: Invented by an RPI grad, and a heck of a lot of fun at a fair.

It's fair season in the Capital Region, and we're looking forward to carnival rides, corn on the cob, cotton candy, prize goats and racing pigs.

The Saratoga County Fair opens on Tuesday, and it's kind of the unofficial start of the season.

After the jump, a list of the Capital Region's summer fairs.

Tell us what you like best about them.

And if we missed any of your favorites, let us know.

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chuck miller composite

Chuck's set is almost like being there.

We're a little (OK, a lot) late on this because of the summer break, but we're always happy to gawk at fireworks photos. Chuck has a huge photoset from the ESP display. He's also posted an account of the evening (it included Polish horseshoes).

A few other sets to check out:
+ Helena Bowman's nice photoset makes the ESP fireworks look almost plant-like -- sort of like luminous dandelions that have gone to seed.
+ We love the light in this shot by Katie Anello.
+ We like the framing in this shot by liz_ahearn
+ This set by tcsuliv is a bunch of really wide shots. We like this shot, specifically.
+ F1addictob's set includes the Price Chopper "sign" on the Corning Tower.
+ This "hipstamatic" shot by theDreamerWorld looks totally old-school.
+ There's something kind of cool about how the person is silhouetted in this photo by s.m. bush.
+ And Caitee Smith went bokeh on the display.

(Thanks, Chuck! Thanks, Sebastien!)

photos: Chuck Miller

Summer with Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian

Harry T.jpg

Harry's a fan of Troy. And chocolate peanut-butter.

Sure, it's kind of a given that Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian likes life in the Capital Region.

He's a Mayor here, after all.

But he's also as a life-long Troy resident who really enjoys the Capital Region summers -- which qualifies him for our series on our summer stay-cations.

Also, we kinda felt like we know him from his tweets.

So we asked.

And Harry T. answered.

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Who can install central air?

Egg on sidewalk.jpgOK, we're on stay-cation, but we have hearts. So when S. sent us this sweltering distress call, we had to put it out there in hopes that someone in the crowd can help him:

He asks:

I've no AC at my place and I'm really cooking right now. I have ducts and pipes all over the house to install central air conditioning, but I'm looking for a contractor to put the system itself, e.g. a condenser and compressor to run cold air all around the house. Was wondering if AOA reader had somebody to recommend

Anybody have any thoughts?

Photo: flickr user Lori Greig

Summer with Hounds on the Hudson's Jen & Mike

Hounds on Hudson.jpg

Mike and Jen's dog days of summer

We first met Hounds on Hudson owners Jen & Mike last year, as part of an AOA audio slide show.

You pick up a lot while walking a dog. And Jen and Mike are out and about, walking dogs in the Capital Region year round, so they've learned a lot about what there is to do and see in the area.

We thought we'd check in with them about their favorite things to do in the summer, both with and without the dogs.

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Summer with Bennett Campbell

Bennett Campbell.jpg

Bennett, from the other side of the lens

Bennett Campbell is the guy behind the camera.

If you've seen his photos on AOA, you understand that he's always watching interesting things -- whether they're part of big events, or they're little moments the rest of us might miss.

Usually when we run into Bennett he's got his camera in tow -- so we asked him where it is he goes, and what it is he's looking at in the summer.

And Bennett did the thing Bennett does best -- he showed us.

Answers and some wonderful summer photos, after the jump.

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Summer with Amy Mengel

Amy mengel 1.jpg

Amy at Sleeping Beauty

Amy Mengel is always looking for something new.

Every time we meet up with her we hear tales of another great hike, bike ride or kayaking adventure -- or news of the newest restaurant or craft beer joint she's discovered.

So as part of our stay-cation series, here's some of Amy's advice for getting the most out of your Capital Region summer.

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Summer with Kaitlin Resler

Kaitlin and bird.jpg

Kaitlin thinks you should come to Albany for the birds... among other things.

Kaitlin Resler is a lovely and talented person with an incredible sense of style.

You may know Kaitlin from her fashion and shopping posts on AOA or her blog, All This Happiness, or the recent feature the folks at The Fashion Spot did about her. Maybe you've seen her scooping gelato or plating pastry at Crisan (she's the one with the Audrey Hepburn thing going on ), or on a walk through the Washington Park, Saratoga, or the Empire Plaza.

Kaitlin really appreciates beauty -- in everything from clothes and buildings to quirky taxidermy birds.

She's lived in Albany for most of her life, and she's one of the city's greatest cheerleaders, which made her a natural choice for our summer stay-cation series.

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Summer with Sandor Silverman


Sandor cools off at the dunking booth.

Today's summer stay-cation tips come from Sandor Silverman.

From meeting Sandor in person, and from his comments on AOA, we always kind of picture him at the center of a party. He's often organizing events like happy hour meet-ups or pub crawls, has been known to offer to buy a beer or two, and is definitely someone we'd want on our side in case of a zombie attack.

All these things, and many others, made us curious about how Sandor likes to spend his summers.

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Summer with Erik Dollman

Erik Dollman.jpg

Erik's dog days of summer.

You may have seen Erik's posts about fashion and fitness on AOA.

He's one of those people we love to run into while we're working at Uncommon Grounds. His list of rules for life leave us smiling and thinking.

And he's always offering suggestions for something fun he's tried.

So we asked him to share some of his summer stay-cation suggestions with the crowd.

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Summer with Ellie Burhans


Ellie of Troy

Pretty much every time we talk with Ellie Burhans she's off to do something fun and interesting. When we caught up with her to ask about her favorite summer stay-cation ideas, she was in the midst of a mid-day, mid-week champagne run between World Cup parties.

Powered by large amounts of coffee, we seldom see her sit still. Here's a look of some of the things she'll be doing this summer.

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Summer with Rob and Carey

Carey & Rob.jpg

Stay-cation week continues on AOA this week with Capital Region summer fun suggestions from Corks & Caftans bloggers Rob & Carey.

He loves wine-- she loves fashion, and they both summers in Saratoga.

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Summer with Arielle Ewell


Arielle knows everyone in Albany.

If you want to fall in love with summer in Albany, talk about it with Arielle Ewell.

As part of AOA's stay-cation week, this native Albanian mom/student shared some of her favorite ways to enjoy the season here in the Capital Region.

Check them out after the jump.

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Summer with Daniel Nester


Portrait of the professor with storm trooper.

While AOA is on a little summer stay-cation, we've checked in with some of the crowd to see what they like to do during summers in the Capital Region.

Next on the list, author, professor, blogger and expert in "things inappropriate," Daniel Nester.

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Summer with Emily Armstrong


Emily loves her summers in Troy

AOA is taking a little R 'n R this week, so we asked a few members of the crowd to help us out a bit. We're on a sort of stay-cation, so we asked a handful of folks what they enjoy doing with their Capital Region summers.

First up, urban chicken keeper and bacon hot chocolate lover Emily Armstrong.

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Where to find the fireworks this weekend

july 4th fireworks 2009

Ooooohhh. Aaaahhhhh.

Yes, it's only Tuesday, but we're already thinking about the 4th of July weekend.

And those thoughts sent us searching for the local fireworks displays.

After the jump is a list of what we found.

If we missed one that you like to check out, let us know.

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Summer essentials for women 2010

Breakfast-at-Tiffanys Audrey-Hepburn black-hat-sunglasses

Big hats are on the list, and they go great with sunglasses...

By Kaitlin Resler

It's officially the first week of summer.

So AOA fashionista Kaitlin Ressler did one of her favorite things. She hit the mall looking for what she considers this season's essentials.

After the jump, essentials for women. (Next week, essentials for men.)

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Swimsuit shopping (yes, it's time)

swimsuits summer 2010 composite

Everybody into the pool!

By Kaitlin Resler

Lately every day feels more and more like real-life summer than spring. Shedding our cardigans and one teeny layer after another, it becomes more and more obvious that we're eeking into bathing suit season. Whether it's for dips in the pool or weekend excursions to ponds, lakes, and oceans, the nagging want of a new suit pops up every summer, even if last year's faithful suit is just fine.

It's probably one of most people's least-favorite shopping trips, the bathing suit shop -- and it's certainly not a favorite of mine. But instead of trudging through the racks and feeling resentful of handing over my hard-earned pennies for the teeniest garment, I chose to run around as though a magnificent vacation was on the horizon -- even if it was just imaginary.

After the jump -- some of the suits I found for women and men.

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Cooling off in the Capital Region

Gin & Tonic at the pool.JPG

Not quite yet -- but soon.

Hot enough for ya?

The lack of air conditioning at AOA's downtown offices had us chugging iced tea and dreaming of a place to swim. So, we made a few calls to check on the beaches, pools and sprinkler pads in the Capital Region.

It turns out that some are already open, and others will be ready for swimming as soon as this weekend.

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Albany Ultimate 2010

albany ultimate 2010We get questions fairly often from people looking to join some sort of sports team or league. Here's one that might be fun.

Albany Ultimate (as in frisbee) is starting up again soon. From Peter, who's one of the organizers:

Similar to last year we have several different options for new players. We will be running a women's league so that ladies can come out and play and learn the sport in a positive setting with excellent coaches. We also have a Social League which is for new players to get out and learn the game and not be overwhelmed by newer players. And also a Competitive League which is for more experienced players. Both Social and Competitive leagues are coed.
Currently pickup Ultimate is occurring at Collins Circle at SUNY Albany Campus on Tuesday and Thursday starting at 5pm and is open to anyone.

Registration opens April 9. It's $35 to play in the social and competitive leagues and $20 for the elite league. Games start June 1.

photo via Peter A

It's outdoor ice cream season again!


Kuver Kreme opens Monday. We're so there.

Spring is in the air.

Sure, it's probably going to snow again, but all these happy, sunshiny days have put us in the mood for ice cream.

So we checked in on a handful of spots to see when they open for the season.

Guess what?

Two of them already have!

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Lunch at the Victoria Pool

Bacon by the pool.JPG

Sunshine, water, gin and bacon -- all high on the list of things that make us happy.

Track, schmack. Don't get us wrong, the race course is pretty and can be a lot of fun, but when we can steal a little summer time in Saratoga, we prefer hanging at the Victoria Pool.

We've mentioned the pool before, but here's why we like it so much.

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The scene at Saratoga

cowboy hats.JPG

Look, it's the littlest cowboy.

The weather cooperated for breakfast at The Track this morning. AOA woke up at the crack of dawn and headed north to check out the scene.

Here's a little of what we saw.

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Frisbee golf in the Capital Region

Frisbee Golf.jpg

No carts, no bags, no clubs, no caddy -- just you and your Frisbee.

By Mike DiMaio

I'm not much for golf. I mean, I play occasionally and all, but I find it... frustrating. I like the being outdoors part, and the walking, but you can try to hit a golf ball twelve times and not get it right (or, at least, I can). Add to that the expense of the clubs and the greens fees and I can understand why Mark Twain called it "a good walk, spoiled."

Disc golf, on the other hand, is something I can get behind.

If you can throw a Frisbee, you can play. And a Frisbee is pretty much all you need to play the two courses in the Capital Region. It's practically free and waaaaay more fun than golf.

Trust me on this.

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Great deals on summer essentials

otto swimming

It's pool time.

By Kim Wingfield

Yes, we got royally cheated out of the first third of summer here in the Capital District. 

However, it's now mid July, it's getting sunnier and warmer and it looks like it's going to stay this way for a while.

So if you got disgusted and threw out your summer gear last month because either a.) you couldn't fit it on the ark you were building, or b.) it got moldy, here's where you can pick up all your summer essentials for under $50.

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Summer just drove by

Mr. Ding-a-Ling truck

Why does stuff taste better from a truck?

Quick! Look out the front door! The first sign of warm weather just drove by!

@Mrs_Misanthrope snapped this pic today in Albany. She was nice enough to not taunt us with details of the ice cream snack she enjoyed.

The Hollywood Drive-In

So in these days of downloads, Netflix, Hulu and big screens in your living room, justifying going out to a movie might be tough. Never mind justifying going to see a movie while sitting in your car.

But that's what Frank Fisher thinks you should do.

Fisher's Family has been running The Hollywood Drive-In on Route 66 (yep, a drive-in on Route 66) since 1952. He took a few minutes to talk with us about why he still runs the place, what people get out of going to a drive-in... and the woman who tied her boyfriend up in the trunk.

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What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


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